DEVELOPING … “Trump will remain off Facebook for at least two years,” by Cristiano Lima: “‘Given the gravity of the circumstances that led to Mr. Trump’s suspension, we believe his actions constituted a severe violation of our rules which merit the highest penalty available under the new enforcement protocols,’ Facebook’s vice president of global affairs Nick Clegg said in a blog post. ‘We are suspending his accounts for two years, effective from the date of the initial suspension on January 7 this year.’”
THE HO-HUM JOBS REPORT — The unemployment rate fell to 5.8% as employers across the country added 559,000 jobs in the month of May, according to the closely watched jobs report released this morning.
But what to make of that 559K figure? It’s about twice as many new jobs as in last month’s jobs report, but still short of some projections — suggesting a wounded job market as employers and workers struggle to crawl out of a coronavirus-shaped hole, even as more and more Americans get vaccinated and states relax virus restrictions.
Ben White and Rebecca Rainey have the 30,000-foot view: “The figure marked a bounce back from a disappointing April number, but it won’t erase concerns about whether generous federal benefits are keeping Americans from rejoining the labor force or whether the Biden administration and Congress need to do more to light a fire under the economy.
“The number is likely to provide partisan fodder for everyone: It was far from the blockbuster gain that many expected but wasn’t quite as awful as April, when fewer than half as many new jobs were created.” More from Ben and Rebecca
Despite the tepid response, President JOE BIDEN sought to wrap himself in the report during remarks in Delaware, touting the “great news for our economy and our recovery.”
“None of this success is an accident. It isn’t luck,” Biden said. “No other economy is growing as fast as ours.”
— Our colleague Chris Cadelago summed up Biden’s view nicely: “There’s a lot of incremental development in between, but what Joe Biden’s been trying to do w/ these end-of-week speeches is hammer the broader theme of how he wants you to see his presidency, which boils down to him as a turnaround artist, the architect of America’s comeback.”
OH, AND ONE MORE THING — Following his remarks, Biden exited the room as reporters shouted questions. “Do you still have confidence in Dr. [ANTHONY] FAUCI?” one reporter asked, prompting Biden to peek his head back in the room to say: “Yes, I am very confident in Dr. Fauci.” The 28-second clip
SPEAKING OF — “Attacks on Fauci grow more intense, personal and conspiratorial,” by Natasha Korecki and Sarah Owermohle: “[The] attacks took on a whole new level of vitriol this week, to the point that one social media analysis described it as highly misleading and at least one platform pulled down some posts, citing false content.
“It all stemmed from a tranche of Fauci’s emails that were published as part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed by various news outlets. … Reddit and Facebook lit up with a fresh round of Fauci attacks, some of which called him a war criminal. Sen. RAND PAUL (R-Ky.), perhaps Fauci’s most prominent bête noire on the Hill, quickly released Facebook ads demanding to ‘fire Fauci’ and requesting a campaign donation.”
THIS WEEKEND — First lady JILL BIDEN and Fauci will travel to New York City on Sunday to visit a vaccination clinic at a church in Harlem, the White House announced today.
NEXT WEEK — NBC’s Lester Holt will interview VP KAMALA HARRIS in Guatemala for “NBC Nightly News” on Tuesday, June 8. Holt will also anchor the Monday edition in Guatemala City.
Happy Friday afternoon.
SKULDUGGERY IN FLORIDA — Our man in Florida, Marc Caputo, writes in: If you’ve ever hopped on Twitter and mentioned how Florida’s Covid death rate was never as high as some critics claimed it would be, chances are someone told you the Sunshine State’s numbers are faked and that somehow Gov. RON DESANTIS is to blame. At the center of this conspiracy theory is a remarkably successful social media personality, REBEKAH JONES, the fired Florida Department of Health webmaster who became a darling of anti-DeSantis activists and national TV pundits.
Now, in a brutal rebuke of Jones, the lone Democrat who helped lead Florida’s pandemic response, JARED MOSKOWITZ, went public today by calling her out for spreading the conspiracy theories about the state — while admitting that an alliance he forged with her in July 2020 was done solely to keep her at bay and from spreading more deception.
“With a platform of 400,000 Twitter followers, her reputation for bullying people on social media and her running a disinformation campaign that the national media echoed, she was more dangerous as an enemy than a friend… Everything she did was disinformation,” Moskowitz said. “She had a dedicated following, and whether it was fact or fiction, they treated everything she said as if it were in the Old Testament.”
While it’s clear political skullduggery on Moskowitz’s part, he said he had little choice: He had an agency to run, and she created far too many distractions, thanks to many in the news media and on social media who checked their skepticism at the door. They wanted to make Florida and DeSantis’s coronavirus response look bad — which, judging by his poll numbers, failed miserably. Here’s the inside story of how it all happened
CASH DASH — “JPMorgan resumes political giving, freezes out Republicans who contested 2020 election,” by Reuters’ Pete Schroeder: “JPMorgan Chase & Co will resume making political donations to U.S. lawmakers, but will not give to Republican members of Congress who voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory, according to an internal memo on Friday seen by Reuters. …
“Following a review, the country’s largest lender will this month resume giving through its Political Action Committee (PAC) but will continue its freeze on donations to a ‘handful’ of the 147 lawmakers whom it had previously supported, the bank said. The pause will last through the 2021-2022 election cycle, which includes November’s midterm elections, after which JPMorgan will review whether to resume contributions to the lawmakers concerned on an individual basis, it said.”
FOR YOUR RADAR — “Iran warships appear to begin first Atlantic crossing as U.S. warns against weapons transfers,” by Lara Seligman and Halley Toosi: “Two Iranian Navy ships rounded the Cape of Good Hope for the first time and appear to be headed across the Atlantic, continuing a journey U.S. officials believe could ultimately end in Venezuela, according to a defense official with direct knowledge.
“Tehran has threatened to send warships to the Western Hemisphere before, but has aborted previous attempts. U.S. officials are not yet overly concerned, as there is still a small window of time for the ships to turn around or head to port instead of continuing the journey, the defense official said. But a successful crossing would be a significant demonstration of Iran’s naval capability, and potentially provide Tehran a new foothold in America’s near abroad.”
HAVANA SYNDROME — “State Dept. now referring victims of directed-energy attacks to National Institutes of Health,” by Erin Banco and Andrew Desiderio: “U.S. officials posted overseas who report symptoms consistent with directed-energy attacks are now being referred to the National Institutes of Health, according to a State Department cable obtained by POLITICO.
“The NIH has been playing a ‘leading role’ in helping to analyze symptoms, according to a congressional official briefed on the investigation, which has expanded in recent weeks to include all of the nation’s intelligence agencies amid an uptick in suspected attacks on U.S. personnel.”
IMMIGRATION FILES — “U.S. taps groups to pick asylum-seekers to allow into country,” AP: “The Biden administration has quietly tasked six humanitarian groups with recommending which migrants should be allowed to stay in the U.S. instead of being rapidly expelled from the country under federal pandemic-related powers that block people from seeking asylum.
“The groups will determine who is most vulnerable in Mexico, and their criteria has not been made public. It comes as large numbers of people are crossing the southern border and as the government faces intensifying pressure to lift the public health powers instituted by former President DONALD TRUMP and kept in place by President Joe Biden during the coronavirus pandemic.”
AMERICA AND THE WORLD — “Biden widens list of Chinese firms off-limits for investment,” AP: “China vehemently objected Friday to U.S. President Joe Biden’s expansion of a list of Chinese companies whose shares are off-limits to American investors because of their purported links to the Chinese military and surveillance.
“The White House issued the update late Thursday to an order signed last year by Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, that added to antagonisms over trade and technology. … The executive order takes effect Aug. 2. It is the latest indication that Biden has not softened Washington’s stance on alleged security risks from companies U.S. officials say are linked to the Chinese ‘military and industrial complex.’”
SHIPPING OUT — CNN’s @KateSullivanDC: “1 million Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines are headed to the Republic of Korea, according to State Department spokesperson NED PRICE. ‘With these doses we’re ensuring the safety and readiness of ROK and U.S. forces,’ Price says.”
SOUNDING THE ALARM — “FBI Director Compares Ransomware Challenge to 9/11,” by WSJ’s Aruna Viswanatha: “FBI Director CHRISTOPHER WRAY said the agency is investigating about 100 different types of ransomware, many of which trace back to actors in Russia, and compared the current spate of cyberattacks with the challenge posed by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. …
“Mr. Wray’s comments — among his first publicly since two recent ransomware attacks gripped the U.S. meat and oil-and-gas industries — come as senior Biden administration officials have characterized ransomware as an urgent national-security threat and said they are looking at ways to disrupt the criminal ecosystem that supports the booming industry. Each of the 100 different malicious software variants are responsible for multiple ransomware attacks in the U.S., Mr. Wray said.”
HEADS UP — “Allen West resigns as chair of Texas Republican Party,” Texas Tribune: “Texas GOP Chairman ALLEN WEST announced his resignation Friday morning, raising speculation he could run for statewide office. West, who took over the party in July 2020, will remain chair until a successor is picked on July 11, the party said. …
“A former Florida congressman who moved to Texas several years ago, West took over the party last summer, unseating incumbent JAMES DICKEY. He quickly made a name for himself for his willingness to speak out against fellow Republicans, including Abbott, whose coronavirus response he criticized.”
TRUMP INC. — “Bargain hunters pounce as Trump condo prices hit decade lows,” AP: “An Associated Press review of more than 4,000 transactions over the past 15 years in 11 Trump-branded buildings in Chicago, Honolulu, Las Vegas and New York found prices for some condos and hotel rooms available for purchase have dropped by one-third or more.”
KNOWING CAITLYN JENNER — “What Makes Caitlyn Jenner Run?” by POLITICO Mag’s Michael Kruse in Malibu, Calif.: “Longtime political experts from all over, and from both parties, too, deduce [that CAITLYN JENNER] has next to no chance. … ‘A celebrity fling,’ said California Democratic strategist GARRY SOUTH. … ‘This,’ said GOP consultant MIKE MADRID, ‘isn’t a real campaign.’ Jenner and people close to Jenner insist that it is. …
“‘I have no more secrets,’ she said. ‘And for the first time in my life, I can be honest.’ But she, of course, or anybody else, can be simultaneously honest and unprepared. Why in this ‘next chapter,’ as she called it, at this stage of her life when she’s truly and finally herself, does she want to re-rev attention, prompting scrutiny of a more concerted, more serious sort? Why politics? Why now? ‘Why not,’ I asked, ‘be authentically yourself, honestly and authentically Caitlyn, and recede from the public eye?’ ‘I don’t quite understand what the question is,’ she said.”
MEDIAWATCH — “A Top Editor Becomes Her ‘True Self,’” by NYT’s Katie Robertson: “For most people, the pandemic lockdowns will be remembered as a time that shrank our worlds, stripping away most of life as we knew it. For GINA CHUA, the executive editor of Reuters, it was when her world opened up. Ms. Chua, 60, transitioned genders during 2020, using the time at home and away from the office to, as she describes it, ‘grow into this skin.’ …
“Ms. Chua is now perhaps the most senior transgender journalist in the country. She said in an interview that she was speaking publicly because ‘it’s good to just have people be able to say, “Here is an example of somebody who can transition and not get fired.”’”
PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION — “With evictions set to begin next month, hundreds of millions in Washington-area rental aid remains unspent,” WaPo: “At least $300 million in emergency funds intended to help struggling renters in the Washington area remain unspent even as a federal ban on evictions is set to expire at the end of this month, according to a Washington Post analysis.”
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — The White House is announcing the appointments of 22 members to the President’s Commission on White House Fellowships today. Former Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), Kenny Thompson Jr., Courtney O’Donnell, Robert Hoopes and Hildy Kuryk are among the members. The full list
STAFFING UP — Phil Murphy, longtime senior adviser and legislative director to Chair Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) of the communications and technology subcommittee on E&C, is leaving for a senior political appointee position within Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
TRANSITIONS — Rotimi Adeoye will be comms strategist at the ACLU. He previously was press secretary for Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and is a Bob Casey alum. … Brennan Duckett will be technology and innovation policy director for the National Restaurant Association’s public affairs team. He previously was director of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association. … Amanda Schoch will be chief comms officer at the Pacific Northwest National Lab. She currently is assistant DNI for strategic comms.
CORRECTION: This morning, we mistakenly wrote that Maria Bartiromo, Lou Dobbs and Jeanine Pirro were named as defendants in Dominion Voting Systems’ defamation lawsuit against Fox News. They were named in a separate defamation suit against Fox by Smartmatic.