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Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Kushner shakes up Trump campaign team


White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has engineered a shake-up in President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign in the aftermath of a botched Tulsa rally, according to three people familiar with the matter.

Kushner on Tuesday replaced chief operating officer Michael Glassner with Jeff DeWit, who held the same position in Trump’s 2016 campaign. The decision to remove Glassner, who has been overseeing the president’s rallies, is being seen internally as an effort to designate blame for the Tulsa disaster. The June 20 rally was marred by the sight of thousands of empty seats.

The news was first reported by Axios.

Glassner, one of Trump’s longest-serving campaign aides, is being shifted to a different role in which he will be helping to oversee the campaign’s various legal battles. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the decision was “not a reaction to Tulsa.”

“Michael Glassner is moving into the long-term role of navigating the many legal courses we face, including suits against major media outlets, some of which will likely extend beyond the end of the campaign. He is one of the founding members of Team Trump and his dedication to the success of the President is unmatched,” Murtaugh added.

But two people said the shuffle was a direct result of the Oklahoma rally and contended that Glassner was being positioned — perhaps unfairly — as the fall guy for the imbroglio. While Glassner has been active in arranging logistics for Trump’s rallies, few internally pointed the finger at him for the failure to fill the arena.

The move comes at a treacherous moment for the president, with polls showing him trailing Joe Biden by substantial margins. Kushner has been effectively overseeing the campaign from the White House, but with four months until the election, he is expected to become even more hands-on.

DeWit, a former Arizona state treasurer, is a Trump loyalist who played a key role in the president’s 2016 win. Trump later nominated him to serve as chief operating officer at NASA, a position DeWit stepped down from earlier this year.

DeWit had been in talks with Kushner for several weeks. In his new position, he will oversee everything from budgeting to the planning of events and rallies.

Trump, who has been mostly cooped up in the White House amid the coronavirus pandemic, has been eager to hit the trail. But the Tulsa failure has stymied his plans. The campaign has been weighing holding smaller events though it has yet to schedule any.



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Bozoma Saint John named as Netflix’s new chief marketing officer

Netflix has tapped former Endeavor powerhouse Bozoma Saint John to serve as its new Chief Marketing Officer. 

Saint John, who worked as CMO at Endeavor since 2018, is replacing Jackie Lee-Joe, after she departed the streaming giant due to personal reasons, Deadline reports.

Throughout her 20-year career, Saint John has sprinkled her Black Girl Magic across  multiple global brands and industries including music, fashion and entertainment to sports, automotive and consumer goods. 

READ MORE: Netflix to spend $100M to help Black business

“Bozoma Saint John is an exceptional marketer who understands how to drive conversations around popular culture better than almost anyone,” said Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos. “As we bring more great stories to our members around the world, she’ll define and lead our next exciting phase of creativity and connection with consumers.”

Said Saint John: “I’m thrilled to join Netflix, especially at a time when storytelling is critical to our global, societal well-being. I feel honored to contribute my experience to an already dynamic legacy, and to continue driving engagement in the future.”

Prior to joining Endeavor, she was the top branding executive at Uber after working at Pepsi-Cola North America, Beats Music and Apple.

Saint John is reportedly Netflix’s third CMO in less than a year. Lee-Joe had only been at the company for 10 months. Her exit is said to be amicable. 

“I’m so proud to have led this team and all that we have achieved together during such an extraordinary time, fostering conversations about our films and shows that brought people together all around the world,” said Lee-Joe. “I wish everyone at Netflix all the very best.”

In related news, Netflix, which has $5B in its cash reserves, will place 2 percent of its holdings with financial institutions that loan to Black businesses, theGrio previously reported.

They will begin with splitting $35M among two organizations – the newly founded Black Economic Development Initiative that will provide funding to Black banking institutions and Hope credit union, a federal credit union in the South that helps unbanked families and those who have been underserved by traditional banking institutions.

The idea came from a call to improve diversity at Netflix, which has partnered with several Black creators including the Obamas, Kenya Barris, and Shonda Rhimes who signed big contracts with the streamer. The 2019 documentary American Factory out of the Obamas production company won a Best Documentary Oscar in 2020.

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August Alsina says Will Smith ‘gave his blessing’ with Jada Pinkett Smith

August Alsina nearly broke the Internet on Tuesday after an interview dropped of him confessing to having romantic relations with Jada Pinkett Smith

During a recent sit-down with Angela Yee, the R&B singer served up a bombshell when he confirmed his past love affair with the actress, thejasminebrand.com reports. Their relationship even had the blessing of her superstar husband Will Smith.

Relationship rumors have long shrouded Alsina and the Red Table Talk host. His 2019 track “Nunya” fueled the speculation, as the lyrics go: “You got me feeling like it was an act, you’re just an actress/Putting on a show ’cause you don’t want the world to know.” 

Fans decided that in the song, he’s implying that he had an affair with the mother of two. Additionally, the woman he’s texting in the music video is named Koren, which is Pinkett Smith’s middle name, theGRIO previously reported. 

READ MORE: August Alsina’s new song fuels rumors about affair with Jada Pinkett Smith

The track refueled the 2018 rumor that the two were in a secret relationship, but the pair have always remained mum about it. Now it seems Alsina has had a change of heart.

When Yee asked him about his love life and to set the record straight about “Nunya,” the R&B crooner didn’t hold back in spilling the tea. 

“People can have whatever ideas that they like. But what I’m not OK with is my character being in question …” he said around the 16:30 mark of the YouTube clip above. “I also don’t think that it’s ever important for people to know what I do, who I sleep with, who I date, right? But in this instance, there are so many people who are side-eyeing me,” Alsina explained. 

Adding, “I’ve lost money, friendships, relationships behind it. And I think it’s because people don’t necessarily know the truth. But I’ve never done anything wrong. I love those people (the Smiths) … They are beautiful people.”

Alsina went on to recall his discussion with Will Smith about the situation with his wife. 

“I actually sat down with Will and had a conversation … He gave me his blessing,” he said. “And I totally gave myself to that relationship for years of my life, and I truly and really, really, deeply loved and have a ton of love for her,” Alsina confessed. 

“I devoted myself to it. I gave my full self to it. So much so that I can die right now, and be OK knowing that I fully gave myself to somebody … Some people never get that in this lifetime.”

During his conversation with Yee, Alsina said speaking his truth was “difficult” because it’s “hard for people to understand” polyamory and consensual nonmonogamy. 

“I have to speak up about my truth, he said. “Walking away from it butchered me. It almost killed me. Not almost. It did—it pushed me into being another person. It broke me down. It probably will be the hardest thing I ever had to experience in this lifetime, Alsina admitted.

“It’s difficult because I never want to be the person to cause confusion or step on toes, but I want to honor myself and I want to honor my authenticity,” he added. “And if honoring my authenticity means you hate me, stone me, shoot me, crucify me, whatever, bury me an honest man.”

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Why We Fight: Maya's Wisdom
Fifth in a series of videos mined from our YouTube channel designed to promote understanding of Reelblack’s mission to Entertain, Educate, Enlighten and Empower using the magic of film. Watch the full video at https://youtu.be/ye1mep8h7GA


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Dr. Fauci says US coronavirus cases to reach ‘disturbing’ 100,000 per day

Dr. Anthony Fauci says the United States is “not in total control” of the coronavirus pandemic and predicts the nation could eventually see 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day.

As of Monday, the U.S. averaged nearly 40,000 new cases daily over the past week, a 40% increase compared to data — compiled by Johns Hopkins University — from a week ago, CNBC reports.

Speaking at the U.S. Senate Committee hearing on Tuesday, the White House health advisor warned that daily cases could more than double if the outbreak continues at its current pace. 

“I can’t make an accurate prediction, but it’s going to be very disturbing,” he said in a response to a question from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass). “I will guarantee you that, because when you have an outbreak in one part of the country, even though in other parts of the country they’re doing well, they are vulnerable,” Fauci explained. 

READ MORE: Trump and Fauci spar over NFL return as more athletes test positive for COVID-19

“We are now having 40,000-plus new cases a day. I would not be surprised if we go up to 100,000 a day if this does not turn around, and so I am very concerned,” he said.

According to Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, 50% of all new COVID-19 cases are coming from Florida, California, Texas and Arizona.

During the hearing on Tuesday, he urged Americans to stop going to bars, which are hotbeds for the deadly contagion.

“Congregation at a bar, inside, is bad news,” Fauci said, citing the surge in COVID-19 cases in the U.S.

“I think we need to emphasize the responsibility that we have both as individuals and as part of a societal effort to end the epidemic that we all have to play a part in that,” Fauci added.

“Because if a person gets infected, they may not be symptomatic, but they could pass it to someone else, who passes it to someone else, who then makes someone’s grandmother or grandfather, sick uncle, or leukemic child on chemotherapy get sick and die,” he continued. 

“We’ve got to get that message out: that we are all in this together. And if we are going to contain this, we have got to contain it together.”

COVID-19 has reportedly claimed the lives of 126,000 Americans.

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Mahershala Ali to Play Legendary Black Boxer Jack Johnson in HBO Limited Series

Mahershala Ali has been tapped to play Jack Johnson, the world’s first Black heavyweight champion, for an upcoming limited series on HBO.

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4 San Jose Officers Put on Leave After, You Guessed It, Racist Facebook Posts

I don’t know how many cops have to lose their jobs before they realize that maybe they shouldn’t be racist. Let alone be racist on Facebook. Apparently, four cops in San Jose, Calif. felt like learning that lesson the hard way.

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North Carolina Wilmington Professor Retires Amid Calls for His Firing Over Bigoted and Insensitive Tweets

A University of North Carolina Wilmington professor is retiring because of increasing calls for him to be fired over “vile” and inappropriate tweets that have been deemed bigoted because...well...that’s exactly what they are.

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‘There’s an imagination barrier’: How Biden is prepping for a woman VP pick


The Biden campaign has reached out to two prominent women’s organizations for research and advice in recent weeks as it narrows its focus on vetting and selecting a running mate for the presumptive Democratic nominee.

The four co-chairs of Joe Biden’s vice presidential selection committee have met with operatives from EMILY’s List and the Barbara Lee Political Office, an organization that supports electing Democratic women candidates, to discuss the challenges and opportunities of having a woman as a running mate, and reviewed research from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that studies female candidates, concerning women of color candidates and women leading during times of crisis, according to people familiar with the discussions.

The vice presidential selection committee has also contacted Democratic consultants who have expertise in running campaigns with female candidates, especially Hillary Clinton and her 2016 run, though they have yet to speak formally to the former presidential nominee.

Mandy Grunwald, who served as Clinton’s media strategist and whose clients have included Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar, declined to comment on whether she has had discussions with the Biden campaign.

Questions surrounding the political experiences of female candidates are critical to Biden, who announced March 15 that his running mate will be a woman. The extra layer of research and prevetting is in part a reflection of hard lessons learned from Clinton’s campaign, but is also a tacit acknowledgment of decades of research that shows women face complicated challenges tied to sexism and issues of electability, likability, experience and authenticity in their bids for office.

The Biden campaign’s research did not zero in on any single potential pick; instead, the committee is assembling the research because the campaign wants to understand “best management practices,” one Biden adviser told POLITICO.

“It’s not who the woman is. It’s about how to campaign with a woman, and we’re talking to people who do this exclusively and know how to get a woman elected in preparation for a new phase of the campaign,” the adviser said.

The selection committee, advisers say, hasn’t finished assembling a final shortlist of candidates for consideration by Biden, who has made it clear he’ll take his time and make his selection by Aug. 1 based on his personal relationship with the candidate and how “simpatico” they are.

“We’ve never had a female vice president in this country. So there’s an imagination barrier for voters to see what that looks like,” according to Amanda Hunter, research and communications director for the Barbara Lee Family Foundation.

Only two women have been running mates on a presidential ticket for a major political party: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008.

“It’s one thing for voters to support a woman to be part of a need to be part of a legislative body, like a legislature,” Hunter said. “But if they’re going to be the decision-maker and essentially CEO, voters need to be that much more convinced that she’s up to the job.”


The foundation’s research also shows that women are generally viewed as having more empathy and being multi-taskers who are perceived as having a “virtue advantage” over men because they’re more trustworthy, Hunter said.

While the Biden campaign has availed itself of the nonpartisan foundation’s work, the vice presidential selection committee’s conversations have been held with the Barbara Lee Political Office, a separate organization.

The foundation’s research after the 2018 election used polling and focus groups to show that women of all races scored as well as straight white men in election matchups.

Nationwide protests and unrest since the killing of George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer in May have sharpened the focus on the prospect of an African American woman as Biden’s running mate. Four Black women are considered to be at the top of the former vice president’s list: California Sen. Kamala Harris, Florida Rep. Val Demings, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and former national security adviser Susan Rice.


Bottoms and Demings, both of whom are leading Biden campaign surrogates, were originally not viewed as top-tier contenders in part because they lack statewide or Washington experience. But Bottoms’ emergence as a steady and authoritative voice during the protests and Demings’ experience as a police chief in Orlando — as well as her performance as a House impeachment manager — have elevated their prospects.

“Elected experience is not the only experience out there,” said Christina Reynolds, EMILY’s List’s vice president of communications and a former Hillary for America spokeswoman.

Reynolds pointed out that in 2018, a record number of women were elected to Congress, and many won by emphasizing their personal life experience instead of just political experience. Also, she said, Clinton’s experience in the 2016 race against Donald Trump — who has provoked strong levels of antipathy among women, according to polls — also increased the level of awareness of women more willing to call out sexism.

Florida Rep. Donna Shalala, a Biden campaign surrogate who helped found EMILY’s List in 1985, said it’s not just advice that the group will help furnish Biden. It’s money, too.

“What used to really prevent women from running for high office was money, and what EMILY’s List brought was a powerhouse for women candidates,” Shalala said.



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Local unions defy AFL-CIO in push to oust police unions


The nation’s labor movement is splitting over police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Local unions are defying leaders of the AFL-CIO, who have rejected calls to cut ties with the labor federation's law enforcement arm and stressed the importance of collective bargaining instead to counter the use of excessive force. Several local unions, including those affiliated with the AFL-CIO, have moved to oust police unions within their locals and remove officers from schools and other workplaces. They argue that police have used their bargaining power to resist reform and protect those who have killed unarmed African Americans.

The vastly different approaches to solving what has become a major election year issue have not only exposed the rift within the labor movement but also threaten to diminish law enforcement unions in liberal cities and could even affect the behind-the-scenes race to succeed AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

“There are a lot of unions that are very concerned about police brutality,” said Lowell Peterson, executive director of Writers Guild of America-East, which adopted a resolution calling on the AFL-CIO to disassociate itself from the International Union of Police Associations, the federation’s police union affiliate. “There’s definitely a lot of talk in the labor movement about, ‘Why is this happening and what can we as unions do about it?’”

The nation’s second-largest teachers’ union, United Teachers Los Angeles, last week voted to eliminate police in Los Angeles public schools and “redirect funding to mental health and counseling” for students. The Chicago school board voted down a similar measure to cancel a $33 million contract with city police that was backed by the Chicago Teachers’ Union in protests and rallies throughout the week.

The Martin Luther King County Labor Council, a body of labor organizations representing more than 100,000 workers in the Seattle area, voted to expel the Seattle Police Officers Guild earlier this month. The Association of Flight Attendants, which sits on the AFL-CIO’s executive council, passed a resolution demanding that police unions embrace change “or be removed from the labor movement.”

Even the leader of the Service Employees International Union, the second largest union in the country, which itself represents some law enforcement employees, has expressed openness to the idea of ejecting police unions from the movement, though she has stopped short of endorsing the move.

“That's an option,” said SEIU President Mary Kay Henry of the Seattle federation’s decision to oust the police union. "I think another option is to use the union structure and leadership to educate and engage every member” in “re-imagining policing and criminal justice."

That would have been unheard of just months ago — and demonstrates how much has changed since Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis cop sparked nationwide protests against police brutality.


While labor activists say it is unlikely that Trumka would ever support efforts to expel law enforcement unions from the labor movement, the push from locals and some national unions to ostracize the police, as well as the larger Black Lives Matter movement, could drive more modest changes.

Police unions have fought back, saying that no one forced local governments to sign collective bargaining agreements that contain provisions protecting police and warning that attacks on law enforcement unions are part of a pattern of going after organized labor.

“No contract is rammed down the throat of a city or jurisdiction. They signed it, they negotiated it, they agreed to it,” said Jim Pasco, executive director of the National Fraternal Order of Police.

Sam Cabral, the president of the International Union of Police Associations, slammed Trumka’s response to the unrest, writing in a June 12 letter that the federation's comments regarding America’s “history of racism and police violence against black people” were “inflammatory and patently false.” Cabral said he wouldn’t be willing to sit down with those who “have already indicted” law enforcement “based on one horrible incident.”

California’s largest police unions ran an ad in the Washington Post earlier this month calling for a national use of force standard, misconduct registry and “ongoing and frequent” training. Trumka also wrote in a recent op-ed that the labor movement is calling on Congress to adopt reforms including a chokehold ban and demilitarization.

Still, AFL-CIO leaders have maintained that the best way for the group to address the issue of police brutality is to “engage” its affiliates “rather than isolate them.”

Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, an affiliate of the federation, said many members of the movement believe it’s important to have a conversation with police unions, “to the extent that they were willing to have it, for them to change and for us to change the criminal justice system.”

At the same time, the AFT recently passed a resolution calling to remove police from schools and instead train security personnel as “peace officers.”

Part of the solution, SEIU’s Henry suggested, is changing police collective bargaining practices.

“The role of the labor movement is to be a vehicle for the structural change that the Movement for Black Lives is demanding in policing and criminal justice all over this country,” she said.

Some progressives say those collective bargaining agreements often help shield officers accused of misconduct.

Dozens of city police departments, including in Minneapolis, have added provisions to their contracts that delay officer interrogations after suspected misconduct, according to a 2017 study. Agreements with police agencies in Austin, Baltimore, Chicago and Washington, D.C., have included language that mandated the removal of disciplinary records from personnel files over time.


As more local unions choose to step away or distance themselves from the police, the pressure to break with law enforcement unions has generated an internal debate over the issue within the AFL-CIO executive council itself in recent weeks.

Color of Change, a racial justice organization, said it has discussed the possibility of ejecting police unions with at least five labor groups in the AFL-CIO.

Weingarten said “a couple members of the council raised it” during a three-day meeting in June. In a call earlier this month, American Postal Workers Union leader Mark Dimondstein brought up the matter, according to a person on the line.

The federation’s general board released several recommendations on June 9 for affiliate unions to address police violence but declined to drop the International Union of Police Associations as requested by the WGAE.

The debate could affect the quiet race to succeed Trumka, who is expected to step aside. The election won’t be held until the federation’s convention in October 2021, but Flight Attendants union president Sara Nelson, whose organization has taken one of the most progressive stands on the question, and AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer Liz Shuler are both rumored to be interested in taking the role.

In June, Nelson publicly accused AFL-CIO leadership of misleadingly attributing a statement opposing the ouster of the IUPA to the entire general board.

“To be clear, this issue was not discussed by the General Board today and there was no vote on the resolution put forward by WGAE,” she tweeted. “Also, collective bargaining empowers workers; it is not a means to oppress workers’ rights.

Tim Schlittner, the AFL-CIO's communications director, disputed the claim. He said Trumka referred to the WGA-East’s resolution but that no one offered a motion on it.

The labor movement has successfully ousted unions in the past that didn’t abide by its principles. The Congress of Industrial Organizations expelled 11 member unions around 1950 due to their alleged links to the Community Party. The AFL-CIO also cut ties with three unions in 1957 over corrupt behavior. And throughout the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and ’60s, the AFT moved to expel local unions that were racially segregated.

Police unions, meanwhile, insist that any efforts to oust them will blow back on all of labor.

“Those who are looking to kick police officers out of the union movement should be very careful," said Patrick Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association of New York. "The rhetoric that they are using now is the same rhetoric that has been used to strip union protections from teachers, bus drivers, nurses and other civil servants across this country."



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Netflix to spend $100M to help Black business

Netflix is not just virtue signaling its support of the Black community. It’s actually putting some big dollars in play to make it happen.

The New York Times reported today that Netflix, which has $5B in its cash reserves will place 2 percent of its holdings with financial institutions that loan to Black businesses. They will begin with splitting $35M among two organizations – the newly founded Black Economic Development Initiative that will provide funding to Black banking institutions and Hope credit union, a federal credit union in the South that helps unbanked families and those who have been underserved by traditional banking institutions.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings delivers a keynote address at CES 2016 at The Venetian Las Vegas on January 6, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

The idea came from a call to improve diversity at Netflix, which has partnered with several Black creators including the Obamas, Kenya Barris, and Shonda Rhimes who signed big contracts with the streamer. The 2019 documentary American Factory out of the Obamas production company won a Best Documentary Oscar in 2020.

Yet their executive ranks are devoid of color, as the Netflix’s top 8 execs are white. That was the impetus for company dinners with members of underrepresented communities beginning in October of last year, to figure out ways to improve. The idea to invest in Black financial institutions stemmed from those dinners, according to Bloomberg.

READ MORE: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings donates over $100M to HBCUs, talks importance of supporting Black colleges

Netflix executive Aaron Mitchell suggested the idea of the CFO Spencer Neumann, referencing the book “The Color of Money,” by Mehrsa Baradaran as a guide to the challenges faced by Black financial institutions. Baradaran says in the book that systemic racism has ensured Black banks remain undercapitalized which undercuts their ability to grow.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and his wife recently gifted $120M of their own money to split between Morehouse, Spelman, and the United Negro College Fund.

Hope credit union is appreciative of the effort.

READ MORE: 5 Savvy money moves to make when cash is flowing

“We are capital-starved, just like the people in the communities we serve,” their CEO, Bill Bynum told Bloomberg.

“Having a global voice like Netflix say it’s important to invest in financial institutions like Hope is tremendously important, not just for the capital we will use to make mortgage loans and small business loans, but for what it says.”

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Jemele Hill apologizes after backlash over transphobic tweet

Jemele Hill apologized on Monday after a critic discovered a transphobic tweet that was a decade old and others attempted to “cancel” the outspoken journalist.

The controversy began on Sunday when Hill took exception to 2006 clip by Barstool Sports CEO Dave Portnoy. He compared the former 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick to an “ISIS guy” and likened him to a terrorist.

READ MORE: NBA star Ja Morant apologizes for anti-police tweet

Jemele Hill SportsCenter thegrio.com
Jemele Hill (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for NAACP )

“So I’m going to say something that’s racist,” Portnoy explained, and claimed he thought Kaepernick was “an ISIS guy… Throw a head wrap on this guy, he’s a terrorist.”

“He looks like a Bin Laden. That’s not racist.”

It caught Hill’s attention who hosts a podcast for The Ringer and is a writer for The Atlantic.

“This is terrible, but then again, consider the source,” Hill declared, amplifying the video to her followers.

In response, Portnoy began to share tweets of where he has defended Kaepernick over the years as over his subsequent blackballing by the NFL. He found a tweet from 2009 which Hill referenced MLB player Manny Ramirez‘s doping scandal and how he used a fertility drug.

“My fb friends are calling him ‘Manny the Tranny’… so inappropriate and hilarious,” Hill wrote in 2009.

Portnoy did not call on Hill to be canceled but stated he would not “bend the knee” and apologize for his own remarks in a video.

“I’ve been doing this for two decades. I’ve made fun of every group of people, every race, every creed, every culture — you name it, we’ve made jokes about it,” Portnoy said.

Hill has since deleted the tweet but stated in a series of tweets that she wanted to be held accountable and has grown as a person in the past decade. She made no excuses and tweeted her focus was on proving she was an ally to the LGBTQ community.

“For context, the tweet was in reference to Manny Ramirez testing positive for the woman’s fertility drug, gonadotropin. It was wholly ignorant, dumb, and offensive. I am ashamed that I was so uneducated about trans issues at the time. I stand with this community firmly today,” she began her twitter thread.

“I kept the tweet up because I welcomed the opportunity to apologize and to show growth. See, unlike some people, I’m not defensive about my moments of failure. I learn from them and own it.”

The former ESPN writer did not concern herself with those attempting to “cancel” her.

“I don’t care about Dave Portnoy or any of the other Barstool sycophants RT’ing this into my TL, like it’s some gotcha moment. I care about the trans community I belittled and offended. If they don’t see me as an ally because of this, it’s my job to show them that I am,” she wrote.

Hill has received support from those in the LGBTQ community who accused her critics of attacking in bad faith. She spoke with Cyd Zeigler, co-founder of OUT magazine about her 2009 tweet and the growth she’s experienced as a person.

“It wasn’t until I was older, and frankly had more personal experiences with people from the LGBTQ community, that I began to see the similarities between our two struggles and the fight for visibility and the fight for equality,” Hill said.

“It was understanding that if they come for the rights of Black and Brown people within that, they are coming for the rights of LGBTQ people. We can’t really separate our struggles. They may be intrinsically different, but we can’t separate them because all of our civil rights are at risk.”

Hill explained she was more than ready to continue doing her part

READ MORE: Jemele Hill calls out Kraft’s support of Trump amid masks donation

“As Black and Brown people, and as Black and Brown trans people and LGBTQ people, we are always stronger together. That’s why I feel it’s our duty to fight for this community because we have brothers and sisters in that community.”

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Trump’s favorite weapon in the coronavirus fight: Deregulation

Christina Animashaun/Vox

Trump entered the White House promising to roll back rules. The pandemic has given him the perfect chance to do that.

Amber Sahagun, a 39-year-old mother of two, sat in the passenger seat of a white Jaguar on the afternoon of March 19. Her fiancé, Manuel Rodriguez, was driving, and she had her beloved Shih Tzu mix with her. They were stuck in traffic behind a construction zone on a West Texas highway near the Odessa city limits.

Behind them, Ranjit Singh drove a tractor-trailer at a speed he couldn’t control — 69 miles per hour, according to a lawyer for Sahagun’s family. He didn’t see the stopped cars in time. He swerved, according to a police report, but his truck struck the back of the Jaguar, pushing it into another car in front of it, then through cable barriers into the median. Finally, the truck rolled on top of the Jaguar, crumpling the car and crushing Sahagun and her dog. She died at the scene. Rodriguez suffered life-threatening injuries.

Singh was later arrested and charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault.

 Courtesy of Sandy Cobb
Amber Sahagun with her dog.

Investigators said afterward that Singh had been driving for more than 16 hours straight, without rest. Normally, that would be illegal — a violation of federal rules designed to keep trucking companies from pushing their drivers to dangerous levels of fatigue. But that day it wasn’t.

That’s because, six days before the crash, President Donald Trump waived the driver fatigue rules for trucks carrying food, masks, gloves, and other items essential to addressing the coronavirus pandemic. Singh’s truck was carrying essential goods, a dispatcher for one of the trucking companies he worked for, US Roadways Enterprises, told the Center for Public Integrity.

The driver fatigue rules are among a long list of regulations that Trump has temporarily waived in recent months — including measures directly related to the public health crisis, such as rules preventing telehealth, and measures not-so-related, such as rules governing the enforcement of environmental regulations — in the name of addressing the pandemic.

 Courtesy of Steven Samples
Sahagun’s white Jaguar after the crash.
 Courtesy of Steven Samples
The tractor-trailer after the crash.

And Trump has continued to seize the moment as the nation grapples with the coronavirus. “We must continue to cut through every piece of red tape that stands in our way,” he said in May, just before signing an executive order directing federal agencies to keep cutting regulations using “any emergency authorities” they have available.

Since Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency in March, the White House has signed off on or is reviewing 247 temporary or permanent regulatory actions — only 33 of which were classified as pandemic-related — according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of data from the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

The administration’s moves represent a larger push for deregulation as Trump nears the end of his first term and as the pandemic continues to grab headlines. Deregulation has long been a priority for Trump and his appointees, but until recently, they’ve had mixed success — with many of their moves mired in the courts.

But the pandemic has given the administration an opening for what could be its most effective salvo yet against what it sees as regulatory overreach and what others see as rules vital to keeping America safe and healthy.

“It’s really been a full-on attack by the Trump administration,” said Matt Kent, regulatory policy associate for Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group that has led criticism of Trump’s deregulation agenda. “It makes it less safe to go outside, less safe to be in your workplace, less safe to drive a car, less safe to breathe the air.”

Earlier this month, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee sent a letter denouncing the administration for pushing forward with deregulation during the pandemic.

“Instead of addressing this crisis head-on, the Trump administration appears to be exploiting the chaos of the pandemic by rolling back critical civil rights regulatory protections and environmental safeguards,” the letter said.

Despite similar calls from advocates to stop taking regulatory actions during the pandemic, the administration has finalized a series of major rules in recent months. For example, it bolstered the rights of those accused of sexual assault on college campuses by letting them question their accuser through representatives. It also weakened auto emission standards, allowing automakers to make cars that pollute more and burn fuel less efficiently than dictated by Obama-era rules.

The administration also changed the driver fatigue rules — a move long sought by the trucking industry. The new limits let certain drivers work two hours longer than allowed under Obama-era mandates, extend their workday when driving in bad weather, and count on-duty, non-driving time — such as time spent unloading goods — as a break, among other changes.

The administration has defended the new rule, saying that it’s meant to give trucking companies greater flexibility and that it won’t compromise safety. But advocates worry it’s ripe for abuse.

“Extending truck drivers’ already highly demanding work days and reducing opportunity for rest will endanger the public,” Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said in a joint statement with two other safety groups and a truckers union in May. “At a time of national crisis, the administration should step up and protect truck drivers.”

Shrinking the state

Trump entered the White House promising to dismantle the administrative state — a promise conservatives cheered. One of his first actions as president was to issue an executive order requiring that federal agencies scrap two older regulations for every new one they introduced.

“We’re cutting regulations massively for small business and for large business,” Trump said as he signed the order. “This will be the biggest such act that our country has ever seen.”

To date, the administration has rolled back clean water protections, loosened Affordable Care Act requirements for insurance plans, and cleared the way for more fast-track deportations, among other changes. The White House did not respond to requests for comment for this story.

Jonathan Berry, a Trump appointee who headed the US Department of Labor’s regulatory efforts until April, said the administration has been targeting rules that benefit “political agendas with little connection to the common good.”

Trump’s cuts to regulations have aimed at “not necessarily reducing worker or consumer protections but making it crystal clear that an employer ... knows exactly where the lines are,” said Berry, who presided over dozens of rule changes, including nixing an Obama-era requirement that employers submit detailed workplace injury reports to the federal government. “That clarity can give businesses a lot more confidence about how to invest and how to grow, which means more and better-paying jobs for workers.”

In addition to cutting rules, the administration has slowed the pace of new regulations and reshaped how federal agencies regulate.

The first 18 months of Trump’s presidency saw roughly 75 percent fewer new regulations than the two previous administrations issued in the same period, according to Bridget Dooling, a professor at the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and a career regulatory policy staffer under three administrations.

Trump has also taken steps to dilute the power of agencies’ nonbinding guidelines and give the White House greater control over regulations from a broader swath of agencies, among other changes.

Many on the right view the administration’s deregulatory effort as one of its great accomplishments, praised even by conservatives willing to criticize Trump.

“The Trump administration’s long parade of deregulation ... is among its biggest achievements,” wrote the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board in May. “Amid the coronavirus pandemic, this work has thankfully continued.”

But some academics who study regulation say both Trump’s supporters and his critics may be giving him too much credit.

“The Trump administration hasn’t been very successful” in deregulating, said Stuart Shapiro, a professor of public policy at Rutgers University. “The administration to date has been more interested in announcing things than doing the careful work they would need to do to put in place their deregulatory agenda.”

Indeed, many of the administration’s early deregulatory efforts have wound up stalled or overturned by courts. In 86 lawsuits challenging Trump deregulation, the administration won 9 percent of the cases as of June 27, according to a tracker maintained by the Institute for Policy Integrity at the New York University School of Law. In all other lawsuits, the administration either lost in court or withdrew its rule-cutting move.

Previous administrations had an overall 69 percent “win” rate, according to a 2010 Virginia Law Review analysis of 11 studies.

“The corner-cutting is legendary,” Kent said. “These deregulatory actions are so rushed, and a lot of times there’s a lack of experience from Trump officials in pushing them through. They’re very open to litigation.”

Despite its dismal record in court, the administration has been picking up the pace of its regulatory actions during the pandemic, a Center for Public Integrity analysis shows. Since Trump’s emergency declaration in March, the White House has reviewed 68 more measures than it had in the same period prior to the emergency declaration.

That may be in part because Trump’s team of deregulators have been trying to beat the clock set by a federal law that would allow Democrats to undo much of the administration’s work if they win power in November.

The Congressional Review Act, part of the “Contract with America” that Newt Gingrich and House Republicans campaigned on in 1994, allows lawmakers with a simple majority to revoke any regulations implemented within the previous 60 legislative days. Republicans used the law in 2017 to undo scores of regulations set in place late during President Barack Obama’s second term.

This year, observers estimated the administration had until mid-May to push deregulation through, though it’s unclear how often Congress will meet this year in the midst of a public health crisis, and thus unclear what period “60 legislative days” will cover.

But critics say the administration is also taking advantage of the political opportunity offered by the pandemic.

“I definitely think they’re exploiting the crisis,” Kent said. “‘While nobody’s looking, let’s press the gas pedal.’”

Political opportunism or not, the current pace of deregulation could be just a preview of what’s to come: Trump might throw deadlier punches at regulations in a second term, when appointees would have more experience with the nuances of administrative law.

“There have obviously been serious litigation challenges over the course of the administration, but my impression is that the tide has turned,” Berry said. “A second Trump term would mean agencies reaching higher-hanging fruit when it comes to deregulation.”

But the administration isn’t wasting what’s left of Trump’s first term, charging ahead with as much deregulation as possible — and pleasing the trucking industry is among the priorities.

As Trump signed his executive order in the White House’s East Room in May, directing federal agencies to find emergency deregulations they could make permanent, he turned to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “Good luck,” he said. “It gives you tremendous power to cut regulation.”

Zooming ahead

On March 11, actor Tom Hanks told the world he had tested positive for the coronavirus. The World Health Organization declared a pandemic. And representatives of the American Trucking Associations trade group visited a little-known White House office dedicated to reviewing new regulations and, especially in the Trump era, finding ways to winnow existing ones.

There, the trucking lobbyists argued for changes to the driver fatigue rules they’d long chafed under. The meeting with the White House office represented their final stop before the changes could be finalized.

But before that could happen, the administration waived the existing rules for some drivers altogether, part of the raft of temporary moves during the pandemic. The temporary waiver was extended three times, exempting truck drivers delivering essential goods from the fatigue rules through July 14.

In April, Trump gave a speech praising truckers’ role in the coronavirus response, flanked on the South Lawn by two tractor-trailers, including the trucking association’s red, white, and blue “Interstate One” rig. Trump said truckers would be “critical” in getting the country’s “economic engines roaring.”

“Once we get going, the truckers are going to be working so hard you’re not going to be able to take a day of rest in between,” Trump said. “Maybe a couple of hours.”

 Alex Wong/Getty Images
President Trump and Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao on the South Lawn of the White House on April 16.

At the same event, Chao underscored the administration’s close relationship with trucking companies.

“At the president’s direction, we have reached out to the trucking industry on an unprecedented basis, listening to your concerns, providing regulatory relief,” Chao said.

Indeed, the administration has a very close relationship with large trucking firms. Jim Mullen, acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates the trucking industry, worked for a decade at Werner Enterprises, a large, publicly traded trucking company based in Nebraska.

Immediately before joining the administration in 2018, Mullen worked as a registered lobbyist on behalf of a firm that now lobbies for Werner. The company’s president criticized the Obama-era driver fatigue rules in 2013, saying they would increase his company’s costs, while Mullen told Congress in 2015 that the rules represented “government overreach of the worst kind.” He did not respond to requests for comment.

The trucking industry has spent more than $9 million in federal campaign contributions since 2016, with the bulk of them going to Republicans, according to data from the National Institute on Money in Politics. In 2019, the American Trucking Associations spent more than $2.6 million lobbying on matters that included the driver fatigue rules, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of federal lobbying disclosures. Individual trucking companies also lobbied on the rule change.

Safety advocates were outgunned. Two of the loudest defenders of strict driver fatigue rules — Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways — spent roughly $380,000 lobbying on all issues in 2019. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters union, which says it represents roughly 600,000 truck drivers, also opposed weaker rules and spent $3.19 million in 2019 lobbying on a broad range of issues, including those concerning its members in other industries.

Loosening up the driver fatigue rules has been on the trucking industry’s agenda for years. The trucking association fought the Obama administration when it tightened the rules, and it asked the Trump administration to look at revising them in 2017.

Proponents of the rule change said it was data-driven to give truckers more room to set their own schedules safely, but safety advocates said regulators misinterpreted data and that the outcome of the rulemaking seemed predetermined. The administration received more than 8,000 public comments, many from truck drivers, since it first announced it would seek to change the regulation in 2018.

Some supported the current rules. “You see driver fatigue all over the road every day,” wrote Ohio truck driver Cedric Lockett. “I and other drivers need our 30 minute break. This is the only time we have to rest and eat during the day. Instead of making it safer you are making it more dangerous out here.”

Others asked for more flexibility. “I am an adult, I don’t need my hand held by the government,” wrote Indiana truck driver Anthony Scheerer. “I drive tired more frequently because the current [rules] are not conducive to our changing schedules.”

Truck drivers have worked under some form of “hours of service” rules since 1936. They were revised significantly in 2003 and again during the Obama administration out of concern that too many truck drivers were driving on little sleep, endangering themselves and others.

“To allow the Covid-19 pandemic to become another excuse to loosen up these hours of service and allow them to have to drive more is just inhumane,” said Joan Claybrook, a former head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration under Jimmy Carter and now a board member of the Truck Safety Coalition.

Even under the Obama-era rules, safety advocates say, fatigue was still an issue. Nearly 5,000 people died in crashes involving large trucks in 2018, according to federal highway safety data. The number has climbed nearly every year since 2009. Safety advocates want the fatigue rules tightened, not relaxed.

“It’s a huge problem. It’s a pervasive problem,” said Jeff Burns, a Missouri lawyer who has spent his career suing trucking companies for collisions. “But it is woefully underreported because it’s so difficult to prove.”

Advocates say stricter driver fatigue rules protect not only others on the road but also truck drivers themselves, since many of them are often paid by the mile and may feel pressured by bosses to press their limits. Trump’s changes, they say, invite companies to fudge fatigue rules — by, for example, designating more drivers as “short-haul” and thus exempting them from logging their driving hours electronically.

“It’s really compounding the safety issues that are already present within the industry,” said Pete Kurdock, general counsel of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “Many of these truck crashes are really horrific in nature where you see multiple fatalities. The ripples to community are really far and wide and really just heartbreaking.”

The administration has estimated the permanent change to the driver fatigue rules would save the trucking industry more than $2.8 billion over 10 years by increasing driver productivity, while costing states and the federal government roughly $8.6 million to retrain inspectors.

“The additional flexibility in the new rule allows drivers more opportunity to manage their own schedules — thus allowing them to drive more safely,” Kyle Bonini, spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said in an email.

The rule was officially published June 1. The trucking association did not respond to specific questions from the Center for Public Integrity, but its president and CEO, Chris Spear, thanked the administration for the change in a statement.

“We appreciate the time and attention President Trump, Secretary Chao and Administrator Mullen have paid to our industry and to this regulation,” Spear said.

“If the wheels aren’t turnin’”

In Texas, Sahagun’s family sued Singh, the trucking companies he was working for, and Sahagun’s fiancé, saying their negligence caused the crash.

“This did not need to happen,” said Steven Samples, the lawyer representing Sahagun’s family. “All it needed was a driver who was not going to fall asleep behind the wheel who was not incentivized to keep on going when he was tired.”

The trucking companies did not respond to requests for comment, but US Roadway Enterprises, in a court filing, denied the allegations in the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, Sahagun’s family is mourning, trying to collect every picture of her, said her aunt, Sandy Cobb, who was close to her. Sahagun left behind two sons, ages 14 and 19; she was planning to return to school to become a pharmacy technician. “I just want her back,” Cobb said. “We need her. Why was it her?”

 Courtesy of Sandy Cobb
Sahagun left behind two children, ages 19 and 14.

Kurdock worries the new, permanent Trump regulation will make wrecks like Sahagun’s more common, especially as trucking companies rush to address the pandemic.

“Really, this is the worst possible time to be advancing a regulatory proposal that’s going to increase fatigue instead of reduce it,” Kurdock said. “Especially at this time when you see so much stress being put on the industry.”

Burns still remembers the first truck crash he worked on, nearly 30 years ago. A 6-year-old girl — about the same age as his daughter at the time — was killed. He took the driver’s deposition and asked him: Why didn’t you sleep? Why were you in such a rush?

The driver replied: “Money. If the wheels aren’t turnin’, nobody’s earnin.’”

“That’s a mantra within the trucking industry,” Burns said. “That scared the hell out of me. It scares the hell out of me still.”

Joe Yerardi contributed to this report.

This series was made possible through a collaboration with the Center for Public Integrity.



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Monday, June 29, 2020

Mayor Bill de Blasio to slash NYPD budget by $1 billion

Operation Defund The Police is picking up steam in New York after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced plans to slash $1 billion from the NYPD’s budget. 

On Monday, the Democratic mayor said at a news briefing that the cuts are still being negotiated with the City Council. But of the $6 billion allocated to the New York Police Department, at least $500 million will be channeled to public housing and youth programs, New York Post reports. The department’s role in policing schools is also under review. 

The mayor’s plan would move at least half-billion dollars from the NYPD’s construction and major projects budget, according to the report.

READ MORE: Missouri Mayor doxxed those in favor of defunding the police

“I’m excited to say we have a plan that can achieve real reform, that can achieve real redistribution — while at the same time ensure that we keep our city safe, while we make sure that our officers are on patrol around where we need them around this city,” de Blasio said during his daily City Hall press briefing.

“We can do this, we can strike the balance, we can keep this city safe,” he later added.

Conservative and liberal lawmakers, however, are not willing to co-sign de Blasio defunding the nation’s largest police department by $1 billion via cuts and transfers.

“We have caved to the mob in a moment we know will come back to haunt us,” Councilman Joe Borelli (R-Staten Island) told The Post. “The mayor is smart enough to know that these actions will create a more violent environment in New York.

“This is what you get when you have government-by-hashtag,” he added.

“I’m against wholesale cuts based on protest signs,” said Councilman Robert Holden (D-Queens). “One billion dollars is an arbitrary number that the mayor and some of my colleagues are trying to reach to appease the masses without considering public safety.”

Mayor de Blasio’s budget talks come as protesters across the nation continue to call for police reform following the death of George Floyd and other Black Americans killed by law enforcement. 

Demonstrators have also spent the past week camped out at City Hall Park in effort to have their demands heard by the mayor.

“We’ve done different levels of escalation to make sure we’re getting their attention,” said Jonathan Lykes, one of the organizers of the movement dubbed ‘Occupy City Hall.’

“If they defund the police by $1 billion then we have won – but that’s only our demand this week,” he added.

During Monday’s press briefing,  Mayor de Blasio made clear that “we need to redistribute revenue to communities that need it the most. We know our young people are hurting,” he said.

Adding, “We have found a plan that will keep this city safe, that will achieve the billion dollars in savings.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s new podcast “Dear Culture”? Download our newest episodes now!

The post Mayor Bill de Blasio to slash NYPD budget by $1 billion appeared first on TheGrio.



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Why Trump’s administration is going after the GDPR


U.S. troops being yanked out of Germany. A brewing trade war over digital tax. Now add this to the list of issues dividing Europe and the United States: a looming clash over privacy.

As the EU touts the “success” of its flagship privacy law, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Donald Trump’s administration is ramping up attacks on a system it says provides cover to cybercriminals and threatens public health.

In an interview with POLITICO, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Cyber Rob Strayer said he is raising concerns about the GDPR with counterparts in Brussels and EU capitals as a “top diplomatic issue.”

His lobbying focuses on “fixing interpretations” of the GDPR which he and several other parties, including EU law enforcement officials, said are protecting online scammers and fraudsters at a time of exploding cybercrime linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We do have serious concerns about its [the GDPR's] overly restrictive implications for public safety and law enforcement," said Strayer, who was at the forefront of efforts to convince EU allies they should dump Huawei from their 5G rollout plans. "We definitely find that divergent interpretations [of the law] are also an issue, chilling some of the commerce that could be taking place."

U.S. objections to the GDPR, which came into effect just over two years ago, are hardly new. Silicon Valley giants lobbied energetically against a law that many U.S. players said was a tool designed to limit the power and wealth of Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook.

Many of those arguments — namely, that the GDPR has rendered a database of domain name owners, WHOIS, far less effective in tracking down suspected cybercriminals — are the same today as they were two years ago.

Yet in the past few weeks, as EU privacy watchdogs wrapped up their first major probes into U.S. companies and Google lost an appeal against a €50 million fine in France, the criticism from Washington has grown more fervent, and a lobbying campaign has gotten underway in the U.S. to push back against the effects of the GDPR at home.

For now, the pressure is unlikely to trigger anti-GDPR action from the Trump administration — as the president is consumed by his reelection campaign.

But all of that could change this summer, when a Court of Justice of the European Union ruling could put privacy right back at the center of transatlantic tensions.

The ruling, expected mid-July, could find that heaps of data transfers from the EU to the U.S. are not legal under Europe’s privacy laws, putting billions of euros in digital trade at risk. Washington — for the second time — will face pressure to beef up privacy protections to keep doing business with the EU.

That's a worrying prospect for Washington, one that would be “so detrimental” to transatlantic trade, according to Strayer. “One thing we’re really pushing is concerns about these ECJ cases,” he said about recent discussions with the European Commission and various agencies.

At the heart of the issue for many U.S. critics of the GDPR is the WHOIS database, an online directory created in the 1970s, which became an important tool for global law enforcement agencies fighting cybercrime.

It has also come under fire over a lack of privacy protections.

GDPR critics say the rules have made it harder to identify cybercriminals. Before the law came into effect in May 2018, they could issue a request via WHOIS to identify the owner of a domain name in a process that many say was simple and straightforward.

After the law came into effect, however, it became much more complicated. Registrars — the entities that control domain names — became concerned that, if they complied with such requests, they could be sued for privacy violations under the GDPR. In many cases, law enforcement officials had to ask a judge to validate the request, a process that one EU law enforcement official said is "very slow" and "not effective."

In February, a Republican Congressman introduced a bill to the House of Representatives demanding that domain name information be made readily accessible via WHOIS. Two months later, a group of 40 companies, trade associations and interest groups wrote to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to force internet registrars to identify cybercriminals for law enforcement purposes.

Critics say that EU privacy authorities need to address the problem by creating an exception in the GDPR for law enforcement. They also complain that, despite numerous letters addressed to the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) over the past two years, the law around domain name requests remains unclear.

Asked about such complaints, a spokesperson for the EDPB, an umbrella group of privacy watchdogs, referred POLITICO to a letter from 2018 in which the body's chief argued that contact information for the holders of domain names need not be made available by default under GDPR.

Further correspondence from the U.S. was "for information only" and did not warrant a response, the spokesperson added.

Multiple parties, including ICANN, the nonprofit that maintains the WHOIS database, and law enforcement agencies around the world, have called for WHOIS to be replaced by a more privacy-friendly system that would provide the same functionality for cybercrime investigators.

In conversations with POLITICO, a range of critics including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and two European law enforcement officials said that EU data protection authorities are refusing to clear up legal confusion about who could lawfully use such a system and under what conditions.

"All of this has been a frustration for two years that has been building and building," said Sean Heather, senior vice president for international regulatory affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "The Europeans should make clear that this [identifying suspected cybercriminals] is not a violation of the GDPR," he added.

In response to such critiques, EU privacy officials said it is up to legal authorities in member countries to respond to law enforcement requests to identify domain name owners, and that no change to the GDPR is planned.

The European Commission's own evaluation report of the law, released June 24, also did not mention the WHOIS database as an issue.

But such responses have not satisfied critics who argue that the EU is failing to take steps that would help investigators clamp down on a major surge in online criminal activity, including phishing attacks that take advantage of health fears linked to the COVID-19 crisis.

"The GDPR makes it much more difficult to identify people," said Dennis Dayman, a cybersecurity expert and member of M3AAWG, an international tech forum that works to reduce the threat of online attacks. "That is a big problem at a time when we are seeing an increase in phishing attempts, a lot more blocking on IP addresses because people are at home."

Dayman and other U.S. parties said they would prefer to avoid any sort of high-level clash over the GDPR, as doing so would only undermine the internet's global nature. The fact that European law enforcement agents shared their concerns about domain names and cybercrime would help to speed up the development of a new database, they said — a point corroborated by EU security officials.

Meanwhile, though, the gulf between the two sides seems to be growing wider. In response to a consultation on the GDPR launched by the European Commission, the U.S. Mission to the European Union wrote in April "that the application of the GDPR is creating significant risks for public safety, both for the citizens of the EU and for citizens worldwide."

The harsher tone hints at growing concern over GDPR that goes beyond the WHOIS matter, to the perceived risk that EU privacy poses to U.S. interests abroad.

If the CJEU delivers another blow to transatlantic data flows in July, the tensions could reach a breaking point — resulting in even greater disparities between Europe and the United States over privacy.



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