April 4, 2017

On Tuesday, the son of the president of the United States suggested that an alt-right blogger who promotes conspiracies like "white genocide" and PizzaGate should "win the Pulitzer."

Donald Trump Jr. tweeted his praise of the media personality Mike Cernovich after crediting Cernovich with "breaking" the story that former President Barack Obama's national security adviser, Susan Rice, asked intelligence agencies to "unmask" the names of Trump transition officials caught up in foreign surveillance. Cernovich further alleged Rice then sent the unmasked names to a handful of top intelligence officials.

Cernovich is widely criticized, having also promoted the beliefs that "date rape does not exist," "misogyny gets you laid," and black women should be "slut shame[d]" to prevent them from getting AIDS. Additionally, Rice's alleged actions appear to be legal, and an unidentified "person close to Rice" told CNN on Monday night that Rice never "improperly sought the identity of Americans," adding: "There is nothing unusual about making these requests when serving as a senior national security official, whether Democrat or Republican."

Observers have slammed the Trump White House for promoting Cernovich's "story," with Kellyanne Conway tweeting a Cernovich blog post Monday and calling his appearance on 60 Minutes a "must-see ratings bonanza." Read more about the White House's ties to Cernovich at Media Matters here. Jeva Lange

10:54 a.m.

Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) knows a thing or two about protests, and today's are like nothing he's ever seen before.

Lewis, a civil rights leader and longtime congressmember, appeared on CBS This Morning on Thursday to discuss the killing of George Floyd in police custody and the protests incited by years of police brutality against black people. While the video of Floyd crying out "I can't breathe" "made me so sad" and "made me cry," Lewis told host Gayle King, this ongoing movement gives him "hope that we're on our way to greater change."

King then asked Lewis if today's protests "look and feel different to you," given that he was a leader in the civil rights movement of the 1960s. "This feels and looks so different. It is so much more massive and all inclusive," Lewis said, noting that "people from all over the world [are] taking to the streets o the roadways, to stand up, to speak up, to speak out, to do what I call getting in trouble."

Lewis also gave an update on his health after undergoing treatment for stage IV pancreatic cancer. "My health is improving. I have a wonderful doctor and nurse, and everybody taking good care of me. I'm very hopeful and very optimistic," Lewis said. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:45 a.m.

Rudy Giuliani just made an appearance on Good Morning Britain with Piers Morgan, and to say it went off the rails would be an understatement.

President Trump's personal lawyer participated in what turned out to be a completely bonkers interview on the show on Thursday, which started somewhat normally only to get heated as Morgan grilled Giuliani on Trump tweeting that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." Giuliani claimed Trump didn't quote a "nutty, horrible racist" on "purpose," but Morgan wasn't buying it, repeatedly calling Giuliani out and asking him why Trump is using "inflammatory language" on Twitter.

After many minutes going back and forth on this, the interview finally went fully out of control as Giuliani screamed over Morgan's news coverage and the two traded insults, with Giuliani blasting Morgan as a "liar" and a "failed journalist" after Morgan asked him, "What happened to you, Rudy?" Morgan proceeded to label Giuliani "deranged," "unhinged," and "completely barking mad."

As if the whole thing wasn't chaotic enough, they then spent the end of the interview litigating whether Giuliani dropped an F-bomb during the conversation; Giuliani claimed he didn't say live on the air that Morgan "f--ed up," but considering a bleep was added to the Twitter clip posted by Good Morning Britain, the network obviously wasn't convinced.

Watch just a small piece of the wild journey below, with more on YouTube. Brendan Morrow

9:30 a.m.

Drew Brees has issued an apology for comments he now says "missed the mark."

The New Orleans Saints quarterback faced criticism this week after saying, while discussing NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice, "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America." His remarks immediately sparked backlash especially amid the ongoing George Floyd protests, with LeBron James questioning how Brees still doesn't "understand why [Colin Kaepernick] was kneeling on one knee," adding it has "nothing to do with the disrespect" of the flag.

Brees has now apologized on Instagram to "anyone I hurt with my comments yesterday."

"In an attempt to talk about respect, unity, and solidarity centered around the American flag and the national anthem, I made comments that were insensitive and completely missed the mark on the issues we are facing right now as a country," he said. "They lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy."

Brees wrote that he stands "with the black community in the fight against systemic racial injustice and police brutality" and insisted he has "ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." He concluded by saying he recognizes he "should do less talking and more listening ... and when the black community is talking about their pain, we all need to listen."

New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis on CNN praised Brees' apology, calling it a "model for all of America." Brendan Morrow

9:30 a.m.

Around 1.88 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week, according to numbers released Thursday by the Department of Labor.

The number, in line with economists' expectations, brings the total number of people who've filed new jobless claims to 42.6 million over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also continues a downward trend that could signify the worst of the coronavirus economic crash is over. At the unemployment boom's peak in late March, 6.9 million people filed claims.

Still, 21.5 million people filed continuing claims — unemployment claims filed for at least two weeks in a row — in a sign that many people aren't getting their jobs back even as parts of the economy reopen. Kathryn Krawczyk

9:03 a.m.

President Trump is now 7.8 percentage points behind Vice President Joe Biden in RealClearPolitics' polling average, and when you scratch deeper than the national head-to-head polling, his numbers have "turned from mixed to bleak," Axios reports. He and Biden are statistically tied in Texas, per a Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday, and in Ohio, according to a new Fox News poll. Fox News' pollsters also have Trump losing badly in Wisconsin and modestly in Arizona, both states he needs to win.

Top Republicans say "Trump's handling of the nation's civil unrest, including his hasty photo op at St. John's Church after the violent clearing of Lafayette Park, make them much more worried about his chance of re-election than they were one week ago," Axios reported Thursday morning. And "yesterday, advisers admit, was inarguably brutal," with Defense Secretary Mark Esper dissenting from Trump's use of active-duty troops and Esper's predecessor, James Mattis, excoriating Trump as divisive, immature, and a violator of the Constitution who must be held to account.

Trump is sending a clear, consistent signal "that in the five months remaining between now and Election Day he will be singularly focused on his core supporters — and whatever energizes them most," Gabby Orr writes at Politico. "The base-only strategy is a gamble for Trump, whose campaign spent much of the past year trying to build up good will with suburban swing voters — knowing their disapproval alone could cost him re-election. But the base is also his safe space." And given his slumping poll numbers with independents, senior citizens, suburban woman, and even his core white evangelical base, it may be his best option. Peter Weber

8:04 a.m.

Meghan Markle has spoken out about the killing of George Floyd and other "senseless" acts of racism in an emotional message to graduating seniors.

The Duchess of Sussex this week remotely delivered a commencement speech to graduates of Los Angeles' Immaculate Heart High School, which she attended, and spoke on the "absolutely devastating" recent events amid the unrest over the death of Floyd in police custody. At the top, she noted that she was "really nervous" about saying the right thing.

"And I realized, the only wrong thing to say is to say nothing," Markle said. "Because George Floyd's life mattered, and Breonna Taylor's life mattered, and Philando Castile's life mattered, and Tamir Rice's life mattered."

After recalling advice from her high school teacher to "always remember to put other's needs above your own fears," Markle told graduates she's "so sorry that you have to grow up in a world where this is still present." She went on to reflect on her memories of the 1992 Los Angeles riots, which were similarly "triggered by a senseless act of racism."

"That's something that you should have an understanding of, but an understanding of as a history lesson, not as your reality," she said. "So I am sorry that, in a way, we have not gotten the world to the place that you deserve it to be."

She added, however, that she remembers the way "people came together" at that time, which is also the case now. Markle concluded by calling on graduates to help "rebuild" our "broken" foundation, adding, "I know you know that black lives matter." Watch her full address below. Brendan Morrow

7:43 a.m.

Protests continued across the U.S. for a ninth day Wednesday, sparked by the killing of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. In many major cities, Wednesday's protests were the sixth consecutive day of marches — and the largest. They also "turned notably more subdued on the eve of a Thursday memorial service" for Floyd, The Associated Press reports, and "the calmer protests came on the same day that prosecutors charged three more police officers and filed a new, tougher charge against" Chauvin, upgrading the top charge to second-degree murder.

In Washington, D.C., the new charges were announced by Romulo Richardson, to cheers from the protesters who amassed in the largest group yet despite an overwhelming pretense or armed federal police and at least 2,200 National Guard soldiers deployed across the capital. "They charged the four officers in George Floyd's murder tonight," Richardson said. "Y'all made that happen. ... Y'all made them believe us. There is strength in numbers."

Federal forces have expanded the perimeter around the White House, cutting off Lafayette Square with a wall of police. "At one point near the White House, protesters began singing 'Amazing Grace' as they knelt in view of law enforcement officers in riot gear," chanting "We are not going anywhere!" AP reports.

"The mood was jubilant, with protesters singing and dancing as someone with a loudspeaker played Sam Cook's 'A Change is Gonna Come' and Michael Jackson's 'Man in the Mirror,'" the Post adds. And as the sun set, local musician Kenny Sway led the crowd in a chorus of "Lean on Me." The Post's Hannah Natanson described the singalong as a "surreal, beautiful, peaceful scene outside the White House."

"Tonight it just seems more organized. The momentum and energy is just much more tangible," one protester told the Post. "Everybody is seeing how the rest of the world is responding to this, and it's encouraging us." There was music in Portland, Oregon, too. Peter Weber

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