Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 26, 2021

George Floyd's relatives visit White House a year after his death, CDC data shows half of U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, and more

1

Floyd family visits White House on anniversary of his death

President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with George Floyd's family at the White House on Tuesday, a year to the day since Floyd's death after Minneapolis police officers pinned him face down to the ground. He was suspected of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for nine minutes, was convicted in April of murder and manslaughter. Floyd's death sparked widespread protests against racism and police brutality, and ceremonies were held around the country to honor him on the anniversary of his death. Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, said the family hoped for progress toward passing the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which includes reforms such as banning racial profiling.

2

CDC: Half of American adults fully vaccinated

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data has confirmed that half of U.S. adults, or more than 129 million Americans, are now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the White House said Tuesday. "This is a major milestone in our country's vaccination efforts," said White House senior COVID-19 adviser Andy Slavitt. About 164 million Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. President Biden said earlier this month he was aiming for 160 million Americans to be fully vaccinated and for 70 percent of American adults to have received at least one dose by July 4, which he said would be a "serious step towards a return to normal." Everyone age 12 and up is now eligible to be vaccinated.

3

Report: N.Y. prosecutors convene grand jury to consider Trump evidence

New York prosecutors have convened a special grand jury to consider evidence gathered in a criminal investigation into former President Donald Trump and other executives at his company, the Trump Organization, The Associated Press and The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The move suggested that Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. was close to seeking charges following a two-year investigation that included a fight for access to Trump's tax records. Vance's investigation has examined Trump's business dealings before he was president, including whether his company inflated the value of properties to get better loans, and undervalued them to lower its taxes. Trump called the seating of the grand jury "a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in American history."

4

Republicans float a $1 trillion counteroffer to Biden infrastructure plan

Senate Republicans said Tuesday they were preparing a $1 trillion infrastructure counteroffer in response to President Biden's trimming of his proposal from $2.3 trillion to $1.7 trillion. The Republicans said they would reveal the details of their new offer on Thursday. "We are anxious to have a bipartisan agreement," said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the lead GOP negotiator. The Republicans' initial offer was $568 billion, and they had raised it by $50 billion after negotiations. Republicans reject Biden's proposal to pay for the plan by hiking corporate taxes, and want to use unspent COVID-19 relief funds instead. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki declined to address the new offer specifically, but said the White House expects "a week of progress."

5

Senate confirms Kristen Clarke as head of DOJ Civil Rights Division

The Senate on Tuesday confirmed civil rights lawyer Kristen Clarke to lead the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division. Clarke will be the first woman of color to be confirmed to the post, which former Attorney General Eric Holder described as DOJ's "crown jewel." Democrats and Republicans fought over her record ahead of the 51-48 vote. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the only Republican to join Democrats in support of Clarke. Democrats praised Clarke, saying her experience made her the best person to lead the Biden administration's enforcement of civil rights laws and investigations of police abuses. Republicans fought the confirmation, saying Clarke was too liberal, partisan, and hostile toward police, citing an op-ed she wrote describing her prosecution of killings by police.

6

Moderna vaccine proves 100 percent effective in ages 12 to 17

Moderna announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 vaccine was 100 percent effective two weeks after the second dose in adolescents aged 12 to 17. No fully vaccinated participants got sick. The vaccine was 93 percent effective starting 14 days after the first does. The company reported that no safety concerns emerged in the trial.  The trial, which involved more than 3,700 participants, bolstered Moderna's case as it works on persuading the Food and Drug Administration to expand the use of its vaccine, currently authorized for emergency use on people 18 or older. It plans to submit the results to regulators in June.  Currently only Pfizer's vaccine can be given to adolescents, so the addition of Moderna's shot would help with the push to get children vaccinated before the next school year.

7

McCarthy calls Marjorie Taylor Greene's Holocaust comments 'appalling'

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) criticized Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Tuesday after she compared mask mandates to the Holocaust. "Marjorie is wrong, and her intentional decision to compare the horrors of the Holocaust with wearing masks is appalling," McCarthy said. Greene claimed that Jewish people being "told to wear a gold star," "treated like second class citizens," and being "put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany" is "exactly the type of abuse that Nancy Pelosi is talking about" in requiring masks in the House chamber. Greene, who was stripped of her committee assignments in February over past controversial statements, has doubled down and continued to make similar Holocaust comparisons on Twitter. 

8

Georgia governor bars state agencies from requiring vaccine passports

Gov. Brian Kemp on Tuesday signed an executive order making Georgia the latest Republican-led state to restrict the use of "vaccine passports." Kemp barred state agencies from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination. "While I continue to urge all Georgians to get vaccinated so we continue our momentum of putting the COVID-19 pandemic in the rearview, vaccination is a personal decision between each citizen and a medical professional — not the state government," Kemp said in a statement. The order applies to state agencies, service providers, and properties, including schools and prisons, but not to private businesses or organizations. Kemp's order was the latest in a series of policy initiatives popular with the conservative base as he heads into what is expected to be a tough re-election campaign.

9

Judges hear arguments on overturning Charleston church killer's death sentence

A three-judge federal appeals panel in Virginia heard arguments Tuesday on whether Charleston church killer Dylann Roof's death sentence should be overturned and he should get a new trial. The U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals panel adjourned the three-hour hearing without a decision. Roof attorney Sapna Mirchandani argued that trial Judge Richard Gergel committed "an abuse of discretion" by limiting evidence on Roof's lack of mental fitness. Mirchandani argued that Roof was mentally ill and incapable of helping in his own defense. Roof, a self-described white supremacist, was sentenced to death in 2017 for the 2015 murders of nine African Americans during a prayer meeting. "Roof had a rational and factual understanding of the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him," government attorney Ann Adams told the judges.

10

Trebek, King receive posthumous Daytime Emmy nominations

Nominations for the 2021 Daytime Emmy Awards were announced on Tuesday, and late Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek was posthumously nominated for Outstanding Game Show Host. Trebek died in November 2020 following a battle with pancreatic cancer after hosting Jeopardy for 35 years. Larry King also received a posthumous nod in the Outstanding Informative Talk Show Host category for hosting Larry King Now. King, the longtime radio and television broadcaster who previously hosted CNN's Larry King Live for 25 years, died in January. Trebek won the Outstanding Game Show Host award a total of seven times throughout his career, according to TVLine, most recently taking it home in 2020. King, meanwhile, was previously nominated for Informative Talk Show Host three times, including in 2020, when the award ultimately went to Tamron Hall. This year's Daytime Emmy Awards are set for June 25.

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