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Trump news - live: Administration sues over Bolton book as criticism grows over president's police reform executive order

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Trump claims that Oklahoma has a very low coronavirus number

Donald Trump's administration sued to block the release of John Bolton's upcoming White House memoir, saying it was "rife with classified information."

The White House defended Trump's executive orders on police reform as Democrats critised the measures as "weak" and "inadequate".

Mike Pence, meanwhile, defended the president's upcoming rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, insisting Trump has the right to gather supporters after falsely claiming the state successfully "flattened the curve."

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Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration and its response to the coronavirus pandemic and George Floyd protests.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 09:30

Trump blames rising US coronavirus cases on testing

Donald Trump is blaming an uptick in US coronavirus cases and hospitalisations solely on an increase in testing, rather than his push for governors to reopen their states for the sake of the economy even as the deadly disease continues to spread.

“If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,” the president said at the White House on Monday.

Trump was elaborating on a tweet in which he had argued: “Without testing, or weak testing, we would be showing almost no cases. Testing is a double edged sword - Makes us look bad, but good to have!!!”

With 2.16m American cases of the infection and more than 118,000 deaths from Covid-19 (and counting), here’s John T Bennett with more on the president’s Wonderland logic.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 09:45

Tulsa local newspaper tells president not to hold weekend rally

The president is still planning to press ahead with his election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday despite complaining of being “Covid Shamed” on Monday as concerns continue to be raised about the spread of the contagion through the 19,000-seat venue when the crowds gather, with local newspaper Tulsa World the latest to condemn the event.

“This is the wrong time and Tulsa is the wrong place for a Trump rally,” an exasperated editorial in the paper declared. “We don’t know why he chose Tulsa, but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city.” 

There’s “no reason to think” the president's appearance “will have any effect on November’s election outcome” in either the city or the state but it could spark a further spread of the disease, the paper warned.

Tulsa is “still dealing with the challenges created by a pandemic. The city and state have authorised reopening - but that doesn’t make a mass indoor gathering of people pressed closely together and cheering a good idea,” Tulsa World continued. “There is no treatment for Covid-19 and no vaccine. It will be our healthcare system that will have to deal with whatever effects follow.”

Both Trump and his deputy Mike Pence yesterday attempted to downplay concerns, with the latter wrongly suggesting the region had “flattened the curve” when in fact cases are continuing to rise. 

Another reason not to go ahead with the Tulsa jolly is that the city was the scene of a notorious racist massacre in 1921, making it an insensitive destination in the current climate of widespread anger against police brutality inflicted on black Americans following the killing of George Floyd (and Rayshard Brooks and Breonna Taylor and countless others).

Tulsa was home to the prosperous black district of Greenville 99 years ago, nicknamed “Negro Wall Street”, until it was torn apart by white rioters over a misunderstanding between a black youth and a 17-year-old white female elevator operator, the violence resulting in as many as 300 African Americans being killed, an atrocity still rarely taught in US schools.

Oklahoma’s Republican governor Kevin Stitt has now invited Trump to tour the area in a spirit of national healing but Greenville’s Democratic representative Monroe Nichols is opposed to the idea, saying the divisive president’s visit would be like “pouring a little salt in old wounds”, according to The Huffington Post.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 10:05

Larry Kudlow says nation will need to 'get used to' high Covid-19 cases and 'disinclined' to order second shutdown

As the administration continues to look the other way on the coronavirus and pretend it’s all yesterday’s news, Trump’s economic adviser - notorious for his questionable fiscal pronouncements - has created an uproar after suggesting on Fox News that the deadly respiratory disease is something people will just have to live with (assuming they survive it) as a fact of life.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 10:20

President withdrawing US troops from 'delinquent' Germany over Nato spending row

Trump says the US will withdraw approximately 9,000 American troops from Germany, reducing its military presence in the country by roughly a third, after he accused Berlin of being “delinquent” in its Nato payments.

The president told reporters on Monday that the US is “protecting Germany and they’re delinquent, that doesn’t make sense”.

In 2014, Nato members supported spending two per cent of their respective gross national products on military by 2024. Germany said at the time it expected to reach that target by 2031 so actually has more than a decade to reach its goal.


Alex Woodward has this report.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 10:35

Trump to sign executive order ushering in only moderate police reforms

The president is signing an order today that will seek to improve how police officers treat African Americans and others by improving credentialing, training and mental health resources, administration officials said.

The order comes after Trump has struck a Nixonian "law and order" tone in his response to protests around the country sparked by the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

Trump has faced criticism from Democrats for his response and some allies are concerned that his handling of the protests and the coronavirus pandemic are hurting his and other Republican leaders' chances of re-election in November.

Senior administration officials said the order will aim to incentivise police departments to improve by tying federal approval of discretionary grants to good policing practices.

The order would encourage police departments to employ the latest standards for use of force, improve information sharing so that officers with shoddy 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.

"We're going to be talking about things that we've been watching and seeing for the last month and we're going to have some solutions," Trump told reporters on Monday.

Law enforcement officials and families of people who have been killed by police are expected to be part of the event where Trump will sign the order.

Lawmakers in Congress are also working on legislative responses to the calls for police reform.

"Certainly we can add on to what we do by the work that's being done in the House and in the Senate," Trump said.

Some activists have called for taking funding from police departments. Leading Democrats and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden have not embraced those calls, but Republicans have sought to tie them to the proposals to provide a contrast to Trump's rhetoric.

"We're not looking to defund the police. We're looking to invest more and incentivise best practices," one administration official said on Tuesday.


Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 10:50

Melania Trump wishes US Army a happy birthday but not her husband

The first lady remembered the troops's special day on Sunday but not Donald's, judging by Twitter, where she retweeted this but sent no public message to the old man as he turned 74.

No wonder he's started talking to himself online.

Here's Gino Spocchia on Melania.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 11:10

Trump says ex-adviser John Bolton breaking the law by publishing memoir

Another of the president's little remarks on Monday found him arguing that his former national security adviser will have broken the law and face criminal liability if a book he has written about his time in the White House is published without official permission.

Trump told reporters 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.

"I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified. So that would mean that if he wrote a book and if the book gets out, he's broken the law," Trump said. "That's called criminal liability. That's a big thing."

US attorney general William Barr, also speaking in the Cabinet Room, said the Justice Department was trying to get Bolton to complete the clearance process and "make the necessary deletions of classified information."

Trump fired Bolton in September after 519 days on the job amid simmering differences on a wide array of foreign policy issues.

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

The publisher, Simon and Schuster, said in a news release on Friday the book provides an insider account of Trump's "inconsistent, scattershot decision-making process."

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," Simon and Schuster said.

Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, said the effort to block the book's publication was doomed to fail.

"As usual, the government's threats have nothing to do with safeguarding national security, and everything to do with avoiding scandal and embarrassment," Wizner said.

Trump said the problem of publishing classified information including conversations with the president "becomes even worse if he lies about the conversation, which I understand he might have in some cases." He said he had not read the book.

"So we'll see what happens. They're in court, or they'll soon be in court," Trump said.

Here's Andrew Naughtie's story.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 11:30

New Republican Voters Against Trump ad sees Lindsey Graham’s past attack on president return to haunt him

“He’s a race-baiting, xenophobic, religious bigot. You know how you make America great again? Tell Donald Trump to go to hell.”

Not my my words, Carol. The words of South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham!

It's often forgotten these days that the softly spoken southerner was once an arch-enemy of Trump when both men were fighting for the 2016 Republican nomination, with the latter even reading out Graham's mobile number to a crowd of voters as an obnoxious stunt, forcing him to have it changed.

Graham was also once a huge admirer of Joe Biden, as this new attack ad reminds us.

Chris Riotta has this one.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 11:50

Joe Biden enjoys record-breaking fundraising haul as polls show him beating Trump by double digits

The former vice president celebrated a record-breaking fundraising haul on Monday as the presumptive 2020 Democrat presidential nominee’s campaign announced it raised over $80m (£63m) last month after teaming up with the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The former vice president’s campaign received an average online donation of $30 (£24), according to a financial disclosure candidates are required to release by 20 June. Trump’s re-election campaign has not yet released its figures along with those from Republican National Committee (RNC).

Biden’s stunning total is the largest haul of any Democratic candidate in the party’s once-historically crowded field. It’s a $20m (£15.8m) increase from the previous month, when the former vice president’s campaign and the DNC raised a reported $60.5m (£47.8m). rump’s campaign and the RNC raised $61.7m (£48.7m) in April.

“I’m in awe of this sum of money. Just a few months ago, people were ready to write this campaign off,” Biden said in a statement. “I understand what these dollars mean. When facing uncertainty and recession, you chose to back me. I will never forget that. And I promise that when I’m president, I won’t let you down.”

Here's Chris Riotta's report.

Joe Sommerlad16 June 2020 12:10

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