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ABC News(LONDON) -- BY: LUKE BARR and QUINN OWEN

Law enforcement units from federal agencies across the board have been brought to Washington to protect the White House and deal with protesters, but critics say using them in a show of force has gone too far.

President Donald Trump directed Attorney General William Barr "to lead federal law enforcement efforts to assist in the restoration of order to the District of Columbia."

Barr was seen walking on the streets of D.C. Monday night, and inside the FBI command center the night after.

There were even riot teams from the Bureau of Prisons in full force outside the White House.

A Bureau of Prisons spokesperson told ABC News its officers are deployed around the country.

"The Bureau of Prisons (BOP) has specialized Crisis Management Teams (CMTs), including Special Operations Response Teams, which are highly trained tactical units capable of responding to prison disturbances, and providing assistance to other law enforcement agencies during emergencies," the spokesperson said in a statement. "The BOP's CMTs also include Disturbance Control Teams, that specialize in crowd control scenarios," the statement said.

"Per the request of the Attorney General, the BOP has dispatched teams to Miami, Florida, and Washington, D.C."

Amid reports that BOP officers were refusing to identify themselves, Bureau of Prisons Director Michael Carajval addressed the issue at a press conference Thursday.

"I'm not aware of any specific Bureau of Prisons personnel being told not to identify themselves. What I attribute that to is probably the fact that we normally operate within the confines of our institution and we don't need to identify ourselves. Most of our identification is institution specific and probably wouldn't mean a whole lot to people in DC," he said at the Department of Justice. "I probably should have done a better job of marking them, nationally as the agency point is well taken but I assure you that no one was specifically told in my knowledge, not to identify themselves."

Barr said that federal agents don't wear a badge with their name on it like many state and localities due, and that he "could understand why some of these individuals simply wouldn't want to talk to people about who they are."

"Per the request of the Attorney General, the BOP has dispatched teams to Miami, Florida, and Washington, D.C."

The ripple effect has been felt in prisons across the country, with facilities going into complete lockdown.

Additionally, there has been a deployment of active-duty military officers, aimed to help quell the tension between protesters and law enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security has also deployed hundreds of law enforcement agents.

More than 600 DHS personnel were dispatched this week to control demonstrations in the nation's capital and across the country.

The DHS federal agents maintain broad authority and often coordinate with state and local officials prior to appearing at major national events -- such as the George Floyd protests.

But the display of force seen this week has been shocking, said Peter Vincent, who worked as a chief counsel for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Obama administration.

"This is not the job of the men and women of ICE or CBP, this is not what they are trained to do, and this is not how their enforcement authorities should be deployed," Vincent said. "Indeed, these actions are specifically intended to intimidate and chill Americans into remaining silent in the face of obscene injustices."

More than 100 DHS intelligence analysts are assisting state and local authorities nationwide with "real-time updates," according to the agency.

"Clearly, the Metropolitan Police Department would have been unable to establish order in the city," former U.S. Secret Service agent Don Mihalek said.

"Having those federal agencies there was a benefit to the city and the Metropolitan Police Department. They had an automatic force multiplier of federal law enforcement officers who all have who the majority of them have arrest powers in D.C. to supplement and help lock down parts of the city that MPD didn't have to pay attention to," Mihalek, an ABC News contributor said.

The forces also included federal immigration patrols -- ICE swat teams and Border Patrol agents -- pulled from their normal duties.

Demonstrations are classified by ICE as one of the "sensitive locations," which the agency typically avoids, but, disruptions to public safety are an exception, an ICE official told ABC News. If a protester is arrested, booked and agents later discover they are undocumented, the official said, the protester would be detained by immigration authorities and possibly deported if a judge gives the order.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions," the agency said in a statement.

As Border Patrol agents were called to D.C., Maryland and Virginia, Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan tweeted that "radicals & agitators" prompted the response. Morgan first announced the involvement of CBP agents on Sunday, which he said came at the request of other law enforcement agencies.

The ACLU deputy policy director, Andrea Flores, who worked at the DHS during the Obama administration, called the deployment of immigration agents to suppress protests "a mistake that imperils the lives of even more black and brown people."

"ICE and CBP are rogue agencies with sordid histories of abuse, violence, and human rights violations," Flores said in a statement.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- BY: BEN GITTLESON and JORDYN PHELPS

Fortified by troops in uniform, foreboding fencing and police in riot gear, President Donald Trump remained protected from largely peaceful protesters this week -- but not from the ire of his predecessors and the nation's top military figures.

While Trump has always embraced his outsider status among the elite president’s club, his defensive tone and calls to “dominate” demonstrators have stood in sharp contrast with rare statements released by previous presidents calling for unity and reflecting on persistent racial injustices.

In what amounted to the most direct rebuke of the president from a former member of his Cabinet, Trump's first and former defense secretary James Mattis on Wednesday denounced the commander in chief as a threat to the Constitution, saying he’s been “angry and appalled” in watching his handling of the protests that have followed George Floyd’s death.

"Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people -- does not even pretend to try," Mattis wrote in an essay in The Atlantic. "Instead he tries to divide us."

It wasn’t just his former, but also his current, secretary of defense who broke with the president.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that he did not think activity duty military troops should be dispatched to American cities to quell unrest, after Trump threatened to do so.

His break with the president was not well received at the White House, where the press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, made clear the option remained on the table for the president to invoke a 213-year-old law, the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to do so.

"This president has one singular aim, and it is protecting America's streets," McEnany told reporters Wednesday.

Past presidents weigh in

Trump has also found himself increasingly at odds with former presidents.

Former President Barack Obama expressed solidarity with peaceful protesters, saying their cause represented an "an incredible opportunity” for the country to confront the issues of systemic racism.

"They offer an opportunity for us to work together to tackle them, to take them on, to change America and make it live up to its highest ideals," Obama said during a virtual town hall Wednesday. "Part of what’s made me so hopeful is the fact that so many young people have been galvanized and activated and motivated and mobilized. Because historically, so much of the progress that we've made in our society has been because of young people."

Speaking directly to young people of color, he said, "I want you to know that your lives matter. Your dreams matter."

Former President George W. Bush said he and former first lady Laura Bush “have resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen.”

“It is a strength when protesters, protected by responsible law enforcement, march for a better future,” Bush said. “Those who set out to silence those voices do not understand the meaning of America — or how it becomes a better place.”

Former President Bill Clinton said it’s the time for the country to ask tough questions and reflect on persistent racism but that “we can’t honestly answer these questions in the divide and conquer, us vs. them, shift the blame and shirk the responsibility world we’re living in."

“People with power should go first—answer the questions, expand who’s ‘us’ and shrink who’s ‘them,’ accept some blame, and assume more responsibility. But the rest of us have to answer these questions too,” Clinton said.

Former President Jimmy Carter said in a statement that he and former first lady Rosalynn Carter are "pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks."

"We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this," the oldest living president said in a statement.

Mattis's 'symbolic barrier'

While rare -- and perhaps unprecedented -- for former military leaders to so publicly and forcefully criticize the commander in chief, Trump's flaunting of the Insurrection Act "was sufficiently disturbing that General Mattis chose to break his silence," Christine Wormuth, who served as a deputy under secretary of defense from 2012 to 2014, told ABC News.

The essay was the "inevitable conclusion" of the increasingly politicization of the military under the Trump administration and was meant to give a clear reminder to the military that they swore an oath to the Constitution, she said.

"It sends a strong message to members of the military to be reminded of what's important and to do what they think is right," Wormuth said.

Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, similarly sent an unusual message to the leaders of the different branches of the military that said members of the armed forces swore an oath to the Constitution and its protections for freedom of speech and assembly. The letter served as "cover" for the service leaders to "communicate their feelings" as well, Wormuth said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said Mattis's words sent a "shot across the bow" to the country's military leaders and could prove problematic for Trump.

"Mattis put a big symbolic barrier in his way and bolstered, I think, the instincts of some of the good people in the military who say we can’t be used like this," Schumer said in an interview with MSNBC.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, broke with most of her GOP colleagues on Capitol Hill by embracing Mattis' statement as "true, and honest, and necessary and overdue."

"I have been struggling for the right words, and I was encouraged a couple of nights ago when I was able to read what President Bush had written," she told reporters Thursday. "And I found that to be empowering for me as one leader.

"But then when I saw General Mattis’ comments yesterday, I felt like perhaps we are getting to a point where we can be more honest with the concerns that we might hold internally," she added. "And have the courage of our own convictions to speak up."

Another Republican senator who has been more willing to criticize Trump than his colleagues, Mitt Romney of Utah, called Mattis's words "stunning and powerful."

"General Mattis is a man of extraordinary sacrifice," Romney said. "He's an American patriot. He's an individual whose judgment I respect, and I think the world of him. If I ever had to choose somebody to be in a foxhole with -- it would be with a General Mattis. What a wonderful, wonderful man.”

Amid the onslaught, stalwart Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News that Mattis did not "understand" that people are trying to hurt Trump.

"The one thing I would tell General Mattis is that you don't quite understand that from the time President Trump wakes up till he goes to bed there's an effort to destroy his presidency," Graham said.

Like Trump, he pointed his finger at the press.

"To General Mattis, I think you're missing something here, my friend," Graham said. "You're missing the fact that the liberal media has taken every event in the last three and half years and laid it at the president's feet. I'm not saying he's blameless, but I am saying that you're buying into a narrative that I think is quite frankly unfair."

ABC News' Allison Pecorin and Trish Turner contributed reporting.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- BY: LIBBY CATHEY

If it were up to Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, President Donald Trump already would have deployed active duty troops to stop violence across the country.

Cotton, a conservative Republican who often has the president's ear, was facing backlash Thursday after arguing in a New York Times op-ed that Trump should use military force to deal with "looting" and "rioting" following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

"One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter lawbreakers," Cotton said in the op-ed titled "Send In the Troops," calling on Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act.

"Some elites have excused this orgy of violence in the spirit of radical chic, calling it an understandable response to the wrongful death of George Floyd," he wrote. "Those excuses are built on a revolting moral equivalence of rioters and looters to peaceful, law-abiding protesters."

The backlash was immediate.

The newspaper was blasted for publishing his op-ed -- much of the harshest criticism coming from its own staffers -- with the phrase "Running this puts black @nytimes writers, editors and other staff in danger" trending on Twitter Wednesday night.

New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet defended the decision, saying the issue "requires public scrutiny and debate."

"Times Opinion owes it to our readers to show them counter-arguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy," Bennet wrote in a thread on Twitter. "We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton's argument painful, even dangerous."

In a rare letter to colleagues Thursday morning, New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger also stood by the choice to publish Cotton's piece, saying, "I believe in the principle of openness to a range of opinions, even those we may disagree with."

The News Guild of New York issued a statement late Wednesday denouncing the New York Times for its "irresponsible choice" publishing Cotton's piece, calling his words "a clear threat to the health and safety of journalists we represent."

Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, responded with an op-ed of his own in The Washington Post, titled: "Don't send in the troops."

"If Cotton truly believes that these protesters are being infiltrated by 'cadres of left-wing radicals,' then larger protests will simply offer more opportunities for greater damage," Drenzer wrote. "Support for this move is soft. Far more senior combat veterans think this would be a horrible idea."

The Insurrection Act Cotton supports invoking is a 213-year-old law that gives the president the power to deploy active military troops on U.S. soil to "restore public order and enforce the laws" when "domestic violence has occurred to such an extent that the constituted authorities of the State or possession are incapable of maintaining public order."

In modern times, presidents have used it to deal with the American agony of racial conflict, relying on the law to uphold federal civil rights in the deep South -- a point Cotton made in his op-ed and repeated Thursday on Fox News.

"It happened in 1957 at Little Rock Central to desegregate against our racist Democratic governor. It happened in 1968 in Washington D.C., in Baltimore and Chicago. It happened in 1992 in Los Angeles," Cotton said. "These woke progressives have not engaged with any of these arguments or these historic examples. They are simply throwing a temper tantrum."

The act was invoked in Cotton's home state in 1957 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower used it to force desegregation and safely escort nine black students into Little Rock Central High School. Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus, whom Cotton called "a racist Democrat," used the Arkansas National Guard under the guise of maintaining peace to prevent the students from entering the school.

"It is the constitutional duty of the federal government to protect the states from this kind of insurrection violence," he added Thursday.

 Cotton first started pushing the idea Monday, and, with a retweet, Trump approved of Cotton's suggestion to use the active duty military, saying "100% Correct. Thank you Tom!" after the senator suggested the 101st Airborne Division come to the aid of overwhelmed local law enforcement.

"We need to have zero tolerance for this destruction," Cotton said.

100% Correct. Thank you Tom! https://t.co/axdLX7kGNn

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 1, 2020

While Cotton has acknowledged the rights of peaceful protesters and expressed sympathy for George Floyd's family, his strong views align with the president's, as he points to antifa and the need to do "whatever it takes" to restore order.

"If local law enforcement is overwhelmed, if local politicians will not do their most basic job to protect our citizens, let's see how these anarchists respond when the 101st Airborne is on the other side of the street," Cotton said Monday on "Fox and Friends."

Hours later, active duty troops from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were staged outside Washington, D.C. Trump then made a statement suggesting potential use of the Insurrection Act -- with or without the approval of state authorities -- as police cleared protesters from Lafayette Park ahead of a photo op in front of St. John's Church.

"If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said in the White House Rose Garden.

Cotton, an Army veteran who is running unopposed for reelection in November and has presidential aspirations of his own, also released a statement Tuesday condemning "violent anarchists and insurrectionists [whom] were once again allowed to rule the streets last night in too many cities."

"The only way to end this insurrection is the overwhelming display of force," Cotton said, citing increased violence on police amid protests.

Cotton was criticized on Monday for tweeting there should be "no quarter for insurrectionists, anarchists, rioters, and looters."

Conservative attorney and Iraqi war veteran David French criticized Cotton for advocating "no quarter" and argued that it has been a war crime since Abraham Lincoln signed the Lieber Code in 1863.

A no quarter order is a war crime, prohibited even in actual insurrection since Abraham Lincoln's signed the Lieber Code in 1863. Such an order is banned by international law and would, if carried out, be murder under American law. https://t.co/YbSw1sM9KW https://t.co/OiNsRT7PPy

— David French (@DavidAFrench) June 1, 2020


Cotton, a Harvard Law School graduate, rejected the criticism and posted a definition from the Collins Dictionary: "Definition of 'no quarter': If you say that someone was given no quarter, you mean that they were not treated kindly by someone who had power or control over them."

The American Civil Liberties Union called Cotton's remarks "irresponsible and dangerous" and said they were likely to inflame an already tense situation nationwide.

No state governor has asked the president for the help of active duty troops, although several Democrats were quick to reject the idea.

As active duty troops remain staged outside the nation's capital Thursday, it was unclear if the president would invoke the Insurrection Act, as Cotton wants.

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ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- BY: BENJAMIN SIEGEL, CONOR FINNEGAN, and KATHERINE FAULDERS

Fired State Department inspector general Steve Linick told lawmakers on Wednesday that his office was conducting two investigations related to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and that senior department officials were aware of the inquiries, according to Democratic lawmakers.

Over roughly seven hours of testimony, Linick told lawmakers that several senior aides to Pompeo, including Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, were aware of the ongoing investigations into whether the secretary was using staff for personnel errands, and the use of emergency legal powers to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates over congressional objections.

Linick also testified that Bulatao tried to "bully" him repeatedly, and told him that his office should not have been investigating the emergency weapons sale. Democrats, in their readout, also said Linick told Congress that Bulatao wanted to supervise an investigation into allegations of a leak of a draft inspector general report to reporters.

That undercuts Pompeo's public comments that he was aware of only one probe and challenges his statement that Linick's firing was not retaliation for any investigation. Pompeo and President Donald Trump have said Trump fired Linick at Pompeo's request.

"Mr. Linick testified that he was 'shocked' when he found out he was being fired, that his removal came without any warning from President Trump or Secretary Pompeo, and that the Administration's after-the-fact justifications are 'either misplaced or unfounded,'" Reps. Eliot Engel, D-NY, Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, Gerry Connolly, D-VA, Joaquin Castro, D-TX, and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, said in a statement.

Linick declined to discuss details of the ongoing investigations in his interview, according to sources who participated in the virtual interview. An attorney for Linick declined to comment on the session.

Republicans slammed Democrats for their plans to release the transcript of Linick's interview before hearing any testimony from the State Department as part of their investigation into the inspector general's removal. They also accused Linick of being more forthcoming in answering questions about his office's investigations from Democrats than from Republicans.

"Releasing Mr Linick's transcript without the benefit of hearing from the State Department would be the latest in a long line of irresponsible actions by Committee Democrats," a GOP House Oversight Committee spokesman told ABC News. "We hope the Democrats will take up Mr. Bulatao's generous offer to come brief them on all the events discussed in today's interview."

While Bulatao, a Pompeo confidant and West Point classmate, has agreed to brief lawmakers in their probe, Democrats have rejected the offer, and want to question him under oath.

Republicans have also tried to challenge Linick's credibility and further accusations from Pompeo and Bulatao that the Office of Inspector General under his leadership was responsible for leaks -- one of the reasons they've cited for his firing, without offering specifics.

"It's also still unknown how our Democrat colleagues had detailed information about ongoing IG investigations at State that we were not privy to. We are continuing to look into this matter," said Leslie Shedd, a spokesperson for the House Foreign Affairs Committee's top Republican, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas.

Linick was cleared of any wrongdoing in an investigation last fall by the Pentagon's inspector general. But a GOP aide on the committee challenged that probe, saying it was "limited" and "not thorough" because it didn't look into text messages or call logs, other OIG employees' personal emails, or any correspondence with members of Congress and their staff, only with the press, they said.

They also faulted Linick for not sharing a final copy with his "superiors" at the department, although it's unclear if he would have to, given that inspectors general are tasked by law with being independent from their agencies.

In his opening statement, obtained by ABC News, Linick defended his record, saying he has "served without regard to politics" under presidents from both parties.

Linick told lawmakers his office issued more than 700 reports and saved taxpayers nearly $2 billion. He also invoked the late Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a conservative fiscal watchdog who he said shared some advice with him when he became an inspector general.

"Sen. Coburn told me to never forget that ultimately inspectors general work for the American public. In keeping with that advice, every minute of my work... has been devoted to promoting the efficiency and effectiveness of both agencies, along with ensuring that taxpayer funds are protected against waste, fraud, and abuse," he said. "In carrying out my work, I have always taken the facts and evidence wherever they lead and have been faithfully committed to conducting independent and impartial oversight, as required by law."

Pompeo first said that he was personally unaware of any investigations into his actions when he recommended Linick's removal to President Donald Trump. He later added he was aware of one "particular investigation" that he provided answers in writing about, but he did not specify which one and did not participate in an in-person interview for it.

"This didn't have anything to do with retaliation," he told Fox News last week. "This was about an IG that was attempting to undermine the mission of the United States Department of State. That's unacceptable."

Linick told lawmakers that he discussed the investigation into alleged misuse of department resources with top agency officials so that department leadership "would not be surprised," Democrats said in their readout of the session.

He also said that Stephen Akard, his acting replacement who still serves as the director of the Office of Foreign Missions, had discussed taking on the inspector general role with people in the office in April, weeks before Linick was formally informed of his firing, according to two participants on the call.

While Democrats said Linick believed he had heard no "valid" reasons for his dismissal, Republicans have defended his removal and argued that he served at the president's pleasure.

Democrats are also seeking interviews with at least seven State Department employees who say they may have knowledge of the watchdog's ongoing investigations.

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ABC NewsBy ALEXANDER MALLIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that the the federal government has evidence that the radical left-wing antifa movement as well as other extremist groups have "hijacked" legitimate protests around the country to incite violence, and said certain "foreign actors" are seizing on the unrest to sow discord in the U.S.

"While many have peacefully expressed their anger and grief, others have hijacked protests to engage in lawlessness, violent rioting, arson, looting of businesses, and public property assaults on law enforcement officers and innocent people, and even the murder of a federal agent," Barr said. "We have evidence that antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity.

Barr added, "we are also seeing foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence."

In a news conference at the Justice Department alongside other department heads Thursday, Barr and FBI Director Chris Wray both singled out the antifa movement in their opening remarks, though to date the DOJ has not provided direct evidence of widespread involvement of antifa followers in the violence seen thus far across the country.

In contrast, on Wednesday the DOJ announced the arrest of three men connected to the far-right 'Boogaloo' movement who were allegedly plotting to incite violence at protests in Las Vegas.

Asked by ABC News' Senior Justice Correspondent Pierre Thomas why he didn't name-check those arrests, Barr pointed to his opening statement where he acknowledged "actors of a variety of different political persuasions" who were also carrying out violence.

"There are some groups that don't have a particular ideology, other than anarchy and there's some groups that want to bring about a civil war -- the 'Boogaloo' group that has been on the margin of this as well trying to exacerbate the violence," Barr said. "So we are dealing with as I say a witch's brew of a lot of different extremist organizations."

Barr also cautioned that investigators are seeing "a lot of disinformation out there" with certain groups posing as members of other opposing groups.

Wray then followed up on Barr's remarks by making clear that while the FBI has a number of "ongoing investigations" of "violent anarchist extremists' with antifa-like views, the FBI's investigative efforts are not driven by the political ideology of violent actors.

"We're about there violence, we're not about the ideology and it doesn't matter what your ideology is, if you commit violence or rioting or acts that we would consider terrorism we're going to pursue it," Wray said.

Barr, who is under fire for his order Monday to push back a protest in front of the White House to make way for President Trump's photo op at St. John's Church, defended the underlying plan to clear out the protesters as having "no correlation" with Trump's visit.

"I think it was entirely appropriate for him to do," Barr said. "I did not know that he was going to do that [visit] until later in the day after our plans were well underway to move the perimeter, so there was no correlation between our tactical plan and moving the perimeter out by one block, and the president's going over to the church."

Barr said that officials on the ground had identified "instigators" who were throwing projectiles and otherwise making the perimeter an unsafe area.

"One of the difficulties is that while there are peaceful demonstrators and participants in these protests, it is the instigators, those committed to violence who basically shield themselves by going among them," Barr said, adding he personally witnessed projectiles being thrown on his visit to Lafayette Park prior to the evacuation. "We could not continue to protect the federal property involved and protect the safety of our agents with such a tight perimeter."

Barr used the news conference to applaud federal officials across the country for their work so far in prosecuting bad actors at the protests, announcing that there has so far been 51 federal arrests in connection with violent looting and rioting.

As a part of his remarks, Barr also weighed in on the nature of the concerns expressed by protesters about the inequities of the criminal justice system, and said he would be holding meetings with DOJ's law enforcement commission and have conversations with community leaders to "find constructive solutions."

"While the vast majority of police officers do their job bravely and righteously, it is undeniable that many African Americans lacked confidence in our American criminal justice system," Barr said. "I believe that police chiefs and law enforcement officials and leaders around the country are committed to ensuring that racism plays no part in law enforcement, and that everyone receives equal protection of the laws."

Asked whether he agrees with the concerns of protesters who have said they see Floyd's death as a part of a broader systemic issue of police brutality of people of color, Barr answered he believes excessive force is generally restricted to a "distinct minority" of officers.

"Federal civil rights laws address will fully use of excessive force and those that engage in that kind of activity I think are a distinct minority," Barr said. "I think the overwhelming number of police officers try conscientiously to use appropriate and reasonable force.

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Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty ImagesBy ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Senate Democrats gathered in Emancipation Hall in the capitol building for a moment of silence in memory of the lives of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor on Thursday morning.

The senators fell quiet for eight minutes and 46 seconds, the same length of time that Officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd down with his knee.

Sen. Cory Booker led brief remarks before the moment of silence began, speaking to onlookers about Floyd's life.

"Today we gather here in solemn reverence to not just mark his tragic death but to give honor to his life," Booker said. "We now will pause for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in remembrance of George Floyd."

For the duration of the moment of silence, the senators wore masks and stood six feet apart.

Several senators -- including Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., and Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. -- kneeled down.

Booker again made brief remarks when the silence broke.

"George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor. May we honor those dead by protecting those who are alive," he said before the senators dispersed.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke about the moment of silence during his floor remarks later on Thursday.

"Standing there in silence you feel the horrifying length of George Floyd's final nine minutes," Schumer said. "You cannot help but imagine his horror and fear knowing that his trauma, the trauma of his family and friends has been felt buy so many black families and black communities across the country and across the centuries."

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rarrarorro/iStockBy BENJAMIN SIEGEL, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- House Democrats introduced a sweeping policing reform measure on Thursday named for George Floyd, in an effort to take action after his death and the resulting worldwide protests over racism and police brutality.

The George Floyd Law Enforcement Trust and Integrity Act, from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, and co-sponsored by Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Jason Crow, D-Colo., and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., calls for new national policing standards and accreditations.

It would require every state, local and federal law enforcement agency to provide data to the Department of Justice on the use of deadly force by and against police officers, along with data on traffic and pedestrian stops.

It would also make funding grants available to police agencies studying and creating new recruitment, hiring and oversight programs, and require the Justice Department to establish a task force to coordinate efforts to investigate and prosecute cases of law enforcement misconduct.

“It is a bill for this moment in history,” Jackson Lee told ABC News as she traveled to Floyd’s funeral in Minneapolis.

The Texas Democrat, who has introduced the measure in previous sessions of Congress, said the proposal “tries to alter the culture” of policing in America.

“Officers … want to go home to their families, we acknowledge that,” Jackson Lee said. “But we acknowledge that it’s important that those they confront go home as well. And we have not been seeing that as it relates to African American men.”

The proposal is one of several new measures Democrats could work to advance following the killing of George Floyd and resulting protests over racism and police brutality across the country.

On Wednesday, Omar, from Minnesota, introduced four bills, including a proposal to establish a federal agency to investigate deaths in police custody and from officer involved shootings across the country, and another to criminalize violence against protestors by police – who, in many instances, are shielded by a legal doctrine known as qualified immunity.

Earlier this week, former vice president and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden endorsed a bill from Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., to outlaw police chokeholds.

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said on Thursday that House and Senate Democrats would introduce comprehensive police reform in the coming days.

"Many of these bills have been in the hopper. And now with all the public exposure of it, we have a better chance of getting them turned into law," she said on a conference call.

While Democratic leaders have vowed to pass new legislation after Floyd’s death, it’s not clear what measures the GOP-held Senate will consider – or if President Donald Trump would sign any of them into law.

“It’s not lost on me that there are over 70 cosponsors of this bill, and none of them are Republicans. That’s a problem,” said Crow, who marched with protesters in Denver on Wednesday. “So I tell all my Republican colleagues, today will be a good day to do the right thing. Tomorrow will be a good day to do the right thing, You can join this."

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy on Thursday said he would be consulting with Republican members on potential legislation. He said he would support improving police officer training and making it easier for officers to be removed for cause.

“I do not believe that anybody should be judged by the color of their skin. They should not judge all just by the color of their uniform,” he said.

ABC's Mariam Khan and Sarah Kolinovsky contributed to this report.

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Official White House Photo by Shealah CraigheadBy WILL STEAKIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump’s re-election effort is set to resume in-person campaigning next week for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic sidelined their massive ground game operation nearly three months ago, multiple sources with direct knowledge of the efforts tell ABC News.

Trump Victory, the joint effort between the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee, will flip the switch next week for its “summer kick off,” sending volunteers and staffers back on the ground for door knocking, in-person training sessions, and voter registrations, multiple sources tell ABC News.

The return of on-the-ground campaigning, which the president’s team had made a core strategy of his re-election effort investing millions in recruiting and training over a million volunteers nation-wide, marks the latest move the president's team has made toward returning to traditional campaigning amid a pandemic that halted efforts months back.

State teams across the country had been informed weeks ago to develop their own plans to return to in-person campaigning, with June being eyed as the return timeframe since early May, sources familiar tell ABC News.

“Starting next week, Trump Victory field teams will resume in person volunteer activities and campaigning where states allow. Just as Trump Victory was able to transition to virtual campaigning in less than 24 hours, our teams across the country will seamlessly adapt again just as efficiently,” RNC National Press Secretary Mandi Merritt said in a statement to ABC News.

While it’s not immediately clear how many state teams will be reactivated, officials say volunteers and staff will adhere by local guidelines and take necessary safety precautions including abiding by capacity limits, exercising social distancing, and wearing masks while they are door knocking. States will began to hit the campaign trail as local COVID-19 guidelines permit, a Republican source said.

Trump Victory North Central Florida has already started publicly recruiting more volunteers for a return to canvassing next week.

The return to on-the-ground campaigning for the Trump campaign and RNC comes as the president's recent polling numbers show him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

In a new Monmouth national poll out this week, the former vice president has an 11 point lead over President Trump, with 52% of registered voters saying they'd support Biden if the election was held today and 41% saying they would support the president. Biden also holds a 10-point lead over Trump among registered voters in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll.

Volunteers will also be heading back onto the streets as nation-wide protests over the police killing of George Floyd have gripped the nation.

In mid March the RNC and Trump campaign completely switched their and on-the-ground campaign efforts online, switching in a matter of days hundreds of planned events to virtual trainings over Zoom while doubling down on phone banking efforts.

Since the transition, Trump Victory has made nearly 35 million voter contacts, and in one week alone recently made 10 million calls. The president’s re-election effort stands with a whopping over 1.2 million volunteers trained and activated, according to an RNC official.

Trump’s ground operation being reactivated will come as the president himself officially hits the campaign again next week, holding two in-person fundraisers, one on June 11th at a private home in Dallas and another on June 13 at his Bedminster golf club, multiple sources tell ABC News.    An RNC official tells ABC News that "each event site will be professionally cleaned and sanitized prior to the event,” and all attendees will have to test negative for COVID-19 on the day of the event, complete a wellness questionnaire, and pass a temperature screening.

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filo/iStockBy LUKE BARR and QUINN OWEN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Law enforcement units from federal agencies across the board have been brought to Washington to protect the White House and deal with protesters in the nation's capital, but critics say using them in a show of force has gone too far.

President Donald Trump directed Attorney General William Barr "to lead federal law enforcement efforts to assist in the restoration of order to the District of Columbia."

Barr was seen walking on the streets of D.C. Monday night, and inside the FBI command center the night after.

There were even riot teams from the Bureau of Prisons in full force outside the White House.

A senior Department of Justice official said that Barr deployed BOP riot teams to help cities like D.C. and Miami manage the riots.

The ripple effect has been felt in prisons across the country, with facilities going into complete lockdown.

Additionally, there has been a deployment of active-duty military officers, aimed to help quell the tension between protesters and law enforcement.

The Department of Homeland Security has also deployed hundreds of law enforcement agents.

More than 600 DHS staffers were dispatched this week to control demonstrations in the nation's capital and across the country.

The DHS federal agents maintain broad authority and often coordinate with state and local officials prior to appearing at major national events -- such as the George Floyd protests.

But the display of force seen this week has been shocking, said Peter Vincent, who worked as a chief counsel for the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the Obama administration.

"This is not the job of the men and women of ICE or CBP, this is not what they are trained to do, and this is not how their enforcement authorities should be deployed," Vincent said. "Indeed, these actions are specifically intended to intimidate and chill Americans into remaining silent in the face of obscene injustices."

More than 100 DHS intelligence analysts are assisting state and local authorities nationwide with "real-time updates," according to the agency.

"Clearly, the Metropolitan Police Department would have been unable to establish order in the city," former U.S. Secret Service agent Don Mihalek said.

"Having those federal agencies there was a benefit to the city and the Metropolitan Police Department. They had an automatic force multiplier of federal law enforcement officers who all have who the majority of them have arrest powers in D.C. to supplement and help lock down parts of the city that MPD didn't have to pay attention to," Mihalek, an ABC News contributor said.

The forces also included federal immigration patrols -- ICE swat teams and Border Patrol agents -- pulled from their normal duties.

Demonstrations are classified by ICE as one of the "sensitive locations," which the agency typically avoids, but, disruptions to public safety are an exception, an ICE official told ABC News. If a protester is arrested, booked and agents later discover they are undocumented, the official said, the protester would be detained by immigration authorities and possibly deported if a judge gives the order.

"U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) fully respects the rights of all people to peacefully express their opinions," the agency said in a statement.

As Border Patrol agents were called to D.C., Maryland and Virginia, Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan tweeted that "radicals & agitators" prompted the response. Morgan first announced the involvement of CBP agents on Sunday, which he said came at the request of other law enforcement agencies.

The ACLU deputy policy director, Andrea Flores, who worked at the DHS during the Obama administration, called the deployment of immigration agents to suppress protests "a mistake that imperils the lives of even more black and brown people."

"ICE and CBP are rogue agencies with sordid histories of abuse, violence, and human rights violations," Flores said in a statement.

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ABC NewsBy ALLISON PECORIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Lynching is still not a federal crime in the United States, despite nearly 200 attempts by lawmakers to make it so. Now, as the nation grapples with the death of George Floyd, one lawmaker is standing in the way of allowing the historic passage of a bill that would outlaw lynchings: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.

The House has already passed an anti-lynching legislation, which is awaiting approval in the Senate. But on Wednesday, Paul told reporters he has concerns about the bill, which he said might allow more minor altercations to be punishable as lynchings.

"Bruises could be considered lynching," Paul said. "That's a problem, to put someone in jail for 10 years for some kind of altercation."

Paul agreed that lynching should be "universally condemned," but said conflating the act with minor offenses does a "disservice to those who were lynched in our history."

ABC News reached out to Paul's office for clarification and was pointed in the direction of a statement about Paul's proposed amendment to the legislation.

"The bill as written would allow altercations resulting in a cut, abrasion, bruise, or any other injury, no matter how temporary, to be subject to a 10-year penalty," the statement read. "My amendment would simply apply a serious bodily injury standard, which would ensure crimes resulting in substantial risk of death and extreme physical pain be prosecuted as a lynching."

In order for the Senate to quickly pass the House bill, they would need to agree to it unanimously and without offering amendments. Adding an amendment would require the full vote of the Senate, and would mean that the bill would have to be sent back to the House for additional consideration -- a move that would delay the passing of the bill because the House is currently out of session.

The National Journal was the first to report that Paul was the senator who was blocking the legislation from proceeding.

If passed as it currently stands, the bill would increase the penalty for those who commit certain civil rights violations, already outlawed in U.S. code, if the violator is found to have been conspiring with a group, according to a spokesperson for Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill. Rush proposed the legislation on the House side. This gets at the "mob mentality" of a lynching, the spokesperson said.

While Paul's office did not clarify which part of the law might allow bruising and other offenses to be punishable as a lynching, it is possible he was referring to language that already exists in U.S. law, which punishes anyone who "willfully injures" or "intimidates" while committing certain civil rights violations.

If the House bill passed, it is possible that those who commit these types of violations -- which are not necessarily life-threatening -- could potentially face the harsher punishment of up to 10 years in prison if the violation was done in conspiracy with a group and deemed a lynching.

The House passed their anti-lynching bill in February, named in remembrance of Emmett Till, a young black teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955. The bill received broad bipartisan support, clearing the House by a vote of 410-4. A nearly identical version passed the Senate in 2019 unanimously.

The Senate bill, which was proposed by the three black members of the Senate: Sens. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Cory Booker, D-N.J. and Tim Scott, R-S.C. The three senators applauded the passage of the House bill in February. The two bills are nearly identical.

Paul did not oppose the Senate bill when it passed in 2019.

Rush has tweeted about the need to pass the anti-lynching legislation in light of the death of Ahmaud Arbery. He expressed frustration with Paul's opposition to the House bill.

"The language of the Emmett Till Antilynching Act is IDENTICAL to the bill that was unanimously approved by the Senate," Rush tweeted. "The only conclusion I can draw from @RandPaul's sudden opposition is he has an issue with the House bill being named after Emmett Till."

When the House passed their legislation on Feb. 26, 2020, advocates were hopeful that the House and Senate measures could be quickly reconciled and the legislation could head to President Donald Trump's desk before the conclusion of Black History Month.

On Wednesday, Scott told Politico that the House could easily move the legislation by taking up the anti-lynching bill that already passed in the Senate.

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YinYang/iStockBy DEVIN DWYER, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- With police misconduct in the spotlight, the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday will consider whether to revisit its 50-year-old doctrine of "qualified immunity" for law enforcement officers, which has shielded cops from civil lawsuits even in cases where a citizen's rights have been violated.

"This is the cornerstone of our culture of near-zero accountability for law enforcement," Jay Schweikert, a criminal justice policy analyst at the Cato Institute, said of the doctrine created by the court in the late 1960s.

While the Civil Rights Act of 1871 gives Americans the unambiguous ability to sue public officials over civil rights violations, the Supreme Court has subsequently limited liability to only those rights that have become "clearly established law."

Critics say the standard is near-impossible to meet.

"In order for a plaintiff to defeat qualified immunity, they have to find a prior case that has held unconstitutional an incident with virtually identical facts to the one the plaintiff is bringing," said UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz. "And over the last 15 years, the court has made it a more and more difficult standard for plaintiffs to overcome to go to trial."

The issue has been percolating in lower courts for years and drawn increasing scrutiny from across the political spectrum. It returns to the Supreme Court now by coincidence, as the country grapples with fallout from the death of George Floyd while he was in Minneapolis police custody on Memorial Day.

During their private weekly conference, the justices are expected to review petitions in eight different cases involving qualified immunity, which the court established in an attempt to curb gratuitous litigation.

In one case, a Tennessee man suspected of burglary was mauled by a police dog that was released by officers after he was sitting on the ground with his hands raised in surrender.

Another involves a Georgia mother whose 10-year-old son was inadvertently shot in the leg by a deputy pursuing a suspect into the family's yard.

An Idaho woman who gave police permission -- and the keys -- to search her home for a fugitive, wants to sue the officers who instead spent hours bombarding it from the outside with tear-gas grenades that destroyed her property. The fugitive was not inside.

In each case, federal courts dismissed lawsuits against the officers in light of the qualified immunity doctrine.

"It must be the case that this is weighing heavily on the justices' minds," said Schweikert. "They are smart enough to recognize the direct connection between the doctrine of qualified immunity and the outrage over the lack of accountability for law enforcement motivating so many people to the demonstrations that we're seeing."

Police officers accused of misconduct can face criminal charges, but convictions are exceedingly rare. That leaves civil lawsuits as one of the few avenues for alleged victims to pursue their claims.

In a 2018 dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor warned that qualified immunity had become an "absolute shield" for law enforcement, "gutting the deterrent effect of the Fourth Amendment."

"It tells officers that they can shoot first and think later," she wrote, in a statement joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Justice Clarence Thomas has also been publicly skeptical of the policy, writing in 2017 that qualified immunity does not have a solid foundation in the Constitution or common law.

"Until we shift the focus of our inquiry to whether immunity existed at common law, we will continue to substitute our own policy preferences for the mandates of Congress," Thomas said. "In an appropriate case, we should reconsider our qualified immunity jurisprudence."

The justices now have that opportunity to clarify or curtail its precedent. It takes at least four justices to vote to take up a case for it to be added for oral argument later this year.

"I don't pretend to read Supreme Court tea leaves with any expertise, but it does seem like there's something that the court is trying to do," Schwartz said.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Floyd. Three other officers have also been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter.

Regardless of the outcome in those criminal cases, the Floyd family may also choose to seek civil damages against the officers.

Such a case would likely have to overcome the "exacting standard" of qualified immunity, Schweikert said.

"That's going to turn on whether the Eighth Circuit has cases that they've already decided in which police officers have held an unresisting, helpless suspect for a sufficiently long period of time to be close enough to the eight or nine minutes that we saw in George Floyd's case," he said. "I don't know if there are any such cases, and if there aren't, then immunity could stand."

Of the 30 qualified immunity cases that reached the Supreme Court between 1982 and 2017, just twice did the justices find immunity did not apply to official conduct, according to University of Chicago law professor William Baude.

Legal immunity for officers was originally devised out of concern about legal harassment and potential for personal bankruptcies. Some experts have also warned about the erosion of a deterrent effect from police if they became hesitant about enforcing certain laws because of potential legal liability.

"You're trying to strike a balance," said Chris Walker, law professor at The Ohio State University, who has offered a qualified defense of the doctrine. "You don't want to have a legal system or an officer who is going to shirk from doing their duty. And so if you're afraid of liability or being dragged into court, you might not actually faithfully execute the law."

If it takes up qualified immunity, the Supreme Court will have to grapple with the fact that it is well-established precedent, Walker added.

"Justices (Elena) Kagan, (Stephen) Breyer, and even Ginsburg are going to be really worried about stare decisis," Walker said, referring to the legal principle of respecting precedent when deciding a case. "If we just get rid of a doctrine that was established in the 1960s and that we've repeatedly reaffirmed, what do we do with Roe v. Wade?"

Several legal scholars have speculated that the court could be poised to clarify the meaning of qualified immunity in a way that would scale back protections for law enforcement.

"I would see Kagan or (Chief Justice John) Roberts saying, it's part of our law; we're not going to get rid of it. But here are some principles to guide courts, and those principles actually really narrow the doctrine in a pro-plaintiff way," Walker said.

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ABC NewsBy LUCIEN BRUGGEMAN, ALLISON PECORIN and LUKE BARR, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Civil unrest and renewed frustration with the criminal justice system have further complicated Joe Biden's hunt for a running mate as three top-tier candidates with backgrounds in law enforcement face a fresh round of scrutiny.

For Biden, who said last week he is “furious” over President Donald Trump’s response to protests, the decision to pick someone with experience in law enforcement could bolster his ticket -- a foil to counter Trump’s self-proclaimed stake as the “law and order president.” But he also risks alienating voters by choosing someone with a controversial track record in their previous posts, particularly at a time when decades-long cries of injustice have erupted in protests across the country.

“Black Americans -- and certainly a growing number of white Americans -- are not trusting people who have a history in law enforcement,” said Yvette Simpson, a former campaign adviser for Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and the CEO of Democracy for America, a progressive political action committee. “It’s going to be challenging for Biden and for any of those candidates to make a case for why they should be the choice.”

The killing of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer last week “fundamentally changes” Biden’s selection process, according to Matthew Dowd, an ABC News political analyst, and calls into question the viability of a trio of prospective selections: Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, both former prosecutors, and Rep. Val Demings, a former police chief.

For Klobuchar, a Democrat from Minnesota who critics say disproportionately targeted people of color during her time as county attorney in the greater Minneapolis area, the path to reconciliation with black voters will be difficult to navigate.

Critics point to her penchant as a prosecutor to send cases of police-involved shootings to grand juries to decide whether or not to bring charges. In an interview on MSNBC last week, Klobuchar expressed remorse for that recurring theme of her tenure, conceding that “it would have been much better if I took the responsibility and looked at the cases and made the decision myself.”

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., a longtime legislator and prominent black leader, said Floyd’s death “is very tough timing for Amy Klobuchar,” but said she remains qualified for the position.

For her part, Klobuchar has continued to contribute to the debate over policing and has actively endeavored to rehabilitate her relationship with black voters -- a key constituency for Democrats, and one Biden is actively courting in appearances by touting his civil rights record in the senate and his ties to the country’s first black president.

“This moment of race discussions puts greater pressure on Biden to pick a woman of color,” Dowd said. “Biden needs someone on the ticket who has a personal relation to the issue -- and who can speak on it from that vantage point.”

Enter Harris, of California, and Demings, of Florida. Both Democrats are women of color, and both have served in law enforcement roles.

Another former prosecutor, Harris has staked much of her political identity on experience as a district attorney in San Francisco then as California’s first black attorney general.

But from the earliest stages of her career, Harris' relationship with policing has proved a complicated one. A former 2020 contender for the Democratic nomination, critics have said her progressive posture on the campaign trail does not reflect her prosecutorial record.

During her presidential bid, Harris faced backlash for her declining to support a 2015 bill that would have required the state attorney general’s office, which she occupied at the time, to investigate all fatal police-involved shootings. On the campaign trail in 2019, Harris denied allegations that she had opposed the bill, instead arguing that while attorney general she had declined to take a position on this bill and others as a matter of policy.

"So, I did not oppose the bill. I had a process when I was attorney general of not weighing in on bills and initiatives, because as attorney general, I had a responsibility for writing the title and summary," Harris told CNN's Jake Tapper when asked about her policy stance. "So I did not weigh in.”

Opponents have bristled that Harris' declination to support the bill reflects Harris' private opposition to it. Asked about this by The New York Times in 2019, a spokesperson for Harris' campaign told the Times that Harris "expressed that she had concern about taking discretion away from local district attorneys who are held accountable by their constituents."

Her refusal to allow additional evidence testing in the case of a black man on death row has also drawn the ire of progressive groups. So too has her opposition to a ruling that would have halted the death penalty in California and her hesitance to back measures that would have required all police officers in the state to wear body cameras.

At times, Harris has been criticized by the other side.

In 2004, just months into her tenure as San Francisco district attorney, she made an enemy out of the city’s police union when she refused to seek the death penalty for a 22-year-old gang member named David Hill, who shot and killed a police officer. The decision ignited outrage from the officer’s family and the local police union, and Harris was called out at the officer's funeral by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who earned a standing ovation from officers.

Like Klobuchar, Harris has seen Floyd’s death as an opportunity to restore ties with the black community. She was spotted in Washington, D.C., over the weekend demonstrating with protestors, clapping along to chants of "hands up don't shoot” -- a rallying cry for protesters of police violence against people of color.

Demings, a former police chief in Orlando, Florida, has also been vocal in the wake of Floyd’s death. In an editorial published last week by the Washington Post, Demings asked her “fellow brothers and sisters in blue: What in the hell are you doing?”

“In Minnesota, we have no choice but to hold the officers accountable through the criminal justice system,” she wrote. “But we cannot only be reactive. We must be proactive. We must work with law enforcement agencies to identify problems before they happen.”

As the top law enforcement official in Orlando from 2007-2011, Demings oversaw a dramatic decrease in violent crime -- a feat she used in her subsequent bid to represent the city in the U.S. Congress. But progressive groups condemned her time leading the city’s police force as one of excessive use-of-force complaints and minimal police transparency.

“This has been a problem for a while, through her administration and others. The problem is the leadership of the department,” Lawanna Gelzer, the president of the National Action Network’s Central Florida chapter, told the Atlantic in 2015. “She’s not going to get my vote.”

After a story about the use of force went out in a weekly Orlando publication, Demings wrote in 2008 that “looking for a negative story in a police department is like looking for a prayer at church. It won't take long to find one.”

Demings has defended her record as police chief and criticized the media for exaggerating complaints filed against her department.

“A local weekly publication chose to do an eight-page story on 98 claims of excessive force during the five-year period,” she wrote. “If we really focus on the numbers, the results are pretty amazing.”

The death of George Floyd will raise uncomfortable questions for Demings and Harris. But as black women with backgrounds in law enforcement, they might also share an opportunity to walk the “tight rope,” as Simpson, also an ABC News contributor, called it: tout their experience as a means to bolster their credentials while simultaneously acknowledging that they were once part of the problem.

Ultimately, Simpson added, they might convince voters that they are in a unique position to be part of the solution.

All three women have sought to regain the trust of black voters in recent weeks. But in a charged environment, political analysts suggest Biden may opt to avoid the controversy altogether by choosing someone without the baggage of having served in law enforcement.

“The cleaner choice is probably for [Biden] to choose someone who does not have a law enforcement background, but is African American,” Simpson said.

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Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesBy LIBBY CATHEY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Former President Jimmy Carter has become the latest and final living president to weigh in on the nationwide protests after the killing of George Floyd while he was in police custody.

In a statement released by The Carter Center Wednesday, the oldest living president said he and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, are "pained by the tragic racial injustices and consequent backlash across our nation in recent weeks."

"We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this," it read.

While Carter said "our hears are with the victims’ families and all who feel hopeless in the face of pervasive racial discrimination and outright cruelty," he also said that violence is not the answer, as some protests nationwide have turned destructive.

"We all must shine a spotlight on the immorality of racial discrimination," his statement read, without mentioning Floyd's name. "But violence, whether spontaneous or consciously incited, is not a solution."

Carter's statement also turned inward when he invoked his own experiences growing up in the deep South.

"As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country," he said.

Carter included a call back to his 1971 inaugural address as Georgia's governor when he said, "The time for racial discrimination is over."

"With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later," he continued.

"People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say 'no more' to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy," he added.

Carter's statement comes on the heels of President George W. Bush on Tuesday saying that he and former first lady Laura Bush are anguished by the killing of Floyd and disturbed by the injustice and fear.

"Yet we have resisted the urge to speak out, because this is not the time for us to lecture. It is time for us to listen. It is time for America to examine our tragic failures -- and as we do, we will also see some of our redeeming strengths," the statement said.

Former President Bill Clinton released a statement on Saturday, saying, "No one deserves to die the way George Floyd did. And the truth is, if you're white in America, the chances are you won't."

Clinton's statement also included a series of questions: "If George Floyd had been white, handcuffed, and lying on the ground, would he be alive today? Why does this keep happening? What can we do to ensure that every community has the police department it needs and deserves?"

"People with power should go first -- answer the questions, expand who’s 'us' and shrink who’s 'them,' accept some blame, and assume more responsibility," Clinton added. "But the rest of us have to answer these questions too."

The nation's first black president, Barack Obama, was the first living former president to publicly comment on Floyd's death with a statement last Friday.

After ongoing protests intensified over the weekend, Obama published an essay Monday on Medium addressing how he thinks people can move forward.

"The next moment in American history can be "a real turning point," Obama wrote, if "we can channel our justifiable anger into peaceful, sustained, and effective action."

Speaking on that turning point again during a virtual town hall Wednesday, Obama said that the tragedy of recent events, while "difficult and scary and uncertain," also represent "an incredible opportunity for people to be awakened to some of (the) underlying trends" of systemic racism.

"This country was founded on protest," Obama added. "It is called the American revolution."

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Kiyoshi Tanno/iStockBy BENJAMIN SIEGEL, CONOR FINNEGAN and KATHERINE FAULDERS, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Fired State Department inspector general Steve Linick told lawmakers on Wednesday that his office was conducting two investigations related to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and that senior department officials were aware of the inquiries, according to Democratic lawmakers.

Over roughly seven hours of testimony, Linick told lawmakers that several senior aides to Pompeo, including Under Secretary of State for Management Brian Bulatao, were aware of the ongoing investigations into whether the secretary was using staff for personnel errands, and the use of emergency legal powers to sell weapons to Saudi Arabia over congressional objections.

"Mr. Linick testified that he was 'shocked' when he found out he was being fired, that his removal came without any warning from President Trump or Secretary Pompeo, and that the Administration's after-the-fact justifications are 'either misplaced or unfounded,'" Reps. Eliot Engel, D-NY, Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, Gerry Connolly, D-VA, Joaquin Castro, D-TX, and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, said in a statement.

Linick declined to discuss details of the ongoing investigations in his interview, according to sources who participated in the virtual interview. An attorney for Linick declined to comment on the session.

Republicans slammed Democrats for their plans to release the transcript of Linick's interview before hearing any testimony from the State Department as part of their investigation into the inspector general's removal. They also accused Linick of being more forthcoming in answering questions about his office's investigations from Democrats than from Republicans.

"Releasing Mr Linick's transcript without the benefit of hearing from the State Department would be the latest in a long line of irresponsible actions by Committee Democrats," a GOP House Oversight Committee spokesman told ABC News. "We hope the Democrats will take up Mr. Bulatao's generous offer to come brief them on all the events discussed in today's interview."

While Bulatao, a Pompeo confidant and West Point classmate, has agreed to brief lawmakers in their probe, Democrats have rejected the offer, and want to question him under oath.

Linick defended his record in an opening statement obtained by ABC News, and said he has "served without regard to politics" under presidents from both parties.

Linick told lawmakers his office issued more than 700 reports and saved taxpayers nearly $2 billion. Linick also invoked the late Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a conservative fiscal watchdog who he said shared some advice with him when he became an inspector general.

"Sen. Coburn told me to never forget that ultimately inspectors general work for the American public. In keeping with that advice, every minute of my work... has been devoted to promoting the efficiency and effectiveness of both agencies, along with ensuring that taxpayer funds are protected against waste, fraud, and abuse," he said. "In carrying out my work, I have always taken the facts and evidence wherever they lead and have been faithfully committed to conducting independent and impartial oversight, as required by law."

Pompeo has said that he was personally unaware of any investigations into his actions when he recommended Linick's removal to President Donald Trump.

"This didn't have anything to do with retaliation," he told Fox News last week. "This was about an IG that was attempting to undermine the mission of the United States Department of State. That's unacceptable."

Linick told lawmakers that he discussed the investigation into alleged misuse of department resources with top agency officials so that department leadership "would not be surprised," Democrats said in their readout of the session.

While Democrats said Linick believed he had heard no "valid" reasons for his dismissal, Republicans have defended his removal and argued that he served at the president's pleasure.

Democrats are also seeking interviews with at least seven State Department employees who say they may have knowledge of the watchdog's ongoing investigations.

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US CongressBy BENJAMIN SIEGEL and KENDALL KARSON, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Democrats cheered Iowa Rep. Steve King's primary loss to state Sen. Randy Feenstra Tuesday night, a defeat that could effectively end the political career of the outspoken conservative who generated controversy with comments about immigration, race and white supremacy.

Goodbye, Rep. Steve King. You are certainly not the only white supremacist in federal government, but you were among the most prominent.

It’s a shame Republicans held you up as long as they did.

SEE YA 👋🏽 https://t.co/tymvh0hwLR

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 3, 2020

Decent Americans are doing this right now. https://t.co/hVVdByGMWk pic.twitter.com/VS2t8fVzHK

— Rep. Jared Huffman (@JaredHuffman) June 3, 2020

The nine-term congressman lost to Feenstra, a deep-pocketed opponent supported by national GOP groups, by nearly 10 percentage points in the five-way primary.

King was effectively shunned by party leaders in 2019, when Republican leaders took away his committee assignments after he wondered to the New York Times why the terms “white nationalist” and “white supremacist” were considered offensive. Feenstra and King's GOP critics argued that he had become ineffective in Washington, and wasn't standing up for Iowans during the coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout.

The congressman conceded the race Tuesday night after talking to Feenstra, and said in a Facebook video that he told his opponent that "there's some powerful elements in the swamp that he’s going to have a hard time pushing against."

“I don’t know if he or anybody has any idea how powerful they actually are," King said, noting the spending against his candidacy by Super PAC groups.

Republican leaders worried that King’s victory in the primary -- or at a nominating convention if no candidate received more than 35% of the vote -- could cost the party the ruby-red congressional seat, and hurt President Donald Trump and Sen. Joni Ernst’s numbers in the region.

King was nearly defeated in 2018 by Democrat JD Scholten, a former minor league baseball player who is running for the seat again in 2020.

Trump congratulated Feenstra on Wednesday for his primary win, after initially staying silent on the race.

Congratulations to Randy Feenstra on your big win in the Iowa Republican Primary. You will be a great Congressman!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 3, 2020

The president, who said he had “great respect” for King at his 2015 summit for presidential candidates, kept his distance from the primary, and the backlash to King’s 2019 comments.

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