👋 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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😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~7,303,000; deaths: ~414,000; recoveries: ~3,425,000. (Johns Hopkins University)
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~1,995,000; deaths: ~113,000; recoveries: ~525,000
At least 19 states are seeing a rise in the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in at least nine states have been on the rise since Memorial Day. Data from states that are reporting some of their highest seven-day averages of new cases also disproves the notion that the country is seeing a spike because of an increase in testing. Meanwhile, 24 states are trending downward and seven states’ trends are holding steady. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)
The White House coronavirus task force hasn’t held a daily briefings in more than a month, despite the virus killing up to 1,000 Americans per day. Trump and top White House officials, including Jared Kushner, insist that they “made every decision correctly,” and that the outbreak is under control. “We may have some embers or some ashes or we may have some flames coming,” Trump said last week, “but we’ll put them out. We’ll stomp them out.” The task force has also scaled back its once-daily internal meetings, now meeting twice per week. (Politico)
Data and public health experts contradict Trump’s claim that the spike COVID-19 cases is because the U.S. is doing more testing. Three states with some of the biggest surges in the disease caused by the coronavirus began reopening more than two weeks ago. (NBC News)
Asylum-seeking migrants detained at an Arizona ICE center with one of the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases say they were forced to clean the facility with inadequate personal protective equipment. The migrants say the facility forced detainees to clean and work in the facility’s kitchen during crowded meal times, clean the trash from the nurses’ office, where sick patients were treated, and one said he was asked to clean the feces-covered cell of a mentally ill detainee without gloves. ICE’s says that as of June 7, 78 detainees have tested positive at the La Palma facility, with 14 cases currently under monitoring and zero deaths. (NBC News)
Republicans have tentatively moved the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville, Fla. The decision to seek an alternative location for the convention’s marquee events stems from Trump’s desire to accept his party’s nomination before an enormous crowd. North Carolina declined to allow a packed arena for the Aug. 24-27 event, as public health officials are urging Americans to avoid big gatherings, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing. (Washington Post)
[Analysis] The Real Economic Catastrophe Hasn’t Hit Yet. Just Wait For August. After a terrifying spring spent in lockdown and a summer of protests in the streets, things are going to get a lot worse in the fall. (BuzzFeed News)
1/ More than 1,250 former Justice Department workers called on the agency’s inspector general to investigate Attorney General William Barr’s role in clearing peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square so Trump could walk across the street for a photo op at St. John’s Church. In a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the group said it was “deeply concerned about the Department’s actions, and those of Attorney General William Barr himself, in response to the nationwide lawful gatherings to protest the systemic racism that has plagued this country throughout its history.” The group asked Horowitz to “immediately open and conduct an investigation of the full scope of the Attorney General’s and the DOJ’s role” in that and other events. (Washington Post)
2/ The White House press secretary defended Trump’s baseless tweet that a 75-year-old man injured by police “could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” saying Trump was just raising “questions that need to be asked.” Kayleigh McEnany told “Fox & Friends” that “based on a report that he saw. They’re questions that need to be asked, and every case we can’t jump on one side without looking at all the facts at play.” The conspiracy theory Trump amplified originated on a far-right blog and made its way to Trump via a report on One America News Network, which has a history of conspiracy-focused reporting. (Axios)
3/ The Justice Department’s handling of Michael Flynn’s case was a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power,” according to the court-appointed attorney and former judge tapped to review the criminal case against Flynn. John Gleeson’s 82-page analysis found evidence of misconduct by both the government and Flynn, and urged that the retired three-star general be sentenced for the crime he pleaded guilty to back in 2017. Gleeson rebuked the Justice Department’s request to drop the case, saying the move for dismissal was “corrupt,” “politically motivated,” and that the department “has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President.” Gleeson added: “Everything about this is irregular.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)
4/ Trump tweeted that he will “not even consider” renaming the 10 Army bases named after Confederate leaders. On Monday, a Pentagon official said that both Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy were “open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic” of removing Confederate names from the bases. Trump, however, shot down any discussions, tweeting, “my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.” (Axios / New York Times)
5/ Trump’s golf courses in Scotland are expected to receive a tax rebate of nearly £1 million as part of a government bailout package for tourism businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s resorts in Aberdeenshire and Turnberry will both receive emergency funding from the Scottish government. Property taxes paid by hospitality, leisure and retail businesses in Scotland will be waived. Trump Turnberry owed £850,766 in property taxes for this year, while Trump Aberdeenshire owed £121,170. Both properties are expected to qualify for 100% relief. Both properties have also been able to avoid paying the main business tax in the UK, known as the corporation tax, because they consistently report such heavy losses due to their debts to Trump himself, which totaled £155 million in 2018. (The Guardian)
6/ The Trump administration plans to push for oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast after the November election. Interior officials said they expect the plan to come out after the Nov. 3 election, but before Trump’s current term ends in January. (Politico)
7/ The White House told John Bolton that his memoir still contains classified information, claiming it could present a security threat. The book by Trump’s former national security adviser is scheduled for publication in less than two weeks and Trump has repeatedly told advisers he wants to stop the publication of the book. The book’s publisher, however, said copies have already been shipped to warehouses. (New York Times)
poll/ 27% of Americans say they see Trump as a religious person. 55% disagree. 50% of Christians in the U.S. don’t view Trump as religious, while 40% evangelicals say he is. Ideological conservatives (55%) and Republicans (60%) were the only two groups in which a majority of respondents characterized Trump as religious. (Politico)
poll/ 39% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – the first time his approval rating as dipped below 40% since October. (Gallup)
poll/ Trump trails Biden by 14 points, 55%-41%, among registered voters. The 41% who say they support Trump is the lowest since April 2019. Biden’s 55% support is his highest mark yet. (CNN)
Trump’s campaign demanded that CNN retract and apologize for a poll showing him trailing Joe Biden. After the poll was released, Trump tweeted that he had hired Republican pollster McLaughlin & Associates to “analyze” the poll because “I felt [they] were FAKE based on the incredible enthusiasm we are receiving.” McLaughlin is one of the least accurate pollsters, as measured by FiveThirtyEight. (CNN)
Wave of new polling suggests an erosion of Trump’s support. Joe Biden appears in a stronger position to oust an incumbent president than any challenger since Bill Clinton in the summer of 1992. (New York Times)
Republicans fear Trump’s weakened standing jeopardizes the party in November. A raft of fresh polling nationally and in battleground states shows Trump losing ground to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, a precipitous slide that has triggered deep distress within the GOP about the incumbent’s judgment and instincts, as well as fears that voters could sweep the party out of power completely on Election Day. (Washington Post)
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