May 22, 2020

A new poll from Politico and Harvard's School of Public Health found that Americans are broadly concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic — 78 percent of respondents called their state's outbreak a "serious problem," including 88 percent of Democrats, 63 percent of Republicans, and 77 percent of independents. But there is a sharp new partisan divide about how to respond.

When asked if nonessential businesses — like hair salons, gyms, malls — should be allowed to reopen in their state, 51 percent said no, not until the spread of COVID-19 has been contained, while 46 percent said yes. But 61 percent of Republicans favored opening all businesses now, as President Trump has been forcefully pushing, while 69 percent of Democrats backed keeping nonessential businesses closed, a position most public health experts prefer.

"What we have here is a very real partisan split that you don't expect to find in a public health epidemic," Robert Blendon, the Harvard health policy professor who helped design the poll, tells Politico. "I think the president and many Republican leaders in the Congress have really defined getting the economy going as a critical issue, where Democrats don't buy into that focus." The poll was conducted May 5-10 among 1,007 adults and has a margin of error of ±3.5 percentage points.

Trump has been trying to get Americans to subscribe to the idea of transitioning to a feeling of normalcy, and he has succeeded in one way, John Harris argues at Politico: "The incumbent president has managed to make American politics the first arena of national life to return to something recognizable as normal." Harris explains:

Campuses are still closed, and may yet be for months to come. Most people still don't feel it's safe to visit aging relatives. ... But political culture has returned to something close to its pre-pandemic state. People are filled with resentment and malice toward their fellow citizens. They are arguing over eccentric or ephemeral controversies. They are sanctimoniously and often hypocritically denouncing the sanctimoniousness and hypocrisy of their opponents. Above all, many influential voices across the ideological spectrum are united in the assumption that the most important subject — constant and all-consuming — to be thinking and talking about is Trump. [John Harris, Politico]

Trump is "trying to get American politics back to normal, as he understands the word," Harris writes. "At least in some narrow ways he knows it's working." Read his column at Politico. Peter Weber

8:53 p.m.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked a resolution that would have condemned President Trump's actions against peaceful protesters who gathered near the White House on Monday evening.

Officers used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd at Lafayette Square so Trump could walk over and take photos in front of St. John's Church while holding a Bible. The resolution, introduced by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), also affirmed the constitutional rights of Americans to peacefully assemble and that violence and looting are unlawful and contrary to the purpose of peaceful protests.

McConnell said Americans want to see "justice for black Americans in the face of unjust violence, and peace for our country in the face of looting, riots, and domestic terror," and the resolution "does not address" these issues. "Instead, it just indulges in the myopic obsession with President Trump that has come to define the Democratic side of the aisle," he added.

In response, Schumer said McConnell and Republicans "do not want to condemn what the president did, though every fair minded American of any political party would. We certainly should condemn violence — let me repeat, this resolution condemns violence — but it is insufficient in light of what happened just to condemn violence, and not condemn what the president did as well." Catherine Garcia

7:35 p.m.

Former President George W. Bush on Tuesday said it's time for America to "examine our tragic failures" in order to end systemic racism.

In a statement, Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush are "anguished" by the "brutal suffocation of George Floyd" and "resisted the urge to speak" in the wake of Floyd's death and the ensuing protests because "this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen."

It is a "shocking failure that many African Americans, especially young African American men, are harassed and threatened in their own country," Bush said, and it is a "strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future."

He called Harriet Tubman, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King Jr. "heroes of America," and said "their calling has never been for the fainthearted. They often revealed the nation's disturbing bigotry and exploitation — stains on our character sometimes difficult for the American majority to examine. We can only see the reality of America's need by seeing it through the eyes of the threatened, oppressed, and disenfranchised."

To have "lasting peace in our communities" there must be "truly equal justice" for everyone, Bush said, and achieving that is "the duty of all." Read his entire statement here. Catherine Garcia

6:39 p.m.

Six Atlanta police officers are facing charges after being accused of using excessive force during the arrest of two college students Saturday night, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced on Tuesday.

Howard said arrest warrants have been issued for the six officers, with the charges including aggravated assault, criminal damage to property, and simple battery.

The incident took place after a George Floyd protest in downtown Atlanta. Body cam footage shows officers approaching a vehicle, with one using a baton to hit the driver's side window before breaking it and tasing the driver. A second officer tased the passenger. Later, one of the officers said he used the taser because it wasn't clear if the driver and passenger were armed.

After reviewing the footage, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Sunday ordered the firing of two of the officers. Catherine Garcia

6:16 p.m.

Less than 24 hours after Lea Michele was accused of making a Glee co-star's life "a living hell," she's already lost a partnership.

Samantha Ware, who played Jane Hayward on Glee, in a tweet on Monday night publicly called out Michele, claiming the actress made her first television job "a living hell" with "traumatic" microaggressions and even told people that "if you had the opportunity you would 's--t in my wig." Other black Glee actors soon backed her up, with Dabier Snell alleging Michele wouldn't let him sit with other cast members because she said he "didn't belong there."

Amid the controversy, HelloFresh announced on Twitter it would sever a partnership with Michele.

"HelloFresh does not condone racism nor discrimination of any kind," the company said. "We are disheartened and disappointed to learn of the recent claims concerning Lea Michele. We take this very seriously, and have ended our partnership with Lea Michele, effective immediately."

Michele has yet to respond to her co-stars' allegations. Brendan Morrow

6:03 p.m.

It's been a week since George Floyd's death in police custody sparked worldwide protests against systemic racism, specifically within law enforcement and against black men. But the legacy of racist policing stems back much, much further, The New York Times Magazine's Nikole Hannah-Jones explained to CBS News on Tuesday.

As Hannah-Jones, creator of the Times' 1619 project, noted, "modern policing," particularly in the south and parts of the northeast, "actually evolved out of the slave patrols." They "deputized white Americans to police enslaved communities, to ensure slaves were only in the places they were allowed, to put down slave insurrections," and gave them practically unlimited power to stop, question, and even "execute enslaved people," Hannah-Jones continued.

"So we have a long history of devaluing black lives, of allowing white police to kill black Americans," even for minor crimes, Hannah-Jones said. And while "we want to always say that slavery was a long time ago ... what we see today is a direct lineage from that idea that black lives are worth less than white lives," she finished. Watch Hannah-Jones' whole explanation below. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:56 p.m.

Minnesota's Department of Human Rights is filing a commissioner's charge of discrimination against and launching a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, Gov. Tim Walz (D) said Tuesday.

The decision comes a week after a police officer allegedly killed George Floyd by pressing his knee against Floyd's neck while in custody, sparking nationwide protests against police brutality. "The investigation will review MPD's policies, procedures, and practices over the last 10 years to determine if the department has utilized systemic discriminatory practices toward people of color," Walz said.

Investigators will have subpoena powers, but they likely won't need to wield them, Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero said, since she expects the city to be open with records. The Minneapolis City Council said it would assist with the process and urged the state "to use its full weight" to hold the police department accountable. Read more at NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

5:09 p.m.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is continuing to double down on his decision to leave up posts from President Trump after employees staged a walkout in protest.

Zuckerberg has been coming under fire in recent days for his inaction on several Trump posts after Twitter fact-checked one of the same posts and slapped another with a warning saying it violated its rules against glorifying violence. Facebook employees staged a virtual walkout on Monday over Zuckerberg's policy towards Trump's posts, and some have resigned. Facebook "is on the wrong side of history," one staffer wrote in a resignation post.

In an internal meeting on Tuesday, Zuckerberg defended his "tough decision" to not take action against the Trump posts, arguing that it's the "right action where we are right now is to leave this up" and saying he had to "separate out my personal opinion," The New York Times reports.

Zuckerberg reportedly faced some tough questions from staffers during the call, with one asking, per the Times' Mike Isaac, "Why are the smartest people in the world focused on contorting and twisting our policies to avoid antagonizing Trump?" Isaac wrote that based on everything he's been hearing from the meeting, "this is not going over super well."

In fact, CNN cited one employee who "found Zuckerberg's answers to staff questions at the town hall lacking, and said the CEO risked alienating more of his staff rather than addressing their concerns," while BuzzFeed's Ryan Mac quoted an employee as saying, "This is a disaster."

This comes after Zuckerberg was blasted by civil rights leaders, who spoke with him and subsequently said they're "disappointed and stunned by Mark's incomprehensible explanations for allowing the Trump posts to remain up." Brendan Morrow

See More Speed Reads