November 6, 2019

Well, this is kind of awkward.

President Trump sent a letter to newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on May 29 inviting him to the White House at "a mutually convenient time" and promising that America's "support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is unwavering," according to a copy of the letter posted by The Daily Beast. Thanks to a whistleblower and a subsequent parade of U.S. officials, we now know Trump's support for Ukraine was very much wavering and the White House visit was only "convenient" for Trump after Zelensky publicly committed to investigate Trump's domestic political rivals.

Six days before Trump signed the letter assuring Zelensky that "the United States and Ukraine are steadfast partners," Trump was grousing to his ad hoc Ukraine team that the government in Kyiv was "horrible, corrupt people" out to "take me down," The Washington Post reported. Ukraine isn't even a "real country," just part of Russia, he reportedly told his Ukraine envoy Kurt Volker.

Ukrainian officials made it known to their U.S. counterparts that securing a White House visit is "a key foreign policy goal for the Ukrainian president," The Daily Beast notes. "Ukraine relies on support from the U.S. to resist Russian aggression and is warring with Russian-backed separatists who have occupied territory in the eastern part of the country." But Trump's letter was just a tease. And six weeks afterward, he froze military aid to Ukraine.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said at his October press conference that the letter to Zelensky was just a "courtesy." Requests from a foreign leader to visit the White House are commonplace, "and we try to be courteous and say yes," he said, but with Ukraine, "I don't remember a serious conversation about setting up an actual meeting. There were no dates discussed." Zelensky is still waiting. Peter Weber

1:28 a.m.

Ty Stephenson found that the best way to explore his hometown was by using his own two feet.

Stephenson, a 19-year-old college student, lives in Blacksburg, Virginia. Last July, he became inspired by a man who ran on every public street in San Francisco, and decided to do the same in Blacksburg. Stephenson picked up a map from the city, and found that there were 492 roads he could run. Late last summer, he hit the pavement, first running streets near his parents' house before moving on to other parts of town.

He has always loved exploring and being outside, and was in no rush to check off every street — Stephenson told The Roanoke Times he won't live in Blacksburg forever, and wanted to savor his runs. He discovered beautiful views at the top of hills and a meadow that he never knew existed. Sometimes he was joined by friends, and at the end of the every run, he would grab a yellow highlighter and mark the streets on his map.

On May 17, Stephenson finished his quest, after going on 60 runs and covering 314 miles. He learned that adventure can be found in your own backyard, no passport necessary. "I just think life's too short to wait for those places that are exotic or something when we have so many cool places so close to us," he told The Roanoke Times. Catherine Garcia

12:16 a.m.

At least two police officers were injured on Monday night in Buffalo, New York, after an SUV barreled into a group of law enforcement officers at a George Floyd protest.

Video shot at the protest shows officers tackling a man who was being interviewed by someone with a television camera, and others using their batons to hit demonstrators, The Associated Press reports. Gunfire is then heard in the background, and an SUV is shown plowing into the officers before speeding off. The protesters were told to leave the area, and tear gas was fired into the crowd.

Both officers have been hospitalized and are in stable condition. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tweeted that the SUV driver and passengers are believed to be in police custody. Buffalo Police spokesman Michael DeGeorge told AP two people were shot during the protest and are receiving treatment; it is unclear if they were involved in an officer-related shooting. Catherine Garcia

June 1, 2020

President Trump had federal military and law enforcement use tear gas and other nonlethal force to clear peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square on Monday evening so he could pose in front of St. John's Church with a Bible in his hand. Why would he do that? In part because he "was angered by coverage depicting him holed up in an underground bunker," CNN reports. "He told aides on Monday he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates, according to a person familiar with the matter." Maggie Haberman at The New York Times said her sources were telling her the same thing.

"Trump and his family were rushed to an underground bunker on the White House complex as protests raged outside the building on Friday evening," CNN says. "Trump wasn't seen on Sunday and spent most of Monday behind closed doors — leading to concern even from his allies that he was absent at a moment of national crisis."

CNN's Kaitlan Collins said the photo op appeared to be very last minute and reiterated that the excursion "was driven in part by that he was upset by coverage of the fact that he had been rushed to the underground bunker on Friday night." "Oh, my God," Anderson Cooper said, shaking his head. "Wow." "That is what sources are saying, Anderson," Collins responded. "We are in trouble," Cooper said. "He wanted to be seen outside the gates," Collins explained.. "Of course he did," Cooper sighed.

"You know, he always talks about the world laughing, that the world is laughing at the governors right now," Cooper said. "They're not laughing at the governors, they're standing in horror over what is happening. The only people that the world is laughing at is the president of the United States, and this event? As I said, if it wasn't so dangerous and disgusting, it would be funny because it is so low-rent and just sad." Collins comes on at the 4:18 mark. Peter Weber

June 1, 2020

The Episcopal bishop of Washington, the Right Rev. Mariann Budde, didn't know that President Trump was visiting St. John's Church on Monday evening until she turned on the news.

The church is across the street from the White House, and was damaged in a fire set during protests on Sunday night. Before Trump walked over on Monday, peaceful demonstrators at Lafayette Square were dispersed by police using tear gas. Once he arrived, Trump stood in front of the church for photos, and announced that the book in his hand was a Bible. He stayed for a few minutes, then strolled back to the White House.

This left Budde "outraged," she told The Washington Post. Budde said she "was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop." Before he went to the church, Trump held a briefing where he threatened to send the military to cities in order to crush protests. Seeing him just minutes later, holding a Bible which Budde said "declares that God is love," stung the bishop.

"Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence," she said. "We need moral leadership, and he's done everything to divide us, and has just used one of the most sacred symbols of the Judeo-Christian tradition." Rev. Robert Fisher, the church rector, told the Post St. John's is "a space for grace" and "a place where you can breathe. Being used as a prop, it really takes away from what we're trying to do." He doesn't want the main story to be about the fire at St. John's, but rather the "more important message that we have to address racism in this country." Catherine Garcia

June 1, 2020

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office has ruled that George Floyd's death was a homicide, with Floyd experiencing "a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained."

Floyd, 46, died last week after a Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on his neck and kept it there for several minutes. The incident was recorded, and Floyd is heard saying, "I can't breathe."

The medical examiner's office released its report on Monday, listing Floyd's cause of death as "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." The document said Floyd had coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease, and there were "no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation." The office also cautioned that its finding is "not a legal determination of culpability or intent, and should not be used to usurp the judicial process."

Earlier in the day, the Floyd family released the results of a private autopsy it commissioned, which listed "asphyxiation from sustained pressure" as the cause of death. Attorney Benjamin Crump said there was also "neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain."

The officer who put his knee on Floyd's neck, Derek Chauvin, was arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Three other officers who were on the scene have been fired, but not charged with any crimes. Catherine Garcia

June 1, 2020

Federal police used tear gas and flash grenades to disperse a crowd of protesters gathered at Lafayette Square across from the White House on Monday evening, in order for President Trump to pose for photos in front of the historic St. John's Church.

The crowd was cleared out right before Trump began speaking from the White House Rose Garden, calling on state and local governments to have law enforcement "dominate the streets" before he deployed the military.

St. John's was built in 1816, and on Sunday night, a fire was set in the church's basement; it was quickly extinguished by firefighters. After walking over, Trump posed for photos in front of the church, and briefly held up a Bible, telling reporters, "It's a Bible." He only stayed for a few minutes, and was joined by Attorney General William Barr, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner. Catherine Garcia

June 1, 2020

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) on Monday afternoon demanded that Twitter remove a message from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) that called for the hunting down of anti-fascist activists.

In response to the protests against police brutality that have swept the nation, Gaetz tweeted, "Now that we clearly see antifa as terrorists, can we hunt them down like we do those in the Middle East?" President Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and their allies have accused left-wing anti-fascist protesters of turning demonstrations into riots and engaging in destructive behavior, despite intelligence showing people from the far-right and far-left have been involved.

Murphy, who has been one of the leading voices for gun control since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, tweeted that Twitter needed to take Gaetz's tweet down "RIGHT NOW. The survivors of mass shootings are lighting up my phone. They are scared to death this will inspire someone to start shooting into a crowd tonight. They are right."

Twitter did not remove the message, instead adding a label to it that reads, "This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible." Gaetz had an odd response for Murphy, tweeting that "every real Democrat ran for president and you ran to Twitter." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads