👋 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: ~15,349,000; deaths: ~627,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,022,000; deaths: ~144,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
1/ The U.S. surpassed four million coronavirus cases a little over two weeks after reaching three million, doubling the total number of infections in six weeks. New cases climbed by more than 71,000 and the nation’s overall death toll topped 140,000 with more than 1,100 coronavirus deaths reported Wednesday – the first time since May 29 that the daily count exceeded that number. Public health experts have warned that the actual number of infections are potentially 10 times higher than what’s been reported and could be as much 13 times higher in some regions. (Wall Street Journal / USA Today / New York Times / Washington Post)
Nearly 75% of detainees in ICE custody in a Virginia facility have contracted COVID-19. Of the 360 immigrants in custody at the center, there are 268 confirmed cases of coronavirus currently under isolation or monitoring. (CNN)
Officials in 12 states said they still have requests pending for orders of personal protective equipment. Trump, however, claimed there are “zero unfilled requests” and “No governor needs anything right now.” (ABC News)
Stephen Miller’s grandmother died of COVID-19. His uncle blames Miller and the Trump administration for her death, citing Trump’s initial “lack of a response” to the coronavirus crisis. (Mother Jones)
A Marine assigned to Trump’s helicopter squadron tested positive for COVID-19. Trump was scheduled to travel to Bedminster, N.J., this weekend by helicopter. (Politico)
Two White House cafeterias were closed and contact tracing has been initiated after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The cafeterias are in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the New Executive Office Building, which are part of the White House complex located next to the West Wing. It is not clear if the employee who tested positive was a cafeteria worker. The White House did not say what kind of symptoms the employee showed. White House employees were notified in an email and were told there was no need for them to self-quarantine, but they were advised to monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus and to stay home if they felt sick. (NBC News / New York Times)
Employees of ICE, Customs and Border Protection, and the TSA sued the Trump administration for hazard pay, claiming they’re entitled to it for being exposed to the coronavirus on the job. (Washington Post)
2/ Another 1.4 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment insurance last week. It was the 18th straight week in which initial claims totaled more than 1 million, snapping a 15-week streak of declining initial claims. 16.2 million people filed for ongoing benefits. (CNBC / Bloomberg / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / Politico)
3/ The White House and Senate Republicans failed to reach an agreement on a coronavirus legislative package. The main area of dispute was over an extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment assistance for workers who have lost their jobs. The GOP proposal would replace the expiring $600 benefit with roughly $200 per week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, said the administration would seek to limit the new unemployment payments to 70% of a worker’s wages, saying “You don’t get paid to stay more to stay home than you do when you have a job.” Democrats, meanwhile, want to extend the $600 payment through January. The GOP package would also include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to about 160 million American households. The current draft proposal also does not include a payroll tax cut, Trump’s preferred idea, but does includes $16 billion in funds for new testing, which the administration has opposed, and conditions a portion of education funding on schools reopening. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)
4/ Trump insisted that the cognitive test he recently took was “difficult” and “not that easy” because he had to correctly recall the phrase “person, woman, man, camera, TV.” Trump said he was given “extra points” for repeating the words in order and that his doctors were impressed, because – he claimed – “nobody gets it in order […] But for me it was easy.” Trump also claimed that he was able to pass the test “because I have, like, a good memory, because I’m cognitively there.” It was the third time Trump had bragged about “acing” a cognitive test in recent interviews. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment consists of one page of basic questions and is used as “a cognitive screening test designed to assist Health Professionals in the detection of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.” [Editor’s note: I don’t like to dunk on mental illness and I try to avoid playing armchair psychologist. But the situation becomes fair game when the president takes victory lap after victory lap about passing a test he should pass in order to question someone else’s mental fitness and play politics. WTF, right?] (USA Today / The Guardian / CBS News)
The mayor of Portland was tear gassed by federal agents outside of a federal courthouse during a protest against the presence of federal agents in the city. Mayor Ted Wheeler was standing at the front of a crowd of demonstrators outside of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse when police fired tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd. It is unclear whether the federal agents knew Wheeler was in the crowd when they used the tear gas. “I’m not going to lie — it stings; it’s hard to breathe,” Wheeler said. “And I can tell you with 100 percent honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response.” (Associated Press / New York Times / The Guardian)
The Justice Department inspector general will review the conduct of federal agents in Portland and Washington, D.C., following concerns from members of Congress and the public. Michael Horowitz said his office will work with the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office to investigate use of force in Portland. (Portland / Associated Press)
5/ The Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the removal of Confederate names from military bases. Trump has threatened to veto the $740 billion bill over the provision to rename Confederate military bases. The House and Senate have now both passed versions of the bill and will spend several weeks negotiating a compromise, which then must pass both chambers before it can be sent for Trump’s signature or veto. (Reuters / USA Today / The Hill)
6/ A federal judge ordered that Michael Cohen be released from prison and into home confinement, finding that the government had retaliated against him planning to write a tell-all book about Trump. (New York Times / CNBC / CNN)
poll/ 37% of Floridians approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while 59% disapprove. 40% approve the job Trump is doing as president, while 58% disapprove. (Quinnipiac)
poll/ 75% of Americans favor requiring people wear face coverings while in public. 89% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans are in favor wearing face masks in public. The poll was conducted before Trump said it’s patriotic to wear a mask. (Associated Press)
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