👋 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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1/ The U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day – marking the single-worst daily death toll since the pandemic began and surpassing the April 15 high of 2,752 deaths. The U.S. also recorded nearly 205,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a month after topping 100,000 cases for the first time – as hospitalizations from the virus reached 100,000 – also the highest reported during the pandemic and more than double the number since the beginning of November. In total, more than 14 million cases in the U.S. have been reported since the start of the pandemic. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~65,000,000; deaths: ~1,502,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~14,087,000; deaths: ~276,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
New claims for unemployment benefits fell to 714,000 last week – down from 836,000 in the prior week but well above pre-pandemic levels. Seasonally adjusted, the weekly initial claims were 712,000 and 787,000, respectively. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
Dr. Anthony Fauci will meet virtually with Biden’s transition team for the first time to discuss the coronavirus response. Fauci will also stay on at the National Institutes of Health. (CBS News / Axios / CNN)
Obama, Bush, and Clinton volunteered to get their COVID-19 vaccines on camera to promote public confidence in what a Trump spokeswoman called the “Trump Vaccine.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called it a “tremendous achievement” for the U.S. to have as many as 40 million vaccine doses ready by year’s end, crediting the accomplishment to “having a businessman as president.” (Bloomberg / CNN / NPR)
poll/ 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a coronavirus vaccine if it was available today – up from 51% in September. 21%, however, do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. The remaining 18% say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, but it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. (Pew Research Center)
2/ Trump released a 46-minute video rant denouncing the election as “rigged” while repeating his baseless allegations of voter fraud that – he claims – was “massive” and “on a scale never seen before.” Trump claimed – without evidence – that “corrupt forces” had stuffed ballot boxes and that the voting system was “under coordinated assault and siege,” arguing that it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost to Biden. Trump also called on the Supreme Court to “do what’s right for our country” and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters so that “I very easily win in all states.” Trump called his diatribe “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made” and again refused to concede defeat. The video was released a day after Attorney General William Barr said that despite inquiries by the Justice Department and the FBI, “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” (New York Times / Washington Post)
3/ Trump and Attorney General William Barr had a “contentious,” two and a half hour meeting at the White House after Barr disclosed that the Justice Department had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election results. When asked by reporters whether he had confidence in Barr, Trump replied: “Ask me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud […] He hasn’t done anything. He hasn’t looked” for voter fraud, “which is a disappointment, to be honest with you.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also refused to say whether Trump still has faith in Barr. One source briefed on the meeting described Barr’s interaction with the president as “intense,” and one senior administration official indicated there was a chance Barr could be fired. (ABC News / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / The Hill)
4/ The White House liaison to the Justice Department has been banned from the building after trying to pressure staffers to give up information about election fraud. Heidi Stirrup was installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison by chief of staff Mark Meadows in September. Stirrup has already been appointed as a member of the Board of Visitors to the Air Force Academy. (Associated Press / CNN)
5/ Ivanka Trump was deposed as part of suit from the Washington, D.C., attorney general over the costs of Trump’s 2017 inauguration. The Washington, DC, attorney general’s office is suing the Trump inaugural committee for “grossly overpaying” for event space at the Trump International Hotel. As a nonprofit, the committee must not allow “any portion of its funds to be spent in a way that are designed to benefit private persons or companies,” according to the lawsuit. The inaugural committee spent $1 million to rent event space at the Trump family’s hotel. (CNN /NPR / CBS News)
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