A U.S. District judge rules New York’s Democratic Primary must go on. Trump pushes for an early reopening after going back and forth on his positions on masks and shutdowns. George Floyd, a 46 year-old black man from Minneapolis, is killed after a police officer kneels on his neck for nine minutes. Both peaceful demonstrations and violent riots begin and proliferate across the country in response. Trump blames “far-left extremists” for inciting violence, announcing his designation of Antifa, moreso a movement than a centralized group, as a terrorist organization. First Amendment questions are raised by government officials.
In response to growing unrest, Trump threatens to deploy the military. Law enforcement forcefully clears peaceful protests from outside the White House so Trump can walk to a church for a photo-op; this was widely seen as a breach of ethics and the First Amendment, something which may have contributed to Trump’s 4-point average polling decline thereafter. The Republican National Convention is delayed. An increasing number of officials, like former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, criticize Trump’s church photo-op. Trump appoints Louis DeJoy as Postmaster General, who quickly moves to reduce costs via banning overtime pay and other measures. This results in massive delays, but the policy is eventually repealed. Whether this was an attempt at voter suppression or a genuine effort with unintended consequences is being fiercely debated. Speaking of debates, Trump pushes for four debates, not three, against Biden—this is rejected. In Tulsa, Trump hosts a major rally but one that he expected to have a larger audience. Trump blames mainstream media for discouraging people to attend due to COVID-19. Biden announces he will have no more rallies.
Trump notifies the United Nations of his intent to withdraw from the WHO. The Postal Service announces to several states their concerns that they might not meet ballot postmark or reception deadlines, mostly due to DeJoy’s measures in June. A report is released indicating that both Trump and Biden are assembling armadas of lawyers to contest a potentially unfavorable election result. Low in the polls, Trump replaces campaign manager Brad Parscale with Bill Stepien. Parscale was widely criticized for his imprudent use of campaign funds and early advertisements. Communication with the RNC breaks down because of this. Trump suggests delaying the election due to reliability issues for mail-in voting, a phenomenon worsened by COVID-19. He also temporarily suspends TV advertising, opting for a “review and fine-tuning of the campaign’s strategy.”