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Trump news – live: President responds to accusations in John Bolton's new book as he dismisses rise in US coronavirus cases

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Joe Sommerlad,Justin Vallejo
Monday 15 June 2020 23:00 BST
Trump appears to have trouble walking down ramp at West Point ceremony

Donald Trump pre-emptively responded to John Bolton's upcoming book saying he's been known not to tell the truth and that he might have legal issues if he reveals classified information.

The president dismissed an uptick in US coronavirus cases and suggested the number was fall if they just stopped coronavirus testing.

It came after Trump complained he was being "Covid Shamed" for holding an election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration and its response to the coronavirus pandemic and George Floyd protests.

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 09:30

Trump under pressure to cancel Tulsa rally over 'huge' coronavirus risk

Donald Trump is facing increasing pressure to cancel his upcoming election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after the city’s health director, Dr Bruce Dart, expressed anxiety over the spread of coronavirus and the president’s own adviser, Larry Kudlow, admitted that attendees would be well advised to wear a face mask.

“I think it’s an honour for Tulsa to have a sitting president want to come and visit our community, but not during a pandemic,” Dr Dart told the Tulsa World newspaper on Saturday. “I’m concerned about our ability to protect anyone who attends a large, indoor event, and I’m also concerned about our ability to ensure the president stays safe as well.”

“Covid is here in Tulsa, it is transmitting very efficiently. I wish we could postpone this to a time when the virus isn’t as large a concern as it is today.”

New coronavirus cases and hospitalisations in record numbers swept through more US states including Texas, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina over the weekend, while Oklahoma reported record new cases. The national total is currently 117,000 deaths from more than 2.14m infections.

"It is a concern," White House economic adviser Kudlow admitted on CNN's State of the Union programme on Sunday. "People must observe the safety guidelines, OK, must. The social distancing must be observed. Face coverings in key places must be observed."

Asked if he believed people attending this Saturday's Trump rally in Tulsa should wear masks, Kudlow said, "Well, OK, probably so."

Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who has informally advised the White House during the pandemic, also said he would counsel against holding or attending large political rallies at the present time.

"We know these large gatherings are going to lead to more spread," Gottlieb said in an interview with CBS's Face the Nation. "The spontaneous protests around the country are going to lead to additional spread. Certainly holding a large political rally will as well. That's in an indoor space. It's a confined space," he added.

The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday urged organisers of large gatherings that involve "shouting, chanting or singing to strongly encourage the use of cloth face coverings to lower the risk of spreading the coronavirus."

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 09:45

President defends himself after unsteady descent down West Point ramp as pundit mocks 'fifth grader' speech

The president has meanwhile angrily defended himself after a video went viral of him struggling to descend a ramp at West Point over the weekend after giving a graduation speech, with Trump insisting the walkway “was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery” and admitting a fear of ridicule had he fallen.

This was the episode in question, the second moment to raise eyebrows after he also seemed to struggle to clasp a glass of water during his speech:

Of course, it later transpired that Trump had attempted to mock Barack Obama on similar grounds back in April 2014:

Trump told the graduating class to "never forget" the legacy of soldiers before them who fought a bloody war to "extinguish the evil of slavery."

HIs appeal to remember history came as his own relationship with the military is under strain from the unrelenting criticism he and Pentagon leaders have faced over their response to protests that erupted after George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

"What has historically made America unique is the durability of its institutions against the passions and prejudices of the moment," Trump told more than 1,100 graduates at an unusual outdoor ceremony held during a pandemic. "When times are turbulent, when the road is rough, what matters most is that which is permanent, timeless, enduring and eternal."

MSNBC analyst and veteran Malcolm Nance, for one, was not impressed with the president’s address, branding it “dull as dishwater” and saying Trump sounded like "a fifth grader giving a Memorial Day report:

Here’s Phil Thomas’s report.

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 10:00

Trump continues to rage about ‘Radical Left takeover of Seattle’

The president’s latest tweets find him continuing to exploit the occupation of the Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone in Seattle by peaceful protesters as a means of attacking the media and Washington state’s Democratic leadership, saying governor Jay Inslee and city mayor Jenny Durkan should be ashamed of themselves for not cracking down on the demonstration.

As my colleague Andrew Buncombe reported last week, the initiative is more about community action against police racism and brutality than an aggressive "takeover", where good coffee and vegan curry are being liberally served up by activists keen to educate.

Trump's approach seems intended to shore up his appeal to his mythic base (“THE SILENT MAJORITY”) as a Nixonian “LAW & ORDER” commander-in-chief.

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 10:20

Police officer facing murder charge over Rayshard Brooks killing in Atlanta

Just days after George Floyd was laid to rest in Texas - following his murder by suffocation by cops in Minneapolis two weeks prior, sparking nationwide and international protests - America is already facing up to another unjustified police killing of a black man by white cop, this time in Atlanta, Georgia.

Rayshard Brooks, 27, reportedly fell asleep at the wheel of his car in the drive-thru lane of a Wendy’s fast food restaurant on Friday night. When officers arrived to administer a sobriety test and arrest him, the initially peaceful discussion descended into a scuffle, with Brooks escaping police Tasers before being shot.

The officer in question has been dismissed, the head of the Atlanta Police Department has resigned, the restaurant has been burned down by protesters but a fresh wave of anger is only just beginning.

Here’s Gino Spocchia with the latest.

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 10:35

Ben Carson ducks question on Trump's Lincoln boast and record on race

Trump’s housing and urban development secretary - one of the few black members of his cabinet - was doing the rounds of the Sunday shows yesterday and dodged a question from ABC’s George Stephanopoulos about his boss’s claim that he’s done more for African Americans than any president since Abraham Lincoln, saying the question was “not productive”.

Appearing on This Week, Carson was asked about the Republican Party relocating its August convention to Jacksonville, Florida, on the 60th anniversary of a KKK attack on black citizens in that city.

“You know, we’ve reached a point in our society where we dissect everything and try to ascribe some nefarious notion to it,” Carson responded. “We really need to move away from that. We need to move away from being offended by everything, of going through history and looking at everything, you know, of renaming everything.”

“It really gets to a point of being ridiculous after a while. And you know, we’re going to have to grow up as a society,” he added.



Georgia voting reform campaigner Stacey Abrams subsequently denounced Carson’s arguments as “infantile”.

On Fox News Sunday, Carson went on to express opposition to rebranding military bases named in honour of Confederate generals, saying: “We shouldn’t impose our will on others.”

Here’s Griffin Connolly’s report.

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 10:55

Florida marks Trump's birthday with Faragian flotillas

Supporters of the president in Florida were celebrating his 74th birthday yesterday with caravans, flotillas and parades throughout his adopted homestate.

In Palm Beach County - home of his Mar-a-Lago resort - separate caravans of trucks, motorcycles and boats were riding along highways and the intercoastal waterway at various times in the morning. The organisers were part of the president's Florida re-election effort.

The Palm Beach Post reports that an anti-Trump caravan also was riding through the county Sunday to protest racism and call for police reforms.

Pro-Trump flotillas also were planned for Fort Lauderdale, Miami, the Florida Keys, Tampa, Pensacola and Jacksonville - where Trump is slated to be renominated for a second term at the end of August.

In The Villages, a massive Republican-friendly retirement community northwest of Orlando where golf carts are the vehicles of choice for many residents, Trump supporters were holding a golf-cart parade in honor of the president.

Speaking at West Point in New York a day earlier, Trump said his birthday coincided with the 245th anniversary of the US Army's founding.

"Unrelated, going to be my birthday also," Trump said. "I don't know if that happened by accident. Did that happen by accident, please? But it's a great day because of that Army birthday."

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 11:15

Secret Service admits using pepper spray on protesters before Trump's Bible photo op despite previous denial

The Trump administration still can't seem to get its story straight on Lafayette Square, which saw peaceful protesters tear-gassed outside the White House on 1 June so that the president could make his way to St John's Church for a photo op, brandishing a Bible upside down that he had not read in order to appear in control of the George Floyd demonstrations.

Here's Oliver O'Connell with the latest twist in the tale.

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 11:35

Interfaith leaders reclaim White House church used as political backdrop by Trump

A group of interfaith leaders held a prayer vigil on Sunday outside the aforementioned St John's Church as a demonstration of unity after the "presidents' church" inadvertently became an symbol of division in the wake of Trump's ill-considered gesture.

The faith leaders, representing multiple Christian denominations as well as Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths, addressed a crowd of several dozen at the edge of the recently named Black Lives Matter Plaza with a message of racial justice.

"The government stands under God's judgment, and must therefore be held accountable for protecting the innocent, guaranteeing basic freedoms and liberties, and establishing justice and equality," said Bishop LaTrelle Easterling, leader of the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Among the speakers at St John's was Reverend William Barber, leader of the Poor People's Campaign movement on behalf of lower-income Americans, who also addressed Sunday services at the Washington National Cathedral.

This was Reverend Barber addressing the matter last week:

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 11:55

Florida sees biggest daily rise in cases ahead of Republican convention

Team Trump continue to insist the coronavirus is yesterday's news but the facts simply do not point that way.

Here's Andrew Naughtie with word on a sudden surge in infections in one of the first states to reopen, Trump's adopted home and now the site of this summer's Republican convention.

Joe Sommerlad15 June 2020 12:15

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