In an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, President Trump said the killing of George Floyd was "terrible" but appeared to bristle when asked why Black Americans are "still dying at the hands of law enforcement in this country."
"So are White people. So are White people. What a terrible question to ask. So are White people," Mr. Trump told CBS News senior investigative correspondent Catherine Herridge at the White House. "More White people, by the way. More White people."
CBS News political reporter Grace Segers reports that police departments are not required to report comprehensive data on police killings, but researchers have compiled statistics showing Black Americans are more likely to die at the hands of law enforcement than White people. One study published in 2018 found that Black men are roughly 3.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than White men. Another study released in 2019 found that 1 in 1,000 Black men in the U.S. can expect to die at the hands of police over the course of their lifetimes.
A study by Harvard researchers published in late June found that the number of White people killed by the police between 2013 and 2017 was higher than any other demographic. But White people constitute a larger portion of the population than Black people, and the study also showed that Black people were three times more likely to be killed by law enforcement officers than White Americans.
Mr. Trump's comments come after weeks of nationwide protests against police brutality and racial violence instigated by the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man who was killed in Minneapolis after a White police officer pressed a knee to his neck for almost nine minutes. Mr. Trump said he believed Floyd's death was "terrible" in the interview with Herridge.
Mr. Trump's critics have accused him of overtly appealing to white supremacists through his continued defense of the Confederate flag and statues of Confederate officials. Mr. Trump said in Tuesday's interview that he believed the debate over the flag is a freedom of speech issue. "All I say is freedom of speech. It's very simple. My attitude is freedom of speech. Very strong views on the Confederate flag. With me, it's freedom of speech. Very simple. Like it, don't like it, it's freedom of speech," Mr. Trump said. He previously said in 2015 that he believed the Confederate flag should be in a museum.
When asked if he would be "comfortable" with supporters displaying the Confederate flag at his campaign events, Mr. Trump demurred. "You know, it depends on what your definition is. But I am comfortable with freedom of speech. It's very simple," Mr. Trump said.
Herridge pressed the president on whether he understood "why the flag is a painful symbol for many people because it's a reminder of slavery." "Well, people love it and I don't view — I know people that like the Confederate flag and they're not thinking about slavery. I look at NASCAR — you go to NASCAR, you had those flags all over the place. They stopped it," Mr. Trump said, referring to the decision by NASCAR to ban the Confederate flag from its events. The president has also criticized Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's only Black full-time driver, saying Wallace should apologize for an incident involving a noose that was discovered in his garage stall at a speedway in Alabama. "I just think it's freedom of speech, whether it's freedom of speech, whether it's Confederate flags or Black Lives Matter or anything else you want to talk about. It's freedom of speech," Mr. Trump continued.
Mr. Trump also slammed school districts that are hesitant to reopen for in-person classes in the fall over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, telling CBS News that the districts were making a "terrible decision."
Mr. Trump told Herridge that the Los Angeles Unified School District had made a "mistake" in deciding not to reopen in the fall, joining a number of school districts across the country who have said the same.
"What do you tell parents and teachers who feel that it is unsafe to go back?" Herridge asked Mr. Trump.
"I would tell parents and teachers that you should find yourself a new person whoever is in charge of that decision, because it's a terrible decision," Mr. Trump said. "Because children and parents are dying from that trauma, too. They're dying because they can't do what they're doing. Mothers can't go to work because all of a sudden they have to stay home and watch their child, and fathers."
The president said that being unable to send children to school puts a "tremendous strain" on parents, and called the issue a "balancing act." "We have to open our schools," Mr. Trump said. The president has repeatedly pushed for reopening schools and universities in the fall, even as coronavirus cases climb in dozens of states.
Mr. Trump said opponents of reopening schools are making a political calculation, hoping to keep him from winning a second term in office. "I also say a decision like that is politics, because we're starting to do very well in the polls, because I'm for law and order. I'm for strong business. Our jobs are coming back at a record level like we've never seen anything like it. Record level. We're heading up. It's turning out to be the V just like — I built it once before, the strongest economy ever. I'm doing it again," Mr. Trump said. He added that "they don't want it to happen," referring to "the Democrats and the radical left."
FROM THE CANDIDATES
Joe Biden is boosting his commitment to "a clean energy future" with a $2 trillion clean energy and infrastructure plan, which he says will create "millions" of jobs and move the U.S. closer to a carbon-free future, CBS News campaign reporter Bo Erickson reports. His infrastructure plan would spread the $2 trillion cost over 4 years. It's now substantially more expensive than the clean energy and infrastructure plan Biden proposed last year, which was $1.7 trillion over a 10-year period. The Biden campaign says the plan would be paid for with a combination of stimulus and increases in the corporate tax rate. Speaking in Delaware on Tuesday, Biden said his overall recognition of climate change contrasts himself and President Trump. Biden said Mr. Trump sees climate change as a "hoax" when Biden views climate change as "jobs." The 14-page plan commits to creating one million new jobs in the auto industry, including parts and materials manufacturing for electric vehicles, millions of union jobs to build infrastructure, one million jobs to upgrade four million buildings over four years, additional construction jobs for 1.5 million new sustainable housing units, and 250,000 jobs "plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hardrock, and uranium mines." There's also a new clean energy goal: Biden is accelerating this commitment to 2035 for a carbon pollution-free power sector, with net-zero emissions throughout the economy by 2050. Read more here on the plan.
Mr. Trump is visiting Georgia on Wednesday in an official capacity to talk about infrastructure, but like his recent trips to Arizona, Michigan and Wisconsin, the official visit is to a battleground state his campaign wants to keep in the win column in November, reports CBS News associate producer Eleanor Watson. The latest CBS News Battleground Tracker rates Georgia as a toss-up state for the presidential election. Voters in Georgia have not picked a Democratic president since 1992, but the gains Democrats have made in recent elections with key groups have made it a state to watch. Mr. Trump won the state in 2016 by 5 points, underperforming former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who beat President Obama in the state by 8 points. Suburban counties contributed in part to the Democrats' gains. In 2016, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the suburban counties of Gwinnett and Cobb outside Atlanta that voted for Romney in 2012. The Trump campaign has recently made significant ad buys in Georgia. According to data from CMAG/Kantar, the campaign has about $2.4 million in reservations from July to Election Day.
In the Rose Garden on Tuesday,he will sign a bill and executive order to hold China accountable for "suppressive actions against Hong Kong." Earlier this month, the US Senate unanimously approved legislation punishing China with sanctions, after China acted to suppress Hong Kong's democratic freedoms. Mr. Trump declared his executive order would also end preferential treatment and special privileges for Hong Kong. During his hour long remarks, the president criticized Joe Biden at length, attacking him on issues ranging from foreign policy to climate change to trade, reports CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. "Joe Biden's entire career has been a gift to the Chinese communist party and to the calamity of errors that they've made. They've made so many errors," Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House press conference. "And it's been devastating for the American worker."
Asked by CBS News Radio correspondent Steven Portnoy if he felt like an underdog ahead of November's election, Mr. Trump responded, "No, I don't. I think we have really good poll numbers." The president later stated that he felt he had a "great chance" of winning reelection. "I think we're going to have a lot of people show up. I'm very worried about mail-in voting," Mr. Trump added. "I think it's subject to tremendous fraud. It's being rigged." While concerns about quickly scaling up vote-by mail infrastructure have surfaced recently, evidence shows very few instances of absentee voting fraud within key battleground states.
In an interview with The Washington Post, former United States Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice was critical of Mr. Trump's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rice said the president "championed the premature reopening of various states," reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. "What we are reaping now is the result of that extraordinarily irresponsible rush to reopen," Rice said. On Trump's push to reopen schools this fall, Rice said, "He's willing to sacrifice the health and the safety of our children, their teachers, the staffs at these schools in order to convey the false reality, the false message that America is back and ready to reopen." In a separate interview with MSNBC, Rice, who also served as national security adviser in the Obama administration, responded to questions that she is under consideration to be presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's running mate. "I will do everything I can and whatever it is Joe Biden wants me to do to help him succeed in becoming president and succeed in governing," Rice said. "If that's as his running mate, I'd be extraordinarily honored to even be considered for that. If that's in some other capacity or if it's simply doing the day-to-day work of trying to get out the vote, I'll do whatever it takes because this is so critical."
Elizabeth Warren and Representative Ayanna Pressley on Tuesday called on Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar to issue a report on racial health disparities, reports CBS News Campaign Reporter Zak Hudak. Such reports to Congress are required every other year by the Affordable Care Act, stopped under Mr. Trump, the lawmakers wrote, even as Black and Hispanic Americans are dying of COVID-19 at higher rates than their white counterparts. "Without successfully addressing these racial disparities in health outcomes and health care access, we will not be able to mitigate and fully control the COVID-19 pandemic," they wrote. "You have, to date, failed to do so, with tragic consequences." They also requested Azar release the latest reports from the six sub-agencies for the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health and provide them with a list of actions that offices within HHS have taken to address racial disparities in health outcomes. Warren also joined Senators Chris Van Hollen and Catherine Cortez Masto in requesting that the Federal Reserve and Treasury Department make it easier for state and local governments to receive and pay back federal pandemic bailout loans. "Our nation's recovery efforts must start with supporting local communities, and we are concerned that, without additional efforts from the Fed and Treasury, giant corporations will reap all the benefits of this recovery while cities and states are left behind and suffer needless economic devastation," they wrote in a letter that was sent Friday to Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and released Tuesday. The lawmakers asked Powell and Mnuchin to reconsider the terms of the Municipal Liquidity Facility (MLF) and give state and local governments extended periods to pay off those loans with at least the rates given to businesses with poorer credit than the borrowers. They also said the Fed and Treasury should allow smaller governments to receive MLF loans and consider allowing some to receive loans through the Main Street Lending Program.
CBS NEWS COVID CHRONICLES
CBS News is chronicling what has changed for the lives of residents of some of the biggest battleground states in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In the next 30 days, Jill Rubinstein will make a decision about whether to permanently close her specialty shoe store, Footloose, after 33 years amid an effort take the store totally online. Rubenstein, a third-generation shoe store owner, has been losing money by keeping her Pittsburgh boutique open this year and was forced to get a second job to cover her family's health insurance. "[Business] was dwindling, but now it's like putting the nail in the coffin," she said. The pandemic has driven her sales down by 90%. Stories like Rubinstein's have become commonplace across the retail industry. COVID-19 is leaving millions of Americans jobless or working from home and as a result, they're buying less. Clothing and shoe sales dropped nationally more than 40% over the first five months of the year from the same period in 2019, the Census Department estimates. As bankruptcy filings of national retailers like Brooks Brothers dominate headlines, the owners of some local specialty stores in the battleground state of Pennsylvania have found themselves facing unprecedented hurdles in the marketplace. In this latest edition of CBS News COVID Chronicles, CBS News Campaign Reporter Zak Hudak highlights those challenges.
With coronavirus cases on the rise in Florida, Republicans are actively planning to move three nights of their party's convention in Jacksonville from the Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena to an outdoor venue, a source familiar with campaign thinking confirms to CBS News campaign reporter Nicole Sganga. Republicans involved in planning tell CBS News they are staging for multiple scenarios during the GOP's Florida nominating convention, including various health precautions amid surging pandemic levels. As part of ongoing planning, the Republican National Committee has already signed contracts with multiple outdoor venues in Jacksonville surrounding the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena. A senior advisor to Mr. Trump's 2020 campaign tells CBS News the president's re-election bid is "reassessing" Mr. Trump's mega events following his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports that during a press conference on Tuesday, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry said the city has used CARES Act funding to "significantly" expand testing. When asked whether Jacksonville received additional testing due to the Republican National Convention wanting to assess how widespread COVID-19 was ahead of the national convention in August, Curry said "as it relates to the additional federal sites, no one has said to me that they're here for that reason."
According to Florida Department of Health data, Florida now has nearly 300,000 positive COVID-19 cases throughout the state. After more than 15,000 new cases were reported on Sunday, the highest one-day increase in cases in any state in the pandemic so far, CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell reports the state has seen a drop in the past two days, though the positivity rate has increased during that time period. Florida continues to hold the third-highest number of coronavirus cases of any state, behind California and New York.
The president and vice president have made multiple visits to the state in the months since the state began tracking the spread of COVID-19 cases. On Saturday, Vice President Pence visited Jacksonville and was pictured without a mask, sparking questions on whether the city's mask mandate had been violated. During a press conference on Tuesday, Mayor Curry's chief of staff said the event followed the mandate because social distancing could take place. The city mandate requires masks to be worn where social distancing cannot take place.
And Florida Trump Victory campaign announced Tuesday that it has 170 paid staffers throughout the state with 1,500 field staffers across the country. The Republican Party of Florida also notes that Florida Trump Victory has made 10 million voter contacts and nearly 9,000 volunteers have been trained and activated throughout the state.
With an uptick in COVID-19 cases in Michigan, Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer extended Michigan's state of emergency through August 11, reports CBS News campaign reporter Jack Turman. Last week, Whitmer signed an executive order reiterating the need for people to be wearing face coverings in indoor public places. The executive order also requires businesses to refuse service to customers who do not wear face coverings with limited exceptions. "Throughout this crisis, the vast majority of Michiganders have done their part, but we must remain vigilant and continue to do everything we can to protect our loved ones," Whitmer said in a statement. "That means wearing a mask over your mouth and nose and practicing safe physical distancing when going out in public. If we all do our part now, there is a greater chance that schools can resume in-person learning in the fall."
North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper announced during a press conference Tuesday that the state will reopen schools for in-person and remote learning in the fall, reports CBS News campaign reporter LaCrai Mitchell. While the state is still working through health guidance for colleges and universities, K-12 teachers, staff, and students will be required to wear face coverings. The state plans to provide at least five reusable face coverings for every student, teacher and staff member. Symptom screenings, including temperature checks, will take place daily before students enter schools, which are required to create a way to isolate students who have symptoms and ensure they can get home safely. The state has also provided a two-month supply of thermometers and medical-grade equipment has also been delivered to schools for school nurses to use to ensure safety. A medical expert also presented information during the presser and cited data that shows children are less likely to contract, spread or get ill due to COVID-19. The chairman of the state's Board of Education also called on the federal government to provide funding to help safely re-open schools for teachers and the nearly 1.6 million public school students throughout the state.
Despite increasing coronavirus cases, CBS News associate producer Eleanor Watson and political unit broadcast associate Aaron Navarro report turnout for Texas' runoff election has been high. According to data from the Secretary of State's office, more than 1 million people voted early, either in-person or via mail. 653,942 Democrats showed up in part to cast their vote for a Democratic Senate nominee, while 409,446 Republicans already cast votes in a litany of House runoffs. Comparatively, the early vote is much higher than runoffs in 2016 and 2018, though the early voting period itself was extended in the July contests due to COVID-19.
Texas has become a recent hotspot for COVID-19, seeing a high of more than 10,000 new cases on July 7. Even before the resurgence, Democrats launched multiple efforts to expand who can vote by mail. Their attempts fell short at the state's Supreme Court and a petition still remains at the U.S. Supreme Court, who said they would not accelerate the process for the runoff. In response to recent spikes, Republican Governor Greg Abbott issued a statewide mask mandate earlier this month (and was quickly censured by eight Republican county committees because of it). However, he exempted runoff voters and workers from his executive order. "We don't want to deny somebody the ability to go vote simply because they don't have a mask," he said in an early July press conference.
Amid the pandemic, two poll workers in Collin County, in the Dallas Metro area, left their sites on Tuesday because some of their counterparts were not wearing masks, according to Texas Democratic Party voter protection director Rose Clouston. "They left because they didn't feel like they could safely work in that space all day," Clouston told CBS News campaign reporter Adam Brewster. The example shows another challenge officials may face for staffing in-person voting in November: Not just finding people who are willing to work, but making sure they feel safe on Election Day. "The whole time that we have been recruiting over the last several months, people who normally work have been saying, you know, I'm here for this election and I support everything we're doing and I want to be there so badly. But, you know, I have been quarantining for three months and, you know, I live with an elderly person or I myself am at risk and I just can't take on that risk of being at a polling place for 14 hours and being exposed to other people, other voters and other election workers in that way," Clouston said. She's hopeful the administration "takes the lessons from today's election and makes changes and provides the guidance counties need in a much more timely basis." One of those workers, 59-year-old Cynthia Riley, left her polling location in Plano, Texas, just before polls were set to open. She said she didn't feel comfortable sitting next to people not wearing masks for 14 hours. "For me to be expected for $12 an hour to sit there next to a bunch of yahoo's who can't do the most basic thing; wear a mask. It's not worth it," Riley told CBS News campaign reporter Cara Korte. "I know if they can't even put a mask on they're not doing anything else. Lord knows where they've been."
ISSUES THAT MATTER
A newly released study finds the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic crisis has caused the greatest health insurance losses in American history, raising new concerns in the national debate over reliance on employers to provide health insurance, reports CBS News associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. According to the report by the national nonpartisan organization Families USA, an estimated 5.4 million people became uninsured due to job loss from February to May of this year due to the pandemic. And that does not include those workers' family members who also lost insurance as a result. The study states the estimated increase would be 39% higher than any annual increase ever recorded. States that saw the highest increases in uninsured workers include California, Texas, New York, Florida and North Carolina which amount to nearly half of all increases. As of now, eight states now have at least 20% or more adults uninsured including Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina and South Carolina. The study noted that all but Oklahoma are among the 15 states with the highest spikes in new cases the week ending July 12. While Congress has passed legislation in response to the pandemic, no federal legislation has restored or preserved health insurance.
IN THE SENATE
Democratic Arizona Senate candidate Mark Kelly announced Tuesday he raised nearly $12.8 million in the second quarter of 2020 in his bid to unseat Senator Martha McSally, the most he has raised of any quarter to date, reports CBS News associate producer Sarah Ewall-Wice. According to his campaign, the average donation was about $44, and nearly 90% of contributions for the quarter were under $100. CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin notes that Kelly had last touted in April raising a then-record $11 million, nearly double Republican Sen. Martha McSally's total of $6.3 million. To date, his campaign in the battleground state has raised $44 million this cycle including donations from nearly 396,000 people. McSally has not yet released her fundraising total but must file Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission. Kelly marks the latest in a number of Democratic Senate hopefuls to disclose record fundraising sums, even amid a pandemic that has crippled the nation's economy.
IN THE HOUSE
According to CBS News campaign reporter Alex Tin, Congresswoman Xochitl Torres Small announced the launch of her first television ad of the cycle Tuesday, pledging to "work with anyone who wants to deliver for New Mexico." The Democrat added $132,675 in broadcast and television ad spending Monday, according to Kantar/CMAG data.
"I put politics aside and worked with Republicans, Democrats, and President Trump to pass the coronavirus relief plan," Torres Small says in the ad, which quickly prompted a rebuttal from her GOP rival.
The announcement comes as top Democrats raised skepticism over Republicans' chances in New Mexico, speaking Saturday at the virtual launch of the state party's "New Mexico for All" coordinated campaign. Though Joe Biden has often polled ahead of Mr. Trump statewide, the House GOP's campaign arm this week released polling they claim shows Torres Small tied with Yvette Herrell, her Republican challenger, in a district she won by barely a point in 2018.