👋 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 United States recorded more than 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day, exceeding the record set one week earlier. It’s the first time the U.S. recorded more than 3,000 deaths in a single day and it comes two weeks after Thanksgiving. The U.S. also reported 222,994 new coronavirus cases – another pandemic record. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~69,364,000; deaths: ~1,579,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~15,536,000; deaths: ~292,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
2/ CDC Director Robert Redfield directed staff to delete an email from a Trump political appointee attempting to meddle with the agency’s scientific report on the coronavirus’s risk to children. Paul Alexander – then the scientific adviser to Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo – sent an Aug. 8 email to Redfield demanding that the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports be changed to match Trump’s rhetoric downplaying the virus. Alexander also accused career scientists of trying to subvert Trump’s reelection bid. Redfield instructed staff to delete the email. HHS Secretary Alex Azar, meanwhile, said that instructing staff to delete documents is unethical and possibly a violation of federal record-keeping requirements. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times)
3/ An FDA advisory panel recommended the approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use in people over 16 years old. The FDA is expected to follow the recommendation and could grant emergency use authorization as early as Friday. Once authorized, vials of the vaccine will begin shipping to all 50 states, giving health care workers and nursing home residents first priority to begin receiving the first shots early next week. (CNBC / Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / USA Today / Washington Post / CNN)
4/ New unemployment claims rose to 853,000 last week – the highest level since September – and an increase of 137,000 from the week before. Continuing claims, meanwhile, jumped by 230,000 to 5.76 million – the first increase since August. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News)
5/ Mitch McConnell told House and Senate leadership that Senate Republicans would not support a $908 billion bipartisan coronavirus relief proposal. Senate Republicans have taken exception to the group’s proposal to combine $160 billion in state and local aid with a temporary liability shield for businesses. It’s unclear what kind of package both the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-held House could support. Senate, meanwhile, must pass a spending bill – and have Trump sign it – by Friday night to avert a government shutdown. (Politico / Washington Post / CNBC)
- More Americans have been forced to shoplift for food as aid runs out during the pandemic. About 12 million Americans will run out of unemployment benefits the day after Christmas and an estimated 54 million Americans will struggle with hunger this year – a 45% increase from 2019. (Washington Post)
6/ All 50 states and the District of Columbia certified their presidential results. The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson, however, announced that he would hold a hearing on election “irregularities” on Dec. 16 — two days after the electoral college casts its votes. Biden is projected to win 306 electoral votes, while Trump is projected to win 232. Chuck Schumer called on Republicans to drop plans for the “ridiculous” hearing, asking “When is this nonsense detrimental to our democracy going to end?” (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)
7/ More than two dozen states filed motions with the Supreme Court opposing Texas’ bid to invalidate Biden’s win in Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed the lawsuit Tuesday asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the ballots of millions of voters in the four battleground states despite no evidence of widespread fraud. Pennsylvania called the lawsuit a “seditious abuse of the judicial process,” and Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr called the lawsuit an “attack on Georgia’s sovereignty” that should be dismissed outright because it is “constitutionally, legally and factually wrong.” Trump, meanwhile, warned Carr not to rally other Republican officials against the Texas lawsuit in a 15-minute phone call. Earlier Wednesday, Trump asked the Supreme Court to let him join the Texas lawsuit challenging the election results and met with several state attorneys general that are backing the legal challenge at the White House. (NBC News / CNN / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
8/ Biden picked Susan Rice to lead the White House Domestic Policy Council, a position that does not require confirmation by the Senate. Rice served on the National Security Council during the Clinton administration and was ambassador to the United Nations and national security adviser under Obama. (NPR / Politico / Bloomberg)
- Biden will nominate Denis McDonough for secretary of Veterans Affairs. McDonough served as Obama’s chief of staff from 2013 until 2017. (Politico)
poll/ 60% of voters say Biden’s victory is legitimate compared to 34% who think his win is not legitimate. (Quinnipiac)
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