President Trump announced a broad four-part plan Thursday to improve policing nationwide and advance conditions in minority communities, a vision he called “force with compassion” that rejects a liberal movement to defund police departments.
Pushing back at widespread complaints of institutional racism in the U.S., Mr. Trump also said there won’t be healing in the nation “by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist.” At a mega-church in Dallas, Mr. Trump said he will sign an executive order soon encouraging police departments to meet high professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalating confrontations.
The action will also include pilot programs to allow social workers to join certain law enforcement officers “so they can work together,” he said.
“That means force, but force with compassion,” the president said. “We’re not defunding police. If anything, we’re going the other route. We’re going to make sure our police are well-trained.”
He made the appearance with police and community and faith leaders in Texas two days after the funeral of George Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 during an encounter with police in Minneapolis. Since then, the president has come under heavy criticism for failing to address the protests and chronic underlying conditions that have roiled many cities nationwide.
Mr. Trump made clear that he is not abandoning his law-and-order agenda. He said a spree of violence in Chicago last weekend and the takeover of a section of Seattle by demonstrators are unacceptable.
“We have to have law and order,” Mr. Trump said. “You have to have strength. Look at Seattle. They took over a city, a big chunk of it. It couldn’t happen here, I don’t think, in the state of Texas.”
The president said some elements of the country are “trying to stoke division. … This includes radical efforts to defund, dismantle and disband the police.”
“We have to go the opposite way,” he said. “We must invest more energy and resources in police training and recruitment and community engaging. … You always have a bad apple wherever you go. There are not too many in the police department.”
He reiterated his position on rioting: “You have to dominate the streets.”
The president also said he will renew his appeal for Congress to approve school choice and called it “the civil rights issue of our time.” The president promised increased investment in minority communities, as well as for health care institutions that serve mostly minorities.
“We are here to listen to community and faith leaders and to present our vision of advancing the cause of justice and freedom,” Mr. Trump said.
The White House also is working with Senate Republicans on legislation to address police practices. Mr. Trump opposes a proposal by Democrats to eliminate “qualified immunity” for police in the course of their duties.
Addressing the complaints of systemic racism in the U.S., the president said, “We have to work together to confront bigotry and prejudice wherever they appear. But we’ll make no progress and heal no wounds by falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist.”
The event on race and policing excluded the three top law enforcement officials in the county — a police chief, sheriff and district attorney — all of whom are black. The White House said the president already heard a wide range of views.
Mr. Trump brought along Attorney General William Barr as well as two of the top black officials in his administration — Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and Surgeon General Jerome Adams. Mr. Barr said he is optimistic about addressing issues of policing to avoid a repetition of Floyd’s death.
“That ghastly spectacle in Minneapolis was jarring to the whole nation,” Mr. Barr said.
But he added, “Police are by and large good, decent people. We cannot lose sight of the fact that the real oppression and danger to our communities comes more from violent crime and lawlessness than it does from the police.”
He also pointed to religion as a solution. “We have to stop policies that undermine religion or relegate it out of the public square,” he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union slammed the president’s proposals as ineffective and insincere.
“President Trump continued to push his law and order rhetoric while providing piecemeal service to the very real issues underlying the public outcry around the murders of Black people in this country,” said senior legislative counsel Kanya Bennett. “His comments did not address what is a fundamental truth — we need to fundamentally change the role of police in America, and that role has to be smaller, more circumscribed, and less funded with taxpayer dollars. Giving more money to the police and the prison system won’t end the epidemic of violence and brutality.”
The theme of the roundtable meeting in Dallas was “Transition to Greatness: Restoring, Rebuilding, and Renewing.” It emphasized the president’s theme that his economic policies prior to the COVID-19 pandemic created prosperity and opportunity for all segments of society.
But the rising prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement and persistent economic anxiety have been making it difficult for the president’s messaging to gain traction with the public. His job approval ratings have dropped significantly in the past month.
Even the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Milley, caught the White House off guard Thursday by apologizing to the public for participating in the presidential walk across Lafayette Park to visit the fire-damaged St. John’s Episcopal Church last week amid anti-racism protests.
The president blamed “domestic terrorists” for the situation in Seattle, where activists have established an “autonomous zone” amid unrest. Mr. Trump told Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan on Twitter, “Take back your city NOW. If you don’t, I will. This is not a game.”
Mr. Inslee and Ms. Durkan responded by telling the president to butt out.
“A man who is totally incapable of governing should stay out of Washington state’s business,” said Mr. Inslee, a former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate.
Presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden said the president is showing that he is incapable of leading in challenging times.
“For weeks, we’ve seen President Trump run away from a meaningful conversation on systemic racism and police brutality. Instead, he’s further divided our country,” Mr. Biden said. “[Thursday’s] trip to Texas won’t change any of that. President Trump is more interested in photo-ops than offering a healing voice as our nation mourns.”
A Trump campaign ad airing this week in the Washington market shows images of rioting, and it links Mr. Biden to the unrest.
“Biden fails to stand up to the radical leftists fighting to defund and abolish the police,” the narrator says. “With Biden kneeling to the left, we’d have chaos in the streets.”
The ad says Mr. Trump is “standing up for us, keeping our communities safe, protecting minority-owned businesses and always standing for our flag.”
The Trump campaign also criticized Mr. Biden for holding a fundraiser Thursday night with music artist and activist John Legend, who has promised to push the former vice president toward defunding law enforcement. “The train to defund the police has left the station, and Joe Biden is on it, whether he likes it or not,” the Trump campaign said.
The president’s base still supports him overwhelmingly, although there are signs of discontent. A Gallup poll this week found that only 1 in 5 Americans are satisfied with the direction of the country, a drop of 25 percentage points since February.
Mr. Trump’s trip to Texas raised $10 million for his reelection effort and for other Republican campaign committees. The traditionally red state is in play again this year. A Quinnipiac poll last week showed the president 1 percentage point ahead of Mr. Biden there.
Democrats accused Mr. Trump of racism Thursday for scheduling his next campaign rally on the “Juneteenth” anniversary of slavery’s end, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of one of the worst massacres of blacks in U.S. history.
“This isn’t just a wink to white supremacists — he’s throwing them a welcome home party,” tweeted Sen. Kamala D. Harris, California Democrat and a contender to become Mr. Biden’s running mate.
Kamau Marshall, a spokesman for the Biden campaign, said on Twitter, “How racist is Donald Trump: He’s so racist that he plans on having one of his first campaign rallies on June 19th in Tulsa, OK.”
Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day, celebrates the reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to enslaved black Americans on June 19, 1865, after the end of the Civil War. Texas was the last Confederate state to have the proclamation announced. President Lincoln made it effective in 1863, but few Union troops enforced it in Texas until after the war ended in April 1865.
Celebrations of Juneteenth date to 1866. The 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre Centennial Commission is holding educational activities and other events leading up to the 100th anniversary next May.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Juneteenth “is a meaningful day” to the president.
“The African American community is very near and dear to his heart,” she told reporters. “At these rallies, he often shares the great work he has done for minority communities. He’s working on rectifying injustices. … It’s a day where he wants to share some of the progress that’s been made as we look forward and more that needs to be done.”
Trump campaign senior adviser Katrina Pierson rejected the accusations that holding a campaign rally on the date is racist.
“As the party of Lincoln, Republicans are proud of the history of Juneteenth, which is the anniversary of the last reading of the Emancipation Proclamation,” she said in a statement. “President Trump has built a record of success for black Americans, including unprecedented low unemployment prior to the global pandemic, all-time high funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and criminal justice reform. Joe Biden spent last Juneteenth raising money at a private fundraiser and defending comments he made celebrating his work with segregationist senators.”
Tulsa was the scene of a massacre in 1921 in which a white mob attacked a mostly black business district known as “Black Wall Street.” Some modern historians estimate that as many as 300 people were killed and more than 35 city blocks were destroyed.
⦁ David Sherfinski and Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this report.
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RNC outlines scaled-back convention in Jacksonville
Republicans are planning to scale back their convention in Jacksonville next month, according to a letter from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent to RNC members on Thursday. The convention will still take place from Aug. 24-27, but only regular delegates, or about 2,500 people, will be allowed to attend for the first three…
Republicans are planning to scale back their convention in Jacksonville next month, according to a letter from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel sent to RNC members on Thursday.
The convention will still take place from Aug. 24-27, but only regular delegates, or about 2,500 people, will be allowed to attend for the first three days.
On Aug. 27, when President Trump will publicly accept the party’s nomination, each delegate, their guest, and alternate delegates will be allowed to attend.
That means final-day attendance would likely be capped at around 7,000 people.
Ms. McDaniel said they plan to implement a variety of health protocols to ensure a safe event, including “on-site temperature checks, available PPE, aggressive sanitizing protocols, and available COVID-19 testing.”
“I want to make clear that we still intend to host a fantastic convention celebration in Jacksonville,” she said. “We can gather and put on a top-notch event that celebrates the incredible accomplishments of President Trump’s administration and his re-nomination for a second term — while also doing so in a safe and responsible manner.”
Both Ms. McDaniel and the Jacksonville host committee said Thursday that organizers plan to use both indoor and outdoor facilities in Florida for events during the week.
Republicans announced last month that they were moving parts of the convention to Florida. The event was originally to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina.
North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat, would not guarantee full use of a packed arena amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“When we made these changes, we had hoped to be able to plan a traditional convention celebration to which we are all accustomed,” Ms. McDaniel said. “However, adjustments must be made to comply with state and local health guidelines.”
Jacksonville currently has a mask mandate for indoor events and in places where people can’t socially distance.
Under the state’s Phase 2 guidance, people are encouraged to avoid gathering in groups of more than 50 people.
The party is still planning to conduct some business in Charlotte.
The Democratic National Convention was supposed to take place this week in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, but the party moved it to August and switched to a largely virtual format amid coronavirus concerns.
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Biden outlines $2 trillion climate change proposal
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden pledged Tuesday to invest $2 trillion into combating climate change during his first term in office. Mr. Biden said President Trump’s refusal to address the mounting problem and his bungled response to the coronavirus calls for a massive down payment on a pro-environment agenda that will lead to…
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden pledged Tuesday to invest $2 trillion into combating climate change during his first term in office.
Mr. Biden said President Trump’s refusal to address the mounting problem and his bungled response to the coronavirus calls for a massive down payment on a pro-environment agenda that will lead to new jobs and fewer carbon emissions.
“There is no more consequential challenge that we must meet in the next decade than the onrushing climate crisis,” Mr. Biden said in Wilmington. “Left unchecked, it is literally an existential threat to our planet and to our very survival.”
Mr. Biden said his plan will strengthen the nation’s crumbling roads and bridges and achieve “net-zero emissions no later than 2050.”
“When Donald Trump thinks about climate change, the only word he can muster is ‘hoax,’” the former vice president said. “When I think about climate change, the word I think about is ‘jobs.’”
The proposal is part of Mr. Biden’s economic recovery plan.
It grew out of the recommendations from the Biden-Sanders unity task on climate change co-chaired by former Secretary of State John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York.
The Biden camp believes that it can make inroads against Mr. Trump by highlighting his failure to deliver on his promise to revamp the nation’s infrastructure
Mr. Biden said his plan would generate well-paying union jobs, improve air quality, and restore the nation’s “crumbling roads and bridges and ports.”
“When Donald Trump thinks about renewable energy, he sees windmills somehow causing cancer,” Mr. Biden said. “When I think about these windmills, I see American manufacturing, Americans workers racing to dominate the market.”
Mr. Biden said Mr. Trump and Republican lawmakers have failed to act.
Mr. Biden said he can pass an infrastructure bill, citing the lead role he played in passing the 2009 stimulus bill that included big investments in infrastructure and clean energy.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who made climate change the centerpiece of his failed 2020 presidential run, applauded Mr. Biden’s approach, saying he “decided to go big.”
“Joe Biden’s modern infrastructure and clean energy plan shows that he’s serious about defeating climate change and has a road map to become the Climate President that America needs,” Mr. Inslee said.
Republicans panned the plan.
House Republican Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana panned the Biden plan, reminding reporters in a conference call how Solyndra, a solar panel maker, defaulted on a $528 million federal loan it had received through the 2009 stimulus package.
“That is Solyndra on steroids,” Mr. Scalise said on a conference call with the Trump campaign. “It’s a track record of failure.”
A spokesman for the Republican National Committee said the proposals show Mr. Biden is “beholden to left-wing ideologues and not to the American people who face the prospect of eliminated jobs and higher taxes under his plan.”
Steve Milloy, former Trump EPA Transition Team member, panned the plan, saying his vow to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from power plants is a “false fantasy” that would “wreck our economy and standard of living.”
“This campaign promise is nothing but a transparent attempt to excite the Ocasio-Cortez wing of the Democrat Party about the Biden candidacy,” Mr. Malloy said.
Mr. Biden’s plan calls for a “carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035,” retrofitting 4 million buildings in an environmentally friendly way and establishing universal broadband access.
Mr. Biden also borrowed from the plan that Mr. Inslee laid out during his presidential run, calling for the establishment of the Environmental and Climate Justice Division within the U.S. Department of Justice that would be tasked with holding corporate polluters accountable.
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