The Jolt: A GOP group condemns the Confederate flags at Trump events

Via the Lincoln Project

Via the Lincoln Project

We are somewhat late to this – it has been covered up in a haze of tear gas over the last two days. But an important cultural point is being made within the ranks of the GOP.

You know of the Lincoln Project as a group of Republican never-Trumpers – most notable because one of its members is attorney George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.

They pride themselves on their ability to get under President Donald Trump's skin. One week ago, when the coronavirus death toll topped 100,000, they pointed to the president's winter promise that its effect would be "close to zero."

On Sunday, as protests continued in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the Lincoln Project targeted the many Confederate battle flags that show up at Trump events. The minute-long TV ad is aimed at audiences in Florida, Wisconsin and Michigan as well as in Washington, D.C., according to CNN:

The narration is unsparing. Images of chanting white nationalists in Charlottesville appear. A quick transcript:

"The men who followed this flag 150 years ago knew what it meant. Treason against their country. The death of the United States. America defeated the men who followed that flag. Those with honor surrendered and cast it aside forever.

"So why does it keep showing up today at events supporting Donald Trump? And why does he call the folks who carry it 'very fine people'? What does it say that they're all in for Trump? What does it say that he won't condemn the flag of hate, division and losers?"

If you’re a Democrat, your reaction may be, “Well, duh.” And yes, many Republican elected officials had a condemnation of the battle flag pried out of them after the 2015 massacre at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston, S.C.

The point is that this is an unforced Republican-on-Republican attack, an overt declaration of what symbols are unacceptable within the party of Lincoln.

Most of all, it tells us that some Republicans have doubts about the future viability of a Southern strategy that has been the centerpiece of Republican strategy since the days of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.


No doubt by now, you probably have heard about President Trump's Monday evening visit to St. John's Church near the White House. From the Washington Post:

And so — shortly before the president addressed the nation from the Rose Garden at 6:43 p.m. Monday and roughly a half-hour before the District's 7 p.m. curfew went into effect — authorities fired flash-bang shells, gas and rubber bullets into the crowd, clearing a path for Trump to visit the church immediately after his remarks.

Here's the resulting video released by the White House shortly after midnight, showing a silent Trump raising a Bible. No protesters are within sight:

In Georgia, two U.S. Senate candidates – both of whom have made faith a part of their campaigns – weighed in. From Sarah Riggs Amico, a Democrat seeking to challenge Republican incumbent David Perdue:

"Let's be clear -- there is nothing holy about tear-gassing peaceful protestors so the president can do a Bible-waving photo op at a house of worship."

And from Raphael Warnock, pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and a Democrat in the race for Kelly Loeffler’s seat:

"Peaceful and nonviolent protesters had their First Amendment rights violated as they were violently swept off the street so he could pose in front of a church holding a Bible. He should try reading it."

For good measure, Warnock then pulled out Matthew 23:29:

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth."

Who thought that was a good idea? I'm used to marching to my own beat on this stuff, but I personally found it off-putting. I'm really glad he addressed the nation. I just think he should have gone about it differently. Maybe spend more time in the Word instead of holding it in the air for pictures.


Shortly after President Donald Trump pledged he would designate a group of anti-fascist protesters as a terrorist organization, U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., moved to give him the legal foundation to do so.

Loeffler was one of several Republicans co-sponsoring legislation to designate the group known as antifa as a terrorist organization, saying its members “too often ignite tensions, commit acts of violence, instill fear and spread chaos.”

She echoed the president’s attacks on antifa as the source of violence within protests across the county over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. And in fact, antifa is a loose coalition of far-left activists who have honed a reputation for engaging in vandalism and other aggressive tactics in demonstrations.

But the legislation, introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, faces significant roadblocks. From the New York Times:

First, antifa is not an organization. It does not have a leader, membership roles or any defined, centralized structure. Rather, it is a vaguely defined movement of people who share common protest tactics and targets.

More important, even if antifa were a real organization, the laws that permit the federal government to deem entities terrorists and impose sanctions on them are limited to foreign groups. There is no domestic terrorism law, despite periodic proposals to create one.

The need for a domestic terrorism law came up last year, in the wake of shooting massacres in El Paso and Dayton.

Atlanta officials have blamed outside groups for some of the violence that rocked the city over the weekend, with Police Chief Erika Shields saying the damage was linked to “a highly calculated terrorist organization.”

But beyond anecdotal evidence, such as out-of-state license plates and demonstrators who seemed bewildered by Atlanta’s streets, city officials have yet to offer concrete proof that a coordinated effort to undermine the protests took place.

CNN reported Monday that a Twitter account encouraging violence at protests and appearing to be representing antifa was actually created by a white surepmacist group. Twitter subsequently removed the account. From CNN:

"This account violated our platform manipulation and spam policy, specifically the creation of fake accounts," a Twitter spokesperson said in a statement. "We took action after the account sent a Tweet inciting violence and broke the Twitter Rules."

Although the account only had a few hundred followers, it is an example of white supremacists seeking to inflame tensions in the United States by posing as left-wing activists online.


In the wake of nationwide protests against police brutality, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, is pointing to his legislation that would de-militarize law enforcement and implement other reforms.

"Over 18,000 local jurisdictions in this country, 50 states, and each one of them chooses to deal with the issue of police accountability in a different way," the Lithonia Democrat said during an interview on MSNBC. "And oftentimes — most of the time — it's ineffective in holding police accountable for what they do."

Among Johnson's proposals is language to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to bring charges against police officers accused of killing people in their custody if a state fails to do so, restrict the transfer of military equipment to police departments and require a special prosecutor to be appointed when law enforcement officers are accused of wrongfully killing someone.

None of Johnson’s proposals have gained much traction, but House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler said recently that issues surrounding policing will become a focus of his committee this month in response to the protests.

And there appears to be bipartisan support for ending the practice of giving old federal military equipment to local police departments, the New York Times reports.


On his Facebook page, raconteur Joe McCutchen tells us that a memorial service for his friend Oscar Poole, the BBQ king of north Georgia and a longtime GOP activist, will be held at 1 p.m. Wednesday outside of Poole's restaurant in Elijay. Poole died Sunday at the age of 90. Logan Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.


With the primary a week away, you need to know more about three Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate seeking to challenge Republican incumbent David Perdue. These profiles were published this morning:

-- In Senate run, Amico relies on experience in business, past election

-- Tomlinson says she's ready for the U.S. Senate, having already governed

-- Ossoff applies lessons from 2017 loss to bid this year for U.S. Senate


The homicide of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick has led to calls for the Legislature to pass a hate-crime law, our AJC colleague Maya T. Prabhu notes. Still, the bill has an uncertain future with Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, who leads the Senate, calling for amendments that could threaten the measure by returning it to the state House for approval of changes made in the Senate.

State Rep. Chuck Efstration’s House Bill 426 would provide sentencing guidelines for those convicted of targeting victims based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability or physical disability. Duncan wants to add guidelines for hate crime victims who sue in civil court. He also wants the bill to mandate training for law enforcement, Prabhu reports:

"As we work through the legislation with the Senate Judiciary Committee, these are some of the specific details we will look to address," he said.

But amending the bill to accommodate Duncan's suggestions would send it back to the House, where HB 426 won passage in 2019 by a vote of 96-64 — it takes at least 91 votes to gain approval in the chamber.

"It was a very close vote in the House already," Efstration said. "My concern about any amendment is that it might be difficult when it comes back to the House."


With Georgia's primary election one week away, the AJC's Mark Niesse has some concerning updates:

-- Thousands of Georgia voters hadn’t yet received their absentee ballots as of Monday.

-- More precincts are being closed, narrowing options for voters to safely cast ballots.

-- The secretary of state’s office might ask the National Guard to help voters on election day if too many poll workers quit over coronavirus fears.

-- There is potential for long lines on Election Day and there could be many absentee ballots that arrive too late to be counted.


In endorsement news: The New Georgia Project Action Fund, which is the political arm of the voter registration organization founded by Stacey Abrams, has endorsed state Sen. Zahra Karinshak in the Democratic primary for Georgia's Seventh District congressional seat. (We note that Abrams has not personally backed anyone in this race.)


A Democratic operative has asked the Federal Elections Commission to investigate whether there's any illegal coordination between Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson's campaign and a super PAC supporting her bid.

The letter from Mathilde Carpet says both the campaign and the “Undivided Purpose” super PAC share the same digital consultants and fundraising advisers, and she asks for a review to ensure no coordination has taken place.

In a statement, Tomlinson’s campaign said the complaint lacks merit and that sharing vendors is expressly allowed by federal rules. No coordination has occurred, the campaign added, and it’s confident the complaint will be dismissed.

“As a lawyer, I take campaign finance rules very seriously and can assure you that my campaign follows them to a ‘T,’” said Tomlinson.