👋 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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🔥 Daily Damage Report.
🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,809,000; Total deaths: ~267,000; Total recoveries: ~1,266,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,243,000; Total deaths: ~74,200; Total recoveries: ~190,000
💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈
1/ An additional 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, down slightly from 3.8 million the previous week. More than 33.5 million have filed for unemployment over the last seven weeks and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the week ending April 25 was 15.5%. Continuing claims – the number of people receiving ongoing benefits – is now at more than 22 million, surpassing the recessionary peak of 6.6 million. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / ABC News / NBC News / The Guardian)
Friday’s job report is expected to be “the single worst jobs report in history.” Forecasters expect the nation’s jobless rate, which was at 4.4% in March, to jump to an annualized unemployment rate of 15% to 20% for the April period. (CBS News)
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program limited the size of loans it issues without publicly announcing the change. After initially telling businesses that individual disaster loans could be as high as $2 million, SBA has now imposed a $150,000 limit. Additionally, the agency will only accept applications from agricultural businesses “due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. (Washington Post)
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded to Axl Rose calling him an “asshole” on Twitter by tweeting: “What have you done for the country lately?” Mnuchin, however, included the emoji of the Liberian flag, apparently mistaking the it for the American flag. (Politico / The Guardian)
poll/ 77% of laid-off or furloughed workers expect to be rehired by their previous employer once the stay-at-home orders in their area are lifted. Economists, however, predict that 42% of recent layoffs from the pandemic will result in permanent job losses. (Washington Post)
2/ The Trump administration refused to issue CDC guidelines drafted to give states and business owners detailed instructions on how to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, calling the guidance “overly prescriptive.” The 17-page report, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help from faith leaders, business owners, educators, and state and local officials to provide detailed advice for making site-specific decisions related to reopening schools, restaurants, summer camps, churches, day care centers, and other institutions. It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” because the Trump administration had already”made clear that each state should open up in a safe and responsible way based on the data and response efforts in those individual states.” Several states, meanwhile, have already moved ahead with reopening despite not meeting the threshold criteria set by the administration’s previously-issued reopening guidelines, which call for a two-week downward trajectory in cases within a 14-day period. (Associated Press / ABC News / New York Times / Axios / CNN / NBC News)
More than half of the states that have started to reopen don’t meet the criteria recommended by the White House for resuming business and social activities. The Trump administration’s guidelines are nonbinding, but they recommend that states have a “downward trajectory” of either documented coronavirus cases or new positive test results. Most of the 30 states currently in the process of reopening not only fail to meet those basic criteria, but also have either upward trajectories for case counts, positive tests, or both. Most of the states are reopening with more new cases or a higher share of positive tests than two weeks ago. The guidelines also recommend that states should wait for a decline in the number of patients with coronavirus symptoms and a return to normal hospital capacities before reopening, standards which many states also fail to meet. (New York Times)
States moving forward with reopening are seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases. However, states that expect to keep social distancing restrictions in place have seen drops in the number of new daily cases relative to a month ago. (Washington Post)
3/ One of Trump’s personal valets tested positive for the coronavirus and Trump is reportedly “not happy” about it. The White House said Trump and Pence have since tested negative. (CNN / CNBC / NBC News)
4/ Trump defended his decision not to wear a mask during a tour of a mask production facility, saying “I didn’t need it” and that he had been told it wasn’t necessary. A sign posted at the facility, however, said: “Please wear your mask at all times.” Trump has told advisers that he believes wearing a mask would “send the wrong message,” because doing so would make it seem like he is preoccupied with health instead of reopening the nation’s economy. (NBC News / Associated Press)
5/ Trump contradicted a nurse who said that some parts of the country were experiencing shortages of protective medical gear, calling the supply of PPE “sporadic” but “manageable.” Trump shot back, “Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people,” adding that the country is “now loaded up” with a “tremendous supply to almost all places.” (CNBC / Bloomberg)
6/ A top Republican fundraiser and Trump campaign donor was named to be the head of the U.S. Postal Service. Louis DeJoy currently runs a private logistics and distribution company in North Carolina. He was chosen by the Postal Service’s Board of Governors to replace Postmaster General Megan Brennan, who was appointed in 2015 and is the first woman to hold the position. Since January, DeJoy has donated $360,000 to the Trump’s re-election campaign and roughly $70,000 to the Republican National Committee. (NBC News / Washington Post / Reuters)
7/ The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block the release of secret Robert Mueller grand jury evidence. In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit cleared the way for Congress to access material from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The administration is asking the justices to freeze that opinion. House Democrats have argued that their investigation into possible misconduct by Trump is ongoing, and that the grand jury material will inform its determination of whether Trump obstructed Mueller’s investigation and whether to recommend new articles of impeachment. (Washington Post / CNN / Axios)
8/ The Justice Department dropped its prosecution of Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a Russian diplomat in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration. The Justice Department said in its filing that it made its decision “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information.” In particular, the review concluded that the FBI interview in which Flynn lied “was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.” (Associated Press / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios)
9/ Trump vetoed legislation that would have limited his ability to wage war against Iran without Congressional approval because he felt it was an “insulting,”“unnecessary and dangerous” prohibition. The legislation was first introduced in response to the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Trump said in a statement that the bill was “a very insulting resolution,” which “implies that the President’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack. That is incorrect.” Congress is not expected to have the votes to override Trump’s veto. (Independent)
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