Here’s a glance at today’s major news items ...

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a further 32,411 coronavirus cases, bringing the total to 2,248,029. This marks the third straight day with total new cases exceeding 30,000 after more than a week of the daily count holding between 19,000 and 28,000.

The number of deaths has risen by 560 to 119,615.

The CDC figures do not necessarily reflect cases reported by individual states.

Seattle police on Sunday continued to pursue their investigation of a shooting in a park in the city’s protest zone which left a 19-year-old man dead and another person critically injured. No arrests had been made, the AP reported.

The shooting occurred at about 2.30am on Saturday in an area near downtown known as Chaz, for “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone”.

The zone, an area cordoned off by protesters, evolved after weeks of protests over police brutality and racism following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

According to a police blog, officers responding to the shooting said they “were met by a violent crowd that prevented officers safe access to the victims”.

Video released by police appeared to show officers arriving at the protest zone saying they wanted to get to the victim and entering as people yelled that the victim was already gone. Police mostly retreated from the zone after clashes with protesters, KIRO-TV reported.

Private vehicles took two males with gunshot wounds to Harborview Medical Center, where the 19-year-old died and the other was in critical condition in intensive care.

Nascar’s ban of the Confederate flag got off to a checkered start with Sunday afternoon’s Geico 500 at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway, which marked the first large-scale sporting event in the United States to allow fans to attend since the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Cup series race was the first Nascar event with spectators since it banned the Confederate flag from its properties earlier this month, formally distancing itself from what for many is a symbol of slavery and racism that had been a familiar sight at stock car events for more than 70 years.

While it was hard to gauge the effect of the ban with only 5,000 fans allowed into a venue that can accommodate upwards of 100,000, at least one faraway spectator made their stance clear: a plane circled above the superspeedway with the message DEFUND NASCAR trailing behind it.

Defund Nascar flag
A banner flies behind a plane that says ‘DEFUND NASCAR’ at Talladega Superspeedway. Photograph: Marvin Gentry/USA Today Sports

As Guardian contributor Andrew Lawrence has written, enforcement is the big question when it comes to the flag ban. Nascar, for its part, has not disclosed how it will handle attendees flying the stars ‘n bars, nor any policy for Confederate standards in the campgrounds and tailgates that are as much a part of the Nascar experience as the races themselves.

And yet: I can’t help but wonder – what does enforcement of this new policy even look like? You know, when spectators are actually allowed back on-site? A Nascar race, after all, is a sprawling spectacle that attracts stars ‘n bars enthusiasts by the tens of thousands. Even if a track’s army of blue-haired volunteers manages to turn back a few of these rebels at the gate, there are still acres of grassy parking space around the track for rebel tailgaters to let their freak flag fly. You’re telling me the local police who are regularly tasked with keeping the peace at races are gonna be the ones hauling off these tailgaters kicking and screaming?

Nascar’s enforcement problem was underscored by the group of roughly two dozen protesters on pickup trucks and wagons with Confederate flags flying from the back who drove back and forth along Speedway Boulevard outside the venue in defiance of the ban.

Nascar flag ban
Protesters of Nascar banning the Confederate flag cruise down Speedway Boulevard prior to the race on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Photograph: Marvin Gentry/USA Today Sports

“Our southern heritage has been pushed to death and we are tired of it,” Alabama native Charles Burdette, who organized the demonstration, told Kickin’ the Tires. “Nascar is going to be a thing of the past. They are taking everything out for what it stands for. It was put together by rednecks, moonshiners and hillbillies.”

The green flag for Sunday’s race was delayed for several hours due to heavy rain and lightning in the area, then postponed until Monday afternoon.


As Donald Trump’s reelection campaign has worked overtime to spin Saturday night’s Tulsa debacle in its favor, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace proved an unaccommodating dance partner on Sunday morning.

The veteran newsman repeatedly pushed back at Trump campaign adviser Mercedes Schlapp’s excuses for Saturday’s poor turnout in an interview on Fox News Sunday, noting the BOK Arena was far from packed to capacity, as breathlessly promised throughout the run-up, and that an overflow crowd stage event outside the building was canceled.

After boasting of the sizable digital audience for the campaign reboot and large (and perhaps artificially inflated) number of RSVPs for tickets, Schlapp went on to blame protesters blocking entrances and metal detectors for preventing people from entering the rally – a theory Wallace calmly punctured.

“He didn’t fill an arena last night,” Wallace said. “And you guys were so far off that you had planned an outdoor rally and there wasn’t an overflow crowd and watching the coverage and talking to [Fox News correspondent] Mark Meredith on the ground today, protesters did not stop people from coming to that rally.”

From there Schlapp rapidly pivoted to the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, saying: “I’d love to see a Joe Biden rally. Let’s bring it on, because there is no comparison. The phenomenon of the rally came because of President Trump, and people came out. Those people that knew that they wanted to be there physically present with the president. They joined us, and they’re family-oriented individuals who wanted to come out and be with us.”

To which Wallace responded: “Mercedes, please don’t filibuster. We’re showing pictures here and it shows big, empty areas. Frankly, it makes you guys look silly when you deny the reality of what happened.


White House confirms Trump will tour border wall construction on Tuesday

The White House has confirmed Donald Trump will visit the Arizona border on Tuesday to commemorate the completion of 200 miles of wall along America’s southern border with Mexico.

This wil mark Trump’s second visit in as many months to Arizona, which has emerged as a key battleground state ahead of the November general election.

Trump’s visit comes at a time when coronavirus cases in Arizona have nearly doubled in the last two weeks.

Arizona health officials reported 2,592 new Covid-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 52,390. On 7 June, the state reported 26,989 total cases, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally.

Following a stopover in Yuma to inspect the long-promised border wall, Trump will head to Phoenix to deliver “an address to young Americans”.

“The President promised to build a strong border wall system and he continues to deliver on his promises,” the White House said last week in a statement. “His Administration continues to take bold, decisive action to safeguard our nation. A strong border system also combats the heinous human trafficking and exploitation of children and vulnerable populations by cartels.”

Oklahoma health officials have reported a new daily record for coronavirus cases on Sunday, one day after Donald Trump’s much-ballyhooed comeback rally at an indoor arena in Tulsa.

The state’s department of health said there were 478 new cases in the last 24-hour period, bringing the statewide total to 10,515.

Health department officials reported one virus-related death on Sunday, raising the overall toll to 369.

Daily counts of new virus cases in the United States are the highest they’ve been in more than a month, but public health experts say “second wave” is probably the wrong term to describe what’s happening.

“When you have 20,000-plus infections per day, how can you talk about a second wave?” said Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and key member of the White House coronavirus taskforce. “We’re in the first wave.”

The family of Tom Petty has issued a formal cease and desist letter to the Donald Trump campaign over its use of his song I Won’t Back Down at Saturday night’s rally in Tulsa.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Adria, Annakim, Dana and Jane Petty said the US president was “in no way authorized to use this song to further a campaign that leaves too many Americans and common sense left behind”.

They said the late musician and his family “firmly stand against racism and discrimination of any kind. Tom Petty would not want a song of his used for a campaign of hate. He liked to bring people together”.

— Tom Petty (@tompetty) June 21, 2020

Petty’s family declared their support for America and for democracy, but said “Donald Trump is not representing the noble ideals of either. We would hate for fans that are marginalized by this administration to think we were complicit in this usage”.

Back in 2000, Petty himself issued an eerily similar notice to then-candidate George W Bush when he used I Won’t Back Down on the campaign trail, claiming his use of the song implied an endorsement.


New York City is set to enter phase two of reopening on Monday, which includes the return of outdoor dining, offices, in-store retail, hair salons and barbershops, real estate services, houses of worship as well as car sales and rentals. Anything indoors will include reduced capacity, social distancing and mandatory facemask compliance.

“The Covid-19 pandemic isn’t over, and as we reopen New York safely and incrementally, the state government will continue to provide timely information so that New Yorkers can make educated decisions for themselves and their families,” New York governor Andrew Cuomo said. “Yesterday, less than 1 percent of COVID-19 tests conducted in the state were positive, which means we continue to be on the right path toward defeating the virus.”

The state reported 664 new coronavirus cases on Sunday from 67,526 tests administered, a positive rate of less than 1%.

Donald Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, has come under pressure after claiming that hundreds of thousands of people had applied for tickets to Saturday’s rally in Tulsa, only for the event to then attract underwhelming crowds.

The Tulsa Fire Department said 6,200 people attended Saturday’s rally, and vast banks of seats were empty as the president took the stage to give his first public campaign speech since the Covid-19 pandemic put large parts of America under lockdown. The BOK Center, where the rally took place, has a capacity of up to 19,000. The Trump campaign claims 12,000 people attended the rally.

From our Chief White House @Acosta : Turns out Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are “pissed” at Trump Campaign Mgr. Brad Parscale for predicting a much larger turnout at the Tulsa rally last night than actually showed — only 6200. There were thousands of empty seats. #CNN

— lisa mirando (@LisaMirandoCNN) June 21, 2020

CNN reported on Sunday that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are “pissed” that Parscale promised huge crowds for the event.

Parscale on Sunday blamed the low attendance on “a week’s worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of Covid and protestors, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire, had a real impact on people bringing their families and children to the rally.”

Parscale then appeared to threaten to rescind accreditation for journalists critical of the Trump campaign. “For the media to now celebrate the fear that they helped create is disgusting, but typical,” he said. “And it makes us wonder why we bother credentialing media for events when they don’t do their full jobs as professionals”.

Rick Wilson, an author, former Republican consultant and Lincoln Project co-founder, was critical of Parscale’s approach. “Brad broke the first rule of American politics: under promise and over deliver,” he told the Guardian in an email. “Brad’s survival now depends on the good offices of his patrons inside the Trump camp, and [Ivanka and Jared Kushner] are already signaling their displeasure to the media.”

There is speculation that the number of applicants to Saturday’s rally was inflated by young users on social media platform TikTok applying for tickets and then deliberately not attending.

“Trump has been actively trying to disenfranchise millions of Americans in so many ways, and to me, this was the protest I was able to perform,” Erin Hoffman, an 18-year-old New Yorker, told the New York Times.

I didn’t see a single person being blocked from entering the rally and was outside for about 5 hours.

— Oliver Laughland (@oliverlaughland) June 20, 2020

The Trump campaign said protesters had blocked entrances and metal detectors, preventing people from entering the rally. However, reporters on the ground, including the Guardian’s Oliver Laughland, said they saw no evidence of such tactics.

Public health officials had warned against holding a large indoor gathering as Covid-19 cases in Oklahoma rise. The Trump campaign did not require attendees on Saturday to wear masks, and some speculated fear of Covid-19 may have stopped some supporters from attending the rally.


The Associated Press reports on a complaint from correction officers in Minnesota who say they were stopped from guarding the man who killed George Floyd due to their race:

Eight minority corrections officers who work at the jail holding a former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd allege that they were barred from guarding or having contact with the officer because of their race.

Floyd died on 25 May after Derek Chauvin, who is white, used his knee to pin down the the handcuffed black man’s neck even after Floyd stopped moving and pleading for air. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. He is being held at the Ramsey County Jail on $1m bond.

Eight Ramsey county corrections officers filed racial discrimination charges with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights on Friday alleging that when Chauvin was booked into the jail, all officers of color were ordered to a separate floor, according to the Star Tribune, which obtained a copy of charges. The charges allege that a supervisor told one of the officers that because of their race, they would be a potential “liability” around Chauvin.

Bonnie Smith, a Minneapolis attorney representing the eight employees, said the order left a lasting impact on morale.

“I think they deserve to have employment decisions made based on performance and behavior,” she said. “Their main goal is to make sure this never happens again.”

Jail superintendent Steve Lydon allegedly told superiors that he was informed that day that Chauvin would be arriving in 10 minutes and he made a call “to protect and support” minority employees by shielding them from Chauvin.

“Out of care and concern, and without the comfort of time, I made a decision to limit exposure to employees of color to a murder suspect who could potentially aggravate those feelings,” Lydon said in a statement given during an internal investigation and provided by the sheriff’s office to the Star Tribune. He has since been demoted.

The Tennessean newspaper is getting a fair amount of understandable pushback on social media after publishing an advert from someone touting the ludicrous claim that “Islam” will detonate a nuclear device in Nashville in July.

This morning, the Nashville @Tennessean — the largest newspaper in the state — published a full-page ad from a far-right client warning “Islam is going to detonate a nuclear device in Nashville, Tennessee.” It’s accompanied by photos of Donald Trump and Pope Francis.

— Alex Martin Smith (@asmiff) June 21, 2020

While Donald Trump blames China for Covid-19, it appears China has its own opinions on the United States’ handling of the virus. This is from the Associated Press:

The Chinese customs agency has suspended poultry imports from a Tyson facility in the United States after coronavirus cases were confirmed among its employees.

The announcement Sunday gave no details of the facility’s location or how much meat might be affected.

Meanwhile, a PepsiCo Inc facility in Beijing suspended production and was disinfected after a confirmed case was found there June 15, the company announced Sunday at a news conference held by the city government. It said 480 people were placed in isolation June 15 and tested negative for the coronavirus.


A new survey suggests black Americans are more likely to say a family member or close friend has died from Covid-19.

According to a series of surveys conducted since April, 11% of black Americans say they were close with someone who has died from the coronavirus, compared with just 5% of Americans overall and 4% of white Americans.

The three Covid Impact surveys were conducted between April and June by the University of Chicago for the Data Foundation about the pandemic’s effect on the physical, mental and social health of Americans.

According to the Associated Press, recent surveys also found that black Americans are especially likely to know someone who has had the virus.

The new data further underscores the toll the pandemic has taken on black Americans. As the Guardian has reported, black people account for just 14% of the US population but make up nearly a third of all coronavirus cases and deaths.

Economically, black Americans have also borne the brunt of the pandemic. They make up a disproportionate number of workers in industries such as transportation, healthcare, and manufacturing.

The NBA plans to resume action at the end of July in Florida’s Disney World. Players will be isolated from the outside world, playing games at the venue and staying in the resort’s hotels. However, as cases in Florida rise, ESPN reports some players and staff are concerned about restarting action.

According to ESPN, during a conference call “players brought up the fact that Walt Disney World staffers who will not reside in the NBA campus – including hotel housekeepers – will not be subject to any coronavirus testing”.

The NBA Players Association chief executive, Michele Roberts, told ESPN “I can’t say I am surprised, given the state’s approach to reopening. We are obviously clearly monitoring the situation. While we take some solace in knowing our players will not travel commercially to get to Orlando, that access to the campus is severely limited and, of course, all of the other health and safety protocols in place, the numbers will keep our attention. If necessary to add further restrictions respecting those third parties having access to the campus, we will seek to implement them.”

Florida reported 3,494 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the state’s total to 97,291. Sunday’s numbers are down from the 4,049 new cases reported on Saturday although cases have been rising throughout June in Florida. The state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, said on Saturday that the average age of sufferers is coming down.

Our cases are shifting in a radical direction younger,” DeSantis said. “Much of the spread is in the younger populations and we are going to deal with that. Even hospital admissions have been skewed younger and less acuity.”

While younger people are much less likely to die from Covid-19, they can still spread the virus. Florida has been reopening for business for the last few weeks but DeSantis said he would not order people to wear facemasks.

“Follow CDC guidelines the whole time,” he said. “I’ve not pre-empted locals from doing what they think is right. At the same time, you have to enforce that and you have to make a decision about what penalty is appropriate.”

“Policing, as imperfect as it is today, it is absolutely ages better than it was 34 years ago, but we’ve still got work to do. We have to look at the court system, we have to look at the prosecutors, we have to look at the prison system, we have to look at probation, parole, at the entire criminal justice system.”

So says Houston police chief Art Acevedo in an interview with Tom Dart. Acevedo has attracted praise for his stance on the need for policing reform, and criticism for what some see as grandstanding while problems in his department remain. Tom’s interview is here:

Atlanta’s Democrat mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms, has called Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa on Saturday night “an embarrassment” and a missed opportunity to heal America’s divide.

That rally was an embarrassment,” she said during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union. “It was absolutely what the nation does not need right now. He did not speak about healing. He did not recognize any of the racial tensions that are happening across our country. Instead, he does what he always does. He continues to try and divide us and really inflames the worst in people. And so I just hope that this is a good sign that the country is moving on from him.”

The president attracted criticism for saying he had asked his “people” to slow down testing for Covid-19. Trump’s allies have said the president was making a tongue-in-cheek comment. However, Bottoms said even if Trump was joking, Covid-19 was not a subject to be joked about.

This is no time to joke,” she said. “Even if it were a joke, which it was not, it was an inappropriate joke. Do you think the people, the 120,000 families out there who are missing their loved ones thought it was funny?”

Bottoms has been touted as a potential running mate for Joe Biden. She said she was ready to answer the presumptive Democrat candidate’s call if asked but added “I also think that Joe Biden has the right to pick whomever he wants to work alongside him and to serve as his vice president. And I think that he knows better than anyone else in this country what that role should be and who that person should be.”

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro fired back at John Bolton on Sunday, seeking to rubbish a key claim in the former national security adviser’s bombshell new book, that Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping for help in winning re-election.

“I never heard that,” Navarro said, echoing remarks by US trade representative Robert Lighthizer. “I was in the room.”

Bolton’s book, The Room Where It Happened, is based on notes taken in a series of rooms with the president, during Bolton’s spell as Trump’s third national security adviser from April 2018 to September 2019.

A judge in Washington on Saturday declined the administration’s attempt to block publication, but had harsh words for Bolton’s conduct and treatment of sensitive material.

Trump indicated that a civil suit to seize all profits from the book will continue, and hinted at criminal prosecution.

One policy hawk attacking another, Navarro said in a combative appearance on CNN’s State of the Union: “That guy should be turning in his seersucker suit for a jumpsuit.”

Bolton writes that direct quotes from the conversation with Xi were redacted from his book to satisfy its national security review. But Vanity Fair has since reported that during a dinner at a G20 summit in Japan in 2019, Trump told Xi: “Make sure I win. I will probably win anyway, so don’t hurt my farms … Buy a lot of soybeans and wheat and make sure we win.”

Navarro insisted the explosive allegation was “just silly”, given how tough he said Trump has been on China over its unfair trade practices.

Bolton claims Trump’s request was evidence of impeachable conduct well beyond the approaches to Ukraine, for political dirt on Joe Biden, which eventually landed the president in court in the Senate.

Also on CNN, House judiciary chair Jerrold Nadler, who steered the impeachment inquiry, was asked to respond to Bolton’s charge that Democrats failed to build a case sufficient to remove Trump because they kept their focus on Ukraine.

“The fact is,” Nadler said, “the president could’ve been impeached on other grounds too, such as obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation. We chose to try to keep it simple.”

Bolton refused to testify in the House, then said he would in the Senate. Republicans controlling that chamber refused to call witnesses before acquitting the president.

Bolton, Nadler said, “is certainly no one to talk. He refused to testify before the House. And the Senate, of course, was never going to call him, because the Senate Republicans were not interested in any evidence. As I said, they were corrupt in that respect.”

While cases of Covid-19 in badly affected states such as New York and New Jersey are dropping, positive tests in the South are rising. The Associated Press has looked at the subject:

Will Boyd was at the funeral Saturday morning for a relative who had died after contracting the new coronavirus when he got the call with the news. His brother had also passed away from Covid-19.

“The virus is real. It’s real. If they don’t know it’s real, they can come and walk with me to the cemetery,” Boyd said of the skeptics.

Alabama and much of the deep south are seeing a spike in coronavirus cases as some have stopped heeding warnings of the virus, alarming public health officials and people who have lost loved ones because of Covid-19-19. Over the past two weeks, Alabama had the second highest number of new cases per capita in the nation. South Carolina was fourth. Louisiana and Mississippi were also in the top 10.

“We are extremely concerned about these numbers. We know if they continue, we will see more hospitalizations and more deaths,” Alabama State Health Officer Scott Harris said.

As of Saturday, Alabama had more than 29,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, with more than a quarter of the cases reported in the last two weeks.

The combination of preexisting health conditions and limited health care access in the region, along with pockets of public skepticism about health officials’ advice on the illness, complicate attempts to manage the virus.

Dr Selwyn Vickers, dean of the UAB School of Medicine, said the South has high rates of diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and high blood pressure all illnesses that put people at risk for poorer outcomes with Covid-19.

But Vickers said human behavior is the most difficult aspect of fighting the disease

“When you open the doors and you look at the beaches, you look at the restaurants and you look at cities that choose not to do masks, or individuals who don’t, ... I would say our behaviors create the biggest challenge for us,” Vickers said.

Vickers said people who won’t wear a mask for their own protection should “think about worrying about infecting someone else.”

Republican senator Tim Scott is on ABC’s This Week. He is first asked about the resignation of Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the southern district of New York who has overseen investigations and prosecutions of key Trump allies. Berman resigned after the US attorney general said he would be fired by the president. Scott is asked if he has any concerns about the removal of “somebody who was overseeing an investigation into the president’s personal lawyer”.

Scott denies there is anything nefarious about Berman’s departure. “I think President Trump actually hired Mr Berman and he fired Mr Berman,” says Scott. “Everyone at the DOJ works at the pleasure of the president, number one. Number two, there’s no indication whatever that whatever is being investigated will not continue to move on.”

Scott, the only black Republican senator, is also asked about a bill he is seeking to pass that deals with police brutality. Some have said the bill skirts close to calling for police to be defunded if they continue to kill black people. Scott says he wants more resources available for training police but does not disagree missteps could lead to a withdrawal of funding.

“As an example, we all want to ban chokeholds,” says Scott. “We know the state that – the House knows and the Senate knows that you can’t ban local use of chokeholds or state use of chokeholds except for the compelled behavior by the federal grants that come into play. And by removing those federal grants, you actually position those departments to change their behavior, change their policy in the direction of satisfying what we all know and frankly in South Carolina, very few if any departments still have a chokehold because that we already know is an unnecessary tactic except for saving the life of the officer.

“And so, we do use the resources in an effective way. But we believe that you actually need more resources, not less resources, if you want officers to be trained effectively, you have to give them the tools called training to get there. That requires more resources.”


Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa last night was far from the full house he had predicted, but the fact that thousands of people – many without masks – gathered together at an indoor event has prompted concern among health professionals about the spread of Covid-19.

Megan Ranney, an emergency physician and associate professor of emergency medicine at Brown University, told CNN that attendees could spread the virus back to their home states.

“If there were even a couple of cases in the arena last night, we’re most likely going to see a spread among folks that attended. And then they’re going to go back to their states and it’s going to spread further,” Ranney said.

Donald Trump attacked calls to defund the police in the United States at his rally on Saturday night. Our columnist Robert Reich, a former secretary of labor, explains why he thinks such calls should be heeded.

Social-control societies put substantial resources into police, prisons, surveillance, immigration enforcement and the military. Their purpose is to utilize fear, punishment and violence, to maintain what they consider order.

Social-investment societies put more resources into healthcare, education, affordable housing, jobless benefits and children. Their purpose is to free people from the risks and anxieties of daily life and give everyone a fair shot at making it.

Donald Trump epitomizes the former. He calls himself the “law and order” president. He even wants to sic the military on Americans protesting against police brutality.

Trump is really the culmination of 40 years of increasing social control in the US and decreasing social investment.

You can read the full column below:

The acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, has appeared on CBS’s Face The Nation. He is asked about Donald Trump’s comment that John Bolton “will have bombs dropped on him” after the publication of his explosive book on the president’s administration. He is asked if such threats are worrying.

“I think what you see here is some frustration on an individual writing a book for profit. And so I think that’s – that’s what I take from those comments,” says Wolf. He adds that the comments came from “a joking standpoint”.

Wolf is then asked about Trump’s comments that he had asked for Covid-19 testing to be slowed down.

What you heard from the president was frustration, frustration in the sense of that we are testing, I believe we’ve tested over 25 million Americans,” he says. “We’ve tested more than any other country in this world. Instead, the press and others, all they want to focus on is an increasing case count ... So I think what you heard there from the president was frustration.”

Trump adviser says Covid-19 was 'spawned' by China

Peter Navarro, Trump’s trade adviser, is on CNN. He is asked about comments from Trump last night in which the president told a rally in Tulsa that: “I said to my people slow down the [Covid-19] testing”. Navarro replies: “It was tongue-in-cheek, please ... it was a light moment”.

Navarro then makes the extraordinary, unfounded claim that Covid-19 “was a product of the Chinese Communist party and until we get some information about what happened in those labs or what happened in that wet market we know that virus was spawned in China.”

Navarro adds it is “an open question” whether China created Covid-19 on purpose. “What I said was the virus came out of China, the Chinese Communist party is responsible for it and as far as I’m concerned,” Navarro says, before adding China is “guilty until proven innocent.” Navarro does not offer any evidence for his claims.


The Democratic house judiciary committee chairman Jerry Nadler is on CNN’s State of the Union. He says calls to impeach William Barr after he announced the firing of the US attorney behind inquiries into Trump allies are pointless as Republicans in Senate are “corrupt against interests of country”. He personally thinks Barr “deserves” impeachment but says it’s a waste of time because the Republican senators wouldn’t pursue it.

“They are a waste of time at this point, because we do know that we have a corrupt Republican majority in the Senate which will not consider an impeachment, no matter what the evidence and no matter what the facts,” says Nadler. “So, we’re going to – we’re instead going to do what we have to do without that, and including barring $50m from his own personal budget.”

Nadler is then asked about former national security adviser John Bolton’s new book. In the new release, Bolton accuses Democrats of committing impeachment malpractice by failing to to include other high crimes involving the president and his relationship with China and Turkey

“The fact is that Trump could have been impeached under other grounds, such as obstruction of justice in the Russia investigation,” says Nadler. “We chose to keep it simple. Bolton is not one to talk ... he refused to testify before the House.”

Nadler is then asked if he is planning on calling Bolton to testify about new information in his book. “No, we’re not interested in Bolton’s testimony,” says Nadler.


Did K-pop stump Trump?

Following Saturday’s abysmal turn out for his campaign rally in Tulsa, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale went on a Twitter rant attempting to blame Black Lives Matter for the low crowds.

The outdoor stage for @realDonaldTrump’s Rally in Tulsa being built.

This will be the 1st time that POTUS speaks to BOTH crowds in person - inside & outside.

If you come to the rally and don’t get into the BOK Center before it’s full, you can still see the President in person!

— Brad Parscale (@parscale) June 20, 2020

But as others pointed out, the president’s dismal showing Saturday may have, in fact, been part of a coordinated effort by young TikTok users to disrupt the rally by purchasing online tickets.

“He was played by young people and K-pop fans who ordered tickets with no intention of going,” MSNBC’s Joy Reid quipped on-air following Trump’s speech.

Joy: Everyone is shocked.. This was an easy setup for Brad Parscale... They completely messed it up. Brad Parscale is now furiously trying to tweet excuses... There’s a lot of twitter traffic that says he was played by young people and K-pop fans who ordered tickets...

— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) June 21, 2020

The Trump campaign bragged that more than 1m tickets were requested online, but on the social platform, young people often shared screenshots of themselves using Tulsa-area zip codes to reserve seats, with no intention of ever showing up.

Fans of the popular music genre Korean pop, known as K-pop for short, appeared to also get in on the action. The well-known social media faction has often used Twitter to thwart conservative campaigning by far-right accounts. In recent weeks, hashtags supporting Blue Lives Matter were co-opted by K-pop fans tweeting memes of famous blue characters like the Smurfs and Captain Planet.

New York Democratic congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took a shot at Parscale’s explanation, and thanked Korean fans for their diligent trolling. “Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID,” she wrote.

KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too 😌

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 21, 2020

Lloyd Green has been a busy boy, both reviewing John Bolton’s book, here, and writing for us on Donald Trump and William Barr’s removal of US attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman. In short, their Friday night move against the head of the influential SDNY – which has prosecuted Trump allies including Michael Cohen and is investigating Rudy Giuliani – did not proceed smoothly at all:

Instead of replacing Berman in the near term with a Trump loyalist, the US attorney for New Jersey, and in the long haul with Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Audrey Strauss, a career prosecutor, will lead the “sovereign” district until a Trump nominee clears the Senate.

For Trump and his attorney general, replacing Berman with Strauss is like jumping from frying pan to fire. If the dynamic duo had a difficult time taming Berman, a Trump contributor and a former partner of Rudy Giuliani, reining in Strauss will prove even tougher.

It’s been widely reported, too, that Strauss has often made donations to Democrats. Trump is going to love that. Here’s Lloyd’s column in full:

In Golden Gate park in San Francisco on Friday night, protesters pulled down statues of Ulysses S Grant, Junipero Serra and Francis Scott Key.

Grant may have defeated the slave-owning Confederacy in the civil war and, as the 18th president, taken on and smashed the Ku Klux Klan. But he married into a slave-owning family in Missouri and at one point before the war owned – and freed – a slave. Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner but he also owned slaves.

Many came to Grant’s defence. In San Francisco, Archbishop Salvadore Cordileone came to Serra’s, asking: “What is happening to our society? A renewed national movement to heal memories and correct the injustices of racism and police brutality in our country has been hijacked by some into a movement of violence, looting and vandalism.”

As the AP puts it, “Serra was an 18th-century Roman Catholic priest who founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions and is credited with bringing Roman Catholicism to the Western US.

“Serra forced Native Americans to stay at those missions after they were converted or face brutal punishment. His statues have been defaced in California for several years by people who said he destroyed tribes and their culture.”

In Tulsa, meanwhile, Trump framed the pulling down of statues to figures from the racist and oppressive past, which continues around the country, in terms of mob rule.

“The choice in 2020 is very simple,” Trump said. “Do you want to bow before the left-wing mob or do you want to stand up tall and proud as Americans?’

“Biden remains silent in his basement in the face of this brutal assault on our nation and the values of our nation. Joe Biden has surrendered to his party and to the leftwing mob.”

Here’s Lois Beckett’s report on events in San Francisco:

Good morning…

…and welcome to another day of coverage of US politics, protests, the coronavirus outbreak and anything in between.

So Donald Trump’s rally in Tulsa was … not the huge event its host promised. The campaign got punked by a Pete Buttigieg organiser and a bunch of kids on TikTok (me neither but that’s what it says here), lots of people obtaining tickets but not showing up.

The president promised a million or more fans would attend. An outside stage was built for overflow from the BOK Center. It wasn’t needed. Nor did many protesters turn up, as the president and his supporters (some of whom spoke to Oliver Laughland) seemed to hope they would.

Onstage, the president proved he could drink a glass of water with one hand and re-enacted his walk down a West Point ramp – at length. David Smith’s report is here, and Richard Wolffe’s op-ed-evisceration is here:

Of course, there were things in Trump’s speech to take seriously: he spoke in racist terms about the coronavirus and said testing for Covid-19 was a “double-edged sword”, because it led to the identification of more cases. No, really.

The US had now tested 25m people, far more than other countries, Trump said, adding: “When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people, you’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down.” No, really.

The US has recorded 2.25m cases of Covid-19 and nearly 120,000 deaths. In many Republican-led states which are trying to reopen, Oklahoma among them, cases are spiking. Six Trump staffers who set up the rally tested positive. No, really.

There is of course much more going on around the US. In New York, the US attorney for the southern district, Geoffrey Berman, agreed to step down after a near-24 hour standoff with Attorney General William Barr. Only Trump has the authority to fire Berman, but he said he didn’t. Then he said he did, sort of. The SDNY has investigated and prosecuted, and continues to investigate and prosecute, close Trump allies.

There is also John Bolton’s book, of course. On Saturday, a judge declined to block it, but also slammed the former national security adviser for his attitude to national security. Trump tried to claim a win, and hinted strongly that the government would go after Bolton’s earnings from his book. The Room Where Is Happened is out Tuesday, anyway, the Guardian review is in. Lloyd Green calls it “the best opposition reach dump ever”.

All this and continuing protests around the US, against police brutality and racism in the wake of the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks and other African Americans. More to come.



Bryan Armen Graham in New York (now) and Martin Pengelly and Tom Lutz (earlier)

The GuardianTramp

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