Upcoming rallies show that Trump and his supporters have moved on from coronavirus

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 speaks during a roundtable about America's seniors, in the Cabinet Room of the White House
President Donald Trump speaks during a roundtable about America's seniors, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, June 15, 2020.Evan Vucci / AP

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

WASHINGTON — One of the greatest tricks President Trump has pulled is convincing his base — and some others — that the coronavirus no longer exists.

Or rather, that it’s safe to return to exactly how things were before the virus started to spread inside the United States.

“President Trump is defying Tulsa’s top public health official by pressing ahead with a massive indoor political rally there. Scores of his aides have been reporting to work in their office cubicles at his campaign headquarters. Virtually nobody around the president — neither White House staffers nor Secret Service agents — regularly wears a mask anymore. And social distancing is a thing of the past,” the Washington Post writes.

In fact, there have been more than 2.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. — more than in any other nation.

In four months, nearly 117,000 Americans have died from the virus.

And coronavirus cases are increasing in about two dozen states right now, including in Oklahoma.

It all raises the question: What happens to a country when its president no longer wants to address the crisis that’s staring down the world?

Trump on Monday argued that if Black Lives Matter protests can take place across the country, then so can his indoor rallies.

“The Far Left Fake News Media, which had no Covid problem with the Rioters & Looters destroying Democrat run cities, is trying to Covid Shame us on our big Rallies. Won’t work!” he tweeted yesterday.

But it’s one thing for individuals to venture outside their homes — usually donning masks — to attend a protest that’s outdoors.

It’s another for the president of the United States to ask his supporters to attend a political rally.

Indoors.

With masks as an option.

And in a state that’s not going to decide the 2020 election.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

2,105,928: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 18,621 more than yesterday morning.)

116,797: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far. (That’s 384 more than yesterday morning).

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

12 times: How much more likely a patient with underlying conditions is to die after contracting coronavirus, compared to a healthy person, according to the CDC.

73 percent: The rise in coronavirus-related deaths in prisons since mid-May.

At least 96: The number of U.S. law enforcement agencies that have used some form of tear gas against protestors in recent weeks, according to a New York Times analysis.

About 600: The number of members in a NYPD plainclothes anticrime unit — called the ‘last chapter’ of the “stop and frisk” program — that will now be disbanded.

More than 50: The number of liberal groups who have signed on to a letter criticizing Joe Biden’s response to the protests against police brutality.

$81 million: The amount raised by Joe Biden’s joint presidential campaign last month.

Trump to issue executive order on policing reforms

At noon ET, President Trump will deliver remarks and sign an executive order on policing reforms.

“The package would create a database to track police officers with multiple instances of misconduct and include language encouraging police departments to involve mental health professionals when dealing with issues of homelessness, mental illness and addiction, a senior administration official told reporters,” per NBC News.

More: “The order would also use federal grants to incentivize departments to meet certain certification standards on use of force, the official said. “The measure is intended to ‘have the discussion the country needs to have so we can turn the anger in the country into action and hope,’ the official said.”

And: “Trump is also expected to call on Congress to pass additional legislation, the official said. The executive order doesn't address broader concerns raised by police reform advocates about racism and racial stereotypes in policing.”

The questions we have: Will today’s order be more than the bare minimum?

And how much urgency will he give to congressional action on police reform?

Go fast? Or go slow?

The Senate Republican conference looks to be in no rush to move on police reform before the July 4th recess — even though the bill from a group of Senate Republicans will be released within 48 hours, per our Hill team.

On the wait to take up the measure, Republican Whip Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said he’d “be surprised” if anything moved before the Senate reconvened after Independence Day. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., also a member of Republican leadership, said “it’s hard to imagine” anything would happen before then.

But one of the bill’s architects — Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. — told reporters it would be a “bad decision” for Republicans to wait so long before taking up the bill.

“I’m still certainly going to push that we get it sooner rather than later. If the House is voting next week, I think it is, I think us waiting a month before we vote is a bad decision.”

And for some additional context, our Hill team reports that if the Senate waits until July 20th to put police reform on the floor, they will have a very busy two weeks until they go back on recess for one month in August. McConnell and other Republicans frequently said they will look to do the next coronavirus relief bill during that window.

2020 Vision: Meet Biden VP possibility Susan Rice

In our occasional look at the possible running mates that Joe Biden might pick, today we focus on former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice.

Strengths: She’s a woman of color with an extensive resume and deep connections to the foreign policy community. While never elected to public office, her experience working in the White House on global issues may check a “ready on Day One” box.

Weaknesses: A native of Washington D.C., she wouldn’t offer geographical diversity and may be more vulnerable to perceptions that she’s a D.C. insider. Rice’s primary policy strength, foreign policy, would likely overlap rather than complement Biden’s sense of his own strengths and weaknesses. And she’s never held — or previously run for — any elected office.

Other potential oppo hits: Rice withdrew from consideration to succeed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in 2012, citing the difficulty of the confirmation process in the wake of the Benghazi controversy. Republicans have also recently re-targeted Rice over her disclosure that she requested the internal “unmasking” of senior Trump officials — including Michael Flynn — during the presidential transition in order to better understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York in 2016.

Ad watch from Ben Kamisar

Jamaal Bowman wants to make Eliot Engel eat his words. Bowman’s new spot empties the oppo book on his opponent, pointing to the Atlantic story that highlighted Engel’s decision to spend a significant part of the coronavirus pandemic in Maryland and the hot mic moment where he responded to a discussion about which politicians would get to speak at an event by saying “If I didn’t have a primary, I wouldn’t care.”

New York’s 16th Congressional District Democratic primary is quickly becoming one of the most interesting in the country, and big names are taking notice. Shortly after Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez backed Bowman, the New York Times reported that Hillary Clinton is endorsing Engel.

With just seven days to go until the primary, this one is going to (continue to) be interesting.

Tweet of the day

The Lid: Is this heaven? No, it’s Iowa

Don’t miss the pod from yesterday, when we looked at how Iowa is shaping up to be much more competitive than it looked just a few months ago.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

North Korea has bombed a liaison office in South Korea which handled relations between the two countries.

The police shooting of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta has been ruled a homicide.

The DNC is launching a new ad campaign about Trump’s “descent.”

Rep. Ilhan Omar’s father passed away.

John Hickenlooper is apologizing for a 2014 remark about slaves — and it’s just the latest stumble in for his campaign.

Republicans are considering some kind of “back to work” bonus. But would it work — and will the timing be right?

Government watchdogs are sounding the alarm about a lack of transparency regarding coronavirus bailout programs.

Trump’s pick to head the USPS is a major Trump donor, and he’s facing scrutiny from Democrats.