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 1414: "A tremendous achievement."

1/ The U.S. recorded over 3,100 COVID-19 deaths in a single day – marking the single-worst daily death toll since the pandemic began and surpassing the April 15 high of 2,752 deaths. The U.S. also recorded nearly 205,000 new cases of COVID-19 – a month after topping 100,000 cases for the first time – as hospitalizations from the virus reached 100,000 – also the highest reported during the pandemic and more than double the number since the beginning of November. In total, more than 14 million cases in the U.S. have been reported since the start of the pandemic. (NBC News / Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~65,000,000; deaths: ~1,502,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~14,087,000; deaths: ~276,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC

  • New claims for unemployment benefits fell to 714,000 last week – down from 836,000 in the prior week but well above pre-pandemic levels. Seasonally adjusted, the weekly initial claims were 712,000 and 787,000, respectively. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci will meet virtually with Biden’s transition team for the first time to discuss the coronavirus response. Fauci will also stay on at the National Institutes of Health. (CBS News / Axios / CNN)

  • Obama, Bush, and Clinton volunteered to get their COVID-19 vaccines on camera to promote public confidence in what a Trump spokeswoman called the “Trump Vaccine.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany called it a “tremendous achievement” for the U.S. to have as many as 40 million vaccine doses ready by year’s end, crediting the accomplishment to “having a businessman as president.” (Bloomberg / CNN / NPR)

  • poll/ 60% of Americans say they would definitely or probably get a coronavirus vaccine if it was available today – up from 51% in September. 21%, however, do not intend to get vaccinated and are “pretty certain” more information will not change their mind. The remaining 18% say they definitely or probably would not get a coronavirus vaccine, but it’s possible they would decide to get vaccinated once people start getting a vaccine and more information becomes available. (Pew Research Center)

2/ Trump released a 46-minute video rant denouncing the election as “rigged” while repeating his baseless allegations of voter fraud that – he claims – was “massive” and “on a scale never seen before.” Trump claimed – without evidence – that “corrupt forces” had stuffed ballot boxes and that the voting system was “under coordinated assault and siege,” arguing that it was “statistically impossible” for him to have lost to Biden. Trump also called on the Supreme Court to “do what’s right for our country” and disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of voters so that “I very easily win in all states.” Trump called his diatribe “may be the most important speech I’ve ever made” and again refused to concede defeat. The video was released a day after Attorney General William Barr said that despite inquiries by the Justice Department and the FBI, “to date, we have not seen fraud on a scale that could have effected a different outcome in the election.” (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ Trump and Attorney General William Barr had a “contentious,” two and a half hour meeting at the White House after Barr disclosed that the Justice Department had not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the election results. When asked by reporters whether he had confidence in Barr, Trump replied: “Ask me that in a number of weeks from now. They should be looking at all of this fraud […] He hasn’t done anything. He hasn’t looked” for voter fraud, “which is a disappointment, to be honest with you.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also refused to say whether Trump still has faith in Barr. One source briefed on the meeting described Barr’s interaction with the president as “intense,” and one senior administration official indicated there was a chance Barr could be fired. (ABC News / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / CNBC / The Hill)

4/ The White House liaison to the Justice Department has been banned from the building after trying to pressure staffers to give up information about election fraud. Heidi Stirrup was installed at the Justice Department as a White House liaison by chief of staff Mark Meadows in September. Stirrup has already been appointed as a member of the Board of Visitors to the Air Force Academy. (Associated Press / CNN)

5/ Ivanka Trump was deposed as part of suit from the Washington, D.C., attorney general over the costs of Trump’s 2017 inauguration. The Washington, DC, attorney general’s office is suing the Trump inaugural committee for “grossly overpaying” for event space at the Trump International Hotel. As a nonprofit, the committee must not allow “any portion of its funds to be spent in a way that are designed to benefit private persons or companies,” according to the lawsuit. The inaugural committee spent $1 million to rent event space at the Trump family’s hotel. (CNN /NPR / CBS News)

Day 1413: "A very dangerous place."

1/ Trump discussed whether to grant pre-emptive pardons to Trump Jr., Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, and Jared Kushner. While Trump Jr. was under investigation – but never charged – by Robert Mueller for his contacts with Russians offering damaging information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, any potential criminal exposure of Eric Trump or Ivanka Trump is unclear. Kushner, meanwhile, omitted several contacts with Russians offering damaging information on Clinton during the campaign when he filled out a form for his White House security clearance. Trump has also discussed preemptively pardoning Rudy Giuliani. (New York Times / ABC News)

2/ The Justice Department is investigating a potential “bribery-for-pardon” scheme involving a large political contribution in exchange for a presidential pardon by the White House. Heavily redacted documents revealed that prosecutors were investigating whether two individuals approached senior White House officials as unregistered lobbyists and secretly lobbied or paid bribes to obtain a pardon for someone convicted of a federal crime. The documents also show that a lawyer for a federal convict had discussions with the White House Counsel’s Office about a pardon or commutation. The documents, however, do not name the individuals involved or Trump, and they do not indicate if any other White House officials had knowledge of the scheme. The status of the investigation is unclear. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / Bloomberg / ABC News)

3/ A government watchdog group sued Trump, Jared Kushner, and the White House to prevent them from deleting official emails and WhatsApp messages before they can be archived. The Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics allege that Trump and his administration are violating the Presidential Records Act by failing to correctly preserve records of official government business. CREW and the other plaintiffs also say Trump has “planned or executed destruction” of records without notifying the archivist or Congress as required by law. (Axios / The Hill)

4/ Properties owned by the Trump Organization and the Kushner Companies profited from coronavirus pandemic relief programs, according to Paycheck Protection Program and Economic Injury Disaster loan data released by the Small Business Administration. Over 25 PPP loans, more than $3.65 million were given to businesses with addresses at Trump and Kushner real estate properties, who paid rent to those owners. Of those, 15 properties reported that they only kept one job, zero jobs or did not report a number at all. More than half of the money from the emergency fund for small businesses went to 5% of the recipients. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ The director of the CDC warned that this winter may be “the most difficult time in the public health history of this nation.” Dr. Robert Redfield predicted that “December and January and February are going to be rough times” and the total deaths from COVID-19 could reach “close to 450,000” by February unless a large percentage of Americans embrace social distancing and mitigation strategies, like mask wearing. The number of COVID-19 patients in U.S. hospitals is at an all-time high and the U.S. has averaged 161,448 new cases daily over the last week – about 2.5 times the July peak. The White House coronavirus task force, meanwhile, warned that “we are in a very dangerous place” and “the COVID risk to all Americans is at a historic high.” (New York Times / CNN)

6/ The CDC shortened its 14-day coronavirus quarantine guidance in an effort to boost compliance because Americans are bad at this. Instead of a 14-day quarantine, the CDC now recommends that potential exposure warrants a quarantine of 10 or seven days, depending on a person’s test results and symptoms. Those who lack symptoms can stop quarantining after 10 days or seven days with a negative COVID-19 test. “Reducing the length of quarantine may make it easier for people to take this critical public health action by reducing the economic hardship associated with a longer period, especially if they cannot work during that time,” Dr. Henry Walke, the CDC’s incident manager for its COVID-19 response, said. CDC officials also announced new guidance for traveling: If you’re planning a trip, you should get tested one to three days in advance and then be tested again three to five days after returning. (NPR / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico)

7/ White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows summoned FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn to the West Wing to explain why the agency hasn’t approve the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer applied for emergency clearance on Nov. 20, and the FDA is scheduled meet on Dec. 10 to discuss the request for authorization. Before the meeting, Hahn said that his agency was balancing speed with making “an appropriate decision.” Following the meeting, Hahn said the agency has “all hands on deck” and is “working day and night, and on the weekends” to evaluate and approve multiple coronavirus vaccines for emergency use authorization. (Axios / CNBC / ABC News)

8/ Trump threatened to veto an annual defense bill authorizing nearly $1 trillion in military spending unless Congress repeals a federal law that gives online companies broad legal protections for the content on their platforms. Section 230 is considered one of the Web’s foundational laws because it spares sites and services from being held liable for the content posted by their users. Trump previously threatened to veto the same defense bill over his opposition to provisions that would rename military bases honoring Confederate commanders. Top Republicans and Democrats, however, plan to ignore Trump’s demand. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

Day 1412: "We just don’t have time to waste time."

1/ Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department has “not seen fraud on a scale that could have affected a different outcome in the election,” undercutting Trump’s baseless claims of widespread voting irregularities. Barr suggested that the FBI and Justice Department looked into some fraud claims, but they “haven’t seen anything to substantiate” any “claim that machines were programmed essentially to skew the election results.” Last month, Barr authorized U.S. attorneys to pursue any “substantial allegations” of voting irregularities, if they existed, before the 2020 presidential election was certified, despite no evidence of widespread fraud at that time. (Associated Press / Washington Post / Axios / ABC News)

2/ Trump’s political operation has raised between $150 million and $170 million since Election Day, using misleading appeals about voter fraud to fund his failed attempts to overturn the election. The first 75% of every contribution goes to a new political action committee that Trump set up in mid-November, Save America, which could be used on political activities after he leaves office. The other 25% is directed to the Republican National Committee. The campaign has sent about 500 post-election fundraising pitches to donors. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Trump Jr. launched a super PAC to mobilize Trump backers to vote in the upcoming Georgia Senate runoffs. The Save the U.S. Senate PAC will start airing commercials this week – only on conservative radio and TV stations – featuring Trump Jr. that are aimed at mobilizing Trump backers across Georgia. (Politico)

3/ An attorney for the Trump campaign called for the former head of U.S. cybersecurity to be executed for saying that the election was the “most secure in United States history.” Chris Krebs was fired after he rejected Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. Joe DiGenova, nevertheless, said that “Anybody who thinks the election went well, like that idiot Krebs […] that guy is a class A moron. He should be drawn and quartered. Taken out at dawn and shot.” Krebs suggested he might take legal action, calling DiGenova’s comments “more dangerous language, more dangerous behavior.” DiGenova, meanwhile, tried to walk back his remarks, saying it was “obvious that my remarks were sarcastic and made in jest.” (The Bulwark / Axios / Politico / CNN / NBC News)

4/ Attorney General William Barr appointed U.S. Attorney John Durham as special counsel to continue investigating the origins of the FBI’s 2016 probe into possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Barr made the appointment on October 19 and kept it secret so as not to interfere in the election. In 2019, Barr appointed Durham to investigate the FBI’s justification for the investigation that became Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference. That investigation has only netted one criminal charge — a low-level FBI lawyer who pleaded guilty to altering a surveillance application Carter Page. A special counsel can only be fired by the attorney general and for specific reasons such as misconduct, dereliction of duty, or conflict of interest, which must be documented in writing. (Associated Press / Axios / CNN / Bloomberg)

5/ Trump and Rudy Giuliani discussed a pardon preempting any charge or conviction before Trump leaves office. Giuliani has been under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York for more than a year, reportedly focused on his actions in Ukraine, where he tried to dig up dirt about the Biden’s. A Giuliani spokeswoman said Trump’s personal attorney “cannot comment on any discussions that he has with his client.” Giuliani, however, tweeted: “Fake News NYT lies again. Never had the discussion they falsely attribute to an anonymous source. Hard to keep up with all their lies.” While rare, it is legal for a president to preemptively pardon people for federal crimes before they’ve been charged. (New York Times / CNBC / The Guardian / Politico)

6/ Scientists at the CDC found evidence that the coronavirus was present in the U.S. weeks earlier previously thought. While COVID-19 was first identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, it wasn’t until about Jan. 20 that the first confirmed COVID-19 case was identified in the U.S. Testing of 7,389 blood donations collected by the American Red Cross from residents in nine states, however, identified 106 infections in samples collected between Dec. 13 and Jan. 17. (NPR / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNN)

7/ Trump’s coronavirus adviser resigned. Dr. Scott Atlas, a radiologist with no experience in immunology, repeatedly made comments that were at odds with public health experts, including the experts on Trump’s coronavirus Task Force. Atlas fought against lockdowns, downplayed the seriousness of the virus, questioned the efficacy of masks, and urged the White House to embrace a strategy of “herd immunity.” Trump invited him to join the task force in August after seeing him on Fox News. (Politico / CNN / CBS News / NBC News / The Guardian)

8/ Biden formally introduced his six-person economic team, saying “help is on the way.” Biden tapped Janet Yellen as Treasury secretary, and nominated former Obama economics adviser Adewale Adeyemo as deputy secretary of the Treasury, Neera Tanden to lead the Office of Management and Budget, and Cecilia Rouse to chair the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Jared Bernstein and Heather Boushey will join Rouse as Council members. Progressive Democrats and Republicans have expressed opposition to Tanden for her ties to corporate and establishment political leaders. Since 2011, Tanden has been CEO of the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, and its political arm, the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Biden, meanwhile, said Congress should come together to pass a “robust” aid package, repeated his call for “immediate relief” in the current lame duck period, and pledged “a recovery for everybody.” (CNN / NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • Biden’s agenda for his first 100 days in office will center on the passage of a broad economic aid package and a series of executive actions. Transition officials say that the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, and tackling racial inequality are his most urgent priorities, and that executive actions will be aimed at delivering on his campaign promises and undoing the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine government agencies. (CNN)

9/ A bipartisan group of senators introduced a coronavirus aid proposal worth about $908 billion, which Mitch McConnell immediately rejected. The bipartisan compromise, which was described as a “bridge,” would provide $300 a week in federal unemployment benefits for roughly four months, $160 billion in funding for state and local governments, as well as a temporary moratorium on some coronavirus-related lawsuits against companies. McConnell said he wants to pass a “targeted relief bill” instead because “we just don’t have time to waste time.” Congress needs to approve funding legislation by Dec. 11 to avoid a government shutdown. (Washington Post / CNBC / Politico / NBC News)

Day 1411: "Hapless."

1/ Hospitalizations of COVID-19 patients in the United States reached an all-time high of 93,238 on Sunday – surpassing Saturday’s record of 91,635 COVID-19 patients. The number of coronavirus infections in the U.S., meanwhile, surpassed 13 million on Friday and Sunday marked the 27th consecutive day that the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new COVID-19 cases. (ABC News / Bloomberg / The Guardian / New York Times)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that Thanksgiving travel could make the current surge in COVID-19 cases worse. “What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” Dr. Fauci said. (NBC News / NPR / The Guardian / CNBC)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~63,119,000; deaths: ~1,466,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~13,512,000; deaths: ~268,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / ABC News

2/ Moderna applied for FDA emergency authorization of its coronavirus vaccine, becoming the second company to do so. Moderna’s vaccine was 94.1% effective in a 30,000-person clinical trial at preventing COVID-19 and 100% effective at preventing severe cases of the disease. If approved, vaccinations for Americans could begin as early as Dec. 21. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN)

3/ Biden’s senior White House communications team will be composed entirely of women – a first – with Jennifer Psaki, a veteran of the Obama administration, as White House press secretary. The transition team also announced that Kate Bedingfield will serve as the White House communications director; Karine Jean Pierre will be the principal deputy press secretary; Pili Tobar will serve as the deputy White House communications director; Symone Sanders will serve as the senior adviser and chief spokeswoman for Kamala Harris; and Ashley Etienne will serve as the communications director for Harris. Biden is also expected to nominate Neera Tanden as director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Cecilia Rouse to be chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers. Tanden would be the first woman of color to oversee the agency and Rouse would be the first woman of color to chair the council. Biden will also nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to be the first female treasury secretary. (New York Times / Washington Post / The 19th / Politico / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / ABC News

  • Several members of Biden’s team and others under consideration for high-ranking posts have done work for undisclosed corporate clients and a fund that invests in government contractors. The consulting firm, WestExec Advisors, and the investment fund, Pine Island Capital Partners are strategic partners with an overlapping team of officials. WestExec’s founders include Antony Blinken, Biden’s choice for secretary of state, and Michèle Flournoy, one of the leading candidates to be his defense secretary. This year, Pine Island Capital purchased a weapons system parts manufacturer and another company that sells weapons training systems to the Pentagon and law enforcement agencies. Pine Island Capital, where Blinken and Flournoy have also served as advisers, raised $218 million this month for a new fund to invest in additional military and aerospace companies. In addition, Avril Haines, Biden’s pick to be director of national intelligence, Christina Killingsworth, who is helping with Biden’s White House budget office, Ely Ratner, who is helping organize the Biden transition at the Pentagon, and Jennifer Psaki, Biden’s pick for White House press secretary, all came out of WestExec. (New York Times)

4/ Arizona certified its election results, awarding the state’s 11 electoral votes to Biden. The certification came as Rudy Giuliani appeared before some Republican Arizona lawmakers in an unofficial hearing to ask lawmakers to overturn the election results, citing baseless claims of widespread election fraud. Biden beat the president in Arizona by more than 10,000 votes. (Politico / Axios / CNN)

5/ Two recounts in Wisconsin – requested by the Trump campaign – were completed and confirmed that Biden won the state. Trump’s campaign paid $3 million to cover the cost of recounts in two counties, which resulted in Biden gaining an additional 87 total votes. Biden won Wisconsin by more than 20,000 votes. (Washington Post/ USA Today / Axios)

6/ A federal appeals court unanimously rejected the Trump campaign’s emergency appeal to challenge Pennsylvania’s election results, writing that the campaign’s lawsuit lacked proof and its allegations in Pennsylvania “have no merit.” In five hours of oral arguments last week, Rudy Giuliani argued that the 2020 presidential election had been marred by widespread fraud in Pennsylvania. However, Giuliani failed to offer any tangible proof of that in court. The three-judge panel for the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals denied the campaign’s effort to refile its lawsuit, saying “Charges of unfairness are serious. But calling an election unfair does not make it so. Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here. Voters, not lawyers, choose the President. Ballots, not briefs, decide elections.” (Associated Press / CNN / Axios / Washington Post / BuzzFeed News)

7/ Trump said he’ll leave the White House if the Electoral College affirms Biden’s win next month. When asked whether he would acknowledge defeat, Trump said it would “be a very hard thing to concede” – even if the Electoral College confirms Biden’s victory – adding: “If they do, they’ve made a mistake. This election was a fraud.” A day later, Trump reiterated his baseless claims of voter fraud, tweeting that Biden “can only enter the White House as President if he can prove that his ridiculous ‘80,000,000 votes’ were not fraudulently or illegally obtained.” (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CBS News)

  • Trump continued to discredit the Georgia voting system, attacking both GOP Gov. Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump called Kemp “hapless,” urging him to use his “emergency powers… to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State.” Kemp’s office, meanwhile, responded Trump’s demands to overturn the election results, saying state law “prohibits the governor from interfering in the election.” (ABC News / Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

  • 👑 Inside Trump’s quest to overturn the election. “The result was an election aftermath without precedent in U.S. history. With his denial of the outcome, despite a string of courtroom defeats, Trump endangered America’s democracy, threatened to undermine national security and public health, and duped millions of his supporters into believing, perhaps permanently, that Biden was elected illegitimately.” (Washington Post)

poll/ Since the election, Biden’s favorability rating has risen six percentage points (55%) while Trump’s favorability has dropped three points (42%). (Gallup)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Supreme Court heard arguments on Trump’s efforts to exclude unauthorized immigrants from the census count, which is used to allocate seats in the House. The Court reportedly sounded skeptical that Trump could categorically exclude people living in the country illegally from the population count. Census Bureau officials have said they cannot produce the required data until after Trump leaves office in January. (Associated Press / New York Times / NPR / NBC News)

  2. The Justice Department created a new rule that would allow methods – including firing squads and electrocution – to be used for federal executions. “Last week, the Justice Department announced that it plans to execute three more inmates on federal death row. If the administration does so, along with two other executions already scheduled, it will have put 13 prisoners to death since July, marking one of the deadliest periods in the history of federal capital punishment since at least 1927.” (New York Times)

  3. The Trump administration moved to relax rules on companies’ liability for killing birds, releasing an analysis that says that modifying the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty Act would not cause any substantial environmental harm. (Washington Post / Axios)

  4. FCC Ajit Pai announced that he would step down when Biden is sworn in. Pai led the partisan repeal of Obama-era net neutrality regulation in 2017, which prohibited internet providers from blocking or slowing traffic to particular sites and offering higher speed “lanes” at higher prices. (CNBC / Politico / Washington Post)

  5. Carter Page filed a $75 million lawsuit against the FBI, Justice Department, and James Comey, claiming he was the victim of “unlawful spying” during the bureau’s Russia investigation. (Axios)

  6. The Government Accountability Office reported that the system for providing unemployment benefits consistently produced inaccurate data and lower-than-appropriate payouts to millions of workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The Labor Department’s weekly reports on jobless claims have published “flawed estimates of the number of individuals receiving benefits each week throughout the pandemic,” the GAO said. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1406: "A truly fantastic Thanksgiving!"

1/ Trump pardoned Michael Flynn, his first national security advisor, who pleaded guilty – twice – to lying to the FBI about his Russian contacts during the presidential transition in late 2016 and early 2017. Trump announced the news on Twitter and wished Flynn “a truly fantastic Thanksgiving!” The pardon was issued before a judge ruled on a Justice Department motion to dismiss charges and undo Flynn’s guilty plea to lying to the FBI. Since last year, Flynn’s lawyers have sought to withdraw his guilty plea. In May, Attorney General William Barr and the Justice Department sought to dismiss its charges, declaring that prosecutors should not have brought the case against Flynn. The request to withdraw charges has been pending before a federal judge, who has been reviewing the case. Flynn’s pardon is expected to be part of a series of pardons that Trump issues between now and when he leaves office, including former Trump campaign advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos. (CNBC / NBC News / Washington Post / NPR / Axios / New York Times / Politico / The Guardian / CNN)

2/ Biden dismissed pursuing investigations into Trump after he leaves office, saying “I will not do what this president does and use the Justice Department as my vehicle to insist that something happened.” Biden’s comments, however, didn’t rule out that the Justice Department could still investigate Trump, since it traditionally operates independently of the White House on criminal matters. Biden also acknowledged that states could continue pursue their own investigations. (USA Today)

3/ Unemployment claims rose for the second week in a row with 778,000 people filing for benefits. Claims haven’t risen for two consecutive weeks since July and it was the largest two-week increase since April. Another 311,000 people applied for jobless benefits under an emergency federal program for gig workers and the self-employed. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NPR / CNBC)

4/ The U.S. reported its highest daily coronavirus death toll in more than six months. The nearly 2,100 COVID-19 deaths reported Tuesday is the highest mark since May 6, when states reported a combined 2,611 fatalities. The U.S. has added more than one million new cases in each of the past two consecutive weeks. (Washington Post / New York Times)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~60,187,000; deaths: ~1,418,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~12,728,000; deaths: ~262,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC

  • Trump administration health officials held their first “Operation Warp Speed” briefing with Biden. The initial meeting was focused on COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and distribution. (Politico)

  • The first 6.4 million doses of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine could be distributed as early as mid-December if authorized by the FDA and an independent advisory panel to the CDC. Officials said they are on track to have 40 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna by the end of the year – enough to vaccinate 20 million people. (Washington Post)

5/ Biden’s pick for Secretary of State and a top contender for defense secretary co-founded a Washington consulting firm where at least 21 of the 38 employees donated to his campaign. Because WestExec’s staffers aren’t lobbyists – they aren’t directly advocating for federal dollars on behalf of clients – they don’t have to disclose who they worked for. One of WestExec former principals, Avril Haines, is Biden’s pick for director of national intelligence, and Michèle Flournoy, a potential pick for defense secretary, raised more than $100,000 alone for Biden. At least five WestExec employees are helping staff Biden’s review teams for the Pentagon, the Treasury Department, the Council of Economic Advisers and other agencies, including Jen Psaki, who is advising Biden’s transition team. Two other former WestExec employees, Lisa Monaco and Julianne Smith, are also considered potential Biden administration hires. (Politico)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Army Corps of Engineers denied a permit for a gold and copper mine in Alaska, saying it was “contrary to the public interest.” In a statement, the Army Corps said it would block the Pebble Mine because the project’s waste “does not comply with Clean Water Act guidelines.” (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  2. The City of El Paso hired legal counsel to collect more than $500,000 in debt owed by the Trump campaign from a rally that took place almost two years ago. (KTSM)

  3. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plans to transfer $455 billion in unspent Cares Act funding into an account that will require congressional authorization to use. The move leaves Janet Yellen, Mnuchin’s presumed successor, with just under $80 billion available in the Treasury’s Exchange Stabilization Fund. (Bloomberg)

Day 1405: "Meets this moment."

1/ Biden introduced six of his top foreign policy and national security appointments and nominees, saying “the team meets this moment.” The announcement comes a day after the Trump administration ended its 16-day stalemate and said it would to begin cooperating with the incoming administration. “It’s a team that reflects the fact that America is back,” Biden said. “Ready to lead the world, not retreat from it.” Biden added that his nominees bring “experience and leadership, fresh thinking and perspective, and an unrelenting belief in the promise of America.” Hours after the General Services Administration authorized the Biden transition, Trump tweeted his insistence that he had won the election and that he will “never concede.” (New York Times / CNN / NPR / ABC News / Bloomberg / CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • The White House signed off on Biden receiving the President’s Daily Brief. (CNN)

  • Trump-Biden Transition Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / NPR / ABC News / CNN

  • 📌 Day 1404: Biden named a number of high-level administration and Cabinet positions for his foreign policy and national security team, tapping Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Mayorkas would be the first Latino to run the department responsible for managing the nation’s immigration policies. Haines would be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the intelligence community. Biden also named his longtime adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of state, John Kerry as his climate czar, and Jake Sullivan as his national security adviser. Biden also plans to nominate Janet Yellen as treasury secretary. (Bloomberg / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times / NPR)

2/ Pennsylvania and Nevada certified their 2020 election results, awarding a combined 26 electoral votes to Biden. North Carolina also certified its presidential vote totals, awarding the state’s 15 electoral votes to Trump. Biden has collected 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232. (CNN / Associated Press / NBC News / Axios /Politico / CNBC / Washington Post)

  • The lame-duck president pardoned his final turkeys. “Thanksgiving is a very special day for turkeys,” Trump said. “Not a very good one, if you think about it.” Before walking off, Trump ignored a question from a reporter about whether he would pardon himself. (New York Times / ABC News)

3/ Trump made an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room to celebrate the Dow surpassing 30,000 points for the first time, telling reporters he wanted to “congratulate the people of our country because there are no people like you.” Trump called the milestone a “sacred number” and then left without taking questions. The Dow rose by over 450 points a day after the Trump administration agreed to start the transition process and the news that Biden was set to nominate former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as his Treasury secretary. Trump has repeatedly claimed that if Biden won the election, the stock market and the economy would “crash.” In the three weeks since Election Day, Trump has tweeted some 400 times in an attempt to undermine the integrity of the 2020 election results. (Politico / NPR / New York Times / CNBC / The Hill / NBC News)

4/ The White House coronavirus task force called for “significant behavior change of all Americans,” including the wearing of masks, to mitigate the spread. “There is aggressive, rapid, and expanding community spread across the country, reaching over 2,000 counties,” a set of task force reports said. The U.S. reported 154,656 new infections Monday, continuing a record high seven-day average of new cases. More than 85,000 coronavirus patients have been admitted to hospitals – a 17% rise – and daily fatalities increased by more than 30% over the past week. The nation is averaging 172,000 new virus cases per day – about doubling since the end of October. The CDC, meanwhile, is finalizing new guidance to shorten the length of time it recommends that people self-quarantine after potential exposure to the coronavirus from 14 days to seven or 10 days. The goal is to encourage more people to comply with self-quarantining. (CNN / Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press)

poll/ 53% of Republicans would vote for Trump in 2024. 12% said they would support Pence, and 8% would support Trump Jr. (Politico)

poll/ 3% of Trump voters believe that Biden legitimately won the 2020 election, while 73% consider Trump the winner. 24% said they are not sure. (CNBC)

Day 1404: "A monster."

1/ The General Services Administration formally recognized Biden as the winner of the 2020 presidential election – more than two weeks after securing the electoral votes necessary to win the White House. Emily Murphy, the Trump appointee who runs the GSA, faced weeks of criticism from Democrats, national security, and health experts, who argued that delaying the formal transition was hampering the incoming Biden administration from receiving classified briefings and preparing for the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine. In a letter to Biden, Murphy said she was “never directly or indirectly pressured by any Executive Branch official — including those who work at the White House or the G.S.A.” Biden is now able to access millions of dollars in federal funds and resources to begin his transition to power. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that he had recommended that the GSA begin “initial protocols” for the transition. Trump also said he was not conceding. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NPR / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

2/ A group of Republican national security experts demanded that Trump concede the election. The statement’s signers – including former homeland security secretary Tom Ridge – urged Republican leaders to “strongly oppose” Trump’s “dangerous and extra-legal efforts to threaten and intimidate state officials in order to prevent a vote by the Electoral College,” adding that “Trump’s refusal to permit the presidential transition poses significant risks to our national security.” Meanwhile, more than 160 top American executives asked the Trump administration to acknowledge Biden as the president-elect and begin the transition, writing that “Every day that an orderly presidential transition process is delayed, our democracy grows weaker in the eyes of our own citizens and the nation’s stature on the global stage is diminished.” Some of the executives who signed on to the letter have also discussed withholding campaign donations from the two Republican Senate candidates in Georgia until party leaders push for a presidential transition. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR)

3/ A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by Trump’s campaign seeking to block the certification of Pennsylvania’s election results. Judge Matthew Brann wrote that Trump’s campaign, which had asked him to disenfranchise nearly seven million voters, should have come to court “armed with compelling legal arguments and factual proof of rampant corruption” in its efforts to essentially nullify the results. The Trump campaign had claimed there were widespread improprieties with mail-in ballots in the state. In his 37-page ruling, Brann said he expected a compelling legal argument “and factual proof of rampant corruption” from the Trump campaign, but instead “this court has been presented with strained legal arguments without merit and speculative accusations” that were “unsupported by evidence.” Brann added: “This claim, like Frankenstein’s Monster, has been haphazardly stitched together.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNN / Politico)

  • The Michigan State Board of Canvassers voted to certify the state’s presidential election results, effectively awarding the state’s 16 electoral votes to President-elect Biden. (Washington Post / NBC News)

4/ Biden named a number of high-level administration and Cabinet positions for his foreign policy and national security team, tapping Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the ambassador to the United Nations, Alejandro Mayorkas as homeland security secretary, and Avril Haines as director of national intelligence. Mayorkas would be the first Latino to run the department responsible for managing the nation’s immigration policies. Haines would be the highest-ranking woman to serve in the intelligence community. Biden also named his longtime adviser Antony Blinken as secretary of state, John Kerry as his climate czar, and Jake Sullivan as his national security adviser. Biden also plans to nominate Janet Yellen as treasury secretary. (Bloomberg / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN / The Guardian / New York Times / NPR)

5/ A third COVID-19 vaccine is reportedly highly effective. AstraZeneca said the results of an interim analysis show that its vaccine could be up to 90% effective in preventing the disease. Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, the AstraZeneca vaccine doesn’t have to be stored at freezer temperatures, making it potentially easier to distribute. (NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post)

6/ Trump Jr. tested positive for the coronavirus. A spokesman said Trump Jr. tested positive at the start of last week has been “quarantining out at his cabin since the result.” Trump Jr. is the first of Trump’s adult children to test positive, although his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle tested positive in July, and Trump’s youngest child, Barron Trump, tested positive in October. Trump himself tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 1, and was hospitalized at Walter Reed Medical Center one day later. Trump Jr.’s announcement came hours after Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, a special assistant to the president, announced that he had tested positive. Two Republican senators, Rick Scott and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, also said they tested positive. (Bloomberg / CBS News / ABC News / New York Times / CNN)

  • Sen. Kelly Loeffler is self-isolating after she tested positive for the coronavirus. The Georgia senator, a Republican, is currently campaigning in a runoff election that could determine control of the Senate. Loeffler tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday evening and then receiving an inconclusive result on Saturday. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / New York Times)

  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said he became “extremely sick” from COVID-19, but now believes he is “out of the woods” after receiving an antibody treatment. Carson said his initial symptoms were light, but then he became “desperately ill,” and noted that he has “several co-morbidities” that played a role. (NPR / CNN)

7/ The White House still plans to host partially indoor holiday parties despite warnings from health experts and a surge in COVID-19 cases. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, meanwhile, warned that Americans, including the White House, should follow the CDC guidelines and avoid large gatherings during what he called a “dire point” in the pandemic. Dr. Anthony Fauci called the September Rose Garden event “a super-spreader.” (ABC News / CNN)

8/ Trump skipped the G-20 summit’s “Pandemic Preparedness and Response” event to play golf. Trump briefly participated in the virtual summit from the Situation Room, tweeting throughout the opening session about his efforts to overturn the results of the presidential election. He then departed the White House for the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia. The U.S., meanwhile, recorded 195,500 new COVID-19 infections – another record. (New York Times / The Guardian / CNBC / CNN / Slate)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump will veto legislation to fund the military unless a bipartisan provision to rename military bases honoring Confederate military leaders is removed. Both the Senate and House overwhelmingly passed a provision that would change the names of Confederate-named bases as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act. (NBC News)

  2. General Motors dropped its support of Trump’s lawsuit seeking to end California’s right to set its own fuel economy standards. Four years ago, GM was one of the first automakers to push Trump to loosen Obama-era standards on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions and in 2019, GM supported the Trump administration’s legal effort to revoke California’s congressionally granted authority to set tougher standards than the federal government. (Associated Press / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  3. The Trump administration acquired at least 135 tracts of privately owned land to build Trump’s border wall along the U.S.-Mexico border – and plans to acquire another 991 tracts. According to a study by the Government Accountability Office, the Justice Department filed 109 lawsuits against landowners between January 2017 and August 2020 to seize their property permanently. Trump administration lawyers have prepared another 100 lawsuits against landowners to permanently acquire their property. (CBS News)

  4. Twenty-eight migrant children and their parents are facing deportation after refusing to be separated in detention and then losing an appeal for the right to claim asylum in the U.S. Because they crossed the border during Trump’s policy prohibiting immigrants from claiming asylum in the U.S. if they first passed through another country, they were not able to make their claim before an immigration judge. The policy has since been overturned, but immigrants who entered the U.S. when it was in place were not helped by the decision. (NBC News)

Day 1401: "Incredible irresponsibility."

1/ Michigan’s Republican legislative leaders met with Trump at the White House ahead of the state’s canvassing board meeting on Monday, when the election results are expected to be certified. Details of the meeting with Mike Shirkey, the leader of the State Senate, and Lee Chatfield, the speaker of the state House, are unclear. Trump and his campaign have openly floated the idea that the board of canvassers could choose to not to certify the results, forcing the state legislatures to appoint new electors who would overturn the will of the voters. All 83 counties, however, have certified their vote counts, giving Biden a 156,000-vote margin of victory. The state board of canvassing is scheduled to meet Monday to certify the final state tally. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, refused to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden’s victory – her first press briefing since October 1 and since Trump lost the election – and denied that Trump had invited officials from the Michigan state legislature to the White House as part of an “advocacy meeting.” Rudy Giuliani was involved in arranging the meeting, but won’t attend after being exposed to the coronavirus. Giuliani’s son, Andrew Giuliani, a White House aide, tested positive for COVID-19. And, finally, Trump has expressed interest in inviting Republican state legislators from Pennsylvania to the White House for a similar meeting. (NPR / Bloomberg / Politico / Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / The Hill / CBS News / Axios / Reuters / CNN)

  • ✏️ Notables.

  • Trump is using the power of his office to try to reverse the results of the election, orchestrating a pressure campaign to persuade Republican officials in Michigan, Georgia, and elsewhere to overturn the will of voters in what critics call an unprecedented subversion of democracy. “In an extraordinary news conference Thursday at the Republican National Committee headquarters, Trump’s attorneys claimed without evidence there was a centralized conspiracy with roots in Venezuela to rig the U.S. presidential election. They alleged voter fraud in Atlanta, Detroit, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and other cities whose municipal governments are controlled by Democrats and where President-elect Joe Biden won by large margins.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s attempts to overturn the 2020 election are unprecedented in American history. “Mr. Trump has only weeks to make his last-ditch effort work: Most of the states he needs to strip Mr. Biden of votes are scheduled to certify their electors by the beginning of next week. The electors cast their ballots on Dec. 14, and Congress opens them in a joint session on Jan. 6.” (New York Times)

  • Trump’s election power play: Persuade Republican legislators to do what U.S. voters did not. “Trump’s strategy for retaining power despite losing the U.S. election is focused increasingly on persuading Republican legislators to intervene on his behalf in battleground states Democrat Joe Biden won.” (Reuters)

  • Trump and his allies are taking increasingly frantic steps to subvert the results of the 2020 election. “Election law experts see it as the last, dying gasps of the Trump campaign and say Biden is certain to walk into the Oval Office come January. But there is great concern that Trump’s effort is doing real damage to public faith in the integrity of U.S. elections.” (Associated Press)

2/ Georgia certified the state’s general election results, then issued a correction to say certification is still on-going because a staffer “sent out the wrong press release,” and then officially certified the results. The certification ensured that Biden received the state’s 16 electoral votes. The certification followed a hand recount of the state’s five million votes that was requested by the Trump campaign. The recount found that Biden beat Trump by more than 12,000 votes. (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Bloomberg)

3/ The United States reported a record high of more than 185,000 new coronavirus cases, a record number of hospitalizations, and more than 2,000 deaths. Less than three weeks ago, the U.S. reported 100,000 daily coronavirus cases for the first time. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said, “This is faster, it is broader and, what worries me, is it could be longer.” Health experts and epidemiologists, meanwhile, added that the U.S. hasn’t seen the peak and that the worst is yet to come. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

4/ Pfizer asked the FDA for emergency use authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine after initial results showed the vaccine was safe and 95% effective. The process is expected to take a few weeks, and an advisory committee meeting to review the vaccine has been tentatively scheduled for early December. Emergency use authorization would allow limited groups of Americans to get the vaccines before the FDA has completed the typical approval process. (New York Times / Stat News / CNBC)

5/ The Trump Administration vaccine distribution team will not brief Biden’s transition team and has “no plans to do so.” Trump’s unwillingness to share plans with the incoming administration “risks President-elect Biden’s team not being ready on day one to implement the plan or make adjustments to it,” Senator Chris Murphy said. Biden, meanwhile, called Trump’s refusal to concede “incredible irresponsibility, an incredibly damaging message being sent to the rest of the world about how democracy functions.” (Reuters / NBC News / New York Times)

6/ Biden named four more officials to White House posts and Judge Merrick Garland is under consideration to serve as attorney general. Louisa Terrell was named director of White House Office of Legislative Affairs, Cathy Russell was named director of the White House Office of Presidential Personnel, Carlos Elizondo was named White House social secretary, and Mala Adig was named policy director for Jill Biden. Garland, meanwhile, joins former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, former civil rights chief Deval Patrick, and former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, among others, on Biden’s short list for attorney general. (USA Today / NPR)

7/ The Census Bureau won’t be able to produce the state population totals required to reallocate seats in the House of Representatives until after Trump leaves office in January. In July, Trump said he wanted to remove unauthorized immigrants from the count, which would leave an older and whiter population as the basis for divvying up House seats, shifting the number of House seats held by Republicans over the next decade. Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham cited “anomalies” discovered in processing that could delay the report past January 20, 2021. (New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

8/ Two separate New York State fraud investigations into Trump and his businesses have expanded to include about $26 million in consulting fee tax write-offs – some of which went to Ivanka Trump. The two inquiries — a criminal investigation by the Manhattan district attorney and a civil one by the state attorney general — are being conducted independently, but both offices issued subpoenas to the Trump Organization in recent weeks. On a 2017 disclosure Ivanka filed when joining the White House, she reported receiving payments from a consulting company she co-owned, which totaled $747,622 – exactly matching consulting fees claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization. Ivanka, meanwhile, called the investigations “harassment […] motivated by politics, publicity and rage.” (New York Times / Politico)

9/ The Supreme Court postponed a planned hearing into congressional efforts to see Robert Mueller’s secret grand jury material from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The House Judiciary Committee said the status of the case has changed because of the election, and that Biden and the new Congress should decided whether to pursue the grand jury material. (Washington Post)

Day 1400: "The American way."

1/ The CDC warned Americans against traveling for Thanksgiving, citing record rises in new coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. Despite the guidance, around 50 million Americans are expected to travel for the Thanksgiving holiday next week. Officials said they were alarmed to see more than 1 million new cases reported across the U.S. within the past week. Nearly 80,000 patients are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in the U.S. – another record. The CDC also projected that “newly reported COVID-19 deaths will likely increase over the next four weeks, with 7,300 to 16,000 new deaths likely to be reported in the week ending December 12, 2020.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, called the new guidelines and restrictions “Orwellian,” adding “that’s not the American way.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~56,076,000; deaths: ~1,347,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~11,486,000; deaths: ~251,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News / NPR / CNN / Wall Street Journal

  • The states that imposed fewer coronavirus-related restrictions now have the worst outbreaks. Outbreaks are comparatively smaller in states where efforts to contain the virus were stronger over the summer and fall. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s top medical adviser on the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Scott Atlas, has not attended White House task force meetings in person since late September. Atlas, however, has continued to spread misinformation about the worsening health crisis. (NBC News)

2/ More than 743,000 workers filed new unemployment claims – an increase of 31,000 from the previous week. An additional 320,000 claims were processed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the program for gig and self-employed workers. Roughly 20.3 million people are claiming some form of unemployment insurance. About 12 millions Americans are scheduled to lose their jobless benefits the day after Christmas unless Congress passes another relief bill. (Washington Post / New York Times / NPR / ABC News)

3/ After the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certified the presidential results, Trump called both of the Republican board members who now say they want to “rescind” their votes to certify the election in the Michigan county. After briefly trying to block the county from certifying its election results, Monica Palmer and William Hartmann later voted Tuesday to certify the results of the Nov. 3 election. But in a pair of affidavits signed late Wednesday night, Palmer and Hartmann allege that they were improperly pressured into certifying the election and accused Democrats of reneging on a promise to audit votes in Detroit. The two Republicans are now seeking to rescind their decision to certify their county’s results – a day after the deadline and roughly 24 hours after Trump had spoken with Palmer and Hartmann. Trump, meanwhile, invited Michigan’s Republican state legislators to meet with him at the White House on Friday. (Washington Post / ABC News / New York Times / Detroit Free Press / Axios / CNN / Washington Post / The Guardian)

4/ The Trump campaign dropped its federal election lawsuit in Michigan seeking to block certification of the results, falsely claiming that the Wayne County Board of Canvassers certification had declined to certify the results, which had already been certified in favor of Biden. Rudy Giuliani said the campaign decided to withdraw its lawsuit “as a direct result of achieving the result we sought: to stop the election in Wayne County from being prematurely certified before residents can be assured that every legal vote has been counted and every illegal vote has not been counted.” Michigan’s secretary of state, however, said the two board members can’t rescind their votes and that the next step is for the state to certify its results on Nov. 23. (CBS News / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico)

Day 1399: "We did it right."

1/ More than 3 million people in the United States – about 1% of the population – have active coronavirus infections and are potentially contagious, according to a team of infectious-disease experts tracking the pandemic. The estimate does not include an approximately equal number of latent infections – the people who were infected in recent days but can’t pass it on yet because it is still incubating. On Monday, at least 1,707 new COVID-19 deaths were reported – about one American every minute – and by Wednesday, the U.S. had recorded it’s 250,000 death with a record 76,000 people hospitalized with the coronavirus. The White House coronavirus task force, meanwhile, stated in it’s weekly report that there is “now aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread across the country, reaching most counties, without evidence of improvement but rather, further deterioration.” (Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / NBC News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is reportedly 95% effective with no serious side effects. The company said it planned to apply for emergency approval from the Food and Drug Administration “within days.” Pfizer said it could have up to 50 million doses available by the end of the year, but only about half of the supply will go to the United States this year – or enough for about 12.5 million people. Moderna said this week that an early analysis of its vaccine showed it was nearly 95% effective. (New York Times / Washington Post)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~56,076,000; deaths: ~1,347,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~11,486,000; deaths: ~251,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / CNBC

  • New York City’s entire public school system will close Thursday after the city reached a 3% test positivity rate over a seven-day rolling average. (New York Times)

  • The CDC deleted two documents it posted this summer to support Trump’s push to reopen schools this fall. The documents titled “The Importance of Reopening America’s Schools this Fall,” was issued two weeks after Trump complained about the agency’s guidance as “very tough and expensive” and threatened to withhold funding from schools that did not offer in-person classes. (New York Times)

  • The FDA authorized the first at-home coronavirus test. The test requires a prescription from a health care provider. The molecular single-use test and is expected to cost $50 or less. (New York Times / NPR)

  • Chuck Grassley tested positive for COVID-19. The 87-year-old is the oldest Republican currently serving in the Senate. (NBC News / USA Today / CNN)

3/ Trump fired the Department of Homeland Security director who repeatedly refuted Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud. Christopher Krebs, the nation’s top election security official, was fired after his agency, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, released a statement calling the 2020 election “the most secure in American history.” Trump – in two misleading tweets about the security of the election – said Krebs’ termination was “effective immediately.” The former director acknowledged Trump’s action in a tweet: “Honored to serve. We did it right. Defend Today, Secure Tomrorow.” Adam Schiff, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, called the move “pathetic and predictable from a president who views truth as his enemy.” (NPR / Associated Press / Washington Post /Axios / USA Today / The Guardian)

4/ The Trump campaign formally asked election authorities in Wisconsin to conduct a recount in two counties. In a statement, the campaign said it transferred $3 million to Wisconsin to cover the costs of recounting votes in Milwaukee and Dane counties. Biden received 577,455 votes in the two counties compared with 213,157 for Trump. Biden won the state by a little more than 20,000 votes. (NPR / Reuters / Associated Press)

5/ Election officials in Michigan’s largest county certified the presidential election results after Republican members of the board initially refused to certify the vote tallies. The four-member Wayne County Board of Canvassers had deadlocked on the day for Michigan counties to certify the vote – which Trump called “a beautiful thing” on Twitter. Hours later, however, the board — composed of two Republicans and two Democrats — reversed itself and unanimously agreed to certify the results and ask the secretary of state to conduct an independent audit. (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ A federal judge ordered the Trump administration to stop expelling immigrant children who cross the southern border alone before they could request asylum or other protections under federal law. The Trump administration has expelled at least 8,800 unaccompanied children since March. (NBC News)

7/ White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows “can’t guarantee” that lawmakers will reach a deal to avert a mid-December shutdown. Congress and the White House have until Dec. 11 to approve new spending legislation to prevent the federal government from shutting down. (Washington Post)

Day 1398: "Move on."

1/ The leaders of three major medical associations urged Trump to share “all critical information related to COVID-19” with the incoming Biden administration “as soon as possible” in order to “save countless lives.” The CEOs of the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Nurses Association urged the Trump administration to share “real-time data and information on the supply of therapeutics, testing supplies, personal protective equipment, ventilators, hospital bed capacity […] the capacity of the Strategic National Stockpile, the assets from Operation Warp Speed, and plans for dissemination of therapeutics and vaccines […] so that there is no lapse in our ability to care for patients.” Biden, meanwhile, noted that getting a coronavirus vaccine to more than 300 million Americans is a “huge, huge, huge undertaking” that would be further complicated by a continued delay in the presidential transition. Over the past 14 days, coronavirus cases have increased in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Guam. There has also been a 100% or more increase in confirmed cases over 14 days in Vermont, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Iowa, Ohio, Colorado, Michigan, Nebraska, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and New York. The seven-day average of new deaths in the U.S., meanwhile, eclipsed the Aug. 2 peak of 1,150. And, more than 73,000 people are currently hospitalized with COVID-19 as of Monday – a new record. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, called for the nation to adopt “a uniform approach” to the coronavirus pandemic, rather than the current “disjointed” state-by-state response. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rejected the Trump campaign’s claim that election observers were improperly denied access to watch ballot counting in Philadelphia. The court noted that state law mandates that observers be permitted to be “in the room” during ballot counting, but the law does not set a minimum distance between them and the counting tables. The 5-2 ruling by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court came as Rudy Giuliani appeared in federal court on behalf of the Trump campaign, claiming that Republican election observers weren’t allowed to get close enough to the vote counting tables in Philadelphia and Allegheny Counties. The loss in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court could harm the Trump campaign’s related legal effort in the federal court to block the state from certifying its election results in coming weeks. (CNBC / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

3/ Lindsey Graham proposed throwing out legally mailed ballots to Georgia’s top elections official in an effort to reverse Trump’s narrow loss in the state. According to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Graham questioned him about the state’s signature-matching law, whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with non-matching signatures, and if he had the power to throw out all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of non-matching signatures. Raffensperger said he took Graham’s comments as “an implication of look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.” Graham denied pressuring Raffensperger to throw away legal ballots, calling the allegation “ridiculous.” Graham, however, acknowledged that he also reached out officials in Arizona and Nevada – states Biden also won – in an attempt to learn how they validate signatures on mail-in ballots. (Washington Post / Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Biden told aides that he’s concerned that Trump investigations would consume his presidency and divide the nation. Biden, however, wants his Justice Department to function independently from the White House and said he would leave the decisions to investigate up to the DOJ. Biden reportedly “just wants to move on” from Trump. (NBC News)

5/ Biden announced his first nine campaign aides and longtime advisers who will join him in the White House in January, including five women and four people of color. In a statement, the transition team said Biden was committed to “to building an administration that looks like America.” (Associated Press / The Guardian / Politico / CBS News / NBC News / CNN / ABC News)

6/ Trump’s acting defense secretary announced that the U.S. military will halve the number of troops it has in Afghanistan within the next two months. The military will also cut a smaller number in Iraq. Christopher Miller announced the plan eight days after he took over for fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who had submitted a memo recommending that Afghanistan did not warrant reductions. (Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg)

7/ Trump asked his top national security aides what options were available to taking action against Iran’s main nuclear site in the coming weeks. The meeting occurred a day after international inspectors reported a significant increase in Iran’s stockpile of nuclear material. Seniors advisers reportedly warned Trump that a strike against Iran’s facilities could escalate into a broader conflict in the last weeks of his presidency. Officials left the meeting believing a missile attack inside Iran was off the table. Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabiei warned against an attack, saying “Any action against the Iranian nation would certainly face a crushing response.” Biden, meanwhile, has promised to rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran as long as Iran also comes back into compliance. (New York Times / The Guardian)

Day 1397: "More people may die."

1/ More than 1 in 400 Americans tested positive for the coronavirus last week. The United States surpassed 11 million reported cases Sunday – one week after hitting the 10 million mark – and the number of COVID-19 deaths now stands at more than 246,000. The seven-day average of new daily cases is more than 140,000, with 49 states trending upward. Meanwhile, governors and mayors are implementing new restrictions to slow the spread with Chicago issuing a new stay-at-home advisory, Philadelphia announcing strict new rules, New Mexico going into a two-week lockdown, North Dakota imposing a new mask mandate, New Jersey limiting gatherings, and California putting more than 94% of its population in its most restrictive reopening tier. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~54,786,000; deaths: ~1,323,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~11,173,000; deaths: ~248,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN

  • 40% of Americans are planning to participate in large gatherings of 10 or more people this holiday season despite concerns over the spread of COVID-19. (United Press International)

  • The Third Surge Is Breaking Healthcare Workers. “Hospitals have put their pandemic plans into action, adding more beds and creating makeshift COVID-19 wards. But in the hardest-hit areas, there are simply not enough doctors, nurses, and other specialists to staff those beds.” (The Atlantic)

2/ Trump has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in “at least five months.” Since Election Day, Trump has reportedly ceased to actively manage the pandemic, which has killed at least 244,000 Americans, infected at least 10.9 million, and slowed the country’s economy. Instead, Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed the election was rigged against him. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s coronavirus adviser called for Michiganders to “rise up” against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s new COVID-19 restrictions. After Whitmer announced Sunday a three-week pause on indoor dining, Dr. Scott Atlas tweeted: “The only way this stops is if people rise up. You get what you accept.” Whitmer denounced Atlas’ call to action, saying it is “incredibly reckless.” Dr. Anthony Fauci added that he “totally disagrees” with Atlas. (ABC News / Politico / New York Times)

4/ Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine candidates is 94.5% effective, according to the early findings from a 30,000-subject trial that is still under way. The news comes a week after a similar shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech said their candidate was more than 90% effective in an interim analysis. The two companies could have enough vaccine for about 25 to 30 million people in the U.S. in December, with the first doses going to the highest risk groups. Moderna’s vaccine was co-developed with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s institute. Trump, meanwhile, seeking to take credit for the vaccine news, tweeted: “For those great ‘historians’, please remember that these great discoveries, which will end the China Plague, all took place on my watch!” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Bloomberg / Politico / The Guardian)

5/ Biden called the vaccine news “really encouraging” but warned “more people may die” if the Trump administration doesn’t cooperate and start the transition process. “We are going into a very dark winter,” Biden said. “If we have to wait until January 20th to start that planning, it puts us behind, over a month and a half,” Biden continued. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, said it is “obvious” that the Trump administration’s refusal to begin the presidential transition is not good from a public health perspective and could stall the rollout of potential vaccines. “Of course it would be better if we could start working with” Biden’s team, adding that the “virus is not going to stop and call a time out while things change. The virus is just going to keep going. The process is just going to keep going.” (The Guardian / NPR / Politico / NBC News / Politico / Associated Press / CNN)

6/ Trump acknowledged that Biden won the presidential election, but then refused to concede. “He won because the Election was Rigged,” Trump tweeted, but an hour later added: “RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN!“ followed by “He only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!“ Trump also continued to blame his loss on debunked conspiracies theories about the 2020 election in a series of posts that Twitter flagged for their disputed information. (CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times)

7/ National security adviser Robert O’Brien promised a “professional transition” with the incoming Biden administration. “If the Biden-Harris ticket is determined to be the winner — and, obviously, things look that way now — we’ll have a very professional transition with the National Security Council, no doubt about it,” Trump’s national security adviser said. Trump, however, has refused to acknowledge the results of the Nov. 3 election, which he lost to Biden. He has falsely proclaimed several times on Twitter that “I WON THE ELECTION” or complained about the process. Twitter put a warning label on the tweets, noting that “official sources have called this election differently.” A growing number of top Republicans have urged Trump to start an orderly transition of power. (NPR / NBC News / Politico / New York Times)

  • The General Services Administration official blocking President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team from accessing government resources is looking for a new job. Emily Murphy, who is responsible for deciding when election results are clear enough to trigger a transition of power, recently sent that message to an associate asking about career opportunities in 2021. (ABC News)

8/ Sixteen federal prosectors assigned to monitor the 2020 election said they had not seen evidence of any substantial fraud. The assistant U.S. attorneys urged Attorney General William Barr to rescind his directive allowing investigators to pursue allegations of “vote tabulation irregularities” before results are certified, saying “the policy change was not based in fact.” (Washington Post)

  • The Trump campaign withdrew a central part of its lawsuit seeking to stop the certification of the election results in Pennsylvania. Trump’s attorneys, in revised version of the lawsuit, removed allegations that election officials violated the Trump campaign’s constitutional rights by limiting observers from watching votes being counted. Trump’s campaign initially wanted 682,479 mail-in and absentee ballots to be thrown out, claiming they were processed without its representatives able to watch. Trump, meanwhile, has put Rudy Giuliani in charge of his campaign lawsuits related to the election. (Associated Press / The Guardian / New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Lawsuits that tried to disrupt Biden’s wins in four states are withdrawn. (CNN)

9/ The Trump administration will auction off oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska before Biden takes office. The Federal Register posted a “call for nominations” from the Bureau of Land Management relating to lease sales in about 1.5 million acres of the refuge along the coast of the Arctic Ocean. In a reversal of decades of protections, Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress in 2017 authorized potential oil and gas development in the refuge. Biden has opposed drilling in the refuge and any sales would be subject to review by the Biden administration. (Washington Post / New York Times)

10/ Chad Wolf has not been serving lawfully as the acting secretary of Homeland Security and his suspension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is invalid, a federal judge ruled. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration wrongly tried to shut down DACA protections, but Wolf nonetheless suspended DACA on July 28. The Trump administration, meanwhile, has renewed its effort to get Wolf confirmed before Inauguration Day. (CNN / NBC News / Axios)

11/ Trump is expected to order the Pentagon to reduce troop levels to 2,500 in Afghanistan and 2,500 in Iraq before Trump leaves office on January 20. The Pentagon, however, has repeatedly warned that doing so could jeopardize lasting peace in the region. There are currently 4,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq. (CNN / ABC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

12/ Hate crimes in the U.S. rose to the highest level in more than a decade. The number of hate crime murders also hit a record high in 2019. White nationalist hate groups, meanwhile, rose by 55% between 2017 and 2019. (Associated Press / Axios)

Day 1394: "Trying to survive."

1/ The U.S. topped more than 153,000 coronavirus cases for the first time, hospitalizations hit another all-time high, and New Mexico and Oregon issued new lockdown orders. It’s the seventh time in nine days that the confirmed cases reached a new high. The death toll, meanwhile, surpassed 242,000. Biden’s coronavirus task force rejected the possibility of a national lockdown, but Biden did say he would ask governors to institute a mask mandate in their states. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

2/ More than 130 Secret Service officers are quarantining due to positive coronavirus tests or exposure stemming from Trump’s campaign rallies before Election Day. Roughly 10% of the agency’s core security team has been sidelined. At least 30 uniformed Secret Service officers tested positive and about 60 have been asked by the agency to quarantine. (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

3/ Trump’s efforts to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory suffered three major setbacks in Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. In Arizona, Trump’s campaign dropped a legal challenge of a number of ballots in Maricopa County, saying Biden’s overall lead in the state is too big for the disputed ballots to make a difference. In Michigan, a judge declined a request to block the certification of election results in Detroit. And in Pennsylvania, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said a recount and a re-canvass was not necessary because Biden leads the vote count by more than 53,500 votes – outside the margin that would permit a recount. The law firm leading the Trump campaign’s efforts to challenge the election results in Pennsylvania withdrew from a federal lawsuit that it had filed on behalf of the campaign. And, a top lawyer at Jones Day, told colleagues that the firm would not get involved in additional litigation in this election. Meanwhile, North Carolina was called for Trump by four networks, with ABC and CNN projecting a Biden win in Georgia. All 50 states’ presidential races have been called, leaving Trump with 232 electoral votes to Biden’s 306 electoral votes. (CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico / ABC News / CNN / CNN)

  • Trump–Biden Transition Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Guardian / ABC News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal

  • Trump’s campaign ended its “voter fraud” hotline after it was flooded with prank calls. While the campaign set up a conference room for hotline staff to take calls, sources said it was mostly spam or calls from people mocking the hotline. (CNN)

  • Obama called Republican lawmakers supporting Trump’s unfounded claims of voter fraud “disappointing,” adding “there’s damage to this.” (Politico / NBC News)

4/ The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency reported that the presidential election was “the most secure in American history,” rejecting Trump’s repeated baseless claims of voter fraud. The statement from state and federal election officials said they found “no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes or was in any way compromised,” and acknowledged the “many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections.” Hours earlier, Trump repeated a baseless report that a voting machine system “deleted 2.7 million Trump votes nationwide.” Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that Democrats have complained for years about unsafe elections but “Now they are saying what a wonderful job the Trump Administration did in making 2020 the most secure election ever.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / Associated Press / NPR / The Guardian / CNN / Axios)

5/ Trump continues to insist to aides that he beat Biden and has asked advisers whether he could pressure Republican legislatures to pick pro-Trump electors in key states to steal the electoral votes needed to change the math and give him a second term. People briefed on the conversation say it wasn’t a very serious conversation as “Trump has spent his days toggling between his White House residence and the Oval Office, watching television coverage about the final weeks of his presidency. His mood is often bleak, advisers say.” For much of the week, Trump has been “sequestered from public view, tweeting grievances, falsehoods and misinformation about the election results and about Fox News’s coverage of him.” A half-dozen advisers and people close to Trump have concluded that there is no grand strategy and “Trump is simply trying to survive from one news cycle to the next.” (New York Times / Washington Post)

6/ Trump will lose the constitutional protection from prosecution when he leaves the White House on January 20, making him vulnerable to a pending grand jury investigation by the Manhattan district attorney into the Trump Organization and his taxes. Trump is expected to pardon campaign associates and members of his family as he leaves office. The biggest looming pardon question, however, is whether Trump will grant himself a pardon, amid state investigations into his business and finances and the prospect of federal investigators scrutinizing him after he leaves office. Trump’s pardon power does not extend to state crimes and would not protect him or others from ongoing investigations into the Trump Organization being led by the New York attorney general and the Manhattan district attorney. (New York Times / CNN)

  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the Trump administration is operating “under the assumption there will be a second Trump term.” (Politico)

7/ The Trump administration is urging Mitch McConnell to confirm Chad Wolf as Homeland Security secretary before before Inauguration Day. Wolf has been serving in an acting capacity for a year and his appointment has been cast as invalid by the Government Accountability Office and in federal court. (CNN)

8/ The Trump administration plans to auction drilling rights in the U.S. Arctic National Wildlife Refuge before Biden’s inauguration. Biden, meanwhile, has pledged to permanently protect the refuge, saying drilling there would be a “big disaster.” (Bloomberg)

9/ Federal officials granted TikTok a 15-day extension to find an American buyer after the Trump administration failed to enforce its own deadline. Attorney General William Barr was responsible for enforcing Trump’s order. A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on why the Trump administration did not enforce the initial deadline. (NPR / Wall Street Journal)

Day 1393: "Very stressful."

1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci urged Americans to “double down” on precautions as the U.S. recorded more than 145,000 coronavirus cases Wednesday – yet another record. The nation’s top infectious disease expert said that while “help is on the way […] it isn’t here yet,” referring to the early results from the Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine candidate, which was more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 infections. The rise in infections comes with new highs in the number of deaths. The U.S. reported 1,549 deaths Wednesday – the highest since May 14. Fauci, meanwhile, added that working alongside the Trump administration has been “very stressful.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Corey Lewandowski tested positive for the coronavirus. The Trump campaign advisor, who has helped lead efforts to undermine Biden’s victory, was in Philadelphia for the news conference at Four Seasons Total Landscaping, alongside Rudy Giuliani and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Lewandowski also attended the election night party at the White House, where several other people later tested positive. (New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

  • White House political affairs director Brian Jack tested positive for coronavirus. Jack attended Trump’s election night party at the White House. (New York Times / CNN)

  • Republic National Committee chief of staff Richard Walters tested positive for coronavirus. Walters was not at the White House election night party. (NBC News)

3/ Biden formed a COVID-19 transition team to coordinate the coronavirus response across the government. While the team has not yet been formally announced – and is different from the coronavirus task force that Biden unveiled Monday – it consists of 52 transition officials across most federal agencies. Biden’s 13-member coronavirus task force will eventually be integrated into the COVID-19 transition team. (Politico)

4/ Several Senate Republicans warned that Trump’s continued refusal to concede and allow Biden to begin the transition jeopardizes national security. Senate Republicans have said that Biden should at least be given access to the President’s Daily Brief. Sen. James Lankford, who chairs a Homeland Security subcommittee, said he will intervene if the the General Services Administration doesn’t certify the election by Friday. Without sign-off from Trump, Biden cannot receive the intelligence briefings. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

5/ Biden named long-time aide Ron Klain as his White House chief of staff. In a statement, Biden called Klain an “invaluable” adviser, noting the work they did together during the economic crisis in 2009 and the Ebola outbreak in 2014. Klain has also been a senior adviser to Democratic presidents, vice presidents, candidates and senators. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

6/ The White House forced two senior Department of Homeland Security officials to resign. Bryan Ware, the Assistant Director for Cybersecurity for the DHS’ Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Valerie Boyd, DHS assistant secretary for international affairs, were both pressured to resign. (CNN / Reuters)

7/ The Trump administration notified Congress of its intent to sell $23 billion in weapons to the United Arab Emirates. While there have been bipartisan efforts in Congress to block potential arms sales to Persian Gulf states, the sale will go forward after 30 calendar days unless both houses of Congress pass a resolution of disapproval by a veto-proof majority. (CNN / New York Times / CNBC / Axios)

8/ Trump told friends that he wants to start a digital media company to “wreck” Fox News. The subscription-based streaming platform would be similar to Fox Nation and would leverage Trump’s database of email and cellphone contacts collected during his campaign to launch. (Axios / Bloomberg / CNN)

Day 1392: "Covid hell."

1/ U.S. COVID-19 hospitalizations reached an all-time high of 61,964, as new daily cases passed 139,000 for the first time. The previous record for hospitalizations was 59,780 on April 12. The U.S., meanwhile, recorded more than 1 million new coronavirus cases in the past 10 days and is averaging more than 111,000 new cases a day – a record. More than 1,440 new deaths were also reported, pushing the the seven-day average to more than 1,000 new deaths a day for the first time since August 19. Public health experts, meanwhile, warn that the U.S. is heading for a “dark winter,” a “Covid hell,” and the “darkest days of the pandemic” – aka the next few months of the coronavirus pandemic will be unlike anything the nation has seen yet. (New York Times / CNBC / The Guardian / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  • Two more people who attended Trump’s Election Night party at the White House have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, bringing the current tally of COVID-19 cases from the event to at least five. (CNBC)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~51,927,000; deaths: ~1,281,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~10,362,000; deaths: ~241,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / USA Today / CNBC

2/ Election officials in 45 states representing both political parties said there was no evidence of voter fraud or irregularities. State officials and secretaries of state in four of the five remaining states reported no major voting issues. Officials in Texas did not respond when asked whether they suspected or had evidence of illegal voting. (New York Times)

3/ A Pennsylvania postal worker admitted that he fabricated the allegations that a postmaster instructed postal workers to backdate ballots mailed after Election Day. Richard Hopkins told investigators from the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General that the allegations of widespread voting irregularities were not true, and he signed an affidavit recanting his claims. Hopkins’s claim was cited by Lindsey Graham in a letter to the Justice Department calling for a federal investigation. Attorney General William Barr subsequently authorized federal prosecutors to investigate credible allegations of voting irregularities and fraud before results are certified. The Trump campaign also cited Hopkins’s allegation in a federal lawsuit seeking to prevent Pennsylvania election officials from certifying the states’ results. (Washington Post)

  • Georgia will conduct a statewide hand recount of ballots cast in the election amid baseless accusations of election fraud from Republicans. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the hand recount, which will likely be both less accurate than a machine recount and more costly, “will help build confidence.” Meanwhile, Georgia’s Lieutenant Gov. Geoff Duncan, a Republican, said there have not been “any sort of substantial instances” of voter fraud in the state. (NPR / CNBC / CBS News / CNN)

  • The Trump campaign filed another lawsuit in Michigan challenging the election results over alleged irregularities, seeking to stop the state from certifying results that show Biden leading by about 146,000 votes. (Bloomberg)

4/ The Office of the Director of National Intelligence won’t provide Biden with intelligence reports until the General Services Administration recognizes that Biden won the election. GSA chief Emily Murphy has yet to sign the letter of “ascertainment,” which allows Biden’s transition team to begin the transfer of power. As a result, Biden is not receiving the President’s Daily Brief and it’s not clear whether any of his top advisers are getting access to any classified material at all. (NBC News / New York Times)

5/ Trump made his first public appearance in six days to visit Arlington National Cemetery for a ceremony commemorating Veterans Day. He did not speak at the event. Trump’s official schedule has been devoid of public events since Biden surpassed the 270 electoral votes. (Associated Press / CNN)

6/ Trump named three loyalists to top Pentagon jobs a day after firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper. James Anderson, who had been acting undersecretary for policy, resigned and was replaced by Anthony Tata, a retired Army one-star general and former Fox News commentator who failed to get through Senate confirmation earlier this year. Joseph Kernan, a retired Navy vice admiral, stepped down as undersecretary for intelligence, and was replaced by Ezra Cohen-Watnick, who becomes acting undersecretary for intelligence. Trump also named Christopher Miller as defense chief. (Associated Press)

poll/ 86% of Trump voters don’t think Biden legitimately won the election, but can’t provide any evidence to support the claim. (Washington Post)

Day 1391: "A smooth transition."

1/ Attorney General William Barr authorized federal prosecutors to investigate “substantial allegations” of voter fraud – if they exist – before the results of the election are certified, despite no evidence of widespread fraud. In a reversal of long-standing Justice Department policy, Barr wrote that investigations “may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.” In Barr’s directive, he said he had already approved probes related to the 2020 election “in specific instances,” but did not elaborate on the circumstances or whether they remained open. (New York Times / Associated Press / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania to block state officials from certifying President-elect Biden’s victory in the state. The lawsuit, brought by the campaign and two registered voters, alleged Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting system “lacked all of the hallmarks of transparency and verifiability that were present for in-person voters.” (Reuters / Bloomberg)

2/ The Justice Department’s top election crimes prosecutor resigned in protest after Barr authorized U.S. attorneys to probe alleged elections fraud. Richard Pilger told colleagues in an email that Barr’s memorandum breaks with the Justice Department’s policy on avoiding interference with elections that has stood for 40 years. A Justice Department official confirmed that the department is “looking into” allegations of ineligible voters in Nevada and mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania. (NPR / NBC News / CNN / Axios / The Guardian)

3/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo ignored Biden’s victory and claimed there will be a “smooth transition” to a second Trump term. “We must count every legal vote,” Pompeo said. “We must make sure that any vote that was not lawful ought not be counted, that dilutes your vote if it’s done improperly, gotta get that right. When we get it right, we’ll get it right.” When asked whether the State Department was prepared to engage with Biden’s transition team, Pompeo replied: “There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration.” (CNBC / Bloomberg / Axios / The Hill)

  • Trump installed Kash Patel as chief of staff to new acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ The White House budget office instructed federal agencies to proceed with plans for Trump’s February budget. “The decision to proceed with Trump’s budget for the 2022 fiscal year has rankled and surprised several career staffers given Biden’s victory, as well as the fact that the incoming Biden administration is expected to submit its budget plan to Congress early next year.” The White House budget proposal is typically issued in February, which would be at least two weeks after Trump leaves office. (Washington Post)

5/ The White House continues to vet political appointees for Trump’s nonexistent second term. The White House Presidential Personnel Office is in the process of vetting candidates for job openings in the federal government and the White House intends to fill early next year. (Daily Beast)

6/ The Biden-Harris transition team is considering legal action if the Trump administration doesn’t formalize Biden’s win and give him access to agencies and transition funding. The General Services Administration is tasked with “ascertaining” the results of the presidential election, but GSA Administrator Emily Murphy, a Trump appointee, has refused to sign the paperwork to begin the transition. Biden, meanwhile, called Trump’s refusal to concede the election an “embarrassment” that “will not help his legacy.” (CBS News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / ABC News / The Guardian)

  • Trump’s adviser leading his post-election challenge tested positive for the coronavirus. David Bossie joins Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who both contracted the virus in the past week. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

7/ The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for a monoclonal antibody therapy to treat mild to moderate coronavirus infections in adults and children. The single antibody treatment is similar to the therapy given to Trump after he contracted the coronavirus. Eli Lilly said that its treatment should be administered as soon as possible after a positive coronavirus test, and within 10 days of developing symptoms. (New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / Washington Post)

8/ Lawyers can’t find the parents for 666 migrant kids separated by the Trump administration – a higher number than the 545 previously reported. (NBC News)

9/ Trump removed the official in charge of the program that produces the federal government’s scientific report on climate change. Michael Kuperberg, a climate scientist who had been executive director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program since July 2015, had been expected to stay on through the production of the fifth edition of the congressionally mandated National Climate Assessment. The move comes days after the White House tapped Betsy Weatherhead to lead the climate study. (Politico / Washington Post)

poll/ 70% of Republicans do not believe the election “free and fair” despite no evidence of fraud. (The Guardian)

Day 1390: "A mask is not a political statement."

1/ More than 10 million people have been infected with the coronavirus in the United States, which is about one-fifth of the 50 million infections worldwide. At least 105,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported on Sunday, down slightly from the daily record set a day earlier. All but one state had more cases last week than the week before. (NPR / ABC News / USA Today / CNN / Bloomberg)

2/ Biden named 13 health experts to his Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board and declared the pandemic “one of the most important battles our administration will face.” Biden added: “I will be informed by science and by experts.” The panel will be co-chaired by the former FDA commissioner, former Surgeon General, and an associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at Yale. While Biden is unable to take control of the country’s response until after his Jan. 20 inauguration, the advisory board will work to create a plan for bringing the pandemic under control — a process Biden says will begin immediately after his inauguration – despite uncertainty over how much the Trump administration will cooperate. Biden also warned that the U.S. was facing a “dark winter” as the coronavirus continues to spread and appealed to Americans to wear mask, saying “a mask is not a political statement.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / Axios / NPR / NBC News / Bloomberg)

3/ Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine is reportedly more than 90% effective, according to an analysis by an independent data monitoring committee. Pfizer plans to ask the FDA for emergency authorization later this month, after it has collected two months of safety data. By the end of the year it will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 to 20 million people. Pfizer did not join Operation Warp Speed, the Jared Kushner initiative to rush a vaccine to market by providing funding for research and manufacturing. Instead, Pfizer invested $2 billion on the project and then made a $1.95 billion deal with the U.S. government to provide 100 million doses. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / STAT News / Politico / CNBC)

  • Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson tested positive for COVID-19, days after Chief of Staff Mark Meadows also tested positive. Meadows and Carson attended the White House’s largely mask-free election night party alongside a group of officials in Trump’s Cabinet. (Axios / Washington Post)

  • Rep. Matt Gaetz, a close Trump ally, tested positive for coronavirus antibodies on Election Day. In March, Gaetz wore a gas mask on the House floor during a vote on an emergency funding bill to fight the spread of COVID-19. (Politico / The Hill)

4/ Biden plans to sign a series of executive orders after being sworn into office on Jan. 20 to reverse Trump’s policies, including rejoining the Paris climate accord, reversing the country’s withdrawal from the World Health Organization, repealing the ban on travel from some Muslim-majority countries, and reinstating the program allowing “Dreamers” to remain in the country. (Washington Post)

5/ Trump and his campaign continue to baselessly claim widespread election fraud, alleging that observers were blocked from ballot-counting rooms. The claim is without any basis in fact and is contradicted by several of Trump’s own legal filings. (New York Times / Washington Post / Axios)

  • Trump plans to hold campaign-style rallies in an effort to fight against the election results. He also reportedly plans to display the obituaries of people who supposedly voted but are dead. (Axios)

6/ Mitch McConnell supported Trump’s refusal to concede the election, saying Trump was “100 percent within his rights” to challenge the outcome and “look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.” McConnell, declining to recognize Biden’s victory, added that Trump was right to not concede the presidential race because no states have certified their results yet. Jason Miller, a senior adviser to Trump’s reelection effort, said conceding “is not even in our vocabulary right now.” (New York Times / NBC News / Politico)

7/ A Trump administration appointee has refused to recognize Biden as the winner of the election and has declined to sign a letter allowing Biden’s transition team to formally begin its work. Emily Murphy, the administrator for the General Services Administration, must first affirm the election results in order for Biden’s transition to receive the legally mandated millions of dollars in federal funding, as well as access to government officials, office space in agencies, and equipment authorized for the transition team. Meanwhile, John Barsa, the acting deputy administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development told political appointees that the transition of power hasn’t started and will not begin until Murphy signs off. (Washington Post / CNBC / CNN)

8/ Trump fired Defense Secretary Mark Esper by tweet. Trump tweeted that Christopher Miller, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, would immediately become acting defense secretary now that “Esper has been terminated.” Trump nominated Esper last year as his fourth defense secretary and the two had been at odds since Esper declined to deploy active-service troops to U.S. cities at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. Two White House officials said that FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel could be next. (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / CNN / The Guardian / Reuters / USA Today)

9/ Trump told advisers he’s thinking about running for president again in 2024. (Axios)

Day 1388: A total loser.

1/ Biden defeated Trump to become the 46th president of the United States. The Associated Press and TV networks called Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes for Biden, putting him over the 270-vote threshold needed to win the Electoral College. Shortly after, Nevada was also called for Biden. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation,” Biden said in the statement. “It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.” Shortly before news organization called the race, Trump tweeted “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” Kamala Harris will become the nation’s first woman, first Asian American, and first Black vice president. Trump, meanwhile, is the first president since 1992 to fail to win a second term. Biden is expected to give his victory speech at 8 p.m. Saturday — a full five days after the last ballots were cast. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / NPR / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Los Angeles Times / USA Today / ABC News / NBC News / CNN)

2/ Moments after CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, AP, and Fox News called the presidential election for Biden, Trump refused to concede, falsely claimed that the election was “far from over,” accused Biden of “rushing to falsely pose as the winner,” and threatened legal action to contest the results in some states. “Beginning Monday, our campaign will start prosecuting our case in court to ensure election laws are fully upheld and the rightful winner is seated,” Trump said in a statement issued while he was golfing at his club in Virginia. The Trump campaign has already filed — and lost — multiple lawsuits alleging voting violations in several states. (Fox News / NPR / Associated Press / Politico / CNN / @brianstelter)

3/ The U.S. recorded more than 1,000 coronavirus deaths for the fourth straight day. The U.S. also set a daily record for new cases for the third straight day, with more than 132,700 new cases. At least 17 states reported single day records for new cases, and four states reported record deaths. (New York Times)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~49,625,000; deaths: ~1,248,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~9,788,000; deaths: ~237,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

4/ White House chief of staff Mark Meadows tested positive for the coronavirus. He didn’t issue a statement after testing positive for coronavirus this week and directed officials and advisers to not disclose his condition. At least five other people within Trump’s orbit tested positive for coronavirus in the days before and after Election Day, including top campaign aide Nick Trainer. (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

5/ Trump fired the leaders of the agencies responsible for the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, electricity and natural gas regulation, and overseas aid. The White House declined comment on the firings, and declined to say whether there would be more following the election. (NPR)

Day 1387: "I don't like losers."

Today in one sentence: Biden is on the verge of winning the presidency after taking the lead in the vote count in Pennsylvania and Georgia; Trump – citing no evidence – continued to question the integrity of the election and promised legal action; and the U.S. recorded at least 121,000 new coronavirus cases a day after hitting 100,000 for the first time since the pandemic began.


1/ Biden is on the verge of winning the presidency after taking the lead in the vote count in Pennsylvania and Georgia. While a recount is expected in Georgia due to the narrow margin, Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes alone would put Biden over the 270 threshold needed to win the presidency. In the past 50 years, few recounts have led to changes in the winners. In Nevada, Biden’s lead doubled to about 22,000 votes by Friday morning, while his lead in Arizona shrank to about 43,800 votes with more than 200,000 ballots left to be counted. Trump needs to win at least four of the five outstanding states — Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania – all of which are too close to call. Biden and Harris, meanwhile, are expected to address the nation in a primetime speech Friday evening. In July, Trump declined to say whether he would accept the results of the election if he lost, saying “I’m not a good loser. I don’t like to lose.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / NPR / USA Today / The Guardian / NBC News)

2/ Trump – citing no evidence – continued to question the integrity of the election and promised legal action, baselessly tweeting “I easily WIN the Presidency of the United States with LEGAL VOTES CAST. The OBSERVERS were not allowed, in any way, shape, or form, to do their job and therefore, votes accepted during this period must be determined to be ILLEGAL VOTES. U.S. Supreme Court should decide!” There’s no evidence of widespread illegal votes in any state and the 3:10 a.m. tweet by the president was labeled as “misleading” by Twitter. Trump’s tweet followed a Thursday evening public address, which turned into his most dishonest speech of his presidency. And, in a statement Friday morning, Trump said “this is no longer about any single election. This is about the integrity of our entire election process.” And, despite no evidence that Democrats have resisted counting legal ballots or throwing out illegal ballots, Trump also claimed “all legal ballots must be counted and all illegal ballots should not be counted, yet we have met resistance to this basic principle by Democrats at every turn.” Republicans, meanwhile, have pushed back against Trump’s false and baseless claims of election fraud. (NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

3/ Trump has not prepared a concession speech and has told allies that he has no intention of conceding the election. Trump and his aides, meanwhile, are prepared to act like he’s starting his second term early, potentially firing department heads like the FBI’s Chris Wray and Pentagon chief Mark Esper, and sign base-pleasing executive orders. (CNN / Politico / The Guardian / Axios)

4/ The U.S. recorded at least 121,000 new coronavirus cases – a day after hitting 100,000 for the first time since the pandemic began It’s the second week in a row of record-breaking growth. At least 20 states saw their highest daily counts, and the number of deaths exceeded 1,000 for the third consecutive day. New U.S. cases are up 55% from two weeks ago on average, and the U.S. is now averaging more than 94,000 cases a day – double where it was a month ago. And, 93% of U.S. counties with the highest number of new coronavirus cases per capita voted to reelect Trump.(New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / Associated Press)

5/ A federal judge ordered the Small Business Administration to disclose detailed information for all Paycheck Protection Program loans, including names, addresses, and loan amounts. The SBA had previously released only summarized and anonymized data for loans under $150,000. The agency denied Freedom of Information Act requests by news agencies to release details about pandemic-related loans that would disclose information on businesses that benefited from $717 billion in federally backed borrowings. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Twitter banned Steve Bannon after he called for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci and FBI Director Christopher Wray. His comments were made in a video posted to Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, which he called a “warning.” Bannon’s criminal defense lawyers, meanwhile, filed court papers seeking to withdraw from his case, where he is accused of 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. (CNN / NPR / The Guardian / CNBC)

Day 1386: "Democracy is sometimes messy."

Today in one sentence: There was no conclusion to the U.S. presidential election (so far); Biden currently leads in several undecided states but votes continue to be counted in Nevada, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Arizona; Biden remains six electoral votes away from 270; Trump’s campaign pushed officials in Arizona to ensure all ballots were counted but sued in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia to stop the counts; Biden urged Americans “to stay calm” and reiterated that “every vote must be counted,” while Trump, after a 14-hour Twitter silence, tweeted that states must “STOP THE COUNT!” and at a press conference later in the day repeated his false declaration that he won the election and falsely claimed that “they” are trying “to steal the election”; and, oh by the way, the U.S. reported more than 100,000 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time.


1/ Trump demanded that vote counting be stopped in states where he’s leading and demanded that the tallies continue where he’s losing. In a pair of all-caps tweets, Trump made multiple false claims about the remaining ballots left to be counted and contradicted his campaign’s own strategy. “STOP THE COUNT!” Trump tweeted, followed by “ANY VOTE THAT CAME IN AFTER ELECTION DAY WILL NOT BE COUNTED!” A number of states, including Pennsylvania, allow ballots to arrive for days after the election as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. Ballots often take longer to arrive from service members deployed overseas and election officials have pledged to count every valid vote.

2/ In Arizona, the Trump campaign sent a team to ensure that the remaining mail-in ballots are counted. Campaign manager Bill Stepien said the team believes the ballots will favor Trump and flip the state back to his column. The Associated Press and Fox News both called Arizona for Biden, who currently leads by about 60,000 votes. The state will release another round of counts around 9 p.m. Eastern.

3/ Trump’s campaign filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Georgia to stop counting or disqualify ballots, and said it would demand a “recount” in Wisconsin. A judge in Georgia, however, denied Trump’s effort to disqualify ballots that a Republican poll watcher claimed had arrived after the deadline on Election Day. In court, the poll watcher offered no evidence that the ballots had arrived late, and county election officials testified that they had arrived on time. In Michigan, a judge denied the Trump campaign’s request to stop the counting of votes, saying the request made little sense since counting had essentially finished and Biden was ahead by about 150,000 votes. Trump’s lead in Georgia, meanwhile, has slipped to about 3,600 votes with roughly 42,000 ballots left to be counted. In Pennsylvania, Trump’s lead dropped to under 65,000 and is expected to shrink as more ballots are counted. Pennsylvania Secretary of State said it was possible they’d know the state’s presidential winner tonight.

4/ In Nevada, the Trump campaign said it was filing a federal lawsuit seeking to block alleged “illegal votes” from thousands of people, including those who became non-residents during the coronavirus pandemic and “dead voters.” At a news conference at the Clark County elections department headquarters, former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt and other Trump campaign surrogates, including former administration official Richard Grenell, claimed without evidence that ballots belonging to deceased people had been counted, and that “thousands” of people had voted despite moving out of the county. When pressed for evidence of those alleged illegal ballots, Grenell refused to answer questions and chided reporters for asking questions, saying, “Listen you’re getting information […] do your job, it’s pretty easy.” Biden is currently leading Trump by about 11,438 votes with 190,000 ballots to be counted. About 90% are from Clark County.

5/ Trump – again – falsely declared victory and repeated his baseless claim that “if you count the legal votes, I easily win.” There is no evidence support the claims and Trump did not provide evidence. Nevertheless, Trump added: “If you count the illegal votes, they can try to steal the election from us.” Trump spoke for 17 minutes and did not take any questions. ABC, CBS, and MSNBC all stopped broadcasting Trump’s remarks.

6/ Biden, meanwhile, said he had “no doubt” his campaign had won the election, but urged Americans to “stay calm” while the remaining votes are counted. “Each ballot must be counted, and that’s what we’re going through now,” Biden said. “Democracy is sometimes messy. It sometimes requires a little patience as well.” He added: “Stay calm. The process is working. The count is being completed. And we’ll know very soon.”

Sources: ABC News / Bloomberg / The Guardian / NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / New York Times / Reuters / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Financial Times / CNN

7/ More than 150,000 ballots were not processed and delivered on Election Day by the U.S. Postal Service. The number of mailed ballots not delivered by Election Day is expected to grow as more data is released in the coming days. (Washington Post)

8/ An international delegation monitoring the U.S. election said there is no evidence to support Trump’s allegations of mail-in voter fraud. Michael Georg Link, a German lawmaker who heads an observer mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said “we couldn’t see any violations” and that he was “very surprised” by Trump’s claims about fraud. Wisconsin election officials, meanwhile, rejected the Trump campaign’s unsubstantiated claims that there were irregularities in the voting process, reassuring voters that there are “no dark corners or locked doors in elections” and the state’s voting process was transparent. The Biden campaign characterized the Trump campaign’s call for a recount in Wisconsin as “pathetic” and “fruitless attempts,” pointing out that when Trump won Wisconsin by fewer than 23,000 votes in 2016, he called the victory a “landslide.” (Associated Press /ABC News / NPR)

  • The Office of Special Counsel opened an investigation into allegations that the Trump campaign’s use of the White House as an Election Day command center violated the Hatch Act. Rep. Bill Pascrell, who filed the complaint, said the Special Counsel’s office said that it “was not consulted [by the Trump campaign or White House] on the decision to use space inside the Eisenhower Executive Office Building as a campaign ‘war room,’” and that “[o]ur Hatch Act Unit has opened an investigation into these allegations to determine if the Hatch Act was violated.” (Reuters / InsiderNJ)

9/ The Justice Department told federal prosecutors that the law allowed them to send armed federal officers to polling locations to investigate potential voter fraud. While a law prohibits stationing armed federal officers at polls on Election Day, the department interpreted the statute to mean that they could send armed federal officers to locations where ballots were being counted anytime after that. The memo sent early Wednesday as the polls closed. (New York Times / USA Today)

10/ The control of the Senate hinges on Georgia, where at least one – and possibly both – of the state’s Senate races will go to a January runoff. Under Georgia law, if no candidate gets more than 50%, the two top vote-getters compete in a runoff to be held on Jan. 5, 2021. Incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue was at 49.98% with about 47,000 ballots still to be count. If that holds, he would face off against Democrat Jon Ossoff. Meanwhile, Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler is already headed to a runoff against Democrat Raphael Warnock. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

11/ The United States reported 102,831 new coronavirus cases in a single day for the first time, breaking the previous record set last week. Over the past seven days, the U.S. averaged about 85,000 new cases per day – a 20% increase from the week before – and 23 states have recorded more cases in the past week than in any other seven-day stretch. COVID-19 hospitalizations, meanwhile, reached all-time highs in 16 states and at least 1,097 deaths were reported Wednesday. (New York Times / NBC News / Axios / The Atlantic / CNN / NPR / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press /


✏️ Notables.

  1. Defense Secretary Mark Esper has prepared a letter of resignation. (NBC News)

  2. An apartment management company owned in part by Jared Kushner submitted hundreds of eviction filings in court against tenants with past due rent during the pandemic. Westminster Management has been sending letters to tenants threatening legal fees and then filing eviction notices in court despite both a state and federal moratorium on evictions. (Washington Post)

Day 1385: "Every vote must be counted."

Today in one sentence: Biden holds a 253 to 213 Electoral College advantage over Trump after narrowly winning both Wisconsin and Michigan; the Trump campaign, however, said it would request a recount; Biden holds a lead in Arizona and Nevada, while Trump is up in Alaska, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Georgia; Democrats are still projected to win the House but in the Senate, Democrats have only gained one seat, with five races yet to be called; Biden is currently winning the popular vote by nearly 3 million; and Trump falsely claimed he won the presidential election and vowed to take legal action to stop “all voting.”


1/ With millions of votes yet to be counted, Trump falsely asserted there was election fraud, demanded that “all voting must stop,” threatened to have the Supreme Court intervene in the election process, and declared himself the winner of the election, which will take days – if not weeks – to resolve. In a 2:30 a.m. address from the White House and surrounded by about 150 mask-less guests, Trump peddled multiple baseless claims that the normal process of counting ballots – which has been slowed by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic – is an “embarrassment” and a “fraud on the American public.” Trump also claimed victory in several states where millions of mail-in ballots are still being counted, describing the situation as a “major fraud in our nation,” and without offering any explanation, said “we’ll be going to the U.S. Supreme Court. We want all voting to stop.” Voting did stop when polls closed Tuesday night, but in several states counting of mail-in ballots couldn’t begin until Election Day, which are expected to take several days to complete. And, earlier in the night, Trump baselessly tweeted that “We are up BIG, but they are trying to STEAL the Election. We will never let them do it. Votes cannot be cast after the Polls are closed.” Twitter flagged the tweet as disputed and possibly misleading. There is no evidence to support any of Trump’s claims. On Wednesday, Biden said it was “clear” that he would reach 270 electoral votes and win the presidency, but stopped short of claiming victory. “Here, the people rule,” Biden said. “Power can’t be taken or asserted. It flows from the people. And it’s their will that determines who will be the president of the United States, and their will alone,” adding: “every vote must be counted. No one’s going to take our democracy away from us. Not now, not ever.” (The Guardian / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / BuzzFeed News)

2/ Biden narrowly won both Wisconsin and Michigan. The Trump campaign, meanwhile, vowed to “immediately” request a recount in Wisconsin, which can be done if the margin of victory is within 1%. According to the current count, Biden leads by less than 21,000 votes or roughly 0.6 percentage points. Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien said in a statement that Trump “is well within the threshold to request a recount” in Wisconsin, and that the campaign planned to “immediately do so.” Trump’s campaign also filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania and Michigan to halt ballot counting, arguing that they were not given “meaningful access” to monitor the opening of ballots and the counting process. The Trump campaign also is seeking to intervene in a Pennsylvania case at the Supreme Court that deals with whether ballots received up to three days after the election can be counted. (NPR / Politico / CNN / The Guardian / Associated Press / NBC News / CNBC)

3/ Senate control rests on five uncalled races. Democratic prospects of taking control of the Senate were diminished after Republican incumbents, including Joni Ernst in Iowa, Steve Daines in Montana, and Susan Collins in Maine, all fended off challengers. Republicans hold a 53-47 advantage in the Senate and Democrats need to flip four seats to take the majority if Trump is re-elected – or three if Biden wins. Democrats have gained one seat. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / Axios)

4/ The U.S. Postal Service failed to comply with a federal judge’s order to sweep 12 postal processing facilities that cover 15 states for undelivered mail-in ballots on Election Day. Earlier Tuesday, Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the Postal Service to search facilities after the agency said that some 300,000 ballots it had received had not been scanned for delivery. The judge gave USPS until 3 p.m. to complete the sweeps, but the agency rebuffed the order, saying it would stick to its own schedule. Nearly 7% of ballots in USPS sorting facilities on Tuesday were not processed on time for submission to election officials. On Wednesday, Sullivan threatened to call Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to appear before him, saying “I’m not pleased about this 11th-hour development last night. Someone may have a price to pay for that.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

5/ The United States formally left the Paris climate agreement, a global pact forged five years ago to avert catastrophic climate change. The Trump formally notified the United Nations a year ago that the U.S. would withdraw from the agreement. Nearly 200 nations remain committed to the 2015 agreement, which aims to keep the increase in average temperatures worldwide “well below” 2 degrees Celsius. (Associated Press / NBC News / Scientific American / Axios)

Day 1384: "Fired up, ready to go."


1/ More than 100 million Americans voted early with more than 27 million mail-in ballots still outstanding – about 73% of the 137.5 million total ballots cast in the 2016 election, and more than double the 47 million early votes. The U.S. is on track to set a record turnout and surpass 150 million voters overall, which would mark the highest turnout of eligible voters by percentage in a presidential election since 1908. Several states have already recorded more votes than they did during the 2016 election – Texas, Washington, Montana, and Hawaii – and several battleground states – Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina – are nearing their 2016 totals. (New York Times / USA Today / Bloomberg)

2/ A federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to sweep processing facilities in multiple battleground states for any remaining mail-in ballots and to rush delivery. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan gave USPS inspectors until 3 p.m. EST “to ensure that no ballots have been held up and that any identified ballots are immediately sent out for delivery.” (Axios / Reuters / Los Angeles Times)

3/ Trump clarified that he will declare victory on election night “when there is victory, if there is victory” saying “there’s no reason to play games.” The comment comes after Trump had told confidants he would declare victory prematurely if it looked like he was ahead. Biden, meanwhile, said he plans to address the nation as its new leader if news organizations declare him the mathematical president-elect – even if Trump continues to fight in court. (NPR / Axios)

  • Trump readies lawyers for election battle. “The legal battle could center on Pennsylvania, a crucial swing state where Trump has promised to mount challenges after the U.S. Supreme Court last month left in place an extension that would allow the state to count ballots received as many as three days after the Nov. 3 election.” (Bloomberg)

  • Here are the voting lawsuits that could lead to post-election fights over ballots. “At least a dozen major cases related to voting rules are still pending in key states, including Texas, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Minnesota and Nevada.” (Washington Post)

4/ The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley told news anchors that the U.S. military would have no role in a peaceful transfer of power. (Axios)

5/ The FBI is investigating robocalls and texts urging people to stay home on Election Day. Voters have received an estimated 10 million automated, spam calls in recent days telling them to “stay safe and stay home.” (Washington Post / Reuters)

6/ Trump’s top campaign strategist has been paid tens of thousands of dollars a month through a third-party campaign vendor founded by Steve Bannon, which is currently part of a federal fraud and money laundering investigation. Jason Miller appears to have been paid as recently as July by Citizens of the American Republic, and appears to have also taken monthly payments from a firm co-founded by two Trump officials — one of them being Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien. Campaign finance experts say the arrangement is illegal. (Salon)

7/ Deutsche Bank is looking for ways to end its relationship with Trump after the election. Trump owes the bank about $340 million across three loans which will start coming due in two years. (Reuters)

8/ Dr. Deborah Birx warned top Trump administration officials in a private memo that the coronavirus pandemic is entering “the most concerning and most deadly phase” that requires “much more aggressive action.” In the memo, Dr. Birx suggested that Trump and his advisers were spending too much time focusing on preventing lockdowns and not enough time on controlling the virus, saying “This is not about lockdowns — it hasn’t been about lockdowns since March or April. It’s about an aggressive balanced approach that is not being implemented.” Meanwhile, former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said the U.S. will likely see COVID-19 deaths “well above 1,000” per day for a “sustained period of time.” (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

Day 1383: "A whole lot of hurt."

1/ Trump told associates he intends to declare premature victory on Election Night in order to cast doubt on the integrity of the election and undermine the validity of uncounted mail-in ballots in the days after. Many states, however, won’t be done counting mail ballots by Tuesday night and it’s common for some states to take several days to finalize vote counts. Trump, nevertheless, told confidants he’ll declare victory on election night if it looks like he’s “ahead.” Speaking to reporters later, Trump first denied that he would declare victory prematurely, before confirming that he would try to shut down tabulating votes after polls close. “I think it’s a terrible thing when ballots can be collected after an election […] when states are allowed to tabulate ballots for a long period of time after the election is over […] that we can’t know the results of an election the night of the election. As soon as that election’s over, we’re going in with our lawyers.” (Axios / CNN / The Guardian / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  • 🗳 Dept. of Vote, damn it.

  • ℹ️ Voter Guides: FiveThirtyEight / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal

  • ⛅️ Presidential Election Forecasts: The Economist / FiveThirtyEight / New York Times

  • 🖥 Daily Election Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / FiveThirtyEight / NBC News / The Guardian / CNN / CNBC / ABC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal

  • 😱 Election Day Guides: FiveThirtyEight / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times

  • 💬 WTF Community Election Discussion

  • ⚡️ We Have Never Had Final Results on Election Day. “The scenario Mr. Trump is outlining — every vote in a modern election being “counted, tabulated, finished” by midnight — is not possible and never has been. No state ever reports final results on election night, and no state is legally expected to.” (New York Times)

  • The Texas Supreme Court rejected a Republican effort to invalidate 127,000 ballots that had already been cast in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston and is largely Democratic. (Texas Tribune / New York Times / Axios / CNN)

  • A Nevada judge rejected a Republican lawsuit seeking to halt early vote counting in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. The campaign and the Nevada Republican Party alleged that Clark County refused to allow full observation of the ballot-counting process as required under state law. (Bloomberg / CNN)

  • U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the U.S. Postal Service to follow its “extraordinary measures” policy and use its Express Mail Network to expedite ballots. USPS agreed with the judge’s order that the postal service must reinforce its “special procedures” to ensure it “delivers every ballot possible by the cutoff time on Election Day.” (Reuters)

  • Federal authorities are expected to build a “non-scalable” fence around the entire perimeter of the White House. (CNN)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the U.S. should prepare “for a whole lot of hurt” this winter from the coronavirus pandemic, saying “it’s not a good situation” and “you could not possibly be positioned more poorly.” Fauci said the country needs to make an “abrupt change” in its public health practices, because “all the stars are aligned in the wrong place as you go into the fall and winter season, with people congregating at home indoors.” Fauci also praised the Biden campaign’s approach to the coronavirus, saying it was “taking it seriously from a public health perspective,” while Trump is “looking at it from a different perspective,” which he said was “the economy and reopening the country.” The White House, meanwhile, said it was “unacceptable and breaking with all norms for Dr. Fauci […] to choose three days before an election to play politics.” Trump, however, has continued to tour the country insisting that the U.S. has “turned the corner” on the coronavirus even as the nation set a new daily record Friday with more than 98,000 cases. (Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian / New York Times)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~46,835,000; deaths: ~1,204,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~9,269,000; deaths: ~232,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 COVID-19 Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / CNBC / Wall Street Journal

  • The U.S. set a world record for coronavirus cases in 24 hours, with more than 100,000 new infections recorded. The daily caseload surpassed the 97,894 cases reported by India on a single day in September. (The Guardian / New York Times)

  • A new study from Stanford University estimates that 18 of Trump’s campaign rallies resulted in 30,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 700 deaths. A separate investigation of 17 Trump campaign rallies found that 82% of host counties had an increased rate of new COVID-19 cases one month after the rally. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • America’s economy faces severe new strains in the two months between Tuesday’s election and January. “Millions of Americans are also at risk of having their power and water shut off with unpaid utility bills coming due, while protections for renters, student borrowers and jobless Americans will expire by the end of the year absent federal action.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • A House subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis called the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic in a report “an American fiasco” that’s “among the worst failures of leadership in American history.” (NBC News)

  • The Strategic National Stockpile is running low on medical gloves amid soaring demand across the country and is “woefully behind.” The Department of Health and Human Services’ goal is to have 4.5 billion gloves on hand. The stockpile, however, has 2 million. (NBC News)

3/ Trump threatened to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci after Election Day. While Trump was complaining about news media coverage of COVID-19 a campaign rally in South Florida, the crowd broke out into a “Fire Fauci” chant. “Don’t tell anybody, but let me wait till a little bit after the election,” Trump said, adding he appreciated their “advice.” At a campaign stop in Cleveland, Ohio, Biden weighed in: “I got a better idea. Elect me, and I’m gonna hire Dr. Fauci. And we’re gonna fire Donald Trump.” (The Guardian / Associated Press / NBC News / New York Times / Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post / ABC News)

  • Trump baselessly claimed that doctors are lying about the number of Americans who’ve died from COVID-19 for monetary gain. There is no evidence for Trump’s claim. “Our doctors get more money if someone dies from Covid. You know that, right? I mean our doctors are very smart people. So what they do is they say ‘I’m sorry but everybody dies of Covid,’” Trump said, without citing any evidence, at a rally in Michigan. (CNN / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump approved of his supporters surrounding a Biden campaign bus and attempting to run it off the highway in Texas, tweeting a video of the caravan boxing in the campaign bus with the caption, “I LOVE TEXAS!” The FBI said it was investigating the incident. Trump defended the Texas drivers, tweeting “In my opinion, these patriots did nothing wrong. Instead, the FBI & Justice should be investigating the terrorists, anarchists, and agitators of ANTIFA, who run around burning down our Democrat run cities and hurting our people!” Trump revisited the story hours later, falsely claiming that an FBI investigation was “FALSE” and tweeting that his supporters “did nothing wrong.” Trump again said the FBI should be investigating “ANTIFA” instead. The Biden campaign canceled at least one event in Texas following the episode. Meanwhile in New York and New Jersey, a caravan of Trump supporters halted traffic on two major highways. (New York Times / Texas Tribune / NPR / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian)

Day 1380: "Shock and awe."


1/ The U.S. set another pandemic record with 90,456 new COVID-19 cases reported in a single day – hours after the U.S. logged its 9 millionth coronavirus case. The country has reported more than 540,000 new coronavirus cases in the past week – the most for any seven-day period since July. Cases are on the rise in every swing state before Election Day and 14 states recorded all-time highs in new cases this week – the most of the pandemic. Trump, meanwhile, has continued to baselessly claim that “we are rounding the turn” on the pandemic. Pence, who chairs the White House’s coronavirus task force, hasn’t attended his own COVID-19 planning calls with all 50 governors in over a month. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~45,374,000; deaths: ~1,186,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~9,916,000; deaths: ~230,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

  • The CDC will allow cruise ships to sail in U.S. waters starting Sunday. (USA Today)

  • Mitch McConnell expects to take up a new coronavirus stimulus package in 2021 – “right at the beginning of the year,” with legislation “targeted particularly at small businesses that are struggling and hospitals that are now dealing with a second wave of the coronavirus.” (CNBC)

  • The Dow closed out its worst week and month since March. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump Jr. falsely claimed that COVID-19 deaths have dwindled to “almost nothing” the same day that at least 1,000 Americans died from the coronavirus. Trump Jr. also called the medical experts, who have been warning about a surge in cases, “truly morons.” Trump, meanwhile, tweeted misinformation that deaths are “WAY DOWN” in the U.S., claiming that mass testing has exaggerated the numbers of infections, and that hospitals are doing fine. (NBC News / The Guardian)

3/ The Department of Health and Human Services has withheld COVID-19 data from the public about which hospitals in which communities are reaching capacity. The documents show that hospitals report detailed information to HHS every day, which is reviewed and analyzed daily, but not widely circulated. A few dozen HHS staffers and its agencies, including the CDC and National Institutes of Health, receive the documents as part of a distribution list. Only one member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Adm. Brett Giroir, appears to receive the documents directly. (NPR)

4/ Government scientists and physicians are attempting to push back against Trump’s political agenda on the coronavirus. The FDA issued stricter safety standards for a vaccine in September, the CDC reversed guidelines that had called for less testing for individuals exposed to the coronavirus who showed no symptoms, and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, has taken her message directly to state and local officials, urging them to adopt mask mandates and restrict large gatherings. And, Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Adm. Brett Giroir has given interviews warning that the country’s coronavirus situation is “tenuous,” but that it can control the virus by practicing what he calls the “3W’s” — watching your distance from others, wearing a mask, and washing your (damn!) hands. (Washington Post / Associated Press / CNN)

  • The White House’s coronavirus testing czar disputed Trump’s assertion that cases are surging because of increased testing, saying “It’s not just a function of testing […] we know that too because hospitalizations are going up.” (CNN)

5/ Trump canceled his campaign’s election night party at the Trump International Hotel, because gatherings of more than 50 people in Washington are prohibited by the city. Trump will instead spend the evening at the White House. The Trump campaign had sent out multiple fundraising solicitations to supporters for a party at Trump’s hotel. Meanwhile at a rally in Phoenix, Trump claimed the polls that show him trailing Biden are “fake,” saying “The biggest problem we have is if they cheat with the ballots. That’s my biggest problem. That’s my only thing — that’s the only thing I worry about.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News)

  • More than 9 million people have voted early in Texas, surpassing the state’s total 2016 turnout. (New York Times)

  • The on-time rate for ballots in 17 postal districts representing 10 battleground states and 151 electoral votes was 89.1% — 5.9 percentage points lower than the national average. (Washington Post)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Stephen Miller plans to revise Trump’s restrictive immigration agenda if he wins re-election next week. Miller outlined his four major priorities: limiting asylum, punishing “sanctuary cities,” expanding the so-called travel ban, and limiting work visas. The objective, Miller said, is “raising and enhancing the standard for entry” to the United States and that the executive orders are ready to be signed in “shock and awe” style if Trump is re-elected. (NBC News / The Guardian)

  2. Border Patrol official have been expelling migrant children from other countries to Mexico. More than 200 children from countries such as Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador have been sent without an adult into Mexico, where they have no family. (New York Times)

  3. Wilbur Ross remained on the board of a Chinese joint venture until January 2019 – nearly two years into his term as commerce secretary. The U.S.-China trade war started in the summer of 2018. (Foreign Policy)

  4. Trump ordered the Pentagon to draw down U.S. troops in Afghanistan to about 2,500 in early 2021. National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien told the Aspen Institute he could “guarantee” that the planned drawdown is “the order of the commander in chief” and that Defense Secretary Mark Esper is aware and on board with the plan. (NBC News)

  5. The Trump administration stripped gray wolves of their Endangered Species Act protections in the Lower 48 states. State wildlife agencies will assume control of managing an estimated 6,000 wolves – up from 1,000 when gray wolves were listed as endangered starting in 1967 – but their population is still so depleted that thousands of acres of historical wolf habitat remain uninhabited by any wolves. (Washington Post)

Day 1379: "Defeat despair and inspire hope."


1/ The U.S. economy is about 3.5% smaller than it was before the pandemic. While the economy grew 7.4% during July, August, and September from the previous quarter, GDP shrank 1.2% in the first three months of the year, and 9% in the second quarter. At an annual rate, GDP grew by 33.1% in the third quarter as businesses reopened and people increased their shopping. (NPR / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ The Supreme Court allowed extended deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In the Pennsylvania case, the court left in place a lower court ruling allowing ballots to be counted until 5pm on Nov. 6, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day. The court also declined to block lower court rulings that allowed six extra days for accepting ballots sent by mail in North Carolina. Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in either case, saying she did not have time to review the briefs. (NBC News / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press)

  • Facing Gap in Pennsylvania, Trump Camp Tries to Make Voting Harder. “Trailing in the polls, President Trump and his campaign are pursuing a three-pronged strategy that would effectively suppress the mail-in vote in the critical state of Pennsylvania.” (New York Times)

3/ States lack federal funding needed to prepare sites to receive and distribute a coronavirus vaccine whenever the FDA authorizes one. While a vaccine is unlikely to be approved until later this year, the CDC ordered states to have five sites ready by Nov. 15 that are capable of receiving and administering a vaccine that must be stored at minus-94 Fahrenheit. States have received $200 million from the CDC to do planning, but are asking Congress for at least $8 billion for coronavirus vaccination operations. (Washington Post)

  • Shortly after joining the White House as Trump’s pandemic adviser, Dr. Scott Atlas encouraged officials to limit COVID-19 testing mainly to people experiencing symptoms. The push to de-emphasize tests coincided with a drop in testing across Florida at the end of July and early August. By early September, the seven-day average in daily tests dropped by nearly half. (CNN)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~44,855,000; deaths: ~1,179,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~8,923,000; deaths: ~229,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

4/ The Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $250 million advertising contract to “defeat despair and inspire hope” amid the coronavirus pandemic weeks before the election. Trump political appointees and the contractors hired, however, vetted celebrities for the ad campaign based on whether they had ever criticized Trump, or supported Obama, gay rights or same-sex marriage. Of at least 274 celebrities under consideration, 10 appear were approved. (Washington Post / Politico)

5/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his wife, and his son repeatedly emailed State Department officials about personal matters. Emails show that Susan Pompeo routinely gave instructions to State Department officials from her personal email address about travel plans, restaurant reservations, and maintenance requests for the house the Pompeos rent, including repairs to the HVAC system, the porch, and the stairs. Nick Pompeo, meanwhile, emailed State Department officials about including the software company he worked for in an upcoming “data hackathon” event. Both Congress and the State Department’s inspector general have been investigating Pompeo and his wife for potential misuse of government resources. (NBC News)

Day 1378: "Bad position."


1/ The United States reported another record-high average number of new coronavirus cases, bringing the seven-day average to about 71,832 – an increase of more than 20% compared to the previous week and an increase of about 40% from two weeks earlier. Over the last month, the number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 climbed an estimated 46% and 29 states have set new records for new daily cases since the pandemic began. The U.S. reported a record of more than 500,000 new cases over the past week. One top health official warned that the country is at a “critical point.” (CNBC / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg)

  • Germany and France imposed new lockdowns as the rapid spread of the coronavirus overwhelms health services. French President Emmanuel Macron imposed a new nationwide lockdown, which will start on Friday. German Chancellor Angela Merkel imposed a one-month partial shutdown starting Monday. (Bloomberg / Reuters / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • The S&P 500 fell 3.5% – the biggest drop since June – the Dow dropped 3.4%, and the Nasdaq slid 3.7%. The selloff comes amid a surge in new coronavirus cases and another stimulus package not expected to be passed before the election. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that he was “saving suburbia” at a rally in Michigan and promised suburban women voters he’s “getting your kids back to school” and “getting your husbands – they want to get back to work. We’re getting your husbands back to work.” (CNBC / Bloomberg / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the U.S. is in a “bad position” as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations surge and that it could be 2022 “before we start having some semblances of normality.” Even though he’s “very certain” there will have a coronavirus vaccine “in the next few months,” Dr. Fauci said it would “easily” take until “the end of 2021” before “we have vaccinated a substantial proportion of the people” to allow for people return to crowded theaters, sporting events, and restaurants. Dr. Fauci also predicted that masks will be “very commonplace” following pandemic. Trump, meanwhile, argued that media coverage of COVID-19 should be “an election law violation,” tweeting that “COVID, COVID, COVID is being used by [the media], in total coordination, in order to change our great early election numbers.” (CNN / CNBC / Philadelphia Inquirer / Talking Points Memo / Yahoo News)

3/ Jared Kushner bragged in mid-April that Trump had cut out the doctors and scientists advising him on the coronavirus pandemic. In an interview with Bob Woodward, Kushner boasted that Trump had taken “the country back from the doctors” and that the country was at the “beginning of the comeback phase.” Since Kushner’s April 18 interview, about 181,000 people in the U.S. have died from COVID-19. (CNN)

4/ Trump had more than $270 million in debt forgiven since 2010 after he defaulted on his loans for a Chicago skyscraper development. After the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Chicago encountered financial problems, banks and hedge funds cut Trump granted him years of additional time to repay his debts, much of which was ultimately forgiven. Since 2010, Trump’s lenders have forgiven about $287 million in debt that he failed to repay. Trump, meanwhile, defended his failure to repay lenders, tweeting: “I was able to make an appropriately great deal with the numerous lenders on a large and very beautiful tower. Doesn’t that make me a smart guy rather than a bad guy?” (New York Times / CNN)

5/ The Trump campaign stranded hundreds of supporters in the freezing cold for hours after a rally at an airfield in Omaha. For several hours, hundreds and hundreds of people who attended the rally were stranded on dark, remote stretch of road near the airport waiting for buses that didn’t arrive, which were unable to reach the site because of a clogged two-lane road. The Trump campaign said it provided enough buses, “but local road closures and resulting congestion caused delays.” At least 30 people needed medical assistance. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ Trump will open up more than half of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and development. The decision to open up one of the biggest intact temperate rainforests reverses protections Clinton put in place in 2001 and represents one of the most sweeping public lands rollbacks Trump has enacted. (Washington Post)

7/ Former Homeland Security chief of staff Miles Taylor revealed himself to be Anonymous, the author of a 2018 New York Times op-ed that declared there was a “resistance” within the administration. In the op-ed, Taylor, who at the time was chief of staff to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, described Trump as “impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective.” Taylor was also the anonymous author of “A Warning,” a book describing Trump as an “undisciplined” and “amoral” leader whose abuse of power threatened the foundations of American democracy. Taylor resigned from the Department of Homeland Security in June 2019. (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Politico / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 594: A senior Trump administration official published an anonymous essay in the New York Times claiming cabinet members discussed removing Trump from office early in his presidency “given the instability many witnessed.” The official criticized Trump’s “amorality” and reckless decision-making, saying “there is a quiet resistance within the administration of people choosing to put country first” and that “Americans should know that there are adults in the room” who “fully recognize what is happening. And we are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t.” (New York Times / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 594 Trump called the unsigned op-ed a “disgrace” and “gutless.” Trump attacked the New York Times for publishing an essay by an unnamed administration official who claims the president’s advisers deliberately try to block Trump’s misguided impulses. The anonymous official wrote that Trump’s “impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.” At a White House event, Trump brought up the op-ed, saying “This is what we have to deal with” and that “they don’t like Donald Trump and I don’t like them.” He later demanded that “the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!” (CNN / Associated Press / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1022: A forthcoming book by an anonymous senior Trump administration claims that high-level White House aides were certain that Mike Pence would support using the 25th Amendment to have Trump removed from office. The author of “A Warning” – the same official behind the 2018 op-ed that declared there was a “resistance” within the administration – claimed that White House officials put together a list of Cabinet secretaries who were open to the idea of removing Trump because of mental incapacity and that “there was no doubt in the minds of these senior officials that Pence would support invoking the 25th Amendment if the majority of the Cabinet signed off on it.” Pence, meanwhile, said he never heard about any discussion of using the 25th amendment in the White House. (HuffPost / Politico)

Day 1377: "Decisive actions."


1/ The Senate confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Justice Clarence Thomas administered the constitutional oath to Barrett, with Trump and several Republican senators. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. administered the judicial oath in a private ceremony at the court Tuesday. The Senate voted 52-48 to confirm Barrett – about a week before Election Day and 30 days after she was nominated by Trump to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (NPR / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ The White House’s science office ranked “ending the COVID-19 pandemic” atop the list of Trump’s top first-term accomplishments despite infections spreading across the U.S. at the fastest rate since the start of the pandemic. The U.S. has averaged 71,000 new cases per day over the past week – the most in any seven-day stretch since the crisis started. The Office of Science and Technology Policy, however, credited the administration for taking “decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease.” COVID-19 hospitalizations have risen at least 10% in the past week in 32 states. (Politico / NBC News / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • Minnesota reported three COVID-19 outbreaks related to Trump campaign events held in September. (CNN)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~43,823,000; deaths: ~1,165,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~8,767,000; deaths: ~227,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

3/ The U.S. Postal Service argued that delivery delays during an election can’t be unlawful because the Constitution doesn’t guarantee states a level of service when it comes to mail-in ballots. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and Trump are seeking dismissal of a lawsuit brought by states that claim disruptive changes at the USPS over the summer violated the Elections Clause of the Constitution by putting election mail at risk. Separately, the Supreme Court ruled that mail-in ballots in Wisconsin could be counted only if they are received by Election Day. (Bloomberg / CNN / Politico)

4/ A federal judge ruled that the Justice Department can’t represent Trump in a defamation lawsuit because he wasn’t acting in his official capacity as president when he denied raping the writer E. Jean Carroll. Last month, the Justice Department intervened on Trump’s behalf in the suit, asking to move the case to federal court and to substitute the U.S. government as the defendant. The department argued that Trump was “acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States” when he disputed Carroll’s allegations. (NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

5/ The Trump administration recently removed the chief scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Last month, the administration removed the agency’s acting chief scientist, Craig McLean, replacing him with Ryan Maue, a former researcher for the libertarian Cato Institute who has criticized climate scientists for what he has called unnecessarily dire predictions. A former White House policy adviser was also appointed NOAA’s chief of staff. (New York Times)

6/ Trump is considering issuing an executive order to show support for fracking. The proposed order would direct government agencies to analyze fracking’s impact on the economy and trade, as well as the consequences if fracking was banned. (Wall Street Journal)

7/ The Trump Organization has billed taxpayers at least $2.5 million in charges stemming from Trump’s more than 280 visits to his own properties since taking office. In addition, Trump’s campaign and fundraising committee paid $5.6 million to his companies since his inauguration in January 2017. (Washington Post / Washington Post)

Day 1376: "Covid, Covid. Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid."


1/ The U.S. hit an all-time high in new coronavirus cases two days in a row as the death toll surpassed 225,000. More than 85,000 cases were reported on Friday – the first time above 80,000 cases – breaking the previous single-day record set the day before by about 8,000 cases. The previous high of 75,723 was set July 29. On Saturday, six states reported their highest-ever infection totals and more than 78,000 new cases were reported nationwide. The number of daily deaths nationally has past 1,000 in recent days while hospitalizations have risen 40% in the past month. The average number of new coronavirus cases reported daily over the past week reached an all-time high of 68,767, and since Oct. 5, the seven-day average of new cases has exceeded the 14-day average. Former FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb warned that the nation is “at the cusp of what is going to be exponential spread in parts of the country.” Trump, meanwhile, falsely claimed – again – that coronavirus numbers are up because of an increase in testing. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / The Guardian)

2/ “We’re not going to control the pandemic,” Trump’s chief of staff said while defending the White House response to the coronavirus. Mark Meadows also dismissed the notion that the appropriate COVID-19 policy should be to “quarantine all of America” and argued that the focus should be on developing “vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigation areas.” Biden, meanwhile, called Meadows’ statement “an acknowledgment of what President Trump’s strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away. It hasn’t, and it won’t.” Dr. Anthony Fauci added that “the universal wearing of masks” is essential to curbing the spread and “if the situation continues to deteriorate regarding numbers of cases, hospitalizations and likely deaths while many people still refuse to wear masks, we should seriously consider mask mandates.” Hours earlier at a rally in North Carolina, Trump complained about “Covid, Covid. Covid, Covid, Covid, Covid” and blamed the media for covering the virus. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / CNN / Axios / The Guardian / Associated Press / NBC News)

  • U.S. markets fell sharply, posting the worst day since early September as investors struggle with uncertainty about economic stimulus negotiations and soaring coronavirus cases around the country. (CNBC / Bloomberg / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • Americans should brace for 100,000 new COVID-19 cases a day, Dr. William Haseltine, an internationally renowned infectious disease expert, said. (Daily Beast)

  • Health secretary Alex Azar has discussed seeking White House permission to remove FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, frustrated by standards for authorizing a coronavirus vaccine. (Politico)

  • A top Trump administration official wanted Santa Claus performers to promote the benefits of a COVID-19 vaccination and, in exchange, offered them early vaccine access ahead of the general public. The $250 million federally funded effort has been scrapped. (Wall Street Journal)

3/ Trump has not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in months and is not expected to do so before the election. (NBC News)

4/ At least five of Pence’s aides, including his chief of staff and his senior political adviser, tested positive for COVID-19. Chief of staff Marc Short, aide Zach Bauer, outside adviser Marty Obst, and two other people in Pence’s office all tested positive for the coronavirus. Mike and Karen Pence both tested negative. The CDC’s guidelines for essential workers who have had close contact with an infected person include wearing a mask for 14 days “at all times while in the workplace.” Pence, however, did not quarantine and did not wear a mask at an outdoor rally on Sunday. (NBC News / New York Times / NPR / Washington Post / CNN / Axios / CNBC)

  • COVID-19 cases surged in counties after at least five Trump rallies. (USA Today)

5/ The Senate is expected to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court this evening. The final vote is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. ET — 30 days after Trump announced he was nominating Barrett. After saying on Saturday that he wouldn’t want to “miss that vote for the world,” Pence is not expected to preside over the Barrett’s confirmation after several aides recently tested positive for the coronavirus, unless his vote is somehow necessary to approve her. The White House also plans to host a swearing-in celebration for Barrett after the vote in the Rose Garden. About a dozen people who attended Barrett’s Sept. 26 Rose Garden nomination later tested positive for the coronavirus, including Trump, Melania, and three senators. The Rose Garden announcement was considered a “super spreader event.” To setup the vote, Republicans held a rare weekend session without the support of a single Democrat. (Bloomberg / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump privately told donors that it will be “very tough” for Republicans to keep control of the Senate because I don’t want to help some” of the party’s candidates. Trump reportedly mentioned “a couple” of senators he couldn’t get involved with. It was unclear who those senators were. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  2. Jared Kushner said Black American’s are “complaining” about inequality and racism in the country, and suggested that Black Americans don’t “want” success enough. (NBC News / Bloomberg)

  3. Trump reportedly plans to immediately fire FBI Director Christopher Wray, CIA Director Gina Haspel, and Defense Secretary Mark Esper if he wins re-election. (Axios)

  4. The Trump-appointed head of an advisory council on the civil service resigned over Trump’s executive order to strip away protections against political interference in hiring and firing for career federal workers. Ronald Sanders served in federal personnel positions across four decades. (Washington Post)

  5. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act when he gave a speech to the Republican National Convention on a taxpayer funded trip to Jerusalem on August 25. (CNN / Axios)

  6. Trump is averaging more than 50 false or misleading claims a day. During his first year as president, Trump averaged six claims a day. (Washington Post)

Day 1373: "A dark winter."


1/ The United States coronavirus cases set new a daily record, topping more than 82,600 cases and breaking the July 16 single-day record. The current surge is already more widespread than the waves this summer and spring. COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased in 38 states over the past week and continue to rise so quickly that some hospitals in the West and Midwest are already running out of hospital beds. A new study forecast that more than 511,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 by February – that’s more than all the lives lost by the U.S. in World War II. Biden warned that America was headed for a “dark winter” with no COVID-19 vaccine expected to be available for most of people until the middle of next year. Trump, meanwhile, declared that the U.S. is “rounding the corner” and that the pandemic “will soon be gone.” [Editor’s note: Please continue to watch your distance, wear your mask, and wash your damn hands.]. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Washington Post / CNBC / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~42,071,000; deaths: ~1,142,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~8,480,000; deaths: ~224,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

  • The World Health Organization warned that some countries are on “a dangerous track” with hospitals beginning to reach capacity. (CNBC)

  • Still no coronavirus stimulus deal. The nearly $2 trillion package under discussion between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin faces resistance in the GOP-controlled Senate. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • The FDA approved remdesivir as a treatment for the coronavirus – the first and only fully FDA-approved drug in the U.S. for treating the coronavirus. In May, the FDA granted the antiviral drug for emergency use authorization, allowing doctors to use it on patients hospitalized with COVID-19 even though the medication had not been formally approved. (CNBC / Axios)

2/ Trump almost took responsibility for his administration’s failure on COVID-19 during the second and final debate, saying “I take full responsibility,” followed immediately by “It’s not my fault that it came here.” The coronavirus has killed more than 220,000 people in the United States. At one point during the debate, Trump said Americans were “learning to live with it.” To which Biden replied: “We’re learning to die with it.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian / CNN / Axios)

3/ The Trump administration pressured the CDC to support the use of hotels to hold migrant children before deporting them. A federal judge halted the practice last month, saying the Trump administration had failed to provide a public health reason for keeping minors in hotel rooms, instead of the licensed shelters overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services. CDC officials, however, have declined to affirm the declaration from the HHS that detaining migrant children in hotels is the best way to protect them from the coronavirus. Trump campaign’s communications director, meanwhile, asserted that the reason 545 migrant children have not been reunited with their families – who were separated by the administration – is that “the parents do not want the children returned. During the debate, Trump suggested that the separated children were in facilities that “were so clean” and were well “taken care of.” Biden, however, called the policy of separating families and the inability to track down the parents of the children “criminal.” (Washington Post / Politico / BuzzFeed News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump faces payment deadlines for more than $400 million in loans in the next four years on his Chicago hotel, his D.C. hotel, and his Doral resort. (Washington Post)

  2. A federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to restore high-speed mail sorting machines at facilities that cannot process First Class election mail efficiently because of the coronavirus pandemic. (The Hill)

  3. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s former company was awarded a $5 million contract last month with the United States Postal Service. (CBS News)

  4. Sudan and Israel agreed to normalize relations, according to a joint statement released by the White House. (Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg)

  5. A member of the “Boogaloo Bois” was arrested and charged with opening fire on Minneapolis Police Third Precinct with an AK-47-style gun and screaming “Justice for Floyd” as he ran away during the protests following the May 25 killing of George Floyd. The boogaloo bois are an unorganized, far-right, anti-government, and extremist movement. (The Star Tribune)

  6. White supremacists and far-right extremists are responsible for 67% of domestic terror attacks and plots this year – at least half of that violence targeting protesters. (The Guardian)

Day 1372: "Out of whack."


1/ Another 787,000 workers filed new unemployment claims last week – the lowest levels since March but still above above pre-pandemic levels. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

2/ Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a 12-0 vote. Democrats boycotted the proceeding in protest of what they viewed as an illegitimate confirmation process. A full Senate vote is expected Monday – a month to the day after Trump announced her nomination to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • Biden promised to name a bipartisan commission to propose an overhaul of the Supreme Court and federal judiciary, saying the current system is “getting out of whack.” (Washington Post)

3/ Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe accused Iran of sending fake, but menacing emails to voters, and warned that both Iran and Russia had obtained American voter data. While most of that voter registration was already public, Ratcliffe said government officials “have already seen Iran sending spoofed emails designed to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump.” Ratcliffe was referring to emails sent to Democratic voters, purportedly from pro-Trump far-right groups, including the Proud Boys. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Reuters)

4/ U.S. intelligence officials are reportedly more concerned with Russian cyberattacks than the fake, threatening emails Iran sent to U.S. voters. Russia’s hackers have targeted a wide swath of American government networks, including those involved with the election, and appear to be preparing to sow chaos amid any uncertainty around election results. While intelligence officials didn’t say what Russia planned to do, they did say Russian groups could use their knowledge of the systems to deface websites, release nonpublic information, sow chaos and exacerbate disputes around the results. (New York Times / NPR)

5/ Trump has repeatedly discussed firing FBI Director Christopher Wray after the election with his advisers, frustrated that Wray won’t announce an investigation into Joe and Hunter Biden. Trump wants a similar announcement to the one made by then-FBI Director James Comey 11 days before the 2016 presidential election. (Washington Post)

6/ Trump posted an unedited 38-minute video of his “60 Minutes” interview that he abruptly walked out of, claiming the video revealed “bias, hatred and rudeness” on correspondent Lesley Stahl part. The footage, however, showed Stahl asking firm questions and repeatedly challenging Trump’s assertions that the coronavirus pandemic is nearing its end, why he doesn’t encourage people to wear masks, and how he would protect people with preexisting conditions if the Supreme Court strikes down the Affordable Care Act. In a second video posted of Stahl’s sit-down with Pence, she asks what just happened. “Trump is a man who speaks his mind,” Pence replied. In the interview, Stahl challenges Pence for offering campaign talking points in response to her questions. “This was not a rally. This was not just a campaign speech to the public. This was supposed to be an interview, and the same with the president,” she told Pence. “And I feel that you both have insulted ‘60 Minutes’ and me by not answering any of our questions and by giving set campaign speeches that we’ve heard both of you give at rallies and not answering our questions.” CBS News, meanwhile, accused the White House of violating an agreement it had with the network ahead of its Sunday air date. (NBC News / Politico / CNN / Axios / CBS News)

7/ Seattle, Portland, and New York City are suing the Trump administration over Trump’s threats to withhold federal funds from so-called “anarchist jurisdictions.” The cities argue that the administration’s actions violates Congress’ power to dictate how federal funds are spent, and states and localities’ authority to police and provide public safety as they see fit. (Seattle Times / Politico / CNN)

8/ Trump issued an executive order making it easier to hire and fire civil servants who work on policy. The order would shift employees from “competitive service” — which covers most of the 2.1 million executive branch employees — into the “excepted service,” which generally applies to political appointees. (Washington Post)

poll/ 56% of voters believe Trump does not deserve to be reelected, while 43% say he does. (Gallup)

Day 1371: "A distressing trend."


1/ The CDC said it’s seeing a “distressing trend” in the United States’ coronavirus outbreak as COVID-19 cases grow “in all parts of the country.” The U.S. is reporting roughly 60,000 new COVID-19 cases daily – up nearly 17% compared with a week ago. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 have also hit the highest point since Aug. 22 with 37 states reporting increased hospitalizations, including 21 states that have recently reported new records or are approaching previous highs. (Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ The CDC expanded its definition of a “close contact” to a person who has been within 6 feet of an infected person for at least 15 minutes or more over a 24-hour period. That includes multiple, brief encounters of one or two minutes at a time. The CDC had previously defined a close contact as someone who spent at least 15 consecutive minutes within six feet of a confirmed coronavirus case. (Washington Post / NBC News)

3/ The White House is considering millions of dollars in cuts for coronavirus relief, HIV treatment, and other health programs in cities that Trump has deemed “anarchist jurisdictions.” In September, Trump ordered federal agencies to reduce funding to jurisdictions that “disempower” police departments and promote “lawlessness.” The Department of Health and Human Services has identified federal grants for nearly 200 health programs that serve the poorest and sickest residents in New York, Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C., and Seattle. (Politico)

4/ Trump abruptly ended an interview with “60 Minutes” host Lesley Stahl and then threatened to post their interview before it broadcasts Sunday night. Trump, calling the interview “FAKE and BIASED,” tweeted a behind-the-scenes clip of a maskless Stahl speaking to two mask-wearing producers and wrote, “Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me. Much more to come.” Trump spent more than 45 minutes filming with Stahl before cutting off the interview. He didn’t return for an appearance he was supposed to tape with Pence. Trump reportedly ended the interview “because he was frustrated with Stahl’s line of questioning, one source said. Another person said the bulk of the interview was focused on coronavirus.” (New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / Politico / CNN)

5/ The Trump administration lost track of the parents for 545 migrant children who were separated at the U.S. border. About two-thirds of parents were deported to Central America without their children. Roughly 60 children were under the age of 5 when they were separated. (NBC News / New York Times)

6/ Trump maintains a bank account in China and has paid $188,561 in taxes while pursuing licensing deals from 2013 to 2015. Trump has repeatedly accused Biden of being “weak on China,” describing Biden family as “selling out our country” to China. Meanwhile, Trump paid $750 in U.S. taxes in 2016 and 2017. (New York Times / The Guardian)

7/ Despite more than 50 former senior intelligence officials saying that the Hunter Biden story “has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation,” Trump directed Attorney General William Barr to “act fast” and appoint a special prosecutor before election day. Rudy Giuliani obtained a laptop hard drive belonging to Hunter Biden that was purportedly left at a repair shop in Delaware. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, meanwhile, told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt downplayed the need for a special counsel to independently investigate the emails between Hunter and a foreign businessmen while Joe Biden was vice president. (The Guardian / Politico / The Hill)

  • 📌 Some background bits on the Giuliani x Hunter Biden misinformation campaign

  • 🤨 Rudy Giuliani was caught on camera putting his hand down his pants and moving it around in front of a 24-year-old actress pretending to be a television reporter. Giuliani and a fictional young female reporter, who was part of a Sacha Baron Cohen prank for the soon-to-be-released movie sequel to “Borat,” are seen going into a hotel bedroom for drinks — at the woman’s invitation — after conducting an interview about Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. In July, Giuliani called the NYPD on Baron Cohen after the comedian bursts into the bedroom in his Borat persona, shouting: “She’s 15. She’s too old for you!” Giuliani, however, didn’t mention to police the compromised position he was in when Borat came into the room. The film, “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan,” will be released Friday on Amazon Prime Video. (The Guardian / NBC News / Daily Beast / The Hill)

8/ Trump’s re-election campaign committee ended September with $63.1 million in the bank, while Biden reported $177.3 million for the final stretch of the campaign. Biden and Democratic allies are on pace to spent $142 million on TV ads in the closing days of the campaign, while Trump’s campaign has been canceling ad buys in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio. Trump’s campaign and committees with the Republican National Committee have raised $1.5 billion since the start of 2019. (Associated Press / New York Times)

  • [Of note] Trump called the 2016 $10 million cash infusion a loan, but his campaign called it a donation. “Who paid it back, and how? Trump boasted about self-funding his 2016 campaign, but in its tense final moments, his advisers could only get him to agree to a loan. ‘It was like a cash advance.’” (BuzzFeed News)

Day 1370: "Open discussion."


1/ Mitch McConnell warned the White House not to strike a coronavirus relief deal before Election Day, suggesting that a vote on a stimulus package could interfere with the Senate’s timetable for confirming Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court by early next week. Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she was “optimistic” a deal could be reached with the Trump administration in the coming days after the White House increased its offer to nearly $1.9 trillion – short of the $2.2 trillion legislation House Democrats passed earlier this month. McConnell, however, told reporters that if a deal were reached and passed by the House with Trump’s support, he would put it on the Senate floor “at some point.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / Bloomberg)

2/ The coronavirus has caused about 299,000 more deaths in the U.S. than would be expected in a typical year – two-thirds of them from COVID-19 and the rest from other causes. COVID-19 will likely be the third-leading cause of mortality in the United States this year, behind heart disease and cancer. (Washington Post)

3/ The CDC issued new guidelines that all passengers and workers on planes, trains, buses, and other public transportation wear masks to control the spread of the coronavirus. The recommendations fall short of the CDC’s previously drafted order under the agency’s quarantine powers that would have required masks on all forms of public transportation, which transportation industry leaders and unions had wanted. The order was blocked by the White House. (Washington Post)

  • Melania Trump was scheduled to attend her first campaign appearance in more than a year, but canceled due to a “lingering cough” as she continues to recover from COVID-19. (NBC News / CNN)

4/ The Supreme Court allowed Pennsylvania to count mail-in ballots that arrive up to three days after Election Day, refusing a Republican request to stop a pandemic-related procedure approved by the state’s highest court. The court tied 4-4, leaving the lower court ruling in place and signaling how it could deal with similar election-related litigation in other states. (Politico / Axios / NBC News / CNN / Washington Post)

  • More than 34 million Americans have already voted with two weeks until Election Day – 24.5% of the more than 136 million total ballots cast in the 2016 election. (CNBC / Washington Post)

5/ The Commission on Presidential Debates will mute the microphones of both Trump and Biden, allowing each candidate to have two minutes of uninterrupted time at the beginning of each 15-minute segment during Thursday night’s debate. After two minutes, the mics will then be on for interruptions, which the commission called “open discussion.” The 90-minute debate is divided into six 15-minute segments. (USA Today / NPR / Axios / CBS News / New York Times)

6/ The Justice Department argued that Trump’s denial of a rape allegation was an official presidential act and he should not be sued personally because he “addressed matters relating to his fitness for office as part of an official White House response to press inquiries.” E. Jean Carroll sued Trump for defamation after he denied sexually assaulting her in the 1990s. On Sept. 8, however, the Justice Department and Attorney General William Barr intervened on Trump’s behalf to transfer the lawsuit from state court to a Federal District Court, substituting the federal government for Trump as the defendant. (New York Times)

7/ Trump told White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that he didn’t mean it literally when he tweeted he had “fully authorized the total Declassification” of documents related to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton’s emails. “The president indicated to me that his statements on Twitter were not self-executing declassification orders and do not require the declassification or release of any particular documents,” Meadows said in a sworn court statement. The statement comes after a judge asked why the Trump tweets appeared to be in direct opposition to the White House’s position not to declassify the Russia records. (CNN / NBC News / Axios)

poll/ 49% of North Carolina likely voters support Biden, while 48% favor Trump – within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. (ABC News)

poll/ 51% of Americans support Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, while 46% of adults do not want Barrett to be seated, and 3% do not have an opinion of her nomination. The Senate will vote to confirm Barrett on Monday, Oct. 26. (Gallup)

Day 1369: "An absence of national leadership."


1/ Health experts say the fall surge is here with COVID-19 hospitalizations increasing by 5% or more in 37 states. The U.S. is averaging more than 55,000 new cases a day, 10 states reported their highest single-day case counts on Friday, and only two states – Hawaii and Vermont – are showing downward trends by at least 10% compared to the previous week. (CNN / CNBC / CNN)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi set a 48-hour deadline for the Trump administration to reach a coronavirus stimulus deal before the Nov. 3 election. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, meanwhile, said it’s “too early to tell” whether enough Republicans in the Senate would support the $1.8 trillion package that Trump has backed. (CNBC / Bloomberg / NBC News)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~40,270,000; deaths: ~1,117,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~8,202,000; deaths: ~221,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

2/ Trump attacked Dr. Anthony Fauci as a “disaster,” called his other public health officials “idiots,” and claimed that “people are tired of coronavirus.” In a call with campaign staff, Trump suggested that “People are tired of hearing Fauci and these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong.” Trump described Fauci as a “disaster,” adding that “every time he goes on television, there’s always a bomb. But there’s a bigger bomb if you fire him.” Trump’s comments came a day after Fauci said is was “absolutely not” surprised that Trump contracted COVID-19 after seeing him on TV in a “completely precarious situation” with “almost nobody wearing a mask.” More than 8,121,000 coronavirus cases and 219,000 fatalities have been reported in the U.S. since February. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Axios / The Guardian / CNBC / Washington Post / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNN / CBS News)

  • More than 1,000 current and former CDC officers criticized the “absence of national leadership on COVID-19,” saying the nation’s response to the pandemic has been “unprecedented and dangerous.” (Wall Street Journal)

  • Twitter removed a tweet from Dr. Scott Atlas – one of Trump’s top COVID-19 advisers – for falsely claiming that masks don’t help prevent the spread of coronavirus. (NBC News)

  • Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer accused Trump of inciting “domestic terrorism” against public officials working to contain the coronavirus a day after Trump encouraged rally-goers who were chanting “lock her up.” Earlier this month, 13 men were arrested and charged in an alleged attempt to kidnap Whitmer. Trump senior campaign adviser Lara Trump defended Trump’s rhetoric, claiming that he was “having fun at a Trump rally.” Meanwhile, a 59-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of threatening to kidnap and kill Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple over frustrations with the city’s mask ordinance. (NBC News / Axios / Wichita Eagle)

3/ The Health and Human Services department’s general counsel warned that Trump’s plan to give seniors $200 discount cards to buy prescription drugs could violate election law. Robert Charrow said in a memo that the timing and design of the $7.9 billion plan could invite legal challenges over inappropriately using federal funds so close to the election. Trump administration officials have instructed Charrow and his office to seek approval from the Department of Justice before moving forward with the drug-discount plan. (Politico)

  • The Government Accountability Office will investigate whether the Trump administration interfered with the coronavirus response at the CDC and FDA. The GAO will “review whether the CDC and FDA’s scientific integrity and communications policies have been violated and whether those policies are being implemented as intended to assure scientific integrity.” (Politico)

4/ A federal judge blocked the Trump administration’s plan to strip food stamps from nearly 700,000 jobless Americans, calling it “arbitrary and capricious.” The Agriculture Department had been “icily silent” about how many Americans would have been denied Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits had the changes been in effect during the pandemic, Chief Judge Beryl Howell said. (CNN / Axios)

5/ Trump’s campaign accused the Commission on Presidential Debates of “pro-Biden antics” and demanded changes to the format of Thursday’s debate. Trump’s campaign manager Bill Stepien claimed that debate organizers had “promised” that the debate would be about foreign policy rather than “fighting COVID-19,” “American families,” “race in America,” climate change, national security and leadership. While in some election years, the third presidential debate has focused on foreign policy, debate organizers, however, did not announce such a plan in 2020, saying that the third debate would mirror the format of the first: six subjects selected by the moderator. Stepien said the commission had “turned the entire debate season into a fiasco.” (New York Times)

6/ The Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Trump administration’s use $2.5 billion in Pentagon money to build a southern border wall. A federal appeals court ruled in June that the administration improperly diverted the money to build more than 100 miles of border wall, saying only Congress could approve the transfer. (NBC News)

7/ The Supreme Court will take up a challenge to Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” program, which has forced at least 60,000 asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their requests were heard. In February, an appeals court blocked the program, saying it was at odds with both federal law and international treaties and was causing “extreme and irreversible harm.” (New York Times / Washington Post)

8/ A federal grand jury charged six Russian military intelligence officers in connection with major hacks worldwide, including the French election, the Winter Olympics, and U.S. hospitals and businesses. Known as the GRU, the hacking unit has previously been linked to the hacking and interference operations during the 2016 election. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Politico / Associated Press)

9/ The State Department has about 450 pages of records showing government spending at Trump’s properties, but it will release only two of those pages before the November election. The State Department pays for hotel rooms and other expenses when foreign leaders visit Trump properties, as well as when federal employees follow Trump and his family to Trump’s overseas clubs. (Washington Post)

poll/ Biden’s leads Trump by 11 percentage points among likely voters. (Yahoo News)

Day 1366: "You're not someone's crazy uncle who can retweet whatever."


1/ The U.S. passed 8 million coronavirus cases – three weeks after passing the 7 million case mark. New daily cases topped 62,000 on Thursday, nearly reaching the 65,000-per-day peak in July. (Politico)

  • The Trump administration announced a deal to administer a future coronavirus vaccine to seniors and staff in long-term care facilities. The vaccine will be free of charge and available for residents in all long-term care settings, including skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential care homes, and adult family homes. (CNBC / Politico)

  • Pfizer will not apply for emergency authorization for its coronavirus vaccine before the third week of November at the earliest, ruling out Trump’s repeated assertion that a vaccine would be ready before Election Day on Nov. 3. Pfizer said the company may know whether its vaccine is effective by the end of October, but it won’t have the required FDA safety data until the end of November. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Remdesivir and three other potential drug treatments for the coronavirus had “little or no effect” on death rates among hospitalized patients, according to a World Health Organization study. (CNBC)

  • The budget deficit eclipsed $3.1 trillion in the 2020 fiscal year – the biggest one-year gap between government spending and tax revenue in U.S. history. The deficit last year was about $1 trillion. (Washington Post / New York Times)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~39,127,000; deaths: ~1,096,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~8,028,000; deaths: ~219,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

2/ U.S. intelligence agencies warned the White House – twice – last year that Rudy Giuliani was the target of a Russian influence operation. During a December 2019 trip to Ukraine to gather information he thought would expose corrupt acts by Hunter Biden, Giuliani was interacting with people tied to Russian intelligence. Earlier in 2019, U.S. intelligence also warned in written materials sent to the White House that Giuliani was communicating with Russian assets. Giuliani was seeking information similar to what is allegedly contained in emails and other correspondence published this week by the New York Post, which the paper said came from Hunter Biden’s laptop and provided to Giuliani and Stephen Bannon. National security adviser Robert O’Brien briefed Trump in a private conversation at the time that any information Giuliani brought back from Ukraine should be considered contaminated by Russia. Trump reportedly “shrugged his shoulders” at O’Brien, dismissed concern, and said: “That’s Rudy.” (Washington Post)

  • Social media accounts tied to a Chinese billionaire – and Stephen Bannon backer – promoted a leak of Hunter Biden’s “hard disks” weeks before those New York Post stories. (Daily Beast)

  • Giuliani’s daughter is urging Americans to “end this nightmare” by voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Caroline Giuliani called on voters to end Trump’s “reign of terror” and “elect a compassionate and decent president.” (CNN)

3/ Federal investigators are examining whether the emails allegedly describing Hunter Biden’s business dealings in Ukraine and China are linked to a foreign intelligence operation. The FBI seized the laptop and a hard drive through a grand jury subpoena. The New York Post claimed in a series of articles this week that it obtained “smoking-gun” emails about Hunter and his dealings in Ukraine, which were allegedly found on a laptop brought to a computer repair shop in Delaware in April 2019. The repair shop owner took it upon himself to access the private material when nobody claimed the laptop. (NBC News / CNN)

4/A federal judge asked the White House counsel’s office to confirm directly with Trump whether he stands by his public statements that he declassified all records relating to the Russia investigation and Hillary Clinton’s emails. The White House and Justice Department have argued in court that the tweets didn’t declassify the records, saying officials never received an order from Trump or Attorney General William Barr. News outlets, meanwhile, have pursued Freedom of Information Act lawsuits for the complete Mueller report and related documents following Trump’s statements. (Politico / CNN)

5/ Trump and Biden held simultaneous town halls on competing TV networks in instead of a second presidential debate, which cancelled after Trump contracted the coronavirus and refused to participate in a virtual debate. Biden answered questions from voters for 90-minutes, offering long, detailed answers and promised to follow the science in combating the pandemic. “The words of a president matter,” Biden said. “No matter whether they’re good, bad or indifferent, they matter. When a president doesn’t wear a mask, or makes fun of folks like me when I was wearing a mask for a long time, then people say it mustn’t be that important.” Trump, meanwhile, refused to distance himself from QAnon supporters, admitted he owes $400 million to someone, and refused to say whether he had tested negative for coronavirus on the day of his first debate, saying “I probably did. Possibly I did, possibly I didn’t.” Trump also committed to a peaceful transition of power if he isn’t re-elected. (Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / ABC News / NBC News / CNBC / BuzzFeed News)

  • Takeaways from the dueling town halls:

  • Trump denied owing money to foreign entities, but conceded that he’s more than $400 million in debt. Trump claimed that amount he owes is “peanuts” compared with his overall assets. When asked if he owed money to foreign banks in any other country, Trump replied: “Not that I know of, but I will probably.” (New York Times)

  • Trump refused to denounce QAnon, claiming he doesn’t know if there is a secret government cabal of satanic pedophiles as the conspiracy theory claims. Instead, Trump said praised QAnon’s followers for being “very much against pedophilia. They fight it very hard.” The FBI considers QAnon a potential source of domestic terrorism. (The Guardian / Daily Beast)

  • Biden admitted that the 1994 crime bill was a mistake, saying “things have changed drastically” in the quarter-century since his crime bill’s passage. (New York Times)

  • Trump wouldn’t say if he was tested for COVID-19 on day of first debate. “I don’t know, I don’t even remember,” Trump Savannah Guthrie. “I test all the time. I can tell you this.”

  • Biden said he is “not a fan” of “court packing” but he’s “open to considering what happens” following the likely confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett. (Washington Post)

  • Savannah Guthrie gets answers from Trump by setting a fast pace, following up, and challenging Trump’s evasions. When Trump said he wasn’t familiar with QAnon, Guthrie said “you do know,” to which he replied: “No, I don’t know. You tell me all about it. Let’s waste the whole show. Let’s go. Keep asking me these questions.” Guthrie also called out Trump for sharing false conspiracy theories relating to the death of Osama bin Laden. “You’re the president,” Guthrie told Trump. “You’re not someone’s crazy uncle who can retweet whatever.” (New York Times / Washington Post / BuzzFeed News / CNN / Politico)

6/ The Trump administration denied California’s request for a disaster relief aid related to six wildfires. FEMA said the request did not meet the threshold requirements for aid and the White House said the request for a presidential major disaster declaration was rejected because it was “not supported by the relevant data.” August and September account for five of the six biggest fires in nearly 90 years of recorded history in the state. (San Francisco Chronicle / New York Times / CNN)

7/ Ivanka Trump potentially violated the Hatch Act eight times in just over 48 hours on Twitter. Ivanka, who’s official position is Advisor to the President, sent eight tweets campaigning for her father despite the ethics law barring federal employees from using their official positions to push partisan politics. (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

8/ Trump earnestly shared a story from a satirical news site claiming that Twitter had “shut down its entire social network” to stop the spread of negative news about Biden. The Babylon Bee bills itself as “the world’s best satire site.” Trump, meanwhile, tweeted the story and added: “Wow, this has never been done in history. This includes his really bad interview last night. Why is Twitter doing this. Bringing more attention to Sleepy Joe & Big T.” Shortly after, Trump deleted the post and tweeted a clarification: “Big T was not a reference to me, but rather to Big Tech.” (Politico)

Day 1365: "Pretty close to airtight."


1/ Another 898,000 workers filed for unemployment benefits last week. After declining from a peak of about 7 million in March, claims jumped to the highest since August. The unemployment rate stands at 7.9% – more than double its pre-pandemic level. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Mitch McConnell won’t bring the White House’s proposed $1.8 trillion coronavirus stimulus package to the Senate floor. Trump, meanwhile, called for even more stimulus spending, saying “I would go higher” while complaining that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin “hasn’t come home with the bacon.” House Democrats, however, are seeking $2.2 trillion, calling the White House’s latest proposal insufficient. (Axios / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNBC / New York Times)

  • [Research Studies] As many as eight million people may have slipped into poverty since May. (New York Times)

  • The Transportation Department will use a presidential memo calling for punishing “anarchist jurisdictions” when deciding which cities should get pandemic safety grants. The Trump administration has deemed Seattle, Portland, and New York City to be “permitting anarchy” for their handling of protests in response to the killing of George Floyd, racial injustice, and Trump administration policies. (Washington Post)

3/ Trump’s aides privately warned Republican party donors in February about the potential impact of the coronavirus at a time when Trump was publicly insisting that the virus was “very much under control” in the United States. On Feb. 24, senior members of Trump’s economic team briefed board members of the Hoover Institution about the outbreaking, saying they weren’t able to estimate the consequences of the virus on the American economy. The next day, Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, told board members that the coronavirus virus was “contained in the U.S., to date, but now we just don’t know.” Hours earlier, Kudlow told CNBC that the virus was contained and “it’s pretty close to airtight.” Investors who were briefed on the Hoover meetings said that parts of the readout informed their trades. (New York Times)

  • The number of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. are surging again with several Midwestern states reporting elevated levels of infections in recent days. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • The White House has taken a more hands-on role in shaping recommendations from the CDC than previously reported. “White House advisers have made line-by-line edits to official health guidance, altering language written by CDC scientists on church choirs, social distancing in bars and restaurants as well as internal summaries of public-health reports, according to interviews with current and former agency and administration officials and their emails.” (Wall Street Journal)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~38,757,000; deaths: ~1,096,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,971,000; deaths: ~218,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

4/ The U.S. Postal Service agreed to reverse changes that slowed mail service nationwide. The suit, filed against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy and USPS, was brought by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and argued that changes implemented in June harmed access to mail services in the state, resulting in delayed delivery of prescriptions, payments, job applications, and impeded the ability of residents to vote by mail. The postal service agreed to reverse all changes. (ABC News / NPR)

5/ The Senate Judiciary Committee will formally vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court on Oct. 22 at 1 p.m. Eastern time. The full Senate will begin debate on Oct. 23. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, told reporters: “We have the votes.” Republicans can confirm Barrett with a simple majority because the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees was eliminated, and at least 51 GOP senators have already signaled their support for Barrett. On the fourth day of Barrett’s confirmation hearings, Democrats tried to indefinitely delay proceedings, arguing that millions of Americans have already voted for the next president and that there’s never been a Supreme Court justice nominated and confirmed this close to an election. The Senate has taken half the average time to consider Barrett’s nomination. (Politico / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

6/ Trump and Joe Biden will face off tonight in dueling town halls on different networks at the same time. Tonight was supposed to be the day of the second presidential debate, but Trump refused to participate when the Commission for Presidential Debates said it would be hosted virtually because of his COVID-19 diagnosis. After the Trump backed out of the second debate, the commission canceled the debate altogether. ABC, meanwhile, scheduled a town hall with Biden shortly after. On Wednesday, NBC announced that agreed to air a town hall with Trump at the same time that Biden will appear on ABC. Both town halls will start at 8 p.m. ET. Biden’s will last for an hour and a half, while Trump’s will last for an hour. [Editor’s note: What a mess.] (ABC News / NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • [Discussion] 🍿 Biden x Trump Dueling Town Halls open thread

  • At least three people connected to Biden’s presidential campaign have tested positive for the coronavirus. Sen. Kamala Harris’ communications director, Liz Allen, and a member of the flight crew for a recent campaign trip tested positive. The campaign announced a third case as part of its contact tracing efforts from the first two cases. Harris was not in what the CDC defines as close contact with either person. (CNN / ABC News / NBC News)

poll/ 62% of voters say the country is on the wrong track, compared to 29% who say it’s headed in the right direction. (NBC News)

poll/ Biden leads Trump 54% to 43% among likely voters – the highest level of support Biden has achieved since the poll began testing the head-to-head matchup in February. (NPR)

Day 1364: "Dr. Johnny Bananas."


1/ U.S. coronavirus cases are rising again. In 46 states and Washington DC, the seven-day average of new coronavirus cases is up 46.5% in the past month, while tests are up 28.9%. Nationwide, the seven-day average as of Tuesday was 51,027 – the highest since Aug. 16. More than 20 states have hit a new high in their seven-day average of case counts in the past week, and more than half of those states also set new records again on Tuesday. Overall deaths in the United States during the pandemic are more than 85% higher than in 18 other high-income countries, such as Germany, Israel, and Denmark after adjusting for population size. Deaths in the U.S. are 29% higher than in Sweden, which never ordered strict social distancing and never went in to a full lockdown. (Bloomberg / NPR / Washington Post)

2/ The White House supported a group of scientists arguing for a “herd immunity” strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic. While two senior administration officials cited an October 4 petition that thousands of doctors and scientists have signed, which argues against lockdowns and calls for a reopening of businesses and schools, the validity of the declaration is questionable due to a number of fake names among its “expert” signatories, including “Dr. Johnny Bananas” and “Dr. Person Fakename.” To achieve herd immunity, 60% to 70% of the U.S. population would have to become infected. Less than 10% of the U.S. population, however, has been exposed to COVID-19. (New York Times / Washington Post / Sky News / CNN / Daily Beast)

  • Barron Trump had coronavirus. Melania Trump said Barron tested positive, showed no symptoms, and has since tested negative. (The Guardian)

  • The White House coronavirus task force warned against small household gatherings as coronavirus cases rise across the country and colder months approach. Trump, meanwhile, continues to gather thousands of mostly maskless supporters at rallies. (CNN)

  • FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn rejected Trump administration pressure to rebrand the emergency authorization of a COVID-19 vaccine as a “pre-licensure” to avoid politicizing its scientific determinations. Health and Human Services Department officials had pitched the change to the FDA as a way to ensure a vaccine is free for all Americans, because Congress mandated that Medicare cover the cost of administering a licensed vaccine – the requirement did not include drugs authorized under emergency-use designation. (Politico)

  • [Behind the shock and awe] Trump’s COVID Task Force Is Now Openly Rebelling Against Him. From Fauci to Birx to Redfield, the president’s top health officials appear to be at their wits’ end. (Daily Beast)

3/ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin acknowledged that a pre-election coronavirus relief package is unlikely. While Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have agreed on some areas, including a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks, they have remained apart on funding for state and local aid, child care, unemployment insurance, and testing and tracing programs, as well as a national plan for implementing tests. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted for negotiators to “go big or go home!!!” (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

4/ A federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General William Barr to review Obama administration officials’ “unmasking” of unnamed individuals in intelligence reports found no evidence of wrongdoing. U.S. Attorney John Bash was tasked with examining whether Obama officials, such as then-CIA Director John Brennan, then-FBI Director James Comey or then-Vice President Joe Biden, had inappropriately requested the identity of a person unnamed in intelligence reports, who later turned out to be Trump’s incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn. Bash found no substantive wrongdoing. Bash was appointed by Barr to head the “unmasking” probe in May as a spin-off of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s investigation into the origins of what became Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. In December, Durham told the Justice Department’s inspector general that he found no evidence that U.S. intelligence agencies had planted spies in the Trump campaign. Barr, meanwhile, rejected the conclusion that the FBI’s probe into Russian interference was justified. Trump, meanwhile, refused to say if he would keep Barr as his attorney general in a potential second term, saying “I have no comment. Can’t comment on that. It’s too early. I’m not happy with all of the evidence I have, I can tell you that. I’m not happy.” (Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios / CNBC)

5/ Justice Department attorneys argued in court that Trump’s tweets that he had “fully authorized the total declassification” of all documents related to the Russia investigation should not be considered a real declassification order. DOJ attorneys told a judge that the White House Counsel’s Office told the DOJ to disregard Trump’s tweets, saying they weren’t accompanied by an actual declassification order, and to proceed as though the tweets hadn’t occurred. BuzzFeed News had cited Trump’s tweets in a motion to gain access to Robert Mueller’s unredacted report as part of a Freedom of Information Act request. (Axios / BuzzFeed News / Politico)

  • The Justice Department sued the author of a book about her relationship with Melania Trump, claiming Stephanie Winston Wolkoff violated a nondisclosure agreement. Winston Wolkoff managed Trump’s inauguration festivities and then served as an unpaid adviser to Melania during the first year of the Trump administration before parting ways. The lawsuit asks a judge to order Winston Wolkoff to surrender any profits from her book, “Melania and Me: The Rise and Fall of My Friendship with the First Lady,” to a government trust. (CNBC / NBC News / Reuters)

6/ Federal prosecutors spent more than three years investigating whether an Egyptian state-owned bank backed Trump’s injection of $10 million into his 2016 campaign. The investigation, which predated and outlasted Robert Mueller’s probe, examined whether it was an illegal foreign campaign contribution. Mueller litigated the case up to the Supreme Court in 2019. The justices declined to hear the case. When the special counsel’s office shut down in 2019, Mueller transferred the investigation to prosecutors in Washington. The investigation remained open until current acting U.S. Attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin formally closed the case in July. (CNN)

7/ Judge Amy Coney Barrett faced more questions from senators during the third day of her confirmation hearings for the Supreme Court. In her testimony, Barrett declined to share her legal views on abortion rights, voting rights, the Affordable Care Act, and whether she thought it was wrong to separate migrant children from their parents to deter immigration to the U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris closed the proceedings by saying they “lack legitimacy” and calling the hearing rushed and designed to secure a conservative majority on the court despite nearly 12 million votes already cast. Thursday will feature three panels of witnesses. The committee is expected to vote on the nominee on Oct. 22. (Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC)

Day 1363: "A pawn."


1/ Trump tested negative for the coronavirus “on consecutive days,” White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said. Conley’s memo did not specify on which consecutive days Trump had tested negative. Trump was tested using an antigen test, which are considered to be less accurate than molecular tests. Conley added: Trump is “not infectious to others.” (CNN / Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine trial was paused because of an unexplained illness in one of the volunteers. Eli Lilly also paused a trial of its monoclonal antibody drug — the same class of medicine Trump received — for safety concerns. (Washington Post / CNN / Politico / STAT News)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~38,000,000; deaths: ~1,084,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,848,000; deaths: ~216,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

2/ Trump, eager to prove he’s healthy despite his recent COVID-19 hospitalization, returned to the campaign trail on Monday night in Florida and kicking off four straight days of rallies. While claiming himself cured of COVID-19, Trump asserted he is “immune” to the coronavirus – there is no conclusive scientific backing for the claim. “I feel so powerful,” Trump said before leaving Washington. “I’ll kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women. Just give you a big fat kiss.” (New York Times / NBC News / USA Today)

3/ Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate’s “first order of business” when it returns on Oct. 19 will be to vote on a “targeted” coronavirus relief bill, including new funding for the small business Paycheck Protection Program. House Democrats, Senate Republicans, and the Trump administration, however, are still far apart on a deal. Over the weekend, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin offered House Speaker Nancy Pelosi a roughly $1.8 trillion deal — about $400 billion less than the bill House Democrats passed earlier this month. Pelosi dismissed the proposal, and suggested that Trump “only wants his name on a check to go out before Election Day and for the [stock] market to go up.” Nancy Pelosi also told House Democrats that McConnell’s proposal was a nonstarter. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted for Congress to “Go big or go home!!!” on a “STIMULUS!” deal. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Politico / Axios)

4/ Amy Coney Barrett largely refused to answer questions about how she might rule on a challenge to the Affordable Care Act, if she would recuse herself from any lawsuit about the presidential election, and whether she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade on the second day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. When asked how she would rule if she gets on the court in time to hear a Republican challenge to the Affordable Care Act, Barrett insisted that she’s “not here on a mission to destroy the Affordable Care Act” and that she’s “not hostile to the ACA.” Barrett told the committee that she doesn’t have a judicial “agenda” on abortion while declining to answer if she believes that Roe v. Wade was wrongly decided and can be overturned. In 2006, however, Barrett signed an open letter calling Roe v. Wade “barbaric” and “an exercise of raw judicial power.” Barrett also declared that she would not “allow myself to be used as a pawn to decide this election for the American people.” She declined, however, to say whether she would recuse herself from any election-related cases. (Washington Post / NBC News / NPR / Politico / The Guardian / New York Times / Axios / Washington Post / CNBC)

5/ Trump continued his public criticism of Dr. Anthony Fauci, tweeting that Fauci’s pitching arm is “far more accurate than his prognostications” – a reference to the nation’s top infectious disease expert poor first pitch at Nationals Park. Trump’s criticism comes after Dr. Fauci balked at the Trump campaign including him in a political ad that made it look like he was endorsing Trump. Dr. Fauci said in a statement that “the comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.” Dr. Fauci also demanded that the Trump campaign refrain from using him in future campaign ads, saying it would be “outrageous” and “terrible” if he was featured in another commercial and it could “come back to backfire” on the campaign. Dr. Fauci, however, said “I’m not going to walk away from this outbreak, no matter who’s the president.” (CNN / Daily Beast / ABC News / NBC News / Politico / Axios)

  • Trump’s campaign is running a political ad that features the Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley without the officer’s “knowledge or consent,” according to a defense official. (Politico)

✏️Notables

  1. 🚨 The Supreme Court approved a Trump administration request to end the 2020 census count earlier than planned. Lower courts previously ordered the administration to keep counting through Oct. 31. The administration had sought to stop counting in order to to apportion House seats and distribute federal funds for the next 10 years by Dec. 31. [Editor’s note: This is breaking news. I’ll have a full overview tomorrow] (NPR / USA Today / CNBC)

  2. Trump asked the Supreme Court to block a lower court’s ruling that would give the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office access to years of his income tax returns. If the Supreme Court agrees to hear his appeal, it will be the second time the court has heard the case. In July, the court ruled that presidents are not immune from investigation, sending the case back to lower courts for Trump’s lawyers to fight the subpoena. (CNBC / Axios)

  3. The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Congress that accused Trump of violating anti-corruption provisions in the U.S. Constitution over his private businesses accepting payments from foreign governments. Without comment, the justices let stand a decision by a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals to dismiss the lawsuit filed by 215 members of Congress. (Washington Post / Reuters)

  4. More than 10.6 million voters have cast their ballots in the November election. By Oct. 16 of the 2016 presidential election, about 1.4 million voters had cast a ballot. Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and Virginia have received more early ballots than they did in the 2016 presidential election. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

  5. Georgia voters overloaded polling places on the first day of early voting Monday as state and local officials reported glitches with the new and touch-screen voting system. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution / New York Times)

  6. More than 3 million new voters registered in Texas after the 2016 election, meaning about 1 in 5 Texas voters in 2020 were not registered in 2016. (CBS News)

  7. A federal appeals court upheld Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order that limited counties to one mail-in ballot drop-off location. The three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, all appointed by Trump, rejected arguments that claimed Abbott’s order suppressed voting rights by making it harder to cast a ballot. (USA Today / Washington Post)

  8. The Virginia voter registration system crashed on the last day for voters to register before Election Day. Officials said that a cut cable was to blame for the “temporary” system shutdown. (CBS News / Daily Beast / WUSA9)

  9. A federal judge dismissed an attempt by the Trump campaign and the Republican Party to make ballot dropboxes in Pennsylvania unconstitutional. U.S. District Judge Nicholas Ranjan ruled that the Trump campaign has no standing because of the lack of evidence of actual fraud. (Washington Post / CNN / Axios / WHYY)

  10. The California Republican Party admitted to placing more than 50 “unauthorized” drop boxes for mail-in ballots in Los Angeles, Fresno, and Orange Counties. The deceptively labeled “official” drop boxes were placed near churches, gun shops, and Republican Party offices, and affixed with a white paper label identifying them as either an “Official Ballot Drop off Box” or a “Ballot Drop Box.” (New York Times / Washington Post / BuzzFeed News / Orange County Register)

  11. Microsoft disrupted a hacking operation that it said could have indirectly affected election infrastructure if allowed to continue. The company won a court order to seize servers used by the Trickbot botnet, a network of infected computers that Microsoft said could have been used to lock up voter-registration systems. (Washington Post / CNN)

  12. Eric Trump canceled a campaign event at a Michigan gun shop after a former employee was linked to the domestic terror plot against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (ClickOnDetroit)

Day 1362: Swamp things.


1/ More than 200 companies, special interest groups and foreign governments patronized Trump’s properties since he took office. Since 2016, more than 70 advocacy groups, businesses, and foreign governments held events at Trump properties, which were previously held at different locations or new events were developed to be hosted at Trump properties. Religious organizations also hosted prayer meetings, banquets, and tours on Trump properties. Tax records from 2016 show that Mar-a-Lago initiation fees delivered nearly $6 million in revenue, and 60 patrons with interests before the administration brought the Trump family $12 million in business in 2017 and 2018 – nearly all saw their interests advanced by the Trump administration. And, at least two dozen patrons reserved events for 2017 and 2018 at Trump properties had interests involving the administration, and more than 100 companies that wanted something from the federal government spent money at Trump properties. Trump himself has also attended 34 political fundraisers at his properties, which brought in $3 million in revenue. (New York Times)

2/ Trump’s adult children and their families have cost taxpayers at least $238,000 in room rentals at Trump properties for Secret Service protection since taking office. According to Secret Service records, when Eric Trump, Trump Jr., and Ivanka Trump have visited Trump properties for family business, Trump’s company charged the Secret Service for rooms agents used on each trip. (Washington Post)

3/ The Senate Judiciary Committee held the first of four days of confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Senator Lindsey Graham, the committee’s chairman, opened the hearing by saying this is “to confirm Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court,” and “probably not about persuading each other,” because “all the Republicans will vote yes, all the Democrats will vote no.” After nearly five hours of opening statements by the committee’s members, Barret said judges should not try to legislate from the bench in her opening statement, saying the “courts are not designed to solve every problem or right every wrong in our public life. The policy decisions and value judgments of government must be made by the political branches elected by and accountable to the people.” Hearings will resume Tuesday for two rounds of questioning. Outside witnesses will testify on Barrett’s nomination on Thursday. The Judiciary Committee plans to reconvene on Oct. 22 to approve Barrett’s nomination. Barrett’s confirmation would cement conservative control of the nation’s highest court, giving them a 6-3 advantage. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Politico / Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / ABC News / CBS News / CNN)

  • The American Bar Association rated Judge Amy Coney Barrett as “well qualified” – its highest rating. (CNN)

  • Sen. Mike Lee, who tested positive for COVID-19 less than two weeks ago, appeared in person for Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Lee removed his mask when it was his turn to address the committee. (Politico / NPR / Axios)

4/ The White House blocked a CDC order requiring all passengers and employees wear masks on planes, trains, buses, and subways, and in airports, stations and depots. The order was drafted under the agency’s “quarantine powers” and had the support of the secretary of health and human services, Alex Azar. The White House Coronavirus Task Force, led by Pence, declined to discuss it. Public health officials have said that wearing masks is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus, particularly in crowded, poorly ventilated public places, like transportation venues. (New York Times)

  • Coronavirus cases set a new single-day records in six U.S. states. Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and West Virginia all had record single-day increases in cases on Friday. (NBC News)

  • Twitter flagged Trump’s tweet claiming he is “immune” from the coronavirus as a violation of “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information related to COVID-19.” (Bloomberg)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~37,694,000; deaths: ~1,079,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,797,000; deaths: ~216,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

5/ Trump delivered a short speech from the Blue Room balcony overlooking the South Lawn on Saturday after Dr. Sean Conley issued a doctor’s note saying Trump was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others” and described the president as “fever-free for well over 24 hours,” noting that “all symptoms improved.” Conley said Trump has met CDC criteria for “the safe discontinuation of isolation.” Calling it a “peaceful protest” in honor of “law and order,” Trump made his first public appearance since he was hospitalized after testing positive for the coronavirus, telling the crowd: “I’m feeling great!” The speech came two weeks after Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a ceremony that Dr. Anthony Fauci described as a “super spreader” event. The event was organized by Candace Owens, who has led a “BLEXIT” movement urging Black voters to leave the Democratic Party. BLEXIT paid for the travel and lodging for some guests. Trump spoke for about 15 minutes – shorter than the nearly 30 minutes that officials had advertised – to an estimated audience of 500. More than 2,000 guests had been invited. Late Monday, Conley said Trump tested negative on “consecutive days” for COVID-19 a week after being released from the hospital for treatment of the disease. He did not state which days. (New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Politico / CBS News)

  • Trump used the United States Marine Band for the White House event, raising questions about employing the military for political purposes. (Washington Post)

  • Trump proposed the idea of ripping open his button-down shirt to reveal a shirt with the Superman logo as he left Walter Reed Medical Center last week. Trump did not go through with the stunt. (New York Times)

6/ The Trump campaign released a new ad using an out of context Dr. Anthony Fauci quote in an attempt to make it appear as if he is praising Trump’s response to the coronavirus. The nation’s leading infectious disease expert did not consent to being featured in the campaign ad, saying “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed any political candidate. The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials,” Fauci said. In the ad, Fauci says that he “can’t imagine that anybody could be doing more.” The clip is from an interview with Fox News in March in which he was speaking about the government’s response to the pandemic – not specifically about Trump’s efforts. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the campaign will continue to run the ad despite Fauci’s objections. The White House, meanwhile, blocked Dr. Fauci – or any of the medical experts on the coronavirus task force – from appearing on ABC’s “This Week” this Sunday. (CNN / NBC News / Politico / Axios)

poll/ 62% of voters say the U.S. Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade, while 24% would want it overturned. 52% say filling Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat should be left to the winner of the presidential election and a Senate vote next year. (ABC News / Washington Post)

poll/ Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points in Michigan and by 10 percentage points in Wisconsin among likely voters. Biden is up six percentage points on Trump in Nevada and is even in Iowa. (New York Times / CBS News / Politico)

poll/ 58% of voters disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic while 21% say it is under control. Biden holds a 17-point lead over Trump in trust to handle the pandemic with 62% saying they distrust what Trump says about it. (ABC News)

Day 1359: "Unlikely."


1/ House Democrats introduced legislation to create a bipartisan commission to review whether Trump and future presidents are capable of carrying out their duties. The legislation would allow Congress to intervene under the 25th Amendment and remove the president from executive duties. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the measure “is not about President Trump,” but suggested that Trump needs to disclose more about his health after his COVID-19 diagnosis. Pelosi also noted Trump’s “strange tweet” halting talks on new coronavirus aid and his subsequent effort to reverse course. Trump responded on Twitter, claiming that “Crazy Nancy is the one who should be under observation,” adding: “They don’t call her Crazy for nothing!” Trump also retweeted Republican allies who baselessly said he “wouldn’t put it past Speaker Pelosi to stage a coup.” While the 25th amendment does allow Pelosi to create a panel to review Trump or any other president’s health and fitness for office, the House will not be able to remove Trump from office without the consent of Pence and members of his cabinet. (NBC News / The Guardian / Associated Press)

2/ The White House is preparing a $1.8 trillion coronavirus relief offer despite Mitch McConnell indicating that a stimulus deal was “unlikely” before the election. Trump, tweeting that “Covid Relief Negotiations are moving along. Go Big,” is reportedly “desperate” for a deal, but has “zero leverage” to force Senate leadership to support the bill crafted by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In the talks with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin before Trump abruptly ended negotiations Tuesday, Pelosi had been pursuing a $2.2 trillion boost to the economy – a scaled-back version of the Democrats’ earlier $3.5 trillion legislation. Trump, meanwhile, told Rush Limbaugh that he wants an even bigger stimulus than what Democrats have offered so far. Shortly after, however, the White House communications director, Alyssa Farah, told reporters the administration wants a package below $2 trillion. (Axios / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Bloomberg / Politico)

3/ Trump’s tax records show that more than $21 million in unusual payments were routed from a Las Vegas hotel Trump owns with Phil Ruffin through other Trump companies and paid out in cash. Most of the money flowed through a company called Trump Las Vegas Sales and Marketing that had little previous income, no clear business purpose, and no employees. It was characterized as a business expense. Seven weeks before the 2016 election, the Trump-Ruffin partnership borrowed $30 million from City National Bank in Los Angeles. On Oct. 28, Trump contributed $10 million to his campaign. (New York Times)

4/ Trump received a $21.1 million tax break for preserving the forest around his New York mansion after a 2016 appraisal valued the estate at $56.5 million — more than double the value assessed by the three Westchester county towns that each contained a piece of the property. New York Attorney General Letitia James is now investigating whether the Trump Organization improperly inflated the value of Seven Springs as part of the conservation easement on the property. The investigation also scrutinizes valuations, tax burdens, and conservation easements at Trump’s holdings in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City. Eric Trump sat for a deposition in the case on Monday. (Washington Post)

5/ Dr. Sean Conley reported that Trump “has completed his course of therapy for COVID-19,” and he expects Trump to “return to public engagements” on Saturday. Dr. Conley, who has previously acknowledged providing the public with a positive view of Trump’s condition to satisfy the administration, did not say when Trump’s last negative coronavirus test occurred before his diagnosis. Shortly after Dr. Conley’s memo, Trump’s campaign called for the second presidential debate to take place as originally scheduled. The Commission on Presidential Debates, meanwhile, canceled the second debate between Trump and Biden altogether after Trump declined to do a virtual debate despite concerns over his COVID-19 diagnosis. (New York Times / CNN)

6/ Trump will host his first in-person event since testing positive for the coronavirus on Saturday at the White House. Trump is expected to address the crowd from the balcony of the White House. (ABC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

7/ Trump will receive a “medical evaluation” during Tucker Carlson Tonight by Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News contributor. Dr. Siegel will also conduct an interview, but it’s not clear if either the “evaluation” or interview will occur live on-air or will be pre-taped from earlier in the day. Since being released from Walter Reed hospital, Trump has done two phone interviews, first with Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo Thursday morning, then with Fox News Sean Hannity Thursday night. (Fox News / Mediaite / Daily Beast)

  • Trump, coughing, told Sean Hannity he’s healthy and ready to hold rallies. Doctors and public health experts, meanwhile, called the move “reckless.” Later, Trump held what his campaign called a “radio rally,” in which he dialed in to Rush Limbaugh’s show for two hours.(CNN / NPR / Associated Press)

8/ Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows are pushing the FDA to grant emergency authorization for the promising but unproven COVID-19 therapy that Trump received. Trump has repeatedly suggested in videos on Twitter that the Regeneron drug is a “cure” that would soon be broadly available while claiming that he himself had granted the drugs an emergency use authorization, which is not true. (Washington Post / CBS News)

9/ The Justice Department’s review into the origins of the Russia investigation will not be released until after the election. Trump criticized Attorney General William Barr after being told that the results of U.S. Attorney John Durham’s report about alleged abuses by the Obama administration and intelligence community will not result in any indictments or a public report before Nov. 3. Trump, speaking with Rush Limbaugh, complained that Barr and FBI Director Christopher Wray were not moving fast enough, saying, “They want to get more, more, more. They keep getting more. I said, ‘you don’t need any more.’” (Axios / CNBC)

10/ Judge Amy Coney Barrett failed to disclose two seminars she gave that was hosted by anti-abortion student groups on her Senate paperwork. In April 2013, Barrett gave a small hour-long seminar “for students on changes to law and life for women after Roe v. Wade” entitled “Being a Woman After Roe.” And in November 2013, Barrett spoke to Jus Vitae, the law school’s Right to Life club at the University of Notre Dame, on “The Supreme Court’s Abortion Jurisprudence.” (CNN)

11/ Twitter will temporarily slow the way information flows on its platform ahead of the Nov. 3 election, including imposing new warnings on lies, restricting premature declarations of victory, and blocking calls for polling violence and other disruptions. (Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1358: "They knew what was happening and they didn't tell you."


1/ [DEBATE RECAP] Pence repeatedly interrupted Sen. Kamala Harris, ignored the moderator, went over time, and refused to directly answer the questions asked during the vice presidential debate. “Mr. Vice President, I’m speaking … I’m speaking,” Harris repeatedly had to say when Pence interrupted her. And, about an hour into the debate, moderator Susan Page noted that Pence had spoken more than Harris while trying to stop Pence from taking more time than allotted. Harris, meanwhile, called the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic “the greatest failure of any presidential administration in the history of our country,” saying “this administration has forfeited their right to reelection” due to its “ineptitude” and “incompetence.” Harris added “they knew what was happening and they didn’t tell you.” A fly also landed in Pence’s hair for two minutes. Other than that, the debate was more civil and substantive than last week’s failure, which was driven by Trump’s constant interruptions. (CNN / Bloomberg / NBC News / Politico / ABC News / New York Times / The Guardian)

2/ Trump refused to participate in the next presidential debate after the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates announced that it would be held virtually due to coronavirus concerns. The decision was made “in order to protect the health and safety of all involved,” the commission said in a statement. While Biden’s campaign agreed to the new format, Trump tweeted: “I’m not going to waste my time on a virtual debate. It’s not what debating is all about. It’s ridiculous.” Hours later, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien proposed pushing the October 15 debate back a week and then move the third debate to October 29 – days before the November 3 election. Biden’s campaign, however, rejected the proposal, saying: “Trump chose today to pull out of the October 15th debate” and his “erratic behavior does not allow him to rewrite the calendar, and pick new dates of his choosing.” Biden will instead participate in a town hall moderated by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos in Philadelphia on Oct. 15, taking questions directly from voters. According to Stepien, Trump will “pass on this sad excuse to bail out Joe Biden and do a rally instead.” Candidates are not required to participate in presidential debates. (CNN / Axios / CNBC / ABC News / New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ The coronavirus outbreak has infected “34 White House staffers and other contacts,” according to an internal FEMA memo. D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt and health officers from nine counties and cities across the Washington region are asking anyone who worked in the White House in the past two weeks to get tested. (ABC News / Washington Post)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~36,359,000; deaths: ~1,059,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,592,000; deaths: ~213,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

  • The assistant commandant of the Marine Corps tested positive for the coronavirus. Gen. Gary Thomas is the second senior uniformed official to announce a COVID-19 diagnosis this week. (Washington Post)

  • Mitch McConnell hasn’t visited the White House since August because “their approach” to the coronavirus pandemic “is different than mine.” (NBC News)

  • White House chief of staff Mark Meadows hosted an Atlanta wedding for his daughter in May, despite statewide and city orders banning gatherings of more than 10 people to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Roughly 70 guests attended the May 31 wedding. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

4/ Trump suggested that he might have contracted COVID-19 from Gold Star family members despite the veterans’ group involved in organizing the event confirming all attendees tested negative before the ceremony and all are “doing well and exhibit no symptoms of COVID-19.” The Sept. 27 event was held indoors at the White House – one day after a Supreme Court event in the Rose Garden, where multiple attendees have subsequently tested positive. It is not publicy known where Trump contracted COVID-19 because the White House has refused to provide a timeline of Trump’s coronavirus tests in the days leading up to his diagnosis. Nevertheless, Trump said that he “figured there would be a chance” he would become infected with the coronavirus, because Gold Star family members “come within an inch of my face, sometimes. They want to hug me, and they want to kiss me. And they do.” (Politico / NBC News / CNN)

5/ Trump spent an hour downplaying his COVID-19 infection, attacking Kamala Harris, accusing political opponents of conspiring against him, and demanding that Attorney General William Barr indict Biden, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton for unspecified crimes. In the interview with the Fox Business – his first since testing positive for the coronavirus – Trump claimed that “I‘m back because I’m a perfect physical specimen, and I’m extremely young,” adding “Remember this: When you catch it you get better, and then you’re immune.” Trump also called Harris, the first woman of color on a major party ticket, a “monster.” (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / CNN / Vox / CNN)

  • The experimental antibody cocktail that Trump received as part of his COVID-19 treatment relied on human fetal tissue his administration opposes. In June 2019, the Trump administration suspended federal funding for most new scientific research involving fetal tissue derived from abortions. Trump has praised Regeneron’s treatment as “miracles coming down from God,” calling it a “cure” for COVID-19 and promising to provide it free to any patient who needed it. (Washington Post / New York Times)

6/ Trump required personnel at Walter Reed Medical Center to sign nondisclosure agreements in Nov. 2019 before they could be involved in his treatment. At least two doctors refused to sign nondisclosure agreements during Trump’s Nov. 16 visit and were not permitted to be involved in his care. Trump required signed NDAs from both physicians and non-medical staff, most of whom are active-duty military service members. The reason for Trump’s visit last year is still unknown. Existing legal protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act automatically prohibited anyone providing medical services from disclosing a patient’s health information without consent. It is unknown whether any Walter Reed personnel were asked to sign nondisclosure agreements during Trump’s recent treatment of COVID-19. (NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  • 📌 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.

  • 📌 Day 1321 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)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Federal prosecutors charged a top GOP fundraiser for conspiring to act as a foreign agent. The charging document says Elliott Broidy, a former top fundraiser for Trump, agreed to lobby the Trump administration and the Justice Department to drop or favorably resolve the investigation of a foreign national for his role in the embezzlement of billions of dollars from the Malaysia state development fund. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

  2. Facebook permanently banned a U.S. marketing firm working on behalf of pro-Trump student organization Turning Point USA and Inclusive Conservation Group. The groups used fake personas to comment on news stories to praise Trump and criticize Biden. Experts described the operation as a domestic “troll farm.” (Axios / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  3. Federal and state officials in Michigan arrested and charged 13 men in connection with a failed plan to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. That group repeatedly met throughout the summer for firearms training and combat drills. They attempted to build explosives, surveilled Whitmer’s vacation home, and had indicated that they wanted to take her hostage before the election in November. In April, thousands of people gathered at the State Capitol to protest Whitmer’s executive orders to shut down most of the state to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Trump encouraged the protests, tweeting, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” The FBI-led probe began in March and focused on militia groups’ discussing the “violent overthrow” of government and law enforcement officials. (NBC News / New York Times / The Detroit News)

Day 1357: "I feel great."


1/ A federal appeals court ruled that Manhattan’s district attorney can enforce a subpoena for eight years’ worth of Trump’s tax returns, rejecting arguments by Trump’s lawyers that the subpoena was too broad, politically motivated, and issued in “bad faith” and “out of malice” with “an intent to harass.” The Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the arguments, saying “There is nothing to suggest that these are anything but run-of-the-mill documents typically relevant to a grand jury investigation into possible financial or corporate misconduct. […] We have considered all of the President’s remaining contentions on appeal and have found in them no basis for reversal.” Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, meanwhile, agreed not to enforce the subpoena for now, giving Trump’s legal team a chance to petition the Supreme Court – for a second time – for a stay. Vance issued the subpoena in August 2019. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico / CNBC / Associated Press / Reuters)

2/ Top Justice Department officials were “a driving force” behind Trump’s child separation policy. In 2018, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, and others at the DOJ pushed Trump’s “zero tolerance” family separation policy at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to a two-year inquiry by the Justice Department’s inspector general. “We need to take away children,” Sessions told the five U.S. attorneys along the border with Mexico in May 2018. Rosenstein went further about a week later, telling prosecutors that it did not matter how young the children were. The draft report says that Justice Department officials understood and encouraged the separation of children as an expected part of the desire to prosecute all undocumented border crossers. Trump abandoned the policy amid global backlash. (New York Times / NBC News / The Independent)

  • The Trump administration announced new H-1B visa restriction. Under the new Departments of Labor and Homeland Security rules, employers will need to pay high-skilled foreign workers significantly higher wages, while narrowing the types of colleges degrees that qualify, and shorten the length of visas for certain contract workers. (Wall Street Journal / CBS News)

3/ Trump urged Congress to pass a new coronavirus stimulus package hours after abruptly ordering his negotiators to stop talks with Democrats until after the election. Trump tweeted for Congress to “IMMEDIATELY” approve a “Stand Alone Bill” for a new round of $1,200 stimulus checks, as well as $25 billion for the airline industry, and an additional $135 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program, adding, “I am ready to sign right now. Are you listening Nancy?” Efforts between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to negotiate a broad stimulus package ended Tuesday after Trump tweeted that he had “instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election.” Trump’s tweets sent the stock market into a sharp downward slide. Hours later, Trump reversed himself and called on Congress to approve additional assistance for airlines, a small business aid program, and direct checks for many Americans. (NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / New York Times / Bloomberg)

4/ Trump told the White House medical staff “I feel great!” and that he has been “symptom-free” from the coronavirus for over 24 hours, as White House aides offered conflicting statements about whether Trump had returned to the Oval Office. White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said Trump hadn’t had a fever in four days, his oxygen saturation and respiratory rate were stable and normal, and his blood work on Monday showed “detectable levels” of COVID-19 antibodies. Dr. Conley, however, offered no information about what medication Trump is taking or the timing of Trump’s last negative test, which Conley also refused to provide at a Monday briefing. Meanwhile, in a two-hour stretch, Trump posted at least 50 tweets and retweets attacking Biden, Hillary Clinton, Kamala Harris, Obama, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Bernie Sanders, and journalist Lester Holt. Trump also tweeted that he was declassifying documents related to the Russia investigation, shared a conspiracy video from 2018, predicted the confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court would be “fast and easy,” called presidential debate moderator Chris Wallace “a total JOKE,” and criticized his own FDA’s coronavirus vaccine safety standards as “another political hit job.” Trump, who is supposed to be observing a period of self-isolation in accordance with CDC guidelines, has insisted on returning to work in the Oval Office. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, meanwhile, told reporters that safety precautions would be taken to accommodate Trump’s request But after Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said that Trump had been working from the Oval Office a day after returning from the hospital, the White House clarified Trump remained isolated in his residence. (Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • [Developing] Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe approved the release of documents assist the Department of Justice’s review of the Obama administration’s handling of the Trump-Russia investigation. (Axios)

  • Senior White House adviser Stephen Miller tested positive for the coronavirus. Miller said in a statement that he has been “working remotely and self-isolating, testing negative every day” over the last five days, but has since tested positive. Miller is the eleventh official to test positive after attending a White House event in the Rose Garden and the latest member of Trump’s presidential debate prep team to test positive. Miller also traveled aboard Air Force One on a Minnesota campaign trip with Trump and Hicks. (CNN / Axios / The Guardian / Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Chris Christie remains hospitalized after testing positive COVID-19 a day after Trump and Melania Trump announced they had tested positive. (NJ.com)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~35,988,000; deaths: ~1,053,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,539,000; deaths: ~212,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

5/ The White House told staff that it had completed “all contact tracing” for positive COVID-19 cases. An email was sent to staff working across the White House complex and urged anyone who hasn’t been contacted, but suspects they’ve been in contact with someone infected to reach out to the White House Medical Office. At least one White House correspondent who tested positive for the coronavirus following direct interaction with White House officials, said there’s been no outreach by the White House to do contact tracing or to follow up. At least one other White House official said they’ve also alerted officials that they have had direct contact with positive White House personnel, but received no guidance on how to proceed. (CNN)

  • The White House informed a veterans group that there was a COVID-19 risk stemming from a Sept. 27 event at the White House. (Daily Beast)

poll/ 46% of Americans do not want the Senate to confirm Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, while 42% say the Senate should confirm her. (CNN)

poll/ Biden leads Trump in Florida (51% - 40%), Pennsylvania (54% - 41%), and Iowa (50% - 45%) among likely voters. (Quinnipiac)

Day 1356: "Tragic."


1/ Trump ordered negotiators to stop talks with Democrats on a new coronavirus relief package until after the election, tweeting that he won’t agree to a deal until “after I win.” In a series of tweets, Trump said he rejected the Democrats’ latest proposal because – he claimed – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi “is not negotiating in good faith.” The House passed a $2.2 trillion bill last week – down from its earlier $3.5 trillion package. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had proposed a $1.6 trillion deal in response. The two sides remained at odds over how much state and local aid to include in an agreement. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, meanwhile, warned that “too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses.” Powell said a prolonged slowdown could trigger “typical recessionary dynamics, as weakness feeds on weakness,” and that such a slowdown could exacerbate existing economic disparities, which “would be tragic.” Powell added: “The risks of overdoing it seem, for now, to be smaller.” The Dow fell by almost 400 points, and the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were also down by around 1.5% each. (NBC News / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Axios / Politico)

2/ Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff are self-quarantining after the Coast Guard’s No. 2 officer tested positive for the coronavirus. Adm. Charles Ray, the vice commandant of the Coast Guard, tested positive for the virus on Monday. Ray attended a Sept. 27 event at the White House and recently attended several meetings at the Pentagon in secure areas with members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / NBC News / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Politico / Washington Post)

  • One of Trump’s valets tested positive. Trump was reportedly “upset.” (Bloomberg / CNN)

  • 13 restaurant staffers are quarantining after catering a private Trump fundraiser in Minneapolis. (CBS News)

3/ The White House hasn’t conducted contact tracing for guests and staff members who attended the Rose Garden party where at least eight people, including Trump, are believed to have contracted COVID-19. Officials with the D.C. Department of Health have also been unable to connect with the White House to assist with contact tracing and other protocols regarding the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak. Instead, the White House has only notified people who came in close contact with Trump during the two days before his Thursday diagnosis. “We have reached out to the White House on a couple of different levels, a political level and a public health level,” said Mayor Muriel Bowser. White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said in a statement that the White House “has a robust contact tracing program in place led by the White House Medical Unit with CDC personnel and guidance.” The White House also declined offers from the CDC to help investigate the outbreak. (New York Times / NBC News / CNN / USA Today)

4/ The White House approved the FDA’s new, tougher standards for coronavirus vaccine developers after the agency unilaterally published the guidelines. The guidelines make it unlikely that a vaccine would be authorized by Election Day. The FDA submitted the guidelines to the Office of Management and Budget for approval more than two weeks ago, but Meadows and the White House blocked them, worried that the new criteria would delay authorization of a vaccine. The new guidelines, which would be used for an emergency authorization of a vaccine, recommend gathering extra data about the safety of vaccines in the final stage of clinical trials, a step that would take more time. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal /New York Times)

5/ Trump left Walter Reed Medical Center and returned to the White House where he stood outside and removed his mask, despite the fact that he is still infected and contagious. He gave a double thumbs up and posed for photos before walking inside 72-hours after being hospitalized with COVID-19. At least 20 people have tested positive for the coronavirus after spending time at the White House recently. Soon after, Trump released a video downplaying the coronavirus and claiming that he “had to” face the coronavirus because he is a leader. “We’re going back. We’re going back to work. We’re gonna be out front. As your leader I had to do that. I knew there’s danger to it but I had to do it,” Trump said. “I stood out front. I led. Nobody that’s a leader would not do what I did. I know there’s a risk there’s a danger.” He added: “And now I’m better, and maybe I’m immune? I don’t know.” Trump again dismissed the pandemic that has killed more than 210,000 people in the United States, encouraging Americans to “get out there” and to not let the virus “dominate your lives.” Administration officials, meanwhile, plan for Trump to isolate in the White House residence, creating a makeshift office in the Map Room and the Diplomatic Reception Room. The White House hasn’t said how long Mr. Trump would remain in the residence and away from the West Wing where many of the senior aides who are considered essential workers are based. (CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Axios / CBS News / NPR / Axios / CNN / New York Times)

  • Trump’s personal doctor provided no substantive details about the president’s health except to say Trump “continues to do extremely well” upon returning to the White House after being hospitalized with COVID-19. (Politico / CNBC)

6/ Pence requested that no plexiglass dividers be placed on his side of the stage for tomorrow’s vice presidential debate after agreeing to the safety measure by the Commission on Presidential Debates to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Marc Short, the vice president’s chief of staff, said Pence does not view plexiglass dividers as medically necessary, but if Harris “wants it, she’s more than welcome to surround herself with plexiglass if that makes her feel more comfortable.” Last week, both campaigns agreed to extend the distance between Pence and Harris from about seven feet to 12 feet. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Trump tweeted that he is “looking forward to” the second presidential debate even as he continues treatment this week for COVID-19. CDC guidelines, however, say people should isolate for 10 days from the point of showing systems, and in severe cases, 20 days. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📅 The WTF Event Calendar.

7/ Eric Trump was deposed under oath as part of New York’s investigation into the Trump Organization’s financial dealings. The New York attorney general’s office is probing whether Trump’s real-estate company falsely reported property values in order to obtain loans or tax benefits. Eric initially refused to provide testimony until after the November election, but a state judge rejected his argument that he was too busy working on his father’s re-election campaign to submit to questioning. New York AG Letitia James is focusing on a property called Seven Springs that sits on 212 acres outside New York City, as well as transactions involving the Trump-owned 40 Wall Street building in lower Manhattan, a golf club in Los Angeles, and the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago. The Trump Organization has denied any wrongdoing. (Bloomberg / Axios)

poll/ 54% registered voters in Pennsylvania support Biden while 42% support Trump. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 57% of likely voters say they support Biden for president, while 41% support Trump. The poll was conducted entirely after the first debate and mostly after Trump’s coronavirus infection was made public. 52% of Americans say they have a positive impression of Biden, compared with 39% who have a positive view of Trump. (CNN)

Day 1355: "That should never have happened."


1/ At a news conference at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Saturday, doctors provided few medical details, but on Sunday doctors disclosed that Trump’s condition was more serious than the White House had acknowledged. On Saturday, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said Trump was “doing very well,” that his fever had subsided, his symptoms were improving, and that he wasn’t receiving supplemental oxygen. Trump reportedly told doctors, “I feel like I could walk out of here today.”

2/ Minutes after Saturday’s news conference, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Trump’s “vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical,” adding that “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.” Meadows’s remarks were attributed to “a person familiar with the president’s health” in a pool report sent to White House journalists, but video shows Meadows approaching pool reporters outside Walter Reed following the briefing and asking to speak off the record, making clear who the unnamed source was. Trump was reportedly “furious” with Meadows after he offered a more dire assessment and contradicted Dr. Conley’s assessment.

3/ On Sunday, Dr. Conley said Trump’s “oxygen saturation was transiently dipping below 94%” – a level that can indicate that a patient’s lungs are compromised – and that Trump had been prescribed dexamethasone, a steroid used to head off an immune system overreaction that kills many COVID-19 patients. The National Institutes of Health and World Health Organization both recommend dexamethasone for patients on supplemental oxygen or ventilators. Doctors also repeatedly ignored questions about the results of Trump’s CT scans and advanced imaging, only saying they had seen “expected findings.”

4/ Dr. Conley attempted to address the contradictory statements that had come from him and Meadows on Saturday, telling reporters “I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction. In doing so, it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true.” Conley also said his comments were meant to reflect the “upbeat attitude” of the White House. White House communications director Alyssa Farah, meanwhile, said Dr. Conley withheld details about Trump’s medical condition in order to “convey confidence” and “raise the spirits” of the president.

Sources: Politico / New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / CNN / New York Times / BuzzFeed News / New York Times / Axios / BuzzFeed News / Reuters / New York Times / NBC News / Politico / (Axios / CNN / USA Today / Politico / Washington Post / Washington Post / Washington Post / ABC News / The Guardian / Axios / NBC News / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNBC / Wall Street Journal

  • Trump’s COVID-19 Timeline:

  • Wednesday: Trump traveled to Minnesota for a rally; Hope Hicks started to have symptoms and was isolated in the back of the plane on the return flight.

  • Thursday: Hicks tested positive; Trump left the White House for a fundraiser with hundreds of supporters at his golf club in Bedminster, N.J.; Trump tested positive from a rapid test at some point Thursday; Trump confirmed on Sean Hannity’s show on Fox News that Hicks had tested positive; hours later Trump and Melania Trump announced that they had tested positive following the results from a PCR test.

  • Friday: Trump had a fever and his oxygen saturation levels dipped below 94%, White House physician Dr. Sean Conley said; Trump was given supplemental oxygen for about an hour at the White House; Trump was later taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and was administered an 8-gram dose of an experimental polyclonal antibody cocktail and his first dose of remdesivir.

  • Saturday: Trump’s blood oxygen level dropped for a second time to about 93% and was given the steroid dexamethasone; Trump was given a second dose of remdesivir; White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Trump’s vital signs were “very concerning” and “We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery”; Dr. Conley said Trump was 72 hours into the diagnosis 36 hours after Trump said he received a positive result (70 hours from Saturday would have meant a diagnosis on Wednesday); Trump tweeted a video that he was “starting to feel good.”

  • Sunday: Trump’s blood oxygen level improved to 98%; doctors suggested that Trump might be discharged Monday; Trump left the hospital to go for a drive-by in a black SUV with the windows rolled up and two Secret Service agents inside.

  • Monday: Trump tweeted that he’ll be leaving the hospital.

  • Sources: New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / ABC News / CNN / ABC News / New York Times / New York Times / Vox

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~35,331,000; deaths: ~1,039,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,446,000; deaths: ~211,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

  • The White House identified at least 206 people who may have been exposed to the coronavirus at Trump’s fundraiser at Bedminster last week. (Axios)

  • At least 11 coronavirus cases can be traced to last week’s presidential debate in Cleveland. The city specifically said positive tests were traced to people involved in organizing the debate. (NBC News)

  • Trump finished a regimen of hydroxychloroquine “without side effects.” (CNBC)

  • Little evidence that the White House offered contact tracing or guidance to the hundreds of people potentially exposed. (Washington Post)

  • “It’s business as usual,” one White House official put it. “Among White House staff and the re-election effort, some advisers were furious that Trump wasn’t talked out of attending a high-roller fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Thursday night, after the White House already learned of his exposure to the virus, two administration officials said.” (Daily Beast)

  • Mark Meadows provided no guidance to White House aides about what to do with Trump at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. (New York Times)

  • Trump’s reelection campaign won’t change any safety protocols for upcoming rallies despite Trump’s hospitalization after contracting COVID-19. (CNN)

  • [Analysis] Five questions about the White House’s botched handling of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis. (Washington Post)

  • [Analysis] The White House Is Spreading Virus and Lies. “The White House is at war with the virus, with itself, and with reality — though not necessarily in that order.” (New York Magazine)

  • [Analysis] How to Cover a Sick Old Man. (New York Times)

  • 🤮 The White House Super-Spreader Tracker:

  • Trump

  • Melania Trump

  • Hope Hicks

  • Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager (Politico)

  • Kayleigh McEnany (Axios / CNBC / Politico)

  • Chris Christie (CNBC / CNN)

  • Kellyanne Conway (Washington Post)

  • Karoline Leavitt, assistant press secretary (USA Today)

  • Chad Gilmartin, principal assistant press secretary (Twitter)

  • Nick Luna, director of Oval Office operations (Axios)

  • Ronna McDaniel, Republican National Committee chairwoman (Axios / Politico)

  • Sen. Thom Tillis

  • Sen. Mike Lee (Axios / Politico)

  • Sen. Ron Johnson (Cap Times)

  • Notre Dame President John Jenkins

  • Three White House journalists (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Attorney General William Barr will quarantine out of caution (Associated Press / CNN)

5/ Trump unexpectedly left Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Sunday for a motorcade drive-by to wave to supporters. Video showed Trump wearing a mask and waving from behind the closed window of a black SUV, accompanied by at least two Secret Service agents, who were wearing respirators and eye protection. Prior to the drive-by, Trump reportedly told advisers that he was bored in the hospital. Dr. James Phillips, chief of disaster medicine at George Washington University Hospital and an attending physician at Walter Reed called the stunt “insanity,” tweeting that the “Presidential SUV is not only bulletproof, but hermetically sealed against chemical attack. The risk of COVID19 transmission inside is as high as it gets outside of medical procedures. The irresponsibility is astounding.” Multiple Secret Service agents criticized Trump’s drive-by, accusing Trump of putting his protective detail in unnecessary danger. “He’s not even pretending to care now,” an agent who requested anonymity said. “That should never have happened,” another unidentified agent said. The drive-by also violated CDC guidelines, which call on health care professionals to “limit transport and movement of the patient outside of the room to medically essential purposes.” In a video posted on Twitter around the same time, Trump said he’s “learned a lot” about the coronavirus while undergoing treatment. “This is the real school. This isn’t the let’s-read-the-book school. And I get it. And I understand it.” (Washington Post / Bloomberg / Axios / NBC News / Washington Post / The Hill / Associated Press / Politico / Los Angeles Times / The Guardian)

6/ Trump downplayed the seriousness of his coronavirus diagnosis, tweeting “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” Trump also announced that he will be leaving Walter Reed medical center at 6:30 p.m. ET today after receiving treatment that included experimental treatments unavailable to most Americans. The virus has killed more than 211,000 Americans so far. Trump argued with his doctors after they told him to go to Walter Reed on Friday. Doctors reportedly gave Trump an ultimatum: he could go to the hospital while he could still walk, or doctors would take him in a wheelchair or on a stretcher if his health deteriorated. Trump waited to leave for the hospital until the stock market closed on Friday. Trump’s advisers, meanwhile, urged Trump not to check out of the hospital as recently as this morning, saying “You don’t wanna come back.” (Politico / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Vanity Fair / CNN)

  • Trump Jr. “thinks Trump is acting crazy,” according to two Republicans briefed on the family conversations. “According to sources, Don Jr. has told friends that he tried lobbying Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, and Jared Kushner to convince the president that he needs to stop acting unstable.” Trump Jr. said he “‘wants to stage an intervention, but Jared and Ivanka keep telling Trump how great he’s doing.’” Trump Jr. is also reportedly “reluctant to confront his father alone,” saying “I’m not going to be the only one to tell him he’s acting crazy.” (Vanity Fair)

  • Trump told Bob Woodward in March that he didn’t have “a lot of time” to meet with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the coronavirus. “Trump hailed Fauci in the March 19 interview as a ‘sharp guy’ who has ‘done it before,’ but when pressed if he had met with the nation’s leading infectious disease expert one-on-one for a better understanding of the virus, the President offered: ‘Yes, I guess, but honestly there’s not a lot of time for that, Bob.’ (Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian)

7/ The CDC updated its guidance about how COVID-19 spreads, confirming that the coronavirus is airborne and may infect people who are more than six feet apart, especially indoors with poor ventilation. Two weeks ago, the agency updated its guidance to say COVID-19 could spread through the air, but then abruptly reverted to its previous guidance. The new guidance now says the “CDC continues to believe, based on current science, that people are more likely to become infected the longer and closer they are to a person with COVID-19” and that the the virus can “sometimes be spread by airborne transmission” and can be spread by both droplets and aerosols released when people “cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe.” (New York Times / CNN / Washington Post / Politico / ABC News)

8/ The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin the confirmation process for Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Oct. 12 despite two Republican committee members testing positive for the coronavirus. “The Senate’s floor schedule will not interrupt the thorough, fair, and historically supported confirmation process previously laid out” by Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell said in a statement. McConnell, however, said he’ll seek consent from Democrats to delay the return of the Senate to Oct. 19 after Senators Ron Johnson, Mike Lee, and Thom Tillis tested positive. (NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / Bloomberg / New York Times)

poll/ 72% of Americans said Trump did not take the “risk of contracting the virus seriously enough,” nor “the appropriate precautions when it came to his personal health.” (ABC News)

poll/ 65% of Americans agreed that if “Trump had taken coronavirus more seriously, he probably would not have been infected.” (Reuters)

poll/ 59% of voters said Trump “underestimated the risks of COVID-19” while 21% said he has “behaved appropriately.” 59% said Trump has not been wearing a mask and social distancing appropriately, 61% said Trump’s level of mask-wearing and social distancing has been “too little,” and 64% don’t think Trump should have attended a New Jersey fundraiser with top GOP donors after learning that Hope Hicks had tested positive for COVID-19. (Yahoo News)

poll/ 53% of voters prefer Biden for president following the debate but before news emerged that Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus. 39% prefer Trump. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump wants to fire FBI director Christopher Wray after the election. According to several senior officials and close associates, Trump intends to replace Wray near the start of a second term in office, saying the matter would be resolved “next year.” (Daily Beast)

  2. Trump’s national security adviser claimed that Russians “have committed” to not interfering in the the election. American intelligence agencies, however, have already reported that Russians have been active in the 2020 election. FBI Director Christopher Wray also told Congress in September that “the intelligence community consensus is that Russia continues to try to influence our elections.” And Microsoft provided similar evidence. Nevertheless, Robert C. O’Brien asserted that Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of Russia’s Security Council, promised not to interfere. (New York Times)

  3. The federal agency that oversees the Voice of America investigated one of its journalists for anti-Trump bias. A report deemed “confidential” claims that VOA White House bureau chief Steve Herman had been unfair to Trump in his reporting and tweets, and had broken the broadcaster’s standards and social media policies. (NPR)

Day 1352: "Give me a fucking break."


1/ Trump and Melania tested positive for the coronavirus months after playing down the pandemic that has killed more than 205,000 Americans and sickened millions more. Trump reportedly has a low-grade fever, nasal congestion, and a cough. He received an infusion of an experimental antibody cocktail and was taken to Walter Reed Medical Center Friday afternoon by helicopter after his condition worsened. He will remain at Walter Reed for a few days. Earlier in the day, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Trump had “mild symptoms.” Late Thursday night, Trump tweeted: “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!“ Trump, 74, was diagnosed hours after one of his closest advisers, Hope Hicks, tested positive Thursday morning. Hicks traveled with Trump on Air Force One and Marine One this week to the presidential debate in Cleveland on Tuesday and to a campaign rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. After the White House learned of Hicks’ symptoms, Trump flew to New Jersey for a fundraiser anyway, delivered a speech, and was in close contact with dozens of other people, including campaign supporters at a roundtable event. At a political dinner Thursday night, Trump told guests that “the end of the pandemic is in sight.” While he did not appear ill at the time, he did not speak to reporters when he returned to the White House. The president’s physician, meanwhile, said Trump was “well.” Hicks is showing symptoms. Three days ago, at the presidential debate, Trump mocked Biden for wearing a mask every time he appeared in public. “I put a mask on when I think I need it,” Trump said. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from it. And he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.” The Trump campaign announced that all of Trump’s planned events are being postponed or going virtual. Trump also canceled his plans to travel to a rally in Florida. There are 32 days before the election on Nov. 3. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / Politico / ABC News / NPR / CNBC / New Yorker / NPR / CNBC / BuzzFeed News / HuffPost / Los Angeles Times / Politico / Daily Beast / NBC News)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~34,439,000; deaths: ~1,026,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,313,000; deaths: ~209,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

  • 💻 Trump Tests Positive For Coronavirus Live Blogs: NPR / NBC News / CNN / CBS News / USA Today / New York Magazine / Los Angeles Times

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

  • [READ] The letter from White House physician Dr. Sean Conley about Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis. (NBC News)

  • The House approved a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief measure. (Politico)

  • Dow futures plunged in early morning trading. (CNBC / Bloomberg / NBC News)

  • The White House Super-Spreader Tracker:

  • Trump

  • Melania Trump

  • Hope Hicks

  • Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel (Axios / Politico)

  • Sen. Mike Lee (Axios / Politico)

  • Pence (CNN / Politico)

  • Karen Pence

  • Barron Trump

  • Ivanka Trump

  • Jared Kushner

  • Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Comey Barrett (Previously tested positive)

  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper

  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

  • United States National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow

  • Mike Pence and his wife Karen tested negative for COVID-19.

  • Sources: Axios / USA Today / Slate

  • What Trump did in the days before his coronavirus test. In the past week, Trump has debated Democratic nominee Joe Biden, held two rallies, participated in a dozen events, and interacted with thousands of supporters and donors. (Vox / Washington Post / Politico)

  • “No one was wearing masks” during Trump’s debate preparation, according to Chris Christie. (USA Today)

  • [Analysis] Pandemonium Inside the White House as Trump Contracts COVID-19. “No One Knows Where This Is Going to Go.” (Vanity Fair)

  • [Analysis] Now What? “Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis raises a number of questions about when the president was infected and how many other people in the White House might be sick.” (The Atlantic)

  • [Analysis] What Trump’s positive coronavirus test means for the presidential campaign. “If the White House sticks to that timeline, it means that, at least for half the time remaining before Election Day, Trump will have to suspend the campaign rallies that he had been holding regularly.” (New Yorker)

  • [Analysis] How Will Trump’s Positive COVID-19 Test Affect The Election? (FiveThirtyEight)

  • [Analysis] The October surprise is here: the health of Donald Trump and that of his wife and senior advisers, and what it all will mean for the governance of the United States. (New Yorker)

  • [Analysis] The Patient-in-Chief Will Affect How Americans See Covid’s Risk. “Trump and his staff have avoided some precautions taken by other Americans.” (Bloomberg)

  • [Analysis] How severe could Trump’s Covid-19 case be? “Although Trump has spent months downplaying the danger of the virus for himself and Americans, and frequently refuses to wear a mask, he also falls squarely into several higher-risk buckets — being over 70 years old, being male, and having obesity. These factors may raise his odds of severe disease and death from the coronavirus.” (Vox)

  • [Analysis] With COVID Hitting the West Wing, What Happens When the President Is a Liar? Two viruses—the coronavirus and disinformation—collide at the White House. (Mother Jones)

  • [Analysis] What Happens If A Presidential Nominee Can No Longer Run For Office? (FiveThirtyEight)

  • [Analysis] “This was avoidable”: Trump has been downplaying the virus from the start. In recent weeks, Trump has put himself and others at risk by holding mass gatherings, some indoors, and shunning mask use while claiming the end of the virus was just around the corner. (NBC News)

  • [Analysis] “This is the worst nightmare for the Trump campaign.” Trump once seemed impervious to October surprises is suddenly confronting one big enough to alter the election outcome. (Politico)

2/ Trump knew Thursday morning that Hope Hicks tested positive for coronavirus and continued with a full schedule of events anyway. The White House has not said when Trump first tested positive and it’s not known whether Trump was tested Thursday morning, but Trump said late Thursday he was awaiting results.After Trump learned that Hicks was positive Thursday, the White House modified plans for who would travel on Marine One and Air Force One to Trump’s fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club. On Monday, Trump claimed “We’re rounding the corner” on the pandemic. Trump was joined in the Rose Garden by Mike Pence; Alex Azar, Betsy DeVos, and the chief executive of Abbott Laboratories, Robert Ford. On Tuesday, Trump traveled on Air Force One to Cleveland for the first presidential debate with all of his adult children and senior members of his White House and campaign staff, including Jared Kushner, Trump Jr., Kimberly Guilfoyle, Lara Trump, Jason Miller, Stephen Miller, Mark Meadows, Robert O’Brien, and Rep. Jim Jordan. Nobody wore masks while boarding or deplaning. Bill Stepien, Trump’s campaign manager, was also seen on board without a mask and was later spotted getting into a staff van with Hicks. On Wednesday, Hicks was isolated in a separate cabin from the rest of the White House staff on Air Force One on the trip home from Wednesday’s rally in Minnesota night after falling ill. Trump left the White House on Thursday at 1 p.m. for the New Jersey fundraiser. Before his own diagnosis was made public, Trump sounded raspy on a call with Iowa voters and in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. Republican donors who attended Trump’s fundraiser at his Bedminster golf club, meanwhile, are reportedly “freaking out” and asking the Trump campaign and GOP officials for guidance on what to do. About 30 to 50 donors came close to Trump at the event. (Bloomberg / New York Times / CNBC / Politico / Daily Beast / HuffPost)

3/ Biden and Harris both tested negative for the coronavirus. Jill Biden and Doug Emhoff also tested negative. “I hope this serves as a reminder,” Biden said, “wear a mask, keep social distance, and wash your hands.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, said Trump’s frequent dismissal of COVID-19 health guidelines “was sort of a brazen invitation for something like this to happen.” (Axios / USA Today / CNBC / HuffPost / CNN)

4/ The Justice Department and FBI are preparing for Election Day civil unrest. While the department and the FBI monitors elections every year and engage in “extensive election planning,” including for “the possibility of violence,” officials familiar with the matter said the planning is particularly intense this year because of the unrest the country has already seen, and the nature of an election during a pandemic. Trump, meanwhile, has declined to say he’ll accept the election results, exaggerated claims about voter fraud, and urged supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully.” (Washington Post)

5/ Trump condemned “all White supremacists” – two days after refusing to do so at the presidential debate. “I condemn the KKK, I condemn all White supremacists, I condemn the Proud Boys. I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing, but I condemn that,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Earlier in the day, however, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany wouldn’t give a declarative statement denouncing White supremacists. (Bloomberg / CNN / CBS News)

6/ Melania Trump mocked migrant children separated at the border, saying “give me a fucking break.” In a tape secretly recorded in 2018 by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former friend and senior adviser to the first lady, Melania complained about being criticized for Trump’s policy of separating families who illegally crossed the southern border while at the same time needing to perform traditional first lady duties, such as preparing for Christmas. “They say I’m complicit. I’m the same like him, I support him. I don’t say enough I don’t do enough where I am,” she said. “OK, and then I do it and I say that I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a fucking break.” Earlier in the conversation, the first lady complained about Christmas decorations at the White House, saying “I’m working […] my ass off on the Christmas stuff, that you know, who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations?” (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

7/ Judge Amy Coney Barrett added her name to a “right to life ad” in 2006 that called for putting “an end to the barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade.” Barrett was a law professor at the University of Notre Dame when she added her name to the two-page ad, published by the St. Joseph County Right to Life group, an extreme anti-choice organization in South Bend, Indiana. Barrett failed to disclose her participation in ad in documents submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said the Senate intends to move “full steam ahead” on Barrett’s nomination. (The Guardian / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / National Review / Politico)

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany falsely claimed that Amy Coney Barrett is a “Rhodes scholar.” When reporter pointed out that Barrett did not receive a Rhodes Scholarship, but instead received a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis, McEnany repleid: “My bad.” (Slate)

8/ Fox News paid Trump, Jr.‘s girlfriend’s former assistant upward of $4 million to avoid going to trial after an employee wrote a 42-page complaint accusing Kimberly Guilfoyle of repeated sexual harassment. In November, 2018, a young woman who had been one of Guilfoyle’s assistants at Fox News sent company executives a confidential, draft complaint demanding monetary relief. In July 2018, Fox News announced it “parted ways with Kimberly Guilfoyle” following a multimillion-dollar out-of-court settlement. (New Yorker / CNN)

Day 1351: "The single largest driver of misinformation."


1/ Around 837,000 people filed for first-time jobless benefits last week with continuing claims totaling 11.8 million – well above pre-pandemic levels. (NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times)

2/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to reach a deal on a new pandemic relief package. House Democrats, meanwhile, plan to vote on a new $2.2 trillion relief bill that Republicans oppose. The legislation is a slimmed-down version of the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act the House passed in May, which Senate Republicans and the White House also dismissed as too costly. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

3/ Trump is the “single largest driver of misinformation” about COVID-19, according to a study by Cornell University that analyzed 38 million worldwide articles about the pandemic. Researchers found that nearly 38% of the “misinformation conversation” began with Trump driving ”spikes” about “miracle cures” for COVID-19, such as the use of disinfectants, ultraviolet light, or unproven treatments like hydroxychloroquine. (New York Times / NBC News)

4/ Trump suggested that he won’t “allow” the non-partisan Commission on Presidential Debates to change the format of the debates. Trump’s tweet – “Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?” – comes a day after the commission announced that it would making changes to the format, including potentially allowing moderators to shut off the microphones if Trump or Biden break the rules. At Tuesday’s debate, Trump interrupted Biden or the moderator at least 128 times. The commission said the event “made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.” The plans have not been finalized and the commission is still considering how it would carry out the plan. (CBS News / CNBC / Bloomberg / NBC News)

5/ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany would not provide a declarative statement about whether or not Trump forcefully condemns white supremacy. Instead, McEnany pointed to Trump’s past statements denouncing the KKK and advocating for the death penalty for a white supremacist, while claiming that Trump’s “record on this is unmistakable and it’s shameful the media refuses to cover it.” At one point, McEnany accused CNN’s Kaitlan Collins of asking a “partisan attack question.” (Axios / CNN)

poll/ 39% of voters said Trump did worse than they expected during the first presidential debate, compared with 13% who said Biden underperformed. 57% of Republicans and 61% of independents said their primary reaction was disappointment. 37% of Democrats said they walked away angry, compared with 24% of independents and just 9% of Republicans. (SurveyMonkey)

poll/ 53% of likely voters said Biden did a better job in the debate, compared with 29% for Trump. 45% of those surveyed said Trump performed worse than expectations, while 11% said the same for Biden. (CNBC)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Federal law enforcement officials were instructed to be sympathetic public comments about the Kenosha shooter. An internal Department of Homeland Security document directed officials to note that Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with killing two protesters, “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners” and to say that the media incorrectly labeled the group Patriot Prayer as racists. Officials were also instructed to bring conversations back to the need to preserve law and order: “This is also why we need to stop the violence in our cities. Chaotic and violent situations lead to chaotic, violent and tragic outcomes. Everyone needs law and order.” It is unclear whether any of the talking points originated at the White House or within Homeland Security’s own press office. (NBC News)

  2. A federal judge blocked Trump’s federal law enforcement commission from releasing a report on ways to improve policing. Trump and Attorney General William Barr violated federal law by placing only current and former law-enforcement personnel on the 18-member commission, doing its work behind closed doors, and failing to include people with diverse views. (Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

  3. The Trump administration will admit a maximum of 15,000 refugees next year – a historic low. Last year’s limit was set at 18,000 refugees. (Axios / CNN / The Hill / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

  4. The Trump administration mandated that the Farmers to Families Food Box Program include a letter from Trump claiming credit for the program. The USDA program provides millions of boxes of surplus food for families in need. The letter, on White House letterhead and featuring Trump’s signature reads: “As President, safeguarding the health and well-being of our citizens is one of my highest priorities. As part of our response to coronavirus, I prioritized sending nutritious food from our farmers to families in need throughout America.” The Trump administration denied that the move is political or improper. Fox News reported in July that Ivanka Trump was responsible for the idea. (Politico)

  5. Pope Francis denied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting request, saying the Vatican does not receive politicians during an election period. Pompeo recently published a letter accusing the Vatican of putting its “moral authority” at risk by renewing an agreement with China over the appointment of bishops. The Vatican accused Pompeo of trying to use that issue to drag the Catholic Church into the U.S. presidential election. (BBC / New York Times / Reuters / Vox)

  6. Brad Parscale is leaving the Trump campaign after he being detained and hospitalized in Florida over the weekend for threatening suicide while holding a handgun during a confrontation with his wife. Parscale served as Trump’s campaign manager until July, and has remained a senior adviser on digital projects for the campaign. Parscale said he is “stepping away from my company and any role in the campaign for the immediate future to focus on my family and get help dealing with the overwhelming stress.” (Axios / Politico / CNN / New York Times / Daily Mail / Washington Post)

  7. Trump signed a bill to keep the government running through Dec. 11 after funding briefly expired. The move averts a government shutdown before the Nov. 3 election. (CNBC / Axios / Bloomberg / CNN)

Day 1350: "A national embarrassment."


1/ Trump refused to condemn white supremacists during the first presidential debate and instead directed the nation’s biggest domestic terrorist groups to “stand back and stand by.” During the debate, moderator Chris Wallace repeatedly asked Trump if he would condemn white supremacists and militia groups. Trump instead sidestepped the question and responded that “Sure, I’m willing to do anything,” before claiming that the violence in cities like Kenosha and Portland is a “left-wing problem, not a right-wing problem.” Biden then pressed Trump to condemn white supremacists, prompting Trump to ask “Who would you like me to condemn?” Wallace repeated: “White supremacists, white supremacists and right-wing militia.” Trump responded, tell the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” before pivoting to criticizing anti-fascists and “the left.” The Proud Boys, an alt-right self-described “western chauvinist” group, responded on social media by pledging allegiance to Trump and declaring that they are “standing by.” (Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NPR / Associated Press / New York Times / Daily Beast / New York Times / NBC News)

  • The first presidential debate in one sentence: Trump bullied his way through the debate for 98 minutes1; incessantly interrupted and insulted Biden nearly every time he spoke; Trump declined to condemn white supremacists, questioned the legitimacy of the November election, and refused to say whether he would concede should he lose2; Biden denounced Trump as a “clown” and told him to “shut up”3; Trump claimed that he’s unfamiliar with the Proud Boys4; and Biden called Trump “a racist” and “the worst president America has ever had”5.

  • Debate Recaps: New Yorker / CNBC / New York Times / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / ABC News / Politico / NBC News / NBC News / Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Politico / CNN / Vox / Bloomberg

  • Analysis: Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / Associated Press / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN

  • Takeaways: NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Washington Post

  • Fact checks: CNN / Washington Post / CBS News / NBC News / Associated Press / Reuters / Bloomberg / Politico

  • Undecided voters called Trump “unhinged” and “un-American” but are unswayed by debate. “Out of 15 undecided voters in a virtual focus group conducted by veteran Republican pollster Frank Luntz, four said they were supporting Democratic nominee Joe Biden after watching the debate and two backed President Donald Trump. The rest remained on the fence.” (Politico)

  • The House adopted a resolution reaffirming lawmakers’ support for a peaceful transfer of power in the event that Trump loses the election. The measure passed with a 397-5 vote, with all five votes against coming from Republicans Matt Gaetz, Louie Gohmert, Clay Higgins, Steve King, and Thomas Massie. The Senate voted last week on a virtually identical measure, which lawmakers in that chamber passed unanimously. Neither the House nor the Senate version of the measure explicitly mentioned Trump’s comments last week that he would have to “see what happens” when asked if he would commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses to Biden. (The Hill)

2/ Biden called Trump’s behavior in the first presidential debate a “national embarrassment” and urged the debate commission to exert more control over their next two meetings. Republicans, meanwhile, distanced themselves from Trump over his failure to condemn white supremacists, as Senator Tim Scott, the chamber’s only Black Republican, said that “white supremacy should be denounced at every turn. I think he misspoke, I think he should correct it. If he doesn’t correct it I guess he didn’t misspeak.” Later, in an attempt to clarify his “stand by” remarks, Trump falsely claimed that he had “always denounced any form” of white supremacy and asserted that he’d never heard of the Proud Boys extremist group. (Bloomberg / Politico / New York Times / NBC News / CNN)

3/ The Commission on Presidential Debates will implement rule changes “to maintain order” for the remaining debates after host Chris Wallace failed to control Trump. “Last night’s debate made clear that additional structure should be added to the format of the remaining debates to ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues,” the CPD said in a statement. One possibility being discussed is cutting off the microphones if Trump or Biden break the rules. Trump repeatedly resisted Wallace’s requests to follow the rules and to allow Biden to speak uninterrupted. Wallace called the debate a “sad” and “terrible missed opportunity.” The next presidential debate is a town hall format scheduled for Oct. 15 in Miami. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / ABC news / CNBC / CBS News)

  • Trump accused Chris Wallace of siding with Biden during the first presidential debate, tweeting an image of Trump on the left opposed by Wallace and Biden together on the right, in the style of an arcade game’s character-select screen. (New York Post / Mediaite)

4/ Trump will hold large campaign rallies in Wisconsin despite the White House Coronavirus Task Force recommending “maximal” social distancing in the state. The Trump campaign will hold a rally at the La Crosse Regional Airport Saturday afternoon, before flying to Green Bay for another rally. The task force has flagged both La Crosse and Green Bay as coronavirus “red zones” – the highest level of concern for community spread of the virus. (Washington Post)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~33,803,000; deaths: ~1,011,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,222,000; deaths: ~207,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

  • New York City’s coronavirus positivity rate is the highest it’s been since June. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced at a news conference that the city now has a 3.25% positivity rate, up from 1.93% on Monday. The jump came on the first day that public elementary schools across the city reopened. The city’s COVID-19 guidelines state that all public schools must shut down if the citywide seven-day positivity rate stays above 3%. Several of the spikes also occurred in Orthodox Jewish communities in South Brooklyn and Queens. City officials have threatened to introduce more severe localized lockdown measures, including restricting gatherings of more than 10 people, if outbreaks continue to occur. (New York Times / Axios)

  • [Study] Hydroxychloroquine is not effective at reducing coronavirus infection. (Reuters)

5/ The White House blocked a CDC order to keep cruise ships docked until mid-February. CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield had recommended that a “no sail” order be extended until February over concerns that cruise ships could become coronavirus hot spots. The White House Coronavirus Task Force, however, overruled Redfield. The White House deputy press secretary, meanwhile, claimed that the move was not politically motivated. The cruise industry has a major economic presence in Florida — a key battleground state where the polls are statistically tied. Before the industry shut down in March, passenger cruises were the sites of some of the most severe early coronavirus outbreaks. The administration will instead allow ships to sail after Oct. 31. (Axios / New York Times)

6/ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to reach a coronavirus stimulus deal. House Democrats planned to pass their roughly $2.2 trillion rescue legislation today, but called off the vote until tomorrow to allow more time for bipartisan talks. Both Pelosi and Mnuchin said that an agreement was possible despite Mitch McConnell saying the sides were “very, very far apart.” (Washington Post / CNBC / CNN)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Trump administration is planning ICE raids and targeted arrests in “sanctuary cities” across the U.S. next month. The raids, known informally as the “sanctuary op,” could begin in California as early as this week, according to three U.S. officials. The raids would then expand to cities including Denver and Philadelphia. Two officials with knowledge of plans for the sanctuary op described it as more of a political messaging campaign than a major ICE operation. (Washington Post)

  2. Six senior officials at the U.S. Agency for Global Media have filed a whistleblower complaint, alleging that they were retaliated against for raising concerns about new political leadership installed earlier this year by Trump. (Politico)

  3. Trump offered Amy Coney Barrett the Supreme Court nomination the same day he met her, which was three days after Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. (Washington Post)

  4. Trump’s top intelligence official released unverified Russian intelligence about Hillary Clinton that was previously rejected by Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee as having no factual basis. Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified the summary of a Russian intelligence assessment, which claims that Clinton personally approved a plan “to stir up a scandal” against Trump “by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.” Ratcliffe, meanwhile, noted that the U.S. intelligence community “does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.” (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

  1. Washington Post

  2. CNN

  3. New York Times

  4. Bloomberg

  5. Washington Post

Day 1349: "Hustlers."


1/ More than 1 million people have died from the coronavirus worldwide in less than nine months — a figure that is almost certainly an undercount. With more than 200,000 deaths, the U.S. leads the global death toll, followed by Brazil at 142,000, and India at 95,500. The director general of the World Health Organization said the 1 million COVID-19 deaths marked a “difficult moment for the world,” urging countries to “bridge national boundaries” to fight back against the virus. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, said that Florida’s move to reopen all bars and restaurants was “very concerning.” (CNN / NBC News / Washington Post / The Guardian / New York Times / BuzzFeed News)

2/ Top White House officials pressured the CDC this summer to play down the risk of the coronavirus to children as the Trump administration pushed to reopen schools this fall. One member of Pence’s staff said she was repeatedly asked by Marc Short, Pence’s chief of staff, to get the CDC to produce reports and charts showing a decline in coronavirus cases among young people that would better support Trump’s claims that COVID-19 poses little danger to children and that schools should reopen. As part of the effort to circumvent the CDC, White House officials also tried to find alternate data showing that the pandemic was weakening and posed little danger to children. Olivia Troye, one of Pence’s top aides on the task force, said she regretted being “complicit” in the effort and called the situation a “nightmare.” (New York Times / CNN / The Hill)

3/ The Trump administration’s distribution of new coronavirus rapid tests have been plagued by confusion and a lack of planning. Health officials in several states haven’t been included in the distribution of the tests, leading to confusion about which nursing homes will receive them until the night before a shipment arrives. The lack of federal planning also has left states with no standardized way to capture results from the fast, cheap, and easy to use tests and include them in daily counts. As a result, as the rapid tests become more widely distributed, the data being used to guide the nation’s coronavirus response is becoming more inaccurate. (Washington Post)

4/ House Democrats released a new $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief proposal that includes funding for schools, small businesses, restaurants, airline workers, and more. The bill is $200 billion smaller than the Democrats’ most recent proposal, and down from the $3.4 trillion measure passed by the House in May. It also earmarks $75 billion in funding for coronavirus testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures “with special attention to the disparities facing communities of color.” It includes a second round of $1,200 payments per taxpayer and $500 per dependent, while extending weekly $600 federal unemployment payments through January 2021. It also comes with $436 billion to help state, local, territorial, and tribal governments pay first responders and health workers. (CNN / CNBC / Bloomberg / Axios / The Hill / ABC News)

5/ Biden and Harris released their 2019 tax returns. Biden’s return shows that he and his wife paid $299,346 in federal income taxes on a taxable income of $944,737 last year. Harris and her husband reported $3.1 million in taxable income and paid more than $1 million in federal taxes. Trump, a billionaire, paid $750 in income taxes in both 2016 and 2017. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Axios)

  • 👑 Portrait of a President: How “The Apprentice” rescued Trump. Over 16 years, Trump earned $197 million from the “The Apprentice,” plus an additional $230 million from the licensing and multilevel marketing deals, which helped cover the losses of the real estate and casino projects that made up his business “empire.” “$8,768,330 paid to him by ACN, a multilevel marketing company that was accused of taking advantage of vulnerable investors; $50,000 from the Lifetime channel for a “juicy nighttime soap” that never materialized; $5,026 in net income from a short-lived mortgage business; and $15,286,244 from licensing his name to a line of mattresses. [… There was $500,000 to pitch Double Stuf Oreos, another half-million to sell Domino’s Pizza and $850,000 to push laundry detergent.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / The Guardian)

  • Michael Cohen: Trump’s “biggest fear” is a “massive tax bill, fraud penalties, fines, and possibly even tax fraud.” “Donald Trump’s financial records are the Rosetta stone for understanding the depth of his corruption and crimes,” Cohen said. “The more it is unraveled, the more he will unravel. It’s the reason he’s fought so hard to keep it under wraps.” (Yahoo News)

poll/ 20% of voters said they believed the winner of the presidential election will be called on election night, while 66% said they expect it to happen sometime later. (Politico)

poll/ Biden leads Trump 54% to 45% among likely Pennsylvania voters, and 54% to 44% among registered PA voters. 53% of registered voters in PA approve of how Trump has managed the economy, but 57% disapprove of how he’s handled the coronavirus outbreak. Trump’s overall approval rating among registered voters in the state sits at 43% positive and 55% negative, with 49% saying they disapprove “strongly.” (Washington Post)

poll/ Biden leads Trump 49% to 40% among likely Pennsylvania voters. 51% of PA voters said they trusted Biden more to pick the next Supreme Court justice, compared to 44% who said that about Trump. (New York Times)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Michael Flynn’s defense lawyer met with Trump and asked that he not issue a pardon. Sidney Powell, Flynn’s lawyer, told Judge Emmet Sullivan that “I never discussed this case with the president until recently when I asked him not to issue a pardon and gave him a general update of the status of the litigation.” Trump previously said that he would consider a pardon for Flynn, which would end the criminal case. (Reuters / CNBC / Politico)

  2. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will end the 2020 Census on Oct. 5, despite a federal judge’s ruling that allows the count to continue until Oct. 31. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh said she was “disturbed” that “despite the court’s order,” Census supervisors have told field workers to wrap up data collection early. Judge Koh set a Tuesday deadline for the Commerce Department to produce the administrative record of the decision-making behind Ross’ announcement. She also threatened to hold government lawyers in contempt of court if the deadline isn’t met. (Bloomberg / CNN / NBC News)

  3. Trump allegedly called evangelical pastors “hustlers” in a 2015 conversation with Michael Cohen after reading an article about an Atlanta-based megachurch pastor trying to raise $60 million to buy a private jet. Trump reportedly told Cohen that the pastor was “full of shit,” but was delighted by the “scam.” (The Atlantic)

Day 1348: "The Apprentice."


1/ Trump paid $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017, and $0 in federal income taxes in 10 of the last 15 years because his businesses routinely reported losing more money than they made, according to two decades of tax data obtained by the New York Times. Trump further reduced his tax bill by claiming a $72.9 million tax refund in 2010 when he declared $1.4 billion in businesses losses, which the IRS has challenged. If auditors disallow Trump’s refund, he could be forced to pay more than $100 million. Trump is personally responsible for more than $300 million in loans that have to be paid off over the next four years. Most of Trump’s signature businesses, including his golf courses, reported losing large sums of money, which have helped to lower his tax bills. Trump also classified personal expenses, including his residences, aircraft, $70,000 in hairstyling for TV appearances, and more than $95,000 for hair and makeup services for Ivanka Trump, as business expenses. The tax data suggests that Trump also lowered his tax liability by paying his children as consultants for the businesses. As president, Trump has earned $73 million abroad in his first two years from foreign sources, despite pledging that he wouldn’t pursue new foreign deals while president. The records, however, do not reveal any previously unreported connections to Russia. In response to the report, an attorney for the Trump Organization said that “most, if not all, of the facts appear to be inaccurate,” but only took direct issue with the amount of taxes Trump had paid. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Bloomberg / Daily Beast / The Guardian / New York Times / CBS News)

  • [Analysis] Revelations and takeaways from Trump’s tax records. Trump has paid no federal income taxes for much of the past two decades; this tax avoidance sets him apart from most other affluent Americans; Trump’s tax avoidance also sets him apart from past presidents; a large refund has been crucial to his tax avoidance; the $72.9 million refund has since become the subject of a long-running battle with the IRS; Trump classifies much of the spending on his personal lifestyle as the cost of business; Trump’s estate in Westchester County, N.Y., typifies his aggressive definition of business expenses; Trump’s companies set aside about 20% of income for unexplained “consulting fees”; Trump’s businesses lose large amounts of money; the most successful part of the Trump business has been his personal brand; Trump’s unprofitable companies help reduce his tax bill; with money from “The Apprentice,” Trump went on his biggest buying spree since the 1980s; his 2016 presidential campaign may have been partly an attempt to resuscitate his brand; the presidency has helped his business; many of his businesses continue to lose money; Trump will soon face several major bills that could put further pressure on his finances; and Trump is personally on the hook for some of these bills. (New York Times / Associated Press / The Guardian)

  • [Analysis] What Trump was trying to hide by holding back his tax returns. “For years, the political world has speculated on what Trump was trying to hide by holding back his returns, and by falsely claiming that he can’t release them until the IRS finishes an extended audit. Was it that he paid no income taxes at all in some years? Was it that he was far less successful a businessman than he let on? Was he claiming legally dubious deductions? The answer, it turns out, is all of the above.” (Vox)

  • [Analysis] What we know — and still want to know — about Trump’s company. (Washington Post)

  • [Analysis] Trump’s legal risks once he’s out of office. “Trump took aggressive tax positions and that the IRS is challenging a $72.9 million refund claimed a decade ago in an audit that has yet to be resolved. If the Internal Revenue Service ultimately prevails, Trump could be liable for millions of dollars in penalties. He potentially could be subject to criminal prosecution if the IRS mounted a case that he knowingly violated the law, though that would be very difficult to do.” (Bloomberg)

  • [Analysis] Here’s how much you had to make in 2017 to pay more income tax than Trump: A single adult without kids making $18,000 would have paid more. (Vox / Washington Post)

  • How Trump’s taxes compare to those of other presidents. Obama paid nearly $1.8 million in federal income tax his first year in office, George W. Bush’s first-year federal tax bill was $250,221, and prior presidents each paid tens of thousands of dollars in taxes during the first years of their administrations. Trump paid $750. (Washington Post)

  • [Read] The New York Times Editor’s Note on the Trump tax investigation. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 806: Trump asked Mitch McConnell to prioritize confirming the chief counsel of the IRS earlier this year. White House aides reportedly insisted that the confirmation of Michael Desmond was more important than the 2017 tax cuts and the nomination of William Barr as attorney general. Trump told McConnell on February 5th that he was worried Desmond would withdraw his nomination if the Senate didn’t act soon. Desmond was confirmed two weeks later. (New York Times)

2/ Trump dismissed the report of his tax avoidance as “totally fake news,” “made up,” and “illegally obtained.” Trump also suggested that he “paid many millions of dollars in taxes but was entitled, like everyone else, to depreciation & tax credits.” When asked about the report, Trump said “I’ve paid a lot,” but did not specify how much. He – again – promised that “it’ll all be revealed” after the completion of an IRS audit, which he has said for years. Nothing, however, prevents Trump from releasing his tax returns. In a 2016 debate against Hillary Clinton, Trump said not paying federal income tax “makes me smart.” (NPR / NBC News / Politico / USA Today)

  • In 1990, Trump attempted to change his father’s will, who’s mental state was in decline. At the time, creditors threatened to force Trump into personal bankruptcy and his wife at the time, Ivana, wanted “a billion dollars” in a divorce settlement. Trump sent an accountant and a lawyer to tell his father he needed to immediately sign a document changing his will. Fred was 85 years old at the time and within months was formally diagnosed with “early stages of dementia.” (Washington Post)

  • In the late 1990s, Trump tried to do business with Moscow’s late mayor Yury Luzhkov as part of a broader push to secure other real estate deals in Russia, which Trump was still pursuing as recently as 2016. Meanwhile, on Sunday, Trump repeatedly accused Hunter Biden of receiving millions of dollars from the wife of Luzhkov, asking why “nobody even has any question about it” while claiming that he “didn’t have anything to do with Russia.” (Politico)

3/ Trump wrote off $26 million in “consulting fees” between 2010 and 2018 by treating a family member as a consultant and then deducting the fee as a cost of doing business. While the “consultants” were not identified in the tax records, comparing Trump’s tax records to Ivanka Trump’s financial disclosures show that a company she co-owned received $747,622 in 2017 – which matches consulting fees claimed as tax deductions by the Trump Organization for hotel projects in Vancouver and Hawaii. In both deals, Ivanka appears to have double-dipped: serving as both a project manager in her official capacity as a senior staffer for her father’s company and as a “consultant” to those same projects. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump wanted to name Ivanka as his running mate in 2016, according to a forthcoming book by former Trump campaign deputy Rick Gates. Trump repeatedly brought up the idea of naming Ivanka as his VP pick, prompting the campaign to poll the idea – twice. “I think it should be Ivanka. What about Ivanka as my VP?” Trump said. “She’s bright, she’s smart, she’s beautiful, and the people would love her!” Ivanka was reportedly the one who told Trump that it wasn’t a good idea. Pence was ultimately selected as Trump’s running mate only after he delivered a “vicious and extended monologue” about Bill and Hillary Clinton. (Washington Post / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

4/ Nancy Pelosi called the report that Trump has more than $300 million in loans coming due in the next four years a “national security question.” Pelosi, arguing that foreign nations or individuals could have “leverage” over the president, said the public has a “right to know” the details of his financial obligations. According to the Times report, Trump “is personally responsible” for the loans and “should he win re-election, his lenders could be placed in the unprecedented position of weighing whether to foreclose on a sitting president.” Democrats called on Trump to disclose his tax returns. Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have remained largely silent and dodged questions about Trump’s taxes. (NBC News / CNBC / Axios)

  • A federal appeals judge questioned why Manhattan’s district attorney didn’t execute a grand jury subpoena for Trump’s tax returns weeks ago. Judge Pierre Leval said he believed that the order issued Sept. 1 by a three-member panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit was meant to pause a lower court’s dismissal of Trump’s effort to kill the subpoena — but that it did not prevent the district attorney, Cyrus Vance from collecting Trump’s financial records from his accounting firm in the meantime. The general counsel in the district attorney’s office said the appeals court’s Sept. 1 order was not interpreted that way. (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1321: 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)

5/ CDC Director Robert Redfield warned a colleague that “everything” Trump’s new coronavirus task force adviser “says is false.” Redfield, during a phone call made in public on a commercial airline, said Dr. Scott Atlas is misleading Trump on range of issues, including the efficacy of face masks, whether young people are susceptible to the virus, and the benefits of herd immunity. Prior to joining the task force in August, Atlas was a frequent guest on Fox News, where he pushed to reopen the country and shared views that aligned with Trump’s opinions of the coronavirus pandemic. Pence, meanwhile, warned that “The American people should anticipate that cases will rise in the days ahead,” but moments later Trump insisted that the country is “rounding the corner,” even though the U.S. death toll surpassed 200,000 last week. Earlier this month, Redfield testified before Congress that “We’re nowhere near the end” as the global COVID-19 death toll nears 1 million. (NBC News / The Guardian)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~33,225,000; deaths: ~1,000,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,135,000; deaths: ~205,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

  • Experts say COVID-19 cases are likely about to surge. “States are rolling back restrictions, people are eager to get back to normal, and Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming up. America may be on the verge of repeating the same mistakes, which would risk yet another surge in the COVID-19 epidemic.” (Vox)

  • 📌 Day 1343: Dr. Deborah Birx is reportedly so “distressed” with the direction of the coronavirus task force that she is not certain how much longer she will remain. Specifically, the White House task force coordinator recently confided to aides and friends that she believes that Dr. Scott Atlas, a recent addition to the task force, is giving Trump misleading information about the efficacy of face masks. Atlas does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology. (CNN)

6/ The U.S. Postal Service stopped updating the national change of address system for three weeks in August as election officials were preparing to send out mail-in ballots to tens of millions of voters. The failure resulted in at least 1.8 million new changes of addresses not being registered in the database. (Time)

  • Trump’s 2016 campaign identified 3.5 million Black voters in key states that it wanted to “deter” from voting. A data leak obtained by the British news network Channel 4, shows that the Trump campaign prepared files on about 200 million American voters, separating some into eight different categories. One such category, assigned to 3.5 million Black voters, was titled: “Deterrence.” Black Americans were disproportionately marked “Deterrence” by the campaign when compared to general population stats. (Daily Beast)

7/ A third federal judge ordered the U.S. Postal Service to halt changes that have causes nationwide mail delays. U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan agreed with a previous ruling that the changes are likely to risk the timely delivery of election mail, saying it is “clearly in the public interest to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, to ensure safe alternatives to in-person voting, and to require that the USPS comply with the law.” USPS removed 711 high-speed sorting machines around the country this year – a 15% reduction in capacity. (Washington Post)

poll/ 37% of voters said the Senate should confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, while 34% said she should not be confirmed, and 29% didn’t know or have an opinion. 40% said Barrett should only receive a vote if Trump is reelected, 39% said she should be confirmed as soon as possible no matter what, and 20% didn’t have an opinion. (Politico)

poll/ 50% of American who were laid off because of the coronavirus remain unemployed, 33% have returned to their old job, and 15% are in a different job than before. (Pew Research Center / Vox)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump named Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, calling it a “very proud moment indeed.” Trump called Barrett a woman of “towering intellect” and “unyielding loyalty to the Constitution” who would rule “based solely on the fair reading of the law.” The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings for Barrett on Oct. 12. (NBC News / ABC News / CNN / NPR / New York Times)

  2. Trump’s nominee to lead the Department of Homeland Security told senators that White supremacists have become the “most persistent and lethal threat” to the U.S. from within the country. DHS is in charge of curbing domestic terrorism. Trump and Attorney General William Barr, meanwhile, have both claimed that the nation has been besieged by “left-wing” agitators inciting violence at protests over racial injustice. In 2019, Trump told reporters that he doesn’t consider “white nationalism” to be a growing problem. (Bloomberg)

  3. The U.S. economy lost $16 trillion over the past 20 years as a result of discrimination against African Americans. The U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year. (NPR)

  4. A federal judge temporarily blocked Trump’s TikTok ban, allowing U.S. app stores to continue offering downloads. (NBC News / NPR)

  5. Trump’s former campaign manager was taken by police and hospitalized after his wife said he had guns and was threatening to hurt himself. Brad Parscale’s wife called the police and reported that he was armed and threatening suicide. Police arrived and took him to Broward Health Medical Center under Florida’s Baker Act, which allows police to detain and commit a person who is potentially a threat to himself or others. (Sun-Sentinel / Washington Post / New York Times)

Day 1345: "Train wreck."


1/ The United States surpassed 7 million confirmed cases of COVID-19. The U.S. reached six million cases less than a month ago, on Aug. 30. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, warned that the global death toll could double to 2 million people before a vaccine is widely administered. “If we look at losing 1 million people in nine months and then we just look at the realities of getting vaccines out there in the next nine months, it’s a big task for everyone involved,” Mike Ryan, the executive director of WHO’s health emergencies program, said. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, said that a “large proportion” of the U.S. will not be vaccinated against the coronavirus this year, challenging Trump’s repeated assertions that a vaccine will be ready by Election Day. (CNN / The Guardian / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

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

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~32,391,000; deaths: ~986,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~7,021,000; deaths: ~204,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University

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

  • Trump has reportedly lost patience with CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield and other public health experts on the coronavirus task force because their statements about the pandemic conflict with his assessments. (CNN)

  • Virginia public health officials warned of a “severe public health threat” if Trump’s planned campaign rally is allowed. Roughly 4,000 people are expected to attend the event, despite Gov. Ralph Northam’s order banning gatherings of more than 250 people. Hours before Trump arrived, Northam announced that he and his wife had tested positive for the coronavirus. (NBC News)

2/ White House chief of staff Mark Meadows called for FBI Director Christopher Wray to quit. The comment comes a day after the director testified to Congress that there was no evidence to support Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud, and a week after Wray warned that “Russia continues to try to influence our elections” and is seeking to “primarily to denigrate” Biden’s campaign. Meadows, meanwhile, suggested that Wray “needs to get involved on the ground” and, “with all due respect,” Wray “has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone figuring out whether there’s any kind of voter fraud,” Meadows said, presumably referring to deleted anti-Trump texts between FBI officials on Robert Mueller’s team. (CBS News / Politico / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press)

3/ The Department of Justice announced that it opened an inquiry into nine ballots found “discarded” in northeastern Pennsylvania, an unusual move since DOJ policy calls for voter fraud investigations to be kept under wraps to avoid affecting the election outcome. While the press release didn’t elaborate on what “discarded” meant other than seven of the nine ballots were cast for Trump, the U.S. attorney for central Pennsylvania later said FBI investigators were examining mail-in ballots from military members in Luzerne County after finding nine ballots “improperly opened” by elections staff. The press release didn’t specify a crime or allege any wrongdoing. The White House, meanwhile, knew in advance and teased the department’s announcement earlier in the day, with White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany saying: “I can confirm for you that Trump ballots, ballots for the president, were found in Pennsylvania. And I believe you should be getting more information on that shortly.” Attorney General William Barr also personally briefed Trump about the investigation. Trump carried Luzerne County by about 20 points in 2016. (Politico / New York Times / ABC News / Washington Post)

  • More than 28 million mail-in ballots have been requested and another 42 million are scheduled to be automatically sent to voters across the country. The total number of pre-election ballots due to be distributed exceeds the roughly 50 million pre-Election Day ballots cast in 2016. Requests from registered Democrats outpace those from Republicans by more than 1.3 million ballot requests. Nationally, more than half a million ballots have already been cast in the 12 states reporting. Roughly two dozen states have now started absentee voting or in-person early voting. (CNN)

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said USPS can’t reassemble the high speed mail-sorting machines taken apart this year because they’ve already been stripped for parts. DeJoy also asked that a nationwide injunction be amended to acknowledge that the machines can’t be put back together. (Bloomberg)

4/ Senior Pentagon leaders have discussed what to do if Trump invokes the Insurrection Act and orders the active-duty military to quell protests during the election. Defense Department officials said there have been no preparations for military force during the elections, but suggested that top generals could resign if Trump ordered the active-duty military into the streets to quell protests. Pentagon officials also said under no circumstances would the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff send Navy SEALs or Marines to remove Trump from the White House – that task would fall to U.S. Marshals or the Secret Service. Last month, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, told Congress “I do not see the U.S. military as part of this process […] In the event of a dispute over some aspect of the elections, by law U.S. courts and the U.S. Congress are required to resolve any disputes, not the U.S. Military.” Trump, meanwhile, has repeatedly refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power no matter who wins the election. (New York Times / CNN)

  • 😱 Dept. of “We’re going to have to see what happens.”

  • Trump “seemed to get a real kick” out of making the press “go crazy” with his refusal to commit to a peaceful, orderly transition of power. “According to a Justice Department prosecutor, there is internal concern in some department circles that Attorney General William Barr will join post-election lawsuits on behalf of the Trump campaign or its allies.” (Daily Beast)

  • “Everyone sees the train wreck coming”: Trump reveals his November endgame. “After more than four years of nonstop voter fraud claims and insinuations that he might not accept the election results, the president isn’t keeping his intent a secret.” (Politico)

  • ‌The apocalypse scenario. “Democratic lawyers are preparing to challenge any effort by President Trump to swap electors chosen by voters with electors selected by Republican-controlled legislatures. One state of particular concern: Pennsylvania, where the GOP controls the state house.” (Axios)

  • Trump’s escalating attacks on election prompt fears of a constitutional crisis. “Trump escalated his months-long campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election with comments Wednesday that, taken together and at face value, pose his most substantial threat yet to the nation’s history of free and fair elections.” (Washington Post)

  • Turbulent 2020 Presidential Campaign Approaches a Storm. “Impending Supreme Court pick, first Trump-Biden debate will test an election landscape no shock seems to alter.” (Wall Street Journal)

5/ Trump will nominate Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Aides, however, cautioned that until it is announced, there is always the possibility that Trump makes a last-minute change. Trump is scheduled to make the announcement on Saturday afternoon and the Senate Judiciary Committee plans to hold confirmation hearings the week of October 12. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC)

6/ A federal judge ordered the 2020 Census to continue through the end of October. In July, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who oversees the Census Bureau, directed all counting efforts to end by Sept. 30 — a month earlier than planned — in order to deliver the results to Trump by the end of the year. U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh granted a preliminary injunction to stop the Census from finishing at the end of September, saying a shortened schedule would likely produce inaccurate results. The Trump administration is appealing to the Supreme Court. The Census, conducted once every ten years, is used to determine the distribution of $1.5 trillion in federal spending each and the number of congressional seats each state receives. (Associated Press / NPR)

7/ The Trump administration rescinded an award recognizing the work of a Finnish journalist after discovering she had criticized Trump on social media posts. The State Department then lied to the public and Congress about the reasons it rescinded the award, according to the agency’s internal watchdog. At the time, the department said it made a mistake in notifying Jessikka Aro that she had won an International Woman of Courage award in 2019 for her work in exposing Russian propaganda and misinformation. The agency’s inspector general, however, said that her social media posts critical of Trump were the reason the award was rescinded. (ABC News / Washington Post)

poll/ 57% of Americans say the replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be left to the winner of the presidential election and a Senate vote next year. 38% say Ginsburg’s replacement should be nominated by Trump and confirmed by the current Senate. (Washington Post)

poll/ Biden leads Trump 65% to 27% among voters born after 1996. 70% of Generation Z voters have negative opinions about Trump, including 61% who view him “very” unfavorably. (Morning Consult)

Day 1344: "There won't be a transfer."


1/ Trump refused to commit to a “peaceful transfer of power” if he loses the election, saying “We’re going to have to see what happens.” Trump – apparently referring to mail-in ballots, which he has repeatedly attacked as widely fraudulent, despite providing no evidence to support his claims – continued: “The ballots are a disaster. Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.” On Wednesday, Trump said he wanted to quickly confirm a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he expects the Supreme Court to decide the result of the election, which could split 4-to-4 if a ninth justice is not seated. And in June, Trump declined to commit to accepting the results of the election if he lost, saying he would “have to see,” before claiming that mail-in voting would “rig the election.” Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, said “The American people will decide this election and the United States government is perfectly capable of escorting trespassers out of the White House.” (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / ABC News / CNN / Axios / CNBC / Bloomberg)

  • Eight times Trump said he won’t accept the election results or leave office if he loses. (CNN)

2/ Congressional Republicans dismissed Trump’s comments, but failed to directly criticize his remarks. Many Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, promised that there would be a peaceful transfer of power if Biden won, but didn’t explain what they’d do if Trump resisted leaving office. “The President says crazy stuff. We’ve always had a peaceful transition of power. It’s not going to change,” Sen. Ben Sasse said. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, promised an “orderly transition.” Meanwhile, during a Fox News Radio interview, Trump said he would abide by a Supreme Court decision if the election results were contested, but before leaving the White House for North Carolina, Trump said he wasn’t sure the election could be “honest” because mail-in ballots are “a whole big scam.” (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / New York Times / ABC News / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian)

  • Internal USPS documents link changes behind mail slowdowns to top executives. “Newly obtained records appear in conflict with months of Postal Service assertions that blamed lower-level managers for strategies tied to delivery delays” (Washington Post)

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a judge the U.S. Postal Service can’t reassemble the high speed mail-sorting machines that were taken apart this year. A nationwide injunction issued last week in Yakima, Washington, “requires the USPS to reverse disruptive operational changes implemented by DeJoy, including restrictions on overtime and changes to the handling of election mail, such as absentee ballots applications.” (Bloomberg)

  • Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said that Trump “is incorrect” when he says USPS isn’t equipped to handle the surge in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. “The Postal Service will do it’s job to deliver the ballots. When the President goes into that the Postal Service doesn’t – is not equipped to do it, which, he is incorrect with that,” DeJoy said. “We’re equipped to do it and we’re going to deliver ballots.” (CNN)

  • [Long read] The Election That Could Break America. If the vote is close, Donald Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him? (The Atlantic)

  • [Long read] The Legal Fight Awaiting Us After the Election. The aftermath of November’s vote has the potential to make 2000 look like a mere skirmish. (New Yorker)

3/ FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators that the U.S. has “not seen” large-scale voter fraud “by mail or otherwise.” Wray, testifying before the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said “Americans must have confidence in our voting system and our election infrastructure,” because it would be a “major challenge” for a foreign country to attempt “any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election.” (Washington Post / Axios)

4/ Trump suggested that the White House would overrule the FDA if the agency issued new, tougher standards for the emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine. Trump questioned why the FDA would set a higher standard for granting emergency authorization for a vaccine, saying it “sounds like a political move.” The FDA is expected to soon announce new standards for an emergency authorization, which are meant to increase public trust and transparency in the vaccine process. FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, meanwhile, promised the Senate Health Committee that the “FDA will not authorize or approve any COVID-19 vaccine before it has met the agency’s rigorous expectations for safety and effectiveness.” He also said that the FDA “will not permit any pressure from anyone to change that.” Trump, however, said any new FDA guidance “has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it.” (CNN / Bloomberg / The Hill / USA Today)

5/ Another 825,000 Americans filed for state unemployment benefits last week. An additional 630,000 people filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, an emergency federal program that covers freelancers and self-employed workers. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

  • House Democrats are preparing a $2.4 trillion coronavirus relief package for possible negotiations with the White House and Senate Republicans. The bill would include enhanced unemployment insurance, direct payments to Americans, Paycheck Protection Program small-business loan funding, and aid to airlines, among other provisions. While the new legislation would be narrower in scope than the $3.4 trillion Heroes Act the House passed in May, it’s larger than what Senate Republicans said they could accept. Trump has indicated he’d be willing to go as high as $1.5 trillion. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / NBC News)

poll/ Biden leads Trump among likely voters in Iowa 45% to 42%. The two candidates are tied in Georgia at 45%, while Trump leads Biden 46% to 43% in Texas. Roughly 90% of voters in all three states say they have definitely made up their minds about whom to vote for. (New York Times)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Nearly 500 retired senior military officers, former Cabinet secretaries, service chiefs, and other officials signed an open letter supporting Biden for president, saying he has “the character, principles, wisdom and leadership necessary to address a world on fire.” The officers said Trump has failed “to meet challenges large or small.” (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

  2. Trump tweeted that he was “praying” for two police officers who were shot during protests after a grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for killing Breonna Taylor. The only charges were against fired Officer Brett Hankison, who shot into the home next to Taylor’s with people inside. Trump also offered sympathy to Taylor’s family. (Associated Press / Politico)

  3. The Trump administration no longer recognizes Aleksandr Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus. In a statement, a spokesperson for the State Department said the U.S. “cannot consider Aleksandr Lukashenko the legitimately elected leader of Belarus,” and that the country should begin “a national dialogue leading to the Belarusian people enjoying their right to choose their leaders in a free and fair election under independent observation.” A new round of protests began this week in the capital city of Minsk after news reports revealed that Lukashenko had held a secret inauguration ceremony. (Axios)

  4. Mary Trump sued Trump and his siblings for allegedly defrauding her out of tens of millions in inheritance decades ago by manipulating the value of properties and lying to her about the worth of her inheritance. “Fraud was not just the family business – it was a way of life,” the lawsuit says in its first sentence. (Washington Post / New York Times / ABC News / NBC News)

Day 1343: "Distressed."


1/ Trump predicted that the election “will end up in the Supreme Court,” tying the confirmation of a justice to the election. Trump, who has repeatedly and baselessly warned of voter fraud and corruption in the upcoming election, said: “I think this will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices, and I think the system’s going to go very quickly.” Trump – again – claimed without evidence that Democrats are trying to rig the election and that he wants a Supreme Court that will agree with him, because “it’s a scam — the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court and I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation.” (Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • poll/ 59% of Americans think the winner of the presidential election should be the one to fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. March 2016, 57% said that Obama should have been the one to fill the vacancy created by the death of Antonin Scalia, rather than the president elected in November. (CNN)

  • poll/ 63% of voters don’t expect to know the winner of the presidential election on Election Night, while 30% think the country will know. (Quinnipiac)

  • [Speculation] The Trump campaign has reportedly discussed a contingency plan to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. If Trump loses, he would then ask state legislators to ignore the popular vote on claims of rampant fraud, which experts have noted is extraordinarily rare, and instead choose electors directly ahead of the “safe harbor” deadline on Dec. 8. Electors don’t meet until six days later, Dec. 14. (The Atlantic / The Week)

  • Ted Cruz blocked a Senate resolution to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg after Democrats added language noting Ginsburg’s dying request that her seat not be filled until the next president is sworn in. Chuck Schumer tried to pass the resolution by unanimous consent, but Cruz objected, accusing Chuck Schumer of turning the bipartisan resolution into a “partisan resolution.” (CNN / Texas Tribune)

2/ Dr. Deborah Birx is reportedly so “distressed” with the direction of the coronavirus task force that she is not certain how much longer she will remain. Specifically, the White House task force coordinator recently confided to aides and friends that she believes that Dr. Scott Atlas, a recent addition to the task force, is giving Trump misleading information about the efficacy of face masks. Atlas does not have a background in infectious diseases or epidemiology. (CNN)

3/ The Trump administration shifted at least $7 billion from public health programs to Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership to speed up vaccine development. The administration pulled $6 billion from the Strategic National Stockpile’s $16.7 billion allocation meant to replenish stocks of medical protective gear, ventilators, and testing supplies. And, another $1 billion was pulled from the CDC and directed to Operation Warp Speed. In total, the Warp Speed program’s budget is as large as $18 billion – larger than the $10 billion budget the administration has routinely cited in public. (Bloomberg)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said there’s “growing optimism” that one or more safe and effective vaccines will be found by the end of the year or early 2021. Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of CDC told members of a Senate committee that 700 million doses of a vaccine is “going to take us April, May, June, possibly July, to get the entire American public completely vaccinated.” In testimony before the Senate health committee, Fauci, Redfield, Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of food and drugs, and Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health, each said they would take a vaccine and recommend their families do the same should the FDA deem it safe and effective. (CNBC / New York Times)

4/ The Department of Homeland Security has awarded more than $6 million in contracts since 2018 to the consulting firm where acting secretary Chad Wolf’s wife is an executive. Hope Wolf’s firm has received federal contracts in the past, but hadn’t done any work for DHS until after Chad became chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration in 2017, a DHS agency. (NBC News)

5/ The Department of Justice won’t allow any senior officials to testify before Congress in the next two weeks because of the way Democrats treated Attorney General William Barr previously. The DOJ accused Democrats of “scolding and insulting the Attorney General” during a July 28 hearing, as well as repeatedly interrupting him and refusing to let him answer questions. Judiciary Committee chair Jerry Nadler, meanwhile, accused Barr of “trying to pick a fight” with the committee in order to “change the subject from the President’s disastrous handling of the pandemic, and set a new standard for sheer arrogance and open contempt of Congress.” He added: “We will plan accordingly.” (CNN)

6/ A New York state judge ordered Eric Trump to testify before the election as part of a fraud investigation into his family’s real estate business. Last week, Eric’s lawyers said he was willing to be interviewed, but only after the presidential election because he did not want his deposition to be used “for political purposes.” The judge, however, said New York Attorney General Letitia James is not “bound by timelines of the national election,” and that Eric must testify no later than Oct. 7. (Bloomberg / New York Times / CNBC)

7/ A former National Security Council official accused White House aides of falsely asserting that John Bolton’s book contained classified information in order to prevent its publication. In a letter filed in court, Ellen Knight suggested that the Justice Department told a court that the book, “The Room Where It Happened,” contained classified information and opened a criminal investigation into Bolton based on false pretenses. Knight said that after she determined in April that Bolton’s book contained no classified information, political appointees repeatedly asked her to sign a declaration to use against Bolton that made false assertions. She also said that after her refusal, she was reassigned from the White House. (New York Times)

8/ The House passed legislation to fund the government through Dec. 11 and avoid a government shutdown. Funding was set to expire in eight days. Republicans and the White House agreed to “increased accountability” over a $30 billion aid package for famers in exchange for nearly $8 billion in “desperately needed nutrition assistance for hungry schoolchildren and families.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

Day 1342: "What a great job we've done."


1/ Trump lied and claimed that the coronavirus “affects virtually nobody” as the U.S. death toll crossed 200,000 – more than the combined number of Americans killed in the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the War in Afghanistan, and the Persian Gulf War. The number of U.S. deaths is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. The U.S. death toll is expected to double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in. In March, Trump said 200,000 deaths would mean that his administration had “done a very good job” of protecting Americans from the coronavirus. “A lot of people think that goes away in April, with the heat,” Trump said in February, and later this summer, Trump told Fox News: “It’s going to disappear, and I’ll be right eventually.” Meanwhile at a rally in Ohio today, Trump bragged that he’s done an “amazing” and “incredible” job, adding: “The only thing we’ve done a bad job in is public relations because we haven’t been able to convince people — which is basically the fake news — what a great job we’ve done.” The U.S. has the highest death toll of any country in the world, accounting for about 21% of the global death toll despite representing only 4% of the world’s population. Trump added: “By the way, open your schools!” (New York Times / CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / ABC News / Bloomberg / Los Angeles Times / Vox)

  • A public affairs official at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases will “retire” after revelations that he was the anonymous author of blog posts disparaging Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads that agency. William Crews had derided his own colleagues, saying that “government officials responsible for the pandemic response should be executed,” and called his boss a “mask nazi,” whom he described as the “attention-grubbing and media-whoring Anthony Fauci.” (Daily Beast / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

  • The CDC recommends that Halloween trick-or-treating, Thanksgiving parades, and Black Friday shopping should all be avoided. The new guidance for the upcoming holiday season also warns that if people gather in person they so outdoors, keeping groups small, practice mask wearing and social distancing, and considering local virus conditions, as well as where attendees are coming from. (Bloomberg)

2/ The Pentagon spent money meant for medical equipment on defense contracts for military equipment. The Cares Act gave the Pentagon $1 billion to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus,” but instead of paying for masks and other medical supplies, the Defense Department diverted funding toward military supplies, like jet engine parts, body armor, and dress uniforms. The money was mostly funneled to defense contractors, some of which had already received funding from the Paycheck Protection Program. (Washington Post)

3/ The FDA is expected to announce a new, tougher standard for issuing an emergency authorization for a coronavirus vaccine, making it unlikely that any vaccine will be authorized before Election Day. The FDA will require manufacturers seeking emergency authorization to track participants in late-stage clinical trials for two months following their second vaccine shot. Despite Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar giving himself rule-making authority over health agencies, including the FDA, the department said the change won’t affect the FDA’s work on vaccines and COVID-19 treatments. A group of external medical experts that advises the CDC, meanwhile, will delay a vote on a COVID-19 vaccine roll-out plan until government officials authorize a specific vaccine or vaccines. The next scheduled committee meeting is in late October. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump is expected to announce a series of executive actions on health care. The orders could include a safeguard on insurance protections for pre-existing conditions should the Supreme Court undercuts the Affordable Care Act, a measure to prevent patients from receiving “surprise” medical bills, and an effort to address mental health. (Politico)

4/ The Manhattan district attorney suggested that it has grounds to investigate Trump and his businesses for tax fraud and falsifying business records. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office is seeking eight years of Trump’s tax returns and related records. While Cyrus Vance’s office court filing doesn’t directly accuse Trump or any of his business of wrongdoing, it includes news reports that prosecutors say justify the grand jury inquiry. It’s the first time Vance’s office has suggested that tax fraud are among the possible areas of investigation. (New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post)

5/ The CIA assessed in late August that Putin and Russian officials “are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations” aimed at interfering in the 2020 presidential election by denigrating Joe Biden. The first line of the CIA assessment, compiled August 31, reads: “We assess that President Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations aimed at denigrating the former U.S. Vice President, supporting the U.S. president and fueling public discord ahead of the U.S. election in November.” The assessment was compiled with input from the National Security Agency and the FBI using public, unclassified, and classified intelligence sources. The CIA also analyzed the activities of Andreii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker who provided information to Rudy Giuliani, including efforts to disseminate disparaging information about Biden in the U.S. through lobbyists, Congress, the media, and contacts with figures close to Trump. Giuliani said he “interviewed” Derkach three times. (Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

6/ One of Robert Mueller’s top deputies accused the special counsel’s office of failing to fully determine what happened in the 2016 election, like subpoenaing Trump and scrutinizing his finances, out of fear that he would disband their office. In his new book Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation, Andrew Weissmann singles out Mueller’s deputy, Aaron Zebley, for being overly cautious and stopping investigators from taking a broad look at Trump’s finances. “Had we used all available tools to uncover the truth, undeterred by the onslaught of the president’s unique powers to undermine our efforts?” Weissmann writes, adding, “I know the hard answer to that simple question: We could have done more.” Weissmann ran the unit that prosecuted Paul Manafort for numerous financial crimes. (New York Times / Washington Post / The Atlantic)

7/ Mitt Romney, Chuck Grassley, and Cory Gardner all said they do not oppose a confirmation vote this year to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. With a 53-seat majority, Mitch McConnell has the votes he needs to move forward with a confirmation vote either before or just after the Nov. 3 election, despite Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins opposing an election-year confirmation. Trump said he’ll name his choice to replace Ginsburg on Saturday. (Politico / Des Moines Register / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer invoked the “two-hour rule” in order to prevent Republicans from rushing through a vote to confirm Trump’s pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The rule prohibits any Senate committee or subcommittee from meeting after the Senate has been in session for two hours or after 2 p.m. Schumer said he invoked the rule because “we can’t have business as usual when Republicans are destroying the institution as they have done.” Senate Democrats will not be invoking the rule Wednesday, because they don’t want do prevent the Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee or the Intelligence Committee hearings from going forward. (CBS News)
  • Republicans plan to ask the Supreme Court to review a Pennsylvania state court ruling that extended the due date for mail ballots – the first Supreme Court test since the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (The Hill)

8/ The Office of the Special Counsel is investigating Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for potential Hatch Act violations after appearing on Fox News and criticizing Biden in September. The Department of Education then promoted the interview through official channels. At least 12 Trump senior officials have violated the Hatch Act, according to the OSC, most of which have resulted in a warning letter to the offender. (Politico / New York Times)

poll/ Nearly 90% of Americans say lawmakers need to pass a new coronavirus stimulus package to mitigate the fallout from the pandemic. 39% of voters say Democrats and Republicans are “equally responsible” for the failure to pass additional economic aid. (Financial Times)

Day 1341: "Without delay."


1/ Trump urged Senate Republicans to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg “without delay,” tweeting that filling the seat is an “obligation” they must consider. Trump, calling his shortlist of five candidates “the greatest list ever assembled,” said he plans to name his pick to replace Ginsburg “either Friday or Saturday.” Trump added that he wants the new justice confirmed before the November election, and promised that his nominee “will be a woman.” Two GOP senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, both said they don’t support voting on a new nominee before voters get to vote. Democrats need two more Republicans to defect in order to prevent a confirmation. (New York Times / NPR / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / Bloomberg / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NPR / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 1339: RIP RBG. Ginsburg, who once called then-presidential candidate Trump a “faker” and more recently described this period of American history as “an aberration,” dictated the following statement days before her death: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

  • Mitch McConnell vowed that Trump’s nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be put to the Senate floor for a vote and suggested it could be done before Election Day. Lindsey Graham, meanwhile, said he will vote for Ginsburg’s replacement before next election. ((Bloomberg / NPR / Politico / Axios)

  • Obama called for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s successor to be appointed by the election winner, saying she “left instructions for how she wanted her legacy to be honored.” (Medium – Obama /Vox)

  • Biden called on Senate Republicans to consider the will of the voters and not take up the Supreme Court vacancy until after the election, warning that a quick replacement of Ginsburg would “plunge us deeper into the abyss.” Biden, citing 2016 as precedent, said “There is no doubt, let me be clear, that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider. This was the position of the Republican Senate took in 2016 when there were almost 10 months to go before the election. That’s the position the United States Senate must take today.” (Washington Post / NPR / Politico / Politico)

  • Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins said the vacancy left by the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg should be made after the presidential election, citing the proximity to Election Day. In a statement, Collins said “In fairness to the American people, who will either be re-electing the President or selecting a new one, the decision on a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court should be made by the President who is elected on November 3rd.” (NPR / CNN)

  • Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski said she will not support Trump’s nomination to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court before Election Day. Murkowski, the second GOP senator to publicly oppose voting on a Supreme Court nominee before the November election, said “For weeks, I have stated that I would not support taking up a potential Supreme Court vacancy this close to the election,” Murkowski said in a statement. “Sadly, what was then a hypothetical is now our reality, but my position has not changed.” (NBC News / CNBC)

  • Judge Amy Coney Barrett is considered to be the leading contender to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. If Judge Barrett were nominated and confirmed, she would be the sitting justice with the least courtroom experience, but one viewed as a home run by conservative Christians and anti-abortion activists. (New York Times / Bloomberg / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • [Insights] The 6 Republican senators who will decide the Supreme Court fight. “Some are facing difficult elections. Others are institutionalists. But they will play critical roles in replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” (Politico)

2/ By the time you read this, 200,000 people will be dead from the coronavirus in the United States. On March 30, Dr. Deborah Birx told Americans “If we do things together, well, almost perfectly, we can get in the range of 100,000 to 200,000 fatalities.” Experts, meanwhile, are predicting a new spike of coronavirus cases this fall. And, more than half of U.S. states are reporting a rise in coronavirus cases with 27 states and Puerto Rico all reporting test positivity rates above 5% – the threshold that the World Health Organization recommends municipalities hold steady for at least two weeks before businesses reopen. (NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

3/ Trump’s political appointees tried to silence a top official at the CDC after she warned “we have way too much virus across the country.” Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director, had appealed to Americans to wear masks, saying she hoped the country could “take it seriously and slow the transmission.” The next day in a June 30 email, Paul Alexander wrote to his boss, Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at HHS, and reprimanded Schuchat, arguing that her comments contradicted Trump administration officials, including Pence. “Importantly, having the virus spread among the young and healthy is one of the methods to drive herd immunity,” Alexander added. “She is duplicitous.” (New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ The CDC reversed its previous guidance about how the coronavirus is transmitted, claiming that it had mistakenly posted a “draft” that stated that it was “possible” for the coronavirus to spread through airborne particles, which can remain suspended in the air and travel beyond 6 feet. The updated guidance, which was posted on the CDC’s website on Friday, said the virus can be transmitted through tiny, aerosolized droplets that are “produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.” It also recommended that people use air purifiers to prevent the disease from spreading indoors. On Monday, however, the agency reverted to its previous language, saying the guidance was “posted in error” and that the virus is thought to spread “between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).” It was the third major revision to CDC information or guidelines published since May. (NBC News / CNN / CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNN / Reuters)

5/ Heath and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar gave himself rule-making authority over the nation’s health agencies, including the FDA. In a Sept. 15 memo, Azar declared that power to sign any new rules related to the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines, “is reserved to the Secretary.” The memo requires the secretary of HHS to sign any new rule. (New York Times / Politico / Axios / NBC News)

  • Medicare won’t cover the cost of administering a coronavirus vaccine approved for emergency use. While lawmakers passed the Cares Act in March to ensure free coronavirus vaccine coverage, Medicare doesn’t cover costs for drugs approved under emergency use designations. (Wall Street Journal)

6/ A federal judge ordered Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to prioritize election mail and restore overtime for U.S. Postal Service employees, saying that “managerial failures” at the agency undermined the public’s faith in mail-in voting. An injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero directs the USPS to pre-approve all overtime from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, and to give first-class treatment to all election mail beginning Oct. 15. (Bloomberg / CNN)

  • The USPS saw a decline in the rate of on-time delivery for first-class mail after Louis DeJoy took over as postmaster general in June. According to new data, the changes implemented by DeJoy shortly after he took over led to reductions in the amount of First-Class mail that was delivered on time. The reductions in on-time deliveries and delivery speeds persisted even after DeJoy announced in August that he would suspend the changes until after the election. (The Guardian)

  • A judge dismissed the Trump campaign’s lawsuit against Nevada over its plan to mail ballots to all registered voters. The judge called the campaign’s allegation that mailing ballots would lead to massive fraud “impermissibly speculative.” (Bloomberg)

  • A group of Trump supporters illegally disrupted early voting at a polling location in Virginia. The group formed a line to force voters to walk around, while changing “four more years” and waving Trump flags. In Virginia, it is illegal to “hinder or delay a qualified voter in entering or leaving a polling place,” and that any kind of political advocacy is prohibited within 40 feet of any entrance to a polling place. (New York Times)

poll/ 50% of voters said the winner of the presidential election should pick the next justice “since the election is fewer than 50 days away,” while 37% said Trump should pick the next justice “since he is the current president.” 12% had no opinion. (Politico)

poll/ 62% of Americans want the winner of the November presidential election to name a successor to Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. Eight out of 10 Democrats and five in 10 Republicans agreed that the appointment should wait until after the election. (Reuters)

poll/ 60% of likely voters under the age of 30 say they will vote for Biden, compared with 27% for Trump. 56% of likely voters who support Trump are “very enthusiastic” about voting for him, compared with 35% of likely voters who support Biden when asked about their enthusiasm. (NPR)

poll/ 62% of registered Latino voters nationwide say they plan to vote for Biden, compared with 26% who say they’re voting for Trump. 59% say Biden will be better at addressing the concerns of the Latino community, while 18% say Trump will be better. 41% say Biden will do better when it comes to handling the economy, compared with 39% who say Trump will be better. (NBC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Justice Department labeled New York City, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon “anarchist jurisdictions” and threatened to withhold federal funding for “permitting violence and destruction of property” during protests over racism and police brutality. In a statement, Attorney General William Barr claimed the jurisdictions were “permitting anarchy” and that “We cannot allow federal tax dollars to be wasted when the safety of the citizenry hangs in the balance.” It’s unclear if the administration can legally withhold federal funding. (Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  2. The doctor who performed unwanted hysterectomies at an ICE facility is not a board certified OB-GYN. A whistleblower accused Dr. Mahendra Amin of conducting unnecessary or unwanted gynecological procedures on women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. (Daily Beast)

  3. The Treasury Department opened an investigation into allegations of “rampant racism” at the U.S. Mint. A group of Black employees at the Mint asked Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to intervene in June. (Wall Street Journal)

  4. Former FBI Director James Comey will testify publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 30. Lindsey Graham’s committee is conducting a review of the FBI’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. (Politico / CNN)

  5. Rudy Giuliani’s associate, Lev Parnas, was indicted on new federal fraud charges. “Prosecutors said Mr. Parnas persuaded an array of investors to pump more than $2 million into the company, which was intended to offer an insurance-like product to protect consumers. But Fraud Guarantee never got off the ground.” (New York Times)

  6. Trump approved a deal that will allow TikTok to continue operating in the U.S. Oracle will become TikTok’s cloud provider and give it control over the company’s U.S. data. TikTok’s Chinese-based parent company, ByteDance, will continue to own about 80% of the company and maintain control over the algorithm. (Bloomberg / Politico)

  7. A woman suspected of sending a letter containing the deadly poison ricin to the White House and several federal prisons was arrested. She was taken into custody as she was trying to enter the United States from Canada in New York state. U.S. prosecutors in Washington, D.C., are expected to bring charges against her. It is unclear when the letter was sent or where it was intercepted. The identity of the woman is also unknown at this time. The ricin was confirmed in field and laboratory tests. (NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  8. Government funding runs out in nine days. The House Democrats unveiled a short-term spending bill that would keep the government funded through Dec. 11, which Senate Republicans called shameful because it omits a $30 billion bailout for farmers. Democrats oppose the bailout money because they view it as a payoff to farmers hurt by Trump’s trade policies. (Washington Post)

Day 1339: RIP RBG.

The Supreme Court announced Friday that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer, setting up a fight over filling a Supreme Court seat with less than 50 days until the election. “Our nation has lost a jurist of historic stature,” Chief Justice John Roberts said in a statement. “Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

Ginsburg, who was appointed in 1993 by Clinton, was only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court. She had overcome four bouts with pancreatic, lung, and colon cancer since 1999. And, following a recurrence in July, Ginsburg vowed to stay on the court “as long as I can do the job full steam.”

The vacancy, however, gives Trump the opportunity to name her successor, and Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans have promised to try to fill the vacancy. In 2016, Senate Republicans refused to consider Judge Merrick Garland, saying that holding hearings in the last year of a president’s term would deprive voters of a chance to weigh in on what kind of justice they wanted.

Early voting, meanwhile, has already begun in Virginia, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

According to a former Trump White House official, McConnell, who has called the obstruction of Garland “the most important decision I’ve made in my political career,” told donors earlier this year “that when R.B.G. meets her reward, even if it’s October, we’re getting our judge. He’s saying it’s our October Surprise.” Following news of Ginsburg’s death, McConnell released a statement announcing that “Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

Senator Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and – in 2018 when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee – Chuck Grassley, however, have previously announced that they were opposed to confirming a new Supreme Court justice in 2020. “Fair is fair,” Murkowski said.

Meanwhile a a rally in Minnesota, Trump – apparently unaware of Ginsburg’s death – launched into a series of sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton and stoked fears of Islamic terrorism that would occur if Biden were elected.

Ginsburg, who once called then-presidential candidate Trump a “faker” and more recently described this period of American history as “an aberration,” dictated the following statement days before her death: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”

Sources: NPR / New York Times / NBC News / CNN / Politico / Vox / Axios / Los Angeles Times / Wall Street Journal / USA Today / Washington Post / Bloomberg

  • 📌 Day 1330: 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)

  • [Wednesday] The Supreme Court said it will hold arguments by telephone when its new term opens next month. (Bloomberg)

  • What Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Means for America. “But her passing less than two months before the presidential election also tosses one more lit match into the tinderbox of national politics in 2020: It will surely inflame a deeply polarized country already riven by a deadly pandemic, a steep economic downturn, and civil unrest in its major cities.” (The Atlantic)

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 / CNN)

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 /