👋 Away Message: It's infrastructure week at WTF HQ! This will be the last edition of WTFJHT until May 31. WTF is taking a much needed break to retool ahead of what is shaping up to be a very consequential midterm cycle (we've also had a few unresolvable scheduling snafus/conflicts here, so I'm just going to take a mulligan on this one). In the mean time, we've built a little news aggregator tool – currentstatus.io – to keep you up-to-date on the daily shock and awe. Thanks for understanding! I'm going to miss you. You'll hear from us again on Tuesday, May 31. Thanks for being here.
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😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~14,609,000; deaths: ~609,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,809,000; deaths: ~141,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
1/ The Trump administration is trying to block funding for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, the CDC and the National Institutes of Health in the upcoming coronavirus relief package. The Senate Republican proposal would allocate $25 billion to states for conducting testing and contact tracing, about $10 billion for the CDC, and about $15 billion for the National Institutes of Health. The proposal would also provide $5.5 billion to the State Department and $20 billion to the Pentagon. White House officials, however, is seeking to zero out the funding in the upcoming bill and push states to take responsibility for testing. Trump has also repeatedly questioned the value of widespread testing, arguing that if there were fewer tests conducted, the number of infections would be lower. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)
The director of the CDC said the pandemic could be brought under control over the next four to eight weeks if “we could get everybody to wear a mask right now.” Researchers have found that wearing a basic cloth face covering is more effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 than wearing nothing at all. Meanwhile, in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday, Trump said, “I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask everything disappears.” On Monday, however, Trump tweeted that face masks are “Patriotic” after months of refusing to wear a face covering in public. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)
State and local officials warn that they lack key resources to confront a surge in coronavirus cases. Labs in some places are taking a week or longer to provide test results, which health experts say render tests near-useless. (Washington Post)
A South Korea study found that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the coronavirus at least as well as adults do. Children under 10 were roughly half as likely as adults to spread the virus to others. (New York Times)
2/ The next coronavirus relief bill is expected to tie school funding to classrooms reopening and will likely include a payroll tax cut. The GOP plan is expected to include around $70 billion for elementary and secondary schools. About 10% will be set aside for nonpublic schools. Trump previously suggested he would not sign a new relief bill unless a payroll tax cut is included and the administration is also trying structure a payroll tax cut as a deferral rather than a straight cut. (Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)
3/ Trump insisted that he’ll “be right eventually” about the coronavirus pandemic, repeating his claim that “it’s going to disappear.” In a Fox News Sunday interview, Trump downplayed the danger of the coronavirus, saying that the rising number of U.S. deaths “is what it is,” claimed that many cases are just people who “have the sniffles” and that many of those cases are “young people that would heal in a day,” and called Dr. Anthony Fauci “a little bit of an alarmist.” The U.S. death toll, meanwhile, passed crossed 140,000. Trump also insisted that the U.S. has “the best mortality rate” in the world, which is not true. (CNN / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / CNN / The Independent)
4/ Trump will resume the White House coronavirus task force briefings on Tuesday. Trump held near-daily news conferences for several weeks before abandoning the practice after an April session during which he speculated that disinfectants, such as bleach, or sunlight could be injected “inside the body” to fight the coronavirus. Sunday marked the 41st straight day that the seven-day average for new daily coronavirus infections in the U.S. trended upward. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)
5/ Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the election if he lost. When asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace whether he was a “good loser,” Trump replied: “I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose.” Trump then said he thinks that mail-in voting is going to “rig the election.” Wallace then asked, “Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results of the election?” Trump responded: “I have to see. I’m not just going to say yes. I’m not going to say no.” Trump then claimed that Hillary Clinton is “the one who never accepted the loss.” (CNBC / Axios / Associated Press)
6/ Joe Biden warned about Russian interference in the 2020 election, citing intelligence briefings that he is now receiving. “We know from before and I guarantee you I know now because now I get briefings again,” Biden said. “The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact.” The briefings are done in coordination with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the intelligence community’s election threats executive. (Bloomberg / Washington Post)
- Democrats in the House and Senate have requested that the FBI provide Congress with counterintelligence briefing regarding what appears to be a “concerted foreign interference” targeting Congress. (Axios / Politico)
poll/ 34% of Americans trust Trump to handle the coronavirus pandemic. 54%, meanwhile, trust Biden to handle the pandemic. (ABC News)
The White House portraits of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were removed from a prominent space in the Grand Foyer to a small, rarely used room that is not seen by most visitors. Traditionally, the portraits of the most recent presidents are given the most prominent placement at the entrance of the executive mansion. (CNN)
Trump defended his opposition to removing Confederate symbols, claiming that “When people proudly hang their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South.” Trump also threatened to veto legislation to rename U.S. military installations named after Confederate figures, despite its support from Congress and the military. “I don’t care what the military says,” Trump said. “I’m supposed to make the decision.” (Axios / Politico)
Trump accused Fox News’ Chris Wallace of misrepresenting the difficulty of the cognitive test he took as part of a medical examination. “The first two questions are easy,” Trump said, “but I bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. They get very hard.” Wallace pointed out that “it’s not the hardest test. They have a picture and it says ‘what’s that’ and it’s an elephant.” Trump then pushed back: “No, no, no. … You see, that’s all misrepresentation.” When asked to describe the questions that Trump felt were “very hard,” Trump said “I’ll get you the test,” and then challenged Joe Biden to “take the same test that I took,” claiming that “Joe Biden could not answer those questions.” (Axios / Rolling Stone / Daily Beast / CNN Business)
Top State Department employees blocked a whistle blower complaint that reported misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A redacted version of the complaint indicates that top officials enabled misconduct by Pompeo after the whistle blower voiced concerns, as well as “numerous firsthand accounts” of such behavior, internally. (New York Times)
The sheriff of Jacksonville, Fla., said he can’t provide security for the Republican National Convention because of a lack of clear plans, adequate funding, and enough law enforcement officers. “As we’re talking today, we are still not close to having some kind of plan that we can work with that makes me comfortable that we’re going to keep that event and the community safe,” Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams said. (Politico)
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