10 things you need to know today: June 12, 2020

Joint Chiefs chair apologizes for joining Trump before photo-op, Wall Street rattled by fears of 2nd coronavirus wave, and more

Gen. Mark Milley speaks to the press
(Image credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

1. Joint Chiefs chair apologizes for walking with Trump to Bible photo-op

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Thursday he made a "mistake" by joining President Trump in a walk to a photo-op last week after Trump vowed to dispatch soldiers to help crack down on unrest over racial injustice. Milley walked with Trump through Lafayette Square outside the White House after federal security forces pushed peaceful protesters away using tear gas and pepper pellets. "I should not have been there," he said, adding that his presence "created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics." Milley said he was "outraged" by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, and that the protests over Floyd's death are a response to "centuries of injustice toward African Americans."


2. Stocks take biggest dive since March on fears of 2nd coronavirus wave

Stocks plunged on Thursday in Wall Street's worst day in three months as fears mounted about a second wave of coronavirus cases in the United States. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1,800 points or nearly 7 percent. The S&P 500 dropped by nearly 6 percent after briefly returning to positive territory on the year after climbing 45 percent above its March lows in a rally fueled by optimism about the reopening of businesses as states eased coronavirus lockdowns. Even the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which hit record highs this week, dropped by more than 5 percent. Lawmakers are considering possible steps to offer workers more aid as the economic fallout from the pandemic continues. Stock futures surged early Friday, pointing to a partial rebound.

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The New York Times CNBC

3. Poll: Most Americans, including Republicans, back police reform

Most Americans back police reforms including bans on chokeholds and racial profiling, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday. The poll found that 82 percent of the adults surveyed supported a ban on chokeholds, while 83 percent supported barring racial profiling, and 92 percent backed making federal police wear body cameras. The supporters of the measures included a majority of Republicans. Democrats have included such policies in a sweeping police reform proposal as nationwide protests continue over the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis police custody. The White House and Republican lawmakers say they plan to announce a reform proposal soon.


4. Senate panel backs proposal to strip Confederate names from bases

The Republican-led Senate Armed Forces Committee has voted in favor of a proposal written by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) seeking to require the Pentagon to strip military bases of Confederate names, monuments, and symbols within three years. The move to include the mandate in a must-pass defense authorization bill set up a potential clash with President Trump, who has publicly stated he would not consider changing the bases' names. Support for removing Confederate monuments has risen as protests against racial injustice have grown across the country in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis police custody. Trump "seems to be the only person left who doesn’t get it," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday.

The New York Times

5. Moderna's potential COVID-19 vaccine headed for phase 3 tests in July

Moderna's experimental COVID-19 vaccine will likely head into its third testing phase next month, the drug maker said Thursday. Phase three is expected to begin in July and include 30,000 subjects. Moderna previously announced "positive" interim data from phase one testing of the vaccine candidate, saying that eight patients developed neutralizing antibodies at levels on par with those who recovered from COVID-19. The company's phase two study is underway. The Food and Drug Administration previously gave a fast-track designation to Moderna's coronavirus vaccine candidate, and Moderna said it "remains on track to be able to deliver approximately 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to 1 billion doses per year, beginning in 2021."


6. Senate panel authorizes subpoenas for ex-Obama officials

The Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday authorized its chair, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), to subpoena former Obama administration officials about the origins of the intelligence community's investigation into Russian election meddling. In a party-line vote, the panel's Republican majority approved calling former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and former CIA Director John Brennan. The Senate Intelligence Committee concluded that Russia tried to interfere in the 2016 election on President Trump's behalf, but Graham wants to also look into foreign surveillance applications and why former Special Counsel Robert Mueller was appointed in the first place. Democratic senators suggested subpoenaing current and former Trump allies, including former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner.


7. 1.5 million more people file jobless claims

About 1.5 million Americans filed initial applications for unemployment benefits last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday. The new claims lifted the total over the 12 weeks of the coronavirus crisis to 44.1 million. The weekly total was down from 1.9 million the week before. It has dropped for 10 consecutive weeks since reaching a high of 6.9 million in mid-March, when coronavirus lockdowns hit. Economist Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said if the trend continues as more businesses reopen, the weekly figure will drop below 1 million by early July. That would still be well above the pre-pandemic record of 695,000 weekly unemployment claims set in a 1982 recession.

USA Today

8. Louisville council bans no-knock warrants after Breonna Taylor's death

The Louisville, Kentucky, Metro Council voted unanimously Thursday to ban the type of no-knock search warrants that police were using when they fatally shot Breonna Taylor, an unarmed black emergency medical technician, in her apartment on March 13. Taylor's boyfriend fired first, thinking the officers were intruders. Mayor Greg Fischer, who suspended use of the warrants last month, said he would sign "Breonna's Law" immediately. "The risk to residents and officers with this kind of search outweigh any benefit," he tweeted. Taylor's mother, Tamika Palmer, had pushed for the law. "All Breonna wanted to do was save lives," she told the council before the vote. The ordinance will allow her to "continue to do that, even in her death."

Louisville Courier-Journal

9. Trump campaign makes rally-goers promise not to sue over COVID-19

President Trump's campaign formally offered supporters the chance to register to attend his first rally since March, but it is requiring that anyone wishing to attend agree not to sue the campaign or the venue if they contract COVID-19. The online signup page says anyone clicking to register for free tickets to the June 19 event in Tulsa, Oklahoma, acknowledges there is an inherent risk of coronavirus infection "in any public place." "By attending the Rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19," the web page says, "and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury."

The Hill

10. Trump praises National Guard, says U.S. can 'easily' address racism

President Trump on Thursday praised the National Guard's use of tear gas and other forceful measures to disperse Minneapolis crowds protesting police brutality against African Americans. Trump, speaking at a race roundtable at a conservative and predominantly white Dallas church, described the effort to quell protest a "beautiful scene" where the National Guard walked through "like a knife cutting butter." Trump did not mention the name of George Floyd, an unarmed black man whose death in Minneapolis police custody provoked the protests, but he said the work of confronting bigotry would "go quickly and it'll go very easily" provided we avoid "falsely labeling tens of millions of decent Americans as racist or bigots."

The Washington Post

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.