Biden to meet George Floyd’s family on anniversary of his murder – live

The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:

One of the companies involved in the unprecedented review of 2.1 million ballots in Arizona has ended its involvement in the effort, the Arizona Republic reported Tuesday.

The company, Pennsylvania-based Wake TSI, was only contracted to work on the review through 14 May, and chose not to extend its contract, a spokesman for the review told the Republic. Their decision to stop comes as the effort, executed at the behest of Republicans in the state senate, has come under national scrutiny for shoddy practices and bias.

Sam Levine
(@srl)

This is hugely significant. Cyber Ninjas has gotten a lot of attention around the audit, but Wake TSI was the company on the floor running the counting. https://t.co/8at3mzTESX

May 25, 2021

Wake TSI was involved in overseeing the portion of the audit that dealt with a hand recount of the presidential vote and US senate race in Maricopa county (Republicans are also examining voting technology and the paper ballots were cast on). The firm overseeing the entire audit, called Cyber Ninjas, had previously pointed to Wake TSI’s involvement in a prior audit in Pennsylvania to assuage concern about Cyber Ninjas’ own lack of experience in election audits.

New details have come to light in recent days about Wake TSI’s involvement in Pennsylvania. On Monday, the Arizona Mirror reported that the firm had been hired by a non-profit linked to Sidney Powell, a Trump ally and one of the most prominent figures to spread lies about the results of the 2020 election last year.

StratTech solutions, an Arizona-based IT firm, will take over for Wake TSI and continue to count ballots in accordance with the procedures the company had already set up, according to the Republic. It’s unclear what experience StratTech has in elections, if any.

Biden and Harris meet with Floyd family to commemorate anniversary

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are now meeting with the family of George Floyd to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his murder in Minneapolis.

The White House told the press pool about 20 minutes ago that the meeting, scheduled to begin at 1:30 pm ET, had now started.

Biden’s staff has said he intends for the meeting to be a private gathering, but members of the Floyd family may speak to reporters after it concludes.

After their meeting with the president, Floyd’s family members are scheduled to meet with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Tim Scott, who are working on the policing reform bill named in Floyd’s honor.

The blog will have more details on the meeting as they become available, so stay tuned.

Martin Pengelly

The White House expects to get Republicans’ counteroffer on a $2tn infrastructure proposal later this week, press secretary Jen Psaki said earlier.

Senate Republicans are due to meet to determine their next steps on infrastructure talks and could deliver their proposal on Thursday, Senator Shelley Capito of West Virginia said.

Republicans have said that they won’t back Joe Biden’s plan to pay for much-needed infrastructure repair and investment by altering the 2017 tax bill, passed under Donald Trump and when Republicans controlled Congress, to increase taxes on the wealthy and companies. They are expected to offer a pared-down proposal.

“We are waiting to hear back from Republicans on how they would propose to pay for it” if they won’t raise taxes, Psaki said.

Updated

Crew disappointed after DoJ bars Trump-Russia memo

Martin Pengelly

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the group attempting to gain access to a Department of Justice memo about Donald Trump, possible obstruction of justice and the Russia investigation, has said it is “deeply disappointed” by a DoJ decision not to release the memo in full despite being ordered to do so by a federal judge.



William Barr.


William Barr. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/AP

In dramatic development late on Monday, the deadline for deciding whether it would comply or appeal, the DoJ said it continued to believe the full document should be exempt from disclosure.

At issue is a 24 March 2019 memo from the DoJ Office of Legal Counsel that was prepared for the then attorney general, William Barr, to evaluate whether evidence collected in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election interference in 2016 could support an obstruction of justice prosecution of the president.

Barr has said he looked to that opinion in determining that Trump did not illegally obstruct the Russia investigation. Critics of Barr say he ran interference for Trump, making sure the public did not see the full case against him or the full haul of evidence, effectively brushing Mueller aside.

On Tuesday, Crew president Noah Bookbinder said: “We are deeply disappointed … the Department of Justice had an opportunity to come clean, turn over the memo, and close the book on the politicisation and dishonesty of the past four years. Last night it chose not to do so.

“In choosing to fight Judge Jackson’s decision, the DoJ is taking a position that is legally and factually wrong and that undercuts efforts to move past the abuses of the last administration. We will be fighting this in court.”

The brief portion of the memo the DoJ agreed to disclose shows two senior leaders advised Barr that Mueller’s evidence could not support an obstruction conclusion regarding Trump’s behaviour beyond a reasonable doubt.

On Tuesday Crew said the “part of the memo that the DoJ did turn over may have been more revealing than they intended it to be”.

Bookbinder said it “provides further evidence that Attorney General Barr’s efforts were not aimed at making any real legal determination, but were instead aimed at publicly spinning the damning findings of the Mueller Report into a vindication of Donald Trump. The deception needs to end now.”

Martin Pengelly

Brad Schneider, an Illinois Democrat, has said he is drafting a resolution to censure Marjorie Taylor Greene, the Georgia rightwinger whose comments on coronavirus mitigation and vaccination and the Holocaust have stirred up another storm on Capitol Hill.

In a tweet, Schneider said: “I hope that if [House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy] truly believes that what Rep Greene said was ‘appalling,’ he will join our effort to censure her.”

Schneider was quoting McCarthy’s statement on the matter earlier. As that statement also included an attack on the “Democrat [sic] party” for supposedly not investigating alleged antisemitism in its own ranks, it seems McCarthy is … unlikely to get on board with Schneider’s censure.

Schneider added: “Marjorie Taylor Greene continues to debase not only the memory of 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis, but all those who fought and died defending Democracy against Hitler and his evil.

“It is shameful that the Republican Conference continues to let her define their party, and dangerous that they refuse to expel her. There should be no room for such unapologetic hate and antisemitism in our politics or our government.”

Today so far

The White House press briefing has now concluded. Here’s where the day stands so far:

  • Joe Biden will soon meet with the family of George Floyd to commemorate the one-year anniversary of his murder. The meeting comes as lawmakers continue to negotiate over the policing reform bill named in Floyd’s honor, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Biden had initially hoped to sign that bill by today, but lawmakers have not yet reached a final deal on the legislation.
  • Biden will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month in Geneva, Switzerland, the White House confirmed. The June 16 summit will mark Biden’s first in-person meeting with the Russian president since taking office.
  • House minority leader Kevin McCarthy condemned extremist congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for comparing coronavirus restrictions 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’s comments had sparked widespread outrage among members of both parties, who noted it was incredibly offensive to compare health precautions recommended by experts to the slaughter of 6 million Jewish people.

The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.

Jen Psaki was asked about the recent uptick in anti-Semitic violence in the US, which started as the attacks between Israeli forces and Hamas escalated in Gaza earlier this month.

The press secretary pointed reporters to a tweet from Joe Biden yesterday, in which the president said, “The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop. I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad — it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.”

Psaki said the president considers anti-Semitism in America to be a “persistent evil” that requires consistent attention from those holding public office.

President Biden
(@POTUS)

The recent attacks on the Jewish community are despicable, and they must stop. I condemn this hateful behavior at home and abroad — it’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor.

May 24, 2021

A reporter pressed Jen Psaki on why Joe Biden is not using the bully pulpit to urge lawmakers to reach a deal on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

The White House press secretary replied that Biden remains “closely engaged” with the lawmakers who are negotiating over the legislation, adding that the president is “respecting the space needed” to reach a compromise on the bill.

Psaki also declined to offer a new deadline for signing the bill. Biden had previously said he hoped to sign the legislation by the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder, but that is today, and the negotiations are still ongoing.

Jen Psaki said Joe Biden will discuss the sovereignty of Ukraine and the jailing of a dissident journalist in Belarus when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month.

The White House press secretary confirmed this morning that the two presidents will meet in Geneva, Switzerland, on June 16.

CBS News
(@CBSNews)

Psaki says that in President Biden’s summit with Vladimir Putin in June, he plans to discuss arms agenda, Ukraine’s sovereignty and “grave concerns” about Belarus https://t.co/03pKa7DzbD pic.twitter.com/cBE3rVYRAm

May 25, 2021

Asked to respond to Republican criticism that Biden is rewarding Russia’s harmful actions by meeting with Putin, Psaki said, “We don’t meet with people only when we agree.”

She added, “President Biden is meeting with Vladimir Putin because of our country’s differences, not in spite of them. It’s an opportunity to raise concerns we have them, and again to move toward a more stable and predictable relationship with the Russian government.”

Updated

US to hit 50% of American adults fully vaccinated today, White House says

The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, is now holding her daily briefing with reporters.

Psaki opened her comments by noting that the US will hit 50% of American adults fully vaccinated against coronavirus today. The press secretary said that figure was 1% when Joe Biden took office in January.

The president has set a goal of having 70% of American adults at least partially vaccinated by July 4, and the White House has said it is on track to meet that goal.

Updated

Gunshots heard near George Floyd Square as Minneapolis marks anniversary

Gunshots were heard near the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis this morning, as crowds gathered at the site to mark the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death.

The intersection has come to be informally known as George Floyd Square since last year, when Floyd was murdered there by a Minneapolis police officer who kept his knee on the Black man’s neck for more than nine minutes.

The AP reports:


The Minneapolis intersection where George Floyd died was disrupted by gunfire Tuesday, just hours before it was to be the site of a family-friendly street festival marking the anniversary of his death at the hands of police.

Associated Press video from 38th Street and Chicago Avenue — informally known as George Floyd Square — showed people running and seeking cover as shots rang out. Police said one person later appeared at a nearby hospital with a gunshot wound, but it wasn’t immediately clear if that person was hurt in the incident near the intersection.

Philip Crowther, a reporter working for AP Global Media Services, which provides live video coverage to customers, reported hearing as many as 30 gunshots about a block east of the intersection. Crowther said a storefront window appeared to have been broken by a gunshot.

Here is footage from the moment that the gunshots were heard:

Philip Crowther
(@PhilipinDC)

Here’s the moment shots were fired near George Floyd Square earlier this morning. pic.twitter.com/NIWRBr6b9Y

May 25, 2021

Updated

House speaker Nancy Pelosi also sent a “Dear colleague” letter to her Democratic caucus members reflecting on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder.

The Democratic speaker expressed hope that the Senate will soon approve the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which the House passed in March.

Democratic congresswoman Karen Bass continues to work with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Tim Scott to reach a bipartisan deal on the legislation, Pelosi noted.

“As Congresswoman Bass engages in negotiations on next steps, we remain hopeful that we will, in a bipartisan spirit, reach agreement and pass this legislation in its final form,” Pelosi wrote in her letter.

The speaker also reflected on how the country has lost hundreds of thousands of people to coronavirus over the past year. “We want the families to know that we will always carry the memory of those lost in our hearts. As we do so, we must salute the sacrifice of our heroes: our essential workers, who risked their lives to save lives. As we go forth, we must keep them in our hearts and on our minds,” Pelosi said.

Floyd family meets with Pelosi and Bass at Capitol

The family of George Floyd has just met with House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Democratic congresswoman Karen Bass at the Capitol.

Bass is one of three lawmakers, along with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Tim Scott, who are negotiating over the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.

The Recount
(@therecount)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi speaks alongside George Floyd’s daughter, Gianna Floyd, one year after his murder:

“Gianna said, ‘My daddy will change the world.’ Indeed, her prediction is coming true.” pic.twitter.com/wZQSF006Sz

May 25, 2021

Standing alongside Floyd’s daughter, Gianna, and several of his siblings, Pelosi told reporters, “Gianna said, ‘My daddy will change the world.’ Indeed, her prediction is coming true.”

Bass also pledged that the policing reform bill would soon make its way to Joe Biden’s desk. “What is important is that when it reaches President Biden’s desk that it is a substantive piece of legislation, and that is far more important than a specific date,” Bass said. “We will work until we get the job done. It will be passed in a bipartisan manner.”

Floyd’s family members will soon meet with Biden at the White House, and they will later sit down with Booker and Scott as well.

Updated

George Floyd’s family has arrived on Capitol Hill for meetings with lawmakers, as members of Congress continue to negotiate over a policing reform bill.

Asked what the family’s message is to lawmakers, civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump told reporters, “Pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.”

Julie Tsirkin
(@JulieNBCNews)

The family of George Floyd arrives at the Capitol before multiple meetings with lawmakers.

I asked what their message is to those negotiating police reform, one year after Floyd’s murder.@AttorneyCrump: “To pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act.” pic.twitter.com/vnSRAWVFCu

May 25, 2021

The Floyd family will first meet with House speaker Nancy Pelosi and congresswoman Karen Bass, who is working on reaching a bipartisan deal on the policing bill.

The family will later meet with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and Republican Senator Tim Scott, who are also involved in the negotiations over the bill.

Julia Carrie Wong

On 25 May 2020, a man died after a “medical incident during police interaction” in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The man was suspected of forgery and “believed to be in his 40s”. He “physically resisted officers” and, after being handcuffed, “appeared to be suffering medical distress”. He was taken to the hospital “where he died a short time later”.

It is not difficult to imagine a version of reality where this, the first police account of George Floyd’s brutal death beneath the knee of an implacable police officer, remained the official narrative of what took place in Minneapolis one year ago. That version of reality unfolds every day. Police lies are accepted and endorsed by the press; press accounts are accepted and believed by the public.

That something else happened – that it is now possible for a news organization to say without caveat or qualification that Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd – required herculean effort and extraordinary bravery on the part of millions of people.

The laborious project of establishing truth in the face of official lies is one that Americans embraced during the racial reckoning of the summer of 2020, whether it was individuals speaking out about their experiences of racism at work, or institutions acknowledging their own complicity in racial injustice. For a time, it seemed that America was finally ready to tell a more honest, nuanced story of itself, one that acknowledged the blood at the root.

But alongside this reassessment, another American tradition re-emerged: a reactionary movement bent on reasserting a whitewashed American myth. These reactionary forces have taken aim at efforts to tell an honest version of American history and speak openly about racism by proposing laws in statehouses across the country that would ban the teaching of “critical race theory”, the New York Times’s 1619 Project, and, euphemistically, “divisive concepts”.

Read the Guardian’s full report on this alarming trend:

Barack Obama reflected on the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder, saying he is hopeful about the progress he has seen over the past year to combat racism in America.

“George Floyd was murdered one year ago today. Since then, hundreds more Americans have died in encounters with police—parents, sons, daughters, friends taken from us far too soon. But the last year has also given us reasons to hope,” the former president said in a tweet thread.

Barack Obama
(@BarackObama)

George Floyd was murdered one year ago today. Since then, hundreds more Americans have died in encounters with police—parents, sons, daughters, friends taken from us far too soon. But the last year has also given us reasons to hope.

May 25, 2021

Obama added, “Today, more people in more places are seeing the world more clearly than they did a year ago. It’s a tribute to all those who decided that this time would be different—and that they, in their own ways, would help make it different.

“When injustice runs deep, progress takes time. But if we can turn words into action and action into meaningful reform, we will, in the words of James Baldwin, ‘cease fleeing from reality and begin to change it.’”

Obama’s words come as lawmakers continue to negotiate over the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which passed the House in March but has now stalled in the Senate.

Joe Biden, who will meet with Floyd’s family this afternoon, had originally said he hoped to sign the bill by today’s anniversary, but lawmakers have not yet reached a deal on the legislation.

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