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2020 Daily Trail Markers: Biden meets with George Floyd's family

After George Floyd's death while in police custody, a debate has emerged on how to change policing in America for the better. One proposed idea by progressives is to defund police departments. In turn, "defund the police" has become a rallying cry for protesters in the streets. But the mantra is vague and sometimes it refers to complete police abolishment while others suggest reorganizing some police funds to other community programs. In an exclusive interview with Norah O'Donnell, anchor and managing editor of "CBS Evening News," Joe Biden clarified on Monday that he does not support defunding police departments. "I don't support defunding the police," Biden told O'Donnell. "I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community." On Thursday, Biden was less definitive and said defunding police departments "depends on the community."

More of O'Donnell's interview with Biden will air Tuesday, June 9 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT during CBS News' "Justice for All," a one-hour primetime special.

Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, met with George Floyd's family members in Houston, Texas, on Monday ahead of Floyd's funeral on Tuesday. The Bidens were invited to the funeral service on Tuesday but a Biden campaign official told CBS News they did not want to cause any distraction with their ever-growing footprint of Secret Service and staff. Biden told O'Donnell that he sympathized with the Floyd family's grief. "It's hard enough to grieve, but it's much harder to do it in public," Biden said,  "It's much harder with the whole world watchin' you." Biden noted George Floyd's young daughter was in attendance and quoted her last week saying her father was "gonna change the world." "I think her daddy is gonna change the world," Biden said, "I think what's happened is one of those great inflection points in American history, for real in terms of civil liberty, civil rights, and… just treating people with dignity."

Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family's attorney, said the former vice president spent more than an hour with Floyd's family members. "He listened, heard their pain, and shared in their woe. That compassion meant the world to this grieving family," Crump tweeted. Read more here from CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson and reporter Melissa Quinn on how Biden envisions reforming policing in America.



Biden's campaign is launching a nationwide voter outreach effort in June to coincide with Pride Month and engage millions of LGBTQ voters ahead of the November presidential election, campaign officials tell CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson. The coordinated outreach — dubbed "Out for Biden"— will target the estimated 11 million LGBTQ voters throughout the country, with a focus on racking up support in battleground states. About 50% of registered LGBTQ voters are Democrats, while 15% are Republicans, according to a study by UCLA School of Law's Williams Institute last year. These voters are racially diverse and also tend to be younger. About one fifth of LGBTQ adults aren't registered to vote.  


President Trump plans to resume campaign rallies within the next two weeks, CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga confirms. The news was first reported by Politico. Trump campaign advisers are still determining locations for the rallies, as well as safety measures to implement. Mr. Trump's campaign manager Brad Parscale is expected to present the president with possibilities within the next few days. Campaign officials anticipate blowback in light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but believe recent protests in large cities will make it harder for democrats to lodge criticism. "Americans are ready to get back to action and so is President Trump," Parscale said in a statement. "The great American comeback is real and the rallies will be tremendous. You'll again see the kind of crowds and enthusiasm that sleepy Joe Biden can only dream of."

Mr. Trump met Monday with a group of law enforcement officials at the White House, following nationwide protests demanding police reform. "This has been a very strong year for less crime," Mr. Trump said. "There's a reason we have less crime. That's because we have great law enforcement in the country." The president did not address issues of systemic racism directly, but heard from police chiefs nationwide about possible reform. Asked if he believes there is systemic racism in the country, Mr. Trump's campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told reporters on Monday, "I think there are people who have bad attitudes to certain segments of our society in all organizations and with police. We know that the vast, vast majority of police officers of all colors, men and women, are good members of the community who risk their lives every single day to go out and protect our neighborhoods." Murtaugh pressed former Biden to clarify his position. "Biden has made only a passing reference to the violence in our cities and has barely mentioned the attacks on police at all. As the protesters like to say, 'Silence is agreement.' By his silence, Joe Biden is endorsing defunding the police." Biden's campaign released a statement Monday afternoon saying he does not support defunding of police. 

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters gathered in the White House briefing room on Monday that the president is "appalled by the defund the police movement." McEnany later noted the president has ordered an expedited civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd. "He definitely believes there are instances of racism. But look, he believes that our law enforcement are the best in the world, he believes that by and large they are good people," said McEnany. Asked if the president believes there is systemic racism in the United States, she responded, "[President Trump] believes most of our police officers are good hard-working people. There is a lot of evidence of that and he has great faith in our police department." The president has not yet reviewed the "Justice in Policing Act" legislation set forth by 200 sponsors in the House and Senate that that would ban chokeholds and "no-knock warrants" in drug cases.



CBS News was first to report Sunday that the PAC started by former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro made the first endorsements for candidates he says are committed to "fighting for reform to our broken criminal justice system." Last year, Castro, a housing secretary under President Obama, was the first 2020 Democratic candidate to introduce a plan for reforming police departments and has since started a political action committee dedicated to supporting policing reform. His PAC, "People First Future," endorsed Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, George Gascón, candidate for Los Angeles County District Attorney, José Garza, candidate for Travis County, Texas, District Attorney and Cook County, Illinois, State's Attorney Kim Foxx. Pressley and Foxx are incumbents, while Gascón will face off against incumbent D.A. Jackie Lacey on November 3. Garza, who received the most votes in the primary, faces incumbent D.A. Margaret Moore in a May 26 runoff. The endorsements are part of the People First Policing initiative. "I'm excited to see the energy and the passion that's formed around police reform and criminal justice reform that will ensure that what happened to George Floyd doesn't happen again," Castro said in an interview with CBS News campaign reporter Tim Perry. "It's important if we're going to deeply reform our policing system, that we do it at the national level, the state level and the local level. And that's why I'm proud that we're supporting a number of candidates for D.A., as well as a fantastic Congresswoman, like Ayanna Pressley, who is already leading at the national level by introducing some substantial reforms to policing in this country." Castro's endorsements come as the nation is embroiled in protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.



Republican National Committee officials, including GOP convention president and CEO Marcia Lee Kelly, are touring Savannah on Monday for an official site visit as they look for a city to host Mr. Trump's nomination acceptance speech in August, reports CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. The full convention was originally scheduled to be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, in August, but the state's Governor Roy Cooper has not given the committee the assurances it wants for allowing a full convention crowd for Mr. Trump's acceptance speech due to the current pandemic. Kelly will be taking a look at the Savannah Convention Center with city officials and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, who welcomes hosting the convention. They will also be visiting Savannah's historic district and will scout key hotels with close proximity to the convention center. In a statement to CBS News, the governor's office said they "are honored to offer a truly unmatched experience to the Republican National Convention. With world-renowned Southern hospitality, first-class facilities, and a top-notch workforce, 'The Hostess City of the South' will leave a lasting impression on Marcia Lee Kelly and her team." CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin reports that representatives from the RNC will tour a variety of sites in the metro Phoenix area Tuesday, including the Gila River Arena. RNC officials are also expected to visit Dallas later this week.



According to CBS News polling released Monday, Americans overwhelming support allowing immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children to stay, notes CBS News political unit associate producer Eleanor Watson. The poll comes as a case before the Supreme Court will decide whether to uphold the Trump administration's decision to end the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). A large majority of Republicans and almost all Democrats support letting these immigrants, known as Dreamers, stay. There is majority support for DACA despite differing views on immigrants' overall impact on society. According to the poll, just 34% of Republicans think immigrants make society better whereas 72% of Democrats said society is better off because of immigrants. The more decisive voting issue in the polling is abortion. Even though a majority (63%) of Americans want to keep Roe vs. Wade as it is, those who support overturning it and those who say abortion should not be permitted find the issue a deal breaker. Over 40% of Americans say the issue is so important that they would not vote for a candidate who disagrees with them on access. The Supreme Court heard arguments in March that could have impacts on access to abortion.



An environmental group has reserved $1.5 million in ad time opposing Arizona Republican Senator Martha McSally, adding yet another spot to a race already nearing $63 million total in ad buys, per Kantar/CMAG data. The LCV Victory Fund says their ad, hitting the airwaves on June 23rd, will spotlight how McSally "sides with Trump and big polluters." CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin says the announcement comes as McSally says she is launching a new ad of her own that asks "who will hold China accountable?" Politico reports that Democrat Mark Kelly's challenge to McSally in Arizona has sparked worries even up at the White House, as McSally has repeatedly trailed Kelly in polls of a state where Trump won by nearly four points in 2016.


The pro-Democrat American Bridge PAC announced Monday it's launching a new wave of advertising in battleground states focused on seniors and small-town rural voters, according to CBS News political unit associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. The $20 million, 10-week spending blitz called The Swing County Project begins this week with TV and radio buys in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin and will run through the end of August. American Bridge PAC will also soon be adding digital buys as well. The first ad spots feature two senior citizens from Pennsylvania and Wisconsin who previously voted for Mr. Trump in 2016 but are planning to vote for Joe Biden in 2020. "Joe Biden understands how the government works and I trust him," says Janie from Pennsylvania in a 60-second spot. "I wouldn't bet my life on the next three things that come out of Donald Trump's mouth," says Vietnam veteran John from Wisconsin. According to American Bridge President Bradley Beychok, the new ad campaign builds on their strategy of lifting up voices and having neighbors talk to neighbors about why they are no longer supporting Mr. Trump. In a statement, Beychok claimed the effort is "already moving the needle in places [Trump] can't afford to lose."



Gyms, bars, restaurants, campgrounds and much more can open as early as this Friday in California pending approval from local county officials, reports CBS News campaign reporter Musadiq Bidar. Music, film, and television studios can resume production and professional sporting events without audiences will also be allowed. But state officials are urging caution, just as they have in the past, that guidance for specific sectors of the economy to reopen doesn't mean they should. "Just because some businesses are opening doesn't mean your risk for COVID-19 is gone," said Dr. Sonia Angel, Director of the California Department of Public Health in a statement late Friday night. California officials have also laid out plans for schools returning in the fall. Part of that includes the state distributing millions of face shields, masks, and thousands of gallons of hand sanitizer to public and private schools. Looking ahead, despite caution from public health officials, California is set to enter phase three of its four-phased reopening plan this weekend after months of lockdown because of the coronavirus.


Republicans in Nevada announced over the weekend they would be taking their state convention virtual this week, as their Democratic counterparts in Nevada and state parties around the country have done. CBS news campaign reporter Alex Tin says the party's chairman Michael McDonald blamed state regulators and the governor's office for failing to approve the event, despite efforts to accommodate "arbitrary and capricious" requirements. But in an email, a spokesperson for Nevada's Governor Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, said authorities only recommended they "read the current emergency directive for restrictions on gatherings," adding: "any accusation stating otherwise is false."


Members of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus took the rostrum in the state House chamber to call for police reform Monday as the day's session was set to begin, reports CBS News campaign reporter Zak Hudak. "Until we start moving on the bills that we need to change the way we do policing in Pennsylvania, we will not be moving," State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta said. The state's official legislature feed didn't show the scene, but video live streamed to Twitter by Kenyatta showed a "Black Lives Matter" banner held at the front of the room as legislators took the podium to speak about protests and the death of George Floyd. They demanded that the House move forward on the slew of police reform bills proposed over the last year.  "You don't have to agree with the bill. You can vote no. That's your right. If we had no bills that address the pandemic, people would be wondering, are we doing our job?" said State Representative Christopher M. Rabb. "And yet we're not moving at all on the epidemic of police violence." State Representative Stephen Kinsey, the chairman of the Caucus, asked everyone in the room to kneel in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to remember Floyd. After several black Democratic legislators spoke, video posted by Kenyatta showed Speaker Mike Turzai take the podium. He said he would support calling a special session on police reform and scheduled an afternoon meeting between party leadership to discuss how to move forward. 


A conservative law firm filed a request with the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) today asking commissioners to adopt a rule prohibiting third parties from collecting absentee ballots to be returned, a process more commonly known as ballot harvesting. CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster says the request, filed by the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL), is asking the WEC to make it clear ballot harvesting isn't allowed, except for limited circumstances described in state law. They want to make sure that third parties can't request absentee ballots for someone else, put ballots in the mail for voters or return them in person on someone's behalf. They argue that ballot harvesting isn't legal in Wisconsin, but say there needs to be an explicit rule to make that clear. WILL's president Rick Esenberg told WISN radio on Monday that if the commission doesn't adopt the rule, his group may bring a lawsuit. Courtney Beyer, communications director for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, tweeted that some people volunteered to pick up and deliver absentee ballots during the April election "because people were afraid of being exposed to coronavirus." Beyer added, "Republicans are clearly desperate to disenfranchise as many voters as possible." The WEC approved a plan in May to mail absentee ballot requests to 2.7 million voters. They are meeting Wednesday to approve a letter that's scheduled to be mailed out with those forms.



Five states (Georgia, North Dakota, Nevada, South Carolina and West Virginia) have House primaries on Tuesday. For Republicans, it's an opportunity to establish their candidate in places Trump won in 2016, the districts they'll need to flip the House. In South Carolina, Joe Cunningham's 1st district is a top target for House GOP groups, reports CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro. State Representative Nancy Mace and City Councilwoman Kathy Landing are the frontrunners for the Republican nomination, though two other candidates ("Bikers for Trump" founder Chris Cox and housing administrator Brad Mole) could draw enough votes to send it into a runoff. National Republicans also have targeted Democrat Lucy McBath's Georgia 6th district, where Karen Handel is looking to get through a crowded Republican field on Tuesday and set herself up for a rematch. Handel represented this seat for 18 months after a 2017 special election, but lost by 1 point to McBath in 2018. An open seat in Georgia's 7th will also be one to watch, as 2018 Democratic candidate Carolyn Bordeaux has a primary with state senator Zahra Karinshak and Nabilah Islam, who has been backed by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Across the aisle, 14 Republicans will duke it out to fill the seat left open by Congressman Ron Woodall.

Mr. Trump formally backed Congressman Representative Mark Amodei ahead of Tuesday's primary for Nevada's second congressional district, among a string of endorsements doled out by the president over the weekend, reports CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin. While the backing is unlikely to be decisive in a primary Amodei was already expected to win handily, the announcement suggests the president has mended fences with the Nevada Republican after he appeared to support the House's impeachment inquiry last year. Amodei had initially been in line to chair Trump's reelection bid in the state, before facing a barrage of criticism for his remarks.



Among the slate of Twitter endorsements from Mr. Trump on Sunday night was one for West Virginia Governor Jim Justice, who Mr. Trump has often referred to as "Big Jim." Ahead of the state's gubernatorial primaries on Tuesday, Mr. Trump tweeted "Unlike Senator Manchin, Big Jim Justice was very loyal to your favorite President during Pelosi's Impeachment Scam... Vote for Big Jim!" Justice won as a Democrat in 2016, but later switched to the Republican party the next year alongside the president at a rally. Businessman Woody Thrasher is challenging Justice for the GOP nomination, and prior to the COVID-19 crisis, was gaining ground on Justice in terms in polls. Justice has previously been in hot water with state Republicans, but after his COVID-19 response, the number of cases has stayed low and his polling numbers are stable

The Cook Political Report has rated this race as "Solidly Republican," but two Democrats are currently in a toss up to potentially challenge Justice in November. Stephen Smith leads the pack in fundraising and his grassroots campaign approach has created a "West Virginia Can't Wait" coalition that relies on local support and input for creating his policy proposals. The coalition also has partnered with more than 90 down ballot candidates who have joined a pledge to not take corporate PAC money, cross a picket line or "hide from a debate."  When asked about the populist movement created during his campaign, Smith told CBS News political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro, "You got to keep building power, not just in the ballot box, but in the streets and everywhere else. So that when opportunities come along, you can use that power to try to do good for folks." A mid-May poll had Smith slightly trailing Ben Salango, a county commissioner that's been supported by the state's senior Senator Joe Manchin. In addition to Manchin, multiple first responders associations and the state's AFL-CIO have backed Salango. Salango has pitched himself as a candidate with a "proven track record of creating jobs and diversifying the economy." The state's primary was originally scheduled for May 12, but was postponed and adapted to COVID-19 by sending out absentee ballot applications to all registered voters. At least 262,000 voters have applied for an absentee ballot, according to the Secretary of State's office. North Dakota's Republican Governor Doug Burgum is also facing a primary challenge on Tuesday against Michael Coachman. 

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