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House and Senate set for clash on police reform

“Truth be told, if these conversations had started in the very beginning, I think my answer would be much more affirmative,” Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), who has privately discussed the legislation with several Republicans, said in an interview. “My unfortunate belief is that absent collaboration from the very beginning, it makes it incredibly difficult.”

Still, Phillips, noted: “There’s a lot of common ground right now, my hope is that we at least focus on the common ground and accomplish that now.”

The House Judiciary Committee will take up the landmark legislation in a marathon session starting Wednesday morning, three weeks after George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis officers has galvanized both sides of Capitol Hill into action. The markup comes one week after the panel heard gripping testimony from Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, who pleaded with lawmakers to “stop the pain” and deliver change.

But both the committee vote Wednesday and the full House vote next week are expected to largely fall along party lines. Democrats have enough support within their caucus to pass the bill on their own, with no interest in softening their proposal to win over Republicans.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, will release their own police reform bill on Wednesday, which is expected to build on Trump’s executive order and could be on the floor as soon as next week, despite earlier predictions that the Senate wouldn’t take up the bill until after July 4.

And leaders in both parties are already publicly bickering. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) slammed Democrats over their bill, which he said was “going nowhere” in the Senate. He said Democrats were seeking to “federalize” the police system and trying to “control everything in Washington.”

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Tuesday offered a pointed rebuttal, calling McConnell’s remarks “disgraceful.”

“For the leader of the Senate to say, ‘It’s going nowhere, we don’t want any of that,’ is really disgraceful — and really ignores the concerns of the American people,” Pelosi said on MSNBC. “I feel very, very disappointed by the dangerous statement made by the Republican leader of the Senate.”

Still, lawmakers and aides in both parties say they think there is a path to “yes.” They just aren’t sure how to get there yet.

House Democrats assembled their bill — which would crack down on excessive force and ban chokeholds, enforce strict transparency standards and demand accountability for officer misconduct with a national database to track offenses — about two weeks after Floyd’s death.

Trump signed an executive order on Tuesday, largely limited to encouraging best practices through federal grants. And the normally sluggish Senate is moving quickly on a GOP-led policing bill that builds upon Trump’s actions.

A plan from Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), the lone African American Republican senator, set to be unveiled Wednesday, would create new reporting requirements on the use of deadly force by officers, and cut off federal funding for local departments that fail to comply. It also would withhold funding for police departments that do not ban the use of chokeholds.

Most Democrats have panned the GOP approach as cosmetic and too limited, while Pelosi dismissed Trump’s executive order Tuesday, saying it “falls sadly and seriously short of what is required to combat the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality.”

It’s unclear whether Senate Democrats will join Republicans and try to amend their bill.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declined to comment on the GOP’s police reform bill, saying it would be “premature” to discuss it before it is formally unveiled.

“We haven’t even seen the bill yet,” Schumer said. “Let’s wait and see what Tim Scott’s bill is. I have no idea what’s in it.”

House Democratic lawmakers and aides say privately that they are open to a compromise that will get a bill to the president’s desk. But they don’t see the point of weakening their negotiating position now by cutting a deal with House Republicans when they’ll likely have to later negotiate with Senate Republicans and possibly even Trump himself.

The politics in both parties have significantly shifted in the weeks since Americans took to the streets across the country to protest Floyd’s death along with the killings of many other unarmed black men and women by police.

Democrats, from the liberal lawmakers who support calls to “defund the police” to centrist in GOP districts, have rallied around a bill that under other circumstances would easily expose the caucus’ ideological divisions. But the united front hasn’t been without missteps.

Just on Wednesday, Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Karen Bass (D-Calif.) apologized after saying the call to defund the police is “probably one of the worst slogans ever,” vocalizing concerns from many Democrats who worry it could overshadow their police reforms push and give Trump and Republicans a line of attack.

“Saying that’s the worst slogan ever was the dumbest response ever and I shouldn’t have said it and I’m sorry for saying it,” Bass tweeted. “I would never mean to malign a movement of activists who I know are fighting for transformative change.”

And some Republicans have started warming to the idea of banning chokeholds by police, a policy change that would’ve been unfathomable just weeks ago. But the support isn’t universal within the GOP and it’s unclear how far the party is willing to go on the issue.

Senior Democrats, including Bass and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.), have privately spoken with several Republicans in recent days as they discussed changes to the package, according to multiple sources. That includes House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and moderates like retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), both of whom have been open to some of Democrats’ ideas.

House Democratic leaders did agree to some fixes to the bill, including language to clarify the contentious “qualified immunity section” so that it is more clearly focused on law enforcement personnel and includes federal law enforcement officers, according to a Democratic source. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, however, previously said Trump wouldn’t support a measure that included qualified immunity.

The amendment would also clarify that the police misconduct registry would make public information like misuse of force and racial profiling, but not mundane complaints like tardiness. It would also limit the use of facial recognition technology from body camera police footage. The technology has come under increased scrutiny for misidentifying individuals and furthering racial profiling.

Democrats are not planning additional changes to their bill at Wednesday’s markup — a condition of support for many of the caucus’s moderates who are afraid that their more liberal colleagues will attempt to pull the bill to the left.

House Republicans, meanwhile, are still planning to unveil their own proposal to curb police brutality, which they’ve been closely developing with their Senate counterparts as well as the White House. That measure — which is being authored by Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Minn.) — is expected to be released in the coming days and will serve as a companion to the Senate legislation, according to GOP sources.

Republicans on the Judiciary Committee are planning to offer dozens of amendments at Wednesday’s markup, with many of them likely to mirror the provisions in Scott’s bill.

McConnell, who plans to announce Wednesday whether the chamber will consider Scott’s bill next week, said he plans to hold an initial procedural vote on the bill, which would require 60 votes — essentially daring Democrats to either block the legislation or support an effort that could lead to amendments of the GOP-authored bill. At least seven Democrats would need to support that process, assuming all 53 Republican senators are on board.

“What I envision here is an effort to make a law,” McConnell said Tuesday, later adding: “It will really be up to them to decide how they want to handle this. They can either shoot it down as insufficient, or be willing to take the risk to go to the bill and see what changes, if any, we can all agree to in order to get to 60.”

Kyle Cheney, Burgess Everett, Marianne Levine and Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.

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U.S. sues ex-Trump adviser Bolton to block book publication

(Reuters) – The United States on Tuesday sued former national security adviser John Bolton, seeking to block him from publishing a book about his time in the White House that it said contained classified information and would compromise national security.

FILE PHOTO – Former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton speaks during his lecture at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, U.S. February 17, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Drake

The civil lawsuit came one day after U.S. President Donald Trump said Bolton would be breaking the law if the book were published.

The White House National Security Council “has determined that the manuscript in its present form contains certain passages – some up to several paragraphs in length – that contain classified national security information,” the lawsuit said.

Publication of the book “would cause irreparable harm, because the disclosure of instances of classified information in the manuscript reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage, or exceptionally grave damage, to the national security of the United States,” according to the lawsuit.

Trump fired Bolton last September after roughly 17 months as national security adviser.

Trump said on Monday that Bolton knows he has classified information in his book, and that he had not completed a clearing process required for any book written by former government officials who had access to sensitive information.

Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department was trying to get Bolton to complete the clearance process and “make the necessary deletions of classified information.”

Bolton’s “The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir,” is set to be published on June 23.

The publisher, Simon and Schuster, said the book provides an insider account of Trump’s “inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process.”

Simon and Schuster did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

The book details Trump’s dealings with China, Russia, Ukraine, North Korea, Iran, Britain, France and Germany, the publisher said.

“This is the book Donald Trump doesn’t want you to read,” it said.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; additional reporting by Eric Beech in Washington; editing by Jonathan Oatis and Tom Brown

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GOP and Democrats at odds over police reform in Congress as pressure for action mounts

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell came out firmly against a Democratic plan to overhaul policing on Tuesday, saying that Democrats want to “federalize all of these issues. That’s a non-starter. The House version is going nowhere in the Senate.”

McConnell dismissed the Democratic proposal as “typical Democratic overreach to try to control everything in Washington. We have no interest in that.”

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, have reacted skeptically to the emerging legislation bill being that Senate Republicans are coalescing around being led by GOP Sen. Tim Scott.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer warned on Tuesday that Senate Republicans “seem to be on a path towards taking a much, much narrower, less inclusive approach — that is wrong.”

Democrats have leverage to block the Scott plan from advancing. It will need 60 votes to clear a filibuster in order to begin debate, meaning Republicans will need at least seven Democratic votes to take the measure up.

Schumer refused to say Tuesday if Democrats would seek to block the Scott plan from coming to the floor for a debate, saying “we haven’t even seen the bill yet, so it’s premature to comment,” while also declining say if he’s encouraging Democrats to avoid co-sponsoring the plan. Schumer, meanwhile, criticized President Donald Trump’s executive order on policing, calling it “weak tea.”

There is a growing sense of urgency among Senate Republicans to move ahead with police reform legislation and McConnell said Tuesday he will make an announcement Wednesday about whether he will bring the proposal to the floor ahead of the two-week July 4 recess. He said they are weighing whether to bring that bill or the defense authorization bill up before the break as the Senate works on confirming judicial nominees.

“I’ll let you know in the morning” about timing, he said. McConnell made similar remarks to GOP senators at lunch Tuesday, senators said. The Senate Republican leader McConnell also said that the Scott bill is almost finished.

GOP senators indicated on Tuesday that they believe most, if not all, of the Senate GOP conference will back the plan.

McConnell is pushing for as broad support within the Senate GOP conference as possible for the emerging police overhaul bill, two GOP sources told CNN.

That comes after tension within the Senate GOP conference on the timeline for taking up the legislation spilled out into public view.

Scott expressed concerns on Monday after some senior Senate Republicans signaled that the chamber may have to wait at least a month to take up the policing legislation, warning, “I think us waiting a month before we vote is a bad decision.”
The public display of tensions within the Senate GOP conference comes as Republicans in the chamber are locked in a high-stakes battle to keep the majority in the 2020 elections.

McConnell was asked by a reporter if he plans to stay as GOP leader even if Republicans lose the majority, assuming he wins reelection. He responded, “I do.”

Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota said on Tuesday that he believes McConnell is “very committed” to getting policing reform through the Senate, adding, “So much so that he is trying to slot it in on the next week or two.”

Sen. Steve Daines, an endangered Republican running for reelection in Montana, stopped short of embracing Trump’s executive order on police reform and said he prefers the legislative approach spearheaded by Scott.

“I’m continuing to work with Tim Scott. Tim has put together a very thoughtful proposal,” Daines said when asked if Trump’s executive order goes far enough in addressing needed police reforms.

Daines said he would like to see a bipartisan agreement reached on the issue.

Major differences between the legislative proposals from Republicans and Democrats are likely to create hurdles to any attempt to get legislation across the finish line in Congress and to the President’s desk.

The emerging GOP plan has a major emphasis on incentivizing states to take action. The Democratic plan, in contrast, has a heavy emphasis on setting national standards, such as mandates for federal uniformed officers to wear body cameras and banning chokeholds.

Scott said Tuesday that his proposal does not include an outright ban on chokeholds but argued “we get very, very close to that place” by blocking federal grant funds to departments that don’t ban chokeholds themselves.

“It eliminates the possibility of getting grants from those departments that have not banned chokeholds,” he said, describing it as “similar” to both the House Democratic plan that and Trump’s executive order. “We believe that gets you to the same outcome.”

More than 220 House Democrats have signed onto the House legislation, a strong sign of Democratic support that ensures it will pass that chamber next week.

Scott said Monday evening that he’s had talks with some Senate Democrats but said he’s been told that Democratic leadership has urged their members not to sign onto his emerging measure.

“My understanding is that the Democrats have sent the signal that they’re not allowed to get on this bill so it’ll be interesting to see how that works,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional developments Tuesday.

CNN’s Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.

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McConnell to keep grip on GOP even if Republicans lose Senate

After POLITICO reported that McConnell planned to remain GOP leader after the election, the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm declared that every vulnerable Republican should “answer whether they plan to vote to keep their toxic leader in charge if they are in the Senate next year.”

McConnell, who came to Capitol Hill as an intern in the early 1960s, won his first Senate race in 1984 and quickly rose through the ranks. He served as National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee chairmen for two cycles beginning in 1998, followed by a stint as majority whip. After Republicans lost their majority in the 2006 Democratic landslide and Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) retired, McConnell became minority leader. The Republican victory in 2014 catapulted McConnell into his dream job as majority leader, and he’s been unchallenged ever since.

McConnell is already the longest-serving serving Republican leader in history, passing former Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kansas) for that honor two years ago. Now the record of 18 years for any party leader held by the late Sen. Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) is within reach if McConnell can get reelected while continuing to win leadership races.

“If he were to serve another term he would either tie or break Mike Mansfield’s record, I know that,” said Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), who is retiring and is among McConnell’s closest allies.

The esteem for McConnell is so high among Republicans that those who could eventually replace him have no issue with him staying on as long as he wants. And that makes McConnell’s hold on leadership rock solid.

“Mitch McConnell will be our leader as long as he’s still interested in the job,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). “After he leaves that position, I would be interested in succeeding him.”

“The leader’s made it clear that he wants to continue to serve and he enjoys great confidence in the conference,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). “My expectation is that, irrespective of what happens in November, he’ll continue to lead the Republican conference.”

Thune succeeded Cornyn in 2019 at the No. 2 position in GOP leadership, and the two men are considered the favorites to succeed McConnell in the future.

Cornyn is a former NRSC chairman and has raised gobs of money for the party. He’s a sharp-edged partisan and has grown increasingly comfortable defending President Donald Trump, with whom he’ll share a ticket in November.

The lanky Thune is stylistically more subdued than Cornyn and is more critical than McConnell or Cornyn of Trump’s more controversial statements, though Thune is always gentle in creating any difference with the president. Thune also considered running for president in 2012 and 2016 but decided against it.

“When I look at the presidential race, timing is everything in politics. At the moment, that’s not something I aspire to,” Thune said. He called aspirations of becoming Senate GOP leader “speculative and hypothetical” given McConnell’s lock on the conference. “At the moment I’m doing what I think I can to help the team and hopefully get some results.”

With neither Thune nor Cornyn overtly maneuvering to succeed him, McConnell’s path to keeping his job is all the more assured. Whether he’d want to stay on as leader if Schumer becomes majority leader and Biden is president is another question.

As minority leader during Barack Obama’s presidency, McConnell reveled in disrupting the Democrats’ agenda. But Senate majorities can be hard to break: it took McConnell eight years of toiling in the minority before he became the majority leader.

Schumer could also come under great pressure from the progressive wing of the party to end the legislative filibuster, one of the most cherished Senate traditions, which would make the job of minority leader that much less pivotal.

Former Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) used the “nuclear option” to weaken the filibuster on nominations, and McConnell watered it down even more in the face of steadfast Democratic opposition to Trump’s nominees. With more power to steamroll the minority, McConnell and Trump have embarked on a concerted effort to remake the judicial branch. Trump has gotten two Supreme Court nominees confirmed — in large part to McConnell’s blockade of Obama Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland — as well as record-setting numbers of circuit court judges.

Under Trump, McConnell has had a mixed legislative record. Thanks to a stunning last-minute move by the late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2017, McConnell failed to repeal Obamacare as Republicans long promised. There have also been several government shutdowns — something McConnell loathes — including the longest in U.S. history. The federal government’s debt has soared as well, and this year’s budget deficit could approach $4 trillion.

Yet McConnell also was able to shepherd through a $2 trillion tax cut in 2017, as well as several trillion dollars in federal relief to counter the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. McConnell touts that legislation as a key part of his “Team Mitch” reelection campaign.

McConnell also unabashedly embraces the mantle of being a hard-nosed conservative leader who has turned the Senate into a “graveyard” for bills passed by the Democratic House. And while Trump once openly criticized McConnell for failing to repeal Obamacare, the Kentucky Republican has become his most important ally in Washington despite their many differences in personality.

McConnell helped bring a quick end to Trump’s Senate impeachment trial just four months ago, and now Senate committees are helping to litigate the origin of the 2016 Russa probe — an election-year push Trump has long sought from the GOP.

“He’s probably as good an inside player as I’ve seen in my years here,” said Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who has spent more than 40 years on Capitol Hill.

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McConnell says Democrats’ policing bill ‘going nowhere’ in Senate

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters following the Senate Republicans weekly policy lunch on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., June 16, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday a police reform bill put forward by House Democrats would not succeed in the Republican-led Senate.

“The House version is going nowhere in the Senate,” McConnell told reporters. “It’s basically typical Democratic overreach to try to control everything in Washington. We have no interest in that,” he said.

Reporting by Richard Cowan; Writing by Eric Beech; Editing by Chris Reese

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LGBT activists see hard work ahead despite major Supreme Court win on job discrimination

LGBT-rights activists are elated by a major Supreme Court victory on job discrimination, and hope the decision will spur action against other biases faced by their community despite Trump administration efforts to slow or reverse advances.

In most states, it remains legal to discriminate against gay and transgender people in housing and public accommodations, leading activists noted. And they decried continuing violence and discrimination directed at transgender Americans, notably trans women of color.

The Trump administration has sharply restricted military service by transgender people and last week formally overturned Obama-era protections for transgender people against sex discrimination in health care. And there are pending lawsuits over transgender participation in school events.

“This is a landmark victory for legal equality, but unfortunately we have a lot of work still to do,” Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights organization, said of the Supreme Court ruling Monday.

The high court decided 6-3 that the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 — by prohibiting workplace sex discrimination — protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment. The opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, one of President Donald Trump’s two appointees to the court.

Even with the high court ruling, David said there’s a pressing need for enactment of the federal Equality Act, passed by the House of Representatives last year but stalled in the Senate. It would extend to all 50 states the comprehensive anti-bias protections already provided to LGBT people in 21 mostly Democratic-governed states — addressing such sectors as housing, public accommodations and public services.

That goal will be difficult to accomplish, David said, unless Trump is defeated in the November election and Democrats end Republican control of the Senate.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s likely election opponent, hailed the Supreme Court ruling as “a momentous step forward for our country,” and said he looked forward to signing the Equality Act.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT and HIV Project, said Monday’s ruling — while momentous — was insufficient.

“There are important contexts where sex discrimination is still legal under federal law: businesses open to the public and recipients of federal grants, like soup kitchens and drug treatment programs,” he said.

“The Equality Act would plug those holes,” he added. “It would also update the range of businesses covered under the federal civil rights law so that forms of discrimination like racial profiling in stores and by ride-sharing services become illegal.“

Shannon Minter, one of the lawyers challenging Trump’s transgender/military policy, said Monday’s court decision will strengthen those challenges.

“This validates the rulings of four federal district courts that the military ban is impermissible sex discrimination,” said Minter, who is legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

Minter also depicted the court ruling as “an extremely forceful rebuke” to the administration’s efforts to justify stripping away health care protections for LGBT people under the Affordable Care Act.

Gorsuch, in his decision, noted that multiple LGBT-rights issues remain unresolved, such as pending lawsuits over transgender athletes’ participation in school sporting events.

The U.S. Justice Department has intervened in a federal civil rights lawsuit seeking to block transgender athletes in Connecticut from competing alongside other girls in interscholastic sports. A statement signed by Attorney General William Barr argues against the inclusive policy of the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference.

Courts also are dealing with cases about transgender students’ access to school bathrooms and locker rooms.

Monday’s decision is unlikely to end longstanding disputes related to employers who have religious objections to employing LGBT people, although some leading religious conservatives voiced dismay at the majority opinion.

Travis Weber, vice president for public policy at the conservative Family Research Council, called the ruling “unfortunate” and said it could complicate the ability of faith-based organizations to defend certain policies in court.

“The Supreme Court has teed up years of social conflict,” said the National Association of Evangelicals. “The decision provides significant protections for LGBT people but leaves unanswered how the right for people and organizations to exercise their religion — to live according to their deeply held convictions — will be safeguarded.”

The federal Civil Rights Act provides exemptions for faith-based groups to use certain discriminatory employment practices that accord with their religious beliefs — for example, Catholic schools’ policies against hiring people who have a same-sex spouse. Monday’s high court ruling is likely to be cited in future litigation over the scope of those exemptions.

The court ruling came at a moment when many LGBT activists are aligning with the Black Lives Matter movement and other groups protesting police brutality and racial injustice. Major LGBT groups have been placing increased emphasis on the problems facing transgender women of color, who often encounter myriad forms of discrimination as well as violence.

According to the Human Right Campaign, at least 14 transgender people have been killed in the U.S. so far this year, including two black transgender women slain last week.

The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund said it would swiftly make use of Monday’s decision to bolster ongoing lawsuits in North Carolina and Georgia challenging government employers’ refusal to cover certain medical procedures for transgender people.

“Our work to eliminate structural discrimination and violence remains incomplete – most notably for the black transgender women in our community,” said the fund’s executive director, Andy Marra.

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Trump signs order on police reform after weeks of protests about racial injustice

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump, facing criticism that his policies and inflammatory rhetoric have aggravated a racial divide in the United States, signed an order on Tuesday aimed at improving police practices and said that “Americans want law and order.”

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return to Washington, U.S., after a weekend in Bedminster, New Jersey, June 14, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

After weeks of protests against racism and policy brutality prompted by the death of George Floyd, a black man killed on May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis, Trump offered a policy response to rising concerns about racial injustice going into the Nov. 3 election in which he is seeking a second term.

“Americans want law and order, they demand law and order,” Trump said at a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden before signing the executive order.

The Republican president offered his condolences to the families of victims of recent police and other violence, and vowed to pursue justice.

In his public comments and on Twitter, Trump has called for crackdowns on protesters and emphasized a forceful and militarized response to the social unrest sparked by the death of Floyd and others. Opinion polls show widespread concerns among Americans about police brutality.

The executive order encourages police departments to employ the latest standards for use of force, improve information sharing so that officers with poor records are not hired without their backgrounds being known, and add social workers to law enforcement responses to non-violent cases involving drug addiction and homelessness, officials said.

Trump reiterated on Tuesday that he opposes calls to “defund the police” by reimagining or even dismantling police departments. Leading Democrats, including presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden, have not embraced such calls, but Republicans have jumped on the issue.

The Democratic-led House of Representatives is expected to vote later this month on sweeping legislation put forward by the Congressional Black Caucus to rein in police misconduct.

Senate Republicans are expected to unveil their own legislation on Wednesday that concentrates more on data collection than on policy changes in areas involving lethal force.

Democrats want to allow victims of misconduct and their families to sue police, an idea that Republicans oppose. Republicans, meanwhile, are pushing to reduce job protections for members of law enforcement unions. The two sides also are at odds over a Democratic proposal to ban police chokeholds.

Some Republicans say the two sides are so far apart on key issues that no final action is likely until after the July 4 holiday.

Attorney General William Barr, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senator Tim Scott, who is developing the Republican legislation, attended Tuesday’s White House signing.

One civil rights group said Trump’s action did not go far enough.

“While the order takes some steps forward, it is an inadequate response to a nation demanding sweeping, bold action,” Vanita Gupta, head of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Doina Chiacu and David Morgan; Editing by Andy Sullivan and Sonya Hepinstall

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A Man Raised Over $10,000 To Tap Dance Over His Trump-Supporting Downstairs Neighbors

A 45-year-old man who lives in an apartment building in downtown Cleveland has raised thousands of dollars after posting a sign on his window as a joke.

When Jett Croisant noticed his downstairs neighbor put up Trump banners in their window amid all the civil rights protests, he decided to put up his own sign. It read, “Venmo @Jet513 and I will tapdance at midnight.”

Croisant told BuzzFeed News he “did it for the humor” and “expected to get $3” from anyone who would see his sign IRL. That’s until a woman named Amy Ziemak, who lives across the street, took a photo of it and posted it to her Twitter.

“It picked up a lot of momentum from there,” Ziemak, 32, told BuzzFeed News.

Her tweet was liked a couple thousand times, but a re-share from a man named Mike in Seattle to his Twitter went hugely viral. Mike said he found the photo from a friend who had posted it to Facebook and didn’t realize Ziemak had originally taken it. His tweet has now been liked almost half a million times.

Croisant only got one Venmo payment for $4 prior to his sign spreading on social media. Over the past few days, he’s watched it grow exponentially. On Monday, he had nearly $6,400 in Venmo transactions from strangers on the internet.

By Tuesday it grew to well over $10,000.

“This is amazing,” he said, but he’s overwhelmed. He was previously planning to tap dance on Wednesday night, the same day he posted the sign. But as more funds are coming in, he’s waiting to raise more money. He’s planning to donate all the funds to the ACLU.

“Every two to three seconds I was getting Venmo-ed money. It didn’t slow down until Friday,” said Croisant. “Today it’s picked up again, and donations are starting to get bigger. The biggest donation I’ve gotten is $50 a couple of times.”

“At that point, I thought I should probably do something good with the money. I’m going to donate it all to ACLU. (He told BuzzFeed News he’d provide receipts of his donation.)

A woman has even sent Croisant actual tap shoes, that he’s currently waiting on, he said.

He’s also planning to make the actual tap-dancing a bigger production by filming it for everyone who’s now pitched in. Whenever the shoes come in, he’ll dance and then close the Venmo. He predicts and hopes by end of this week, he told BuzzFeed News.

Croisant also noted he doesn’t actually know who his downstairs neighbors are, and they’ve never met IRL.

“A couple months ago they put up the banners in the window and it was the dumbest banners ever. It frustrated me a lot,” he said. “When we had the protest in Cleveland, that night they took it down. A couple nights later, they put it back up. It didn’t make me too happy…so I thought it would be a kind of funny to do to annoy them.”

He initially thought it was fairly low-stakes.

“We’re not necessarily being mean, we’re teasing,” said Croisant. He has not heard from his downstairs neighbors, nor does he know if they’re aware of what’s been going on on the internet.

As his sign continues to spread online, Venmo payments are still rolling in.

“I’m a little taken aback by the whole thing,” said Croisant. But overall he added that he “love[s] that people are having fun with it.”

“I just want to annoy them a little bit ’cause they’ve been annoying me with their sign in their window,” he said.

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Elizabeth Warren’s outreach to black voters could help VP standing

WASHINGTON (AP) — Shortly before Elizabeth Warren joined their virtual happy hour on a recent Friday afternoon, the five African American women co-hosting the #TheSipHour mused about calling her by her first name.

The Massachusetts senator had her own moniker in mind.

“I was going to say I’m here today as an ally, but can we really just say co-conspirator?” laughed Warren, one of the few white women to appear at the events organized by Higher Heights For America, which promotes the organizing and voting power of black women. “Nothing’s going to change unless it is black women’s voices that are uplifted.”

Such overtures could help Warren’s bid to become Joe Biden’s running mate. The presumptive Democratic nominee is under mounting pressure to pick a black woman in the wake of recent outrage over racial injustice and police brutality. But some black leaders say Warren’s progressive politics, economic populism and specific policy proposals addressing everything from maternal mortality to the coronavirus could put her in a strong position.

“I think she’s totally still viable,” said Nelini Stamp, director of strategy and partnerships for the Working Families Party, a progressive labor activist group that endorsed Warren in the primary. “Warren is one of the folks whose been talking about big structural change. And when we’re thinking about re-imagining public safety, that is something that’s going to require some actual structural change.”

Representatives for Warren and Biden declined to comment. The pair speak frequently, and Warren hosted a virtual fundraiser for Biden on Monday that raised an impressive $6 million.

Warren told an audience of more than 600 that when her eldest brother died of the coronavirus in April “he was alone. I couldn’t be with him.” But she said Biden called and “told funny stories that made me laugh in a way that reminds us all of the good times that we have had with someone we have loved and lost.”

“He offered me kindness and comfort at a time when I needed some kindness and comfort,” Warren said, “because that’s the kind of man Joe Biden is.”

“The door to change has been cracked open,” Warren said. “If we want to swing that door wide open then we must do the most good that we can do at this moment.” She urged sowing “a seed for the America of your greatest imaginations.”

Biden’s vice presidential search is entering a new round of vetting, and Warren is still on the list along with several black women. They include Sen. Kamala Harris of California; Susan Rice, who served as President Barack Obama’s national security adviser; Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms; and Rep. Val Demings. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Latina, is also being considered.

Some Democrats say Amy Klobuchar’s standing has fallen since George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police. The Minnesota senator, who’s white, was a prosecutor years ago in the county that includes Minneapolis. During that period, more than two dozen people — mostly people of color — died during encounters with police.

The search was described by Democrats familiar with the process. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss the vetting.

During her bid for the Democratic nomination, Warren actively courted black activists and assembled a deep roster of endorsements. She gave a memorable speech in Atlanta in November on empowering black women and combating institutional racism that some African American leaders laud as prescient.

Warren talked ”in a very straightforward manner about many of the systemic issues that have plagued African Americans from the very beginning of our time here in America,” said South Carolina state Rep. Kambrell Garvin, who endorsed Warren in the primary. He said those included voter suppression and redlining, a term for banking standards that long made it difficult, if not impossible, for black families to secure mortgages in white neighborhoods.

“I think that she could be an interesting and compelling pick for Vice President Biden in regards to reaching out to African American voters,” Garvin said.

Still, Warren’s appeals didn’t translate to primary votes.

Some 61% of African American voters supported Biden, according to AP VoteCast surveys in 17 states that voted between Feb. 3 and March 17. Warren earned just 5% of their vote, far less than the race’s other strong progressive voice, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, at 21%.

But about 7 in 10 black voters nonetheless said they would be satisfied if Warren won the Democratic nomination for president, roughly as many that said that of Sanders. That suggests favorable ratings possibly durable enough to apply to the vice presidency under Biden.

Warren has continued to focus on race after ending her presidential campaign.

She joined Black Lives Matter protesters outside the White House this month with her husband and their golden retriever, Bailey. She has called for banning chokeholds as just the start of a larger overhaul of policing nationwide, and introduced legislation prohibiting the use of Confederate names and symbols from all U.S. military assets that has even drawn the support of some of her Republican Senate colleagues — as well as Biden.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson hosted a virtual town hall with Warren this month on the effects of the coronavirus. He said he still considers her “in the mix” for the vice presidential slot, but said picking a black woman could give Biden a boost in support from African American female voters that might be similar to the one that lifted Democrat Doug Jones to an upset 2017 Senate victory in Alabama.

“I think he should choose an African American,” Jackson said. “He needs the South to come alive.”

During her appearance on #TheSipHour, Warren was asked candidly by Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, how she talked with white relatives and friends about the protest movement. Warren responded that she’s stressed the need for non-blacks to educate themselves on the African American perspective.

“You’ve got to stop talking,” she said, “and start listening.”

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Kayleigh McEnany Hammers Media Hypocrites Criticizing Trump Rallies

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany shredded media hypocrites who are criticizing President Trump for starting up his campaign rallies, days after they praised protesters for taking to the streets and ignoring social distancing protocols.

In an appearance with Fox News personality, Sean Hannity, McEnany said the media’s “Trump Derangement Syndrome” has been on full display when comparing coverage of the two events.

She particularly noted NBC News’ coverage, which saw side-by-side tweets showing a positive headline involving a march for “black trans lives,” and one covering Trump rallies they quoted as “extraordinarily dangerous.”

RELATED: CNN’s Brian Stelter Gets Steamrolled By Trump Legal Adviser Jenna Ellis: ‘You’re An Activist’

Trump Derangement

A visual of the contrasting coverage as seen above makes it very clear, but McEnany expanded on the obvious bias permeating the mainstream media in America.

“This is how much they have Trump Derangement Syndrome,” fumed the Press Secretary. “They see a million people registering for [tickets to] a rally, so they are so contradictory, praising the crowd of protesters [while] criticizing the million people who signed up for a Trump rally.”

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale announced on Monday that there have been more than 1 million ticket requests for the President’s first rally since the start of the coronavirus lockdowns.

The rally is slated to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday.

RELATED: Kayleigh McEnany Shreds CNN’s Don Lemon And Chris Cuomo For Encouraging Violent Riots

Hypocrites

Aside from the blatant hypocrisy from NBC News, there is the old standby, intellectually-challenged individuals at CNN who have shown extraordinary bias in their coverage of protesters versus everyday Americans.

Anchor Don Lemon praised rioters as akin to Boston Tea Party revolutionaries when just a week earlier he was blasting Americans as potentially risking people’s lives.

“Massive crowd of people crammed together, as if it were just an ordinary holiday weekend despite the risks of a virus that has killed more than 98,000 people,” he whined.

Lemon’s colleague, Chris Cuomo, said people trying to get their jobs back and go to work to support their families were “out protesting like fools.”

But when the riots started taking place, he couldn’t help but cheer them on.

“America’s major cities are filled with people demanding this country be more fair, more just,” a gleeful Cuomo reported. “And please, show me where it says that protests are supposed to be polite and peaceful.”

Being dumber than a stump, Cuomo famously had his question answered by some random dude chomping on uncooked Ramen and saw his entire argument wiped out in about 10 seconds.

McEnany points out that the media’s corrupt coverage was no different when the administration was seeking to allow people to attend church services.

“We saw this with the churches, when the president … opened the churches, socially distanced, they criticized that but in the same breath laud the protests a week later,” she stated.

“It is so wrong, the people see directly through this, and it is all because President Trump is succeeding.”

The media, in its current state, is truly the enemy of the people.