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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 6)

A Half-Century After Wallace, Trump Echoes the Politics of Division

WASHINGTON — The nation’s cities were in flames amid protests against racial injustice and the fiery presidential candidate vowed to use force. He would authorize the police to “knock somebody in the head” and “call out 30,000 troops and equip them with two-foot-long bayonets and station them every few feet apart.”

The moment was 1968 and the “law and order” candidate was George C. Wallace, the former governor of Alabama running on a third-party ticket. Fifty-two years later, in another moment of social unrest, the “law and order” candidate is already in the Oval Office and the politics of division and race ring through the generations as President Trump tries to do what Wallace could not.

Comparisons between the two men stretch back to 2015 when Mr. Trump ran for the White House denouncing Mexicans illegally crossing the border as rapists and pledging to bar all Muslims from entering the country. But the parallels have become even more pronounced in recent weeks after the killing of George Floyd as Mr. Trump has responded to demonstrations by sending federal forces into the streets. The Wallace-style tactics were on display again on Wednesday as Mr. Trump stirred racist fears about low-income housing moving into the suburbs.

“In the presidential campaign of 1968, my father, Governor George Wallace, understood the potential political power of downtrodden and disillusioned working class white voters who felt alienated from government,” his daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, said by email the other day. “And Donald Trump is mining the same mother lode.”

Lumping in peaceful protesters with the smaller number of violent rioters, Mr. Trump has portrayed the nation’s cities as hotbeds of chaos and opened a new front in the culture war that has divided America since the days of Wallace. The president rails about the “anarchists and agitators” and accuses “the radical left” of running rampant through the streets of cities run by “liberal Democrats.”

It may seem incongruous to see Mr. Trump, a New Yorker born to wealth with no ties to the South beyond Trump-branded property in Florida, embracing the same themes as Wallace, who was proud to call himself a “redneck” segregationist from hardscrabble Alabama. Yet it speaks to the enduring power of us-against-them politics in America and the boiling pot of resentment that Mr. Trump, hoping to save his presidency, is trying to tap into a half-century after Wallace did, hoping to win the presidency.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173087607_cfab23e4-6565-4162-85af-67b7a320d33c-articleLarge A Half-Century After Wallace, Trump Echoes the Politics of Division Wallace, George C United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 1968 George Floyd Protests (2020) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To go back and read or listen to Wallace’s speeches and interviews from that seminal 1968 campaign is to be struck by language and appeals that sound familiar again, even if the context and the limits of discourse have changed.

Like Mr. Trump, Wallace denounced “anarchists” in the streets, condemned liberals for trying to squelch the free speech of those they disagreed with and ran against the elites of Washington and the mainstream media. He vowed to “halt the giveaway of your American dollars and products” to other countries.

“One of the issues confronting the people is the breakdown of law and order,” Wallace said at his campaign kickoff in Washington in February 1968. “The average man on the street in this country knows that it comes about because of activists, militants, revolutionaries, anarchists and communists.”

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Updated 2020-07-30T13:41:18.835Z

Just last week, Mr. Trump framed the current campaign in similar terms. “So it’s a choice between the law and order and patriotism and prosperity, safety offered by our movement, and the anarchy and chaos and crime and socialism,” he told a tele-rally in North Carolina. In tweets this week, he promised “all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.”

Like the pugnacious Mr. Trump, Wallace enjoyed a fight. Indeed, he relished taking on protesters who showed up at his events. “You know what you are?” he called out to one. “You’re a little punk, that’s all you are. You haven’t got any guts.” To another, he said, “I may not teach you any politics if you listen, but I’ll teach you some good manners.”

Recalling the time protesters blocked President Lyndon B. Johnson’s motorcade, Wallace insisted that he would never let that happen to him. “If you elect me the president and I go to California or I come to Arkansas and some of them lie down in front of my automobile,” he said, “it’ll be the last thing they’ll ever want to lie down in front of.”

Mr. Trump has made similar chest-beating threats. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote on Twitter after protests turned violent in Minneapolis following Mr. Floyd’s death under the knee of a white police officer. A few days later, the president said that protesters who tried to enter White House grounds would be greeted “with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” and that Secret Service agents would “quickly come down on them, hard.”

Among those who saw an analogy between the two men from the start was John Lewis, the civil rights icon who was beaten on the Selma bridge in Wallace’s Alabama in 1965 and died this month. “It is a reasonable comparison,” Mr. Lewis said in an interview with The New York Times and CNBC in 2016. “See, I don’t think Wallace believed in all of the stuff he was preaching. I think Wallace said a lot of stuff just to get ahead. I don’t think Trump really believes in all this stuff, but he thinks this will be his ticket to the White House.”

More recently, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has said that Mr. Trump is “more George Wallace than George Washington.” Mr. Trump’s campaign fired back this week in a statement by Katrina Pierson, a senior campaign adviser to the president, who credited him with increasing funding for historically black schools and signing criminal justice reform.

“There’s only one candidate in this race who bragged about receiving an award from George Wallace, and that’s Joe Biden,” Ms. Pierson said. “Biden also said that Democrats needed a ‘liberal George Wallace, someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people.’”

Both quotes refer to articles in The Philadelphia Inquirer, one in 1975 about Mr. Biden’s opposition to busing and another in 1987 mentioning a campaign stop in Alabama during his first presidential campaign. The Biden campaign countered with other clips from the 1970s in which Mr. Biden criticized Wallace and vowed to vote Republican if he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.

Wallace made his name as the most prominent segregationist of his time but he neither started nor ended that way. Unlike Mr. Trump, he was a small-town boy (Clio, Ala.) who grew up to jump into politics as a progressive, eager to help the disadvantaged with New Deal-style programs. As a judge and a Democratic candidate for governor in 1958, he made a point of promising equality for Black Alabamians. But when he lost that contest to a candidate who demagogued on segregation, Wallace told an aide that “I was out-niggered and I will never be out-niggered again.”

After winning the governor’s mansion with a hard-core racist appeal, he came to national attention in 1963 by promising in his inaugural address “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” and months later by standing in the schoolhouse door in a failed effort to block the integration of the University of Alabama. Wallace that same year ordered the Confederate flag flown above the State Capitol, where it remained for 30 years before being taken down for good.

In “Settin’ the Woods on Fire,” an acclaimed 2000 documentary on his life, Wallace was quoted telling an associate who asked about his race-baiting that he wanted to talk about issues like roads and education but that he never got as much attention as when he thundered about race.

Wallace made his first faint stab at the White House in 1964, but when he ran for real in 1968 he bolted from the Democratic Party to lead the ticket of the American Independent Party. Trying to appeal to a national audience, he toned down the explicitly racist language and used code words instead, defending states’ rights, slamming court-ordered busing and promising law and order.

Credit…Associated Press

Like Mr. Trump, he denied trafficking in racism and turned the accusation around on his opponents. “I think the biggest racists in the world are those who call other folks racist,” Wallace said. “I think the biggest bigots in the world are those who call other folks bigots.”

In an interview on “Face the Nation” on CBS in Washington, he said his white critics called him a racist while fleeing to the suburbs so they did not have to send their children to schools with Black children. “This is a segregated city here because of the hypocrites who moved out,” he said. “This is the hypocrite capital of the world.”

Mr. Trump, who has come to the defense of the Confederate flag by mocking NASCAR for banning it, likewise tries to turn the racism charge against his critics. Last year, he asserted that four congresswomen of color were “a very Racist group of troublemakers,” referred to a Black congressman who angered him as “racist Elijah Cummings” and declared that the Rev. Al Sharpton “Hates Whites & Cops!”

After Mr. Biden last week called him “the first” racist president, Mr. Trump repeated his assertion that he had “done more for Black Americans than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” (These are both ahistoric statements, of course. Many presidents were racist and early on even slave owners, while Lincoln was hardly the only president to have done more for Black Americans than Mr. Trump.)

In that 1968 race, Richard M. Nixon beat Hubert H. Humphrey, but Wallace won five states in the Deep South — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi — the last time an independent or third-party candidate captured any states in the Electoral College.

Wallace ran again in 1972, this time as a Democrat, but was felled by a would-be assassin’s bullets that left him paralyzed. He ran again in 1976 from a wheelchair, winning Democratic contests in three states but losing the nomination to a more moderate Southerner, Jimmy Carter.

By late in life, Wallace had a change of heart and repented his earlier racism, going so far as to call Mr. Lewis and others to personally apologize. He ran for governor one last time in 1982 by reaching out to Black voters and after winning installed many Black appointees in state government. At the 30th anniversary of Selma, he sang “We Shall Overcome” with Black Alabamians. When Wallace died in 1998, Mr. Lewis wrote an Op-Ed article in The Times forgiving him.

Mr. Trump, for his part, shows no signs of backing down. Wallace’s daughter said the president understood, as her father did, that “the two greatest motivators for disaffected voters” are “hate and fear.”

“Mr. Trump exudes the same willingness to fight rather than to seek rational solutions much like my father did in 1968,” Ms. Wallace Kennedy said. “Both promise to be a president with personality and bravado who is ready to fight first and worry about the consequences later.”

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Trump Did Not Ask Putin About Russia’s Bounties on U.S. Troops

Westlake Legal Group trump-did-not-ask-putin-about-russias-bounties-on-u-s-troops Trump Did Not Ask Putin About Russia's Bounties on U.S. Troops United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Taliban Russia Putin, Vladimir V National Security Agency Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency Axios Media Inc Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan
Westlake Legal Group 29dc-trump-facebookJumbo Trump Did Not Ask Putin About Russia's Bounties on U.S. Troops United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Taliban Russia Putin, Vladimir V National Security Agency Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency Axios Media Inc Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — President Trump said in an interview published Wednesday that he did not bring up intelligence that Russia had covertly offered bounties to kill American troops when he spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin last week — apparently his first opportunity to directly confront Mr. Putin about the C.I.A. assessment since its existence became public late last month.

“That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly, that’s an issue that many people said was fake news,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO.”

But Mr. Trump hinted for the first time at blaming subordinates for failing to bring the matter to his attention. “If it reached my desk, I would have done something about it,” he said. Officials have said the assessment was in his written intelligence brief in February, although he rarely reads it.

Mr. Trump’s mixed message renewed attention on the White House’s failure to authorize any response after the C.I.A. concluded that Russia had offered and paid bounties, which prompted a bipartisan uproar. His administration has downplayed the intelligence with the apparent expectation that the furor would blow over.

Despite public comments by top military officials in recent weeks suggesting that the Pentagon was hunting for more information, three senior U.S. military officials said that no single Pentagon agency or military command was conducting a dedicated investigation into the issue and that they were instead relying largely on the intelligence community.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment. But intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operations and assessments, said that the intelligence community had not created any special task force to investigate the issue. Rather, they described the agency as sharpening the focus in areas of regular collection and analysis in hopes of gleaning additional evidence.

After the existence of the assessment became public, White House officials defended their months of inaction by falsely suggesting that no one credited the intelligence or deemed the C.I.A. assessment worthy of sharing with Mr. Trump. Since the disclosure, no new National Security Council interagency meetings on the topic have been scheduled, one official said, adding that officials who were alarmed about the bounties intelligence — and the lack of response — have essentially given up because the White House’s narrative has made it politically impossible to reverse course and treat the intelligence as a serious matter.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Armed Services Committee, called on Wednesday for public disclosure of the intelligence supporting the C.I.A.’s conclusion. “Americans deserve & need to see the intelligence on Russians providing arms & money to the Taliban — for killing American troops in Afghanistan,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Declassify it right now,” Mr. Blumenthal added, saying the assessment would “disprove Trump’s denials.”

In the Axios interview, Mr. Trump claimed he was not told about the bounty suspicions because intelligence officials purportedly did not think the information was real — apparently an exaggerated reference to a dissent by National Security Agency analysts over the C.I.A.’s confidence level.

“It never reached my desk,” Mr. Trump told Axios. “You know why? Because they didn’t think — intelligence — they didn’t think it was real. They didn’t think — they didn’t think it was worthy of — I wouldn’t mind — if it reached my desk, I would have done something about it.”

Mr. Trump did not elaborate. But speaking to reporters on the White House lawn after Axios published the interview excerpt, Mr. Trump also said that “if it were true, I’d be very angry about it,” and “I would respond appropriately. Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have.” Still, he said, “I don’t know why they’d be doing this.”

Mr. Trump is said to rarely look at his daily written briefings, though he insisted to Axios that he did. Administration officials have emphasized to lawmakers that none of the aides who discuss intelligence with the president had orally drawn his attention to the matter.

The president also said in the interview that he often received oral briefings, meandering into a discussion of violence along the border between India and China before reiterating, “I have so many briefings on so many different countries, but this one didn’t reach my desk.”

The New York Times first reported in late June that the C.I.A. had assessed months ago that Russia had covertly offered and paid bounties to a network of Afghan militants and criminals to incentivize more frequent attacks on American and coalition troops, citing officials familiar with the matter. Many other news organizations confirmed that reporting.

C.I.A. analysts placed medium confidence in that assessment, which they had reached based on analyzing evidence like the accounts of interrogated detainees in Afghanistan; money transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the G.R.U., to a Taliban-linked network; and travel patterns such as evidence that a middleman suspected of handing out the cash was now in Russia, officials have said.

National Security Agency analysts had lower confidence in the intelligence because they placed greater emphasis on surveillance and wanted to see intercepts picking up explicit discussions among people who did not know they were being eavesdropped on, officials have said.

Current and former national security officials have said that there was rarely courtroom-level certainty in the murky world of intelligence, that disputes over confidence levels were routine, and that medium-confidence intelligence of this magnitude would have been briefed to the president in previous administrations. Indeed, they said, it was put in Mr. Trump’s written daily briefing in late February and distributed more broadly within the intelligence community in early May.

In his Axios interview, Mr. Trump claimed that former Bush administration officials who disliked him had called the bounty suspicions a “fake issue.” In his later remarks at the White House, Mr. Trump named Colin Powell, President George Bush’s national security adviser and then secretary of state under George W. Bush.

But Mr. Powell, who has been out of office for more than a decade, did not say that the intelligence was fake or untrue. Rather, in an interview with MSNBC on July 9, he criticized news media coverage as overhyping a complex issue.

The G.R.U.’s apparent use of bounties to drive up attacks on American service members amid peace talks with the Taliban was seen as an escalation of longstanding Russian assistance to the Taliban, including covert provisions of small arms.

The National Security Council convened an interagency meeting about the problem in late March, and then officials developed a list of potential responses, ranging from protesting to the Kremlin to a more serious punishment like imposing new sanctions. But months passed, and the administration did not authorize any of them.

Now that the bounty suspicions are well-known, American intelligence officers are most likely sorting through many new leads, some legitimate but others from information peddlers eager to offer what they think the Americans want to hear, said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former C.I.A. field officer in Afghanistan who retired last year as the agency’s acting chief of operations in Europe and Eurasia.

Mr. Trump has long taken pains to avoid personally criticizing Mr. Putin and even seemed intent on downplaying evidence of broader Russian military and financial support for the Taliban.

Asked about claims to that effect by Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Mr. Trump dismissed the notion. “I didn’t ask Nicholson about that,” he said, before saying that the general “didn’t have great success” in his command, which ended in 2018.

Mr. Trump also suggested to Axios that Russia’s provision of arms to the Taliban was a kind of understandable payback for the United States backing fighters opposing the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s.

“We supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too,” Mr. Trump said.

Some senior congressional Democrats said they believed that top American officers who had spoken about the issue — like Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — were taking it seriously. But the lawmakers said they had much less faith in Mr. Trump and many of his top civilian national security aides.

“I do not have confidence that the national security team writ large within the Trump administration is committed to getting to the bottom of this and dealing with it,” said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who heads the House Armed Services Committee.

Asked about the bounty reports by Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, at a July 22 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Stephen E. Biegun, the deputy secretary of state, cautioned that he had to avoid discussing classified information in public. But he insisted that administration officials would take action if there were even a suggestion that Russia was putting bounties on American service members.

“Any suggestion that the Russian Federation, or any part of the Russian government, is employed in providing resources to fighters from other countries to attack American soldiers will be met,” he said, with “the most severe consequences.”

Notably, Mr. Biegun added that any such “suggestion” would “be the subject of a conversation between very senior officials in both governments, in no uncertain terms.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin have stepped up their personal diplomacy since the conclusion in 2019 of the Russia investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. At the same time, broader diplomatic relations between Washington and Moscow have remained adversarial, and intelligence officials accuse Russia of continued election interference and hacking plots.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin have spoken eight times this year, according to a Kremlin list of the Russian leader’s diplomatic activity — twice as many times as they spoke in all of 2019.

Several of those calls involved Mr. Trump’s efforts this spring to win Russian and Saudi support for higher global oil prices. But Mr. Trump has shown a keen interest in a new arms control treaty with Russia that would cap China’s nuclear arsenal. Mr. Trump said their recent call was “to discuss nuclear nonproliferation,” which he called “a much bigger issue than global warming.”

During a conversation on June 1, Mr. Trump extended an invitation to Mr. Putin to join a gathering of Group of 7 leaders that Mr. Trump hoped to convene in September. Russia was expelled from what was then the Group of 8 after its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Leaders from other nations in the group have said that Moscow has not yet earned the official readmittance that Mr. Trump proposes.

Helene Cooper and Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting.

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Trump Plays on Racist Fears of Terrorized Suburbs to Court White Voters

WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed on Wednesday to protect suburbanites from low-income housing being built in their neighborhoods, making an appeal to white suburban voters by trying to stir up racist fears about affordable housing and the people who live there.

In a tweet and later in remarks during a visit to Texas, Mr. Trump painted a false picture of the suburbs as under siege and ravaged by crime, using fear-mongering language that has become something of a rhetorical flourish in his general election campaign against the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter that “people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream” would “no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.” The president was referring to the administration’s decision last week to roll back an Obama-era program intended to combat racial segregation in suburban housing. The program expanded provisions in the Fair Housing Act to encourage diversification and “foster inclusive communities.”

“Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down,” he wrote, even though there was no evidence that the program led to an increase in crime.

The tweet, sent from aboard Air Force One as Mr. Trump traveled to Texas, was the latest example of the president stoking racial division as he seeks to win over voters in his bid for re-election. White suburban voters, particularly women, were key to his victory in 2016 but are slipping away from him.

The remarks also came just days after aides had convinced the president that his best re-election strategy was to demonstrate that he was focused on a comprehensive response to the surging coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks, as the president’s poll numbers have tumbled, some of his advisers have told Mr. Trump to try to convince a skeptical nation that he has been effective in managing the virus crisis and is taking it seriously.

Last week, Mr. Trump resuscitated the White House briefings focused on the pandemic, keeping them shorter and more focused than the ones he conducted in March, when he often rambled in his comments, sparred with the news media and engaged in fanciful speculation, including that injecting disinfectant into the human body could help fend off the virus.

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Updated 2020-07-30T00:35:28.896Z

He also changed his stance on face masks, calling it “patriotic” to wear one, and even appearing in public with one on. On Monday, Mr. Trump promoted what he claimed was quick progress on a vaccine during a trip to North Carolina to visit a plant working on one.

But since he took office, Mr. Trump’s presidency has unfolded along two tracks: the scripted one, which he sticks to for hours or sometimes days at a time, and the one guided by his own instincts, often revealed on Twitter. Mr. Trump has been more eager to talk about culture wars, and draw attention to images of unrest on the streets of cities led by Democratic politicians, than to stay focused on the virus.

And his Tweet on Wednesday was further evidence that he inevitably reverts to his instinct to play to his base when campaigning under pressure.

During his remarks in West Texas later on Wednesday, Mr. Trump bragged again that he had ended a government program that tries to reduce segregation in suburban areas.

“People fight all of their lives to get into the suburbs and have a beautiful home,” he said. “There will be no more low-income housing forced into the suburbs.”

“It’s been hell for suburbia,” he added, before telling the audience to “enjoy your life, ladies and gentlemen.”

Mr. Trump has also invoked the suburbs to try to increase apprehension about Mr. Biden. Last week he provocatively tweeted directly to “the Suburban Housewives of America,” warning, “Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream.”

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr. Biden, the former vice president, accused Mr. Trump of trying to further divide the country.

“Instead of finally leading, Donald Trump is yet again attempting to distract from his catastrophic, failed response to the pandemic by trying to divide our nation,” Mr. Bates said. “Turning Americans against each other with total lies is unacceptable for a commander-in-chief at any time, but it’s especially heinous to do so in a moment of worsening crisis.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_175014891_031c0ef6-5da3-41ca-845d-62ba5908e504-articleLarge Trump Plays on Racist Fears of Terrorized Suburbs to Court White Voters United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Pence, Mike George Floyd Protests (2020) Black People Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The Biden campaign said that as president, Mr. Biden would reinstate the program expanding provisions in the Fair Housing Act.

Mr. Trump and his father, Fred Trump, were sued by the Justice Department in the 1970s for their company’s practice of discriminating against Black tenants.

Mr. Trump’s view of the makeup of the American suburbs also appears to be frozen in time. In 2018, support from suburban voters helped Democrats retake the House of Representatives. The following year, they helped Democrats win governorships in reliably red states like Kentucky and Louisiana.

Mr. Trump’s support among women and among independent voters has suffered as he has repeatedly made divisive entreaties based on race or retweeted inflammatory Twitter posts. His mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic has also contributed to his falloff in the polls.

Earlier this year, the Trump campaign poured tens of millions of dollars into television commercials highlighting the administration’s focus on criminal justice reform, which was as much an attempt to convince white suburban voters that the president was not racist as it was to expand Mr. Trump’s appeal among voters of color.

Since then, however, Mr. Trump’s own rhetoric and the actions of his administration appear to have undone any inroads those advertisements may have made. He has demonized protesters in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in the custody of white police officers. Vice President Mike Pence has refused to say “Black Lives Matter,” insisting in an interview that “all life matters, born and unborn.”

Mr. Trump has said that Black Lives Matter is a “symbol of hate,” despite the fact that a majority of voters support the protests that have taken place nationally.

The president also has openly defended the Confederate flag, scolding NASCAR when it banned it from its races, and he has tried to conflate peaceful protesters with a smaller group who have more aggressively sought to tear down statues of Confederate generals.

Jef Pollock, a Democratic pollster, said that Mr. Trump is recycling a political playbook from an era that’s long gone.

“Trump is playing old New York politics from the 1990s,” Mr. Pollock said. “The reality is that more and more suburban voters have embraced diversity as a positive thing for their community. They support the Black Lives Matter movement, and from an aspirational perspective, they want their children to grow up in a more tolerant and less divided country. What’s scary to them is the constant division and intolerance that Trump is promulgating.”

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Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan

HOUSTON — Joseph R. Biden Jr. won over environmentalists and liberals when he announced a $2 trillion plan to promote electric vehicles, energy efficiency and other policies intended to address climate change.

But the plan released on July 14 has also earned a measure of support from an unexpected source: the oil and gas industry that is closely aligned with the Trump administration and is a big source of campaign contributions to the president.

That might seem odd considering that the plan aims for “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050, in part by discouraging the use of fossil fuels. Mr. Biden also wants to spend more on mass transit, expand solar and wind farms and build thousands of electric vehicle charging stations.

Yet the industry was relieved by what the plan did not include, chiefly a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the approach that has turbocharged domestic production of oil and gas over the past dozen years.

“There is a lot of room in there for oil and gas,” said Matt Gallagher, president of Parsley Energy, a West Texas oil producer, about the Biden plan.

Some executives were particularly enthusiastic that Mr. Biden wanted the federal government to invest in carbon capture and sequestration, which entails preventing emissions of greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere and thus allowing industry to continue burning fossil fuels for decades. In a sign of his all-inclusive, eclectic approach to energy, Mr. Biden is also proposing to use advanced nuclear reactors to produce electricity.

“There is some common ground,” said Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the industry in Washington and is close to the Trump administration. “We appreciate the fact that they recognize that there is going to be a role for natural gas and oil in our future. We share the broad goal of reducing emissions and addressing climate change.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_149933016_3c3e3a63-a732-4f12-9dbe-9bfc8f575aab-articleLarge Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan wind power United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Tellurian Incorporated Solar Energy Presidential Election of 2020 Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline natural gas Greenhouse Gas Emissions Edison International Edison Electric Institute Carbon Capture and Sequestration Biden, Joseph R Jr American Petroleum Institute
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Oil and gas executives noted that they had worked productively with Democratic administrations. During the Obama administration, oil companies enjoyed handsome profits even as federal regulators put in effect tougher environmental regulations.

Charif Souki, a Houston entrepreneur who pioneered the liquefied natural gas export industry, expressed enthusiasm about the Biden plan.

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Updated 2020-07-29T03:00:46.667Z

“At first blush, the plan is a masterpiece because he gives something to everybody,” said Mr. Souki, executive chairman of Tellurian, a gas producer that is planning a major export terminal in Louisiana. “Investment in infrastructure is great, $400 billion for research and development is phenomenal and way overdue.”

Like almost all the fossil fuel executives, however, Mr. Souki had some reservations. He described Mr. Biden’s goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 as “unrealistic and unachievable.” He said Mr. Biden ought to strive for “carbon neutrality,” in which emissions from power plants would be offset by planting trees and using new technologies to suck carbon out of the air.

Of course, most oil and gas executives would prefer President Trump be re-elected because he has spent the past three and a half years rolling back regulations.

Fossil fuel interests have donated seven times more to the Trump campaign than the Biden campaign through June, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group. Those numbers are skewed in part because Mr. Trump has been raising money since he took office in 2017.

The president’s most ardent supporters in the energy industry said Mr. Biden’s plan was craftily intended to appear moderate so he could compete with Mr. Trump in states that produce oil and gas.

“He wants to win Pennsylvania, so he toned down that rhetoric for obvious reasons,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance in Denver.

Coal executives are downright hostile toward Mr. Biden. “Their overall motive is to do away with coal miners and coal use in this country,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Credit…Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Yet energy executives have complaints with the Trump administration, too. Some natural gas executives privately grouse that the president’s trade war has cost them dearly because China, the world’s biggest gas importer, has bought only three cargoes of liquefied natural gas from the United States over the past 22 months.

Other executives say Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord needlessly hurt the country’s image abroad. And some think that the administration’s botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a big blow to the economy and demand for energy.

“Masks are good for the economy,” Mr. Gallagher of Parsley Energy said. “Masks need to be an economic thing, not a political thing.”

To shore up his base in oil country, Mr. Trump plans to attend a fund-raising lunch in Odessa, Texas, on Wednesday and tour an oil rig.

Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign’s policy director, said it was not surprising that some oil and gas executives were open to some of Mr. Biden’s ideas. “More and more energy companies are realizing the reality of climate change, the direction consumers are headed, the direction other businesses are headed and they are making changes as a result,” she said.

When asked about fracking, Ms. Feldman said Mr. Biden would end new leases for fracking on federal lands but that “he does not support a complete ban on fracking.”

Some executives said they were comfortable with Mr. Biden in part because the Obama administration did not block fracking and even approved drilling in Arctic waters in Alaska. They say Mr. Biden understands the importance of limiting reliance on foreign oil, and using energy exports to help allies like Japan and undercut rivals like Russia.

“The policy of a Biden administration or a Trump administration might not be so different in the sense of leveraging exports of gas and oil as a foreign policy tool,” said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, an industry group.

There is also growing recognition among some in the oil and gas business that climate change is a problem that the industry has to help address.

“Everyone I know knows we have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we used to and it’s common sense that it’s probably not a good thing and we have to do something about it,” said Lawrence B. Dale, chairman of Dale Operating Company, a Dallas-based company that has investments in 5,000 oil and gas wells.

Mr. Dale said he was pleased that Mr. Biden had put forward an energy plan that did not endorse the Green New Deal, a climate proposal embraced by many progressive lawmakers.

Support for Mr. Biden’s plan is clearly stronger among other parts of the energy industry, including electric utilities and renewable energy companies.

Credit…Zack Wittman for The New York Times

The Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, said its members were generally aligned with Mr. Biden’s plan for a clean electricity grid.

Pedro J. Pizarro, president and chief executive officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, said the Biden plan’s emphasis on clean energy jobs, energy efficiency and transportation was smart. If anything, he said, the proposals for more electric vehicle chargers would most likely need to be increased, as emissions from cars and trucks remain a major contributor to climate change.

“While the devil is in the details, we think the plan mostly gets it right,” Mr. Pizarro said.

The Biden plan would renew the federal government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency that the Trump administration has whittled away. The proposal also calls for extending tax credits for solar and wind power, which have become increasingly competitive against natural gas. Wind and solar groups also endorse Mr. Biden’s proposals to strengthen the electricity transmission network to help their technologies.

At least some in the renewable energy business accept that the Biden plan will keep fossil fuels in the energy mix.

“I don’t want to minimize in the near term that natural gas is an important partner,” said Tom Kiernan, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association. “What we’re seeing is all kinds of combinations.”

That oil and gas interests are OK with a potential Biden presidency might scare some liberals, said Robert Shrum, the director of the University of Southern California’s Center for the Political Future who has advised Al Gore, John Kerry and other Democrats. “There would be some people in the Democratic Party who would get upset that there are oil people who are supporting Biden, but they ought to back off,” Mr. Shrum said. “Don’t we want to win Texas?”

Clifford Krauss reported from Houston, and Ivan Penn from Los Angeles.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan

HOUSTON — Joseph R. Biden Jr. won over environmentalists and liberals when he announced a $2 trillion plan to promote electric vehicles, energy efficiency and other policies intended to address climate change.

But the plan released on July 14 has also earned a measure of support from an unexpected source: the oil and gas industry that is closely aligned with the Trump administration and is a big source of campaign contributions to the president.

That might seem odd considering that the plan aims for “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050, in part by discouraging the use of fossil fuels. Mr. Biden also wants to spend more on mass transit, expand solar and wind farms and build thousands of electric vehicle charging stations.

Yet the industry was relieved by what the plan did not include, chiefly a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the approach that has turbocharged domestic production of oil and gas over the past dozen years.

“There is a lot of room in there for oil and gas,” said Matt Gallagher, president of Parsley Energy, a West Texas oil producer, about the Biden plan.

Some executives were particularly enthusiastic that Mr. Biden wanted the federal government to invest in carbon capture and sequestration, which entails preventing emissions of greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere and thus allowing industry to continue burning fossil fuels for decades. In a sign of his all-inclusive, eclectic approach to energy, Mr. Biden is also proposing to use advanced nuclear reactors to produce electricity.

“There is some common ground,” said Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the industry in Washington and is close to the Trump administration. “We appreciate the fact that they recognize that there is going to be a role for natural gas and oil in our future. We share the broad goal of reducing emissions and addressing climate change.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_149933016_3c3e3a63-a732-4f12-9dbe-9bfc8f575aab-articleLarge Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan wind power United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Tellurian Incorporated Solar Energy Presidential Election of 2020 Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline natural gas Greenhouse Gas Emissions Edison International Edison Electric Institute Carbon Capture and Sequestration Biden, Joseph R Jr American Petroleum Institute
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Oil and gas executives noted that they had worked productively with Democratic administrations. During the Obama administration, oil companies enjoyed handsome profits even as federal regulators put in effect tougher environmental regulations.

Charif Souki, a Houston entrepreneur who pioneered the liquefied natural gas export industry, expressed enthusiasm about the Biden plan.

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Updated 2020-07-29T03:00:46.667Z

“At first blush, the plan is a masterpiece because he gives something to everybody,” said Mr. Souki, executive chairman of Tellurian, a gas producer that is planning a major export terminal in Louisiana. “Investment in infrastructure is great, $400 billion for research and development is phenomenal and way overdue.”

Like almost all the fossil fuel executives, however, Mr. Souki had some reservations. He described Mr. Biden’s goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 as “unrealistic and unachievable.” He said Mr. Biden ought to strive for “carbon neutrality,” in which emissions from power plants would be offset by planting trees and using new technologies to suck carbon out of the air.

Of course, most oil and gas executives would prefer President Trump be re-elected because he has spent the past three and a half years rolling back regulations.

Fossil fuel interests have donated seven times more to the Trump campaign than the Biden campaign through June, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group. Those numbers are skewed in part because Mr. Trump has been raising money since he took office in 2017.

The president’s most ardent supporters in the energy industry said Mr. Biden’s plan was craftily intended to appear moderate so he could compete with Mr. Trump in states that produce oil and gas.

“He wants to win Pennsylvania, so he toned down that rhetoric for obvious reasons,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance in Denver.

Coal executives are downright hostile toward Mr. Biden. “Their overall motive is to do away with coal miners and coal use in this country,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Credit…Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Yet energy executives have complaints with the Trump administration, too. Some natural gas executives privately grouse that the president’s trade war has cost them dearly because China, the world’s biggest gas importer, has bought only three cargoes of liquefied natural gas from the United States over the past 22 months.

Other executives say Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord needlessly hurt the country’s image abroad. And some think that the administration’s botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a big blow to the economy and demand for energy.

“Masks are good for the economy,” Mr. Gallagher of Parsley Energy said. “Masks need to be an economic thing, not a political thing.”

To shore up his base in oil country, Mr. Trump plans to attend a fund-raising lunch in Odessa, Texas, on Wednesday and tour an oil rig.

Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign’s policy director, said it was not surprising that some oil and gas executives were open to some of Mr. Biden’s ideas. “More and more energy companies are realizing the reality of climate change, the direction consumers are headed, the direction other businesses are headed and they are making changes as a result,” she said.

When asked about fracking, Ms. Feldman said Mr. Biden would end new leases for fracking on federal lands but that “he does not support a complete ban on fracking.”

Some executives said they were comfortable with Mr. Biden in part because the Obama administration did not block fracking and even approved drilling in Arctic waters in Alaska. They say Mr. Biden understands the importance of limiting reliance on foreign oil, and using energy exports to help allies like Japan and undercut rivals like Russia.

“The policy of a Biden administration or a Trump administration might not be so different in the sense of leveraging exports of gas and oil as a foreign policy tool,” said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, an industry group.

There is also growing recognition among some in the oil and gas business that climate change is a problem that the industry has to help address.

“Everyone I know knows we have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we used to and it’s common sense that it’s probably not a good thing and we have to do something about it,” said Lawrence B. Dale, chairman of Dale Operating Company, a Dallas-based company that has investments in 5,000 oil and gas wells.

Mr. Dale said he was pleased that Mr. Biden had put forward an energy plan that did not endorse the Green New Deal, a climate proposal embraced by many progressive lawmakers.

Support for Mr. Biden’s plan is clearly stronger among other parts of the energy industry, including electric utilities and renewable energy companies.

Credit…Zack Wittman for The New York Times

The Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, said its members were generally aligned with Mr. Biden’s plan for a clean electricity grid.

Pedro J. Pizarro, president and chief executive officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, said the Biden plan’s emphasis on clean energy jobs, energy efficiency and transportation was smart. If anything, he said, the proposals for more electric vehicle chargers would most likely need to be increased, as emissions from cars and trucks remain a major contributor to climate change.

“While the devil is in the details, we think the plan mostly gets it right,” Mr. Pizarro said.

The Biden plan would renew the federal government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency that the Trump administration has whittled away. The proposal also calls for extending tax credits for solar and wind power, which have become increasingly competitive against natural gas. Wind and solar groups also endorse Mr. Biden’s proposals to strengthen the electricity transmission network to help their technologies.

At least some in the renewable energy business accept that the Biden plan will keep fossil fuels in the energy mix.

“I don’t want to minimize in the near term that natural gas is an important partner,” said Tom Kiernan, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association. “What we’re seeing is all kinds of combinations.”

That oil and gas interests are OK with a potential Biden presidency might scare some liberals, said Robert Shrum, the director of the University of Southern California’s Center for the Political Future who has advised Al Gore, John Kerry and other Democrats. “There would be some people in the Democratic Party who would get upset that there are oil people who are supporting Biden, but they ought to back off,” Mr. Shrum said. “Don’t we want to win Texas?”

Clifford Krauss reported from Houston, and Ivan Penn from Los Angeles.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Viral Epidemic Splintering Into Deadly Pieces

Once again, the coronavirus is ascendant. As infections mount across the country, it is dawning on Americans that the epidemic is now unstoppable, and that no corner of the nation will be left untouched.

As of Tuesday, the pathogen had infected at least 4.3 million Americans, killing almost 150,000. Many experts fear the virus could kill 200,000 or even 300,000 by year’s end. Even President Trump has donned a mask, after resisting for months, and has canceled the Republican National Convention celebrations in Florida.

Each state, each city has its own crisis driven by its own risk factors: vacation crowds in one, bars reopened too soon in another, a revolt against masks in a third.

“We are in a worse place than we were in March,” when the virus coursed through New York, said Dr. Leana S. Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner. “Back then we had one epicenter. Now we have lots.”

To assess where the country is heading now, The New York Times interviewed 20 public health experts — not just clinicians and epidemiologists, but also historians and sociologists, because the spread of the virus is now influenced as much by human behavior as it is by the pathogen itself.

Not only are American cities in the South and West facing deadly outbreaks like those that struck Northeastern cities in the spring, but rural areas are being hurt, too. In every region, people of color will continue to suffer disproportionately, experts said.

While there may be no appetite for a national lockdown, local restrictions must be tightened when required, the researchers said, and governors and mayors must have identical goals. Testing must become more targeted.

In most states, contact tracing is now moot — there are simply too many cases to track. And while progress has been made on vaccines, none is expected to arrive this winter in time to stave off what many fear will be a new wave of deaths.

Overall, the scientists conveyed a pervasive sense of sadness and exhaustion. Where once there was defiance, and then a growing sense of dread, now there seems to be sorrow and frustration, a feeling that so many funerals never had to happen and that nothing is going well. The United States is a wounded giant, while much of Europe, which was hit first, is recovering and reopeningalthough not to us.

“We’re all incredibly depressed and in shock at how out of control the virus is in the U.S.,” said Dr. Michele Barry, the director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University.

With so much wealth and medical talent, they asked, how could we have done so poorly? How did we fare not just worse than autocratic China and isolated New Zealand, but also worse than tiny, much poorer nations like Vietnam and Rwanda?

“National hubris and belief in American exceptionalism have served us badly,” said Martha L. Lincoln, a medical anthropologist and historian at San Francisco State University. “We were not prepared to see the risk of failure.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_174267405_2f8e4d59-b785-4231-aea5-476014cc6306-articleLarge A Viral Epidemic Splintering Into Deadly Pieces Ventilators (Medical) Vaccination and Immunization United States Trump, Donald J States (US) Shutdowns (Institutional) Polls and Public Opinion Minorities Medicine and Health Masks Influenza hospitals Health Insurance and Managed Care Gerberding, Julie L Epidemics Deaths (Fatalities) Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Allen, Danielle S
Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

The infection may start in the lungs, but it is very different from influenza, a respiratory virus. In severely ill patients, the coronavirus may attach to receptors inside the veins and arteries, and move on to attack the kidneys, the heart, the gut and even the brain, choking off these organs with hundreds of tiny blood clots.

Most of the virus’s victims are elderly, but it has not spared young adults, especially those with obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes. Adults aged 18 to 49 now account for more hospitalized cases than people aged 50 to 64 or those 65 and older.

Children are usually not harmed by the virus, although clinicians were dismayed to discover a few who were struck by a rare but dangerous inflammatory version. Young children appear to transmit the virus less often than teenagers, which may affect how schools can be opened.

Among adults, a very different picture has emerged. Growing evidence suggests that perhaps 10 percent of the infected account for 80 percent of new transmissions. Unpredictable superspreading events in nursing homes, meatpacking plants, churches, prisons and bars are major drivers of the epidemic.

Thus far, none of the medicines for which hopes were once high — repurposed malaria drugs, AIDS drugs and antivirals — have proved to be rapid cures. One antiviral, remdesivir, has been shown to shorten hospital stays, while a common steroid, dexamethasone, has helped save some severely ill patients.

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Updated 2020-07-29T10:06:27.761Z

One or even several vaccines may be available by year’s end, which would be a spectacular achievement. But by then the virus may have in its grip virtually every village and city on the globe.

Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Some experts, like Michael T. Osterholm, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, argue that only a nationwide lockdown can completely contain the virus now. Other researchers think that is politically impossible, but emphasize that localities must be free to act quickly and enforce strong measures with support from their state capitols.

Danielle Allen, the director of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which has issued pandemic response plans, said that finding less than one case per 100,000 people means a community should continue testing, contact tracing and isolating cases — with financial support for those who need it.

Up to 25 cases per 100,000 requires greater restrictions, like closing bars and limiting gatherings. Above that number, authorities should issue stay-at-home orders, she said.

Testing must be focused, not just offered at convenient parking lots, experts said, and it should be most intense in institutions like nursing homes, prisons, factories or other places at risk of superspreading events.

Testing must be free in places where people are poor or uninsured, such as public housing projects, Native American reservations and churches and grocery stores in impoverished neighborhoods.

None of this will be possible unless the nation’s capacity for testing, a continuing disaster, is greatly expanded. By the end of summer, the administration hopes to start using “pooling,” in which tests are combined in batches to speed up the process.

But the method only works in communities with lower infection rates, where large numbers of pooled tests turn up relatively few positive results. It fails where the virus has spread everywhere, because too many batches turn up positive results that require retesting.

At the moment, the United States tests roughly 800,000 people per day, about 38 percent of the number some experts think is needed.

Above all, researchers said, mask use should be universal indoors — including airplanes, subway cars and every other enclosed space — and outdoors anywhere people are less than six feet apart.

Dr. Emily Landon, an infection control specialist at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, said it was “sad that something as simple as a mask got politicized.”

“It’s not a statement, it’s a piece of clothing,” she added. “You get used to it the way you got used to wearing pants.”

Arguments that masks infringe on personal rights must be countered both by legal orders and by persuasion. “We need more credible messengers endorsing masks,” Dr. Wen said — just before the president himself became a messenger.

“They could include C.E.O.s or celebrities or religious leaders. Different people are influencers to different demographics.”

Although this feels like a new debate, it is actually an old one. Masks were common in some Western cities during the 1918 flu pandemic and mandatory in San Francisco. There was even a jingle: “Obey the laws, wear the gauze. Protect your jaws from septic paws.”

“A libertarian movement, the Anti-Mask League, emerged,” Dr. Lincoln of San Francisco State said. “There were fistfights with police officers over it.” Ultimately, city officials “waffled” and compliance faded.

“I wonder what this issue would be like today,” she mused, “if that hadn’t happened.”

Images of Americans disregarding social distancing requirements have become a daily news staple. But the pictures are deceptive: Americans are more accepting of social distancing than the media sometimes portrays, said Beth Redbird, a Northwestern University sociologist who since March has conducted regular surveys of 8,000 adults about the impact of the virus.

“About 70 percent of Americans report using all forms of it,” she said. “And when we give them adjective choices, they describe people who won’t distance as mean, selfish or unintelligent, not as generous, open-minded or patriotic.”

The key predictor, she said in early July, was whether or not the poll respondent trusted Mr. Trump. Those who trusted him were less likely to practice social distancing. That was true of Republicans and independents, “and there’s no such thing as a Democrat who trusts Donald Trump,” she added.

Whether or not people support coercive measures like stay-at-home orders or bar closures depended on how scared the respondent was.

“When rising case numbers make people more afraid, they have more taste for liberty-constraining actions,” Dr. Redbird said. And no economic recovery will occur, she added, “until people aren’t afraid. If they are, they won’t go out and spend money even if they’re allowed to.”

Credit…Erin Trieb for The New York Times

As of Tuesday, new infections were still rising in 28 states, according to a database maintained by The Times.

Weeks ago, experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, were advising states where the virus was surging to pull back from reopening by closing down bars, forbidding large gatherings and requiring mask usage.

Many of those states are finally taking that advice, but it is not yet clear whether this national change of heart has happened in time to stop the newest wave of deaths from ultimately exceeding the 2,750-a-day peak of mid-April. Through Tuesday, the seven-day average was 1,078 virus deaths nationwide.

Deaths may surge even higher, experts warned, when cold weather, rain and snow force Americans to meet indoors, eat indoors and crowd into public transit.

Oddly, states that are now hard-hit might become safer, some experts suggested. In the South and Southwest, summers are so hot that diners seek air-conditioning indoors, but eating outdoors in December can be pleasant.

Several studies have confirmed transmission in air-conditioned rooms. In one well-known case cluster in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China, researchers concluded that air-conditioners blew around a viral cloud, infecting patrons as far as 10 feet from a sick diner.

Rural areas face another risk. Almost 80 percent of the country’s counties lack even one infectious disease specialist, according to a study led by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

At the moment, the crisis is most acute in Southern and Southwestern states. But websites that track transmission rates show that hot spots can turn up anywhere. For three weeks, for example, Alaska’s small outbreak has been one of the country’s fastest-spreading, while transmission in Texas and Arizona has dramatically slowed.

Deaths now may rise more slowly than they did in spring, because hospitalized patients are, on average, younger this time. But overwhelmed hospitals can lead to excess deaths from many causes all over a community, as ambulances are delayed and people having health crises avoid hospitals out of fear.

The experts were divided as to what role influenza will play in the fall. A harsh flu season could flood hospitals with pneumonia patients needing ventilators. But some said the flu season could be mild or almost nonexistent this year.

Normally, the flu virus migrates from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere in the spring — presumably in air travelers — and then returns in the fall, with new mutations that may make it a poor match for the annual vaccine.

But this year, the national lockdown abruptly ended flu transmission in late April, according to weekly Fluview reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. International air travel has been sharply curtailed, and there has been almost no flu activity in the whole southern hemisphere this year.

Assuming there is still little air travel to the United States this fall, there may be little “reseeding” of the flu virus here. But in case that prediction turns out be wrong, all the researchers advised getting flu shots anyway.

“There’s no reason to be caught unprepared for two respiratory viruses,” said Tara C. Smith, an epidemiologist at Kent State University’s School of Public Health.

Credit…Misha Friedman for The New York Times

Experts familiar with vaccine and drug manufacturing were disappointed that, thus far, only dexamethasone and remdesivir have proved to be effective treatments, and then only partially.

Most felt that monoclonal antibodies — cloned human proteins that can be grown in cell culture — represented the best hope until vaccines arrive. Regeneron, Eli Lilly and other drugmakers are working on candidates.

“They’re promising both for treatment and for prophylaxis, and there are companies with track records and manufacturing platforms,” said Dr. Luciana Borio, a former director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the National Security Council. “But manufacturing capacity is limited.”

According to a database compiled by The Times, researchers worldwide are developing more than 165 vaccine candidates, and 27 are in human trials.

New announcements are pouring in, and the pressure to hurry is intense: The Trump administration just awarded nearly $2 billion to a Pfizer-led consortium that promised 100 million doses by December, assuming trials succeed.

Because the virus is still spreading rapidly, most experts said “challenge trials,” in which a small number of volunteers are vaccinated and then deliberately infected, would probably not be needed.

Absent a known cure, “challenges” can be ethically fraught, and some doctors oppose doing them for this virus. “They don’t tell you anything about safety,” Dr. Borio said.

And when a virus is circulating unchecked, a typical placebo-controlled trial with up to 30,000 participants can be done efficiently, she added. Moderna and Pfizer have already begun such trials.

The Food and Drug Administration has said a vaccine will pass muster even if it is only 50 percent effective. Experts said they could accept that, at least initially, because the first vaccine approved could save lives while testing continued on better alternatives.

“A vaccine doesn’t have to work perfectly to be useful,” Dr. Walensky said. “Even with measles vaccine, you can sometimes still get measles — but it’s mild, and you aren’t infectious.”

“We don’t know if a vaccine will work in older folks. We don’t know exactly what level of herd immunity we’ll need to stop the epidemic. But anything safe and fairly effective should help.”

Still, haste is risky, experts warned, especially when opponents of vaccines are spreading fear. If a vaccine is rushed to market without thorough safety testing and recipients are hurt by it, all vaccines could be set back for years.

Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

No matter what state the virus reaches, one risk remains constant. Even in states with few Black and Hispanic residents, they are usually hit hardest, experts said.

People of color are more likely to have jobs that require physical presence and sometimes close contact, such as construction work, store clerking and nursing. They are more likely to rely on public transit and to live in neighborhoods where grocery stores are scarce and crowded.

They are more likely to live in crowded housing and multigenerational homes, some with only one bathroom, making safe home isolation impossible when sickness strikes. They have higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma.

Federal data gathered through May 28 shows that Black and Hispanic Americans were three times as likely to get infected as their white neighbors, and twice as likely to die, even if they lived in remote rural counties with few Black or Hispanic residents.

“By the time that minority patient sets foot in a hospital, he is already on an unequal footing,” said Elaine Hernandez, a sociologist at Indiana University.

The differences persist even though Black and Hispanic adults drastically altered their behavior. One study found that through the beginning of May, the average Black American practiced more social distancing than the average white American.

Officials in Chicago, Baltimore and other communities faced another threat: rumors flying about social media that Black people were somehow immune.

The top factor making people adopt self-protective behavior is personally knowing someone who fell ill, said Dr. Redbird. By the end of spring, Black and Hispanic Americans were 50 percent more likely than white Americans to know someone who had been ill, her surveys found.

Dr. Hernandez, whose parents live in Arizona, said their neighbors who had not been scared in June had since changed their attitudes.

Her father, a physician, had set an example. Early on, he wore a mask with a silly mustache when he and his wife took walks, and they would decline friends’ invitations, saying, “No, we’re staying in our bubble.”

Now, she said, their neighbors are wearing masks, “and people are telling my father, ‘You were right,’” Dr. Hernandez said.

Credit…Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

There was no widespread agreement among experts about what is likely to happen in the years after the pandemic. Some scientists expected a quick economic recovery; others thought the damage could persist for years.

Working at home will become more common, some predicted, while crowded, open-plan offices may be changed. The just-in-time supply chains on which many businesses depend will need fixing because the processes failed to deliver adequate protective gear, ventilators and test materials.

A disease-modeling system like that used by the National Weather Service to predict storms is needed, said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Right now, the country has surveillance for seasonal flu but no national map tracking all disease outbreaks. As Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former C.D.C. director, recently pointed out, states are not even required to track the same data.

Several experts said they assumed that millions of Americans who have been left without health insurance or forced to line up at food banks would vote for politicians favoring universal health care, paid sick leave, greater income equality and other changes.

But given the country’s deep political divisions, no researcher was certain what the outcome of the coming election would be.

Dr. Redbird said her polling of Americans showed “little faith in institutions across the board — we’re not seeing an increase in trust in science or an appetite for universal health care or workers equity.”

The Trump administration did little to earn trust. More than six months into the worst health crisis in a century, Mr. Trump only last week urged Americans to wear masks and canceled the Republican convention in Florida, the kind of high-risk indoor event that states have been banning since mid-March.

“It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Trump said at the first of the resurrected coronavirus task force briefings earlier this month, which included no scientists or health officials. The briefings were discontinued in April amid his rosy predications that the epidemic would soon be over.

Mr. Trump has ignored, contradicted or disparaged his scientific advisers, repeatedly saying that the virus simply would go away, touting unproven drugs like hydroxychloroquine even after they were shown to be ineffective and sometimes dangerous, and suggesting that disinfectants or lethal ultraviolet light might be used inside the body.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their health insurance, and are in danger of losing their homes, even as they find themselves in the path of a lethal disease. The Trump presidency “is the symptom of the denigration of science and the gutting of the public contract about what we owe each other as citizens,” said Dr. Joia S. Mukherjee, the chief medical officer of Partners in Health in Boston.

One lesson that will surely be learned is that the country needs to be better prepared for microbial assaults, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, a former director of the C.D.C.

“This is not a once-in-a-century event. It’s a harbinger of things to come.”

Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

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‘This Is About Justice’: Biden Ties Economic Revival to Racial Equity

Westlake Legal Group merlin_175045689_d12df2df-bd21-4d39-ad45-bb3675617cf5-facebookJumbo ‘This Is About Justice’: Biden Ties Economic Revival to Racial Equity United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Speeches and Statements Small Business Presidential Election of 2020 Minorities Black People Biden, Joseph R Jr

WILMINGTON, Del. — Joseph R. Biden Jr. unveiled wide-ranging plans on Tuesday to address systemic racism in the nation’s economy, saying this year’s election was about “understanding people’s struggles” and pledging to tear down barriers for minority-owned businesses.

In an address near his home in Wilmington, Mr. Biden made the argument that racial justice is central to his overall policy vision in areas like housing, infrastructure and support for small businesses, while aiming to draw a stark contrast with a president who has regularly inflamed racial tensions.

“This election is not just about voting against Donald Trump,” Mr. Biden said, standing before four American flags in a community center gym. “It’s about rising to this moment of crisis, understanding people’s struggles and building a future worthy of their courage and their ambition to overcome.”

Mr. Biden’s plan is the fourth piece of his “Build Back Better” proposal, an economic agenda that also encompasses manufacturing, climate and infrastructure, and caregiving plans. It takes aim at Mr. Trump’s stewardship of the economy and his impact on working families, a potential vulnerability that has emerged during the coronavirus crisis.

The speech on Tuesday came with just under 100 days until Election Day, amid a searing national debate over racism in American society. Mr. Biden continues to hold a substantial lead over President Trump in national polls, and with each successive economic rollout, he has been trying to counter one of Mr. Trump’s enduring sources of voter support.

The plan fell short of some of the most ambitious proposals promoted by the left wing of the Democratic Party. Mr. Biden, for instance, did not embrace reparations for slavery or endorse “baby bonds,” a government-run savings program for children championed during the primary by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey. Campaign officials said Mr. Biden had not ruled out eventually accepting such a plan, and that he was not opposed to a study of reparations.

But the proposal he released on Tuesday did emphasize the importance of closing the racial wealth gap, and outlined multiple prescriptions for doing so. Mr. Biden laid out plans for a small-business opportunity fund to help make capital available to minority business owners, and he proposed to triple the goal for awarding federal contracts to small disadvantaged businesses, to at least 15 percent of the money doled out from 5 percent. The plan also seeks to improve the opportunity zone program that was created as part of the 2017 tax overhaul.

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Updated 2020-07-29T03:00:46.667Z

“In good times, communities of color still lag,” Mr. Biden said. “In bad times, they get hit first, and the hardest. And in recovery, they take the longest to bounce back. This is about justice.”

In recent months, as the country has grappled with devastating public health and economic problems and a growing outcry over racial injustice, Mr. Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has increasingly called for ambitious measures to address the nation’s challenges. He has sometimes gone far beyond the instincts toward relatively incremental change that guided him in the primary campaign, at least compared with many of his Democratic opponents.

As he seeks to unite and energize his party around his candidacy, he has sought input from a broad range of experts and officials, including from a series of task forces assembled with Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, his liberal primary rival.

But Mr. Biden, the former vice president, continues to confront a lack of enthusiasm from some progressive voters, and while he won the primary with strong support from African-American voters — in particular, older ones — he faces challenges generating excitement among some younger voters of color. In the primary campaign, he was not the choice of many liberal activists of color, and he still faces skepticism from some of them about whether he can sufficiently address their concerns.

Mr. Trump, for his part, has sought to portray Mr. Biden as hostage to an extreme left wing of the Democratic Party, whose extravagant spending would wreck the nation’s economy.

The plan Mr. Biden unveiled touched on a wide range of economic issues. It emphasizes support for small-business owners of color, promising that he will “leverage more than $150 billion in new capital and opportunities for small businesses that have been structurally excluded for generations,” including by increasing access to venture capital and low-interest business loans.

Mr. Biden, who has long faced anger from some voters over his leading role in the 1994 crime bill, which many experts link to mass incarceration, also addressed some criminal justice matters in the plan. He would aim to help states improve their criminal justice data infrastructure so they can automatically seal criminal records for certain nonviolent offenders.

The plan also said that he would try to amend the Federal Reserve Act “to require the Fed to regularly report on current data and trends in racial economic gaps — and what actions the Fed is taking through its monetary and regulatory policies to close these gaps.”

The Fed, which influences the speed of economic growth and the unemployment rate with its interest rate policies, already regularly discusses racial and ethnic economic outcomes in its reports and testimonies. It has shied away from targeting any specific group’s unemployment rate when setting monetary policy, despite a growing chorus suggesting that it ought to consider targeting the Black jobless rate, which has historically remained higher for longer.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader, called Mr. Biden’s overarching proposal promising, but said he wanted to see Mr. Biden call for more far-reaching proposals to ensure that Black Americans frequently do business with the government.

“It’s the right direction,” he said. “I just want to see more, and I intend to push for more.”

Aimee Allison, the founder of She the People, a political advocacy group focused on women of color, said that the Biden campaign was taking encouraging steps on issues of economic, racial and gender “justice,” as she put it.

“Progressives, we had other candidates in the primary that we would look at as carrying some of these messages,” said Ms. Allison, who was often a Biden critic in the primary and said there are still issues he must address. “Now, the Biden campaign has showed an openness and willingness.”

A number of the policies highlighted in Mr. Biden’s proposal were already announced as part of other plans, like a housing proposal that would provide a tax credit of up to $15,000 for first-time home buyers, and a goal that disadvantaged communities receive 40 percent of the benefits of spending on clean energy infrastructure.

In contrast to the previous economic plans Mr. Biden outlined, which focused on major, transformational changes to certain sectors of the American economy, the proposal he unveiled on Tuesday was a broader effort seeking to emphasize the idea that racial justice is integral to his policy vision.

He began his address by invoking two icons of the civil rights era who recently died, Representative John Lewis and the Rev. C.T. Vivian, recounting the time he walked over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., with Mr. Lewis, and a conversation the two men had before Mr. Lewis died.

“He asked that we stay focused on the work left undone to heal this nation,” Mr. Biden said. “To remain undaunted by the public health crisis and the economic crisis that’s taken the blinders off in this crisis and showed the systemic racism for what it is that plagues this nation.”

In his speech and in a subsequent question-and-answer session with reporters, Mr. Biden repeatedly lashed out at his opponent’s stewardship of the crises facing the country.

He also forcefully rebuffed Mr. Trump’s attempts to cast him as soft on law enforcement, as protesters clash with federal agents in Portland, Ore. “Peaceful protesters should be protected, and arsonists and anarchists should be prosecuted, and local law enforcement can do that,” Mr. Biden said.

And Mr. Biden accused Mr. Trump of “trying to scare the hell out of the suburbs” by suggesting that Obama-era policies were “causing you to end up, by implication, having those Black neighbors next to you.”

“That’s supposed to scare people,” Mr. Biden said.

Asked about his vice-presidential selection process, Mr. Biden revealed little, saying he would have a choice next week.

But handwritten notes that Mr. Biden held at the event — which were captured by an Associated Press photographer — touched on the subject in more detail. They included talking points about Senator Kamala Harris of California, who is considered a top-tier vice-presidential contender.

“Do not hold grudges,” the notes said. A few lines down, they read, “Great respect for her.”

Thomas Kaplan reported from Wilmington, and Katie Glueck from Chicago. Jeanna Smialek contributed reporting from Washington.

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Barr Clashes With House Democrats in Testimony, Defending Protests Response

Attorney General William P. Barr vigorously defended the federal response to nationwide protests and civil unrest in a combative congressional hearing on Tuesday where Democrats accused him and other Trump administration officials of suppressing protesters’ rights in an overly violent crackdown.

The attorney general also insisted that he intervened in the criminal cases of President Trump’s allies Roger J. Stone Jr. and Michael T. Flynn to uphold the rule of law, not to do Mr. Trump’s bidding.

Mr. Barr’s defenses punctuated an outright hostile election-season oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats tried to portray him as a dangerous errand boy for the president. But Mr. Barr insisted he was trying to enforce the law against what he characterized as rioters using demonstrations as cover to commit crimes. He also said of the criminal cases that grew out of the Russia investigation that he wanted to be fair to Mr. Trump’s former advisers.

“The president’s friends don’t deserve special breaks, but they also don’t deserve to be treated more harshly than other people,” he said. “And sometimes that’s a difficult decision to make, especially when you know you’re going to be castigated for it.”

The five-hour hearing, Mr. Barr’s first on Capitol Hill in more than a year, grew increasingly heated as Democrats spoke over his attempts to respond to their accusations. At one point, the attorney general exclaimed, “I’m going to answer the damn question.”

Democrats were clearly angered as Mr. Barr quibbled over small details or ignored questions about his rationale or actions. But amid frequent sniping, lawmakers came away with few, if any, new facts or admissions.

Democrats have sought to hold Mr. Barr to account since he presented a summary last year of the then-secret findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that a federal judge later said was “distorted” and “misleading” in a way that torqued public understanding of its findings in Mr. Trump’s favor.

But Mr. Barr — who also did not testify before the House Judiciary Committee when he was attorney general the first time, under President George Bush — repeatedly put off requests to appear before the committee, saying he was too busy. In the meantime, lawmakers accumulated a long list of additional grievances that they aired on Tuesday.

“You have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee chairman, said at the start of the hearing to Mr. Barr, who sat impassively.

Democrats charged that Mr. Barr had intervened improperly in the Stone and Flynn cases to please Mr. Trump. They accused him of helping the president promulgate bogus fears about voter fraud to help shake confidence in November’s election. And they warned that under Mr. Barr’s leadership, the Justice Department was trampling on the civil liberties of citizens like those demanding that the nation eradicate institutionalized racism against Black Americans.

“The president wants footage for his campaign ads, and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered,” Mr. Nadler said. “You are projecting fear and violence nationwide in pursuit of obvious political objectives. Shame on you, Mr. Barr.”

The attorney general denied the charges, arguing at first calmly and then more irritably that federal agents confronting protesters were not trying to quash peaceful expressions of free speech, but to deal with “mob” violence.

“Rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims,” he said.

In particular, he defended the deployment of federal agents in Portland, Ore., accusing local police of essentially abandoning a federal courthouse as rioters and vandals “laid siege” to it, threatening the functioning of the court system.

“What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called protests,” Mr. Barr said. “It is by any objective measure an assault on the government of the United States.”

Local officials have accused federal agents of being heavy-handed and said their presence reinvigorated tensions that had been subsiding.

While some protesters have been violent, many others have been peaceful and have included high school students, military veterans, off-duty lawyers and lines of mothers who call themselves the “Wall of Moms.” Video shows that in some cases, agents attacked protesters when there was no apparent threat, including the case of a Navy veteran whose hands were smashed by officers.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_174932796_b8b067b7-3f2b-46ba-96e6-30a5a74e8eb1-articleLarge Barr Clashes With House Democrats in Testimony, Defending Protests Response United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Stone, Roger J Jr Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Police Reform Nadler, Jerrold Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Jordan, Jim (1964- ) House Committee on the Judiciary George Floyd Protests (2020) Barr, William P
Credit…Mason Trinca for The New York Times

Mr. Barr likewise defended the federal response to protests last month at Lafayette Square outside the White House, where law enforcement used pepper balls and smoke bombs to clear the area before Mr. Trump walked through to take a photograph in front of a nearby church. Mr. Barr said officials had reached a “consensus” that a protective perimeter outside the White House had to be extended because they wanted to prevent the vandalism of previous nights.

“Do you think the response at Lafayette Square to tear gas, pepper spray and beat protesters and injure American citizens who were just simply exercising their First Amendment rights was appropriate?” asked Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington.

Mr. Barr responded that “no tear gas was used” on the protesters but did not address the substance of the question. The United States Park Police has confirmed “the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls.”

The Justice Department’s independent inspector general is investigating the actions of federal agents during the episode.

Asked about the pleas for racial justice informing many of the protests, Mr. Barr said that “I don’t agree that there is systemic racism in police departments generally in this country,” and he quoted statistics that more white Americans had been killed by the police than Black Americans.

Critics have called those figures misleading because they do not account for relative population differences; a Black person is more likely to be killed than a white person.

Republicans backed the attorney general for showing “courage” by taking aim at the Russia investigation and attacks on the police.

Their most visceral defense came in a five-minute video montage that appeared to show protesters or people infiltrating their ranks turning to violence. It began with footage of cable news anchors describing the protests as “peaceful” before streaming through scenes like a police precinct being set ablaze in Minneapolis, American flags burning, cans being hurled at the police and stores being looted.

“I want to thank you for defending law enforcement, for pointing out what a crazy idea this defund the police policy, whatever you want to call it, is, and standing up for the rule of law,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the panel’s top Republican, told Mr. Barr before playing the video.

Republicans cheered on Mr. Barr as he defended his decision to overrule career prosecutors in the Stone case, saying that they were trying to treat Mr. Stone more harshly than other defendants. The Judiciary Committee heard testimony from one of the prosecutors last month who accused department leaders of changing the sentencing recommendation for “political reasons.”

“The line prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice what anyone else in a similar position had ever served,” Mr. Barr said. “This is a 67-year-old man, first-time offender, no violence, and they were trying to put him in jail for seven to nine years. I was not going to advocate that. Because that is not the rule of law.”

But the prosecutors said in court that they arrived at the seven- to nine-year recommendation by following the Justice Department’s own sentencing guidelines, as is customary in any federal criminal case. Questioned by the federal judge who oversaw the Stone case, department officials acknowledged that it was the policy of the United States attorney’s office in Washington to seek the harshest possible sentence under the sentencing guidelines and to let the judge decide whether it was warranted.

Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, later asked Mr. Barr repeatedly if he would point to any other case where the department had failed to recommended a punishment in line with the guidelines set out for a defendant like Mr. Stone, who had threatened a witness.

Mr. Barr did not answer directly, insisting that “the judge agreed with me” because she gave Mr. Stone a lighter sentence than the prosecution team had recommended before he overruled them. Mr. Trump commuted Mr. Stone’s sentence this month.

Asked about the criminal prosecutor, John H. Durham, reviewing the Russia investigation, Mr. Barr declined to commit to waiting until after the general election in November to release any report that Mr. Durham produced. Mr. Barr repeated his view that Justice Department policy against taking actions that could affect elections should apply to Mr. Durham’s work.

Credit…Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla

Democrats also pressed Mr. Barr to justify his repeated warnings about the risk of increased mail-in balloting in the upcoming election because of the coronavirus pandemic. After Mr. Trump attacked such efforts and claimed that mail-in ballots would be used for fraud to rig the election against him — even though he himself has voted by mail — Mr. Barr suggested without evidence, including in interviews with The New York Times and Fox News, that there was a serious risk of foreign countries mass-counterfeiting ballots.

Experts say that a foreign-sponsored plot to systematically tamper with ballots is nearly impossible because of how they are printed and tracked. Many states have conducted elections by mail for years without any major security problems or widespread fraud.

Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, asked Mr. Barr whether he believed the presidential election would be rigged. The attorney general said he had no reason to think it would be, but then added, “If you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud.”

For all the grab-bag of policy issues raised by the questioning, the exchanges proved to be more heated than illuminating. At one point, Mr. Jordan — who is known for his bombastic style of questioning witnesses — complained that Democrats were talking over Mr. Barr.

“For months you have tried to get the attorney general to come,” Mr. Jordan interjected. “He is here. Why don’t you let him speak?”

“The gentleman’s rudeness is not recognized,” Mr. Nadler replied, trying to move on to the next lawmaker in line to question Mr. Barr.

“Rudeness? Rudeness? Rudeness?” Mr. Jordan shot back. “Time after time, you refuse to let the attorney general answer the questions posed to him.”

Sharon LaFraniere and Linda Qiu contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Barr Clashes With House Democrats, Defending Responses to Protests and Russia Inquiry

Westlake Legal Group barr-clashes-with-house-democrats-defending-responses-to-protests-and-russia-inquiry Barr Clashes With House Democrats, Defending Responses to Protests and Russia Inquiry United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Stone, Roger J Jr Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Police Reform Nadler, Jerrold Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Jordan, Jim (1964- ) House Committee on the Judiciary George Floyd Protests (2020) Barr, William P

Attorney General William P. Barr vigorously defended the federal response to nationwide protests and civil unrest in a combative congressional hearing on Tuesday where Democrats accused him and other Trump administration officials of suppressing protesters’ rights in an overly violent crackdown.

The attorney general also insisted that he intervened in the criminal cases of President Trump’s allies Roger J. Stone Jr. and Michael T. Flynn to uphold the rule of law, not to do Mr. Trump’s bidding.

Mr. Barr’s defenses punctuated an outright hostile election-season oversight hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats tried to portray him as a dangerous errand boy for the president. But Mr. Barr insisted he was trying to enforce the law against what he characterized as rioters using demonstrations as cover to commit crimes. He also said of the criminal cases that grew out of the Russia investigation that he wanted to be fair to Mr. Trump’s former advisers.

“The president’s friends don’t deserve special breaks, but they also don’t deserve to be treated more harshly than other people,” he said. “And sometimes that’s a difficult decision to make, especially when you know you’re going to be castigated for it.”

The five-hour hearing, Mr. Barr’s first on Capitol Hill in more than a year, grew increasingly heated as Democrats spoke over his attempts to respond to their accusations. At one point, the attorney general exclaimed, “I’m going to answer the damn question.”

Democrats were clearly angered as Mr. Barr quibbled over small details or ignored questions about his rationale or actions. But amid frequent sniping, lawmakers came away with few, if any, new facts or admissions.

Democrats have sought to hold Mr. Barr to account since he presented a summary last year of the then-secret findings of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, that a federal judge later said was “distorted” and “misleading” in a way that torqued public understanding of its findings in Mr. Trump’s favor.

But Mr. Barr — who also did not testify before the House Judiciary Committee when he was attorney general the first time, under President George Bush — repeatedly put off requests to appear before the committee, saying he was too busy. In the meantime, lawmakers accumulated a long list of additional grievances that they aired on Tuesday.

“You have aided and abetted the worst failings of the president,” Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee chairman, said at the start of the hearing to Mr. Barr, who sat impassively.

Democrats charged that Mr. Barr had intervened improperly in the Stone and Flynn cases to please Mr. Trump. They accused him of helping the president promulgate bogus fears about voter fraud to help shake confidence in November’s election. And they warned that under Mr. Barr’s leadership, the Justice Department was trampling on the civil liberties of citizens like those demanding that the nation eradicate institutionalized racism against Black Americans.

“The president wants footage for his campaign ads, and you appear to be serving it up to him as ordered,” Mr. Nadler said. “You are projecting fear and violence nationwide in pursuit of obvious political objectives. Shame on you, Mr. Barr.”

The attorney general denied the charges, arguing at first calmly and then more irritably that federal agents confronting protesters were not trying to quash peaceful expressions of free speech, but to deal with “mob” violence.

“Rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims,” he said.

In particular, he defended the deployment of federal agents in Portland, Ore., accusing local police of essentially abandoning a federal courthouse as rioters and vandals “laid siege” to it, threatening the functioning of the court system.

“What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called protests,” Mr. Barr said. “It is by any objective measure an assault on the government of the United States.”

Local officials have accused federal agents of being heavy-handed and said their presence reinvigorated tensions that had been subsiding.

While some protesters have been violent, many others have been peaceful and have included high school students, military veterans, off-duty lawyers and lines of mothers who call themselves the “Wall of Moms.” Video shows that in come cases, agents attacked protesters when there was no apparent threat, including the case of a Navy veteran whose hands were smashed by officers.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_174932796_b8b067b7-3f2b-46ba-96e6-30a5a74e8eb1-articleLarge Barr Clashes With House Democrats, Defending Responses to Protests and Russia Inquiry United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Stone, Roger J Jr Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Police Reform Nadler, Jerrold Mueller, Robert S III Justice Department Jordan, Jim (1964- ) House Committee on the Judiciary George Floyd Protests (2020) Barr, William P
Credit…Mason Trinca for The New York Times

Mr. Barr likewise defended the federal response to protests last month at Lafayette Square outside the White House, where law enforcement used pepper balls and smoke bombs to clear the area before Mr. Trump walked through to take a photograph in front of a nearby church. Mr. Barr said officials had reached a “consensus” that a protective perimeter outside the White House had to be extended because they wanted to prevent the vandalism of previous nights.

“Do you think the response at Lafayette Square to tear gas, pepper spray and beat protesters and injure American citizens who were just simply exercising their First Amendment rights was appropriate?” asked Representative Pramila Jayapal, Democrat of Washington.

Mr. Barr responded that “no tear gas was used” on the protesters but did not address the substance of the question. The United States Park Police has confirmed “the use of smoke canisters and pepper balls.”

The Justice Department’s independent inspector general is investigating the actions of federal agents during the episode.

Asked about the pleas for racial justice informing many of the protests, Mr. Barr said that “I don’t agree that there is systemic racism in police departments generally in this country,” and he quoted statistics that more white Americans had been killed by the police than Black Americans.

Critics have called those figures misleading because they do not account for relative population differences; a Black person is more likely to be killed than a white person.

Republicans backed the attorney general for showing “courage” by taking aim at the Russia investigation and attacks on the police.

Their most visceral defense came in a five-minute video montage that appeared to show protesters or people infiltrating their ranks turning to violence. It began with footage of cable news anchors describing the protests as “peaceful” before streaming through scenes like a police precinct being set ablaze in Minneapolis, American flags burning, cans being hurled at the police and stores being looted.

“I want to thank you for defending law enforcement, for pointing out what a crazy idea this defund the police policy, whatever you want to call it, is, and standing up for the rule of law,” Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, the panel’s top Republican, told Mr. Barr before playing the video.

Republicans cheered on Mr. Barr as he defended his decision to overrule career prosecutors in the Stone case, saying that they were trying to treat Mr. Stone more harshly than other defendants. The Judiciary Committee heard testimony from one of the prosecutors last month who accused department leaders of changing the sentencing recommendation for “political reasons.”

“The line prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice what anyone else in a similar position had ever served,” Mr. Barr said. “This is a 67-year-old man, first-time offender, no violence, and they were trying to put him in jail for seven to nine years. I was not going to advocate that. Because that is not the rule of law.”

But the prosecutors said in court that they arrived at the seven- to nine-year recommendation by following the Justice Department’s own sentencing guidelines, as is customary in any federal criminal case. Questioned by the federal judge who oversaw the Stone case, department officials acknowledged that it was the policy of the United States attorney’s office in Washington to seek the harshest possible sentence under the sentencing guidelines and to let the judge decide whether it was warranted.

Representative Ted Deutch, Democrat of Florida, later asked Mr. Barr repeatedly if he would point to any other case where the department had failed to recommended a punishment in line with the guidelines set out for a defendant like Mr. Stone, who had threatened a witness.

Mr. Barr did not answer directly, insisting that “the judge agreed with me” because she gave Mr. Stone a lighter sentence than the prosecution team had recommended before he overruled them. Mr. Trump commuted Mr. Stone’s sentence this month.

Asked about the criminal prosecutor, John H. Durham, reviewing the Russia investigation, Mr. Barr declined to commit to waiting until after the general election in November to release any report that Mr. Durham produced. Mr. Barr repeated his view that Justice Department policy against taking actions that could affect elections should apply to Mr. Durham’s work.

Credit…Pool photo by Chip Somodevilla

Democrats also pressed Mr. Barr to justify his repeated warnings about the risk of increased mail-in balloting in the upcoming election because of the coronavirus pandemic. After Mr. Trump attacked such efforts and claimed that mail-in ballots would be used for fraud to rig the election against him — even though he himself has voted by mail — Mr. Barr suggested without evidence, including in interviews with The New York Times and Fox News, that there was a serious risk of foreign countries mass-counterfeiting ballots.

Experts say that a foreign-sponsored plot to systematically tamper with ballots is nearly impossible because of how they are printed and tracked. Many states have conducted elections by mail for years without any major security problems or widespread fraud.

Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana, asked Mr. Barr whether he believed the presidential election would be rigged. The attorney general said he had no reason to think it would be, but then added, “If you have wholesale mail-in voting, it substantially increases the risk of fraud.”

For all the grab-bag of policy issues raised by the questioning, the exchanges proved to be more heated than illuminating. At one point, Mr. Jordan — who is known for his bombastic style of questioning witnesses — complained that Democrats were talking over Mr. Barr.

“For months you have tried to get the attorney general to come,” Mr. Jordan interjected. “He is here. Why don’t you let him speak?”

“The gentleman’s rudeness is not recognized,” Mr. Nadler replied, trying to move on to the next lawmaker in line to question Mr. Barr.

“Rudeness? Rudeness? Rudeness?” Mr. Jordan shot back. “Time after time, you refuse to let the attorney general answer the questions posed to him.”

Sharon LaFraniere and Linda Qiu contributed reporting.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Misleading Coronavirus Video, Pushed by the Trumps, Spreads Online

Westlake Legal Group 28virus-disinfo-facebookJumbo Misleading Coronavirus Video, Pushed by the Trumps, Spreads Online YouTube.com Video Recordings, Downloads and Streaming twitter Trump, Donald J Jr Trump, Donald J Social Media Rumors and Misinformation Masks Instagram Inc Hydroxychloroquine (Drug) Fringe Groups and Movements Facebook Inc Corporate Social Responsibility Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Computers and the Internet

In a video posted Monday online, a group of people calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” and wearing white medical coats spoke against the backdrop of the Supreme Court in Washington, sharing misleading claims about the virus, including that hydroxychloroquine was an effective coronavirus treatment and that masks did not slow the spread of the virus.

The video did not appear to be anything special. But within six hours, President Trump and his son Donald Trump Jr. had tweeted versions of it, and the right-wing news site Breitbart had shared it. It went viral, shared largely through Facebook groups dedicated to anti-vaccination movements and conspiracy theories such as QAnon, racking up tens of millions of views. Multiple versions of the video were uploaded to YouTube, and links were shared through Twitter.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter worked feverishly to remove it, but by the time they had, the video had already become the latest example of misinformation about the virus that has spread widely.

That was because the video had been designed specifically to appeal to internet conspiracists and conservatives eager to see the economy reopen, with a setting and characters to lend authenticity. It showed that even as social media companies have sped up response time to remove dangerous virus misinformation within hours of its posting, people have continued to find new ways around the platforms’ safeguards.

“Misinformation about a deadly virus has become political fodder, which was then spread by many individuals who are trusted by their constituencies,” said Lisa Kaplan, founder of Alethea Group, a start-up that helps fight disinformation. “If just one person listened to anyone spreading these falsehoods and they subsequently took an action that caused others to catch, spread or even die from the virus — that is one person too many.”

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One of the speakers in the video, who identified herself as Dr. Stella Immanuel, said, “You don’t need masks” to prevent spread of the coronavirus. She also claimed to be treating hundreds of patients infected with coronavirus with hydroxychloroquine, and asserted that it was an effective treatment. The claims have been repeatedly disputed by the medical establishment.

President Trump repeatedly promoted hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug, in the early months of the crisis. In June, he said he was taking it himself. But that same month, the Food and Drug Administration revoked emergency authorization for the drug for Covid-19 patients and said it was “unlikely to be effective” and carried potential risks. The National Institutes of Health halted clinical trials of the drug.

In addition, studies have repeatedly shown that masks are effective in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

The trajectory of Monday’s video mirrored that of “Plandemic,” a 26-minute slickly produced narration that spread widely in May and falsely claimed that a shadowy cabal of elites was using the virus and a potential vaccine to profit and gain power. In just over a week, “Plandemic” was viewed more than eight million times on YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram before it was taken down.

But the video posted Monday had more views than “Plandemic” within hours of being posted online, even though it was removed much faster. At least one version of the video, viewed by The Times on Facebook, was watched over 16 million times.

Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter deleted several versions of the video on Monday night. All three companies said the video violated their policies on sharing misinformation related to the coronavirus.

On Tuesday morning, Twitter also took action against Donald Trump Jr. after he shared a link to the video. A spokesman for Twitter said the company had ordered Mr. Trump to delete the misleading tweet and said it would “limit some account functionality for 12 hours.” Twitter took a similar action against Kelli Ward, the Arizona Republican Party chairwoman, who also tweeted the video.

No action was taken against the president, who retweeted multiple clips of the same video to his 84.2 million followers Monday night. The original posts have since been removed.

When asked about the video on Tuesday, Mr. Trump continued to defend the doctors involved and the treatments they are backing.

“For some reason the internet wanted to take them down and took them off,” the president said. “I think they are very respected doctors. There was a woman who was spectacular in her statements about it, that she’s had tremendous success with it and they took her voice off. I don’t know why they took her off. Maybe they had a good reason, maybe they didn’t.”

Facebook and YouTube did not answer questions about multiple versions of the video that remained online on Tuesday afternoon. Twitter said it was “continuing to take action on new and existing tweets with the video.”

The members of the group behind Monday’s video say they are physicians treating patients infected with the coronavirus. But it was unclear where many of them practice medicine or how many patients they had actually seen. As early as May, anti-Obamacare conservative activists called the Tea Party Patriots Action reportedly worked with some of them to advocate loosening states’ restrictions on elective surgeries and nonemergency care. On July 15, the group registered a website called “America’s Frontline Doctors,” domain registration records show.

One of the first copies of the video that appeared on Monday was posted to the Tea Party Patriots’ YouTube channel, alongside other videos featuring the members of “America’s Frontline Doctors.”

The doctors have also been promoted by conservatives like Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center, a nonprofit media organization.

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