Where Things Stand: Steve King’s Fate

This is your TPM early-afternoon briefing.
DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 23: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) listens during a press conference on abortion legislation on August 23, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. King faced a backlash after he reportedly linked the world's p... DES MOINES, IA - AUGUST 23: U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) listens during a press conference on abortion legislation on August 23, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. King faced a backlash after he reportedly linked the world's population to rape and incest. "What if we went back through all the family trees and just pulled those people out that were products of rape and incest? Would there be any population of the world left if we did that?" he was quoted as saying on August 21. (Photo by Alex Wroblewski/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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June 2, 2020 12:39 p.m.

There’s a lot to digest already this afternoon, but here’s a friendly reminder that while the nation is grappling with social and racial unrest, all while still in the very real throngs of a global pandemic, 2020 elections are still happening.

Eight states and the District of Columbia are holding primary elections today, the biggest Election Day since the spread of the coronavirus forced states to expand vote-by-mail programs and pushed back the primary calendar. One of those states is Iowa. And one of those primaries will focus on the fate of longtime GOP Rep. Steve King.

If you’re a longtime TPM reader, you don’t need me to run through King’s call sheet of racist rhetoric and comfy embrace of white nationalist groups. King — who has been reelected in his northwest Iowa district every two years since 2002 — was slapped on the wrist by his own party last year and stripped of all of his committee positions after he said in an interview that he didn’t understand when white supremacy became offensive. Yeah.

It’s quite the time for him to face a primary challenger, State Sen. Randy Feenstra, who has been funded and backed by a smattering of Republicans. Feenstra, seen as King’s top opponent, has had a tricky needle to thread throughout his campaign — labeling King as ineffective now that he’s lost his committee prestige, while also being careful to not harshly criticize the lawmaker who enjoys a loyal fanbase of conservative voters in his district.

I am not up to speed on Feenstra’s or any of King’s other opponents’ Republican agendas. But the time is ripe for a referendum on a white nationalist apologetic’s career in the House.

Here’s more on other stories we’re following today:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Tierney Sneed just published a piece on the latest Michael Flynn case briefing — in which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and a handful of his colleagues sided with the Justice Department’s push to drop the case.

Kate Riga is working on a Prime post about the scenes she’s witnessed in Washington, D.C. while at protests the last three days.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

If you need to catch up on last night’s publicity stunt, here’s our latest reporting this morning on the various layers of madness:

Trump’s photo-op in front of the St. John’s Episcopal Church has been widely criticized as a campaign move. Just after delivering an address in the Rose Garden to push law enforcement to crack down on protesters across the country, Trump left the White House and walked over to the church to awkwardly hold a Bible and take photos in front of it. The stunt happened just after police used tear gas and flash bangs to clear otherwise peaceful protesters out of Trump’s path.

Attorney General Bill Barr was spotted walking around downtown Washington, D.C. after curfew with Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Monday night just after police cleared away the protesters outside the White House.

The nation’s top military leader — Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — was seen strolling around D.C. last evening as well, wearing battle fatigues. Milley’s appearance was also after curfew and his attired sparked outcry — fatigues often signal a readiness for war.

If You Read Anything On COVID-19 Today, Read This

The federal government and states have fueled an unregulated, chaotic market for masks ruled by oddballs, ganjapreneurs and a shadowy network of investors. Head here to read about the secret, absurd world of coronavirus mask traders and  the middlemen trying to get rich off government money.

Earlier coverage of COVID-19 supply chain issues:

Coming Up

11:00 a.m. ET: Trump and the first lady left the White House to visit the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. They returned to the White House before noon.

12:15 p.m. ET: Trump will sign a religious freedom executive order.

4:00 p.m. ET: Trump will meet with the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

GOP Governor Gets Choked Up Over Trump’s Call To ‘Dominate’ Protesters — Summer Concepcion

What We Are Reading

Zoloft Falls Into Shortage as Virus Anxiety Strains Supplies — Anna Edney

How To Support The Struggle Against Police Brutality — Claire Lampen

Nine State, D.C. Vote Amid Coronavirus Pandemic, Social Unrest — Steve Peoples

New Coronavirus Losing Potency, Top Italian Doctor Says — Reuters

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