👋 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: ~12,383,000; deaths: ~558,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,164,000; deaths: ~134,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
👑 Portrait of a president.
Trump the victim: President complains in private about the pandemic hurting him. Trump has complained about the coronavirus destroying “the greatest economy,” which he claims to have personally built, laments the unfair “fake news” media, and he bemoans the “sick, twisted” police officers in Minneapolis, whose killing of an unarmed black man in their custody provoked the nationwide racial justice protests. (Washington Post)
1/ The United States set another single-day record for coronavirus cases – the sixth time in 10 days – as new cases rose more than 63,000. At least 33 states saw an increase in new cases compared to last week, while Miami-Dade County in Florida reported a 28% positivity rate of people tested. (CNBC / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)
- A White House reporter tested positive for the coronavirus after attending two press briefings this week. The White House is offering free tests to reporters who were in proximity to the person. (New York Post)
2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci last saw Trump in person at the White House on June 2 and hasn’t briefed Trump on the coronavirus in at least two months. Trump, meanwhile, publicly criticized Fauci, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the nation’s top infectious disease experts “has made a lot of mistakes.” Earlier this week, Trump said he disagreed with Fauci’s characterization that new cases could surpass 100,000 a day if the virus continues to spread at its current pace, saying “I think we are in a good place […] We’ve done a good job […] I think we are going to be in very good shape.” (CNBC / NBC News / Financial Times)
3/ The White House has pressured the FDA to reverse itself and grant a second emergency authorization for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. The FDA revoked the emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine last month after major studies found the medication wasn’t effective. Trump, however, praised a new study on Twitter this week, which scientists have widely criticized as flawed, urging the FDA to “Act Now.” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has led the administration’s effort press the FDA to approve the antimalarial drug. There are 60 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in the Strategic National Stockpile that can’t be distributed unless the FDA issues an emergency authorization. (Washington Post)
4/ Trump instructed the Treasury Department to review the tax-exempt status of schools and threatened to revoke their funding “if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues.” In a series of tweets, Trump accused Democrats of exploiting the pandemic for political gain by refusing to reopen schools and businesses to hurt the economy and his re-election, suggesting in a tweet that too many schools were about “Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education.” He added: “Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!” Most colleges and universities — private and public — are registered as tax exempt because of their educational purposes. (Politico / CNBC / Reuters)
- The American Academy of Pediatrics said “one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate” for decision making, calling the Trump administration’s threats to withhold federal funds from schools that do not fully reopen “a misguided approach.” (Politico)
5/ Trump postponed a campaign rally in New Hampshire citing “safety reasons” due to Tropical Storm Fay. One campaign official, however, said “We can’t have a repeat of Tulsa,” and people familiar with the sign-ups said interest in the rally was significantly lower than anticipated. Current weather forecasts indicate that the rain is supposed to stop around noon on Saturday, with the chance of rain falling to less than 40% by 5 p.m.; the rally was scheduled for 8 p.m. (New York Times / NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post / The Guardian)
- Trump arrived in Miami without a mask as Florida reported its highest seven-day case average to date – surpassing the record it set just 48 hours earlier. Miami-Dade County reported that 33.5% of virus tests on Thursday had come back positive; on Friday, it was reported at 27.8%. (Miami Herald / NBC Miami / Sun Sentinel / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
6/ Trump claimed that he “aced” a cognitive test and that the doctors “were very surprised” and called it “an unbelievable thing.” The White House, however, would not say when Trump took the test or why. Trump, however, volunteered to Sean Hannity that “I actually took one when I — very recently, when I — when I was — the radical left were saying, is he all there? Is he all there? And I proved I was all there, because I got — I aced it. I aced the test.” (New York Times)
7/ Trump said he’s “looking at” pardoning Roger Stone, saying his former aide and longtime confidant “was framed. He was treated horrible. He was treated so badly.” Stone was convicted of seven felonies for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath, and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies. Stone is set to go to prison next week unless Trump intervenes. When told that Stone was “praying” for a pardon ahead of his deadline to report to prison, Trump said, “If you say he’s praying, his prayer may be answered,” adding, “Let’s see what happens.” (CNN / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)
8/ Mark Esper confirmed that he was briefed this year on about the Russian bounty program to pay Taliban fighters for killing U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Esper told lawmakers that he had seen intelligence about Russian payments in February, but added that his top generals did not believe those initial reports were credible at the time. The Secretary of Defense addd that he has not seen intelligence that corroborates claims that American troops were actually killed as a result of the payments. (CNN / NBC News)
- Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley condemned Confederate leaders as traitors and said he supports a review of Army bases named for Confederate generals who “fought for an institution of slavery that may have enslaved one of their ancestors.” (Politico / Axios)
- The Department of Homeland Security has been deploying its resources and agents to guard monuments and statues across the country. The DHS was originally created in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 and was tasked with guarding the U.S. against terrorism, and Trump initially repurposed the agency when he first took office to focus on illegal immigration and border security. Now, it is increasingly focused on protecting statues. “American ideals are under attack,” said a DHS spokesperson. “President Trump is taking strong action to restore order. Acting Secretary Wolf is committed to using all DHS authorities and resources to implement President Trump’s agenda.” (New York Times)
poll/ 67% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while 33% approve. (ABC News)
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