👋 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 ~5,551,000; Total deaths: ~349,000; Total recoveries: ~2,270,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,673,000; Total deaths: ~98,700; Total recoveries: ~380,000
💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈
Pandemic lockdowns loosen as U.S. deaths near 100,000. (Wall Street Journal)
The U.S. economy is showing signs of recovering from the shock of the coronavirus, yet Americans are still losing jobs by the millions and other figures — consumer confidence, retail sales, steel output, oil drilling — keep sinking in what is a clear sign that the recovery will be arduous and fitful. (Bloomberg)
World Health Organization warns of “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak in areas where COVID-19 declining. (NBC News)
Trump questioned the official coronavirus death toll, suggesting the numbers are inflated. (New York Times)
At least half of states are not going to meet White House’s deadline to test every nursing home resident and staff member for the coronavirus within 14-days. Some states said the logistics, costs, and manpower needs are too great, while others say they need another week or so. (Associated Press)
1/ Trump spent Memorial Day weekend mocking female politicians, tweeting about conspiracy theories, and golfing as the U.S. death toll from coronavirus neared 100,000. In a series of tweets and retweets, Trump called Stacey Abrams “Shamu,” mocked Nancy Pelosi’s appearance, and called Hillary Clinton a “skank.” Trump also revived a long-debunked conspiracy theory that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough killed his intern when he was a member of Congress, and claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting consistently results in ballot stuffing and voter fraud. Trump spent both Saturday and Sunday golfing at his private club in Virginia. He made no mention of the sacrifice Americans honor on Memorial Day or the lives lost from the virus. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / CNN / Mother Jones / NBC News / New York Daily News / New York Times)
😳 An incalculable loss. America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. But a count reveals only so much. Memories, gathered from obituaries across the country, help us to reckon with what was lost. (New York Times)
😔 Little sense of shared grief as coronavirus deaths near 100,000. While Americans have shared undeniable hardships since March — including more than 38 million people forced to file for unemployment, and tens of millions more forced to hunker down at home to avoid the contagion — the carnage is hitting them unevenly. (Los Angeles Times)
Twitter refused to delete Trump’s baseless conspiracy theory tweets that Joe Scarborough was allegedly involved in the death of his intern in 2001. In a letter to Jack Dorsey, the widower of Lori Klausutis said Trump had violated Twitter’s terms of service by falsely suggesting that Scarborough murdered his wife. Klausutis died as a result of a heart condition that caused her to collapse at work and hit her head on her desk. Twitter said Trump’s tweets did not violate the company’s terms of service, even though its policies say users “may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so.” (Axios / The Guardian / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post)
2/ The WHO temporarily suspended testing of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns about the drug. The suspension comes in response to a global study of 96,000 hospitalized patients across six continents that found patients who took the drug were more likely to die or develop heart irregularities than those who did nothing to treat the virus. Trump, meanwhile, announced that he “just finished” taking a two-week course of hydroxychloroquine. “And by the way, I’m still here.” Trump has repeatedly promoted hydroxychloroquine as a “game changer” and recently claimed he has been taking the drug for weeks as a preventative measure against the virus. (Axios)
3/ Trump suspended all travel to the U.S. from Brazil by non-U.S. citizens. Starting Thursday, all non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days will be denied entry. Brazil has the second largest number of reported coronavirus cases behind the U.S. and has become a hot spot for the virus in the southern hemisphere. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the virus as a “little flu” and has pushed to reopen the economy. (Axios)
4/ The Pentagon’s acting inspector general submitted his resignation, more than a month after Trump effectively removed him as chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which was tasked with overseeing $2 trillion in emergency coronavirus funding. Glenn Fine’s resignation takes effect June 1st. (CNN / New York Times /Washington Post / New York Times)
- 📌 Day 1174: Trump removed the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, who was tapped to lead the group responsible for preventing “waste, fraud, and abuse” of the $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus package passed last month. A panel of inspectors general had named Glenn Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Trump, instead, replaced Fine with EPA’s watchdog, Sean O’Donnell, as the temporary Pentagon watchdog. Because Fine is no longer acting inspector general, he is ineligible to hold the spending watchdog role, since the new law permits only current inspectors general to fill the position. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg)
5/ Trump threatened to move the Republican National Convention out of Charlotte if North Carolina’s Democratic governor doesn’t allow the event to go forward at full capacity. The convention is expected to draw roughly 50,000 people, and the state’s health and human services secretary has said that the GOP should “plan for the worst” because large gatherings will be a “very big challenge” if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase. Trump, complaining that North Carolina was still in “Shutdown mood,” tweeted that the “many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans” who are planning to head to North Carolina in August “must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” If not, Trump added, “we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.” Florida Republicans, meanwhile, said they would “welcome the opportunity to host the Republican National Convention” if Trump decides to pull the event out of Charlotte. (Axios / Tampa Bay Times / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
6/ Trump’s reelection campaign promoted a top political adviser to deputy campaign manager. Bill Stepien, who previously served as the White House political director and had been advising the reelection effort, will serve under Brad Parscale, who has been campaign manager since 2018. Trump recently “erupted” at Parscale after seeing polling data that showed him trailing Joe Biden in several swing states in the presidential race. (Politico / New York Times)
- Trump opts for a 2016 disruption strategy that Democrats say is ill-suited for a pandemic. Trump’s moves in recent days make clear that the president has decided to revive the disruptive themes of his 2016 bid, aimed at branding his opponent as a corrupt member of the Washington establishment and himself as an insurgent problem-solver. (Washington Post)
7/ The Justice Department will not pursue insider trading charges against three senators, but will continue to investigate stock sales before the coronavirus market turmoil by Sen. Richard Burr. Prosecutors will close their investigations into Kelly Loeffler, James Inhofe, and Dianne Feinstein. Burr’s mid-February stock sales, however, have drawn scrutiny from the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission. FBI agents recently seized his cellphone. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
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