👋 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: ~28,293,000; deaths: ~911,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~6,431,000; deaths: ~193,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
🗳 How To Vote In The 2020 Election In Every State. Everything you need to know about mail-in and early in-person voting in every state in the age of COVID-19, including the first day you can cast your ballot in the 2020 election. (FiveThirtyEight / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)
1/ Trump claimed that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” on the coronavirus pandemic, predicting that “Next year will be the greatest economic year in the history our country, I project.” The U.S., however, continues to see about 36,000 new cases a day, about 850 new deaths, on average, every day, a 8.4% unemployment rate, and about half of the jobs lost during the pandemic have been recovered. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, called the current COVID-19 data “disturbing,” and that the U.S. might not return to pre-coronavirus life until the end of 2021. Fauci added that the U.S. will be in a “more precarious situation” in the fall and winter if current case rate continues. (NBC News / CNN / CNBC / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian)
2/ Trump insisted that “everyone knew” the coronavirus was airborne in February, saying “When I say it was airborne, everybody knew it was airborne. This was no big thing. Read the reports. China came out with a statement that it was an airborne disease. I heard it was an airborne disease. I assumed it early on.” It wasn’t until March, however, that the World Health Organization acknowledged that the virus could be spread through airborne particles. (CNN / CNBC)
Trump held six indoor rallies after admitted to Bob Woodward on Feb. 7 that he knew the coronavirus “goes through air” and is more deadly than “even your strenuous flus.” In the interview, Trump told Woodward, “It goes through air, Bob,” adding, “you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed.” Yet Trump participated in rallies in New Hampshire on February 10, Arizona on February 19, Colorado on February 20, Nevada on February 21, South Carolina on February 28, and North Carolina on March 2. No social distancing measures were implemented for those rallies. (CBS News)
Trump falsely claimed at a rally in Michigan that he had revitalized the auto manufacturing industry in the state. However, the industry had lost jobs before the coronavirus pandemic hit the state in March. “We brought you a lot of car plants, we brought you a lot … and we’re going to bring you a lot more,” Trump told the crowd. Only one new major assembly facility — a Jeep plant on Detroit’s east side — has been announced during Trump’s term, and two General Motors plants in Michigan were idled by the company last year. Trump also said that after speaking with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, officials announced “five new car companies are coming to Michigan,” but no such announcement has been made. More than 5,000 Michiganders attended the rally at an aircraft hanger in Freeland, MI, most of whom were not wearing masks. The director of the National Institutes of Health, meanwhile, said he was “pretty puzzled” and “rather disheartened” by Trump’s crowded campaign rally in Michigan. (Detroit Free Press / Common Dreams / Politico)
3/ A top prosecutor working on Attorney General William Barr’s probe of the Russia investigation resigned because of concerns about political pressure to deliver a report before the presidential election. In 2019, Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham to investigate the FBI’s legal justification for the counterintelligence investigation that looked at ties between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russian efforts to meddle in the election. Nora Dannehy said she believed that Durham was pressured by Barr to produce results of their investigation before the work was completed. (Hartford Courant / CNN / Associated Press / Politico)
4/ A retired judge appointed to review the Justice Department’s effort to dismiss its prosecution of Michael Flynn said it seems like a “corrupt and politically motivated favor” done in response to pressure by Trump. In a court filing, John Gleeson said the department should not be allowed to drop the case because “the only coherent explanation for the Government’s exceedingly irregular motion […] is that the Justice Department has yielded to a pressure campaign led by the President for his political associate.” (Politico / Axios / CNBC / Reuters)
5/ In a reversal, a federal appeals court blocked hundreds of thousands of felons in Florida from registering to vote if they still owe fines and fees. In May, a lower court found that the law discriminated against the majority of felons by imposing an unlawful “pay-to-vote system.” (Washington Post / New York Times)
6/ A group of 14 states asked a federal judge to reverse service cuts and changes at the U.S. Postal Service. The states filed a motion asking a U.S. District Court in Washington to order USPS to treat election mail, including ballots and registration forms, as First Class mail and to ensure it’s delivered promptly. The states also asked the judge to end the “leave behind” policy, which requires that postal trucks leave at certain times, irrespective of whether or not there is additional mail to load. They also asked the judge to order USPS to replace or reinstall any removed sorting machines needed to ensure timely processing. (Washington Post)
- The Trump campaign is considering holding a political event on White House grounds near Election Day. While Trump was criticized for using the venue as a political prop during the Republican National Convention, he was reportedly so happy with how things went that he wants to do it again. One option under consideration would be for Trump to hold a victory party with supporters on election night. Another option is a rally-style event at the White House on the night before the election. No final decision has been made and plans could still change, the people said. (NBC News)
7/ A federal judged rejected the Trump administration’s request to exclude undocumented immigrants from being counted in the U.S. Census. A three-judge panel in New York ruled that the move would violate the statute governing congressional apportionment because it runs afoul of a statute saying apportionment must be based on everyone who is a resident of the United States. The panel found that Trump’s July 21 memorandum was “an unlawful exercise of the authority granted to the President,” and that all residents must be counted for apportionment purposes regardless of their legal status. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)
8/ ICE agents flew immigrant detainees to Virginia in order to facilitate the deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington. The June 2nd transfers were done to skirt rules that prevent ICE agents from traveling on the charter flights unless detainees are also aboard. After the transfer, dozens of detainees tested positive for the coronavirus, leading an outbreak of more than 300 inmates at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail. One died. (Washington Post)
9/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo assigned official government work to a top advisers through his wife, who used a private email account to relay the requests. As a congressman, Pompeo was criticized Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email system while serving at the State Department. Pompeo is currently being investigated by the State Department inspector general’s office about the misuse of government resources. In May, Pompeo asked Trump to fire then-inspector general Steve Linick. (McClatchy DC)
10/ The Trump administration withheld nearly $4 million for a program that tracks and treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses. The payments were authorized by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, but Treasury Department started withholding parts of payments about four years ago. The payments are meant to cover medical services for firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics treated by the FDNY World Trade Center Health Program. (New York Daily News)
poll/ 62% of Americans fear that political pressure from Trump will cause the FDA to approve a coronavirus vaccine without making sure it’s safe and effective. (Washington Post)
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