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Top Homeland Security official: “Absolutely” no systemic racism in policing

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf told "Axios on HBO" that there’s “absolutely not” any systemic racism in American policing, the latest white, male Trump administration official to dismiss persistent racism in the United States.

Why it matters: Recent polling shows a narrow plurality of Americans believe systemic racism is real and requires action, while data consistently shows how Black and Hispanic people suffer from built-in biases and systemic obstacles. This is becoming one of the major fault lines in American politics.

  • 46% of Americans believe racism is built in to U.S. policies and institutions, compared to 44% who believe racism is perpetrated by racist individuals, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll from July.
  • 70% of Democrats call it systemic versus 66% of Republicans who attribute racism to individuals.
  • 65% of Black voters call it systemic; 48% of white voters say it's the result of individuals.

President Trump is on record acknowledging systemic racism: “I’d like to think there is not” systemic racism, he told the Wall Street Journal in June, “but unfortunately, there probably is some. I would also say it’s very substantially less than it used to be.”

Many in his orbit have dismissed its existence in today's America:

  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow: "I don't accept the view of systemic racism. I think there is racism in pockets of this country, but I do not believe it is systemic," Kudlow told Jonathan Swan in an interview for "Axios on HBO" that aired in June.
  • National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien: "No, I don't think there's systemic racism," he told CNN in May.
  • Attorney General Bill Barr: “I don’t agree there’s systemic racism in the police department, generally, in this country,” he told Congress in July.

Wolf told Mike Allen in the "Axios on HBO" interview that "this idea that we have systemic racism is not accurate, in my view."

  • "That means that we have designed a system that every law enforcement officer that goes through a law enforcement academy, a training facility, is somehow installed with racist views."
  • "Again, I'm not saying that there's not racist tendencies in some law enforcement officers. I think I wanna be clear about that. But again, what people mean by systemic racism is that we have designed an institution, a law enforcement institution, to be racist from the get-go. And I just — I don't subscribe to that. I don't believe in that."
  • Wolf said he is "all for calling out inappropriate behavior, inappropriate procedures. But the way to get at that is not to call for defunding the police. The way to do that is not to cut their budget by half."

The other side: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told CBS News in June that there is "absolutely" systemic racism in policing.

  • "But it's not just in law enforcement. It's across the board. ... It's in housing, it's in education, and it's in everything we do. It's real. It's genuine. It's serious."

Trump says he expects to announce a nominee for Supreme Court vacancy "next week"

President Trump said Saturday he expects to announce a nominee for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's vacant Supreme Court seat “next week” and that the person will “most likely” be a woman.

What he's saying: “I think we’ll have a very popular choice whoever that may be," Trump said before departing on Marine One. "We want to respect the process. I think it’s going to go very quickly, actually.”

Go deeper: Trump says Republicans have an obligation to fill Ginsburg's seat

Susan Collins says Senate should postpone Supreme Court vote until after Election Day

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement Saturday that she believes the Senate should wait to vote to confirm a Supreme Court nominee to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat until after the general election.

Why it matters: Collins will be a key senator in how this process plays out. As one of the most centrist Senate Republicans, whether or not the Senate confirms Trump's SCOTUS nominee could hinge on her vote.

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Lindsey Graham says he will vote for Ginsburg's replacement before next election

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Saturday said he plans to support a vote on President Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy left by Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday, before the election.

Why it matters: Graham in 2016 opposed confirming President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, because it was an election year.

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Schumer: "Nothing is off the table next year" if Senate GOP moves to fill Ginsburg's seat

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told fellow Democrats on a conference call Saturday that "nothing is off the table next year" if Senate Republicans move to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat in the coming weeks.

What he's saying: “Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year," Schumer said, according to a source on the call. "Nothing is off the table.”

ActBlue collects record-breaking $30 million in hours after Ginsburg's death

ActBlue, the Democratic donation-processing site, reported a record-breaking $30 million raised from 9 p.m. Friday to 9 a.m. Saturday in the aftermath of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death, NPR writes and ActBlue confirmed to Axios.

Why it matters via the New York Times: "The unprecedented outpouring shows the power of a looming Supreme Court confirmation fight to motivate Democratic donors."

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