👋 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: ~15,057,000; deaths: ~620,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,942,000; deaths: ~143,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
1/ The U.S. reported more than 1,000 daily deaths from the coronavirus for the first time since May. The average number of daily deaths have been rising for most of July. Daily confirmed cases also rose by more than 64,000 Tuesday and the U.S. has regularly logged over 60,000 new daily infections over the past week. Starting with the first reported case on January 21, it took 99 days for 1 million Americans to become infected. It then took 43 days after that to reach 2 million cases. And then 28 days later, on July 8, the U.S. reached 3 million cases. The country is on pace to reach 4 million COVID-19 cases about two weeks after recording its 3 millionth case, and the CDC suggests that the actual number may be 10 times higher. Nationwide, the death toll is on track to surpass 200,000 by Election Day. (Washington Post / Politico / Axios / Wall Street Journal / CNN)
Hospitals had two days to stop reporting coronavirus data to the CDC and instead report data to a new portal maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. The abrupt change left many state officials and hospitals scrambling to adopt the new national reporting system. (CNBC)
Trump was seen maskless at the Trump International Hotel this week, prompting local authorities to investigate the hotel’s compliance with city rules. (Washington Post)
2/ Trump will expand “Operation Legend,” sending a “surge” federal law enforcement officers to Chicago and Albuquerque and claiming that “This bloodshed must end. We have no choice but to get involved.” Earlier this month, the Trump administration launched “Operation Legend” in Kansas City, Missouri, with agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to fight “the sudden surge of violent crime.” Trump claimed that the movement to defund traditional policing efforts had led to a spike in violent crime. He called the protests in Portland “worse than Afghanistan,” where the administration is using the Federal Protective Service, a Department of Homeland Security component that’s responsible for securing federal buildings around the country. Trump, conflating administration programs, defended the use of force in Pacific Northwest city, where officers clad in military fatigues have arrested and detained demonstrators for questioning in unmarked cars. Oregon’s governor, Portland’s mayor, and the protesters have all said that the DHS agents have only increased tensions in the city. And, mayors throughout the U.S. have called on the administration to pull back agents. Senior DHS officials, however, said agents of the department would remain in Portland until the unrest had subsided. (Bloomberg / CNN / Politico / New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post)
Customs and Border Protection confirmed that it deployed officers from three paramilitary units to Portland, OR as part of a federal crackdown on protests against racism and police brutality. A CPB spokesperson said in an email that they have “agents and officers from our special operations groups deployed” to the area, but did not give any details about how many agents were deployed. Several videos posted online show officers in camouflage uniforms with no clear identification badges using force and unmarked vehicles to transport arrested protesters, which civil-rights advocates have said violate protesters’ right to free speech under the First Amendment. (Reuters)
Trump’s reelection campaign released a new Facebook ad with an image of a group of protesters attacking a police officer alongside the words “public safety vs chaos & violence.” The photo, however, is from a pro-democracy protest in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2014. (Business Insider)
3/ The Trump administration has been detaining migrant children in hotels and then deporting them despite federal anti-trafficking laws that require most kids be sent to the shelters for placement with family sponsors. The U.S. has used three Hampton Inn & Suites hotels in Arizona and at the Texas-Mexico border nearly 200 times, while more than 10,000 beds for children sit empty at government shelters. (Associated Press)
- A federal judge denied a request to release families from ICE custody due to the confined space and potential spread of coronavirus. Judge James Boasberg agreed with that families and children should be released because the facilities lacked social distancing and medical care, but said other options outside of the blanket release needed to be considered. (CNN)
4/ The Trump administration ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, TX – a significant escalation in the Trump administration’s ongoing political and economic battle with China. In a statement, the State Department said the order comes in response to repeated violations of American sovereignty by China, including “massive illegal spying and influence operations” throughout the U.S. Aside from the embassy in Beijing, the U.S. has five consulates in mainland China: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan, and Shenyang. A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the U.S. to reverse the decision immediately, “Otherwise China will certainly make legitimate and necessary reactions.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Click2Houston / BBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)
5/ Trump asked the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom in February 2018 to see if the British government could move the British Open golf tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland. Robert Wood Johnson, a billionaire NFL owner, was advised against making the request by his deputy, Lewis Lukens, who warned that it would be an unethical use of the presidency for private gain. Johnson, however, raised the idea of Turnberry hosting the British Open with the secretary of state for Scotland. Lukens emailed officials at the State Department at the time to tell them what had happened and was forced out by Johnson a few months later. The State Department inspector general also investigated Johnson last fall after he allegedly made racist generalizations about Black men and questioned why the Black community celebrates Black History Month. It is unclear how much the investigators focused on Johnson’s inappropriate comments or the allegations that he was asked by Trump to push to have the British Open take place at one of his golf properties. The findings were submitted in February, but it is not clear why the review has not been made public. (New York Times / CNN)
6/ Trump offered the accomplice of accused sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein well-wishes. Ghislaine Maxwell was charged with recruiting and grooming girls as young as 14 into a circle of sexual abuse with powerful men around the world. Trump, who “met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach,” was asked during a press conference whether he expected Maxwell to go public with the names of men who have been accused in lawsuits of taking part in the sex-trafficking ring that Epstein ran. “I don’t know,” Trump replied. “I haven’t really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly […] But I wish her well, whatever it is.” (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)
- Every photo of Trump and Maxwell together. (Forbes)
poll/ 8% of Americans think daycare centers, preschools and K-12 schools should open this fall without restrictions. 46% think schools should reopen with major adjustments, 14% say school should reopen with minor adjustments, and 31% say schools should not open at all. (Associated Press)
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