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Trump's views on race have been remarkably consistent for decades

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: President Donald Trump arrives for a roundtable with faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and small business owners at Gateway Church Dallas Campus in Dalla
President Donald Trump arrives for a roundtable with faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and small business owners at Gateway Church Dallas Campus in Dallas, on June 11, 2020.Nicholas Kamm / AFP - Getty Images

WASHINGTON — For someone who’s been prone to deliver mixed messages on policy and take multiple positions on issues, President Trump has almost always been on the same consistent side when it comes to race.

This week alone, he defended military bases named after Confederate generals, and he announced he would restart his campaign rallies in Tulsa — the site of a 1921 massacre of black citizens by a white mob — on Juneteenth.

In the past month, when the protests over George Floyd’s death first began, he tweeted about “THUGS” and warned that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Earlier as president, he attacked Colin Kaepernick and protesting NFL players ("Get that son of a bitch off the field right now”); he referred to the Baltimore-area district represented by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings as a “disgusting, rat and rodent infested mess”; he did pretty much the same to Rep. John Lewis’ Atlanta district; and he talked about Haiti and African nations as “sh--hole countries.”

And before he became president, Trump led the “birther” crusade against Barack Obama; he began his 2016 campaign assailing Mexican “rapists”; he retweeted fake statistics spread by white supremacists falsely claiming that black criminals disproportionately prey on whites; and he called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five — five African-American and Latino men who, as teenagers, were wrongly convicted of raping a jogger.

So not only is Trump currently bucking much of the shifting corporate and cultural views on race, as the New York Times writes this morning.

This is who he is — and has always been.

To be sure, Trump can claim his work on criminal-justice reform, he can cite falling unemployment statistics for African Americans (which is no longer true), and he can criticize his opponents’ gaffes and own records on race.

But what remains remarkable is just how consistent Trump has been on the subject.

Over all of these years.

Trump: “We have to take care of our police”

And Trump’s consistent instinct also puts him at odds with the congressional work — by both Democrats and Republicans — on police reform.

“Trump [yesterday] offered some broad outlines of the steps he might embrace to answer the national demand for action. He told the roundtable participants he was working on an executive order to ‘encourage police departments nationwide to meet the most current professional standards for the use of force, including tactics for de-escalation,’” the Washington Post writes.

But: “He defended police officers and slammed calls to ‘defund’ them, saying it means people want to get rid of law enforcement. Most advocates use the term to mean the reallocation of police budgets to social services including housing and education.”

“‘We have to respect our police. We have to take care of our police. They’re protecting us. And if they’re allowed to do their job, they’ll do a great job,’ Trump said. ‘And you always have a bad apple. No matter where you go, you have bad apples and there not too many of them.’”

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

2,033,845: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 22,998 more than yesterday morning.)

114,570: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 899 more than yesterday morning).

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

Nearly 7 percent: Yesterday’s plunge in the Dow amid concerns of a coronavirus resurgence.

43 percent: The share of men and women on active duty in the United States military who are people of color, as the nation debates renaming military bases named for Confederate leaders

13: The number of police officers caught hanging out and napping in Rep. Bobby Rush’s Chicago campaign office (without his knowledge) as looting raged outside two weeks ago.

$511 billion: The amount of taxpayer-funded coronavirus recovery loans for which the Trump administration now says it will not publicly release recipients

Tweet of the day

2020 Vision: Biden unveils his plan to reopen the economy

“Joe Biden on Thursday blasted President Donald Trump for failing to offer a comprehensive plan on how to reopen the economy amid the coronavirus pandemic, while also unveiling his own proposals on how to do so safely,” per NBC News.

“Under Biden’s plan, the federal government would, he said, provide and pay for COVID-19 tests ‘for every worker called back to work’ and would ‘ensure access’ to all workers to personal protective equipment. Biden also promised that workers and unions would ‘have a voice’ in any reopening plans put forth by the federal government and said his administration would offer federal paid leave for workers that become sick with the virus.”

Ad Watch from Ben Kamisar

The Trump campaign had two ads up on the airwaves Thursday, according to Advertising Analytics, and they couldn’t be more different.

There’s the positive one that touts the May job gains and declares the “Great American comeback has begun.” That’s the one the campaign has spent millions of dollars on in recent weeks.

And then there’s the spot they rolled out Thursday, a dark spot that reads like a mashup of the president’s Twitter feed in recent days. The ad features footage of violent rioting, a video of Joe Biden kneeling, criticism of the push to “Defund the Police,” and the claim that Biden would bring “chaos” to American cities, before a pivot to President Trump, shrouded in light, keeping Americans safe, protecting minority-owned businesses and standing for the flag.

It’s a reminder of the yin and the yang of Trump’s 2020 messaging — that while many Republicans want Trump to keep his eyes on the economy and the positive message going into November, there’s always been some real temptation toward the negative

GOP senators break with Trump on honoring Confederate generals

The president has made clear that he believes in keeping Confederate statues erect and keeping military bases named after Confederate generals. But his Senate Republican colleagues aren’t on the same page.

The Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee approved a proposal to strip Confederate names from military bases and other Defense Department facilities. Per our Hill team: “The proposal includes a plan to set up a commission to get input from states and local governments where the bases are located. And there are exceptions, including headstones at Arlington National Cemetery and any assets named for Confederates who later served in wars as part of the U.S. Army after the Civil War.” You can read more about that here.

And Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford had this to say to reporters about statues: “A lot of those statues and monuments were put there to kind of declare, ‘We’re not going to integrate.'... For those that were digging in during the time of Jim Crow, they need to know that time has passed.”

The Lid: Point of pride

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we checked in with public opinion about LGBT issues.

Shameless plug: The Playbook

NBC News’ Lester Holt will anchor The Playbook, a Dateline NBC in-depth and comprehensive special look at whether the coronavirus pandemic that tore through the United States could have been contained or slowed had government agencies responded differently. It airs this Saturday, June 13 at 8p.m. ET.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

Protestors in Seattle have set up an “autonomous zone” in a part of the city where police evacuated their precinct amid protests.

The Trump administration is sanctioning officials at the International Criminal Court who are investigating U.S. personnel.

The Senate Judiciary Committee approved more than 50 subpoenas in its investigation of the Mueller probe.

A former U.S. government spokesman has pleaded guilty to a scam in which he cheated companies out of more than $4 million by claiming he was working on a top-secret CIA project.

Border officials spent some of the humanitarian aid meant to go to migrant families on things like dirt bikes and ATVs instead.

NBC has now called the Georgia Senate contest for Jon Ossoff.

And a QAnon believer is favored to win a U.S. House seat in Georgia.

Keep an eye on Saturday’s drive-thru convention in Virginia, where a GOP congressman could get ousted over his officiation of a same-sex wedding.