👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ Trump demanded that Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg recuse themselves from “all Trump, or Trump-related” cases. On Twitter, Trump accused Sotomayor of trying to “shame” other justices into “voting her way” after she issued a dissent last week that the court has been too quick to grant “emergency” relief to the federal government. Sotomayor’s dissent came following the court’s majority allowing the Trump administration to proceed with a plan to deny green cards to immigrants who are deemed likely to become a “public charge.” Trump also tweeted that Sotomayor “never criticized Justice Ginsberg when she called me a ‘faker’” – referring to Ginsberg’s July 2016 criticism that she could not imagine then-candidate Trump as president. (New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / CNBC / Politico / The Guardian)
- Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife is among the network of conservative activists who’ve been compiling lists of disloyal government officials to oust. Ginni Thomas and other conservatives have worked for the past 18 months to provide the White House with memos and suggestions about who to fire and who to replace them with. Trump acknowledged the existence of the lists of government officials he plans to oust and replace with pro-Trump people, saying he wants “people who are good for the country, loyal to the country” working for him. (New York Times / Axios)
2/ Trump suggested that the coronavirus is “going to go away.” Trump attempted to downplay the risk, saying the virus is “very well under control in our country […] We think they’ll be in very good shape very, very soon.” Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, added that “we have contained this” and that “people should be as calm as possible.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, called Trump “asleep at the wheel” as the virus has spread to Europe and the Middle East. Among White House policy aides, there’s concern that the spread of the coronavirus will slow down both the U.S. and Chinese economies as it hits multiple industries, including manufacturers, airlines, automakers, and tech companies. (Bloomberg / CNN / Politics / CNBC)
- Coronavirus has killed roughly 2% of the people who have contracted it so far. For comparison, the mortality rate for the seasonal flu in the U.S. is 0.095%, according to CDC estimates for the 2019-2020 season. Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf, however, claimed during a Senate subcommittee budget hearing that the mortality rate for the seasonal flu in the U.S. was about 2%. The 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic, which caused about 50 million deaths worldwide, had a morality rate 2.5%. Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh, the conservative radio host and recent Trump Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, claimed that the coronavirus outbreak is a “bioweapon” created by China in a laboratory that is being “weaponized” by the media to bring down Trump, asserting that it’s nothing more than a “common cold.” [Editor’s note: Rush Limbaugh is a bum.] (Washington Post / CNBC / HuffPost / The Guardian)
3/ The CDC warned that the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. appears “inevitable,” saying Americans should “prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.” While public health officials have no idea how severe the spread of the disease in the U.S. would be, they told reporters that “It’s not a question of if this will happen, but when this will happen, and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told a Senate committee that “This is an unprecedented, potentially severe health challenge globally.” The World Health Organization, meanwhile, warned that the world is not ready for a major outbreak. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Bloomberg)
4/ The Trump administration asked Congress to approve $2.5 billion in emergency spending to address the coronavirus. Half of the money is new funding, while the rest will be reallocated from other spending, including $535 million from funds to combat Ebola. More than $1 billion would go toward creating a coronavirus vaccine. Rep. Nita Lowey, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee, called the request “woefully insufficient to protect Americans from the deadly coronavirus outbreak,” criticizing the administration for trying to “raid” money from other public health accounts. Separately, Trump’s proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins in October would cut the CDC budget by almost 16%, and the Health and Human Services budget by almost 10%. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / CNN / Reuters / NBC News / CNBC)
5/ The stock market plunged for a second day in a row on concerns that the coronavirus will upend global economic growth. The declines put the Dow and S&P 500 more than 7% below their record highs from earlier this month, while the Nasdaq is trading 8.2% below its all-time high from mid-February. The 10-year Treasury yield also hit a record low. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
- Trump blamed the stock market drop on Bernie Sanders – not the coronavirus outbreak – saying investors are worried that Sanders and other candidates have “a real chance” of winning the presidency. Trump also claimed that the stock market would crash if he loses the 2020 election, saying “if I don’t win you’re going to see a crash like you’ve never seen before.” (Bloomberg / Reuters)
6/ Trump confirmed that he wants “no help from any country” with his re-election bid. Trump, however, declined to say whether he believes Russia is interfering in the 2020 election and issued no warning for Putin not to. Trump instead accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of leaking information that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help Trump. (NBC News)
📺 TONIGHT: Democratic Debate #10. The debate starts at 8 p.m. ET. live on CBS, and will also stream on CBSN via Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV.
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