Briefs: President Trump ignores causes, dismisses Kenosha protests as 'domestic terrorism'

Associated Press

News briefs for Wednesday

The Associated Press

KENOSHA, Wis. — President Donald Trump stood at the epicenter of the latest eruption over racial injustice Tuesday and came down squarely on the side of law enforcement, blaming "domestic terror" for the violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and making no nod to the underlying cause of anger and protests — the shooting of yet another Black man by police.

Trump declared the violence "anti-American." He did not mention Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed after being shot in the back seven times by an officer last week in Kenosha.

Soon after arriving in the city, a visit made over the objections of state and local leaders, Trump toured the charred remains of a block besieged by violence and fire. With the scent of smoke still in the air, he spoke to the owners of a century-old store that had been destroyed and continued to link the violence to the Democrats, blaming those in charge of Kenosha and Wisconsin while raising apocalyptic warnings if their party should capture the White House.

"These are not acts of peaceful protest but, really, domestic terror," said Trump. And he condemned Democratic officials for not immediately accepting his offer of federal enforcement assistance, claiming, "They just don't want us to come."

The city has been the scene of protests since the Aug. 23 shooting of Blake, who was shot as he tried to get into a car while police were trying to arrest him. Protests have been concentrated in a small area of Kenosha. While there were more than 30 fires set in the first three nights, the situation has calmed since then.

Trump bets presidency on 'law and order' theme

After struggling for much of the year to settle on a clear and concise reelection message, President Donald Trump appears to have found his 2020 rallying cry.

Four years ago, it was "Build the Wall," a simple yet coded mantra to white America that nonwhite outsiders threatened their way of life. This week, Trump has re-centered his campaign on another three-word phrase that carries a similar racial dynamic: "Law and Order."

For much of the summer, the Republican president flirted with the bumper-sticker slogan championed by Richard Nixon and George Wallace in 1968. But Trump sharply increased his focus on law and order after a white police officer in Kenosha, Wisconsin, shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, multiple times last week as Blake's three children watched, sparking protest-related violence. 

The president toured the Midwestern city on Tuesday, meeting with law enforcement officials and businesses affected by the protests. He largely ignored Blake's family.

Trump referred to protest-related violence as "domestic terror" while decrying "violent mobs" that demolished or damaged two dozen local businesses. 

Book: Pence told 'to be on standby' for Trump hospital visit

WASHINGTON — A new book is reviving questions about President Donald Trump's unscheduled visit to Walter Reed military hospital last fall with the revelation that "word went out" for Vice President Mike Pence to stand by to temporarily assume presidential powers if Trump had to receive anesthesia for a medical procedure.

Pence said in an interview Tuesday evening that he doesn't recall being told to be on "standby."

The White House has said the president's November 2019 visit, which raised questions at the time about Trump's health, was part of his routine annual physical, and that the president wanted to get a head start on what typically is an hours-long, head-to-toe exam because he'd be busy this year with campaigning. Trump tweeted Tuesday night that the reason for the visit "was to complete my yearly physical."

A president's routine medical checkup typically is announced ahead of time. 

The White House provided no other details at the time. His White House doctor said in a statement Tuesday the president "remains healthy" and "fit to execute the duties of the presidency." 

Pence said he's always informed about the president's movements, but there was "nothing out of the ordinary about that movement, or that day." He referred other questions to the White House doctor. 

"I don't recall being told to be on standby," Pence said on Fox News Channel's "Special Report with Bret Baier." "I was informed that the president had a doctor's appointment. 

"I gotta tell you, part of this job (as vice president) is you're always on standby," Pence said. "But the American people can be confident that this president is in remarkable good health and every single day I see that energy."

Trump visited Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, about two months after the Democratic-controlled House impeached him over his conduct toward Ukraine.

"In reporting for this book, I learned that in the hours leading up to Trump's trip to the hospital, word went out in the West Wing for the vice president to be on standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily if Trump had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized," Michael Schmidt writes in "Donald Trump v. the United States: Inside the Struggle To Stop A President."

"Pence never assumed the powers of the presidency, and the reason for Trump's trip to the doctor remains a mystery," Schmidt says in the book. Schmidt is a New York Times and Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter.

Migrants trying to reach Europe pushed to deadly Atlantic

FUERTEVENTURA, Spain — The only person who wasn't crying on the boat was 2-year-old Noura. 

Noura's mother, Hawa Diabaté, was fleeing her native Ivory Coast to what she believed was continental Europe. Unlike the 60 adults on board, only Noura was oblivious to the risks of crossing the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean in an overcrowded rubber dinghy. 

As the waves quickly got bigger and people more nervous, Noura told her mother, "Be quiet, mama! Boza, mama! Boza!", Diabaté recalled. The expression is used by sub-Saharan migrants to celebrate a successful crossing.

After several hours in the ocean, it was finally "Boza." Spain's Maritime Rescue Service brought them to safety on one of the Canary Islands. 

Migrants and asylum-seekers are increasingly crossing a treacherous part of the Atlantic Ocean to reach the Canary Islands, a Spanish archipelago near West Africa, in what has become one of the most dangerous routes to European territory. Noura and her mother are among about 4,000 people to have survived the perilous journey this year. 

Large antibody study offers hope for virus vaccine efforts

Antibodies that people make to fight the new coronavirus last for at least four months after diagnosis and do not fade quickly as some earlier reports suggested, scientists have found.

Tuesday's report, from tests on more than 30,000 people in Iceland, is the most extensive work yet on the immune system's response to the virus over time, and is good news for efforts to develop vaccines.

If a vaccine can spur production of long-lasting antibodies as natural infection seems to do, it gives hope that "immunity to this unpredictable and highly contagious virus may not be fleeting," scientists from Harvard University and the U.S. National Institutes of Health wrote in a commentary published with the study in the New England Journal of Medicine.

One of the big mysteries of the pandemic is whether having had the coronavirus helps protect against future infection, and for how long. Some smaller studies previously suggested that antibodies may disappear quickly and that some people with few or no symptoms may not make many at all.

The new study was done by Reykjavik-based deCODE Genetics, a subsidiary of the U.S. biotech company Amgen, with several hospitals, universities and health officials in Iceland. The country tested 15% of its population since late February, when its first COVID-19 cases were detected, giving a solid base for comparisons.

AP FACT CHECK: Trump misstates what happened in Kenosha

President Donald Trump is not waiting for a trial to sort out what happened on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, where prosecutors say a 17-year-old with a semi-automatic rifle fatally shot two men on a night of protest and violence. He's giving an account at odds with the authorities who charged Kyle Rittenhouse with homicide.

In remarks surrounding and during his trip Tuesday to Kenosha, Trump also falsely claimed credit for National Guard deployments that he actually did not authorize. Wisconsin's Democratic governor did. 

TRUMP, asked if was going to condemn the actions of Rittenhouse: "We're looking at all of it. And that was an interesting situation. You saw the same tape as I saw. And he was trying to get away from them, I guess; it looks like. And he fell, and then they very violently attacked him. And it was something that we're looking at right now and it's under investigation. But I guess he was in very big trouble. He would have been — I — he probably would have been killed." — news conference Monday before traveling to Kenosha on Tuesday.

THE FACTS: His implication that Rittenhouse only shot the men after he tripped and they attacked him is wrong. The first fatal shooting happened before Rittenhouse ran away and fell.

Trump did not say whom he meant by "they" — the two men he shot or others in pursuit of him. But he spoke in defense of someone who opposed racial-justice protesters, who authorities say was illegally carrying a semi-automatic rifle and who prosecutors accuse of committing intentional homicide. 

Markey defeats Kennedy III in Massachusetts' Senate primary

BOSTON (AP) — U.S. Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts defeated U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III in Tuesday's hard-fought Democratic primary, harnessing support from progressive leaders to overcome a challenge from a younger rival who is a member of America's most famous political family.

It was the first time a Kennedy has lost a race for Congress in Massachusetts.

Markey appealed to voters in the deeply Democratic state by positioning himself as aligned with the liberal wing of the party. He teamed up with a leading progressive, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the Green New Deal climate change initiative — and at one point labeled Kennedy "a progressive in name only."

That helped Markey overcome the enduring power of the Kennedy name in Massachusetts. The 39-year-old congressman sought to cast the 74-year-old Markey as someone out of touch after spending decades in Congress, first in the House before moving to the Senate.

At a victory celebration in his hometown of Malden, Massachusetts, Markey ticked off a series of priorities, from support for the Black Lives Matter movement to a call for Medicare for All, to combating climate change, a signature issue for Markey.

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