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POLITICO Playbook: How Washington will mark George Floyd’s death


BREAKING WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING — WaPo: “The Justice Department late Monday night released part of a key internal document used in 2019 to justify not charging President DONALD TRUMP with obstruction, but also signaled it would fight a judge’s effort to make the entire document public.”

This puts the Biden administration in the … interesting position of working to keep Trump’s DOJ’s secrets under wraps.

GEORGE FLOYD was murdered one year ago today.

President JOE BIDEN wanted to use that grim marker as a deadline for Congress to pass a police reform bill. But with no bill in sight, Biden has instead invited Floyd’s family to the Oval Office. The 1:30 p.m. meeting is closed to the press.

CNN reports that the Floyd family this morning will visit Congress and meet with Speaker NANCY PELOSI and Rep. KAREN BASS (D-Calif.), the lead House negotiator on the bill, to press lawmakers to finish the legislation. TheGrio’s April Ryan asks, “What is holding up the George Floyd policing act from Biden’s desk?”

The big sticking point remains qualified immunity for police, but on Monday Bass and the two lead Senate negotiators — Democrat CORY BOOKER (N.J.), whose office told us he too will be meeting with the Floyd family, and Republican TIM SCOTT (S.C.) — released a statement noting they’re making “progress toward a compromise and remain optimistic about the prospects of achieving that goal.”

WaPo’s Cleve R. Wootson Jr.’s piece on the Biden meeting notes, “Floyd’s murder, and the graphic video that showed his final breaths, sparked an often-incendiary conversation about the role race plays in criminal justice, economics, education and other aspects of American life. But a conversation about systemic racism does not equate to action to dismantle it, and as the nation passes the grim anniversary, activists say that the politicians who embraced change have often failed to enact it.”

Floyd’s murder created a mass movement to rethink policing, and many on the left adopted “defund the police” as their new rallying cry. Biden never embraced that slogan, but plenty of Democratic-run cities did. The NYT takes a look at how the spirit of “defund the police” is playing out in Los Angeles, which “is facing a rise in gun violence” and where “the police budget is growing.”

On a similar note, CNN says, “Get ready for the re-fund the police debate.”

POLITICO has a stellar package of stories to coincide with the anniversary of Floyd’s death:
— Teresa Wiltz on George Floyd, one year later
— Renu Rayasam profiles Floyd’s neighborhood
— Ben White on how corporate America got “woke
— Daniel Payne on the tide of white “woketivism”
Maya King on the Black women leading big cities
— Nolan McCaskill on police violence, unchanged

The Economist also has a wide-ranging package on “Race in America,” including this provocative look at how “Rioting amid demonstrations for racial justice may have helped Donald Trump.”

Our latest POLITICO-Morning Consult poll looks at how Americans’ engagement in race relations issues have changed a year after Floyd’s killing:

  • A plurality (44%) of American adults said there has been no change in their engagement.
  • About a third (34%) of American adults said they have become more engaged in these issues.
  • A small share (13%) of American adults said they have become less engaged in these issues.

Toplines Crosstabs

Good Tuesday morning. Thanks for reading Playbook. Drop us a line: Rachael Bade, Eugene Daniels, Ryan Lizza, Tara Palmeri.

JOIN US — Trump is winning the internal GOP war over the future of the party, following the ouster of Rep. LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.) from leadership and the looming death of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot. Join RACHAEL and EUGENE today at 1:30 p.m. for an interview with Rep. ADAM KINZINGER (R-Ill.), a lead member of the party’s anti-Trump wing. They’ll discuss his efforts to change the direction of the party — and whether it’s even possible. Register here

BIDEN’S TUESDAY:

— 10:15 a.m.: The president and VP KAMALA HARRIS will receive the President’s Daily Brief.

— 1:30 p.m.: Biden and Harris will meet with Floyd’s family in the Oval Office.

— 5:55 p.m.: Biden will depart the White House en route to Wilmington, Del., where he is scheduled to arrive at 6:50 p.m. Biden will leave Wilmington at 8:10 p.m. to return to the White House, where he is scheduled to arrive at 9:05 p.m.

— Press secretary JEN PSAKI will brief at 12:30 p.m. The White House Covid-19 response team and public health officials will brief at 1:30 p.m.

THE HOUSE will meet at noon. ANTHONY FAUCI and NIH Director FRANCIS COLLINS will testify on the NIH budget before an Appropriations subcommittee at 10 a.m.

THE SENATE is in.

THE WEEK AHEAD — First lady JILL BIDEN will travel to Grand Rapids, Mich., and Kansas City, Mo., to visit vaccination clinics Thursday, the White House announced.

CONGRESS

NO DEAL — The weekslong tango between Biden and Senate Republicans over infrastructure is coming to an end, with both sides sounding pessimistic about a deal. Senate Republicans will meet today to decide whether to counter the White House’s latest proposal to lower the total cost to $1.7 trillion. But even if they do, the two sides are still about $1.5 trillion apart in new spending after a month of talks — and are nowhere near deciding how to pay for it.

Burgess Everett and Marianne LeVine talked to a bunch of senators Monday about the state of play and crafted this stellar lede: “Washington’s bipartisan infrastructure talks may soon look a lot like its cicada population: squashed after staggering around haplessly.” Here’s a sampling from the piece:

— Sen. ROGER WICKER (R-Miss.), who is part of the GOP’s negotiating group, said his party won’t go “anywhere near the number the White House has proposed,” while Senate Majority Whip DICK DURBIN (D-Ill.) said he’d be “reluctant” to support a proposal below the lower $1.7 trillion threshold.

— Sen. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-R.I.) didn’t mince words: “It’s time to move on.”

— Then again, neither did Sen. ROY BLUNT (R-Mo.), also a GOP negotiator: “I didn’t think the offer last week was very good.”

As of now, Sen. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-W.Va.), the lead Republican negotiator, is sounding the most optimistic. But one Republican does not a filibuster-proof majority make.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK: Today Sens. CYNTHIA LUMMIS (R-Wyo.) and KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-Ariz.) will launch the Senate Financial Innovation Caucus. Sens. JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D-Colo.), TIM SCOTT (R-S.C.), MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-Tenn.), MIKE BRAUN (R-Ind.) and BILL CASSIDY (R-La) are also joining.

MCGAHN TO TESTIFY NEXT WEEK — Quick, someone give JERRY NADLER some oxygen. About two years — two years! — after he first subpoenaed DON MCGAHN to testify about allegations of obstruction of justice depicted in special counsel ROBERT MUELLER’S report, the long-lost White House counsel is finally set to answer questions. Charlie Savage at the NYT has more on Trump’s about-face on this issue after he blocked McGahn’s testimony and dragged out the probe using the court system. All of a sudden, Trump is letting this go. He must have bigger legal problems to worry about. …

THE WHITE HOUSE

NOT GIVING UP … YET — “‘Where does that leave us?’: Biden confronts the limits of his unity talk,” by Natasha Korecki, Christopher Cadelago and Laura Barrón-López: “White House officials say the president is not quite ready to end talks and begin the process of moving ahead with a Democrat-only bill. They say that discussions with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) had been productive and that she has operated in good faith as a lead negotiator for Republicans. On Monday, Biden hosted Republican Sens. LISA MURKOWSKI and DAN SULLIVAN and Rep. DON YOUNG – all of Alaska – albeit to sign an act aimed at boosting tourism in their state, rather than infrastructure.

“But on Monday, even members of his own party on the Hill were showing signs of moving on to an all-Democratic approach to infrastructure. Senate Democrats were revving up discussions around the reconciliation process that could serve as a fallback for passing the entire package without GOP support, two sources with knowledge of the talks told POLITICO, including an aide to Sen. BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vt.), who chairs the Senate Budget Committee.”

POLITICS ROUNDUP

THE DESANTIS-GAETZ NEXIS — Our Tallahassee bureau chief Matt Dixon has a must-read today on the once-close relationship between Florida Gov. RON DESANTIS and scandal-plagued Rep. MATT GAETZ (R-Fla.) — and the implications for a potential DeSantis presidential bid in 2024: “DeSantis’ ties to Gaetz could pressure the governor to answer difficult questions about whether he was aware of any alleged wrongdoing as he seeks a second term as governor and possibly the White House. As an adviser, Gaetz urged the governor to appoint several people who are also now ensnared in the federal investigation. Gaetz was also close friends with JOEL GREENBERG, the man at the center of a federal investigation into sex trafficking.

“In interviews, more than half a dozen former DeSantis campaign advisers and early administration staffers say Gaetz had huge influence over DeSantis, who in the run-up to his gubernatorial campaign was an outsider in state-level Florida politics. That was a world where Gaetz had long been an operator. Now, as DeSantis runs for reelection and is likely laying the groundwork for a 2024 presidential run, he has all-but turned his back on Gaetz.”

BEYOND THE BELTWAY

ANDREW YANG’S wife, EVELYN, fired back at the N.Y. Daily News for publishing a cartoon by BILL BRAMHALL depicting Yang as a bumbling tourist stepping out of the Times Square subway station, which he recently declared as his favorite stop. (A choice that was ridiculed by New Yorkers for a place only beloved by tourists.) Evelyn Yang called the cartoon racist, tweeting: “I can’t believe my eyes. To publish this racist disfiguration of @andrewyang as a tourist, in NYC where I was born, where Andrew lived for 25 years, where our boys were born, where 16% of us are Asian and anti-Asian hate is up 900%.” AAPI Victory Alliance called it “disgusting and wrong,” adding, “Every single day Asian Americans have to fight the notion that we are foreigners.” Expect to hear more about this from his campaign today.

YANG TESTS THE TRUMP MODEL FOR WINNING OFFICE — “The Post-Embarrassment Media Campaign of Andrew Yang,” by NYT’s chief TV critic James Poniewozik: “[A]s a mayoral candidate, he is also testing the theory that in today’s politics, there is no such thing as bad publicity. … More than once, people have compared him with MICHAEL SCOTT of ‘The Office,’ the clueless enthusiast and tourist who praised his favorite authentic New York pizza slice, from Sbarro.

“But here’s the thing: Michael Scott somehow managed to get and keep that managerial job at Dunder Mifflin. And people happily watched his character for years. Would you want him to be mayor of Scranton, much less the largest city in America? Maybe not. But beyond the vicarious laughs over his embarrassments, viewers responded to his indomitable, unshameable optimism.”

NO HOLDS BARRED — “Texas poised to allow unlicensed carrying of handguns,” AP: “Texas is poised to remove one of its last major gun restrictions after lawmakers approved allowing people to carry handguns without a license, and the background check and training that go with it.

“The Republican-dominated Legislature approved the measure Monday, sending it to Gov. GREG ABBOTT, who has said he will sign it despite the objections of law enforcement groups who say it would endanger the public and police. Gun control groups also oppose the measure, noting the state’s recent history of mass shootings, including those at an El Paso Walmart, a church in Sutherland Springs, and a high school outside Houston.”

AMERICA AND THE WORLD

BLINKEN ON THE MOVE — “Blinken Dispatched to Middle East Amid Israel-Gaza Truce,” WSJ: “Blinken left Monday and is set to return Thursday, visiting Jerusalem, Ramallah in the West Bank, Cairo and Amman, Jordan, according to the State Department. He planned to meet with Israeli Prime Minister BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Palestinian Authority President MAHMOUD ABBAS and other officials involved in talks.

“The U.S., together with its allies Egypt, Qatar and several European nations, worked to persuade both Israel and leaders of Hamas to end their military campaigns. Washington doesn’t have direct contact with Hamas, which governs Gaza and is designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.”

POMPEO TOO — “Mike Pompeo plans trip to Israel,” by Betsy Woodruff Swan and Daniel Lippman: “Pompeo’s potential trip could come the same week that Secretary of State ANTONY BLINKEN is also traveling there, and as conflict between Israel and Hamas has roiled the region.

“A person close to the former secretary of state said the plans are not finalized because of Israel’s Covid protocols. That person added that Pompeo, a former CIA director, would travel as a private citizen to celebrate the retirement of Yossi Cohen, the head of Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad. Pompeo may also meet privately with nongovernmental officials, according to the person, who added that Pompeo alerted Blinken of his plans.”

DETAINED IN MYANMAR — “Metro Detroit native and journalist detained by military government in Myanmar,” Detroit News: “DANNY FENSTER, 37, managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, has worked in Myanmar for about two years, his brother, BRYAN FENSTER, told the Free Press on Monday. In February, the military in Myanmar seized power in a coup. Fenster was at the airport on his way to visit family in the U.S. when he was detained, said Bryan.”

TRUMP CARDS

SONDLAND LAWSUIT INCOMING — “Key impeachment witness Gordon Sondland sues Mike Pompeo and U.S. for $1.8 million in legal fees,” WaPo: “The suit, filed Monday in federal court in the District of Columbia, alleges that Pompeo reneged on his promise that the State Department would cover the fees after Sondland delivered bombshell testimony accusing Trump and his aides of pressuring the government of Ukraine to investigate then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter in exchange for military aid.”

PAUL PUTS HIS ‘MARX’ ON ’80s POP STAR: Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) accused ’80s pop star Richard Marx of encouraging violence against him after he received a suspicious package containing white powder and a threatening message at his home in Kentucky on Monday, Tara reported. The Capitol Police and FBI are investigating the incident, according to Paul’s office. It’s unclear whether the sender was motivated by Marx, but Paul called him a “C-list celebrity.” Paul told POLITICO in a statement: “Just this weekend Richard Marx called for violence against me and now we receive this powder filled letter.” Marx, whose top hits include the love ballad “Right Here Waiting,” tweeted Sunday, “I’ll say it again: If I ever meet Rand Paul’s neighbor I’m going to hug him and buy him as many drinks as he can consume.” That’s the same neighbor who in 2017 pleaded guilty to assaulting a member of Congress in November 2017.

SPOTTED at a reception and screening for “Oslo,” hosted by Warner Media, HBO Films and honorary co-hosts Sens. Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Monday at AT&T The Forum: Tara Grace, Bartlett Sher, Cambra Overend, Anniken Krutnes, Chris Dodd, John Breaux, Dana Bash, John McCarthy, Elizabeth Bagley, Liz Johnson, Rachel Pearson, Steve Clemons, Ryan Williams, Ryan White, James Hooley, Kevin McDonald, Alexa Green, Eileen Bliss and Virginia Coyne.

FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Kaitlin Fahey is joining The Win Company as a partner. She previously was chief of staff for Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.).

TRUMP ALUMNI — Nicholas Mikula is joining Invariant. He most recently was a consultant to the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for intelligence and security and is a House Armed Services Committee alum. Luke Lindberg is now head of global strategy and executive director of Innovation and World Clinic at Sanford Health. He most recently was chief of staff and chief strategy officer at the Export-Import Bank. … Patrick Davis has launched Patrick Davis Consulting, which does comms, political and public affairs strategy and consulting. He most recently was senior adviser at the EPA.

TRANSITIONS — John Monsif will be director of U.S. federal government relations at Carrier, which plans to open a D.C. office in the fall. He previously was director of U.S. government relations at McDonald’s. … Meghan Biery is now director of global technology and security policy at the Semiconductor Industry Association. She most recently was senior national security policy adviser at the Bureau of Industry and Security in the Department of Commerce. … Shannon Bartlett will be the first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at the National Geographic Society. She currently is associate dean of inclusion and engagement at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law. …

… Ellie Collinson is now COO at RepresentUs. She most recently was COO of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Yvonne Gutierrez and Angélica César are joining Latino Victory Project. Gutierrez will be managing director and most recently was head of community engagement at Supermajority. César will be a finance associate and most recently was leadership development coordinator at Aliento. … Mitch Freckleton is returning to his home state of Utah to join Arena as an account manager. He most recently was political director for John James’ Senate campaign and is an RNC alum.

ENGAGED — Nick Solheim, founder of the Wallace Institute for Arctic Security and co-founder and COO at American Moment, proposed to Evie Fordham, a digital reporter at Fox News, on May 18 at Denali Basecamp in Talkeetna, Alaska. The couple met at trivia in D.C. Pics

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) (61) … Maryland Gov. Larry HoganAnna PalmerDavid Martosko of Zenger News and Daily Mail TV … Greg Bluestein of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution … Laurie RubinerMegan Van Etten of PhRMA … Savannah Haeger of FedEx … Kate Ackley Zeller of CQ Roll Call … Capricia Marshall Stefan Becket … POLITICO’s Catherine Kim and Diana Hernandez Savanna Peterson of Klobuchar’s office (26) … Annie Clark of Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-Maine) office … Interior’s Alexandra Sanchez … Edelman’s Amy Fox … AFL-CIO’s Carolyn Bobb … former Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) … Hayley MillerCourtney JolineSean RushtonMargaret Dobrydnio MotesConor PowellMatt LakinMark Shields … former Reps. Steve Russell (R-Okla.) and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) … Ron Nessen Emily Bittner

Send Playbookers tips to [email protected]. Playbook couldn’t happen without our editor Mike Zapler, deputy editor Zack Stanton and producers Allie Bice, Eli Okun and Garrett Ross.





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