Just halfway through, 2020 has already been a year for the history books

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Image: Democrats Caucus In Iowa As The 2020 Presidential Nominating Process Begins
Officials from the 68th caucus precinct overlook the results of the first referendum count during a caucus event on Feb. 3, 2020 at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.Tom Brenner / Getty Images file

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By Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, Carrie Dann and Melissa Holzberg

WASHINGTON — Remember when Iowa Democrats botched their caucuses? That was just four and a half months ago.

Or when Joe Biden emerged with more pledged delegates than Bernie Sanders on Super Tuesday? Try more than three months ago.

Or when President Trump walked up to St. John’s Church and held up that Bible? Just a little more than three weeks ago.

2020 has been some kind of year — an impeachment trial, a rollercoaster Democratic presidential race, Michael Bloomberg (remember him?), a deadly pandemic and protests across the country for racial justice.

And we’re just half of the way finished, with June about to end.

Here’s a timeline of the major news events over the last 178 days.

Jan. 2, 2020: U.S. military strike kills Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani

Jan. 7: Iran retaliates by firing missiles at two Iraqi air bases housing U.S. forces

Jan. 16: House impeachment managers read aloud the impeachment articles against Trump, beginning the Senate trial

Feb. 3: Iowa Democrats hold their caucuses, but no results are released due to widespread reporting and technological problems

Feb. 4: Trump delivers State of the Union address, where he refuses to shake Nancy Pelosi’s hand, and Pelosi rips up Trump’s speech after his remarks

Feb. 5: Senate votes to acquit Trump on the two articles of impeachment, with Mitt Romney joining Democrats in voting that the president was guilty of abusing his power.

Feb. 7: Democrats participate in eighth round of debates from New Hampshire – on the same day as Trump fires Gordon Sondland as EU ambassador and removed Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman from White House post.

Feb. 9: Iowa Democratic Party — at last — releases its final delegate hauls from the caucuses, with Pete Buttigieg (14 pledged delegates to the convention) narrowly edging Bernie Sanders (12 pledged delegates).

Feb. 11: Sanders edges Buttigieg in New Hampshire primary, with Amy Klobuchar coming in a close third; Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden finish fourth and fifth, respectively

Feb. 19: Democrats hold their ninth presidential debate in Las Vegas, with Michael Bloomberg making his first appearance (to very unflattering reviews)

Feb. 22: Sanders easily wins the Nevada caucuses

Feb. 25: Rivals pile on Sanders and Bloomberg at the 10th Democratic debate in South Carolina

Feb. 26: Jim Clyburn endorses Biden

Feb. 29: Biden wins the South Carolina primary

March 2: Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Beto O'Rourke endorse Biden in Texas

March 3: On Super Tuesday, Biden emerges with more pledged delegates than Sanders

March 4: Bloomberg drops out of the 2020 race

March 5: Warren suspends her campaign

March 11: Trump addresses the nation as the number of U.S. coronavirus deaths crosses 20; the NBA suspends its season after a player tests positive; and Tom Hanks and wife Rita Wilson also test positive

March 13: Trump declares a national emergency; Louisville police shoot and kill Breonna Taylor, a Black emergency room technician, in her own home after executing a no-knock warrant

March 15: Biden and Sanders participate in what would be their final debate

March 26: Number of U.S. coronavirus deaths crosses 1,000

March 27: Trump signs $2.2 trillion economic relief bill into law

April 8: Sanders suspends his campaign, making Biden the apparent Dem nominee

April 14: U.S. fatalities from the coronavirus surpass 25,000

April 29: U.S. fatalities from the coronavirus surpass the U.S. death toll from the Vietnam War (58,220)

May 5: Graphic video is published of the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed Black man who was jogging in a Georgia neighborhood when he was confronted by two white men

May 7: U.S. fatalities from the coronavirus surpass 75,000

May 8: Unemployment rate spikes from 4.4 percent to 14.7 percent, with a record number of 20.5 million jobs lost in April

May 11: At a White House event on the coronavirus, Trump declares: "We have met the moment and we have prevailed." (When asked later if he was declaring it "Mission Accomplished, “Trump says he was talking about testing.)

May 12: GOP wins special election in competitive CA-25 district

May 25: George Floyd, an African-American man, is killed after a police officer put his knee on Floyd’s throat, later setting off protests all over the country

May 27: U.S. fatalities from the coronavirus surpass 100,000

June 1: Police use tear gas/pepper spray and flash bangs against peaceful protesters outside the White House to clear the crowd for Trump to do a photo-op at St. John's church

June 3: Former Trump Defense Secretary Jim Mattis criticizes Trump: “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people-does not even pretend to try. Instead, he tries to divide us.”

June 5: Unemployment rate falls to 13.3 percent, with the economy adding 2.5 million jobs in May

June 6: Biden secures enough pledged delegates to clinch Democratic presidential nomination, becoming the party’s presumptive nominee

June 15: In 6-3 decision, U.S. Supreme Court rules that the 1964 civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination

June 17: First excerpts and reports of the book by former Trump national security adviser John Bolton are released, which alleges that Trump asked China for assistance in his re-election effort

June 18: Supreme Court rules against Trump's effort to shut down the DACA program

June 20: Trump holds a political rally in Tulsa on the day the U.S. coronavirus death toll surpasses 120,000

Talking policy with Benjy: School’s out — forever?

Want to know where the presidential campaign is headed in the fall? How about the economic recovery?

Your best bet is to look to schools, NBC’s Benjy Sarlin writes. Whether students can return to class is arguably the single biggest unanswered policy question of the pandemic, with impacts on health, business, inequality and elections.

So far, many school districts are weighing a hybrid approach, in which students would spend some days learning from home and some days in the classroom in order to reduce crowding. Fairfax County, Virginia, one of the largest school districts in the country, just told parents it can only guarantee two full days of in-person classes per week.

But the more kids are stuck at home, the harder it is for their parents to return to work, which could put a brake on the economic recovery. It’s also the most predictable political crisis of the election, as stressed-out parents are sure to demand answers from elected officials at every level.

"It’s going to be a major issue,” Rory Cooper, managing director of Purple Strategies and a former House GOP aide, said. "If you can't go to work, if your kid isn't learning, if you are worried about the social effects, then you're probably going to be less favorable to incumbents.”

If President Trump, who has campaigned on a rapid return to normalcy, can’t get ahead of the issue early it could come back to bite him. With just weeks before classes typically begin in many states, education advocacy groups are asking for $250 billion in funds to prop up school budgets and implement new safety measures. But so far, the White House has been slow to name a plan for the next relief bill.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

2,436,326: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 40,511 more cases than yesterday morning.)

125,073: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 2,412 more than yesterday morning.)

29.21 million: The number of coronavirus tests that have been administered in the United States so far, according to researchers at The COVID Tracking Project.

10 times higher than reported: The possible real number of coronavirus cases in the United States, according to a new antibody test analysis from the CDC.

31 percent: The share of Black Americans who know someone who has died of Covid-19, compared with just 9 percent of whites, per a Washington Post-Ipsos poll.

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Booker takes the lead in Kentucky

In Kentucky’s Democratic Senate primary, Charles Booker now leads Amy McGrath, 44 percent to 40 percent.

But here’s the big story: As of this Friday morning, just 12 percent of the estimated vote is in — due to the slow counting of mail-in ballots.

House Dems pass their police reform bill

The Democratic-led House passed its police reform bill on Thursday night, with every Democratic member voting yes, and three Republicans joining: Texas Rep. Will Hurd, Michigan Rep. Fred Upton and Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. But it’s unknown if the Senate will pick up the House’s bill, given its own bumps to passing a police reform legislation (and the upcoming Fourth of July recess).

House Republicans panned the Democrats’ handling of the bill, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy questioning the point of the Democrats’ legislation: “When I looked George Floyd’s brother in the eye and told him that George will not have died in vain, I meant it. To those on the other side of the aisle: I believe you meant it, too, but there's questions that arise. Did you work in good faith across the aisle? Or did you choose to go it alone? Did you choose to make a point rather than make a difference?”

Pelosi, though, said it would be a “moral failure” to pass anything less than what the Democratic bill encompasses: "Their proposal, Senate proposal mimics the words of real reform but takes no action to make any difference. It is inadequate and unworthy of support. During this moment of action — anguish — during this moment of anguish, which we want to turn into action, it would be a moral failure to accept anything less than transformational change.”

The Lid: Risky business

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we checked in on the partisan divide on coronavirus risks and safety measures.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Trump administration is formally asking the Supreme Court to strike down Obamacare.

The House has passed its version of sweeping police reform legislation.

What’s really going on with the China trade deal?

As Joe Biden weighs who will be his VP, his wife Jill is by his side.

A New York state judge is throwing out a case that aimed to block Trump’s niece Mary from publishing her tell-all book.

Biden is getting a boost from all the Democratic state attorneys general.