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Defiant but mostly peaceful protests, more scrutiny of Pompeo dinners and social distancing Swiss Alps-style

'No way I was staying home': Trump's response leads more protesters to White House.
Image:  A man holds up his fist while hundreds of demonstrators march to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd, on June 2, 2020
A man holds up his fist while hundreds of demonstrators march to protest against police brutality and the death of George Floyd in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

More than a week after the death of George Floyd in police custody became a clarion call for racial justice, the nationwide protest movement shows little sign of abating.

Here's what we're watching this Wednesday morning.

'We want change': Protests show no sign of fading

Curfews and arrests did little to put off determined protesters from hitting the streets in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., overnight. But overall, the night passed more peacefully than the previous few.

There were spots of conflict in Portland, Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York, but many of the thousands of peaceful protesters across the country observed the curfews in place in their respective cities.

Although, in Washington, D.C., a massive crowd of protesters in Lafayette Square stayed past the 7 p.m. curfew in a show of defiance after having been forcefully removed from the area on Monday in order to clear the way for President Donald Trump to visit a riot-damaged church across the street.

Some told NBC News they were motivated to join the protests because of the government's heavy-handed response and the presidential photo-op that was widely criticized by religious leaders.

"It ignited a fire in us," said Alondra Pacheco, 20. "There was just no way I was staying home," said another woman.

Republican senators were notably more reticent when asked about Trump's actions by NBC News reporters on Tuesday.

"I didn't really see it," said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. And "I’m late for lunch," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Here are some other developments:

  • Minnesota launched a civil rights probe into the Minneapolis Police Department.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he had "no idea" about the plan to use force to disperse protesters ahead of Trump's staged visit to St. John's Episcopal Church.
  • "Horrified": Around the world, American allies have been left stunned and speechless by the scenes they see unfolding on U.S. soil.
  • Check out our live blog for all the latest developments.
  • Listen to our podcast: Into America. In the latest episode, host Trymaine Lee moderates a discussion on race with actor Don Cheadle and others.
  • Watch Nightly News Kids Edition. In the latest episode, Lester Holt talks to a child psychologist about how families can talk about the protests and race relations in America.

White House coronavirus task force fades further as fear of second wave emerges

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the White House task force that President Donald Trump assembled to manage the health crisis met every day.

But in recent weeks, as the virus continues to spread and health experts warn of a potential surge in cases across the country this summer, the group has met formally just three times.

The dubious standing of the coronavirus task force comes as some health officials have watched with alarm as thousands of people crowd into streets and public spaces to protest.

Meantime, Trump said that he is yanking the Republican National Convention from North Carolina because of potential coronavirus restrictions.

And the Supreme Court gave "juvenile lifers" a shot at freedom. But now many who were sentenced to life as teens fear they may get coronavirus before they get a second chance.

See our live blog for the latest on the coronavirus pandemic.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who has a long history of racist remarks, loses Republican primary

Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, who has a long history of racist and outrageous remarks, lost his primary bid for a 10th term in Congress, NBC News projected.

The Republican primary challenge, the fiercest since King was first elected to Congress in 2002, came after he was stripped of his committee assignments in the House last year because of comments to the New York Times about white nationalism.

Dozens of GOP donors invited to Pompeo's 'Madison Dinners'

The invitation list for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's taxpayer-funded "Madison Dinners," now under scrutiny by two congressional committees, included dozens of donors to Republican candidates and causes, campaign finance records show.

In May, NBC News revealed that Pompeo had held some two dozen of the dinners at the State Department — lavish private affairs that official invitations described as a chance to gather "thinkers and leaders to share ideas on the future of America and the world."

Now, an analysis of Federal Election Commission data and internal State Department documents shows that out of a total of 360 people sent invitations, at least 150 were from groups that are overtly conservative, formally affiliated with the Republican Party or right-wing media outlets.

Pompeo's Madison Dinners are among the topics multiple congressional committees are investigating as they interview fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick on Wednesday.

The heavy concentration of Republican donors and power brokers who were invited or attended the dinners marks a significant departure from the practice of past secretaries of state. Eric Baradat / AFP - Getty Images file

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THINK about it

Trump has no idea what antifa is. But his crusade against them may end badly, writes Shane Burley, author of "Fascism Today: What It Is and How to End It."


How do we teach our children anti-racism? These resources may help.

One fun thing

OK, two conceptual artists have an idea about how you can escape from it all — including coronavirus.

How about a gorgeous bed on a hilltop in the Swiss Alps.

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Thanks, Petra Cahill