In our news wrap Wednesday, some 1,250 former Justice Department employees are calling to investigate Attorney General William Barr for his decision to forcibly remove peaceful protesters from near the White House last week. Their request was made Wednesday to the department’s inspector general. Also, NASCAR announced it is banning the Confederate flag from all its racing events and properties.
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In the day's other news: The police chief in Minneapolis, where George Floyd died in custody, took what he said is a first step toward sweeping change.
He called off negotiations with the police union, pending a complete review of the current union contract. The police said — chief said, rather, that he needs the flexibility to get rid of problem police.
Chief Medaria Arrandondo:
There is nothing more debilitating to a chief, from an employment matter perspective, than when you have grounds to terminate an officer for misconduct, and you're dealing with a third-party mechanism that allows for that employee to not only be back on your department, but to be patrolling in your communities.
The white officer who pinned George Floyd by his neck had 17 complaints against him, but he had been disciplined just once.
And, in Atlanta, two more officers were fired after college students were pulled from a car and Tased during a protest last month. Two other officers had already been dismissed.
There are calls to investigate Attorney General William Barr for his decision to have protesters forcibly cleared from near the White House on June 1. Some 1,250 Justice Department employees made the request today to the department's inspector general.
Meanwhile, crews removed some temporary fencing and barricades from near the White House. They'd been placed there at the height of the protests.
Also today, President Trump rejected stripping the names of Confederate generals from military bases in the Southern U.S. He said that he would — quote — "not even consider it."
But NASCAR banned the Confederate Flag from all of its stock car racing events and properties.
The Federal Reserve says that it will not raise interest rates through 2022, as the economy claws back from the pandemic recession. Today's announcement came as the Fed projected unemployment will stay above 9 percent through year's end.
Chairman Jerome Powell said that it is essential to keep interest rates near zero in an effort to boost growth.
Chairman Jerome Powell:
As you know, we lowered our policy rate very quickly, quickly than others, to the effective lower bound, and we have said that we will keep it there until the economy has weathered the effects of the virus and is on track to achieve our goals.
The Central Bank projected that the economy will contract by 6.5 percent this year, but grow by 5 percent next year.
The country continues reopening from the pandemic, but infections are surging again. More than a dozen states are reporting their highest seven-day averages of new cases yet. And hospitalizations in nine of those states have increased since Memorial Day. All told, there have been nearly two million coronavirus cases in the U.S., with 112,000 deaths.
A retired federal judge today accused the Justice Department of abusing its power in the case of Michael Flynn. John Gleeson blasted the government's motion to drop criminal charges against President Trump's former national security adviser. The trial judge had asked Gleeson to review the motion.
The ousted State Department inspector general says that his bosses tried to stop his review of a major arms sale to Saudi Arabia. Transcripts of Steve Linick's interview by House Democrats were released today. In them, Linick also said that he was reviewing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's alleged use of staffers for personal errands.
Pompeo responded this morning.
Secretary Mike Pompeo:
Steve Linick was a bad actor in the inspector general office here. He — he didn't take on the mission of the State Department to make us better. That's what inspector generals are supposed to do.
They work for the agency head. That's me. My mistake was letting Mr. Linick stay here as long as he did.
Linick had been the State Department's inspector general since 2013.
Elections officials in Georgia are under searing criticism today after voters waited for hours and voting machines failed in Tuesday's primary. Amid the confusion, a Democratic contest for a U.S. Senate seat remains too close to call. We will get the details right after the news summary.
And on Wall Street, fears of a recession overshadowed news that interest rates will stay low. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 282 points, back below 27000. The Nasdaq rose 66 points, but the S&P 500 lost 17.