👋 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 White House ordered the FDA commissioner to grant emergency use authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of the day or resign. An FDA panel of outside advisers recommended that the agency grant emergency use authorization yesterday, and signoff was expected this weekend. Following White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’s call with Stephen Hahn, the FDA accelerated its timetable for approving America’s first vaccine from Saturday morning to later Friday, saying “it will rapidly work toward finalization and issuance of an emergency use authorization.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, meanwhile, said the Trump administration informed Pfizer that they “intend to proceed towards an authorization for their vaccine.” (Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Politico / The Guardian / CBS News / Axios)
😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”
Global: Total confirmed cases: ~70,059,000; deaths: ~1,591,000
U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~15,783,000; deaths: ~295,000
Source: Johns Hopkins University
2/ Trump called the FDA “a big, old, slow turtle” for not approving a COVID-19 vaccine faster, while pressuring Commissioner Stephen Hahn to “get the dam vaccines out NOW.” Trump added: “Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!” Hahn, however, has repeatedly said the agency will not approve a vaccine that has not been proven safe and effective. (New York Times / Washington Post)
- Devin Nunes tested positive for COVID-19. Test results for the California Republican’s cow, however, were unavailable. (Axios)
3/ The coronavirus will kill more people in the United States every day for the next 60 to 90 days than died on Sept. 11 or Pearl Harbor, CDC Director Robert Redfield said. Almost 3,000 Americans died on 9/11, and more than 2,400 were killed in Pearl Harbor. The U.S. – again – broke single-day COVID-19 records for reported deaths (3,110), cases (229,928), and hospitalizations (12,940), and is now averaging over 2,300 new coronavirus related deaths a day. (Washington Post / NBC News / ABC News)
4/ The attorneys general for Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia asked the Supreme Court to reject Republican efforts to overturn Biden’s victory. Pennsylvania called the last-ditch legal effort by Texas and Trump “seditious” and built on an “absurd” foundation, warning that “Texas invites this court to overthrow the votes of the American people and choose the next president of the United States. That Faustian invitation must be firmly rejected.” The New York Times reports that the lawsuit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and backed by 17 other states and 106 Republican members of Congress, “represents the most coordinated, politicized attempt to overturn the will of the voters in recent American history.” Trump – repeating his baseless claims of widespread fraud – demanded that the court “save our Country from the greatest Election abuse in the history of the United States.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / CBS News / BuzzFeed News / Axios)
5/ The FBI issued at least one federal subpoena for records from the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton amid whistleblower allegations. In early October, aides alleged that Paxton may have been committing crimes that include abuse of office and bribery. Paxton, who is leading the last-ditch effort to overturn election results in four battleground states lost by Trump, also faces a 5-year-old indictment on felony securities fraud charges. Paxton, however, said he has not discussed a presidential pardon with the White House, calling the suggestion “ridiculous.” (KVUE-ABC / The Hill / KXAN-NBC / KENS-CBS / Business Insider / Talking Points Memo)
6/ The Manhattan district attorney’s office interviewed employees at Trump’s lender and insurer as part of the investigation into the Trump Organization. Prosecutors interviewed employees at Deutsche Bank, which has loaned more than $300 million to the Trump Organization, and at Aon, an insurance broker, which has worked with the Trump Organization. Trump will lose his protection from criminal prosecution when he leaves office in January. (New York Times / CNN)
7/ Trump’s legal team is attempting to halt the defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, asking to stay the case while the Justice Department appeals an October decision that the Justice Department can’t represent Trump because he wasn’t acting in his official capacity as president when he denied raping Carroll. (ABC News)
8/ The Senate approved a $741 billion defense authorization bill despite multiple threats from Trump that he would veto the measure. Both the House and Senate, however, approved the legislation by veto-proof margins. (CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)
9/ Sen. Mike Lee blocked legislation to establish national museums dedicated to the histories of Latino Americans and American women, arguing the museums would “further divide an already divided nation with an array of segregated, separate-but-equal museums for hyphenated identity groups.” [Editor’s note: Mike Lee can be reached at 202-224-5444 in Washington, DC or at 801-524-5933 in Salt Lake City] (NPR / New York Times / Politico)
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