Trump's re-election in danger zone, PPE shortages show racial divide and Milley apologizes

Trump invites supporters to rally with a caveat: Don’t sue us if you get COVID-19.
Image: President Donald Trump attends a roundtable at the Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas, on June 11, 2020.
President Donald Trump attends a roundtable at the Gateway Church in Dallas, Texas, on Wednesday.Alex Brandon / AP

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By Petra Cahill

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump is facing some tough poll numbers as his re-election campaign kicks back into high gear. More than three months into the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals are still facing critical shortages of PPE. And a stunning apology from one of the nation's military leaders.

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


Trump's re-election is approaching the danger zone, polls show

With the election less than five months away, President Trump's re-election prospects are in a perilous position, NBC News' political correspondent Steve Kornacki writes in an analysis.

Trump's job approval rating is falling, down now to 42 percent in the Real Clear Politics average. And matched against Joe Biden, he trails by an average of 8 points.

Kornacki crunches the numbers by comparing Trump's standing to where his predecessors were at this same point in their re-election campaigns.

By looking back at data over the last 40 years, three categories emerge for incumbent presidents running for re-election: coasting, holding their own and deep trouble.

Check out the data and see where Trump falls in that list.

But the president is doing everything in his power to stay in the game — including announcing plans to hold his first major rally since the coronavirus pandemic broke out next Friday, June 19, in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

However, even that effort has been riddled with issues.

For starters, attendees will rally at their own risk. An invitation to the event requires attendees to register online in advance — and waive their rights to sue the campaign if they get sick with COVID-19 in the 19,000 seat arena.

And both the date and location have been a lightning rod for criticism from the Black community just as the country is in a moment of reckoning over race relations.

The rally will take place on Juneteenth, an annual holiday that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States. And it will happen in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of one of the deadliest race riots in American history, in 1921.

"This is ridiculous and yet another slap in the face to black people,"said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, about the rally.

Meantime, Trump, who has struggled to provide any policy responses to George Floyd's death, said Thursday that he is "finalizing" an executive order to address policing.

And the Republican National Committee announced Thursday that it had selected Jacksonville, Florida, as the convention site where Trump will accept the party's presidential nomination after bailing on Charlotte, North Carolina, over coronavirus restrictions.


Few N95 masks, reused gowns: Dire PPE shortages reveal COVID-19's racial divide

Nearly 100 days after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic, health care workers across the country are still facing major shortages of personal protective equipment, or PPE, including crucial equipment such as masks, gowns, and gloves.

Amid an alarming rise in coronavirus cases across the United States, the situation is especially dire at hospitals serving communities of color or patients on Medicaid, NBC News has found.

"It’s a huge problem," said Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents 15,000 people, mostly in California and Hawaii. "At almost all facilities, they are forcing health care workers to reuse. Some are given one N95 a week."

Meantime, after adhering to social distancing rules for months in an effort to stop the spread of COVID-19, new data from 15 million cell phones shows some Americans are back to gathering at pre-pandemic levels.

And the Dow plunged by nearly 7 percent Thursday as concerns about a resurgence of COVID-19 cases across the country grow.

  • With more than 2 million COVID-19 cases confirmed in the U.S., see a map of where the virus is spreading.
  • Check out our live blog for the latest updates.
  • Watch Nightly News: Kids Edition. Dr. John Torres answers more of your questions about the coronavirus.
  • And watch NBC at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. Lester Holt will anchor a "Dateline NBC" special hour looking at whether the coronavirus pandemic could have been contained or slowed had the government responded differently.

'I should not have been there': Milley apologizes for his role in Trump's church photo-op

Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologized Thursday for his role in Trump's church photo op last week, saying he shouldn't have been at the scene.

"As many of you saw, the result of the photograph of me at Lafayette Square last week, that sparked a national debate about the role of the military in civil society," Milley said in a prerecorded address at a commencement ceremony at the National Defense University in Washington.

"I should not have been there. My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics," he said.

One aspect of Milley's appearance that caught particular criticism was the fact that he was wearing his combat fatigues, rather than his formal uniform, prompting criticism that the nation's capital was being militarized.

Milley even considered resigning over the incident, three defense officials familiar with the matter told NBC News.


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Quote of the day

"We must hold dear the principle of an apolitical military that is so deeply rooted in the very essence of our republic."

Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologizing for his role in Trump's church photo-op.


One interesting thing

With his striking moves, unrepentant love for his heritage and timeless wisdom, Bruce Lee has long been a source of pride for Asian Americans who’ve looked to him as an emblem of power when they felt rather voiceless in a country that did not always accept them.

But Lee’s legacy has always extended across color lines, with the martial artist and actor attaining legendary status among many different groups, particularly African Americans.

"His interactions with so many different people and his willingness to learn helped him become a good ally," said

Bao Nguyen, the director of a documentary on Lee, "Be Water," that premiered Sunday on ESPN.

"Bruce was taught a lot by Kareem," Nguyen said about Lee's friendship with the Hall-of-Fame NBA center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who also used his voice to become a civil rights advocate.Concord Productions Inc. / Corbis via Getty Images

Thanks for reading the Morning Rundown. I hope you have a safe and healthy weekend.

If you have any comments — likes, dislikes — drop me an email at: petra@nbcuni.com If you're a fan, please forward it to your family and friends. They can sign-up here.

Thanks, Petra Cahill