Start Here: Israel denies Dems, Beto reboots campaign, NYPD grapples with suicides
It’s Friday, Aug. 16, 2019. Let’s start here.
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1. ‘Great weakness’
Israel is planning to block Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., from entering the country on an official visit after pressure from President Donald Trump.
Trump tweeted on Thursday that Israel “would show great weakness” by allowing the progressive congresswomen to visit. Later, in remarks to reporters, he accused Omar and Tlaib of being “very anti-Jewish” and “very anti-Israel,” adding that if Israeli officials wanted to welcome them, they could, “but I can’t imagine why they would do it.”
Both Omar and Tlaib, the first Muslim women elected to Congress, have criticized Israeli policies regarding Palestine and support movements to boycott Israel. In a statement, Omar said: “Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress.”
The president’s comments are an “exercise of raw presidential power,” according to ABC News Senior National Correspondent Terry Moran. “What President Trump did was use the power and the prestige and the influence on the world stage of the office of the presidency to go after these two members of Congress, and convince an ally, pressure an ally, to ban them from entering the country.”
2. ‘Those kind of stories’
In the race for 2020, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is out and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, is still in.
O’Rourke relaunched his campaign in El Paso on Thursday with plans to move in a different direction from the traditional Iowa and New Hampshire route, which has so far left him polling in the low single digits, according to ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.
“He wants to go to places like Mississippi and Oklahoma, places that he says President Trump’s policies have directly put people on the firing line … and he wants to showcase those kind of stories as this campaign goes on,” Klein says on “Start Here.”
And after Hickenlooper announced Thursday he was ending his presidential bid and would look into exploring a Senate run in Colorado, there’s also speculation that Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski could pursue a similar path in New Hampshire.
3. ‘We are hurting’
“It has been a tough year,” NYPD Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea said Thursday, reacting to the ninth death by suicide of a New York City police officer this year — the second this week.
“This is not unique to law enforcement, but for us, we are hurting right now,” he said. “We’re all feeling it, and we’re all trying as best as we can to come up with initiatives to do more.”
Police departments nationwide are suffering from elevated rates of suicide. Statistics compiled by law enforcement advocates reveal that more police officers have died by suicide this year than in the line of duty.
“Now we have not just a trend, but really an emergency situation here with the people who are literally there to protect us and put their lives on the line every single day,” ABC News Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton tells us.
If you or someone you know has talked about contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or use the online Lifeline Crisis Chat, both available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
4. ‘Beijing bluster’
After pro-democracy protesters effectively shut down Hong Kong International Airport this week, more demonstrations are planned over the weekend with thousands expected to attend.
In an effort to crack down on the protests, the Chinese government has described them as showing signs of “terrorism” and even flexed its military strength at the border, but demonstrators on the ground view it all as “Beijing bluster,” according to ABC News’ Clayton Sandell in Hong Kong.
“Most of the current thinking is that for now … China won’t actually send in the military because the world is watching, and they don’t want to risk the optics of what people have been calling Tiananmen 2.0,” Sandell says. “They believe that would be devastating to China’s reputation [and] could bring down the Hong Kong economy that the mainland relies on.”