Donald Trump calls death of George Floyd 'a very sad event'

Donald Trump calls death of George Floyd after white cop knelt on his neck ‘a very sad event’ and reveals he will be briefed on it on Thursday

  • President Donald Trump called the death of George Floyd a ‘very sad event’
  • He declined to say if the police officers involved should be charged
  • Said he would get a briefing on the incident Thursday 
  • Mayor Jacob Frey has called for officer Derek Chauvin to be arrested and charged for his role in Floyd’s death
  • The four cops fired after Monday’s incident have been officially identified as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng
  • Footage has emerged showing the moment George Floyd was pulled from his car and placed in handcuffs 
  • Two officers are seen wrestling with the 46-year-old as they forcibly remove him and attempt to restrain him    
  • Separate CCTV footage from a restaurant also shows a handcuffed Floyd being escorted to the squad car 
  • It comes after Minneapolis Police Department said Floyd died on Monday after suffering ‘medical distress’ 
  • Spokesperson said officers had responded to a reports of ‘forgery’ and claimed Floyd resisted arrest  
  • It has since emerged Chauvin was investigated for his role in the shooting of Ira Latrell Toles in 2008
  • Chaos erupted at a Minneapolis protest Tuesday night over George Floyd’s death 

President Donald Trump called the death of George Floyd, the Minnesota black man who died in custody when a white police officer kneeled on his neck, a ‘very sad event.’

‘A very sad event, a very, very sad, sad event,’ the president told reporters Wednesday when he was in Cape Canaveral.

He declined to answer a question on whether the officers involved should be charged and said he was getting a report on the incident Thursday. 

‘We’re going to look at it and we’re going to get a report tomorrow when we get back. We’re going to get a full report but a very sad day,’ he said.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has called on prosecutors to arrest and charge the white police officer who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck moments before he died in custody. 

City officials on Wednesday formally identified the four fired police officers involved in Monday’s incident as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng.

The cops, who were initially placed on paid administrative leave, were terminated from the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday after footage of Floyd’s arrest and subsequent death was widely shared on social media.  

Mayor Frey, who said firing the cops was the ‘right call’, has since called for Chauvin to be formally arrested and charged over his role in the incident that has sparked national calls for justice. 

‘If most people, particularly people of color, had done what a police officer did late Monday, they’d already be behind bars,’ Frey said in a tweet on Wednesday. 

‘That’s why today I’m calling on Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman to charge the arresting officer in this case.’ 

Chauvin had been earlier identified by Floyd family attorney Ben Crump as the officer who pinned Floyd to the ground in a video of his arrest.  Footage showed him digging his knee into Floyd’s neck as he repeatedly pleaded that he could not breathe. 


Mayor Jacob Frey has called for the white officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck to be criminally charged on Wednesday. Derek Chauvin (pictured) was seen pinning him down in video footage that was widely shared on Tuesday 

CCTV footage from a nearby restaurant shows part of the altercation between Floyd and the officers on the scene. A handcuffed Floyd sits on the ground as a police officer, who was not seen in the original viral video, speaks to him before picking him up and holding him against the wall

Video footage shows the moment George Floyd was pulled from his car by officers during his arrest, moments before he lost consciousness after a white officer knelt on his neck for several minutes


 The four fired police officers involved in Monday’s incident have been identified as Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, Tou Thao, and J Alexander Kueng 

Speaking at a press conference in Minneapolis, Mayor Frey said he has spent the last 36 hours wrestling with one ‘fundamental’ question asking: ‘Why is the man who killed George Floyd not in jail?’  

‘If you had done it or I had done it we would be behind bars right now and I cannot come up with an answer to that question,’ he added.   

Floyd, 46, died in hospital shortly after his confrontation with police, which is now under investigation by the FBI and has prompted thousands of protesters to take to the streets to demand justice. 

Cops were reported to have located Floyd, who was suspected of forgery, in his car around 8pm before ordering him to exit the vehicle, according to a police statement. A spokesman alleged Floyd got out of the car before ‘physically resisting officers’.   

However, new video footage, obtained by FOX 9 on Wednesday, shed light on the moments leading up to Floyd’s arrest, showing two officers manhandling and forcibly removing him from his car as he is placed in handcuffs outside the Cup Foods grocery store on 38th and Chicago Ave in south Minneapolis. 

Floyd appears to be complying with officers and not resisting arrest before an altercation ensues. 

Additional CCTV footage obtained by CBS News from a nearby restaurant also showed parts of the altercation between Floyd and officers on the sidewalk. 

 It comes after:

  • A 10-minute video was widely shared on social media on Tuesday showing white officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes as he pleads to be released before eventually losing consciousness
  • Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis later that night demanding justice for the 46-year-old, leading to confrontations with police officers firing rubber bullets
  • Four Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired on Tuesday after initially being placed on paid administrative leave
  • Floyd’s family broke their silence on his death publicly demanding the cops to be charged with murder
  • His sister Bridgett Floyd spoke out saying the cops’ termination ‘is just not enough’

The new videos offer further insight into Floyd’s death, which has sparked outrage and questions overs officers’ alleged use of force on a suspect accused of a non-violent offense.  

In the CCTV footage from a restaurant, a handcuffed Floyd is seen sitting on the ground as a police officer, who was not seen in the original viral video, speaks to him before picking him up and holding him against the wall.

Another police officer then comes over and helps escort Floyd to a nearby squad car before the clip ends. 

The events to follow were then captured in a separate video widely shared on Tuesday, which showed Floyd pleading with Chauvin to stop, saying ‘please, please, I can’t breathe’ and ‘My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts’, as he is pinned to the ground. 

Witnesses at the scene were heard urging the arresting officers to stop, with one pointing out that Floyd was not resisting arrest.    

On Wednesday, Ben Crump, the attorney representing Floyd’s family, said without video footage of the incident, he believes police ‘would have given a false narrative and they would’ve swept it under the rug,’ he told Today. 

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who said firing the police officers was the ‘right call,’ is now asking for the white cop who knelt on George Floyd’s neck to be arrested and charged 


George Floyd’s (pictured) heartbroken family have called for the cops to be charged with murder and their lawyer revealed white cop Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for a staggering eight minutes during the arrest for forgery

A photo taken across the street from the scene show three officers arresting Floyd as he lay on the ground. The FBI and state law enforcement authorities have launched an investigation into the man’s death

Protesters raised their fists and sported face masks to protect them from the spread of COVID-19 as they gathered for the rally near the spot where Floyd died 

Shawanda Hill (right), the girlfriend of George Floyd, is comforted near the spot where he died while in custody of the Minneapolis Police

Shawanda Hill, the girlfriend of George Floyd, was pictured at the rally near the spot where he died

Protesters gather under the rain to protest on Tuesday evening, near the spot where George Floyd died

An initial statement released by the Minneapolis Police Department on Tuesday did not include details of officers’ altercation with Floyd and only mentioned he had suffered ‘medical distress’ following the arrest.   

‘Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence,’ Police spokesman John Elder said in a statement. 

MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT AFTER GEORGE FLOYD’S DEATH 

On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.

Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.

No officers were injured in the incident.

Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident.

‘Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.’   

Crump pointed to the similarities in the case with the death of unarmed black man Garner who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by New York City police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.    

Parallels have already been drawn between the two cases, both of which were captured on video, but Crump described Floyd’s death as even ‘worse’.   

‘I mean it was 8 minutes. It is in many ways worse than Eric Garner as they have his knees on his neck and he is begging, pleading for not one minute, not two minutes, not three minutes but eight minutes – begging them to let him breathe so we have “we can’t breathe” again in 2020,’ he said.

Crump said news that the officers had been fired was a ‘good first step’ but said it does not go far enough to getting justice for the dead man.  

Before his death on Monday, Floyd had worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro on East Hennepin Ave, owner Jovanni Thunstrom revealed.

He described him as a ‘good friend, person, and a good tenant’, saying Floyd rented property from him in St. Louis Park.

‘He was family. His co-workers and friends loved him,’ Thunstrom told the Star Tribune. 

Floyd was also father to two children, including six-year-old daughter Gianna Floyd, whom he shared with former partner Roxie Washington, from Houston. 

Washington told the Houston Chronicle Floyd, who was born in North Carolina, grew up in Houston’s Third Ward after moving there as a baby.

She remembered him as a star athlete who ended up receiving a basketball scholarship to Florida State University in Washington, but said he did not finish his studies.  

After moving back to Texas to focus on making hip hop music, Floyd eventually moved to Minneapolis in 2018. 

There he had worked a truck driver and a bouncer at Thunstrom’s restaurant.

‘It’s cruel. They took him away from my daughter. She’ll never see her father again,’ Washington said.

‘He was a gentle giant. People mistake him because he was so big that they thought he was always a fighting person but he was a loving person…. and he loved his daughter.’ 

Floyd’s family have since demanded police officer Chauvin be charged with murder, and the other three officers involved charged as murder accomplices, in addition to losing their jobs. 

Thousands of defiant protesters took to the streets to demand justice for Floyd on Tuesday, and were met with Minneapolis cops in riot gear firing rubber bullets.  

Demonstrators carrying placards reading ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘Justice 4 Floyd’ surrounded a police precinct Tuesday night after the disturbing video of 46-year-old Floyd begging the cop to stop before falling unconscious was shared online. 

Floyd worked as a bouncer for Conga Latin Bistro on E Hennepin Ave and previously had a job as a truck driver in Minneapolis, friends said

Chaos has erupted at a Minneapolis protest over George Floyd’s death as police in riot gear threw tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators demanding the white cops are charged over the black man’s killing

Demonstrators carrying placards reading ‘I can’t breathe’ and ‘Justice 4 Floyd’ surrounded a police precinct Tuesday night. Milk drains from the face of a protester who had been exposed to percussion grenades and tear gas outside the Minneapolis Police 3rd Precinct on Tuesday

The demonstators demanded the arrest of the four officers but were met with rubber bullets and tear gas fired by masked cops as the city’s streets descended into chaos. 

Floyd was filmed Monday begging the Minneapolis cop to stop and telling him he could not breathe before he lost consciousness and later died

The victim’s heartbroken family have called for the cops to be charged with murder and their lawyer revealed white cop Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for a staggering eight minutes during the arrest for forgery. 

Floyd worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro, a local bistro in Minneapolis. The bar’s owners have described him as a ‘very calm, nice guy’ who was not the type to be ‘aggressive’ or ‘disrespectful’. 

The demonstrators demanded the arrest of the four officers but were met with rubber bullets and tear gas fired by masked cops as the city’s streets descended into chaos.   

Some had their faces doused in milk to limit the effects of the gas while others ran for cover. 

The peaceful event turned ugly as it continued into the night, with footage showing both police and protesters hurling things at each other. 

Police in riot gear were pictured forming a barrier around the precinct from around 7.30pm as swarms of people marched on the building, reported CBS Local.    

Footage then revealed some protesters sitting on the ground, while officers threw smoke bombs, tear gas and flash grenades into the crowds. 

At one point, a car was seen being struck by a tear gas canister as people ran away. 

A man holds his hands up in a gesture seen in the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ movement in Ferguson in 2014, following the fatal shooting of black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer

Shocking images emerged of people dousing their faces in milk in desperate efforts to limit the effects of the tear gas hurled at them by police

People gathered for the rally were seen running desperately from the scene away from the rain of rubber bullets and tear gas from police 

Police and protesters clash as night falls on Minneapolis Tuesday – one day after black man George Floyd died 

Hill was being comforted by other protesters at the rally which descended into chaos when demonstrators and police clash

People were packed in for the rally Tuesday which began peacefully but descended into carnage later in the day 

Images showed people who had gathered for the rally desperately fleeing as rubber bullets and tear gas rained down on them. 

In one picture, a man was seen holding his hands up in a gesture that started in the ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ movement in Ferguson in 2014, following the fatal shooting of black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white police officer.  

Others hid behind shopping carts from the Target store nearby.  

Shawanda Hill, the girlfriend of George Floyd, was pictured at the rally near the spot where her boyfriend died being comforted by other protesters as she choked back tears of grief.  

A reporter for Star Tribune, Andy Mannix, said in a Twitter post that he was shot in the thigh with a rubber bullet while covering the protests, as tensions mounted between law enforcement and the protesters.

The demonstrators hit back at the police too, with some seen throwing bricks and rocks at police vehicles and smashing up the car windows. 

One man was seen launching a large brick onto an empty squad car. There were reports of at least one officer injured in the chaos.  

Hundreds of people began gathering at the intersection of E 38th St and Chicago Avenue in the city during the afternoon, ahead of a planned march of around two miles from the site of Floyd’s arrest to the police precinct.

One woman was seen wearing a face mask with the phrase ‘I can’t breathe’ written across her mouth.

Protesters raised their fists and sported face masks to protect them from the spread of COVID-19 as they gathered for the rally near the spot where Floyd died. 

REVEALED: White cop who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck was involved in a fatal police shooting and one of the other fired officers paid a $25K settlement after being sued for using excessive force in arrest where he punched and kicked a handcuffed suspect 

Two of the cops fired over the arrest of black man George Floyd have already been investigated for their roles in previous use-of-force incidents, it’s been revealed. 

Derek Chauvin, 44, the officer filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck during his arrest, is a 19-year veteran of the force who was investigated over a fatal police shooting in 2006.  

Floyd died Monday in police custody, hours after footage showed Minneapolis cop Chauvin knelt on him for eight minutes during the arrest for forgery.

Now it’s been revealed Chauvin was investigated for his role in the 2008 shooting of Ira Latrell Toles during a domestic assault call. Toles was wounded after police said he went for an officer’s gun and Chauvin shot him. 

Derek Chauvin, 44, the officer filmed kneeling Floyd’s neck during his arrest, is a 19-year veteran of the force who was investigated over a fatal police shooting in 2006

A second officer involved in Monday’s arrest, Tou Thao, is said to been part of a $25,000 out of court settlement after being sued for using excessive force in 2017


Only Chauvin and Thao have been named in reports; the remaining two officers are yet to be identified. The FBI and state law enforcement authorities have launched an investigation into the man’s death

Two years earlier Wayne Reyes, 42 was killed by officers after allegedly pulling a shotgun on the six cops, which included Chauvin, The Star Tribune reports.  

White cop who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck was involved in three police shootings

The white police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck has already been investigated over three police shootings and a fatal car chase. 

In 2006 Derek Chauvin, 44, was one of six officers connected to the death of Wayne Reyes.   

Reyes, 42 was killed by officers after allegedly pulling a shotgun on the six cops, which included Chauvin.     

Two years later Chauvin was investigated for his role in the 2008 shooting of Ira Latrell Toles during a domestic assault call. 

Toles was wounded after police said he went for an officer’s gun and Chauvin shot him.

And in 2011 23-year-old Leroy Martinez was shot and injured during a chase given by officers including Chauvin.

A second officer involved in Monday’s arrest, Tou Thao, is said to been part of a $25,000 out of court settlement after being sued for using excessive force in 2017. 

In a lawsuit obtained by the DailyMail.com shows Thao was sued for using excessive force in arrest where he was accused of punching and kicking a handcuffed suspect ‘until his teeth broke’. 

The second officer, Thao, was sued in 2017 by Lamar Ferguson who said the cop had used excessive force during his arrest. 

A lawsuit obtained by DailMail.com states ‘Defendant Thunder and Defendant Thao’s use of unreasonable force on Plaintiff, in the form of punches, kicks, and knees to the face and body while Plaintiff was defenseless and handcuffed, was so extreme that it caused Plaintiff to suffer broken teeth as well as other bruising and trauma.’ 

The case was settled out of court for $25,000 after Thao said he had punched Ferguson after he ‘actively resisted arrest’.

He wrote: ‘After — at this point he’s actively resisting arrest. He — so I had no choice but to punch him. I punched him in the face.’

All four officers – who have not been officially identified – involved in Monday’s incident were fired Tuesday. DailyMail.com has contacted Minneapolis police for comment and for the officer’s full records with the department.

Chauvin is said to be represented by lawyer Tom Kelly. He was Jeronimo Yavez’ attorney after the Minnesota police officer fatally shot Philando Castile during a traffic stop in 2016. 

Yavez was found not guilty on all three charges by a jury in 2017. 

Only Chauvin and Thao have been named in reports; the remaining two officers are yet to be identified. 

Only Chauvin and Thao have been named; two more cops are yet to be identified, pictured 

The FBI and state law enforcement authorities have launched an investigation into the man’s death. 

Minneapolis cops in riot gear last night fired rubber bullets and tear gas at thousands of defiant protesters who took to the streets to demand justice for Floyd. 

The victim’s heartbroken family have called for the cops to be charged with murder.  

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced Tuesday that four officers are now ‘former employees’ of the force.

‘We know there are inherent dangers in the profession of policing but the vast majority of the work we do never require the use of force,’ Arradondo said. 

Floyd’s death has caused outrage across America with political figures and celebrities including Cardi B, P Diddy and Demi Lovato voicing their anger.   

Floyd worked as a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro, a local bistro in Minneapolis. The bar’s owners have described him as a ‘very calm, nice guy’ who was not the type to be ‘aggressive’ or ‘disrespectful’.

EXCLUSIVE: George Floyd was a standout on his Texas high school football team and rapper who worked with legendary Houston musician, as his ex-girlfriend says he was loving father to their young daughter 

George Floyd was not only a rapper who recorded music with the late influential hip hop artist DJ Screw and a star football player for his Texas high school team, but a father of two young girls, including a six-year-old, who he now leaves behind.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, died on Monday after passing out while a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes during an arrest that was caught on camera, sparking protests in the Minnesota city and outrage across the country. 

In the wake of Floyd’s death, the four arresting officers were fired Tuesday. It has since been revealed the white officer who was seen forcefully kneeling on Floyd’s neck was involved in a fatal police shooting. Another one of the fired officers paid a $25,000 settlement after being sued for using excessive force in a 2017 arrest. 


George Floyd (pictured in the 1990s, in jersey 88) was not only a rapper who recorded music with the late influential hip hop artist DJ Screw and a star football player for his Texas high school team, but a father of two young girls, who he now leaves behind. Floyd was loved by many on the football team at Jack Yates High School in Houston where he played wide receiver. A fellow teammate tweeted his sadness and anger when he learned of Floyd’s death

Floyd leaves behind two daughters, including six-year-old Gianna Floyd who lives with her mother, Roxie Washington (pictured all together), in Floyd’s former hometown of Houston. Washington told the Houston Chronicle her ex was a ‘gentle giant’

Floyd leaves behind two daughters, including six-year-old Gianna Floyd who lives with her mother Roxie Washington in Floyd’s former hometown of Houston.

Washington told the Houston Chronicle her ex was a ‘gentle giant’. 

‘People mistake him because he was so big that they thought he was always a fighting person but he was a loving person,’ she said. ‘And he loved his daughter.’ 

‘I don’t even have words for it,’ Washington, 38, told the paper. ‘It’s cruel. They took him away from my daughter. She’ll never see her father again.’

In an interview with CBS This Morning, Floyd’s cousin said his daughter is ‘not doing well’ after learning of her father’s untimely death.

Washington, who attended a 100-strong protest in Houston after Floyd’s death, said he was born in North Carolina and moved to the city’s third ward as a baby.

‘I don’t even have words for it,’ Washington (left with Floyd center), 38, told the paper. ‘It’s cruel. They took him away from my daughter. She’ll never see her father again.’

Washington, who attended a 100-strong protest in Houston after Floyd’s death, said he was born in North Carolina and moved to the city’s third ward as a baby 

Floyd was loved by many on the football team at Jack Yates High School in Houston where he played wide receiver in the 1990s.

A fellow teammate tweeted his sadness and anger when he learned of Floyd’s death. 

He wrote: ‘We played together on the same summer league team (after our freshman year) in the BCI league. 

‘Floyd was a cool dude. Hate to hear that he passed. Now I’m just realizing that Floyd is the guy killed by police. I hope the officer who did this meets the same fate. That would be justice.’

Archive footage from 1992 shows Floyd scoring a dramatic touchdown at one of the Yates games.

The school’s coach, M.J. Hickey Jr, posted a photo on Twitter of the late player with his team and the caption ‘#88 #RIPGeorgeFloyd’.

Washington said Floyd received a basketball scholarship from Florida State University, but returned to Houston before he finished college and began making music.

Former NBA player Stephen Jackson posted on social media calling Floyd his ‘twin’, as the two men played on both the Yates football and basketball team and grew up in Houston’s third ward. 

‘U will know who Floyd was,’ Jackson’s Instagram post said. ‘Nobodies perfect but Floyd was loved by everybody when he’s friends wasn’t. Just the facts u gotta be from HTown to know what I’m saying. Rest Easy Twin we riding for ya.’

Fans of revered hip hop artist DJ Screw celebrated Floyd’s musical career by sharing links of tracks he recorded under his rapping name ‘Big Floyd’ alongside the legendary Houston musician.

DJ Screw, whose real name was Robert Earl Davis Jr, died in 2000 of a drug overdose after releasing 35 mixtapes. The rapper was posthumously made an official Texas Music Pioneer by Governor Rick Perry.

‘He’s on countless Screw tapes. RIP to a legend,’ one fan tweeted Wednesday.

Floyd worked as a security guard after moving to Minneapolis around 2018, Washington said.

Floyd worked first as a truck driver and then as a security guard at Minneapolis restaurant Conga Latin Bistro. 

On Tuesday, new video emerged showing the moment Floyd was pulled from his car by police moments before a white officer pinned him to the ground by his neck in an altercation that led to his death.  

‘Firing them is not enough’: George Floyd’s sister doubles down on call to have four cops who ‘murdered’ her brother arrested saying ‘this must not happen to another family’  

George Floyd’s sister on Wednesday doubled down on calls to have four police officers charged with murder after they were fired over a video of one white officer kneeling on her brother’s neck during his arrest. 

Bridgett Floyd told the Today show: ‘I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did. They murdered my brother; he was crying for help.’   

Wearing a t-shirt with her brother’s words ‘I can’t breathe’ on it, she added: ‘I don’t need them to be suspended and able to work in another state or another county. Their licenses should be taken away; their jobs should be take away, and they should be put in jail for murder.

‘I believe that justice will be served — I have enough faith to stand on it.’

Bridgett Floyd, pictured, doubled down on calls to have four police officers charged with murder after they were fired over a video of one white officer kneeling on her brother’s neck during his arrest

Bridgett Floyd told the Today show: ‘I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did. They murdered my brother; he was crying for help’

Two of George Floyd’s cousins had already said the firing of the officers was just ‘a start’ after watching footage of the shocking incident and the cops ‘murdered our cousin’. 

The family’s lawyer has called for white cop Derek Chauvin to be charged with murder and the other three officers involved charged as murder accomplices as he revealed Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for a staggering eight minutes and blasted the case as ‘worse than Eric Garner’.  

Floyd was filmed Monday begging the Minneapolis cop to stop and telling him he could not breathe before he lost consciousness and later died after officers arrested him for allegedly trying to use forged documents at a local deli. 

Four members of the Minneapolis Police Department who were involved in Monday’s incident have now been fired, and the FBI and state law enforcement authorities have launched an investigation into the man’s death. 

Floyd’s devastated family have now broken their silence over his death in an interview with TMX.news, where they told how they watched the horrific footage on TV before realizing it was their ‘baby cousin’.  

His devastated family have now broken their silence over his death in an interview with TMX.news, where his cousins Tera Brown (left) and Shareeduh Tate (right) told how they watched the video not realizing it was their ‘baby cousin’

‘I actually saw it before knowing it was my cousin – I saw it on Gayle King,’ said Shareeduh Tate.

‘And I remember thinking how devastating this would be for the family who have lost their family member like this… then about five minutes after that I got a phone call saying that it was my cousin.’ 

She thanked the bystanders who were heard in the footage urging the police to stop what they were doing and warning them that they were killing Floyd.

‘I can’t thank them enough. We always see these kinds of things take place and we always wonder what we would do in that position and we’re so grateful… and even more so grateful for the person who was there with a camera to capture it as so many times there is not a witness around and it’s questionable as to what has happened,’ Tate said.

Floyd’s other cousin Tera Brown called the footage ‘unbelievable’.

Ben Crump, the attorney for the victim’s family has demanded officers face prosecution over the killing and saying this is ‘worse than Eric Garner’ because the officers held Floyd down by the neck for a staggering eight minutes

‘It’s unbelievable to see someone suffering in the way that he did,’ she said. ‘And to have so many people around asking for them to basically allow him to live.’

Tate said the firing of the four police officers was ‘a start’ but is ‘definitely not enough’ as she blasted the authorities for ‘murdering’ the father-of-one.

‘They murdered our cousin,’ she said.

Brown described him as ‘the cousin that everybody loved’ who was ‘always happy’ and a ‘jokester’. 

‘He was everybody’s favorite everything – he was the favorite friend, the favorite cousin,’ she added.  

She said news of his death has been especially hard on Floyd’s daughter who she said is ‘not doing well’. 

Ben Crump, the attorney for the victim’s family has demanded officers face murder charges over the killing and said this is ‘worse than Eric Garner’ because the officers held Floyd down by the neck for a staggering eight minutes. 

Crump pointed to the similarities in the case with the death of unarmed black man Garner who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by New York City police and pleaded for his life, saying he could not breathe.     

Parallels have already been drawn between the two cases but Crump described Floyd’s death as even ‘worse’.

‘I mean it was 8 minutes. It is in many ways worse than Eric Garner as they have his knees on his neck and he is begging, pleading for not one minute, not two minutes, not three minutes but eight minutes – begging them to let him breathe so we have “we can’t breathe” again in 2020,’ he said.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Minneapolis and surrounded a police precinct Tuesday night, after a video emerged of a police officer kneeling on Floyd’s neck for several minutes until he passed out and later died during an arrest for forgery

Police are pictured in riot gear at the rally. The protest in the streets of Minneapolis over his death descended into chaos Tuesday night

A protester throws a brick onto an empty squad car near the Minneapolis 3rd Police Precinct Tuesday night 

‘It just takes you back to Eric Garner and now we have another black man saying to police “I can’t breathe” and them not offering any humanity.’

Crump said news that the officers had been fired was a ‘good first step’ but said it does not go far enough to getting justice for the dead man. 

‘I think the officer should be charged with murder,’ Crump told TMX.news, about Derek Chauvin, who has been identified as the cop who held Floyd down by the neck. 

‘It was clear that he was begged by public bystanders to take his knee off George’s neck.’ 

Crump also called for the other officers involved to be charged as accomplices to murder.  

‘They were supposed to protect and serve citizens like George. We in black America, we are done dying at the hands of the people that are supposed to protect and serve us,’ he said. 

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced Tuesday that four officers are now ‘former employees’ of the force.

‘We know there are inherent dangers in the profession of policing but the vast majority of the work we do never require the use of force,’ Arradondo said.

The names of the four fired cops have not been released, however two officers seen in the video were identified by Floyd’s family’s lawyer as officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao.

The two were filmed in a video taken by a bystander on Monday which showed Floyd struggling to breathe on the ground as a white cop kneeled on his neck for several minutes.  

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey responded to the four officers’ termination on Twitter saying the move was ‘the right call.’  

Floyd, who was arrested on suspicion of forgery on Monday night, was heard repeatedly telling officers that he could not breathe as he lay on the ground next to the tire of a squad car. 

Flocks of people gathered to demand action against the white cops at the center of Floyd’s death 

Some people stood on top of the Metro Transit shelter in Minneapolis to hold aloft their banner 

Eric Garner’s mother says video of George Floyd saying ‘I can’t breathe’ as white cop kneels on his neck before he died is a ‘recurring nightmare’ because it strikes a harrowing resemblance to her son’s 2014 death

The mother of Eric Garner has been left horrified by the harrowing video of an unarmed black man crying ‘I can’t breathe’ while being pinned down by a white cop in Minneapolis – a case bearing a striking resemblance to her son’s 2014 death in New York.

Gwen Carr, whose 27-year-old son died after he was placed in an apparent chokehold by a NYPD officer, said she could barely stomach watching the video of George Floyd, 46, who was filmed passing out on the ground on Monday after four officers arrested him for allegedly trying to use forged documents at a local deli.

Floyd later died in hospital in an incident that is now under investigation by the FBI and has triggered a national outcry, with thousands of protesters to taking to the streets in anger.

Gwen Carr (center), the mother of Eric Garner has been left horrified by the harrowing video of an unarmed black man crying ‘I can’t breathe’ while being pinned down by a white cop in Minneapolis – a case bearing a striking resemblance to her son’s 2014 death in Staten Island


Carr, whose 27-year-old son (right) died after he was placed in an apparent chokehold by a NYPD officer, said she could barely stomach watching the video of George Floyd, 46, who was filmed passing out on the ground on Monday after four officers arrested him for allegedly trying to use forged documents at a local deli.

‘It was déjà vu all over again,’ Carr told NBC. ‘It’s like a reoccurring nightmare,’ she said.

In the video captured by a bystander, Floyd can be seen pinned to the ground near the back tire of a police car by a white officer who is kneeling down on his neck.

Floyd his heard pleading with the cop to stop several times over the course of six minutes, crying out to him, ‘Please, please, I can’t breathe’ and ‘My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts,’ before eventually losing consciousness.

Garner, a father-of-six, had made the same pleas to plainclothes NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo six years ago, telling him on 11 separate occasions ‘I can’t breathe’, as Pantaleo pulled him by the neck with his forearm onto the sidewalk.

The words would prove to be Garner’s last. He later died in hospital, having suffered an asthma attack and gone into cardiac arrest while being restrained. The city’s medical examiner ruled his death a homicide, with the chokehold deemed a ‘significant factor’ in his passing.

Nationwide protests broke out after a grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo. The 27-year-old had been accused of selling loose untaxed cigarettes in the moments leading up to the incident.

In Floyd’s case, newly emerged video shows him being manhandled and forcibly removed from his vehicle by two officers as he is placed in handcuffs outside of Cup Foods grocery store on 38th and Chicago Ave.


The incident has drawn comparisons to the case of Eric Garner (pictured)  an unarmed New York man who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life saying he couldn’t breathe

The 46-year-old appears to be complying with officers and not resisting the arrest. Police spokesman John Elder had earlier claimed Floyd was ‘ordered to step out from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers.’

Carr said the news of Floyd’s death has forced her to relieve the searing pain of her son’s similar and brutal demise.

‘It was just like me reliving my son’s murder all over again,’ Carr told PIX11. ‘It’s just so horrifying how these police officers come into our neighborhoods and terrorize and brutalize.’

‘Tears are in my eyes because it’s like it’s happening to me again and again. Why does this keep on happening over and over again?’

Carr added that she cannot see ‘any justification’ for the force used by the officers. ‘To put your knee on someone’s neck, you are obstructing their breathing. That is completely a no-no,’ she told NBC.

The black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis on Monday has been identified as George Floyd on social media. The attorney representing Floyd’s family Benjamin Crump tweeted this photo of the victim on Tuesday, calling for police officers to be brought to justice

‘Why would you keep your knee there?’ she asked, insisting that Floyd clearly needed help. ‘After three minutes, you don’t realize that this man is saying that he can’t breathe? And he’s struggling, struggling for life?’

The officers involved in the incident were not immediately identified and had initially been placed on paid administrative leave as of Tuesday morning, before Mayor Jacob Frey tweeted hours later that all four offices had been fired.

‘I’m so glad that those officers were fired, but that’s not enough,’ Carr said. ‘We need criminal charges because that was outright murder, what they did to that young man.’

Floyd’s death is under investigation by the FBI and state law enforcement authorities. A police union is asking the public ‘not to rush to judgment’ in the case.

‘Officers’ actions and training protocol will be carefully examined after the officers have provided their statements,’ the union said. We ask that the community remain calm and let the investigation be completed in full.’

None of the officers involved in Garner’s death were ever criminally prosecuted. Carr said she’s wary of the FBI’s assistance in the Minneapolis investigation after Attorney General William Barr made the final determination last summer not to charge Pantaleo, citing insufficient evidence.

Pantaleo was, however, eventually fired by the NYPD in August 2019. He filed a lawsuit against the city last fall, calling his termination ‘arbitrary and capricious’.

While Minneapolis has moved much more quickly to fire the officers who contributed to Floyd’s death, Carr said she hopes his surviving family members attain justice much sooner than she did.

‘I hope this family doesn’t need to suffer like I suffered for six years,’ she said.

A man holds a ‘Stop Killing Black People’ placard while protesting near the area where a Minneapolis Police Department officer allegedly killed George Floyd

A Black Lives Matter memorial was left for George Floyd who died in custody on May 26

People gather around a makeshift memorial Tuesday, May 26, 2020, in Minneapolis, near where a black man was taken into police custody the day before who later died

Recent killings of black men by officers

  • Ahmaud Arbery, 25, was fatally gunned down by a white former police detective and his son on February 23, 2020, near Brunswick in Glynn County, Georgia. He was unarmed and had been out jogging. The case has sparked outrage around the world and some say it is proof of persistent racism in the South.
  • Michael Brown, 18, was fatally shot by 28-year-old white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014. Brown and his friend were stopped after police suspected they had carried out a robbery. An altercation ensued and Wilson opened fire and shot Brown six times.  
  • Eric Garner, 43, died in the New York City borough of Staten Island on July 17, 2014, after NYPD officer Daniel Pantaleo put him in a chokehold for 15 seconds. Officers had approached him on suspicion of selling single cigarettes without tax stamps. Garner repeated the words ‘I can’t breathe’ 11 times while lying face down on the sidewalk while he was being arrested. 
  • Trayvon Martin, 17, was unarmed when he was shot dead by George Zimmerman while visiting his father’s fiancee in the gated community of The Retreat at Twin Lakes in Sanford, Florida on February 26, 2012. Zimmerman was neighbourhood watch coordinator at the time. 

When asked by reporters about the use of the knee on the man’s neck on Tuesday, Police Chief Arradondo said the department has ‘policies in place regarding placing someone under control’ that ‘will be part of the full investigation we’ll do internally.’ 

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension confirmed the FBI joined its investigation after footage video of the incident emerged. 

All body camera footage has been turned over to the BCA, which investigates most police shootings and in-custody deaths. 

The officers involved were initially put on paid administrative leave, per department protocol.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey addressed the incident in a press conference on Tuesday morning, calling events in the video ‘wrong at every level.’ 

‘Being black in America should not be a death sentence,’ he said.

‘For five minutes we watched as a white officer pressed his knee to the neck of a black man. For five minutes. 

‘When you hear someone calling for help, you are supposed to help.

‘This officer failed in the most basic human sense. What happened on Chicago and 38th, this last night, is simply awful.’ 

Frey also apologized to the family of the man as well as the black community. 

‘He was a human being and his life mattered,’ he said.  

Throughout the video, the arresting officer is seen kneeling on the man’s neck as he lay motionless on the ground 

Minnesota state Senator Amy Klobuchar released a statement following the mayor’s media briefing, calling for the police officers involved to be held accountable. 

‘We heard his repeated calls for help. We heard him say over and over again that he could not breathe. And now we have a seen yet another horrifying and gutwrenching instance of an African American man dying,’ she said.

‘Every single person in every single community in this country deserves to feel safe. As the Mayor Minneapolis noted, this tragic loss of life calls for immediate action.

‘There must be a complete and thorough outside investigation into what occurred, and those involved in this incident must be held accountable.

‘Justice must be served for this man and his family, justice must be served for our community, and justice must be served for our country.’

Nekima Levy-Armstrong, a prominent local activist, said watching the footage that was shared on social media made her ‘sick to her stomach’ and called the incident another example of police brutality toward African American men, the Star Tribune reported.

‘Whatever the man may have done should not have ended in a death sentence,’ she said. 

‘What started as an alleged economic incident once again turned deadly for a black man.’

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey addressed the incident in a press briefing on Tuesday morning, calling the events in the video ‘wrong at every level’ and saying the officers involved ‘failed in the most basic human sense’ 

Levy-Armstrong said the incident reminded her of the Eric Garner case. 

He was an unarmed New York man who died in 2014 after he was placed in a chokehold by police and pleaded for his life saying he couldn’t breathe. 

A grand jury later decided against indicting the officers involved, sparking protests around the country.

Police in Minneapolis have come under the microscope in recent years for deadly run-ins with citizens. 

A 24-year-old black man, Jamar Clark, was shot in the head and died in 2015 after a confrontation with two white officers responding to a reported assault. 

A county prosecutor declined to prosecute the officers, saying Clark was struggling for one of the officers´ gun when he was shot.

A white woman, Justine Rusczcyk Damond, died in 2017 when she was shot in the stomach by a Minneapolis officer responding to her 911 call. 

That officer, who is black, was convicted of manslaughter and murder and is serving a 12-year prison sentence. 

Gayle King breaks down on live TV while discussing death of George Floyd after white cop knelt on his neck, as she leads big names speaking out about the killing and says it ‘feels like open season’ on black men in America  

Gayle King broke down on live TV as she warned that it ‘feels to me like open season’ on young black men in America after footage emerged of the white cop kneeling on the neck of George Floyd who then passed out and died.   

King led celebrities and politicians Tuesday in voicing outrage over his death, with many taking to social media demanding the police officers involved are arrested and that the US tackles what many regard as ‘systemic’ racism against young African-American men. 

King’s voice broke on CBS This Morning Tuesday after she watched the horrifying footage of Floyd’s death followed by another video of a racist incident in Central Park, New York, where white investment banker Amy Cooper called 911 to report an ‘African-American man threatening her life’ when he simply asked her to leash her dog.

An emotional King said she was ‘speechless’ and that ‘this is really too much for me today’ before she asked her co-hosts to step in to take over talking about the shocking incidents. 

‘I don’t even know what to do or how to handle this at this particular time… I am speechless,’ King said, as she holds back tears.

‘Once again, I say thank goodness that there’s video tape. You know, I think as a daughter of a black man and a mother of a black man, this is really too much for me today. I’m still rattled by the last story.’

Gayle King broke down on CBS This Morning Tuesday as she warned that it ‘feels to me like open season’ on black men in America after footage emerged of a white cop kneeling on the neck of a black man who then passed out and died

An emotional King said she was ‘speechless’ and that ‘this is really too much for me today’ before she asked her co-hosts to step in to take over talking about the shocking incidents

‘I’m so sorry. I’m still so upset by that last story where the man is handcuffed underneath a car, where people are pleading, ‘Please he can’t breathe,’ and we’re watching a man die,’ she said.

‘So we go from that story now to this story where she falsely accuses a black man on television.’

‘I am really, really speechless about what we are seeing on television this morning,’ King added. 

‘It feels to me like open season, and that it’s just not sometimes a safe place to be in this country for black men. And today is too much for me.’ 

Floyd’s death has sparked outrage across the nation, with politicians and celebrities including Ice Cube, Debra Messing and Martin Luther King III taking to social media to brand the Minneapolis cops murderers and demand they be arrested. 

This comes less than a month after footage emerged of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery being shot dead in a street in Georgia by two white men who evaded prosecution for more than two months.

The leak of the video sparked outrage across the nation with LeBron James, Justin Bieber and Kendall Jenner all leading cries for Travis and Gregory McMichael to be charged with murder. 

The father and son duo were only arrested and charged with murder after the video went viral. 

Black celebrities led the cries for the arrest of the officers involved in Floyd’s death Tuesday, after it emerged four cops had been fired over the incident.

‘How long will we go for Blue on Black Crime before we strike back???’ Ice Cube tweeted. 

The rapper then had to defend his use of the words ‘strike back’ when some said he was encouraging vigilantism.

He responded with a follow-up Tweet: ‘Anybody coming at me for what I said ain’t ready to do s**t…’ 



Ice T also spoke out about Floyd’s death in a series of Tweets.

‘They Killed another Brother.. On Video,’ he wrote.

He followed it up with another post that read: ‘I play a Cop on TV… But I’ll NEVER stop speaking about injustice… EVER. F that.’

Snoop Dogg simply posted a meme showing the white cop kneeling on Floyd’s neck alongside an image of Colin Kaepernick kneeling, saying ‘This is why’. 

The post was in reference to the #TakeAKnee protest which has involved some black American athletes kneeling during the US national anthem at sports events in protest against police brutality and racism.

Martin Luther King III also took to social media over the footage with the slogan: ‘Say his name. #GeorgeFloyd #icantbreathe’.

Singers Ariana Grande, Madonna and Justin Bieber also waded into the issue, sharing posts condemning police brutality with their millions of followers.

Grande posted an Instagram story of a black screen with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #justiceforGeorgeFloyd.

‘Justice is not just about specific officers being arrested. It’s about dismantling the systems that make it possible,’ she wrote.  

Pop star Bieber posted a photo of the incident and decried it as ‘sick’.

‘This makes me absolutely sick. This makes me angry this man DIED. This makes me sad. Racism is evil We need to use out voice! Please people. I’m sorry GEORGE FLOYD,’ he wrote. 

Madonna slammed the police officer responsible for Floyd’s death saying he ‘knew he was being filmed and murdered him with arrogance and pride’. 


Keeping it simple: Diddy posted an emoji of praying hands in reaction to the senseless death. Demi Lovato said Floyd’s death should send a signal to everyone that black people live in danger in the U.S.

Unfair: Halsey pointed at the systemic issues paving the way for the types of confrontations like the one Floyd died after 

Will & Grace star Debra Messing uploaded a post that echoed the victim’s family’s pleas that the firing of the four cops does not go far enough to getting justice for the man’s death.  

‘#GeorgeFloyd is the African-American man being MURDERED on this video. You watch it happen. With no respect for human life, these cops used unnecessary force on a man who was already detained. They have been fired. I WANT THEM ARRESTED!,’ she tweeted. 

Cardi B wrote on social media: ‘Enough is enough! What will it take? A civil war? A new president? Violent riots? It’s tired ! I’m tired ! The country is tired!

‘You don’t put fear in people when you do this you just show how coward YOU ARE ! And how America is really not the land of the free!’

Diddy posted an emoji of praying hands in reaction to the senseless death, while Viola Davis put the racial imbalance of the situation and others like it into perspective.

‘This is what it means to be Black in America. Tried. Convicted. Killed for being Black,’ the Oscar-winner said. ‘We are dictated by hundreds of years of policies that have restricted our very existence and still have to continue to face modern day lynchings.

‘Here’s the thing……America will never be great until we can figure out a way for it to work for EVERYBODY!!!’

Demi Lovato said, ‘I’m tired of typing Rest in Peace … I wish black men could live in peace.’

Several politicians have also slammed Floyd’s death and called for action against what they describe as a ‘systemic problem’ in policing across America 

Halsey said the incident was another example of a broken system with racial imbalances and little consequences for the offenders.

‘Rest in power #GeorgeFloyd an unarmed black man who was murdered by a police officer ON CAMERA,’ the singer said. ‘This system is failing the people it should protect. where is the accountability?’

Bravo’s Andy Cohen said that ‘every American should be outraged at’ seeing the images from the incident, while Jameela Jamil lobbied for the arrests of two of the officers involved in the incident.

Filmmaker Ava DuVernay delivered a powerful message on her social media in the wake of the tragic death.

‘You deserved your breath, your dignity, your life,’ DuVernay said. ‘Not to die in the street, murdered by a white cop’s knee on your neck. You deserve our tears, our prayers, our rage, our action.’

She added, ‘We must act – for you – and for all of tho se were no cameras are present. We must. #GeorgeFloyd.’

Actor Billy Baldwin posted a side by side shot of the officer with his knee and NFL’s Colin Kaepernick with the hashtag #ThisIsWhyWeKneel. The Backdraft actor added: ‘If they don’t arrest and convict this cop… things are gonna get real ugly.’

Several politicians have also slammed Floyd’s death and called for action not just over his death but over all incidents of racism and police brutality.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‎ pointed to a systemic issue across America as she said ‘police brutality’ is a ‘leading cause of death for young Black men’. 

‘#GeorgeFloyd should be alive. Instead, he was killed as he begged police for his life. The impunity of police violence is a systemic problem we must face to save lives,’ she tweeted.

‘Police brutality is now a leading cause of death for young Black men in the US. The status quo is killing us.’  

Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg also said there is a ‘systemic’ issue as he pointed to both Floyd’s death and the Central Park case. 

He tweeted: ‘The killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The racism on display in Central Park. This can’t just continue to be a day in the life in the USA. This is systemic and it won’t change on its own.’

Presidential candidate Joe Biden tweeted late Tuesday urging for the FBI to conduct a ‘thorough investigation’ and for the officers to be ‘held responsible for their egregious actions’.    

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Donald Trump threatens to shut down social media as Twitter fact-checks him

Donald Trump has threatened to shut down social media networks a day after Twitter began automatically fact-checking the contents of his tweets. The President of the United States tweeted Wednesday: ‘Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.

‘We saw what they attempted to do, and failed, in 2016. We can’t let a more sophisticated version of that happen again. Just like we can’t let large scale Mail-In Ballots take root in our Country. It would be a free for all on cheating, forgery and the theft of Ballots. Whoever cheated the most would win. Likewise, Social Media. Clean up your act, NOW!!!!’

President Trump hit out hours after two of his tweets claiming mail-in ballots could lead to electoral fraud were flagged as ‘potentially misleading’ by Twitter. The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has led to a push for the November presidential election to be held via mail-in votes, with Trump repeatedly claiming such a measure would lead to widespread-fraud.

Despite his attacks on Twitter, the micro-blogging site remains the president’s preferred means of communication, and Trump regularly uses it to share his apparently unfiltered thoughts with his 80 million followers.

And President Trump hit out at social media networks for censoring him just one day after Twitter refused a stricken widowers pleas to remove tweets sent by the president suggesting that his wife had been murdered.

Since May 12, Trump has sent numerous messages falsely claiming TV host Joe Scarborough – a vociferous critic of his administration – may have killed former employee Lori Klausutis in 2001. Klausutis fell and died aged 28 while working for then Congressman Scarborough in his Florida office. An autopsy found she had been killed by an undiagnosed heart condition.

During a White House press conference on Tuesday, Trump doubled-down on the offending tweets, and even suggested Klausutis and Scarborough had been having an affair.

He said: ‘A lot of people suggest that. And hopefully someday people are going to find out.’ Trump also called Klausutis’s death ‘a very suspicious situation.’ 

Twitter sent Timothy Klausutis a letter apologizing for the ‘pain’ caused by the president’s tweets, but refused to remove them. The San Francisco-headquartered corporation has allowed Trump to break its own anti-bullying and harassment rules because it is in the ‘public interest’ to let a global leader speak freely.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected]

For more stories like this, check our news page

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Trump administration looking at 'back to work bonus' of $450 a week

Trump administration is considering $450-a-week bonus to bribe people to go back to work because many are better off on $600 unemployment payments

  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday that the White House is considering a ‘back to work bonus’
  • He told Fox News that the idea of a $450 weekly bonus, as suggested by Ohio Senator Rob Portman, is being discussed
  • Unemployed Americans who are returning to work would keep $450 out of the $600 a week they’re getting in additional federal unemployment benefits
  • The bonus would expire at the end of July 
  • It comes as Republicans look to get rid of the federal jobless payments in a future coronavirus relief bill
  • They are concerned the payments are too high and will discourage Americans from returning to work post pandemic
  • A recent study found that two-thirds of workers who lost their jobs in the pandemic are eligible for unemployment benefits that exceed their lost wages 
  • A $4,000 tax credit that could be cashed in for employment training is among the other alternatives suggested
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

President Donald Trump’s administration is considering a $450 weekly bonus in order to entice people back to work, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Tuesday.

Kudlow told Fox News that the White House is looking carefully at the proposal aimed at encouraging Americans who had been laid off as the coronavirus pandemic spread to return to work.

It is suggested that workers may not want to return as they are better off on the $600 federal unemployment payments brought in with the coronavirus stimulus package.  

The ‘back to work’ bonus was first proposed by Ohio Senator Rob Portman who suggested that unemployed Americans who are returning to work keep $450 out of the $600 a week they’re getting in additional federal unemployment benefits. 

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White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Tuesday the White House is considering a $450 weekly ‘back to work bonus’ to encourage Americans to get back to work post lockdown

The bonus would expire at the end of July.

It comes as Republicans look to bring an end to the extra jobless benefit in the next virus aid package amid concerns that it is too high and will encourage Americans to remain unemployed. 

‘It may well be, it’s something that we’re looking at carefully,’ Kudlow told Fox when questioned on Portman’s suggestion.

‘Senator Portman has a good idea. He understands incentives and disincentives. 

‘The trouble with the $600 plus-up, and maybe we needed it in that emergency period, but frankly it’s a major disincentive to go back to work and we don’t want that,’ Kudlow added.

‘We want people to go back to work.’

According to a study published by three University of Chicago economists earlier this month, two-thirds of workers who lost their jobs in the pandemic are eligible for unemployment benefits that exceed their lost wages. 

A shocking 20 percent of unemployed workers can get benefits that are more than double lost wages, with thanks to the $600-a-week federal unemployment supplement for those who lost jobs due to the pandemic.

Because average wages vary greatly from state to state, the flat federal supplement means that total unemployment benefits now exceed average wages in at least 35 states. 

Kudlow said Tuesday that he does not believe the $600 per week in extra jobless benefits to laid-off workers will be included in a future coronavirus relief legislation.

‘I frankly do not believe the $600 plus-up will survive the next round of talks, but I think we’ll have substitutes to deal with that issue,’ he said.

Kudlow suggested that the Trump administration may introduce a payroll tax holiday through the end of the year.

Portman’s back-to-work bonus has been gaining steam among Republicans as Congress remains deadlocked over the next big coronavirus relief bill.  

While Democrats push for the $600 weekly federal unemployment payments to continue, Republicans fear it is too high and will prevent people from returning to work.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week suggested that the federal payments will not continue as unemployment insurance became a new priority for Republicans staking out the next aid package.

Congress remains deadlocked over the next big coronavirus relief bill as Republicans make it a priority to discontinue the $600 federal unemployment insurance payments in the next bill

Sen. Rob Portman, pictured, has suggested that unemployed Americans who are returning to work keep $450 of the $600 a week they’re getting in federal unemployment benefits

Rep Kevin Brady of Texas warned that generous benefits, with a $600 weekly boost during the pandemic approved under the earlier aid bill, would ‘handcuff’ workers and discourage them from returning to work.

‘Republicans and the White House are reaching consensus on the need for redesigning the unemployment benefits, so they are not a barrier to getting people back to work,’ Brady told reporters. 

Brady also proposes giving workers a one-time $1,200 bonus to get back to work. He said conversations were happening at the highest levels at the White House.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has agreed stating, ‘It was a mistake to make it so high to begin with. It would be a mistake to extend it’.

Republicans are hopeful that as states reopen, the economy will improve, lessening the need for more federal funds.

But if workers refuse to return to work, they worry companies can’t begin to rebound.

Rep. Kevin Brady, pictured left with Trump, has also suggested a back-to-work bonus

Portman’s proposal is just one of several put forward by U.S. lawmakers as they look to encourage workers to return to work post pandemic.

Yet Republicans have struggled to rally around an alternative to the $3 trillion HEROES Act Democrats passed through the house earlier this month.

Democrats have argued that Congress needs to approve more aid now, to tide people over into next year.

The act would provide nearly $1 trillion for states, cities and tribal governments to avert layoffs.

It would include additional $200billion in ‘hazard pay’ for essential workers.

The measure may not be voted on in the Senate until July, however, as Republicans and the White House have dismissed the bill as a liberal wish-list.

Yet they have acknowledged the need for more legislative action.

As another alternative to the back to work bonus, Republican senators Tim Scott and Ben Sasse, along with Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker, have put forward the Skills Renewal Act 

The act looks to create a tax credit to cover the costs for workers who take part in programs designed to upskill.

Workers who lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic in 2020 would have until the end of 2021 to take advantage of the credit and take on training programs necessary to build skills that will be in higher demand among employers.

The proposal would offer $4,000 fully refundable tax credits that could be cashed in for employment training including traditional degree programs as well as certificates apprenticeships and other work arrangements.

Job losses in the United States are slowing but totaled an unheard-of 38.6 million since the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns began, while officials debate what additional steps will be needed to rescue the beleaguered economy.

Another 2.43 million Americans were put out of work last week, fewer than the previous week but still among the highest figures on record, according to the latest Labor Department data released Thursday.

Initial claims for unemployment benefits appeared to have passed the peak hit in late March, but economists say joblessness is likely worse than the figures indicate since many people do not qualify for traditional aid.

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Twitter labels Trump tweets with fact-checking warning

Twitter has flagged tweets from US president Donald Trump with a fact-check warning.

The social media site added a warning phrase to two of Mr Trump’s tweets in which he called postal voting ‘fraudulent’ and predicted that ‘mail boxes will be robbed’.

Under the tweets, there is now a link reading ‘Get the facts about mail-in ballots’ that guides users to a Twitter Moments page with fact checks and news stories about Mr Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.

Until now, the US president has overcome Twitter’s half-hearted attempts to enforce rules intended to promote civility and ‘healthy’ conversation on its most prominent user.

Mr Trump frequently amplifies misinformation, spreads abuse and uses his feed to personally attack private citizens and public figures alike – all forbidden under Twitter’s official rules.

In a statement, Twitter said Mr Trump’s vote-by-mail tweets ‘contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labelled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots’.

Meanwhile, the husband of a woman who died in Joe Scarborough’s office two decades ago has demanded Twitter remove Donald Trump’s tweets suggesting the former Republican congressman murdered her.

Twitter issued a statement expressing its regret to the husband but so far has taken no action on those tweets.

Meanwhile, President Trump has reacted furiously to the fact-checking warnings and lashed out at Twitter for stifling free speech.

He said the micro-blogging service was ‘completely stifling free speech, and I, as president, will not allow it to happen.’

In a follow up tweet he said the company was interfering with the forthcoming election, slated for November 2020.

‘Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election,’ he tweeted. ‘They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post.’

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Gov. Cuomo, Trump to meet at White House for second coronavirus summit

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Trump will meet Wednesday at the White House to discuss what role a fierce focus on revitalizing New York’s infrastructure can have in jump-starting the state’s coronavirus-battered economy.

“This is one of the things I want to talk to the president about,” Cuomo said during his Tuesday press briefing at the New York Stock Exchange in Lower Manhattan.

“You want to restart the economy, you want to reopen the economy? Let’s do something creative,” continued Cuomo. “Let’s do it fast, let’s put Americans back to work, and let’s make America better. It is common sense.”

Cuomo earlier in the briefing cast the focus as a way to kill two birds with one stone: finally tackling long-delayed infrastructure projects at a time when many are clamoring to get back to work.

The governor specifically highlighted the massive Penn Station overhaul, the transformative reconfiguration of LaGuardia Airport, the revitalization of the rail tunnels beneath the Hudson River and the expansion of the Second Avenue subway line as projects on his wish list.

“The time to fix the hole in the roof, we have a saying in Queens, is when the sun is shining,” said Cuomo. “The time to do this work is now, when you need the jobs and the volume is low.

“That’s one of the things I’m going to talk to the president about tomorrow.”

The White House summit will mark the second meeting between Cuomo and Trump amid the pandemic, which has alternately cast them as political rivals and unlikely allies.

But since the first meeting last month — which Cuomo labeled “productive” — the relationship has hit a pair of bumps, with Trump telling The Post that “bailouts” to “blue state” governments like New York’s were unfair, and Cuomo pinning responsibility for a widely criticized nursing home policy on Trump.

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O'Sullivan joins Trump in Championship League Snooker as full field announced

Ronnie O’Sullivan will return to the table at Championship League Snooker in Milton Keynes in a high-profile field including world champion Judd Trump, Mark Selby and Neil Robertson.

Snooker returns behind closed doors at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes on 1 June and plenty of the biggest names in the sport will be involved.

The event has been added to the calendar to get players back in action as quickly as possible after the coronavirus hiatus, and will be the first tournament since the Gibraltar Open in March, ahead of the Tour Championship and then World Championship in July.

64 players are involved across 16 groups in Milton Keynes and the Rocket will be among the field, drawn in a group alongside Chris Wakelin, Michael Georgiou and Kishan Hirani.

O’Sullivan has not played since his second round exit at the Snooker Shoot Out in February, and not been involved in a long-format event since the Welsh Open earlier in the same month.

The winners of the 16 groups then play in four more groups, before those winners playing out a final group, with a champion crowned on 11 June and claiming the £30,000 top prize.

The whole event will be broadcast live on ITV4 beginning at 3pm each day, apart from Friday 5 June when it gets underway at 4pm.

Championship League Groups

Group 1 – Saturday 6 June
Stuart Bingham
Ricky Walden
Jordon Brown
Jamie Clarke

Group 2 – Monday 1 June
Judd Trump
Daniel Wells
Elliot Slessor
David Grace

Group 3 – Tuesday 2 June
Michael Holt
Mark Davis
Mark Joyce
Louis Heathcote

Group 4 – Wednesday 3 June
Joe Perry
Mark King
Sam Baird
Harvey Chandler

Group 5 – Wednesday 4 June
Mark Selby
Liang Wenbo
Joe O’Connor
Lee Walker

Group 6 – Monday 8 June
Ali Carter
Matt Selt
Sam Craigie
Dominic Dale

Group 7 – Sunday 7 June
Barry Hawkins
Anthony McGill
Craig Steadman
Hammad Miah

Group 8 – Saturday 6 June
Jimmy Robertson
Ben Woollaston
Liam Highfield
Alex Ursenbacher

Group 9 – Tuesday 2 June
Jack Lisowski
Luca Brecel
Robbie Williams
Oliver Lines

Group 10 – Friday 5 June
Ronnie O’Sullivan
Chris Wakelin
Michael Georgiou
Kishan Hirani

Group 11 – Monday 8 June
Mark Allen
Martin O’Donnell
Michael White
Nigel Bond

Group 12 – Wednesday 3 June
Kyren Wilson
Ryan Day
Alfie Burden
Chen Feilong

Group 13 – Monday 1 June
David Gilbert
Stuart Carrington
Jak Jones
Jackson Page

Group 14 – Wednesday 4 June
Gary Wilson
Matthew Stevens
John Astley
Mitchell Mann

Group 15 – Friday 5 June
Tom Ford
Robert Milkins
Mike Dunn
Ian Burns

Group 16 – Sunday 7 June
Neil Robertson
Kurt Maflin
Ken Doherty
Ashley Carty

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Trump orders flags to fly at half-staff to honor US coronavirus victims

The Trump Administration will order American flags to fly at half-staff on the grounds of federal buildings and national monuments over the next three days to commemorate those who have died from the coronavirus.

The flags will remain at half-staff going into Monday, as per Memorial Day tradition, the president announced Thursday on Twitter.

“I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus,” Trump tweeted.

The remembrance comes after the US has reported more than 1.57 million coronavirus cases and more than 94,500 related deaths — the most cases and deaths of any country.

In New York, the nation’s outbreak epicenter, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month directed American flags to be flown at half-staff while the state is under lockdown to pay respect to those who have died.

Trump’s directive comes as states begin to partially reopen while major metropolitan areas continue to battle outbreaks. The president on Thursday continued to urge states to reopen more counties in his bid to restart the economy.

“As one people, we hold in our hearts the precious memory of every person that we have lost,” Trump said during a tour of a Michigan Ford plant. “We have lost too many, one is too many. As one grateful nation, we proclaim God bless our health care workers. They are like warriors.”

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Trump gives commencement to 'class of COVID-19' in SNL cold open

‘I’m so honored to be your valedictator!’ Alec Baldwin returns as President Trump in SNL cold open where he gives commencement speech to ‘the class of COVID-19’ and drinks Clorox while saying coronavirus came from ‘a lab in Obama’

  • SNL season finale featured show in which players once again acted from home 
  • Alec Baldwin returned to reprise his role as President Donald Trump 
  • Trump is picked to give commencement speech for high school graduates 
  • He drinks Clorox, blames Obama for coronavirus, and says he’s ‘valedictator’  
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

Alec Baldwin reprised his imitation of President Trump on the season finale of Saturday Night Live – this time with the Commander in Chief giving a commencement speech via Zoom in which he says he is honored to be the ‘valedictator’ while also drinking bleach to ward off the coronavirus.

‘Congratulations to the class of COVID-19,’ Baldwin’s Trump tells the graduates of St. Mary Magdalene By-The-Expressway.

Trump is picked to give the commencement speech after the students’ top choice to deliver the address – Barack and Michelle Obama – were unable to do so.


Alec Baldwin reprised his role as President Trump on Saturday Night Live. He took a sip of ‘invincibility juice’, or Clorox, which the president recommended people take in real life

Kate McKinnon (above) played a principal at St. Mary Magdalene By-The-Expressway High School

Trump made sure to congratulate the ‘graduating class of COVID-19’

The students then listed other preferences, including Guns ‘N Roses lead singer Axl Rose, the newly arrived murder hornets, the ‘Limu Emu’ character from the Liberty Mutual insurance commercials, and the Elon Musk-Grimes baby.

The principal, played by Kate McKinnon, moved on to the students’ ‘eighth choice’ – President Trump.

Baldwin’s Trump then appears with a red Make America Great Again hat.

Broadcasting from ‘The White House,’ Trump thanks ‘all of the people applauding’ – when in reality there’s just one student clapping her hand.

‘What incredible energy and excitement I’m feeling right now,’ the president tells the graduates.

‘Now my valet got the virus so I had to do my own makeup,’ Trump says.

‘I had to resort to a Liza Minelli – TikTok makeup tutorial.’

In real life, a valet who works at the White House tested positive for COVID-19, as did Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary Katie Miller.

On Saturday, it was learned that Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and the heads of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration were self-quarantining after coming into contact with an infected White House staffer.

Trump is picked to give the commencement speech after the students’ top choice to deliver the address – Barack and Michelle Obama – were unable to do so

‘I’m so honored to be your valedictator, but today is not about me,’ the president says in the SNL skit.

‘It’s about you.’

‘Valedictator’ is a word that merges ‘valedictorian’ – the student who earns the highest grade point average – and ‘dictator.’

Even though Trump initially says that he wants the focus to be on the students, he then pivots to talking about himself, saying he’s been ‘treated very poorly.’

‘Even worse than they treated [Abraham] Lincoln,’ Baldwin’s Trump says.

When one of the graduates, Damien, who is played by Chris Redd, points out that the nation’s 16th president was assassinated, an agitated Trump says: ‘I’m not taking questions, Beebop. I’m only telling you the truth.’

‘Lincoln would agree,’ the president says. ‘He’s probably smiling up at me from hell, right now.’

At one point, Trump claimed he was treated worse than Abraham Lincoln, but one graduate, Damien, pointed out that the 16th president was assassinated

Trump responded by muting Damien and the other ‘jazz types’ on the Zoom call

When another African American graduate, Sam, played by Kenan Thompson, objects, Trump asks to mute him and all the other ‘jazz types.’

Trump then tells the graduates they have a lot to look forward to when it comes to the job market.

He then lists several in-demand jobs during the pandemic, including ‘grocery store bouncer, gam girl, porch pirate, amateur nurse, and coal.’

‘Don’t forget about coal,’ Trump says. ‘It’s in the ground and you just dig down and grab it.’

‘But I don’t want to do that,’ one of the graduates tells Trump, who ignores him and moves on.

The president then said that he was going to make sure ‘colleges are open in the fall.’

‘Online college is a scam,’ the president said.

‘My online college was ranked number one craziest scam every year it was open,’ Trump said.

That was a reference to Trump University, the now-defunct business venture that was shuttered after several people filed lawsuits claiming they were defrauded.

In November 2016, the Trump Organization agreed to pay $25million to settle two class action lawsuits and one lawsuit brought by the State of New York.

In the SNL cold open, a few of the graduates begin to demand that Dr. Anthony Fauci give the commencement address.

Fauci, the nation’s top expert on infectious diseases, is a member of Trump’s coronavirus task force.

In the skit, Baldwin’s Trump denigrates Fauci.

‘Don’t you hate when these elite medical experts tell you what to do?’ the president says.

He then coughs and takes a sip of Clorox bleach, which he calls ‘good old invincibility juice.’

The graduates, like the one played by Beck Bennett (above), demanded that Dr. Anthony Fauci deliver the commencement speech

In real life, Trump was ridiculed after he suggested that those infected with COVID-19 could drink cleaning disinfectant and bleach to rid the body of the disease.

The president later claimed he was being sarcastic.

Many of the graduates log out of the Zoom call in disgust after the president drank the bleach.

In the sketch, Baldwin’s Trump then begins to motivate the graduating students.

‘Believe in yourselves and you can achieve anything,’ he says. ‘Look at me.’

Trump continues: ‘I started as the son of a simple, wealthy slumlord, and grew to become a billionaire, the president, and the world’s leading expert on infectious diseases.’

The president then encourages the graduates to ‘surround yourself with the worst people you can find.’

While Trump was the ‘eighth choice’ of students to speak, at least one was a fervent supporter

‘That way you’ll always shine,’ he says.

‘If you don’t understand something, just call it stupid. Never wear sunscreen.

‘And live every day like it’s your last because we’re gonna let this virus run wild.’

Trump then claims the virus was started ‘in a lab, in Obama.’

He then offers up his favorite inspirational quote: ‘Reach for the stars, because if you’re a star, they let you do it.’

That is a reference to Trump being caught on a hot mike describing to Access Hollywood host Billy Bush how he would grope women because he was a ‘star’ and ‘they let you do it.’

In the sketch, when Trump asks ‘Who’s with me?’, all of the graduates except for one supporter log off the Zoom chat.

‘This crowd has thinned out faster than Adele,’ Trump remarks, a reference to the British singer’s dramatic weight loss in recent months.  

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Trump Claims The Coronavirus Came From This Wuhan Lab. Here’s What We Actually Know About Its Research.

Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli (left) at the Wuhan Institute of Virology

The journalists at BuzzFeed News are proud to bring you trustworthy and relevant reporting about the coronavirus. To help keep this news free, become a member and sign up for our newsletter, Outbreak Today.

President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have been beating a drumbeat of blame for COVID-19: Both claim that the novel coronavirus behind the pandemic came from a lab in Wuhan, China.

Asked on April 30 by a reporter if he had seen evidence that the virus emerged from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, Trump responded: “Yes, I have. Yes, I have,” going on to accuse the World Health Organization of being “like the public relations agency for China.”

On May 3, Pompeo said on ABC News that there was “enormous evidence” that the virus originated in a Wuhan lab. Both men claimed they were “not allowed” to reveal what this evidence was, suggesting their information came from classified intelligence.

Before being seized on by Trump and Pompeo, the theory that the virus came from a Wuhan lab had been promoted by right-wing media outlets including Fox News and the Washington Examiner, as well as the Epoch Times, a publication linked to the Chinese dissident religious group Falun Gong.

While scientists can’t eliminate the possibility of a lab escape entirely, the evidence suggests that the virus most likely evolved naturally, probably spreading to people in a seafood market in Wuhan where live animals were also on sale. Anonymous briefings from international intelligence officials have also suggested that the Wuhan Institute of Virology is unlikely to be the source of COVID-19.

Despite the questions and rumors, there’s quite a bit we do know about the research that was done at the Wuhan lab and why it’s unlikely to be the origin of the new coronavirus. Here’s what we know:

The Wuhan lab began studying bat coronaviruses in 2004 after SARS.

The head of the lab, which is operated by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, is virologist Shi Zhengli. (Shi did not immediately respond to queries about her work from BuzzFeed News; a representative said by email that they would seek permission from the Chinese Academy of Sciences for her to be interviewed.)

Popularly known as China’s “bat woman,” Shi studies the many different coronaviruses circulating in bats across China and beyond, trying to assess the risk that they could jump into people and cause a pandemic like COVID-19.

That became a priority after SARS, a respiratory illness caused by another coronavirus, which appeared in China in 2002 and spread to more than two dozen countries, killing 774 people. MERS, a similar disease caused by yet another coronavirus, emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012, spread to 27 countries, and has killed 858 people.

Both SARS and MERS are thought to have spread to people from animals — civets in the case of SARS and dromedary camels for MERS. But bats are believed to be the natural reservoir for these and other potentially pandemic coronaviruses, circulating the viruses in their populations and occasionally passing them to other species. And so from 2004 onward, Shi searched caves across China for colonies of roosting bats, taking swabs from the animals and collecting their droppings to examine the coronaviruses they carry.

Shi’s team has since identified dozens of coronavirus variants in bats, constructing an evolutionary tree of how they are related to one another based on the sequences of the RNA that makes up their genetic material, and showing that viruses from distinct branches of this tree seem to be found in different parts of China. In 2013, Shi’s group identified two coronavirus strains from horseshoe bats that were 95% genetically similar to the virus that caused SARS, providing the strongest evidence that, while the virus likely jumped to humans via a civet, bats were the ultimate origin of the virus.

Shi’s team has also studied the genetic mutations that seem to make bat coronaviruses more likely to cross over into people, focusing in particular on the gene that encodes its “spike protein.” The halo of spikes on the surface of coronaviruses gives them their signature crownlike appearance when viewed through an electron microscope. The ability of bat coronaviruses to infect human cells seems to depend on the interaction between the spike protein and a receptor called ACE2 on the surface of cells in the lungs.

A horseshoe bat

The lab previously conducted controversial experiments to test what could make coronaviruses more dangerous to humans.

Most controversially, Shi’s research on the spike protein has involved experiments that some scientists view as unacceptably risky: deliberately genetically engineering viruses to study what makes them more dangerous.

In 2015, Shi and Ralph Baric, a virologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, described experiments in which they engineered the spike protein from one of Shi’s SARS-like horseshoe bat coronaviruses into another coronavirus that had already been adapted to infect mice. The engineered virus replicated easily in human cells, and antibodies and vaccines developed against the SARS virus were relatively ineffective in protecting mice from infection.

Shortly after these experiments were run, the US government placed a moratorium on so-called gain-of-function research to make pathogens more dangerous. The ban was eventually lifted in December 2017, but the research remains controversial. “As the world reels from the impacts of the present pandemic, it should be clear to anyone without a conflict of interest that creating new potential pandemic pathogens is unwise,” Richard Ebright, a molecular biologist at Rutgers University in New Jersey, told BuzzFeed News by email.

Baric did not respond to requests from BuzzFeed News to discuss his work with Shi. BuzzFeed News could find no evidence that Shi has performed gain-of-function studies since.

Scientists are certain that the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 was not genetically engineered.

In March, an international team of virologists led by Kristian Andersen of the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, published an analysis of the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19. They concluded: “Our analyses clearly show that SARS-CoV-2 is not a laboratory construct or a purposefully manipulated virus.”

If the virus had been deliberately engineered, scientists would expect to see sequences that are suspected to make coronaviruses more dangerous spliced into the backbone of a viral strain commonly used for experiments of this type. Instead of this smoking gun, SARS-CoV-2 has mutations all along its genetic sequence that experts would have had no prior reason to guess would be associated with a potentially pandemic virus. This result is what they would expect to see if the virus had evolved naturally.

“I am quite sure SARS-CoV-2 was not lab-synthesized, judging by the sequence,” Susan Weiss, a coronavirus expert at the University of Pennsylvania who was not involved in Anderson’s study, told BuzzFeed News by email. “It seems impossible that someone could figure out how to make a virus with these properties.”

It’s also highly unlikely the virus escaped the Wuhan lab by accident — though we can’t rule out the possibility.

Such “lab escape” accidents are not unknown. They happened several times during the SARS epidemic, with accidental infections occurring at labs in Singapore, Taiwan, and China. The most serious incidents were at the Chinese National Institute of Virology in Beijing, where the virus escaped and infected people on several occasions.

Scientists also now think that the 1977 reemergence of the H1N1 flu was the result of a laboratory accident. H1N1, the subtype of flu that caused the 1918 flu pandemic, hadn’t been seen in the wild since 1957. But in 1977 an H1N1 virus turned up in China and Russia. It spread across the world, but fortunately only affected younger people who had not been exposed to similar viruses before and proved less deadly than regular seasonal flu.

The 1977 pandemic H1N1 was very similar to viruses sampled from flu patients around 1950. Because viruses typically accumulate genetic mutations as they replicate, making them slowly change over time, the explanation for this uncanny similarity was that the virus had been kept frozen for years in a laboratory. “We and others estimated that it was 27 years in the freezer,” Joel Wertheim of the University of California, San Diego, who has studied the origins of the 1977 flu pandemic, told BuzzFeed News.

The closest known virus to SARS-CoV-2 is called RaTG13. Isolated by Shi’s team from a horseshoe bat in Yunnan province in southern China, hundreds of miles away from Wuhan, RaTG13 has a genetic sequence that is 96% similar to SARS-CoV-2. While that might sound like a close match, it means the two viruses are probably separated by “decades of evolution,” according to Wertheim.

Anderson’s team also considered the possibility that the particular combination of mutations seen in SARS-CoV-2 arose as a result of growing it in cell cultures in the lab. But they decided this was unlikely. Some of the mutations, they noted, seemed to be the result of interacting with an animal’s immune system, while the part of the spike protein that binds to human cells via the ACE2 receptor was similar to sequences found in coronaviruses in pangolins. Together, this evidence suggested a natural origin, they concluded.

Shi has said that she initially worried that the virus might have escaped from her lab, but found no close match among her samples. “That really took a load off my mind,” she told Scientific American. “I had not slept a wink for days.”

Proponents of the lab-origin theory have also pointed out that only 27 of 41 patients described in a study of the initial outbreak in Wuhan had a direct connection to the seafood market that has been blamed for the emergence of COVID-19. But unlike the accidents with SARS, there is no evidence that anyone connected to the Wuhan Institute of Virology was among the early patients.

While highly unlikely, scientists can’t rule out that SARS-CoV-2 was secretly studied in a lab and accidentally released. The brief appearance in mid-April of online notices and a Chinese government directive suggesting that research in China on the origins of COVID-19 must be “strictly and tightly managed,” first reported by CNN, has added to suspicion of a cover-up by Chinese authorities.

SARS-CoV-2

US intelligence is looking into whether the virus escaped from the lab, but the international intelligence community suggests that’s “highly unlikely.”

Speculation that COVID-19 may have been released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology grew after Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin reported on April 14 that he had seen a 2018 US diplomatic cable warning about “inadequate safety” at the facility.

However, Dennis Carroll, a virologist and former official with the US Agency for International Development, which has funded Shi’s work, has questioned the importance of the cables, which he saw while working in Beijing. “I didn’t place an enormous amount of weight on the observations that were made because they were not part of a critical, standardized evaluation,” Carroll told Science.

On April 30, after Trump started to blame the Wuhan lab for COVID-19, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement saying that “the entire intelligence community” agreed with the scientific consensus that the virus was not genetically modified, but was leaving open the possibility that it had been accidentally released from a lab.

“The IC will continue to rigorously examine emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the outbreak began through contact with infected animals or if it was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan,” the statement went on.

The same day, the New York Times reported that senior Trump administration officials had been applying pressure to US intelligence agencies to hunt for evidence to support the unsubstantiated theory.

Australian officials told the Sydney Morning Herald that a dossier shared among political leaders in the Five Eyes coalition — the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand — linking the coronavirus to a Wuhan laboratory was mostly based on news reports and contained no original intelligence.

Anonymous officials from the Five Eyes coalition told CNN that an intelligence assessment shared in the network suggests the lab-release theory is “highly unlikely.”

Nevertheless, the fight over the Wuhan lab has dealt a blow to research into COVID-19 and other potentially pandemic viruses.

The most obvious casualty is a grant to Peter Daszak of the EcoHealth Alliance in New York City from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), given to understand the risks of coronaviruses spreading from bats to people.

Daszak has worked with Shi to study China’s bat coronaviruses, including the 2013 paper on the two horseshoe bat viruses similar to the SARS virus. But on April 24, the grant to Daszak was abruptly terminated, as first reported by Politico. That happened just one week after Trump was asked a question about the funding for the Wuhan lab at a press conference and said: “We will end that grant very quickly.”

In 2016, Shi and Daszak also described a “fast and cost-effective method” for genetically engineering coronaviruses, funded in part by the NIAID grant. But it’s unclear that this aspect of the work had anything to do with the termination of the grant. Instead, emails obtained by Science from the National Institute of Health’s deputy director for extramural research suggested that the decision to terminate the grant was made because of safety issues at the lab, though no evidence was given to support that claim.

Other scientists have described the termination of the grant as a “horrible precedent” that will hamper efforts to understand the threat of future pandemics.

“Our work on the NIAID funding was to assess the risk of bat-origin coronaviruses getting into people, causing sickness and emerging globally,” Daszak told BuzzFeed News by email. “The real risk is out in nature, not in the lab.”

More on this

  • Scientists Haven’t Found Proof The Coronavirus Escaped From A Lab In Wuhan. Trump Supporters Are Spreading The Rumor Anyway.Ryan Broderick · April 22, 2020
  • Past Coronavirus Research Grants Are Being Used To Smear Anthony FauciJane Lytvynenko · April 30, 2020
  • The US Government Just Lifted A Ban On Making Deadly Viruses Even More DangerousPeter Aldhous · Dec. 20, 2017
  • Peter Aldhous is a Science Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.

    Contact Peter Aldhous at [email protected]

    Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.

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Trump says he has seen evidence the coronavirus started in Wuhan lab

Donald Trump says he has seen evidence that the coronavirus started in Wuhan virology laboratory – but contradicts Mike Pompeo by saying China HAS been ‘trying to be transparent’ about origins of pandemic

  • Trump said the virus may have come from a lab in Wuhan, China 
  • He again blasted the World Health Organization
  • ‘We’re looking at exactly where it came from’ 
  • ‘You had the theory from the lab, you had the theory from many different – the bats, the type of bat’
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is demanding China allow U.S. investigators in 
  • Here’s how to help people impacted by Covid-19

President Donald Trump made the explosive charge that the coronavirus that has caused millions of infections and wreaked havoc on the global economy may have been created in a Chinese lab – and cast doubt on likely scenarios it jumped from animals to humans.   

‘Yes I have. Yes I have,’ Trump said Thursday when asked if he has confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Technology was the origin of the virus. The lab is located near a wet market that has been identified as the likely epicenter of the outbreak that took place late last year. 

Trump immediately veered into an attack on the World Health Organization. 

‘We’re looking at exactly where it came from, who it came from, how it happened,’ President Donald Trump said Thursday

‘And I think the World Health Organization ashamed of themselves — because they are like the public relations agency for China,’ he said of the UN body based in Geneva. ‘And this country pays them almost $500 million a year, and China only pays $38 million a year.’

‘They should be making excuses when people make horrible mistakes that are causing thousands of people around the world to die,’ Trump said.

He spoke as his U.S. unemployment claims rose by another 3.8 million, U.S. deaths due the virus hit 60,000, and his own electoral prospects are down in battleground polls. 

‘We’re looking at exactly where it came from, who it came from, how it happened. Separately and also scientifically. So we’re going to be able to find that,’ Trump said.

This file photo taken on February 23, 2017 shows Chinese virologist Shi Zhengli inside the P4 laboratory in Wuhan, capital of China’s Hubei province. Trump has touted the theory the lab may be the origin of the coronavirus

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blasted China for not letting the U.S. in to examine the Wuhan lab

The prevailing scientific theory is that the virus jumped from an animal species like a bat to humans, which might explain the outbreak at a Wuhan wet market

Trump was pressed on whether he is saying the virus was not naturally occurring – then made comments that threw cold water on one predominant theory put forward by his won experts: that the virus jumped from an animal, likely a species of bat, to humans, as coronaviruses have in the past.

‘We are going to see where it is. We’re going to see where it comes from. You know every theory,’ Trump said. ‘You had the theory from the lab, you had the theory from many different – the bats, the type of bat. And the bat is 40 miles away so it couldn’t have been here or couldn’t have been there there. There’s a lot of theories,’ Trump said.

‘But yeah, we have people looking at it very, very strongly. Scientific people, intelligence people and others. And we are going to put it together and have a very good answer eventually,’ he said. 

But Trump was also optimistic that China, who U.S. officials have bashed for keeping out experts and failing to fully come clean on the virus, would be forthcoming.

‘And China might even tell us. China may tell us,’ Trump said. 

Trump was responding to a statement from his own Director of National Intelligence, whose office issued a statement knocking down conspiracy theories on the subject. ‘The Intelligence Community also concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified,’ it said.


Mystery: The path for the coronavirus getting into human beings remains unclear despite advances in knowledge of the virus itself seen (left) in a simulation and (right) under an electron microscope

Proximity: The virus has been linked to the wet market in Wuhan, which sold wildlife for meat. U.S. officials have highlighted it being a ‘few miles’ from the virology laboratory

Why did China build a virus lab in Wuhan?

A worker is seen inside the P4 laboratory at the Wuhan Institute of Virology in Wuhan on February 23, 2017

Chinese officials decided to build the Wuhan Institute of Virology after the country was ravaged by an outbreak of SARS in 2002 and 2003.

SARS, another kind of coronavirus, killed 775 people and infected more than 8,000 globally in an epidemic that lasted about eight months.

It took the Chinese 15 years to fully complete the project, which cost a total of 300million yuan (£34million). The French helped design the building. 

Its crown jewel is a four-storey lab with the highest biosafety level of P4.

It’s the most advanced laboratory of its type in China.

Construction of the lab was finished in 2015 and it officially opened on January 5, 2018, after passing various safety inspections. 

Describing the significance of the P4 lab, China Youth Online billed it as the ‘aircraft carrier of China’s virology’. The state-run newspaper said it ‘is capable of researching the deadliest pathogens’. 

One researcher, Zhou Peng, told state news agency Xinhua in 2018: ‘We are proud to say that we are already at the forefront in the field of studying the immunity mechanism of bats, which carry viruses for a long time. 

‘Bats carry viruses but are not infected [by them]. [They] provide hope for mankind to study how to fight viruses.’

Trump also appeared to knock down the possibility of not paying on debt held by China as retaliation. 

You start playing those games and that’s tough. You know we have the dollar to protect,’ Trump said. ‘That’s a rough game.’

The Washington Post reported administration officials have discussed having the U.S. cancel debt obligations. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has blasted China for its conduct related to the virus, and Chinese state media have hit back in highly personal terms. 

Pompeo on Wednesday accused China of spreading disinformation. He has referred to COVID-19 as the ‘Wuhan virus.’ 

‘The mere fact that we don’t know the answers – that China hasn’t shared the answers – I think is very, very telling,’ said Pompeo. He also has pushed China to let outside experts into the lab ‘so that we can determine precisely where this virus began.’

Senior administration officials are pushing U.S. spy agencies to search for information of the link, the New York Times reported.  Some analysts raised concerns the pressure could warp U.S. conclusions and assessments. 

According to Reuters, a range of options are being discussed to punish China, with the State Department, White House National Security Council, Treasury Department and Pentagon, developing options.

‘There is a discussion as to how hard to hit China and how to calibrate it properly,’ a source said. 

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