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Trump's inaction after George Floyd's death speaks louder than words

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.
President Donald Trump listens at a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House on March 23, 2020.Brendan Smialowski / AFP - Getty Images file

WASHINGTON — With more than 100,000 dead from the coronavirus, with some 40 million Americans having filed for unemployment benefits and with many of America’s major cities in flames, President Trump this Monday has just three events on his schedule.

A meeting with Attorney General William Barr, a video teleconference with governors and law-enforcement officials, and lunch with Vice President Pence — all closed to the press.

That’s it.

The day before, Trump had no events. On Saturday, he attended the SpaceX rocket launch in Florida, where he did make prepared remarks about George Floyd’s death. And on Friday, NBC News has confirmed, Secret Service took the president to an underground bunker — the same one that Dick Cheney used during 9/11 — amid the protests outside the White House.

Compare that activity (or lack thereof) from the president of the United States with the statements from business leaders, athletes and other politicians who have condemned Floyd’s death, systemic racism and the state of policing in America.

Instead, Trump spent much of his weekend firing off tweets like these:


“The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization.”

“The Lamestream Media is doing everything within their power to foment hatred and anarchy. As long as everybody understands what they are doing, that they are FAKE NEWS and truly bad people with a sick agenda, we can easily work through them to GREATNESS!” he added.

In addition, a top White House adviser said yesterday that he doesn’t believe there’s systemic racism in law enforcement.

NBC's Shannon Pettypiece, Monica Alba and Kristen Welker report that Trump has dismissed advice from allies to tone down his rhetoric and has so far resisted delivering a formal address to the nation.

“What I'd like to hear from the president is leadership. And I would like to hear a genuine care and concern for our communities and where we are with race relations in America,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on “Meet the Press” yesterday.

But Lance Bottoms also acknowledged the limits of Trump’s words and actions.

“We know that when he spoke on Charlottesville, he made the matter worse. And we're already — we’re well-beyond the tipping point in America. And it's as my grandmother used to say, ‘If you don't have anything good to say, sometimes you just shouldn't say anything at all.’”

Tweet of the day

Biden’s clear contrast with Trump

Trump’s relative inaction over these tumultuous last 72 hours in American politics has given Joe Biden a clear opening to offer a clear contrast.

Today, in Wilmington, Del., Biden will meet with community leaders to discuss Floyd’s killing and the unrest, and he later holds a virtual roundtable discussion with mayors, per NBC’s Marianna Sotomayor.

Yesterday, Biden toured damage from the protests in Wilmington, and he posted this tweet:

“We are a nation in pain right now, but we must not allow this pain to destroy us. As President, I will help lead this conversation — and more importantly, I will listen, just as I did today visiting the site of last night's protests in Wilmington.”

Bottom line: There’s a vacuum in leadership right now that others are seizing on — whether it’s Biden, businesses or prominent athletes.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

1,793,129: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 64,854 more than Friday morning.)

104,842: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 2,801 more than Friday morning).

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

57 percent: The share of Americans in a Washington Post-ABC poll over the weekend who say that trying to control the spread of coronavirus is most important now despite the economic toll.

67 percent: The share of Americans in a 2019 Pew Research Center poll who said that black people are treated less fairly than white people in dealing with the police.

44: The number of people who have been rendered unconscious by Minneapolis police due to neck restraints in the last five years.

Six-in-ten: The share of registered voters who say they plan to vote early this year, either by mail or in person

2020 Vision: How George Floyd’s death affects Biden’s VP search

Over the weekend, NBC’s Mike Memoli and Kristen Welker wrote that the aftermath of George Floyd’s death could very well recalibrate Biden’s search for a running mate.

“The stakes are highest for one Democrat who has long seen as a potential favorite of Biden — Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. Her handling of police-involved cases — like the one now sparking unrest in Minneapolis — has been branded as disqualifying for some.”

“On the other end of the spectrum is Florida Rep. Val Demings, an African American and former Orlando police chief whose public profile grew after serving as a House impeachment manager earlier this year. She penned an op-ed for the Washington Post Friday in which she wrote, ‘as a former woman in blue, let me begin with my brothers and sisters in blue: What in the hell are you doing?’”

Ad watch from Ben Kamisar

Today’s ad watch heads to Iowa, where Democrats have a pivotal primary tomorrow aimed at deciding who will take on Joni Ernst in the fall.

The race has been dominated by outside spending supporting Democrat Theresa Greenfield, who has the backing of some high-profile groups like the DSCC and NARAL, as well as high-profile lawmakers like Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg.

Two of the top ads in Advertising Analytics’ ad tracker for the race are spots by Women Vote!, a PAC associated with EMILY’s List, which take aim at Greenfield’s top competitors, Michael Franken and Eddie Mauro.

In the past seven days, Women Vote!, Senate Majority PAC (also backing Greenfield) and Greenfield’s campaign have spent almost $1.8 million on TV, Advertising Analytics shows. Franken and Mauro have spent just $165,000.

The big spending and influx of attack ads aimed at boosting Greenfield come in a race that has an uncommon wrinkle — if no candidate reaches 35 percent of the vote on Tuesday, the party will choose its nominee at its convention. So Greenfield and her allies are trying to flood the zone in the race’s final days in the hopes of wrapping things up for good on Tuesday.

House Democrats offer resolution condemning police brutality

After a weekend of protests and bloodshed across the country, a group of House Democrats -- Reps. Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Karen Bass and Barbara Lee – introduced a resolution to condemn police brutality.

Hawaii Sen. Brian Schatz also tweeted that he will “be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to discontinue the program that transfers military weaponry to local police departments.”

The Lid: Even-Steven over the airwaves

Don’t miss the pod from Friday, when we looked at how the TV/radio ad spending in the presidential race has been essentially tied so far during the general election.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

The Washington Post notes that House Republicans don’t seem to be in a strong position to win back their 2018 losses.

The weekend’s unrest has presented new challenges for Biden as he works to shore up support among younger voters of color.

Trump is pushing back the G7 until at least September — and he wants to expand it to include Russia.

The New York Times spoke to nearly 100 friends, relatives and colleagues of Tara Reade.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s daughter was arrested during the protests Saturday night.