• 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~19,948,000; deaths: ~733,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,075,000; deaths: ~164,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 👑 Portrait of a President.

  • How Trump fell short in containing the coronavirus. “As the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows is responsible for coordinating the vast executive branch, including its coronavirus response. But in closed-door meetings, he has revealed his skepticism of the two physicians guiding the anti-pandemic effort, Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, routinely questioning their expertise, according to senior administration officials and other people briefed on the internal discussions.” (Washington Post)

  • The Trump Pandemic: A blow-by-blow account of how Trump killed thousands of Americans. Trump has always been malignant and incompetent. “As president, he has coasted on economic growth, narrowly averted crises of his own making, and corrupted the government in ways that many Americans could ignore. But in the pandemic, his vices—venality, dishonesty, self-absorption, dereliction, heedlessness—turned deadly. They produced lies, misjudgments, and destructive interventions that multiplied the carnage. The coronavirus debacle isn’t, as Trump protests, an ‘artificial problem’ that spoiled his presidency. It’s the fulfillment of everything he is.” (Slate)

  • Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s battles with U.S. intelligence agencies. Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. This is what happened next. (New York Times)

  • A president ignored: Trump’s claims increasingly met with a collective shrug. “More than 3½ years into his presidency, Trump increasingly finds himself minimized and ignored — as many of his more outlandish or false statements are briefly considered and then, just as quickly, dismissed.” (Washington Post)

  • The FDA chief is caught between scientists and Trump. Many medical experts — including members of his own staff — worry about whether Dr. Stephen Hahn has the fortitude and political savvy to protect the scientific integrity of the FDA from Trump. (New York Times)


1/ Trump signed four executive actions at his Bedminster golf club to defer payroll taxes, student loan payments, and evictions through the end of the year. The actions to circumvent Congress on coronavirus economic relief also extends an additional $400-per-week in unemployment benefits — down from $600 — until 2021. States, however, must pick up the tab for 25% (or $100) of the $400 additional benefit each person may receive in weekly financial aid. A number of governors have expressed alarm about the setup as states have seen tax revenues plummet during the pandemic, while costs increase. While Trump said he signed four “executive orders,” only the one on housing is an actual executive order – the other three are marked “memorandum,” which carry less weight. The actions are also expected to draw legal challenges as it is not clear what authority Trump had to act since Congress controls federal spending. Nancy Pelosi called them “absurdly unconstitutional.” And, Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement that “Unilaterally eliminating the payroll tax and ignoring Congress’s power of the purse on funding unemployment insurance will do nothing to help Americans recover.” Trump, however, suggested that the four measures he signed “will take care of pretty much this entire situation.” (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC / ABC News / HuffPost)

  • Trump promised to permanently cut the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare if he wins reelection in November. “If I’m victorious on November 3rd, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax,” Trump said. “I’m going to make them all permanent.” (Washington Post)

  • What’s in Trump’s four executive orders. “A close read of the actual text of executive actions he signed Saturday suggests that even if they are deemed constitutional, they will not quickly deliver the aid Trump promised. They may not deliver much at all.” (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Trump’s orders on coronavirus relief create confusion. “Businesses and the unemployed faced uncertainty as administration officials defended the president’s directives and Democrats criticized them.” (New York Times)

  • Trump said he would consider an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. The Affordable Care Act, however, already requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. (Axios)

2/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House is open to resuming coronavirus aid talks with Democrats and are “prepared to put more money on the table.” Two weeks of talks collapsed on Friday. Democrats had started with a $3.4 trillion plan, but suggested they were willing to compromise at around $2 trillion. Republicans, meanwhile, started at $1 trillion, but said $2 trillion was too high. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “want to make a deal. Amazing how it all works, isn’t it.” It’s unclear what he was referring to as top congressional Democrats said they had not reached out to the White House since last week. (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times)

3/ At least 97,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19 during the last two weeks of July – a 40% increase in COVID-19 cases. The report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association says at least 338,000 children have tested positive since the pandemic began, meaning more than a quarter have tested positive during those two weeks. More than seven out of 10 infections were from states in the southern and western U.S. Missouri, Oklahoma, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho and Montana were among the states with the highest percent increase of child infections, while New York City, New Jersey and other states in the Northeast, where the virus peaked in March and April, had the lowest percent increase. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CBS News)

  • The Georgia school in viral photos with students walking without masks in tightly packed hallways will close for cleaning after nine people test positive for coronavirus – six students and three staff members. [Editor’s note: 🤦‍♂️] (Washington Post)

4/ The White House has explored executive actions Trump could take to curb mail-in voting. Aides and advisers have reportedly considered everything from directing the postal service to not deliver certain ballots to stopping local officials from counting them after Election Day. Meanwhile, since taking over the Postal Service, Louis DeJoy has implemented a series of new policies that have slowed mail delivery across the country. And, on Friday, DeJoy reassigned 23 postal executives, including the two top Postal Service officials who oversaw day-to-day operations. Separately, the Postal Service has informed states that they’ll need to pay first-class 55-cent postage to mail ballots to voters, rather than the normal 20-cent bulk rate. (Politico / USA Today / The Hill / The American Prospect)

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on the Trump administration to declassify reports detailing Russian efforts to influence the 2020 elections. Top Democrats in both chambers of Congress have called for the FBI to provide lawmakers with a “defensive briefing” regarding what appears to be a “concerted foreign interference campaign” targeting Congress. Blumenthal said the intelligence he heard during a classified briefing “is absolutely chilling, startling and shocking,” adding that the intelligence suggests previous Soviet and Russian techniques “are looking like child’s play compared to what they’re doing now globally.” (Axios)

  • Facebook allowed conservative news outlets and personalities to repeatedly spread false information without penalties. According to internal discussions, Facebook removed “strikes” so that conservative pages were not penalized for violations of misinformation policies. (NBC News)

5/ Trump’s lawyers accused Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. of “still fishing for a way to justify his harassment of the President” in a court battle over eight years of Trump’s income tax returns and other financial documents from his accountants. Vance is investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 presidential election to Stormy Daniels, and in a filing last week, Vance suggested there might be grounds to look at possible fraud at the Trump Organization. Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, urged the judge to block Vance’s grand jury from reviewing his tax filings and disputed the suggestion that the panel may be looking into bank and insurance fraud at the Trump Organization. Trump sued Vance in September to block a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, claiming the subpoena was issued in bad faith and that it sought too much information and constituted harassment of the president. The Supreme Court, however, ruled last month Trump’s not immune from state criminal investigations. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • A federal judge rebuffed the Trump administration’s attempt to invoke executive privilege to withhold emails about Trump’s hold on U.S. aid to Ukraine in 2019. “U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Monday that the government had failed to make a convincing showing that the 21 messages between White House aide Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey were eligible for protection under legal privileges protecting the development of presidential advice or decisions made by other government officials.” (Politico)

6/ A White House aide reached out to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem last year about the process for adding Trump’s face to Mount Rushmore. When Trump arrived in the Black Hills for a fireworks-filled July 4 extravaganza, Noem privately presented him with a four-foot replica of Mount Rushmore that included his face. Trump, meanwhile, denied that his team approached South Dakota’s governor about adding his face to the monument, tweeting he “never suggested it although […] sounds like a good idea to me!” Mount Rushmore is a federal – not state – monument. (New York Times / CNN / The Guardian)


Notables.

  1. China announced sanctions against 11 U.S. citizens in response to earlier U.S. sanctions against 11 Chinese officials. Among those targeted were Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Pat Toomey and Representative Chris Smith, as well as individuals at U.S. non-profits and rights organizations. A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said China “has decided to impose sanctions on individuals who have behaved egregiously on Hong Kong-related issues” in response “to those wrong U.S. behaviors.” It is unclear what the latest round of sanctions will entail. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Reuters)

  2. Trump walked out of a news conference after a reporter asked him about a lie he’s told more than 150 times. Speaking at his Bedminster golf club, Trump claimed that he is the one who got the Veterans Choice program passed – adding, “They’ve been trying to get that passed for decades and decades and decades and no president’s ever been able to do it, and we got it done.” Obama, however, signed the program into law in 2014. When CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid pointed out that Veterans Choice was passed in 2014, Trump tried to call on another reporter instead, but then paused and responded: “OK. Thank you very much, everybody.” He then walked away as the song “YMCA” played. (CNN)

  3. Attorney General William Barr told Fox News that Democrats and the left are intent on “tearing down the system” in a pursuit for “total victory.” Barr also accused Black Lives Matter of being an anti-government operation that has been co-opted and is part of a coordinated effort to push Trump out of office. “The left wants power because that is essentially their state of grace in their secular religion,” he said. “They want to run peoples’ lives so they can design utopia for all of us and that’s what turns them on. And it’s the lust for power and they weren’t expecting Trump’s victory and it outrages them.” (Washington Post / The Hill)

  4. The EPA will rescind regulations for methane gas emissions and will end requirements that oil and gas producers have systems and procedures to detect methane leaks in their systems. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)


Become a member.

Help keep WTF Just Happened Today going with a small contribution.
Learn more