Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 30, 2020

Tim O'Donnell
Protest in Washington, D.C.
ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images


Protests against police brutality escalate nationwide

Protesters gathered in several cities across the U.S. on Friday night to demonstrate against police brutality and institutional racism. Protests in Brooklyn, New York; Atlanta, Georgia; San Jose, California; Washington, D.C.; and Minneapolis, Minnesota, started peacefully, with attendees demanding justice in the case of George Floyd, who died in Minneapolis after a police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes on Monday. Some protesters clashed with police — in Brooklyn, where a heavy police presence awaited protesters, officers reportedly used tear gas on crowds. Meanwhile in Atlanta, a police car was reportedly set on fire. In San Jose, protesters blocked freeway traffic; and in D.C., the White House was briefly on lockdown as demonstrators arrived in the area. [CNN, The New York Times]


States call in National Guard amid protests

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) declared a state of emergency early Saturday in wake of protests in Atlanta against police brutality. Kemp said that at the request of Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms 500 members of the National Guard would deploy immediately "to protect people and property" in the city. In Minneapolis, where the protests originated following the death of George Floyd, 500 Guard soldiers were deployed Friday, while Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) said Saturday he was moving to activate 1,000 more, which would result in the largest civilian deployment in the state's history. Walz also said he is considering federal help, and The Associated Press reports that the Pentagon ordered the Army to put active-duty military police on standby for deployment to Minneapolis. [The Associated Press, CBS Minnesota]


Trump says U.S. is 'terminating' relationship with WHO

President Trump on Friday said the U.S. is "terminating" its relationship with the World Health Organization. Trump previously criticized the WHO for what he says were "repeated missteps" while responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The president also previously temporarily froze U.S. funding to the WHO, saying it ignored early signs of the coronavirus. He threatened to make the freeze permanent if the organization did not "clean up their act." On Friday Trump said the U.S. would reshuffle its $450 million annual contribution to the WHO to other health groups, noted that China gives $40 million, and claimed without proof that the organization is controlled by Beijing. The move leaves the WHO without its largest financial backer. Trump also said the U.S. would begin the process of ending its special relationship with Hong Kong. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]


Ex-Minneapolis police officer arrested, charged over George Floyd's death

Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was arrested on Friday in connection to George Floyd's death, Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington announced. Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes during an arrest on Monday, while Floyd repeatedly said he could not breathe. Floyd, who is black, later died, and Chauvin, who is white, was fired on Tuesday. Protests over Floyd's death and the handling of the case have roiled Minneapolis for several days, though Hennepin County Attorney Michael Freeman, the main prosecutor in Minneapolis, urged patience and restraint as the investigation continued. Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. [Rep. Dean Phillips, Star Tribune]


Trump offers sympathy to Floyd family, defends looting and shooting tweet

President Trump on Friday offered his condolences to the family of George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis, and said he's asked the Department of Justice to expedite the investigation into his death. "We're determined that justice be served," he said, "I understand the hurt. I understand the pain." Asked about his Thursday night tweet in which he warned the National Guard would "assume control" if looting and arson continued amid Minneapolis protests and wrote "when the looting starts, the shooting starts," Trump said he simply meant looting often leads to violence. The phrase was infamously first used by a racist Miami police chief in 1967 when cracking down on black neighborhoods. Trump insisted he didn't know about the origin of the phrase. His tweet garnered a warning label from Twitter about glorifying violence. [C-SPAN, CNN]


Consumer spending dropped record 13.6 percent in April

On Friday, the government reported that consumer spending in April plunged 13.6 percent from the month prior, which Bloomberg says is "the sharpest drop in Commerce Department records back to 1959." Meanwhile, the personal savings rate, which describes the amount of a person's disposable income that they are putting into savings, hit 33 percent in April, "by far the highest since the department started tracking in the 1960's, and [surpassing the] consumer savings during the Global Financial Crisis," CNBC reports. The high personal savings rate, combined with the extremely low consumer spending, reflects Americans' jitters about spending money during the pandemic. Personal income, meanwhile, rose 10.5 percent in April, a record boost due to the federal stimulus payments and unemployment benefits, while economists had expected a decrease of 2.1 percent. [Bloomberg, CNBC]


CDC chief says agency wouldn't have been able to detect coronavirus early even with widespread testing

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said Friday that a new analysis shows the agency would not have been able to detect the spread of the coronavirus if widespread testing had been available earlier because the virus was circulating at low levels for a good amount of January and February. "It really would be like looking for a needle in a haystack," he said. The CDC's initial response to the outbreak has been criticized, especially over testing rollout, which was delayed because of a flawed prototype. Other experts didn't buy Redfield's defense, however, noting that "targeting surveillance" rather than "widespread testing" was necessary in the early days. [The Washington Post, NPR]


Merkel turns down Trump's G-7 invitation

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday turned down President Trump's invitation to attend the Group of Seven summit in person because of concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. The White House has said the summit will go forward in late June in Washington, D.C. rather than at Camp David as previously planned. "As of today, considering the overall pandemic situation, [Merkel] cannot agree to her personal participation," German government spokesman Steffen Seibert told Politico. The chancellor will reportedly continue to monitor the coronavirus situation, however. Trump and Merkel haven't always seen eye to eye, and the leaders reportedly had heated disagreements over NATO, China, and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline during a phone call last week, though it's unclear if that conversation had any bearing on Merkel's decision about the summit. [Politico, Al Jazeera]


Supreme Court rejects church's challenge to California's religious services restrictions

In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court on Friday rejected a California church's challenge to the state's limits on attendance for religious services during the coronavirus pandemic. For now, California can enforce the rules as a public health measure. The court was split on ideological lines with Chief Justice John Roberts, who often serves as the swing vote, siding with the liberal faction. In the ruling, Roberts wrote that "the precise question when restrictions" should be lifted during the pandemic "is a dynamic and fact-intensive matter subject to reasonable disagreement" and the "Constitution principally entrusts 'the safety and the health of the people ' to the politically accountable officials of the states." [The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times]


Rescheduled SpaceX launch could be disrupted by weather again, officials say

Officials in Florida said on Friday that SpaceX's rescheduled first launch of astronauts could again be disrupted by bad weather. The SpaceX and NASA joint mission was supposed to launch on Wednesday, seeking to be the first to send humans into orbit from U.S. soil in nearly a decade, and the first time a private company has put astronauts into space. But it was canceled just minutes before takeoff amid lightning and rain. It was rescheduled for Saturday at 3:22 p.m. E.T., but forecasts show a 50 percent chance of rain and clouds. The backup plan is to launch at 3 p.m. E.T. on Sunday. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had arrived at Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft take off, and are planning to return on Saturday. [The New York Times, Space.com]