👋 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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🗳 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 predicted that the election “will end up in the Supreme Court,” tying the confirmation of a justice to the election. Trump, who has repeatedly and baselessly warned of voter fraud and corruption in the upcoming election, said: “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices, and I think the system’s going to go very quickly.” Trump – again – claimed without evidence that Democrats are trying to rig the election and that he wants a Supreme Court that will agree with him, because “it’s a scam — the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court and I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation.” (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)
poll/ 59% of Americans think the winner of the presidential election should be the one to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. March 2016, 57% said that Obama should have been the one to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia, rather than the president elected in November. (CNN)
poll/ 63% of voters don’t expect to know the winner of the presidential election on Election Night, while 30% think the country will know. (Quinnipiac)
[Speculation] The Trump campaign has reportedly discussed a contingency plan to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. If Trump loses, he would then ask state legislators to ignore the popular vote on claims of rampant fraud, which experts have noted is extraordinarily rare, and instead choose electors directly ahead of the “safe harbor” deadline on Dec. 8. Electors don’t meet until six days later, Dec. 14. (The Atlantic / The Week)
Ted Cruz blocked a Senate resolution to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Democrats added language noting Ginsburg’s dying request that her seat not be filled until the next president is sworn in. Chuck Schumer tried to pass the resolution by unanimous consent, but Cruz objected, accusing Chuck Schumer of turning the bipartisan resolution into a “partisan resolution.” (CNN / Texas Tribune)
2/ Dr. Deborah Birx is reportedly so “distressed” with the direction of the coronavirus task force that she is not certain how much longer she will remain. Specifically, the White House task force coordinator recently confided to aides and friends that she believes that Dr. Scott Atlas, a recent addition to the task force, is giving Trump misleading information about the efficacy of face masks. Atlas does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology. (CNN)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~31,747,000; deaths: ~974,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~6,934,000; deaths: ~202,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
3/ The Trump administration shifted at least $7 billion from public health programs to Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership to speed up vaccine development. The administration pulled $6 billion from the Strategic National Stockpile’s $16.7 billion allocation meant to replenish stocks of medical protective gear, ventilators, and testing supplies. And, another $1 billion was pulled from the CDC and directed to Operation Warp Speed. In total, the Warp Speed program’s budget is as large as $18 billion – larger than the $10 billion budget the administration has routinely cited in public. (Bloomberg)
- Dr. Anthony Fauci said there’s “growing optimism” that one or more safe and effective vaccines will be found by the end of the year or early 2021. Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of CDC told members of a Senate committee that 700 million doses of a vaccine is “going to take us April, May, June, possibly July, to get the entire American public completely vaccinated.” In testimony before the Senate health committee, Fauci, Redfield, Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of food and drugs, and Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, each said they would take a vaccine and recommend their families do the same should the FDA deem it safe and effective. (CNBC / New York Times)
4/ The Department of Homeland Security has awarded more than $6 million in contracts since 2018 to the consulting firm where acting secretary Chad Wolf’s wife is an executive. Hope Wolf’s firm has received federal contracts in the past, but hadn’t done any work for DHS until after Chad became chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration in 2017, a DHS agency. (NBC News)
5/ The Department of Justice won’t allow any senior officials to testify before Congress in the next two weeks because of the way Democrats treated Attorney General William Barr previously. The DOJ accused Democrats of “scolding and insulting the Attorney General” during a July 28 hearing, as well as repeatedly interrupting him and refusing to let him answer questions. Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler, meanwhile, accused Barr of “trying to pick a fight” with the committee in order to “change the subject from the President’s disastrous handling of the pandemic, and set a new standard for sheer arrogance and open contempt of Congress.” He added: “We will plan accordingly.” (CNN)
6/ A New York state judge ordered Eric Trump to testify before the election as part of a fraud investigation into his family’s real estate business. Last week, Eric’s lawyers said he was willing to be interviewed, but only after the presidential election because he did not want his deposition to be used “for political purposes.” The judge, however, said New York Attorney General Letitia James is not “bound by timelines of the national election,” and that Eric must testify no later than Oct. 7. (Bloomberg / New York Times / CNBC)
7/ A former National Security Council official accused White House aides of falsely asserting that John Bolton’s book contained classified information in order to prevent its publication. In a letter filed in court, Ellen Knight suggested that the Justice Department told a court that the book, “The Room Where It Happened,” contained classified information and opened a criminal investigation into Bolton based on false pretenses. Knight said that after she determined in April that Bolton’s book contained no classified information, political appointees repeatedly asked her to sign a declaration to use against Bolton that made false assertions. She also said that after her refusal, she was reassigned from the White House. (New York Times)
8/ The House passed legislation to fund the government through Dec. 11 and avoid a government shutdown. Funding was set to expire in eight days. Republicans and the White House agreed to “increased accountability” over a $30 billion aid package for famers in exchange for nearly $8 billion in “desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)
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