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D.C. Memo: He did not pray

This week from Washington, the president uses police to attack protestors; Republicans endorse Jason Lewis; and Dean Phillips talks about his PPP legislation.

photo of president trump holding a bible
Protestors were hit with tear gas and flash bangs so the President of the United States could take a photo with a Bible in front of the nearby Saint John’s Episcopal church.
REUTERS/Tom Brenner

Welcome to this week’s edition of the D.C. Memo. This week from Washington, the president uses police to attack protestors; Republicans endorse Jason Lewis; and Dean Phillips talks about his PPP legislation. Let’s get on with this.

A photo-op

On Monday, the Trump administration authorized a violent response to peaceful protests in front of the White House. Protestors were hit with tear gas and flash bangs so the President of the United States could take a photo with a Bible in front of the nearby Saint John’s Episcopal church. He did not read from the Bible, but he did tell Americans what he was holding, “It’s a Bible,” he told reporters. The White House denied that protestors were attacked by police, but a number of journalists filmed the police pushing back protestors.

“He used violent means to ask to be escorted across the park into the courtyard of the church,” Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington told NPR. “He held up his Bible after speaking [an] inflammatory militarized approach to the wounds of our nation.”

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She added: “He did not pray.”

It has been less than two weeks since George Floyd was killed by a police officer. A memorial service is being held for Floyd Thursday. The Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver a eulogy at the memorial.

Since last Monday, Attorney General Keith Ellison has taken over the case. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has been charged with second degree murder. The three other police officers who watched nearby and helped keep Floyd down, have been charged as well.

Chauvin has a history of use-of-force incidents. He had been involved in at least two shootings. In 2007, when Melissa Borton was driving home from the market with her 2 month year old child, Chauvin and another officer dragged her out of her car “without a word.”

Ilhan Omar proposes a new federal agency that will review all deaths in police custody

Rep. Ilhan Omar, who represents the district where Floyd was killed, is in part leading the congressional response. Omar has endorsed several bills already, and proposed four of her own. At the top of her agenda: the creation of a new independent federal agency to review every death in police custody, as well as every officer shooting and use of violent force.

Read more at MinnPost. 

Jason Lewis endorsed

While Minnesotans protested the killing of George Floyd this weekend, the state’s Republican Party endorsed former congressman Jason Lewis for Senate. In the past, Lewis has compared gay people to rapists and said Black people have an “entitlement mentality.”

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Read more at MinnPost.

By the numbers

The two PPP bills

The Senate passed Rep. Dean Phillips’ Paycheck Protection Program loan legislation on Wednesday, and now it is one step closer to becoming law. Phillips’ bill would make it easier for businesses to obtain and use loans meant to help with COVID-19.

“Urgent action is needed to protect lives and livelihoods — which is why House Democrats are pleased that the Senate has passed the PPP Flexibility Act, led by Congressman Dean Phillips, a small business owner,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a statement.

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But Phillips’ other bill, which would have required businesses receiving loans of $2 million to be disclosed, was voted down last week. His bill came under suspension of the House rules — a process usually used to quickly pass non-controversial House bills — and because of that, required a two-thirds vote. Phillips assumed that because he had compromised with Republicans on legislation, it would pass.

“That’s why it was brought up under suspension, with that agreement,” Phillips said  “And something happened in the last couple of days that changed everything and I cannot understand or identify what it is, but I am celebrating the 40 or so Republicans that still voted yes on it.”

The president has actively worked against transparency measures taken by the House, and in recent weeks has fired five watchdog officials meant to review agency spending.

I asked Phillips if he could specify what exactly happened to the bill. He just said: “It’s worth digging into.”

In other news

Quote of the week

“I know I can’t come back from this. But this can be replaced. George’s life cannot. George’s life was more important. That man that got killed in the most inhumane way. I hope he gets justice,” Safia Munye, the owner of Mama Safia’s Kitchen in South Minneapolis, said after her restaurant was burned down. 

What I’m reading

Linda Tirado for the New Republic: Police Blinded Me in One Eye. I Can Still See Why My Country’s on Fire

Linda Tirado, the journalist who lost an eye to police last week, tells us what happened to her isn’t the point; it’s what happened to George Floyd and the pain the country is feeling, that we should be paying attention to.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for sticking around. Until next week, feel free to send tips, suggestions, and sound advice to: gschneider@minnpost.com. Follow at @gabemschneider. And don’t forget to become a MinnPost member.