What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 1338: "You need a test."


1/ The Department of Health and Human Services rewrote the CDC guidance about who should be tested for the coronavirus last month and then “dropped” it on the CDC website despite staff scientists’ objections to the document. The guidance, which said it was not necessary to test people without symptoms of COVID-19 even if they had been exposed to the virus, was not written by CDC scientists and skipped the agency’s scientific review process. (New York Times)

2/ The CDC reversed its coronavirus testing guidance and now recommends that people get tested if they’ve been within six feet of a person “with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection” for at least 15 minutes. “You need a test,” reads the latest version of the document, noting that even if people do not have symptoms still need a test if they have been in close contact. The previous phrasing suggested asymptomatic people who have had close contact with an infected individual “do not necessarily need a test.” (Politico / CNN / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Trump – contradicting his administration’s own health officials – claimed there will be enough doses of coronavirus vaccine for every American by April. Earlier this week, however, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield testified that a COVID-19 vaccine won’t be widely available until late summer 2021. Trump, nevertheless, claimed that “Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April and again I’ll say even at that later stage, the delivery will go as fast as it comes.” Trump’s comments came two days after he said the U.S. would start distributing a coronavirus vaccine as early as October, and that Redfield had “made a mistake” and shared “incorrect information.” (Politico / CNBC / USA Today)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president. “A series of new revelations about the federal government’s coronavirus response could reinforce concerns about whether the Trump administration’s political motives were a higher priority than the health of Americans.” (CNN)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said he would “take the heat” for any potential problems associated with the rollout of a coronavirus vaccine. When asked whether he could “assure all of us that if the corners have been cut, if there is something sideways or wrong with the process, that you will tell us and take the heat” for that, Fauci replied, “The answer […] is yes.” Earlier this week, Fauci said he was confident there would be a “safe and effective vaccine” available by the end of 2020, despite Trump’s claims that a vaccine would be widely available before the November election. (MSNBC / Business Insider)

  • Trump once said the coronavirus might be a “good thing” because it means he no longer has to shake hands with “disgusting people,” according to a former top adviser to Mike Pence. In a new video for the group Republicans Voters Against Trump, Olivia Troye, who served on the White House coronavirus task force, says Trump made the comment during one of the task force meetings she attended. “Maybe this COVID thing is a good thing,” Trump said. “I don’t like shaking hands with people. I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people.” When asked about Troye’s claims, Trump said he has never met her and has no idea who she is. “She was on the task force as some kind of a lower-level person,” he told reporters. “I have no idea who she is.” (The Independent / Business Insider)

4/ United States lawyers at Julian Assange’s extradition trial accepted the claim that the WikiLeaks founder was offered a presidential pardon in return for information that would resolve the “ongoing speculation about Russian involvement” in the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails. Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said in a witness statement that she was present at a meeting at the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2017 between Assange, then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, and Trump associate Charles Johnson. At the meeting, the pair allegedly told Assange that they could help grant him a presidential pardon in exchange for information that would “benefit President Trump politically.” Rohrabacher and Johnson said Trump knew about the meeting and approved offering Assange what they described as a “win-win” proposal. Lawyers representing the U.S. accepted the witness statement as accurate and confirmed they had no intention of cross-examining the claim. (Daily Beast / Reuters / The Guardian / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1126: Trump offered to pardon Julian Assange if the WikiLeaks founder agreed to say Russia was not involved in hacking emails from the Democratic National Committee. Assange’s lawyer, Edward Fitzgerald, claimed at a court hearing in London that former Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered Assange the deal in 2017. Fitzgerald said he had a statement from another Assange lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, that shows “Mr. Rohrabacher going to see Mr. Assange and saying, on instructions from the president, he was offering a pardon or some other way out, if Mr. Assange … said Russia had nothing to do with the DNC leaks.” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham denied the allegation, saying Trump “barely knows Dana Rohrabacher” and has “never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject.” In Sept. 2017, Rohrabacher said that as part of the deal, Assange would have to hand over a computer drive or other data storage devices that would prove that Russia was not the source of the hacked emails. The White House confirmed that Rohrabacher had called John Kelly, then Trump’s chief of staff, to talk about a possible deal with Assange. Kelly reportedly declined to pass it along to Trump. (The Guardian / Daily Beast / Washington Post / Washington Post / The Verge / CNBC)

5/ The Trump administration announced $13 billion in aid to Puerto Rico to help with rebuilding in the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Maria. The funds come three years after the deadly storm and six weeks before the presidential election. Trump once reportedly considered “selling” or “divesting” Puerto Rico, and a former Homeland Security chief of staff said Trump asked officials whether the U.S. could trade Greenland for Puerto Rico. Trump also falsely accused Puerto Rico of using federal hurricane relief funds to pay off the island’s debt. (CNN / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

6/ The Trump administration will ban WeChat and TikTok from U.S. app stores starting Sunday night. Americans will be blocked from downloading the Chinese-owned apps due to concerns that they pose a threat to national security. Current users will not see any significant changes and officials from the U.S. Department of Commerce say they will not bar additional technical transactions for TikTok until Nov. 12. The order bars Apple’s app store, Alphabet’s Google Play, and others from offering the apps on any platform “that can be reached from within the United States.” The ban on new U.S. downloads could still be rescinded by Trump before it takes effect. (Reuters / CNBC / New York Times / NBC News)

poll/ Biden leads Trump among likely voters in Arizona by nine percentage points, by 17 percentage points in Maine, and by one point in North Carolina. In all three states, Democratic Senate candidates were leading Republican incumbents by five percentage points or more. (New York Times)

poll/ 54% of voters plan to vote before Election Day. In 2016, about 42% of voters did so. 39% of voters say they will vote by mail – above the 21% who say they normally do. (Associated Press)

Day 1337: "A steady drumbeat of misinformation."


1/ Another 860,000 people applied for unemployment insurance last week – the 26th-straight week that unemployment claims have remained above the 1960s pre-pandemic record. The total number of people claiming unemployment insurance went up by about 100,000 to 29.7 million as of Aug. 29. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Attorney General William Barr criticized his own Justice Department, equating them to preschoolers and “headhunters.” Barr insisted that he has the ultimate authority to intervene in investigations and to overrule career lawyers as he sees fit. “What exactly am I interfering with?” he asked at an event hosted by Hillsdale College. “Under the law, all prosecutorial power is invested in the attorney general.” In February, Barr overrode a sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, and in May he directed federal prosecutors to withdraw the government’s case against Michael Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Shortly before federal police officers cleared Lafayette Square with smoke and tear gas on June 1, federal and military officials stockpiled ammunition and tried to obtain a sound cannon and “heat ray” that could be deployed against demonstrators. Active Denial System technology was developed to disperse crowds in the early 2000s, but shelved over concerns, in part, of the safety and ethics of using it on human beings. D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam DeMarco told lawmakers that military officials were searching for crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones. DeMarco’s account also contradicts the administration’s claims that protesters were violent, that tear gas was never used, and that demonstrators were warned multiple times to disperse. DeMarco did, however, authorize the transfer of about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory. (NPR / Washington Post / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1230: As he spoke from the Rose Garden, police cleared peaceful protesters outside the White House with tear gas and flash grenades so Trump could pose by a church for photographs to dispel the notion that he was “weak” for hiding in a bunker over the weekend. Following his remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump left the White House and walked through Lafayette Square, where riot police and military police had cleared protesters moments before. Once Trump reached the far side of the square, he raised a bible in front of the church for a photo. Trump’s decision to speak to the nation from the Rose Garden and to then visit the church came together because he was reportedly upset about the news coverage of him retreating to the White House bunker amid the protests. Just before Trump spoke, Attorney General William Barr personally ordered law enforcement officials to clear protesters from Lafayette Square. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Vox / Washington Post / YouTube / Religious News Service)

4/ Trump blamed nationwide protests against police brutality on schools teaching students about the impact of slavery and racism on American history, calling it “toxic propaganda” and “left-wing indoctrination.” Trump – again – denounced the “1619 Project,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning public school curriculum developed by the New York Times that aims to reframe American history from when the first slave ship arrived, equating the curriculum as “radical” “toxic” “child abuse” that threatens “to impose a new segregation.” Earlier this month, Trump tweeted that the Department of Education would cut off federal funding to schools that adopted the 1619 curriculum. Trump also announced he would create a “1776 Commission” to promote a “pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history,” which he said would encourage educators to teach students about the “miracle of American history.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

5/ Attorney General William Barr argued that coronavirus-related lockdowns were the “greatest intrusion on civil liberties” in history “other than slavery,” which he characterized as a “different kind of restraint.” When asked to explain the “constitutional hurdles” involved in preventing churches from meeting during the pandemic, Barr called stay at home orders a form of “house arrest” before comparing it to slavery. Barr went on to accuse governors of “treat[ing] free citizens as babies” by using their executive powers to prevent people from going back to work, and suggested that the federal response to the pandemic should be guided by politicians and elected officials rather than “the person in the white coat.” (CNN / Politico)

6/ FBI Director Christopher Wray warned that “Russia continues to try to influence our elections” and is seeking to “primarily to denigrate” Biden’s campaign. Wray said Russia has not successfully hacked any election systems and that activity has been limited to social media misinformation and influence operations. Wray added that his biggest concern is the “steady drumbeat of misinformation” that could undermine confidence in the result of the 2020 election. Meanwhile, the Trump administration’s top intelligence official will brief congressional intelligence committees on threats to the November election. Last month, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said he would no longer give Congress in-person briefings about election security, citing concern over “unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

7/ A federal judge temporarily blocked U.S. Postal Service operational changes that have slowed mail delivery, saying that Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are “involved in a politically motivated attack on the efficiency of the Postal Service” that could disrupt the 2020 election. Judge Stanley Bastian granted a nationwide preliminary injunction sought by 14 states, saying mail delivery backlogs “likely will slow down delivery of ballots, both to the voters and back to the states” this fall. The states sued the Trump administration and the U.S. Postal Service, challenging the so-called “leave behind” policy, where trucks leave the facility on time, whether or not there is more mail to load. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • [April] U.S. Postal Service leaders planed to distribute 650 million masks nationwide before the White House nixed the plan. The Department of Health and Human Services had suggested that a pack of five reusable masks be sent to every residential address in the country. The draft news release was never sent and instead HHS created Project America Strong, a $675 million effort to distribute “reusable cotton face masks to critical infrastructure sectors, companies, healthcare facilities, and faith-based and community organizations across the country.” (Washington Post)

  • The White House offered to provide the Big Ten with enough COVID-19 tests for resume football. The Big Ten instead sourced the tests from a private company. (ABC News)

8/ Trump continued his lies about mail-in voting, tweeting that the results “may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED” because “big unsolicited ballot states” automatically send ballots to registered voters. There is no evidence that states that send mail-in ballots to registered voter have had issues with accuracy, and voter fraud, broadly speaking, has proved exceedingly rare. Twitter, meanwhile, labeled Trump’s tweet indicating that it included potentially misleading information regarding the process of mail-in voting. (New York Times / Associated Press / Reuters)

9/ Another woman accused Trump of sexual assault while at the U.S. Open tennis tournament in New York in 1997. Former model Amy Dorris alleged that Trump “shoved his tongue down my throat” and that “his grip became tighter and his hands were very gropey and all over my butt, my breasts, my back, everything.” Dorris provided evidence to support her account of her encounters with Trump, including her ticket to the U.S. Open and six photos showing her with Trump over several days in New York. Several people also corroborated her account. Dorris was 24 at the time, while Trump was 51 and married to his second wife, Marla Maples. Trump’s attorneys say Trump denies having ever harassed, abused or behaved improperly toward Dorris. (The Guardian / The Independent / NBC News)

10/ Trump’s businesses have charged the Secret Service more than $1.1 million in private transactions since he took office, including rentals at the Bedminster, N.J., club that was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. (Washington Post)

Day 1336: "Herd mentality."


1/ Trump – again – claimed that the coronavirus will “disappear” without a vaccine and that the U.S. would develop “herd mentality.” The correct term is “herd immunity,” which occurs when enough individuals develop immunity to prevent the spread of a disease. “With time it goes away,” Trump said during an ABC News town hall. “You’ll develop, you’ll develop herd — like a herd mentality. It’s going to be, it’s going to be herd-developed, and that’s going to happen. That will all happen.” Trump also denied that he downplayed the threat of the coronavirus, contradicting his recorded statements, before downplaying the pandemic even further, saying “in many ways, I up-played it in terms of action.” Trump also insisted that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” when it comes to the virus, even as the U.S. death toll approaches 200,000 people. (New York Times / CNN / The Hill / ABC News / The Guardian)

  • [Transcript] Trump’s ABC News town hall.

  • Dept. of Trump’s ABC News Town Hall A collection of opinion and analysis from Trump’s Tuesday night town hall.

  • ‘Just A Firehose Of Lying’: Trump’s Town Hall Widely Roasted As A Train Wreck. “President Donald Trump ventured from the safe space of Fox News to a considerably more challenging town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Tuesday night.” (Talking Points Memo)

  • ‘He was lying through his teeth.’ “Voters stood up and spoke the truth to President Trump on Tuesday night. And Trump had a very hard time coming out of his Fox bubble to face real questions.” (CNN)

  • Trump’s town hall didn’t go well. (CNN)

  • Trump’s ABC town hall revealed a president disconnected from reality. “He faced tough questions from voters — and had few answers.” (Vox)

  • Trump faces great peril outside Fox News bubble. “President Trump deigned to take hard questions at a town hall on Tuesday night, and the verdict of his propagandists is in: Trump was treated with hideous unfairness even as he managed to convert the spectacle into a triumph through sheer force of his forthrightness and deep benevolence.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump squirms in TV spotlight as voters pin him down on Covid, health and race. “The president stepped outside his Fox News bubble on Tuesday night – and endured a barrage of criticism he couldn’t bat back.” (The Guardian)

  • Trump, in Philadelphia, Says He ‘Up-Played’ the Virus, Then Downplays It. “President Trump presented a view of the pandemic radically at odds with the view of public health officials, insisting again that the virus would disappear on its own.” (New York Times)

  • Trump made at least 22 false or misleading claims at ABC town hall. (CNN)

2/ CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield testified that a COVID-19 vaccine won’t be widely available until late spring or summer 2021 and that Americans will not return “our regular life” until then. Redfield said that wearing a mask remains “the most important, powerful public health tool we have,” adding that a “face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.” Trump, nevertheless, insisted that the U.S. could start distributing a coronavirus vaccine “some time in October” – a much more optimistic estimate than his own health officials – and that Redfield “made a mistake” and shared “incorrect information,” asserting that “The mask is not as important as the vaccine.” Trump added: “The mask, perhaps, helps.” Biden, meanwhile, said: “I trust vaccines. I trust the scientists. But I don’t trust Donald Trump. At this point, the American people can’t either.” (NPR / CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / New York Times /Bloomberg / The Guardian / CNBC)

3/ Trump criticized Biden for not implementing a national mask mandate, even though Biden is not the president and has no authority to do so. Trump’s comments were in reference to a policy promise Biden made as part of his plan to combat the pandemic if he is elected president. Trump added that “A lot of people don’t want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good.” (Washington Post / ABC News / USA Today / The Guardian / Business Insider)

4/ Trump urged congressional Republicans to support a new coronavirus economic relief bill with “much higher numbers” and stimulus payments for Americans. In May, House Democrats passed a $3.5 trillion bill and have said they would settle for a $2.2 trillion package. Senate Republicans, however, have tried to advance a $300 billion bill, without stimulus checks. Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin both said Trump could support a $1.5 trillion deal. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

5/ A whistleblower complaint accused an ICE detention center of performing unnecessary hysterectomies on immigrant women and failed to follow procedures meant to keep both detainees and employees safe from the coronavirus, which facilitated the spread of COVID-19. The complaint by a nurse who previously worked at an ICE facility in Georgia said detained women told her they did not understand why they had to get a hysterectomy. Nancy Pelosi called on the Department of Homeland Security to “immediately investigate” the allegations of “high rates of hysterectomies done to immigrant women.” In a statement, Pelosi said Americans “need to know why and under what conditions so many women, reportedly without their informed consent, were pushed to undergo this extremely invasive and life-altering procedure.” The complaint also alleges “jarring medical neglect” at the ICE facility for its refusal to test detainees who had been exposed to the coronavirus or those who showed symptoms of COVID-19. (NPR / BBC / Washington Post / The Hill / Forbes / Vice News / CNN / Vox)

6/ Attorney General William Barr encouraged federal prosecutors to consider charging violent protesters with sedition. To bring a sedition case, prosecutors would have to prove that demonstrators conspired to attack or overthrow the government. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ Michael Caputo will take a 60-day leave of absence from the Department of Health and Human Services after accusing government scientists of “sedition” and calling on the Trump’s supporters to arm themselves ahead of the election. HHS said in a statement that Caputo would be on leave to “focus on his health and the well-being of his family.” The health department’s assistant secretary for public affairs had claimed in a Facebook Live video that scientists at the CDC “don’t want America to get well” and that the “shooting will begin” after the presidential election. Paul Alexander, who was at the center of efforts to muzzle the department’s career scientists, will also be leaving the department. (Politico / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News)

8/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s operational changes delayed nearly 350 million pieces – about 7% – of first-class mail during the five weeks they were in effect. Before the changes, the Postal Service delivered more than 90% of first-class mail on time, but deliver rates dropped to about 83% following the changes. Additionally, delivery rates fell 20.4 percentage points in northern Ohio, 19.1 percentage points in Detroit, and 17.9 percentage points in central Pennsylvania – all regions that could decide the November election. The Postal Service, meanwhile, sent postcards urging voters to “plan ahead” if they intended to vote by mail. (Washington Post / New York Times)

9/ The Big Ten Conference will play football this fall after Trump had a “productive conversation” with the league’s commissioner. Trump also personally spoke with several unnamed Big Ten coaches, athletic directors, and parents. Several Big Ten schools are located in swing states, including Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. The conference postponed its fall sports season on Aug. 11 because of health concerns. Eight days later, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren issued a statement that the decision “will not be revisited.” One Big Ten president said Trump “had nothing to do with our decision and did not impact the deliberations. In fact, when his name came up, it was a negative because no one wanted this to be political.” Trump, meanwhile, tweeted “It is my great honor to have helped!!!” (Yahoo News / ESPN / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

poll/ 42% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – essentially unchanged since July. (Gallup)

Day 1335: "Forthcoming."


1/ The Justice Department opened a criminal investigation and issued grand jury subpoenas to John Bolton’s publisher and literary agent. The department convened a grand jury after failing to stop publication of “The Room Where It Happened” this summer to investigate whether Bolton unlawfully disclosed classified information. The subpoenas, to Simon & Schuster and Javelin, requested all communications with Trump’s former national security adviser. Bolton, however, didn’t receive a subpoena. In the book, which was released in June, Bolton painted a picture of an out-of-control president consumed by his own re-election. Trump, meanwhile, has tweeted that he wants Bolton prosecuted, claiming he “broke the law” and “should be in jail, money seized, for disseminating, for profit, highly Classified information.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Axios)

2/ A federal judge ruled that Chad Wolf is likely unlawfully serving as acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Judge Paula Xinis also temporarily barred the Trump administration from enforcing Wolf’s new asylum restrictions on members of two immigration advocacy groups. Judge Xinis said former acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin MacAleenan’s appointment was “invalid under the agency’s applicable order of succession, and so he lacked the authority to amend the order of succession to ensure Wolf’s installation as Acting Secretary.” He added that “by extension, because Wolf filled the role of Acting Secretary without authority, he promulgated the challenged rules also ‘in excess of […] authority,’ and not ‘in accordance with the law.’” (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1303: Trump’s top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security are illegally serving in their positions, according to a Government Accountability Office report. The independent watchdog agency reported to Congress that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and his deputy Kenneth Cuccinelli are serving under an invalid order of succession under the Vacancies Reform Act. After the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April 2019, Kevin McAleenan took over and altered the order of succession for other officials to succeed him after his departure. GAO has referred the matter to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security for further review and potential action. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

3/ The White House trade adviser refused to testify to Congress about a canceled ventilator contract that would have wasted $504 million. Peter Navarro was called to testify before the House Oversight subcommittee on economic and consumer policy on Wednesday, but the hearing has been canceled after the White House declined to make Navarro available for testimony. (NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1322: The Trump administration backed out of a $646.7 million deal to buy ventilators after a congressional investigation found “evidence of fraud, waste and abuse” in the acquisition, which negotiated by White House trade advisor Peter Navarro. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy has since opened a probe of all federal contracts negotiated by Navarro. (ProPublica / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • The Department of Homeland Security will not make officials available for a House Intelligence Committee investigation into the department’s response to protests in Portland. (Washington Post)

4/ The Trump administration’s top health spokesperson apologized to staffers for accusing career federal scientists of “sedition” and working to undermine Trump. Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary of health for public affairs, and top adviser Paul Alexander also repeatedly tried to revise, delay, or scuttle key CDC scientific bulletins to paint the administration’s pandemic response in a more positive light. Caputo, who is reportedly considering a leave of absence to address physical health problems, said he regretted having embarrassed HHS Secretary Alex Azar and the Health and Human Services department. Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, called on Azar to resign following reports that Caputo and Alexander interfered in the weekly scientific reports from the CDC. Schumer said that the department has “become subservient to the president’s daily whims” and that Azar has been “almost entirely silent about the chaos and mismanagement in his own agency.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1334: Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly demanded that the CDC revise or delay weekly scientific reports on the coronavirus pandemic that they believed were unflattering to Trump. Officials characterized the effort by Michael Caputo and Paul Alexander as an attempt to intimidate the authors and water down the reports, which are written to update scientists and public health experts on trends in infectious diseases, including the coronavirus. In one email to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials, Alexander accused CDC scientists of trying to “hurt the president” with the reports, which he referred to as “hit pieces on the administration” because they didn’t align with Trump’s optimistic message about the outbreak. (Politico / New York Times)

5/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will stay in session until lawmakers and the White House agree on another coronavirus stimulus package. The House is scheduled to adjourn on Oct. 2 until after the election. “We are committed to staying here until we have an agreement,” Pelosi said. “We are optimistic that the White House at least will understand that we have to do something.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

6/ Jared Kushner claimed that the tapes of Trump privately admitting to downplaying the threat of the coronavirus in March are an example of him being “very forthcoming with the American people” about the dangers of COVID-19. Journalist Bob Woodward, however, said Monday that Trump “possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives” in January, but didn’t share the information in his State of the Union address, which 40 million people watched. [Editor’s note: Jared Kushner is a dipshit.](TODAY / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1329: Trump privately admitted weeks before the first confirmed U.S. COVID-19 death that he knew the coronavirus “is deadly stuff […] more deadly” than the flu, but he “wanted to always play it down” because “I don’t want to create a panic.” In a series of recorded interviews with journalist Bob Woodward in early February and March, Trump acknowledged the “deadly” nature of the coronavirus, saying it’s “pretty amazing” that “you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” while publicly insisting that the virus was “going to disappear” and that “everything is working out.” More than 189,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. In total, Woodward conducted 18 on-the-record interviews with Trump between last December and July for his new book, “Rage.” Biden, meanwhile, slammed Trump, saying “he knew how deadly it was,” “purposely played it down,” and “knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.” (Washington Post / CNN / NPR / NBC News / Politico / Politico / New York Times / New York Times / Axios)

7/ The company that hosted Trump’s indoor rally in Nevada was fined $3,000 for violating the state’s restrictions on large gatherings. Sunday’s rally was held at a facility owned by Xtreme Manufacturing in Henderson, Nevada, where thousands of Trump supporters — most of whom were not wearing masks — gathered to hear Trump speak. A senior public information officer for the city of Henderson said a compliance officer “observed six violations of the directives and the City’s Business Operations Division has issued a Business License Notice of Violation to Xtreme Manufacturing and assessed a penalty of $3,000.” The company has a month to respond to the notice and either dispute or pay the penalty. (CNN)

  • A Trump campaign ad calls on people people to “support our troops,” but uses stock photos of Russian-made fighter jets and Russian models dressed as soldiers. (Politico)

8/ Pro-Trump teenagers are being paid by a conservative nonprofit to cast doubt about the integrity of the election and play down the threat from COVID-19 on on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. The messages were posted at the direction of Turning Point Action, an affiliate of Turning Point USA, and meant to evade rules put in place following the 2016 presidential campaign by social media companies to limit disinformation. In response to questions, Twitter suspended at least 20 accounts involved in the activity for “platform manipulation and spam.” Facebook, meanwhile, removed a number of accounts as part of an ongoing investigation. (Washington Post)

9/ The Trump administration issued a broad new travel advisory warning against travel to China and Hong Kong, citing a risk of “arbitrary detention” and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” in order to compel cooperation with investigations, pressure family members to return to China from abroad, influence civil disputes, and “gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.” It also warns that U.S. travelers may be “subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process,” and that those traveling to or visiting China may be detained “without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime.” A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry criticized the advisory and said the U.S. should “fully respect the facts and should not engage in unwarranted political manipulation” when issuing such advisories. (Associated Press / The Hill)

  • The World Trade Organization ruled that tariffs imposed in 2018 by the U.S. on Chinese goods violated international trading rules. Since March 2018, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on $400 billion in Chinese exports. (CNBC / Bloomberg)

poll/ 71% of Americans believe they have more in common with one another than many people think, including 74% of Democrats, 78% of Republicans and 66% of Independents. (Politico)

poll/ Favorability toward the U.S. in the UK, Canada, France, Japan, and Australia is the lowest it has been in at least two decades. Of the 13 nations surveyed, 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the outbreak. (Pew Research Center / CNN)

Day 1334: "Reckless and selfish."


1/ Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services repeatedly demanded that the CDC revise or delay weekly scientific reports on the coronavirus pandemic that they believed were unflattering to Trump. Officials characterized the effort by Michael Caputo and Paul Alexander as an attempt to intimidate the authors and water down the reports, which are written to update scientists and public health experts on trends in infectious diseases, including the coronavirus. In one email to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials, Alexander accused CDC scientists of trying to “hurt the president” with the reports, which he referred to as “hit pieces on the administration” because they didn’t align with Trump’s optimistic message about the outbreak. (Politico / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1329: A top aide at the Department of Health and Human Services is trying to prevent Dr. Anthony Fauci from speaking about the risks that coronavirus poses to children. Emails show Paul Alexander — a senior adviser to Michael Caputo, HHS’s assistant secretary for public affairs — attempting to dictate what the government’s top infectious disease expert should say during media interviews as recently as this week. Alexander specifically told Fauci’s press team that he should not promote mask-wearing by children. Fauci, however, said he had not seen the emails and that his staff had not instructed him to minimize the risk coronavirus poses to children or the need for kids to wear masks, saying “No one tells me what I can say and cannot say. I speak on scientific evidence.” (Politico)

  • House Democrats launched an investigation into how Trump appointees have pressured the CDC to change or delay scientific reports on coronavirus. (Politico)

  • [August] Trump demanded that the National Institutes of Health authorize the emergency use of plasma from recovered coronavirus patients to treat new ones. At the time, NIH had lingering concerns over its effectiveness. Four days later, however, the FDA approved plasma therapy. (New York Times)

2/ The top communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services baselessly accused career government scientists of forming a “resistance unit” for “sedition” against Trump. In a Facebook livestream, Michael Caputo claimed that “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.” Caputo also encouraged his followers to buy ammunition, predicting that Trump would win the 2020 election and that Biden would refuse to concede. “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. “The drills that you’ve seen are nothing. If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.” The assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS also complained during the livestream that his “mental health has definitely failed.” Caputo later deleted his Twitter account after he suggested tear-gassing reporters. (New York Times / Axios / Bloomberg / The Hill / Talking Points Memo)

3/ In August, Trump told Bob Woodward “nothing more could have been done” about the coronavirus as the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 was surging. Woodward said Trump “possessed the specific knowledge that could have saved lives” in January, and that he was present “before the virus was on anyone’s radar” when National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told Trump on Jan. 28, that “This virus will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency.” Trump, however, declined to share that information during his State of the Union address on Feb. 4, which 40 million people watched. Trump also privately told Woodward in February that he knew how deadly the virus was and in March he admitted that he was intentionally playing it down. (CBS News / CNN / NBC News / Axios)

4/ Trump held an indoor campaign rally in Nevada, in defiance of state regulations and his own administration’s pandemic health guidelines. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak accused Trump of “reckless and selfish actions” and called the rally “an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves.” During the event, Trump told the crowd that the U.S. was “making the last turn” when it comes to defeating the coronavirus. While masks were encouraged at the event, few people wore them. Later, Trump said he was not afraid of catching the coronavirus at his rallies, because “I’m on stage and it’s very far away.” (Associated Press / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • Coronavirus cases are increasing in 11 states by 5% or more, based on weekly averages. Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming are all seeing rising case counts. While cases in those 11 states are increasing, the overall daily average of new cases in the U.S. is declining. Over the past seven days, the country has reported an average of about 34,300 new cases per day, down more than 15% compared to a week ago. (CNBC)

  • Pence canceled plans to attend a fundraiser hosted by QAnon conspiracy theory supporters. Trump’s re-election campaign did not provide a reason or say whether the fundraiser might be held at a later time. (NBC News)

  • Trump’s ambassador to China will resign ahead of November’s presidential election. Pompeo announced on Twitter that Terry Branstad would be leaving the post after three years, but didn’t provide a reason for the departure. (NBC News)

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo relaunched his extravagant, taxpayer-funded “Madison Dinners” during the coronavirus pandemic. The dinners had been on pause since March because of the coronavirus, but they’re back, with a dinner scheduled for Monday and at least three others on the calendar in September and October. (NBC News / Kansas City Star)

5/ A federal judge temporarily blocked the U.S. Postal Service from sending a notice about the November elections to Colorado residents because the mailer “provides patently false information” about the state’s election policies. U.S. District Judge William Martinez granted an emergency request from Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold to halt the mailings because the pre-election mailers incorrectly advise voters to request a ballot at least 15 days before Election Day and to return the official ballot at least seven days before. The state already automatically mails ballots to voters. The judge said he was “deeply troubled” by the “false or misleading information” in the notices. USPS, however, asked the judge to reconsider the ruling, claiming the notices were accurate because they direct voters to check state rules. (CNN / Washington Post / Denver Post / Bloomberg)

  • Louis DeJoy gave Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee more than $600,000 after the U.S. Postmaster General job became available. DeJoy now holds the position. (Bloomberg)

  • Trump – again – suggested that North Carolinians illegally vote twice. Twitter labeled the tweet with a public interest notice because it violated the social media platform’s “Civic Integrity Policy.” (ABC News)

6/ Trump claimed – without evidence – that climate change has nothing to do with the wildfires in California, Oregon, and Washington. Trump also suggested that the record-breaking temperatures in California would cool down on their own after California’s secretary for natural resources urged him to not “put our head in the sand” and ignore climate change. Trump replied: “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch.” Trump, with a laugh, added: “I don’t think science knows, actually.” Trump largely blamed the wildfires on poor forest management practices and claimed that an unnamed European leader told him his country has “‘trees that are far more explosive than they have in California, and we don’t have any problem.’” (CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  • NOAA hired a longtime climate science denier as deputy assistant secretary of commerce for observation and prediction. David Legates will reports to Neil Jacobs, the acting head of the agency that is in charge of the federal government’s sprawling weather and climate prediction work. (NPR)

7/ The Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General is investigating the circumstances of Roger Stone’s sentencing recommendations. The investigation is focused on events in February, when Trump’s Justice Department overruled its own prosecutors and reduced Stone’s sentencing recommendation. All four prosecutors quit the case as a result. (NBC News)

8/ Trump claimed that he received “the highly honored Bay of Pigs award,” which doesn’t exist. The Bay of Pigs was a failed attempt by the CIA and Cuban exiles to instigate the overthrow of Fidel Castro. In a tweet attacking Biden, Trump said Biden “spent 47 years in politics being terrible to Hispanics” and is now “relying on Castro lover Bernie Sanders to help him out.” He added: “Remember, Miami Cubans gave me the highly honored Bay of Pigs Award for all I have done for our great Cuban Population!” Trump did receive an endorsement in 2016 from the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association, but that is not an award. (The Guardian / The Independent)

Day 1331: "Corrupt and politically motivated favor."


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)

Day 1330: "Phraseology."


1/ Russia, China, and Iran have all recently attempted to hack people and organizations involved in the 2020 presidential election. An investigation by Microsoft’s cybersecurity experts concluded that it’s the same Russian military unit that oversaw the “hack and leak” campaign of Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential election. The report said the Russian group had targeted more than 200 organizations that “are directly or indirectly affiliated with the upcoming U.S. election.” Chinese hackers targeted Biden’s campaign and at least one person formerly associated with the Trump administration, while Iranian hackers tried to log into the accounts of Trump administration officials and Trump campaign staff. The findings come a day after a whistleblower claimed that the White House and the Department of Homeland Security had tried to “censor or manipulate” intelligence on Russia’s interference because it “made the president look bad,” and instructed government analysts to focus on interference by China and Iran. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

  • The U.S. Treasury sanctioned a member of the Ukrainian Parliament for alleged efforts to interfere in the U.S. presidential election, accusing him of being “an active Russian agent” involved in Moscow’s “covert influence campaign” to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. Andrii Derkach, who met with Rudy Giuliani in December, had promoted “false and unsubstantiated” allegations about Biden “from at least late 2019 through mid-2020.” Derkach had also worked with Giuliani to dig up information on Biden, and his son Hunter. Three other Russian nationals who also sanctioned – Artem Lifshits, Anton Andreyev and Darya Aslanova – for their work at the Russian troll factory known as the Internet Research Agency. (Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / BuzzFeed News / CNBC / Axios)

2/ Russian hackers targeted one of Biden’s election campaign advisory firms. Microsoft recently alerted the campaign that over the past two months, the hackers targeted staff at the Washington-based campaign strategy and communications firm, SKDKnickerbocker, which has been working with Biden and other Democrats. The hackers failed to gain access to the firm’s networks. Meanwhile, a Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the allegations as “nonsense.” It is unclear whether Biden’s campaign was the target or whether the hackers were attempting to gain access to information about other SKDK clients. (Reuters)

3/ Senate Republicans failed to advance their coronavirus stimulus bill – four months after House Democrats passed their $3 trillion plan. The $300 billion package would have reinstated enhanced federal unemployment insurance at $300 per week through Dec. 27 – half of the $600 weekly payment that expired at the end of July – established legal protections for businesses and health providers, added funding for testing and vaccines, and provided money for schools and child care. Democrats called the package inadequate and refused to accept any proposal less than $2.2 trillion, arguing that it did little to address the economic devastation of the pandemic. The package fell short of the 60 votes needed to move toward passage with all Democrats and one Republican opposed, leaving no clear path forward for economic relief before the November elections. (CNN / Washington Post / ABC News / CNBC / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • COVID-19 has claimed over 900,000 live globally, with the United States accounting for more than a fifth of the fatalities. (NBC News)

  • The algorithm used by the Department of Health and Human Services to allocate pandemic relief money to hospitals discriminates against predominantly Black communities. (Bloomberg)

  • People who tested positive for COVID-19 were more than twice as likely to report eating or drinking at a bar or restaurant in the past two weeks. (NBC News)

4/ Unemployment claims remained unchanged at 884,000 people last week. Continuing claims, meanwhile, increased to 13.385 million. Overall about 29.6 million people are receiving some form of assistance from state and federal programs. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, has fallen to 8.4%. [Editor’s note: The Labor Department changed how it seasonally adjusts and reports the numbers, so the past two weeks’ totals are not directly comparable to reports from earlier in the pandemic.] (Bloomberg / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

5/ The Justice Department charged 57 people with stealing more than $175 million from the Paycheck Protection Program meant to help small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Federal law enforcement authorities have reportedly identified nearly 500 individuals suspected of committing coronavirus-related loan fraud and have opened “several hundred” investigations. (CNBC / Politico / New York Times)

  • Congressional Democrats accused a top Trump administration health official of “extensive abuse” of millions in taxpayer dollars to boost her “personal brand.” The leaders from four congressional committees are calling on Seema Verma to “personally reimburse the taxpayers for these inappropriate expenditures.” (Politico / CNBC)

6/ Trump bragged that he protected Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from Congress after ordering the assassination of the American journalist Jamal Khashoggi. “Yeah, but Iran is killing 36 people a day, so —” Trump told Bob Woodward for his upcoming book, “Rage,” before Woodward redirected the conversation. “I saved his ass,” Trump reportedly said. “I was able to get Congress to leave him alone. I was able to get them to stop.” The CIA concluded that Prince Mohammed had personally ordered Khashoggi’s murder. Trump has used executive power to veto a bipartisan bill to end U.S. support for the Saudis in Yemen, as well as bypass congressional efforts to block an $8 billion arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (Business Insider)

7/ Trump called a reporter a “disgrace” after asking why the president lied to Americans about the severity of COVID-19. ABC News correspondent Jon Karl – referring to audio recordings from February of Trump saying COVID-19 was “deadly” while he was publicly minimizing the threat of the coronavirus – asked Trump during a news conference: “Why did you lie to the American people, and why should we trust what you have to say now?” Trump didn’t answer the question, but instead replied: “That’s a terrible question and the phraseology. I didn’t lie. What I said is we have to be calm. We can’t be panicked.” Trump insisted that he was a leader and it was his duty to have “confidence in our country” and not “instill panic” by “jump[ing] up and down and start shouting that we have a problem that is a tremendous problem.” But as one Trump campaign adviser said: “Hard to say fake news when there is audio of his comments.” (Politico / The Hill / New York Times / CNN / Axios)

  • 📚 The WTF Just Happened Today? Book List

  • [Woodward Book] Trump said he does not believe he has a responsibility to understand the “anger and pain” felt by Black Americans because of his privileged upbringing. (NBC News)

  • [Woodward Book] Trump claimed that North Korea’s Kim Jong Un told him how he had his own uncle killed, bragging that Kim “tells me everything.” (ABC News)

poll/ 46% of American households report facing serious financial pain during the coronavirus pandemic. 54% of those with household incomes under $100,000 reported serious financial problems, compared to 20% of households with incomes greater than $100,000. 35% say they have used up all or most of their savings, and 28% report serious problems paying off debt. (NPR)

poll/ 51% of voters in six 2020 swing states said Trump is mentally unfit to be president, while 49% said he is fit to hold the job. Similarly, 52% to 48%, also responded that Biden is mentally unfit to be president. (CNBC)

poll/ 61% of voters would prefer to vote before Election Day, compared to 39% who would prefer to vote on Election Day. 46% of voters said they are uncomfortable going to a polling place. (Washington Post)


⚡️ Notables.

  1. Trump unveiled a revised list of 20 potential Supreme Court justices that includes Sens. Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz. Trump’s top aides and advisors have encouraged him for months to release an updated list of justices ahead of Election Day as a way to remind his base what’s at stake on November 3. Cotton said he was “honored” to be selected for the list and that he believes “the Supreme Court could use some more justices who understand the difference between applying the law and making the law.” Cruz said in a statement that he is “grateful for the president’s confidence in me and for his leadership in nominating principled constitutionalists to the federal bench.” The list’s release was originally slated to take place prior to the Republican National Convention. (Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  2. A federal judge rejected Trump’s bid to dismiss a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s inaugural committee and the Trump Organization misused nonprofit funds to enrich Trump’s businesses. The suit was brought by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine in January and claims that Trump’s inaugural committee was aware that it was being overcharged for services at Trump’s D.C. hotel in 2017 and still spent over $1 million at the hotel. Some of the money was spent on a private party for Trump’s three older children. Part of the inaugural committee’s argument is that Racine’s office failed to show a violation of the Nonprofit Act and that the committee is not “continuing to act” in violation of the law. D.C. Superior Court Judge José López rejected that argument and allowed the suit to move forward. (NBC News)

  3. Trump’s reelection campaign asked a federal judge in Las Vegas to block a Nevada law and prevent mail-in ballots from being sent to all active voters in the state. Lawyers for the campaign argues that sending ballots to nearly 1.7 million active voters will hurt Republicans and “‘confuse’ their voters and ‘create incentive’ to stay away from the polls.” The campaign also argued that it forces Republicans to divert resources to “educating Nevada voters on those changes and encouraging them to still vote.” (ABC News)

Day 1329: "This is deadly stuff."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~27,629,000; deaths: ~899,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~6,335,000; deaths: ~190,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post

  • 🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


1/ Top Trump appointees at the Department of Homeland Security repeatedly tried to “censor or manipulate” reports on Russia’s interference in the U.S. elections because it “made the President look bad.” According to a whistleblower report filed by former senior DHS official Brian Murphy and released by the House Intelligence Committee, Murphy said that on at least two occasions Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf “instructed” him that an “intelligence notification” about Russian disinformation efforts should be “held” and that he should “instead start reporting on interference activities by China and Iran.” Murphy also said that Acting Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Ken Cuccinelli directed senior career officials at DHS to change intelligence assessments to make the threat of white supremacy “appear less severe” and include information on “left-wing” groups. Murphy was removed from his position at DHS and assigned to a management role in July. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Politico)

2/ Trump privately admitted weeks before the first confirmed U.S. COVID-19 death that he knew the coronavirus “is deadly stuff […] more deadly” than the flu, but he “wanted to always play it down” because “I don’t want to create a panic.” In a series of recorded interviews with journalist Bob Woodward in early February and March, Trump acknowledged the “deadly” nature of the coronavirus, saying it’s “pretty amazing” that “you just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” while publicly insisting that the virus was “going to disappear” and that “everything is working out.” More than 189,000 Americans have died of COVID-19. In total, Woodward conducted 18 on-the-record interviews with Trump between last December and July for his new book, “Rage.” Biden, meanwhile, slammed Trump, saying “he knew how deadly it was,” “purposely played it down,” and “knowingly and willingly lied about the threat it posed to the country for months.” (Washington Post / CNN / NPR / NBC News / Politico / Politico / New York Times / New York Times / Axios)

3/ Dr. Anthony Fauci said it’s “unlikely” a coronavirus vaccine will be ready before the November election but that a vaccine by “the end of the year” is more likely. Trump, however, claimed that a vaccine could be ready by Election Day, telling reporters “maybe even before November 1st. We think we can probably have it some time during the month of October.” Despite Trump’s pressure on health officials to speed up the vaccine timeline, nine drug companies pledged not to seek regulatory approval before the safety and efficacy of their experimental coronavirus vaccines have been established in Phase 3 clinical trials. The FDA also previously said it would authorize a coronavirus vaccine so long as it is safe and at least 50% effective, but commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn recently said the agency is prepared to bypass the full federal approval process in order to make a vaccine available as soon as possible. Trump, however, claimed that the “results that are shockingly good,” despite results from the trials, which typically take years to complete, not expected until October. Results will also be reviewed by the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, an independent group of medical experts who observe patient safety and treatment data. Meanwhile, clinical trials for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford has been put on hold due to “potentially unexplained illness.” (CNBC / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Washington Post / STAT / NBC News / USA Today)

  • The U.S. Agency for International Development will shut down its coronavirus task force. (Politico)

  • The White House ordered airports to end COVID-19 screening of passengers on inbound international flights. (Yahoo News)

  • More police officers have died from COVID-19 this year than have been killed on patrol. At least 101 officers have died from Covid-19, while at least 82 have died by other means. (CNN)

4/ A top aide at the Department of Health and Human Services is trying to prevent Dr. Anthony Fauci from speaking about the risks that coronavirus poses to children. Emails show Paul Alexander — a senior adviser to Michael Caputo, HHS’s assistant secretary for public affairs — attempting to dictate what the government’s top infectious disease expert should say during media interviews as recently as this week. Alexander specifically told Fauci’s press team that he should not promote mask-wearing by children. Fauci, however, said he had not seen the emails and that his staff had not instructed him to minimize the risk coronavirus poses to children or the need for kids to wear masks, saying “No one tells me what I can say and cannot say. I speak on scientific evidence.” (Politico)

5/ Trump claimed that he’s “taking the high road” by not meeting with top Democrats to discuss the next coronavirus relief package. House Democrats and the White House have made no progress on a potential deal as tens of millions of Americans remain on unemployment and the U.S. death toll approaches 190,000. “I don’t need to meet with them to be turned down,” Trump told reporters. “They don’t want to make a deal because they think if the country does as badly as possible […] that’s good for the Democrats.” He added: “I am taking the high road. I’m taking the high road by not seeing them.” The Senate, meanwhile, returned from its August recess with no indication of progress on a relief package, making a bipartisan compromise before the election unlikely. (Axios / Politico)

6/ The Justice Department will represent Trump in a defamation suit brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. The DOJ – an independent federal law enforcement agency – argued that the Justice Department can replace Trump’s private legal team with government lawyers – who are funded by taxpayer money – because Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied ever knowing Carroll. For now, the case will move from the state court in New York to the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Last month, a New York judge ruled that the lawsuit could proceed, potentially opening the door to Trump being deposed. Carroll is also seeking a DNA sample to compare to a dress she claims she was wearing at the time of the alleged attack. Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, defended the Justice Department’s involvement in the lawsuit, saying it is “not particularly unusual” for the DOJ to step in when an elected government official is sued civilly in court. (New York Times / CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1019: E. Jean Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, saying he lied when he denied her claims that he had raped her in the dressing room of an upscale department store in the 1990s. After the writer and advice columnist came forward with the allegation in June, Trump denied raping Carroll, said he had “never met that person in my life,” and accused her of “totally lying” because she was “not my type.” (New York Times / Politico / CNN / BuzzFeed News)

7/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy pressured employees at his former company to make donations to Republican candidates and then reimbursed them through bonuses. While it’s legal to encourage employees to make donations, federal campaign finance law bars reimbursing them for those contributions, known as a straw-donor scheme used to skirt contribution limits. According to employees familiar with New Breed Logistics’ financial and payroll systems, DeJoy pressured employees to write checks and attend fundraisers for Republicans at his mansion beside a country club in North Carolina. DeJoy would then instruct payroll employees to give bonus payments to those staffers to help defray the cost of their contributions. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The House Oversight and Reform Committee will investigate allegations that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy asked employees to donate to political candidates and then reimbursed them through bonuses. Committee chair Carolyn Maloney said that DeJoy may have lied to the panel under oath and urged the Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service to immediately suspend DeJoy, whom she said “they never should have hired in the first place.” Trump, meanwhile, said he’s open to an investigation of DeJoy’s fundraising, saying his postmaster general, should lose his job “if something can be proven that he did something wrong.” (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times)

  • The chairman of the USPS Board of Governors is also a director of Mitch McConnell’s $130 million super PAC. (HuffPost)

8/ White House officials talked to Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie about taking over the Pentagon if Trump decides to fire Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Trump and Esper have repeatedly clashed over a variety of issues both publicly and privately in the last several months. Two senior administration officials said Trump discussed the position directly with Wilkie at the White House last month, and two other senior administration officials said Wilkie had senior-level discussions with the White House about becoming Trump’s next defense secretary. The conversations included the possibility of naming Wilkie acting defense secretary if Trump fires Esper. Another official, however, said there are currently “no plans to replace Secretary Esper.” (NBC News)

  • Trump accused the U.S. military of waging wars to boost the profits of defense manufacturing companies. “I’m not saying the military’s in love with me – the soldiers are, the top people in the Pentagon probably aren’t because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make everything else stay happy,” Trump told reporters. The remarks come after it was reported that Trump disparaged American troops as “suckers” and “losers” for dying in battle. (CNN / Politico / New York Times)

  • The Trump administration tax cut for military service members must be repaid in 2021. Effective this month, the Defense Department will temporarily defer the 6.2% Social Security tax withholding for all DOD service members who make less than $8,666.66 per month in basic pay. (NBC News)

  • More than 2,000 U.S. troops will be withdrawn from Iraq this month. (NBC News)

9/ Michael Cohen claimed that Trump is an authoritarian, racist sexual predator who “loved Putin.” According to his new book, “Disloyal: A Memoir,” Cohen alleges that Trump made “overt and covert attempts to get Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.” Cohen also alleges that Trump praised Putin because he assumed he would lose the election and wanted to make sure he could borrow money from Russian sources in the future. Cohen describes Trump as “a cheat, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man” who was also well aware of the hush-money payoff to Stormy Daniels during the campaign. The memoir also describes Trump’s “hatred and contempt” of Obama. After Obama’s inauguration, Trump hired a man to play a “Faux-Bama” for a video in which Trump “ritualistically belittled the first Black president and then fired him.” Cohen also ties Jerry Falwell Jr.’s 2016 presidential endorsement of Trump to Cohen’s role in keeping “a bunch of photographs, personal photographs” of the Falwells from becoming public. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / NBC News / NBC News)

poll/ 77% of youth voters in 13 battleground states “definitely” plan to vote in the November elections – a 7-point increase since July. (The Hill)


✏️ Notables.

  1. A federal judge ordered the Census Bureau to temporarily stop following a revised plan to finish the 2020 census at the end of September. The temporary restraining order stops the Census Bureau from winding down operations until a court hearing is held on Sept. 17 after a coalition of cities, counties and civil rights groups demanded that the bureau restore its previous plan for finishing the census at the end of October. (NBC News)

  2. Three draft reports from the Department of Homeland Security all rank the threat from white supremacists as the deadliest domestic terror threat facing the U.S. – above the danger from foreign terrorist groups. (Politico)

  3. The White House directed federal agencies to cancel racial sensitivity trainings, calling it “divisive” and “un-American.” In a two-page memo, Office of Management and Budget Director Russell Vought instructed federal agencies to identify contracts related to training sessions involving “white privilege” or “critical race theory,” and to do everything possible to cancel those contracts. The memo also tells all federal agencies to identify and cancel cancel contracts that involve teaching that America is an “inherently racist or evil country.” (Washington Post)

  4. Trump instructed the Department of Education to investigate the use of the New York Times’ “1619 Project” in public school curriculum. The Pulitzer-Prize winning project aims to reframe American history “by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of [the United States’] national narrative.” Trump tweeted that the “Department of Education is looking at this. If so, they will not be funded!” (CNN)

  5. A Norwegian lawmaker nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in the Middle East. Christian Tybring-Gjedde was one of two Norwegian lawmakers who nominated Trump for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2018 for efforts to bring reconciliation between North and South Korea. (Associated Press / Vox)

  6. Pence will attend a fundraiser next week hosted by supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory. The baseless conspiracy theory posits that Trump is waging a campaign against enemies in the “deep state” and a child sex trafficking ring run by satanic pedophiles and cannibals. (Associated Press)

Day 1324: "Losers."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~26,411,000; deaths: ~871,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~6,174,000; deaths: ~187,200

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN

  • 🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


1/ Trump disparaged members of the U.S. military who had been captured or killed as “losers” and “suckers.” In 2018, Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris, telling senior staff members: “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” He publicly blamed the rain for the decision, saying “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him – neither claim is true. Trump reportedly was also concerned about his hair in the rain. During the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed. When John McCain died in August 2018, Trump told senior staff “We’re not going to support that loser’s funeral.” Trump was also reportedly furious that flags were lowered to half-staff, saying: “What the fuck are we doing that for? Guy was a fucking loser.” Trump was not invited to McCain’s funeral. And, on Memorial Day 2017, Trump and John Kelly visited the Arlington Cemetery gravesite of Kelly’s son, Robert, who was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. While standing by Robert’s grave, Trump turned to John and said: “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” The White House, meanwhile, called the report “patently false.” (The Atlantic / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • [2015] Trump called John McCain a “loser,” saying the decorated Vietnam War veteran was “not a war hero, He’s a war hero because he was captured.” Trump then added: “I like people that weren’t captured.” (Washington Post / YouTube)

  • 📌 Day 663: Trump blamed the Secret Service for his canceled visit to a World War I cemetery in France, claiming that he suggested driving after it was deemed unsafe to take a helicopter. “By the way,” Trump tweeted, “when the helicopter couldn’t fly to the first cemetery in France because of almost zero visibility, I suggested driving. Secret Service said NO.” (ABC News / USA Today)

  • 📌 Day 473: John McCain told friends that he does not want Trump to attend his funeral and would like Mike Pence to come instead. During the 2016 presidential primary, Trump said McCain was considered a war hero only “because he was captured” during the Vietnam War and that he prefers military figures weren’t taken prisoner by the enemy. (New York Times / NBC News)

2/ Trump disputed reports that he called dead American service members “losers” and “suckers,” calling it “a disgraceful situation” by a “terrible magazine.” Trump suggested that the Atlantic had “made it up,” using “a couple of people that have been failures in the administration.” The White House also denied the Atlantic report, which was independently verified by both the Associated Press and the Washington Post. “If people really exist that would have said that, they’re lowlifes and they’re liars,” Trump said. “And I would be willing to swear on anything that I never said that about our fallen heroes. There is nobody that respects them more.” He added, “What animal would say such a thing?” Later, Trump tweeted that the report “is more made up Fake News given by disgusting & jealous failures in a disgraceful attempt to influence the 2020 Election!” Former National Security Adviser John Bolton, meanwhile, called Trump’s alleged remarks disparaging soldiers who died in combat “despicable.” (New York Times / Associated Press / NBC News / Politico / BuzzFeed News / Bloomberg)

  • The Pentagon ordered the military’s independent newspaper to cease publication at the end of the month and dissolve the organization by the end of January. (Politico)

3/ The World Health Organization does not expect widespread COVID-19 vaccinations until mid-2021. Trump’s vaccine chief added that it is “extremely unlikely” that a vaccine could be available before the election. Trump, meanwhile, suggested that a vaccine “will be delivered before the end of the year, in my opinion, before the end of the year, but it really might even be delivered before the end of October.” (Reuters / New York Times / NPR / CNN)

4/ Trump mocked Biden for wearing a face mask and observing social distancing measures. The U.S., meanwhile, continues to lead the world in coronavirus cases under Trump’s direction, with more than 6 million infections and 187,000 deaths. (CNN / Politico)

  • Trump’s campaign is running Facebook ads with a manipulated photo of Biden, edited to make him appear older. (HuffPost)

poll/ 55% of Americans think Trump’s rhetoric on protests over racial injustice is making matters worse, while 13% think he is making it better. 29% believe what Trump has said on the topic has had no effect. (ABC News)

Day 1323: "Playing with fire."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~26,129,000; deaths: ~866,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~6,142,000; deaths: ~187,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian

  • 🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


1/ Another 881,000 people applied for state unemployment benefits last week. In total, the number of continuing claims is about 13.3 million with roughly 29 million people receiving some form of unemployment assistance as of mid-August. (Wall Street Journal / NPR / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian)

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called the Senate Republicans’ new coronavirus relief proposal “emaciated,” saying it lacked relief money for housing assistance, food stamps, and enhanced unemployment aid. Schumer also accused Mitch McConnell of “planning another round of partisan games” and said Republicans are “moving even further in the wrong direction.” (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

  • [Last Month] Trump’s executive actions aimed at bypassing stalled negotiations with Congress only has one state paying new jobless benefits, with few evictions paused. (Washington Post)

  • [Last Month] Two states are paying out the $300 supplemental $300 jobless benefit. “Part of the reason for the slow start is that implementing the new program falls on overwhelmed state unemployment offices that have already struggled to process applications and deliver benefits during the pandemic. Another complication is that the program’s funding is coming from disaster money at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.” (Bloomberg)

  • [Last Month] Grocery shoppers cut back on spending after the $600 in weekly additional unemployment checks expired in July. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee sued Montana in an attempt to block an expansion of mail-in voting in the state. Last month, Gov. Steve Bullock issued a directive allowing counties to expand voting by mail and early voting “at their local discretion,” including mailing ballots to qualified voters. The lawsuit alleges that Bullock’s order is unconstitutional because the “directive creates a patchwork election code with no uniform procedures across the state.” Montana, however, already allows voters to request and submit absentee ballots. The Trump campaign also sued New Jersey and Nevada last month for planning to send mail-in ballots to all state voters. Bullock said in a statement that mail-in voting in Montana is “safe, secure, and was requested by a bipartisan coalition of Montana election officials seeking to reduce the risk of COVID-19 and keep Montanans safe and healthy.” (CNN / Axios)

  • Georgia likely removed nearly 200,000 people from the voter rolls in error after concluding that they had moved and not changed the address on their voter registration. The ACLU of Georgia reviewed 313,243 names that were removed from the state’s voter rolls in late 2019 and found that 63.3% of voters had not moved and were purged in error. (CNN)

  • A Baltimore mail facility allowed 68,000 pieces of political mail to sit untouched for five days ahead of the June 2 primary. According to an audit of the U.S. Postal Service’s performance during the primary election season, the delayed pieces were not ballots. (Baltimore Sun)

  • The U.S. Postal Service paid Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s former company about $286 million since 2013. DeJoy still holds at least a $30 million stake in the company. (New York Times)

  • [Analysis] The Trump Administration Continues to Erode Election Security. “The DHS, the DOJ, and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence have all had recent controversies that bode poorly for electoral integrity.” (Wired)

3/ Trump encouraged North Carolina residents to illegally vote twice — once by mail and once in person — to test if “their system’s as good as they say it is.” Voting twice in the same election is illegal and in North Carolina it is a Class I felony. When asked whether he had confidence in the mail-in voting system, Trump suggested to “let them send it in and let them go vote, and if their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote. […] that’s what they should do.” Trump later tried to clarify his remarks, tweeting that “In order for you to MAKE SURE YOUR VOTE COUNTS & IS COUNTED,” people should “go to your Polling Place to see whether or not your Mail In Vote has been Tabulated (Counted). If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly. If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do).” Twitter added a “public interest notice” to Trump’s tweets that they “violated the Twitter Rules about civic and election integrity.” Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, defended Trump’s statement, suggesting that he “was trying to make the point that the ability to monitor this system is not good.” When told that voting twice is illegal, Barr replied: “I don’t know what the law in the particular state says.” Barr then added that he’s not sure if it is illegal to vote twice in any state before baselessly claiming that state and local officials are “playing with fire” if they rely on mail-in ballots in the November election. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / USA Today / The Guardian / ABC News / Axios / CNBC / Politico / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / The Week)

  • Among registered voters in North Carolina, Trump trails Biden 45% to 47%. The last three presidential elections were decided by fewer than four percentage points in North Carolina. (Monmouth University / The Hill)

4/ A Homeland Security intelligence bulletin warned that Russia is trying to undermine the integrity of the election by “amplifying” false claims that mail-in voting will result in widespread fraud. Analysts issued the warning to federal and state law enforcement after finding with “high confidence” that “Russian malign influence actors” have targeted the absentee voting process “by spreading disinformation” since at least March. “We assess that Russia is likely to continue amplifying criticisms of vote-by-mail and shifting voting processes amidst the COVID-19 pandemic to undermine public trust in the electoral process,” the bulletin reads. Separately, DHS officials withheld a July bulletin that warned of a Russian campaign to spread misinformation about Biden’s mental health. (ABC News / CNN)

5/ Democratic senators called on the Trump administration to impose sanctions on Russia for seeking to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election. In a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, 11 senators cited the nation’s top counterintelligence official publicly stating that Russia is using several measures “to denigrate former Vice President [Joe] Biden” and other Democrats in advance of the election. While the Treasury Department declined to comment, Attorney General William Barr claimed that he viewed China as more of a threat than Russia. “I’ve seen intelligence. That’s what I’ve concluded,” he said, with no elaboration. (Politico / Washington Post)

6/ Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar rejected concerns that the Trump administration is rushing the approval of a coronavirus vaccine before Election Day. Three vaccine candidates have entered Phase 3 clinical trials, which take months to complete, and results are not expected until late October at the earliest. The CDC, however, recently directed states to prepare to begin vaccine distribution by Nov. 1 – two days before the election. When pressed about how the CDC selected its target date, Azar denied that the decision was politically motivated, saying “It has nothing to do with elections. This has to do with delivering safe, effective vaccines to the American people as quickly as possible and saving lives.” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn recently apologized for overstating the benefits of treating COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma, which his agency approved an emergency use authorization for after coming under attack from Trump. (Politico / CBS News)

  • [Rumor mill] FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and HHS Secretary Alex Azar are locked in a “tit for tat” dispute over COVID-19 messaging. “Azar was furious when Hahn openly backtracked on claims about plasma’s effectiveness, at a time when President Donald Trump was preparing to tout the treatment at the Republican National Convention.” (Politico)

7/ Trump ordered officials to find ways to cut federal funding to cities that the Trump administration has deemed “lawless.” In a five-page memo, Trump directed the White House Office of Management and Budget to withdraw federal funds for any “anarchist jurisdiction” that “disempowers or defunds police departments.” The memo also directs Attorney General William Barr to publicly post a list of jurisdictions that have “permitted violence and the destruction of property” within the next 14 days. The memo specifically mentions Portland, Seattle, New York, and Washington, D.C. (New York Post / New York Times / The Guardian / Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post / CNBC / Axios)

[Fox News] poll/ Biden is ahead in key states that Trump won in 2016. Biden leads Trump in Arizona (49-40%), North Carolina (50-46%), and in Wisconsin (50-42%). Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Fox News should “get a new pollster” because the “Fake News Suppression Poll” is “Fake News.” (Fox News)

poll/ 52% of likely voters support Biden, while 42% support Trump. 50% of likely voters say having Trump as president makes them feel less safe, while 35% say it makes them feel more safe, and 14% say it doesn’t have any impact on how they feel. (Axios / Quinnipiac)

Day 1322: "Why would he do this?"

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~25,861,000; deaths: ~860,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~6,108,000; deaths: ~186,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN

  • 🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


1/ The CDC directed states to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine to health care workers and high-risk groups as soon as late October or early November, heightening concerns that the Trump administration is seeking to rush a vaccine before Election Day. Public health officials in all states and territories, as well as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Houston, and San Antonio, were sent CDC guidance outlining scenarios for distributing two vaccine candidates — each requiring two doses a few weeks apart — at hospitals, mobile clinics, and other facilities. And, in a letter to state governors and health departments last week, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield asked state governors to waive permits for building vaccine distribution sites “that would prevent these facilities from becoming fully operational by November 1, 2020.” Dr. Anthony Fauci and FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn have both recently said that a vaccine could be available before clinical trials have been completed. “I believe that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year,” Fauci said, “we will feel comfortable that we do have a safe and effective vaccine.” Hahn added that an emergency authorization for a vaccine could be appropriate even before the vaccine has completed Phase 3 clinical trials. (New York Times / CNN / The Hill / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

2/ The Trump administration backed out of a $646.7 million deal to buy ventilators after a congressional investigation found “evidence of fraud, waste and abuse” in the acquisition, which negotiated by White House trade advisor Peter Navarro. The House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy has since opened a probe of all federal contracts negotiated by Navarro. (ProPublica / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • Congressional investigators uncovered more than $1 billion dollars in potential waste and fraud in the Paycheck Protection Program. The money went to companies that “double dipped” and received multiple in violation of the program’s rules, according to a preliminary analysis by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The report says there is a “high risk that PPP loans may have been diverted from small businesses truly in need to ineligible businesses or even to criminals.” The subcommittee found more than 10,000 loans in which the borrowers obtained more than one loan. Because the Trump administration decided to only audit loans for more than $2 million, only 65 of the loans would otherwise have been subject to additional review. More than 600 loans totaling nearly $100 million went to companies that are barred or suspended from doing business with the federal government. More than 350 loans worth roughly $200 million went to government contractors that had been flagged by the federal government for performance or integrity issues. More than 11,000 additional borrowers had other red flags of various types. (NBC News / Chicago Tribune)

3/ FEMA will no longer reimburse states for the cost of face masks and personal protective equipment in nonemergency settings. Under the new guidance, which goes into effect on Sept. 15., cloth face coverings and PPE for teachers, schools, public housing, and courthouses will no longer be eligible for the public assistance fund because they don’t meet FEMA’s definition of a “direct emergency protective measures.” The Department of Health and Human Services, however, said “schools in need will still receive cloth face masks” from HHS instead of FEMA. (NPR)

4/ The Department of Homeland Security withheld an intelligence bulletin warning of a Russian campaign to spread misinformation about Joe Biden’s mental health. In the draft July bulletin, titled “Russia Likely to Denigrate Health of US Candidates to Influence 2020 Election,” analysts said with “high confidence” that “Russian malign influence actors are likely to continue denigrating presidential candidates through allegations of poor mental or physical health to influence the outcome of the 2020 election.” An hour after its submission, however, DHS Chief of Staff John Gountanis intervened, saying “Please hold on sending this one out until you have a chance to speak to [acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf].” The Biden campaign, meanwhile, accused Trump of blocking the release of the report, saying the Russian narrative “aligns with Trump’s own constantly backfiring attacks” that Biden is not mentally competent to be president. “And why would he do this?” a spokesperson for the Biden campaign said, “Because Russia and the Trump campaign are speaking from the same script of smears and lies.” Nearly two months later, the bulletin has not been circulated to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies. (ABC News / NBC News / CNN / CNBC / Axios)

5/ Melania Trump “regularly” used a private email account while in the White House. Stephanie Winston Wolkoff said she corresponded multiple times per day with Melania through a private Trump Organization email account, iMessage, and Signal, an encrypted messaging app. Trump made the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private emails and server a major part of his 2016 campaign, calling it “worse than Watergate.” (Washington Post / Associated Press / Axios)

poll/ 8% of Americans said crime was a top priority for the country, compared with 30% who said it was the economy or jobs, and 16% who said it was healthcare. (Reuters)

poll/ 52% of voters view the Black Lives Matter movement favorably – a 9 percentage point drop since June. (Politico)

poll/ 28% of Biden supporters say they won’t accept a Trump victory as fair and accurate, while 19% of Trump’s supporters say they won’t accept a Biden victory as legitimate. (USA Today)

poll/ 57% of Democratic voters plan to cast their ballots before Election Day, either through the mail (28%), a drop box (11%), or voting early at a satellite location (18%). 66% of Republicans, meanwhile, plan to vote in-person on Election Day. (Grinnell College)

poll/ 36% of Americans expect the winner of the 2020 presidential election to be announced on election night. 24% expect the results announced within one or two days of Election Day, 14% think we’ll know in a week, and 13% think it will take a few weeks. (Axios)

  • A Democratic data and analytics firm warned of a “red mirage” on election night, where it’ll appear that Trump has won, but lose days later when mail ballots are counted. (Axios)

Editor’s note: Friendly reminder that polls should be thought of as directional evidence of a prevailing feeling. They’re inherently flawed, biased, and should never be used for prediction. Like the weather report, polls are a point-in-time temperature check. We’ve all been caught out in the rain on sunny day, right?


✏️ Notables.

  1. An internal Census Bureau document warned that cutting the 2020 census short increased the risk of “serious errors” in the national head count, which “may not be fixed.” Last month, the Trump administration forced the bureau to end all counting efforts a month sooner and prepare state population totals for Trump by the end of this year, as required by federal law. (NPR)

  2. Trump and his campaign accused the Drudge Report and a CNN analyst of spreading rumors that Trump had a “series of mini-strokes.” Yesterday, despite no media outlets reporting that Trump had a stroke, Trump tweeted an unprompted denial, calling the non-existent reports “FAKE NEWS.” The Drudge Report had led with the headline: “TRUMP DENIES MINI-STROKE SENT HIM TO HOSPITAL.” The Trump campaign also called for CNN to fire Joe Lockhart, saying he, too, had spread the rumor when he asked on Twitter if Trump had “a stroke which he is hiding from the American public.” Pence, meanwhile, told Fox News that he does not “recall” being told to be on “standby” in the event Trump “had to undergo a procedure that would have required him to be anesthetized” during his his sudden visit to Walter Reed Medical Center last November. The White House has never explained Trump’s visit to Walter Reed, describing it only as a “routine, planned interim checkup.” (Politico / Axios / Talking Points Memo)

  3. A Kenosha business owner accused Trump of using his burned camera shop for political gain. Tom Gram, the owner of a Rode’s Camera Shop, said he declined the White House’s request to be part of Trump’s tour of the damage. Instead, the former owner of the shop participated in the tour and praised Trump’s response to the demonstrations. (WTMJ-TV / The Hill)

  4. A former top Department of Homeland Security official accused the Trump administration of “throwing fuel on the fire” of domestic extremism in the United States. Elizabeth Neumann, who resigned in April, said right-wing extremist groups “borrowed from ISIS’s playbook and they learned how to radicalize people online.” White House Communications Director Alyssa Farah, meanwhile, dismissed Neumann’s concerns as those of a “disgruntled employee.” (NPR)

  5. Federal prosecutors are reportedly preparing to charge a longtime GOP fundraiser in connection with efforts to influence the U.S. government on behalf of foreign interests. “Elliott Broidy is under scrutiny for his alleged role in a campaign to persuade high-level Trump administration officials to drop an investigation of Malaysian government corruption, as well as for his attempt to push for the extradition of an outspoken Chinese dissident back to his home country.” (Washington Post)

  6. Trump told Sarah Sanders to “go to North Korea and take one for the team” after Kim Jong-un appeared to wink at her during a summit in Singapore in June 2018. “We made direct eye contact and Kim nodded and appeared to wink at me,” the former White House press secretary wrote in her memoir. “I was stunned. I quickly looked down and continued taking notes.” When Sanders told Trump and John Kelly, then chief of staff, about the incident, Trump replied: “Kim Jong Un hit on you! He did! He fucking hit on you! […] That settles it. You’re going to North Korea and taking one for the team!” Sanders replied: “Sir, please stop.” (The Guardian)

  7. The federal debt is expected to exceed the size of the economy in 2021 as a result of the pandemic recession – a level not reached since the aftermath of World War II. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)


  • 👑 Portrait of a president.

  • Trump’s interviews with friendly hosts can go awry even when they throw him a lifeline. “Trump’s ominous answer about anarchists and looters supposedly packing a commercial jet flying to Washington came in response to a fairly simple but unrelated question.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump says some really strange things. Republicans say no comment, again. Trump “said some startling things in an interview with Laura Ingraham on Fox News. To name a few: A plane ‘almost completely loaded with thugs’ wearing black uniforms had come to Washington last week to disrupt the Republican National Convention. The president’s opponent in the 2020 campaign, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., was being controlled by ‘people that you’ve never heard of, people that are in the dark shadows.’ Police officers like the one in Kenosha, Wis., who shot an unarmed Black man seven times last week — leaving him paralyzed from the waist down — have a hard time with pressure and so ‘they choke, just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot.’” (New York Times)

Day 1321: "Sounds like conspiracy theory."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~25,584,000; deaths: ~853,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~6,065,000; deaths: ~185,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / USA Today

  • 🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


1/ Trump compared police officers who shoot unarmed people to golfers who “choke” while putting. While discussing the shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back by an officer, with Fox News’ Laura Ingraham, Trump said sometimes an officer “makes a mistake” or “chokes” under pressure, “Just like in a golf tournament, they miss a three-foot putt.” Ingraham interjected and redirected Trump: “You’re not comparing it to golf, because of course that’s what the media would say.” Trump responded: “No, I’m saying people choke. People choke. And people are bad people. […] You have some bad people, and they choke. […] People choke under those circumstances, and they make a bad decision.” (Politico / The Guardian / USA Today / The Hill / Business Insider)

2/ Trump defended the Kenosha gunman charged with murdering two people and claimed that the 17-year-old acted in self-defense. Trump suggested that video he had seen showed Kyle Rittenhouse “trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like” and that protesters “very violently attacked him. I guess he was in very big trouble.” Trump added: “He probably would have been killed.” Video of Rittenhouse at the protests showed him carrying an assault rifle and telling someone on the phone: “I just killed somebody.” Rittenhouse has been charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree homicide and one count of attempted homicide. (Reuters / Politico / CBS News / USA Today / NPR / CNN)

  • Trump visited Kenosha despite objections from Wisconsin’ governor and Kenosha’s mayor, where he blamed “anti-police and anti-American riots” for the property damaged during the civil unrest that followed the the shooting of Jacob Blake. “You have anarchists and you have the looters and you have the rioters. You have all types. You have agitators,” Trump said. (USA Today / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

3/ Trump spread a baseless conspiracy theory that “people that are in the dark shadows” are “controlling the streets” in Kenosha and other cities, and manipulating Biden’s campaign. When Fox News host Laura Ingraham asked “What does that mean,” saying the statement “sounds like conspiracy theory,” Trump claimed “We had somebody get on a plane from a certain city this weekend, and in the plane it was almost completely loaded with thugs, wearing these dark uniforms, black uniforms, with gear and this and that.” Trump declined to elaborate, but claimed the matter was “under investigation right now” because “a lot of the people were on the plane to do big damage.” Trump provided no evidence for his claims. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / ABC News)

4/ Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf said Attorney General William Barr is “working on” conspiracy charges against leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement. During an interview with Tucker Carlson on Fox News, Wolf said charging antifascists and leaders of the BLM movement with conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act statute is “something that I have talked to [Attorney General William Barr] personally about.” He added: “I know that they are working on it.” RICO is a federal law that focuses on acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization and was used to take down organized crime in the U.S. Wolf said Barr was “targeting and investigating the heads of those organizations” as well as those who are “paying for those individuals to move across the country.” (Daily Beast)

  • Trump called companies supporting the Black Lives Matter movement “weak” and that they’re led by “weak people.” Trump added that he considered the movement’s name “so discriminatory.” (Bloomberg)

5/ Trump denied that his unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last November was because he had “suffered a series of mini-strokes.” No media outlets have reported that Trump had a series of mini-strokes. Trump, however, tweeted that it “Never happened to THIS candidate – FAKE NEWS.” Hours later, Trump’s physician issued an official statement saying Trump has not had a stroke, mini-stroke or heart-related emergencies. (@realDonaldTrump / The Guardian / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1033: Trump made an unscheduled visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center to “begin portions of his routine annual physical exam” that included a “quick exam and labs,” according to the White House.

  • 📌 Day 1219: Trump hasn’t completed his annual 2020 physical after claiming six months ago that he had started the process. The White House declined to explain why.

6/ Pence was put on “standby to take over the powers of the presidency temporarily” if Trump needed to be anesthetized during an unscheduled hospital visit last November. Trump’s visit did not follow the protocol of a routine presidential medical exam, and the White House has claimed that Trump had undergone a “quick exam and labs” as part of his annual physical out of anticipation of a “very busy 2020.”(CNN)

7/ A federal appeals court temporarily blocked the release of Trump’s tax returns to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. Oral arguments for Trump’s appeal were set for Sept. 25. Even if Cyrus Vance is allowed to enforce the subpoena for eight years of Trump’s financial records, grand jury secrecy laws would prevent the documents from becoming public. Trump, meanwhile, complained that “the deck was clearly stacked against” him, and said he would ask the Supreme Court to intervene if necessary. (Washington Post / Axios / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Reuters)

poll/ 52% of Americans say they will vote early, of which 19% say they will vote early in person and 33% say they will vote by mail. 33% say they will vote in person on Election Day, while 11% say they might not vote at all. (NBC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis investigation found that over $1 billion in emergency coronavirus aid relief went to companies who “double dipped” and received multiple Paycheck Protection Program loans. The Subcommittee found over 10,000 loans where the borrower obtained more than one loan, and over 600 loans for nearly $100 million went to companies that had been suspended from doing business with the federal government. (NBC News)

  2. The National Institutes of Health said “there are insufficient data to recommend” the use of convalescent plasma for hospitalized coronavirus patients. The FDA granted emergency authorization for convalescent plasma one day before the Republican National Convention, where Trump referred to the therapy as having the potential to “save thousands of lives.” (Bloomberg / NIH)

  3. The Trump administration will not join the global effort to develop, manufacture, and distribute a coronavirus vaccine because the World Health Organization is involved. More than 170 countries are participating in the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility to speed vaccine development, secure doses for all countries, and distribute them to high-risk populations. The White House not wanting to work with the WHO effectively eliminates the chance to secure doses from a pool of vaccine candidates. WHO officials, meanwhile, have said countries can pursue multiple strategies and sign bilateral deals directly with drugmakers while also joining COVAX. (Washington Post)

  4. The Department of Health and Human Services is bidding out a $250 million contract to a consulting firm to “defeat despair and inspire hope” about the coronavirus pandemic. An internal HHS document outlines that the winning firm will need to “share best practices for businesses to operate in the new normal and instill confidence to return to work and restart the economy.” (Politico)

  5. Twitter deleted a post spreading false information that attempted to minimize COVID-19 deaths. Trump had retweeted the post, made by a supporter of the baseless QAnon conspiracy theory, which suggested that the CDC had “quietly updated the Covid number to admit that only 6%” of reported deaths — or about 9,000 — actually died from COVID.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, debunked the theory promoted by Trump, saying that the “180,000-plus deaths are real deaths from COVID-19. Let (there) not be any confusion about that.” (Washington Post / CNN / CNBC)

  6. Facebook took down 13 fake accounts and two pages associated with the Russian Internet Research Agency – the same group that interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The IRA had created a fake new site, called Peace Data, and recruited U.S. journalists to write articles targeting left-leaning readers on topics such as racial justice, the Biden-Harris campaign and Trump’s policies. Facebook took action after being warned by the FBI about the Russian effort. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  7. Attorney General William Barr issued new rules restricting the use of government surveillance on elected officials and political campaigns. FBI agents will now be required to get permission from the attorney general before submitting applications to FISA courts to surveil elected official, a political candidate, or any of their staff, official advisers or informal advisers. The new policies add to earlier restrictions imposed by Barr and FBI Director Chris Wray after the DOJ inspector general concluded that the FBI had misused the process for getting authority to eavesdrop on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page. Trump has repeatedly called the investigation into Russia’s efforts to help his 2016 campaign a “witch hunt.” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Axios / NBC News)

  8. Attorney General William Barr removed the head of a Justice Department office that ensures the legality of federal counter-terrorism and counterintelligence activities. Barr hasn’t explained the removal of deputy assistant attorney general Brad Wiegmann, who was in charge of the office of law and policy in the national security section of the justice department until he was reassigned two weeks ago. Wiegmann, a 23-year career public servant – not a political appointee – will be replaced by a cyber-crimes prosecutor and political appointee, who has very little relevant experience. Kellen Dwyer made headlines in November 2018 when he accidentally revealed that federal charges had been secretly filed against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. (ABC News / The Guardian)

  9. The EPA relaxed rules meant to keep lead, selenium and arsenic, and other pollution out of rivers and streams. Scaling back how coal-fired power plants dispose of wastewater is meant to extend the life of aging plants by making them more competitive with cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. (New York Times)

Day 1320: "Recklessly encouraging violence."

💌 Send me a handwritten postcard or letter with advice for the future generation about wtf has happened over the last four years and what needs to be done.

Not sure where to start? Consider the Trump administration’s impact on climate change, healthcare, immigration, education, civil rights, or whatever, like this goddamn pandemic, and how it’s changed you, your relationships, and your outlook for the future.

Matt at WTF Just Happened Today?
505 Broadway E #211
Seattle, WA 98102 USA

🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)



1/ The Director of National Intelligence will no longer give Congress in-person briefings about election security, citing concern over “unauthorized disclosures of sensitive information.” Instead, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence will provide the House and Senate Intelligence Committees with written updates. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe framed the move as an attempt to “ensure clarity and consistency” in intelligence agencies’ interactions with Congress. The Department of Justice, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security will continue briefing Congress. Trump, meanwhile, said Ratcliffe made the decision because he “got tired” of intelligence leaking from Congress “so, he wants to do it in a different form.” The Senate confirmed Ratcliffe in May in a 49-to-44 vote along party lines. He received more votes against his confirmation than any DNI in the 15-year history of the office. (CNN / Politico / New York Times / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

2/ Trump’s newest coronavirus task force member is urging the White House to embrace “herd immunity” as U.S. coronavirus case count topped 6 million. The controversial strategy would require lifting social distancing restrictions and allowing the coronavirus to spread through the population. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, urged countries to continue implementing safety measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, such as limiting public gatherings and protecting vulnerable groups as they try to reopen businesses and services, saying “No country can just pretend the pandemic is over.” Scott Atlas, who does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology, joined the White House earlier this month as a pandemic adviser. He has advocated that the U.S. adopt Sweden’s model, which public health officials and infectious disease experts have called reckless. The U.S. has recorded more than 183,000 deaths from the virus. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNBC)

3/ FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said he’d be willing to fast-track emergency use authorization for a coronavirus vaccine before phase 3 trials are over, but insisted he wouldn’t rush approval to please the Trump administration. “We have a convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the political season,” Hahn said, “and we’re just going to have to get through that and stick to our core principles.” Hahn’s comments come a week after he granted emergency authorization of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients. Hahn was immediately criticized for overstating its benefits and apologized a day later. That announcement came a day after Trump accused the FDA, without any evidence, of moving too slowly to hurt him politically. (Financial Times / CNBC / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • The White House privately alerted seven states in June that their coronavirus cases had put them in the “red zone” of highest virus spread, according to eight weeks of previously confidential reports released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis. The risk assessments came at the same time Trump was insisting that his pandemic response was working and Pence had written an op-ed dismissing fears of a “second wave” of the virus as “overblown.” By late June, 10 states were in the red zone, by mid-July, 19 states were in the red zone, and by early August, the task force document listed 23 states in the red zone. Trump, meanwhile, Trump falsely claimed that large portions of the U.S. are “corona-free.” (Politico)

4/ The Justice Department never fully investigated Trump’s relationship with Russia and secretly narrowed the investigation into Russian election interference. When then-deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel in May 2017, he instructed Mueller to only conduct a criminal investigation of possible coordination between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, which curtailed an FBI counterintelligence probe into Trump’s ties to Russia. Rosenstein concluded that the FBI didn’t have enough evidence to investigate Trump’s ties to a foreign adversary, and he suspected that the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, had conflicts of interest. McCabe had approved the counterintelligence investigation out of concerns that Trump’s decades of personal and financial dealings in Russia posed a national security threat. Rosenstein never told McCabe about his decision. (New York Times / Axios)

  • A federal appeals court denied Michael Flynn’s petition to force a district court judge to immediately drop his criminal case, as requested by the Justice Department. A planned hearing on the Justice Department’s attempt to abandon the criminal case against Flynn can now proceed. Flynn twice pleaded guilty to charges that he lied to FBI agents in 2017 about his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. In May, Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department moved to drop the case, citing improprieties by the FBI decision-makers who ordered the interview of Flynn. Judge Emmet Sullivan, who is presiding over Flynn’s case and accepted his guilty plea for lying to federal agents, argued that he should be allowed to probe whether the Justice Department was dropping the case as a favor to a Trump ally. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Axios)

  • Trump reportedly considered the idea of “settling” with Robert Mueller. According to the new book, Donald Trump v. The United States, Trump told White House counsel Don McGahn “that there was nothing to worry about because if it was zeroing in on him, he would simply settle with Mueller. He would settle the case, as if he were negotiating terms in a lawsuit.” (Axios)

5/ Trump offered John Kelly the FBI director job a day after firing James Comey, but demanded that he “be loyal to him, and only him.” At the time, Kelly was the secretary for the Department of Homeland Security and reportedly “immediately realized the problem with Trump’s request for loyalty, and he pushed back on the President’s demand,” saying he would be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law. Kelly went on to serve as White House chief of staff. (Axios / CNN)

6/ Former White House counsel Don McGahn sent a two-page memo in February 2018 to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly arguing that Jared Kushner’s security clearance needed to be downgraded. Kelly was concerned about giving Kushner a top-secret clearance after receiving a briefing about a routine FBI investigation into Kushner’s background. McGahn wrote to Kelly that Kushner’s background check “raises serious additional concerns about whether this individual ought to retain a top security clearance until such issues can be investigated and resolved.” McGahn instead recommended that Kushner be given interim secret clearance “until further information is received.” Ultimately, Trump intervened to ensure Kushner received top-secret security clearance. (Axios)

  • A federal appeals court dismissed the House Judiciary Committee lawsuit to seeking to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to testify about Trump, saying that Congress has not passed a law expressly authorizing it to sue to enforce its subpoenas. (Washington Post / CNN)

7/ Trump praised a right-wing caravan of supporters in Portland who had fired paint and pellet guns at protesters. A day after a man was shot and killed during a clash between demonstrators at a pro-Trump vehicle rally, Trump shared a video on Twitter of the “Trump cruise rally,” calling them “GREAT PATRIOTS!” In another tweet, Trump referred to protesters in Washington, D.C., as “Disgraceful Anarchists” and said his administration is “watching them closely.” Trump also said the “big backlash going on in Portland cannot be unexpected,” called the mayor of Portland “a FOOL,” and called on the state to “Bring in the National Guard!” Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, meanwhile, said “I’d appreciate that either the president support us or stay the hell out of the way.” He added: “Do you seriously wonder, Mr. President, why this is the first time in decades that America has seen this level of violence? It’s you who have created the hate and the division.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, claimed Trump had not seen the video of his supporters using paintballs and pepper spray against Portland protesters, which Trump himself tweeted out this weekend. The caption of the video reads: “Trump people unload paintballs and pepper spray. They shot me too.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Axios / The Guardian)

8/ The governor of Wisconsin urged Trump to “reconsider” his planned trip to visit Kenosha amid ongoing protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Gov. Tony Evers sent a letter to the White House warning that Trump’s presence “will only hinder our healing” and “delay our work to overcome division and move forward together.” Evers also said he was worried that having Trump in town would require “a massive re-direction of these resources to support your visit at a time when it is critical that we continue to remain focused on keeping the people of Kenosha safe and supporting the community’s response.” A White House spokesperson said Trump still plans to visit on Tuesday. (Washington Post / USA Today / Associated Press / CNN / Politico)

  • A Kenosha militia Facebook event advocating that attendees bring weapons was reported at least 455 times as “a credible threat of violence.” Facebook moderators, however, deemed the page “non-violating” of company policy. The page and event were eventually removed from the platform on several hours after the shooting. (BuzzFeed News)

9/ Biden condemned the violence in Portland and accused Trump of “fanning the flames of hate and division in our society” by “recklessly encouraging violence.” Biden criticized Trump as having “long ago forfeited any moral leadership in this country” and argued that Trump “can’t stop the violence” that has arisen in the United States “because for years he has fomented it.” Biden also responded to Trump’s accusations that he would be soft on crime, saying Trump has been “incapable of telling us the truth, incapable of facing the facts. Incapable of healing.” During his speech in Pittsburgh, Biden repeatedly asked: “Do you really feel safer under Donald Trump?” (NBC News / CNN / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Washington Post)

poll/ 96% of Biden and Trump supporters say they have decided how they will vote — up 2% from late July. 8% remain undecided. (Yahoo News)

poll/ Biden leads Trump 50% to 44% among likely voters following the Republican National Convention. Prior to the convention, Biden lead Trump 52% to 42%. (Morning Consult)

poll/ 49.9% of active-duty service members have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to 38% who view Trump favorably. 42% said they “strongly” disapprove of Trump’s time in office. 43% said they would vote for Biden if the election was held today, and 37% said they plan to vote to re-elect Trump. (Military Times)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The House Oversight Committee will issue a subpoena for Postmaster General Louis DeJoy for records related to recent operational changes at the U.S. Postal Service. Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney accused DeJoy of ignoring the panel’s demand for documents related to Postal Service mail delays, voting by mail, and contacts with White House officials or the Trump campaign. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

  2. A Trump-appointed federal housing official tricked four public housing residents into appearing in a video that was used during the Republican National Convention. Three of the tenants said they were never told that their interviews would be edited into a video clip that aired during the RNC, and all three said they opposed Trump and were misled about the video. Lynne Patton is a longtime Trump associated and is head of the New York office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Under the Hatch Act, Patton is barred from using her government position to engage in political activities. (New York Times)

  3. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf claimed he didn’t know the naturalization ceremony he participated in at the White House would be broadcast during the Republican National Convention. Wolf’s comments came after DHS employees received an email reminding them not to engage in “partisan political activity.” Democrats have also called for an investigation into Wolf’s potential violation of the Hatch Act. (Politico / HuffPost)

  4. A group of Voice of America journalists accused the parent agency’s new CEO of “endanger[ing] the personal security of VOA reporters at home and abroad, as well as threatening to harm U.S. national security objectives.” The group alleges that Michael Pack’s remarks in an interview prove he has a damaging agenda for the international broadcasters he oversees. Pack was nominated by Trump in 2018 to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media. (NPR)


👑 Portrait of a president.

  • Trump Embraces Fringe Theories on Protests and the Coronavirus. “Trump unleashed an especially intense barrage of Twitter messages over the weekend, embracing fringe conspiracy theories claiming that the coronavirus death toll has been exaggerated and that street protests are actually an organized coup d’état against him.” (New York Times)

  • How Trump Sowed COVID Supply Chaos: “Try Getting It Yourselves.” In a March 16 conference call, President Trump told governors that the federal government would try to help, but that for “respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment—try getting it yourselves.” (Wall Street Journal)

Day 1317: "Profoundly."

💌 Send me a handwritten postcard or letter with advice for the future generation about wtf has happened over the last four years and what needs to be done.

Not sure where to start? Consider the Trump administration’s impact on climate change, healthcare, immigration, education, civil rights, or whatever, like this goddamn pandemic, and how it’s changed you, your relationships, and your outlook for the future.

Matt at WTF Just Happened Today?
505 Broadway E #211
Seattle, WA 98102 USA

🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~24,566,000; deaths: ~834,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,903,000; deaths: ~182,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • At least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March – about 60,000 higher than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus. (New York Times)

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / USA Today / CNN / CNBC


1/ Trump’s effort to block a subpoena for his financial records would “significantly impair” an ongoing investigation into potential financial crimes, according to the Manhattan district attorney. Cyrus Vance urged the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to reject Trump’s emergency bid to block the subpoena for eight years of his tax returns, saying the “continued delay of the grand jury’s investigation is unwarranted” because Trump has “no chance of success.” Trump has until Monday to respond in writing. Oral arguments are scheduled for Sept. 1. (Reuters / Politico)

2/ A federal judge ordered the Trump administration and the U.S. Postal Service to turn over documents and information about USPS service changes that could undermine mail-in voting. U.S. District Judge Stanley Bastian gave the administration 10 days to comply with the order, which is tied to a lawsuit brought by 20 states over the changes made by Postmaster General Louis Dejoy. The Justice Department opposed the request, arguing that responding to the requests would be burdensome and that much of the information is already part of the public record. Among the information sought by the states is a list of all mail sorting machines identified for decommissioning, including their locations, and whether they will be reinstalled if they have already been decommissioned. (Associated Press / CNN)

  • A judge ordered an Iowa county to invalidate 50,000 requests for absentee ballots, agreeing with Trump’s campaign that its elections commissioner overstepped his authority by pre-filling them with voters’ personal information. (NBC News)

3/ Trump “profoundly” accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for a second term, botching the word “proudly” in his prepared text, during a 70-minute speech on the South Lawn of the White House. Trump repeatedly misrepresented his own record and leveled numerous false or misleading attacks on Democrats, asserting that he is responsible for everything good that has happened since taking office and that everyone else is to blame for the country’s problems. Trump, meanwhile, has presided over the deaths of 180,000 Americans with nearly 30 million people out of work from the coronavirus, and civil unrest over racial injustice that he has repeatedly and consistently stoked. And, nearly every claim Trump made about Biden’s positions was false. Trump, nevertheless, claimed the nation is on the cusp of a takeover by “violent anarchists” who would exploit a “weak” Joe Biden to destroy America, adding: “No one will be safe in Biden’s America.” Nearly 2,000 guests on the lawn were packed into rows of chairs with few wearing masks despite the pandemic and social distancing guideline. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president: Instead of Evolving as President, Trump Has Bent the Job to His Will. When asked to define what his second-term agenda would be, Trump replied: “But so I think, I think it would be, I think it would be very, very, I think we’d have a very, very solid, we would continue what we’re doing, we’d solidify what we’ve done, and we have other things on our plate that we want to get done.” (New York Times)

  • 🌀 Dept. of Political Infomercials.

  • 🐘 Fact-Checking Night 4 of the RNC: CNN / Washington Post

  • 🐘 RNC Night 4 Recaps: New York Times / The Atlantic / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / NPR

  • [Read] Trump’s acceptance speech at the RNC.

  • The Biden campaign bought the domain name KeepAmericaGreat.com and turned it into a list of Trump’s broken promises. “Trump isn’t looking for a second term,” the page reads. “He’s looking for a do-over.” The page also lists a number of promises Trump had made that the Biden campaign says he hasn’t delivered on. Trump announced that Keep America Great would be his re-election slogan before the formal launch of his campaign last year. (Politico / NBC News)

4/ A senior White House official dismissed concerns about the lack of social distancing at Trump’s GOP acceptance speech, saying “everybody is going to catch this thing eventually.” An estimated 1,500 people, mostly maskless, attended the speech. Most guests were not administered rapid coronavirus tests upon entry. (Talking Points Memo)

  • Four people involved with the Republican National Convention meeting in Charlotte tested positive for COVID-19. A spokesman for the party said two attendees and two individuals “supporting the event” tested positive upon arriving at the convention and were immediately sent home. In all, 792 tests were given to people who attended or provided support to the convention in Charlotte. (Charlotte Observer / CNN)

  • A member of Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s team tested positive for COVID-19. A defense official said the staffer was part of the advance team for Esper’s trip in the Indo-Pacific region and did not come into contact with Esper or Pentagon staff. (CNN)

5/ Thousands of demonstrators marched on Washington demanding an end to systemic racism while honoring the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address. Speakers called for the Senate to take up the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would make it easier to prosecute police officers for misconduct, and enact a new version of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March convened hours after Trump’s acceptance speech on the South Lawn of the White House where he railed against what he called agitators bent on destroying “the American way of life.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / USA Today)

  • Jacob Blake, who is now paralyzed from the waist down after a Kenosha police officer shot him seven times in the back, is handcuffed to his hospital bed. Blake was shackled to his bed because of a warrant related to a July charge of third-degree sexual assault, criminal trespass, and disorderly conduct. (CNN / New York Times)

6/ FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn removed the agency’s chief spokeswoman, who was installed by the White House 11 days ago. Emily Miller previously worked in communications for the re-election campaign of Ted Cruz and was a journalist for One America News, the conservative cable network. Separately, the Department of Health and Human Services terminated the contract of a public relations consultant who had advised Hahn to correct misleading comments about the benefits of blood plasma for COVID-19. HHS, however, denied that Wayne Pines’s contract was terminated because of his involvement in the plasma messaging. (New York Times / Politico / CNN)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The House Foreign Affairs Committee announced contempt proceedings against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over his “ongoing refusal to comply” with a subpoena for records related to the State Department’s involvement in attempts to link Joe Biden to corruption in Ukraine. In a statement, Chairman Eliot Engel cited Pompeo’s “unprecedented record of obstruction and defiance of the House’s constitutional oversight authority.” (CNBC / Axios / New York Times)

  2. Twitter removed two fake, pro-Trump accounts that had co-opted the identities of African Americans. The fake accounts used the images of Black men for their profile pictures and had five separate tweets with at least 10,000 retweets related to abandoning the Democratic Party. (NBC News)

  3. The Pentagon will reduce the U.S. force in Iraq to about 3,500 troops from about 5,200. “The U.S. and Iraq refrained from publicly setting a schedule for reducing the approximately 5,200 American troops now in the country when Iraq’s prime minister visited Washington last week.” (Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

  4. University of Pennsylvania faculty asked the provost to investigate how Trump was admitted to the school in 1966. Eric Orts and five other faculty cited “new evidence” on secretly recorded tapes between Mary Trump and Maryanne Trump Barry, in which Trump’s sister says a friend took his entrance exam. Mary Trump’s new book also alleges that Trump paid someone to take his SATs. In July, the six professors wrote that “failing to investigate an allegation of fraud at such a level broadcasts to prospective students and the world at large that the playing field is not equal, that our degrees can be bought, and that subsequent fame, wealth, and political status will excuse past misconduct.” (Washington Post)

Day 1316: "This is his America."

💌 Send me a handwritten postcard or letter with advice for the future generation about wtf has happened over the last four years and what needs to be done.

Not sure where to start? Consider the Trump administration’s impact on climate change, healthcare, immigration, education, civil rights, or whatever, like this goddamn pandemic, and how it’s changed you, your relationships, and your outlook for the future.

Matt at WTF Just Happened Today?
505 Broadway E #211
Seattle, WA 98102 USA

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but a postcard costs $0.35 and a First Class letter costs $0.55. Buy stamps online here.

🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)



1/ Another 1 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week, and an another 608,000 workers applied for aid through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. In total, 27 million workers are unemployed and more than 14.5 million are collecting benefits – up from 1.7 million a year ago. The report also marks the 22nd time in 23 weeks that new jobless claims have come in above 1 million. Before the coronavirus pandemic, initial claims had never topped 700,000 in a week. (CNN / CNBC / Associated Press / Politico / New York Times)

2/ The CDC attempted to clarify its recommendation that people with no symptoms “do not necessarily need a test” – even after exposure to the coronavirus. In a new statement, the CDC’s director, Dr. Robert Redfield, said that “testing may be considered for all close contacts of confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.” He added: “Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, can get a test. Everyone who wants a test does not necessarily need a test.” The CDC’s previous guidance recommended that people exposed to the coronavirus be tested because of the threat of asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic transmission. Despite Redfield’s statement, the CDC’s website had not been updated. (NBC News / New York Times / NBC News / USA Today)

  • The Trump administration will purchase 150 million rapid coronavirus tests for about $750 million, which will be deployed in nursing homes, schools and other areas with populations at high risk. Abbott Laboratories received an emergency authorization from the FDA on Wednesday for the test, which costs $5 and can produce results in 15 minutes without the use of any lab equipment. (Reuters / Politico)

3/ Trump – without evidence – claimed that problems with mail-in ballots on Election Day will come from election officials who are “going to count them wrong.” Multiple investigations and studies – including Trump’s own voter fraud investigatory committee – have found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the U.S. Trump, however, said he’s not worried about USPS’s ability to deliver ballots – “it has nothing to do with the post office” – but rather “The problem is when they dump all these [ballots] in front of a few people who are counting them, and they’re going to count them wrong.” Trump added that the “only thing” he’s worried about is “unsolicited ballots, where they’re going to send 80 million unsolicited ballots to people that they don’t even know if they’re alive or if they’re living there.” Earlier this month, Trump threatened to veto any coronavirus relief package that included funding for the USPS, and baselessly suggested that election drop boxes would lead to widespread fraud. (NBC News)

  • 🌀 Dept. of Political Infomercials.

  • 🐘 Fact-Checking Night 3 of the RNC: CNN / Washington Post

  • 🐘 RNC Night 3 Recaps: Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times

  • 🐘 RNC Night 4 Live Blogs: NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post

  • More than 100 former John McCain staffers endorsed Biden. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  • The live audience for Trump’s Republican convention address won’t receive coronavirus tests. Instead, guests received instructions that they must wear masks. (Politico)

  • Department of Homeland Security sent employees an email advising them not to engage in “partisan political activity,” citing “heightened scrutiny.” The warning comes days after acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf participated in a naturalization ceremony at the Republican National Convention. (CNN / Politico)

4/ Trump dismissed the NBA player-led protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake hours after Jared Kushner said the players were “very fortunate” to be “able to take a night off from work.” Trump told reporters that while he doesn’t “know much” about the protest, “I know their ratings have been very bad because I think people are a little tired of the NBA […] They’ve become like a political organization, and that’s not a good thing.” Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short, meanwhile, called the protests “absurd and silly,” adding “If they want to protest, I don’t think we care.” The comments from the White House come a day after the NBA postponed three scheduled playoff games, prompted by the Milwaukee Bucks’ demanding that lawmakers address police brutality and racial injustice. The unprecedented decision to postpone games was followed by players and teams from the WNBA, MLB, NFL, MLS, and pro tennis sitting out events Wednesday night. Trump has made restoring “law and order” a centerpiece of his campaign following the death of George Floyd, a Black man Minneapolis police killed in late May, which spurred national protests. (ESPN / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / The Hill / Washington Post / CNBC / CNN / Axios / Mediate / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Biden accused Trump of “rooting for more violence, not less” because he thinks it benefits him politically. Biden also suggested that Trump is making the situation worse by “pouring gasoline on the racial flames that are burning […] the people have a right to be angry, people have a right to protest.” He continued: “This is the same guy, when people came out of Charlottesville and a young woman gets killed, they’re spewing hate, and their veins bulging, carrying swastikas […] he says there are very fine people on both sides. He just keeps pouring fuel on the fire. He’s encouraging this.” Biden concluded: “This is his America.” (NBC News / Bloomberg / Politico)

  • Kamala Harris, meanwhile, accused Trump and Republicans of ignoring “the reality” of the “life of a Black person in America.” In a speech to prebut Trump’s appearance at RNC, Harris said Trump’s “reckless disregard for the well-being of the American people” has been deadly. As “Donald Trump stood idly by […] Instead of rising to meet the most difficult moment of his presidency, Donald Trump froze. He was scared and he was petty and vindictive.” (CNN / Politico / Axios)

  • The RNC aired a video meant to give viewers “a taste of Biden’s America,” but the video included footage from Barcelona, Spain. Other images of protests in the segment included a march in Brooklyn, a car on fire in Chicago, and drone footage of a tree on fire in New York. (BuzzFeed News)

6/ Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman filed a complaint with the Pentagon’s inspector general suggesting he and his brother Alexander was retaliated against for disclosing potential ethics violations by senior White House officials. Alexander Vindman served as a key witness during Trump’s impeachment and was dismissed from his position on the National Security Council in February. Yevgeny Vindman worked as a deputy legal adviser for the NSC and a senior ethics official on the NSC staff. He was also removed after the impeachment proceedings ended. Yevgeny Vindman’s legal team said in a statement that actions were “improperly taken against him in retaliation for his protected disclosures involving matters that ultimately led to the president’s impeachment as well as disclosures of misconduct by other current senior members of the president’s national security team.” (CBS News / Axios)

7/ The Trump Organization has charged taxpayers more than $900,000 in fees related to Trump’s 271 visits to his own properties since he took office. At least $570,000 came as a result of Trump’s travel. Campaign finance records also show that the Trump Organization received at least $3.8 million in fees related to 37 instances in which Trump headlined a political event at one of his properties. (Washington Post)

  • The White House said that it has compiled a “very large” dossier on a Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter and others, calling them a “disgrace to journalism and the American people.” In a statement, White House spokesperson Judd Deere accused The Washington Post of “blatantly interfering with the business relationships of the Trump Organization” and demanded “it must stop.” (CNN / Washington Post)

Day 1315: "Extreme action."

💌 Send me a handwritten postcard or letter with advice for the future generation about wtf has happened over the last four years and what needs to be done.

Not sure where to start? Consider the Trump administration’s impact on climate change, healthcare, immigration, education, civil rights, or whatever, like this goddamn pandemic, and how it’s changed you, your relationships, and your outlook for the future.

Matt at WTF Just Happened Today?
505 Broadway E #211
Seattle, WA 98102 USA

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but a postcard costs $0.35 and a First Class letter costs $0.55. Buy stamps online here.

🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)



1/ The CDC abruptly changed its COVID-19 testing guidance to exclude people without symptoms who have been exposed to COVID-19. Previously, the CDC said testing was appropriate for people with recent or suspected exposure, even if they were asymptomatic, “because of the potential for asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.” The guidance now recommends that, for healthy people who have been within six feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes, “you do not necessarily need a test.” Experts, however, questioned the revision, calling it “potentially dangerous” and saying “testing, even for asymptomatic people, is critical to keeping community transmission low since we know that presymptomatic transmission drives much of the spread.” The new guidance was introduced without an announcement. Instead, the CDC website was quietly updated. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News)

2/ The White House pressured the CDC to change its guidance on testing asymptomatic people who have been exposed to the coronavirus. “It’s coming from the top down,” an official said. Another said the guidelines were not written by the CDC but were imposed. HHS Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir said the changes were “discussed at the last task force meeting and approved,” and that the idea had originated with himself and CDC Director Robert Redfield. However, Thursday was the same day Dr. Anthony Fauci was under general anesthesia for vocal cord surgery. Dr. Fauci confirmed that he was not part of the discussion. Trump has repeatedly suggested that the U.S. should do less testing. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

3/ The Trump administration threatened to withhold Medicare and Medicaid funding from hospitals if they don’t report COVID-19 data to the Department of Health and Human Services. Until now, some hospitals were voluntarily reporting this information. The new rules, however, make reporting a requirement for participation in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. In July, the administration ordered hospitals to stop reporting coronavirus data to the CDC, but instead send results to HHS by way of a private vendor. Weeks later, HHS reversed course and returned the responsibility for data collection to the CDC. [Editor’s note: I’m admittedly confused here. Anyone able to clarify all of this for me?] (New York Times)

4/ The intelligence community said there is “no information or intelligence” that foreign countries, including Russia, are “engaged in any kind of activity to undermine any part of the mail-in vote.” The disclosure contradicts Trump and Attorney General William Barr, who have repeatedly falsely claimed that foreign adversaries are targeting mail ballots as part of a “rigged” presidential election. Senior officials, however, declined to discuss Russia’s efforts to amplify Trump’s attempts to sow mistrust and doubt about the legitimacy of the election. (NPR / Politico / CNN / Associated Press)

5/ Trump said he will send federal law enforcement and the National Guard to to Kenosha, Wisconsin to “restore law and order” amid protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, who was shot multiple times at close range and left paralyzed. Trump’s authority to send in federal resources, however, is limited without the direct invitation of the state government. Meanwhile, a white, 17-year-old police admirer was arrested and charged with homicide after two people were killed and another seriously wounded by gunfire. Kyle Rittenhouse traveled about 15 miles from Antioch, Illinois to Kenosha. He also appeared in the front row at a Trump rally in January. After three days following Blake’s shooting, Trump has not directly addressed it, but instead tweeted that he “will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets.” (Politico / Bloomberg / ABC News / NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post / BuzzFeed News)

6/ The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to reinstate restrictions on an abortion medication that were temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. In July, a federal judge blocked the FDA from enforcing its rule on mifepristone, saying the restrictions were an undue burden and “substantial obstacle” on women’s access to abortion services. The administration’s request, if granted, would again prevent women from getting the drug unless they visit a hospital, clinic, or medical office, and acknowledge in writing that they have been advised of the drug’s risks. (CNBC)

7/ In 2018, Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection officials suggested deploying a microwave weapon against immigrants at the border. The “heat ray” was designed by the military to make people’s skin feel like it is burning when they get within range of its invisible beams. Kirstjen Nielsen, then the secretary of homeland security, told an aide afterward that she would not authorize the use of the device. At a separate meeting earlier in the day – and 15 days before the 2018 midterms – Trump directed his Nielsen and White House staff that “extreme action” was needed to stop the migrants caravans heading to the U.S. border. (New York Times)

poll/ 66% of likely voters in Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin say they have serious concerns about COVID-19 – down from 69% two weeks ago. The share of respondents who said they have “very serious” concerns about the coronavirus dropped to 45% from 49%. (CNBC)

poll/ 49% of Black Americans say they are somewhat or very likely to get a flu shot this year, compared 65% of white Americans and 60% of Hispanics. 28% of Black Americans say they would be willing to take a first-generation COVID-19 vaccine, compared to 51% of white Americans and 56% of Hispanics. Overall, 62% of those surveyed say they are somewhat or very likely to get a flu shot, while 48% say they’ll take a first-generation COVID-19 vaccine. (Axios)


🌀 Dept. of Political Infomercials.

  1. 🐘 Fact-Checking Night 2 of the RNC: CNN / New York Times

  2. 🐘 RNC Night 2 Recaps: NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post

  3. 🐘 RNC Night 3 Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News

  4. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo addressed the RNC from a rooftop in Jerusalem, where he was on a government-paid diplomatic mission, even though State Department employees were expressly told to avoid political activity and not to attend political conventions. No sitting secretary of state had previously addressed a national political convention in at least 75 years. (New York Times / Politico)

  5. Trump pardoned a man from the White House and hosted a naturalization ceremony for five others during the RNC. The full pardon for Jon Ponder, a man convicted of robbing a bank, aired during a segment in the first minutes of the RNC’s second night. Followed by Acting Homeland Security secretary Chad Wolf administering the Oath of Allegiance for five new citizens in a pre-taped ceremony. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from engaging in most political activity inside federal buildings or while on duty. A White House official, however, claimed that because the naturalization ceremony was part of Trump’s official schedule and publicized on a public website, “there was no violation of law.” (Washington Post / NPR / The Guardian / New York Times / Los Angeles Times / Axios)

  6. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows dismissed accusations that Trump administration officials violated the Hatch Act by speaking at the Republican National Convention, saying “Nobody outside of the Beltway really cares.” Trump administration officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Economic Director Larry Kudlow, and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, have all accepted speaking roles at the RNC. (Politico / Axios)

  7. People who attended Melania Trump’s Rose Garden speech at the RNC were not required to get tested for COVID-19. A person who attended the speech said there were screening questions on the RSVP form, but no actual coronavirus tests or temperature checks were required or conducted at the White House. Most of the attendees also did not wear masks, and the chairs provided for attendees were not spaced six feet apart. (CNN)

  8. The RNC canceled one of its scheduled speakers after she promoted an anti-Semitic and QAnon conspiracy theories on Twitter. Hours before Mary Ann Mendoza, a member of the Trump campaign’s advisory board, was set to appear in a video praising Trump’s efforts on immigration policy, she retweeted a threat containing nearly every anti-Semitic trope of the last century and claimed that Jewish forces in the banking industry were are out to enslave the world. Mendoza later deleted her tweet and posted an apology “for not paying attention.” (Daily Beast / CNN / CNBC / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

Day 1314: "Grossly misrepresented."


1/ The FDA “grossly misrepresented data” about the use of blood plasma therapy to treat coronavirus patients, according to the Center for Pharmaceutical Policy and Prescribing at the University of Pittsburgh. Trump, Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, and Alex Azar, the health and human services secretary, announced the emergency approval of convalescent plasma, claiming that it would reduce coronavirus deaths by 35% this year. Experts and scientists, however, say the way the administration framed the data is misleading and don’t know exactly where the statistic came from. The data may have been calculated based on a small subgroup of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in a Mayo Clinic study, but does not appear in the official authorization letter issued by the FDA, nor was it in a memo written by FDA scientists. (New York Times)

2/ FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn apologized for overstating the benefits of treating COVID-19 patients with convalescent plasma. While the therapy is considered safe, plasma has not yet been proven effective against the coronavirus. Hahn did not dispute Trump’s assessment that plasma is a “very effective” treatment at a news conference, but distorted the findings from a Mayo Clinic study when he said “if you are one of those 35 out of 100 people who these data suggest survive as a result of it, this is pretty significant.” Hahn later conceded scientists found that patients given plasma early in their illness fared better than those who received it later. The Mayo study, however, lacked a control group. (Politico / Associated Press / Bloomberg / CNBC)

3/ Stephen Hahn pushed back against Trump’s baseless claim that the “deep state” is deliberately stalling coronavirus vaccine development at the FDA. “I have not seen anything that I would consider to be ‘deep state’ at the FDA,” Hahn said in response to Trump’s accusation that people working at the FDA are intentionally complicating efforts to test COVID-19 vaccines in order to delay the results until after the November election. Despite Trump’s attacks, Hahn says he still has “a very good relationship with the president” and that he feels “very comfortable and continue to feel comfortable with that relationship.” (Reuters / The Hill)

4/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned against an emergency use authorization for a coronavirus vaccine until it’s proven safe and effective. “One of the potential dangers if you prematurely let a vaccine out is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enroll people in their trial,” Fauci said. Health experts say they’re worried that the White House may pressure the FDA to push out a vaccine under an emergency use authorization before it has been fully tested. Fauci also declined to comment on Trump’s recent tweets about the “deep state” and the FDA, but he reiterated the risks of rushing vaccine development “before you have a signal of efficacy.” (Reuters)

5/ New York and New Jersey sued Trump and Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over changes to postal service operations. The lawsuit asks the court to vacate recent changes, including the removal of mailboxes and mail sorting machines, and curtailing of overtime, made to the U.S. Postal Service and to stop it from implementing additional service reductions at a time when a pandemic has prompted millions more people than usual to plan to vote by mail. New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement: “This USPS slowdown is nothing more than a voter suppression tactic […] these authoritarian actions are not only jeopardizing our democracy and fundamental right to vote, but the immediate health and financial well-being of Americans across the nation.” (Bloomberg / Reuters)

6/ The House Foreign Affairs Committee’s subpanel on oversight is investigating Mike Pompeo’s decision to speak at the Republican National Convention. Pompeo’s choice to speak at the convention “may violate the Hatch Act, government-wide regulations implementing that Act, and State Department policies,” according to a letter sent by Rep. Joaquin Castro to Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun. The Hatch Act prohibits federal employees from participating in certain political activities. On Feb. 18, 2020, Biegun sent State Department employees an email – approved by Pompeo – of legal memos about the limitations on the political activity for U.S. diplomats and other State staffers. And in July, Pompeo sent a memo warning staffers — and specifically Senate-confirmed officials — not to attend political conventions. Castro said that Pompeo’s speech is not only “highly unusual and likely unprecedented,” but that “it appears that it may also be illegal.” (Daily Beast / Politico / Axios / Washington Post / NBC News)

7/ Trump will nominate Chad Wolf to be the permanent, Senate-confirmed secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. Wolf has been the acting secretary since November 2019, and the department has not had a confirmed secretary since April 2019 when former Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was forced to resign. Since taking over from acting Secretary Kevin McAleenan, Wolf has overseen a crackdown at the U.S.-Mexico border and was responsible for sending Homeland Security agents to Portland, Oregon in July. A recent Government Accountability Office report found that Wolf’s appointment is invalid. (Axios / Politico / ABC News / CNN / CBS News / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Trump’s reelection campaign has paid his private companies at least $2.3 million for rent, food, lodging, and other expenses, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Trump, the richest president in American history, has yet to donate to his 2020 campaign. (Forbes)

9/ U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services canceled a planned furlough of more than 13,400 employees, which would have crippled the processing of applications for green cards, work permits, U.S. citizenship and other immigration benefits. USCIS funds itself almost entirely through the fees it collects, unlike most other federal agencies. The agency said it was considering a planned furlough of more than 13,400 employees after citizenship and immigration applications fell because of the coronavirus pandemic. In May, the agency asked Congress for an emergency $1.2 billion infusion, but a bailout faded following a standoff between Congress and the Trump administration on a COVID-19 relief package last month. (Wall Street Journal / CBS News)

Day 1313: "I am not engaged in sabotaging the election."


1/ The New York Attorney General’s Office is investigating whether the Trump Organization and Trump inflated his assets in financial documents to secure loans and get tax benefits. In court filings, Letitia James’ office also asked the court to order Eric Trump to provide testimony after he initially agreed to sit for a deposition on July 22, but then abruptly canceled. “For months, the Trump Organization has made baseless claims in an effort to shield evidence from a lawful investigation into its financial dealings,” James said. “They have stalled, withheld documents, and instructed witnesses, including Eric Trump, to refuse to answer questions under oath.” The state’s top prosecutor opened the investigation in March 2019 after Michael Cohen told Congress that Trump had inflated his assets in financial statements to secure loans and had understated them to reduce his real estate taxes. The Manhattan district attorney’s office has also recently suggested in court filings that it is investigating possible bank and insurance fraud by Trump and the Trump Organization.(Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • The Manhattan district attorney’s office agreed to delay enforcing a subpoena for Trump’s financial records until after a federal appeals court has ruled on Trump’s request for a stay pending appeal of his lawsuit. (CNN)

2/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy denied that the policies he’s implemented have led to the current mail delays and insisted that the changes, including the removal of blue collection boxes and mail sorting machines, had preceded him assuming office June 15. In a contentious hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, DeJoy testified that the cost-cutting measures he put in place were an attempt to have USPS trucks run on schedule, and pushed back against suggestions that the changes were intended to influence the 2020 election by making mail-in voting less reliable. “I am not engaged in sabotaging the election,” DeJoy told the committee, calling the claims “misleading.” As DeJoy testified, Trump tweeted his baseless accusations that mail-in voting would be used to rig the November election against him. DeJoy also refused to agree to restore the mail-sorting machines that had been removed from use, but acknowledged that a “deterioration in service” had occurred. Democrats, meanwhile, threatened to subpoena DeJoy for deliberately withholding internal decision-making documents. Robert Duncan, chairman of the Postal Service Board of Governors, also testified. (CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Reuters / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / CNN)

  • The House passed a $25 billion bill for emergency U.S. Postal Service funding. The bill would also reverse recent cost-cutting operational changes that have slowed mail service around the country. The measure isn’t expected to reach Trump’s desk as the Republican-held Senate is unlikely to vote on it. (Axios / CNN / NBC News / The Hill / Washington Post)

  • Homeland Security’s acting chief said the department does not have the authority to send agents to polling locations despite Trump’s pledge to send “law enforcement” to polling locations to guard against the threat of voter fraud on Election Day. Chad Wolf said: “This is not a mission for the Department of Homeland Security.” (CNN)

3/ Twitter flagged Trump’s tweet that mail drop boxes are a “voter security disaster” and “not Covid sanitized,” labeling it a “misleading health claim that could potentially dissuade people from participation in voting.” The tweet violated the company’s Civic Integrity Policy and restricted other users from sharing, liking or replying to the tweet. The tweet, however, was allowed to “remain on the service given its relevance to ongoing public conversation.” (Axios / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump, without evidence, accused the FDA of deliberately delaying coronavirus vaccine trials until after the election, tweeting that “The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics.” Dr. Stephen Hahn, who Trump picked last year to head the agency, said earlier this month that the agency “will not cut corners” to approve a vaccine. Five days earlier, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro privately accused the FDA of being part of the “Deep State” during a meeting that was supposed to be about COVID-19 and the Strategic National Stockpile. (CNN / Axios)

5/ The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for blood plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 – one day after Trump accused the agency of moving too slowly. Last week, the FDA declined to back the treatment over concerns from government scientists that there wasn’t enough evidence for the treatment’s effectiveness. Several clinical trials are examining the use of convalescent plasma for COVID-19, but none have been completed and results aren’t expected for at least several more weeks. Trump, however, claimed that convalescent plasma is a “powerful therapy” that the FDA found “safe and very effective,” saying it “had an incredible rate of success.” The FDA, however, said a more rigorous study is needed to prove whether the treatment effective. (Politico / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg / Bloomberg / New York Times / New York Times)

  • Scientists and FDA officials warned that more rigorous study is needed to prove whether convalescent plasma is an effective treatment for patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Experts say the therapy hasn’t been adequately tested. Britain’s public health system, the National Health Service, meanwhile, said that although U.S. studies into the use of the use of blood plasma were “promising,” they were “not conclusive,” and more studies need to be performed. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, meanwhile, exaggerated the efficacy of blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment, urging Americans to disregard any skepticism of the controversial therapy. (CNBC / Washington Post / Politico)

  • The Trump administration is reportedly considering fast tracking an experimental coronavirus vaccine developed in the U.K. for use in the United States. One option being considered would involve the FDA awarding emergency use authorization in October to a vaccine being developed in a partnership between AstraZeneca and Oxford University. AstraZeneca said it hasn’t talked to the U.S. government about an emergency use authorization, and a spokesperson for Health and Human Services said any claim of an emergency authorization for a vaccine before the election is “absolutely false.” A top FDA official, meanwhile, threatened to resign if the Trump administration approved a vaccine before it is shown to be safe and effective. (Financial Times / CNBC / Politico / Reuters)

poll/ 57% of Republicans consider the more than 177,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. “acceptable.” 90% of Democrats and 67% percent of independents said the number of deaths was unacceptable. 73% of Republicans say things are “going well” when it comes to the way the U.S. has handled the pandemic. 75% of Republicans say the country is better off today than it was four years ago. (CBS News)

poll/ 31% of Americans approve of Trump’s leadership during the coronavirus pandemic – down from 44% approval in March. (Associated Press)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump accepted his official nomination for a second term with a speech complaining about voting by mail while accusing Democrats of “using COVID to steal the election.” As the Republican National Convention got underway in Charlotte, N.C., Trump used a surprise speech at the convention not to preview a second term agenda, but to allege, without evidence, that Democratic-run states might mail ballots only to neighborhoods where members of their own party live. Trump also repeated his unfounded allegations that Obama and Biden had spied on his campaign in 2016, saying “They’re trying to steal the election from Republicans. Just like they did it last time, with spying.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  2. Trump will speak every night of the Republican National Convention this week. Typically, nominees only speak on the last night of the convention. Trump, however, will deliver his formal acceptance speech from a stage on the South Lawn at the White House. All of Trump’s adult children, including Tiffany, will also speak during the convention. The convention begins tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern. (Axios / New York Times)

  3. Kellyanne Conway will leave the Trump administration at the end of the month. Conway, whose title is counselor to the president, is one of Trump’s longest-serving aides. She was Trump’s third campaign manager in 2016 and the first woman to successfully manage a presidential bid to victory. She says she is leaving the White House to focus on her family. A White House official said Conway met with Trump on Sunday night to let him know she would be leaving. “This is completely my choice and my voice,” she said in a statement. “In time, I will announce future plans. For now, and for my beloved children, it will be less drama, more mama.” (Washington Post / Politico / NPR / CNN / New York Times / USA Today / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  4. Trump’s sister criticized him for his “lack of preparation” and lying, saying “you can’t trust him” because he “has no principles.” In secretly recorded audio between 2018 and 2019, Maryanne Trump Barry, a retired federal judge, talked candidly to Trump’s niece, Mary Trump, about her relationship with her brother. “All he wants to do is appeal to his base,” Barry said. “He has no principles. None. None. And his base, I mean my God, if you were a religious person, you want to help people. Not do this.” She also criticized Trump’s use of Twitter, saying “His goddamned tweet and lying, oh my God. I’m talking too freely, but you know. The change of stories. The lack of preparation. The lying. Holy shit.” Trump addressed the recording in a statement: “Every day it’s something else, who cares. I miss my brother, and I’ll continue to work hard for the American people. Not everyone agrees, but the results are obvious. Our country will soon be stronger than ever before.” (Washington Post / CBS News / New York Times / Yahoo News / Politico / Washington Post)

  5. Melania Trump’s friend and adviser reportedly secretly taped the first lady making disparaging remarks about Trump and his adult children. (Yashar Ali)

  6. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows claimed that Trump doesn’t know much about QAnon because there are more important things to focus on. Last week Trump praised supporters of the QAnon internet conspiracy theory because he heard “they like me very much, which I appreciate.” The FBI has labeled QAnon a potential domestic terrorist threat. (Politico)

  7. Trump reportedly directed Homeland Security officials to get their orders by watching Fox Business host Lou Dobbs “every night.” Former DHS chief of staff Miles Taylor was basically the “shadow chief of staff” for the department and the Trump “would call us and […] he would say, ‘Why the hell didn’t you watch Lou Dobbs last night? You need to listen to Lou. What Lou says is what I want to do.’” (HuffPost)

  8. Attorney General William Barr told Rupert Murdoch to “muzzle” a Fox News personality who was critical of Trump. In an October 2019 column, Napolitano wrote “The criminal behavior to which Trump has admitted is much more grave than anything alleged or unearthed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and much of what Mueller revealed was impeachable.” Trump reportedly “was so incensed by [Napolitano’s] TV broadcasts that he had implored Barr to send Rupert a message in person […] about ‘muzzling the judge.’” (The Guardian)

Day 1310: "Season of darkness."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~22,790,000; deaths: ~796,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,608,000; deaths: ~175,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Biden challenged Americans to overcome Trump’s “season of darkness,” saying “no rhetoric is needed. Just judge this president on the facts.” As he accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination for president, Biden urged Americans to embrace what he called “a path of hope and light” and reject Trump, who “has failed in his most basic duty to the nation: He’s failed to protect us. He has failed to protect America.” During his acceptance speech, Biden condemned Trump without ever mentioning him by name, calling “this a life-changing election” that “will determine what America’s going to look like for a long, long time.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / Axios / CNBC)

  • 🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump denounced Biden’s convention speech, saying “I’m the only thing standing between the American dream and total anarchy, madness and chaos.” At a gathering of the Council for National Policy in Arlington, Trump called the Democratic convention the “darkest and angriest and gloomiest” in the country’s history, saying “where Joe Biden sees American darkness, I see American greatness.” Trump claimed that voting by mail is “filthy,” a “disgrace,” and would lead to the “greatest catastrophe” ever while peddling fears about “violent mobs” overtaking U.S. cities. Trump also attacked Obama, saying “you can’t be a great president when much of what he’s done we’ve undone.” (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ More than 70 former national security officials called Trump “unfit to lead,” accusing him of undermining the rule of law, “spreading misinformation,” “undermining public health experts,” aligning himself with dictators and engaging “in corrupt behavior that renders him unfit to serve as president.” The officials, who served under Trump, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan, endorsed Biden, saying he has the “character, experience, and temperament to lead this nation.” (New York Times / The Hill)

4/ Trump pledged to send “sheriffs,” “law enforcement,” and “U.S. attorneys” to polling locations to guard against the nonexistent threat of voter fraud on Election Day. An election law expert said Trump does not have the authority to deploy local law enforcement officials to monitor elections. However, when asked by Fox News host Sean Hannity if he was going to “have an ability” to monitor and avoid fraud during the elections, Trump replied: “We’re going to have everything.” While Trump’s campaign could hire off-duty police to work the polls, any attempt to do so would likely draw legal challenges from Democrats, who would argue that the move amounted to attempted voter suppression. (CNN / The Hill / Mother Jones)

  • Trump repeated his unsubstantiated claim that mail-in ballots would lead to voter fraud and claimed without evidence that states expanding mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic aren’t adopting sufficient safeguards against fraud. Five states already holding elections almost entirely by mail without serious issues of fraud. Nevertheless, Trump claimed that mail-in voting “will be a tremendous embarrassment for our country, it will go on forever and you will never know who won. This is a very serious problem and something has to be done about it.” He added: “They all think I’m trying to steal the election. Just the opposite. I want fair results.” (Bloomberg)

  • Trump’s campaign provided no evidence of election fraud involving mail-in ballots after being ordered by a federal court judge to back up its claims about fraud in Pennsylvania’s vote-by-mail system. (The Intercept)

  • The Trump re-election effort has spent more than $1 billion since 2017. The record-breaking sum is the combined effort of the Trump campaign, the Republican Party, and two affiliated committees. The DNC, by comparison, has spent roughly $643 million so far, according to federal records. (Washington Post)

  • [Noted] Facebook Braces Itself for Trump to Cast Doubt on Election Results. “The world’s biggest social network is working out what steps to take should President Trump use its platform to dispute the vote.” (New York Times)

  • [Noted] The Republican Embrace of QAnon Goes Far Beyond Trump. As the president all but endorses the internet-driven conspiracy theory, it is shifting from the fringes of the internet to become an offline political movement. (New York Times)

5/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified that he is “extremely highly confident” that mail-in ballots sent seven days before Election Day will be properly processed and counted. In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, DeJoy said the agency will continue to prioritize ballots over other mail, but urged the public to “vote early.” DeJoy also defended recent operational changes to the Postal Service, saying the effort is in service of making the mail agency run more efficiently, adding that the USPS will make “dramatic changes” after the election. DeJoy testified that he had never spoken to Trump about the Postal Service, adding that he also had never spoken to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin or White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the changes. (CBS News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)

  • A former top Postal Service official testified that the Trump administration has been “politicizing” the Postal Service and using Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to inappropriately influence the organization. David Williams, former USPS Inspector General and former Vice Chair of the USPS Board of Governors, testified that he resigned “when it became clear to me that the administration was politicizing the Postal Service with the treasury secretary as the lead figure for the White House in that effort.” (CBS News)

  • Louis DeJoy’s selection as Postmaster General was “highly irregular” and he was not among the candidates initially vetted for the position by a national search firm hired by USPS leaders. House Oversight Committee Democrats say DeJoy’s name was put forward by John Barger, a member of the Postal Service’s Board of Governors, who also happens to be a Republican donor and managing director at a California-based private investment firm. And, weeks before DeJoy was selected as postmaster general, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin held a series of one-on-one meetings with members of the Postal Service Board of Governors. Neither the Treasury Department nor the Postal Service would confirm that the meetings ever occurred. (Politico / NBC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump filed an emergency request for a federal appeals court to stop the release of his tax returns. In the motion, Trump’s lawyers asked the court to impose an immediate stay on the case, allowing his legal team time to appeal. (NBC News / CNN)

  2. Steve Bannon pleaded not guilty after being indicted and taken into custody in New York on federal fraud charges. A federal judge agreed to release the former Trump administration chief strategist on a $5 million bond, and his travel will be restricted to New York and Washington D.C.. Bannon is also prohibited from using private jets or boats without prior approval. (Axios)

  3. Trump Jr. attempted to distance himself from the “We Build The Wall” crowdfunding campaign after Steve Bannon and three others were arrested and charged with defrauding donors. Trump Jr.‘s name is listed on the organization’s website as having endorsed the campaign to build a private border wall. (The Hill)

  4. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach said in an interview last year that he had spoken with Trump three times about the private border wall project at the center of a federal fraud investigation. Kobach said Trump was “enthusiastic” about the project and it carried his “blessing.” (CNN)

  5. Trump blamed California for its wildfires and threatened to withhold federal money, telling the state “you gotta clean your floors, you gotta clean your forests.” He added: “Maybe we’re just going to have to make them pay for it because they don’t listen to us.” (Politico)

Day 1309: "Donald Trump hasn't grown into the job because he can't."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~22,505,000; deaths: ~790,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,554,000; deaths: ~174,000

  • 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


1/ More than 1.1 million people filed for unemployment last week after dipping below a million the week before. Jobless claims have come in over the one million mark for 21 out of the last 22 weeks and the unemployment rate remains at around 10% five months after the coronavirus pandemic began. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / The Hill / CNN)

2/ A federal judge rejected Trump’s effort to block the Manhattan district attorney from obtaining eight years of his tax returns, dismissing arguments that Cyrus Vance’s grand jury subpoena was “wildly overbroad” and issued “in bad faith.” Vance’s grand jury investigation is looking into payments made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. The district attorney’s office also recently suggested that it’s investigating Trump and his company for “alleged bank and insurance fraud.” Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump is not immune from investigation. Trump, meanwhile, told reporters that “we’ll probably end up back in the Supreme Court,” saying “This is a continuation of the witch hunt, the greatest witch hunt in history. There’s never been anything like it.” Trump’s planned appeal will likely push the matter past the election. And even if Vance defeats Trump’s legal challenges, the documents will still be covered by grand jury secrecy laws. (New York Times / Axios / Politico / Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg / CNN / Associated Press / Reuters)

3/ Stephen Bannon and three other men were arrested and charged with defrauding donors to a crowdfunding campaign that claimed to be raising money for the construction of a private wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. The campaign, called “We Build the Wall,” was publicly supported by several of Trump’s allies, and raised more than $25 million. Bannon personally took in over $1 million from the scheme via a non-profit he controls, “and at least some of it was used to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in [his] personal expenses,” according to the indictment. Also named in the indictment is Brian Kolfage, the founder and president of We Build the Wall, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea. According to prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, the four men “orchestrated a scheme to defraud hundreds of thousands of donors […] capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction.” The United States Postal Inspection Service assisted in the investigation. Hours after Bannon’s arrest, Trump said he felt “very badly,” but claimed he knew “nothing” about the fundraising project or the people involved with it. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / NPR / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

  • [Analysis] Three people who led Trump’s 2016 campaign have now faced criminal charges. Corey Lewandowski was arrested on misdemeanor battery charges after he grabbed a Breitbart reporter’s arm at a Trump property in Florida. Paul Manafort was sentenced to more than seven years in prison after being convicted or pleading guilty to bank and tax fraud, witness tampering, and conspiracy against the United States. And now Stephen Bannon, who was arrested on federal fraud charges related to a scheme that redirected private donations intended for building a privately financed wall on the border with Mexico to himself and others. (Washington Post)

4/ Obama called out and criticized Trump during his speech at the Democratic National Convention, warning that Trump represents an existential threat to American democracy. “That’s what’s at stake right now — our democracy,” Obama said. Adding that Trump has had “no interest in using the awesome power of his office to help anyone but himself and his friends,” because he had “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show.” Obama also underscored the consequences of Trump’s failures as president, saying “170,000 Americans dead, millions of jobs gone, our worst impulses unleashed, our proud reputation around the world badly diminished, and our democratic institutions threatened like never before.” Obama concluded: “Donald Trump hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.” Meanwhile, at the White House, Trump responded on Twitter: “HE SPIED ON MY CAMPAIGN, AND GOT CAUGHT! WHY DID HE REFUSE TO ENDORSE SLOW JOE UNTIL IT WAS ALL OVER, AND EVEN THEN WAS VERY LATE? WHY DID HE TRY TO GET HIM NOT TO RUN?” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Axios / CNN)

  • [Transcript] Barack Obama’s DNC speech. (CNN)

5/ Trump praised supporters of the QAnon internet conspiracy theory because he heard “they like me very much, which I appreciate.” The FBI has said QAnon — which baselessly alleges that a cabal of sex traffickers within the “deep state” is engaged in a global fight to take down Trump — poses a domestic terrorist threat. While Trump claimed that he doesn’t know much about the conspiracy theory, he said he’s “heard that it is gaining in popularity,” adding: “I’ve heard these are people that love our country.” When a reporter told Trump that the central premise of the QAnon theory is that Trump is saving the world from a satanic cult of pedophiles and cannibals connected to the Democratic Party, Trump responded: “Is that supposed to be a bad thing or a good thing? If I can help save the world from problems, I am willing to do it. I’m willing to put myself out there.” (Axios / Politico / NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Reuters)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Department of Health and Human Services will reverse course and have hospitals report COVID-19 data to the CDC again. In July, HHS had instructed hospitals to no longer report new cases, hospital capacity, inventories, and other key data through the CDC’s National Health Safety Network, but to instead use the HHS Protect system, which has been plagued by delays and inconsistencies in data since being implemented. (Wall Street Journal)

  2. The U.S. Postal Service instructed maintenance managers around the country not to reconnect or reinstall any mail sorting machines they had already disconnected. The emails were sent shortly after USPS Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said he was “suspending” his new policies “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.” (Vice News)

  3. Trump’s cabinet officials had a 2018 show-of-hands vote in the White House Situation Room to move forward with separating migrant children, despite Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen warning that there were not enough resources to separate parents, prosecute them for crossing the border, and return them to their children in a timely manner. None of the 11 officials at the meeting said separating families would be inhumane, and any moral argument regarding immigration “fell on deaf ears” inside the White House, one official said. (NBC News)

  4. Trump ordered Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to leave her post in D.C. and go to the border at least half a dozen times, according to Miles Taylor, who worked in the Department of Homeland Security from 2017 to 2019. According to Taylor, Trump at one point told Nielsen to “‘Get your ass on TV at the border, what are you doing, what the hell are you doing?’” (Politico)

  5. The Trump administration is moving forward with a plan to sell F-35 fighter jets and advanced armed drones to the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is currently working with the Trump administration on a plan to formalize diplomatic ties with Israel. American officials say the new push to sell the advanced weapons is not a direct reward for the Emirati role in any particular diplomatic breakthrough, but they did not deny that it comes as a result of the broader diplomatic effort to forge official ties between the two Middle Eastern nations. Some parts of the Israeli government have voiced concerns about the sale, and Congress is unlikely to approve it without the support of the Israeli government. (New York Times)

  6. The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to decide whether Trump can block his critics on Twitter. An appeals court previously ruled that Trump’s practice of blocking critics violates the First Amendment. (Politico)

  7. A former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff said Trump once asked him and other officials whether the U.S. could trade Greenland for Puerto Rico because, in Trump’s words, “Puerto Rico was dirty and the people were poor.” (NBC News)

  8. The National Susan B. Anthony Museum and House declined Trump’s pardon of the late women’s suffrage leader, who was charged in 1872 with voting illegally. The museum noted that “If one wants to honor Susan B. Anthony today, a clear stance against any form of voter suppression would be welcome.” (Yahoo News)

Day 1308: "Wholly insufficient."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~22,245,000; deaths: ~784,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,517,000; deaths: ~173,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Coronavirus Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post

  • 🗳 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 / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)


1/ The Senate Intelligence Committee made criminal referrals of Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Steven Bannon, and other Trump allies to federal prosecutors in 2019. The bipartisan referrals were meant to pass along their suspicions that the men may have misled the committee during their testimony. The committee also made criminal referrals of Blackwater founder Erik Prince and former Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis. A criminal referral to the Justice Department means Congress believes a matter warrants investigation for potential violation of the law. There has been no public indication of any investigation. Attorneys for Trump Jr., Kushner, Bannon, and Clovis previously denied that their clients misled the committee. (NBC News / Washington Post / Los Angeles Times)

  • Trump dismisses new report on 2016 election interference as his allies continue to pursue theories it debunks. “Trump has pushed the debunked theories that Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the 2016 election and that it did so on behalf of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. The report found that Russian intelligence operations manufactured that theory, which Trump has never disavowed and which played a role in his impeachment when he pressed the issue in a 2019 phone call with Ukraine’s president.” (Washington Post)

  • [IDEAS] Russiagate Was Not a Hoax. The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence confirmed what the Mueller report could not. (The Atlantic)

2/ Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer accused the Trump administration of “concealing” its role in selecting Louis DeJoy as postmaster general. In mid-June, Schumer had asked the USPS Board of Governors for documents and information related to the executive search firm that helped select DeJoy. The secretary of the board, Michael Elston, responded in early July that “with respect to the specific information you requested, much of it is confidential.” A lawyer for the executive search firm said the board refused to waive a nondisclosure agreement, blocking congressional lawmakers from conducting “oversight obligations to better understand the selection of Mr. DeJoy.” (Washington Post / CNBC)

  • White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows claimed that Louis DeJoy did not consult with Trump before “suspending” changes to U.S. Postal Services operations. “The postmaster general did that on his own,” Meadows said. “That was an independent decision that was made by the postmaster general and the board of governors.” (The Hill)

3/ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Louis DeJoy of not committing to replacing the sorting machines, mailboxes, and other mail infrastructure that has already been removed. Following a conversation with DeJoy, Pelosi released a statement, saying: “The Postmaster General frankly admitted that he had no intention of replacing the sorting machines, blue mailboxes and other key mail infrastructure that have been removed and that plans for adequate overtime, which is critical for the timely delivery of mail, are not in the works.” Pelosi added that Dejoy’s “suspension” of cost-cutting and operational changes are “wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked.” Meanwhile, some postal union leaders doubt that the mail-processing equipment that remains in place would fully restore the capacity of the Postal Service. (Axios / CNN)

4/ Trump’s reelection campaign sued New Jersey over the state’s decision to mail a ballot to all residents. The lawsuit alleges that Gov. Phil Murphy’s executive order usurps the legislature’s authority to decide when and how elections are held. Murphy responded, saying “the President’s campaign is putting itself on record as wanting to delegitimize our November election instead of working with us to ensure that voters rights are upheld alongside public health.” (CNN)

5/ The Trump administration said it would consider the Democrats’ plan to spend $25 billion on the U.S. Postal Service as long as lawmakers include coronavirus relief payments and additional funding for small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program. The new stimulus package has been stalled with Democrats and Republicans at least $1 trillion apart. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans to hold a vote Saturday on $25 billion in funding for the Postal Service. (Bloomberg)

6/ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to say whether Trump would accept the election results if he lost, saying Trump has been clear that he will “see what happens” in November. On Monday, Trump told reporters that “the only way we’re going to lose this election is if the election is rigged.” (CBS News)

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s support of far-right House candidates with histories of racist remarks, saying Trump hadn’t done a “deep dive” into their pasts. Trump congratulated Laura Loomer, a self-described Islamophobe, for winning in Florida’s 21st Congressional District. Last week Trump called Marjorie Taylor Greene, a QAnon conspiracy theorist caught making racist rants, a “future Republican Star.” McEnany suggested Trump congratulated them as a matter of routine. (Politico)

7/ Trump called for a boycott of Goodyear tires after an employee posted a photo of the company’s policy banning employees from wearing “MAGA Attire” in the workplace. During a diversity training event at the company’s Topeka, Kansas plant, a slide labeled “Zero Tolerance” was presented and spelled out appropriate and inappropriate displays in the workplace. “Black Lives Matter” and “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride” were considered appropriate, while “Blue Lives Matter,” “All Lives Matter,” “MAGA Attire,” and “Political Affiliated Slogans or Material” were considered inappropriate. “Don’t buy GOODYEAR TIRES,” Trump tweeted. “They announced a BAN ON MAGA HATS. Get better tires for far less! (This is what the Radical Left Democrats do. Two can play the same game, and we have to start playing it now!)” Goodyear denied that the slide was created or distributed by their corporate office and claimed it was not part of a diversity training class. Meanwhile, several photos surfaced on social media showing Goodyear tires on Trump’s presidential limousine. When asked whether Trump would order the tires removed, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded: “I’m not going to comment on security matters.” (Politico / CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg / WIBW)

poll/ 22% of college students don’t plan to enroll this fall. Of those not returning to school, 73% are working full time, 4% are taking classes at a different university, and 2% are doing volunteer work. 85% of students believe they are likely or very likely to be exposed to the coronavirus if they return to campus this fall. (Axios)

poll/ 68% of Americans say they’re embarrassed by the U.S. response to the coronavirus. 62% say Trump should be doing more to fight it. 58% disapprove of the way Trump has handled the outbreak, and 55% say the worst is yet to come. 67% say they know someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19. 79% of Americans are angry about the way things are going in the country today. (CNN)

Day 1307: "A grave counterintelligence threat."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~21,975,000; deaths: ~777,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,470,000; deaths: ~172,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 🗳 How To Vote In The 2020 Election. A state-by-state guide to everything you need to know about mail-in and early in-person voting in the age of COVID-19, including the first day you can cast your ballot in the 2020 election. (FiveThirtyEight / NBC News)

  • 📺 Democratic Convention: Night One Moments That Mattered. “Democrats kicked off their virtual nominating convention Monday with a focused denunciation of President Trump, showcasing dozens of testimonials that culminated in lancing criticism from former first lady Michelle Obama, who cast Trump as incapable of meeting America’s needs and said Joe Biden would usher in racial justice and ease the coronavirus pandemic.” (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Politico)


1/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced that he is temporarily “suspending” some controversial cost-cutting initiatives until after the election “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.” In his statement, DeJoy said “mail processing equipment and blue collection boxes will remain where they are” and that “overtime has, and will continue to be, approved as needed.” DeJoy did not address whether changes that have already been made (e.g. removed equipment or changes in operational practices) would be rolled back. DeJoy and USPS board of governors Chairman Robert Duncan is scheduled to testify on Friday at a Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing, and again at the the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Monday. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / USA Today / CNBC)

2/ At least 20 states plan to sue the U.S. Postal Service and Louis DeJoy, seeking to reverse operational changes made without first seeking approval from the Postal Regulatory Commission. The lawsuits, expected to be filed in federal court in Washington state and Pennsylvania, will also argue that the changes will impede states’ ability to run free and fair elections. (Washington Post / Reuters)

  • Five of the six members of the U.S. Postal Service’s board of governor are linked to GOP and Trump circles through various campaign, legal, and financial connections. The board of governors were responsible for selecting Louis DeJoy as postmaster general. (CNBC)

3/ Paul Manafort’s interactions with Russian intelligence services during the 2016 presidential election posed a “grave counterintelligence threat,” according to a bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian interference, which detailed “counterintelligence threats and vulnerabilities.” The report found that the former Trump campaign chairman had “created opportunities for Russian intelligence services to exert influence over, and acquire confidential information on, the Trump Campaign” when he hired Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, described for the first time as a “Russian intelligence officer,” to serve as a liaison between him and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The report also found that Trump and senior campaign officials tried to obtain advance information about WikiLeaks’ email dumps from Roger Stone, and that Trump spoke to Stone about WikiLeaks, despite telling Robert Mueller in written answers he had “no recollections” that they had spoken about it. The committee also found “significant evidence” to suggest that WikiLeaks was “knowingly collaborating with Russian government officials.” Overall, the report largely supports the key findings on Russian election interference made by Robert Mueller, including that Putin had ordered the 2016 hacking and release of Democratic Party emails intended to harm Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and found numerous contacts between Trump associates and Russians or people with ties to the Russian government, as well as efforts by Trump to take advantage of the leaks politically. The report, however, stops short of alleging a direct coordination effort despite Trump associates being eager to exploit the Kremlin’s aid. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / Associated Press / Axios / CNN)

  • MORE FINDINGS:

  • Russia “took advantage” of members of the Trump transition team’s “relative inexperience in government, opposition to Obama administration policies, and Trump’s desire to deepen ties with Russia to pursue unofficial channels through which Russia could conduct diplomacy.”

  • Trump Jr. expected to receive “derogatory information” at the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting that would benefit the campaign. The meeting, however, “was part of a broader influence operation” from the Russian government, though there’s no evidence Trump campaign members knew of it. Two of the Russians who met with Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and Manafort had “significant connections” to the Russian government, including Russian intelligence, and Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya’s ties were “far more extensive and concerning than what had been publicly known.”

  • Michael Cohen “reached out to the Kremlin directly to solicit the Russian government’s assistance” about building a Trump Tower in Moscow.

  • [READ] Senate Intelligence Committee report on Russian Active Measures Campaigns and Interference in the 2016 U.S. Election.

  • Trump said he plans to seek a third term “because they spied on my campaign.” Trump’s often-repeated claim that the Obama administration illegally spied on his campaign has been refuted by Trump’s own FBI in a detailed report. Trump made the claim during a rally in Wisconsin last night. “We are going to win four more years,” he told the crowd. “And then after that, we’ll go for another four years because they spied on my campaign. We should get a redo of four years.” According to the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, however, “No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice.” (Rolling Stone)

  • Roger Stone dropped his appeal of seven federal felony convictions for lying to Congress. In July, Trump commuted Stone’s sentence, sparing him from having to serve any prison time. (Politico / NBC News)

4/ Trump retweeted Russian propaganda about Joe Biden that the U.S. intelligence community says it part of Moscow’s ongoing effort to “denigrate” Biden ahead of the election. The tweet contained audiotapes of a 2016 conversation between Biden and then-Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. The material was released earlier this year by Andriy Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker named by the US intelligence community in its August 7 statement about Russia’s disinformation campaign against Biden. There is no proof of wrongdoing on the tapes, but Trump and his allies, along with Kremlin-controlled media outlets, have used the tapes to stoke conspiracies about Biden’s dealings with Ukraine. (CNN)

poll/ 49% of registered voters said they would vote for Biden, while 38% said they would vote for Trump. Among likely voters, Biden is ahead 50% to 41%. (Yahoo News)

poll/ 44% of Americans say they would get a government-approved coronavirus vaccine if one becomes widely available, with 22% saying they wouldn’t, and 32% saying they aren’t sure. (NBC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump pardoned Susan B. Anthony to commemorated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. The women’s suffragist was arrested after voting illegally in 1872 and fined $100. During the same event, Trump, disparaged the country’s most admired woman, Michelle Obama, as “over her head” after her Democratic National Convention speech criticizing him. “He has had more than enough time to prove that he can do the job, but he is clearly in over his head,” Obama said in her 19-minute taped remarks. “He cannot meet this moment. He simply cannot be who we need him to be for us,” she said, before invoking Trump’s response when asked about lives lost from coronavirus in the country: “It is what it is.” (CNN / New York Times / Associated Press)

  2. A federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s rollback of anti-discrimination protections for transgender patients, citing a recent Supreme Court decision awarding workplace discrimination protections to LGBTQ employees. (Politico)

  3. In 2019, Trump wanted to cut off emergency relief funding to California during a series of wildfires because it was a blue state, according to Miles Taylor, former chief of staff to former Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen. Taylor alleges that Trump asked for funding to be pulled from FEMA during the wildfires, which caused millions of dollars in damage in California, because “he was so rageful that people in the state of California didn’t support him.” Taylor also claims that Trump tried to reinstate the practice of separating children from their families at the border in order to scare immigrants, and that Trump became “visibly furious” when Nielsen refused to do so. (Politico)

  4. New Zealand’s prime minister called Trump’s claim that New Zealand has had a “big surge” in coronavirus cases “patently wrong.” New Zealand recorded nine COVID-19 cases this week after going months without any. The United States, meanwhile, has seen at least 167,000 die and has recently averaged around 50,000 new cases each day. (Washington Post / NPR)

  5. The Trump campaign started selling face masks and is telling Trump’s supporters that he “urges all patriotic Americans to wear a face cover when they are unable to socially distance.” Trump initially refused to wear a face mask and called them a “double-edged sword.” He also mocked Biden for wearing one in public in May. Mask use among Trump’s base increased after Trump started wearing one. (Axios)

Day 1306: "Widespread and expanding."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~21,767,000; deaths: ~777,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,423,000; deaths: ~171,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 🗳 How To Vote In The 2020 Election. A state-by-state guide to everything you need to know about mail-in and early in-person voting in the age of COVID-19, including the first day you can cast your ballot in the 2020 election. (FiveThirtyEight / NBC News)

  • 📺 Democratic Convention. This year’s Democratic National Convention, which was originally set to take place in Milwaukee, will instead be held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic. The convention kicks-off today and will run through Thursday. Tonight’s theme, “We the People,” starts at 9 p.m. Eastern and will feature Michelle Obama and Bernie Sanders, as well as other party leaders. Watch live on DemConvention.com, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Twitch, Amazon Prime Video, Microsoft Bing, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku TV – or via broadcast television. (Bloomberg / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal)


1/ Nancy Pelosi recalled the House from summer recess to vote on legislation to block changes at the Postal Service that could disenfranchise voters who use mail-in ballots. The House was not scheduled to return until Sept. 14, but will vote Saturday on a $25 billion bill to fund the Postal Service and “prohibit the Postal Service from dialing back levels of service it had in place” on Jan. 1 until the pandemic ends. The Postal Service is expected to receive as many as 80 million mail-in ballots cast by Americans who are worried about voting in-person because of the coronavirus. Trump, meanwhile, attacked the Postal Service, declaring that the agency “has been failing for many decades” and asserting that Democrats “don’t have a clue.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Axios / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • [Analysis] Tracing Trump’s Postal Service obsession, from “loser” to “scam” to “rigged election.” (Washington Post)

  • [Context] Postal crisis ripples across nation as election looms. Trump’s furious objection to mail-in balloting and a new Trump-allied postmaster general are raising fears about the election and the Postal Service. (New York Times)

2/ Postmaster General Louis DeJoy agreed to testify at an “urgent” hearing before the House Oversight Committee next Monday about changes to the U.S. Postal Service. Trump, meanwhile, denied that his administration was attempting to slow down the mail or that he’s “tampering” with the election, arguing that DeJoy is trying “to make the post office great again,” which he claimed is “one of the disasters of the world.” And, speaking to reporters outside the White House, Trump claimed “I have encouraged everybody to speed up the mail, not slow the mail.” Trump later tweeted “SAVE THE POST OFFICE!” after wondering aloud on Twitter “Why is Congress scheduled to meet [DeJoy] during the Republican Convention, rather than now, while the Dems are having their Convention.” Last week, Trump admitted that he opposed additional funding for the Postal Service and election security because they would help facilitate voting by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Saturday, Trump continued his attacks on mail-in voting during a press conference, claiming without evidence that voting by mail will make the U.S. a “laughingstock.” (Axios / Politico / NBC News)

3/ At least six states are preparing to sue the Trump administration to prevent operational changes and funding lapses to the U.S. Postal Service that could affect voting in the 2020 presidential election. Attorneys general in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Massachusetts, Washington, and North Carolina are in discussions about how best to approach the suit. New York is reportedly also considering action. The states are expected to announce the lawsuit early this week. Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said the cohort is working “to determine what Trump and U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy are doing, whether they have already violated or are likely to violate any laws, and what tools we have at our disposal to put a stop to President Trump’s ongoing attack on our Postal Service and our democracy.” (Washington Post / New York Times)

4/ Trump suggested that the FDA should approve an untested experimental coronavirus treatment. Despite no public data or peer-reviewed research showing that the experimental botanical extract, oleandrin, has ever been tested in animals or humans for its efficacy against COVID-19, Trump said the extract should be marketed as a dietary supplement or approved as a drug to cure COVID-19. Oleandrin was promoted to Trump during an Oval Office meeting in July by HUD Secretary Ben Carson and MyPillow.com CEO Mike Lindell — a prominent Trump donor who recently took a financial stake in the company that develops the extract. (Axios)

  • White House staffers are still upset with Deputy National Security Adviser Matt Pottinger months after he wore a face mask in front of Trump. Several senior officials viewed Pottinger’s mask-wearing as an indication that he was publicly challenging the president. Trump has also reportedly teased Pottinger behind his back for wearing a mask. (Daily Beast)

5/ Trump’s coronavirus task force warned that the spread of COVID-19 in Georgia is “widespread and expanding” under current policies. The task force “strongly recommends” Georgia adopt a statewide mask mandate because “Current mitigation efforts are not having a sufficient impact.” (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / NBC News)

  • The COVID-19 rate in children have been “steadily increasing” since March, according to updated CDC guidance. “Recent evidence suggests that children likely have the same or higher viral loads in their nasopharynx compared with adults and that children can spread the virus effectively in households and camp settings,” the guidance states. Health experts say children make up more than 7% of all coronavirus cases in the U.S., while comprising about 22% of the country’s population. (CNN)

  • The FDA issued an emergency authorization for the use of a saliva-based test for the coronavirus. The test, known as SalivaDirect, was developed at the Yale School of Public Health and funded by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. (Wall Street Journal / ESPN)

poll/ 53% of voters are “extremely enthusiastic” about voting in this year’s election. Overall, 50% of registered voters back the Biden-Harris ticket, while 46% say they support Trump and Pence. (CNN)

poll/ Biden and Harris lead Trump and Pence 53% to 41% among registered voters. Among voters who say they are “absolutely certain” to vote, Biden and Harris lead 54% to 43%. (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of voters who support Joe Biden say their vote is more in opposition to Trump than in support of Biden. 74% of Trump voters say their vote is more in support of Trump than against Biden. Overall, 50% of voters say they would vote for Biden if the election were held today, while 41% back Trump. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios)

poll/ 50% of Americans have a favorable view of Biden and 52% see Harris favorably compared to 42% favorability for Trump and 44% for Pence. (ABC News)

poll/ 42% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – a slight improvement since June. (Gallup)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump told aides that he’d like to meet with Putin before the November election. Administration officials are considering a possible meeting next month in New York. The aim of a summit would be to announce progress toward a new nuclear arms control agreement between Russia and the U.S. Trump and his team also plan to have him hold more meetings with world leaders in the weeks leading up to the election. (NBC News / Bloomberg)

  2. The Senate Intelligence Committee asked the Justice Department to investigate Stephen Bannon for potentially lying to lawmakers during its investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The bipartisan letter also raised concerns about testimony by Trump’s family members and confidants, including Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort, and Hope Hicks, that appeared to contradict information provided by a former deputy campaign chairman to Robert Mueller. The letter was sent July 19, 2019 and it’s not clear what action the Justice Department took on the referral. (Los Angeles Times)

  3. The Trump administration approved an oil leasing program to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. The move will auction off oil and gas rights in the 1.6 million-acre coastal wilderness. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN)

  4. U.S. intelligence agencies assessed that Iran offered bounties to Taliban fighters to target American and coalition troops in Afghanistan. Payments were linked to at least six attacks carried out in the last year alone, including a suicide bombing at a U.S. air base in December. (CNN)

  5. Trump’s younger brother, who unsuccessfully sued his niece to stop the publication of her book calling Donald Trump “the world’s most dangerous man,” died. Robert Trump was 71. Trump said he may hold a memorial service for Robert at the White House this week. In a statement Trump called Robert “not just my brother, he was my best friend.” Speaking to reporters later, Trump portrayed his brother as a lifelong supporter, saying “If I had the number one show, or if I had a big success, and no matter what I did — whether it was real estate deals or anything else — he was right there and in many cases helped with whatever I did. And then when I became president he was one of the most loyal people, there was no jealousy.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

Day 1303: "Do you regret at all the lying?"

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~21,026,000; deaths: ~762,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,293,000; deaths: ~169,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump’s top two officials at the Department of Homeland Security are illegally serving in their positions, according to a Government Accountability Office report. The independent watchdog agency reported to Congress that Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf and his deputy Kenneth Cuccinelli are serving under an invalid order of succession under the Vacancies Reform Act. After the resignation of Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in April 2019, Kevin McAleenan took over and altered the order of succession for other officials to succeed him after his departure. GAO has referred the matter to the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security for further review and potential action. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

2/ Trump perpetuated a racist and false conspiracy theory that Kamala Harris is not eligible to be vice president because her parents were immigrants. The claim is false. Harris was born in California and is eligible to serve. Trump, nevertheless, continued: “I heard it today that she doesn’t meet the requirements – I have no idea if that’s right.” Constitutional law experts say Harris’ parents are beside the point since the 14th Amendment grants citizenship to all people born in the U.S. And, Article II Section 1 of the Constitution says that to be eligible for the vice presidency and presidency, a candidate must be natural-born U.S. citizen, at least 35, and a resident of the United States for a minimum of 14 years. Trump appeared to be referring to a widely discredited op-ed that claims that the U.S. Constitution doesn’t grant birthright citizenship. Trump used a similar tactic to undermine the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s administration by claiming that Obama was born outside the United States. (New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ The U.S. Postal Service warned 46 states and D.C. that it cannot guarantee all ballots cast by mail for the November election will arrive in time to be counted because of lags in mail delivery. States — including the key battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Florida — were warned that their long-standing deadlines for requesting, returning and counting ballots were “incongruous” with mail service and that voters who send ballots in close to those deadlines may become disenfranchised. In Pennsylvania, USPS warned that some ballots might not be delivered on time because the state’s deadlines are too tight for its “delivery standards.” The ballot warnings were reportedly planned before the appointment of Louis DeJoy as postmaster general, but issued at the end of July. (Washington Post / The Philadelphia Inquirer / CNN)

  • New Jersey’s election will – for the first time – be conducted mostly by mail to ensure voters’ and poll workers’ safety during the pandemic. New Jersey will send ballots to all active registered voters while also providing the option to vote in person. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Trump’s new postmaster general hasn’t met with state election officials. A bipartisan group of secretaries of state, who are responsible for running elections, requested to meet this week with Louis DeJoy, who was appointed to the job in May, but the meeting hasn’t been scheduled. Election officials are expected to begin sending out absentee ballots as soon as September. (NPR)

4/ The U.S. Postal Service proposed removing 20% of letter sorting machines before revising the plan weeks later to closer to 15%. As a result, about 502 machines will be taken out of service. In May, the USPS planned to remove 969 sorting machines for all types of letters and flat mail. 746 were delivery bar code sorters, which are used to sort letters, postcards, ballots, marketing mail, and other similarly sized pieces. A document distributed to union officials in mid-June, however, said 502 of those machines would be removed from facilities. Meanwhile, a grievance filed by the American Postal Workers Union says the USPS is decommissioning 10% of its mail-sorting machines, which have the capacity to collectively sort 21.4 million pieces of paper mail per hour. (Vice News / Washington Post)

  • The U.S. Postal Service removed some collection boxes from neighborhood streets in Oregon, citing “duplicate” boxes in the area. (The Oregonian)

  • Obama condemned Trump’s efforts to “actively kneecap” the USPS ahead of the November election, casting the moves as “unique to modern political history.” (Politico)

  • Trump and Melania requested a mail-in ballot for Florida’s primary election, despite repeatedly criticizing mail-in voting and falsely claiming that it leads to widespread voter fraud. Last week, Trump singled out Florida as an exception, tweeting that his supporters there should request an absentee ballot and vote by mail because the election system in the Republican-run battleground state is “Safe and Secure, Tried and True.” (USA Today / CNN)

5/ The internal watchdog at the U.S. Postal Service is reviewing recent policy changes and examining Louis DeJoy’s compliance with federal ethics rules. Last week, Democratic lawmakers asked the inspector general to launch an inquiry into DeJoy, including policy changes he’s made since taking over in June and whether DeJoy has “met all ethics requirements.” DeJoy still owns at least a $30 million equity stake in his former company, a USPS contractor. DeJoy also recently bought stock options for Amazon, another USPS competitor. (CNN)

6/ The CDC suggested that people who have recovered from COVID-19 can safely interact with others for three months. While the CDC still recommends physical distancing, mask-wearing, and other precautions, the agency’s updated guidance on quarantining states that people should quarantine if they’ve been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, “excluding people who have had COVID-19 within the past 3 months.” Further, people who have tested positive for the virus don’t need to be tested for up to three months as long as they don’t develop symptoms. (NBC News / New York Times)

  • The CDC asked four states and one city to draft plans for how they would distribute a coronavirus vaccine when limited doses become available. The Defense Department, meanwhile, will handle manufacturing logistics, including acquisition of raw material, establishing factories, and training workers. Trump also announced a collaboration with McKesson Corp to aid in vaccine distribution. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • U.S. researchers will manufacture a strain of the coronavirus that could be used in human challenge trials of vaccines, in which healthy volunteers would be vaccinated and then intentionally infected with the virus. The work is preliminary and the trials would not replace large-scale, Phase 3 trials. (Reuters / Washington Post)

poll/ 71% of Americans see the coronavirus as a real threat, but 35% say they won’t get vaccinated against it once a vaccine becomes available, while 60% say they will get the vaccine. 71% of Democrats say they’ll get the vaccine, while only 48% of Republicans say the same. (NPR)

[Fox News] poll/ 49% of voters prefer Joe Biden, compared to 42% for Trump. In July, the same poll had Biden up over Trump by 8 percentage points, holding 49% support compared with Trump’s 41%. (Fox News / Politico)


Notables.

  1. Trump will deliver his Republican National Convention speech from the White House lawn “because it is a great place,” Trump said. “It’s a place that makes me feel good, it makes the country feel good.” He added that it’s “very big, a very big lawn,” and would allow a “big group of people” to attend while maintaining social distancing. Nancy Pelosi called the decision “very wrong” and said the idea that Trump plans to “degrade once again the White House, as he has done over and over again, by saying he’s going to completely politicize it, is something that should be rejected right out of hand.” (New York Post)

  2. A former FBI lawyer agreed to plead guilty to altering an email that helped justify surveillance of Carter Page as part of the 2016 investigation into Russian interference in the election. Kevin Clinesmith plans to admit to one charge of altering an email to another official in 2017 that said Page wasn’t a previous government source, when he had been one. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Associated Press)

  3. Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s grand investigation into Trump goes beyond investigating 2016 payments to Stormy Daniels. In a filing urging a U.S. district judge to reject Trump’s challenge to a subpoena seeking his tax filings, Vance wrote that Trump has had ample “notice” that “the investigation was not limited to Cohen’s 2016 payments.” (Bloomberg)

  4. Michael Cohen’s book alleges that Trump worked with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. In an excerpt released from the book, entitled “Disloyal, A Memoir,” Cohen claims that Trump worked to get close to Putin and “his coterie of corrupt billionaire oligarchs,” and that Trump lied when he told the American public he had no dealings in Russia. (NBC News)

  5. A federal appeals court panel unanimously overturned a lower-court order requiring Hillary Clinton to provide a sworn deposition about her use of a private email account and server during her four years as secretary of State. (Politico)

  6. Trump will visit his “very ill” younger brother in at a New York hospital before heading to his private golf resort in Bedminister, N.J. Robert Trump’s exact condition is unknown, but he was hospitalized in June in the intensive care unit at Mount Sinai hospital for more than a week. “I have a wonderful brother. We’ve had a great relationship for a long time. From Day 1. Long time. And he’s in the hospital right now,” Trump said. “Hopefully he’ll be all right but he’s having a hard time.” (ABC News / Washington Post)

  7. A White House correspondent asked Trump “do you regret at all the lying you’ve done to the American people?” Trump responded with “All the what?” before calling on another journalist, who asked a question about payroll tax. Trump has told more than 20,000 “false or misleading claims” over the course of his presidency. (The Guardian / Washington Post)

Day 1302: "A major milestone."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~20,729,000; deaths: ~752,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,237,000; deaths: ~167,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump vowed to block funding for the U.S. Postal Service so Democrats “can’t have universal mail-in voting” during the coronavirus pandemic. On Wednesday, Trump told reporters he would not approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service, or $3.5 billion in supplemental funding for election resources. And then on Thursday, Trump directly linked Democrats’ coronavirus relief spending proposal to his continued baseless claims that increased mail-in voting would perpetuate “one of the greatest frauds in history,” saying “if they don’t get those two items, that means you can’t have universal mail-in voting because they’re not equipped to have it.” Trump added: “They don’t have the money to do the universal mail-in voting. So therefore, they can’t do it, I guess. Are they going to do it even if they don’t have the money?” States, meanwhile, are working to increase their capacity for mail-in voting with a surge of Americans expected to vote by mail this fall because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trump also threatened to veto an earlier, $2 trillion round of coronavirus relief spending for unemployment benefits, small businesses, and national security industries if it included any direct funding for the Postal Service. (HuffPost / Washington Post / New York Times / Business Insider / Axios / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)

  • The United States Postal Service has removed some mail sorting machines that would likely be tasked with sorting ballots without explanation or reason. At least 19 mail sorting machines from five processing facilities around the country have either already been removed or are scheduled to be in the near future. USPS has not announced any policy, explained why this is happening, what will happen to the machines or the workers who use them. (Vice News)

  • A former top official at the USPS warned that recent operational changes by Postmaster General Louis Dejoy could “disenfranchise” voters. Ronald Stroman, who stepped down earlier this year as the second in command at USPS, said the changes being implemented just months ahead of an election in which a record number of Americans are expected to vote by mail is “a high-risk proposition.” (The Guardian)

  • The Supreme Court rejected an emergency request by the Republican National Committee and the Rhode Island Republican Party to block state voters from casting mail-in ballots without in-person witness verification during the coronavirus pandemic. Rhode Island requires voters mailing their ballots to sign them in front of two witnesses or a notary, but Gov. Gina Raimondo suspended that requirement because of worries that it would expose voters to the virus. (Associated Press / Reuters / Washington Post)

  • A federal judge in Pennsylvania ordered the Trump campaign and the GOP to produce evidence of vote-by-mail fraud in the state by Friday. The order effectively forces the campaign to back up Trump’s false claims about massive voter fraud in postal voting. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan said the Court finds “instances of voter fraud are relevant to the claims and defenses in this case” and ordered Republicans to turn over any evidence of fraud to the Democratic Party and the Sierra Club, which are part of the lawsuit. Democrats had asked for information and documents that would show steps the Republicans took to study the possibility of fraud, especially related to the use of dropboxes, ballot collection and mailed-in ballots in the primary elections. Until now, Trump and the GOP have refused to do so. (CNN)

  • ⚡️ When and how to vote in all 50 states. (Axios)

2/ Nancy Pelosi and 174 House Democrats demanded that the USPS reverse operational changes made by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, arguing that the changes will hamper mail-in voting on Election Day. “The House is seriously concerned that you are implementing policies that accelerate the crisis at the Postal Service, including directing Post Offices to no longer treat all election mail as First Class,” the letter reads. The letter warns that the changes “will cause further delays to election mail that will disenfranchise voters and put significant financial pressure on election jurisdictions.” DeJoy also eliminated overtime pay for hundreds of thousands of postal workers and required that mail is kept until the next day if distribution centers are running late. He also removed or reassigned nearly two dozen postal leaders, implemented a hiring freeze, and requested “early retirement authority” for non-union employees. (NBC News)

3/ Trump’s newly appointed postmaster general holds a multi-million dollar stake in his former company XPO Logistics, a United States Postal Service contractor. Newly obtained financial disclosures show Louis DeJoy holds at least $30 million in XPO holdings, likely creating a conflict of interest as the transportation and logistics company does business with the Postal Service and has contracts with other U.S. government agencies, including the Department of Defense. Separately, on the same day in June 2020 that DeJoy divested large amounts of Amazon shares, he purchased stock options giving him the right to buy new shares of Amazon at a price much lower than their current market price. DeJoy and USPS have said he fully complied with ethics regulations, but ethics experts say they were shocked that officials at USPS approved the arrangement. (CNN)

4/ The United States reported nearly 1,500 deaths from the coronavirus in a single day Wednesday – the highest since mid-May – as Trump urged Americans to “open up our schools and open up our businesses.” More than half the deaths reported on Wednesday were spread across five states that saw some of the most dramatic case spikes in June and July. The country’s seven-day average of newly reported deaths has remained above 1,000 for 17 consecutive days. According to an analysis of estimates from the CDC, at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March – about 60,000 higher than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus. (Washington Post / New York Times / New York Times)

  • Kamala Harris blamed Trump for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, saying he is “delusional” and failed to take the virus “seriously from the start.” (CNBC)

  • Joe Biden called for a national mask mandate, saying “Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months, at a minimum. Every governor should mandate — every governor should mandate mandatory mask wearing.” (CNN)

5/ The director of the CDC warned that the United States could have “the worst fall, from a public health perspective, we’ve ever had” if Americans don’t follow CDC coronavirus guidelines. Dr. Robert Redfield urged Americans to do four simple things to avoid exacerbating the crisis: “wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands and be smart about crowds.” He added: “I’m not asking some of America to do it. We all gotta do it.” Separately, Dr. Redfield said years of underinvestment in public health infrastructure left the United States “unprepared” for the “greatest public health crisis that’s hit this nation in a century.” (CNN / WebMD / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • 40.9% of Americans “reported at least one adverse mental or behavioral health condition” since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. According to the new CDC study, 31% of respondents were suffering from anxiety or depression; 26% experienced traumatic disorder; 13% were using drugs or alcohol more heavily to cope with the pandemic; and 11% had seriously contemplated suicide. (Yahoo News)

6/ The Senate adjourned through Labor Day with talks on a new coronavirus relief bill stalled after six days without in-person meetings. White House officials and top Democrats were trillions of dollars apart when talks collapsed last week. Democrats say they won’t negotiate with White House officials until the GOP agrees to spend at least $2 trillion – double the size of the GOP’s initial proposal. The House passed a $3.4 trillion relief bill in May, but Republicans waited weeks to discuss. (Politico / Washington Post)

  • White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow said Trump opposes the “voting rights” plans backed by Democrats in the next coronavirus relief bill. Kudlow labeled the Democratic plan to give states $3.6 billion to promote election security and mail-in voting during the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic a “really liberal left” wish list item. (CNBC / Politico)

7/ Unemployment claims fell below 1 million for the first time since the pandemic began in March with 963,000 people filing for first-time benefits. Another 489,000 people applied under the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Continuing claims totaled about 15.5 million. Before the coronavirus pandemic, the worst week on record was in 1982, when 695,000 people filed for unemployment benefits. In late March, nearly 6.9 million Americans applied for benefits in a single week. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

8/ The Trump administration proposed changing the definition of American-made shower heads to allow more water flow following complaints from Trump about his hair routine and need to keep his hair “perfect.” Under a 1992 law, shower heads in the U.S. are not allowed to produce more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute. “So shower heads — you take a shower, the water doesn’t come out,” Trump said in July. “You want to wash your hands, the water doesn’t come out. So what do you do? You just stand there longer or you take a shower longer? Because my hair — I don’t know about you, but it has to be perfect. Perfect.” Last December, Trump said regulators were looking to revise rules meant to conserve water for sinks, faucets, and toilets, claiming “People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once.” (Associated Press / The Guardian / BBC / New York Times / Bloomberg)

poll/ 60% of Americans, including 87% of Democrats and 37% of Republicans, considered the selection of Kamala Harris for vice president to be a “major milestone” for the United States. 46% of Americans said they would vote for a Biden/Harris ticket, while 38% would vote for Trump/Pence. (Reuters)

Day 1301: "Serious consequences."


1/ For the 16th consecutive day the U.S. has averaged over 1,000 coronavirus deaths. The U.S. is averaging just under 53,000 new cases of COVID-19 per day – down 11% from the week prior. (CNN)

  • A Florida sheriff banned his deputies from wearing masks at work. Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods disputed the idea that masks are a consensus approach to battling the pandemic despite a majority of epidemiologists and other health experts saying face masks and social distancing are key to slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Florida set a daily record for COVID-19 deaths on Tuesday. (Washington Post)

  • Trump added a frequent Fox News guest, who echoes his views on reopening schools, lockdowns, and college football, as a coronavirus adviser. Dr. Scott Atlas has reportedly been informally advising Trump for weeks after Trump first saw Atlas on Fox News, asserting that it doesn’t matter “how many cases” there are in the U.S., wrongly claiming those under 18 years old have “essentially no risk of dying,” implying that high risk teachers should “know how to protect themselves” from COVID-19 and baselessly claiming that “children almost never transmit the disease.” Atlas has also called the idea that schools cannot reopen this fall “hysteria.” (CNN)

  • A team of virologists and aerosol scientists were able to isolate live coronavirus in the air up to 16 feet from patients hospitalized with COVID-19. The team collected air samples from a ward dedicated to COVID-19 patients from seven and 16 feet away. The samples collected could then infect cells in a lab dish. (New York Times)

2/ The White House clarified that it will provide less financial assistance for the unemployed than Trump initially promised. Unemployment benefit will be $300 per week, not the $400 Trump announced on Saturday when he approved an executive action to expand unemployment benefits. Further, the extra $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits will likely to take a few weeks to reach people, but the funding could be exhausted in five or six weeks. More than 30 million people are receiving some form of unemployment benefits. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Bloomberg)

3/ Congress and the Trump administration remain “miles apart” on negotiations over a coronavirus stimulus deal. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly reached out to Pelosi seeking a meeting on the stalled talks, but “the White House is not budging from their position concerning the size and scope of a legislative package,” Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said in a joint statement. Pelosi and Schumer also signaled that Mnuchin – again – rejected their offer to find a middle ground between the Democrats’ $3 trillion package the GOP’s $1 trillion proposal. Pelosi and Schumer have not met with Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows since since Friday. (CNBC / Axios / Washington Post / Reuters)

4/ Public hospital data about the coronavirus pandemic is lagging by a week or more since the Trump administration ordered states to bypass the CDC and report data directly to the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS officials said the quality-control process has led to some delays in reporting hospital capacity estimates. Nearly three dozen current and former members of a federal health advisory committee, meanwhile, have warned that the new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.” (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

5/ Minutes after Joe Biden named Kamala Harris as his running mate, Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee attacked Harris, labeling her the “nastiest,” “meanest,” “most horrible,” and “most liberal leftist nominee” ever to run for vice president. Trump senior adviser Katrina Pierson attempted to paint Harris as an overzealous criminal prosecutor on one hand, while suggesting that her and Biden would neglect law and order on the other. Fox News, meanwhile, attacked Harris throughout Tuesday night with Tucker Carlson intentionally and repeatedly mispronouncing the senator’s first name before being called out by a guest. “So what?” he Carlson, “Comma-la.” And, finally, when Trump was asked about his tweet calling Harris a “phony,” Trump responded: “That she was a what?” He then continued: “She’s very big into raising taxes, she wants to slash funds for our military at a level that nobody would ever believe, she’s against fracking […] extraordinarily nasty.” (NBC News / The Guardian / CNN / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / The Hill)

  • Trump donated to Kamala Harris in 2011 and 2013. Trump gave donations of $5,000 and $1,000 to Harris’s re-election campaign for California attorney general. (Bloomberg)

  • [Analysis] What you need to know about Kamala Harris. “Harris, who is Black and Indian American, will become the first woman of color on a major-party presidential ticket when she and Biden are formally nominated by Democrats at next week’s virtual convention. She will be only the fourth woman on a major-party ticket. Here’s what you should know about her.” (Washington Post)

  • [Behind the move] Inside Joe Biden’s search for his own running mate. “The journey that led to Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his running mate began two years ago, say those familiar with the process.” (NBC News)

  • [Perspective] Tucker Carlson’s mangling of Kamala Harris’s name was all about disrespect. “Here’s the thing: It’s really not that hard to get Harris’s name right.” (Washington Post)

  • [Perspective] Kamala Harris crystallizes Trump’s view of women. “Trump responded by sorting women into the good “suburban housewife” he believes will vote for him, and the nasty women who have not respected him.” (New York Times)

  • [Dept. of Whatever] Jared Kushner met privately with Kanye West last weekend. When asked about the meeting, the rapper, who has filed petitions to get on the November ballots for president in several states, tweeted: “I’m willing to do a live interview with the New York Time about my meeting with Jared.” In a recent poll, 2% of voters overall supported West, and just 2% of Black voters supported him. (New York Times / Politico)

6/ Several states concerned about slower-than-usual mail delivery are extending mail-in ballot deadlines and making backup plans to ease early voting. Legislators in Nevada and Mississippi will allow ballots to be counted as long as they are postmarked by Election Day – even if they arrive much later. Connecticut made a similar change for the state’s primary, while Minnesota agreed to set aside its deadline as part of a court settlement. Several over states are also adding technology that would allow both elections directors and voters to track ballots as they move through the postal system. The American Postal Worker Union, meanwhile, warned that a U.S. Postal Service reorganization, introduced in July, has resulted in thousands of delayed letters. Another directive, requiring mail carriers to immediately head out on their routes, carrying only packages and letters that were sorted the night before, has resulted in some carriers doubling back to pick up a second batch later in the day. (Reuters / Bloomberg)

7/ Trump has averaged less than one intelligence briefing a week since July 1 – after it became public that he had ignored intelligence reports about Russia offering bounties to the Taliban for each American soldier killed in Afghanistan. Trump went from a high of 4.1 briefings per week on average in March 2017 to 0.7 per week since July 1. Monday’s briefing was his first in August and the first since July 22. In July, Trump received three briefings. (HuffPost)

8/ Trump privately told people that he intends to replace Secretary of Defense Mark Esper after the November election, frustrated that Esper hasn’t done more to publicly defend him on reports that Russia paid Taliban fighters “bounties” for the killing of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Esper, however, has told people close to him that he intends to leave regardless of the election’s outcome. (Bloomberg)

poll/ 40% of voters blame Democrats for failing to pass a new COVID-19 relief package before the initial $600 unemployment benefit expired last week. 39%, meanwhile, blame Trump and Republicans in Congress. (CNBC)

poll/ 79% of Americans say religious institutions should be required to follow the same social distancing guidelines as secular businesses and entities. 19% say houses of worship should be allowed more flexibility than other kinds of establishments when it comes to rules about social distancing. (Public Research Center)

poll/ 59% of voters oppose the Trump administration’s demand that schools and colleges fully open for in-person instruction. (Politico)

  • Nearly 1,200 students and staffers in a Georgia school district have been quarantined after 38 students and 12 staff members tested positive for COVID-19 – one week into the new school year. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • A school district in New Jersey voted this week to hold all classes remotely after more than 400 teachers opted out of in-person classes over health concerns. (CBS News)


Notables.

  1. A federal judge in New York invalidated rule changes made by the Trump administration that would have allowed individuals and corporations to kill large numbers of birds as long as they could prove the birds weren’t specifically targeted. U.S. District Judge Valerie E. Caproni said there is nothing in the century-old Migratory Bird Treaty Act that indicates that in order for an action to be prohibited, it must be directed specifically at birds. He added: “Nor does the statute prohibit only intentionally killing migratory birds. And it certainly does not say that only ‘some’ kills are prohibited.” Under the Trump administration’s reasoning, a company like BP, which was responsible for the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that killed up to a million birds, would not be liable for punishment under the changes to the law. “It is not only a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is also a crime,” Judge Caproni wrote. (Washington Post)

  2. Trump criticized wind power during an interview on Fox News and mourned “all the birds” that are killed by windmills each year. “Site and home values going way down,” Trump told Sean Hannity. “If you see a windmill and hear a windmill, your home is worth half or less than half. It kills all the birds.” (Daily Beast)

  3. Trump tweeted congratulations to a QAnon conspiracy theorist who won the Republican nomination in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District runoff. Marjorie Taylor Greene has posted hours of racist, anti-Semitic, and Islamophobic videos on Facebook. (Axios / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / New York Times)

Day 1300: "A tragic mistake."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~20,178,000; deaths: ~739,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,131,000; deaths: ~165,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN

  • Russia approved approved a coronavirus vaccine that hasn’t completed clinical trials. Putin said receiving the vaccine would be voluntary and that it had “proven efficient” and “passed all the necessary tests,” but no data has been published by researchers for peer review and the long-term effects of the treatment remained unclear. Less than 100 people have received the inoculation. (Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)


1/ Joe Biden selected Kamala Harris as his running mate, announcing the decision hours after Trump suggested that some men would feel “insulted” if he chose a woman. Harris, the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants, will be the first Black woman and first Asian-American to be nominated for national office by a major party. Trump, meanwhile, told Fox Sports Radio that Biden has “roped himself into a certain group of people.” Following Biden’s announcement, Trump attacked Harris, calling her “nasty” and “disrespectful,” adding that “Phony Kamala will abandon her own morals.” (Washington Post / Axios / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios)

  • About 76% of Americans will be eligible to vote by mail in the 2020 election – the most in U.S. history. (New York Times)

2/ Trump baselessly claimed that Americans will “have to learn to speak Chinese” if Biden wins in November. “China will own the United States if this election is lost by Donald Trump,” Trump said, referring to himself in the third person. “And with me, they were having the worst year in 67 years because I tariffed the hell out of them.” (CNN / Politico)

3/ Trump was abruptly escorted from a press briefing by Secret Service after a man claiming to have a weapon was shot by an officer outside the White House. The unidentified 51-year-old man was shot near the White House fence after he approached a Secret Service officer, told him he had a weapon, ran toward the officer, and pulled an object from his clothing, according to the Secret Service. The agency did not answer questions about whether the man actually had a gun, or if the officer was injured. After being taken to the Oval Office, Trump returned to the briefing room about 10 minutes later. After addressing the shooting, Trump picked up where he left off: “So I was telling you that the Dow Jones and the S&P 500 are now 50 percent above the March level,” he said. “NASDAQ is setting new records.” (CNBC / NBC News / The Guardian)

4/ Trump claimed that he would not have called on Obama to resign from office if 160,000 Americans had died under his administration’s watch. Trump, however, tweeted in 2014 that Obama should resign for allowing a single doctor who tested positive for Ebola to enter the U.S. (Axios)

5/ Trump claimed that in 1917 the Spanish Flu “probably ended the Second World War,” even though that pandemic began in 1918 and World War II didn’t begin until 1939. “The closest thing is in 1917, they say, the great pandemic,” Trump said, comparing the Spanish Flu to COVID-19. “It certainly was a terrible thing where they lost anywhere from 50 to 100 million people, probably ended the Second World War.” He added: “All the soldiers were sick. That was a terrible situation.” A White House official claimed Trump was talking about World War I, where more soldiers died from the disease than from fighting. (USA Today / Business Insider)

6/ Trump urged universities to “Play College Football!” hours before the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced they had postponed fall sports due to the coronavirus pandemic. Nevertheless, Trump told Fox Sports Radio that he thinks “football’s making a tragic mistake,” saying there’s “nothing like” the “atmosphere” of college football and “you can’t have empty seats.” Trump, meanwhile, said that the NBA is “not working” because players are kneeling during the national anthem to protest police brutality. (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / CNBC)

7/ The White House is considering new immigration rules to temporarily block entry by citizens and legal residents from returning to the United States if authorities believe they may be infected with the coronavirus. White House officials have been circulating a proposal that would expand the government’s power to prevent re-entry if an official “reasonably believes that the individual either may have been exposed to or is infected with the communicable disease.” The proposal relies on the existing legal authority of the CDC to protect the country, but it’s unclear whether the Trump administration has the legal authority to block citizens and permanent residents from returning to their own country. (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ The Trump administration has argued that the coronavirus pandemic has forced them to circumvent immigration law for migrant children. The administration has said that they can’t risk infected children spreading COVID-19 through the system, using that as justification for expelling thousands of migrant children back to their home countries without legal screenings or protection. The expulsion policy, however, is used to “prevent the introduction” of COVID-19 into the United States. And, even after children test negative for the virus, they aren’t being allowed to access their legal protections. Instead, migrants who test positive for COVID-19 are required to remain in the U.S., while those who test negative are expelled. (ProPublica)

poll/ Biden maintains a 10-point lead over Trump less than three months from November’s general election. Biden is supported by 51% of registered voters, while Trump is supported by 41%. (Monmouth University / Politico)

Day 1299: "Absurdly unconstitutional."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~19,948,000; deaths: ~733,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~5,075,000; deaths: ~164,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 👑 Portrait of a President.

  • How Trump fell short in containing the coronavirus. “As the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows is responsible for coordinating the vast executive branch, including its coronavirus response. But in closed-door meetings, he has revealed his skepticism of the two physicians guiding the anti-pandemic effort, Deborah Birx and Anthony S. Fauci, routinely questioning their expertise, according to senior administration officials and other people briefed on the internal discussions.” (Washington Post)

  • The Trump Pandemic: A blow-by-blow account of how Trump killed thousands of Americans. Trump has always been malignant and incompetent. “As president, he has coasted on economic growth, narrowly averted crises of his own making, and corrupted the government in ways that many Americans could ignore. But in the pandemic, his vices—venality, dishonesty, self-absorption, dereliction, heedlessness—turned deadly. They produced lies, misjudgments, and destructive interventions that multiplied the carnage. The coronavirus debacle isn’t, as Trump protests, an ‘artificial problem’ that spoiled his presidency. It’s the fulfillment of everything he is.” (Slate)

  • Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s battles with U.S. intelligence agencies. Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. This is what happened next. (New York Times)

  • A president ignored: Trump’s claims increasingly met with a collective shrug. “More than 3½ years into his presidency, Trump increasingly finds himself minimized and ignored — as many of his more outlandish or false statements are briefly considered and then, just as quickly, dismissed.” (Washington Post)

  • The FDA chief is caught between scientists and Trump. Many medical experts — including members of his own staff — worry about whether Dr. Stephen Hahn has the fortitude and political savvy to protect the scientific integrity of the FDA from Trump. (New York Times)


1/ Trump signed four executive actions at his Bedminster golf club to defer payroll taxes, student loan payments, and evictions through the end of the year. The actions to circumvent Congress on coronavirus economic relief also extends an additional $400-per-week in unemployment benefits — down from $600 — until 2021. States, however, must pick up the tab for 25% (or $100) of the $400 additional benefit each person may receive in weekly financial aid. A number of governors have expressed alarm about the setup as states have seen tax revenues plummet during the pandemic, while costs increase. While Trump said he signed four “executive orders,” only the one on housing is an actual executive order – the other three are marked “memorandum,” which carry less weight. The actions are also expected to draw legal challenges as it is not clear what authority Trump had to act since Congress controls federal spending. Nancy Pelosi called them “absurdly unconstitutional.” And, Maxine Waters, chair of the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement that “Unilaterally eliminating the payroll tax and ignoring Congress’s power of the purse on funding unemployment insurance will do nothing to help Americans recover.” Trump, however, suggested that the four measures he signed “will take care of pretty much this entire situation.” (Politico / NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC / ABC News / HuffPost)

  • Trump promised to permanently cut the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare if he wins reelection in November. “If I’m victorious on November 3rd, I plan to forgive these taxes and make permanent cuts to the payroll tax,” Trump said. “I’m going to make them all permanent.” (Washington Post)

  • What’s in Trump’s four executive orders. “A close read of the actual text of executive actions he signed Saturday suggests that even if they are deemed constitutional, they will not quickly deliver the aid Trump promised. They may not deliver much at all.” (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Trump’s orders on coronavirus relief create confusion. “Businesses and the unemployed faced uncertainty as administration officials defended the president’s directives and Democrats criticized them.” (New York Times)

  • Trump said he would consider an executive order requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. The Affordable Care Act, however, already requires insurers to cover pre-existing conditions. (Axios)

2/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the White House is open to resuming coronavirus aid talks with Democrats and are “prepared to put more money on the table.” Two weeks of talks collapsed on Friday. Democrats had started with a $3.4 trillion plan, but suggested they were willing to compromise at around $2 trillion. Republicans, meanwhile, started at $1 trillion, but said $2 trillion was too high. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “want to make a deal. Amazing how it all works, isn’t it.” It’s unclear what he was referring to as top congressional Democrats said they had not reached out to the White House since last week. (Washington Post / CNBC / New York Times)

3/ At least 97,000 children in the U.S. tested positive for COVID-19 during the last two weeks of July – a 40% increase in COVID-19 cases. The report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association says at least 338,000 children have tested positive since the pandemic began, meaning more than a quarter have tested positive during those two weeks. More than seven out of 10 infections were from states in the southern and western U.S. Missouri, Oklahoma, Alaska, Nevada, Idaho and Montana were among the states with the highest percent increase of child infections, while New York City, New Jersey and other states in the Northeast, where the virus peaked in March and April, had the lowest percent increase. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CBS News)

  • The Georgia school in viral photos with students walking without masks in tightly packed hallways will close for cleaning after nine people test positive for coronavirus – six students and three staff members. [Editor’s note: 🤦‍♂️] (Washington Post)

4/ The White House has explored executive actions Trump could take to curb mail-in voting. Aides and advisers have reportedly considered everything from directing the postal service to not deliver certain ballots to stopping local officials from counting them after Election Day. Meanwhile, since taking over the Postal Service, Louis DeJoy has implemented a series of new policies that have slowed mail delivery across the country. And, on Friday, DeJoy reassigned 23 postal executives, including the two top Postal Service officials who oversaw day-to-day operations. Separately, the Postal Service has informed states that they’ll need to pay first-class 55-cent postage to mail ballots to voters, rather than the normal 20-cent bulk rate. (Politico / USA Today / The Hill / The American Prospect)

  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal called on the Trump administration to declassify reports detailing Russian efforts to influence the 2020 elections. Top Democrats in both chambers of Congress have called for the FBI to provide lawmakers with a “defensive briefing” regarding what appears to be a “concerted foreign interference campaign” targeting Congress. Blumenthal said the intelligence he heard during a classified briefing “is absolutely chilling, startling and shocking,” adding that the intelligence suggests previous Soviet and Russian techniques “are looking like child’s play compared to what they’re doing now globally.” (Axios)

  • Facebook allowed conservative news outlets and personalities to repeatedly spread false information without penalties. According to internal discussions, Facebook removed “strikes” so that conservative pages were not penalized for violations of misinformation policies. (NBC News)

5/ Trump’s lawyers accused Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. of “still fishing for a way to justify his harassment of the President” in a court battle over eight years of Trump’s income tax returns and other financial documents from his accountants. Vance is investigating hush-money payments made before the 2016 presidential election to Stormy Daniels, and in a filing last week, Vance suggested there might be grounds to look at possible fraud at the Trump Organization. Trump’s lawyers, meanwhile, urged the judge to block Vance’s grand jury from reviewing his tax filings and disputed the suggestion that the panel may be looking into bank and insurance fraud at the Trump Organization. Trump sued Vance in September to block a subpoena to Trump’s accounting firm, Mazars USA, claiming the subpoena was issued in bad faith and that it sought too much information and constituted harassment of the president. The Supreme Court, however, ruled last month Trump’s not immune from state criminal investigations. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • A federal judge rebuffed the Trump administration’s attempt to invoke executive privilege to withhold emails about Trump’s hold on U.S. aid to Ukraine in 2019. “U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson said Monday that the government had failed to make a convincing showing that the 21 messages between White House aide Robert Blair and Office of Management and Budget official Michael Duffey were eligible for protection under legal privileges protecting the development of presidential advice or decisions made by other government officials.” (Politico)

6/ A White House aide reached out to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem last year about the process for adding Trump’s face to Mount Rushmore. When Trump arrived in the Black Hills for a fireworks-filled July 4 extravaganza, Noem privately presented him with a four-foot replica of Mount Rushmore that included his face. Trump, meanwhile, denied that his team approached South Dakota’s governor about adding his face to the monument, tweeting he “never suggested it although […] sounds like a good idea to me!” Mount Rushmore is a federal – not state – monument. (New York Times / CNN / The Guardian)


Notables.

  1. China announced sanctions against 11 U.S. citizens in response to earlier U.S. sanctions against 11 Chinese officials. Among those targeted were Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley and Pat Toomey and Representative Chris Smith, as well as individuals at U.S. non-profits and rights organizations. A spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said China “has decided to impose sanctions on individuals who have behaved egregiously on Hong Kong-related issues” in response “to those wrong U.S. behaviors.” It is unclear what the latest round of sanctions will entail. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Reuters)

  2. Trump walked out of a news conference after a reporter asked him about a lie he’s told more than 150 times. Speaking at his Bedminster golf club, Trump claimed that he is the one who got the Veterans Choice program passed – adding, “They’ve been trying to get that passed for decades and decades and decades and no president’s ever been able to do it, and we got it done.” Obama, however, signed the program into law in 2014. When CBS News White House correspondent Paula Reid pointed out that Veterans Choice was passed in 2014, Trump tried to call on another reporter instead, but then paused and responded: “OK. Thank you very much, everybody.” He then walked away as the song “YMCA” played. (CNN)

  3. Attorney General William Barr told Fox News that Democrats and the left are intent on “tearing down the system” in a pursuit for “total victory.” Barr also accused Black Lives Matter of being an anti-government operation that has been co-opted and is part of a coordinated effort to push Trump out of office. “The left wants power because that is essentially their state of grace in their secular religion,” he said. “They want to run peoples’ lives so they can design utopia for all of us and that’s what turns them on. And it’s the lust for power and they weren’t expecting Trump’s victory and it outrages them.” (Washington Post / The Hill)

  4. The EPA will rescind regulations for methane gas emissions and will end requirements that oil and gas producers have systems and procedures to detect methane leaks in their systems. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

Day 1296: "Shameful."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~19,194,000; deaths: ~717,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,919,000; deaths: ~161,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Negotiations over a new coronavirus relief package failed after the Trump administration rejected a Democratic offer to compromise on the $1 trillion Republican plan and their $3.4 trillion plan. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, however, called the offer a “non-starter.” Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said they would recommend that Trump move ahead with executive orders to suspend payroll taxes, extend eviction protections, boost unemployment benefits, and help student loan borrowers. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that “Pelosi and Schumer only interested in Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states. Nothing to do with China Virus! Want one trillion dollars. No interest. We are going a different way!” (Bloomberg / Politico New York Times / The Hill / CNN / Washington Post)

  • The U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs in July. The unemployment rate fell to 10.2% in July, down from a peak of 14.7% in April, but above the 3.5% rate in February before the coronavirus pandemic. (Politico / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • The number who were unemployed between 15 and 26 weeks rose by a seasonally adjusted 4.6 million to 6.5 million people in July. The reading is the highest on record since 1948 and nearly double the prior peak, set in 2009 at the end of the last recession. (Wall Street Journal)

  • As Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed for schools to reopen, Florida health directors were instructed to not tell school boards whether the risks of opening campuses were too great. State leaders told school boards they would need Health Department approval if they wanted to keep classrooms closed, but health directors were ordered to only provide suggestions on how to reopen safely. (Palm Beach Post)

  • Virus keeps spreading as schools begin to open, frightening parents, and alarming public health officials. “School openings in Alabama are a local decision, but public health officials offer guidance in part based on the risk in that county. As of Thursday, 44 of the state’s 67 counties are considered ‘high risk’ or ‘very high risk.’” (Washington Post)

  • A 15-year-old student at North Paulding High School in Georgia posted photos showing students crowded into a packed hallway on their first day of school with few wearing masks and little sign of social distancing. The sophomore who posted the photos was initially suspended over the act. Her suspension was later lifted and wiped from her record. (New York Times / CNN)

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave the gave the greenlight for schools to reopen and bring back students in the fall for in-person instruction. (NBC News / Politico)

2/ Trump baselessly claimed that Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic, is “against God” and would somehow “hurt God” and the bible if he was elected president. In a rally-style speech on the tarmac of the Cleveland airport that was supposed to be a chance to promote economic recovery, Trump instead pivoted to personal attacks, claiming that Biden would “Take away your guns, destroy your second amendment, no religion, no anything. Hurt the bible, hurt God. He’s against God, he’s against guns.” Biden responded in a statement, saying that Trump’s “shameful” comments were “beneath the office he holds” and “beneath the dignity the American people so rightly expect and deserve from their leaders.” (Politico / CBS News / Washington Post / BBC / CNN / The Hill)

3/ Trump signed a pair of executive orders banning Americans and U.S. companies from doing business with the Chinese-owned TikTok and WeChat apps in 45 days, citing an effort to “address the national emergency with respect to the information and communication technology supply chain.” According to the vaguely worded order, TikTok’s “data collection threatens to allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage.” TikTok, however, has maintained that it stores all data belonging to U.S. customers in facilities outside of China that are not subject to Chinese law. Microsoft, meanwhile, is in talks to buy TikTok’s U.S. operations. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross will be responsible for defining what constitutes a transaction. (Bloomberg / The Verge / Politico / Axios / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

4/ The U.S. intelligence community’s top election security official said China sees Trump as “unpredictable” and “prefers” that he not win reelection, while Russia is working to “denigrate” Joe Biden. The statement from William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, comes amid criticism from Democratic lawmakers that the intelligence community has been withholding intelligence information from the public about the threat of foreign election interference in the upcoming election. Evanina also said Iran is seeking to “undermine US democratic institutions, President Trump, and to divide the country.” (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • Facebook fired an employee who collected evidence showing the company is giving right-wing pages preferential treatment when it comes to misinformation. Facebook also removed his post from the company’s internal communication platform and restricted internal access to the information he cited. (BuzzFeed News)

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly warned Russia’s foreign minister against paying bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing American service members. Pompeo’s warning is the first known rebuke from a senior American official over the bounties program and runs counter to Trump’s insistence that the matter is a “hoax.” (New York Times)

5/ A federal appeals court ruled that House Democrats can sue to force former White House counsel Don McGahn to comply with a congressional subpoena for testimony. A divided US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said McGahn, however, can continue to challenge the House’s subpoena on other grounds, meaning he won’t likely appear anytime soon. The Judiciary Committee first subpoenaed McGahn in April 2019 as it examined potential obstruction of justice by Trump during Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. Trump directed McGahn not to appear and the committee filed a federal lawsuit to force McGahn to testify. (Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press / Reuters)

6/ Trump can’t postpone E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against him by using an immunity defense, a New York judge ruled. Carroll sued Trump last November for defamation after he called her a liar and said he had never met her. She had accused him of rape. Carroll will now seek to depose Trump and get a DNA test from him to compare with a sample on a dress the author said she wore at the time of the alleged attack. The judged rejected Trump’s argument that a sitting president is immune to civil lawsuits in state court, citing a recent Supreme Court decision in a case to subpoena Trump’s tax records. (New York Post / Bloomberg / New York Times)

7/ Congressional Democrats called for an investigation of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy after he instituted cost-cutting measures that postal workers say have delayed mail delivery. DeJoy, a major Republican donor, implemented policies that prohibit postal workers from taking overtime or making extra trips to deliver mail on time. “Let me be clear that with regard to election mail, the Postal Service and I are fully committed to fulfilling our role in the electoral process,” DeJoy said. “Despite any assertions to the contrary, we are not slowing down election mail or any other mail.” Lawmakers from both parties, meanwhile, have urged DeJoy to switch course on policies. (Washington Post / Politico)

8/ In 2017, Trump’s advisers were hesitant to give him military options amid escalating tensions with both North Korea and Iran fearing he might accidentally take the U.S. to war. At the time, Trump dubbed Kim Jong Un “little rocket man” and the North Korean dictator responded by calling Trump a “dotard.” Senior administration members reportedly informed their counterparts in both countries that they did not know how Trump would respond, or if he would respond at all. (CNN)

Day 1295: "It wouldn't hurt."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~18,913,000; deaths: ~711,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,868,000; deaths: ~160,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Nearly 1.2 million people filed for unemployment benefits last week – the 20th consecutive week with more than 1 million new claims. The decline comes after the extra $600 a week in pandemic-related unemployment benefits ended for millions of unemployed Americans. More than 32.1 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits. (Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The White House and Congress remain far apart on an agreement for a new coronavirus relief agreement, with “no top-line numbers that have been agreed to,” according to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. Trump again threatened to act on his own to provide relief, saying he expects to sign an executive order on Friday or Saturday to extend enhanced unemployment benefits and impose a payroll tax break. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, stood up before a room full of Senate Republicans and declared that he is not “owned by Nancy.” He added: “I can tell you those reports are false.” (CNBC / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg)

3/ Trump claimed – without evidence– that it was possible the U.S. could have a coronavirus vaccine before the Nov. 3 election, contradicting the timeline most health experts have called realistic. “Sooner than the end of the year, could be much sooner,” Trump told Geraldo Rivera in an interview. When asked, “Sooner than November 3?” Trump replied, “I think in some cases, yes, possible before, but right around that time.” Trump also said “it wouldn’t hurt” his reelection prospects if a vaccine became available before Election Day, but insisted “I want it fast because I want to save lives.” Experts, however, have said that if the development, testing, and production of a vaccine is able to hit certain criteria, then the earliest a vaccine could arrive is the end of the year or the beginning of 2021. Public health officials also estimate that more than 100 million American essential workers should get vaccinated before the general public, yet only 10 million to 20 million doses are expected to be available at first. (Reuters / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • The State Department lifted its “do not travel” advisory warning U.S. citizens against traveling abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic. Although the guidance has been lifted, the European Union has blocked entry to U.S. tourists, and the UK requires travelers from the U.S. to quarantine for 14 days. (CNN)
  • Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that he has tested positive for coronavirus shortly before he was supposed to meet Trump in Cleveland. (NBC News / CNN / Axios)
  • Trump will sign an executive order requiring the federal government to buy “essential” drugs from U.S. companies. (CNBC)

4/ The New York prosecutors seeking Trump’s tax records have also subpoenaed Deutsche Bank, his primary lender since the late 1990s, for financial records that he and his company provided to the bank. The Manhattan district attorney’s office issued the subpoena last year. In a court filing this week, Manhattan district attorney’s office suggested that it’s investigating Trump and his company for bank and insurance fraud, citing “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization” and suggested that they were also investigating possible crimes involving bank and insurance fraud. (New York Times)

  • The ACLU has filed nearly 400 lawsuits and other legal actions against the Trump administration since Trump’s election. (Associated Press)
  • The New York attorney general filed a lawsuit seeking to dissolve the National Rifle Association, alleging that a decades-long pattern of “fraud and abuse” had irreparably undermined its ability to operate as a nonprofit. The civil lawsuit, filed by Letitia James in state court, alleges that the NRA’s leadership engaged in self-dealing, and made false or misleading disclosures to the attorney general and the IRS. The lawsuit also accuses Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s CEO, of using “a secret ‘poison pill contract’” to guarantee himself lifetime income from the gun group. (Washignton Post / New York Times / NPR / Politico / ABC News / NBC News / NBC News)

5/ Facebook and Twitter both removed a Trump campaign post for spreading coronavirus misinformation. Twitter temporarily blocked the Trump campaign account from tweeting until it deleted a video of Trump claiming that children are “almost immune from this disease.” Facebook removed the same video, as well as hundreds of accounts from a foreign troll farm posing as African-Americans in support of Donald Trump and QAnon. (NPR / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News)

6/ Trump will reimpose 10% tariffs on aluminum imports from Canada, a little over a month after implementing the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement designed to lower trade barriers in North America. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1294: "He still doesn't get it."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~18,636,000; deaths: ~703,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,805,000; deaths: ~158,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump insisted that the coronavirus pandemic “will go away like things go away,” claiming inaccurately that only a “relatively small portion” of the country is seeing increases in coronavirus cases, and promising that a vaccine will be available “long before the end of the year.” The U.S., however, continues to see tens of thousands of new daily cases and recorded 1,380 deaths on Tuesday. On average, 1,000 people are dying each day from COVID-19. And, as Dr. Anthony Fauci said Wednesday, “the numbers don’t lie,” the U.S. has the worst coronavirus outbreak in the world. Trump’s comments that “this thing’s going away” came during a call-in interview with Fox News, in which he also claimed – inaccurately – that “some doctors” say children are “totally,” “virtually,” and “almost immune” to the virus. “My view is the schools should open. This thing is going away.” Following a coronavirus task force meeting in the Oval Office this week, a person familiar with the meeting said Trump was struggling to grasp the severity of the pandemic. “He still doesn’t get it,” the person said. “He does not get it.” Joe Biden, meanwhile, weighed in, saying: “Donald Trump continues to live in a world of delusion.” (Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / Vox)

  • Hours after Trump boasted that U.S. testing is the “best ever,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said coronavirus testing is too slow. “We need to do better,” Fauci said. “No excuses. It needs to be done.” (Bloomberg / CNN)

  • Emerging research indicates a connection between COVID-19 and significant neurological effects in young brains. In a recent study published by JAMA, a cohort of 27 young patients who had suffered from multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children developed new-onset neurological symptoms in the absence of other respiratory symptoms. (NBC News)

  • Public school students in Chicago will begin the academic year remotely, leaving New York City as the only major school system in the country that will try to offer in-person classes when schools start this fall. (New York Times)

  • The Trump administration sticks to its view that schools reopen as the U.S. nears 5 million coronavirus cases. “The U.N. chief warned that the world faces a ‘generational catastrophe’ because of school closures, with more than a billion students at home. In a video message, he urged countries to suppress the virus sufficiently to allow schools to reopen, calling the coronavirus pandemic ‘the largest disruption of education ever.’ A policy brief […] emphasized that suppressing transmission of the virus is “the single most significant step” leaders can take toward reopening schools.” (Washington Post)

  • The FDA expanded its list of hand sanitizers that consumers should avoid to 115. The agency flagged hand sanitizers with “concerningly low levels of ethyl alcohol or isopropyl alcohol,” microbial contamination, or inadequate levels of benzalkonium chloride. The CDC recommends the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% ethanol. (New York Times)

2/ Negotiations on a new coronavirus relief bill remain deadlocked with both sides claiming they’ve made concessions. Mitch McConnell accused Democrats of stalling and conceding too little in negotiations, while Democrats say that Republicans haven’t recognized the severity of the coronavirus crisis in their relief proposal. Republicans have argued that the $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefit is a disincentive for people to return to work, because some people made more money on unemployment than they did at their jobs. The White House proposed reducing the figure to $400 weekly through early December, which Trump indicated support for, saying he wants to “get funds to people so they can live.” In an interview on Fox News, however, Trump said he didn’t want the benefits to “disincentivize” people from going back to work. Democrats, meanwhile, have refused to budge on the $600 figure. Democrats are also seeking $1 trillion in state and local aid while Republicans have countered with $200 billion. Democrats have also called for $3.6 billion for the United States Postal Service to ensure a secure and safe election, including broader mail balloting, but Republicans have opposed the funds. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times)

3/ The State Department’s acting inspector general resigned less than three months after replacing the inspector general Trump fired in May. Stephen Akard’s departure was announced by his deputy, Diana Shaw, who told colleagues that she will become the temporary acting inspector general effective on Friday. Akard became inspector general after Trump abruptly fired Steve Linick in May on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s recommendation. Linick had been pursuing investigations into Pompeo and his potential misuse of department resources to push arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates before Trump fired him. (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / Politico / ABC News / CNN)

4/ The Trump campaign sued the state of Nevada over its plan to send absentee ballots to all active voters this November, falsely claiming that expanding mail-in voting would make voter fraud “inevitable.” At the same time, however, Trump encouraged voters in Florida to vote by mail after months of criticizing the practice. (The Nevada Independent / ABC News / CNN)

  • Trump said he is considering delivering his Republican National Convention speech from the White House after abandoning plans to hold the full convention in Charlotte, and later Jacksonville, Fla., over concerns that large crowds could spread the novel coronavirus. (Politico / CNN / Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Americans say the U.S. “should allow all voters to vote by mail in elections this year” to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. 31% said the U.S. “should not allow all voters to vote by mail in elections this year because it jeopardizes election security.” (Politico)

poll/ 66% of voters oppose delaying the presidential election due to the coronavirus pandemic and 54% think Trump floated the idea of postponing it to help himself get re-elected. (Reuters)

poll/ 14% of voters said they would take a coronavirus vaccine if Trump recommended it. 43%, meanwhile, said they’d take a vaccine based on the advice of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the CDC (43%), or their family (46%). (Politico)


✏️ Notables.

  1. House Democrats are investigating Kodak’s $765 million federal loan to make ingredients for generic drugs and are seeking documents from a U.S. agency involved in granting the proposed funding. Shares of Kodak surged 20% on July 27. The loan, however, wasn’t announced until July 28. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News)

  2. Johnson & Johnson will develop and deliver 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine for the U.S. in a deal totaling more than $1 billion. The doses will be provided to Americans at no cost if they’re used as part of a COVID-19 vaccination campaign, although health care professionals could charge for the cost of administering the vaccine. The company also received $456 million earlier this year to develop the vaccine. (CNBC)

  3. Several former lobbying clients of the acting secretary of Homeland Security received millions of dollars’ worth of government contracts when he held senior positions within the department. Chad Wolf was a lobbyist for over a decade at Wexler & Walker before he took leadership roles with DHS under Trump. Since then, several of Wolf’s former clients earned at least $160 million in contracts from DHS. (CNBC)

  4. Three Defense Department officials contradicted Trump’s claim that the explosion in Beirut was an “attack.” The defense officials said they didn’t know what Trump was talking about. And, Lebanese officials have not called the explosion an attack. An estimated 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse in the Port of Beirut exploded. (CNN)

Day 1293: "It is what it is."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~18,381,000; deaths: ~697,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,752,000; deaths: ~157,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump insisted that the coronavirus pandemic is “under control” and that U.S. deaths reaching 1,000 people a day “is what it is.” When asked how he could claim that his administration has the virus under control, Trump replied: “They are dying. That’s true. And it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control, as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us.” Trump then congratulated himself, saying his administration has “done a great job” despite more than 4.71 million confirmed cases and at least 155,478 deaths. Trump again suggested that “There are those that say you can test too much,” but when asked who says that, Trump relied: “Just read the manuals. Read the books.” When asked what books and manuals he’s referring to, Trump changed the subject instead. (Axios / CNBC / CNN / USA Today / The Guardian / Washington Post / CBS News / Vox)

  • [Watch] Full Axios interview with Trump

  • The 9 Wildest Answers in Trump’s Interview. (New York Magazine)

  • At least six states will band together to purchase millions of coronavirus tests. Virginia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, and Maryland have formed a purchasing compact to request 500,000 rapid tests that could be deployed to address outbreaks from one of two companies approved by the FDA to sell antigen tests. (Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ The White House is considering three executive orders to bypass the stalled coronavirus relief negotiations. The plan by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows would delay the collection of federal payroll taxes, reinstitute an expired eviction moratorium, and extend enhanced federal unemployment benefits using unspent money already appropriated by Congress. The White House plans to reappropriate $81 billion in unspent CARES Act money and then direct the Labor Department to loan state unemployment agencies additional money so they could provide laid-off workers anywhere from $200 to $600 per week in unemployment benefits. (Politico)

3/ Trump downplayed the legacy of John Lewis and instead complained how the recently deceased civil rights icon made a “big mistake” by not coming to his inauguration. When asked to reflect on Lewis’s contributions to the civil rights movement, Trump instead claimed “nobody has done more for Black Americans than I have,” and that Lewis “chose not to come to my inauguration.” Trump also declined to say whether he found Lewis’s life story “impressive,” and – again – said “He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches. And that’s OK.” (Axios / New York Times / CNN)

4/ The Census Bureau will end all counting efforts for the 2020 census a month sooner than previously announced. Door-knocking efforts, collecting responses online, over the phone and by mail will end on Sept. 30 instead of Oct. 31 — the previously announced end date for all counting efforts. The bureau has also asked Congress to push back the legal deadline of Dec. 31 by four months, but so far only Democrats have introduced legislation that would extend the deadlines. Congressional Democrats and census advocates are also concerned that the White House has pressured the bureau to stop counting soon in order to benefit Republicans when House seats are reapportioned and voting districts are redrawn. Roughly 4 out of 10 households nationwide yet to be counted. (NPR)

5/ Trump claimed he has the authority to issue an executive order addressing mail-in voting in the November election despite the Constitution expressly giving states the right to run their elections. Trump, however, said he hadn’t ruled out doing so, but didn’t elaborate on what an executive order on mail-in voting would entail. (Politico)

6/ Trump encouraged Floridians to vote by mail and claimed that Florida’s election system is “safe and secure” after repeatedly trying to discredit mail-in voting. 53% of voters in Florida, however, have expressed health concerns about voting in person and prefer voting by mail in November. And, at least 77% of voters will be able to vote through the mail in the fall. (CNN / Politico / The Hill / Washington Post)

7/ The House Oversight Committee called Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to testify on Sept. 17 about changes made to the U.S. Postal Service under the Trump administration. After DeJoy, a former fundraiser for Trump and the Republican National Committee, was appointed by Trump in May, USPS mail has been backlogged and delayed. (Axios)

poll/ 59% of Americans support a mandatory, nationwide stay-at-home order for two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus. 62% support a single, national strategy for when businesses can reopen, 60% support a similar strategy for schools, and 55% support temporary travel bans between states. (NPR / Axios)

poll/ 82% of voters support a national face mask mandate, while 18% oppose a mandate. (The Hill)

poll/ 13% of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation – down seven percentage points in the past month and 32 points since reaching a 15-year high in February. American satisfaction has not been this low since November 2011.(Gallup)


Notables.

  1. Trump defended his “I just wish her well” comment about Ghislaine Maxwell, saying he doesn’t want her to die in jail like her former boyfriend and alleged accomplice, Jeffrey Epstein. Maxwell was arrested on allegations of child sex trafficking. Trump also suggested that Epstein’s death might not have been a suicide, which contradicts both the New York City medical examiner’s office and his own attorney general. (CNN)

  2. The House Intelligence Committee will investigate the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis, which has compiled “intelligence reports” on journalists and protesters in Portland and other cities. “The revelations require a full accounting and, if substantiated, must never be allowed to occur again,” Rep. Adam Schiff wrote to senior department officials, including the acting secretary, Chad Wolf. (Axios / Washington Post)

  3. The White House was sued over the lack of a sign language interpreter at the administration’s COVID-19 briefings. The National Association of the Deaf and five deaf Americans filed a lawsuit, asking a federal judge to order the White House to add live televised ASL interpretation at all public coronavirus briefings. (CNN / The Hill)

  4. The deputy White House liaison to the U.S. Agency for International Development was fired after a series of comments critical of gay marriage and LGBTQ rights. Late Monday morning, Merritt Corrigan unlocked her previously private Twitter account and in a series of tweets said “gay marriage isn’t marriage,” “Men aren’t women,” and that the U.S. gives aid only to countries that “celebrate sexual deviancy.” When asked for a comment, Corrigan said she would address the matter at a news conference she plans to hold with two far-right conspiracy theorists on Thursday. (NBC News / Bloomberg / Politico)

Day 1292: "Extraordinarily widespread."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~18,161,000; deaths: ~691,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,469,000; deaths: ~156,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Dr. Deborah Birx warned that the country is in a “new phase” of the coronavirus pandemic and that the current outbreak is “extraordinarily widespread.” Birx stressed that Americans need to follow public health recommendations, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. She added: “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. […] It’s into the rural as equal urban areas. […] To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus.” (CNN / New York Times / Axios)

  • The U.S. recorded more than 1.9 million new coronavirus infections in July – nearly 42% of the more than 4.5 million cases reported since the pandemic began and more than double the number documented in any other month. (New York Times)

  • The former head of the FDA warned that the country’s rate of coronavirus infections indicates “it’s going to be hard to keep the virus out.” (CBS News)

  • [Perspective] A coronavirus vaccine won’t change the world right away. “The declaration that a vaccine has been shown safe and effective will be a beginning, not the end. Deploying the vaccine to people in the United States and around the world will test and strain distribution networks, the supply chain, public trust and global cooperation. It will take months or, more likely, years to reach enough people to make the world safe.” (Washington Post)

  • [Public Records] Millions of dollars of Paycheck Protection Program loans went to China-backed businesses in critical sectors. According to a review of publicly available loan data, “$192 million to $419 million has gone to more than 125 companies that Chinese entities own or invest in. Many of the loans were quite sizable; at least 32 Chinese companies received loans worth more than $1 million, with those totaling as much as $180 million.” (New York Times)

  • [Public Records] A defense contractor was accused of misrepresenting its size in order to received a loan worth at least $2 million through the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses. “A review of business data by Project on Government Oversight and the nonprofit Anti-Corruption Data Collective concluded that Atlantic Diving Supply was one of at least 27 PPP recipients estimated annual sales of more than $1 billion in 2019. Another 2,068 loan recipients cleared $100 million in sales last year, according to the analysis.” (Washington Post)

2/ Trump tweeted that Dr. Deborah Birx’s performance has been “pathetic.” Prior to Dr. Birx’s comment that the virus is in a “new phase,” and that it is “extraordinarily widespread,” Nancy Pelosi said Dr. Birx had been “too positive” about Trump’s handling of the pandemic. Trump then accused Dr. Birx of unfairly criticizing the administration’s response to the pandemic, saying she “took the bait & hit us.” Pelosi also said she does not have confidence in Dr. Birx, linking her to Trump’s disinformation about the virus spread of the coronavirus. “I think the president is spreading disinformation about the virus and she is his appointee,” Pelosi said, “so I don’t have confidence there, no.” (CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Politico / Reuters / Daily Beast)

  • Trump rebuked Dr. Anthony Fauci, retweeting a video of Fauci explaining to a House subcommittee that the U.S. has seen more cases than European countries because it shut down a fraction of its economy in response to the pandemic. “Wrong!” Trump wrote. (Politico)

3/ Trump floated the possibility of using an executive order to impose a moratorium on evictions as talks on a new coronavirus relief plan have stalled in Congress. The two sides are trying to find a compromise between the $3.5 trillion Democratic plan and the $1 trillion package that Senate Republicans introduced last week. The Republican proposal did not include a federal moratorium on evictions. The White House is also exploring whether Trump can unilaterally extend enhanced unemployment insurance payments that were part of the March stimulus legislation that has since expired. Trump told reporters at the White House: “I have a lot of powers with respect to executive orders and we’re looking at that very seriously right now.” He didn’t specify those powers were, though. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The Manhattan District Attorney’s office suggested that it’s investigating Trump and his company for bank and insurance fraud. Until now, Cyrus Vance’s inquiry had appeared focused on hush-money payments made in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to two women who said they had affairs with Trump. But, in a court filing Vance said Trump’s arguments that a subpoena for eight years of his personal and corporate tax records was too broad stemmed from “the false premise” that the probe was limited to hush-money payments. Vance told the judge that he was justified in demanding the financial records, citing public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.” The filing doesn’t say specifically what Vance is investigating, but instead quotes from an October opinion by a district judge in New York, who listed a number of publicly reported investigations that included allegations of “insurance and bank fraud by the Trump Organization.” (New York Times / Associated Press / Bloomberg / CNN / Axios)

  • Deutsche Bank opened an internal investigation into a 2013 transaction between Trump’s personal banker and a company part-owned by Jared Kushner. In June 2013, the banker, Rosemary Vrablic, and two of her Deutsche Bank colleagues purchased a Park Avenue apartment for about $1.5 million from a company called Bergel 715 Associates. In 2011, Kushner introduced Vrablic to Donald Trump – a time when most mainstream banks refused to do business with Trump because of his history of defaults and bankruptcies. Vrablic and her superiors agreed to take Trump on as a client, despite defaulting on a Deutsche loan three years earlier. In an annual personal financial report, Kushner and Ivanka Trump reported that they had received $1 million to $5 million last year from Bergel 715. (New York Times)

  • Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner earned at least $36.2 million in outside income as they served in the White House last year. The Office of Government Ethics require administration officials to report the worth of assets and liabilities in ranges. The two advisers reported a minimum combined income that was at least $7 million higher than in 2018, when they reported making at least $29 million. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump threatened legal action after Nevada’s Legislature passed a bill to automatically send mail-in ballots to all active voters. Trump tweeted that lawmakers were “using Covid to steal the state” in an “illegal late night coup.” Trump also claimed without evidence that the “Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation.” House Majority Whip James Clyburn, meanwhile, said he believes Trump is “trying to put a cloud over the election” and has has no intention of “peacefully” transferring power if he loses in November. (Politico / Bloomberg / Axios / CBS News)

poll/ 52% of Americans believe Trump will not accept the results of November’s election if he loses. 55% of Trump supporters say they refuse to accept a narrow Trump loss if mail-in ballots contribute a Biden victory. (Yahoo News)


Notables.

  1. Homeland Security reassigned a senior official whose office compiled “intelligence reports” about journalists and protesters in Portland. Brian Murphy, the acting under secretary for intelligence and analysis, was reassigned after his office disseminated “open-source intelligence reports” containing Twitter posts of journalists, noting they had published leaked unclassified documents. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  2. Trump appointed his choice to fill the Pentagon’s top policy job to a temporary senior position in the same Defense Department office that does not require Senate approval. Anthony Tata confirmation hearing was canceled amid bipartisan opposition to the nomination. Tata’s role is essentially the deputy of the role he had been nominated for. (Politico / CNN / New York Times)

  3. Trump will allow Microsoft to pursue an acquisition of TikTok from its Chinese owner after he said he was planning to ban the social media app over concerns that it represents a national security risk. Trump also said that the U.S. should receive money in return for letting the deal happen. Trump indicated a deadline of Sept. 15, after which TikTok would be banned in the U.S. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Reuters / CNBC)

  4. House Democrats subpoenaed four top aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, accusing them of stonewalling their investigation into the firing of the State Department’s former inspector general earlier this year. Pompeo previously said he recommended that Trump fire Steve Linick as the State Department inspector general, citing leaks from Linick’s office and claiming that the internal watchdog was trying to undermine his department. At the time of his termination, Linick and office were investigating the Trump administration’s use of an emergency declaration to expedite arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press)

Day 1289: "We cannot test our way out of this pandemic."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~17,422,000; deaths: ~676,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,543,000; deaths: ~153,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Nearly 30 million Americans are set to lose $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits after talks between Congress and the White House stalled. The $600 weekly benefit for unemployed Americans from March’s CARES Act is set to expire at midnight and Democrats want a full extension of the benefit into next year, while Senate Republicans argue the benefit is a disincentive to return to work. At a news conference at the White House, Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, accused Democrats of playing “politics as usual” while at the opposite ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said administration officials “do not understand the gravity of the situation.” Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will continue negotiations Saturday with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and Pelosi. (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / Axios)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci told the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis he is “cautiously optimistic” that a “safe and effective” coronavirus vaccine will be available to the public by the end of 2020, but warned that “one can never guarantee the safety or effectiveness unless you do the trial.” Fauci said that the Trump administration’s decision to leave coronavirus shutdown decisions to the states created a patchwork of policies that essentially imposed restrictions on about half of the country, and that “There were some states that did it very well, and there were some states did not.” Fauci also contradicted Trump’s past statements that the coronavirus would eventually vanish, saying “I do not believe it would disappear because it’s such a highly transmissible virus.” Fauci testified alongside Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, and Adm. Brett Giroir, the Trump administration testing czar. Giroir told Congress the U.S. “cannot test our way out of this or any other pandemic” and that “testing does not replace personal responsibility,” such as wearing a mask or washing hands. Redfield, meanwhile, testified that he was not consulted or given advance warning that the Trump administration was going to direct hospitals to stop reporting data to the CDC. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Politico / The Guardian / NBC News)

3/ Trump defended his suggestion that the U.S. should delay the November election. During a press conference that was supposed to be about the coronavirus, Trump – again – baselessly attacked the mail-in voting process. “You’re sending out hundreds of millions of universal mail-in ballots. Hundreds of millions,” he said. “Where are they going? Who are they being sent to?” trump – again – falsely claimed that mail-in voting and absentee ballots lead to more voter fraud, vastly overstated the number of ballots that would be needed, and continued sow doubt about the election process in general. “I don’t want to see a crooked election,” he said. “This will be the most rigged election in history if that happens.” There is no evidence that mail ballots increase electoral fraud and several anti-fraud protections are built into the process. (New York Times)

  • The White House condemned Hong Kong’s decision to delay legislative elections a day after Trump suggested that the United States postpone its own election in November. Kayleigh McEnany condemned Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s decision to delay legislative elections, saying the “action undermines the democratic processes and freedoms that have underpinned Hong Kong’s prosperity.” (Politico / The Hill)

  • The U.S. Postal Service is experiencing days-long backlogs of mail following changes implemented by Trump fundraiser-turned-postmaster general Louis DeJoy. The new policies have resulted in at least a two-day delay in parts of the country. (Washington Post)

4/ The Department of Homeland Security compiled “intelligence reports” about American journalists covering protests in Portland. The Office of Intelligence and Analysis distributed three Open Source Intelligence Reports to federal law enforcement agencies and others that included descriptions of the tweets by a New York Times journalist and the editor in chief of Lawfare and noted that they had published leaked, unclassified documents about DHS operations in Portland. A DHS spokesperson said in a statement that after he learned about the practice, Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf directed the OIA to “immediately discontinue collecting information involving members of the press” and that in no way does Wolf “condone this practice and he has immediately ordered an inquiry into the matter.” (Washington Post / The Independent)

5/ Trump threatened to send the National Guard to Portland to clear out protesters, which he described as a “beehive of terrorists.” The first protest in Portland since the federal agencies agreed to pull back their officers, however, was a peaceful affair and passed without major incident or intervention by the police. On Wednesday, Gov. Kate Brown said that “Trump’s troops” were behaving like an occupying army in Portland and provoking unrest with heavy-handed tactics. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that Portland was rife with professional agitators and anarchists and that “many should be arrested.” He also claimed that Brown and Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler, “don’t know what they’re doing,” and complained that it’s “not our job to go clean out the cities, it’s supposed to be done by local law enforcement.” (The Independent / The Guardian / The Oregonian / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. The White House said Trump still supports his nominee for the Pentagon’s top policy job despite the Senate Armed Services Committee canceling Brig. Gen. Anthony Tata’s confirmation hearing amid “serious questions” about his fitness for the post. Tata once tweeted that Obama was a “terrorist leader.” (Politico)

  2. Trump was sued – again – for blocking people on Twitter. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University sued Trump in federal court in New York — the same court that ruled in May 2018 that Trump cannot block people from using his account because he uses it to announce policy updates. That decision was backed by a federal appeals court in July 2019. (Politico)

  3. Trump will order China’s Bytedance Ltd. to divest its ownership of TikTok, a popular video-sharing app that U.S. officials have deemed a national security risk. Earlier this month, Trump said he was considering banning TikTok as a way of retaliating against China for its handling of the coronavirus. Microsoft, meanwhile, is said to be in talks to acquire TikTok’s U.S. operations. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  4. Trump’s campaign canceled a series of ad spending as it undergoes “a review and fine-tuning of the campaign’s strategy” less than 100 days before Election Day. The moves comes after Brad Parscale was demoted and Bill Stepien was promoted to campaign manager a little more than two weeks ago. (CNN / NBC News)

  5. The government dropped its effort to silence Michael Cohen and will no longer demand that Trump’s former personal lawyer not speak with the media before his book is released. Cohen was released from prison in May amid coronavirus fears in prisons, only to be re-imprisoned earlier this month because he refused to sign a form banning him from publishing the book or communicating with the media or public. (Associated Press)

  6. The FBI reportedly hid at least three copies of key Russia investigation documents in remote locations throughout the Bureau in the event that Trump tried to interfere in its investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.(CNN)

Day 1288: "A catastrophic disaster."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~17,117,000; deaths: ~669,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,465,000; deaths: ~152,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Another 1.43 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week – the 19th straight week that the tally exceeded one million and the second weekly increase in a row after nearly four months of declines. 17 million Americans filed for ongoing benefits. An additional 830,000 new claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a benefit offered to gig and self-employed workers. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The U.S. suffered its worst quarterly economic contraction on record in the second quarter. GDP shrank 9.5% from April through June – the largest quarterly decline since the government started publishing data 70 years ago. On an annualized basis, GDP fell at a rate of 32.9%. The contraction came as states imposed lockdowns across the country to contain the coronavirus. Trump recently told Fox News that “We’re going to have a great year next year. We’re going to have a great third quarter. And the nice thing about the third quarter is that the results are going to come out before the election.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Politico / The Guardian)

3/ Lawmakers are “nowhere close to a deal” on a new round of coronavirus aid, according to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. A last-ditch effort by Senate Republicans to pass a standalone extension of extension of federal unemployment insurance failed in the Senate. The Republican proposal would have renewed enhanced unemployment benefits, but slash them from $600 a week to $200. Democrats blocked the effort, pushing for the full $600 to go into next year, which was blocked by Republicans. The Senate is scheduled to leave Washington without any resolution on the expiring benefit, which would leave tens of millions of Americans in limbo as more than 1 million new unemployment claims filed for the 19th week in a row and after the economy recorded its worst quarter on record. (New York Times / Politico / CNBC)

  • Herman Cain died a month after being diagnosed with coronavirus. Cain attended Trump’s rally in Tulsa, sharing photos of himself not wearing a mask while at the event. Cain’s positive coronavirus test came less than two weeks after he attended the rally. Others who attended the rally subsequently became sick, including Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, and six Trump campaign staffers. (Axios / BuzzFeed News / Politico)

  • After testing positive for COVID-19, Rep. Louie Gohmert said he will take hydroxychloroquine. Experts have warned that the anti-malaria drug doesn’t treat the coronavirus. (The Hill)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a mandate that all members wear a face mask while inside the House. The mandate was announced hours after Rep. Louis Gohmert revealed that he tested positive for COVID-19. Gohmert frequently refused to wear a mask on the House floor. Members and staff will be required to wear masks in the halls of the House,” Pelosi said. She added that members and staffers will not be allowed in the House Chamber if they refuse to obey the new mandate. (CBS News)

4/ Trump – lacking authority – mused about a “delay” of the 2020 election, questioning the integrity of voting during the coronavirus pandemic, and claiming without evidence that widespread mail-in voting would be a “catastrophic disaster” and lead to fraudulent results. The tweet about whether the date should be pushed back until “people can properly, securely and safely vote” marked the first time Trump has explicitly raised the idea of delaying the November elections. There is no evidence that mail-in voting leads to fraud. Only Congress can change the date of the election, which was fixed as the first Tuesday after Nov. 1 by an act of Congress in 1845. It would require new legislation for the election to be delayed. Trump’s tweet came shortly after a report was released showing the worst economic contraction in modern American history. (Washington Post / The Hill / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Reuters / CNN / New York Times / Associated Press / NPR / Axios / BBC)

5/ Trump vowed to protect the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream” and promised that Americans will “would “no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing” in their communities. Last week, Trump rescinded the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, an addition to the 1968 Fair Housing Act designed to reduce racial segregation in American suburbs by requiring local governments that receive federal funding to study racial bias in their housing patterns and develop plans to address it. “Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down,” Trump tweeted. “I have rescinded the Obama-Biden AFFH Rule. Enjoy!” Earlier this month, Trump announced that his administration was replacing the fair housing rule with its own rule, dubbed “Preserving Community and Neighborhood Choice.” (CNBC / New York Times / USA Today / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 1282: Trump repealed a fair housing regulation he claimed would lead to “destruction” of the country’s suburbs. The White House replaced the rule, which required local governments to proactively track patterns of poverty and segregation to gain access to federal housing funds, with a checklist of questions that would allow local governments to essentially self-certify that they are meeting their obligation to “affirmatively further fair housing” under the 1968 Fair Housing Act. (Washington Post / Politico)

6/ The federal appeals court in Washington will reconsider its earlier ruling ordering the dismissal of a criminal case against Michael Flynn. U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan had requested the case be reheard after Attorney General William Barr dropped the prosecution of Trump’s former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador in 2016. Last month, a divided three-judge panel instructed Sullivan to grant the Justice Department’s May 7 request to dismiss federal charges against Flynn. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

Day 1287: "Nobody likes me."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~16,846,000; deaths: ~663,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,399,000; deaths: ~151,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ More than 150,000 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus – five months after the first reported death in the U.S. – and more than a fifth of the world’s 662,000-plus recorded deaths. Florida, North Carolina, and California set new state records for coronavirus-related deaths reported in a single day on Wednesday. An average of nearly 1,000 virus-related deaths a day have been reported over the past week – worst rate since early June. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / CNN)

  • A Texas Republican who has been walking around the Capitol without a mask or maintaining social distance tested positive for the coronavirus. Rep. Louie Gohmert, who was scheduled to fly to Texas with Trump this morning but tested positive during a pre-screen at the White House, suggested that he contracted coronavirus because he recently started wearing a mask more frequently. Gohmert also attended Tuesday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing with Attorney General William Barr in person and footage from earlier in the day shows Gohmert and Barr walking together, with neither wearing a mask. A Justice Department spokeswoman said Barr will be tested today because of his proximity to Gohmert at the hearing. (Politico / Washington Post / Daily Beast / CNN / CNBC)

2/ Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter all removed a video shared by Trump that baselessly claims that there is a “cure” for the coronavirus. There is no cure. The video, published by Breitbart, shows a group of people calling themselves “America’s Frontline Doctors” and claiming to be doctors who have worked with COVID-19 patients. One member of the group, who identified herself as Dr. Stella Immanuel, claimed that “You don’t need masks” to prevent the spread of coronavirus because hydroxychloroquine is a “cure.” Immanuel’s other medical claims include doctors using alien DNA in medical treatments, that the government is run by lizard-like “reptilian” aliens, that certain medical issues like endometriosis, cysts, infertility, and impotence are caused by sex with “spirit husbands” and “spirit wives” in a dreamworld. Trump also retweeted tweets defending the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine – including one that accused Dr. Anthony Fauci of having “misled the American public” – despite the FDA saying it was “unlikely to be effective” and carried potential risks. In June, the FDA revoked an emergency use authorization for the use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine in the treatment of COVID-19, and in a July 1 update, the FDA warned that there were reports of serious heart rhythm problems and other safety issues, including blood and lymph system disorders, kidney injuries, and liver problems and failure. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who served under Trump, added that hydroxychloroquine “definitively” does not work as a coronavirus treatment. Dr. Fauci, meanwhile, said that all the “valid” scientific data shows hydroxychloroquine isn’t effective in treating COVID-19. Twitter also briefly locked Trump Jr.’s account after he tweeted the video and called it a “must watch!!!” (CBS News / NBC News / New York Times / CNBC / Axios / Daily Beast / CBS News)

  • Trump said he was “very impressed” by Immanuel and her fellow Frontline Doctors. “I can tell you this,” Trump said, “she was on air along with many other doctors. They were big fans of hydroxychloroquine and I thought she was very impressive in the sense that from where she came, I don’t know which country she comes from, but she said that she’s had tremendous success with hundreds of different patients, and I thought her voice was an important voice, but I know nothing about her.” Trump then pivoted to the video he shared, saying “For some reason the internet wanted to take them down and took them off. I guess Twitter took them off and I think Facebook took them off. I don’t know why I think they’re very respected doctors.” (CNN / Daily Beast)

  • Pence and his staff met with the group of Frontline Doctors after social media sites removed the video for misinformation. Immanuel was not among them members to meet with Pence. (CNN)

  • Russian intelligence services have been spreading disinformation about the coronavirus pandemic to American and Western audiences. (New York Times / Associated Press)

3/ Trump falsely claimed that large portions of the U.S. are “corona-free,” despite a federal report that 21 states have outbreaks so severe that they are in the so-called “red zone.” 28 states are in the “yellow zone,” and only one state, Vermont, is in the “green zone.” Trump’s trade adviser, meanwhile, refused to answer what Trump meant when he said the U.S. is “getting towards corona-free” but touted hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus even though the FDA has determined that it is “unlikely to be effective.” Peter Navarro, who is not a medical professional, added: “I’m sitting on 63 million doses of hydroxychloroquine at the FEMA stockpile and that would save – that’s enough for 4 million Americans.” Trump also defended sharing a misleading video that claimed hydroxychloroquine is a “cure” for the virus, telling reporters that “from a safety standpoint it’s safe.” (New York Times / Axios / ABC News / New York Times)

4/ Trump wondered aloud why “nobody likes me” during a White House coronavirus briefing. Trump also questioned why Dr. Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx have a higher approval rating than him, despite the fact that they serve on the White House coronavirus task force and have helped shape the administration’s policies. “He’s got this high approval rating,” Trump said a day after he retweeted a message claiming Fauci had misled the public. “Why don’t I have a high approval rating — and the administration — with respect to the virus?” He added, “They’re highly thought of, but nobody likes me,” before concluding: “It can only be my personality.” (New York Times / Axios / CNN)

  • Trump abruptly ended a press briefing after being asked about retweeting misinformation and his support for a doctor who downplayed masks, and suggested that alien DNA was used in medical treatments. (CNN)

  • Trump criticized governors for moving too slowly to open their states’ economies amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying “we’ll see what happens with them.” (Bloomberg)

  • An hour before Dr. Anthony Fauci threw the first pitch at the season opener between the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals, Trump announced that he, too, had been invited to throw out an opening pitch of his own. Trump, however, had not actually been invited by the Yankees and soon after tweeted that “won’t be able to be in New York to throw out the opening pitch.” (New York Times)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump administration will reject new DACA applications and limit renewals for more than 640,000 so-called “Dreamers” enrolled in the program. The White House said after the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s plan to end DACA the administration would “limit the scope” of the program while it reviews its legality. (NBC News / CBS News / Associated Press / Politico)

  2. Trump’s lawyers filed a new challenge to the Manhattan district attorney’s subpoena for his tax returns, arguing that the subpoena was “wildly overbroad,” issued in “bad faith,” and amounts to “harassment.” On July 9, the Supreme Court ruled that Trump was not immune from state criminal probes, but that Trump could challenge the subpoena on other grounds. (Reuters)

  3. The Trump administration agreed to a “phased withdrawal” of Customs and Border Protection and ICE agents from Portland. Under an agreement between Gov. Kate Brown and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, state police will provide security for the exterior of federal courthouse, while federal officers will continue to provide security for the interior of the building. The Justice Department, meanwhile, will send nearly 100 federal agents and officers to Detroit, Cleveland, and Milwaukee in an expansion of Operation Legend. (New York Times / Bloomberg / USA Today / Axios)

  4. A watchdog group accused Trump’s reelection campaign of obscuring nearly $170 million worth of campaign spending through so-called “pass-through” vendors that paid subcontractors on behalf of the campaign. In an FEC complaint, the Campaign Legal Center said American Made Media Consultants and Parscale Strategy, two companies run by campaign leadership, have been disguised as vendors offering services to the campaign, but in reality they serve as a “clearing house” for firms pay out contracts to various subcontractors and vendors without revealing the ultimate recipients of the donor money. (ABC News / Washington Post)

  5. Trump never confronted Putin about alleged Russian bounties paid to Taliban fighters to kill U.S. troops in Afghanistan, saying “I have never discussed it with him.” Trump spoke with Putin last week and later said, “We don’t talk about what we discussed.” But when asked this week, Trump said he didn’t raise the issue because the phone call was meant “to discuss other things” and because “frankly that’s an issue that many people said was fake news.” Trump has spoken to Putin at least eight times since the intelligence about the alleged Russian bounties was included in his President’s Daily Brief in February. (Axios / Washington Post / Daily Beast / The Hill / New York Times)

  6. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany couldn’t explain why the coronavirus stimulus bill includes $1.75 billion for a new FBI building. “So, this was part of the President’s priority of updating the FBI building, keeping it in DC, and it’s been one of the things that’s been mentioned that’s in this bill and it’s a part of one of the President’s priorities and it’s been a priority for several months.” She added: It is “not a dealbreaker.” (CNN)

  7. Trump directed to the CIA to block former CIA director John Brennan from accessing his official records. It’s common practice, however, for the CIA to allow former directors review classified files when writing books about their careers so they ensure they don’t expose any national secrets. Brennan’s book, “Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, at Home and Abroad,” is scheduled to be published on Oct. 6. (Washington Post)

  8. The Trump administration will cut back its deployments in Germany by nearly 12,000 troops, shifting some units to Belgium and Italy. About 6,400 troops will return to the U.S. (NBC News / Associated Press / New York Times)

Day 1285: "Act of expressing hope and optimism for the future."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~16,341,000; deaths: ~651,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,272,000; deaths: ~148,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump’s national security adviser tested positive for COVID-19. Robert O’Brien, the closest person to Trump and highest-ranking official to test positive so far, “has mild symptoms and has been self-isolating and working from a secure location off site,” the White House said. “There is no risk of exposure to the president or the vice president.” When asked by reporters about O’Brien, Trump responded: “I haven’t seen him lately. I heard he tested [positive].” O’Brien was also one of the first administration officials to wear a mask at the White House. (Bloomberg / Politico / CNN / Associated Press / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • About 35% of COVID-19 patients who weren’t hospitalized do not recover quickly and experience ongoing symptoms, such as fatigue and cough for up to three weeks after their diagnosis, according to a CDC report. (NBC News)

  • FDA warned that at least 77 hand sanitizer products may be toxic when absorbed through the skin. Many of the products’ labels say they contain ethanol, but FDA tests show that they contain methanol. (Washington Post)

  • About 4,000 federal employees contracted the coronavirus while at work and at least 60 died. The total number of claims is expected to increase to 6,000 within weeks. (Washington Post)

  • At least 14 members of the Miami Marlins, including 12 players, tested positive for the coronavirus. MLB postponed Monday night’s scheduled game between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees in Philadelphia after the Phillies hosted the Marlins for three games this weekend. The Yankees would have occupied the same visitors’ clubhouse that the Marlins have since departed. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Trump will no longer throw out the ceremonial first pitch for the New York Yankees on Aug. 15 because of his “strong focus” on the coronavirus. Trump has never thrown out a first pitch while in office, but said he “will make it later in the season!” The decision by the Yankees to invite Trump to throw out the opening pitch drew criticism from some NY elected officials, including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who contrasted the franchise’s rhetorical support for racial justice and equality with Trump’s record on race relations. (Axios / Politico)

2/ Senate Republicans are planning to lower supplemental unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 per week as part of their $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill. The proposal, which the Trump administration has agreed to, calls for a two-month transition for states to implement a new program that would cap unemployed payments at 70% of a worker’s previous income. House Democrats, meanwhile, have proposed extending the $600 benefit until January because the unemployment rate remains very high. The GOP package is also expected to include another round of $1,200 direct payments to some Americans, additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program, $25 billion to improve coronavirus testing programs, and more than $100 billion to help reopen schools and colleges. White House officials have also floated the idea of breaking off some policy items into separate bills to try and pass them more quickly. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly rejected that approach. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Axios / CNN / NBC News)

3/ An experimental COVID-19 vaccine entered Phase 3 clinical trials, in which the first of 30,000 volunteers received test shots developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna. Dr. Anthony Fauci estimated that full enrollment of the trial’s 30,000 participants will be completed by the end of the summer and that the results might be available by November. Volunteers will receive either two 100 microgram injections of the vaccine or a placebo 28 days apart with the goal of determining whether the vaccine is safe and effective. Moderna said it would be able to deliver about 500 million doses per year, and possibly up to a billion doses per year, starting in 2021. Moderna has received at least $955 million in federal funding to develop the vaccine and said it does not plan to sell the vaccine at cost, but will instead sell it for profit. (New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News / Associated Press / CNN)

4/ One of the largest television station operators in the country delayed its broadcast of a baseless conspiracy theory suggesting that Dr. Anthony Fauci was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. Following an outcry on social media, Sinclair Broadcast Group pulled an edition of “America This Week,” in which Eric Bolling, a former Fox News personality, interviewed Judy Mikovits, an anti-vaccine activist and maker of the widely discredited “Plandemic” video, and her lawyer, Larry Klayman about their plans to sue Fauci. During the prerecorded interview, Mikovits, who is referred to as “an expert in virology,” claimed that Fauci “manufactured” the coronavirus and shipped it to China. Bolling also proposed that China then “accelerated the virus” while researching a vaccine and “it somehow leaked out of a laboratory.” There is no evidence that the virus was man-made in a lab, let alone that Fauci was involved. Sinclair operates 191 stations in 89 markets broadcasting to 629 channels. (Media Matters / CNN / Bloomberg / Associated Press / Politico)

5/ The Trump administration will send 100 more deputy U.S. Marshals to Portland. The Department of Homeland Security is also considering a plan to send an additional 50 Customs and Border Protection personnel to the city. As of mid-July, there were 114 federal agents deployed to Portland. (Washington Post / Oregon Public Broadcasting)

  • SEATTLE, Wash. — A riot was declared in Seattle during a protest in support of Black Lives Matter, against police violence, and the presence of federal law enforcement. After demonstrators began marching, five trailers at a nearby construction site for a future juvenile detention center were set on fire. Protesters also spray painted the 12th police precinct and tried to disable cameras outside the building. Police deployed “less-lethal munitions” to clear people away from the precinct, firing flash grenades and pepper spray at protesters, and at times abruptly rushing into the crowd to knock people to the ground. Police later claimed that protesters were throwing rocks, fireworks, and “other explosives” at officers. A photo shared by police, however, appears to be a colored smoke bomb. Federal officials also deployed a tactical team to Seattle this week. At least 47 people were arrested on charges of assaulting officers, obstruction and failure to disperse. (CBS News / Seattle Times / CNN / New York Times)

  • AUSTIN, Texas — A man was shot and killed at a Black Lives Matter protest in Austin, Texas. The suspect drove through the crowd of protesters before shooting the victim with a rifle. The shooter was released by police “pending further investigation.” (BuzzFeed News)

6/ An Army National Guard officer who witnessed protesters forcibly removed from Lafayette Square last month will testify that Park Police’s use of force was an “unnecessary” and “unprovoked” escalation that he and his fellow National Guardsmen viewed as “deeply disturbing.” Adam DeMarco’s testimony directly contradicts statements by Attorney General William Barr and the White House about the the events that preceded Trump’s visit to St. John’s Church for a photo op. DeMarco will say that “demonstrators were behaving peacefully” and that tear gas was deployed in an “excessive use of force.” (Axios / Washington Post / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 1230: As he spoke from the Rose Garden, police cleared peaceful protesters outside the White House with tear gas and flash grenades so Trump could pose by a church for photographs to dispel the notion that he was “weak” for hiding in a bunker over the weekend. Following his remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump left the White House and walked through Lafayette Square, where riot police and military police had cleared protesters moments before. Once Trump reached the far side of the square, he raised a bible in front of the church for a photo. Trump’s decision to speak to the nation from the Rose Garden and to then visit the church came together because he was reportedly upset about the news coverage of him retreating to the White House bunker amid the protests. Just before Trump spoke, Attorney General William Barr personally ordered law enforcement officials to clear protesters from Lafayette Square. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Vox / Washington Post / YouTube / Religious News Service)

poll/ 59% of “Lean Trump” voters said the nationwide protests against racism and police brutality are “completely right” or “somewhat right.” 72% of Americans with “Mixed Feelings” about Trump said the protesters were right, too. (Vanity Fair)

poll/ 60% of Americans say the worst effects of the pandemic are yet to come. 28% of Americans rate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus “good” or “excellent,” while 48% rate the response “poor,” and another 23% call it “fair.” 53% of U.S. adults say that stress related to coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health – up from 39% in May. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

poll/ 32% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the pandemic. 38% approve of the way Trump is handling the economy – down from 67% in January. 20% say the U.S. is headed in the right direction – the lowest of Trump’s presidency so far. And, 38% approve of the job Trump is doing as president. (Associated Press / Axios)


Notables.

  1. Germany rejected Trump’s suggestion that Russia should be allowed to re-join the G7. Germany’s foreign secretary said there was no prospect of re-admitting Russia until it had resolved the situation in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. In June, Trump said it was “common sense” for Putin to be invited back into the G7. Russia used to be a member of the group, then called the G8, until it invaded and annexed the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and backed a rebellion in eastern Ukraine. (Reuters / Business Insider)

  2. Trump promoted tweets from Republican senators touting the benefits of a defense authorization bill he has threatened to veto. The legislation currently includes a provision instructing the Pentagon to rename military installations named after Confederate generals. (Washington Post)

  3. Attorney General William Barr directed the FBI to declassify a redacted report about the Christopher Steele dossier. In doing so, the FBI unmasked the name of an expert in Russian politics who had agreed to tell investigators what he knew if the FBI kept his identity secret so he could protect himself, his sources, and his family and friends in Russia. (New York Times)

  4. Melania Trump plans to renovate the White House Rose Garden. Melania called the renovation, which includes electrical upgrades for television appearances, a new walkway, and new flowers and shrubs, an “act of expressing hope and optimism for the future,” and that during difficult times “the White House and the Rose Garden have always stood as a symbol of our strength, resilience and continuity.” Trump, however, has repeatedly used the Rose Garden to announce executive actions, boast about the economy, and extend his political battles. (New York Times)

  5. Trump will not visit the Capitol Rotunda to pay respects to the late civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis, who will lie in state for two days before being buried in a private funeral in Atlanta Thursday. Trump did did not offer an explanation for why. (Axios / Politico)

Day 1282: "Just not right."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~15,595,000; deaths: ~636,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,074,000; deaths: ~145,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The CDC published new guidance recommending that schools reopen in the fall – two weeks after Trump criticized its earlier recommendations on school reopenings as “very tough and expensive.” The new guidelines start with an unsigned statement on “the importance of reopening America’s schools this fall,” and repeatedly describe children as low risk for being infected by or transmitting the coronavirus. A recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report, however, concludes that “There is insufficient evidence with which to determine how easily children and youth contract the virus and how contagious they are once they do.” Nevertheless, the CDC claimed that “the best available evidence indicates that COVID-19 poses relatively low risks to school-aged children,” and that “reopening schools creates opportunity to invest in the education, well-being, and future of one of America’s greatest assets — our children.” Earlier this month, an internal CDC document warned that fully reopening schools would be the “highest risk” for the spread of coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country should try “as best as we possibly can” to keep children in school, but “it depends on where you are” and reopenings should depend on the level of virus transmission in individual communities. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Barron Trump’s school will not fully reopen in September despite Trump’s repeated demands and threats to withhold federal money. St. Andrew’s Episcopal School will decided in August whether to adopt a hybrid model for the fall that would allow limited in-person education or to resume holding all classes completely online as was done in the spring. (New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Trump canceled the in-person portion of the Republican National Convention as the coronavirus continues to spread across the U.S. The event was supposed to be held in Jacksonville, FL next month after North Carolina officials said they wanted the party to take health precautions. Trump, however, abruptly announced at a press conference last night that “the timing for this event is not right, just not right with what’s happened recently.” He cited the “flare-up” of coronavirus cases in Florida and said “I have to protect the American people.” Trump has repeatedly downplayed and denied the dangers of large gatherings over the last few months and accused Democrats of “purposely” keeping their states closed for political advantage. Trump said he still plans to give an acceptance speech of some kind, but it won’t be done in person. (NBC News / Washington Post / Associated Press / Bloomberg / New York Times)

3/ Trump said he would deploy as many as 75,000 federal agents into U.S. cities as part of his “surge” against “violent crime.” Trump told Fox News that he would would dispatch “50,000, 60,000 people” into American cities, but eventually upped the number to 75,000. “We’ll go into all of the cities, any of the cities. We’re ready,” he said. Trump first said the federal government would “have to be invited in,” but added suggested that a lack of invitation wouldn’t prevent him from deploying federal agents. “At some point we’ll have to do something much stronger than being invited in,” he said. Meanwhile, the Trump administration deployed a Special Response Team, comprised of an unspecified number of Customs and Border Patrol agents, to Seattle to protect federal property. (CNN / New York Times / Seattle Times)

4/ New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to sue the Trump administration after the Department of Homeland Security admitted that it made false statements defending its decision to block New York residents from participating in Trusted Traveler Programs, including Global Entry. Cuomo alleged that top Homeland Security officials Chad Wolf and Ken Cuccinelli “have criminal liability” and that the agency “abused government resources to advance political purposes.” DHS blocked New Yorkers from the program over a state law limiting immigration agents’ access to the state’s driver’s license data. (Politico / CNBC / CNN)

5/ Trump repealed a fair housing regulation he claimed would lead to “destruction” of the country’s suburbs. The White House replaced the rule, which required local governments to proactively track patterns of poverty and segregation to gain access to federal housing funds, with a checklist of questions that would allow local governments to essentially self-certify that they are meeting their obligation to “affirmatively further fair housing” under the 1968 Fair Housing Act. (Washington Post / Politico)

6/ China ordered the U.S. to close its consulate in Chengdu. The move is retaliation after Trump ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, TX. A spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry called the move “a legitimate and necessary response to the unjustified act by the United States.” The U.S. consulate in Chengdu is responsible for monitoring Tibet and other areas in the southwest that are are home to non-ethnic Chinese minorities that are considered especially sensitive by Beijing. (Associated Press / New York Times)

poll/ The approval rating for governors in four states hit hardest by the coronavirus all sink. In Florida, 58% disapprove of Gov. Ron DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic, while 40% approve, and in Texas, 55% disapprove of Gov. Greg Abbott, while 44% approve. In Arizona, 62% disapprove, while 36% approve of Gov. Doug Ducey, and in Georgia, 55% disapprove, while 44% approve of Gov. Brian Kemp. (Axios)

[Fox News] poll/ Voters prefer Biden over Trump in Michigan, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania. In Michigan, Biden leads Trump 49% to 40%, while 11% are undecided. 51% of voters in Minnesota say they’d vote for Biden if the election was today, compared to 38% who say they’d vote for Trump. And Biden leads Trump 50% to 39% in Pennsylvania, while 10% are undecided. (Fox News)

Day 1281: "Person, woman, man, camera, TV."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~15,349,000; deaths: ~627,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~4,022,000; deaths: ~144,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The U.S. surpassed four million coronavirus cases a little over two weeks after reaching three million, doubling the total number of infections in six weeks. New cases climbed by more than 71,000 and the nation’s overall death toll topped 140,000 with more than 1,100 coronavirus deaths reported Wednesday – the first time since May 29 that the daily count exceeded that number. Public health experts have warned that the actual number of infections are potentially 10 times higher than what’s been reported and could be as much 13 times higher in some regions. (Wall Street Journal / USA Today / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Nearly 75% of detainees in ICE custody in a Virginia facility have contracted COVID-19. Of the 360 immigrants in custody at the center, there are 268 confirmed cases of coronavirus currently under isolation or monitoring. (CNN)

  • Officials in 12 states said they still have requests pending for orders of personal protective equipment. Trump, however, claimed there are “zero unfilled requests” and “No governor needs anything right now.” (ABC News)

  • Stephen Miller’s grandmother died of COVID-19. His uncle blames Miller and the Trump administration for her death, citing Trump’s initial “lack of a response” to the coronavirus crisis. (Mother Jones)

  • A Marine assigned to Trump’s helicopter squadron tested positive for COVID-19. Trump was scheduled to travel to Bedminster, N.J., this weekend by helicopter. (Politico)

  • Two White House cafeterias were closed and contact tracing has been initiated after an employee tested positive for COVID-19. The cafeterias are in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and the New Executive Office Building, which are part of the White House complex located next to the West Wing. It is not clear if the employee who tested positive was a cafeteria worker. The White House did not say what kind of symptoms the employee showed. White House employees were notified in an email and were told there was no need for them to self-quarantine, but they were advised to monitor themselves for symptoms of the virus and to stay home if they felt sick. (NBC News / New York Times)

  • Employees of ICE, Customs and Border Protection, and the TSA sued the Trump administration for hazard pay, claiming they’re entitled to it for being exposed to the coronavirus on the job. (Washington Post)

2/ Another 1.4 million U.S. workers filed for unemployment insurance last week. It was the 18th straight week in which initial claims totaled more than 1 million, snapping a 15-week streak of declining initial claims. 16.2 million people filed for ongoing benefits. (CNBC / Bloomberg / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

3/ The White House and Senate Republicans failed to reach an agreement on a coronavirus legislative package. The main area of dispute was over an extension of the $600 per week federal unemployment assistance for workers who have lost their jobs. The GOP proposal would replace the expiring $600 benefit with roughly $200 per week. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, meanwhile, said the administration would seek to limit the new unemployment payments to 70% of a worker’s wages, saying “You don’t get paid to stay more to stay home than you do when you have a job.” Democrats, meanwhile, want to extend the $600 payment through January. The GOP package would also include another round of $1,200 stimulus checks to about 160 million American households. The current draft proposal also does not include a payroll tax cut, Trump’s preferred idea, but does includes $16 billion in funds for new testing, which the administration has opposed, and conditions a portion of education funding on schools reopening. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump insisted that the cognitive test he recently took was “difficult” and “not that easy” because he had to correctly recall the phrase “person, woman, man, camera, TV.” Trump said he was given “extra points” for repeating the words in order and that his doctors were impressed, because – he claimed – “nobody gets it in order […] But for me it was easy.” Trump also claimed that he was able to pass the test “because I have, like, a good memory, because I’m cognitively there.” It was the third time Trump had bragged about “acing” a cognitive test in recent interviews. The Montreal Cognitive Assessment consists of one page of basic questions and is used as “a cognitive screening test designed to assist Health Professionals in the detection of mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease.” [Editor’s note: I don’t like to dunk on mental illness and I try to avoid playing armchair psychologist. But the situation becomes fair game when the president takes victory lap after victory lap about passing a test he should pass in order to question someone else’s mental fitness and play politics. WTF, right?] (USA Today / The Guardian / CBS News)

  • The mayor of Portland was tear gassed by federal agents outside of a federal courthouse during a protest against the presence of federal agents in the city. Mayor Ted Wheeler was standing at the front of a crowd of demonstrators outside of the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse when police fired tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd. It is unclear whether the federal agents knew Wheeler was in the crowd when they used the tear gas. “I’m not going to lie — it stings; it’s hard to breathe,” Wheeler said. “And I can tell you with 100 percent honesty, I saw nothing which provoked this response.” (Associated Press / New York Times / The Guardian)

  • The Justice Department inspector general will review the conduct of federal agents in Portland and Washington, D.C., following concerns from members of Congress and the public. Michael Horowitz said his office will work with the Department of Homeland Security inspector general’s office to investigate use of force in Portland. (Portland / Associated Press)

5/ The Senate passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the removal of Confederate names from military bases. Trump has threatened to veto the $740 billion bill over the provision to rename Confederate military bases. The House and Senate have now both passed versions of the bill and will spend several weeks negotiating a compromise, which then must pass both chambers before it can be sent for Trump’s signature or veto. (Reuters / USA Today / The Hill)

6/ A federal judge ordered that Michael Cohen be released from prison and into home confinement, finding that the government had retaliated against him planning to write a tell-all book about Trump. (New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

poll/ 37% of Floridians approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while 59% disapprove. 40% approve the job Trump is doing as president, while 58% disapprove. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 75% of Americans favor requiring people wear face coverings while in public. 89% of Democrats and 58% of Republicans are in favor wearing face masks in public. The poll was conducted before Trump said it’s patriotic to wear a mask. (Associated Press)

Day 1280: "Surge."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~15,057,000; deaths: ~620,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,942,000; deaths: ~143,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The U.S. reported more than 1,000 daily deaths from the coronavirus for the first time since May. The average number of daily deaths have been rising for most of July. Daily confirmed cases also rose by more than 64,000 Tuesday and the U.S. has regularly logged over 60,000 new daily infections over the past week. Starting with the first reported case on January 21, it took 99 days for 1 million Americans to become infected. It then took 43 days after that to reach 2 million cases. And then 28 days later, on July 8, the U.S. reached 3 million cases. The country is on pace to reach 4 million COVID-19 cases about two weeks after recording its 3 millionth case, and the CDC suggests that the actual number may be 10 times higher. Nationwide, the death toll is on track to surpass 200,000 by Election Day. (Washington Post / Politico / Axios / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

  • Hospitals had two days to stop reporting coronavirus data to the CDC and instead report data to a new portal maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. The abrupt change left many state officials and hospitals scrambling to adopt the new national reporting system. (CNBC)

  • Trump was seen maskless at the Trump International Hotel this week, prompting local authorities to investigate the hotel’s compliance with city rules. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump will expand “Operation Legend,” sending a “surge” federal law enforcement officers to Chicago and Albuquerque and claiming that “This bloodshed must end. We have no choice but to get involved.” Earlier this month, the Trump administration launched “Operation Legend” in Kansas City, Missouri, with agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to fight “the sudden surge of violent crime.” Trump claimed that the movement to defund traditional policing efforts had led to a spike in violent crime. He called the protests in Portland “worse than Afghanistan,” where the administration is using the Federal Protective Service, a Department of Homeland Security component that’s responsible for securing federal buildings around the country. Trump, conflating administration programs, defended the use of force in Pacific Northwest city, where officers clad in military fatigues have arrested and detained demonstrators for questioning in unmarked cars. Oregon’s governor, Portland’s mayor, and the protesters have all said that the DHS agents have only increased tensions in the city. And, mayors throughout the U.S. have called on the administration to pull back agents. Senior DHS officials, however, said agents of the department would remain in Portland until the unrest had subsided. (Bloomberg / CNN / Politico / New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post)

  • Customs and Border Protection confirmed that it deployed officers from three paramilitary units to Portland, OR as part of a federal crackdown on protests against racism and police brutality. A CPB spokesperson said in an email that they have “agents and officers from our special operations groups deployed” to the area, but did not give any details about how many agents were deployed. Several videos posted online show officers in camouflage uniforms with no clear identification badges using force and unmarked vehicles to transport arrested protesters, which civil-rights advocates have said violate protesters’ right to free speech under the First Amendment. (Reuters)

  • Trump’s reelection campaign released a new Facebook ad with an image of a group of protesters attacking a police officer alongside the words “public safety vs chaos & violence.” The photo, however, is from a pro-democracy protest in Kyiv, Ukraine, from 2014. (Business Insider)

3/ The Trump administration has been detaining migrant children in hotels and then deporting them despite federal anti-trafficking laws that require most kids be sent to the shelters for placement with family sponsors. The U.S. has used three Hampton Inn & Suites hotels in Arizona and at the Texas-Mexico border nearly 200 times, while more than 10,000 beds for children sit empty at government shelters. (Associated Press)

  • A federal judge denied a request to release families from ICE custody due to the confined space and potential spread of coronavirus. Judge James Boasberg agreed with that families and children should be released because the facilities lacked social distancing and medical care, but said other options outside of the blanket release needed to be considered. (CNN)

4/ The Trump administration ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, TX – a significant escalation in the Trump administration’s ongoing political and economic battle with China. In a statement, the State Department said the order comes in response to repeated violations of American sovereignty by China, including “massive illegal spying and influence operations” throughout the U.S. Aside from the embassy in Beijing, the U.S. has five consulates in mainland China: Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan, and Shenyang. A spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the U.S. to reverse the decision immediately, “Otherwise China will certainly make legitimate and necessary reactions.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Click2Houston / BBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump asked the U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom in February 2018 to see if the British government could move the British Open golf tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland. Robert Wood Johnson, a billionaire NFL owner, was advised against making the request by his deputy, Lewis Lukens, who warned that it would be an unethical use of the presidency for private gain. Johnson, however, raised the idea of Turnberry hosting the British Open with the secretary of state for Scotland. Lukens emailed officials at the State Department at the time to tell them what had happened and was forced out by Johnson a few months later. The State Department inspector general also investigated Johnson last fall after he allegedly made racist generalizations about Black men and questioned why the Black community celebrates Black History Month. It is unclear how much the investigators focused on Johnson’s inappropriate comments or the allegations that he was asked by Trump to push to have the British Open take place at one of his golf properties. The findings were submitted in February, but it is not clear why the review has not been made public. (New York Times / CNN)

6/ Trump offered the accomplice of accused sex trafficker and pedophile Jeffrey Epstein well-wishes. Ghislaine Maxwell was charged with recruiting and grooming girls as young as 14 into a circle of sexual abuse with powerful men around the world. Trump, who “met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach,” was asked during a press conference whether he expected Maxwell to go public with the names of men who have been accused in lawsuits of taking part in the sex-trafficking ring that Epstein ran. “I don’t know,” Trump replied. “I haven’t really been following it too much. I just wish her well, frankly […] But I wish her well, whatever it is.” (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

  • Every photo of Trump and Maxwell together. (Forbes)

poll/ 8% of Americans think daycare centers, preschools and K-12 schools should open this fall without restrictions. 46% think schools should reopen with major adjustments, 14% say school should reopen with minor adjustments, and 31% say schools should not open at all. (Associated Press)

Day 1279: "We need everything we can get."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~14,822,000; deaths: ~612,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,859,000; deaths: ~142,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump told Americans that the coronavirus pandemic “will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better.” During his first White House coronavirus task force briefing in weeks, Trump directed Americans to “get a mask” because “they will have an effect and we need everything we can get.” Trump, who wasn’t wearing a mask himself, added: “We are asking everybody, when you are not able to socially distance, wear a mask.” The U.S., meanwhile, recorded more than 1,000 deaths Tuesday – the first time the country has topped that mark in nearly 50 days when 1,052 fatalities were reported. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

2/ The CDC estimates that the actual number of coronavirus infections in the U.S. is anywhere between 2 to 13 times higher than the reported cases. The higher estimate is based on a study of antibodies derived from blood samples drawn from 10 geographic regions. The findings suggest that large numbers of people who did not have symptoms or did not seek medical care may have kept the virus circulating in their communities. About 40% of infected people do not develop symptoms, but may still pass the virus on to others. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Trump sometimes receives multiple coronavirus tests in a day. “As I’ve made clear from this podium, the president is the most tested man in America,” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters. “He’s tested more than anyone, multiple times a day, and we believe that he’s acting appropriately.” (Politico / CNN)

3/ The Justice Department accused a pair of Chinese hackers of targeting U.S. firms involved in coronavirus research, saying the Chinese government was acting like “an organized criminal syndicate.” The indictment says Li Xiaoyu and Dong Jiazhi, both Chinese nationals living in China, operated both for their own profit, as well as for the Chinese intelligence service. The 11-count indictment says the two hackers recently “researched vulnerabilities in the networks of biotech and other firms publicly known for work on COVID-19 vaccines, treatments, and testing technology.” (NBC News / ABC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Trump-owned properties in the U.S, have imported more than eight tons of goods from China since September 2019. (CNN)

4/ Trump signed a memorandum seeking to ban undocumented immigrants from being counted in the census, reversing the longstanding policy of counting everyone regardless of citizenship or legal status. The directive would exclude millions of people when determining how many House seats each state should have when district lines are redrawn next year. The memo directs Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to collect data about immigrants for the purpose of withholding those numbers from the population totals. It’s not clear how undocumented immigrants would be identified since the census questionnaire was distributed in March and did not require respondents to indicate whether they or others in their household are citizens. The memo will almost certainly draw legal challenges. (NBC News / USA Today / NPR / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / Politico / New York Times)

5/ Trump plans to deploy federal law enforcement officers to Chicago and threatened to send agents to other “Democrat” cities to quell ongoing protests over racism and police brutality. The agents will assist other federal law enforcement and Chicago police officers, though no specific plan for what the agents will do — or what they will be prohibited from doing — has been made public. “We’re going to have more federal law enforcement, that I can tell you,” Trump said. “In Portland, they’ve done a fantastic job. They’ve been there three days and they really have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time, no problem.” Last week, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf declared that Portland was “under siege” by protesters, which he characterized as a “violent mob” of “anarchists.” The city, however, has been besieged by a series of law enforcement agencies, including his own federal police officers, and not “violent anarchists.” Over the weekend, unidentified officers from Customs and Border Protection in unmarked camouflage uniforms started arresting peaceful protesters and taking them away in unmarked vehicles. They have also fired tear gas and less-lethal munitions into crowds of demonstrators. The new federal force, drawn from a range of DHS teams including the Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Marshals Service, was created last month in an executive order signed by Trump, which tasked them with protecting historic monuments, memorials, statues, and federal facilities. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, tried to provide a legal justification for the administration’s decision to deploy federal law enforcement to Portland, citing a provision of federal law (40 U.S. Code 1315) that says the secretary of Homeland Security “shall protect the buildings, grounds and property that are owned, occupied, or secured by the federal government […] and the persons on the property.” The measure allows the secretary to deputize Homeland Security employees “in connection with the protection of” federal property. Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot expressed concern about the possibility of Trump sending federal agents to Chicago after what happened in Portland, saying: “We don’t need federal agents without any insignia taking people off the streets and holding them, I think, unlawfully.” Wolf, meanwhile, dismissed the objection to federal intervention in Chicago, saying: “I don’t need invitations by the state, state mayors, or state governors to do our job. We’re going to do that, whether they like us there or not.” (Chicago Tribune / New York Times / CBS News / The Guardian / NBC News / CNN / Associated Press / Portland Mercury / BBC / Bulwark / CBS News)

  • The Trump administration has consulted with the former government lawyer who wrote the legal justification for waterboarding. (The Guardian)

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper has raised concerns about federal agents patrolling the streets of U.S. cities in camouflage uniforms, saying federal law enforcement officers were being confused with troops because of their similar uniforms. (Politico)

  • The Senate rejected a bipartisan effort to scale back Pentagon transfers of surplus military gear to local police departments. In a 51-49 vote, the Senate rejected an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to ban the transfer of certain offensive equipment to law enforcement agencies, including tear gas, grenades and grenade launchers, bayonets, armor-piercing firearms and ammunition, weaponized drones, and tracked combat vehicles. (Politico / New York Times)

poll/ 31% of Americans say they believe that the number of Americans dying from COVID-19 is lower than the number reported, 37% believe the actual number of deaths is higher, and 31% believe the actual number is on par with the official count. 59% of Republicans say the death count is overinflated, compared to 9% of Democrats. (Axios)

poll/ 63% of Americans support the Black Lives Matter movement. 69% say Black people and other minorities are not treated as equal to white people in the criminal justice system, while 26% say they are treated equally. 55% say recent killings of unarmed Black people are “a sign of broader problems in the treatment of black people by police,” while 40% see them as isolated incidents. Meanwhile, 55% of Americans oppose moving funds from police departments to social services — and 43% say they oppose it “strongly.” (ABC News / Washington Post)


Notables.

  1. Trump threatened to veto defense policy legislation because it includes a provision that would direct the Pentagon to rename military bases currently named after Confederate leaders. Hours later, the House approved the bill anyway, which authorizes $740 billion for the Defense Department and Energy Department’s national security programs, includes a 3% pay raise for troops, funds for military house upgrades, and $1 billion for coronavirus response. The vote was 295-125, more than the two-thirds majority needed to override a potential veto. (Wall Street Journal / The Hill / Politico / Reuters)

  2. Trump tweeted that “the game is over for me” if he sees a player kneel during the national anthem. His tweet came a day after San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler joined several players in kneeling before their victory against the Oakland Athletics on Monday night. (CBS News)

  3. Senate Republican leaders vowed to fill any Supreme Court vacancy should one become available, even if the vacancy occurs after the November election. When asked if the Senate would fill a vacancy even during the lame-duck session after the presidential election, Sen. John Thune said, “We will. That would be part of this year. We would move on it.” Sen. Josh Hawley said the difference between 2016, when Republicans blocked Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, and now is that Obama couldn’t run again, but Trump is on the ballot trying to win a second term. (CNN)

Day 1278: "I'll be right eventually."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~14,609,000; deaths: ~609,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,809,000; deaths: ~141,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The Trump administration is trying to block funding for coronavirus testing and contact tracing, the CDC and the National Institutes of Health in the upcoming coronavirus relief package. The Senate Republican proposal would allocate $25 billion to states for conducting testing and contact tracing, about $10 billion for the CDC, and about $15 billion for the National Institutes of Health. The proposal would also provide $5.5 billion to the State Department and $20 billion to the Pentagon. White House officials, however, is seeking to zero out the funding in the upcoming bill and push states to take responsibility for testing. Trump has also repeatedly questioned the value of widespread testing, arguing that if there were fewer tests conducted, the number of infections would be lower. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

  • The director of the CDC said the pandemic could be brought under control over the next four to eight weeks if “we could get everybody to wear a mask right now.” Researchers have found that wearing a basic cloth face covering is more effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19 than wearing nothing at all. Meanwhile, in a Fox News interview that aired Sunday, Trump said, “I don’t agree with the statement that if everybody wear a mask everything disappears.” On Monday, however, Trump tweeted that face masks are “Patriotic” after months of refusing to wear a face covering in public. (Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

  • State and local officials warn that they lack key resources to confront a surge in coronavirus cases. Labs in some places are taking a week or longer to provide test results, which health experts say render tests near-useless. (Washington Post)

  • A South Korea study found that children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the coronavirus at least as well as adults do. Children under 10 were roughly half as likely as adults to spread the virus to others. (New York Times)

2/ The next coronavirus relief bill is expected to tie school funding to classrooms reopening and will likely include a payroll tax cut. The GOP plan is expected to include around $70 billion for elementary and secondary schools. About 10% will be set aside for nonpublic schools. Trump previously suggested he would not sign a new relief bill unless a payroll tax cut is included and the administration is also trying structure a payroll tax cut as a deferral rather than a straight cut. (Washington Post / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

3/ Trump insisted that he’ll “be right eventually” about the coronavirus pandemic, repeating his claim that “it’s going to disappear.” In a Fox News Sunday interview, Trump downplayed the danger of the coronavirus, saying that the rising number of U.S. deaths “is what it is,” claimed that many cases are just people who “have the sniffles” and that many of those cases are “young people that would heal in a day,” and called Dr. Anthony Fauci “a little bit of an alarmist.” The U.S. death toll, meanwhile, passed crossed 140,000. Trump also insisted that the U.S. has “the best mortality rate” in the world, which is not true. (CNN / NPR / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios / CNN / The Independent)

4/ Trump will resume the White House coronavirus task force briefings on Tuesday. Trump held near-daily news conferences for several weeks before abandoning the practice after an April session during which he speculated that disinfectants, such as bleach, or sunlight could be injected “inside the body” to fight the coronavirus. Sunday marked the 41st straight day that the seven-day average for new daily coronavirus infections in the U.S. trended upward. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the election if he lost. When asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace whether he was a “good loser,” Trump replied: “I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose.” Trump then said he thinks that mail-in voting is going to “rig the election.” Wallace then asked, “Are you suggesting that you might not accept the results of the election?” Trump responded: “I have to see. I’m not just going to say yes. I’m not going to say no.” Trump then claimed that Hillary Clinton is “the one who never accepted the loss.” (CNBC / Axios / Associated Press)

6/ Joe Biden warned about Russian interference in the 2020 election, citing intelligence briefings that he is now receiving. “We know from before and I guarantee you I know now because now I get briefings again,” Biden said. “The Russians are still engaged in trying to delegitimize our electoral process. Fact.” The briefings are done in coordination with the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and the intelligence community’s election threats executive. (Bloomberg / Washington Post)

  • Democrats in the House and Senate have requested that the FBI provide Congress with counterintelligence briefing regarding what appears to be a “concerted foreign interference” targeting Congress. (Axios / Politico)

poll/ 34% of Americans trust Trump to handle the coronavirus pandemic. 54%, meanwhile, trust Biden to handle the pandemic. (ABC News)


Notables.

  1. The White House portraits of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were removed from a prominent space in the Grand Foyer to a small, rarely used room that is not seen by most visitors. Traditionally, the portraits of the most recent presidents are given the most prominent placement at the entrance of the executive mansion. (CNN)

  2. Trump defended his opposition to removing Confederate symbols, claiming that “When people proudly hang their Confederate flags, they’re not talking about racism. They love their flag, it represents the South.” Trump also threatened to veto legislation to rename U.S. military installations named after Confederate figures, despite its support from Congress and the military. “I don’t care what the military says,” Trump said. “I’m supposed to make the decision.” (Axios / Politico)

  3. Trump accused Fox News’ Chris Wallace of misrepresenting the difficulty of the cognitive test he took as part of a medical examination. “The first two questions are easy,” Trump said, “but I bet you couldn’t even answer the last five questions. They get very hard.” Wallace pointed out that “it’s not the hardest test. They have a picture and it says ‘what’s that’ and it’s an elephant.” Trump then pushed back: “No, no, no. … You see, that’s all misrepresentation.” When asked to describe the questions that Trump felt were “very hard,” Trump said “I’ll get you the test,” and then challenged Joe Biden to “take the same test that I took,” claiming that “Joe Biden could not answer those questions.” (Axios / Rolling Stone / Daily Beast / CNN Business)

  4. Top State Department employees blocked a whistle blower complaint that reported misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. A redacted version of the complaint indicates that top officials enabled misconduct by Pompeo after the whistle blower voiced concerns, as well as “numerous firsthand accounts” of such behavior, internally. (New York Times)

  5. The sheriff of Jacksonville, Fla., said he can’t provide security for the Republican National Convention because of a lack of clear plans, adequate funding, and enough law enforcement officers. “As we’re talking today, we are still not close to having some kind of plan that we can work with that makes me comfortable that we’re going to keep that event and the community safe,” Duval County Sheriff Mike Williams said. (Politico)

Day 1275: "Science should not stand in the way."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~13,927,000; deaths: ~594,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,623,000; deaths: ~139,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The U.S. recorded more than 75,600 new coronavirus cases on Thursday – the 11th time in the past month that a new record has been set. The previous single-day record, 68,241 cases, was announced last Friday. As of Wednesday, the seven-day average case number in the U.S. exceeded 63,000, up from around 22,200 a month ago, and the number of daily cases has more than doubled since June 24, when the country registered 37,014 cases. (New York Times / Reuters / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

2/ The White House blocked the CDC from testifying at a House hearing about reopening schools during the pandemic. The House Education and Labor Committee invited CDC Director Robert Redfield to testify before the Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee on July 23 about safely reopening schools. The committee, however, was told – at the direction of the White House – that neither Redfield nor any other official would appear for testimony. A White House official later said: “Dr. Redfield has testified on the Hill at least four times over the last three months. We need our doctors focused on the pandemic response.” Separately, the CDC said more guidance for opening schools won’t be released until later this month. (Washington Post / Politico)

3/ White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed that “the science should not stand in the way” of sending American children back to school in the fall, but then claimed that “the science is on our side” and that the administration wants municipalities and states to “just simply follow the science, open our schools.” Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, however, found that one in four teachers risk becoming seriously ill if they contract COVID-19, and that around 3 million people over the age of 65 live in a household with a school-age child. (USA Today / The Guardian / NBC News)

4/ More than 25 U.S. states have issued statewide mask mandates. Face coverings will also be required at stores like Walmart, Target, and CVS, as well as in a number of Republican-led states where governors previously resisted issuing mask requirements. A handful of other states are also requiring visitors from high-infection areas to quarantine for at least 14 days upon arrival. (New York Times)

  • Georgia’s governor sued Atlanta’s mayor from mandating masks be worn in the city to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The lawsuit, which names Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and the City Council as defendants, comes a day after Gov. Brian Kemp banned cities and counties statewide from implementing mask mandates. The lawsuit argues that Kemp has the power to “suspend municipal orders that are contradictory” to state laws or executive orders, challenging Bottom’s decision to take Atlanta back to “phase one” guidelines on July 10, which forced restaurants to close dining rooms and other restrictions — including the new mask mandate. Trump, meanwhile, arrived in Atlanta for a visit without wearing a mask. (Politico / Atlanta Journal-Constitution / Axios / Associated Press)

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein will introduce an amendment at the Senate’s next coronavirus relief stimulus bill that would withhold federal funding from states that don’t require residents to wear masks in public. “Wearing masks in public should be mandatory. Period,” Feinstein said. “My hope has been that other governors would show the leadership to institute their own mask mandates, but so far that hasn’t happened. It’s time for Congress to step in.” 22 states currently have not issued statewide mask mandates for public settings. (Axios)

5/ The Trump reelection campaign is investigating spending irregularities during Brad Parscale’s tenure as campaign manager. Parscale, who controlled all campaign spending since January 2017, was recently demoted. Jared Kushner hired Jeff DeWit at the end of June to review the campaign’s operations, contracts, and spending. (Business Insider / [Readable Version Here])

6/ Trump’s properties made over $17 million from the Trump campaign and his fundraising committees since 2016. The payments to Trump’s business came in the second quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic was spreading, and were largely related to a Republican National Committee donor retreat at Mar-a-Lago resort in early March. (CNBC / David Fahrenthold – Washington Post)

7/ The Pentagon effectively banned displays of the Confederate flag on U.S. military installations. Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the new policy in a memo, saying the “flags we fly must accord with the military imperatives of good order and discipline, treating all our people with dignity and respect, and rejecting divisive symbols.” The memo does not explicitly mention the word “Confederate” but instead states that the American flag is the “principal flag we are authorized and encouraged to display.” The memo also specifies 10 other flags that troops are authorized to fly. Esper’s new policy does not address the base-naming issue. Trump has previously rejected any notion of changing base names, and has defended the flying of the Confederate flag, saying it’s a freedom of speech issue. (Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Associated Press)

poll/ 64% of Americans don’t trust what Trump says about the coronavirus, while 34% say he’s credible. 63% say it’s more important to control the spread of the coronavirus than to restart the economy. 38% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the outbreak – down from 46% in May and 51% in March – while 60% disapprove – up from 53% in May and 45% in March. (ABC News / Washington Post)

Day 1274: "Red zones."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~13,671,000; deaths: ~587,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,550,000; deaths: ~139,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Another 1.3 million people filed unemployment last week – the 17th straight week that news claims exceeded 1 million. Continuing claims totaled 17.4 million and another 14.3 million people claimed Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, which brings the total number of people on all programs to 32 million unemployed. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the record for weekly unemployment filings was 695,000 in 1982. (Washington Post / CNBC / CNN / ABC News / NBC News)

2/ The U.K., U.S., and Canadian governments accused hackers from Russia’s intelligence services of attempting to steal coronavirus vaccine research. The U.K. National Cyber Security Centre said the Russian hacking group, known as APT29, “the Dukes” or “Cozy Bear,” is targeting vaccine research and development organizations, and therapeutic sectors. The National Security Agency said the Russian hackers are using malware and fraudulent emails to trick people into turning over passwords and other security credentials in an effort to access the research. The hacking group is one of the two Russian intelligence groups that hacked the Democratic National Committee servers during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

3/ Previously public data disappeared from the CDC’s website after the Trump administration directed hospitals to submit information on COVID-19 patients directly to the Department of Health and Human Services, rather than through a longstanding CDC reporting system. The information removed from the website includes the current inpatient and intensive care unit bed occupancy, health care worker staffing, and personal protective equipment supply status and availability. Since the pandemic began, the CDC has published data on availability of hospital beds and intensive care units across the country. [Update: Hours after the data disappeared, HHS directed the CDC to re-establish their public hospital data.] (CNBC / NBC News / CNN / Vice News)

  • 📌 Day 1272: The Trump administration ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC and send all coronavirus patient information to a central database maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS will collect daily reports about patients each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and more. Officials claimed that the change will streamline data gathering and assist the White House coronavirus task force in allocating supplies. The HHS database, however, will receive information that is not available to the public, which could affect the work of researchers, modelers, and health officials who rely on CDC data to make projections and public health decisions. The Trump administration has also asked governors to send the National Guard to hospitals to collect data about coronavirus patients, supply, and capacity. Hospital industry leaders say any issues with data collection lie primarily with HHS and the administration’s constantly changing instructions. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ A White House coronavirus task force document shows 18 states are in the “red zone” for COVID-19 cases with more than 100 new cases per 100,000 population last week. The document, dated July 14, suggests that more than a dozen states should revert to strict protective measures, limit social gatherings, close bars and gyms, and require residents to wear masks at all times. (Center for Public Integrity)

  • A national mandatory mask mandate for employees of public-facing businesses could have save 40,000 lives. The study by MIT and the Vancouver School of Economics estimated that mandating masks for employees in public would have reduced the death toll by 40%, with a 90% chance that the actual number would have been from 17,000 lives to 55,000 lives. (Bloomberg)

  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp explicitly banned cities from requiring people to wear masks in public to stop the spread of COVID-19, insisting that the state’s less-stringent guidelines take precedence. Kemp’s order voids existing mask mandates in more than a dozen cities or counties, calling mask mandates “a bridge too far.” On Wednesday, Georgia reported its second-highest new coronavirus case count to date. (NPR / Washington Post / Associated Press / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

5/ Trump replaced his campaign manager with four months to go before the presidential election. Brad Parscale, who became Trump’s campaign manager in February 2018, will continue to work for the campaign as a senior adviser for data and digital operations. He will be replaced by deputy campaign manager Bill Stepien, who was expelled from former NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s administration following the intentional lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in 2013 — an episode known as Bridgegate. He was never formally accused of any wrongdoing and ended up joining Trump’s 2016 campaign team. A senior campaign adviser said Trump, Pence, and top campaign advisers have been discussing the Parscale move for a number of days. Parscale had been marginalized in the campaign following Trump’s rally in Oklahoma and lagging poll numbers. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios)

  • The Republican Party will hold a scaled-back convention in Jacksonville. The new plans will mean smaller crowds, fewer speeches, and the use of indoor and outdoor venues. Attendance will be limited to the 2,500 regular RNC delegates for the first three days of the convention. For the final day, when Trump attendance will be capped at 7,000 people. (Washington Post / CNN)

6/ The White House’s presidential personnel office has been conducting “loyalty tests” with health officials and political appointees across federal agencies. White House officials said the interviews are a necessary exercise to determine who would be willing to serve in a second term if Trump is reelected, but officials called for the interviews say the exercise is to root out threats of leaks and other potentially subversive acts months before the presidential election. (Politico)

poll/ 72% of voters say the country is on the wrong track — a 16-point jump since March. 51% of voters say that if the election were held today, they’d vote for Biden while 40% said they’d vote for Trump. The poll’s margin error was 3.3 percentage points. (NBC News)

poll/ 50% of Americans identify with or lean toward the Democratic Party, compared to 39% for the Republican Party. In January, 47% of Americans identify with or lean toward the Republican Party, compared to 45% for the Democratic Party. (Gallup)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump’s new Postmaster General said mail deliveries could be delayed by a day or more under a cost-cutting effort. In a memo, Louis DeJoy said that if distribution centers are running late, “they will keep the mail for the next day” and as a result “we may see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks. The change comes a month after DeJoy, a major donor to Trump, took over the mail service. Meanwhile, more than 18,500 Floridians’ ballots were not counted during the March presidential primary because they arrived by mail after the deadline. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

  2. The Trump administration is considering banning travel to the U.S. by members of China’s Communist Party and their families. The draft presidential proclamation under consideration would cite the same statute in the Immigration and Nationality Act used in 2017 to institute a travel ban on a number of Muslim countries and could also authorize the U.S. to revoke the visas of party members and their families who are already in the country. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  3. A top Trump administration official violated federal contracting regulations by directing millions of taxpayer dollars in contracts that ultimately benefited Trump– and GOP–aligned communications consultants, according to an HHS inspector general report. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Seema Verma only halted the contracts after an investigation by Politico raised questions about their legality. The agency had already paid out more than $5 million to the contractors by the time the contracts were stopped. A 15-month audit by the HHS inspector general found that CMS “improperly administered the contracts and created improper employer-employee relationships” with the contractors. At least eight former White House, presidential transition team, and campaign officials for Trump were hired as outside contractors and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. (Politico / Kaiser Health News)

  4. Trump posed for an Oval Office photo with several Goya Foods products one day after Ivanka Trump tweeted support for the company amid boycott calls after its CEO praised Trump. (HuffPost)

Day 1273: "We could go on for days."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~13,406,000; deaths: ~581,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,466,000; deaths: ~137,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump’s senior trade adviser criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci’s handling of the pandemic, accusing the nation’s top infectious disease expert of being “wrong about everything” related to the coronavirus. The White House tried to distance itself from Peter Navarro’s USA Today op-ed, saying Navarro wasn’t speaking on behalf of the administration and that he “didn’t go through normal White House clearance processes.” Trump also lightly rebuked Navarro’s remarks, saying “He made a statement representing himself. He shouldn’t be doing that.” Fauci, meanwhile, responded: “I can’t explain Peter Navarro. He’s in a world by himself.” The Trump administration has tried to raise questions about Fauci’s credibility in recent days, including sending reporters a list of instances in which they alleged Fauci had been wrong about aspects of the pandemic. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNBC)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci called the White House’s attempts to discredit him “bizarre,” saying “it doesn’t do anything but reflect poorly on them.” The nation’s top infectious disease expert said undermining a top health official in the middle of a pandemic “ultimately hurts the president […] Rather than these games people are playing,” Fauci said, “let’s stop this nonsense […] We’ve got to figure out, How can we get our control over this now, and, looking forward, how can we make sure that next month, we don’t have another example of California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona?” (The Atlantic / Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / NPR)

3/ At a press conference to announce new measures against China, Trump quickly veered into a rambling, stream-of-consciousness set of remarks, drifting from one topic to another for 54 minutes. Trump briefly addressed the coronavirus – vaguely promising a vaccine and demanding that Beijing be held responsible for “unleashing [the coronavirus] upon the world” – as he wandered from China, to trade, to Joe Biden, to military spending, to his friendship with Mexico’s president, to crime in Chicago, to the death penalty, to energy taxes, to climate change, to historical statues, to European trade, and more. At one point Trump paused and said: “We could go on for days.” Nevertheless, he persisted, suggesting that Biden would get rid of windows and “abolish the suburbs” if elected. At the end of the speech, he took questions from reporters for six minutes. (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump – again – insisted that the U.S. would have fewer coronavirus cases if it reduced the amount of testing across the country. “Think of this, if we didn’t do testing, instead of testing over 40 million people, if we did half the testing we would have half the cases,” Trump said at his Rose Garden press conference. “If we did another, you cut that in half, we would have, yet again, half of that. But the headlines are always testing.” Hospitalizations across the country, however, continue to hit new record highs, indicating widespread community transmission. (CNBC)

4/ Trump’s lawyers told a federal judge that they intend to fight a New York grand jury subpoena for his tax returns. The effort comes less than a week after the Supreme Court struck down Trump’s argument that the subpoena was invalid because a sitting president could not be criminally investigated, clearing the way for the Manhattan district attorney to demand the records. In the filing, Trump’s lawyers cited a concurring opinion written by Brett Kavanaugh, and joined by Neil Gorsuch, that said Trump “may raise further arguments as appropriate,” including whether the subpoena is too broad or it would impede his ability to do his job. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

poll/ 66% of U.S. adults say Trump “should release his tax returns from earlier years,” and 68% said Americans have a right to see each presidential candidate’s financial records before the election. 26% said they believe Trump’s taxes contain incriminating evidence against him, and 10% said Trump is trying to hide significant financial losses. (Reuters)

poll/ 65% of voters reject Trump’s threat to cut federal funding for schools that don’t reopen while 22% said schools should have their federal money reduced if they don’t fully reopen. (Politico)

poll/ 36% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president while 60% disapprove – a 6 point drop in job approval compared to last month. (Quinnipiac)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration weakened one of the signature environmental conservation laws in the U.S. in order to expedite the permit process for infrastructure projects. The changes will reduce the amount of time allowed to complete reviews of major infrastructure projects like freeways, power plants, and pipelines. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  2. Trump signed a secret authorization in 2018 to giving the CIA more freedom in both the kinds of operations it conducts and who it targets. The authorization also allows the CIA to more easily authorize its own cyber operations without getting approval from the White House. (Yahoo News)

  3. The National Security Council sent a list of allegations about Lt. Col. Alex Vindman to the Pentagon after he testified before the House in impeachment proceedings against Trump. Vindman was on track to be promoted to colonel, but accusations outlined in the document, if substantiated, would have kept him from moving up in rank. (NBC News)

  4. Ivanka Trump tweeted support for Goya Foods after its CEO’s said “we’re all truly blessed” to have Trump as a leader. The comments last week by Robert Unanue prompted calls to boycott the brand. “If it’s Goya, it has to be good,” Ivanka tweeted in both English and Spanish, along with a photo of her posing with can of black beans. The tweet, however, could be a violation of federal ethics laws, which prohibit executive branch employees of endorsing any products. (NBC News)

  5. Trump said he would welcome Michael Flynn back into his administration after the Justice Department moved to drop the criminal charge against him. Flynn later pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the nature of his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (CBS News / Politico)

  6. Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appears to have violated the Hatch Act during two separate interviews with Fox News. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington complaint to the Official of the Special Counsel calls for an investigation into Meadows’s comments advocating for Trump’s reelection against Joe Biden, as well as an apparent endorsement of a Republican congressional candidate. (The Hill / CREW)

Day 1272: "Find something new."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~13,201,000; deaths: ~576,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,407,000; deaths: ~137,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • An experimental coronavirus vaccine has been found to trigger an immune response with mild side effects – fatigue, chills, headache, and muscle pain –– in all 45 participants in the first human tests. Whether that immune response, however, is enough to protect someone from the coronavirus remains unclear. (Washington Post / USA Today / Wall Street Journal / CNN)


1/ The Trump administration rescinded its rule barring international students from living in the U.S. while taking classes online this fall. The policy change, issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, required international college students to take at least one in-person class or leave the country. The White House will instead apply the rule to new students. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia, and Harvard University and MIT sued the administration over the requirement. (NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

2/ Ivanka Trump announced a White House-backed ad campaign that encourages people who are unemployed due to the coronavirus to “find something new.” The campaign, which encourages people to “learn a completely new skill,” has reportedly been in the works for some time, but gained new urgency after efforts to slow the coronavirus outbreak left millions of people unemployed. Meanwhile, the federal program that provides a $600-per-week increase to unemployment benefits will expire in less than two weeks. More than 30 million people receive this benefit. Trump and White House officials have argued the $600-per-week unemployment bonus disincentivizes people from working. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN)

3/ The Trump administration ordered hospitals to bypass the CDC and send all coronavirus patient information to a central database maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS will collect daily reports about patients each hospital is treating, how many beds and ventilators are available, and more. Officials claimed that the change will streamline data gathering and assist the White House coronavirus task force in allocating supplies. The HHS database, however, will receive information that is not available to the public, which could affect the work of researchers, modelers, and health officials who rely on CDC data to make projections and public health decisions. The Trump administration has also asked governors to send the National Guard to hospitals to collect data about coronavirus patients, supply, and capacity. Hospital industry leaders say any issues with data collection lie primarily with HHS and the administration’s constantly changing instructions. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

4/ Four former CDC chiefs rebuked Trump’s “repeated efforts to subvert” CDC guidelines. In a Washington Post op-ed, Tom Frieden, Jeffrey Koplan, David Satcher, and Richard Besser accused Trump of undermining science with “partisan potshots,” arguing that his “extraordinary” efforts to diminish the agency’s guidance were contributing to a resurgence of coronavirus cases across the United States. They said they “cannot recall over our collective tenure a single time when political pressure led to a change in the interpretation of scientific evidence.” (Axios / Politico / CNBC)

  • The Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar rejected Trump’s suggestion that public health officials are liars. “Look, we may occasionally make mistakes based on the information we have, but none of us lie. We are completely transparent with the American people,” Adm. Brett Giroir said. Giroir’s remarks came after Trump retweeted a conservative former game show host, who wrote: “Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust.” (TODAY / Politico)

5/ The Strategic National Stockpile may not have the capacity to supply medical professionals with personal protective equipment. Between FEMA and the stockpile, the U.S. has 56 million N-95 or KN-95 respirators in reserve after sending out more than 130 million masks since the COVID-19 crisis began. There are fewer than 900,000 gloves in the reserve after shipping 82.7 million earlier this year. Hospitals, meanwhile, are looking ahead and securing supplies of drugs for treating COVID-19 that have been found effective for some patients, including the dexamethasone and remdesivir, should a second wave of the virus threaten drug shortages. The administration has also struggled to procure body bags. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

6/ A record 4.5 million Americans lost health insurance between February and May. More adults have lost coverage due to job losses during that three-month period than in any one-year period in history. A study conducted by the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families U.S.A. found that the estimated increase in uninsured laid-off workers over the three-month period was nearly 40% higher than the highest previous increase during the 2008 to 2009 recession when 3.9 million people lost insurance. “This is the worst economic downturn since World War II,” said the author of the study. “It dwarfs the Great Recession.” (New York Times)

7/ A Mexican immigrant died after contracting COVID-19 while in ICE custody. Onoval Perez-Montufa is the third known ICE detainee to die of COVID-19 complications. More than 3,180 immigrants have tested positive for the coronavirus while in ICE custody, according to the agency’s latest statistics. At least 949 detainees who tested positive remain detained and have been placed in isolation or are under monitoring. Some have been deported or released. (CBS News)

8/ A New York judge lifted the temporary restraining order that prevented Mary Trump from discussing her tell-all book about her uncle Donald Trump. The book is scheduled to be released today. The order did not apply to the book’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, which planned to go ahead with publication regardless of the lawsuit. The judge’s decision allows Mary Trump to do interviews promoting the book. (Axios)

9/ When asked why Black Americans are still being killed by police, Trump responded: “So are white people.” In an interview with CBS News, Trump said the killing of George Floyd was “terrible” but asserted that “more white people” are killed by police before calling the question “a terrible question to ask.” Statistics show that while more white Americans are killed by the police over all, minorities are killed at higher rates. A 2018 study found that Black men are 3.5 times more likely to be killed by law enforcement than white men. Another study published in late June found that Black people were three times more likely to be killed by law enforcement officers than white people. In the same interview, Trump defended his attacks on the movement to take down Confederate statues and symbols by claiming that it’s a “freedom of speech” issue. (CBS News / Axios / New York Times)

poll/ 71% of American parents say it would be risky to send their children back to school in the fall, including a majority of Republicans. (Axios)

Day 1271: "Highest risk."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~13,027,000; deaths: ~571,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,347,000; deaths: ~136,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump’s advisers anonymously sent media outlets a “lengthy list” of remarks made by Dr. Anthony Fauci in an effort to discredit him and stop him from making additional statements about the dangers of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. One White House official said several Trump administration officials are “concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things,” citing Fauci’s comments in January that the coronavirus was “not a major threat” and his guidance in March that “people should not be walking around with masks.” The scientific and medical consensus on how to respond to the virus, however, has evolved over time, both in the U.S. and around the world. Many of Fauci’s “wrong” statements highlighted by the White House official were based on the best available data at the time and were widely echoed by Trump, other members of the coronavirus task force, and senior White House officials. Fauci, meanwhile, said that the states recently reopening had driven a spike in cases across the country. “We did not shut down entirely,” Fauci said. “And that’s the reason why — when we went up, we started to come down, and then we plateaued at a level that was really quite high, about 20,000 infections a day. Then, as we started to reopen, we’re seeing the surges that we’re seeing today as we speak.” (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News)

  • Trump – without evidence – retweeted a former game show personality who accused doctors and the CDC of “lying” about the coronavirus. There is no evidence the CDC or doctors are “lying.” (ABC News / Politico)

2/ Internal CDC documents warned that fully reopening K-12 schools and universities would be the “highest risk” for the spread of coronavirus. The 69-page document was circulated within the administration as Trump attacked the CDC guidelines around reopening schools as “too tough” and he, Pence, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos increased their pressure on schools to fully reopen by the fall. During a White House task force briefing last week, Pence announced that the CDC would issue new guidance on reopening schools next week because “we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough.” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, however, later said that the CDC would not be releasing new guidance nor changing the guidance. (New York Times / CNN)

  • Betsy DeVos refused to say whether schools should follow the CDC guidelines on reopening, saying the guidelines are meant to be “flexible.” DeVos also told “Fox News Sunday” that “If schools aren’t going to reopen and not fulfill that promise, they shouldn’t get the funds,” and that the money should be redirected to families who can use it to find another option for their children. (CNN / Axios / Politico)

  • The Los Angeles and San Diego unified school districts will be remote-only in the fall. The two largest public school districts in California enroll about 825,000 students. (Los Angeles Times / Axios / New York Times)

  • Attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia sued the Trump administration over its guidance to not allow foreign students to take online-only courses this fall. Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology also filled lawsuits against the guidance last week and nearly 100 members of Congress sent a letter to DHS urging the department to rescind the policy. (CNN / New York Times)

3/ Two top health officials in the Trump administration said they “expect deaths to go up” in the U.S. as coronavirus cases continue to skyrocket in parts of the country. Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary with the Health and Human Services department, and surgeon general Dr. Jerome Adams both emphasized their concerns about the surging outbreaks, many of which are occurring in areas where people haven’t followed the recommendations from the CDC on how to limit the spread. “We’re all very concerned about the rise in cases, no doubt about that,” said Adm. Giroir, who has been in charge of the Trump administration’s testing response. “We do expect deaths to go up. If you have more cases, more hospitalizations, we do expect to see that over the next two or three weeks before this turns around.” (New York Times)

  • Florida reported a record 15,300 new coronavirus cases on Sunday – the most by any state in a single day. It shattered previous highs of 11,694 reported by California last week and 11,571 reported by New York on April 15. (Miami Herald / Washington Post / CNN / Politico)

  • California Gov. Gavin Newsom ordered indoor operations for restaurants, wineries, bars, movie theaters, and more to close immediately. 30 counties – which represent about 80% of Californians – will also be required to close fitness centers, places of worship, offices for noncritical sectors, personal care services, hair salons, barbershops, and malls. (CNBC / Politico / Axios)

  • Trump wore a mask for the first time in public. [Editor’s note: I can’t believe this is “news” but here we are.] (CBS News / CNN / Associated Press)

4/ Trump commuted Roger Stone’s jail sentence, who was convicted in 2019 of seven felonies for lying to Congress, witness tampering, and obstructing the House investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election. Stone was scheduled to begin his 40-month prison sentence on Tuesday. The White House denounced the “overzealous prosecutors” who convicted Stone on “process-based charges” as a result of the “witch hunts” as part of the “Russia hoax” investigation. The letter does not argue that Stone is innocent, only that he should not have been investigated in the first place. Attorney General William Barr recommended against granting Stone clemency. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Associated Press / Politico / BBC / CNN)

  • Robert Mueller responded to Trump’s claim that Roger Stone was a “victim” in the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. In a Washington Post op-ed, Mueller wrote: “Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes. He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.” (Washington Post / Axios / Politico)

5/ The White House granted Trump a second 45-day extension to file his personal financial disclosure forms. The forms, which were originally due on May 15, are supposed to detail Trump’s income, debt, stock holdings, and outstanding loans for 2019, but Trump got an extension until the end of June. On June 29, Scott Gast, deputy counsel to the president, granted Trump a second extension, until Aug. 13. Federal law allows only two such extensions. (Washington Post)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump administration lifted a ban on the sales of silencers to private overseas buyers that was intended to protect American troops in Afghanistan. Michael Williams, who joined the White House as assistant deputy general counsel in 2017, spent nearly two years trying to overturn the prohibition as general counsel of the American Suppressor Association. (New York Times)

  2. China announced retaliatory sanctions against U.S. officials in response to U.S. sanctions over Beijing’s treatment of Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities in China’s Xinjiang Province. Among the U.S. officials and organizations named in the sanctions are Sens. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, Rep. Chris Smith, Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback, and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China. A spokesperson for China announced the sanctions at a press conference on Monday, calling on the U.S. to “stop interfering in China’s international affairs.” The U.S. sanctions against Chinese officials include the freezing of all US assets and a block preventing US nationals from conducting business with them. “We urge the US to immediately withdraw its wrong decision and stop interfering in China’s internal affairs or undermining China’s interests,” the spokesperson said. (CNN / The Guardian / Politico)

  3. Trump reportedly considered “selling” or “divesting” Puerto Rico in 2017 after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. According to Elaine Duke, who was serving as DHS’ acting secretary when the hurricane hit the island, Trump’s “initial ideas were more of as a businessman” and that he asked “Can we outsource the electricity? Can we can we sell the island? You know, or divest of that asset?” (New York Times / CNN)

  4. Trump criticized a privately built border wall by his supporters in South Texas, saying it was “only done to make me look bad.” A segment of the wall along the Texas-Mexico border was showing dangerous “signs of erosion“ only months after being completed. (Associated Press / Politico)

  5. Trump claimed that “nobody ever heard” that Abraham Lincoln was a member of the Republican Party before Trump became president. “Like people don’t remember, nobody ever heard of it until I came along, nobody remembered it for a long time, or they didn’t use it at least, I use it all the time: Abraham Lincoln was a Republican,” Trump said. He added: “You know you say that and people say, ‘I didn’t know that,’ but he was Republican, so we’re doing a great job.” (Twitter / The Independent)

Day 1268: "An unbelievable thing."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~12,383,000; deaths: ~558,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,164,000; deaths: ~134,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 👑 Portrait of a president.

  • Trump the victim: President complains in private about the pandemic hurting him. Trump has complained about the coronavirus destroying “the greatest economy,” which he claims to have personally built, laments the unfair “fake news” media, and he bemoans the “sick, twisted” police officers in Minneapolis, whose killing of an unarmed black man in their custody provoked the nationwide racial justice protests. (Washington Post)


1/ The United States set another single-day record for coronavirus cases – the sixth time in 10 days – as new cases rose more than 63,000. At least 33 states saw an increase in new cases compared to last week, while Miami-Dade County in Florida reported a 28% positivity rate of people tested. (CNBC / CNN / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • A White House reporter tested positive for the coronavirus after attending two press briefings this week. The White House is offering free tests to reporters who were in proximity to the person. (New York Post)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci last saw Trump in person at the White House on June 2 and hasn’t briefed Trump on the coronavirus in at least two months. Trump, meanwhile, publicly criticized Fauci, telling Fox News’ Sean Hannity that the nation’s top infectious disease experts “has made a lot of mistakes.” Earlier this week, Trump said he disagreed with Fauci’s characterization that new cases could surpass 100,000 a day if the virus continues to spread at its current pace, saying “I think we are in a good place […] We’ve done a good job […] I think we are going to be in very good shape.” (CNBC / NBC News / Financial Times)

3/ The White House has pressured the FDA to reverse itself and grant a second emergency authorization for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat COVID-19. The FDA revoked the emergency authorization for hydroxychloroquine last month after major studies found the medication wasn’t effective. Trump, however, praised a new study on Twitter this week, which scientists have widely criticized as flawed, urging the FDA to “Act Now.” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro has led the administration’s effort press the FDA to approve the antimalarial drug. There are 60 million doses of hydroxychloroquine in the Strategic National Stockpile that can’t be distributed unless the FDA issues an emergency authorization. (Washington Post)

4/ Trump instructed the Treasury Department to review the tax-exempt status of schools and threatened to revoke their funding “if this Propaganda or Act Against Public Policy continues.” In a series of tweets, Trump accused Democrats of exploiting the pandemic for political gain by refusing to reopen schools and businesses to hurt the economy and his re-election, suggesting in a tweet that too many schools were about “Radical Left Indoctrination, not Education.” He added: “Our children must be Educated, not Indoctrinated!” Most colleges and universities — private and public — are registered as tax exempt because of their educational purposes. (Politico / CNBC / Reuters)

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics said “one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate” for decision making, calling the Trump administration’s threats to withhold federal funds from schools that do not fully reopen “a misguided approach.” (Politico)

5/ Trump postponed a campaign rally in New Hampshire citing “safety reasons” due to Tropical Storm Fay. One campaign official, however, said “We can’t have a repeat of Tulsa,” and people familiar with the sign-ups said interest in the rally was significantly lower than anticipated. Current weather forecasts indicate that the rain is supposed to stop around noon on Saturday, with the chance of rain falling to less than 40% by 5 p.m.; the rally was scheduled for 8 p.m. (New York Times / NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • Trump arrived in Miami without a mask as Florida reported its highest seven-day case average to date – surpassing the record it set just 48 hours earlier. Miami-Dade County reported that 33.5% of virus tests on Thursday had come back positive; on Friday, it was reported at 27.8%. (Miami Herald / NBC Miami / Sun Sentinel / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ Trump claimed that he “aced” a cognitive test and that the doctors “were very surprised” and called it “an unbelievable thing.” The White House, however, would not say when Trump took the test or why. Trump, however, volunteered to Sean Hannity that “I actually took one when I — very recently, when I — when I was — the radical left were saying, is he all there? Is he all there? And I proved I was all there, because I got — I aced it. I aced the test.” (New York Times)

7/ Trump said he’s “looking at” pardoning Roger Stone, saying his former aide and longtime confidant “was framed. He was treated horrible. He was treated so badly.” Stone was convicted of seven felonies for obstructing the congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath, and trying to block the testimony of a witness whose account would have exposed his lies. Stone is set to go to prison next week unless Trump intervenes. When told that Stone was “praying” for a pardon ahead of his deadline to report to prison, Trump said, “If you say he’s praying, his prayer may be answered,” adding, “Let’s see what happens.” (CNN / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)

8/ Mark Esper confirmed that he was briefed this year on about the Russian bounty program to pay Taliban fighters for killing U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. Esper told lawmakers that he had seen intelligence about Russian payments in February, but added that his top generals did not believe those initial reports were credible at the time. The Secretary of Defense addd that he has not seen intelligence that corroborates claims that American troops were actually killed as a result of the payments. (CNN / NBC News)

  • Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley condemned Confederate leaders as traitors and said he supports a review of Army bases named for Confederate generals who “fought for an institution of slavery that may have enslaved one of their ancestors.” (Politico / Axios)
  • The Department of Homeland Security has been deploying its resources and agents to guard monuments and statues across the country. The DHS was originally created in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001 and was tasked with guarding the U.S. against terrorism, and Trump initially repurposed the agency when he first took office to focus on illegal immigration and border security. Now, it is increasingly focused on protecting statues. “American ideals are under attack,” said a DHS spokesperson. “President Trump is taking strong action to restore order. Acting Secretary Wolf is committed to using all DHS authorities and resources to implement President Trump’s agenda.” (New York Times)

poll/ 67% of Americans disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while 33% approve. (ABC News)

Day 1267: "The pandemic is still accelerating."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~12,129,000; deaths: ~552,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,089,000; deaths: ~133,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Another 1.3 million workers filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week – the 14th straight week of declines. More than 48 million people have now filed for unemployment benefits for the first time in the past 16 weeks. (CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Supreme Court cleared the way for prosecutors in New York to enforce a subpoena for Trump’s financial and tax records, rejecting Trump’s assertion that he enjoys “absolute” immunity from investigation while in office. The decision allows Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to subpoena Trump’s accounting firm for years of financial documents and tax records as part of a criminal investigation into hush-money payments made before the 2016 election to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. “No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. In a separate decision, the court ruled that Congress could not see many of the same records, citing “significant separation of powers concerns.” Both cases will now go back to the lower courts to determine if Trump needs to turn over any documents, making it unlikely that Americans will see Trump’s taxes before Election Day. In a series of tweets, Trump called the rulings “a political prosecution” that were “not fair to this Presidency or Administration!” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR / CNBC / Associated Press)

3/ Dr. Anthony Fauci advised states “having a serious problem” with a surge in coronavirus cases to “seriously look at shutting down.” The government’s top infectious disease expert said some states “went too fast” with reopening and that in other states, residents didn’t follow social distancing guidelines. Trump, meanwhile, continued to push to reopen the country as quickly as possible despite the U.S. setting another record for new cases on Wednesday – the fifth national record in nine days. At least five states — Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia — set single-day records for new infections on Wednesday as the daily number of new cases had increased by 72% over the past two weeks. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The CDC will not revise its guidelines for reopening schools despite pressure from Trump and the White House. Dr. Robert Redfield said the CDC was already planning to issue additional reference documents for schools in coming days. On Wednesday, however, Pence told reporters that the CDC would be issuing a new “set of tools” next week after Trump complained that the existing guidelines were too “tough” and “impractical.” (CNN / Associated Press / The Hill / Washington Post)

5/ The World Health Organization acknowledged that the coronavirus may become airborne and spread through particles in the air in “indoor crowded spaces.” The agency also acknowledged that the virus can be transmitted by people who do not have symptoms. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that “the pandemic is still accelerating.” The Republican National Convention, meanwhile, could be moved to an outdoor stadium. While no decision has been made, Republicans involved in the planning believe there could be less risk of transmission at a large outdoor stadium. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Washington Post)

  • A group of attorneys in Jacksonville, FL filed a lawsuit to prevent the GOP from holding the Republican National Convention in the city next month. The suit claims holding the convention amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would be “a nuisance injurious to the health [and] welfare” of the city. The suit was filed days after Florida set new records for the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in one state in a single day — more than 11,400 cases on Saturday. The plaintiffs are requesting that the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena admit no more than 2,500 people and leave the rest of the 15,000 seats in the arena “isolated or roped off” to ensure social distancing. (CNN / The Hill)

6/ Attorney General William Barr pressured Manhattan’s former former U.S. attorney to resign during a June 18 meeting at a New York hotel and in a subsequent phone call. Geoffrey Berman, who had pursued a number of investigations close to Trump’s inner circle, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani, was fired after refusing Barr’s request for him to resign. “The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired. He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign,” Berman told the House Judiciary Committee in a closed-door interview. Berman was fired late on Friday, June 19th. (Politico / CNN / Axios)

7/ Michael Cohen was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals for violating terms of his early release from prison. Cohen’s detention came a week after he was photographed eating at a Manhattan restaurant. Cohen, who is writing a book about his time working for Trump, also reportedly balked an agreement that he not talk to the media or write a book while serving the rest of his criminal sentence in home confinement. (CNBC / CNN / New York Times)

Day 1266: "A campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~11,923,000; deaths: ~547,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,036,000; deaths: ~133,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump threatened to cut federal funding if schools don’t fully physically reopen. Trump, however, lacks the authority to force schools to reopen and federal funding has already been appropriated by Congress. About 90% of school district budgets are raised by states and municipalities. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, claimed there is “no excuse” for schools not to reopen, saying “adults who are fear mongering and making excuses simply have got to stop doing it and turn their attention on what is right for students and for their families.” (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

  • Several states are suing the Department of Education over its decision to divert COVID-19 relief funding from K-12 public schools and give it to private schools. Attorneys general in California, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia have all joined the suit, which claims the DOE unlawfully interpreted the CARES Act by allowing school districts to receive funding based on the total student population instead of the total public school student population. The interpretation has lead tens of millions of dollars to be diverted from public schools in the poorest districts to private schools with tuition rates that are similar to private colleges. The suit specifically names Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as one of the defendants. (PBS News Hour)

  • Harvard and MIT sued the Trump administration over new rules barring international students from staying in the U.S. while taking classes online. The schools are seeking a temporary restraining order and an injunction preventing the government from enforcing the directive, arguing that the administration is trying to pressure institutions to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. (ABC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The CDC will issue new guidance on school openings after Trump called the existing guidelines too “tough,” “very impractical,” and “expensive.” Trump’s tweet about the CDC came minutes after he threatened to cut federal funding to schools that do not physically reopen. At a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Pence said the government would partner with school districts to figure out the best approach if they found the CDC guidelines a barrier to reopening. During the briefing, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the agency’s guidance “is intentional for reopening and keeping our schools open,” and should not be “used as a rationale to keep schools closed.” He added: “Clearly, the ability of this virus to cause significant illness in children is very, very, very, very limited.” However, later in the briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx clarified that the data is incomplete because the U.S. has not been testing enough children to conclude how widespread the virus is among people younger than 18 and whether they are spreading the virus to others. (Washington Post / NPR / Politico / New York Times / CNBC)

3/ The U.S. reported more than 60,000 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as the total number of confirmed cases crossed 3 million. The 60,021 reported cases set a record for new cases reported in a single day. After the coronavirus was first reported in the U.S. in January, the first million cases were reported over three months. The second million cases were reported over a period of about six weeks. It took less than a month for the case count to rise from 2 million on June 11 to more than 3 million. In the first five days of July, the U.S. has reported 250,000 new cases. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said. Tulsa County reported nearly 500 confirmed new cases on Monday and Tuesday. (Associated Press / Axios)

  • Pence touted “early indications” that coronavirus infections are starting to level off in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, which have each seen a surge of new infections in recent weeks. In Arizona and Florida, the seven-day average of tests that were positive has started to level off at about 20% and 17%, respectively. Texas’ testing positivity rate has remained steady at around 14% over the past few weeks. Trump’s health officials have suggested a positivity rate below 10% is desirable. Other public health experts say the goal should be 5% or lower. Pence, however, said the “takeaway for every American” was to “keep doing what you’re doing.” (Politico)

  • More than a fifth of Americans – about 71.5 million people – live in counties where the new highs in coronavirus cases was reached on Monday. (Washington Post)

4/ Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will retire from the U.S. Army after more than 21 years of military service over a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” by Trump. Vindman testified under subpoena last fall about his concerns surrounding a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the impeachment inquiry. He was up for promotion to colonel, but Trump instead fired Vindman from his White House National Security Council assignment following the testimony. (CNN / NPR / Washington Post)

5/ The Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s regulation to allow employers with religious objections to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide contraceptive care. An estimated 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose contraceptive coverage from their employers. Seventeen states challenged the policy as fundamentally unlawful and it’s rationale as “arbitrary and capricious.” Since 2010, all FDA-approved contraceptives have been included under the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers include “preventive care and screenings” as part of “minimal essential coverage” for Americans. In 2018, however, the Department of Health and Human Services exempted any employer with a religious or moral objection to contraception from the requirement. (ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

  • Chief Justice John Roberts was briefly hospitalized last month after falling while walking near his home. Roberts, 65, has reported having two previous seizures – one in 1993 and another 2007. A Supreme Court spokeswoman said doctors ruled out a seizure in the latest incident, saying Roberts was dehydrated. (Washington Post / CNN)

poll/ 60% of Americans said they found reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers to be “very” or “somewhat” believable, while 21% said they were not and the rest said they were unsure. 39% said they think Trump knew about Russia’s bounty program before it was reported in the news, while 26% said Trump didn’t know. (Reuters)

poll/ 91% of Americans believe racism and police violence are a problem in the U.S., with 72% deeming it is a serious one. 89% think police violence is a problem and 65% consider it serious. 47% disapprove of Trump’s response to the protests, while 31% approve. (The Guardian)

Day 1265: "Gave up and didn't try."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~11,712,000; deaths: ~541,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,981,000; deaths: ~132,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The Trump administration officially notified the United Nations that it will withdraw from the World Health Organization amid a global pandemic that has infected more than 11.6 million people and killed more than a half a million. In April, Trump announced that the U.S. would freeze funding to the organization pending a review, followed by Trump’s threat in May that the U.S. would be “terminating” its relationship with the WHO over its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. is required to give a year’s notice in writing and pay its debts to the agency in order to leave. In 2019, the U.S. contributed roughly 15% of the health agency’s budget. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times)

2/ Trump pressed schools to physically reopen in the fall despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in parts of the country. During a series of conference calls and roundtable discussions at the White House – billed as a “National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools” – Trump argued that keeping children at home longer would be worse than the virus itself, and that the governors, mayors, and other local officials who control the schools “think it’s going to be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed.” Trump added: “We are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools to get them open.” On Monday night, Trump has made his position clear, tweeting: “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, said she was “disappointed frankly in schools and districts that didn’t figure out how to serve students or that just gave up and didn’t try” to reopen in the fall. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Bloomberg)

3/ Dr. Anthony Fauci called Trump’s recent focus on the coronavirus’s decreasing mortality rate in the U.S. a “false narrative” and that “by getting infected, you’re propagating this pandemic.” Trump, contradicting health experts, has called “99 percent” of coronavirus cases “totally harmless.” The nation’s top infectious disease expert said the lower mortality rate is the result of the country getting better at treating people and that the mean age of those getting infected has dropped by about 15 years. The White House, meanwhile, claimed that the U.S. is the “leader” in the fight against the coronavirus, despite the number of deaths in the U.S. passing 130,000 and cases nearing three million. (Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for COVID-19 after downplaying the virus for months. “There’s no problem,” Bolsonaro told reporters. “It’s natural. There’s no dread. It’s life.” (CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tested positive for the coronavirus after displaying no symptoms. (Axios)

  • The federal government awarded $2 billion to two drugmakers to develop and manufacture a potential vaccine against COVID-19. Novavax received $1.6 billion to expedite clinical studies of its experimental coronavirus vaccine and deliver 100 million doses for use in the U.S. by the beginning of next year. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received a $450 million federal contract to manufacture thousands of doses of its experimental treatment. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The White House wants Congress to pass another stimulus package before lawmakers leave for the August recess. Trump administration officials want to keep the cost at $1 trillion or less. (Bloomberg)

4/ Companies tied to Trump family members and associates were approved for up to $21 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, which are meant to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration. Unlike the CARES Act, there is no provision in the PPP that excludes government officials and their family members from receiving bailout funds. The program was designed to allow small businesses — generally, those with fewer than 500 employees — to apply for loans of up to $10 million each. The loans can also be forgiven if they are used to cover payroll expenses, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Companies tied to Jared Kushner were approved for up to $6 million. A Dallas megachurch where Mike Pence recently spoke — whose pastor has been a vocal Trump supporter and sits on Trump’s evangelical advisory board — was approved for a forgivable loan worth $2-5 million. The school where Barron Trump is a student was approved for $2-5 million. The attorney who represented Trump in the Mueller investigation, as well as dozens of tenants of Trump’s real estate company, also received money. 22 companies at 40 Wall Street, an office building Trump owns in Lower Manhattan, received a combined total of at least $16.6 million in loans. (ProPublica / Independent / Reuters / Washington Post / Daily Beast)

  • Billionaires, well-connected D.C. firms, and several major chains received millions of dollars in loans from the PPP. The list includes PF Chang’s and Silver Diner, each of which have private-equity investors and received millions of dollars in loans. It also includes Kanye West’s Yeezy, which made $1.3 billion in 2019, and the Church of Scientology. (Daily Beast / NBC News / Hollywood Reporter / Washington Post)

Notables.

  1. The Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, FL will test attendees for COVID-19 on a daily basis. A spokesperson for the convention said in an email that “everyone attending the convention within the perimeter will be tested and temperature checked each day.” The spokesperson later reiterated that attendees will actually be tested for COVID-19 and not just given a basic health screening before they enter the 15,000-person VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in late August. (CNN)

  2. The Trump administration is “looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese apps. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that “the United States will get this one right,” adding that he didn’t want to “get out in front” of Trump, “but it’s something we’re looking at.” Pompeo said Americans should only download the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” TikTok is owned by a Beijing-based company, but led by an American CEO and has previously said that U.S. user data is stored in the United States. (CNN / CNBC / NBC News / Axios)

  3. Roger Stone asked Trump grant him a pardon or commute his sentence before he starts a 40-month prison term on July 14. Stone filed an emergency appeal after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied his motion to set a Sept. 3 surrender date. (Bloomberg / Politico)

Day 1264: "Really not good."


1/ Trump used the Fourth of July weekend to sow division during a global pandemic that has killed over 130,000 Americans, shirked his responsibility to contain the coronavirus, and promoted an updated version of his “American carnage” vision for the country. In a pair of remarks – at Mount Rushmore on Friday and from the White House on Saturday – Trump depicted the recent protests against racism and police brutality as an “angry mob” looking to “unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities” by “tear[ing] down our statues” in order to “erase our history” and “end America.” Trump, making no mention of the victims of police violence, warned of a “growing danger” to the values of the nation through a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.” “Make no mistake,” Trump told several thousand people mostly without masks, “this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.” Trump also claimed that media outlets “slander” him and “falsely and consistently label their opponents as racists.” Trump provided no evidence to support any of his claims. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / CNN / ABC News / Los Angeles Times / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press)

  • Trump demanded that NASCAR’s only full-time Black driver apologize for an investigation into an noose found in the driver’s garage. In the same tweet, Trump also suggested that NASCAR had made a mistake banning the Confederate flag from all raceways. The FBI found that the noose had been in the garage since last year and Bubba Wallace was therefore not a victim of a hate crime. The White House press secretary, meanwhile, refused to denounce the Confederate flag after Trump’s complaint. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Axios)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the country was still “knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic, saying that the more than 50,000 new cases a day recorded several times in the past week were “a serious situation that we have to address immediately.” The nation’s top infectious disease expert noted that Europe managed to drive infections down, but the U.S. “never came down to baseline and now are surging back up.” Over the first five days of July, the United States reported its three largest daily case totals with 14 states recording single-day highs as the death toll from the pandemic passed 130,000. Fauci added: “the current state is really not good.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

  • The seven-day average for new coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit a record high for the 28th day in a row. 13 states reported new highs in their seven-day case averages. Montana, Delaware, and Alaska saw their biggest percentage changes from their previous records. West Virginia also set a record number of daily cases. South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and California all reported record numbers of hospitalizations from the virus. (Washington Post / Texas Tribune)

  • 239 scientists from 32 countries warned that airborne transmission is a significant factor in the coronavirus pandemic. In an open letter to the World Health Organization, the group of scientists outlined the evidence that the virus can spread indoors through aerosols that linger in the air and can be infectious in smaller quantities than previously thought. The WHO, however, has maintained that the coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets that fall quickly to the floor. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

3/ The White House’s new message to Americans is that they need to learn to “live with the virus being a threat.” Trump campaign officials and advisers have suggested that the goal is to convince Americans to accept the escalating death toll and tens of thousands of new cases a day while pushing for schools to reopen and professional sports to return. For nearly six months the administration have offered a series of predictions, from Trump promising that “the problem goes away in April” to predicting “packed churches all over our country” on Easter Sunday to Pence’s claim that “by Memorial Day weekend we will have this coronavirus epidemic behind us” to Jared Kushner’s promise that the country would be “really rocking again” by July, all while highlighting a potential vaccine and an economic recovery. Among the pronouncements that never came to fruition was the White House’s initial message in January that the virus wasn’t a threat at all.[Editor’s note: Let’s not forget Trump’s suggestion that the lungs could be cleaned of coronavirus with disinfectants.] (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Chuck Grassley will skip the Republican National Convention, citing coronavirus. (Des Moines Register)

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau turned down a White House invitation to celebrate the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, citing the coronavirus pandemic. (Associated Press)

4/ Trump falsely claimed that 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.” Trump made the false claim during his Independence Day speech in South Dakota. The number appears to be based on the estimated death rate, which excludes the thousands people who have spent weeks in the hospital or at home with mild to moderate symptoms that still caused debilitating health problems. The 1% death rate also narrowly focuses on the number of people who die compared to the total number of people who were infected, including those who are asymptomatic and don’t experience any illness, and those with mild cases who experience fleeting symptoms. Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who isn’t an epidemiologist, backed up Trump’s false claim, saying “the risks are extremely low, and the president’s right with that and the facts and statistics back us up there.” He provided no evidence to support the false claim. (The Guardian / New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Axios)

  • The FDA commissioner declined to defend Trump’s false claim that 99% of COVID-19 cases “are totally harmless.” Stephen Hahn also refused to confirm Trump’s claims that a COVID-19 “solution” would likely be available “long before the end of the year.” (ABC News / NBC News)

5/ At least 40 lobbyists with ties to Trump helped clients secure more than $10 billion in federal coronavirus aid. The lobbyists either worked in the Trump administration, served on his campaign, were part of the inaugural committee or were part of his transition. Many are donors to Trump’s campaigns. (Public Citizen / Associated Press / New York Times)

  • The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration released a list of businesses that received more than $150,000 as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. Among the recipients were Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family’s business received between $350,000 and $1 million. Chao is the wife of Mitch McConnell. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s trucking company was approved for $150,000 to $350,000 in loan money. And, Trump’s business partner in a hotel and residential tower in Waikiki, Hawaii received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program between $2 million to $5 million. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Daily Beast / New York Times)

6/ Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country if their universities switch to online-only courses for the fall semester. The State Department will not issue visas to students enrolled in online-only programs and Customs and Border Protection will not allow these students to enter the country. Foreign nationals currently enrolled in U.S. educational institutions “may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings” unless part of their course load is taken in-person. The announcement comes as some colleges and universities, including Harvard, have announced that they will hold online-only courses this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Hill / Axios)

poll/ 38% of Americans approve of the way Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, while 54% disapprove. 52% believe the coronavirus crisis will continue to get worse. 76% fear that current re-openings will increase the number of cases. 84% say they’ve worn a face mask in public. (YouGov)

poll/ 38% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – three percentage points above his personal low of 35%, which he registered on four separate occasions in 2017. (Gallup)


Notables.

  1. Simon & Schuster will publish Mary Trump’s tell-all book two weeks earlier than expected, citing “high demand and extraordinary interest.” The book, “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” portrays Trump as a “damaged man” with “lethal flaws” who “threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.” (CNN / Politico)

  2. Michael Cohen was seen eating out at a New York City restaurant after the federal Bureau of Prisons released him for “home confinement” due to the coronavirus risk. Cohen was released 10 months into his three-year prison sentence. (New York Post)

  3. Congress adjourned for a two-week recess without addressing the recent spikes in coronavirus cases across the southern and western United States. When they return on July 20, lawmakers will have three weeks to debate and pass a new relief package before they adjourn again through Labor Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the next rescue bill will be the last. Meanwhile, enhanced unemployment benefits are scheduled to end on July 31 and both chambers of Congress remain divided on whether or not to issue additional stimulus checks to Americans. (Washington Post)

  4. At least eight Secret Service agents in Phoenix either tested positive for the coronavirus or were showing symptoms of being infected. Pence was scheduled to visit Phoenix on Tuesday, but instead went on Wednesday so healthy agents could be deployed. (CNN / Washington Post)

  5. Trump Jr.’s girlfriend tested positive for the coronavirus. Kimberly Guilfoyle traveled to South Dakota with Trump Jr. and planned to attend Trump’s Fourth of July fireworks display where Trump was set to speak, but Guilfoyle tested positive before the event. She did not travel on Air Force One and is the only person in her group who tested positive. Guilfoyle is now the third person in possible proximity to Trump to have contracted the virus. (New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

  6. Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle were spotted maskless last Saturday at a Hamptons party with 100 other guests. (PageSix)

  7. The Trump campaign “strongly” encourages attendees to wear a mask at Trump’s upcoming rally Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The campaign will also provide face masks and hand sanitizer for all attendees. (Axios)

Day 1260: "We are not flattening the curve right now."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,781,000; deaths: ~519,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,725,000; deaths: ~129,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The United States set a single-day coronavirus case record for the fifth time in eight days after reporting more than 50,000 new cases on Wednesday – the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic. “We are not flattening the curve right now,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, the government’s coronavirus testing coordinator. “The curve is still going up.” Dr. Anthony Fauci added: “I think it’s pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction.” At least 23 states have paused reopening plans ahead of the holiday weekend. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC)

  • Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose by nearly 50% in June, led by states that tried to reopen their economies first. (Washington Post)

  • Herman Cain was hospitalized with COVID-19. The former 2012 Republican presidential candidate was at Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month, and was photographed sitting in close proximity with other attendees, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks. At least eight Trump advance team staffers at the Tulsa rally also tested positive for coronavirus. (CNN / CNBC)

  • More than 40 Bay Area school principals were exposed to coronavirus during in-person school reopening planning meeting. The superintendent insisted the meeting was necessary. (San Francisco Chronicle)

2/ Texas issued a statewide mandate requiring face masks in public in any county with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. Gov. Greg Abbott previously opposed attempts by mayors and local officials requiring people wear face masks while in public, but reversed course after the state reported a record of more ​​​​than 8,000 new cases on Wednesday. Florida, meanwhile, reported 10,109 new cases on Thursday, marking a new single-day record for the state and the 25th consecutive day that Florida has set a record high in its seven-day rolling average. And in California, where hospitalizations are up more than 40% from two weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the mandatory closure of bars, indoor restaurants, movie theaters, zoos, and museums in 19 counties where 70% of the state’s population lives. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Another 1.427 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week. The U.S. economy gained 4.8 million jobs in the month of June to bring the unemployment rate to 11.1%, down from a peak of 14.7% in April – higher than in any previous period since World War II. It was the second month of gains after a loss of more than 20 million in April. (New York Times / NBC News / CNBC)

  • The Congressional Budget Office’s 10-year forecast expects the U.S. unemployment rate to stay above its pre-pandemic levels through the end of 2030. The agency said the country’s economic outlook over the coming decade has “deteriorated significantly” since the CBO published its economic projections in January. This recession could also nearly quadruple the federal budget deficit this year, pushing it to $3.7 trillion. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • U.S. ambassadors to Uruguay, France, Morocco, and Italy sold stock as Trump tried to downplay the coronavirus outbreak in its early stages. Records show that the transactions occured in January and continued throughout February. (CNBC)

4/ A New York appellate court judge ruled that Simon & Schuster can publish Mary Trump’s tell-all book about her uncle, Donald Trump. The decision from Judge Alan Scheinkman reverses a lower court decision that temporarily halted publication of the book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” which is scheduled for release at the end of July. In his decision, Judge Scheinkman declined to address the central claim from the Trump administration: that Mary Trump violated a 20-year-old non-disclosure agreement by writing the book. Instead, the judge ruled that Simon & Schuster was not a party to the agreement and therefore could not be bound by it. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

  • The Republican National Convention is paying a former “Celebrity Apprentice” producer who was accused of having “all the dirt” on Trump. From August 2019 through May 2020, the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Convention paid more than $66,000 to the firm run by Chuck Labella for “production consulting services.” (Daily Beast)

5/ The Commerce Department is blocking the release of an investigation’s findings into whether it pressured the head of the NOAA into supporting Trump’s false claim in 2019 that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama, according to the department’s inspector general. Peggy E. Gustafson sent a memo to Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross claiming that staff in his department had “thwarted” the publication of her report. Gustafson says the department claims portions of her report contain information that cannot be made public, but refuses to indicate which sections. She says the department’s refusal to allow the release of the report “appears to be directly linked to the content of our report and the findings of responsibility of the high-level individuals involved.” (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1244: NOAA’s acting administrator “engaged in the misconduct intentionally, knowingly, or in reckless disregard” for the agency’s scientific integrity policy when he released a statement that backed Trump’s false statement about the path of Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Neil Jacobs criticized the National Weather Service forecast office in Birmingham for a tweet that contradicted Trump’s inaccurate tweet that Hurricane Dorian, which was then approaching the East Coast of the U.S., would hit Alabama “harder than anticipated.” No punishments have been proposed, despite the violations. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1110: Officials at NOAA were “sick” and “flabbergasted” about Trump’s inaccurate statements, altered forecast map, and tweets about Hurricane Dorian in September, according to emails released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. The emails also show that the No. 2 official at the agency claimed that neither he nor the acting administrator approved the unsigned statement that a NOAA spokesperson issued on Sept. 6, which criticized the Birmingham National Weather Service forecast office for a tweet that contradicted Trump’s inaccurate assertion that Alabama “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” from the Category 5 storm. (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post / NBC News)

poll/ 50% of voters have ruled out voting for Trump, while 39% say the same about Biden. (Monmouth University Polling Institute)

Day 1259: "It's going to sort of just disappear, I hope."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,578,000; deaths: ~513,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,659,000; deaths: ~128,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus deaths is “a substantial undercount” of the true tally, according to researchers at Yale University. Researchers found that the 781,000 total deaths in the U.S. from March 1 through May 30 were about 19% higher than what would normally be expected. And, the number of excess deaths from any cause were 28% higher than the official tally of U.S. COVID-19 deaths during those months. In 45 states, seven-day averages of new infections are higher than they were a week ago and more than 800,000 new cases were reported in the U.S. in June — led by Florida, Arizona, Texas and California. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, warned that some countries might have to reimplement lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (CNBC / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The Federal Reserve raised concerns in June about a surge in coronavirus infections and how a second wave could disrupt the economic recovery, trigger a spike in unemployment, and prolong the recession. When this Fed meeting concluded on June 10, there were 20,456 new coronavirus cases in the United States. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported 44,474 new cases. (Washington Post)

  • U.S. companies added fewer jobs than expected in June. Businesses’ payrolls increased by 2.37 million in June, while economists predicted a 2.9 million rise. (Bloomberg)

  • The Treasury Department lent $700 million in coronavirus stimulus funds to a trucking company that warned in May it was in danger of going out of business. The Treasury – aka U.S. taxpayers – will take a 29.6% equity stake in the company, YRC Worldwide, whose stock had fell 27% this year and was worth $70 million. In 2018, the Justice Department sued YRC for allegedly overcharging the Pentagon millions of dollars for shipping. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

2/ Trump said he’s “all for masks” and would have “no problem” wearing one in public but thinks coronavirus will “disappear” someday. He then added: “At some point.” While coronavirus cases surge to all-time highs and states reverse reopening plans, Trump told Fox Business that “we are going to be very good with the coronavirus” because “it’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.” Trump also said he thought he “looked OK” the one time he was seen wearing a face mask and that he thought he resembled the “Lone Ranger.” (CNN / Daily Beast / Associated Press / Washington Post)

3/ The U.S. bought nearly the entire global stock of one of the drugs proven to work against COVID-19, leaving the rest of the world unable to purchase it for at least the next three months. Remdesivir, which has been shown to help people recover faster from COVID-19, is the first drug to be approved by the FDA to treat the disease. The Trump administration bought more than 500,000 doses of remdesivir, which is Gilead’s entire stock for July and 90% of the supply for August and September. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump called reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters who kill American and coalition forces a “HOAX!” designed to “damage me and the Republican Party.” In a subsequent tweet, Trump repeated his claim that he was never briefed by intelligence officials about the bounty program “because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level.” White House officials, however, were first informed in early 2019 of intelligence reports that Russia was offering bounties to kill U.S. and coalition military personnel. Officials also provided Trump with a written briefing of the finding in late February. Trump has also repeatedly dismissed the credibility of the intelligence and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has acknowledged the existence of the intelligence, but said there was “no consensus” and that it hadn’t been completely “verified.” In an additional tweet, Trump claimed that “this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party.” (The Hill / NPR / Washington Post)

  • Taliban commanders confirmed that Russia offered financial and material support in exchange for attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Three sources confirmed the practice takes place and that Russian intelligence officials are known to pay. Iran and Pakistan reportedly also fund these activities. The spokesman for former Taliban leader Mullah Omar also said “The Taliban have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on U.S. forces—and on ISIS forces—in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present.” (Business Insider / Daily Beast)

5/ Senate Republicans forced the removal of a provision from the updated National Defense Authorization Act that would have required presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help. The Senate is debating the defense authorization legislation on the floor this week. (CNN)

6/ Trump called New York City’s decision to paint “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue a “symbol of hate” that would “denigrate” the “luxury” street outside Trump Tower and “further antagonize” police. Trump’s tweets were directed at Mayor Bill de Blasio, who order the “Black Lives Matter” tribute be painted in large yellow letters. De Blasio responded to Trump’s tweets, calling them “the definition of racism.” (NPR / Politico / Axios / Washington Post)

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council debated launching a special investigation of racism in America after the killing of George Floyd. The 47-member council ultimate decided against a U.S.-focused probe and instead requested a report on anti-Black racism worldwide. That the Trump administration quit the council two years ago. (Politico)

7/ Trump threatened to veto a must-pass defense spending bill if it includes an amendment requiring the Pentagon to rename military bases named after prominent Confederate figures. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would change the name of 10 U.S. military bases and require the removal of Confederate likenesses, symbols, and paraphernalia from defense facilities across the country within three years. While most Republican senators said they had no problem with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s amendment, Trump tweeted that he would veto it “if the Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) […] is in the Bill!” (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

8/ A federal judge overturned the Trump administration’s 2019 policy that prohibited immigrants from claiming asylum in the U.S. if they didn’t attempt to first apply for asylum in a country they passed through on the way to the U.S. border. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that the so-called “third-country asylum rule” violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, that the administration “unlawfully promulgated” the rule, failed to show it was in the public interest and didn’t abide by the Administrative Procedure Act when adopting the policy. The INA allows anyone who has made it to U.S. soil to apply for asylum, with some exceptions, and the APA requires that Americans be given enough time and opportunity to weigh in on certain rule changes. It’s the second time a lower court has concluded the rule is unlawful. Judge Kelly was appointed to the federal bench by Trump in 2017. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

9/ Trump’s reworking of the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect today. Trump has touted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as “the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA.” The deal, however, is not expected to significantly increase trade within the region. (Politico / New York Times)

10/ Jared Kushner had the Trump reelection campaign’s chief operating officer “reassigned” in an effort to designate blame for the Tulsa rally. Michael Glassner will be replaced with Jeff DeWit, who held the same position in Trump’s 2016 campaign. DeWit will also oversee campaign rally operations. A campaign spokesman said that the change was “not a reaction” to what happened in Tulsa. (Axios / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • Trump’s re-election campaign has spent more than $325,000 in Facebook ads promoting the social media pages of his campaign manager, Brad Parscale. The Trump campaign said that it was testing the use of Parscale’s page to run ads from different accounts. (New York Times)

11/ Trump recently told people that he regrets following some of Jared Kushner’s political advice and will instead stick closer to his own instincts moving forward. (Axios)

poll/ 39% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president. 59% disapprove. (Politico)

Day 1258: "We're going in the wrong direction."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,394,000; deaths: ~509,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,624,000; deaths: ~128,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a Senate committee that the U.S. is “not in total control” of the coronavirus and that infections could more than double to 100,000 a day if the country fails to contain the surge. The nation’s top infectious diseases expert said “we’re going in the wrong direction” and the recent sharp rise in cases, largely in the South and the West, “puts the entire country at risk.” Fauci declined to estimate the number of potential deaths, but said “It is going to be very disturbing, I guarantee you that.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

  • A new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus is spreading on pig farms in China and should be “urgently” controlled to avoid another pandemic, according to a new study. The new strain, known as G4 EA H1N1, has been common on China’s pig farms since 2016 and has characteristics of the 2009 H1N1 virus and 1918 pandemic flu. The H1N1 swine flu emerged in Mexico in April 2009 and infected at least 700 million worldwide and 60.8 million people in the U.S. An estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people died from the virus globally. (New York Times / BBC / CNBC)

  • South Dakota will not require thousands of people who attend a July 3 event at Mount Rushmore with Trump to practice social distancing. Gov. Kristi Noem said “We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we won’t be social distancing.” (Axios / NBC News)

  • The European Union formally extended a travel ban for U.S. residents, deeming the American response to the coronavirus pandemic insufficient. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • The deadline to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program will end today with more than $130 billion left unused. For many small businesses, the process to receive PPP funding was confusing and some businesses were hesitant to apply as forgiveness guidelines shifted multiple times. (ABC News / Washington Post)

2/ The White House and the National Security Council learned that Russia was offering bounties on U.S. and coalition troops in early 2019 – at least a month before an April 2019 car bomb attack in Afghanistan that killed three U.S. Marines. The intelligence was also included in at least one of Trump’s President’s Daily Brief documents at the time, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, reportedly told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence in March 2019. (Associated Press / NBC News)

3/ Trump received a second written presidential daily briefing earlier this year that Russia paid bounties for the killing of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The intelligence was included months ago in Trump’s President’s Daily Brief in late February. One official cited the Feb. 27 briefing document. Trump doesn’t fully or regularly read the President’s Daily Brief, preferring to receive an oral briefing two or three times a week by his intelligence officials. While the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, confirmed that “The president does read,” she claimed that Trump was not briefed about the bounties in an oral session, saying “He was not personally briefed on the matter. That is all I can share with you today.” McEnany also condemned the New York Times for publishing “unverified” allegations, suggesting that “rogue intelligence officers” were undermining Trump and national security. (New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios)

  • Intelligence analysts intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account. (New York Times)

4/ Republicans have skipped all but one of the House Intelligence Committee’s meetings since March. Democrats claim Republicans are boycotting the sessions out of partisan spite, while Republicans say they have legitimate concerns about the security of the virtual sessions. The committee has held at least seven bipartisan open- and closed-door sessions since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March. (Politico)

5/ A New York judge temporarily blocked the publication of Mary Trump’s book about her uncle, Donald Trump, saying no copies can be distributed until he hears arguments in the case. Robert Trump asked the court to block Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” saying its publication would violate the nondisclosure agreement she signed. The book is set for release on July 28. (Politico / Washington Post / CNBC)

poll/ 71% of Americans say they would get a coronavirus vaccine, while 27% say they probably or definitely would not. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, at least 70% will need immunity to the virus to reach herd immunity. (Washington Post)

poll/ 87% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country, while 12% are satisfied. (Pew Research Center)

Day 1257: "Nobody told me."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,200,000; deaths: ~503,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,565,000; deaths: ~126,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Russian intelligence officers offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan over the past year, according to a classified U.S. intelligence assessment. Trump and administration officials were briefed on the Russian operation in recent months, while the U.S. was in the midst of peace negotiations with the Taliban to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. The White House’s National Security Council also discussed the issue at an interagency meeting in late March. Additionally, U.S. intelligence officials and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted superiors about the covert Russian operation as early as January 2020. U.S. intelligence officials say the bounties are believed to have resulted in the deaths of multiple U.S. troops in the region over the last few years, though it is unclear exactly how many were targeted or killed under the program. The same Russian unit has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert actions in Europe and has offered rewards for successful attacks in the past. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Washington Post / The Guardian)

2/ Trump denied receiving an intelligence briefing on the alleged Russian bounty program, tweeting that “nobody briefed or told me” and that he had “just” heard about it. Trump also claimed that the intelligence community didn’t brief Pence or White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the Taliban bounty payments because “they did not find this info credible.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, claimed that Trump and other top administration officials were not “briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.” Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also “confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence” related to a Russian bounty, and that all news reports “about an alleged briefing are inaccurate.” Trump added that “nobody has been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration” and called for the New York Times, which broke the story, to “reveal” its sourcing. (Associated Press / Axios / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / NPR)

3/ The White House insisted that Trump still “has not been briefed on the matter” of Russian bounties. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested that the intelligence was unconfirmed, saying there was “no consensus,” that there were “dissenting opinions,” and that the “veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.” As she spoke, however, administration officials were briefing a limited number of House Republicans at the White House on intelligence that Russia offered bounties. (ABC News / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR / CNN)

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: “I think it’s time that The New York Times and The Washington Post hand back their Pulitzers.” During the briefing, a reporter asked, “If he hasn’t been briefed, how is he certain that Russia didn’t put out this bounty?” McEnany responded, accusing The New York Times of being “absolutely irresponsible” reporting that Trump had, in fact, been briefed. She then called on the Times and Post to turn in their Pulitzers before abruptly ending the briefing. (Mediaite / Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration is close to finalizing a decision to withdraw more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan. The move would reduce the number of troops from 8,600 to 4,500. (CNN)

4/ Trump promoted a video on Twitter of a supporter shouting “White power! White power!” from a golf cart bearing “Trump 2020” and “America First” signs. Trump retweeted the racist video – which shows a white man driving past anti-Trump protesters at a Florida retirement community and shouting racist rhetoric – and thanked the “great people of The Villages” in the video. He deleted the tweet more than three hours later. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere later claimed that Trump “did not hear the one statement made on the video,” adding that all Trump saw “was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / Bloomberg / Axios / The Guardian)

5/ Trump retweeted a video of a white man and woman aiming a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun at peaceful black protesters in St. Louis. The couple stood in front of their mansion with guns and repeatedly shouted “Get out! Private property, get out!” at protesters, who were marching to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation after she released the names and identifying details of people who support defunding the police. Mark and Patricia McCloskey are personal-injury lawyers who work together in The McCloskey Law Center. They own a million dollar home. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch / New York Times / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Washington Post)

6/ Twitch temporarily suspended Trump’s channel and Reddit banned its biggest community devoted to Trump. Twitch suspended Trump’s campaign channel for “hateful conduct” that was aired on stream, saying the videos ran afoul of its rules against content that “promotes, encourages or facilitates discrimination, denigration, objectification, harassment or violence” based on an individual’s identity. Separately, Reddit banned the subreddit “The_Donald” for consistently breaking its rules, including promoting hate based on “identity or vulnerability,” antagonized other communities, and for failing to meet Reddit’s “most basic expectations.” The_Donald had more than 790,000 users devoted to posting memes, viral videos, and supportive content about Trump. [Editor’s note: Where you at Twitter and Facebook?] (Politico / The Verge / Axios / TechCrunch / New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

7/ The World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus pandemic is “speeding up” and the “worst is yet to come.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ comments come as the global number of coronavirus cases passed 10 million, with more than 500,000 deaths. The CDC’s principal deputy director added that “this is really the beginning” as the United States surpassed 2.5 million confirmed cases. With more than 100,000 confirmed cases, Los Angeles County health officials warned that conditions were deteriorating as data showed an “alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalization.” Florida reported 5,266 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, bringing its rolling seven-day average to a record high for the 22nd day in a row. South Carolina set a record on its rolling seven-day average for the 21st day in a row. Arizona saw a record high in hospitalizations and its seven-day rolling average for new cases is 12% higher than it was a week ago. In Texas, coronavirus-related hospitalizations reached a record high for the 16th day in a row, while its rolling seven-day average for cases topped 19 days in a row. Texas Medical Center hospitals stopped updating metrics showing hospital capacity or projections of future capacity after their base intensive care capacity had hit 100% for the first time during the pandemic. And, at least 14 states have paused or rolled back their reopening plans to slow the surge of coronavirus cases. Pence, meanwhile, postponed campaign events in Florida and Arizona “out of an abundance of caution” while White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany played down the spike in cases, saying, “We’re aware that there are embers that need to be put out.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC / CBS News / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • Jacksonville will institute a city-wide mask order to stem the spread of coronavirus. The Republican National Committee relocated its August convention to Jacksonville after a battle with North Carolina about restrictions on the event in Charlotte. (Axios / Politico)

  • The first drug shown to be effective against the coronavirus will cost U.S. hospitals $3,120 for the typical patient with private insurance. Gilead Sciences will charge patients who are covered by government programs like Medicaid will be charged $2,340 for remdesivir. (CBS News / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The FBI issued a warning about scammers who advertise fraudulent COVID-19 antibody tests as way to obtain personal information that could be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud. (New York Times)

  • The Trump campaign removed thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers from seats hours before Trump’s rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Washington Post / The Guardian)

8/ The Supreme Court struck down a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana that would have left the state with only one abortion clinic. Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined the court’s liberals in the 5-to-4 decision, said “The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.” Roberts’s vote was unexpected because he dissented in the 2016 Texas case, which was essentially identical to the Louisiana case. The Louisiana law required any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, which would have left one doctor at a single clinic to provide services for nearly 10,000 women who seek abortions in the state each year. In the past two weeks, Roberts has voted with the court’s liberals on job discrimination against gay and transgender workers, on a program protecting Dreamers, and now on abortion. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / ABC News / The Guardian / Axios)


✏️ Notables.

  1. A federal judge ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement must release children held in family detention centers by July 17 because of the danger posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The children must be released with their parents or to “available suitable sponsors or other available COVID-free non-congregate settings” with the consent of their parents or guardians. (NBC News / CNN)

  2. A federal judge ordered Roger Stone to report to prison by July 14. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted a two-week delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, but not the two months that Stone had requested. (Washington Post)

  3. Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Trump on “murder and terrorism charges” related to the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani in January. Iran also asked Interpol for help detaining Trump and dozens of others involved in the drone strike. (Al Jazeera / CNN / Daily Beast)

  4. Trump visited his private golf course in Virginia Saturday – one day after saying he had canceled a weekend trip to his New Jersey golf club so he could stay in Washington, D.C. to “make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.” (The Guardian / Daily Beast)

Day 1254: "And we have an election coming up."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,696,000; deaths: ~492,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,454,000; deaths: ~125,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The United States set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases for the third time in three days, passing the 40,000 mark for the first time. Five states set new single-day highs and 11 states set their own records for the average number of new cases reported over the past seven days. (Washington Post / NPR / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • Florida reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, surpassing its previous single-day record of 5,511 reported on Wednesday. The coronavirus has now infected 122,960 people in Florida – with 29,163 new cases over the last seven days – and killed at least 3,327 people. The state’s former leading COVID-19 data scientist, meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis of “cooking the books” in an effort to hide the impact of the pandemic. (Miami Herald / CNBC / Axios / The Guardian / New York Times / Politico)

  • Texas rolled back reopening plans after reporting 5,996 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, which beat Wednesday’s record of 5,551. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars to close and restaurants to scale back capacity to 50%. (Texas Tribune / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The White House coronavirus task force held its first briefing in two months, as Pence took a victory lap, saying “We slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we saved lives.” While Pence acknowledged that cases have been rising “precipitously” in some states, he argued that Americans are seeing “encouraging news” despite cases surging because all 50 states – he claimed – “are opening up safely and responsibly.” Pence insisted “this moment is different” than two months ago, suggesting “We’re in a much better place” because “the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country.” Pence also defended Trump’s decision to resume holding campaign rallies, claiming “The freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, is enshrined in the constitution of the United States […] Even in a health crisis, the American people don’t forfeit our constitutional rights.” He added: “And we have an election coming up this fall.” (NPR / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Hill)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the coronavirus outbreaks largely in the South and West could spread across the U.S. The nation’s top infectious diseases expert pleaded for Americans to practice social distancing and mask wearing, saying “You have an individual responsibility to yourself but you have a societal responsibility.” The Trump administration is also weighing testing groups of people together. “Pool testing” could help officials test more people with fewer resources. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act as the U.S. has recorded more than 120,000 deaths from COVID-19, with nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases. In an 82-page brief submitted an hour before the midnight deadline, the Trump administration said that “the entire ACA must fall,” arguing that the individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional after Congress ended the financial penalty for not having health insurance in 2017. If the court agrees, more than 23 million Americans would lose health care coverage. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NPR / Politico)

4/ Trump canceled his planned trip to his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J. The White House claimed the cancellation “had nothing to do” with a state order mandating a 14-day quarantine for visitors who have been in states with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. The weather forecast, however, showed that thundershowers are expected throughout the area this weekend. Hours later Trump tweeted that he canceled the trip to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.” (CNBC / Politico)

5/ The European Union will block most travelers from the United States, Russia, and other countries considered too risky because they have not controlled the coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. banned most European Union travelers in March, but has not eased its restrictions, even though European infections and deaths have dropped. The ban goes into effect on July 1. (New York Times)

poll/ 76% of Americans are concerned about being infected by the coronavirus – up from 69% in early June. 56% of Americans believe the U.S. is reopening the economy too quickly, while 15% say the economy is reopening too slowly, and an additional 29% believe the economy is being reopened at the right pace. (Ipsos / ABC News)

poll/ 89% of Americans who left their home in the last week said they wore a face mask or a face covering, compared to only 11% who said they did not. (ABC News)

poll/ 40% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 58% disapprove – an all-time high. In a hypothetical general election matchup, Biden leads Trump by 8 percentage points – 52% to 44%. (NPR)

poll/ 58% of Americans said racism is “a big problem” in America, while 41% said racism is “somewhat,” a “small problem,” or “not a problem at all.” (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration does not have the authority to use military funding to pay for construction of a border wall, a federal appeals court ruled. In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said that diverting $2.5 billion Congress had appropriated for the military violated the Constitution and is unlawful. Congress holds the authority to appropriate money. (NBC News / CNN / Los Angeles Times)

  2. The House voted to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. – the first time Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as a state. The White House, however, confirmed that it opposes statehood, and Mitch McConnell said he will not bring the legislation to a vote in the Senate. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  3. The head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers will depart at the end of June. Tomas Philipson last appeared publicly at the White House in early June, when Trump boasted about the latest job numbers. (Politico)

  4. The House passed an expansive policing reform bill aimed at combating racial discrimination and excessive use of force in law enforcement. The measure bans police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug-related cases, while lowering legal standards to pursue criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct. Republicans said the bill is a federal overreach into policing that will never pass the Senate, and the White House has threatened a veto. (New York Times / NPR)

Day 1253: "An explosion."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,524,000; deaths: ~485,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,412,000; deaths: ~123,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The CDC estimated that the number of Americans infected with the coronavirus could be as high as 23 million — 10 times the 2.3 million currently confirmed cases. CDC Director Robert Redfield said the estimate is based on blood samples collected from across the country for the presence of antibodies. For every confirmed case of COVID-19, 10 more people had antibodies. Redfield added that between 5% and 8% of Americans have been infected to date. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that “It’s going away.” (Axios / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Coronavirus cases are up 30% nationwide compared to the beginning of this month. While the Trump administration repeatedly claimed that case counts are up because the U.S. has increased testing, the assertions are not backed up by the data and the increase in positive cases cannot be attributed to the rise in testing alone. (Axios / ProPublica)

  • Coronavirus cases are rising in states with relaxed policies on wearing masks. In 16 states that recommend, but do not require, that residents wear masks in public new coronavirus cases have risen by 84% over the last two weeks. In 11 states that mandate wearing masks in public, new cases have fallen by 25% over the last two weeks. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Texas halted reopening as hospitals were inundated with “an explosion” of new COVID-19 cases and officials warned there might not be enough beds available. Hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties were ordered to stop nonessential procedures to make sure beds are available for coronavirus patients. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN)

2/ Dozens of U.S. Secret Service agents who worked at Trump’s rally in Tulsa were ordered to self-quarantine after two of their colleagues tested positive for the coronavirus. The Secret Service field office in Tulsa arranged a special testing session at a local hospital to determine which agents contracted the virus while working at the rally. The number of Secret Service personnel who have tested positive is still unknown because the agency refuses to divulge that information in order to “protect the privacy of our employees’ health information and for operational security.” A law enforcement official, however, said the number of quarantined agents is on the “low” side of dozens. (CNN / Washington Post)

3/ The federal government sent $1.4 billion in coronavirus stimulus checks to over a million dead people. The finding is part of a review of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Government Accountability Office. While the government has asked survivors to return the money, it’s not clear they’re required to. (NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post)

4/ Unemployment claims topped one million for the 14th week in a row after nearly 1.5 million workers filed new claims last week. An additional 728,000 workers filed for benefits from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Meanwhile, continuing claims fell below 20 million for the first time in two months. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNBC)

5/ The Supreme Court ruled that people seeking asylum from persecution have no right to a federal court hearing. The court’s 7-2 ruling allows the Trump administration to expedite the deportation of thousands of immigrants picked up at or near the border who have claimed to be escaping from persecution and torture in their home countries. A 2004 immigration policy targets any undocumented immigrant picked up within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of entering the country for quick deportation. The Trump administration has sought to expand a 2004 deportation policy so that undocumented immigrants anywhere in the U.S. can be picked up for any reason and quickly deported up to two years after their arrival. (NPR / ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

6/ The Trump administration is discussing ending congressional review of weapons sales to foreign governments, because lawmakers from both parties have held up arms sales to Saudi Arabia over civilian casualties in Yemen. Under the current system, the State Department gives informal notification to relevant foreign policy committees in Congress of proposed arms sale and lawmakers can block sales. (New York Times)

7/ Trump’s nominee to take over the Manhattan federal prosecutors office refused to say whether he would recuse himself from pending investigations involving Trump’s interests and associates if confirmed. Trump nominated Jay Clayton — currently the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York after Geoffrey Berman was abruptly removed last week. Berman had pursued a number of investigations close to Trump’s inner circle, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. Appearing before a House Financial Services subcommittee, Clayton deflected questions about his nomination and the circumstances under which Berman was removed, characterizing the Senate confirmation process as “way down the road.” (Washington Post / Politico)

8/ A New York judge rejected an effort by Trump’s brother to block the publication of his niece Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough.” Queens County Surrogate Court Judge Peter Kelly cited “several improprieties” in Robert Trump’s filing that rendered it “fatally defective.” (The Guardian / Daily Beast / Washington Post)

Day 1252: "A massive outbreak."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,331,000; deaths: ~480,000 (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,370,000; deaths: ~122,000


1/ Coronavirus cases are accelerating across the U.S. and seven states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — are reporting record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations. On Tuesday, more than 800 people died from the virus — the first time U.S. fatalities have increased since June 7 – and more than 35,000 new coronavirus cases were identified across the United States – the highest single-day total since late April and the third-highest total of any day of the pandemic. Case numbers are rising in more than 20 states. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will now require visitors from virus hot spots to quarantine for 14 days. Top federal health officials warn that the surge could worsen without new restrictions. Trump’s administration, meanwhile, plans to end support for 13 coronavirus testing sites across the country at the end of the month, including seven in Texas. Four of the seven Texas sites are in Houston and Harris County, which public health experts say could become the area worst hit by COVID-19 in the country. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News /