Trump continues counterattack on military comments

Top administration officials on Sunday said they’ve never heard President Donald Trump make disparaging remarks about veterans or the military, a subtle attempt to dispute a report in The Atlantic. But the president’s top defender was the president himself.

Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, reported last week that Trump in November 2018 told senior staff that the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris was “filled with losers” and that in a separate conversation he called the 1,800 Marines who died at Belleau Wood “suckers” for getting killed.

Trump was also furious when the White House lowered flags to half-staff following Arizona Sen. John McCain’s death, Goldberg reported, and the president told senior staff that they wouldn’t “support that loser’s funeral,” adding that the war hero “was a f–king loser.” Goldberg reported that Trump made similar comments about President George H.W. Bush, whose plane was shot down during World War II.

The Associated Press, Washington Post, New York Times, CNN and Fox News all confirmed some elements of The Atlantic’s 1,500-word report, but Trump and his allies have denied since Thursday that he made such comments.

On Sunday, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie credited Trump for what he called a “renaissance” at the VA and grouped the allegations with past stories citing unnamed officials that the president has dismissed as fake news and hoaxes.

“I think anonymous are the same people that brought you fake heart attacks, fake strokes, Russian collusion,” Wilkie told CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union.”

“I see the proof in the pudding,” he added. “The proof in the pudding is our military is stronger, and our Veterans Affairs Department is in a place that it has never been. This is the renaissance, and it’s all because of one man.”

Wilkie downplayed Trump’s past comments toward McCain, whom the president in 2015 said was not a war hero, as “politics” in the “heat of a campaign.” Trump, however, was running for president while McCain was seeking reelection in the Senate.

Harris: ‘We do have two systems of justice in America’

Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris said President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr are “spending full time in a different reality“ when it comes to racism in the justice system.

“The reality of America today is what we have seen over generations and, frankly, since our inception, which is we do have two systems of justice in America,” Harris told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union” in response to Barr’s comments that there are not two systems of justice for Black and white Americans.
“I don’t think that most reasonable people who are paying attention to the facts would dispute that there are racial disparities and a system that has engaged in racism,” she added. “There’s no question that we have seen an unacceptable incidence for generations of unarmed Black men being killed. Nobody can deny that.”

In an interview Wednesday on CNN, Barr acknowledged “there are some situations where statistics would suggest” people of color are treated differently than white people but said the justice system was not inherently racist.

Harris, a former prosecutor who served as attorney general of California, also said charges should be considered for the white police officer who shot Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old unarmed Black man, in Kenosha, Wis.

“I am not in full position of the facts of the case,” Harris said. “But based on what I’ve seen, I think that charges very much should be considered and should be considered in a very serious way and that there should be accountability and consequence.”

When asked about the suspension of a group of police officers involved in the suffocation death of a 41-year-old Black man, Daniel Prude, in Rochester, N.Y., Harris said she expects the state’s attorney general to “review all of the evidence and make the appropriate decision.”

Rep. Demings slams Trump on racial equity training, protests

Rep. Val Demings condemned President Donald Trump on Sunday for an order to crack down on federal anti-racism training initiatives.

“We need a commander-in-chief who clearly understands and wants to address racism in all systems,” the Florida Democrat said in ABC’s “This Week. “Until we get to that point, we will continue to see the problems and be plagued by the problems that we’re seeing every day right now.”

In a White House memo from the Office of Management and Budget, Trump is cited for believing anti-racism training in the federal workforce is “divisive” and “anti-American.” Responding, Demings, a former Orlando, Fla., police chief said, “Racism has been the ghost in the room in this country for 400 years.”

“We got to deal with inequality in all things,” she said. “In health care, we see the effects of Covid-19 on Black and brown communities. In education … we know that [the] overwhelming majority of people in our prison systems, for example, are Black and brown, and a majority did not graduate high school. We’ve got to deal with injustices in education, in lending, in housing.”

Asked about the nationwide protests on racism and police brutality, Demings urged peaceful protesting and accountability for looting and violence.

“Our job is to make sure that peaceful protesters are able to exercise their right guaranteed under the First Amendment,” Demings said. “But we also have to make sure that those who break the law, those who exercise violence, regardless of what side of the political aisle that they’re on, must be held accountable.”

Demings slammed Trump for “throwing fire” at protests, agreeing with a recent ABC News/Ipsos poll that most Americans say Trump is making protests and unrest worse.

“While America was going through civil unrest in all 50 states, quite frankly, America was on fire, we had a president, a commander-in-chief, who with us walking around with a gasoline can, not trying to sow peace and calm, but actually throwing fire on an already volatile situation,” Demings said in her interview.

Jacob Blake speaks out for first time since police shooting

MILWAUKEE — Jacob Blake has spoken publicly for the first time since a Kenosha, Wisconsin, police officer shot him seven times in the back, saying he’s in constant pain from the shooting, which doctors fear will leave him paralyzed from the waist down.

In a video posted Saturday night on Twitter by his family’s lawyer, Ben Crump, Blake said from his hospital bed that, “Twenty-four hours, every 24 hours it’s pain, nothing but pain. It hurts to breathe, it hurts to sleep, it hurts to move from side-to-side, it hurts to eat.”
Blake, a 29-year-old father of six, also said he has staples in his back and stomach.

“Your life, and not only just your life, your legs, something you need to move around and forward in life, can be taken from you like this,” Blake said, snapping his fingers.

He added: “Stick together, make some money, make everything easier for our people out there, man, because there’s so much time that’s been wasted.”

Blake, who is Black, was shot in the back by a white police officer on Aug. 23 after walking away from the officer and two others who were trying to arrest him. The officer, Rusten Sheskey, opened fire after Blake opened his own SUV’s driver-side door and leaned into the vehicle. The shooting was captured on video and posted online, sparking several nights of protests and unrest in Kenosha, a city of about 100,000 between Milwaukee and Chicago.

Sheskey and the other officers who were at the scene were placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation by the Wisconsin Department of Justice. None of them have been charged.

Blake, who had an outstanding arrest warrant when he was shot, pleaded not guilty Friday to charges accusing him of sexually assaulting a woman in May and waived his right to a preliminary hearing. Blake appeared remotely via video conference from his Milwaukee hospital bed, wearing a dress shirt and tie. He spoke only to respond to the judge’s questions.

The state Justice Department has said a knife was recovered from Blake’s vehicle, but it has not said whether he was holding it when officers tried to arrest him.

The man who made the widely seen cellphone video of the shooting, 22-year-old Raysean White, said he saw Blake scuffling with three officers and heard them yell, “Drop the knife! Drop the knife!” before gunfire erupted. He said he didn’t see a knife in Blake’s hands.

The Kenosha police union said Blake had the knife and refused orders to drop it. Blake fought with police, including putting one officer in a headlock, the union said. Police twice used a Taser, which did not stop Blake.

Too soon for Census Bureau to stop counting, judge rules

ORLANDO, Fla. — A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Census Bureau for the time being to stop following a plan that would have had it winding down operations in order to finish the 2020 census at the end of September.

The federal judge in San Jose late Saturday issued a temporary restraining order against the Census Bureau and the Commerce Department, which oversees the agency. The order stops the Census Bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17.

The once-a-decade head count of every U.S. resident helps determine how $1.5 trillion in federal funding is distributed and how many congressional seats each state gets in a process known as apportionment.

The temporary restraining order was requested by a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups that had sued the Census Bureau, demanding it restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October, instead of using a revised plan to end operations at the end of September. The coalition had argued the earlier deadline would cause the Census Bureau to overlook minority communities in the census, leading to an inaccurate count.

In her order, U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh wrote that previous court cases had concluded that it’s in the public interest that Congress be fairly apportioned and that the federal funds be distributed using an accurate census.

“Thus, the balance of the hardships and public interest tip sharply in Plaintiffs’ favor,” Koh said.

In a message emailed to regional offices and headquarters, the Census Bureau said the statistical agency and the Commerce Department “are obligated to comply with the Court’s Order and are taking immediate steps to do so.” Further guidance would be provided later, the bureau said.

Boris Johnson: Britain will move on if there’s no Brexit deal

If London and Brussels don’t reach a deal by October, the U.K. will be ready to accept this and “move on,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to say Monday.

The two sides aim to agree a deal on trade and future relations by the time of an October 15 meeting of EU leaders so that the agreement can be ready by the time the Brexit transition period expires at the end of the year.

“If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free-trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on,” Johnson will say Monday, according to a statement released to the press ahead of this week’s round of negotiations, which begins Tuesday in London.

“We will then have a trading arrangement with the EU like Australia’s,” Johnson added. “I want to be absolutely clear that, as we have said right from the start, that would be a good outcome for the U.K. As a government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it.”

He also reiterated his call for the EU to offer the U.K. a trade deal similar to the one it has with Canada. The EU has countered, however, that given the U.K.’s geographical proximity and close ties with the bloc, such a deal is not possible.

“Even at this late stage, if the EU are ready to rethink their current positions and agree this I will be delighted,” Johnson said. “But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it.”

The future relationship negotiations have hit deadlock as neither the EU nor the U.K. want to give in on state aid or fisheries — the two biggest sticking points preventing them from signing a deal. The prior round of talks ended in Brussels with almost no progress, boosting pessimism on both sides of the Channel.