Biden criticizes Trump's Ohio trip as a way to 'distract from his own failures'
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.
Joe Biden has released a scathing statement criticizing Trump’s trip today to Ohio, where the president will speak at a Whirlpool Corporation manufacturing plant and attend a fundraiser.
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said, “Today, as families across Ohio continue to suffer in the face of the pandemic and the economic pain it has caused, Donald Trump is visiting Ohio, not to extend a hand to struggling families, but to try to paper over his record of broken promises to workers and raise money for his campaign.”
Trump’s trip comes as Congress continues to struggle to reach a deal on a new coronavirus relief package after additional unemployment benefits expired last week.
“Donald Trump is desperate to distract from his own failures,” Biden said. “It’s time for a leader who will tell the truth, lead with integrity, and fight to make Ohioans’ lives better every single day.”
Trump carried Ohio by 8 points in 2016, and he had previously been favored to win the state again in November. However, recent polls have shown the president and Biden virtually tied in Ohio.
Biden launches new campaign ad aimed at Black Americans
Joe Biden’s Democratic presidential campaign has launched a new national ad focused on Black Americans, urging them to stand up to Donald Trump the way their community stood up to “violent racists of a generation ago.”
The one-minute ad, which was shared exclusively with the Associated Press before its release on Thursday, is titled “Better America”. It also takes a direct swipe at Trump, while avoiding mentioning him by name.
Opening with a narrator saying “The story of Black America IS the story of America” and that it is the story of a people pushing the country to live up to its stated ideals, the ad goes on to say:
We must choose to fight for that better America. And just like our ancestors who stood up to the violent racists of a generation ago, we will stand up to this president and say, ‘No more,’ because America is better than him. So we choose to be bigger. We choose to be bolder. We choose to bring back justice, respect and dignity to this country.
It is part of the Biden campaign’s huge $280 million digital and television ad buy that was announced yesterday.
The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel is somewhat underwhelmed by it.
1.18 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week
Belarusian president Lukashenko says number of US nationals detained ahead of election there
There’s not much detail on this yet, but Reuters are reporting that Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has said this morning that a number of US nationals have been detained before the controversial presidential election there on Sunday, but he declined to say when or why.
The veteran leader is facing the biggest challenge in years to his long rule and has launched a crackdown on opposition protesters whom he accuses of plotting with foreign backers to overthrow him.
Belarus has sought to mend fences with the Washington as ties fray with their traditional ally Moscow, and in February the country hosted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the most senior US official to visit in more than two decades.
“Some people were detained with American passports, married to Americans, working in the State Department,” the Belta news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying.
The US embassy in the capital Minsk did not immediately reply to a request from Reuters for comment.
Seattle city council rejects "Defund the police" campaign, but votes to reduce police department by up to 100 officers
Also on a police front, Minneapolis may have slowed down the initiative towards dismantling their police department, but yesterday Seattle city council moved forward a little bit with plans to reduce their police department by up to 100 officers.
The council voted unanimously for this to be achieved through layoffs and attrition, in a move pushed by Black Lives Matter marched in the city following George Floyd’s killing.
The Seattle Times reports final votes on the proposals will happen come next week. The council, though, rejected a push to “defund” the department’s remaining 2020 budget by 50% and reinvest that money, as many Black Lives Matter protesters had urged.
The amendments passed in a committee are expected to save only about $3 million of the departments $400 million annual budget this year, report the Associated Press.
Council members said they were sending a message as they voted 9-0 on the midyear budget amendments that Mayor Jenny Durkan and police Chief Carmen Best have opposed.
“We’re not going to be bullied into doing nothing,” Council member Teresa Mosqueda said.
In a statement Wednesday, a Durkan spokesperson criticized the council for voting to reduce the force, cut Best’s salary and remove officers from the city’s homeless encampment-removal team after only “a few hours of discussion.”
A march to City Hall in support of police cuts Wednesday drew hundreds of people, with supporters demanding that policing money be reallocated to other public safety approaches, housing, social services and programs led by Black people.
A group of University of Utah police officers made inappropriate comments about explicit photos of a student who had submitted the pictures as evidence in an extortion case shortly before her shooting death, an investigation found yesterday.
Athlete Lauren McCluskey was shot and killed on campus in October 2018.
Utah’s Department of Public Safety opened an investigation after the Salt Lake Tribune unearthed allegations that an officer had shown off the images of the 21-year-old.
Her shooting death at the hands of a man she had briefly dated has roiled the institution and raised serious questions about how it handled her repeated reports that the man was harassing her before her death, including extorting her with the images she had sent him when they were involved.
McCluskey had contacted university police more than 20 times before her death to report harassment by a man she had dated, Melvin Shawn Rowland.
Her family says in a lawsuit that those reports were not taken seriously by campus police, who should have quickly discovered he was a registered sex offender on parole who had been lying to her about his name, age and history. Instead, he fatally shot her with a borrowed gun on campus and later killed himself.
An attorney for Officer Miguel Deras has previously denied bragging about the photos. He did show them during a routine briefing, but only to ask how they should be handled and stored and did not make inappropriate comments, his attorney Jeremy Jones said.
“From my client’s recollection, he never participated in that. He showed the photos in briefing, he didn’t ‘smoke and joke’ about the photos at any time,” he said. The probe found no evidence Deras inappropriately downloaded or electronically transferred the photos.
Chief Rodney Chatman, who is new to the role, did not name Deras specifically but said he’s disappointed in the “small group” of officers who commented about the pictures around the time of a shift-change briefing, and those who did not report the comments.
“It is inexcusable for any law enforcement officer to discuss photos or information provided by a victim outside of clear and legitimate law enforcement reasons,” he said. Chatman said he would pursue action against individual officers, but he said the exact discipline will be confidential.