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Retired Marine Gen. Jim Mattis, who resigned as President Trump's defense secretary nearly a year-and-a-half ago over policy differences, has issued an extraordinary critique of the White House's handling of nationwide unrest, saying Trump has sought to divide Americans, and warning against "militarizing our response" to the protests.

Venturing further into the public discourse he had largely held back from since relinquishing the Oval Office to President Trump, former president Barack Obama joined a virtual town hall Wednesday to advocate the kind of hope and change that once inspired a nation to twice elect him as its leader.

The day after eight states and the District of Columbia held primaries — amid both a pandemic and civil unrest — proponents of mail-in voting said there were lessons to be learned for November, when millions more voters are expected to use absentee ballots.

Updated at 7 p.m. ET

In a move that possibly placed his job in peril, Defense Secretary Mark Esper publicly disagreed Wednesday with President Trump's threatened use of the 1807 Insurrection Act to quell widespread unrest over the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after a white Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck.

Updated at 9:15 p.m. ET

President Trump defended what he called a "very symbolic" photo-op on Monday in front of St. John's Church and dismissed a suggestion that he needed to do more to comfort the nation after the death of George Floyd, saying that cracking down on violent protests was paramount.

Voters in Ferguson, Mo., made history Tuesday by electing Ella Jones as the city's first black mayor.

The election took place as protesters filled the streets of many U.S. cities, rallying against systemic racism and police brutality faced by many black communities.

One effect of the widespread protests across U.S. cities this week has been to renew discussions of what role the police should play in society.

For many Americans, it goes without saying that the police are critical in maintaining public safety. Have an emergency? Call the police. But many others — especially black people and poor people — have long countered that the police pose more of a threat to their safety than a boon. See a police officer? Walk in the other direction.

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Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar is with us next. Before being elected to the Senate, she served as the prosecutor for Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis. Senator, welcome back to the program.

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What will official Washington do in the wake of the protests and destructive violence that scarred city after city in recent days, including the capital itself?

Unrest does not stop on command. If there is a pause in the mayhem, it does not mean that the rage has been spent or the wounds have healed.

Any effort to restore confidence in each other will be complicated by the nation's preexisting conditions of pandemic and recession — not to mention the persistent condition of racism in American life and law enforcement. Fires flare up again if not extinguished at the source.

Updated at 4:09 p.m. ET

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Wednesday that if he knew then what he knows now, he would not have signed his now-infamous application to continue surveillance on an ex-junior aide to Donald Trump.

Rosenstein told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he relied on lower-level investigators and attorneys to do the right thing in preparing applications for the secret court that authorizes surveillance on Americans.

It's not often that Justin Trudeau is caught speechless.

But when the Canadian prime minister was asked what he thought of President Trump's actions to quash a wave of protests across the U.S., Trudeau paused before responding – for 21 seconds as the cameras recorded his awkward silence.

During a Tuesday news conference in front of his Ottawa residence, the prime minister fielded this question from a reporter:

Updated at 8:17 a.m. ET

After years of racist comments that lost him the support of many Republican Party leaders, conservative Iowa Rep. Steve King has lost his bid for reelection to a primary challenge by GOP state Sen. Randy Feenstra.

Democratic leaders in Congress inveighed Tuesday against what they described as a push by President Trump to use the U.S. military for cracking down on nationwide protests triggered by George Floyd's death last week in Minneapolis while he was in police custody.

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Last night in the Rose Garden at the White House, President Trump drew a line in the sand.

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Former Vice President Joe Biden said today that the country needs to unify but that President Trump won't let that happen.

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