Donald Trump marks Independence Day with incendiary Mount Rushmore speech – live


Powered by article titled “Trump claims US on way to ‘tremendous victory’ over Covid-19 as cases surge – as it happened” was written by Bryan Armen Graham in New York (now), Tom Lutz and Martin Pengelly (earlier), for on Saturday 4th July 2020 21.41 UTC

10.41pm BST


We will be shutting down today’s coverage of US politics, protest and public health crisis shortly, but our Washington bureau chief David Smith will have a full report from tonight’s Salute to America in the nation’s capital and Trump’s speech from the South Lawn of the White House. Here’s a look at today’s top news items:

10.31pm BST

Donald Trump is charged up ahead of tonight’s Salute to America if the blur of activity on his Twitter feed is any indicator. The US president has fired off no fewer than 55 tweets or retweets since noon today, including a message of congratulations from Indian prime minister Narendra Modi so nice he retweeted it twice.

The alarming nationwide trends around the coronavirus pandemic, which barely warranted a mention during Friday night’s Mount Rushmore speech, have not been Trump’s preferred subject these days. But he’s chosen to address it head on in the hours before tonight’s extravaganza, repeating the debunked claim that increased testing is responsible for the spike in cases.

“Cases, Cases, Cases! If we didn’t test so much and so successfully, we would have very few cases. If you test 40,000,000 people, you are going to have many cases that, without the testing (like other countries), would not show up every night on the Fake Evening News,” Trump wrote. “In a certain way, our tremendous Testing success gives the Fake News Media all they want, CASES. In the meantime, Deaths and the all important Mortality Rate goes down. You don’t hear about that from the Fake News, and you never will. Anybody need any Ventilators???”

Politifact, a Pulitzer prize-winning fact-checking organization, punctured this fallacy last month, but it hasn’t prevented Trump from trotting it out with bold regularity.

10.02pm BST

Texas has recorded 8,258 new cases in the 24 hours to Saturday, the highest single-day surge in the state since the pandemic started.

The overall number of confirmed infections in Texas now stands at 191,790, the state’s health department said.

Current Covid-19 hospitalizations rose by 238 in one day to a record high of 7,890.

Texas governor Greg Abbott took to Twitter to wish Americans a happy Fourth of July, earning a barrage of criticism from members of the public.

His critics are bitterly divided however, with one camp voicing disappointment in his leadership amid rising infections, and the other clamoring for his resignation because Abbott issued an executive order on Thursday requiring Texans to wear face coverings in public in counties with 20 or more Covid-19 cases.

Beach Lives Matter
Local residents hold signs in protest of closed beaches on the Fourth of July amid the global outbreak of coronavirus in Galveston, Texas.
Photograph: Adrees Latif/Reuters

9.45pm BST

A weekly newspaper in Kansas whose publisher is a county Republican party chairman posted a cartoon on its Facebook page likening the Democratic governor Laura Kelly’s executive order mandating people wear masks in most public spaces to the murder of millions of Jews during the Holocaust.

The cartoon on the Anderson County Review’s Facebook page depicts Kelly wearing a mask with a Jewish Star of David on it, next to an image of people being loaded onto train cars. The caption reads: “Lockdown Laura says: Put on your mask … and step onto the cattle car.”

The newspaper posted the cartoon on Friday, the day that Kelly’s mask order aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus took effect at 12.01am.

Publisher Dane Hicks, who is also Anderson County’s GOP chairman, told the Associated Press on Saturday that he would answer emailed questions about the cartoon once he could reach a computer. His newspaper is based in the county seat of Garnett, about 65 miles (105 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City and has a circulation of about 2,100, according to the Kansas Press Association.

Kelly, who is Catholic, issued a statement saying, “Mr Hicks’ decision to publish anti-Semitic imagery is deeply offensive and he should remove it immediately.”

Updated at 10.47pm BST

9.22pm BST

Arizona reported 2,695 new coronavirus infections on Saturday, bringing its total to 94,553. The number of hospital admissions for Covid-19 by 100 to a record high of 3,113 on Friday, the state health department said.

Ninety percent of all adult intensive care beds were in use as of Friday, which is one percentage point lower than the day before.

8.55pm BST

A longtime anti-LGBT activist and Republican donor told Texas’ governor to have National Guard troops “shoot to kill” amid protests last month against racial injustice and police brutality.

The Texas Tribune reports that Steve Hotze left that message in a voicemail to Republican governor Greg Abbott’s chief of staff on the weekend of 6 June, saying:

I want you to give a message to the governor. I want to make sure that he has National Guard down here and they have the order to shoot to kill if any of these son-of-a-bitch people start rioting like they have in Dallas, start tearing down businesses – shoot to kill the son of a bitches. That’s the only way you restore order. Kill ‘em. Thank you.

Hotze acknowledged the comment in a Facebook post on Saturday, writing: “It’s not about race but has everything to do with the future of America – the freest and most progressive country in the world.”

Republican senator John Cornyn called the voicemail “absolutely disgusting and reprehensible”.

8.36pm BST

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Saturday that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalized patients with Covid-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.

“These interim trial results show that hydroxychloroquine and lopinavir/ritonavir produce little or no reduction in the mortality of hospitalised Covid-19 patients when compared to standard of care.

Solidarity trial investigators will interrupt the trials with immediate effect,” the WHO said in a statement, referring to large multi-country trials that the agency is leading.

The use of hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 was an early flash point in the US response to the outbreak after Donald Trump championed it as a ‘miracle’ cure and ‘one of the biggest game-changers’ despite little scientific evidence.

The UN agency said that the decision, taken on the recommendation of the trial’s international steering committee, does not affect other studies where the drugs are used for non-hospitalized patients or as a prophylaxis.

Another arm of the WHO-led trial is looking at the potential effect of Gilead’s antiviral drug remdesivir on Covid-19.

The WHO reported a record increase in coronavirus infections globally, which have risen by 212,326 in 24 hours.

The biggest increases were from the United States, Brazil and India, according to a daily report. The previous WHO record for new cases was 189,077 on 28 June.

Updated at 8.38pm BST

8.11pm BST

The White House is set to host its largest event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic with tonight’s Salute to America. Hundreds of chairs and tables have been set up on the South Lawn, where Trump will deliver a speech he says will celebrate American heritage. An administration spokesperson says social distancing “will be observed” and face masks will be offered but not mandatory.

Trump was first inspired to stage a mass display of pop and power on America’s birthday when attended the Bastille Day military parade as the guest of French president Emmanuel Macron back in 2017. An initial 2018 push to stage a parade that would have seen soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the streets of Washington was scuttled amid accusations that he was politicizing an important holiday, emulating displays in authoritarian countries and wasting taxpayers’ money.

Salute to America
Tables and chairs are set up on the South Lawn ahead of Trump’s Salute to America celebration of American independence at the White House in Washington.
Photograph: Samuel Corum/EPA

But a compromised vision branded Salute to America finally debuted a year ago today and tonight’s encore continues the tradition. A statement from the White House press secretary offers a teaser:

President Donald J. Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, along with the Department of Interior, will host the 2020 Salute to America on the South Lawn of the White House and Ellipse on Saturday, July 4. In addition to music, military demonstrations, and flyovers to honor our Nation’s service members and veterans, the President will deliver remarks that celebrate our independence and salute our amazing heritage. The evening will culminate with a spectacular fireworks display over the National Mall.

Meanwhile, a number of demonstrations are taking place across the nation’s capital, including the George Floyd Memorial March on Washington, which began Saturday morning.

Washington police officer
A Washington police officer watches demonstrators march past Lafayette Square near the White House ahead of Saturday’s Fourth of July celebration.
Photograph: José Luis Magaña/AFP/Getty Images

The Independence Day holiday “doesn’t really mean anything when black people weren’t free on July 4th and those same liberties weren’t afforded to us,” local organizer Kerrigan Williams, co-founder of Freedom Fighters DC, tells USA Today.

“We’re still marching for the same things.”

Updated at 9.48pm BST

7.43pm BST

For 4 July, in the summer of protests over the killing of George Floyd, a picture gallery from Jameelah Nuriddin and Erin Hammond.

The eight images capture a giant 200-year-old flag, a young black woman with a giant afro, and various postures combining the pledge of allegiance and black power poses. They are accompanied by a manifesto that mirrors the preamble to the US constitution, written by Nuriddin, who is also the model in the series:

7.18pm BST

A second person has been charged in the alleged Molotov cocktail attack on an NYPD van with four officers inside during an anti-racism street protest in Brooklyn on 29 May.

Federal prosecutors, who claim jurisdiction because police vehicles are in part federally funded, said in court papers that Timothy Amerman, 29, of Saugerties, New York, had admitted that he “kitted up” Samantha Shaderwho allegedly threw the explosive at the vehicle – with paint cans, glass bottles, marijuana and gas money as she traveled from the Catskill region to “cause hell”.

Shader, who was arrested on the night of the protest, told federal investigators that she was given the makeshift bomb from a “thicker” black man with dreads of different colors, according to the government papers and reported by New York Daily News and New York Post on Saturday.

The 27-year-old added that the black man said to her that they were “going to prove a point”, and added that she it was “important” to accept the Molotov cocktail because “she was the only white person in the area”, court papers say.

But investigators claimed they found a note from Amerman in in Shader’s car that read: “I found a few more glass bottles than I thought I had, though still not many.”

“BE SAFE,” the note added. “Please. Really. Good luck, love Tim.”

Shader also reposted a message from Amerman’s Facebook page on creating disorder: “Black people have every right to burn down a country they built for free.” Amerman is charged with federal civil disorder and conspiracy to commit civil disorder and faces to 10 years in prison if convicted.

6.50pm BST

News from Montana, where the Republican Greg Gianforte is ceasing in-person campaign activities in his run for governor after his wife spent time with Kimberly Guilfoyle, Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Gianforte, you’ll remember, is the politician who physically assaulted then-Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs at a campaign event in 2017.

He’s been in the US House since then but now he’s running strongly to replace the Democrat Steve Bullock as governor. Bullock, as it happens, is looking well set to win a US Senate seat.

6.24pm BST

Even Covid-19 can’t stop the sporting legend that is Joey Chestnut. The champion hot-dog eater won the annual Nathan’s Fourth of July competition by gulping down 75 hot dogs in 10 minutes to win his 13th title. He also beat his own record, which had been 74.

Joey Chestnut
Joey Chestnut poses after winning the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest.
Photograph: Andrew Kelly/Reuters

Miki Sudo won her seventh straight title in the women’s competition, with a total of 48.5. The competition, usually held in front of big crowds at Coney Island, was held inside with competitors separated by screens this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

6.12pm BST

Joe Biden, who says he would make face masks in public compulsory if he becomes president, has tweeted that “this Fourth of July, one of the most patriotic things you can do is wear a mask.”

David Smith has written more on how masks have become a divisive issue in the States over the last weeks and months:

5.56pm BST

Richard Luscombe has taken a look at The Villages in Florida – where video last week showed a resident spewing racism, retweeted by the president. It has long been Trump country, but minds may be changing

It promotes itself as “Florida’s friendliest hometown”, a retirement playground where seniors while away their golden years in a carefree world of golf and swimming, fine dining, drinking, and nightly line dances in the village square.

But one reckless and controversial retweet from Donald Trump, featuring some ugly racism from a resident in a golf cart, and The Villages’ carefully crafted image as a peaceful utopia for retirees began to dissipate. As elderly white voters, one of Trump’s key voting blocs in 2016, show signs of abandoning the erratic president, some are even wondering if the door has been opened for Democrats here, an area that until now has been unashamedly “Trump country”.

“He’s definitely turning off some of the older voters in The Villages,” said Chris Stanley, president of the Democratic Club in the 32-square mile retirement community of 125,000, and a resident herself for almost six years.

“They’re concerned about his plans for Medicare and social security of course, but they also didn’t allow their children to behave like this, they don’t allow their grandchildren to behave like this, and they’re very much turned off by it.

“This is the generation that watched Walter Cronkite, had John F Kennedy, and Eisenhower, when politics was a whole different animal. When even if your party or your chosen candidate didn’t win, you were never afraid of damage done to your family or your country. And now? Whoever thought we’d see something like it is right now?”

The resident captured on the video yelling “White power! White power!” at a demonstrator was taking part in a parade of golf carts, the preferred mode of transport in The Villages, organised by Villagers for Trump, a rightwing group of residents that claims a membership of 2,000.

Although the group has distanced itself from the comment and asserted the person is not a member, there are other allegations of the president’s more fervent supporters behaving badly.

You can read the full article here:

5.38pm BST

Two country judges in Texas have urged residents to shelter in place and wear face coverings as hospitals in their areas reach capacity.

“The local and valley hospitals are at full capacity and have no more beds available. I urge all of our residents to please shelter-in-place, wear face coverings, practice social distancing and AVOID GATHERINGS,” wrote Judge Eloy Vera of Starr county, adding that some patients had to be flown to areas with more capacity. In nearby Hidalgo county, Judge Richard Perez posted a similar warning.

Earlier this week, Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, issued an executive order for masks to be work in public in counties with more than 20 Covid-19 cases.

5.21pm BST

Trump says US on its way to ‘tremendous victory’ over Covid-19 as cases rise

Donald Trump barely mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the US in his incendiary speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday night. But in an appearance at the White House to wish Americans a happy fourth of July, the president referenced the virus, albeit to tell people how great a job he is doing. Predictably, he also recycled his old tactic of blaming the virus on China.

“We were doing better than any country had done in history … and then we got hit with this terrible plague from China and now we’re getting closer to fighting our way out of it,” said the president as numbers show Covid-19 cases are rising in 37 states across the US, and falling significantly in only one, Vermont.

Despite evidence to the contrary, the president then suggested America was on its way to beating the virus. “Our country is coming back, our jobs numbers are spectacular, a lot of things are happening that people don’t quite see yet,” he said. “We’re on our way to a tremendous victory. It’s going to happen and it’s going to happen big. Our country will be greater than ever before.”

5.07pm BST

Gregory “Joey” Johnson, who won a supreme court decision in 1989 that makes burning the American flag a constitutionally protected right, has said he will stage a flag burning ceremony in LA today “in defiance of the fascist Trump’s call to re-criminalize burning the flag in protest.” The president said last month he wants the burning of the flag to be punishable by up to a year in jail.

Johnson, a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, urged people to “defy the fascist in chief, the white supremacist in chief, the misogynist, xenophobic, jingoistic, America first chauvinist imperialist in chief. We all should have nothing but contempt and revulsion for him and his fascist regime – and be determined to mobilize millions of people to drive the regime from power.”

4.51pm BST

Covid-19 continues to affect the sports world. In Major League Baseball, 38 of the 3,185 samples collected from players and staff were positive for the virus. Thirty-one of the positive tests were from players – the league is due to start on 23 July. Elsewhere, Major League Soccer has had to postpone of the games in its upcoming tournament after 10 members of FC Dallas tested positive. Elsewhere, seven-time Nascar champion Jimmie Johnson has tested positive for Covid-19, and will miss this weekend’s event at Indianapolis Speedway.

4.33pm BST

Florida reported at least 11,445 new cases of Covid-19 on Saturday, a record single-day total for the state. More than 190,000 people have tested positive for the virus in the state, which has a population of 21.5 million. More than 3,700 have died of the infection in Florida, and two new deaths were reported on Saturday. According to CNN, just one state in the US – Vermont – reported a decrease in new cases in the past week. Cases were about the same in 12 states and increased in 37.

Updated at 4.54pm BST

4.17pm BST

Michael McFaul, who served as US ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, has called Donald Trump’s speech on Friday night un-American.

“Trump obviously has no idea what words like facism and totalitarianism mean,” wrote McFaul on Twitter. “To those who wrote that speech, shame on you. To those that cleared on this speech, shame on you. Perhaps the most un- American speech ever delivered by an American president, on the eve of July 4th.”

The former Republican speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, meanwhile said the speech was definitely American. It’s almost like American politics and society is massively divided.

“President Trump’s Mount Rushmore speech should be read by every American,” he wrote on Twitter. “It draws the line between radicals who would impose a totalitarian thought and speech dictatorship and those who would defend America.President Trump made it clear line our rights come from God.”

4.00pm BST

Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate for November’s presidential election, has written an op-ed for NBC to commemorate the Fourth of July in which he warns that Donald Trump is eroding the freedoms that America has built up during its history.

“Title IX. The Indian Self-Determination Act. The Americans with Disabilities Act. Marriage equality. DACA. Black Lives Matter. Brick by brick — and, all too often, against long odds and violent opposition — the American people have labored to expand the scope, strength and meaning of American democracy,” writes the former vice president.

Biden then adds: “That pursuit of a more perfect union has been thrown off course in recent years — and no one bears more responsibility than President Donald Trump. Every day, he finds new ways to tarnish and dismantle our democracy …He has systematically gone after the guardrails of our democracy: the free press, the courts, and our fundamental belief that no one in America — not even the president — is above the law. He has made it clear time and again that he won’t hesitate to tear apart our most cherished democratic structures for an ounce of personal gain. And that corruption of our founding principles threatens everything this nation has worked so hard to build, blighting our ability not only to elevate our values, but also to lead the world.”

You can read the full article here.

3.43pm BST

Donald Trump continued his history of using songs from musicians who are not exactly aligned with his brand during his speech on Friday night. During the rally at Mt Rushmore, Neil Young’s Like a Hurricane and Rockin’ in the Free World were played before the President made his appearance. Shortly afterwards, the official Neil Young Archives account tweeted a message of defiance reading: “I stand in solidarity with the Lakota Sioux & this is NOT ok with me”.

The land around Mt Rushmore is sacred to the Lakota Sioux, who lived in the area before being forced out after gold was discovered in the region. Indigenous protesters blocked roads near the rally on Friday and held signs reading “You’re trespassing on our land”. Local tribes were also worried that fireworks at the event could cause wildfires due to recent dry conditions and contaminate water supplies.

Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux tribe, said in a statement on Friday that the sculpture on Mt Rushmore, is an insult to Native Americans. Local tribes considered the mountain sacred before it was carved with faces of US presidents. “Nothing stands as a greater reminder to the Great Sioux Nation of a country that cannot keep a promise or treaty than the faces carved into our sacred land on what the United States calls Mount Rushmore,” said Frazier.

Young, who is a supporter of Bernie Sanders, has objected to the Trump campaign using his songs in the past. “Every time … one of my songs is played at one of your rallies, I hope you hear my voice,” wrote Young in an open letter to the president. “Remember it is the voice of a tax-paying US citizen who does not support you. Me.”

The Rolling Stones have threatened legal action against the Trump campaign if they continue to use the band’s songs at rallies. “Despite cease and desist directives to Donald Trump in the past, The Rolling Stones are taking further steps to exclude him using their songs at any of his future political campaigning,” a spokesman for the band said last month.

Updated at 3.44pm BST

3.15pm BST

Trump speech sparks media storm

Donald Trump’s speech in front of Mount Rushmore, in which he said American is under threat from “far-left fascism”, has elicited strong response in the media.

The Washington Post’s Robin Givhan said the president “peddled his fiction” on Friday night as he appealed to his base. “The setting for President Trump’s early Fourth of July celebration was magnificent, as the Black Hills of South Dakota tend to be,” wrote Givhan. “The scene was also full of painful history, willful ignorance and deliberate fearmongering.

Givhan also noted that few of those in attendance wore masks as Covid-19 cases rise across the US. “And just to add to the upside-down, inside-out madness of the mass gathering, Ivanka Trump, presidential adviser and daughter, tweeted a reminder to be safe over the holiday weekend by social distancing and wearing a mask. Her nearest and dearest did not listen to plea,” she wrote.

The New York Times said the rally came as Trump is floundering in the polls. “With the coronavirus pandemic raging and his campaign faltering in the polls, his appearance amounted to a fiery reboot of his re-election effort, using the holiday and an official presidential address to mount a full-on culture war against a straw-man version of the left that he portrayed as inciting mayhem and moving the country toward totalitarianism,” wrote Annie Karni.

The Associated Press noted the speech appeared made to stoke divisions: “At the foot of Mount Rushmore and on the eve of Independence Day, President Donald Trump dug deeper into America’s divisions by accusing protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a ‘merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”

The New York Daily News described the speech as “Mt Rushmore Madness” along with a cover depicting the president’s on the monument with their eyebrows raised.

There was praise elsewhere for Trump. Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review said it was “A superb speech, tough but appropriately so, gave our forefathers their due, invoked the wonders of American culture, and accurately stated the stakes of the culture war – Trump’s best since Warsaw.” Sean Davis, co-founder of the Federalist, said: “Trump’s Independence Day defense of America was far and away the greatest speech of his presidency.”

Updated at 3.28pm BST

2.42pm BST

While the number of Covid-19 cases surge across the United States, CNN reports that key public health figures such as Dr Anthony Fauci have not been given permission by the White House administration to appear on American television.

Members of the White House’s task force on Covid-19 were familiar figures on US television in the early days of the pandemic. Fauci in particular won praise for his calm, no-nonsense advice, which was often in contrast to the more speculative and confused messaging from Donald Trump.

Fauci last appeared on US television on 12 June, and CNN says other members of the Covid-19 taskforce, such as Dr Deborah Birx and Dr Robert Redfield, now rarely grant interviews. One source told CNN that high-profile officials, including Fauci, have been unable to gain permission to appear on television. “Now is the time to be sending a strong public health message,” the official told CNN, noting that the cases of the virus are rising across large part of the country. The source added that Fauci is thought to be too blunt about the dangers of Covid-19 during his appearances, or too “doom and gloom.”

Even figures who are seen as more amenable to the administration have struggled for airtime. The surgeon general, Dr Jerome Adams, has made just two broadcast appearances in the last few weeks, one was a local radio interview and the other was on NBC on Friday where he avoided answering questions about Trump’s decision not to wear a facemask at public gatherings. “Every single person has to make up their own mind,” Adams said on the subject.

CNN added that Dr Robert Redfield, the director of the Center for Disease Control, gave a briefing to reports on 25 June, but has otherwise been off air. Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, has been more active and has appeared on most major networks in the last few weeks.

Fauci, meanwhile, has been getting his message across on other platforms. He has appeared on media that may not be used by the White House administration, such as podcasts and foreign broadcasts.

Updated at 5.06pm BST

2.15pm BST

News from St Louis, where the Associated Press reports that on Friday night, peaceful protesters returned to a house where a white couple famously appeared with guns last Sunday, during a march demanding the resignation of the mayor:

Several hundred protesters made a peaceful return trip Friday to the St Louis mansion owned by a white couple whose armed defense of their home during an earlier demonstration earned both scorn and support.

Chanting protesters stopped at the gate just outside the palazzo-style home of Mark McCloskey, 61, and his 63-year-old wife, for about 15 minutes. Extra metal barriers blocked the entrance to Portland Place, where the protesters had walked earlier in the week on their way to the mayor’s home nearby.

More than a dozen men in plain clothes walked the grounds and peered out from a second-floor balcony. One protester briefly straddled an iron gate as if he was going to jump over, but did not. No one threw anything and no one behind the gates showed aggression. One man on the balcony clapped along with the chanting protesters. It was not known if the McCloskeys were home.

Protesters gather outside the home of Mark and Patricia McCloskey.
Protesters gather outside the home of Mark and Patricia McCloskey.
Photograph: Lawrence Bryant/Reuters

The McCloskeys are personal injury attorneys who became famous last Sunday. As an estimated 500 demonstrators marched near their home, the couple heard a commotion and saw a group of people break an iron gate marked with “No Trespassing” and “Private Street” signs, according to a police report.

Video posted online and viewed by millions showed Mark McCloskey wielding a long-barreled gun and Patricia McCloskey waving a small handgun. No shots were fired. Donald Trump retweeted the video.

An attorney for the couple, Albert Watkins, said they are longtime civil rights advocates and support the message of the Black Lives Matter movement. He said they grabbed their guns when two or three protesters who were white violently threatened them, their property and that of their neighbors.

Protest organizer Darryl Gray said on Friday: “Are we angry? Damn right we’re angry. But we’re nonviolent.”

A letter released on Wednesday by more than three dozen neighbors of the McCloskeys condemned “the behavior of anyone who uses threats of violence, especially through the brandishing of firearms, to disrupt peaceful protest, whether it be in this neighborhood or anywhere in the United States.”

1.50pm BST

The president is most likely asleep at the moment, given that he arrived back at the White House from South Dakota at 4.11am ET. His Twitter account, therefore, lies momentarily dormant.

Here’s a taste of what White House chief of staff Mark Meadows had to say to reporters on the flight back from Mount Rushmore:

“I think it was a historic speech with a historic backdrop. The response that we’re getting from all across America is … one that … applauded the boldness, the directness, and, candidly, the resolve with which the president wants to make sure that the America that we have today and tomorrow is the America that we celebrate each Fourth of July.”

In the words of the pool report, “Meadows was asked by a reporter why Trump did not mention the coronavirus pandemic ‘much’ during his remarks.

“He mentioned the pandemic. I don’t know that focusing on a pandemic is necessarily a topic that you would espouse on 4 July. It’s not to say that it’s … something that you ignore, which he didn’t, he acknowledged it.

“But at the same time, he’s put forth unbelievable resources to make sure that we address the Covid-19 virus. I’m confident that we’ll have a vaccine by this fall and we’re already seeing therapeutics being used more and more to start to lessen the death rate. And again it’s really a time for celebrating who we are as a nation – and that’s in good times and bad. There are still people wanting to come to America. They’re not fleeing America.”

Here’s David Smith again, on how Trump has fueled a growing (and increasingly absurd) culture war over face masks and their role in preventing American deaths:

1.31pm BST

Disturbing news from Seattle, where last night a car drove into a crowd of protesters on a closed portion of Interstate 5.

Two women were injured, authorities said. One suffered life-threatening injuries and the other had serious injuries. The Seattle fire department said the injured women appeared to be in their 20s.

Shortly after 2am on Saturday, video on social media showed a white car traveling at a high speed navigate around two vehicles which were positioned across the lanes as a barrier.

The car careened toward a handful of protesters on the freeway, striking two who flew into the air before landing on the ground.

“A vehicle drove through the closure and struck multiple pedestrians on the freeway,” a state patrol spokesman tweeted, shortly after 2am. The vehicle was stopped and the driver was in custody.

Later on Saturday, police said the driver and a passenger were uninjured, having fled the police earlier in the city of Ferndale. The driver had not been impaired, police said.

Seattle has been the site of prolonged unrest following the 25 May police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which sparked nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism.

1.06pm BST

Good morning …

… and welcome to another day’s coverage of US politics, protest and public health crisis.

In the shadow of Mount Rushmore last night, Donald Trump marked Independence Day with an appeal for unity, calm and a common goal. Not really – he marked the national holiday by claiming the US was under assault from “far-left fascism”:

Our nation is witnessing a merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values and indoctrinate our children. Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities.

Trump likes Confederate flags and statues, remember. Perhaps Robert E Lee and Jefferson Davis, men who rebelled against America in the name of slavery – and were beaten trying – will be included in Trump’s “National Garden of American Heroes”, a vast outdoor park featuring statues of “the greatest Americans to ever live” which he announced by executive order.

Of course, there’s an election four months away and Joe Biden leads in most polls, national and battleground state, so think more of the president’s speech last night as an aperitif for that five-course contest than a sure sign of squabbles over building permits and bad statues of Senator Joe McCarthy to come. Pretty, it won’t be.

In other news, Donald Trump Jr’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, a senior Trump campaign official, has the coronavirus. She joins a growing club: nearly 2.8 million Americans have been confirmed to have been infected and nearly 130,000 have died. The Trump White House’s reported new slogan for a country mired in a growing public health crisis? “We need to live with it.”

In South Dakota on Friday night, masks were voluntary, social distancing scarce.

Here’s Ed Pilkington on how New York is attempting to reopen. And here’s David Smith, from Washington, on how Trump is fuelling a culture war over the need to wear a mask:

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