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Listen To Leaked Audio Of Unhinged Trump Calling Governors ‘Weak’

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

In a teleconference call with governors and mayors on Monday amid escalating protests throughout the United States, President Donald Trump ranted against their "weak" leadership and urged officials to ramp up arrests, according to audio obtained by CNN.

The president also said of New York City protests, "They took over the police department. Police were running down with sirens and they — I have never seen anything like it, and the whole world was laughing…. All of a sudden, and I said you got to use the National Guard. And they did."

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Floyd’s Brother Delivers Moving Speech, Urges Peaceful Protest And Voting

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

A week after the May 25 death of George Floyd, mourners held a remembrance in his honor on Monday afternoon in Minneapolis. Terrence Floyd, George's brother, gave an emotional plea for non-violent protest and decried the violence and civil unrest that have rocked U.S. cities including Atlanta, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.

Floyd, during his speech, said of rioters and looters: "I'm not over here messing up my community. What are you all doing? Y'all doing nothing, because that's not going to bring my brother back at all. It may feel good for the moment, just like when you drink. But when you come down, you're going to wonder what you did."

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Trump’s Crusade Against Mail Ballots May Backfire In Key State

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump has recently been railing against mail-in voting, baselessly claiming that it promotes and encourages voter fraud. But the GOP actually has a long history of encouraging absentee ballots: as recently as last year, Pennsylvania Republicans voted to make voting by mail easier.

And now, journalist Andrew Seidman reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Pennsylvania GOP finds itself torn between its own promotion of mail-in ballots and wanting to follow Trump's whims.

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Disturbing Evidence Shows Officials ‘Deflated' Covid-19 Death Statistics To Spur Reopening

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

The United States passed a grim milestone this week when researchers at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore reported that the country's coronavirus death count had reached 100,000. But the number of COVID-19 fatalities and infections, many experts believe, is even worse than what is being reported. And journalists Darius Tahir and Adam Cancryn, in Politico, report that the number of deaths and new infections is being "deflated" at a time when President Donald Trump is pushing for states to reopen their economies sooner rather than later.

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Pompeo Formed CIA ‘Advisory Board’ To Build His Political Network

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Before Mike Pompeo was secretary of state in the Trump Administration, he served as director of the Central Intelligence Agency — a position he held from January 2017 (the month Trump was sworn into office) to April 2018. Journalist Natasha Bertrand looks back on Pompeo's activities as CIA director in an article for Politico, reporting that he "put together an undisclosed board of outside advisers" that "some at the agency viewed as inappropriately weighted toward wealthy individuals and well-connected political figures."

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Trump Killed Obama Rules To Protect Medical Workers In Pandemic

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump has repeatedly claimed that his Democratic predecessor in the White House, Barack Obama, left him ill-prepared to handle a major health crisis when, in fact, Obama's administration left behind a comprehensive pandemic game plan that included a 69-page playbook. But Trump's administration abandoned those Obama-era recommendations. On top of that, National Public Radio's Brian Mann is reporting that Trump's administration, in 2017, "stopped work on new federal regulations that would have forced the health care industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19."

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Right-Wing Paper Slams Trump For Pushing ‘Vile’ Conspiracy Theory

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump has never been shy about promoting absurd far-right conspiracy theories, including birtherism (the racist claim that President Barack Obama wasn't really born in the United States). And recently, Trump has been floating the conspiracy theory that Never Trump conservative Joe Scarborough — who hosts Morning Joe on MSNBC with liberal Mika Brzezinski, his wife — murdered a former employee. And the editorial board of the right-wing Washington Examiner slams Trump for it in a scathing editorial published on May 27.

The former employee that conspiracy theorists have accused of killing was Lori Klausutis, who suffered from a heart condition and was only 28 when, on July 19, 2001, she fell and fatally hit her head. At the time, Scarborough was a Florida Republican serving in the U.S. House of Representatives. Scarborough, who is now one of Trump's most vehement critics on the right, has since left the GOP because of his disdain for Trumpism.

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Report: Biden Poll Surge Scaring Trump's Top Donors And Allies

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Politically, a lot could happen between now and November, when voters in the United States will either reelect President Donald Trump or vote him out of office and replace him with former Vice President Joe Biden (the presumptive Democratic nominee). But if recent polls that show Trump trailing Biden in key battleground states like Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona and Michigan are any indication, Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic is damaging his shot at winning a second term. And according to Politico's Nancy Cook, Republican donors and advisers are growing increasingly worried about Biden's momentum.

"With only five months until the November general election, several Trump advisers, campaign veterans and prominent Republicans see the Trump campaign's efforts to define and damage former Vice President Joe Biden falling short," Cook reports. "These Trump supporters worry the campaign's myriad lines of attack on Biden this spring — from his age to his work with China as vice president to the Obama economic record — are failing to dent the presumptive Democratic nominee."Right-wing groups and pro-Trump donors and advisers, according to Cook, "want the Trump campaign to dramatically ramp up its efforts to tear down and pigeonhole Biden — much the way former President Barack Obama cast Mitt Romney as a plutocrat during the 2012 campaign, a framing from which Romney was never able to escape."

A GOP source described by Cook as someone "close to the White House" told Politico, "Take the gloves off and put him away. If you have the cash advantage and you have all of June, why are you not burying him?"

It isn't as though Trump and other Republicans haven't been attacking Biden, from describing him as "Sleepy Joe" to linking him to the ridiculous "Obamagate" conspiracy theory to describing him as favorable to the authoritarian government in China (which Trump was praising back in January and February). But according to Cook's sources, the lines of attack aren't working so far.A former official from Trump's 2016 campaign, seemingly interviewed on condition of anonymity, told Politico, "Listen, the American voters remember Biden as the happy grandfather during the Obama presidency. The more you can do to imprint a damaging impression of Biden heading into the fall, the better off the Trump campaign will be."

Another source, described by Cook as someone "close to the White House," told Politico that Trump's campaign has "not coalesced around the best message to attack Biden, and the message that Biden is diminished doesn't scare people enough. A lot of Americans just don't want the government to screw things up."

One should never underestimate the GOP's ability to successfully sell snake oil to American voters. The GOP has bounced back from everything from Herbert Hoover's presidency and the 1929 crash to Watergate to Iran/Contra to the disastrous U.S. invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush. Moreover, Republicans have an especially nasty weapon in their arsenal: voter suppression — and they're great at using it in African-American and Latino areas that are more likely to vote Democrat.

Nonetheless, recent polls have been encouraging for Biden's campaign. For example, recent polls from Firehouse Strategies/0ptimus and Quinnipiac University have found Biden leading Trump by 11 percent And a recent Fox News poll found Biden ahead by eight percent. None of that is to say that U.S. voters will feel that same way in November, but T.J. Ducklo, national press secretary for Biden's campaign, is optimistic.

Ducklo told Politico, "Donald Trump has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Joe Biden since the day he entered the race, using recycled nicknames, outright lies and even disinformation to try and brand him as something he's not. It failed miserably: VP Biden saw record turnout during sweeping victories this spring and united the Democratic Party around a nominee faster than in 2016 or 2008. Why? Because voters know Joe Biden, they know his character — and it's going to take more than cheap marketing tricks perfected at Trump University to bring down a true public servant who has fought for middle class families for over 45 years."

WHO Suspends Clinical Trials For Drug Trump Touted As Miracle Treatment

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

President Donald Trump has relentlessly promoted the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a possible treatment for COVID-19 — and many health experts have been warning that not only is there no evidence it could prevent COVID-19, but also, that it could have dangerous side effects. Now, the World Health Organization, according to The Independent, has announced the suspension of its clinical trial for hydroxychloroquine.

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Trump Surprised GOP Officials With Twitter Threat To Quit Charlotte

One of President Donald Trump's many targets on Memorial Day Weekend has been North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, who he says is moving too slowly on the state's reopening. Railing against Cooper on Twitter, Trump threatened to pull the 2020 Republican National Conventional out of Charlotte — and CNN is reporting that Republicans involved in the planning of the convention were "completely blindsided" by Trump's threat.

Trump tweeted, "Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena. In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space."The president also asserted that Republicans planning to attend the Republican National Convention "must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied."

"If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site," Trump tweeted. "This is not something I want to do. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina!"





According to CNN, Ronna McDaniel, chair of the Republican National Committee, said that the RNC is moving "full steam ahead" with the convention — although she stressed that it must be an in-person event.

McDaniel asserted, "We do not think at this time we have to switch to an alternative plan, but of course, we will monitor circumstances and adjust accordingly. We will not be holding a virtual convention."

Gov. Kemp Apologizes For Gross Distortions Of Covid-19 Data

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

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Judge Allows Lawsuit Against Trump Family Pyramid Scheme

One of the many lawsuits that the Trump Organization and members of the Trump family have faced allegations that they engaged in an illegal pyramid scheme. Attorneys for the company have tried to get the class action lawsuit placed on hold, but Judge Lorna G. Schofield — a federal judge in New York — has refused to stay the case.

In Law & Crime, reporters Matt Naham and Aaron Keller explain, "The class action plaintiffs allege that the Trump family business promoted a multi-level marketing or pyramid scheme known as ACN Opportunity, LLC. ACN, the plaintiffs said, was a 'get-rich-quick scheme' that relied on Trump and his family (conning) each of these victims into giving up hundreds or thousands of dollars,' in violation of various state laws."

Members of the Trump family named in the lawsuit include President Donald Trump and three of his children: Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump and White House Senior Adviser Ivanka Trump.

According to Naham and Keller, "The plaintiffs claimed that the Trump family falsely endorsed and promoted ACN by insisting that the enterprise 'offered a reasonable probability of commercial success' — even using 'The Celebrity Apprentice' to draw them in."

The plaintiffs first filed the lawsuit in October 2018, alleging "racketeering and conspiracy to racketeer." And in January 2019, attorneys for members of the Trump family requested that the case be thrown out altogether — which didn't happen, although the "racketeering and conspiracy to racketeer" claims were dismissed.Trump Organization lawyers were hoping that Schofield, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, would put the case on hold. But the Southern District of New York judge ruled that the lawsuit would not be stayed.

The 64-year-old Schofield, Naham and Keller report, applied the "traditional standard" for determining whether or not to stay a case.

"The first factor is whether the parties applying for the stay — the Trumps and ACN — are likely to succeed on the merits," Naham and Keller note. "Here, Schofield ruled that they are not…. The second of the four factors for a stay, irreparable injury, did not outweigh the defendants' loss on the first factor, the judge ruled. The third factor, 'substantial injury' to the plaintiffs, factored 'lightly against a stay.' The fourth factor, 'public interest' weighed 'slightly in favor of a stay,' the judge ruled."

Schofield, in her ruling, asserted, "As a private business dispute, the action does not give rise to a public interest in the lawsuit. That one of the defendants has since assumed a position of national prominence does not create the type of public interest typically found to weigh against a stay."

Florida Man Called Coronavirus Fake — And Then Fell Gravely Ill

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Some coronavirus deniers or skeptics changed their minds after becoming infected with it. In South Florida, one such person is rideshare driver Brian Hitchens, who is now warning fellow Americans to take the pandemic seriously.

The 46-year-old Hitchens, who lives in Jupiter, Florida, downplayed the seriousness of COVID-19 on Facebook in March and April. In an April 2 post, Hitchens wrote, "I'm honoring what our government says to do during this epidemic, but I do not fear this virus because I know that my God is bigger than this virus will ever be. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords."

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Key Moments From The Coronavirus Whistleblower’s Testimony

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Watch Rick Bright's full opening statement www.youtube.com

It was obvious that Rick Bright's Thursday testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce was really getting to President Donald Trump when he denounced the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority as a "disgruntled employee" — which is exactly the type of insult that Trump resorts to when someone gets under his skin (journalist Scott Martelle, in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, argued that Trump's insult only adds to Bright's credibility).

Bright, during his extensive testimony, had a lot to say about the coronavirus pandemic and Trump's response to it — explaining why he issued a whistleblower complaint. According to Bright's complaint, he was removed from his position at BARDA in April and reassigned to a different position in the National Institutes of Health because he didn't share Trump's enthusiasm for hydroxychloroquine as a possible COVID-19 treatment.

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How Conspiracies Became Trump’s Governing Ideology

On the far right, the racist conspiracy theory known as birtherism has faded into the background. The reactionary movement has moved on to new nefarious myths, including the QAnon miasma and claims that Dr. Anthony Fauci is using the coronavirus pandemic to undermine Donald Trump's presidency.

But journalist Adam Serwer, in a piece for The Atlantic this week, stresses that the importance of birtherism to the right wing goes way beyond their disdain for Obama — it is part of a broader ideology of white nationalism and white supremacy. And the prominence of conspiracy theories features in other articles published this week by the Atlantic, including one by Jefferey Goldberg and another by Adrienne LaFrance.

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AOC Joins Biden Policy Panel In Bid For Party Unity

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Now that former Vice President Joe Biden is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, the progressive and centrist wings of his party are coalescing around him, including President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar in the center — and Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the left. And Biden, in an obvious effort to reach out to the progressive wing of his party, has asked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City to co-chair a Biden campaign task force on climate change.

According to CNN, the task force's other co-chair will be former U.S. senator and 2004 Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry — who took over as secretary of state in Obama's administration in 2013 after Clinton left that position. The task force will also include Varshini Prakash, who serves as executive director of the Sunrise Movement and has championed Ocasio-Cortez' Green New Deal.

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Legal Experts Scorch Barr's Decision To Drop Flynn Case

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

One of this week's most shocking political bombshells came when, on Thursday, news broke that Attorney General William Barr had dropped the case against former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn — who pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his communications with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. Legal experts have been weighing in on the DOJ's decision, and some of them are stressing that the U.S. is living in strange times when someone admits to a federal crime and the attorney general intervenes on his behalf.

In Law & Crime, reporter Jerry Lambe discusses the arguments that the DOJ, under Barr, made when it decided to drop the case against Flynn.

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