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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative August 2020 news and views.

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this.

 

Aug. 13

Top Headlines

U.S. Election Updates

Inside DC

World News

Law, Crime, Courts

Media News

Virus Victims, Responses

More On U.S. Politics

 

Top Stories

washington post logojoe biden kamala harris campaign shotWashington Post, Biden and Harris go after Trump in first appearance as the Democratic ticket, Annie Linskey and Matt Viser, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The appearance of the two Democrats came one day after the senator from California was named to the ticket.

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. reports highest number of covid-19 deaths in one day since mid-May, Brady Dennis and Jacqueline Dupree, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump on Wednesday continued to press for the nation’s schools to bring children into classrooms, for businesses to open and for athletes to fill stadiums again.

“We’ve got to open up our schools and open up our businesses,” Trump said at an evening news conference at the White House, adding that he wanted to see a college football season this fall. “Let them play,” he said.

The president also made his latest concerted push to get students back into U.S. schools, saying that “99.9 percent” of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic involve adults. He threatened to divert federal money from schools that don’t open, and warned of the intellectual damage that could result if children remain at home indefinitely.

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2“When you sit at home in a basement looking at a computer, your brain starts to wither away,” Trump said, adding that “all schools should be making plans to resume in-person classes as soon as possible.”

On Wednesday, the country reported its highest number of deaths in a single day since mid-May, at nearly 1,500. The country has now seen its seven-day average of newly reported deaths remain above 1,000 for 17 consecutive days.

Georgia reported 105 deaths Wednesday, marking its second triple-digit day in a row. North Carolina reported an additional 45 deaths Wednesday, tying its highest daily number, from July 29. Texas reported 324 additional deaths from the disease.

School systems around the country continue to take different approaches as the academic year begins. Some have already insisted they will stick to virtual learning for the time being. Others have adopted a hybrid model in which students attend in person only periodically. And some school systems have opened their doors to full-time instruction, with mixed results so far.

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: The True Coronavirus Toll in the U.S. May Already Exceed 200,000, Denise Lu, Aug. 13, 2020. A New York Times analysis shows a high number of deaths above normal — with the most recent rise in excess deaths focused in the South and West. Across the United States, at least 200,000 more people have died than usual since March, according to a New York Times analysis of estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This is about 60,000 higher than the number of deaths that have been directly linked to the coronavirus.

As the pandemic has moved south and west from its epicenter in New York City, so have the unusual patterns in deaths from all causes. That suggests that the official death counts may be substantially underestimating the overall effects of the virus, as people die from the virus as well as by other causes linked to the pandemic.

When the coronavirus first took hold in the United States in March, the bulk of deaths above normal levels, or “excess deaths,” were in the Northeast, as New York and New Jersey saw huge surges.

The Northeast still makes up nearly half of all excess deaths in the country, though numbers in the region have drastically declined since the peak in April.

But as the number of hot spots expanded, so has the number of excess deaths across other parts of the country. Many of the recent coronavirus cases and deaths in the South and the West may have been driven largely by reopenings and relaxed social distancing restrictions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris, Staff report, Aug. 13, 2020. President Trump falsely suggested that Ms. Harris, who was born in California, was not eligible for the vice presidency because her parents were immigrants.

President Trump falsely suggested that Kamala Harris, who was born in California, does not meet citizenship requirements. Earlier, he indicated he was opposed to giving the post office more money, which he acknowledged it needed for mail-in voting, but then later walked back that statement.

Trump says he intends to deliver his convention speech from the White House lawn, a move that raises legal questions.

ny times logoNew York Times, Justice Dept. Accuses Yale of Discrimination in Application Process, Anemona Hartocollis, Aug. 13, 2020. The Trump administration said the university discriminated against Asian-American and white applicants. Yale defended its practices and vowed to maintain them.

The Justice Department on Thursday accused Yale University of violating federal civil rights law by discriminating against Asian-American and white applicants, an escalation of the Trump administration’s moves against race-based admissions policies at elite universities.

The charge, coming after a two-year investigation, is the administration’s second confrontation with an Ivy League school; two years ago, it publicly backed Asian-American students who accused Harvard in a lawsuit of systematically discriminating against them.

The department’s finding could have far-reaching consequences for the ongoing legal challenges to affirmative action, which are expected to eventually reach the Supreme Court. Some conservative groups have long opposed affirmative action, a tool born in the civil rights era, and a handful of states have banned such policies at public universities.

 djt michael cohen

Palmer Report, Opinion: Michael Cohen drops “golden showers” bombshell on Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, Aug. 13, 2020. Just how afraid is Donald Trump of what Michael Cohen has to say in his new book? Trump had Cohen, above left, thrown back in prison, in an ill-fated attempt at preventing the book from being published. Suffice it to say that Cohen, who is now back home, was undeterred. He’s launched his new book today.

Michael Cohen has released his book for preorder on his disloyalthebook.com website, where autographed and non-autographed copies are available. Cohen has also released the book’s lengthy foreword for free. Here are few paragraphs, and check out the part about “golden showers” near the end:

bill palmer report logo headerOr, let me say it the way Donald Trump would: He wouldn’t mind if I was dead. That was how Trump talked. Like a mob boss, using language carefully calibrated to convey his desires and demands, while at the same time employing deliberate indirection to insulate himself and avoid actually ordering a hit on his former personal attorney, confidant, consigliere, and, at least in my heart, adopted son.

Driving south from New York City to Washington, DC on 1-95 on the cold, gray winter morning of February 24th, 2019, en route to testify against President Trump before both Houses of Congress, I knew he wanted me gone before I could tell the nation what I know about him. Not the billionaire celebrity savior of the country or lying lunatic, not the tabloid tycoon or self-anointed Chosen One, not the avatar @realdonaldtrump of Twitter fame, but the real real Donald Trump—the man very, very, very few people know.

If that sounds overly dramatic, consider the powers Trump possessed and imagine how you might feel if he threatened you personally. Heading south, I wondered if my prospects for survival were also going in that direction. I was acutely aware of the magnitude of Trump’s fury aimed directly at my alleged betrayal. I was wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses and I kept the speedometer at eighty, avoiding the glances of other drivers. Trump’s theory of life, business and politics revolved around threats and the prospect of destruction—financial, electoral, personal, physical—as a weapon. I knew how he worked because I had frequently been the one screaming threats on his behalf as Trump’s fixer and designated thug.

"From golden showers in a sex club in Vegas, to tax fraud, to deals with corrupt officials from the former Soviet Union, to catch and kill conspiracies to silence Trump’s clandestine lovers, I wasn’t just a witness to the president’s rise—I was an active and eager participant."

U.S. Election Updates

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he’s blocking Postal Service funding because Democrats want to expand mail-in voting, Felicia Sonmez and Jacob Bogage, Aug. 13, 2020. The president made explicit the reason he declined to approve $25 billion in emergency funding.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump confesses to voter suppression, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 13, 2020. President Trump has admitted to intentional voter suppression. There jennifer rubin new headshotis no nuance, no joke. Republicans are firmly opposing free and fair elections — unless they do something about this.

Trump and Republicans have been successful in imposing a raft of measures designed to deter voting (voter ID requirements, limits on early voting, closing poll locations in poor areas, purging voter rolls), but they have usually disguised their activities under the bogus heading of “fraud prevention.” Voter fraud is exceptionally rare, whether in person or by mail. (In recent cases, such as the attempt at fraud by Republican operatives in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, the suspects were caught.) Perhaps Trump forgot that just the other day he was praising voting by mail in Florida. Now, he is apparently content to make it difficult if not impossible for millions of people concerned about their health in the pandemic to vote from home.

us mail logoThe irony, of course, is that Republicans are now spooked about absentee ballots and thereby risk losing out when their own voters cannot get to the polls (or face long lines) on Election Day. That is why many state and local Republican groups are pulling their hair out in response to Trump’s anti-absentee vote rhetoric.

Asked about Trump’s comments at her news conference on Thursday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said that Trump is “afraid of the American people. He’s been afraid for a while. He knows that on the legit, it’d be hard for him to win. So he wants to put obstacles of participation.” She vowed, “But we do not agonize, we organize.”

Trump’s war on the U.S. Postal Service is not just un-American and anti-democratic, but foolish. A great many people, including veterans and the elderly (especially in rural areas), depend on mail. VoteVets, a progressive veterans group, put out an ad making this point:

After five draft deferments Donald Trump has finally found a war he wants to fight - against the USPS!

If he had served, he'd know veterans rely on the USPS for voting, medication, and employment.

We take this VERY personally, and so should you. #TrumpYouLose pic.twitter.com/PjKPctrX3O
— VoteVets (@votevets) August 13, 2020

Democrats should not shy from hardball here. Why does Trump hate vets and the elderly? Why is Trump afraid of voting?

Former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) surely can raise the visibility of the issue, since it goes to the heart of the Trump plague. He would rather destroy government or co-opt it than put the interests of the people over his own (getting dirt on an opponent from a foreign government, using his office to promote hotels, refusing to protect U.S. troops rather than confront his BFF Vladimir Putin). He would rather shift blame to others or simply lie than use the powers of the federal government to set up a national testing and tracing system to address the pandemic. He would rather endanger children by returning them to classrooms in hopes of improving the economy than spend money, if local conditions require, to have them attend school virtually or through a hybrid system.

This is anti-government animus at a whole new level. It is a deliberate scheme to wreck the operation of government so he can stay in power. This is the conduct of tin pot dictators.

ny times logoNew York Times, Election updates: Trump Hurls Insults at Biden and Harris as They Condemn His Virus Response, Staff reports, Aug. 13, 2020. President Trump tried to pin a derogatory nickname on Kamala Harris. Public health experts will brief her and Joe Biden today. Here’s the latest.

  • djt biden smiles resizedTrump searches for a line of attack as Biden and Harris hammer his handling of the virus.
  • The Democratic contenders pledge a path forward out of crises.
  • Harris crystallizes Trump’s view of women: they’re ‘nasty’ or housewives.
  • Black women asked their party for what they wanted. What happens next?
  • Progressives didn’t want Harris on the ticket. But they’re supporting her anyway.
  • YouTube says it will remove ‘hacked information’ meant to interfere with the election.
  • The president pushes for more flow from the nation’s shower heads.

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Here are five takeaways from Kamala Harris’s first full day on the Biden ticket, Shane Goldmacher, Aug. 13, 2020. She is adding sizzle, bringing in lots of cash, carving out an anti-Trump role and seemingly confounding the Republican opposition.

When Joseph R. Biden Jr. dialed up Senator Kamala Harris on a videoconference call and asked her The Question — “You ready to go to work?” he said, to which she replied, “Oh my God, I am so ready” — his choice as vice president was a well-kept secret but hardly a surprise.

Almost from the start of the 2020 campaign, the possibility of a Biden-Harris ticket had loomed large in the imagination. Voters would bring it up unprompted on the campaign trail, sometimes to the annoyance of Ms. Harris, and Democratic strategists pictured it as they dreamed up an ideal alliance to take down President Trump.

Now that a Biden-Harris ticket is the Democratic reality, here are five takeaways from their first full day as a ticket after a rollout that was as smooth as it was socially distanced from spontaneity:

Harris’s early plaudits spanned the ideological spectrum.

A wave of news coverage heralded Ms. Harris’s nomination as groundbreaking, but it could easily be lost just how rare it is that Black women are elevated to positions of political power in America. Ms. Harris is only the second Black woman ever to serve in the United States Senate, and the first South Asian-American woman. No Black woman has ever served as the governor of a state. Before Ms. Harris, no Black woman had ever been on a major party’s presidential ticket.

And yet the choice of Ms. Harris can, at the same time, fairly be described as conventional and even the most expected pick, not just because of her ideological alignment with Mr. Biden but also because of her ability to draw support from so many corners of the Democratic coalition. During her own primary bid, that fact sometimes left her without her own base, as she oscillated between explicit appeals to the left (her pre-candidacy embrace of “Medicare for all”) and moves toward the middle (she promised a middle-class tax cut as her top priority).

washington post logomarjorie greene campaignWashington Post, Trump, House Republicans embrace candidate who has made racist statements, drawing attention to party’s tolerance of bigotry, Rachael Bade and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The president’s praise of a candidate whose extremist positions include espousal of the QAnon conspiracy has alarmed some in the GOP and divided the party on issues of race and decency.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Relief talks stumble again as Trump asserts a deal is ‘not going to happen,’ Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). A conversation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin led to another round of finger-pointing over negotiations on coronavirus aid.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jobless claims dip below 1 million for first time in more than four months, Eli Rosenberg, Aug. 13, 2020. Jobless claims have been mostly trending downward for months, but the weekly numbers remain stubbornly high and far more than previous records set in other recessions. The numbers come as the fate of enhanced unemployment benefits remains uncertain.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Fewer New Jobless Claims and Rising Deficit Could Hamper Stimulus Talks, Staff reports, Aug. 13, 2020. Stimulus negotiations could be further stalled as jobless claims fell just below 1 million and the federal budget deficit continued to hit record highs; New Zealand has revived its “go hard, go early” approach to lockdown as officials investigate a mysterious new outbreak. Here’s the latest.

  • The latest numbers on jobless claims and the deficit could further the standoff on the next stimulus bill.
  • Distrust of the president hardened the conviction of some educators that teaching in person was unsafe.
  • The number of new state unemployment claims in the U.S. fell below one million last week for the first time in months.
  • New Zealand has a fresh outbreak. Can it beat the virus again?
  • The U.S. reports its highest single-day virus death toll of the month.
  • In their debut as running mates, Biden and Harris attack Trump’s handling of the virus.
  • In China, two people who had seemingly recovered from the virus tested positive again.

Efforts to reach an agreement on another pandemic stimulus package could get even tougher after weekly new jobless claims fell below one million for the first time since March and the federal budget deficit continued to hit record highs, reaching $2.8 trillion in July — two major elements that could shift the negotiating landscape.

Republicans and Democrats have been at odds over how much to spend on another round of stimulus aid, with Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, pushing for at least $2 trillion and the White House wanting insisting on staying around $1 trillion.

Democrats have insisted that much more than $1 trillion is needed for humanitarian and economic reasons. Republicans have objected to that price tag, with some lawmakers and White House officials saying the economy is beginning to recover and doesn’t need that level of support, and others saying that the United States. cannot afford to keep piling on debt.

Those positions could further harden given that weekly jobless claims, which had been above 1 million for months, fell below that number last week, with 963,000 people filing first-time claims for benefits under regular state unemployment programs.

About 960,000 workers filed for unemployment insurance last week, which marks the first time that initial claims dipped below 1 million since mid-March, when the coronavirus pandemic first took hold and workers were told to stay home.

The weekly claims figure for the week ending Aug. 8 fell below the 1.18 million claims from last week but remained well above historic highs. The pre-pandemic record for initial weekly claims was 695,000, from 1982, another recession.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Israel, United Arab Emirates agree to normalize relations, Anne Gearan and Steve Hendrix, Aug. 13, 2020. Persian Gulf state is only the third Arab country to make peace with Israel. As part of the agreement, Israel will suspend its plans to annex part of the West Bank. Speaking in the Oval Office, President Trump said the United States is a party to the agreement.

Israel FlagPresident Trump announced a peace agreement Thursday between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, a historic step that makes the Persian Gulf state only the third Arab country to open diplomatic relations with the Jewish nation and halts Israel’s controversial plans to annex parts of the West Bank.

Representatives of both countries will meet soon to begin signing agreements, a joint statement said.

“HUGE breakthrough today! Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends, Israel and the United Arab Emirates!” Trump tweeted.

Speaking in the Oval Office, the president said the United States is a party to the agreement, helping to get the two countries talking as part of the Middle East peace effort led by his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Law, Crime, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Liberal prosecutors face backlash over lenient charges after civil unrest and looting, Katie Shepherd and Mark Guarino, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). District attorneys in Chicago and Portland, Ore., have come forward to defend policies that are likely to let hundreds of people off with light consequences.

michelle goldberg thumb

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: After Trump, America Needs Accountability for His Corruption, Michelle Goldberg, right, Aug. 13, 2020. Restoring the rule of law is not the same as “lock her up.” Last week, NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro asked Joe Biden whether, if elected, he could envision Donald Trump being prosecuted. Biden replied that the prosecution of a former president would be a “very, very unusual thing” and probably “not very good for democracy.” The former vice president said he would not stand in the way if the Justice Department wanted to bring a case, but when Garcia-Navarro pressed him, he suggested she was trying to bait him into a version of Trump’s threat against his 2016 opponent: “Lock her up.”

Biden’s reticence is understandable, because a president who runs the White House as a criminal syndicate creates a conundrum for liberal democracy. In a functioning democracy, losing an election should not create legal liability; there was a reason Trump’s “Lock her up” chant was so shocking.

Last year Biden’s running mate, Senator Kamala Harris, of California, said that she believed the Justice Department would have no choice but to pursue criminal charges against Trump for the instances of apparent obstruction of justice outlined in the Mueller report. In January, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, called for a Justice Department task force “to investigate violations by Trump administration officials of federal bribery laws, insider trading laws and other anti-corruption and public integrity laws.” The House is discussing post-Trump reforms on issues including abuse of the pardon power, foreign election interference and the independence of inspectors general.

The Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank with close ties to the Democratic Party, recently released a report titled, “How a Future President Can Hold the Trump Administration Accountable.” Protect Democracy, a legal group founded by Ian Bassin, Obama’s former associate White House counsel, also has started to think about what accountability processes should look like, drawing on the experience of countries around the world that have transitioned to democracy from authoritarianism.

But you can’t reinforce the rule of law by allowing it to be broken without repercussion. After four years of ever-escalating corruption and abuses of power, the United States cannot simply snap back to being the country it once was if Trump is forced to vacate the White House in January. If Biden is elected, Democrats must force a reckoning over what Trump has done to America.

Of course, a Biden victory is far from assured, and if he loses, there may be no stopping this country’s slide into a permanent state of oligarchic misrule. But right now, while there’s still hope of cauterizing Trumpism, ideas about post-Trump accountability are percolating in Democratic and activist circles.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Is Jared Kushner illegally coordinating with Kanye West? Aaron Blake, Aug. 13, 2020. Republican operatives around the country are trying to get rapper Kanye West on the presidential ballot. It’s an effort that appears to be — and in some cases has been openly acknowledged to be — aimed at helping President Trump’s reelection bid. That kind of gamesmanship is icky but probably not illegal.

But what about White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner speaking with West? That ventures much closer to dicey territory.

Both West and Kushner have confirmed that they met last weekend in Colorado, amid the effort to get West on the ballot in several key states (while missing some of the most vital ones). Another report indicated that West has said the two speak almost daily. Instantly, some alleged that this is illegal.

Coordination between candidates and campaigns may be ineffectual—but it’s still illegal, and possibly criminal, under the Federal Election Campaign Act. https://t.co/d4gBZCw4zY
— George Conway (@gtconway3d) August 12, 2020

This is illegal. https://t.co/h3KFVTi1MM
— stuart stevens (@stuartpstevens) August 12, 2020

The short answer, according to election law experts, is that it depends. Simply having a meeting between a higher-up on Trump’s campaign and another candidate doesn’t itself run afoul of the law. It depends entirely on what the two of them discussed.

The first potential issue, according to Paul S. Ryan of the watchdog group Common Cause, is if Kushner encouraged West to do something proactive that could benefit Trump’s campaign, such as running for office. If Kushner solicited from West what could be valued at more than the legal limit of $2,800, it could be considered an in-kind contribution to the Trump campaign. And, given the expense of running campaigns, it seems likely if not guaranteed that West running for office — and expending much more than $2,800 — would violate that law.

The second issue is if they coordinated about the campaign — i.e., if Kushner encouraged West to do something specific when it comes to launching or running a campaign.

“Any expenditure made by Kanye West in cooperation, consultation or concert with — or at the request or suggestion of — Kushner, an agent of the Trump campaign, would be considered an in-kind contribution from the Kanye West campaign to the Trump campaign,” Ryan said.

Richard L. Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California at Irvine, echoed Ryan’s sentiments. He wrote on his blog that West is allowed to run a campaign even if he believes its purpose is to help Trump, with whom he has allied politically. But if anything is done tied to what Kushner or the Trump campaign asked, that’s when this ventures into troubled waters.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court rebuffs GOP, allows mail-in voters in R.I. to bypass witness requirement, Robert Barnes, Aug. 13, 2020. It was the first time the justices had agreed to a pandemic-related voter relief effort.

 michael flynn courthouse resized uncredited

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: The Michael Flynn case should not just go away, Editorial Board, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the nation’s second-most-powerful court, weighed on Tuesday whether courts have any discretion to second-guess prosecutors’ decisions in cases that reek of prosecutorial favoritism.

In an ordinary criminal case, prosecutors have the last word on whether to bring charges — or drop them. But the proceedings against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, a favorite of President Trump whom the Justice Department is trying to let off, is no ordinary case. It is a rare instance in which judges have good reason to question the executive branch’s good faith in a decision to dismiss charges.

Mr. Flynn admitted in open court to lying to federal investigators. He then withdrew his plea, arguing that the government had manipulated him. In fact, Mr. Flynn has never offered a satisfactory explanation for why he lied. His lies may have prevented investigators from asking relevant follow-up questions. And the fact of his lying, which was almost immediately known to a foreign adversary (namely Russia), exposed him to blackmail.

Nevertheless, Attorney General William P. Barr ordered the charges against Mr. Flynn dropped, over the objections of line prosecutors, even after the former national security adviser’s guilty plea had been registered with the court. Instead of immediately complying with Mr. Barr’s request, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan called for a hearing and commissioned an amicus brief articulating the arguments for why he might refuse to dismiss the case. That brief, written by former federal judge John Gleeson, concluded that “the Government has not exhibited in any other cases the qualms it claims to have here,” and that Mr. Barr’s justifications amounted to “an unconvincing effort to disguise as legitimate a decision to dismiss that is based solely on the fact that Flynn is a political ally of President Trump.”

Mr. Flynn and the Justice Department argued before the D.C. Circuit on Tuesday that Judge Sullivan has essentially no discretion to probe Mr. Barr’s decision, that his commissioning of an amicus brief was irregular and that his efforts to prolong the case suggest bias that should disqualify him from presiding over it any further. Sidney Powell, Mr. Flynn’s lawyer, argued that even if witnesses approached the court with video showing prosecutors being bribed to drop a case, the court could only shrug. Ms. Powell asked the appeals court to prevent Judge Sullivan from even holding a hearing, explaining away a federal rule allowing dismissal only with “leave of court” as meant to protect against specific forms of prosecutorial abuse not in evidence in Mr. Flynn’s case.

But Circuit Judges Thomas B. Griffith and Cornelia T.L. Pillard pointed out that the rule’s history suggests its drafters wanted a check on prosecutors who show favoritism for politically powerful defendants. Indeed, at the time of its drafting, the leave-of-court provision reflected deep concern about the legitimacy of a court system that could be gamed by the rich and influential.

That is exactly the concern here. The D.C. Circuit should allow Judge Sullivan to conduct his hearing. And as he and other judges consider the case, they should keep in mind Mr. Gleeson’s cautionary note: “The Government may not enlist a court in dismissing a case solely because the defendant is a friend and political ally of the President — and where the ostensible reasons advanced for dismissal amount to a thin and unpersuasive disguise.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Abortion, transgender rights likely to land back before Supreme Court, Robert Barnes, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Lower-court decisions in cases from Arkansas, Florida and Vermont follow the high court’s momentous rulings during its recent term.

Media News

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Opinion: Tucker Carlson’s mangling of Kamala Harris’s name was all about disrespect, Margaret Sullivan, right, Aug.13, 2020 (print ed.). The Fox News host had a mini-meltdown when a guest mildly corrected his pronunciation.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump slurs his way through disastrous press conference, Bill Palmer, Aug. 13, 2020. Donald Trump slurs his way through disastrous press conference.

Donald Trump was never exactly “with it” to begin with. But in the forty-eight hours since Joe Biden fired up America by picking Kamala Harris as his running mate, Trump has begun to completely lose it. He’s been running around calling Harris a “mad woman” while also insulting numerous other women in politics.

bill palmer report logo headerNow Trump has decided to hold a press conference today, for no apparent reason. Not only did Trump bring no message with him to the podium, he spent a lot of time slurring his way through his words in rambling fashion. When Trump was asked about mail-in voting, he couldn’t even come close to putting together a complete sentence, and at one point he appeared to suggest that dogs are now secretly voting in elections.

It’s clear that Donald Trump has nothing left in the tank. He’s resorting to the most histrionic, simplistic, and repetitive of insults, because he can’t come up with anything new to work with. His near-inability to speak coherently, combined with his repetitive slurring, makes clear that Trump’s physical and cognitive health issues are getting even worse. He’s got nothing, and he knows it, and he’s throwing anything at the wall that he can.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Sturgis, S.D., motorcycle rally was a ‘warning sign’: Next one will be smaller, with masks required, Meryl Kornfield and Antonia Noori Farzan, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). Following alarming scenes of maskless bikers packed into the small South Dakota town of Sturgis for a motorcycle rally, the slightly scaled-down East Coast alternative, Laconia Motorcycle Week, may not be going ahead full throttle, but it is still expected to attract masses.

On Tuesday, after seeing the images from Sturgis, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that face coverings would be mandatory for gatherings of more than 100 people ahead of the week-long event that begins Aug. 22. Laconia’s rally brought an estimated 250,000 people last year to the New Hampshire town and is one of the largest motorcycle events in the country. Public health experts say that mass gatherings like these have the potential to be superspreader events.

Sturgis was anticipated to attract about 250,000 motorcycle enthusiasts this year, about half of last year’s estimated attendance. The rally runs Aug. 7 to Aug. 16.

More On U.S. Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Extraordinarily nasty’: Trump hurls one of his favorite insults at a new target in Kamala Harris, Ashley Parker, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). The resonance of Trump’s “nasty” adjective is often different when the recipient is a woman — and different still when that woman is a person of color.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Your fact-checking cheat sheet on Kamala Harris, Salvador Rizzo, Aug. 13, 2020. Harris, now the Democratic vice-presidential pick, was mostly right about Joe Biden and busing. But she has gotten Pinocchios on other issues.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump and allies struggle to find a focused attack on Harris, Philip Rucker and Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 13, 2020 (print ed.). From “phony” to “far-left radical,” the scattershot nature of the onslaught underscored the lack of GOP consensus about how to take on Joe Biden’s running mate.

djt hands up mouth open CustomThe messages emanating from Trump and his allies about the senator from California varied wildly — casting her as both an overzealous prosecutor too tough on crime and an advocate for defunding the police, and as being so far to the left she would institute socialism as well as too moderate to satisfy her party’s progressive base.

Meanwhile, Trump’s allies in conservative media road-tested an assault on Harris as soft on crime, an avatar of political correctness and a danger to the safety and security of American families. Some argued that she was not African American because her father emigrated from Jamaica and her mother from India, and repeatedly mispronounced her first name. And in the darker corners of social media, some of the attacks were more overtly misogynistic and racist.

All that was before Harris made her first public appearance on Wednesday afternoon alongside presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, who made history Tuesday by selecting her as the nation’s first Black and Asian American major-party candidate for vice president.

The blizzard of attacks against Harris from the political right illustrated the urgency Republicans feel to demonize her as a way for Trump to recover some of the ground he lost this spring and summer over his handling of the novel coronavirus. The scattershot nature of the intersecting lines of attack also underscored the lack of consensus within the GOP about how best to take on Harris.

 

Aug. 12

Top Headlines

More On 2020 U.S. Elections

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

More On U.S. Elections, Politics

Political, Race Protests

World News

Media News

Law, Crime, Courts

 

Top Stories

joe biden kamala harris

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Biden and Harris Make First Appearance Together, Staff reports, Aug. 12, 2020. The event in Wilmington, Del., offered the first indication of how Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, formerly political rivals, might fuse their messages; From the first hours after Mr. Biden chose Ms. Harris, President Trump, his allies and Fox News hosts made sexist and racist attacks. Here’s the latest.

  • Trump called her ‘nasty.’ Tucker Carlson mangled her name. Attacks on Harris quickly got personal.
  • Biden’s record-breaking day: ActBlue processes $30 million in 24-plus hours after Harris pick.
  • Kanye West, who is pursuing a spot on the 2020 ballot, met with Jared Kushner.
  • Wall Street and Silicon Valley see Harris as a good pick.
  • Harris is strong on environmental justice, climate activists say.
  • A House candidate in Connecticut who was arrested Monday holds a slim lead.New York Times,

Mr. Trump added to the barrage with a racist tweet on Wednesday morning claiming that Mr. Biden would put another Black leader, Senator Cory Booker, in charge of low-income housing in the suburbs. That tweet did not mention Ms. Harris, but it continued Mr. Trump’s tactic of playing into white racist fears about integration efforts as he declared, “The ‘suburban housewife’ will be voting for me.”

“They want safety & are thrilled that I ended the long running program where low income housing would invade their neighborhood,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Biden would reinstall it, in a bigger form, with Corey Booker in charge!”

The president did not explain why he referred to Mr. Booker, whose first name he misspelled. But the salvo came after a chorus of Fox News hosts on Tuesday night assailed Ms. Harris, attacking everything from the pronunciation of her name to Mr. Biden’s selection process for focusing on women of color.

Over and over on Tuesday night, Tucker Carlson, the Fox News host, mispronounced her first name, even growing angry when corrected. “So what?” he said, when a guest told him it was pronounced “Comma-la.”

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washington post logoWashington Post, Biden’s running mate is Harris, first woman of color on major party’s ticket, Matt Viser and Amanda Erickson, Aug. 12, 2020 (print ed.). The choice of Kamala D. Harris, the senator from California and former state attorney general, comes at a moment when the country is grappling with its racial past and future.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday picked Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) as his running mate. Harris will be the first Black woman and first Asian American to run for vice president, representing a historic choice at a moment when the country is grappling with its racial past and future.

Biden’s announcement, made in a text and tweet, elevated a former presidential candidate whose most electric campaign performance came when she criticized his record on school integration during a debate.

“Back when Kamala was Attorney General, she worked closely with Beau,” Biden tweeted, referring to his late son, then the attorney general of Delaware. “I watched as they took on the big banks, lifted up working people, and protected women and kids from abuse. I was proud then, and I’m proud now to have her as my partner in this campaign.”

democratic donkey logoHarris, 55, is the daughter of Indian and Jamaican immigrants. The first-term senator previously served as San Francisco district attorney and California attorney general.

Biden and Harris are scheduled to appear together, in person, on Wednesday for the first time as a ticket, following the debut of a new logo and a new campaign website.

The move puts Biden, who served as vice president to the nation’s first Black president, in a history-making role in naming the nation’s first Black woman vice-presidential nominee. He also has pledged, if elected, to name a Black woman to the Supreme Court.

The decision carries major implications not only for the November election but for the future of the Democratic Party. Biden, 78 years old by Inauguration Day, would be the oldest president ever and has said he considers himself “a transition candidate.” The choice places Harris at the forefront of the party’s future.

Following a months-long process, which included vetting nearly a dozen women as potential nominees, Biden on Tuesday began informing some of the others that they were not chosen.

Former Obama national security adviser Susan E. Rice, who was among the finalists, quickly put out a statement congratulating Harris.

“Senator Harris is a tenacious and trailblazing leader who will make a great partner on the campaign trail,” Rice wrote. “I am confident that Biden-Harris will prove to be a winning ticket.”

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.), who was also under serious consideration, reflected on the historic nature of the pick.

“To see a Black woman nominated for the first time reaffirms my faith that in America, there is a place for every person to succeed no matter who they are or where they come from,” she said.

Harris’ prosecutorial record has drawn attacks from party liberals, who have criticized her past stances as too harsh and contend that her record does not meet a moment when police misconduct has rocketed into the national conversation.

But Harris also has built a reputation in Washington as a sharp questioner in Senate hearings, particularly of Trump administration nominees. She has been a forceful advocate for Black families during the novel coronavirus pandemic, and she helped draft a bill ending qualified immunity for police. Some of those who were skeptical of her during her campaign have softened their views in recent months.

Harris kicked off her presidential campaign little more than two years after joining the Senate, with an electrifying Oakland, Calif., rally that drew more than 22,000 supporters. But she struggled to define herself to voters, shifting from one message to the next. She failed to take off in the polls and dropped out in early December, citing financial problems.

washington post logoWashington Post, A key factor that brought Harris and Biden together: Finding common ground on criminal justice reform, Michael Kranish, Aug. 12, 2020 (print ed.). When Kamala D. Harris became San Francisco’s district attorney 16 years ago, one of her top priorities was to fight federal policies that she believed put too many Black people in prison.

joe biden 2020 button CustomSome of those objectionable policies — including incentives to build more prisons and lock more people up for longer periods of time — had been enacted in the 1994 crime bill, written by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).

As it turned out, the path that Harris and Biden took to finding common ground on criminal justice reform was a key factor in bringing them together on the Democratic presidential ticket at a moment when such reform is considered an urgent task amid the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, Harris’s advisers said.

As Harris makes history as the first Black woman named to a major-party national ticket, Biden has moved markedly closer to her viewpoint, acknowledging that key parts of his crime bill “went wrong” and vowing to undo it.

More On 2020 U.S. Elections

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: Kamala Harris was the safest, most experienced and most tested choice Biden could make, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 12, 2020 (print ed.). The process was long and winding, but in the end, former vice president Joe Biden landed exactly where he was expected to from the very beginning. Sen. Kamala D. Harris of California was always the safest, most experienced and most tested choice Biden could make.

Harris will create excitement as the first Black woman on a major-party ticket, but no ideological anxiety among middle-of-the road voters. Like Biden, she occupies the Democratic Party’s center ground. And she will raise no questions as to whether she is qualified to take over as president.

A man shaped by the U.S. Senate, Biden was comfortable with a legislator who had shined during difficult hearings related to President Trump’s malfeasance.

An emotive person who values personal ties, Biden chose a running mate who was close to his dear departed son Beau, from the days when Harris and the younger Biden were state attorneys general.

A White politician often referred to as “working class Joe,” Biden understood how important Black voters had been in paving his way to the nomination by giving him a sweeping victory in the South Carolina primary.

A rising movement for racial justice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd certainly made Harris’s nomination more likely. But her moderation, her long political résumé and, paradoxically, her vigorous campaigning as a Biden foe for the nomination were decisive. If she was, at moments, very tough on Biden on matters related to race, she was even tougher in everything she said about Trump.

democratic donkey logoBiden prides himself on not bearing grudges, and nothing could prove that more than picking Harris. And he knows that a vice-presidential nominee must be a fearless and ferocious prosecutor of the case against the other party and its nominee.

That was precisely the role Harris auditioned for during her presidential campaign. She will now play it from the second spot rather than the first. “Don’t worry, Mr. President, I’ll see you at your trial,” Harris said in a Twitter exchange with Trump after she ended her presidential quest. She was talking about the impeachment trial, but the jury she will now address consists of the entire American electorate.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Record 75% of Americans Can Vote by Mail in 2020, Juliette Love, Matt Stevens and Lazaro Gamio, Aug. 12, 2020 (print ed.). If election trends continue, 80 million mail ballots will flood election offices this fall, more than double the number that were returned in 2016.

About three-quarters of all American voters will be eligible to receive a ballot in the mail for the 2020 election — the most in U.S. history, according to a New York Times analysis. If recent election trends hold and turnout increases, as experts predict, roughly 80 million mail ballots will flood election offices this fall, more than double the number that were returned in 2016.

The rapid and seismic shift in how Americans will vote can be traced to the coronavirus pandemic. Concerns about the potential for virus transmission at polling places have forced many states to make adjustments on the fly that — despite President Trump’s protests — will make mail voting in America more accessible this fall than ever before.

“I have a hard time looking back at history and finding an election where there was this significant of a change to how elections are administered in this short a time period,” said Alex Padilla, the California secretary of state who chairs the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State.

Most of the changes are temporary and have been made administratively by state and local officials who have the power to make adjustments during emergencies like the pandemic.

In nine states and the District of Columbia, every registered voter will be mailed a ballot ahead of the election. California, Montana, D.C. and Vermont will do this for the first time this fall.

In 33 states, voters will be allowed to cast an absentee ballot without an excuse or to cite the coronavirus as a reason to vote absentee. In eight states, every registered voter will automatically be mailed an application to request an absentee ballot.

In 25 states, voters will need to procure an application for an absentee ballot themselves.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans thinking of making Harris the focal point of the campaign should think again, Henry Olsen, Aug. 12, 2020. Sen. Kamala Harris’s (D-Calif.) selection as former vice president Joe Biden’s running mate Tuesday is a historic moment for the United States. It will not, however, matter at all for this fall’s race, nor does it tell us anything we didn’t already know about how Biden will govern.

Harris’s achievement is historic for all the reasons that others have mentioned: She is the first Black woman and first person of Indian descent on a national ticket, as well as the first graduate of a historically Black college or university.

Otherwise, she is an entirely conventional pick. Democrats have initially selected a sitting senator for vice president in every election since 1944, save 1984, when nominee Walter Mondale chose Rep. Geraldine Ferraro of New York.

Republicans who salivate about making her, not Biden, the focal point of the campaign should think again. Harris is surely well to the left of the Republican-leaning electorate, but it’s far from clear she is out of step with a genuine centrist. Her differences with Biden during the primary campaign on issues such as health care are easily dissolved in the name of unity.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says Postal Service needs money for mail-in voting, but he’ll keep blocking funding, Jacob Bogage, Aug. 12, 2020. Congressional Democrats urged the USPS not to abandon long-standing practices for election mail processing to ensure the timely delivery of ballots.

Daily Beast, Fox News’ Chris Wallace: Trump Wishes Biden Had Picked Anyone But Kamala Harris, Matt Wilstein, Aug. 12, 2020. “Think of who he could have chosen and daily beast logohow much easier it would have been for Republicans to make that case,” the Fox News host argued.

President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) is “the kind of opponent everyone dreams of.” Chris Wallace isn’t buying it.

According to the Fox News Sunday host, Biden’s vice presidential pick is “not far to the left, despite what Republicans are going to try to say” and ultimately a “reasonably safe choice” for the role. “She adds some excitement to the ticket,” he added. “She’s a statement to African-Americans and especially to African-American women, who are the real solid core of the Democratic Party, that the party does not take them for granted.”

When Fox’s Sandra Smith attempted to paint Harris as a “flip-flopper,” asking if her party will “struggle to defend” her evolution on certain issues, Wallace pushed back.

“I don’t think they’re going to have to struggle at all,” he said of the Democrats. “I mean, let’s think of who else Joe Biden could have picked.” If he had picked Susan Rice, then the Trump campaign “would have been all over her” on Benghazi and the Russia investigation. Now “they don’t get to do any of that,” he said. If he had picked Elizabeth Warren, Wallace said they could have much more easily characterized the ticket as “far-left.”

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

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ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Health Experts Raise Alarm Over Federal Rules on Hospital Data, Staff reports, Aug. 12, 2020. In a previously undisclosed letter, 34 health experts criticized new U.S. rules on virus data collection, which have raised fears of politicization; Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he “seriously” doubted that Russia had proven that its new vaccine was safe and effective. Here’s the latest.

Nearly three dozen current and former members of a federal health advisory committee — including some appointed or reappointed by Health Secretary Alex M. Azar — are warning that the Trump administration’s new coronavirus database is placing an undue burden on hospitals and will have “serious consequences on data integrity.”

The advisers, all current or former members of the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee, issued their warning in a previously unpublished letter obtained by Sheryl Gay Stolberg, a Washington correspondent for The New York Times.

The administration last month ordered hospitals to send daily reports about virus cases to a central database in Washington — controlled by Mr. Azar’s department — instead of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such reports include information about current patients, the number of available beds and ventilators, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic. The order raised alarm that the data could be politicized or withheld from the public.

The transition left hospitals “scrambling to determine how to meet daily reporting requirements,” the authors of the letter wrote. They urged that the C.D.C.’s data experts “be allowed to continue their important and trusted work” of gathering, analyzing and disseminating the daily reports, which help the government track the pandemic and guide crucial health care decisions, including how to allocate scarce supplies and drugs like remdesivir, the only drug that has federal approval to treat Covid-19.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House clarifies limits of jobless aid plan as talks with Congress dim, Jeff Stein, Tony Romm and Erica Werner, Aug. 12, 2020 (print ed.). Unemployment benefit will be $300 per week, not the $400 Trump promised on Saturday.

President Trump’s senior aides acknowledged on Tuesday that they are providing less financial assistance for the unemployed than the president initially advertised amid mounting blowback from state officials of both parties.

djt smiling fileOn Saturday, Trump approved an executive action that he claimed would provide an additional $400 per week in expanded unemployment benefits for Americans who have lost their jobs during the pandemic.

By Tuesday, senior White House officials were saying publicly that the maneuver only guarantees an extra $300 per week for unemployed Americans — with states not required to add anything to their existing state benefit programs to qualify for the federal benefit.

The clarification came as the odds of a bipartisan stimulus package grew increasingly dim and state leaders clamored for the White House and Congress to approve legislation that would more directly address the expiration of unemployment benefits.

  • Washington Post, A Georgia district returned to school last week. More than 900 students and staff are now quarantined.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘This is no longer a debate’: Florida sheriff bans deputies, visitors from wearing masks, Tim Elfrink, Aug. 12, 2020 (print ed.). On Tuesday, as Florida set a daily record for covid-19 deaths, Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods prohibited his deputies from wearing masks at work. His order, which also applies to visitors to the sheriff’s office, carves out an exception for officers in some locations, including hospitals, and when dealing with people who are high-risk or suspected of having the novel coronavirus.

In an email to the sheriff’s department shared with The Washington Post, Woods disputed the idea that masks are a consensus approach to battling the pandemic.

“We can debate and argue all day of why and why not. The fact is, the amount of professionals that give the reason why we should, I can find the exact same amount of professionals that say why we shouldn’t,” Woods wrote in the email, which was first reported by the Ocala Star-Banner.

A majority of epidemiologists and other health experts say face masks and social distancing are key to slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has ravaged Florida. The state, which has recorded more than 542,000 cases and more than 8,600 deaths, added 277 more deaths on Tuesday; Marion County also set a record for daily deaths on Tuesday, with 13.

Police nationwide have faced scrutiny over inconsistent use of masks by officers, even in large cities like New York and Philadelphia where face coverings are mandatory. Many large departments only suggest officers wear masks, ABC News recently found, while those that require them, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, make exceptions for incidents where masks might impede officers in the line of duty.

Woods is among the first law enforcement officials to outright ban masks for his deputies, though

washington post logoWashington Post, Relief talks stumble, and Trump asserts that a deal is ‘not going to happen,’ Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Aug. 12, 2020. A conversation between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin led to another round of finger-pointing.

A new attempt to restart economic relief negotiations between the White House and Democrats ended just minutes after it began on Wednesday, with President Trump appearing to cast doubt on the whole process by announcing a deal is “not going to happen.”

Just a few days earlier, he had suggested the he was open to a new round of talks.

In declaring the whole process over, Trump used a press conference appearance to criticize Democrats’ proposals for funding election preparations and the Postal Service as part of a broader spending measure. Those were among multiple issues that divided the parties during two weeks of negotiations that initially collapsed Friday before a failed attempt to revive them on Wednesday.

“The bill’s not going to happen because they don’t even want to talk about it, because we can’t give them the kind of ridiculous things that they want that have nothing to do with the China virus," Trump said at the White House during an evening press briefing.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Face masks with valves or vents do not prevent spread of coronavirus, CDC says, Staff reports, Aug. 12, 2020. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its website to warn against using masks with exhalation valves or vents to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Masks with vents or valves “allow air to be exhaled through a hole in the material, which can result in expelled respiratory droplets that can reach others,” the CDC website now states. “This type of mask does not prevent the person wearing the mask from transmitting COVID-19 to others.”

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s call into a sports radio show reveals the politics behind his push to restart college football, David Nakamura, Aug. 12, 2020 (print ed.). The topic was whether to resume playing college football amid the coronavirus pandemic. The Fox Sports Radio program was in full swing. And President Trump called in live on the air Tuesday, offering some opinions.

Colleges are “making a tragic mistake” if they cancel their seasons, he told host Clay Travis, who gained prominence three years ago for citing his allegiance to “the First Amendment and boobs” on CNN.

After all, Trump continued, the players are “so powerful and so strong and not lots of body fat . . . maybe none, in some cases” — so they are at less risk of getting sick. “It just attacks old people,” he declared, though a study released this week found 97,000 children in the country tested positive for the virus in the last two weeks of July, a 40 percent increase.

However, on professional football, the president had some reservations. The National Football League, Trump said, “wants to open very badly” and is working with his administration to do so safely. But, he added, referring to his ongoing spat with NFL players who began kneeling in 2017 to protest police brutality, “if they don’t stand for the national anthem, I hope they don’t open.”

As the nation debates the efficacy of whether it is safe and worthwhile for big-revenue sports leagues to resume playing, the First Fan has again inserted himself into the cultural mix from the sidelines — taking potshots on Twitter and delivering hot takes with the enthusiasm reminiscent of overheated sports talk radio — “Donny from Queens,” as the Bulwark opinion journal joked in a headline.

Yet in the face of a deadly pandemic that has killed more than 160,000 Americans on his watch, Trump’s musings have potentially deadly consequences as league commissioners and university chancellors weigh the complicated mix of public health, revenue considerations, fan sentiment and political pressure. Hours after Tuesday’s show, the Big Ten became the first major college football conference to cancel the fall season, with hopes of playing the in spring instead. The Pac-12 later followed suit.

On Travis’s show, Trump seemed to reveal that his push to restart the college games is not based foremost on scientific evidence about the dangers of spreading the illness — but rather on his political incentives.

ny times logoNew York Times, Some Conferences Postponed Football. Not so Fast in the South, Alan Blinder, Aug. 12, 2020. The Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences have said they won’t play in the fall. The Southeastern, Atlantic Coast and Big 12 conferences are biding for time.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Britain plunges into deep recession, Karla Adam and William Booth, Aug. 12, 2020. Amid huge job losses, the British economy shrank by more than 20 percent in the second quarter, its steepest drop on record and the worst of any Group of Seven nation.

This is Britain’s first recession in 11 years, since the global downturn in 2009.

boris johnson tieChancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, who serves as Britain’s finance minister [under Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right], said the government was “grappling with something that is unprecedented.”

He told reporters: “A few months ago, I said that hard times were coming. Today’s figures show that hard times are here.”

united kingdom flagSunak warned of further job losses, even without a second wave of covid-19 infections. A government program that was paying up to 80 percent of a furloughed worker’s salary is set to expire in October. Sunak said continued high-level government job support was not sustainable.

In one bit of hopeful news, the British economy began to bounce back in June. Output was up 8.7 percent month on month, as shops reopened, factories began to ramp up production and house building continued to recover. Even so, GDP in June was far below the level of production in February before the virus struck, the ONS reported.

washington post logoWashington Post, Baghdad’s record heat offers glimpse of world’s climate change future, Louisa Loveluck and Chris Mooney, Aug. 12, 2020. Experts say temperature records like the one seen in Baghdad will continue to fall as climate change advances. One recent study found that by the year 2050, the climate of Phoenix could closely resemble that of the Iraqi capital.

Baghdad hit 125.2 degrees on July 28, blowing past the previous record of 123.8 degrees — which was set here five years ago — and topping 120 degrees for four days in a row. Sitting in one of the fastest warming parts of the globe, the city offers a troubling snapshot of the future that climate change might one day bring other parts of the world.

Experts say temperature records like the one seen in Baghdad will continue to fall as climate change advances.

“It’s getting hotter every year,” said Jos Lelieveld, an expert on the climate of the Middle East and Mediterranean at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. “And when you are starting to get above 50 degrees Celsius [122 degrees Fahrenheit] it becomes life threatening.”

More On U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A new poll spotlights a key reason Biden is the 2020 favorite, Aaron Blake, Aug. 12, 2020. A poll shows very little appetite for third-party candidates in 2020 — a contrast to 2016 and a big reason for Joe Biden's lead over President Trump at the moment.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: In choosing Harris, Biden makes history and plays it safe, Dan Balz, Aug. 12, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Biden’s selection of Sen. Kamala D. Harris as his running mate was both historic and conventional — historic as she becomes the first Black woman and first Asian American to join a major party ticket, but conventional because, in the end, she appeared to be the safest of the finalists on his shortlist.

Politics and history conspired to lead Biden to Harris. He had pledged in the spring to pick a female running mate, an acknowledgment of the increasing importance of female voters to the Democrats’ success in 2018 and hopes in 2020. But in a summer of racial reckoning, following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, Biden came under increasing pressure not just to pick a woman, but to pick a Black woman.

The choice was revealing of Biden for another reason. Though Harris was a conventional pick, she may not have been a truly easy pick. Her attack on Biden during the first Democratic debate over his past stand on forced racial busing left him bruised and many of his supporters angry. Despite those feelings, Harris fit better perhaps than any of the other finalists, given the first rule of vice-presidential selections, which is to do no harm.

Hartford Courant, Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut’s 2nd District abruptly drops out following his domestic violence arrest late Monday; arrest warrant details alleged assault of ex-girlfriend, Daniela Altimari and David Owens, Aug. 11, 2020. A Republican running for Congress in Connecticut’s 2nd District abruptly dropped his bid on the day of the primary followin his arrest on domestic violence charges.

thomas gilmer resizedThomas Gilmer, 29, right, of Madison was arrested by Wethersfield police late Monday and posted $5,000 bail. He was arraigned Tuesday in Superior Court in New Britain on charges of first-degree unlawful restraint and second-degree strangulation.

It is unclear what will happen if Gilmer, the party-endorsed canddiate, wins the primary. Thousands of absentee ballots have already been cast and results were still being tabulated Tuesday night — a process that is expected to stretch into Friday given a two-day extension for late-arriving ballots sent by mail.

The charges stem from a violent altercation with Gilmer’s former girlfriend that occurred in 2017, according to the warrant for his arrest. A portion of the assault was captured on video and, according to the warrant, shows Gilmer “punch the victim in the face and jump on top of her as she falls to the ground. Gilmer then attempts to choke the victim followed by multiple closed-fist punches to the victim’s face. Gilmer then takes off his t-shirt in the middle of the assault, and places the victim into a rear choke hold.”

The investigating officer notes in the warrant that it appears that the victim is “struggling for her life” and is kicking and flailing to try to escape the choke hold.

“Gilmer then performs a martial arts move and wraps his legs around the victim, subduing her arms and legs from flailing around,” the warrant reads. At that point the 30-second video clip ends.

washington post logoilhan omar oWashington Post, Omar vanquishes primary challenger in latest victory for liberals, Rachael Bade, Aug. 12, 2020. Rep. Ilhan Omar on Tuesday soundly defeated a well-funded primary challenger, the latest in a series of victories for liberals looking to secure their foothold in Congress and move the Democratic Party further left.

The Minnesota Democrat, right, was leading Anton Melton-Meaux 57 percent to 39 percent with 96 percent of precincts reported when the race was called, putting to bed weeks of speculation that her career on Capitol Hill could be cut short by an opponent who argued Omar was more interested in fame than democratic donkey logorepresenting her district.

Residents of the Minneapolis-area district, however, chose the Somali refugee and first Muslim woman in Congress over Melton-Meaux, who raised a staggering $3.2 million last quarter from Omar critics around the nation. The race had become one of the most expensive House primaries this year, with each candidate bringing in north of $4 million.

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washington post logoWashington Post, QAnon conspiracy theory believer wins GOP congressional runoff in Georgia, Isaac Stanley-Becker and Rachael Bade, Aug. 12, 2020. Congressional Republicans came a step closer Tuesday to welcoming into their ranks a promoter of the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose adherents believe President Trump is battling a cabal of “deep state” saboteurs who worship Satan and traffic children for sex.

republican elephant logoMarjorie Taylor Greene, who has endorsed the baseless theory and made a slew of other racist remarks on video, won a Republican primary runoff in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District, according to the Associated Press. Her victory, in a northwestern swath of the state that has favored Republicans by wide margins, sets her up to become QAnon’s first devotee in Congress.

Trump on Wednesday morning hailed Greene as a “future Republican Star,” tweeting that she is “strong on everything and never gives up - a real WINNER!” He did not endorse in the runoff.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, The Daily News Is Now a Newspaper Without a Newsroom, Marc Tracy, Aug. 12, 2020. Tribune Publishing said that it was permanently closing the tabloid’s office in Lower Manhattan. Plans for a future workplace are uncertain. A tabloid once famous for its bustling, big-city newsroom no longer has a newsroom.

tribune publishing logoIn a move that was almost unthinkable before the coronavirus pandemic, Tribune Publishing said on Wednesday that The Daily News, once the largest-circulation newspaper in the country, was permanently closing its physical newsroom at 4 New York Plaza in Lower Manhattan. The same day, Tribune, the Chicago newspaper chain that has owned The News since 2017, told employees that it was closing four of its other newspapers’ offices.

“We have determined that we do not need to reopen this office in order to maintain our current operations,” Toni Martinez, a human resources executive at Tribune Publishing, wrote in an email to the staff that was reviewed by The New York Times. “With this announcement, we are also beginning to look at strategic opportunities and alternatives for future occupancy.”

The paper will continue to be published. The company made no promises about a future physical location. “As we progress through the pandemic and as needs change, we will reconsider our need for physical offices,” said a Tribune Publishing spokesman, Max Reinsdorf.

Newspapers across the country have been struggling for more than a decade because of punishing industry trends like the move away from revenue-generating print products and the nationalization of news. The pandemic, which has sharply squeezed advertising revenue, has added to the publications’ woes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Sumner Redstone 1923–2020: Dealmaker and titan of media dies at 97, David Marino-Nachison and Adam Bernstein, Aug. 12, 2020. The mogul’s Viacom empire included Paramount Pictures film studios, CBS and MTV.

sumner redstone resized boston universitySumner Redstone, right, a combative and daring dealmaker who in his 60s turned his family’s movie theater chain into one of the world’s largest media empires, with holdings that included Paramount Pictures film studios, CBS, MTV and the publishing house Simon & Schuster, died Aug. 11 at 97.

His media holding company, National Amusements, announced the death in a statement but did not provide additional details. A spokeswoman, Sara Evans, did not specify the cause but said it was not related to the novel coronavirus.

In recent years, as the mogul’s mental and physical decline became increasingly apparent, legal and public-relations battles erupted among his presumed successors, members of the family and an array of other hangers-on. All had a stake in inheriting chunks of his $40 billion business empire, his personal fortune or both.

ny times logoNew York Times, QAnon Followers Are Hijacking #SaveTheChildren, Kevin Roose, Aug. 12, 2020. Fans of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory are clogging anti-trafficking hotlines and raising false fears about child exploitation, our columnist writes.

QAnon first surfaced in 2017 with a series of anonymous posts on the internet forum 4chan claiming to reveal high-level government intelligence about crimes by top Democrats. It has since spawned one of the most disturbing and consequential conspiracy theory communities in modern history.

Its followers have committed serious crimes, and its online vigilantes have made a sport of harassing and doxxing their perceived enemies. The F.B.I. has cited QAnon as a potential domestic terror threat, and social networks have begun trying to pull QAnon groups off their platforms. Dozens of QAnon-affiliated candidates are running for office this year. One of them, Marjorie Taylor Greene, won a primary runoff Tuesday for a House seat in Georgia, drawing a congratulatory tweet from Mr. Trump.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: NBC Universal doesn't want anyone to see skit of Trump buying two young children, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 12, 2020. Donald Trump and his litigious murder of attorneys apparently are embarrassed about a comedy skit Trump made about him buying two young children sitting in the back seat of a car parked in front of one of his properties in Manhattan.

When the parking valet informs Trump that he will have to wait until the mother of the children moves her car in order to park Trump's car, Trump announces he will buy the mother's car, children included.

NBC Universal prevailed upon YouTube to take down the Trump clip the editor included in a video to illustrate Trump's lackadaisical attitude toward "buying," i.e., the sex trafficking, of children.

Law, Crime, Courts

susie zhao jeffrey morris

Daily Beast, Pro Poker Player Was Bound, Sexually Assaulted, ‘Lit on Fire’ After Motel Meeting, Pilar Melendez, Aug. 12, 2020. Susie Zhao, above left, the professional poker player whose charred remains were found in a remote Michigan park in July, was allegedly bound with zip ties and sexually assaulted before she was “lit on fire until she died” after meeting with a convicted sex offender, according to new court documents.

Zhao, 33, was last seen around 5:30 p.m. on July 12 by her mother, the White Lake Township Police Department previously told The Daily Beast. The next day, her “badly burned” body was discovered at around 8:05 a.m. in a parking lot near the Pontiac Lake Recreation Area, about an hour outside of Detroit.

Last week, Jeffrey Bernard Morris, 60, above right, was charged from his hospital bed with first-degree premeditated murder. Authorities discovered the convicted sex offender allegedly met Zhao in a motel room the night before her body was found. Morris, who is homeless and has a “lengthy criminal history” is currently in jail after being denied bail.

In new court documents, first obtained by WXYZ, authorities revealed what occurred the night the pro poker player, known on the circuit as “Susie Q,” went missing.

 

 Aug. 11

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washington post logoWashington Post, Live Reaction To Harris Choice, Staff reports, Aug. 11, 2020. Obama says Biden ‘nailed this decision;’ Shirley Chisholm, the first black congresswoman, paved the way for Harris; Washington Post reporting on Kamala Harris; Trump reacts to Harris pick with video calling her ‘phony Kamala';’ Other contenders to be Biden’s running mate congratulate and praise Harris: ‘Filled with joy.’

washington post logoWashington Post, As schools reopen, much remains unknown about the risk to kids and the peril they pose to others, Haisten Willis, Chelsea Janes and Ariana Eunjung Cha, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). A report from leading pediatric health groups found that more than 97,000 U.S. children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, more than a quarter of the total number of children diagnosed nationwide since March.

The photos showed up on social media just hours into the first day of school: 80 beaming teens in front of Etowah High School near Atlanta, with not a mask on a single face and hardly six inches of distance between them — let alone the recommended six feet.

Amanda Seghetti, a mom in the area, said her parent Facebook group lit up when the pictures of the seniors were posted. Some people thought the images were cute. Others freaked out. Seghetti was in the latter constituency.

“It’s like they think they are immune and are in denial about everything,” Seghetti said.

Pictures of packed school hallways in Georgia and news of positive tests on the first day of classes in Indiana and Mississippi sparked the latest fraught discussions over the risk the coronavirus presents to children — and what’s lost by keeping them home from school. Friday brought reports of more infections among Georgia students, with dozens forced into quarantine in Cherokee County, among other places.

For months, parents and teachers, epidemiologists and politicians have chimed in with their views on the many still-unanswered questions about the extent to which the virus is a threat to children — and the extent to which they can fuel its spread.

A report from leading pediatric health groups found that more than 97,000 U.S. children tested positive for the coronavirus in the last two weeks of July, more than a quarter of the total number of children diagnosed nationwide since March. As of July 30, there were 338,982 cases reported in children since the dawn of the pandemic, according to data from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Sends In the Economic Quacks, Paul Krugman, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Now he’s prescribing hydroxychloroquine to fight recession. paul krugmanAs the U.S. economy careens toward disaster, congressional talks about what to do appear to have ground to a halt. So on Saturday President Trump — speaking at one of his golf courses, of course — announced four executive measures that, he claimed, would rescue the recovery.

Unfortunately, one of the measures was vacuous, one trivial and one unworkable. And the fourth may do substantial harm.

The vacuous measure simply calls on government agencies to “consider” helping renters facing eviction. The trivial measure waives interest and defers principal repayment on student loans.

The unworkable measure supposedly provides new aid to the unemployed, who have lost pandemic benefits because Senate Republicans don’t want to provide them; but the announced program would be an administrative nightmare that might take a long time to put into effect and would require partial matching funds that strapped states don’t have. Remember, states had a very hard time implementing the first round of aid to the unemployed, leaving millions in the cold for many weeks. This would be worse.

This wasn’t hard to see coming. Indeed, Democrats passed legislation to deal with this situation almost three months ago. But Senate Republicans did nothing, and still haven’t gotten serious about proposing remedies.

This would be a really good time for presidential leadership. But what we have instead is a pitchman hawking miracle cures at his country club. In the process he may well have undermined whatever slim chance there was of reaching an even halfway decent deal to avert disaster.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Russia Approves Possible Coronavirus Vaccine Before Completing Clinical Trials, Staff reports, Aug. 11, 2020. President Vladimir Putin’s announcement comes amid international concerns that the country is rushing approval for political purposes.

The number of coronavirus cases has surpassed 20 million worldwide, according to a New York Times database. Here’s the latest.
Russia is the first country to approve a vaccine, and its announcement raises fears that the country is rushing for political purposes. The number of virus cases worldwide has now passed 20 million. New Zealand confirmed its first locally transmitted cases of the virus in more than 100 days.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Russian vaccine works ‘effectively enough,’ President Putin said. But it hasn’t completed Phase III tests.
  • Virus cases have surpassed 20 million worldwide.
  • Trump considers a rule that would block Americans thought to have the virus from returning home.
  • States grapple with how to pay for their part of the unemployment benefits that Trump promised.
  • New Zealand breaks a 102-day streak without any locally transmitted cases of the virus.
  • Britain’s push to open schools may force the closure of one of its beloved institutions: The pub.
  • Namibia will auction fishing rights to raise funds to fight the pandemic.
  • Russian vaccine works ‘effectively enough,’ President Putin said. But it hasn’t completed Phase III tests.

A Russian health care regulator has become the first in the world to approve a vaccine for the coronavirus, President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Tuesday, though the vaccine has yet to complete clinical trials.

The Russian dash for a vaccine has already raised international concerns that Moscow is cutting corners on testing to score political and propaganda points.

Mr. Putin’s announcement came despite a caution last week from the World Health Organization that Russia should not stray from the usual methods of testing a vaccine for safety and effectiveness.

Mr. Putin’s announcement became essentially a claim of victory in the global race for a vaccine, something Russian officials have been telegraphing for several weeks now despite the absence of published information about any late-phase testing.

“It works effectively enough, forms a stable immunity and, I repeat, it has gone through all necessary tests,” Mr. Putin told a cabinet meeting Tuesday morning. He thanked the scientists who developed the vaccine for “this first, very important step for our country, and generally for the whole world.”

Mr. Putin also said that one of his daughters had taken the vaccine.

The Russian vaccine, along with many others under development in a number of countries in the effort to alleviate a worldwide health crisis that has killed at least 734,900 people, sped through early monkey and human trials with apparent success.

But the Russian scientific body that developed the vaccine, the Gamaleya Institute, has yet to conduct Phase III tests on tens of thousands of volunteers in highly controlled trials, a process seen as the only method of ensuring a vaccine is actually safe and effective. Around the world, more than 30 vaccines out of a total of more than 165 under development are now in various stages of human trials.

More On 2020 U.S. Elections

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Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton via flickr and Karen Smith Murphy

ny times logoNew York Times, Election Updates: Democratic Convention Will Feature Obamas and Clintons, Staff reports, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Bernie Sanders and John Kasich will speak at the Democratic convention. Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate in days. Here’s the latest. Hillary Clinton will deliver a prime-time speech next Wednesday for the Democratic National Convention, part of a preliminary lineup of speakers for the truncated, mostly virtual four-night event, three Democratic officials with dnc square logoknowledge of the schedule said Monday.

democratic donkey logoFormer Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive presidential nominee, has said he will not travel to Milwaukee, where the convention is nominally being held but has been scaled back to just a few hundred attendees. He will speak from Delaware on Thursday, the final night of the convention, in a form and fashion yet to be announced.

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, left, will join Mrs. Clinton, the 2016 nominee, on the Wednesday night program if she is not elizabeth warren 2020 button croppedselected as Mr. Biden’s running mate, according to the officials. Former President Bill Clinton will speak as well, one of the officials said.

joe biden bernie sanders palmer headshotsSenator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, right, and former Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, a Republican who is a harsh critic of President Trump, will deliver addresses Monday night, the officials said.

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star of the Democratic Party’s progressive wing, will deliver a brief speech during the Democratic National Convention next week, according to three people with direct knowledge of the planning.

The inclusion of Ms. Ocasio-Cortez, who supported Senator Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primary, is emblematic of the party’s larger effort to unite the party’s left wing behind Mr. Biden, a candidate whom many progressives see as too closely aligned with lobbyists and Wall Street.

The “Big Three” broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC — plan to air an hour of the convention live each nig

ny times logoNew York Times, What to Watch in Tuesday’s Elections, Astead W. Herndon, Nick Corasaniti, Matthew Rosenberg and Luke Broadwater, Aug. 11, 2020. Representative Ilhan Omar faces a fight in Minnesota, a Republican QAnon supporter is vying for the House in Georgia, and states are testing their elections systems.

Six states hold primaries and runoffs on Tuesday, but the spotlight will be on Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota. In her primary race for re-election on Tuesday, she hopes to continue a string of victories by progressive candidates nationwide, but she faces a well-financed challenge from Antone Melton-Meaux, a lawyer who has raised more than $4 million.

In Georgia, a Republican QAnon supporter has a good chance of winning her party’s nomination in the 14th Congressional District. But the attention in Georgia will be on the election system there as much as on the candidates; ditto Wisconsin, which also votes on Tuesday. These two battleground states struggled to hold earlier primary elections amid the coronavirus pandemic; though Tuesday’s elections will probably have lower turnout, any test of the voting apparatus in Wisconsin and in Georgia will be closely monitored.

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time in Minnesota; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Eastern time in Georgia; and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time in Wisconsin.
Is Ilhan Omar in trouble?

It was long thought that Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, was the only member of the so-called squad who would face a difficult re-election. But by the time Ms. Tlaib cruised to victory last week, Ms. Omar’s challenge might have eclipsed Ms. Tlaib’s. That’s because Ms. Omar is facing a well-funded opponent.

Ms. Omar, an unabashed progressive who has at times run afoul of some party leaders, got the support of House Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi in her re-election efforts. Her opponent, Mr. Melton-Meaux, has tried to cast her as a national lightning rod too controversial for the district, however.

Mr. Melton-Meaux, who has secured more than $4 million for his campaign, nearly matched Ms. Omar over all and outraised her in the most recent cycle, sending alarm bells that the race could be closer than expected.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Payroll tax holiday is first shot in a class and generational war, Allan Sloan, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). The president said he’ll eliminate Social Security taxes next year, should he be reelected — and that would likely mean the end of the federal entitlement system as we’ve known it. Here’s what is actually in Trump’s four executive orders

President Trump’s memorandum to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin ordering that he suspend Social Security taxes for some employers and their employees for the rest of this year makes no sense if the goal is to offset economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic.

But it makes a lot of sense if it is to undermine Social Security and stir up class and generational warfare, which is clearly the goal of both Trump and his close ally, Stephen Moore, who has railed against the whole idea of Social Security for years.

ny times logoNew York Times, Election Updates: Democratic Convention Will Feature Obamas and Clintons, Staff reports, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Bernie Sanders and John Kasich will speak at the Democratic convention. Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate in days. Here’s the latest. Hillary Clinton will deliver a prime-time speech next Wednesday for the Democratic National Convention, part of a preliminary lineup of speakers for the truncated, mostly virtual four-night event, three Democratic officials with dnc square logoknowledge of the schedule said Monday.

democratic donkey logoFormer Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive presidential nominee, has said he will not travel to Milwaukee, where the convention is nominally being held but has been scaled back to just a few hundred attendees. He will speak from Delaware on Thursday, the final night of the convention, in a form and fashion yet to be announced. (Continued below.)

ny times logoNew York Times, Michigan Democrats Hesitate on Whitmer as V.P.: ‘We Need Her Here,’ Kathleen Gray, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). She is on Joe Biden’s shortlist, but can Michigan afford to lose her?  With Joseph R. Biden Jr. expected to announce his choice of running mate in the coming days, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan has suddenly joined the pack of leading contenders in the home stretch — a turn that has some Democrats in the state excited, but has left others concerned about how they, and Michigan, might fare without her.

gretchen whitmer o smile CustomTalk of her 11th-hour political momentum began after she took a secretive, chartered flight to Delaware from Lansing, Mich., this month for a two-hour conversation with Mr. Biden, a trip first reported by the Associated Press.

That Ms. Whitmer, right, a well-regarded Democratic governor of a battleground state, could vault into the top circle of contenders shows just how fluid Mr. Biden’s selection process has been — but it also illustrates the complex considerations involved in choosing a running mate based on her record during a crisis, one that shows no sign of ending soon.

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

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ny times logostephen hahn oNew York Times, F.D.A. Chief Caught Between Trump and Scientists, Sheila Kaplan, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Many medical experts — including members of his own staff — worry about whether Dr. Stephen Hahn, right, has the fortitude and political savvy to protect the scientific integrity of the F.D.A. from Mr. Trump.

ny times logoNew York Times, College Football Stars Press an Urgent Case: ‘We Want to Play,’ Alan Blinder, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). College administrators are mulling whether there will be a football season this fall. Some of the sport’s biggest names say there should be.

Emboldened by the imperiling of the college football season and a summer of social activism, some of the sport’s biggest stars pressured administrators on Monday to allow the games to go on under the right circumstances — and raised the prospect of more formally organizing in the future, a disputed approach in the past.

In messages on Twitter, the players, including Justin Fields of Ohio State, Najee Harris of Alabama and Trevor Lawrence of Clemson, pointedly declared: “We all want to play football this season.” They urged college football to adopt universal health guidelines; said that players should be allowed to opt out, as some already have; and declared that they wanted to use their “voices to establish open communication and trust between players and officials.”

Later Monday, President Trump joined the debate when he retweeted Lawrence and said, “The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be canceled. #WeWantToPlay.”

No Power 5 conference has abandoned plans for football season, though all have cautioned for months that games were no sure bet. On Monday afternoon, a Big Ten official, who spoke on the condition on anonymity to discuss private talks, said that the presidents and chancellors of the conference’s member schools had not taken a vote over whether to proceed with a season during recent meetings.

But the sweeping display from players amounted to a merger of movements within college sports — some players had warned that they would not take the field this fall unless schools took greater steps to ensure their safety — and it opened another front in the protracted debate over the rights of unpaid student-athletes, an issue that has come under scrutiny on Capitol Hill and in America’s statehouses in recent months.

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump Considers Banning Re-entry by Citizens Who May Have Virus, Michael D. Shear and Caitlin Dickerson, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). The rule would allow the government to stop a citizen from returning to the U.S. if an official believed the person had been exposed.

Law, Courts, Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, McDonald’s sues fired CEO to recoup severance, says he lied about affairs with workers, Hannah Denham, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). The fast-food giant claims Steve Easterbrook, whose severance package is said to be worth $42 million, destroyed a paper trail of his 'inappropriate personal behavior.’

mcdonalds logoThe fast food giant made the announcement in a Monday filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Steve Easterbrook was terminated on Nov. 3, 2019, after the company’s board found he violated policy with “a consensual relationship with an employee,” McDonald’s said. His compensation, benefits and stock were potentially worth nearly $42 million, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Easterbook denied the relationship was physical, the company said, as well as having any other relationships with employees.

But the board launched in inquiry after receiving more information about his conduct through an employee report, the company said. It concluded that Easterbrook had lied to the company and the board, and had destroyed a paper trail detailing his “inappropriate personal behavior” with sexual relationships with three other employees before he was terminated.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kodak shares plunge after U.S. pauses loan until ‘allegations of wrongdoing’ are resolved, Hannah Denham, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). The photography pioneer was poised to use a $765 million government loan to revamp its factories for pharmaceutical production. Last month, under an agreement aimed at reducing U.S. reliance on China, the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, or DFC, announced it would give the photography pioneer a $765 million loan that would allow it to retrofit its factories to make the ingredients.

News of the deal sent Kodak stock soaring. But last Tuesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to launch an insider trading inquiry, citing the unusually high volume of trading activity the day before the deal was announced. On July 27, day before the loan was announced, more than 1 million shares of Kodak stock exchanged hands, more than quadruple its daily average, she said in a letter to SEC Chairman Jay Clayton. Its stock price jumped 20 kodak logopercent that day, she wrote, and more than 200 percent on July 28, when the loan was announced.

Warren also noted that shortly before the announcement, Kodak Executive Chairman James Continenza bought about 46,700 shares. The purchase “while the company was involved in secret negotiations with the government over a lucrative contract raises questions about whether these executives potentially made investment decisions based on material, non-public information derived from their positions,” Warren said. Continenza has regularly purchased Kodak shares since joining the company in 2013 and hasn’t sold a single share, Kodak said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Amid college inquiry, Mass. congressional challenger says he had ‘consensual’ relationships with students, Teo Armus, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). As other left-richard neal headshotwing congressional candidates racked up wins around the country, Alex Morse, 31, seemed like he could become the next liberal challenger to oust a long-term incumbent.

alex morse wikimediaMorse, left, the country’s youngest openly gay mayor, spoke eloquently about growing up in working-class in Holyoke, Mass. and losing his brother to a heroin addiction earlier this year. Rep. Richard E. Neal (D-Mass.), above right, had been in office for three decades, the mayor said, but failed in recent years to make himself visible in his rural and industrial swath of the state.

democratic donkey logoBut as allegations emerged that Morse had used his position to make advances on men a decade his junior, he offered an admission on Sunday: He had in fact engaged in relationships with local college students.

In an apology Sunday night, Morse, who also taught college courses for a time, refused to drop out of the race. His sexual orientation had unfairly heightened the focus on his personal life, he said, while denying any accusations of nonconsensual relationships.

Legal Schnauzer, Commentary: Our reporting on Jeff Sessions, Bill Pryor, and other Alabama politicos made us a target for a Roger Stone cyber harassment campaign via fake Facebook pages, Roger Shuler, Aug. 11, 2020. How did Legal Schnauzer land amidst Facebook's takedown of pages and accounts associated with Donald Trump ally and self-proclaimed GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone, a story that made global headlines last week?

Facebook released a report on July 8 about its internal investigation, titled "Removing Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior," focusing primarily on the size, scope, and fraudulent nature of the Stone network.

Last Friday, New York City-based Graphika, which uses artificial intelligence to analyze social media issued a followup report titled "Facebook's Roger Stone Takedown," which focused on how the Stone network operated, the messages it sent, and the people it targeted. Partially with help of search warrants from the Robert Mueller investigation, Graphika determined I was one of those targets. The report provides details about the barrage of nasty, profane comments and emails we began receiving around November 2016. Graphika shines light on just how crude and threatening Stone -- and perhaps other Trump allies -- can be, targeting Legal Schnauzer for what likely can best be described as a cyber harassment and cyber stalking campaign.

Graphika begins describing my experience with the Stone network on page 26 of the report, under the sub-heading "Harassing Behavior":

Some of the network’s activity also suggests harassment or incitement to harassment, sometimes in a coordinated fashion. One such incident was attributed to the “Sarah Jameson” persona. According to legal blog “Legal Schnauzer” in January 2017, a persona with this name sent the blogger at least one “argumentative and ugly” email. A persona more broadly called “Sarah” sent many more messages. The blogger associated the emails with the Facebook account and included a copy of its profile picture.

What seemed to prompt rage-filled responses from the Stone surrogates? I addressed that question in a post dated January 6, 2017:

Evidence in our spam folder here at Legal Schnauzer suggests a Donald Trump ally and former Richard Nixon dirty trickster somehow is involved in a series of harassing, profanity-filled e-mails we started receiving about seven weeks ago.

The ugly e-mails started around the middle of November after we wrote posts about two Alabamians -- Jeff Sessions (Trump's pick for U.S. attorney general) and Bill Pryor (a Sessions protege and likely Trump nominee for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court).

Were the nasty comments from Stone's network sparked only by our coverage of Sessions and Pryor? Oh, no. Other Alabama-related reports set them off, as I noted in a post dated December 15, 2016:

What were the nutty, creepy comments that we received after our recent reports on Donald Trump nominee Jeff Sessions and likely nominee Bill Pryor? Are the comments connected to longtime Trump ally Roger Stone, a frequent guest on the Alex Jones InfoWars show and admitted associate of the WikiLeaks operation that produced hacked e-mails from the Hillary Clinton campaign?

Political, Race Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr slams Black Lives Matter, accuses the left of ‘tearing down the system,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Nearly two weeks after Democrats grilled william barr new oAttorney General William P. Barr over the Justice Department’s crackdowns on racial justice protests, Barr on Sunday evening lashed out at the opposition party and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Speaking to Fox News host Mark Levin, Barr, right, said liberals are intent on “tearing down the system” and called protesters’ tactics “fascistic.”

“They are a revolutionary group that is interested in some form of socialism, communism,” Barr said of Black Lives Matter. “They’re essentially Bolsheviks.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Chicago Police Arrest More Than 100 People After Looting Batters Downtown, Julie Bosman, Christine Hauser and Johnny Diaz, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). The city raised the bridges to the main shopping and business district. Mayor Lori Lightfoot condemned the crowd’s actions as “felony criminal conduct.”

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Lebanon’s Government Resigns Amid Widespread Anger Over Blast, Ben Hubbard, Aug. 11, 2020 (print ed.). Lebanon’s cabinet resigned on Monday, opening up a new political void as the country struggles with a crippling economic crisis and reels from an enormous explosion last week that ravaged swaths of the capital.

lebanon resized flagIn a televised address, Prime Minister Hassan Diab, in office since January, said he and his cabinet ministers were standing down amid widespread anger over the death and destruction caused by the blast.

The fall of Mr. Diab’s government reflected how deeply last week’s explosion — which killed more than 150 people, wounded 6,000 and rendered hundreds of thousands homeless — has rattled the small Mediterranean nation. Lebanon was already struggling with deep economic and political crises before the blast caused billions of dollars in damage to Beirut.

 

Aug. 10

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washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: A ‘radical’ leftist who is ‘against God’? Trump paints Biden in a picture many don’t recognize, Ashley Parker, Aug. 10, 2020. President Trump is increasingly trying to run against a Joe Biden of his own making.

Rather than look for campaign ammunition in the former vice president’s long track record of politically vulnerable votes and policy proposals, Trump has instead chosen to describe Biden as a godless Marxist bent on destroying the country with a radical agenda that would make Che Guevara blanch.

The caricature is one that neither Biden’s critics nor supporters recognize — but it’s one Trump continues to promote.

To hear Trump tell it, the former vice president and longtime U.S. senator is “the most extreme left-wing candidate in history.” Biden is going to “abolish the police” and “abolish the suburbs.” Biden is even “against God.”

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump was abruptly pulled out of a news conference after a shooting outside the White House, Annie Karni, Aug. 10, 2020. The Secret Service stopped President Trump in the middle of a coronavirus briefing and took him to the Oval Office. He returned several minutes later, and said there had been a shooting nearby.

President Trump was abruptly pulled out of the White House Briefing Room in midsentence during a televised news conference on Monday after a shooting near the Executive Mansion.

Mr. Trump had just kicked off his recently revived coronavirus daily briefing with an attack on mail-in voting and a prediction that the stock market would be “topping records, hopefully soon” when a Secret Service agent standing to his right interrupted him.

“We have shots fired outside,” the agent said quietly to the president. After being instructed to leave the room, Mr. Trump and his aides — including Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, and Russell T. Vought, the budget director — calmly exited without immediate explanation.

The president returned a few minutes later to report that there had been a shooting by the Secret Service outside the White House grounds, near the fence. But he said he was eager to continue his news conference.

washington post logoWashington Post, Republican senator subpoenas FBI for documents related to 2016 Russia investigation, Tom Hamburger and Karoun Demirjian, Aug. 10, 2020. The Republican chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee announced Monday that he has issued a subpoena to the FBI for records related to the bureau’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The subpoena was the first issued by the committee as part of its examination of the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation and former vice president Joe Biden and Ukraine. Democrats have condemned the inquiry, saying it risks laundering Russian disinformation into the United States through the Senate ahead of the 2020 presidential election.

A copy of the subpoena, which was first reported by Politico, was released by the committee Monday, along with a voluminous open letter from Johnson defending the GOP inquiry and attacking his Democratic critics.

“Democrats have initiated a coordinated disinformation campaign and effort to personally attack Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and me for the purpose of marginalizing the findings of our investigations,” Johnson wrote. “Chairman Grassley and I will not be deterred by the false accusations despicably being made by individuals with strong political biases and motivations.”

The subpoena issued to the FBI on Aug. 6 includes a request for “all records related to the Crossfire Hurricane investigation,” the code name given to the FBI investigation into whether any Trump advisers were involved in Russian election interference in 2016.

The subpoena specifically asks for all records provided or made available to the Justice Department’s inspector general, who conducted his own examination of the FBI’s Russia investigation, including its requests for surveillance warrants of Carter Page, who served that year as a foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign.

The inspector general found serious problems with the FBI’s handling of requests for the surveillance warrants. Overall, however, the report did not find evidence that the 2016 inquiry was unjustified or tainted by bias. “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that political bias or improper motivation influenced the decisions” by the bureau, the report concluded.

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump, Mnuchin try to pressure Democrats back into negotiations on economic relief talks, Erica Werner, Aug. 10, 2020. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) both said that they favor a legislative solution if the administration would meet them in the middle.

President Donald Trump officialTrump wrote on Twitter that Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) “want to make a deal. Amazing how it all works, isn’t it.”

It was unclear exactly what Trump was referring to, although Pelosi and Schumer both said on Sunday that they still favored a legislative solution if the administration would meet them in the middle and compromise.

Schumer reiterated that on MSNBC on Monday morning, saying he hoped that “saner voices in the Republican Party will prevail ... we’re waiting for them to come back and say ‘yes.'”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Bill Gates criticizes ‘testing insanity’ of delayed coronavirus tests in U.S., Staff reports, Aug. 10, 2020. Georgia teen who shared viral images of packed school hallway says she’s getting threats; Director of California’s health department abruptly resigns; From Metro funding crisis to telework’s rise, transportation is in historic turmoil.

Of every four people infected by covid-19, one of them is American — a statistic that highlights the United States’ failure to contain the spread of the coronavirus compared to other nations that have suffered outbreaks.

Driving the staggering case numbers in the United States is the struggle to provide timely testing, said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and co-founder of Microsoft.

“No other country has the testing insanity, because they won’t talk about fixing it,” Gates said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s “GPS” with Fareed Zakaria.

“A variety of early missteps by the U.S. and the political atmosphere meant that we didn’t get our testing going,” he said. Coupled with what he described as lockdown measures that were less strict than those of other nations, Gates said: “We are paying a pretty dramatic price, and not just in deaths. We also pay it in terms of the economic toll, which is up in the trillions.”

The U.S. economy shrank by a historic 9.5 percent from April through June, and more than 32 million Americans now receive some form of unemployment insurance.

Gates said it is “mind-blowing” that the federal government has not improved the nation’s testing strategy “because they just want to say how great it is.” He focused on the extended delays that many Americans have to endure before they get their test results back — delays he said made the tests “worthless.”

Law, Courts, Scandal

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Yes, Trump is incompetent. But he’s becoming alarmingly good at corrupting the government, Fred Hiatt (Post editorial page editor), Aug. 10, 2020. We have become so accustomed to President Trump’s incompetence that it’s easy to miss a crucial change: In his fourth year in office, Trump is learning to bend government to his corrupt purposes.

republican elephant logoThe incompetence was and remains uppermost, most lethally in the president’s surrender to the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. mortality rate, while not the world’s highest, is some 84 times greater than South Korea’s.

But in less visible corners, Trump is coming to understand how to use the bureaucracy to his ends. We might welcome such a learning curve in most presidents, because most presidents want government to serve the public good, as they see it.

Trump’s primary motivations are spite, self-aggrandizement and greed. The checks on his abuse are rapidly degrading. The lesson he learned from impeachment is that he can get away with anything — and across the government he is acting accordingly.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s actions on pandemic relief aren’t illegal. They’re just ineffective, Daniel Hemel (a law professor at the University of Chicago), Aug. 10, 2020. Within hours of President Trump’s announcement Saturday that his administration would provide pandemic-related relief to millions of Americans, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle assailed the move as yet another instance of presidential overreach. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) — who don’t agree on much — settled on the same phrase to describe the president’s actions: “unconstitutional slop.”

That’s understandable — but wrong. Trump has so often exceeded normal limits on presidential authority that it is easy to assume unlawfulness on his part. But the problem with Trump’s actions in this instance isn’t that they are illegal or unconstitutional. It’s that they promise to be inadequate and ineffective. They are, at best, Band-Aids on an open wound. Still, they are Band-Aids that Trump has legal authority to apply under the power that Congress has allowed him to exercise in a disaster.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: What a 1924 case from Montana says about dismissing the Flynn prosecution, Dayna Zolle, Aug. 10, 2020. As the full federal appeals court in D.C. considers whether to order dismissal of the criminal case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn, below left, it should bear in mind a far more obscure prosecution: that of a Montana-based federal tax collector named Franklin Woody in the 1920s.

michael flynn arms foldedWoody was accused of embezzling federal funds. He was also extraordinarily well connected. His grandfather was Missoula’s first mayor and a district judge, while Woody’s father was close friends with the governor and had served as Montana’s assistant attorney general. After Woody’s indictment, the federal prosecutor argued that the case against him should be dismissed, noting that the defendant “is of a prominent pioneer family, is young, … [and] is studying law in a California university,” that “his ‘career as a lawyer will be spoiled,’ ” and “that the government’s losses have been reimbursed.”

The judge deciding whether to grant the government’s motion to dismiss the prosecution found his hands tied. The government’s reasons for dropping the case, he said in a 1924 ruling, “savor altogether too much of some variety of prestige and influence (family, friends, or money) that too often enables their possessors to violate the laws with impunity.”

Nonetheless, he acknowledged, “the district attorney has absolute control over criminal prosecutions.” Thus, despite the judge’s assessment that dismissal of the case was “abhorrent to justice,” he had no choice but to grant the motion to dismiss, “albeit reluctantly.”

That case helped lead to the federal rule that is at issue in Flynn’s case, Rule 48(a) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. As Thomas Ward Frampton explains in the Stanford Law Review, the committee tasked with drafting the federal rules “focused on the possibility that improper political influence might spur a prosecutor’s decision to drop a case.”

Ultimately, the Supreme Court adopted the requirement currently found in Rule 48(a) — that the government obtain “leave of court” for a dismissal. That change, as Frampton observes, “armed the district judge with a powerful tool to halt corrupt or politically motivated dismissals of cases.”

Dayna Zolle is appellate counsel at Constitutional Accountability Center, a public interest law firm and think tank dedicated to promoting the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text, history and values.

Just Security, What To Watch For In Michael Flynn’s Case On Tuesday, Joshua Geltzer, Aug. 10, 2020. On Tuesday at 9:30 am ET, Michael Flynn is back in court — or at least his case is. Here’s what to listen for.

Many readers will recall that after Flynn pleaded guilty (twice) to the federal crime of lying to investigators, the Justice Department abruptly announced that it intended to drop the charges against him. Not so fast, said the district judge presiding over the case. Dropping charges requires “leave of court,” and Judge Emmet Sullivan announced he’d want to receive briefing from a court-appointed amicus curiae (or “friend of the court”) and to hold a hearing before deciding whether to grant such leave. Before the briefing could be completed or the hearing held, Flynn’s lawyers—though not the Justice Department—ran to the court of appeals seeking an emergency form of intervention called “mandamus relief” to block Judge Sullivan from even understanding—and ensuring the public can understand—what had occurred at the Justice Department to cause such an about-face. The Department then chimed in to support Flynn. And, much to the astonishment of many close observers, the three-judge panel that initially heard the case agreed with Flynn in a split decision.

But that decision is now gone, wiped away by the D.C. Circuit’s decision to rehear the case en banc, in this instance in front of ten judges. Here are key points to listen for during Tuesday’s oral argument (continued below):

(1) Premature or timely review

Do the judges think that an appeals court needs to take the unusual step of intervening now, on the emergency posture of a mandamus petition, to prevent the district court from proceeding, or can any potential concerns with how the district court handles the case be addressed later, on ordinary appeal? The en banc court could dispose of the case at this stage on narrow grounds: that emergency relief is uncalled for, partly because normal appellate review is available later. The D.C. Circuit judges showed their interest in exploring this central issue with their order to rehear the case en banc, which included direction to the lawyers to be prepared to argue on Tuesday about whether there are adequate alternative means to attain appropriate relief from what the district court might do.

(2) The district court’s powers

What do the judges think “leave of court” means? The district judge, by seeking briefing and calling a hearing, indicated that, at a minimum, that language in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure must mean that “federal judges are not supposed to be potted plants,” as coauthors and I phrased it in an earlier piece. Expect the judges to test, on Tuesday, theories of why this term – leave of court — was deliberately included in the federal rules if a district judge in fact can do nothing more than dismiss charges once asked to do so by the Justice Department—the position being advanced by Flynn and the Trump DOJ. Will the judges find a narrow space for district courts to seek briefing and a hearing, but too narrow to fit what Sullivan ordered in Flynn’s case?

(3) Flynn’s charges

How much do the judges need to say about the particularities of the Flynn case and the nature of further proceedings in the district court? As indicated above, if a majority of judges is inclined to deny Flynn’s request for emergency relief, that majority could simply stop there—without specifying anything further about what the district judge should or should not do in receiving briefing that’s been paused. The ball would simply be back in the district court to hold a now-postponed hearing. But a majority could say more if it so chose—even to the point of specifying what it thinks the nature of any hearing should be in the district court and how the district judge should decide whether to grant the government’s request to dismiss the charges, including whether to do so with or without prejudice. (Neal Katyal and I previously have urged any potential dismissal to be without prejudice so that a future Justice Department at least could take another look at the case.)

(4) Judge Sullivan’s courtroom

Do the judges think that, even if they allow further proceedings in the district court rather than ordering immediate dismissal of the charges, the case should be reassigned to a different district judge? The appellate judges are interested in considering this option, as evidenced by another order they issued asking the lawyers to be prepared to address this topic. The logic might be that, with the judge having been forced—albeit by Flynn’s lawyers—into the unusual posture of having to become a party in the adversarial mandamus proceedings, even to the point of being represented by counsel, assuming an impartial role back in the district court may be difficult.

The Flynn case has become about much more than Michael Flynn. It’s become, as Katyal and I explained, the most concrete instantiation of President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr’s assault on federal law enforcement and attempt to portray it as the villain. What’s more, the Flynn episode has become emblematic of the claim Trump and Barr insist on making repeatedly that somehow federal law enforcement acted improperly in 2016 when it tried to investigate counterintelligence threats to the United States that, ultimately, proved all too real. But, on Tuesday, all of that will be merely the backdrop. The spotlight will be on the law. And it’s worth Americans listening carefully for what ten judges will be saying as they grapple with what particular areas of law that intersect in this unusual matter mean for the next steps in the Flynn case.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Michigan Democrats Hesitate on Whitmer as V.P.: ‘We Need Her Here,’ Kathleen Gray, Aug. 10, 2020. She is on Joe Biden’s shortlist, but can Michigan afford to lose her?  With Joseph R. Biden Jr. expected to announce his choice of running mate in the coming days, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan has suddenly joined the pack of leading contenders in the home stretch — a turn that has some Democrats in the state excited, but has left others concerned about how they, and Michigan, might fare without her.

Talk of her 11th-hour political momentum began after she took a secretive, chartered flight to Delaware from Lansing, Mich., this month for a two-hour conversation with Mr. Biden, a trip first reported by The Associated Press.

That Ms. Whitmer, a well-regarded Democratic governor of a battleground state, could vault into the top circle of contenders shows just how fluid Mr. Biden’s selection process has been — but it also illustrates the complex considerations involved in choosing a running mate based on her record during a crisis, one that shows no sign of ending soon.

ny times logoNew York Times, President Trump says he may give his acceptance speech at White House or Gettysburg, Staff reports, Aug. 10, 2020. President Trump tweeted on Monday that his campaign had narrowed down the list of venues for his acceptance speech to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania — a possibility first reported by Annie Karni of The Times last week — or the White House.

Both choices could be fraught with legal and political complications for Mr. Trump, who last month scrapped plans to accept the Republican nomination at a party convention in Jacksonville, Fla., because of an outbreak of infections in the state.

mark meadows SmallOn Sunday, the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, right, expressed disapproval for the idea of using the White House as the site of such an openly political event, a concept that was also widely panned by ethics experts.

“Those decisions are still in flux, but I can tell you what I’m advocating for is miles and miles away from here,” Mr. Meadows said in an interview with Greta Van Susteren that aired Sunday morning.

Mr. Meadows, a former North Carolina congressman who frequently accused President Barack Obama of abusing his executive authority, appeared to backtrack in a later interview with CNN on Sunday, saying that the ceremonial East Wing of the White House would be an appropriate venue.

The Battle of Gettysburg was a turning point in the Civil War, in which thousands of Union and Confederate soldiers were killed over several days of fighting in July 1863. The battlefield is among the most popular Civil War sites in the United States, and is operated by the National Park Service.

By choosing Gettysburg or the White House for a campaign speech, Mr. Trump would face scrutiny of his use of government property for political activities, a potential violation of the Hatch Act. The law prohibits federal employees from engaging in political activities while they are on the job. While the president and the vice president are exempt from the act’s restrictions, other federal employees — including White House staff members — are not.

washington post logoWashington Post, A president ignored: Trump’s outlandish claims increasingly met with a collective shrug, Ashley Parker, Aug. 10, 2020 (print ed.). More than 3½ years into his Democratic-Republican Campaign logospresidency, Trump increasingly finds himself minimized and ignored — as many of his more outlandish or false statements are briefly considered and then, just as quickly, dismissed. The slide into partial irrelevance could make it even more difficult for Trump as he seeks reelection as the nation’s leader amid a pandemic and economic collapse.

In battling the coronavirus crisis, which has left more than 158,000 Americans dead, many of the nation’s governors have disregarded the president’s nebulous recommendations, instead opting for what they believe is best for their residents.

So have the nation’s schools, with many of the country’s largest districts preparing for distance learning when they reopen this fall, despite Trump’s repeated calls for kids to return to classrooms in person. And the president’s own top public health officials are routinely contradicting him in public — offering grim, fact-based assessments of the raging virus in contrast to his own frequently rosy proclamations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump denies that White House asked about adding him to Mount Rushmore, but adds it ‘sounds like a good idea!’ Tim Elfrink, Aug. 10, 2020. President Trump on Sunday denied a New York Times report that a White House aide had asked South Dakota’s governor about how to add another president to Mount Rushmore. But Trump also suggested he wouldn’t mind seeing his own face etched into the monument.

djt smiling file“This is Fake News,” Trump tweeted of the Times report. “Never suggested it although, based on all of the many things accomplished during the first 3 1/2 years, perhaps more than any other Presidency, sounds like a good idea to me!”

Trump has a long history of saying his likeness should be added to Mount Rushmore, although in public he’s generally insisted he’s joking.

His fixation with Mount Rushmore as a populist symbol, though, is undeniable. In July, he staged a gala Independence Day celebration at the South Dakota monument where he tried to capitalize on the social and political divisions riling the nation amid the novel coronavirus pandemic in a fiery speech warning of a “left-wing cultural revolution."

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If these leaders define the future of the Republican Party, it doesn’t deserve to have a future, Max Boot, Aug. 10, 2020. With President Trump trailing in the polls, there is palpable hope in some quarters that the Republican Party will get back to “normal” before long. That means a Reaganesque agenda of tax cuts, free trade, deregulation, muscular internationalism, social conservatism and a welcoming attitude toward immigrants.

carl bernstein screenshot

Palmer Report, Opinion: Carl Bernstein has something to say about Donald Trump’s downfall, Robert Harrington (right), Aug. 10, 2020. It is a measure of the frustratingly insane circumstances of recent times that even a hard-bitten old news warrior like Carl Bernstein can succumb to flights of unrealistic optimism. Bernstein recently told Chris robert harrington horizontal portraitCuomo, “I think we have to recognize that we have a national emergency unlike anything in our history. And that national emergency is that we have a president of the United States who is demonstrably unfit, incompetent, not honest, not capable of dealing with this horrible situation, and we need a political and cultural protectorate in this country between now and Election Day from the president of the United States and his recklessnesss.”

bill palmer report logo headerI would be the last person to argue with him. If such a thing as a political protectorate actually existed in the realpolitik of 2020 then now would be the time for it. The urgency of Bernstein’s message is underlined by the grave reality of daily American deaths. “People are dead because of his recklessness,” Bernstein continues. “We need the political system to respond, which means Republicans particularly. Because the Republicans on Capitol Hill as well as those who have left the White House, they know he is not a stable individual … We need to be protected from this president so that we can be protected from COVID.”

He is correct. In fact, I can say with incontrovertible certainty, that there are Americans who are alive right now, functioning normally and well, who will be dead by Election Day if Donald Trump’s incompetent policies of inaction are not subverted. But there exists no realistic Constitutional mechanism to bring this about. Certainly there’s the 25th Amendment, but I believe I used the word “realistic.”

Mike PenceThat option requires Mike Pence, right, to take sane action on his own initiative.

There are reasons why Trump has not jettisoned Pence and this is another of them. I cannot imagine how anyone rational could possibly believe that Trump’s ineffectual dybbuk of a Vice President would contemplate making a move against Trump. Bernstein doesn’t mention 25A, and with good reason.

richard nixon o new CustomWhat does Bernstein expect to happen? “What happened in the Nixon presidency? A group of Republicans, led by the great conservative Barry Goldwater, and by the minority leader of the house and by the Republican leadership marched into the White House and said to Richard Nixon, ’You are unfit to remain in office. You must leave the presidency, we will no longer support you.’ Something similar has got to happen in some kind of conscience-rendering by Republicans to save us and to save lives in this country.”

Again, Bernstein is right. Another soft coup like the one led by Goldwater against Nixon needs to happen.

But will it? I see no evidence that such a thing is being contemplated. Bernstein goes on, “We are in need of action by the political system and by Republicans on Capitol Hill including the craven Mitch McConnell.” But it is precisely because McConnell is craven that he will never stick his neck out to contradict Donald Trump in so brazen a way. I don’t know if Mr. Bernstein noticed or not, but the crop of Republicans we are dealing with today are very different from the ones of his day.

As a doctor delivering bad news to a family might say, we need to learn to manage our expectations. We are in for a very rough ride over the next six months. Donald Trump is going to kill tens of thousands more Americans between now and January 20th, and there is nothing we can do about it but vote.

Political, Race Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr slams Black Lives Matter, accuses the left of ‘tearing down the system,’ Jaclyn Peiser, Aug. 10, 2020. Nearly two weeks after Democrats grilled william barr new oAttorney General William P. Barr over the Justice Department’s crackdowns on racial justice protests, Barr on Sunday evening lashed out at the opposition party and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Speaking to Fox News host Mark Levin, Barr, right, said liberals are intent on “tearing down the system” and called protesters’ tactics “fascistic.”

“They are a revolutionary group that is interested in some form of socialism, communism,” Barr said of Black Lives Matter. “They’re essentially Bolsheviks.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Louisville police to limit protesters to sidewalks, citing ‘increasingly unsafe behavior,’ Staff reports, Aug. 10, 2020. 'He’s not a drug kingpin,’ judge says about Black veteran serving life sentence for selling less than $30 of marijuana. Now he will be released from prison; 55 years after riots, Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles still bears scars; No strings, no bureaucracy, but suddenly $1.4 million to help a Black community.

As protests continue in Louisville, following the fatal police shooting of 26-year-old Breonna Taylor, the local police department now says it is limiting marches in the streets and vehicle caravans due to “ongoing safety concerns.”

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Taylor was asleep in her apartment on March 13 when Louisville Metro Police Department officers with a no-knock warrant allegedly doing a drug investigation burst in and fired multiple times, killing the EMT worker. No drugs were found, according to several media reports, and her case did not receive widespread national attention until the Memorial Day police-involved death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

‘I was her shadow’: As millions cry for justice, Breonna Taylor’s sister faces her own quiet grief

Amid at least 75 days of both peaceful demonstrations and unrest that has roiled Louisville, demonstrations have included nightly vehicle caravans and foot marches. In a statement posted on Twitter, Louisville police said the events have escalated in recent days: “We have seen increasingly unsafe behavior, including an escalation in aggressive behavior over the past week or so.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Looters smash business windows along Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, Tim Elfrink and Teo Armus, Aug. 10, 2020. It’s not clear what sparked the unrest. It followed a tense day between police and Black residents after police shot and wounded a man. Officers shot at least one person and chased suspects toting bags full of goods as they sought to restore order.

washington post logoWashington Post, Protesters set fire to police union headquarters in Portland, Katie Shepherd, Aug. 10, 2020 (print ed.). The latest violence came days after Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler lashed out at protesters who barricaded exits to a police precinct and started a fire that “was intended to cause serious injury or death."

The small group of protesters chipping away at the plywood on the police union building pried it loose and set a small fire in the entrance, igniting chunks of the wood and tossing them inside. Moments later, Portland police declared a riot, put out the flames, and began an hours-long game of cat-and-mouse, chasing the protesters down business-lined streets and through a park in North Portland.

The Portland Police Bureau said it made “several” arrests early Sunday morning, but it did not release information on who was arrested or how many people had been taken into custody. By 2 a.m., the protest had largely petered out.

Trump ordered federal forces to quell Portland protests. But the chaos ended as soon as they left.

There were multiple peaceful protests around the city on Saturday, but after a brief lull following the Trump administration’s partial retreat from the city last month, the late-night protests have been ratcheting up this week with a renewed focus on the Portland Police Bureau.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Belarus’s Leader Vows to Crush Protests, Claiming a Landslide Election Victory, Ivan Nechepurenko and Anton Troianovski, Aug. 10, 2020. The alexander lukashenko resized 2019embattled president of Belarus, Aleksandr G. Lukashenko, leftt, on Monday claimed a landslide victory in elections this weekend and vowed to crush the protests that have presented the biggest popular challenge he has faced in his 26 years of authoritarian rule.

The police clashed with largely peaceful protesters across the Eastern European country on Sunday night, hours after the national vote, which the opposition dismissed as blatantly rigged.

Mr. Lukashenko appeared determined to cling to power and ignore protesters’ demands that he resign.

washington post logoChina FlagWashington Post, China puts retaliatory sanctions on U.S. lawmakers, NGO chiefs, Eva Dou and Anna Fifield, Aug. 10, 2020. The penalties come in response to last week’s Treasury Department penalties against Hong Kong officials for repressing political freedoms.

washington post logoWashington Post, A Taiwan health official tried to warn the world. The U.S. didn’t listen, Emily Rauhala, Aug. 10, 2020 (print ed.). Here’s what the United tates could learn from Taiwan’s response.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrested under national security law, Shibani Mahtani, Aug. 10, 2020. In an operation that spanned more than 12 hours, Hong Kong police on Monday arrested media tycoon and activist Jimmy Lai, his sons and at least seven others and raided his newsroom under a sweeping national security law that China recently imposed on Hong Kong.

Those swept up included Agnes Chow, a 23-year old activist who rose to prominence alongside Joshua Wong and Nathan Law as a student protester in 2014. Police said that most of those arrested were suspected of colluding with foreign powers, a crime punishable by life in prison.

Taken together, the dramatic events quashed any doubt that Beijing would use the national security law as a mere deterrent and underscored the increasingly precarious plight of pro-democracy activists and journalists in Hong Kong. Lai, 71, and Chow are the most prominent of those arrested under the law to date.

Just after dawn, officers arrived at Lai's home and that of his sons to question and arrest them. Four other senior executives at his media group, Next Digital, were also arrested, according to the company and Mark Simon, a close aide to Lai. Next Digital is the parent company of Apple Daily, a pro-democracy news outlet critical of Beijing that Lai founded in 1995.

Shortly afterward, more than 200 police entered Next Digital’s offices, according to the company’s Facebook page and a live-stream of the raid, and searched Apple Daily’s newsroom. They rifled through reporters’ desks and papers, told employees to show identification cards and warned journalists to stop filming and photographing the raid. By the end of the operation, police had seized 25 boxes of material.

washington post logoLegal Schnauzer, Commentary: Legal Schnauzer winds up in the middle of Facebook's effort to remove fraudulent accounts associated with Trump ally and GOP dirty trickster, Roger Stone, Roger Shuler, Aug. 10, 2020. In January 2017, we published a post in which I expressed suspicions that someone associated with Donald Trump ally and GOP dirty trickster Roger Stone had targeted Legal Schnauzer for a stream of vile, profane, and threatening comments. Turns out we were right.

Roger StoneFacebook made international headlines last Friday with reports that the cybersecurity firm Graphika had determined that Stone and his associates created a disinformation network that prompted Facebook to launch a takedown effort of fake accounts that stretched from Canada to Brazil, from Ecuador to Ukraine. From a report at the South Florida SunSentinel, which covers Stone's home base of Fort Lauderdale:

Roger Stone spent a half-century honing his skills as a political operator and building a reputation as a stop-at-nothing dirty trickster, in support of a range of big-name politicians and causes, including Donald Trump and Richard Nixon.

facebook logoNow, a report from the cybersecurity firm Graphika suggests that Stone — who in recent years has become one of Fort Lauderdale’s best-known residents — was able to translate his real-world approach to the online world, exploiting the social media platform Facebook as he pursued goals that included promoting Trump and himself.

A closer look at the document shows how the Sunshine State emerged as an epicenter for the disinformation network, which set out to meddle in Florida politics and beyond.

The social media giant ultimately took down a network of 54 Facebook accounts, 50 pages and four from Instagram, another social media site it owns. A map showed 15 locations of the accounts were in Florida, mostly along the east coast from Vero Beach to Miami; a handful were elsewhere.

Some pages associated with Stone promoted Stone, and often his books. Some attempted to influence legislation and criticized enemies — including Hillary Clinton — sometimes with negative messages. Some used fake names and were illustrated with faces found on the internet.

“Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates,” Facebook said. Some had links to the far-right group Proud Boys, Facebook said.

Facebook apparently spared no expense in tracking the Stone network. From Facebook's report on its internal investigation:

We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region. Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities and coordination, our investigation found links to political consultants and former government employees in Ecuador and Estraterra, a Canada-based PR firm. Estraterra is now banned from our platforms.

Several of these Pages had links to Proud Boys, a hate group we banned in 2018. Some Pages appeared to have acquired followers from Pakistan and Egypt to make themselves seem more popular than they were. This network — which was also active on other internet platforms — was most active between 2015 and 2017. Since then, the majority of these accounts have been dormant, and some were permanently deleted by the users. The Page admins and account owners posted about local politics in Florida, Roger Stone and his Pages, websites, books, and media appearances.

Stone's social network unraveled primarily because of his ties to the Proud Boys and Robert Mueller's investigation of the Trump-Russia scandal from the 2016 presidential election. From the internal Facebook report:

We first started looking into this network as part of our investigation into the Proud Boys’ attempts to return to Facebook after we had designated and banned them from the platform. We identified the full scope of this network following the recent public release of search warrants pertaining to the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in response to a joint petition from The New York Times, CNN, the Associated Press, The Washington Post, and Politico. Our investigation linked this network to Roger Stone and his associates.

How does Legal Schnauzer enter the picture? The SunSentinel explains:

The [Facebook] report, issued last month, tied one example of online harassment by the network to a Sarah Jameson Facebook account, which purported to be a woman living in Plantation.

Roger Shuler, who writes an online blog called “Legal Schnauzer,” said he received a barrage of profanity-laden emails from some claiming to be a “Sarah Jameson” in 2015 and 2016. The person emailing was upset over Shuler’s critical posts about then-U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions and federal Judge Bill Pryor.

Shuler said he looked up Jameson’s Facebook page and found a “Roger Stone shrine.” It seemed bizarre enough for him to write on his blog about the account with only 18 friends and posts promoting Stone.

“I definitely had suspicions that it was a fake account or a false identity,” Shuler said. “It was kind of like a fan-girl page. Not much in-depth information. Whoever it was seemed to like Roger Stone for some reason.”

“It made me wonder: Roger Stone is known for dirty tricks. Was he involved in some of this?” Shuler added.

The Mueller search warrants apparently helped prove, among other things, that Stone and Co. targeted Legal Schnauzer for what likely can best be described as a cyber harassment and cyber stalking campaign. Ours is the only blog mentioned in the Graphika report as a specific target of the Stone network:

Similarly, a Facebook account called “Sarah Jameson” that Facebook identified as part of the network matched names and profile pictures with an account called @S_jameson82 on Twitter. The Twitter account was created in 2016 and stopped posting in early 2017; of its 20 most recent posts, 11 focused on Stone or advertised his books. Most of the rest focused on Donald Trump’s election campaign in 2016 and the controversy over his ban on immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries in early 2017.

 

Aug. 9

Top Stories

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

GOP Flynn Advocate Speaks Up

World News

U.S. Protests On Police, Race


Top Stories

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ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Trump’s Go-It-Alone Stimulus Won’t Do Much to Lift the Recovery, Jim Tankersley, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s executive actions on Saturday could give renters a break and ease some student loans. But they aren’t likely to deliver cash to struggling Americans.

Mr. Trump’s own aides concede the order will not provide any aid to small businesses, state and local governments or low- and middle-income workers.

The executive actions President Trump took on Saturday were pitched as a unilateral jolt for an ailing economy. But there is only one group of workers that seems guaranteed to benefit from them, at least right away: lawyers.

USTR seal Custom 2Mr. Trump’s measures include an eviction moratorium, a new benefit to supplement unemployment assistance for workers and a temporary delay in payroll tax liability for low- and middle-income workers. They could give renters a break and ease payments for some student loan borrowers. But they are likely to do little to deliver cash any time soon to Americans hit hard by the recession.

Even conservative groups have warned that suspending payroll tax collections is unlikely to translate into more money for workers. An executive action seeking to essentially create a new unemployment benefit out of thin air will almost certainly be challenged in court. And as Mr. Trump’s own aides concede, the orders will not provide any aid to small businesses, state and local governments or low- and middle-income workers.

If the actions signal the death of a congressional deal to provide that aid, economists warn, the economy will limp toward November without the fiscal support that hastened its recovery after its quick dive into a pandemic-induced recession.

djt i dont take responsibility at all

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: America Could Control the Pandemic by October. Let’s Get to It, Editorial Board, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). The solutions to combating the coronavirus are no mystery. It’s time to do this right.

Six to eight weeks. That’s how long some of the nation’s leading public health experts say it would take to finally get the United States’ coronavirus epidemic under control. If the country were to take the right steps, many thousands of people could be spared from the ravages of Covid-19. The economy could finally begin to repair itself, and Americans could start to enjoy something more like normal life.

Six to eight weeks. For proof, look at Germany. Or Thailand. Or France. Or nearly any other country in the world.

In the United States, after a brief period of multistate curve-flattening, case counts and death tolls are rising in so many places that Dr. Deborah Birx, the Trump administration’s coronavirus response coordinator, described the collective uptick as a sprawling “new phase” of the pandemic. Rural communities are as troubled as urban ones, and even clear victories over the virus, in places like New York and Massachusetts, feel imperiled.

At the same time, Americans are fatigued from spending months under semi-lockdown. Bars and restaurants are reopening in some places, for indoor service — and debates are underway over if and when and how to do the same for schools — even as the virus continues to spread unchecked. Long delays in testing have become an accepted norm: It can still take up to two weeks to get results in some places. As the national death toll climbs above 160,000, mask wearing is still not universal.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats assail Trump actions on payroll tax and jobless aid as unworkable, call for further talks, Erica Werner, Aug. 9,2020. Top congressional Democrats on Sunday criticized President Trump’s new executive actions as weak and unworkable, while Trump administration officials defended the president’s moves and said they were necessary because Democrats wouldn’t compromise on a broad coronavirus relief package.

Trump signed four documents on Saturday that he said would provide economic assistance to millions of Americans. But White House officials on Sunday were hard-pressed to describe precisely how the measures would work. One of the measures aims to provide $300 in new unemployment aid, but it’s unclear when these benefits might start or if states would be able to implement a new system.

Another measure, which aims to defer payroll taxes from September through December, would require participation from millions of employers, something Democrats said probably wouldn’t happen.

Nearly 5 million Americans have tested positive for coronavirus

Democrats pounced on the confusion and said it showed why the White House should resume negotiations on a broader relief package. Talks had collapsed last week after both sides dug in on what they believed the size of the package should be.

“Unfortunately, the president’s executive orders, described in one word, could be paltry, in three words, unworkable, weak, and far too narrow,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on ABC.

The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on the U.S. economy, leading many businesses to close and lay off workers. Certain sectors, particularly travel, hospitality and retail, have been hit particularly hard. The economy lost more than 20 million jobs in April and has not even regained half of those workers in the three months since.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump signs executive orders he says will provide economic relief, bypassing lawmakers, Jeff Stein, Erica Werner and Renae Merle, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). Trump says that if reelected, he'll pursue permanent cut to payroll taxes that fund Social Security, Medicare; California surpasses 10,000 deaths.

The executive actions focus on unemployment benefits, eviction protections, student loans and a payroll tax deferral. His move comes after negotiations with Democrats on a pandemic relief bill collapsed on Friday.

But there were instant questions about whether Trump’s actions were as ironclad as he made them out to be. A leading national expert on unemployment benefits said one of the actions would not increase federal unemployment benefits at all. Instead, the expert said it would instead create a new program that could take “months” to set up. And Trump’s directive to halt evictions primarily calls for federal agencies to “consider” if they should be stopped.

Trump also mischaracterized the legal stature of the measures, referring to them as “bills.” Congress writes and votes on bills, not the White House. The documents Trump signed on Saturday were a combination of memorandums and an executive order.

The White House and Democrats have clashed for weeks about what to do with the $600 enhanced weekly unemployment benefit that expired at the end of July.

One of the measures Trump signed on Saturday aims to provide $400 in weekly unemployment aid for millions of Americans. Trump said 25 percent of this money would be paid by states, many of which are already dealing with major budget shortfalls. The federal contribution would be redirected from disaster relief money at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Those funds are not likely to last more than two months, and Trump would not say when the benefits would kick in.

Another document signed by Trump on Saturday attempts to defer payroll tax payments from September through December for people who earn less than $100,000. The impact of this measure could depend on whether companies decide to comply, as they could be responsible for withdrawing large amounts of money from their employees’ paychecks in a few months when the taxes are due.

The president said that if he wins reelection, he would seek to extend the deferral and somehow “terminate” the taxes that are owed. He also dared presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to try to recoup those tax dollars if elected in November. The payroll tax funds Social Security and Medicare benefits, and it’s unclear where those programs will get funding if the taxes are deferred.

Two of the other executive actions are related to eviction protections and student loan relief. The plan related to housing only makes suggestions to federal agencies but does not halt evictions nationally. The measure on student loans aims to extend the relief granted by Congress in March through the end of the year.

“These policy announcements provide little real help to families," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement following the executive actions. “Instead of passing a bill, now President Trump is cutting families’ unemployment benefits and pushing states further into budget crises, forcing them to make devastating cuts to life-or-death services.” They pointed out that Trump’s housing plan “provides no assistance to help pay the rent.”

Trump also signed an executive order stating that it was U.S. policy to minimize evictions and foreclosures. The order does not reinstate the federal eviction moratorium that expired last month or fund the billions in assistance Democrats have said is necessary to help people already behind on their rent.

“The President cannot create new money with an executive order. These EOs [Executive Orders] simply show the limitations of the President’s legal authority,” said Jack Smalligan, a former official at the Office of Management and Budget and now a senior policy fellow at the Urban Institute, a centrist think tank.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump walks out on his own press conference after reporter calls him out for lying, Bill Palmer, Aug. 8-9, 2020. Donald Trump’s “press djt hands up mouth open Customconference” yesterday, in a room full of drunk country club members, was an embarrassing debacle for him. So naturally, Trump decided to repeat his mistake today – and to the surprise of no one but him, it ended up going even more poorly for him this time around.

bill palmer report logo headerTrump called the press conference to announce some half-baked executive orders that would defund Social Security and Medicare, and may not even be enforceable. It came off as completely incoherent, considering that the rest of the federal government is still negotiating economic relief legislation. But the ugly part for Trump came when he opened up the floor to questions.

CBS correspondent Paula Reid called Donald Trump out for his frequent lie about having reformed the VA, when in fact the legislation was signed by President Obama in 2014. When Trump tried ignore her and call on someone else, she reiterated that “It’s a false statement.” At that point an overmatched Trump said “thank you very much” and walked out.

Adding to the absurdity, Donald Trump’s country club members in the back of the room kept cheering like hooligans throughout the exchange. First they cheered while Reid was calling Trump a liar, then they cheered when Trump walked out, raising questions about what side they were even on. The whole thing was just so embarrassing – and it’s clear that Trump has no idea what he’s even trying to do at this point.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Surpasses 5 Million Coronavirus Cases, Staff reports, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). No other country has reported as many infections: Brazil ranks second, with about three million, and India is third with two million. President Trump signed executive orders on economic aid as stimulus talks stalled. Their impact may be limited. Here’s the latest.

While politicians wrangled over a pandemic relief package and schools struggled over whether to open their doors to students, the United States passed another milestone on Saturday: more than five million known coronavirus infections.

The data, from a New York Times database, is based on reports of known cases from federal, state and local officials. Public health experts have warned that the actual number of people infected is far greater.

Cases are trending upward in seven states, as well as in Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and decreasing in 17, according to The Times database. In the past week, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida had the most new cases relative to population.

President Trump signed four executive orders Saturday afternoon that seek to prolong a federal moratorium on evictions, add flexibility to student loan payments and renew additional assistance to unemployed workers, as negotiations over a pandemic relief package appeared on the brink of collapse.

Mr. Trump’s decision comes as White House officials and top congressional Democrats remained bitterly, and widely, divided on a number of critical issues and with no plans to meet again. The orders, which could face legal challenges, are unlikely to add much additional fuel to the economic recovery.

“Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer have chosen to hold this vital assistance hostage,” Mr. Trump said at a news conference at his private golf club in New Jersey, his second in two days. A few dozen club guests were in attendance, and the president appeared to revel in their laughter at his jokes denouncing his political critics.

“We’ve had it,” Mr. Trump said, repeatedly referring to the executive actions as “bills,” which are passed by Congress. He used the news conference to take repeated verbal detours to praise his administration’s widely criticized response to the coronavirus, take credit for legislation passed by former President Barack Obama and attack his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

It remains unclear what authority Mr. Trump has to act on his own and redirect funds and how effective those orders could be without federal spending. But the president’s orders reflected the extent of the divide between White House officials and top congressional Democrats as crucial benefits have expired and with no relief in sight.

nancy pelosi djt 2 older

ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: Pelosi Confidently Plays Hardball on Virus Relief, Emily Cochrane and Nicholas Fandos, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). Emboldened by Republican divisions and a favorable political landscape, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is refusing to agree to a narrow relief measure.

As the clock ticked down Thursday on a self-imposed deadline for a breakthrough in coronavirus relief talks with no deal in sight, Jim Cramer, the brash CNBC host, had an on-air proposal for Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California.

Why not try invoking the memory of the late civil rights icon John Lewis to try to persuade Republicans to agree to help the most vulnerable Americans, including “minorities” struggling to weather a pandemic and a recession?

Ms. Pelosi flashed a forced smile. “Perhaps,” she deadpanned, “you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn for what you just described.”

The comment — unusually coarse for Ms. Pelosi, 80, who was educated by nuns — was part insult, part dare and part slogan for a woman who believes she has the upper hand in crisis negotiations and does not intend to lose it. And it reflected how, two weeks into stalled talks over another round of federal assistance to prop up a battered economy, and less than three months before Election Day, the speaker of the House is going for the jugular.

She has publicly heaped disdain on her White House negotiating partners as she plays hardball in daily private meetings in her Capitol office suite, convinced that she has political leverage to force Republicans to agree to far more generous aid than they have offered. She has been unwilling to bow to the Trump administration’s demands for a much narrower bill or a stopgap solution.

“We’re not doing short-term action, because if we do short-term action, they’re not going to do anything else,” she said of Republicans Friday afternoon during an interview in her office, after negotiators blew past their own deadline without a deal. “That’s it — like a sucker punch, you know — ‘Let us just do this little bit,’ and then you know what? We’ll never see them again.”

Instead, Ms. Pelosi is pushing for a sweeping package that includes billions of dollars for state and local governments and schools, food and rental assistance, and additional aid for election security and the Postal Service.

All the while, Ms. Pelosi has made it clear that she does not much trust President Trump’s advisers — she has taken to asking negotiators to turn over their electronic devices before entering sessions in her office — nor does she think highly of their ability to forge a compromise. “You’ve never done a deal,” she has reminded Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff and former congressman, according to a person familiar with the talks who described them on the condition of anonymity.

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Health experts worry virus could cause lasting heart complications for athletes, Adam Kilgore, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). Many questions about the nascent research remain unanswered. But sports cardiologists and other experts are urging caution for athletes who return to play after recovering from covid-19.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Unwanted Truths: Inside Trump’s Battles With U.S. Intelligence Agencies, Robert Draper, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). Last year, intelligence officials gathered to write a classified report on Russia’s interest in the 2020 election. Our investigation uncovered what happened next.

In early July of last year, the first draft of a classified document known as a National Intelligence Estimate circulated among key members of the agencies making up the U.S. intelligence community. N.I.E.s are intended to be that community’s most authoritative class of top-secret document, reflecting its consensus judgment on national-security matters ranging from Iran’s nuclear capabilities to global terrorism. The draft of the July 2019 N.I.E. ran to about 15 pages, with another 10 pages of appendices and source notes.

CIA LogoAccording to multiple officials who saw it, the document discussed Russia’s ongoing efforts to influence U.S. elections: the 2020 presidential contest and 2024’s as well. It was compiled by a working group consisting of about a dozen senior analysts, led by Christopher Bort, a veteran national intelligence officer with nearly four decades of experience, principally focused on Russia and Eurasia. The N.I.E. began by enumerating the authors’ “key judgments.” Key Judgment 2 was that in the 2020 election, Russia favored the current president: Donald Trump.

The intelligence provided to the N.I.E.’s authors indicated that in the lead-up to 2020, Russia worked in support of the Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as well. But Bort explained to his colleagues, according to notes taken by one participant in the process, that this reflected not a genuine preference for Sanders but rather an effort “to weaken that party and ultimately help the current U.S. president.” To allay any speculation that Putin’s interest in Trump had cooled, Key Judgment 2 was substantiated by current information from a highly sensitive foreign source described by someone who read the N.I.E. as “100 percent reliable.”

On its face, Key Judgment 2 was not a contentious assertion. In 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the umbrella entity supervising the 16 other U.S. intelligence agencies, released a report drawing on intelligence from the C.I.A., the F.B.I. and the National Security Agency that found Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election and aspired to help Trump. At a news conference with Trump in Helsinki in July 2018, President Vladimir Putin of Russia denied interfering in the election. But when asked by a reporter if he had wanted Trump to win, he replied bluntly: “Yes, I did.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The threat to U.S. elections is real, and frightening. The public has a right to know, Richard Blumenthal, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). The warning lights are flashing red. America’s elections are under attack.

richard blumenthal portraitThis week, I reviewed classified materials in the Senate’s Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility and received a similarly classified briefing on malign foreign threats to U.S. elections. I was shocked by what I learned — and appalled that, by swearing Congress to secrecy, the Trump administration is keeping the truth about a grave, looming threat to democracy hidden from the American people. On Friday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a statement that only hints at the threats.

The facts are chilling. I believe the American public needs and deserves to know them. The information should be declassified immediately.

The publicly available facts are terrifying enough. A report released on Wednesday by the State Department outlined in detail attempts by Russian front groups, fake individual online identities and state-funded media to sow disinformation and dissension about U.S. allies around the world. Russian intelligence operations have perfected the art of laundering distorted and fabricated narratives through media networks, covert hacking, international proxies and others to undermine democracies, attack the United States’ global image and silence criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Richard Blumenthal, left, a Democrat, is a U.S. senator from Connecticut.

washington post logoWashington Post, Change to census deadline could result in undercount of Latin and Black communities, Jose A. Del Real and Fredrick Kunkle, Aug. 9, 2020. The count dictates the allocation of federal dollars and influences everything from infrastructure investments to education programs to public health-care spending.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kanye West’s presidential bid bolstered by GOP operatives in at least five states, Rosalind S. Helderman and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 9, 2020. Multiple Republican activists and operatives have sought to get the rapper on the November ballot, raising questions about whether they are part of an effort to siphon votes from Joe Biden.

One elector trying to get rapper Kanye West on the presidential ballot in Wisconsin is married to a former chairwoman of a Republican county committee and was photographed with President Trump at his inaugural.

In Arkansas, a Republican operative who signed West’s ballot petition was at one point interviewed to be Trump’s campaign manager for his 2016 bid.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosAnd West’s ballot petition in Ohio was signed by a lawyer who has previously represented state Republican campaign committees.

West’s presidential effort has largely sputtered since he formally filed to run as an independent candidate representing the “Birthday Party” in July. He has held just one campaign rally last month in North Charleston, S.C., where he appeared onstage wearing a bulletproof vest and broke down in tears, prompting his wife, Kim Kardashian West, to post messages on Instagram asking for the public’s “compassion and empathy” as he struggles with bipolar disorder.

But in at least five states, Republican activists and operatives — including some who have publicly supported Trump and a lawyer who has worked for his 2020 campaign — have been involved with efforts to try to get rapper on the November ballot, according to an examination by The Washington Post of public filings and social media posts. Their involvement raises the specter that his candidacy is being propped up by a GOP-driven effort to siphon votes from presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

GOP Flynn Advocate Speaks Up

Substack, Personal Opinion: The Spies Who Hijacked America, Steven P. Schrage, Ph.D., shown at right, as told to Matt Taibbi, Aug. 9, 2020. As a doctoral candidate at Cambridge steven schrage harvardworking under "FBI Informant" Stefan Halper, I had a front-row seat for Russiagate

Global scandals now labeled Russiagate, Spygate, and what President Trump calls “Obamagate” shook the political world, but hit me closer to home. I’m the reason the so-called FBI “spy” at the center of Spygate, Stefan Halper, met Carter Page, the alleged “Russian Asset” in Russiagate’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation.

On May 19, 2018, this realization blindsided me in London as I was about to fly out for my wedding. The New York Times, NBC News and other sources had outed my Ph.D. supervisor, Stefan Halper, as a spy known to the UK’s MI6 intelligence service as “The Walrus.”

It didn’t seem real. Could a former professor I once trusted as a mentor have betrayed his word, profession, and country to start these disasters? I had moved to England to pursue an academic career and leave DC’s politics behind, only to have my Ph.D. supervisor throw me back into the most outrageous political firestorms I could imagine. Just my luck. Then an even worse question began nagging at me. Did I unintentionally light the match that started it all?

As I started to piece together what happened over the next few months, I realized something. The stories that The New York Times, Washington Post,and others were pushing didn’t add up. Many seemed planted to cover up or advance the agendas of several individuals whose tentacles secretly ran through these scandals, and who each had longstanding ties to intelligence services like the FBI, CIA, and MI6. I call these individuals the Cambridge Four.

Strangely, all four were linked through that sleepy British academic town thousands of miles from the alleged “ground zeroes” of Russiagate’s conspiracies, Moscow and DC. In addition to the central “Spygate” figure Halper, they include the central source of “Russiagate’s” fake conspiracy theories, Christopher Steele; former MI6 Director Sir Richard Dearlove; and Halper’s and Dearlove’s partner in a Cambridge Intelligence Seminar linked to titillating — but false — tales of a “Russian spy” seducing Trump’s top national security advisor. My years of work with Halper provided an inside view of how their four networks interconnected.

The more I dug up new pieces of this puzzle, the more I saw how these individuals’ seemingly separate acts might fit together in an absurd picture of how these scandals really started.

Armed with first-hand knowledge and evidence, I quietly sought to help federal investigators uncover these scandals’ mysteries. It wasn’t my first rodeo. After witnessing the plane that hit the Pentagon on 9/11, I led G8 and State Department international crime and terrorism efforts with Department of Justice (DOJ), FBI, and intelligence officials and had worked for decades in White House, Congressional, and presidential campaign roles.

This helped me keep a stiff upper lip when I was falsely accused in 2019 by the House Intelligence Committee’s Ranking Republican and others on television as being part of a secret anti-Trump cabal. As much as I wanted to defend myself, I knew our best shot of exposing the real forces behind these scandals was for me to remain publicly silent and not let those under investigation know what I knew or was willing to say.

Yet a few weeks ago, I asked to speak to the DOJ lead investigator John Durham to give his team a heads up. I would continue to offer help, but my time for waiting for government to act was over. Recently, I had discovered and flagged for Durham disturbing recordings. One involved one of the Cambridge Four, Halper, and raised michael flynn arms foldedserious questions about the origins of what has been called the “kill shot” against Trump’s first national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, shown at left.

On January 12, 2017 a felony leak about phone calls between the Russian Ambassador and General Flynn was published by The Washington Post. This led to Flynn’s downfall and reignited the Trump-Russia investigations still tearing our nation apart. 48 hours before the leak was published, my former supervisor Halper eerily laid out what was about to happen to Flynn, something he had no independent reason to know. Halper described how Flynn’s “so called enemies” would make Flynn “blow up…he’s really fucked.”

The next legal hearing on Flynn’s prosecution is this Tuesday [ABC News, Michael Flynn's criminal case to be reheard by full appeals court]. Yet for four years government officials have withheld key materials and blocked individuals like Halper from testifying about the real genesis of these scandals and the felony leak on Flynn. While I once worked in Republican politics, I know Americans of every affiliation believe citizens deserve a fair trial without the government concealing evidence.

The remaining mysteries of Russiagate are too important to be turned into a game of political football, or buried until after the election when unsubstantiated allegations could be dug up to sabotage Vice President Biden if he is elected president — as I believe was done to President Trump.

Nor should they be used as a cynical, last-minute Republican “October Surprise” to disrupt the election. Nothing excuses foreign meddling in U.S. elections. Yet it is hypocritical and absurd to use that as an excuse to hide abuses by U.S. intelligence, law enforcement, and political officials against our own citizens.

I know the consequences of my speaking out. America is now in a political “UnCivil War” where individuals—even at outlets like The New York Times and Washington Post that profess objective journalism—are personally attacked if their facts don’t fit entrenched narratives.

Key politicians and intelligence figures would like the facts surrounding Russiagate’s origins classified and buried for decades, as with past U.S./MI6 intelligence scandals. I can’t let that happen. After all, I inadvertently helped jump-start it. Even if this story is hidden now, it will ultimately impact Trump, Biden, the 2020 election, and our country for years.

There is far too much to tell in a single article. In the next several weeks I plan to reveal what I know, including: the comedy of errors leading to a Cambridge Four member meeting and targeting the FBI’s main surveillance excuse Carter Page; the information given to an FBI source in August 2016 should have immediately ended their investigation alleging Page was a master spy linking top Trump officials to Putin; how a secret anti-Trump source sought one of the world’s most powerful positions that could undermine the president; and how official statements by FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane officials to the DOJ Inspector General were factually inaccurate or wildly inconsistent with other evidence, raising the question of if those officials risked criminal prosecution to conceal their acts.

This is not a position I ever sought. As I worked with government investigators it seemed inconceivable that key facts could be covered up until now. Yet with both Flynn’s hearing and the election approaching, whatever the consequences, everyone impacted deserves to know the truth.

World News

Associated Press via New York Times, 2 Ex-Green Berets Sentenced to 20 Years for nicolas maduro customVenezuela Attack, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.).  Venezuelan prosecutors said the former Green Berets admitted to taking part in a failed attack aimed at overthrowing the country’s president.

A Venezuelan court has sentenced two former U.S. Special Forces soldiers to 20 years in prison for their part in a failed beach attack aimed at overthrowing President Nicolás Maduro, right, prosecutors announced.

The former Green Berets, Luke Denman and Airan Berry, admitted to taking part in the May 4 operation orchestrated by a third former U.S. soldier who remains in the United States, Venezuela’s chief prosecutor, Tarek William Saab, announced on Twitter on Friday.

The operation — called “Operation Gideon” — was launched from makeshift training camps in neighboring Colombia and left at least eight rebel soldiers dead while a total of 66 were jailed. A former Green Beret named Jordan Goudreau, who operated a private, Florida-based security firm called Silvercorp USA, claimed responsibility for the failed attack.

Venezuelan prosecutors announced that Mr. Denman and Mr. Berry, both decorated former U.S. service members, were found guilty of conspiracy, trafficking in illegal arms and terrorism.

On Venezuelan state TV, the two men have been widely displayed by officials as proof of their long-held claims that the United States is set on overthrowing Mr. Maduro’s socialist government.

The incident also unleashed claims that Juan Guaidó, the U.S. backed opposition leader, had authorized Mr. Goudreau to carry out the attack, through a signed agreement executed by two of Mr. Guaidó’s former political advisers.

Mr. Guaidó and U.S. officials have denied any role in the attack. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington would use all possible means to win the freedom of Mr. Denman and Mr. Berry.

A day before authorities announced that the two ex-Green Berets were sentenced, Venezuelan authorities opened the trial of six American executives of the Houston-based Citgo company. The six men were arrested over two years ago in Venezuela on corruption charges.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump moves to use human rights as a cudgel against China amid growing tensions, David Nakamura, Aug. 9, 2020 (print ed.). Sanctions on Chinese entities in Hong Kong and Xinjiang have provided the administration another set of tools to outflank Beijing amid fallout from the pandemic and the collapse of bilateral trade negotiations.

Media News

Media Matters, Advocacy: Sunday show coverage of COVID-19 relief negotiations was again filled with false equivalency, Cydney Hargis, Aug. 9, 2020. For months, Republicans failed to make a proposal, and still are split on whether to continue COVID-19 aid at all. Instead of focusing on what was needed, Sunday shows instead frequently just blamed both sides for not coming to an agreement.

media matters logoPresident Trump signed four executive orders following a congressional gridlock over negotiations about the second COVID-19 relief bill, which Republicans refused to enter into until the eleventh hour. Sunday political shows, however, continued with their false equivalency that both parties are to blame which forced the president’s hand.

The economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic have been devastating for millions of Americas. The Census Bureau estimated that sometime before July 21, nearly 30 million Americans did not have enough to eat. Millions are still unemployed, and the Congressional Budget Office expects the unemployment rate to remain “elevated” through 2021. Forty million people are reportedly at risk of being kicked out of their homes due to the pandemic, especially as eviction moratoriums across the country come to an end. The ending of enhanced unemployment benefits looks set to become an economic catastrophe.

 

Aug. 8

Top Stories

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

Inside DC

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

U.S. Religion / Education / Politics

World News


Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, As Covid Hit, the World Let Its Elderly Die, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Matt Apuzzo and Monika Pronczuk / Photographs by Mauricio Lima, Aug. 8, 2020.
Warnings had piled up for years that nursing homes were vulnerable. The pandemic sent them to the back of the line for equipment and care. Warnings had piled up for years that nursing homes were vulnerable. The pandemic sent them to the back of the line for equipment and care.

washington post logoWashington Post, China wants Trump defeated and Russia is denigrating Biden, U.S. official says, Shane Harris, Ellen Nakashima and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). The statement by William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, identified China, Iran and Russia as countries seeking to influence the 2020 election.

China FlagRussia is “using a range of measures” to interfere in the 2020 election and has enlisted a pro-Russian lawmaker from Ukraine — who has met with President Trump’s personal lawyer — “to undermine former vice president [Joe] Biden’s candidacy and the Democratic Party,” a top U.S. intelligence official said in a statement Friday.

The remarks by William Evanina, director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, were some of the most detailed to date about foreign interference in the presidential race and come after earlier criticism from Democratic lawmakers that he had not shared with the public some of the alarming intelligence he gave them in classified briefings.

Evanina also said that the government of China does not want Trump to win reelection in November, seeing the incumbent as “unpredictable.” Evanina described China’s efforts to date as largely rhetorical and aimed at shaping policy and criticizing the Trump administration for actions Beijing sees as harmful to its long-term strategic interests.

U.S. Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Experts fear Ohio governor’s diagnosis may fuel virus doubts, Anne Gearan and Brittany Shammas, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s on-again, off-again diagnosis is troubling public health experts, who on Friday expressed fear that the prominent Republican’s apparently erroneous positive coronavirus test a day prior will become a misleading data point for those who doubt the pandemic’s severity or, in some cases, its very existence. He is shown at right.

mike dewine oMeanwhile, medical researchers warned that the U.S. death toll could climb to nearly 300,000 by December — about double the current tally — in what represented one of the most dire appeals to date for people to wear masks while in public. If 95 percent of the population were to do so, according to officials with the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation researchers, approximately 66,000 American lives could be saved.

As of Friday, more than 156,000 coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded nationwide.

washington post logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Washington Post, Health officials struggle to keep politics, vaccines separate in public eye, Laurie McGinley, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Lena H. Sun, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). Regulators and officials are emphasizing that no vaccine will be approved without thorough vetting. But President Trump undercut them by hinting a vaccine might be available "right around" Election Day.

washington post logoWashington Post, Stephen F. Williams, longtime federal appeals judge in D.C., dies of coronavirus at 83, Fredrick Kunkle, Aug. 8, 2020. Judge Stephen F. Williams, a member of the powerful Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit for more than three decades, died Friday of complications from the coronavirus, his family and court officials said.

Williams, a senior judge with a professorial manner and special expertise in regulatory and economics law, had been hospitalized since May after becoming sick. Although Williams went on senior status in 2001, he continued to handle a full caseload until he turned 80 in 2016 and heard cases until earlier this year.

Williams — whose father had been a well-known lawyer and former law clerk to William Howard Taft, who became Supreme Court chief justice after he was president — was a fierce advocate of the philosophy that free markets create free societies. He presided over a host of significant legal cases that touched on energy deregulation, gun control, the powers of independent prosecutors and the Civil Rights Act.

He also served on the panel of judges who heard Microsoft’s antitrust appeal, finding that the software giant had abused its Windows monopoly but reversed a lower court’s order to break up the company.

Williams was known for his down-to-earth style. He rode a bicycle to the courthouse, wore casual dress off the bench, including a knit cap at times during cold weather, and brown-bagged vegetarian lunches. He nursed a passion for studying pre-revolutionary Russian history that culminated in two books about the subject. A father of five children, he stopped eating meat after visiting a slaughterhouse, his daughter Susan Ellis, of Chantilly, Va., said.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, New postmaster general overhauls USPS leadership, displacing two top officials overseeing mail delivery, Jacob Bogage, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). The shake-up comes as the agency has drawn fire from congressional Democrats for policy changes that postal workers say have slowed mail delivery and ensnared ballots in recent primary elections.

us mail logoPostmaster General Louis DeJoy unveiled a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s mail service, displacing the two top executives overseeing day-to-day operations, according to a reorganization memo released Friday. The shake-up came as congressional Democrats called for an investigation of DeJoy and the cost-cutting measures that have slowed mail delivery and ensnared ballots in recent primary elections.

louis dejoy CustomTwenty-three postal executives were reassigned or displaced, the new organizational chart shows. Analysts say the structure centralizes power around DeJoy, left, a former logistics executive and major ally of President Trump, and de-emphasizes decades’ worth of institutional postal knowledge. All told, 33 staffers included in the old postal hierarchy either kept their jobs or were reassigned in the restructuring, with five more staffers joining the leadership from other roles.

The reshuffling threatens to heighten tensions between postal officials and lawmakers, who are troubled by delivery delays — the Postal Service banned employees from working overtime and making extra trips to deliver mail — and wary of the Trump administration’s influence on the Postal Service as the coronavirus pandemic rages and November’s election draws near.

washington post logoWashington Post, Most VA workers see racism against colleagues and veterans, survey finds, Alex Horton, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). Nearly 80 percent of Veterans Affairs employees surveyed by their workers union said endemic racism in the agency is a moderate or serious problem, with more than half reporting they have witnessed discrimination against the former military personnel whom the agency serves.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Things are looking good for Biden. But things could change in an instant, Colbert I. King, right, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). Current national polls are looking good for former vice president Joe Biden. But the old cliche “overnight is a lifetime in politics” contains a bit of truth.

colbert king 2003There are more than 80 nights until Election Day, Nov. 3. That’s enough time for President Trump, a menace to public health and economic revival, to go all out to destroy a Biden candidacy.

In his nearly 50 years of public service, Biden probably has never encountered an opponent like Trump. Just as the country has never had a president so void of moral sense, so unconcerned with the rightness and wrongness of his actions or possible consequences of his rhetoric.

djt quizzical uncredited palmer CustomOn Thursday, Trump claimed Biden would: “Take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment, no religion, no anything. Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God.” It is fresh, and a perfect example of Trump playing with fire.

Heading down the stretch, Biden’s security should be tightened. This is not to suggest that Trump wants any harm to come to Biden. But this campaign presents an element of danger seldom encountered in a presidential race: a president whose words and deeds have been repeatedly joe biden 2020 button Custominvoked by bigots, haters and purveyors of violence.

Such incidents are plainly documented in official police and court records. A nationwide review conducted by ABC News in May identified at least 54 criminal cases where Trump was cited in connection with violent acts, threats or assault allegations. (They are acting in his name, not at his direction.)

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just blew it with mega donor Sheldon Adelson, Bill Palmer, Aug. 8, 2020. In the latest reminder that Donald Trump is flat broke and not remotely the billionaire he pretends to be, he’s forced to rely on mega-donations from actual billionaires like casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in order to fund his campaign. Now it turns out Trump just blew it with Adelson.

bill palmer report logo headerIn a sign even Trump’s biggest donors aren’t convinced he has any real shot at winning, Adelson has apparently been giving less money to Trump’s 2020 campaign than he gave to Trump’s 2016 campaign. And in a sign that Trump is becoming more erratically self sabotaging by the day, Politico says that after Trump chewed out Adelson for his diminishing donations, Adelson is thinking about cutting Trump off entirely. It gets worse.

donald trump money palmer report CustomIt’s not just that Sheldon Adelson is considering cutting Trump off. It’s that Adelson is so pissed off about it, he’s making a point of publicly humiliating Trump by leaking to the media that he’s threatening to cut Trump off. We’ll see if Trump ends up falling back in line and getting back into Adelson’s pocket. But this is a sign that Trump’s sinking campaign is reaching the breaking point – and that Trump is behaving in a way that’s making it even worse for him.

washington post logoWashington Post, House can sue to force former White House counsel Donald McGahn to comply with subpoena, Ann E. Marimow and Spencer S. Hsu, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). The ruling from the full D.C. Circuit also clears the way for the House to challenge President Trump’s border wall spending in a separate lawsuit.

Inside DC

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ny times logoNew York Times, The Nudes Aren’t Going Away. Katie Hill’s OK With That, Jessica Bennett, Aug. 8, 2020. Nine months after stepping down from Congress, she is trying to move forward. If Katie Hill were a different person, she might have gone away and found religion. Perhaps she would have tearfully apologized, a dutiful husband by her side, and vowed to do better. Maybe she would have checked herself into sex rehab, hiked the Appalachian Trail or flat-out denied anything untoward had occurred.

But Ms. Hill, the former Congresswoman from California whose polyamorous affair with a campaign staff member was exposed after nude photos of her (taken without her consent, she said) began circulating online, did none of those things. She resigned, less than two weeks after the photos became public and less than a year into her term.

Once considered a rising Democratic star (a favorite of the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi), Ms. Hill (shown above in a file photo) made headlines in 2018 when she flipped a Republican district blue. Vice proclaimed she had run the “most millennial campaign ever” and documented her race as part of a surging wave of female candidates. She was one of very few openly bisexual elected officials.

But her term ended almost as quickly as it started, after photos of her naked — in one, she was holding a bong; in another, she was brushing a woman’s hair — were published by the conservative website RedState and later by The Daily Mail.

Ms. Hill believes the photos were leaked by her estranged husband, Kenny Heslep, who she said was abusive and had threatened to “ruin her” if she left him, which she had, five months before the leak. Through a lawyer, Erin McKinley, Mr. Heslep declined to comment for this article. He has denied releasing the photos, saying his computer was hacked.

But the source of the leak was for a moment overshadowed by what the pictures revealed: that Ms. Hill and her husband had been having a relationship with a young member of her campaign staff, a subordinate.

The relationship, which she acknowledged, did not violate House rules — updated amid the #MeToo movement — because it happened during the campaign, not after Ms. Hill was elected. But RedState reported that Ms. Hill had also had a relationship with her legislative director, which would have. (Both she and the legislative director have denied this.) An ethics investigation was opened into her conduct.

U.S. Religion / EducationLiberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. was put on a leave of absence after he posted this vacation photo showing him and his wife's assistant with their pants unbutton on his yacht and then tried to explain it on a radio show interview.

Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.,  one of the most prominent of the evangelical Christian leaders supporting Donald Trump, was put on a leave of absence after he posted this vacation photo showing him and his wife's assistant with their pants unbutton on his yacht and then tried to explain it on a WLNI local radio show

in which he said, "She was pregnant and she couldn't get her pants up....I'm going to try to be a good boy from here on out.")

washington post logojerry falwell jr wWashington Post, Jerry Falwell Jr. will take an indefinite leave of absence from Liberty, Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). The university president, shown also at right in a file photo, came under fire this week after posting a racy photo from vacation.

World News

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washington post logoWashington Post, China sentences second Canadian to death, in apparent escalation, Anna Fifield, Aug. 8, 2020 (print ed.). Beijing and Ottawa have been locked in a diplomatic dispute since the arrest of a Huawei executive.

China’s courts have sentenced two Canadians to death in the space of two days, deepening tensions between Beijing and Ottawa linked to the case of a Huawei Technologies executive who was arrested at the end of 2018.

China FlagFour Canadian citizens are now on death row in China, and two others being held on espionage charges face lengthy prison terms if convicted. All the cases have emerged or escalated since Meng Wanzhou, above, Huawei’s chief financial officer and daughter of its founder, was arrested in Vancouver at the United States’ request.

Meng is now fighting extradition related to charges that Huawei breached American sanctions against Iran. Her lawyers say she is being used as a “pawn in a political-economic contest” between the Trump administration and China.

Asked about the sentences at a news conference Friday, Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland spoke out against capital punishment.

 

Aug. 7

Top Stories

Inside DC

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

World News

​​Climate Change

 

Top Stories

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 washington post logoWashington Post, As pandemic relief talks fail, Trump readies orders, Erica Werner and Rachael Bade, Aug. 7, 2020. Pelosi says Democrats offered to reduce price of their bill by $1 trillion, GOP rejected. White House officials said they will recommend that President Trump move ahead without Congress to try and address unemployment benefits, eviction rules, and student loan relief.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump signaled on Friday that he planned to forge ahead without Congress to try to address lapsed relief measures for millions of Americans after two weeks of fruitless negotiations with Democrats finally collapsed.

Trump, in a Twitter post, accused Democrats of trying to extract “Bailout Money for poorly run Democrat cities and states” as part of the failed talks. “Nothing to do with China Virus!” he wrote, adding, “No interest. We are going a different way!”

That “different way” appears to be preparing executive orders that would attempt to address the lapsed unemployment benefits and eviction moratorium that Congress authorized in March but that expired last month. It’s unclear what legal apparatus Trump would use to authorize emergency benefits without congressional approval, but his aides said they feel confident Trump has the standing to intervene.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: U.S. Added 1.8 Million Jobs in July, Staff reports, Aug. 7, 2020. The American economy gained 1.8 million jobs last month, even as the coronavirus surged in many parts of the country and newly reintroduced restrictions caused some businesses to close for a second time.

american flag upside down distressStill, the increase reported Friday by the Labor Department was well below the 4.8 million jump in jobs in June and a sign that momentum is slowing after a burst of economic activity in late spring. The unemployment rate fell to 10.2 percent.

“The labor market continues to heal, which is encouraging, but there is a long road ahead,” said Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America.

She noted that 42 percent of the jobs lost since the pandemic hit had now been recovered, but warned the remainder would be harder to make up.

“In the very early stages of the recovery it’s easier to bring back workers quickly just to have a functioning operation,” she said. “It’s not a snap back to pre-Covid levels by any means. It’s a healing process.”

The Labor Department report follows the expiration of federal supplemental unemployment benefits of $600 a week late last month, payments that kept many households afloat while buoying the economy. Republicans and Democrats have been at odds over a new emergency package that could restore the supplement in full or in part.

ny times logoNew York Times, Coming Next: The Greater Recession, Paul Krugman, right, Aug. 7, 2020 (print ed). The suspension of federal benefits would create damage almost as terrifying as the economic effects of the coronavirus.

paul krugmanOne pretty good forecasting rule for the coronavirus era has been to take whatever Trump administration officials are saying and assume that the opposite will happen. When President Trump declared in February that the number of cases would soon go close to zero, you knew that a huge pandemic was coming. When Vice President Mike Pence insisted in mid-June that “there isn’t a coronavirus ‘second wave,’” a giant surge in new cases and deaths was clearly imminent.

And when Larry Kudlow, the administration’s chief economist, declared just last week that a “V-shaped recovery” was still on track, it was predictable that the economy would stall.

On Friday, we’ll get an official employment report for July. But a variety of private indicators, like the monthly report from the data-processing firm ADP, already suggest that the rapid employment gains of May and June were a dead-cat bounce and that job growth has at best slowed to a crawl.

ADP’s number was at least positive — some other indicators suggest that employment is actually falling. But even if the small reported job gains were right, at this rate we won’t be back to precoronavirus employment until … 2027.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump long has relied on nondisclosure deals to prevent criticism. That strategy may be unraveling, Michael Kranish, Aug. 7, 2020. For decades, Donald Trump has relied on broadly worded nondisclosure agreements as a powerful weapon against anyone who would say something critical of him. Among those who have signed agreements are a porn star, two ex-wives, contestants on “The Apprentice,” campaign workers and business associates.

But this key element of Trump’s corporate and political strategy has shown signs of unraveling, even as his campaign spends heavily to enforce such agreements. He and his allies recently have lost initial rounds in legal battles to stop damaging books by former top White House officials and his niece Mary L. Trump.

Now, in one of the most sweeping efforts by a former associate to undo nondisclosure agreements, the Trump campaign’s former Hispanic outreach director last week filed her latest effort in a class-action suit to void all such campaign contracts. She says they are so broad that they deny individuals their First Amendment right to say anything critical of the president — even as he routinely takes to Twitter to mock and deride his critics.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logocovad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2Washington Post, Health officials struggle to keep politics, vaccines separate in public eye, Laurie McGinley, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Lena H. Sun, Aug. 7, 2020. Regulators and officials are emphasizing that no vaccine will be approved without thorough vetting. But President Trump undercut them by hinting a vaccine might be available "right around" Election Day.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

​​washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The vote-by-mail fight is over. Trump ended it, Richard H. Pildes, Aug. 7, 2020. The main fight over “vote by mail” is over. President Trump ended it, even if he doesn’t realize that.

In the past few weeks, the president has repeatedly and strongly endorsed absentee voting (good) as a jumping-off point for launching his attack on “universal" mail-in voting (bad). Vice President Pence, in lengthier, more developed comments, has roundly endorsed the same principles. Trump doubled down on these principles Tuesday, praising Florida’s use of absentee voting as “Safe and Secure, Tried and True.”

us mail logoWhat the president perhaps does not realize is that the major issue for the November election has always been absentee voting. The question of universal mail-in voting is a sideshow. The administrative difference is that absentee voting requires the voter to request an absentee ballot, while in universal mail-in voting, the government affirmatively mails out absentee ballots to every person listed on the voter registration rolls.

The system that most states will be using this fall is absentee voting — precisely the system Trump and Pence have repeatedly endorsed. As of now, 33 states will permit people to vote absentee this fall without any special justification (as in Florida) or will permit fear of covid-19 to be a sufficient justification. That includes this election’s six critical swing states as well as most of the additional states even potentially up for grabs. It also includes many “red states.”

Four other states, including three in the South — Kentucky, South Carolina and West Virginia — also used no-excuse absentee voting in their spring primaries, which makes them likely to do so as well this fall. That would bring the total number of states using the system the president has endorsed to 37.

Richard H. Pildes is Sudler Family Professor of Constitutional Law at New York University School of Law. 

​​washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s desperate attacks are revealing the scam Republicans have been pulling for years, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 7, 2020. Democrats will have a field day if Republicans leave town without a stimulus deal. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) have already bashed Republicans over and over again for failing to come to the aid of Americans facing poverty, eviction and food insecurity while proposing in their bill a tax deductibility for business lunches.

Meanwhile in Ohio, President Trump used an official White House visit as a forum to attack presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. The former vice president, Trump proclaimed, would “take away your guns, take away your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything.” Revealing his own lack of faith and decency, Trump added that Biden would “hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. djt hands up mouth open CustomHe’s against energy.”

The Biden team responded more in disgust than anger. “Joe Biden’s faith is at the core of who he is; he’s lived it with dignity his entire life, and it’s been a source of strength and comfort in times of extreme hardship," spokesman Andrew Bates said. “Donald Trump is the only president in our history to have tear-gassed peaceful Americans and thrown a priest out of his church just so he could profane it — and a Bible — for his own cynical optics as he sought to tear our nation apart at a moment of crisis and pain.” Bates added that Trump’s remark "comes just one day after Trump’s campaign abused a photo of Joe Biden praying in church to demean him, in one of the starkest expressions of weakness throughout this whole campaign.”

At this point, we not only see the desperation in Trump’s attacks but the scam Republicans have pulled for years in the name of “conservatism.” Claiming to be the party of values, conservatives have lined up behind someone who decries true faith, brutalizes the weak, unabashedly displays his racism and acts on every ugly impulse that pops into his head.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP women warn of eroding support among female voters amid a ‘gender chasm,’ Rachael Bade, Seung Min Kim and Scott Clement, Aug. 7, 2020. President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and racial unrest are causing women to flee the GOP, female Republican pollsters and members say.

A growing number of Republican women are sounding the alarm about continuing loss of support for President Trump and the GOP among female voters ahead of the November election, warning that the party is in danger of permanently alienating women if it doesn’t change course.

Trump’s flailing response to the coronavirus pandemic and his move to inflame nationwide racial tensions are exacerbating an already precarious situation, according to interviews with female Republican lawmakers and GOP pollsters focused on female voters.

Women now favor presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by an eye-popping 23 percentage points, according to an average of national polls since late June. And White women, a majority of whom backed Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, are starting to abandon the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump tries to muscle through changes in debates to gain advantage, Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 7, 2020. The president’s team is also circulating false claims that Joe Biden is seeking to avoid the face-to-face meetings this fall.

President Trump’s efforts to influence the timing and makeup of this fall’s presidential debates, some of the last planned events with the power to shift the trajectory of the campaign, have been rejected, with both the independent debate commission and the Biden campaign showing no interest in altering course.

But that has not stopped Trump from trying to gain advantage by making the debates a top-tier issue, as he and his advisers circulate unfounded claims that Joe Biden may try to dodge the events and suggest that the Democrat may try to cheat by using notes if the sessions are held virtually.

“I would be highly surprised if Joe Biden actually went through with all three debates,” Trump campaign senior adviser Jason Miller said Friday. “I think their strategy will be to show up to one, show that he is able to function and then pull the plug on any additional debates.”

World News

washington post logocarrie lam hong kong wWashington Post, U.S. sanctions Hong Kong, Chinese officials blamed for repression in the city, Carol Morello and Shibani Mahtani, Aug. 7, 2020. Among the 11 officials being sanctioned is Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who the Trump administration says is “directly responsible for implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes.”

washington post logoWashington Post, As Beirut’s fury grows, Hezbollah leader warns against blaming Shiite militia for devastation, Liz Sly, Sarah Dadouch, Erin Cunningham and Louisa Loveluck, Aug. 7, 2020. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warned Friday not to hold the Shiite militia responsible for the massive blast at Beirut's port, as many Lebanese point to Hezbollah as a source of problems that helped bring about the tragedy.

Nasrallah — in a televised address as the death toll from Tuesday’s explosion and fireball topped 150 — responded to growing calls that Hezbollah be held at least partially accountable.

lebanon resized flagThe group, which has a powerful place in Lebanon’s government, is widely believed to use the port facility for its own smuggling operations and is under scrutiny more generally because it operates a parallel state outside official structures, and is seen as contributing to the weaknesses in institutions to run and regulate the country.

Plane skids off runway in India and breaks apart, killing at least 15, Joanna Slater and Niha Masih, Aug. 7, 2020. The flight from Dubai to Kozhikode carrying nearly 200 people landed in heavy rain.

​​Climate Change

washington post logoWashington Post, This giant climate hot spot is robbing the West of its water, Juliet Eilperin, Aug. 7, 2020. A Post analysis found a giant climate hot spot in western Colorado and eastern Utah, where temperatures have increased more than 2 degrees Celsius since 1895.

 

Aug. 6

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

U.S. Race, Protests, Security

Inside DC

World News

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump’s Bank Was Subpoenaed by N.Y. Prosecutors in Criminal Inquiry, David Enrich, Ben Protess, William K. Rashbaum and Benjamin Weiser, Aug. 6, 2020 (print ed.). The subpoena, sent to Deutsche Bank, suggests that the inquiry into President Trump’s business practices is more wide-ranging than previously known.

The New York prosecutors who are seeking President Trump’s tax records have also subpoenaed his longtime lender, a sign that their criminal investigation into Mr. Trump’s business practices is more wide-ranging than previously known.

deutsche bank logocyrus vance jrThe Manhattan district attorney’s office, led by Cyrus Vance, Jr., left,. issued the subpoena last year to Deutsche Bank, which has been Mr. Trump’s primary lender since the late 1990s, seeking financial records that he and his company provided to the bank, according to four people familiar with the inquiry.

The criminal investigation initially appeared to be focused on hush-money payments made in 2016 to two women who have said they had affairs with Mr. Trump.

But in a court filing this week, prosecutors with the district attorney’s office cited “public reports of possibly extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization” and suggested that they were also investigating possible crimes involving bank and insurance fraud.

Deutsche Bank complied with the subpoena. Over a period of months last year, it provided Mr. Vance’s office with detailed records, including financial statements and other materials that Mr. Trump had provided to the bank as he sought loans, according to two of the people familiar with the inquiry.

The bank’s response to the subpoena reinforces the seriousness of the legal threat the district attorney’s investigation poses for Mr. Trump, his family and his company, which in recent years have faced — and for the most part fended off — an onslaught of regulatory, congressional and criminal inquiries.

djt michael cohen

Palmer Report, Opinion: Revealed: New York grand jury has evidence against Donald Trump from Deutsche Bank, Bill Palmer, Aug. 5-6, 2020. When it was first reported that a New York grand jury had subpoenaed Donald Trump’s tax returns, this meant by definition that the prosecutors in the case were targeting Trump for criminal indictment. Grand juries only exist to indict people, and the subpoena was proof that Trump was the target. Palmer Report shouted rather loudly about this fact, but most news outlets missed or ignored it, even as the case played out in front of the Supreme Court.

bill palmer report logo headerThen came a bombshell court filing last week from the Manhattan District Attorney, which confirmed that Donald Trump is indeed being targeted for financial crimes and “protracted criminal conduct.” Now it appears the mainstream media is finally ready to dig into the story and tell us what those crimes are.

For instance, the New York Times is reporting tonight that the New York grand jury didn’t just subpoena Trump’s tax returns from his accounting firm; it also subpoenaed Trump’s bank records from Deutsche Bank. This was to be expected. But here’s the crucial part of the NYT report: Deutsche Bank complied with the subpoena awhile back and turned over deutsche bank logoTrump’s records, “including financial statements and other materials that Mr. Trump had provided to the bank as he sought loans.”

This suggests that New York prosecutors are zeroing in on Donald Trump’s mortgage fraud, which Michael Cohen, above left, alluded to during his public testimony last year. When you throw in the earlier widespread reports about Cohen having cooperated with New York prosecutors, it all starts to come together.

Again, the key takeaway here is that even as the New York grand jury still works its way through the final stages of obtaining Donald Trump’s tax returns from his accounting firm, the grand jury already has Trump’s mortgage papers and other financial records from the shady bank that helped Trump pull off his decades of financial fraud. Now more than ever, it’s abundantly clear that Trump is going to prison if he loses the election – and state charges can’t be pardoned by any President. We’re pleased to see that the mainstream media has finally caught up with Palmer Report on this one.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Smoke Clears in Beirut, Shock Turns to Anger, Ben Hubbard, Aug. 6, 2020 (print ed.). Tuesday’s blast killed 135, hurt at least 5,000 and left hundreds of thousands homeless. Lebanon’s government vowed to hold those responsible to account. But as residents waded through the destruction, many saw the explosion as the culmination of years of mismanagement and neglect by the country’s leaders.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Jobless Claims Exceed 1 Million for 20th Week Straight, Staff reports, Aug. 6, 2020. Nearly 1.2 million U.S. workers filed for state unemployment benefits last week. It is the lowest weekly total since March. Here’s the latest.

Virus Victims, Responses

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ny times logoNew York Times, Analysis: How Did It Happen? America’s Unique Failure to Control the Virus, David Leonhardt, Graphics by Lauren Leatherby, Aug. 6, 2020. Nearly every country has struggled and made mistakes, but the U.S. is the only affluent nation to have suffered a severe, sustained outbreak for so long.

The New York Times set out to reconstruct the nation’s blunders, through numerous interviews with scientists and public health experts around the world.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Acrimony spikes during relief talks as Pelosi alleges White House, GOP don’t care about unemployed, Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Aug. 6, 2020. A potentially critical meeting is set for today.

Congress’ top Democratic and Republican leaders traded bitter accusations Thursday ahead of a critical negotiating session on a coronavirus relief bill, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), above left, alleging that Republicans don’t give "a damn” about those in need.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), above right, accused Democrats of lying about the GOP’s proposals, and said he would be keeping the Senate in session “unless and until the Democrats demonstrate they will never let an agreement materialize.” The Senate had been scheduled to adjourn for its annual summer recess next week.

The comments from Pelosi and McConnell came with Democrats and White House negotiators up against a self-imposed Friday deadline to get an agreement on a new deal, with President Trump threatening to take unilateral action on issues including an eviction moratorium and unemployment benefits if they don’t.

Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) are scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. on Thursday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows for what is expected to be a lengthy negotiating session that could determine whether a deal is possible at all. The same group has been meeting nearly daily for almost a week, with occasional signs of incremental progress but also much public posturing and finger-pointing.

House Democrats passed a $3.4 trillion bill in May that would extend the $600 extra weekly benefit through January, but Republicans didn’t offer a counter-proposal or start negotiating until last week, at which point the benefit expiration was imminent.

ny times logoNew York Times, Ohio Governor Tests Positive Before a Planned Trump Visit, Staff reports, Aug. 6, 2020. Ohio’s governor tests positive before a planned Trump meeting. Two days ago, he offered a stark virus warning.

mike dewine oTwo days after he implored residents to avoid large gatherings because of the risk of spreading the virus to family and friends, Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio tested positive for the virus while being screened to greet Mr. Trump in Cleveland on Thursday, his office said.

Mr. DeWine, left, a Republican who has stood out for his studious virus briefings and aggressive response, was tested as part of a standard protocol in order to greet Mr. Trump on the tarmac of Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland.

Mr. DeWine did not meet with the president, who was scheduled to speak about rebuilding the economy during a stop in Cleveland and then tour a Whirlpool plant in Clyde.

He was not experiencing symptoms, and was headed back to Columbus, where he will be tested again and plans to self-isolate for 14 days, his office said.

washington post logoWashington Post, Many parents prefer mixing online and in-person school, poll finds, Laura Meckler and Emily Guskin, Aug. 6, 2020. Most parents see in-person school as unsafe, a Post-Schar School poll found — but parents also express serious concerns with online schooling. Many are drawn to systems that combine the two.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House calls Arizona a success story as state resets after huge spike in cases, Anne Gearan and Jacqueline Dupree, Aug. 6, 2020. Trump showed no sign of acknowledging the magnitude of the crisis as he welcomed Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) at the White House and praised what he called a “fantastic job” in turning around what had been among the nation’s worst spikes in virus cases and deaths. The White House endorsement comes even as Arizona continues to suffer the effects of a virus that has no vaccine and no widely effective treatment. The state is now averaging some 14,000 to 16,000 new cases a week.

Earlier Wednesday, in wide-ranging, often erroneous comments on “Fox & Friends,” Trump claimed the virus was spreading in a “relatively small portion” of the country (it is spreading nearly everywhere); said children are “virtually immune” to the virus (they are not); and once again insisted the outbreak “will go away like things go away.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump says he may act alone if Congress can’t reach deal on new coronavirus stimulus package, Staff reports, Aug. 6, 2020. Fauci says politics won’t interfere with rushing a covid vaccine; Educators warn House subcommittee of school reopening amid a semester fraught with uncertainty; Hoyer: Congress should ‘seriously consider’ coronavirus testing in the Capitol.

With negotiations for a new coronavirus relief bill stalled, it appears increasingly likely that President Trump could take matters into his own hands. Trump said Wednesday that he may use his executive powers to bring back the eviction moratorium, boost unemployment benefits and suspend the payroll tax, although it remains unclear if he has the legal authority to do so unilaterally. White House officials are trying to determine whether leftover money from an earlier stimulus bill could be used for other purposes, including temporary unemployment benefits.

More than 51,000 new U.S. coronavirus infections were reported nationwide Wednesday, as the daily caseload average continued to trend downward. But the drop has been driven by steep declines in Florida, where Hurricane Isaias shut down dozens of testing sites, and California, where officials said technical problems with the state’s reporting system were leading to inaccurate tallies.

  • Educators plan to warn Congress against reopening schools in testimony scheduled for Thursday. Speakers include former education secretary Arne Duncan and a teacher from a rural Arizona district whose colleague died of covid-19.
  • Tens of millions of vaccine doses could be available early next year, with a billion ready by the end of 2021, Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s top infectious-disease expert, predicted Wednesday.
  • The Supreme Court overturned an order requiring a Southern California sheriff to provide more soap, towels, hand sanitizer and space for social distancing at a county jail experiencing a coronavirus outbreak.
  • A prominent Indigenous chief in Brazil’s Amazon died Wednesday of respiratory complications related to covid-19.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Experts Push for Rapid, but Less Accurate, Tests, Staff reports, Aug. 6, 2020. In rethinking the U.S. strategy, some say it’s best simply to test more often; France and Germany recorded their highest case numbers in months; Eric M. Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, said on Wednesday that the city could cut off power to homes or business that host large gatherings in defiance of public health guidelines.

washington post logoWashington Post, MLB tightens coronavirus rules, requiring masks in dugouts and compliance officers, Cindy Boren, Aug. 6, 2020.  After coronavirus outbreaks forced Major League Baseball to postpone 21 games over the first two weeks of its season, it will strengthen its protocols, including requiring players and staff to wear face coverings at all times, except for players on the field of play.

Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA in suit accusing gun rights group of wide-ranging fraud and self-dealing, Carol D. Leonnig, Aug. 6, 2020. The chief executive of the National Rifle Association and several top lieutenants engaged in a decades-long pattern of fraud to raid the coffers of the powerful gun rights group for personal gain, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday by the New York attorney general, draining $64 million from the nonprofit in just three years.

Letitia James 150x150In her lawsuit, Attorney General Letitia James, right, called for the dissolution of the NRA and the removal of CEO Wayne LaPierre from the leadership post he has held for the past 39 years, saying he and others used the group’s funds to finance a luxury lifestyle.

She also asked a New York court to force LaPierre and three key deputies to repay NRA members for the ill-gotten funds and inflated salaries that her investigation found they took.

nra logo CustomJames accused the NRA leaders of flouting state and federal laws and signing off on reports and statements they knew were fraudulent, while diverting millions of dollars away from the NRA’s charitable mission to benefit themselves and their allies.

The attorney general requested that the court bar the four men — LaPierre, general counsel John Frazer, former treasurer Woody Phillips and former chief of staff Josh Powell — from ever serving in a leadership position for a New York charity in the future.

“The NRA’s influence has been so powerful that the organization went unchecked for decades while top executives funneled millions into their own pockets,” James, a Democrat, said in a statement.

ny times logoNew York Times, Book Review: Review: Why the Mueller Investigation Failed, Katie Benner, Aug. 6, 2020 (print ed.). Jeffrey Toobin’s “True Crimes and Misdemeanors” examines the battle over Robert Mueller’s report and how President Trump prevailed.

Thanks to Robert S. Mueller’s Russia investigation, we know that the Kremlin used underhanded tactics to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election, that the Trump campaign tacitly welcomed those efforts and that Trump ultimately attempted to end the Mueller inquiry itself. But in what passes for political discourse today, the report’s damning examples of presidential abuse of power were spun as anti-Trump propaganda. Mueller himself, a once-revered law enforcement official and rock-ribbed Republican, was smeared and diminished by the president’s allies as a left-leaning hack.

jeffrey toobinIn his latest book, True Crimes and Misdemeanors, Jeffrey Toobin seeks to explain why Trump came out basically unscathed, despite the fact that, as he writes, the president “never really pretended to be anything other than what he was — a narcissistic scoundrel.” He rightly argues that the investigation was an utter political failure.

Mueller ran a by-the-book, narrow inquiry and adhered to Justice Department rules that bar comment about ongoing investigations. He provided ample evidence that the president broke the law, but in the end he would not clearly say as much. His equivocation provided the president room to declare that Mueller found “no collusion and no obstruction.” Toobin says that this half-truth and falsehood, respectively, were a rhetorical success because “simplicity rarely loses to complexity in battles in the public square.”

Trump, bound by very little, used his pulpit to misrepresent the investigation as an out-of-control witch hunt and the investigators as partisan liars and leakers. Neither Mueller nor the Justice Department fought back, which Toobin says let Trump publicly define the special counsel’s work.

Toobin’s narrative unfolds like a tragedy. Before and after the tumult of the 2016 election, the Justice Department investigated the Trump campaign for ties to Russia; once in office the president opposed their work. As Trump pressured department officials to protect his associates, Mueller was quietly tapped in May 2017 to serve as special counsel and take over the investigation.

That Trump would eventually undermine Mueller seemed absurd on its face. Their résumés paint them as nearly caricatures of a hero and a villain: Mueller a decorated Vietnam War veteran and devoted civil servant who led the F.B.I. in the aftermath of 9/11; Trump a dishonest businessman and D-list reality show star who once described dodging sexually transmitted diseases as his “personal Vietnam.” Simply presenting them side by side “is to challenge the conventions of journalistic balance,” Toobin writes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pence calls Chief Justice John Roberts a ‘disappointment to conservatives,’ John Wagner, Aug. 6, 2020. Vice President Pence said in an interview scheduled to be broadcast Thursday that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. has been a “disappointment to conservatives,” as he sought to elevate the importance of the high court in the coming presidential election.

mike pence oPence issued his rebuke in an interview with the Christian Broadcasting Network, pointing to recent decisions in which Roberts, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2005, has sided with the court’s more liberal justices.

“Look, we have great respect for the institution of the Supreme Court of the United States, but Chief Justice John Roberts has been a disappointment to conservatives,” Pence said. He cited Roberts’s role in upholding the Affordable Care Act and “a spate” of more recent decisions, including one last month in which the court rejected a Nevada church’s request to block the state’s cap on attendees for religious services amid the coronavirus pandemic.

With abortion ruling, Roberts reasserts his role and Supreme Court’s independence

“I think several cases out of the Supreme Court are a reminder of just how important this election is for the future of the Supreme Court,” Pence said. “We remember the issue back in 2016, which I believe loomed large in voters’ decisions between Hillary Clinton and the man who became president of the United States.”

Just Security, An Open Letter to Connecticut U.S. Attorney John Durham, Fred Wertheimer (right, founder and president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan, nonprofit, fred wertheimer democracy 21organization that works to strengthen our democracy, to ensure the integrity of our elections and government decisions and to engage and empower citizens in the political process), Aug. 6, 2020.

Dear U.S. Attorney Durham:

On May 13, 2019, Attorney General William Barr appointed you to review the origins of the 2016 Justice Department investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections. At some point, this review turned into a criminal investigation of the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to undermine our democracy.

The need for your appointment was hard to understand at the time it was made, since the Justice Department’s independent Inspector General was already conducting a similar investigation that began in March 2018 into the same issues. On December 9, 2019, the Inspector General issued his report and concluded that the 2016 Russia investigation had had a legitimate purpose and that there was no evidence of political bias against President Trump in how the investigation had been initiated or undertaken.

We are now in the closing stages of the 2020 presidential campaign.

Longstanding Department policies issued by the past three Attorneys General who served during an election year make plain that Department actions should not be taken in an election year that could influence or affect an election. George J. Terwilliger III, who served as deputy attorney general under Attorney General William Barr in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, said in 2016, “There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election.”

I strongly urge you to follow this policy and not to issue any report, or bring any indictments, resulting from your investigation in these closing weeks of the 2020 presidential election.

Any public action by the Justice Department in this pre-election period that is associated with your investigation – which by its very nature involves actions taken during the Obama-Biden Administration – is bound to be used by President Trump for partisan political purposes to promote his re-election effort against Vice President Biden.

In testifying during his Senate confirmation hearings, Mr. Barr was asked whether there are “policies in place that try to insulate the investigations and the decisions of the Department of Justice and FBI from getting involved in elections?” Barr said yes and explained that the party in power has “their hands on the levers of the law enforcement apparatus of the country, and you do not want it used against the opposing political party.” But that is precisely what would occur here if a report is issued on your investigation of the Russia investigation or if indictments are brought at this critical stage of the presidential election.

You should not permit your long and distinguished career in the Justice Department to be permanently tainted, or your personal integrity to be irreparably impugned, by what would plainly be an effort to use your investigation to influence or affect the 2020 presidential election.

Obviously, there is no reason for either a report to be issued or criminal indictments to be brought before the presidential election, other than to influence that election. If the conclusion is reached by you or others at the Justice Department that a report on your investigation should be issued, or that criminal indictments are warranted, these actions should be deferred until after the 2020 presidential election.

The Department’s long established non-interference policy is intended to provide the American people credible assurance that the Department is not being misused for partisan political purposes and that DOJ is carrying out its core mission “to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”

This policy is most critical in the middle of a presidential election and has long been spelled out in Department policy positions.

In March 2008, President George W. Bush’s then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey issued a memorandum to Justice Department employees entitled “Election Year Sensitivities.” The Mukasey Memorandum states:

Department of Justice employees are entrusted with the authority to enforce the laws of the United States and with the responsibility to do so in a neutral and impartial manner. This is particularly important in an election year.

The Memorandum further states (emphasis added):

As Department employees . . . we must be particularly sensitive to safeguarding the Department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality and nonpartisanship.

Simply put, politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors may never select the timing of investigative steps or criminal charges for the purpose of affecting any election, or for the purpose of giving an advantage or disadvantage to any candidate or political party.

The same Memorandum was issued in March 2012 by then-Attorney General Eric Holder, a Democratic appointee, and again in April 2016 by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, also a Democratic appointee.

This longstanding Justice Department policy against interference in electoral matters, as set forth in the Mukasey, Lynch and Holder memoranda, is intended to prevent the reality or appearance of the Justice Department’s investigative and prosecutorial powers being misused to influence or affect an election. Both Democratic and Republican administrations reportedly have interpreted this policy broadly to cover any steps that might give even the appearance of partisanship in actions or decisions by the Department.

Indeed, in his own memorandum issued in February 2020, Attorney General Barr said that the Department “must be sensitive to safeguarding the Department’s reputation for fairness, neutrality and nonpartisanship.” For this reason, and specifically citing the Mukasey, Lynch and Holder memoranda, Barr said, “the Department has long recognized that it must exercise particular care regarding sensitive investigations and prosecutions that relate to political candidates, campaigns, and other politically sensitive individuals and organizations – especially in an election year.” (emphasis added).

The Department’s policy as set forth in the prior memoranda, and even as described by Barr, is broad, covering not just the filing of indictments of candidates but all “decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors” affecting an election. And the bottom line is clear: “simply put” politics must play “no role” in the Department’s actions.

It is essential that you be guided by this policy in your decisions between now and the November election. There is a growing public belief that Attorney General Barr is intending to release the results of your investigation later this summer or in the early fall, and that indictments may possibly be brought. When asked about this at a House Judiciary Committee hearing last week, the Attorney General did not deny this intent. According to a report in The Washington Post:

Attorney General William P. Barr reiterated this week that he will not wait until after November’s election to release whatever U.S. Attorney John Durham finds in his examination of the FBI’s 2016 investigation into President Trump’s campaign, raising fears among Democrats that Barr and Durham could upend the presidential race with a late revelation.

Any public release of your report in the current closing stage of the presidential election, or any indictments issued during this period as a result of your investigation, clearly will become a major campaign issue and will have political consequences. The longstanding Department policy to avoid such politicization of the Department’s work compels you to prevent this from happening.

If your investigation is not complete, you should not complete it until after the election. If the report is complete, you should publicly oppose any release of your report before the election. The same holds true regarding any indictment made in the closing weeks of the election.

Attorney General Barr was widely criticized, including by a federal judge, for mischaracterizing the findings of Special Counsel Mueller’s report in the period before it was released to the public. You have an obligation to take all possible steps to prevent your investigation from being similarly mischaracterized or misused for partisan political purposes in contravention of the Department’s policy.

As a prominent Department official who has been assigned an investigation of high political sensitivity, with all due respect, your professional reputation and personal integrity are on the line here.

There is no ambiguity about the mandate that “politics must play no role in the decisions of federal investigators or prosecutors regarding any investigations or criminal charges.” There is no ambiguity about the fact that this policy was established to protect the integrity of the Justice Department and the integrity of our elections. There is no ambiguity about the fact that the release of your investigative work in this pre-election period would violate this policy.

I urge you to comply with the Department’s longstanding policy to ensure that the findings of your investigation are not used to affect or influence the 2020 presidential election.

In the event that decisions about issuing a report or bringing criminal indictments are made at higher levels of the Justice Department, you should promptly withdraw your name and publicly disassociate yourself from such actions. It would abandon your own professional duty and responsibility in this matter to allow superiors to direct you to take actions that contravene a Departmental policy designed to protect the integrity of both the Justice Department and the electoral process. Nor should you defer to any implausibly narrow or strained interpretations of the policy that might be made by the Attorney General or others.

I strongly urge you not to participate in, and to disassociate yourself from, any announcement, report release, issuance of indictments, or other public statements or actions prior to the 2020 presidential election relating to the criminal investigation you have been conducting into the origins of the Justice Department’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election or any other related matters in which you are directly involved.

Sincerely,
Fred Wertheimer

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Facebook Removes, and Twitter Blocks, Trump Campaign’s Misleading Video, Cecilia Kang and Sheera Frenkel, Aug. 6, 2020 (print ed.). It was the first time Facebook took down a post by President Trump’s campaign for spreading virus misin

facebook logoFacebook took down a video posted by the campaign of President Trump on Wednesday in which he claimed children were immune to the coronavirus, a violation of the social network’s rules against misinformation around the virus.

It was the first time Facebook has removed a post by Mr. Trump’s campaign for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus, though the social network has previously taken down other ads and posts by the campaign for violating other policies. In June, for example, Facebook took down campaign ads that used a Nazi-related symbol, which broke the company’s rules against organized hate.

The action on Wednesday did not signal a change to Facebook’s fierce defense of free expression. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, has said the social network is not an arbiter of truth and that it is in the public’s interest to see what political leaders post — even if they include falsehoods by politicians like Mr. Trump. Mr. Zuckerberg has stood by the position, even as other social media companies like Twitter have ramped up their rule enforcement with regard to the president’s speech.

The stance has put Facebook under tremendous pressure from employees, advertisers and civil-rights leaders, who have opposed permitting Mr. Trump to spread falsehoods around mail-in voting on the site and to allow comments and threatening language around the Black Lives Matter protests to remain up.

ny times logoNew York Times, Biden’s Milwaukee Trip Is Canceled, and So Is a Normal Campaign, Reid J. Epstein and Katie Glueck, Aug. 6, 2020 (print ed.). The Democrats bowed to the realities of the pandemic and canceled the major in-person speeches that were still planned for their convention.

washington post logoWashington Post, More states are using ballot drop boxes for absentee voters, but the boxes are already drawing skepticism, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, Aug. 6, 2020. Critics say states expanding the practice may find the drop boxes are vulnerable to fraud.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Blame for Beirut Explosion Begins With a Leaky, Troubled Ship, Declan Walsh and Andrew Higgins, Aug. 6, 2020 (print ed.). The bleak tale of an indebted cargo vessel and its disgruntled crew is where a story of chronic negligence starts. It ended in a giant explosion. The videos offer clues into the blast’s cause and the strength of its destructive power.

lebanon resized flagThe countdown to catastrophe in Beirut started six years ago when a troubled, Russian-leased cargo ship made an unscheduled stop at the city’s port.

The ship was trailed by debts, crewed by disgruntled sailors and dogged by a small hole in its hull that meant water had to be constantly pumped out. And it carried a volatile cargo, more than 2,000 tons of ammonium nitrate, a combustible material used to make fertilizers — and bombs — that was destined for Mozambique.

The ship, the Rhosus, never made it. Embroiled in a financial and diplomatic dispute, it was abandoned by the Russian businessman who had leased it. And the ammonium nitrate was transferred to a dockside warehouse in Beirut, where it would languish for years, until Tuesday, when Lebanese officials said it exploded, sending a shock wave that killed more than 130 people and wounded another 5,000.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Photographers Who Worked Under Mushroom Clouds 75 Years Ago, Mike Ives, Aug. 6, 2020. A new book of rare photos documents the human impact of the bombings that ended World War II, and challenges common American perceptions of the destruction in Japan.

In August 1945, a Japanese newspaper sent a photographer from Tokyo to two cities that the United States military had just leveled with atomic bombs.

The photographer, Eiichi Matsumoto, had covered the firebombings of other Japanese cities. But the scale of the calamity that he encountered in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, he later recalled, was on another level.

At a Red Cross hospital near Hiroshima’s ground zero, he met victims dotted with red spots, a sign of radiation sickness. And on the desolate, rubble-strewn streets of Nagasaki, he watched families cremating loved ones in open-air fires.

“I beg you to allow me to take pictures of your utmost sufferings,” Mr. Matsumoto, who was 30 at the time, said he told survivors. “I am determined to let people in this world know without speaking a word what kind of apocalyptic tragedies you have gone through.”

Mr. Matsumoto, a photojournalist for the Asahi Shimbun newspaper who died in 2004, is among dozens of photographers who bore witness after the bombings, which forced Japan’s surrender and ended World War II.

Some of their images, banned until the American occupation ended in 1952, were eventually exhibited in museums and other venues across Japan. They also became fodder for antinuclear activists waging nonprofileration campaigns.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Hiroshima Pilot Who Became a Symbol of Antinuclear Protest, Anne I. Harrington, Aug. 6, 2020. Claude Eatherly spent years punishing himself for his role in the first atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. His remorse made him an international celebrity.

The latest article from “Beyond the World War II We Know,” a series from The Times that documents lesser-known stories from the war, looks at Claude Eatherly, an American pilot involved in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. After years of being arrested for petty crimes, he became a high-profile antinuclear activist.

The American airmen who flew the mission to drop the atomic bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, were witnessing a man-made cataclysm unlike anything seen in the previous history of human warfare. They watched as fire swallowed the city whole: “It was like no ordinary fire,” a crew member later recalled. “It contained a dozen colors, all of them blindingly bright.” Just when it appeared that the explosion was subsiding, “a kind of mushroom spurted out of the top and traveled up, up to what some say was a distance of 60,000 or 70,000 feet.”

The atomic bomb was the most ferociously deadly weapon ever created by human ingenuity — a technology that multiplied the power of these few men and planes to a degree out of all comprehensible scale. In Hiroshima alone, some 70,000 people were killed instantly — a horrific deed fit for gods or monsters — but overhead in their plane the airmen were normal men in human bodies, no more able than anyone else to fully comprehend or bear responsibility for the mission they had been chosen to execute.

 

Aug. 5

Probes of Trump Misconduct

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Probes of Trump MisconductNewly installed U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes  Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak to the White House in a convivial meeting on May 10, 2017. American media were banned but Moscow-controlled media were invited (Tass photo).

Newly installed U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, and Russian Ambassador to the United States Sergey Kislyak to the White House in a convivial meeting on May 10, 2017. American media were banned but Moscow-controlled media were invited (Tass photo).

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-Justice Dept. official says Flynn secretly ‘neutered’ Obama’s moves on Russia, Devlin Barrett, Aug. 5, 2020. Republican senators called former deputy attorney general Sally Yates to testify about the Russia investigation.

Former deputy attorney general Sally Q. Yates told Congress on Wednesday that President Trump’s incoming national security adviser Michael Flynn in late 2016 had secretly “neutered” Obama administration actions toward Russia, prompting an investigation that consumed the early days of Trump’s presidency.

sally yates oYates,left, has been a target of Trump and many Republicans for her brief oversight of the investigation of Russia’s election interference and possible conspiracy with the Trump campaign four years ago. She testified via video before the Senate Judiciary Committee, whose chairman, Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), has been highly critical of the FBI’s handling of that case.

Trump attacked Yates before the hearing began, tweeting that she “has zero credibility” and declaring her “part of the greatest political crime of the Century, and ObamaBiden knew EVERYTHING!”

Justice Department log circularBarr says he won’t wait until after election to reveal Durham’s findings. Democrats fear a campaign-altering surprise.

Graham’s review of the Russia investigation is one of two in the Republican-controlled Senate focused on reviewing the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign. The president’s allies leading those reviews say they are focused on exposing misconduct and working to restore public confidence in federal law enforcement. Critics, including congressional Democrats, say they are a politically motivated attempt to rewrite history and help the incumbent in an election year.

Seeking to use Yates to discredit the FBI’s investigations around the 2016 Trump campaign, Republicans instead got a spirited defense of that work as ethical and necessary, even though she was critical of some of the FBI’s moves at the time.

michael flynn arms foldedGraham pressed Yates in depth about a White House meeting on Jan. 5, 2017, in which then-President Obama, then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-national security adviser Susan E. Rice met with her and then-FBI Director James B. Comey to talk about Flynn’s recent phone conversations with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s ambassador to the United States at that time.

The Obama administration had just expelled dozens of suspected Russian intelligence agents in response to the election interference. Obama and his aides expected Russia to retaliate, but they did not. FBI agents quickly learned the reason why: Flynn, left, had called Kislyak and asked them not to.

“General Flynn had essentially neutered the U.S. government’s message of deterrence,” Yates said. Instead of rebuking the Russian government, she said, Flynn had been “conciliatory.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: If Biden wins, the post-Trump corruption purge will have to be epic, Greg Sargent, Aug. 5, 2020. It’s widely understood that if Joe Biden wins the White House, he’ll face monumental tasks in digging us out of our spiraling public health crisis and the economic catastrophe it has unleashed, which could get far worse if Congress’ next rescue package falls short, as it likely will.

But an incoming Biden administration will also face another mission: undertaking a full accounting of the Trump administration’s corruption and the damage it has done to our government and institutions.

That is, if the new administration chooses to accept that mission.

A new report (How a Future President Can Hold the Trump Administration Accountable) from the Democratic-allied Center for American Progress both lays out an argument for why Biden should indeed take on that mission and offers a suggested road map on how to do that.

The core argument for acting ambitiously to fumigate the Trump administration’s corruption is a straightforward moral hazard one:

A constant of the Trump administration has been escalation in the absence of accountability. If a free pass is provided to those that broke the law and subverted democracy, it will embolden them and any illiberal politicians or administrations in the future to show even greater disregard for the rule of law.

One question that will be tough to answer is: Where to start?

The CAP report suggests beginning with the Justice Department, with a full review of special treatment accorded to Trump allies, such as Roger Stone and former national security adviser Michael Flynn, both of whom Trump championed.

Also worth examining might be the attorney general’s efforts to discredit his own agency’s conclusions about a massive foreign attack on our democracy, as Trump implicitly but relentlessly demanded.

But, crucially, CAP suggests that such a review must not involve the White House at all. It would instead involve career Justice Department officials or the inspector general, and Congress (if it’s controlled by Democrats) would potentially have a major role.

Sign up for The Odds newsletter for election updates from data columnist David Byler

Which immediately highlights an interesting conundrum: to what degree members of a Biden administration could undertake such an internal examination without involving Biden in any way, since that would risk straying into the sort of politicization that is the problem under Trump.

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ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Lawmakers Remain at Impasse in Stimulus Package Talks, Staff reports, Aug. 5, 2020. An agreement remains elusive, with funding for the Postal Service joining unemployment benefits and local aid as a divisive issue. New York City will use checkpoints to inform travelers about the quarantine mandate. Chicago schools will be fully remote in the fall. Representative Rodney Davis of Illinois, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, has tested positive for the virus.

Top lawmakers remained nowhere close to an agreement on Wednesday for a new economic rescue package amid the recession, and appeared to be growing increasingly pessimistic that they could meet a self-imposed Friday deadline.

us mail logoDisputes over funding for the United States Postal Service have risen to join expanded unemployment benefits and aid to state and local governments on the list of issues dividing Democratic leaders and the Trump administration.

“I feel optimistic that there is a light at the end of the tunnel,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said after hosting another round of talks in her Capitol Hill office with Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary; Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff; and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader. “But how long that tunnel is remains to be seen.”

On the Senate floor, Mr. Schumer called for the post office to fix mail delays that have resulted from cutbacks that Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has implemented during the pandemic, which Democrats and voting rights groups have charged are part of a deliberate effort by President Trump to undermine the Postal Service in order to interfere with mail-in voting that will be critical to a safe election in November. Democrats have called for $3.6 billion in the aid package to ensure a secure election, including broader mail balloting, but Republicans are opposing the funds. covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2

washington post logoWashington Post, White House, Democrats agree to try and reach deal on unemployment, evictions by end of week, Seung Min Kim, Erica Werner, Carol D. Leonnig and Jeff Stein, Aug. 5, 2020 (print ed.). After days of bickering both sides now appear to be trying to move closer to a compromise.

The White House and Democratic leaders agreed to try and finalize a deal to address lapsed unemployment benefits and eviction restrictions by the end of this week and hold a vote in Congress next week, suddenly trying to rush stalled talks in the face of growing public and political unrest.

Senior White House officials said on Tuesday they made “very concrete offers” to Democrats related to unemployment benefits and eviction protections, and after days of bickering both sides now appear to be trying to move closer to a compromise.

The agreement on a timeline came in a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

The four have been meeting nearly daily for a week. Their agreement Tuesday on a specific timeline to reach an overall deal constitued the most concrete progress yet. It suggests the White House has backed off efforts to pass a stand-alone extension of unemployment benefits — and will also stand down, at least for now, on more recent threats to act unilaterally through executive orders if no deal can be reached with Congress.

washington post logoWashington Post, Deaths in Beirut blasts pass 100, Liz Sly, Sarah Dadouch and Louisa Loveluck, Aug. 5, 2020. Red Cross workers were scouring the wrecked and deserted streets in neighborhoods near the explosion site to find those who might be trapped. At least 4,000 people were injured, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: After Deadly Beirut Explosion, a Search for Answers and Survivors, Staff reports, Aug. 5, 2020. A blast in the Lebanese capital, so powerful that it could be felt more than 150 miles away, killed more than 100 people and injured more than 4,000.

Officials believe the explosion was caused by the detonation of more than 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse at the port. Here’s the latest.

  • Some 300,000 people have been displaced from their homes. But amid the devastation, stories of heroism.
  • The science behind the blast: Why fertilizer is so dangerous.
  • Even as hospitals were destroyed and staff members killed, doctors and nurses raced to help.

More On Virus Victims, Responses

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washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump administration sticks to school reopening plan, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jennifer Hassan and Rick Noack, Aug. 5, 2020. Struggling U.S. manufacturers pivot to a product where sales are booming: Face masks; Trump campaign sues Nevada over new mail-in balloting law; Virgin Atlantic files for protection in U.S. bankruptcy court, as it prepares sweeping restructuring plan;

Trump says virus ‘will go away like things go away’ as deaths surge, economy shudders; Moderna is charging $32 to $37 for some orders of experimental covid-19 vaccine; Chicago’s public schools ditch plans for in-person education; U-Conn. becomes first FBS college football program to shut down season.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘It’s clear we need the help’: Fast-dwindling federal aid pits Florida governments against each other, Tony Romm, Aug. 5, 2020. Cities are threatening to sue counties as local officials scramble for access to aid as budget outlook worsens.

The Trump administration is sticking by its view that schools must reopen on time and in person, even as the United States has averaged more than 1,000 coronavirus-related deaths for nine consecutive days, pushing the death toll past 153,000. Worldwide, the number of confirmed covid-19 deaths is nearing 700,000.

The United States continues to outpace all other nations, with more than 4.7 million infections, but the number of new cases being reported nationwide has dropped in recent days. Experts say that could be the result of testing backlogs, with people in many parts of the country waiting a week to find out if they are infected.

The fighting centers on a $150 billion federal program meant to help state and local governments purchase protective equipment, pay first responders and cover other unexpected costs associated with the pandemic. Florida received a roughly $8 billion allotment under the so-called Coronavirus Relief Fund, which congressional lawmakers approved as part of the $2 trillion Cares Act that was signed into law in March.

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Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Trump's pathological racism and Covid-19, Wayne Madsen, left, Aug. 5, 2020. Donald Trump's pathological racism, which he displays wayne madsen may 29 2015 cropped Smallevery day, has hampered international efforts to stem the spread of Covid-19. Trump's insistence on using terms like the "Chinese flu" or "China flu" to describe Covid-19 is merely designed to stoke tensions with China and, by default, between Trump's racist white nationalist base and Asian-Americans.

Where the Covid-19 pandemic began is less important than how patient zero was infected to spread the virus to the rest of the world. There is not even any sound scientific proof that Covid-19 began in China.

washington post logoWashington Post, Virus cases surge in Midwest, Anne Gearan, John Wagner and Jacqueline Dupree, Aug. 4, 2020. The increase is occurring in states with previously low infection rates. Experts also see worrying trends emerging in major Midwest and East Coast cities.

american flag upside down distressThe novel coronavirus is surging in several Midwestern states that had not previously seen high infection rates while average daily deaths remained elevated Monday in Southern and Western states hit with a resurgence of the disease after lifting some restrictions earlier this summer.

Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma are among those witnessing the largest percentage surge of infections over the past week, while, adjusted for population, the number of new cases in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama still outpaced all other states, according to a Washington Post analysis of health data.

Experts also see worrying trends emerging in major East Coast and Midwest cities, and they anticipate major outbreaks in college towns as classes resume in August.

The University of Texas at Austin notified students that parties are prohibited when the campus reopens in three weeks. The school cited city health guidelines prohibiting groups larger than 10 people and requiring a mask when out in public.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: Governors From Both Parties Work Together to Speed Coronavirus Testing, Staff reports, Aug. 5, 2020. The effort by Democratic and Republican governors from six states highlights the lack of a national plan over testing.

The number of deaths worldwide from the virus has surpassed 700,000, according to a New York Times database. Here’s the latest.

ny times logoNew York Times, As Trump Praises Plasma, Researchers Struggle to Finish Critical Studies, Katie Thomas and Noah Weiland, Aug. 5, 2020 (print ed.). Thousands of covid-19 patients have been treated with blood plasma outside of clinical trials — hampering research that could prove whether it works.

djt hands up mouth open CustomSince April, the Trump administration has funneled $48 million into a program with the Mayo Clinic, allowing more than 53,000 Covid-19 patients to get plasma infusions. Doctors and hospitals desperate to save the sickest patients have been eager to try a therapy that is safe and might work. Tens of thousands more people are now enrolled to get the treatment that’s been trumpeted by everyone from the president to the actor Dwayne Johnson, better known as The Rock.

President Trump on Monday promoted its promise: “You had something very special. You had something that knocked it out. So we want to be able to use it,” he said, calling on Covid-19 survivors to donate their plasma, which he called a “beautiful ingredient.”

But the unexpected demand for plasma has inadvertently undercut the research that could prove that it works. The only way to get convincing evidence is with a clinical trial that compares outcomes for patients who are randomly assigned to get the treatment with those who are given a placebo. Many patients and their doctors — knowing they could get the treatment under the government program — have been unwilling to join clinical trials that might provide them with a placebo instead of the plasma.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Many Symptoms of Covid-19, Tara Parker-Pope, Aug. 5, 2020. From a sniffle or cough that feels like allergies to severe body aches and crippling fatigue, the symptoms can be unpredictable from head to toe.

For a Texas nurse, the first sign that something was wrong happened while brushing her teeth — she couldn’t taste her toothpaste. For a Georgia attorney, it was hitting a wall of fatigue on a normally easy run. When a Wisconsin professor fell ill in June, he thought a bad meal had upset his stomach.

But eventually, all of these people discovered that their manifold symptoms were all signs of Covid-19. Some of the common symptoms — a dry cough, a headache — can start so mildly they are at first mistaken for allergies or a cold. In other cases, the symptoms are so unusual — strange leg pain, a rash or dizziness — that patients and even their doctors don’t think Covid-19 could be the culprit.

With more than 18 million cases of coronavirus worldwide, one thing is clear: The symptoms are varied and strange, they can be mild or debilitating, and the disease can progress, from head to toe, in unpredictable ways.

ny times logoNew York Times, Could My Symptoms Be Covid-19? Tara Parker-Pope and Mika Gröndahl, Aug. 5, 2020. These days, every cough, sneeze or headache makes you wonder. Here’s a guide to help you understand the symptoms.

Painful headache is common, but more serious neurological problems are less common or rare. Mild symptoms include dizziness or feeling lightheaded. Symptoms needing urgent care include confusion, an inability to wake, uncoordinated movement or signs of stroke like facial drooping, numbness or garbled speech.

Some patients develop Covid pneumonia as the virus attacks the lungs. Sometimes oxygen levels can drop so slowly that the patient doesn’t notice. Short, rapid breathing or severe shortness of breath, particularly at rest, are signs that require urgent medical attention.

ny times logoNew York Times, If Public Schools Are Closed, Should Private Schools Have to Follow? Simon Romero, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del Rio and Patricia Mazzei, Aug. 5, 2020. A dispute in Maryland over whether prestigious private schools can teach in person during the coronavirus pandemic highlights a national divide.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

nancy pelosi mitch mcconnell resized

Palmer Report, Opinion: Nancy Pelosi slam dunks Mitch McConnell, Bill Palmer, Aug. 5, 2020. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has finally agreed to offer a minimal economic relief bill palmer report logo headerpackage to working class Americans. That’s cute, but Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats passed a comprehensive relief package several weeks ago, which McConnell still refuses to put to a Senate vote.

Now that McConnell is incrementally caving, Nancy Pelosi, above left, is going right at him:

We want to:

✅ Honor our heroes;
✅ Feed the children;
✅ Put 💵 in Americans’ pockets;
✅ Safeguard our vote & democracy;
✅ Protect the post office;
✅ Defeat the #TrumpVirus.

But Republicans, who gave billions to their friends, choose to gamble with our health and safety. pic.twitter.com/sazqSqLsP3

— Nancy Pelosi (@TeamPelosi) August 4, 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Rep. Marshall wins Senate GOP primary in Kansas, defeating Kobach, Paul Kane and Colby Itkowitz, Aug. 5, 2020. Rep. Roger Marshall won the Republican Senate nomination in Kansas on Tuesday night, defeating former secretary of state Kris Kobach, right, and easing GOP fears that a victory by the conservative firebrand could have cost them a seat in washington post logoNovember.

With about 64 percent of the vote counted, Marshall, a two-term congressman backed by the Republican establishment, had 39 percent of the vote and was projected to win by the Associated Press. Kobach had about 26 percent of the vote.

roger marshallAt his victory party, Marshall, left, received a congratulatory call from President Trump and put the president on speaker for his supporters to hear.

“I want to congratulate everybody, and Roger, that’s an incredible race. And that’s — now we have to win on November 3rd ... but congratulations to everybody, that’s a big night,” Trump said, according to a video Marshall posted on Twitter.

Republicans have held the seat, without much of a contest, for more than 100 years, including the four terms of Sen. Pat Roberts, who is retiring.

While Trump has waded into other congressional primaries at the behest of party leaders, he has stayed curiously silent in this primary despite a furious effort by allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to block Kobach, who lost the governor’s race in 2018 and has worried the GOP that he would put the seat in greater jeopardy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Kansas Republicans oust freshman Rep. Watkins in House primary, David Weigel and Colby Itkowitz, Aug. 5, 2020 (print ed.). Kansas Republicans on Tuesday ousted Democratic-Republican Campaign logosRep. Steve Watkins, weeks after the freshman lawmaker was charged with voting illegally in a 2019 election and then obstructing the inquiry.

State Treasurer Jake LaTurner was projected to win the primary in Kansas’s 2nd Congressional District, according to the Associated Press.

Watkins, left, steve watkins headshotdenied the three felony charges, and in a TV ad that ran before the primary, he tried to reintroduce himself as an outsider running against a career politician — one who had supported a tax increase.

“I’ve lived a lifetime of service, on battlefields, defending freedom,” said Watkins, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who led Army patrols in Afghanistan. “My opponent, he’s all about self-service.”

LaTurner’s closing commercials framed the race around the charges, pitching him as a Republican who could “turn the page” for voters who were “sick of the scandals.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay loses Democratic primary in Missouri, David Weigel, Aug. 5, 2020. Cori Bush, an activist who entered politics after the Ferguson protests in 2014, upset the 10-term congressman in the St. Louis-based district. Rep. William Lacy Clay lost the Democratic primary in Missouri on Tuesday night, falling to Cori Bush, an activist who entered politics after the Ferguson protests in 2014 and tapped into the recent energy of the Black Lives Matter movement to upset the 10-term congressman.

The Associated Press projected Bush as the winner in the St. Louis-based district.

“We’ve been called radicals, terrorists,” Bush told supporters in St. Louis. “We’ve been dismissed as an impossible fringe movement. But now, we are a multiracial, multiethnic, multigenerational, multifaith mass movement.”

Bush, a 44-year old nurse and pastor, had never run for office before the Ferguson protests after the fatal shooting of unarmed Black teenager Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, a White police officer. She made a bid for state Senate, then turned her attention to Clay, whose family had held a safe seat from St. Louis since 1969. For the 2018 Democratic primary race, she raised less than $150,000 and, despite a late burst of attention after Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ousted a longtime congressman in a Democratic primary in New York, she lost by 20 points.

ny times logoNew York Times, Rashida Tlaib Holds Off Primary Challenge in a Victory for Progressives, Luke Broadwater, Aug. 5, 2020. Representative Rashida Tlaib, Democrat of Michigan, beat back a primary challenge Tuesday from a repeat rival, significantly widening her 2018 margin of victory and helping to cement the staying power of the progressive women of color who have shaped the party’s House majority.

rashinda tlaib smileMs. Tlaib, 44, right, defeated Brenda Jones, 60, the president of the Detroit City Council, The Associated Press reported on Wednesday morning. With 87 percent of the vote counted, Ms. Tlaib was leading Ms. Jones by a 61,090 to 31,487 margin.

It was a flag-planting moment for Ms. Tlaib in her predominantly Black district, which includes portions of Detroit and its suburbs, as she easily defeated a prominent African-American leader with whom she split election wins two years ago.

democratic donkey logo“Headlines said I was the most vulnerable member of the Squad,” Ms. Tlaib said on Twitter after declaring victory. “My community responded last night and said our Squad is big. It includes all who believe we must show up for each other and prioritize people over profits. It’s here to stay, and it’s only getting bigger.”

Catapulted to national prominence by a profane call to impeach President Trump uttered on the day she was sworn in, and insulted with racist tropes by Mr. Trump, Ms. Tlaib has become one of the best-known members of Congress. But she was also, arguably, the most endangered member of the so-called “squad,” the group of four progressive Democratic women of color, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who were elected to the House in 2018 and have come to embody the vanguard of the party.

Inside DC

facebook logowashington post logoWashington Post, Facebook’s fact-checkers have ruled claims in Trump ads are false — but no one is telling Facebook’s users, Craig Timberg and Andrew Ba Tran, Aug. 5, 2020.Facebook doesn’t review politicians’ ads for accuracy but its fact-checking partners do and share their findings on their own websites.

washington post logoWashington Post, State Dept. watchdog resigns in another shake-up at IG’s office, John Hudson, Aug. 5, 2020. Stephen Akard, who was named to replace the fired Steve Linick this spring, has resigned effective Friday.

U.S. Race, Protests, Security

ny times logochad wolfNew York Times, Meet the Official Accused of Helping Trump Politicize Homeland Security, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Jesse McKinley, Aug. 5, 2020 (print ed.). Chad Wolf, right, joined the Department of Homeland Security in its infancy after 9/11. Now he is helping President Trump use it to achieve his political ambitions.

Law, Courts, Crime

Center for American Progress, Advocacy: How a Future President Can Hold the Trump Administration Accountable, Sam Berger, Aug. 5, 2020. The Trump administration has engaged in a wide-ranging pattern of actions that violate laws, agency regulations, and ethical requirements, repeatedly putting its own interests before the public interest.

Administration officials and their allies have lied to federal investigators, lied to Congress, and sought to obstruct federal investigations, among other illegal actions. These efforts constitute a direct and sustained attack on the rule of law that effectively creates two justice systems—one for the Trump administration and its allies and one for everyone else.

As part of its attack on the rule of law, the administration has worked to subvert the very institutions that might hold it accountable—including the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ),4 inspectors general, and Congress—to eliminate even the possibility of oversight.

Whenever the Trump administration ends, there may be good-faith concerns that addressing the administration’s misconduct will be too divisive, set a bad precedent, or lead to political pushback from the administration’s supporters. But the lesson from the past four years is clear: The absence of accountability is treated as license to escalate abuses of power.

Sam Berger is the vice president of Democracy and Government Reform at American Progress. Previously, he served in senior roles in the Office of Management and Budget and the White House Domestic Policy Council during the Obama administration.

 

Aug. 4

Top Headlines

More On Virus Victims, Responses

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

U.S. Race, Protests, Security

Media News

Political, Race Protests

World News

 

Top Stories

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Trump says coronavirus ‘under control as much as you can control it.’ His experts disagree, Staff reports, Aug. 4, 2020. Democrats seize on Trump’s reaction to 1,000 deaths a day as ‘it is what it is,’ Viral obit blames Trump and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott for man’s covid-19 death; When her mom was dying of covid-19, ‘Conan’ writer Laurie Kilmartin turned tragedy into comedy. It’s what she does; With coronavirus cases reported at some reopened schools, protesters take to the streets with fake coffins.

  deborah birx djt white house photo cropped

washington post logoWashington Post, After months of favor, Birx raises Trump’s ire with grim coronavirus assessment, Ashley Parker, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb, Aug. 4, 2020 (prnt ed.). Top White House coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx, above center, previously lost support within swaths of the scientific and medical community for seeming to minimize the virus and to enable the president’s overly rosy view of the pandemic.

President Trump further disparaged his senior health advisers on Monday even as the pandemic deepened its hold on the nation, as the White House’s top coronavirus coordinator, Deborah Birx, joined Anthony S. Fauci and other scientists on the receiving end of the president’s ire.

djt virus news conference nyt photo CustomBirx (shown also near center at right) — who built a career leading public health efforts against HIV/AIDS — quickly garnered Trump’s favor earlier this year for publicly championing the administration’s coronavirus response, becoming a prominent figure both inside and outside the White House.

But she soon lost support within swaths of the scientific and medical community for seeming to minimize the virus and to enable Trump’s overly rosy view of the pandemic. This past weekend, Birx lost the backing of the nation’s top Democrat, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), who privately called Birx “the worst” and publicly said she had no confidence in her.

More On Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Virus cases surge in Midwest, Anne Gearan, John Wagner and Jacqueline Dupree, Aug. 4, 2020. The increase is occurring in states with previously low infection rates. Experts also see worrying trends emerging in major Midwest and East Coast cities.

The novel coronavirus is surging in several Midwestern states that had not previously seen high infection rates while average daily deaths remained elevated Monday in Southern and Western states hit with a resurgence of the disease after lifting some restrictions earlier this summer.

Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma are among those witnessing the largest percentage surge of infections over the past week, while, adjusted for population, the number of new cases in Florida, Mississippi and Alabama still outpaced all other states, according to a Washington Post analysis of health data.

Experts also see worrying trends emerging in major East Coast and Midwest cities, and they anticipate major outbreaks in college towns as classes resume in August.

The University of Texas at Austin notified students that parties are prohibited when the campus reopens in three weeks. The school cited city health guidelines prohibiting groups larger than 10 people and requiring a mask when out in public.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Unemployed Stare Into the Abyss. Republicans Look Away, Paul Krugman, right, Aug. 4, 2020 (print ed.). The cruelty and ignorance of Trump and his allies are paul krugmancreating another gratuitous disaster.

In case you haven’t noticed, the coronavirus is still very much with us. Around a thousand Americans are dying from Covid-19 each day, 10 times the rate in the European Union. Thanks to our failure to control the pandemic, we’re still suffering from Great Depression levels of unemployment; a brief recovery driven by premature attempts to resume business as usual appears to have petered out as states pause or reverse their opening.

Yet enhanced unemployment benefits, a crucial lifeline for tens of millions of Americans, have expired. And negotiations over how — or even whether — to restore aid appear to be stalled.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: Political Fight Over Coronavirus Aid Drags On as Millions Lose Benefits, Staff reports, Aug. 4, 2020 (print ed.). U.S. lawmakers are preparing for prolonged negotiations. More than 1 billion children were affected by school closures, the U.N. said. Here’s the latest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Personal commentary: Three ways to cut the risks of kids playing sports, according to a physician, Korin B. Hudson, Aug. 4, 2020. The start of the pandemic-shortened Major League Baseball season has made my two young boys excited about playing organized sports again with their friends.

After months of staying cooped up at home, parents like me are eager to launch our children back into sports knowing they are an important part of their health and well-being. Yet, understandably, we wonder if it is safe for them to pick up their bats, balls and sticks during this uncertain time.

As a sports medicine physician, my answer has been yes for my kids and our family, but with a few caveats. There is no way to make playing on a sports team completely risk free, but we can focus on reducing the dangers as much as we can. There are simple, responsible steps that parents, athletes and teams can take to minimize the risk of infection and help kids to safely get back to the sports they love. I call them the three T’s: tempering risks, tracking cases and training safely.

Korin B. Hudson is a physician practicing sports medicine and emergency medicine with MedStar Health and an associate professor at Georgetown University.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Mail problems held up delivery of ballots for today’s Michigan primary, Elise Viebeck and Kayla B. Ruble, Aug. 4, 2020. Mail problems marred the delivery of absentee ballots in Michigan in the run-up to Tuesday’s primary in the state, testing election administrators and ramping up fears of political pressure on the U.S. Postal Service just three months before Nov. 3.

us mail logoAcross the state, where polls opened Tuesday at 7 a.m., some voters reported not receiving their absentee ballots with just days left before the vote for several congressional primaries, as well as state and local offices. Election officials advised those who had to submit their absentee ballots in person at election offices or dropboxes by 8 p.m. Tuesday, rather than risk delayed delivery by the Postal Service.

The difficulties in Michigan — one of five states holding primaries Tuesday and a crucial presidential battleground for the fall — offer a potential warning ahead of the general election, when millions more voters than in past years are expected to vote absentee to avoid possible exposure to the novel coronavirus at in-person polling locations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Six weeks later, winners declared in two N.Y. Democratic primaries, Jada Yuan and Colby Itkowitz, Aug. 4, 2020. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney beat Suraj Patel in a district anchored by Manhattan’s Upper East Side, while Ritchie Torres won in a crowded field in the Bronx.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s name should live in infamy, George T. Conway III, right, Aug. 4, 2020. If there’s one thing we know about President Trump, it’s that he lies and he cheats. Endlessly. And shamelessly. But still, mostly, incompetently.

george conway postSo it should have come as no surprise that Trump finally went where no U.S. president had ever gone before. In a tweet last week, he actually suggested that the country “Delay the Election.”

That trial balloon was a brazen effort to see if he can defraud his way into four more years in the White House. And why not try? After all, Trump has managed to swindle his way through life, on matters large and small, essential and trivial.

He paid someone to take the SAT for him, according to his niece Mary L. Trump. (He denies it.) A prominent sportswriter wrote an entire book, titled “Commander in Cheat: How Golf Explains Trump,” on how Trump cheats at golf — golf! — through such methods as throwing opponents’ balls into bunkers, miscounting strokes and even declaring himself the winner of tournaments he didn’t play in.

Even the worst of Trump’s enablers in Congress dismissed out of hand the idea of delaying the election. But Trump’s suggestion was more than just imbecilic. Steven G. Calabresi, a law professor who was a founder of the Federalist Society, a conservative lawyers’ group of which I’ve long been a member (and a member of its visiting board), nailed it: Trump’s suggestion was “fascistic.” It was the ploy of a would-be dictator, albeit an inept one.

Calabresi added that Trump should be impeached and removed for his tweet, and if Trump ever acted on it, and were there time, I’d agree. Trump should have been removed already twice over, for obstructing the Russia investigation and extorting Ukraine. His effort to sabotage a democratic system he swore to protect only confirms his unfitness for the job. But it’s too late for impeachment now.

U.S. Race, Protests, Security

ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Assesses John Lewis’s Legacy: ‘He Didn’t Come to My Inauguration,’ Maggie Haberman and Neil Vigdor, Aug. 4, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump was asked by an interviewer to reflect on the late congressman’s contributions to the civil rights movement. He talked up his own record instead.

john lewis officialPresident Trump played down the accomplishments of Representative John Lewis, right, the recently deceased civil rights icon, and criticized him for not attending the Trump inauguration in an interview conducted while Mr. Lewis was lying in state at the Capitol.

The comments from Mr. Trump, which aired on “Axios on HBO” Monday night, were unsurprising, given his penchant for grievance. But they were nonetheless stunning for the degree to which Mr. Trump refused to view Mr. Lewis’s life and legacy in terms beyond how it related to Mr. Trump himself.

“I never met John Lewis, actually,” Mr. Trump said. “He didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches, and that’s OK. That’s his right.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says U.S. treasury should collect ‘very substantial’ portion of TikTok sale to American firm, Jeff Stein, Rachel Lerman, Jay Greene and Jeanne Whalen, Aug. 4, 2020 (print ed.). Trump has touted Microsoft as a possible buyer, but his new demand for revenue had not previously been disclosed. Related story below:

ny times logoNew York Times, TikTok, Trump and an Impulse to Act as C.E.O. to Corporate America, Ana Swanson and Michael D. Shear Aug. 4, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump threatened to ban the Chinese-owned social media app TikTok, and then said it could keep operating if it were sold to a U.S. owner. Mr. Trump’s interventions in company dealings based on his own instincts are a departure from the arm’s-length approach of predecessors of either party.

tiktok logo square CustomPresident Trump campaigned on a promise to run the economy like his business empire. And for almost four years, he has unabashedly wielded the power of the presidency to insert himself into corporate affairs, helping some companies and punishing others in line with his instincts and inclinations.

The latest target of his attention is TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media app under scrutiny for potentially providing the Chinese government with access to American user data. After threatening on Friday to ban the app from the United States, Mr. Trump reversed course, saying he would allow TikTok to keep operating if it were sold to an American owner.

Media Matters, Advocacy:  Right-wing media struggle to handle Trump’s train wreck Axios interview, Eric Kleefield, Aug. 4, 2020. “They are dying, that's true. And it is what it is,” is what President Donald Trump said in reference to the coronavirus outbreak in America during an interview with Axios on HBO, which aired this week.

media matters logoTrump's lies were repeatedly exposed through simple follow-up questions by Axios political correspondent Jonathan Swan. He also attacked recently deceased civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) for not attending his inauguration, suggested the Civil Rights Act was a mistake, and complemented Jeffrey Epstein associate Ghislaine Maxwell.

But even beyond all of that, the interview will be remembered for Trump's wild lies about the COVID-19 pandemic. The president didn't even understand Swan's point that the United States has had more people die from the pandemic per capita than many other countries. When asked about additional efforts to contain the pandemic, Trump just said "It is what it is. ... It's under control as much as you can control it." He also said "manuals" and "books" say not to test too much, and never explained what he was talking about, instead changing the subject.

Trump's answers were immediately widely panned. Fox News didn't mention the interview very much at all.

Beyond Fox, right-wing media struggled to applaud the president’s performance. Some tried, including right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh, who said about the interview, “Trump is a realist. He deals with things as they are. I am a realist. I’m Mr. Literal. I am the mayor of Realville. You know me. One of my all-time favorite, little, short, philosophical sayings: It is what it is.”

Political, Race Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Even Republicans found a Trump nominee too bigoted. Trump appointed him anyway, Editorial Board, Aug. 4, 2020. Minutes before Anthony J. Tata, shown in a 2013 photo at right, a was set to testify last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the hearing on his nomination to a top policy position in the Pentagon was canceled. Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) Anthony Tata resized 2013claimed the committee hadn’t received all the necessary documents, but it was clear that enough members of the committee — Republican and Democratic — knew enough about Mr. Tata and his bigoted views to realize he was completely unsuitable for this critical job.

President Trump’s response? Doubling down on bigotry while showing total contempt for the U.S. Senate.

On Sunday, the Pentagon announced Mr. Tata’s appointment to an acting position that doesn’t require Senate confirmation, with identical duties to the position for which the Senate did not deem him qualified.

Mr. Trump is not the first president to find ways to bypass Senate confirmation for potentially problematic nominees. But for his predecessors it was a rare exception. For Mr. Trump it is the rule: fill influential positions with sycophants who lack even the minimal standing needed to satisfy the generally supine Republican majority in the Senate.

There has been a singular and disturbing focus on purging the Pentagon of officials the White House sees as disloyal. Indeed, Mr. Tata’s nomination came after Mr. Trump forced the resignation of John C. Rood, the undersecretary of defense for policy who pushed back on efforts to withhold military aid to Ukraine, an issue that became a key factor in the president’s impeachment. Of the 60 Senate-confirmed roles at the Pentagon, at least 18 are being filled by officials in an acting capacity. Congressional Democrats maintain that this record number of vacancies poses a threat to national security.

washington post logoWashington Post, At least 63 killed after explosions rock Beirut, Liz Sly, Sarah Dadouch and Louisa Loveluck, Aug. 4, 2020. More than 3,000 people were injured in the blasts, Lebanon’s health ministry said. The nation's head of general security said the explosions occurred after a warehouse holding highly explosive materials caught fire in the city's port.

At least two massive explosions shook Beirut on Tuesday, injuring and killing hundreds of people, strewing devastation across multiple neighborhoods and shattering windows for miles around.

The cause of the early-evening blasts was not immediately clear, but senior officials said it appeared that flammable materials stored in a warehouse in the port area had caught fire. An initial, smaller explosion had apparently ignited a fire. Then came two secondary blasts, propelling a vast mushroom cloud of pink and yellow smoke over the city.

The casualty toll rose through the evening. By midnight, the Health Ministry put the toll at 63 dead and more than 3,000 injured.

ny times logoNew York Times, When Covid Subsided, Israel Reopened Its Schools. It Didn’t Go Well, Isabel Kershner and Pam Belluck, Aug. 4, 2020. As countries consider back-to-school strategies for the fall, a coronavirus outbreak at a Jerusalem high school offers a cautionary tale.

 

Aug. 3

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

U.S. Consumer Protection

Law, Courts, Crime

Media News

World News

U.S. Race Protests, Trends

 

Top Stories

ny times logoNew York Times, Scientists Worry About Political Influence Over Vaccine Project, Sharon LaFraniere, Katie Thomas, Noah Weiland, Peter Baker and Annie Karni, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). The coronavirus vaccine initiative in the United States, called Operation Warp Speed, has moved along at a rapid clip. But scientists fear that White House pressure to deliver by the election may compromise safety and effectiveness.

In April, with hospitals overwhelmed and much of the United States in lockdown, the Department of Health and Human Services produced a presentation for the White House arguing that rapid development of a coronavirus vaccine was the best hope to control the pandemic.

“DEADLINE: Enable broad access to the public by October 2020,” the first slide read, with the date in bold.

Given that it typically takes years to develop a vaccine, the timetable for the initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, was incredibly ambitious. With tens of thousands dying and tens of millions out of work, the crisis demanded an all-out public-private response, with the government supplying billions of dollars to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, providing logistical support and cutting through red tape.

It escaped no one that the proposed deadline also intersected nicely with President Trump’s need to curb the virus before the election in November.

ny times logoNew York Times, Russia announced a mass vaccination in October after a shortened drug trial, raising safety concerns, Andrew E. Kramer, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). The announcement raised concerns that Russia would begin inoculations and declare victory in the race for a coronavirus vaccine without fully testing its product.

Russia plans to launch a nationwide vaccination campaign in October with a coronavirus vaccine that has yet to complete clinical trials, raising international concern about the methods the country is using to compete in the global race to inoculate the public.

Russian FlagThe minister of health, Mikhail Murashko, said Saturday that the plan was to begin by vaccinating teachers and health care workers. He also told the RIA state news agency that amid accelerated testing, the laboratory that developed the vaccine was already seeking regulatory approval for it.

Russia is one of a number of countries rushing to develop and administer a vaccine. Not only would such a vaccine help alleviate a worldwide health crisis that has killed more than 680,000 people and badly wounded the global economy, it would also become a symbol of national pride. And Russia has used the race as a propaganda tool, even in the absence of published scientific evidence to support its claim as a front-runner.

“I do hope that the Chinese and the Russians are actually testing the vaccine before they are administering the vaccine to anyone,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States, warned a congressional hearing on Friday.

washington post logoWashington Post, Congress flails as virus ravages the nation and economy stalls, Erica Werner and Seung Min Kim, Aug. 3, 2020. Coronavirus cases are surging, the fragile economic recovery has stalled and millions of jobless Americans just lost emergency unemployment benefits. In response, Congress is doing what it does best: nothing at all.

american flag upside down distressThe crisis that forced lawmakers to act with unusual speed in March and April to pump an unprecedented $3 trillion into the economy has not abated. By some measures, U.S. House logoafter a brief leveling off in infections and some positive economic indicators, things have gotten worse.

What has faded is the sense of bipartisan urgency that existed in the spring and propelled Congress to act with near unanimity.

At that time, the new virus that was wreaking economic havoc around the nation was so alarming it seemed to startle lawmakers out of their partisan corners. But now the election is nearing, and the novel coronavirus is not so novel. The partisan divisions are back on Capitol Hill, and they appear to be as intractable as ever.

washington post logoWashington Post, A vaccine won’t change the world right away, Carolyn Y. Johnson, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). The confident depiction by politicians and companies that a vaccine is imminent may give people unrealistic beliefs about how soon the world can return to normal — and may spark resistance to simple strategies to tamp down transmission.

In the public imagination, the arrival of a coronavirus vaccine looms large: It’s the neat Hollywood ending to the grim and agonizing uncertainty of everyday life in a pandemic.

But public health experts are discussing among themselves a new worry: that hopes for a vaccine may be soaring too high. The confident depiction by politicians and companies that a vaccine is imminent and inevitable may give people unrealistic beliefs about how soon the world can return to normal — and even spark resistance to simple strategies that can tamp down transmission and save lives in the short term.

Two coronavirus vaccines entered the final stages of human testing last week, a scientific speed record that prompted top government health officials to utter words such as “historic” and “astounding.” Pharmaceutical executives predicted to Congress in July that vaccines might be available as soon as October, or before the end of the year.

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: The Right Way to Get a Vaccine at ‘Warp Speed,’ Natalie Dean (Dr. Dean is an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida), Aug. 3, 2020. l Scientists need to show us the data. And that’s exactly what they’re working on.

Coronavirus vaccines are rapidly advancing through the development pipeline. The University of Oxford’s vaccine is in large trials in Britain, Brazil and South Africa. In the United States, researchers just began enrolling around 30,000 volunteers to test Moderna’s vaccine, and more trials are starting every day. Operation Warp Speed has set an ambitious goal of delivering 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine by January.

But the concept of developing a vaccine at “warp speed” makes many people uncomfortable. In a May survey, 49 percent of the Americans polled said they plan to get a coronavirus vaccine when one is available, 20 percent do not, and 31 percent indicated that they were not sure. The World Health Organization considers “vaccine hesitancy” a major threat to global health, and poor uptake would jeopardize the impact of a coronavirus vaccine.

ny times logoNew York Times, Virus Tests and Quarantines: Colleges Brace for an Uncertain Fall, Anemona Hartocollis and Shawn Hubler, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). Colleges are racing to reconfigure dorms, expand testing programs and establish detailed social distancing rules.

It will be a hugely complex and costly endeavor requiring far more than just the reconfiguring of dorm rooms and cafeterias and the construction of annexes and tent classrooms to increase social distancing. It also crucially involves the creation of testing programs capable of serving communities the size of small cities and the enforcement of codes of conduct among students not eager to be policed.

Who will be tested for the coronavirus and how quickly can they get results? Will mask wearing be mandated? And what will happen to tailgating, keg parties and sneaking into your partner’s dorm room? Colleges are mapping strategies as varied as the contrasting Covid regulations enacted by the states, reflecting the culture and leadership of their schools.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House considers unilateral moves amid stalemate with Congress, Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Aug. 3, 2020. Negotiations continue on Capitol Hill, but the parties are far apart. The discussions are a reflection of officials’ increasingly pessimistic outlook for the talks on Capitol Hill. The White House remains in close contact with Democratic leaders, but a wide gulf remains and deadlines have already been missed.

us senate logoIt’s not clear what steps the administration could take without the help of Congress on issues such as lapsed enhanced unemployment benefits or the expired moratorium on evictions — the two matters President Trump has recently identified as his highest priorities in the ongoing talks. Both of those programs were authorized by Congress earlier this year but were designed to be temporary.

Throughout his presidency, Trump has pushed the boundaries on executive power, with steps such as declaring a national emergency at the U.S.-Mexico border that he said allowed him to redirect Pentagon money to build a wall. His administration also has been aggressive in attempting to “reprogram” money by trying to move it from one account to another without congressional approval.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Trump threatens lawsuit after Nevada passes mail-in balloting legislation, continues his push to reopen schools, Staff reports, Aug. 3, 2020. In Dagestan, a covid recount adds to questions on Russia’s overall numbers.

President Donald Trump officialPresident Trump threatened a lawsuit Monday after Nevada passed legislation Sunday to send mail-in ballots to all voters in response to the pandemic, claiming without evidence that the move was illegal and that Democrats were “using Covid” to win the election.

“In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state,” Trump tweeted. “Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”

The tweet was Trump’s latest salvo directed at undermining confidence in mail-in balloting, which states are increasingly embracing in response to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak. Last week, Trump floated the idea of postponing the presidential election as more states move toward mail voting.

The United States has entered a “new phase” of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Deborah Birx, the physician overseeing the White House’s epidemic response, said Sunday. Outbreaks are increasing in both rural and urban areas, touching isolated parts of the country that once counted on their remoteness to keep them safe.

“What we’re seeing today is different from March and April,” Birx told CNN. “It is extraordinarily widespread.”

Alaska, Hawaii, Missouri, Montana and Oklahoma are among the states witnessing the largest surge of infections over the past week, according to a Washington Post analysis of health data. Experts also see worrisome trends emerging in major East Coast and Midwest cities, and they anticipate major outbreaks in college towns as classes resume this month.

At least 4,641,000 coronavirus cases and 151,000 fatalities have been reported in the United States since February. Close to 50,000 new cases and 478 deaths were reported on Sunday, a day of the week when numbers are often artificially low because some jurisdictions do not report data.

washington post logoWashington Post, San Francisco flattened the curve early. Now, coronavirus cases are surging, Heather Kelly and Rachel Lerman, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). The Bay Area had avoided spikes, but shutdown fatigue, early reopening and a prison outbreak changed that.

The Bay Area’s progressive residents generally have been inclined to follow the rules. But more than four months after the region put some of the nation’s first shelter-in-place orders in effect, it has become a cautionary tale for government and health officials.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Why the Botched N.Y.C. Primary Has Become the November Nightmare, Jesse McKinley, Aug. 3, 2020. Two races remain undecided, and major delays in counting a deluge of 400,000 mail-in ballots may presage challenges for the general election.

Election officials in New York City widely distributed mail-in ballots for the primary on June 23, which featured dozens of hard-fought races. The officials had hoped to make voting much easier, but they did not seem prepared for the response: more than 10 times the number of absentee ballots received in recent elections in the city.

andrew cuomoNow, nearly six weeks later, two closely watched congressional races remain undecided, and major delays in counting a deluge of 400,000 mail-in ballots and other problems are being cited as examples of the challenges facing the nation as it looks toward conducting the November general election during the pandemic.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, right, and other officials are trading blame for the botched counting in the city, and the Postal Service is coming under criticism over whether it is equipped to handle the sharp increase in absentee ballots.

Election lawyers said one area of concern in New York City was that mail-in ballots have prepaid return envelopes. The Postal Service apparently had difficulty processing some of them correctly and, as a result, an unknown number of votes — perhaps thousands — may have been wrongfully disqualified because of a lack of a postmark.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats in key states push Biden to be more aggressive in order to defeat Trump, Jenna Johnson and Holly Bailey, Aug. 3, 2020. President Trump trails former vice president Joe Biden in almost all key states. Yet to some of Biden’s supporters, Trump’s dominant visibility is a warning sign.

joe biden 2020 button CustomIn the states that will likely decide the presidential election, President Trump is everywhere. Discussion of his presidency and the actions of his administration — often critical — fill social media feeds, newscasts, letters-to-the-editor pages and socially distanced end-of-the-driveway conversations. For months, his campaign ads dominated the airwaves. His name decorates signs and flags hung on barns, boats and retirement community golf carts.

That has not necessarily helped Trump, who trails former vice president Joe Biden in almost all key states. Yet to some of Biden’s supporters, Trump’s continuing dominance is a warning sign. They are lobbying for Biden to take a more aggressive stance, worried that despite his seeming advantage he has failed so far to persuade people to vote for him — not simply against Trump.

“I want to see Democrats doing more to get one another excited for this race,” said Pennsylvania state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro (D), whose Erie County district split its vote in 2016, siding with him and Trump. “I want some more movement up here; I want a presence up here. I think that’s really needed. It’s needed now more than ever.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Primaries in Kansas, Tennessee trigger GOP family feuds over who would deliver more for Trump, David Weigel and Paul Kane, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). Establishment Republicans fear that a victory for Kris Kobach in Kansas on Tuesday would cost them the seat in November in a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since 1932.

An army of identical men in suits marches across the screen in the campaign ad. A Senate candidate floats through the Washington "swamp" in a cartoon canoe, as a narrator praises his outsider rival.

“Mitt Romney Republicans and Never Trumpers are coming for Kris Kobach,” the voice warns. “They think Kobach’s too conservative.”

washington post logoRepublicans aren’t airing that ad. It’s one of four placed by Sunflower State PAC, created by Democrats to help Kobach, right, Kansas’s former secretary of state and one of his party’s most divisive figures, power through Tuesday’s GOP primary against two-term Rep. Roger Marshall.

Democrats consider Kobach the easier candidate to beat, but the primary unfolding across the state looks like Trump-era primaries everywhere: a Republican family feud over who would deliver more for the president.

Kansas is one of two states with GOP Senate primaries this week that have a back-to-the-future outlook, with Tennessee voters similarly choosing between an establishment-backed candidate and an insurgent conservative trying to lay claim to the true ideological mantle.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s attacks on mail voting prompt alarm over GOP turnout, Amy Gardner and Josh Dawsey, Aug. 3, 2020. State and local Republicans across the country fear they are falling dramatically behind in a practice that is expected to be key to voter turnout this year.

President Trump’s unfounded attacks on mail balloting are discouraging his own supporters from embracing the practice, according to polls and Republican leaders across the country, prompting growing alarm that one of the central strategies of his campaign is threatening GOP prospects in November.

Multiple public surveys show a growing divide between Democrats and Republicans about the security of voting by mail, with Republicans saying they are far less likely to trust it in November. In addition, party leaders in several states said they are encountering resistance among GOP voters who are being encouraged to vote absentee while also seeing the president describe mail voting as “rigged” and “fraudulent.”

As a result, state and local Republicans across the country fear they are falling dramatically behind in a practice that is expected to be key to voter turnout this year. Through mailers and Facebook ads, they are racing to promote absentee balloting among their own.

washington post logoej dionne w open neckWashington Post, Opinion: Trump and the GOP are making a New New Deal necessary, E.J. Dionne Jr., right, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s daily barbarities — Postpone the election! Protect the white suburbs! Take hydroxychloroquine! — impose a high cost. They require instant and understandably furious responses that quickly consume the entire political conversation.

Exhaustion with all this is helping former vice president Joe Biden. His most important if unspoken promise is a spell of glorious tranquility. Nonetheless, we need to put aside the dreadful, distracting din long enough to grapple with the deeper currents running through our country.

The fecklessness of Senate Republicans and their inability to negotiate seriously on a new economic rescue package that economists of nearly all stripes say we need is not primarily a failure of personal virtue. It reflects a disconnect between what most of them believe and what the moment requires.

U.S. Consumer Protection

ny times logoNew York Times, Investigation: A Hospital Forgot to Bill Her Coronavirus Test. It Cost Her $1,980, Sarah Kliff, Aug. 3, 2020. Send us [at the New York Times] your medical bills. We’ll use them to investigate hospital and doctor billing practice.

When Debbie Krebs got the bill for a March emergency room visit, she immediately noticed something was missing: her coronavirus test.

Ms. Krebs, a lawyer who focuses on insurance issues, had gone to the Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, N.J., with lung pain and a cough. A doctor ran tests and scans to rule out other diseases before swabbing her nose. A week later, the medical laboratory called, telling her it was negative.

Ms. Krebs had a clear memory of the experience, particularly the doctor saying the coronavirus test would make her feel as if she had to sneeze. She wondered whether the doctor could have lied about performing the test, or if her swab could have gone missing. (But if so, why had the laboratory called her with results?)

The absence of the coronavirus test made a big price difference. Congress, Ms. Krebs had heard, barred insurers from charging patients for visits meant to diagnosis coronavirus. Without the test, Ms. Krebs didn’t qualify for that protection and owed $1,980. She called the hospital to explain the situation but immediately ran into roadblocks.

“When I called the hospital, they said, ‘You did not get a coronavirus test,’” she said. “I told them I absolutely did.”

Across the country, Americans like Ms. Krebs are receiving surprise bills for care connected with coronavirus. Tests can cost between $199 and $6,408 at the same location. A coming wave of treatment bills could be hundreds of multiples higher, especially for those who receive intensive care or have symptoms that linger for months. Services that patients expect to be covered often aren’t.

This patchwork of medical billing is one reason we’re starting something new today: soliciting your medical bills. We’re asking you to send us copies of your bills for coronavirus testing and treatment, so we can understand what costs look like across the country. We want to know how patients are managing their medical bills in the midst of a pandemic. This is part of our larger effort to understand how the pandemic is reshaping American health care.

Law, Courts, Crime

Attorney Mark Anderl, his wife, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, and their son, Daniel Anderl

ny times logoNew York Times, Judge Whose Son Was Killed by Misogynistic Lawyer Speaks Out, Tracey Tully, Aug. 3, 2020. “Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” Judge Esther Salas, above right, said in a video statement.

The federal judge whose son was killed by a misogynistic lawyer released her first statement about the shooting on Monday morning, describing the horror that unfolded as her 20-year-old only child ran to answer the door and a “madman” opened fire.

The judge, Esther Salas, also issued a call for increased privacy protections for federal judges, saying the death of her son, Daniel (above center, should not be in vain. Her husband, Mark Anderl (above left), who was shot three times, remains hospitalized.

“Two weeks ago, my life as I knew it changed in an instant, and my family will never be the same,” Judge Salas said in her video statement. “A madman, who I believe was targeting me because of my position as a federal judge, came to my house.”

She described a weekend celebration at their New Jersey home for Daniel’s 20th birthday that included several of his friends from Catholic University of America, who had stayed overnight.

“The weekend was a glorious one,” Judge Salas added, choking back tears. “It was filled with love, laughter, and smiles.”

She and her son were in the basement talking when the doorbell rang.

“Daniel looked at me and said, ‘Who is that?’”

“And before I could say a word, he sprinted upstairs. Within seconds, I heard the sound of bullets and someone screaming, ‘No!’”

Daniel’s final act, she said, was to protect his father from the man she described as a monster.

roy den hollander afp via getty images“He took the shooter’s first bullet directly to the chest,” she said. “The monster then turned his attention to my husband and began to shoot at my husband, one shot after another.”

Judge Salas said the man, believed to have been Roy Den Hollander, right, who later killed himself, was carrying a FedEx package in his hand — an apparent ruse to coax the family to open the door.

Until that moment on July 19, it had been an otherwise routine Sunday: Judge Salas and her husband went to church, and Daniel, who was about to start his junior year in college, caught up on some sleep after his friends left for the weekend.

Days before, Mr. Den Hollander, 72, had traveled by train to San Bernardino County, Calif., where he shot and killed a rival men’s rights lawyer at his home, the authorities said.

Hours after the shooting in New Jersey, the police found Mr. Den Hollander’s body off a road in upstate New York with a single gunshot to the head.

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutor says Trump’s bid to shield tax returns is a delay campaign, Shayna Jacobs, Aug. 3, 2020 The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a court filing Monday that the efforts could serve to provide him with the immunity from prosecution that the Supreme Court has rejected.

President Trump’s renewed effort to shield his tax returns is part of a delay campaign seeking the immunity from prosecution that the Supreme Court has rejected, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a court filing Monday that suggests it is looking at a broader array of possible criminal activity than previously acknowledged.

cyrus vance jrThe district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., right, is seeking eight years worth of president’s tax records as part of his investigation into payments made ahead of the 2016 election to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump several years prior, and whether any business records were manipulated in violation of New York state law. Trump, who has denied the women’s allegations, has been fighting a grand jury subpoena for the records issued to his accounting firm Mazars USA a year ago.

Monday’s filing suggests the district attorney also may be looking at “alleged insurance and bank fraud,” as cited in past reports by The Washington Post and other news organizations. Such “publicly available information itself establishes a satisfactory predicate for the subpoena,” it says.

The district attorney’s filing comes as Trump’s lawyers argue the subpoena is illegal, having been shut down by the Supreme Court last month in their bid to claim that, as a sitting president, Trump is immune from investigation. The district attorney’s office countered Monday that the president’s latest argument, filed in Manhattan federal court last week, is an attempt to obstruct the investigation from going forward. Impending statutes of limitations are nearing and could hinder authorities from pursuing victor marrerocharges if a case is warranted, the filing says.

Trump’s amended complaint is “baseless” and “merely serves to delay the grand jury’s investigation,” wrote Carey Dunne, general counsel in Vance’s office. Dunne asked U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero, lefty, to throw out Trump’s lawsuit immediately.

“Every day that goes by is another day [Trump] effectively achieves the ‘temporary absolute immunity’ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court,” Dunne said.

Trump’s lawyers have denied they are trying to impede the case from moving forward.

Marrero has previously rejected arguments akin to those in the president’s new complaint, Dunne wrote in Monday’s filing. Trump’s new claim that the subpoena is “overbroad” and issued in “bad faith” for political purposes has been raised in arguments throughout the litigation that led to the major Supreme Court ruling but was never formally presented by Trump’s legal team, allowing them to raise it now that the immunity issue is dead.

ny times logoNew York Times, Business Live updates: Lord & Taylor and Men’s Wearhouse Owner File for Bankruptcy, Sapna Maheshwari and Gillian Friedman, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). Lord & Taylor and the company behind Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday, the latest American retailers to fall victim to the coronavirus outbreak.

The department store chain Lord & Taylor traces its roots to 1826, and had been floundering for years. Tailored Brands, which once dominated the market for men’s suits through Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, saw demand plummet for its corporate clothing with the pandemic keeping America’s office workers at home.

They join a roster of bankruptcy filings since the beginning of May that includes Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers and the owner of Ann Taylor and Loft.

Tailored Brands had approximately 1,400 stores and 18,000 employees. It had already announced plans in July to eliminate 20 percent of its corporate jobs and close up to 500 stores, and on Sunday, the company said that it planned to use the restructuring process to cut its debt by at least $630 million.

Lord & Taylor was acquired last year by the clothing rental start-up Le Tote in an unusual $100 million deal. Now Le Tote and Lord & Taylor are both seeking Chapter 11 protection from their creditors. The companies said in a filing on Sunday that they operated 38 locations, which had been temporarily closed since March.

jared kushner djt

ny times logoNew York Times, Deutsche Bank Opens Review Into Personal Banker to Trump and Kushner, Jesse Drucker and David Enrich, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). The bank will examine a 2013 transaction between the banker, Rosemary Vrablic, and a company part-owned by Jared Kushner, above right.

Deutsche Bank has opened an internal investigation into the longtime personal banker of President Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, over a 2013 real estate transaction between the banker and a company part-owned by Mr. Kushner.

deutsche bank logoIn June 2013, the banker, Rosemary Vrablic, and two of her Deutsche Bank colleagues purchased a Park Avenue apartment for about $1.5 million from a company called Bergel 715 Associates, according to New York property records.

Mr. Kushner, a senior adviser to the president, disclosed in an annual personal financial report late Friday that he and his wife, Ivanka Trump, had received $1 million to $5 million last year from Bergel 715. A person familiar with Mr. Kushner’s finances, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly, said he held an ownership stake in the entity at the time of the transaction with Ms. Vrablic.

When Ms. Vrablic and her colleagues bought the apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner were her clients at Deutsche Bank. They had received roughly $190 million in loans from the bank and would seek hundreds of millions of dollars more.

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005. Credit Joe Schildhorn/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell in 2005 (Joe Schildhorn / Patrick McMullan,via Getty Images)

Down With Tyranny, Commentary: The Seduction of Virginia Giuffre, Thomas Neuburger, Aug. 3, 2020. Virginia Giuffre, an alleged victim of Jeffrey Epstein, center, pauses while speaking with members of the media outside of federal court in New York. That appears to be lawyer David Boies, one of her lawyers, looking on over her right shoulder. Photographer: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

I've been reading through the Jeffrey Epstein–Ghilaine Maxwell–Virginia Giuffre documents released last week and have to say, they make fascinating if confusing (to non-lawyers) reading.

The document I want to feature below struck me particularly, though. It's an early phone interview (2011) between Brad Edwards, a lawyer who appears to have been involved in a lawsuit against Jeffrey Epstein (Edwards later appears to represent Ms. Giuffre), his own lawyer Jack Scarola, and Virginia Giuffre, one of Epstein and Maxwell's alleged victims.

A PDF of this document is here. It's both clear and mind-blowing in the stories it tells.

The purpose of this piece is to encourage you to read it in full. It's only 24 pages, and the lawyer who leads the interview, Mr. Scarola, walks Giuffre through the history of her relationship with Epstein in a straightforward way. He covers other matters as well, but in that respect, the document is simple storytelling, and the story that's told is stunning.

I'll provide just a few excerpts here, and again, encourage you to read it for yourself. My main focus will be on the origin of Giuffre's relationship with Maxwell and Epstein — the initial seduction and its aftermath.

The Initial Seduction

Here's how Giuffre (whose maiden name was Roberts) was introduced to Epstein by Maxwell. Maxwell basically "picked her up" while Giuffre was working at Mar-a-Lago as a women's bathroom attendant. (Except where noted, Giuffre is the speaker. I've added paragraphing to the original for readability. Underscores are in the original.)

I was introduced to Mr. Epstein by Ghislaine Maxwell. I was working at Donald Trump's spa in Mar-a-Lago and I was prompted by Ghislaine to come to Jeffrey's mansion in Palm Beach that afternoon after work to make some extra money and to learn about massage. She met me at the spa, and I was reading a book about anatomy, so I was already interested in massage therapy as it was and not having any of the education or you know anything behind me, I thought this was a great opportunity to work Donald Trump, Melania Knavs, Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell (2000) at Mar-a-Lagofor her and go. [Donald Trump, his future wife Melania Knavs, Jeffrey Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell are shown in a separate photo during the year 2000 at Mar-a-Lago.]

So, I went to Jeffrey's mansion about 5 or 6 in the afternoon. My dad drove me there. My dad worked at Mar-a-Lago with me, and he met Ghislaine and she seemed like a nice, proper English lady, and she knows, I mean, you know, one time then _once before I left to travel overseas, she just seemed really nice and like she would like to help me out. So my dad left, and I had no problem getting home that night, one of her drivers would take me back after my trial.

So she led me upstairs, and into Jeffrey's bedroom, and past that is Jeffrey's massage room, which has got his steam room and a shower and a massage table, and there is actually an extra room that has, that nobody knows about it, it's kinda like a secret room and it's got a whole bunch of decorative pictures of pornographic literature and sex toys and I can _ ?_ [sic] what happened in there.

After discussion of this private room (which is also brought up later in the interview), Giuffre continues:

So anyways, that was getting there, and I was introduced to Jeffrey, he was laying naked on top of the massage table, and obviously for one, I'm a 15 year old girl [in later interviews Giuffre is presented with documents that cause her to revise the year in which this occurred] and seeing him on the table was weird but, also learning about anatomy and massage, I thought this would be part of it. So obviously, I thought it was part of the massage program, so I said ok, this is fine.

And, he then instructed me on how to touch the body, Jeffrey's body, how to massage him, and for the first hour, it was actually a real massage, maybe not an hour, maybe like 40 minutes or something, but of something like that _and that's when he turned over on the other side and to expose himself fully.

So then Ghislaine told me that she wanted me to undress and began to take off my shirt and skirt, my white uniform from Mar-A-Lago, she also took off her shirt and got undressed, and so I was there with just my undies on, and she was completely bare, and made some kind of little flake [sic] about the underwear that I was wearing because it wasn't my normal sexy girl underwear and just like, I don't know, had red hearts on it or something like that; just your normal, you know, real cute underwear.

us bureau of prisons logo

washington post logoWashington Post, Frail inmates could be sent home to prevent the spread of covid-19, but some are dying in prison, Justin Wm. Moyer and Neena Satija, Aug. 3, 2020. To fight the spread of covid-19, some federal inmates have been released. But the Bureau of Prisons has largely disregarded compassionate release.

Andre Williams Jr. hit the road early one day in April to pick up his father from federal prison. He had a 13-hour drive from Baton Rouge to Butner, N.C., where his father, a 78-year-old serial bank robber with severe coronary disease, had been approved for compassionate release. Andre Williams Sr. had served 16 years. The judge who sentenced him ordered him out, saying he didn’t deserve to die behind bars.

Williams Jr. was driving when his mother called. He could turn around. His father was dead — a victim of the coronavirus. “I feel like it could have been avoided,” Williams Jr. said of his father’s death. “They got him in an unhealthy environment.”

As the coronavirus has spread through federal prisons, Williams Sr. is not the only person to die waiting to learn when or if he would be freed. The Bureau of Prisons said 25 people have died in its custody this year while their requests for sentence reduction were under consideration, including 18 since March 1, around the time the coronavirus began spreading in U.S. communities.

To fight the virus’s spread, Attorney General William P. Barr in late March directed federal prisons to send vulnerable, low-risk inmates to home confinement or release them outright. According to the Bureau of Prisons website, about 7,000 inmates, or about 4 percent of its 160,000-inmate population, have been sent home since.

But the bureau has largely disregarded one method it has to release inmates, a procedure that seems ideally suited for the coronavirus pandemic — compassionate release. Part of bipartisan legislation passed in 2018, compassionate release was intended as a way to swiftly grant release to inmates who are terminally ill or for other “extraordinary and compelling reasons.” Yet even as it has released some prisoners to home confinement, the bureau routinely has opposed or not responded to requests for compassionate release.

In 50 cases decided in early July, for example, the bureau opposed 38 compassionate release requests or did not respond to them, and the requests were denied by courts, which make the final decision. The bureau also opposed 10 releases that courts eventually granted. Only in two cases did the agency agree to a release before a court intervened.

Media News

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: How the News Media Could Get the Election Story Wrong, Ben Smith, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). We may not know the results for days, and maybe weeks. So it’s time to rethink “election night.”

ny times logokayleigh mcenany djtNew York Times, Kayleigh McEnany Heckles the Press. Is That All? Katie Rogers and Maggie Haberman, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump does not always watch her briefings, and even his allies say she risks being known more for “hitting the press with a two-by-four” than advancing his priorities.

Palmer Report, Opinion: We haven’t won this yet, Robert Harrington, Aug. 3, 2020. I was interviewed on Wednesday for two hours by The Mystic-Skeptic Radio Show, a media entity that doubles as a podcast. The pre-recording of my interview is slated to go out on “Radio Free Nashville” sometime in late August. The two hosts, young-ish progressives, were eager to see progressive policies enacted that they doubted that Joe Biden and the DNC machine were equal to.

bill palmer report logo headerI did my best to introduce them to reality as I saw it, pointing out that, yes, that painting near the Captain’s Table might look better over by the Grand Staircase, but didn’t they think we had better attend to the task at hand first, namely getting the damned passengers off the Titanic?

I’m deeply puzzled by people who are in such a hurry to see certain pet programs succeed and yet are blind to the greater peril. I think single-payer healthcare for all Americans, for instance, is a cracking good idea, long overdue. As an American living in England I’m atypically positioned to comprehend the difference between the two systems.

But one thing at a time, please. Politics, I cautioned my hosts, is a long game, one of give and take, a game of conceding small concessions for larger ones. You can seldom get everything all your own way overnight, and revolutions too fast sometimes spawn counterrevolutions. These matters must be handled delicately, to invoke the Wicked Witch of the West.

It seems, though, that the older one gets the more time one has. Put another way, the younger one is the more in a rush. So I caution my younger readers to have patience. We have paid a terrible price for Trump, let’s at least learn a lesson that can partly justify that price. Once we’re in charge we can use our newly empowered sense of urgency to shore up the nation against another Trump ever happening again. Then we can get down to the business of fixing the nation and healing the planet.

If we get back in charge, that is, and there’s the rub. Engagious, a focus group company, claims that focus groups they have conducted over the past year suggest that swing voters in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida favor Donald Trump two to one. They studied the oddball voter who voted for, say, Romney in 2012 and Clinton in 2016, or Obama in 2012 and Trump in 2016. In other words, the Unpredictables may turn out to be a subset of the Deplorables. This is cause for concern, but not alarm.

As British athletics commentator Brendan Foster once put it, races aren’t run on paper, they’re run at races. What we need to realize above all else is Biden may look to be way ahead in the polls but he hasn’t won yet. The race is still on for November third, not August third. Even so, these focus groups sometimes pick up on trends that polls miss, and that is another reason why we must not be wholly reliant on polls.

washington post logoWashington Post, The Lincoln Project’s plan for preserving the union: Drive Trump out of office by driving him nuts, Roxanne Roberts, Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). Your house is on fire. Do you care who the firemen are?

That is a central question of the 2020 election. Donald Trump has managed to do one thing no other president has done: Bring Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and progressives, boomers and millennials together in unprecedented numbers to try to defeat him in November. For Americans who believe the president is a raging threat to democracy, purity tests are out. Results are in.

abraham lincoln 1860 matthew brady cooper unionWhich explains the spectacular rise of the Lincoln Project, a group of Republican Never Trumpers who have moved rent free into the president’s head. Their viral videos and tweets mocking his leadership, his intelligence and his patriotism — aimed both at Republican voters who are wavering and Trump himself — have attracted millions of dollars, via donors from both parties. More than 10,000 people attended a virtual town hall last month and about 80,000 others watched it on a live stream. Lifelong Democrats are organizing fundraisers for the project.

The “Mourning in America” ad attacks Trump’s mismanagement of the coronavirus outbreak. “#TrumpIsNotWell” questions his mental and physical fitness. “Bounty” asks why Trump won’t confront Vladimir Putin about U.S. intelligence reports that Russia offered bounties for the killing of American soldiers in Afghanistan.

The ads are slick, scathing and more shocking than anything Joe Biden’s official campaign has produced. The newest release, “Wake Up,” is a dark comic satire about a george conway postcoma victim hearing about Trump’s last three years. “Republicans, we need to wake up. This guy was in a coma. What’s your excuse?”

“Donald Trump is so completely at odds with every institution in America and so completely at odds with anything that the Republican Party allegedly stood for: the rule of law, constitutional fealty, institutions, norms, traditions, all of those things are out the window,” says Rick Wilson, a co-founder of the group with George Conway, right. “So you’re either going to make a choice between Trump or this country. We made the choice for the country, even if it doesn’t immediately seem to fit with all of our ideological or political priors.”

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Commentary: Trump and Hitler analogy: Not wanted in some circles, Wayne Madsen, Aug. 3, 2020. It is not often that the editor has an article rejected for publication. However, as the presidential election draws nearer, certain circles find the comparisons of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler to be politically unpalatable.

Trump is not the only right-wing leader who is dismantling local and regional government in violation of constitutional norms. Not one to be intimidated, the article that got some armbands in a twist abroad is republished here in its entirety.

Palmer Report, Opinion: TikTok just won and Donald Trump just lost, Bill Palmer, Aug. 3, 2020. Palmer Report, Opinion: In the latest sign that Donald Trump fancies himself a tiktok logo square Customvengeful tyrant, he announced this weekend that he was banning the TikTok video app in the United States, simply because too many of its users have humiliated him. And in the latest sign that Trump is increasingly an empty suit, he’s now quietly backing down from that proclamation already.

bill palmer report logo headerOn Sunday night, Donald Trump gave TikTok’s China-based parent company forty-five days to sell TikTok to Microsoft or another bidder. In response, Microsoft confirmed it’s indeed seeking to acquire TikTok. Here’s the thing: nothing has changed.

TikTok was already for sale, and Microsoft was already attempting to buy it, before Donald Trump threw his little tantrum. Donald Trump has backed down in such a manner that things are now back to precisely what they had been, meaning he 100% caved. TikTok, its parent company, its users, and Microsoft all won. Trump lost.

When Trump faces any amount of pushback these days, he usually tepidly backs down.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Islamic State attack on Afghan prison stretches into its second day, Susannah George and Sharif Hassan,Aug. 3, 2020 (print ed.). The prison raid is the most sophisticated Islamic State attack in Afghanistan since the group formed there in 2015.

U.S. Race Protests, Trends

washington post logoWashington Post, How white supremacy infected Christianity and the Republican Party, Jennifer Rubin, Aug. 3, 2020. Robert P. Jones, chief executive and founder of the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), is fast becoming the leading expert in the values, votes and mind-set of White Christians. His work has explained how loss of primacy in American society fueled a white-grievance mentality — the same mind-set President Trump so effectively read and manipulated.

His latest book, White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity, is a masterful study documenting how white supremacy came to dominate not just Southern culture, but White Christianity. In it, he argues that “most white Christian churches have protected white supremacy by dressing it in theological garb, giving it a home in a respected institution, and calibrating it to local cultural sensibilities.” He also recounts ways in which White churches are moving to account for their past and explore their history with Black Americans.

Jones posits that it is not simply intermingling a celebration of the “Lost Cause” and religion that has led White Christians who do not think of themselves of racists to harbor views that reinforce racism; he also points to the theological worldview of White Christians, including “an individualist view of sin [which ignores institutional racism], an emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus, and the Bible as the protector of the status quo.” If you want to know why White Christian ideology is the best predictor of racist attitudes (a shocking revelation for the author and likely many readers), the book is essential reading.

Below is my conversation with Robert P. Jones, edited for style and length.

Q: Did Trump inspire this undertaking?

A: In some important ways, “White Too Long” represents my accounting of a journey I’ve been on at least since my seminary days in my early 20s. I was raised as a Southern Baptist in Mississippi and attended a Southern Baptist college and seminary. At the same time, I attended newly integrated public schools in Jackson, where I attended classes and played sports with African American classmates. But our social lives, our neighborhoods and churches were largely still segregated. It wasn’t until I was in seminary that I became aware of the genesis of my denomination, which I capture in the first sentence of the book: “The Christian denomination in which I grew up was founded on the proposition that chattel slavery could flourish alongside the gospel of Jesus Christ.” That appalling contradiction, and its legacy all around me growing up, has haunted me my whole adult life.

In the more recent context, the eruption of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2013, coupled with the racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric that became the central campaign strategy of Donald Trump in 2016, were certainly catalysts for writing the book. Trump’s response to the neo-Nazi demonstrations in 2017 was also a turning point for me. Trump waited 48 hours to issue any statement, and when he did, he equivocated, stating there were “very fine people on both sides.” And I was stunned that Trump’s inability to flatly condemn neo-Nazis — who were chanting “Blood and soil!” and “Jews will not replace us” and who murdered a person protesting that hatred — had no discernible impact on his White Christian support. PRRI’s fall American Values Survey, conducted just a few weeks after these remarks, for example, found his favorability among White evangelical Protestants remained remarkably high, at 72 percent. So I began working on the book in earnest in 2018 with the goal of getting a deeper understanding of these confounding and unsettling patterns.

Notably, these dynamics are still with us. In more recent days, Trump’s use of police and federal agents to disrupt peaceful protests connected to the Black Lives Matter movement and his doubling down on support for the Confederate flag and monuments has also done little to dislodge White evangelical support, which remains at 63 percent favorable.

 

Aug. 2

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

Inside DC

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

Political, Race Protests

World News

german flagU.S. Media News

 

Top Stories

Aug. 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump promises health-care overhaul that never arrives, Anne Gearan, Amy Goldstein and Seung Min Kim, Aug. 2, 2020. President Trump’s latest promise comes amid the pandemic which has caused more than 150,000 deaths and cost Americans their work and the health benefits that often come with jobs.

President Donald Trump officialIt was a bold claim when President Trump said that he was about to produce an overhaul of the nation’s health-care system, at last doing away with the Affordable Care Act, which he has long promised to abolish.

“We’re signing a health-care plan within two weeks, a full and complete health-care plan,” Trump pledged in a July 19 interview with “Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace.

Now, with the two weeks expiring Sunday, there is no evidence that the administration has designed a replacement for the 2010 health-care law. Instead, there is a sense of familiarity.

Repeatedly and starting before he took office, Trump has vowed that he is on the cusp of delivering a full-fledged plan to reshape the health-care system along conservative lines and replace the central domestic achievement of Barack Obama’s presidency.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Average weekly death count rises in nearly half of U.S. states, Derek Hawkins, Aug. 2, 2020. The weekly average for new coronavirus-related deaths rose in nearly half of U.S. states over the past week, pushing the national death toll past 150,000 and prompting health experts to warn that the trend was unlikely to american flag upside down distressreverse anytime soon.

Numerous states have reported record daily fatalities in recent days, including California, which reported 219 on Saturday, according to tracking by The Washington Post. Florida reported a record 257 deaths on Friday, and seven-day averages for new deaths reached highs in states across the South, West and Midwest.

Nationwide, the daily coronavirus death toll exceeded 1,000 for the sixth day in a row on Saturday, according to The Post’s data. The 1,198 new fatalities marked the most that officials have counted on a Saturday, when death reports tend to be lower than those tallied midweek, since May 9.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: As Cases Rise, U.S. Officials Are at an Impasse Over Aid, Staff reports, Aug. 2, 2020. The debate in Washington over new aid is set to take center stage, and negotiators were meeting this weekend in hopes of reaching a deal.

Lawmakers remain at odds over a Republican proposal that includes cutting by two-thirds the $600-per-week unemployment payments that lapsed on Friday. The United States recorded more than 1.9 million new coronavirus infections in July, more than double any monthly total. Birx urges Americans in hot spots to consider wearing a mask at home if they live with someone who is especially vulnerable. Here’s the latest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Both sides see progress in talks on pandemic relief, Erica Werner and Rachael Bade, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). After meeting with administration officials, Democratic leaders said they’d had their most productive discussion so far, although no deal had been struck yet.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ten bucks left, no place to go: How the pandemic and a broken unemployment system are upending people’s lives, Kyle Swenson, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). He had five days to move out of the house in Brightwood Park, and now Daniel Vought stood looking at the plastic crates stacked in the living room holding his things. T-shirts. Power cords. Pokémon cards and stuffed animals. His beloved guitar — a Gibson Explorer electric — still hung on the wall. He figured it would be safer staying behind.

A new housemate was coming, one who could actually pay $800 a month for the room Vought, 30, had lived in rent-free since the coronavirus pandemic shut down the Georgetown bar where he worked.

For four months, his unemployment benefits application had been snared in red tape at the D.C. Department of Employment Services, a black hole of unanswered emails, phone holds and automated voice messages offering delays instead of answers.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of people in the nation’s capital have been sucked down the same confusing abyss. Through July 29, the employment office has fielded more than 133,000 claims, nearly five times the number processed in all of 2019.

The pileup has led to delays for applicants knocked from their economic perch, many of them reaching for government help for the first time. Although the D.C. Council recently approved a major modernization of the system, implementing it will take years.

In the meantime, the end of July meant the end of the initial round of federal emergency pandemic assistance. Republicans and Democrats in Congress are deadlocked over the scope of a second wave of federal help. No matter what that future assistance looks like, for people like Vought, still waiting for benefits from the spring and living without a financial cushion, the damage has been done.

washington post logoWashington Post, Voices from the Pandemic: ‘These kids need every dollar we can get ... it feels like there’s a gun to my head,’ Jeff Gregorich, a superintendent in Arizona, as told to Eli Saslow, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). He risks losing some funding for his school district unless he reopens classrooms this month.

This is my choice, but I’m starting to wish that it wasn’t. I don’t feel qualified. I’ve been a superintendent for 20 years, so I guess I should be used to making decisions, but I keep getting lost in my head.

The governor has told us we have to open our schools to students on August 17th, or else we miss out on five percent of our funding. I run a high-needs district in middle-of-nowhere Arizona. We’re 90 percent Hispanic and more than 90 percent free-and-reduced lunch. These kids need every dollar we can get. But covid is spreading all over this area and hitting my staff, and now it feels like there’s a gun to my head. I already lost one teacher to this virus. Do I risk opening back up even if it’s going to cost us more lives? Or do we run school remotely and end up depriving these kids?

Inside DC

djt impeachment graphic

washington post logonorman eisen SmallWashington Post, Opinion: The moment impeachment managers realized how corrupt Trump’s defense was, Norman Eisen, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). Norman Eisen, right, served as an impeachment counsel to the House Judiciary Committee and is author of “A Case for the American People: The United States v. Donald J. Trump.”

The White House claimed it hadn’t been given rights it had refused to use.

As soon as Pat Philbin, the deputy White House counsel, uttered the lie, my head shot up from my note-taking. “In the Judiciary Committee,” he said to every member of the U.S. Senate assembled for his boss’s impeachment trial, “. . . there were no rights for the president.”

It was just past 10 p.m. on Jan. 21 — the first day of President Trump’s Senate impeachment trial. I was sitting near the head of the narrow, curved House managers table across from committee Chairmen Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). They, too, looked astonished.

I had come to know, and like, the man with the slightly nasal drawl now peddling Trump’s falsehoods. Philbin was recognized for his integrity: The erudite former George W. Bush administration official had famously rushed (along with Jim Comey) to the hospital bedside of then-Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2004. They were trying to block the White House from taking advantage of Ashcroft’s illness to extend a domestic surveillance program. Philbin’s insistence on principle had cost him career advancement. Later, as co-impeachment counsels for the House Judiciary Committee, Barry Berke and I had spent much of the past year negotiating subpoenas and legal issues with Philbin.

That was the moment I realized how dangerously deep the Trump rot went: The president’s lawyers could have defended him capably without stooping to this. Lawyers are not in place to repeat the excesses of their clients. And yet Trump had managed to finagle his team into an alarming display of mimicry. Falsehood was his stock in trade, and they were enthusiastic franchisees. Worse, the GOP-controlled Senate was all too ready to accept it.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s campaign in crisis as aides attempt August reset before time runs out, Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Annie Linskey, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). Signs that President Trump’s reelection bid is in crisis grew steadily this past week, one of the most tumultuous moments of a presidency increasingly operating with an air of desperation as it tries to avoid political disaster in November.

Campaign officials pulled television ads off the air amid a late-stage review of strategy and messaging. At the same time, Trump publicly mused about delaying the November election, airing widely debunked allegations about fraud.

And as the campaign aims to mount a more aggressive defense of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the president has reverted to touting unproven miracle cures, attacking public health officials and undercutting his own government’s push to encourage good health practices.

AP via Washington Post, Citing pandemic, GOP to hold private vote to renominate Trump; media excluded, Kevin Freking, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). While Trump called off the public components of the convention in Florida last month, citing spiking cases of the virus across the country, 336 delegates are scheduled to gather in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Aug. 24 to formally vote to make Trump the GOP standard-bearer once more.

Nominating conventions are traditionally meant to be media bonanzas, as political parties seek to leverage the attention the events draw to spread their message to as many voters as possible. If the GOP decision stands, it will be the first party nominating convention in modern history to be closed to reporters.

Privately some GOP delegations have raised logistical issues with traveling to either city, citing the increasing number of jurisdictions imposing mandatory quarantine orders on travelers returning from states experiencing surges in the virus.

The subset of delegates in Charlotte will be casting proxy votes on behalf of the more than 2,500 official delegates to the convention.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump just gave something away by banning the press from his Republican National Convention, Bill Palmer, Aug. 2, 2020. Last night it was reported that no reporters will be allowed to participate in the 2020 Republican National Convention. Of course at this point the in-person component of the convention consists of little more than the formal nominating process of Donald Trump as the 2020 Republican nominee. It raises the question of why this is happening.

bill palmer report logo headerWe all know that Trump hates all legitimate news outlets. But he’s not playing favorites here; he’s kicking everyone out, including the propaganda outlets that praise him. This isn’t about punishing the media; it’s about making sure that what goes on during the nominating process gets as little attention as possible.

This is remarkable when you consider that the process consists of crowning Donald Trump as the party’s nominee for President. It’s a formality, but it’s still an honor. You’d think that a narcissist like Trump would want to make sure this gets covered. And that’s where we get to the bottom of this. The only reason for Trump and his babysitters to keep the media away from the nominating process is if they expect it to be embarrassing for him.

rnc logoTo be clear, there’s basically a 100% chance Donald Trump gets the nomination. He already won nearly all the delegates during the primary season, and the delegates can’t just magically nominate someone else instead. But Trump and/or his handlers must be expecting this process to play out in ugly fashion. Perhaps the fear is that some of the delegates will express their disapproval with Trump during the nomination.

In any case, Team Trump is expecting bad press out of the convention, so it’s decided to simply ban the press. These kinds of leaks are usually trial balloons to see if they can get away with pulling it off. We’ll see how much pushback there is, and if Team Trump and the RNC end up having to cave. But this leak alone shows how worried they are about how ugly things might get with Trump being an increasingly unpopular nominee.

washington post logoWashington Post, How the Trump campaign came to court QAnon, the online conspiracy movement identified by the FBI as a violent threat, Isaac Stanley-Becker, Aug. 2, 2020. The viral online movement, which took root on Internet message boards in the fall of 2017 with posts from a self-proclaimed government insider identified as “Q,” has triggered violent acts and occasional criminal cases. Its effects were catalogued last year in an FBI intelligence bulletin listing QAnon among the “anti-government, identity based, and fringe political conspiracy theories” that “very likely motivate some domestic extremists to commit criminal, sometimes violent activity.”

As the worldview took shape online, its followers flocked to Trump rallies with QAnon apparel and placards. Recently, as the election has drawn closer, actions by the president and his associates have brought them more directly into the fold.

The Trump campaign’s director of press communications, for example, went on a QAnon program and urged listeners to “sign up and attend a Trump Victory Leadership Initiative training.” QAnon iconography has appeared in official campaign advertisements targeting battleground states. And the White House’s director of social media and deputy chief of staff for communications, Dan Scavino, has gone from endorsing praise from QAnon accounts to posting their memes himself.

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Republicans don’t seem to grasp cause and effect, Jennifer Rubin, right, Aug. 2, 2020. President Trump’s critics have a remarkable capacity to predict the future. Consider all the things Trump’s fiercest critics, both Democrats and Never Trumpers, called in advance:

  • If Trump goads governors into reopening their states early and sneer at mask-wearing, thousands will die.
  • If Trump fears he will lose the election, he will try to delegitimize the election.
  • If Trump stops inciting violent clashes with federal forces, unrest will die down.
  • If the virus runs rampant, the economy cannot recover.
  • If you go to a crowded Trump rally where masks are not worn, you risk illness or death.
  • If Trump sides with white nationalists and not Black Lives Matter, he will be at odds with with most Americans.
  • If Trump disdains scientific expertise, he will make a fool of himself embracing quack remedies and charlatans.

It is not that Trump critics have a crystal ball. If you understand cause and effect, embrace science and exercise common sense, you too can anticipate a good deal. If you do not disregard every public poll showing you doing poorly, you might have a better sense of where Americans actually stand on issues. (It would help if you got out of the right-wing media playback loop.) Trump, however, is unable to do these things and flails away, making matters worse for himself and the country.

Axios Sneak Peek, Commentary on 1 big thing: Biden's painstaking path to the VP choice, Jonathan Swan, Aug. 2, 2020. Joe Biden's process for selecting a running mate highlights a fundamental difference between his campaign and the president's re-election effort: Biden is deliberative, while President Trump goes with his gut, write Axios' Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Why it matters: The way Biden is searching for a vice president suggests a careful and methodical approach, the opposite of Trump's style. But it also reveals a strong fear of the consequences of making the wrong choice.

According to sources familiar with the process, Biden is relying on three questions to help him arrive at his decision:

1. Can she do the job?
2. Can Biden work with her?
3. Will she be a liability or an asset under the glare of a presidential campaign?

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Susan Rice for VP? What the %$#@&? Dana Milbank, right, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). Last October, former Obama national security adviser Susan Rice, now being dana milbank Custommentioned as a possible running mate for Joe Biden, was on the popular podcast “Pod Save America,” when another former Obama administration official, Tommy Vietor, shared his belief that high-ranking Republican Sen. Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina is a long-standing specimen of excrement.

“He’s been a piece of s---,” Rice concurred. “I said it. I said it, finally, dammit. He’s a piece of s---.” She smiled at the camera.

Ladies and gentlemen, the vice president of the United States?

What the %$#@&?

If Biden is actually considering Rice for the job — I suspect the boomlet is more about building her profile for another future post — it would be a costly mistake.

Don’t get me wrong. Biden would be better than President Trump even if he put the general secretary of Antifa on the ticket. And Rice’s cv is impressive: Stanford, Rhodes scholar, assistant secretary of state at age 32, U.N. ambassador.

But at a time when Americans have suffered greatly from a famously pugilistic leader with no electoral experience who embraces public profanity and petty insults, Americans want healing and calm. Why would Biden tap as veep (and put a heartbeat from the presidency) a human lightning rod?

Political, Race Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Portland protesters have almost no interaction with state police as thousands gather downtown, Adam Taylor, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). For the second consecutive evening after federal law enforcement officers retreated from the front lines in this city, protesters had almost no interaction with state police as thousands gathered downtown until early Saturday morning.

Oregon State Police, who took over in the protection of a federal courthouse on Thursday, were rarely seen outside the building, despite a lingering crowd that screamed anti-police slogans and set several large fires in the street.

washington post logoWashington Post, DHS official whose office compiled ‘intelligence reports’ on journalists, protesters is removed, Shane Harris and Nick Miroff, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). Murphy told Congress that DHS did not collect protesters’ data. An internal DHS memo seems to contradict him.

A senior Department of Homeland Security official whose office compiled “intelligence reports” about journalists and protesters in Portland, Ore., has been removed from his job, according to people familiar with the matter.

Brian Murphy, the acting undersecretary for intelligence and analysis, was reassigned to a new position in the department’s management directorate, an administrative support office, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a personnel matter.

Acting homeland security secretary Chad Wolf made the decision on Friday. Murphy’s removal follows revelations in The Washington Post that the Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I & A) at DHS compiled Open Source Intelligence Reports about the work of two journalists who had published leaked department documents. In a separate intelligence report, the office also analyzed the communications of protesters in Portland.

washington post logoWashington Post, How Biden’s ambitious climate plan came together, Brady Dennis and Dino Grandoni, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). In just months, Joe Biden went from climate activists’ “F” rating to the most far-reaching climate strategy of any major party nominee.

During a recent virtual fundraiser focused on climate action, former vice president Joe Biden made a direct appeal to voters young enough to be his grandchildren.

“I want young climate activists, young people everywhere, to know: I see you. I hear you. I understand the urgency, and together we can get this done,” said the 77-year-old Democrat, who days earlier had announced a $2 trillion plan to combat climate change and environmental racism — the most ambitious blueprint released by a major party nominee for president.

The moment marked a shift months in the making.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Thousands in Berlin protest virus restrictions as cases continue to rise, Loveday Morris and Miriam Berger, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). A crowd estimated at 15,000 people chanted slogans against masks and vaccines as police used loudspeakers to urge social distancing.

german flagThousands of largely mask-less demonstrators marched through central Berlin on Saturday chanting “We are free people” to the beat of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” in a coronavirus restrictions protest that was also riddled with virus-related conspiracy theories.

The demonstration took place despite recent warnings from German health officials about a new rise in infections.

Europe scrambles to avoid a second coronavirus wave, as infections rise

Billed as a “Freedom Day,” the protest drew around 15,000 people, according to police figures cited by German media. The demonstration was organized by Querdenken 771, a group based in the western city of Stuttgart that emerged from weekly anti-lockdown demonstrations earlier in the pandemic. Members sometimes wear tinfoil hats or necklaces in what they say is a dig at being written off as conspiracy theorists.

ny times logounited kingdom flagNew York Times, Conservative U.K. Lawmaker Is Arrested Over Rape Accusations, Benjamin Mueller, Aug. 2, 2020. The arrest of the lawmaker, who has not been publicly identified, poses problems for the government of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, creating pressure on Mr. Johnson to suspend the lawmaker from the Conservative Party and forcing the government to account for when it learned of the allegations.Opinion:

U.S. Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Beating up on Big Tech is fun and easy. Restraining it will require rewriting the law, Steven Pearlstein, Aug. 2, 2020 (print ed.). If we want to rein in Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, we need to rewrite antitrust statutes that for now are almost powerless against the tech giants.

Members of a House subcommittee summoned the chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google on Wednesday to grill them on how their companies maintain, enhance and abuse their monopoly power.

Over the course of the five-hour hearing, it was hard to know who seemed sillier — the politicians outraged that profit-making companies had tried to buy up rivals and use their platforms to favor their own services, or the executives who couldn’t understand why anyone would think that their companies had even the slightest bit of market power over suppliers and customers.

 

Aug. 1

Top Stories

Whistleblowing Revelations

Inside DC

More Virus Victims, Responses

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

Media News

World News

 

Top Stories

nancy pelosi djt 2 older

washington post logoWashington Post, 30 million unemployed lose extra benefits as talks stall, Eli Rosenberg, Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said Democrats had rejected reasonable offers while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) derided Republicans for trying to advance a short-term fix.

Most of the last checks went out this week, but the program officially ends Friday, a day that Democrats and Republicans spent trading barbs over who was to blame for the failed negotiations.

ny times logoNew York Times, Live updates: U.S. Added 1.9 Million Cases in July, More Than Double Any Other Month, Staff report, Aug. 1, 2020. July saw 42 percent of all U.S. cases during the pandemic. YMCA officials apologized after hundreds were infected at a summer camp.

Thousands in Berlin protest Germany’s coronavirus measures. The virus is picking up speed in the Midwest. A summer camp in Georgia apologizes for hosting a retreat after hundreds who attended were infected.Officials in Puerto Rico reported more than 1,000 new confirmed and probable cases today, a single-day record.

The United States recorded more than 1.9 million new infections in July, nearly 42 percent of the more than 4.5 million cases reported nationwide since the pandemic began and more than double the number documented in any other month, according to data compiled by The New York Times. The previous monthly high came in April, when more than 880,000 new cases were recorded.

The virus is picking up dangerous speed in much of the Midwest — and in states from Mississippi to Florida to California that thought they had already seen the worst of it.

Gone is any sense that the country may soon get ahold of the pandemic. The seven-day average for new infections has hovered around 65,000 for the past two weeks, more than doubling the peak average from the spring, when the country experienced what was essentially its first wave.

In many states, distressed government officials are re-tightening restrictions on residents and businesses, and sounding warnings about a rise in virus-related hospitalizations.

On July 31, New U.S. cases: 67,746; New deaths: 1,424

washington post logoWashington Post, Pandemic’s weight falls on Hispanics, Native Americans, Reis Thebault and Alyssa Fowers, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). As deaths in the United States surpass 150,000, disturbing trends have emerged. The coronavirus now accounts for about 1 out of every 5 deaths among Hispanics and Native Americans. And experts have grim forecasts for the months ahead.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Scores of children and staff were infected at one camp, raising new questions about kids and virus transmission, Chelsea Janes, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The finding that children 'might play an important role in transmission’ is likely to fuel debates about whether to reopen schools. A new report suggests that children of all ages are susceptible to coronavirus infection and may also spread it to others — a finding likely to intensify an already fraught discussion about the risks of sending children back to school this fall.

cdc logo CustomThe analysis, released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, details an outbreak at a sleep-away camp in Georgia last month in which 260 children and staffers — more than three-quarters of the 344 tested — contracted the virus less than a week after spending time together in close quarters. The children had a median age of 12. The camp had required all 597 campers and staff members to provide documentation that they had tested negative for the virus before coming. Staff were required to wear masks, but children were not.

While similar clusters have occurred around funerals, weddings, teenage parties and adult gatherings throughout the pandemic, few super-spreading events have been documented among children.

washington post logojoe biden 2020 button CustomWashington Post, Biden probably won’t name VP pick until second week of August, Annie Linskey, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Biden will most likely announce his running mate in the second week of August, again breaking a self-imposed deadline for unveiling the choice, according to two people familiar with his plans.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, told reporters that he intended to make up his mind by the end of the first week of August, which would be Aug. 8.

There are political reasons for Biden to unveil the pick relatively shortly before the Aug. 17 kickoff of the Democratic National Convention, since that timing could add some excitement to the gathering while minimizing the opportunity for Republican attacks. Some Biden allies have been urging him to make the announcement around Aug. 10.

Whistleblowing Revelations

"You never volunteer to be a whistleblower; it falls into your lap."

-- Wayne Madsen

charlotte dennett

OpEdNews, 2020 Annual Whistleblower Summit Features "Telling Stories Almost Too Big to Hear," Marta Steele, Aug. 1, 2020. This year's annual Whistleblower Summit, held on Zoom in combination with a dynamic film festival, featured a world-class panel, "Telling Stories Almost Too Big to Hear," organized by the well-known activist and attorney Andrew Kreig,

The four panelists, all expert whistleblowers who have spoken truth to power, included Charlotte Dennett, author of The Crash of Flight 3804 (shown above), the story of her investigations into the death of her father in a 1947 plane crash en route to report on his work investigating the huge oil industries in the Middle East.

don siegelman stealing our democracy CustomWayne Madsen, left, author of 18 books and master investigative reporter, began this segment of his career with "an A to Z encyclopedia of covert groups focused on the most sensitive issues on Earth, encompassing the intelligence backgrounds of U.S. politicians and judges before they were elected to office."

Former Alabama governor Don Siegelman, right, told his story of a meteoric career up the political ranks in the bright red state of Alabama despite his extremely progressive background and how Karl Rove and his cronies stepped in to ruin him even as he was being short-listed as a Democratic candidate for president in the 2004 general election. He has recently published an amazing memoir, Stealing Our Democracy: How the Political Assassination of a Governor Threatens Our Nation.

Dr. William Pepper, a close associate of both Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. (with whom he is shown below) in the 1960s, told an amazing life story of investigating the assassinations of both, risking his life in the process.

mlk william pepper plot to kill cover 300x169

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner reported at least $36 million in outside income last year, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Anu Narayanswamy, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The jared kushner ivanka trump july 4 2017 facebookfinancial disclosures filed by President Trump’s daughter and son-in-law showed a minimum combined income that went up at least $7 million from 2018, in part from their companies that hold residential and commercial properties.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Coming forward ended my career. I still believe doing what’s right matters, Alexander S. VIndman, Aug. 1, 2020. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman (Ret.), a career U.S. Army officer, served on the National Security Council as the director for Eastern European, Caucasus and Russian affairs, as the Russia political-military affairs officer for the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as a military attaché in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. Also, his whistleblowing complaint during the summer of 2019 played a major role in leading to the impeachment of President Donald Trump by the U.S. House of Representatives.

After 21 years, six months and 10 days of active military service, I am now a civilian. I made the difficult decision to retire because a campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation by President Trump and his allies forever limited the progression of my military career.

This experience has been painful, but I am not alone in this ignominious fate. The circumstances of my departure might have been more public, yet they are little different from those of dozens of other lifelong public servants who have left this administration with their integrity intact but their careers irreparably harmed.

A year ago, having served the nation in uniform in positions of critical importance, I was on the cusp of a career-topping promotion to colonel. A year ago, unknown to me, my concerns over the president’s conduct and the president’s efforts to undermine the very foundations of our democracy were precipitating tremors that would ultimately shake loose the facade of good governance and publicly expose the corruption of the Trump administration.

At no point in my career or life have I felt our nation’s values under greater threat and in more peril than at this moment. Our national government during the past few years has been more reminiscent of the authoritarian regime my family fled more than 40 years ago than the country I have devoted my life to serving.

Our citizens are being subjected to the same kinds of attacks tyrants launch against their critics and political opponents. Those who choose loyalty to American values and allegiance to the Constitution over devotion to a mendacious president and his enablers are punished. The president recklessly downplayed the threat of the pandemic even as it swept through our country. The economic collapse that followed highlighted the growing income disparities in our society. Millions are grieving the loss of loved ones and many more have lost their livelihoods while the president publicly bemoans his approval ratings.

More Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, After Plummeting, the Virus Soars Back in Parts of U.S., Julie Bosman, Manny Fernandez and Thomas Fuller, Aug. 1, 2020. New coronavirus cases are picking up at a dangerous pace in much of the Midwest, and in cities that thought they had seen the worst. There is a deepening national sense that the progress made in fighting the pandemic is coming undone and that no patch of America is safe.

washington post logoWashington Post, On a call with SEC leaders, worried college football players pushed back on safety: ‘It’s not good enough,’ Robert Klemko and Emily Giambalvo, Aug. 1, 2020. In a private meeting with conference leaders and medical advisors, several football players raised concerns about the coronavirus precautions, only to be told that positive cases on their teams were a “given.”

College football’s most powerful conference, the SEC, announced Thursday that it plans to forge ahead with a season this fall. But a day earlier, in a private meeting with conference leaders and medical advisers, several football players raised concerns about their safety, only to be told that positive cases on their teams were a “given,” according to an audio recording obtained by The Washington Post.

The meeting, which took place Wednesday, included more than a dozen SEC football players, members of the conference’s medical advisory board and SEC officials, including Commissioner Greg Sankey. It was designed as a “confidential free exchange,” an SEC spokesman said in an email, where the league’s medical advisers could “hear questions and our student-athletes were able to hear answers."

But the recording offers a window into how conference officials — keen on keeping a multibillion dollar industry afloat amid the novel coronavirus pandemic — are, and aren’t, reassuring the athletes they need to make the season a reality.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: McConnell and Trump are flunking their jobs. America’s jobless will pay the price, Editorial Board, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The main problem is disarray among Republicans, who have wasted precious time debating a counterproposal to the $3 trillion Heroes Act that the Democratic House passed months ago.

djt smiling fileThere are differences within the Senate GOP and between the Senate GOP and Mr. Trump. The latest intra-GOP flap arose when the White House contradicted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) long-standing demand that any bill must include liability protections for businesses and universities that reopen.

This has to stop. The Cares Act was not only a symbolic victory for the political process, it was a substantive one, too. The billions of dollars in aid to households, through additional unemployment insurance or direct payments, coupled with the Paycheck Protection Program for small businesses, have so far protected vulnerable families from what otherwise would have been catastrophic economic losses.

In fact, personal disposable income actually rose in the second quarter of 2020, even as the economy shrank at an annual rate of 32.9 percent. Ideally, Congress would produce a new bill that modified what was inevitably imperfect about the Cares Act and included funds to help state and local governments. Especially urgent within aid to the states would be generous financial support for the November elections. As important as it is to salvage the economy, it might be even more vital to salvage the legitimacy of the vote.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Covid-19 relief programs are riddled with suspected fraud. What’s going on here? Colbert I. King, right, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The Trump administration’s colbert king 2003standard operating procedure for running the covid-19 disaster relief effort must be: “Put the money on the stump and run like crazy.” It’s hard to draw other conclusions following the release of the Small Business Administration inspector general’s report on potential fraud in the government’s emergency loan and grant program.

Let’s put it this way. If something akin to this purportedly fraud-riddled program had materialized on President Barack Obama’s watch, Republicans in Congress would be calling it a high crime and misdemeanor.

Yes, it’s just that bad.

Inspector General Hannibal “Mike” Ware kicked off his investigation after getting complaints regarding more than 5,000 instances of suspected fraud from financial institutions receiving SBA economic injury loan deposits. After a preliminary review, the IG found “strong indicators of widespread potential fraud.”

sba logo new Custom CustomWith more than $200 billion left in the SBA’s lending kitty, Ware decided to blow the whistle and publicly call for the SBA to take action immediately “to reduce fraud risk and prevent further losses.”

Taxpayers ought to thank goodness for the government’s watchdogs. The loans were approved and disbursed by the SBA under authority provided in the emergency Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (Cares Act), passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump in March. The substantial money freed up was intended to serve as a lifeline for small-business owners and their workers across the country reeling in an economy getting pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats demand answers from U.S. ambassador after reports he asked Brazil for favor to help Trump in 2020, Karoun Demirjian, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). According to a report in O Globo, Brazil’s largest newspaper, Ambassador Todd Chapman asked Brazil’s government to lower ethanol tariffs to help President Trump in Iowa.

U.S. House logoHouse Democrats are demanding a reckoning from the U.S. ambassador to Brazil after news reports there said he was urging country officials to lower ethanol tariffs to help President Trump’s chances of reelection.

In a letter Friday to Ambassador Todd C. Chapman, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and Western Hemisphere subcommittee Chairman Albio Sires (D-N.J.) cited a report in prominent Brazilian newspaper O Globo depicting Chapman telling jair bolsonaro brazilBrazilian officials about “the importance for the [President Jair] Bolsonaro (shown at right) government of maintaining Donald Trump as U.S. President.”

In the article, according to the letter, Chapman also communicated to Brazilian officials that it was important for their “government to do the U.S. a favor” by reducing ethanol tariffs, as those are important in the state of Iowa, a potential “key player” in 2020.

Panel Democrats are asking Chapman to state in writing whether the comments are true, and back up his claim with documents related to his conversations with Brazilian officials, “to reassure Congress” that he “is truly representing the interests of the United States and not the narrow, political interests of President Trump.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Census Bureau could halt count a month earlier than planned, officials say, Fredrick Kunkle and Tara Bahrampour, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). Census Bureau officials appear to be moving toward wrapping up the process of counting all inhabitants of the United States a month earlier than planned as a result of direction from the Trump administration and Congress’ failure to agree on an extension, current and former bureau officials said.

The move comes as President Trump has intensified efforts to change how census data is used. A memorandum last week from the president said undocumented immigrants should not be counted for congressional apportionment, which legal experts say would be unconstitutional. Civil rights groups said the earlier deadline would also lead to an undercount of populations that are often harder to count, including minorities, undocumented immigrants and low-income families.

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

supreme court Custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court’s ‘summer break’ has become a series of consequential actions, Robert Barnes, One of the most consequential Supreme Court terms in recent times shows no signs of conclusion.

The court seemed to wrap up its work July 9 with a traditional flourish of big opinions, including a blockbuster finale: that President Trump was not immune to demands for his personal financial records from a state prosecutor and congressional investigators.

But the court’s customary summer lull? It never arrived.

Instead, responding to emergency pleas for intervention, the justices allowed federal executions to resume for the first time in 17 years. They threw up a roadblock for former felons in Florida who thought their voting rights had been restored. They denied challenges to coronavirus restrictions on worship services in Nevada, and put on hold accommodations extended to Idaho residents hoping to collect signatures for an education initiative.

On Friday, the court, on a familiar 5-to-4 vote, rejected a last-ditch effort to keep Trump from using money allocated for the Defense Department to finish remaining construction of border wall projects in Arizona and New Mexico.

“This term isn’t going to end,” said Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas who tracks the court’s emergency actions. Those are cases in which parties ask the court for immediate relief from lower-court orders, without the usual briefing and oral arguments.

  supreme court headshots 2019

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court won’t intervene in last stages of border wall construction projects, Robert Barnes, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). A lower court had said the use of military funds was unlawful, and environmentalists had asked for construction to stop. The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a last-ditch effort from environmentalists to stop the ICE logoongoing construction of parts of President Trump’s border wall.

  • The Sierra Club had asked the justices to undo their decision from a year ago that allowed construction. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in late June that the administration’s use of funds intended for the Defense Department was unlawful.
  • Supreme Court says administration can proceed with wall funds
  • Without the Supreme Court’s action, said lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing the Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, the Trump administration will have used all of the money before the justices have a chance to decide the merits of the case.
  • But the court on Friday allowed its previous order to stand, with its conservatives in the majority and the four liberals objecting. As is often the case in emergency orders, the majority did not explain its reasoning.

ny times logoNew York Times, Editorial: Federal Agents Don’t Need Army Fatigues, Editorial Board, Aug. 1, 2020. If you’re an officer of the law, dress like one. Leave the soldiering to soldiers. Masked men, clad indistinguishably from soldiers, yanking civilians off the street in the dead of night and throwing them into unmarked cars is the modus operandi of totalitarian regimes — or the stuff of dystopian fiction.

But that’s now the reality in America. In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security has sent hundreds of federal agents into Portland, Ore., to quell protests over racism and police violence.

Media News sinclair broadcast logo custom

washington post logolarry klayman resized eric bolling judy mikovits sinclair pandemicWashington Post, Sinclair yanked a pandemic conspiracy theory program. But it has stayed in line with Trump on coronavirus, Paul Farhi, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). Eric Bolling’s interview with the discredited “Plandemic” theorist represented an extreme edge of the typical commentary from one of the nation’s largest TV groups.

Editor's Note: Sinclair's America This Week host Eric Bolling, shown at center in adjoining photo, interviewing Judy Mikovits, right, of the conspiracy theory video Plandemic and her attorney Larry Klayman, left, about their plans to sue Dr. Anthony Fauci.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he’ll bar TikTok from operating in U.S., Ellen Nakashima, Rachel Lerman and Jeanne Whalen, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). The ban would come amid tiktok logo square Customrising tension with China. The president also told reporters Friday night the administration may take other actions targeted at TikTok.

washington post logoWashington Post, James Murdoch resigns from News Corp. board over ‘disagreements’ about editorial content, Jeremy Barr, Aug. 1, 2020 (print ed.). James Murdoch, son of media baron Rupert Murdoch and the former chief executive of Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox — now called Fox Corp. — has resigned his seat on the board of the Murdoch-controlled News Corp., citing concerns about the company’s content and decision-making.

The abrupt resignation came in a tersely worded letter sent by Murdoch to the board of the company, which owns Wall Street Journal publisher Dow Jones and the New York Post, among other holdings.

fox news logo Small“My resignation is due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the Company’s news outlets and certain other strategic decisions,” Murdoch wrote in the letter, which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday.

His resignation is the strongest sign yet that Murdoch, 47, has broken ideologically from his family’s media holdings, which include the cable news channel that he once had oversight over.

While his father, who remains the company’s executive chairman, is influential in Republican politics, Murdoch and his wife, Kathryn, have long been major donors to left-leaning causes and political candidates. They very publicly donated $1 million to the Anti-Defamation League in August 2017 after the protests in Charlottesville, calling out “hate and bigotry.”

ny times logoNew York Times, In Trumpworld, the Grown-Ups All Left the Room, and Got Book Deals, Sarah Lyall, Aug. 1, 2020. A large club of Trump administration evictees have turned their bracingly bad experiences into a new genre: political revenge literature.

Taken en masse, the books paint a damning portrait of the 45th president of the United States. But the sheer volume of unflattering material they contain can have the paradoxical danger of blunting their collective impact. After the 10th time you read about Mr. Trump’s short attention span, your own attention is in danger of wandering.

There are even more memoirs scheduled for the fall: one by Michael Cohen, the president’s disgraced ex-personal lawyer, which federal officials tried to block but then said could proceed, and another by H.R. McMaster, who was Mr. Trump’s second national security adviser and is no fan of the president.

andrew mccabe the threat detailsBut at this point, nearly four years in, is there anything left to say about Mr. Trump that might surprise us? Or, as Mr. McCabe,right, writes in The Threat: “What more could a person do to erode the credibility of the presidency?”

Reading all these books, one after the other, is like swimming for days in a greasy, brackish canal whose bottom is teeming with shards of broken-down old industrial equipment. The experience is not pleasant, you might hurt yourself, and it leaves you covered in grime. The picture they paint of their protagonist — Mr. Trump — is so outrageous that if they were fiction they would be dismissed as too broad, too much of a caricature.

As different as the authors are, the books share a number of common observations about the president. And so, with the Republican Party set to renominate him this month, here is a reminder of what sort of leader Mr. Trump has turned out to be, according to his growing band of disgruntled former employees.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Iran Will Expand Nuclear Program and Won’t Talk to U.S., Ayatollah Says, Farnaz Fassihi, Aug. 1, 2020. In a televised speech, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, said that negotiating with Washington over his country’s nuclear program would only help President Trump get re-elected. Ayatollah Khamenei also said that Iran would maintain its close alliances with militia groups in the region that it uses as proxies, defying another demand from the Trump administration.

 

 

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Editor's Choice: Scroll below for our monthly blend of mainstream and alternative July 2020 news and views.

Note: Excerpts are from the authors' words except for subheads and occasional "Editor's notes" such as this.

July 31

Top Headlines

john lewis officialFinal Words From John Lewis

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

nba logoRacial Disputes, Political Protests

mike pompeo portraitWorld News

 

Top Stories

Roll Call, Coronavirus relief talks stuck on scope of aid, Lindsey McPherson and Niels Lesniewski, July 31, 2020. Negotiations on a coronavirus relief bill have yet to enter the policy give-and-take stage as Republicans remain focused on a short-term measure that Democrats say is worthless and delaying progress toward a much-needed broader aid package.

The federal enhanced unemployment benefit of $600 per week formally expires Friday but has effectively already lapsed since most states aren’t sending out checks this week. Negotiators have spent the past few days arguing about the amount and duration of an enhanced unemployment extension and whether they should pass a stopgap measure while continuing discussions about a broader deal.

Republicans did not offer a plan to address the expiring provision until Monday, when it was included in one part of eight coronavirus bills totaling roughly $1 trillion in aid.

Democrats offered their plan on unemployment months ago, passing a nearly $3.5 trillion relief package in the House in May that would have extended the $600 per week federal benefit through the end of the year.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has been negotiating with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer on behalf of President Donald Trump and congressional Republicans, said at the White House press briefing Friday that he and Mnuchin “made no less than four different offers to Democrats” on a short-term extension of enhanced unemployment, as well as a statutory eviction moratorium that also expired this month.

Democrats rejected those offers, saying they want to reach agreement on a broader package that also addresses other needs like state and local funding and food assistance.

“Let's sit down and get this done,” Pelosi said Friday at her weekly press briefing. “Let's recognize people need $600. Let's recognize state and local need help with allaying the money they have spent to fight the virus and the revenue loss.”

The California Democrat noted that Senate Republicans don’t have the votes to pass any of the proposals they offered. She accused the GOP of feigning interest in passing a temporary extension of the $600 benefit after previously opposing that amount to save face politically.

She also criticized a one-week extension as "worthless" when negotiators aren't close to a deal, saying that such a stopgap is typically only used to give lawmakers time to finalize bill text and cost estimates once they have agreement in principle.

us mail logoPelosi noted that Republicans have shown no interest in providing any money for state and local – Democrats want nearly $1 trillion – food assistance, election administration or the Postal Service, all of which are top Democratic priorities.

Democrats want $3.6 billion in election assistance funding and to require states to provide for mail-in voting due to the pandemic, but Trump has been especially critical of that, even saying Thursday he’d prefer to delay the election than have voters mail in their ballots because he thinks the process is susceptible to fraud.

Pelosi questioned Trump’s motives in wanting to delay the election, saying, “Did he learn that from [Russian President Vladimir] Putin or something?”

djt 2020 hat Custom

washington post logoamerican flag upside down distressWashington Post, Economy shrinks at fastest quarterly rate on record, Rachel Siegel and Andrew Van Dam, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). Between April and June, the nation’s gross domestic product plunged by 9.5 percent — or an annual rate of 32.9 percent — as the pandemic punished workers and businesses. Data released by the Commerce Department on Thursday is another reminder of the pain felt this year as the nation went into an economic shutdown.

The second quarter report on gross domestic product covers some of the economy’s worst weeks in living memory, when commercial activity ground to a halt, millions of Americans lost their jobs and the nation went into lockdown. Yet economists say the data should also serve as a cautionary tale for what’s at stake if the recovery slips away, especially as rising coronavirus cases in some states have forced businesses to close once again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Did a third of the economy really vanish in just three months? Andrew Van Dam, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). We explain the GDP numbers. The Commerce Department opened today’s announcement of second-quarter economic growth with an eyeball-blistering observation: “Real gross domestic product (GDP) decreased at an annual rate of 32.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020.”

That 32.9 percent represents the loss of a third of the economy. Let that sink in. Now let it wriggle back out again — it is not exactly true. Why? The Commerce Department reports quarterly GDP at an annual rate to allow easy comparisons to other time periods. Remove the annualization, and we see the economy contracted a still-abysmal 9.5 percent

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump floats idea of delaying November election as he ramps up attacks on voting by mail, John Wagner and Amy Gardner, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). The Constitution grants such power to Congress, not the president. President Trump has claimed without evidence that mail-in balloting will have fraudulent results and has suggested it would hurt Republicans at the ballot box.

donald trump twitterThe U.S. Constitution gives the power to regulate the “time, place and manner” of elections to the U.S. House and Senate, with Congress also empowered to alter the rules. Nowhere is the president granted such power.

In addition, the Constitution spells out a hard end to a president’s term on Jan. 20 in the year following a presidential election.

Trump’s tweet came shortly after a report was released showing the U.S. economy shrank 9.5 percent from April through June, the largest quarterly decline since the government began publishing data 70 years ago, and the latest, sobering reflection of the pandemic’s economic devastation.

It was not clear from Trump’s tweets whether he intends to ask Congress to move the date of the election or if he believes he can act on his own.

washington post logoWashington Post, Obama issues call to action in eulogy for Lewis, links Trump to foes of civil rights in 1960s, John Wagner and Paul Kane, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). Former president Barack Obama likened the recent federal push to use force against protesters to the attitudes fostered by men such as George Wallace.Former president Barack Obama delivered a call to action in his eulogy Thursday of John Lewis, urging Congress to pass new voting rights laws and linking President Trump to the racist Southern leaders who fought the civil rights activist’s efforts in the 1960s.

Obama, speaking for 40 minutes at the pulpit once led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., tied Lewis’s early life as a Freedom Rider to the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. He likened the ensuing clearing of Lafayette Square, with tear gas against peaceful protesters, to the same fights Lewis waged.

“Bull Connor may be gone, but today we witness with our own eyes police officers kneeling on the necks of Black Americans,” the nation’s first Black president said at Lewis’s final memorial service. “George Wallace may be gone but we can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators. We may no longer have to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar in order to cast a ballot, but even as we sit here there are those in power who are doing their darndest to discourage people from voting.”

ny times logoNew York Times, Live Updates: U.S. Will Likely Have Vaccine by Early 2021, Fauci Reassures Congress, Staff reports, July 31, 2020. As he and other health experts testify before Congress, Dr. Anthony Fauci also pointedly cast doubt on efforts to develop a vaccine by Russia and China.

Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline are the latest to take funds from Operation Warp Speed in exchange for millions of doses of an experimental vaccine. New York City will reopen its schools only if the city maintains a test positivity rate below 3 percent. Here’s the latest.

Final Words From John Lewis

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation, John Lewis, right,July 30, 2020, July 31 print ed. Though I am gone, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe.

john lewis officialWhile my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

When historians pick up their pens to write the story of the 21st century, let them say that it was your generation who laid down the heavy burdens of hate at last and that peace finally triumphed over violence, aggression and war. So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.

Mr. Lewis, the civil rights leader who died on July 17, wrote this essay shortly before his death, to be published upon the day of his funeral.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: John Lewis Believed America Would Survive Trump, Michelle Goldberg, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). He told us to keep the faith. It’s not easy. There was something saintly about Lewis, whose funeral was held on Thursday. What’s striking in accounts of his youthful encounters with snarling, murderous white supremacy is not just his courage, but also his calm and otherworldly clarity.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: U.S. reports 1,400 coronavirus deaths in a day — about one per minute, Staff reports, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). GDP figures show record contraction of U.S. economy. WHO warns against increase in cases linked to Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday. Here are some significant developments:

Johnson & Johnson launched human trials of its potential novel coronavirus vaccine in the United States on Thursday after an encouraging study showed that a single shot of the vaccine appeared to protect monkeys against infection. Other vaccine technologies currently in the last stages of U.S. human testing require two doses to be given weeks apart.

Congress is “nowhere close to a deal” on a new coronavirus relief bill, meaning that 20 million Americans are likely to stop receiving emergency unemployment benefits after this week. Negotiations have reached an impasse, with Democrats and Republicans blaming each other for the deadlock.

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said states such as Ohio, Tennessee, Indiana and Kentucky are seeing a subtle but worrisome uptick in positivity rates. That suggests they “may be getting into the same sort of trouble” as hot spots in the South that were quick to reopen, Fauci warned.

washington post logoWashington Post, More Live Updates: Getting coronavirus tests back in 2 to 3 days ‘not possible at this time,’ House panel is told, Staff reports, July 31, 2020. The death toll in the United States from the novel coronavirus surpassed 150,000 on Friday, according to data gathered by The Washington Post; Pandemic’s weight falls on Hispanics and Native Americans, as deaths pass 150,000; More than 40 percent of total U.S. coronavirus cases were reported in July.

While the disease continues to affect the oldest among us, other trends have surfaced. In recent weeks, Hispanics and Native Americans have made up an increasing proportion of deaths from covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. It now accounts for nearly 20 percent of all deaths among those groups, higher than any other race or ethnicity in recent weeks, according to a Post analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Friday morning, three of the Trump administration’s top health officials — Infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield and Brett P. Giroir of the Department of Health and Human Services — were pressed by a Democratic-led House panel about the ongoing crisis.

 washington post logoWashington Post, Jobless claims increase for the second week in a row; 1,434,000 new claims filed, Eli Rosenberg, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). For the week ending July 25, new jobless claims inched up again, after months of falling, reflecting new pressure in the labor market.

President Donald Trump officialThe number of new unemployment insurance claims rose again last week — the second week in a row after months of declines — a concerning sign about the pressure that the pandemic is exerting on the labor market anew.

About 1.43 million people filed claims last week, up by about 12,000 from the previous week’s jobless claims, which was also revised upward, according to the Department of Labor.

The number of workers continually claiming unemployment insurance also rose, by about 867,000 workers to 17 million for the week ending July 18, up from 16.1 million for the week ending July 11. That statistic lags by a week.

Another 830,000 new claims were filed for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the benefits offered to gig and self-employed workers.

washington post logoWashington Post, White House open to stimulus without ‘liability shield,’ breaking with McConnell, Jeff Stein and Erica Werner, July 31, 2020. The Senate majority leader has said he will not approve a stimulus package without a “liability shield,” but top White House officials say they do not see it as essential.

ny times logoNew York Times, The Risk That Students Could Arrive at School With the Coronavirus, James Glanz, Benedict Carey and Matthew Conlen, July 31, 2020. As schools grapple with how to reopen, new estimates show that large parts of the country would probably see infected students if classrooms opened now.

Based on current infection rates, more than 80 percent of Americans live in a county where at least one infected person would be expected to show up to a school of 500 students and staff in the first week, if school started today.

In the highest-risk areas — including Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Nashville and Las Vegas — at least five students or staff would be expected to show up infected with the virus at a school of 500 people.

The high numbers reflect the rapid spread of the virus in those areas, where more than 1 in 70 people are estimated to be currently infected.

At the same time, smaller, isolated groups of students face a much lower risk. Some schools are considering narrowing classes down to small “pods,” with students who mainly come in contact with their teacher and each other. While the chance of having an infected person at the school would stay the same, the risk of exposure within those pods would be much lower.

If they remain isolated from the rest of the school — a tall order — 10-person pods in every part of the country would be unlikely to include an infected person in that first week.

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Governors who took strict measures see better political outcomes, Amber Phillips, July 31, 2020. Much about the coronavirus is putting us in unprecedented political territory, but one thing is becoming evident: Keeping the coronavirus in check, even via strict measures, is so far a political winner.

A look at recent polling of nine governors — five Republicans and four Democrats from states that are polled frequently because they will likely be determinative in the 2020 election — shows that the governors who instituted face-mask requirements, urged social distancing and reopened more slowly than other states have seen a jump in their approval ratings.

By contrast, the governors who eschewed public health experts’ advice and reopened quickly — as President Trump urged — have seen their approval ratings drop, by double digits in some cases. The polling underscores a pretty simple reality: Most voters want the coronavirus under control above all else. They seem to be willing to be told to wear masks in the summer heat, gretchen whitmer o smile Customto avoid large crowds and to avoid going to school or work. In fact, voters have rewarded those politicians who have limited their movement. Polls show that most Americans are still scared they or a family member will get sick.

Democratic governors Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan, right, Roy Cooper in North Carolina, Tom Wolf in Pennsylvania and Tony Evers in Wisconsin — all states that will play a role in the 2020 presidential election — have approval ratings in the high 50s to mid 60s this summer, all after taking restrictions that went beyond many of their Republican counterparts to control the coronavirus.

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Palmer Report, Opinion: Turrns out Donald Trump and Jared Kushner let everybody die on purpose, Ron Leshnower, July 31, 2020. Throughout his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump promised he would hire the “best people.” He never told us that meant the best people for screwing things up. As we have seen over the past three-and-a-half years, Trump’s ideal underling is someone who shares his toxic blend of stunning immorality and gross incompetence. As an alarming new report reveals, Jared Kushner fits this profile even more than we knew.

On Thursday, Vanity Fair detailed a Kushner-led White House plan for an “aggressive, coordinated COVID-19 response.” If carried out properly, it would have positioned the United States in a far safer, prosperous, and advantageous position today against this pandemic. Instead, the plan, which was always legally dubious, wound up being so sloppily executed that, bill palmer report logo headeraccording to one participant in the program, it “went poof into thin air.”

A cornerstone of the plan involved purchasing one million coronavirus tests, manufactured in China and funneled through the United Arab Emirates. In typical Trumpian fashion, Kushner’s team neglected to follow several critical steps aimed at preventing waste, fraud, and abuse with federal government procurements. Only after the White House received the tests and distributed them to states through FEMA, government labs discovered that all one million tests were “contaminated and unusable.”

jared kushner djtBureaucratic confusion reigned for three months as a shady company with close ties to the UAE’s ruling family demanded payment for 3.5 million tests through an invoice (misspelling its own name) to the tune of $52,500,000. During this period, the virus exploded throughout the United States, sickening 2.4 million Americans and claiming 123,331 lives.

The other part of Kushner’s secret charge was to implement a grand plan for coordinated testing at the federal level. Such a plan would have unified the nation in battling COVID-19 effectively while preventing state and local governments from competing for limited supplies and resources. Instead, Kushner gave up “for reasons that remain murky.”

Although some details of this story remain unclear, an expert told Vanity Fair that a member of Kushner’s team confirmed a chillingly hyper-partisan motive. Trump and his advisors believed that COVID-19 was mainly a blue-state problem, and so they decided their best bet was to scrap a national plan in favor of later blaming Democratic governors for failing (hands tied behind their back) to control the virus.

Kushner is among the very worst of Trump’s “best people” — a cadre of perversely unqualified, morally depraved, and colossally inept minions committed to implementing a destructive and deadly “America Last” policy on all constituents. On Election Day, we must send a resounding message that the Trump administration is what needs to go “poof into thin air.” America deserves better than this genocidal carnival barker and his parade of sad clowns.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: House panel to grill top health officials on national strategy to address pandemic, Staff reports, July 31, 2020. England postpones easing restrictions as jair bolsonaro brazilinfections surge; Brazil’s Bolsonaro, right, says he has ‘mold’ in his lungs after having covid-19; House panel alleges ‘incompetent negotiating’ cost Trump administration $500 million on ventilators.

With the coronavirus death toll soaring in the United States, three of the Trump administration’s top health officials are expected to be pressed by a Democratic-led House panel on whether there is a national plan to address the ongoing crisis.

In joint testimony submitted in advance of the Friday morning hearing, infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert R. Redfield and Brett P. Giroir of the Department of Health and Human Services recount work that has been done thus far in response to the pandemic. The three officials also renew a warning about the difficulties ahead if the virus is still spreading during flu season.

U.S. Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Death penalty overturned for Boston Marathon bomber, Maria Sacchetti and Mark Berman, July 31, 2020. A federal appeals court has set aside the death penalty for the man convicted of planting a pair of bombs that killed three people and maimed or injured dozens of others at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit found that a lower court judge did not adequately explore the impact of the extensive pretrial publicity on the jurors who recommended the death sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The case will go back to the lower court for additional hearings, but the court’s overturning of the death sentences being does not mean that Tsanaev will have an opportunity to get out of prison.

“Just to be crystal clear,” the court wrote, “Dzhokhar will remain confined to prison for the rest of his life, with the only question remaining being whether the government will end his life by executing him.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Flynn case to be reheard by full federal appeals court in D.C., Ann E. Marimow, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). Michael Flynn Harvard 2014A federal appeals court in Washington will take a second look at a judge’s effort to scrutinize the Justice Department’s decision to drop its case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, right.

The full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed Thursday to revisit U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s plan to examine the politically charged matter, reviving the unusual case testing the limits of the judiciary’s power to check the executive branch.

The court’s brief order set oral argument for Aug. 11.

emmet sullivan 2012Sullivan, left, requested a rehearing by a full complement of judges after a divided three-judge panel ordered him to immediately dismiss the case and said Sullivan was wrong to appoint a retired federal judge to argue against the government’s move to undo Flynn’s guilty plea.

Judge Neomi Rao, writing for the majority, found “this is not the unusual case where a more searching inquiry is justified.”

In his dissent, Judge Robert L. Wilkins said it was unprecedented and premature for the appeals court to shut down Sullivan’s review. Sullivan, he wrote, should have an opportunity to evaluate the Justice Department’s change of heart.

lynn, 61, was the highest-level Trump adviser convicted in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Flynn initially pleaded guilty and cooperated with Mueller’s inquiry.

Instead of proceeding to sentencing, Attorney General William P. Barr in January ordered a review of Flynn’s case. He then moved to drop the prosecution, saying new evidence showed the FBI interview of Flynn was conducted without “any legitimate investigative basis.” Therefore, any lies Flynn told about his contacts with Russia did not amount to a crime.

In May, Sullivan refused to go along with the government’s request to end the criminal case against Flynn, who twice pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador in Washington before Trump took office in 2017.

Instead, Sullivan asked retired federal judge John Gleeson to argue against the Justice Department’s request, prompting Flynn’s attorneys to take the rare step of asking the appeals court to intervene midstream. They also accused Sullivan of bias.

The judge then retained a high-profile trial lawyer to represent him before the appeals court.

The order from the court Thursday said lawyers on both sides should be prepared to address whether Flynn had “ ‘no other adequate means to attain the relief’ ” he sought from the appeals court.

The initial ruling against Sullivan from the three-judge panel in late June cut short his plans to hold a hearing to examine the government’s decision.

 

mar a lago aerial Custom

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative Special Report, Ghislaine Maxwell lawsuit documents unsealed and they are bad news for Donald Trump and Bill Clinton, Wayne Madsen, left, July 31, 2020. The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit denied accused international underage sex trafficker Ghislaine Maxwell's appeal of a decision by U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Preska to order the unsealing of over 2000 pages of documents related to the lawsuit against Maxwell brought against her by one of her and the late Jeffrey Epstein's trafficking and abuse victims, Virginia Roberts Giuffre.

In 1999, Giuffre, after having been recruited at the age of 15 by Epstein and Maxwell to perform sex acts, recounted how she was forced to have sex with Britain's Prince Andrew, Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, “model scout” Jean-Luc Brunel, and “many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders."

Giuffre was recruited as a "slave" by Maxwell while she was employed as a towel girl at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago club (shown above) in Palm Beach, Florida, where Epstein and Maxwell were well-known habitués.

washington post logoWashington Post, Epstein accuser alleged in newly unsealed deposition that Ghislaine Maxwell was his partner in abuse, Rosalind S. Helderman and Shayna Jacobs, July 31, 2020. Maxwell, a longtime companion of the now-deceased financier, has called accuser Virginia Giuffre a liar. A woman who has accused deceased financier Jeffrey Epstein of years-long abuse that began when she was a teenager alleged in a newly unsealed deposition that his former partner, Ghislaine Maxwell, was both his chief accomplice and a participant in the sexual abuse.

Maxwell, who was arrested earlier this month and charged with trafficking minors, had fought unsuccessfully to keep the court documents under seal. She has pleaded not guilty.

The unsealed court documents stem from a defamation suit she settled for an undisclosed sum in 2017 with the woman, Virginia Giuffre, who has alleged that she was forced to have sex with Epstein and his friends. She has claimed that Maxwell recruited her to serve as a traveling masseuse for Epstein after spotting her working a summer job as a locker room attendant 20 years ago at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s private estate.

Prince Andrew, Virginia Roberts and Ghislaine Maxwell, 2001Ghislaine Maxwell, right, with the United Kingdom's Prince Andrew and Virginia Roberts (married name Giuffre, a former Mar-a-Lago towel girl), center, in 2001.

Giuffre’s deposition was among several hundred pages of records unsealed by judicial order late Thursday.

In her testimony, which she gave in 2016, Giuffre describes Maxwell and Epstein as a toxic team that repeatedly exploited her, emphasizing that Maxwell “brought me in for the purpose of being trafficked.”

“You have to understand that [Epstein] and [Maxwell] are joined at the hip, okay?” Giuffre said, when asked about who Maxwell sent her to for sex.

“Jeffrey was just as a part of it as she was,” Giuffre said. “[Maxwell] was just as a part of it as he was.”

At another point, she said of Maxwell: “She’s the one who abused me on a regular basis. She’s the one that procured me, told me what to do, trained me as a sex slave, abused me physically, abused me mentally. She’s the one who I believe, in my heart of hearts, deserves to come forward and have justice happen to her more than anybody. Being a woman, it’s disgusting.”

Maxwell, the daughter of the late media tycoon Robert Maxwell, has denied her claims.

“Virginia is an absolute liar and everything she has said is a lie,” she said in a 2016 deposition. “Therefore, based on those lies I cannot speculate on what anybody else did or didn’t do … everything she said is false.”

The unsealed documents also included emails exchanged between Epstein and Maxwell in January 2015. The timing of the missives appear to contradict a claim from her lawyers earlier this month, who in seeking to have released from jail on bond, told a judge that she’d had no contact with Epstein in a decade.

In the emails, Epstein wrote to Maxwell that [she] had “done nothing wrong” and urged her to “start acting like it.”

He told her to “go outside, head high, not as an escaping convict,” adding: “go to parties. deal with it.”

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have alleged that Maxwell recruited and groomed victims and participated in abusing them with Epstein. She was also charged with lying in a deposition in her lawsuit with Giuffre about whether she knew Epstein was having sex with minors. A judge has ordered that deposition also be made public, but Maxwell has appealed the decision.

Ghislaine Maxwell, longtime associate of Jeffrey Epstein, charged in sex abuse case. [Donald Trump, his future wife Melanie Kraus, Epstein (who claimed he introduced Kraus to Trump, and Maxwell are shown in a 2000 photo at right.]

Epstein was arrested last year on federal sex trafficking charges for alleged abuses of underage girls in New York and Florida, but he died by suicide in a Manhattan federal detention center before he could stand trial.

 2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Might Try to Postpone the Election. That’s Unconstitutional, Steven G. Calabresi ( co-founder of the Federalist Society and a professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law), July 31, 2020 (print ed.). He should be removed unless he relents.

I have voted Republican in every presidential election since 1980, including voting for Donald Trump in 2016. I wrote op-eds and a law review article protesting what I believe was an unconstitutional investigation by Robert Mueller. I also wrote an op-ed opposing President Trump’s impeachment.

Democratic-Republican Campaign logosBut I am frankly appalled by the president’s recent tweet seeking to postpone the November election. Until recently, I had taken as political hyperbole the Democrats’ assertion that President Trump is a fascist. But this latest tweet is fascistic and is itself grounds for the president’s immediate impeachment again by the House of Representatives and his removal from office by the Senate.

Here is what President Trump tweeted:

With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 30, 2020

The nation has faced grave challenges before, just as it does today with the spread of the coronavirus. But it has never canceled or delayed a presidential election. Not in 1864, when abraham lincoln 1860 matthew brady cooper unionPresident Abraham Lincoln (left, shown in 1860) was expected to lose and the South looked as if it might defeat the North. Not in 1932 in the depths of the Great Depression. Not in 1944 during World War II.

So we certainly should not even consider canceling this fall’s election because of the president’s concern about mail-in voting, which is likely to increase because of fears about Covid-19. It is up to each of the 50 states whether to allow universal mail-in voting and Article II of the Constitution explicitly gives the states total power over the selection of presidential electors.

Election Day was fixed by a federal law passed in 1845, and the Constitution itself in the 20th Amendment specifies that the newly elected Congress meet at noon on Jan. 3, 2021, and that the terms of the president and vice president end at noon on Jan. 20, 2021. If no newly elected president is available, the speaker of the House of Representatives becomes acting president.

President Trump needs to be told by every Republican in Congress that he cannot postpone the federal election. Doing so would be illegal, unconstitutional and without precedent in American history. Anyone who says otherwise should never be elected to Congress again.

washington post logoWashington Post, Mail backlog increases fears of delays in ballot delivery, Michelle Ye Hee Lee and Jacob Bogage, July 31, 2020. Postal employees are warning that new procedures put in place by a Trump ally could undermine their ability to deliver ballots in time for the election.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: All the president’s ‘Suburban Housewives,’ Monica Hesse, July 31, 2020. President Trump’s retrograde appeals to suburban women reveal who he thinks is entitled to the American Dream.

As if dragging the country into a tiki-torched, kidney-pool HGTV show nobody asked for, President Trump this week introduced his Twitter followers to the “Suburban Lifestyle Dream,” which can best be described as — let him explain:

“I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood,” he wrote on Twitter. He was referring to his desire to repeal a fair housing rule — signed into law in 1968 and strengthened under the Obama administration — that was created to make sure federal funds didn’t support discriminatory housing practices. But he was also continuing an imagined dialogue with a very specific group of voters.

ny times logoNew York Times, Obama’s Call to Abolish Filibuster Puts Further Spotlight on the Tactic, Carl Hulse, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). In the middle of the election season, Democrats hopeful of capturing the White House and Congress intensify their talk of ending the filibuster to thwart Republican opposition.

ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue, Paul Krugman, right, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). Trump is the kind of boss who can’t do the job — and won’t go away. Such bosses have the reverse Midas touch — everything they handle turns to crud — but they’ll pull out every stop, violate every norm, to stay in that corner office. And they damage, sometimes destroy, the institutions they’re supposed to lead.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Trump Has Been Comparing Himself to Nixon. That’s Hooey, John W. Dean ( White House counsel under Richard Nixon), July 31, 2020. The former president could only dream of wielding the police powers Mr. Trump has seized for himself.

ny times logoNew York Times, Herman Cain’s Death Hits Close to Home for Republicans, Jeremy W. Peters, Updated July 31, 2020. Mr. Cain’s publicly dismissive attitude about the pandemic reflected the hands-off inconsistency of many Republican Party leaders.

herman cain wMr. Cain, right,a former business executive and candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, had an irreverent, confrontational style that mirrored the president’s own brand of contrarian politics. In his more recent role as a public face for the president’s re-election campaign, he became an emblem of Trump-supporting, mask-defiant science skeptics, openly if not aggressively disdainful of public health officials who warned Americans to avoid large crowds, cover their faces and do as much as possible to limit contact with others.

His view was shared by many conservatives, who have applied a hard-nosed, culture-war mentality to the virus, the most serious public health crisis in a century.

Mr. Trump wrote in praise of Mr. Cain on Twitter on Thursday, calling him “a Powerful Voice of Freedom and all that is good.”

Racial Disputes, Political Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: Calm returns to Portland as federal forces pull back, Staff reports, July 31, 2020. ACLU blasts DHS over ‘intelligence reports’ gathered on reporters covering Portland; Taylor Swift rebrands merchandise after a Black-owned business accuses her of copying their logo; Nearly 300 people shot in Minneapolis this year, the highest in five years.

 washington post logoWashington Post, With the words on their backs, NBA players take a stand, Ava Wallace, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). Each player reportedly can pick from 29 options if they want their jersey to display a social justice message instead of their name. Here is what they picked.

nba logoAs the NBA resumed its season Thursday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex outside Orlando, the absence of fans inside the league’s bubble was far from the only noticeable difference. Changes were made to the courts as well, with “Black Lives Matter” printed in block lettering near the center of the floor.

But perhaps the most significant aesthetic differences for this experimental conclusion of the season were the jerseys on players’ backs.

In the wake of widespread protests this spring and summer sparked by the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and others, the league and its players’ union agreed on a list of social justice messages players can choose to put on their jersey in lieu of their last name. The messages will be displayed above the number during the first four days of the season restart, after which players can choose to either simply go back to displaying their last name or keep both the social justice message and their last name on their jersey.

  • Washington Post, Live updates: NBA returns in bubble as players kneel for anthem, Staff reports, July 30, 2020. Pro basketball relaunches with a nod to social justice.

washington post logous dhs big eagle logo4Washington Post, DHS had ‘intelligence reports’ on journalists covering Portland unrest, Shane Harris, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). A Homeland Security office has disseminated three reports on tweets written by two journalists who published leaked, unclassified documents. Current and former officials described it as an alarming use of a system meant to share information about suspected terrorists and violent actors.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: Former KKK leader David Duke permanently banned from Twitter, Staff reports, July 31, 2020. Tulsa allowed a Black Lives Matter message to remain — until a pro-police group asked for its own street painting; With the words on their backs, NBA players take a stand; Trump ordered federal forces to quell Portland protests. But the chaos ended as soon as they left.

World News

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Washington Post, Pompeo clashes with lawmakers over troop withdrawal in Germany and watchdog firing, John Hudson, July 31, 2020 (print ed.). Lawmakers grilled the mike pompeo portraitnation’s top diplomat, right, on an array of issues, including the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw 12,000 troops from Germany and Pompeo’s firing of the department’s internal watchdog, who had been investigating alleged wrongdoing by him and his wife.

german flagThe top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Robert Menendez (N.J.), said the U.S. administration had “abetted” Russian President Vladimir Putin by withdrawing the troops from Germany.

He also took aim at the central focus of Pompeo’s tenure, Iran, noting that the country “is much closer to a nuclear bomb than when you came into office,” and criticized Pompeo’s “maximum pressure campaign” for failing to stop Iran’s aggressive actions in the Middle East.

 ny times logoNew York Times, U.K. Officials’ New Trump Dilemma: What if He Loses? Mark Landler, July 31, 2020. If Joe Biden wins over President Trump, Britain would face someone who opposed Brexit, would look out for Ireland and may care little about a trade deal.

Few countries have worked harder than Britain to please President Trump. But now, with Mr. Trump trailing in the polls to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., British officials are waking up to an unsettling prospect: The president they tried so hard to accommodate may be out of power next year.

washington post logoWashington Post, Egypt’s women are rising up against sexual violence. Others are still being jailed for TikToks, Sudarsan Raghavan, July 31, 2020. Scores of women are holding abusers accountable. Other women are getting jailed for their attire and dancing.

 

July 30

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

Law, Courts, Crime

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

Racial Disputes, Political Protests

Inside DC

More On Virus Victims

World News

 

Top Stories

Palmer Report, Opinion: Federalist Society co-founder turns loudly against “fascist” Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 30, 2020. If you’re not familiar with the Federalist Society, it’s a group that argues for a far-right conservative interpretation of the Constitution. One of its co-founders, Steven Calabresi, has been a defender of Donald Trump up until now. Calabresi attacked Robert Mueller’s probe and argued against Trump’s impeachment. But now he’s changed his mind and he’s arguing in favor of Trump’s ouster.

bill palmer report logo headerIn a new op-ed (Trump Might Try to Postpone the Election. That’s Unconstitutional), Calabresi says that his mind was changed today when Donald Trump posted a tweet threatening to postpone the November election. Trump has zero ability to even try to do this, as the Constitution clearly assigns that power to Congress, and we all know Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi isn’t going to postpone the election. But even Trump’s empty threat is enough for Calabresi to conclude that Trump is a “fascist.”

Calabresi is calling for Donald Trump to be impeached by the Democratic House again, and this time removed by the Republican Senate. There is still no indication that Republicans are willing to remove Trump. However, GOP leaders like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy quickly confirmed that the election will take place on schedule no matter what, thus shutting down Trump’s deranged fantasy.

washington post logoWashington Post, Public health experts issue urgent call for change of course as U.S. economy tanks, Carol Morello, July 30, 2020. At an evening news briefing, President Trump tried to swat away the raft of bad news about the economy and the disease, which he referred to as the “China virus” and compared to a plague. But he offered several misrepresentations.

washington post logoWashington Post, Stop using retail workers as mask police, union leader says, Kim Bellware, July 30, 2020. Store employees in the United States are increasingly caught between inconsistent mask rules and customers who are confused, angry — and even violent.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Pandemic kills off a century-old paper plant, and a region reels, Peter Kendall | Photos by Lauren Justice, July 30, 2020. Wisconsin narrowly voted for Trump in 2016. Now the pandemic has hit one of its biggest industries: paper.

ny times logoNew York Times, Aboard the Diamond Princess, a Case Study in Aerosol Transmission, Benedict Carey and James Glanz, July 30, 2020. A computer model of the cruise-ship outbreak found that the virus spread most readily in microscopic droplets light enough to linger in the air.

washington post logoWashington Post, Coronavirus relief talks hit impasse on Capitol Hill, Erica Werner, Jeff Stein, Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade, July 30, 2020 (print ed.). A meeting between top White House officials and Democratic leaders ended with no agreement on extending emergency unemployment benefits that expire Friday or on reviving a moratorium on evictions that lapsed last week.

Negotiations on a new coronavirus relief bill hit an impasse on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, leaving no clear path forward even as millions of Americans face a sudden drop in unemployment benefits, and the economy teeters on the brink.

us senate logoA meeting between top White House officials and Democratic leaders ended with no agreement on extending emergency unemployment benefits that expire Friday or on reviving a moratorium on evictions that lapsed last week. That means some 20 million jobless Americans will lose $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits that Congress approved in March, which could send the economy reeling.

After a day of meetings, all parties declared their differences all but irreconcilable. Democrats shot down the idea of a short-term fix for unemployment insurance and the eviction moratorium, which President Trump had announced earlier Wednesday he would support. And the two parties remained far apart on a larger bill, with Democrats standing by their wide-ranging $3 trillion proposal even as Republicans struggled to coalesce around a $1 trillion bill released by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday.

Each side said the other was to blame for the failure. Paying the price will be the unemployed at a moment of deep uncertainty and fear, with coronavirus cases spiking and states pulling back on reopening as deaths near 150,000 in the United States. The talks could get back on track in coming days, but the signs Wednesday were not promising.

More than 20 million Americans remain unemployed and have been receiving a $600 weekly emergency unemployment payment that Congress approved in March, on top of whatever benefit their state offers. That extra federal benefit runs out Friday.

Democrats want to extend the extra jobless payment at its current level. The Senate GOP bill released Monday proposes cutting it to $200 weekly until states can phase in a new system that would aim to replace 70 percent of a worker’s wages before unemployment.

ny times logoNew York Times, Herman Cain, Former Presidential Candidate, Dies at 74, Aimee Ortiz, July 30, 2020. Mr. Cain, a business executive who sought the Republican nomination in 2012, had been hospitalized with the coronavirus in the Atlanta area.

herman cain wHerman Cain, the former Republican presidential candidate and business executive who was recently hospitalized with the coronavirus, has died. He was 74.

His death was announced on his website and social media accounts. Early this month, he said he had been hospitalized in the Atlanta area.

Mr. Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather’s Pizza, tested positive for the virus after he attended President Trump’s indoor rally in Tulsa, Okla., on June 20.

“We knew when he was first hospitalized with COVID-19 that this was going to be a rough fight,” Dan Calabrese, the editor of Mr. Cain’s website, said in the post announcing his death. “He had trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital by ambulance.”

republican elephant logo“Although he was basically pretty healthy in recent years, he was still in a high-risk group because of his history with cancer,” Mr. Calabrese noted.

Mr. Cain ran as a Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential election, but dropped out of the race after he was accused of sexual misconduct, which he denied. His platform included a 9-9-9 tax plan: a flat 9 percent individual income tax rate, a 9 percent corporate tax rate and a 9 percent national sales tax.

Last year, Mr. Cain withdrew his name as one of Mr. Trump’s picks for the Federal Reserve Board, following the re-emergence of accusations of sexual harassment.

ny times logoNew York Times, A Viral Epidemic Splintering Into Deadly Pieces, Donald G. McNeil Jr., July 30, 2020. There’s not just one coronavirus outbreak in the United States. Now there are many, each requiring its own mix of solutions.

Each state, each city has its own crisis driven by its own risk factors: vacation crowds in one, bars reopened too soon in another, a revolt against masks in a third.

“We are in a worse place than we were in March,” when the virus coursed through New York, said Dr. Leana S. Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner. “Back then we had one epicenter. Now we have lots.”

To assess where the country is heading now, The New York Times interviewed 20 public health experts — not just clinicians and epidemiologists, but also historians and sociologists, because the spread of the virus is now influenced as much by human behavior as it is by the pathogen itself.

Not only are American cities in the South and West facing deadly outbreaks like those that struck Northeastern cities in the spring, but rural areas are being hurt, too. In every region, people of color will continue to suffer disproportionately, experts said.

While there may be no appetite for a national lockdown, local restrictions must be tightened when required, the researchers said, and governors and mayors must have identical goals. Testing must become more targeted.

Law, Courts, Crime

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr says he won’t wait until post-election to reveal findings on 2016 probe, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian, July 30, 2020 (print ed.). Democrats fear the presidential race could be upended by a late revelation about the results of U.S. Attorney John Durham's examination of the FBI’s 2016 investigation into President Trump’s campaign.

Attorney General William P. Barr reiterated this week that he will not wait until after November’s election to release whatever U.S. Attorney John Durham finds in his examination of the FBI’s 2016 investigation into President Trump’s campaign, raising fears among Democrats that Barr and Durham could upend the presidential race with a late revelation.

john durhamRepublicans have been eagerly awaiting Durham’s findings — hopeful that the prosecutor Barr handpicked last year to investigate the investigation of possible coordination between Trump’s 2016 campaign and Russia will validate their fierce criticisms of the bureau. Democrats, meanwhile, have worried that the Connecticut U.S. attorney is aiding a political stunt designed to undercut an investigation that dogged Trump’s presidency.

As the election draws near — and much of what Durham is doing remains a mystery — both sides have grown increasingly anxious, with liberals fretting over an October surprise, and Republicans wondering whether Durham’s work could push into the next administration.

John Durham has a stellar reputation for investigating corruption. Some fear his work for Barr could tarnish it.

Barr, below left, has repeatedly and stridently attacked the Russia investigation — saying that what happened to Trump was “one of the greatest travesties in American history” — while hinting vaguely that he is “troubled” by what he knows Durham has found. That has drawn accusations from Democrats and legal analysts that he is inappropriately william barr new otalking about an ongoing case and prejudging its outcome.

“There’s a real danger, in fact an urgent threat, that anything the Department of Justice does will be timed to aid the president,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D- Conn.) said in an interview, adding, “Barr has proven ready, willing and able to distort, distract and deceive.”

At a hearing Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, Barr was quizzed briefly by both sides on the matter but offered little to satisfy his questioners.

Barr recently told Fox News he expected developments in Durham’s investigation “hopefully before the end of the summer.” He has said that Durham is mainly focused on uncovering criminal wrongdoing but that he expects “there will be public disclosure in some form of report.”

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Fla.) asked Barr: Would he “commit to not releasing any report by Mr. Durham before the November election?”

“No,” Barr responded.

Justice Department policies and tradition generally counsel against taking steps in an investigation close to an election such that they might affect the outcome. But the guidance is vague and difficult to reconcile with an investigation like Durham’s — which apparently is not focused on any political candidates, though it has been seized on by politicians and involves law enforcement’s treatment of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

Exactly what Durham is focused on is not clear. He has publicly questioned the cause the FBI had to open the 2016 investigation, noting in a 2019 statement that he disagreed with some of the Justice Department inspector general’s conclusions about “predication and how the FBI case was opened.”

djt michael cohen

Reuters, U.S. lets ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen publish book while serving sentence at home, Karen Freifeld and Jonathan Stempel, July 30, 2020. Michael Cohen, above left, the former personal lawyer and fixer for Donald Trump, will be allowed to publish a book critical of the U.S. president before the Nov. 3 election while completing his criminal sentence at home, under an agreement filed on Thursday.

The agreement between Cohen’s lawyers and federal prosecutors also frees Cohen to engage with news organizations and use social media, as he serves the remainder of his three-year term for campaign finance violations and other crimes in home confinement.

“There shall be no specific media provision” governing Cohen’s activities, according to the agreement, which requires approval by U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan.

Cohen, 53, had served about one year of his prison term before being sent home to his Manhattan apartment in May, because of the risk of contracting COVID-19 behind bars.

Federal authorities returned him to prison on July 9, one week after Cohen tweeted he was close to finishing his book, when Cohen questioned their new requirement that he agree to steer clear of media.

But Hellerstein ordered his release last week, saying the return to prison amounted to government retaliation against Cohen’s desire to exercise his First Amendment rights.

The judge gave both sides a week to negotiate a media provision that is “consistent with the First Amendment but yet serves the purposes of confinement.”

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign violations tied to hush money payments to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed they had affairs with Trump.

He also pleaded guilty to evading taxes on more than $4 million in income and making false statements to a bank.

Trump has denied having the encounters with Daniels and McDougal, and called Cohen a “rat.”

washington post logoWashington Post, High court again splits on virus-related election issue, Robert Barnes, July 30, 2020. The Supreme Court shut down a lower court’s decision that cited the pandemic as reason to ease the rules on gathering signatures for a ballot initiative. The Supreme Court on Thursday shut down a lower court’s decision that cited the coronavirus pandemic as reason to ease the rules on gathering signatures for a citizens ballot initiative.

The case from Idaho was the latest example of the high court deferring to state officials, rather than lower-court judges, in how to deal with election-related issues caused by the outbreak of covid-19.

The justices put on hold a lower-court order that Idaho officials either put on the ballot an education initiative promoted by a group called Reform Idaho or allow the group to gather signatures electronically, although the deadline had passed.

It is unclear exactly how the court’s vote broke down, although at least five of the nine justices had to agree with the action.

Arizona Republic, Police arrest former activist suspected of Arizona Democratic Party headquarters arson, Yvonne Wingett Sanchez, July 30, 2020 (print ed.). Phoenix police have arrested matthew eglerMatthew Egler, a Democratic activist who party officials say has had a long and troubled history with the Maricopa County Party over the years, for the fire that destroyed Arizona Democratic Party's headquarters last week.

The fire ruined historical political memorabilia and party infrastructure ahead of Tuesday's primary election.

After a nearly weeklong investigation, Phoenix police on Wednesday identified Egler, 29, of Peoria, in connection with the fire set to the party's headquarters. The fire occurred after midnight on Friday, last week.

In announcing the arrest, police released footage of a dark car parked near the north side of the building, and a person lighting the fire outside of the building. As the fire grows, the person walks back to the car.

Egler appeared on Wednesday before a Maricopa County commissioner for his initial appearance. He is being held on $75,000 bail; his arraignment is scheduled for Aug. 4 — election day — according to the sheriff's office.

In a document released by the Maricopa County Superior Court, police cited in a probable cause statement Egler's posts on social media admitting his involvement with the fire and his anger with the Maricopa County Democrats.

He had been previously volunteering for the county Democrats, according to the probable cause statement, but had been banned from volunteering "due to the nature of his previous behaviors."

Egler reached out to the county Democrats about getting involved in his district, but was not allowed to volunteer. The Arizona Secretary of State's Office confirmed Wednesday he is still a registered Democrat.

A review of a Twitter account he maintains shows Egler, in recent days, posting videos of starting fires, complaining about local party leadership, and ultimately claiming that he "bombed" the office.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Investigative commentary: Formerly sealed documents in Maxwell-Epstein case ordered released, Wayne Madsen, left, July 30, 2020. Judge Loretta Preska of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has ordered released sealed documents from a 2016 defamation lawsuit brought by Virginia Roberts Giuffre against Ghislaine Maxwell, the now-indicted former assistant to international underage female sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

Although the civil case was settled in 2017 it generated a number of documents, including emails, as well as depositions by Giuffre and other abuse victims. Maxwell sought to block the release of the sealed documents on the grounds that they would embarrass her. Judge Preska ruled, "the court finds any minor embarrassment or annoyance resulting from Ms. Maxwell's mostly non-testimony ... is far outweighed by the presumption of public access."

jean luc brunelThe sealed documents reportedly provide additional details concerning the activities of Epstein; Maxwell; and Jean-Luc Brunel, right, the French owner of two Epstein-financed modeling agencies, Karin Models and MC2 Model Management. Brunel is the subject of an international criminal investigation involving the FBI and French National Police. Brunel has not been seen in public since the suspicious Manhattan jail cell death of Epstein in August 2019. Brunel was named in Giuffre's lawsuit against Maxwell. Giuffre said Epstein had bragged to her in claiming that he had slept with over 1,000 of "Brunel's girls."

In 1989, Brunel and his brother, Arnaud Brunel, founded the Next Management Company modeling agency, a subsidiary of the Next Management Corporation, which was founded the previous year as a New York corporation.

Steven Mnuchin The individual listed as the New York Department of State process or agent for the Next Management Corporation is none other than Steven Mnuchin, left, Donald Trump's Secretary of Treasury. Mnuchin, in typical Trump administration fashion, has denied knowing that he was the agent for the Brunel brothers' company or even having ever met either of the Brunels.

However, WMR conducted a search of the New York Department of State (DOS) corporation filings and discovered Mnuchin listed as the DOS Process for not only Next Management Corporation but its follow-on identity, Next Time Corporation. Mnuchin cannot honestly claim he had no knowledge of a business relationship with the Brunels that spanned at least a decade.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ghislaine Maxwell’s lawyers say transcripts were leaked illegally, Shayna Jacobs, July 30, 2020 (print ed.). The accusation came as hundreds of pages of court records germane to the Jeffrey Epstein case were set to be made public Thursday.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, This Republican implosion has been a long time coming, E.J. Dionne Jr., July 30, 2020 (print ed.). It should now be clear to everyone: The Republican Party is incapable of ej dionne w open neckgoverning. Sure, this sounds partisan. In fact, it’s an analytical reflection based on what is happening right before our eyes.

You would think that with our nation facing its most profound economic crisis since the 1930s, married to a public health disaster and growing unrest over racial injustice, the party that controls the White House and the U.S. Senate would get serious.

Instead, the Senate’s Republican majority and the Trump White House are in chaos, unable to produce a coherent relief bill to keep the economy from spiraling further downward.

Republicans admit this.

“It’s a mess,” said Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) of the party’s own ramshackle proposal. “I can’t figure out what this bill’s about.”

A telltale sign of the Republicans’ flight from responsibility is that they waited until the last minute before launching their haphazard scramble because they were hoping to avoid having to do anything.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trailing badly in polls, Trump points to ‘hidden’ voters and ‘silent majority’ as path to victory, Toluse Olorunnipa, July 30, 2020 (print ed.). Researchers and political analysts say the differences between this year and 2016 are stark — making it unlikely that unexpected voters alone will be enough to change the president’s fortunes.

washington post logoWashington Post, Much of recession’s damage could be permanent unless Congress acts, Heather Long, July 30, 2020. The recovery looked promising in June, but it has stalled in July. Many economists have urged lawmakers to “go big” on the next relief bill.

washington post logomichael gerson file photoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump has made Republicans complicit in his revolt against American principles, Michael Gerson, right, July 30, 2020. President Trump dissembles with great frequency, but he generally lacks the sharpness and subtlety to successfully deceive. He will lie to your face, but he has trouble concealing his intentions.

Take this recent Trump tweet: “I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.”

As a policy matter, Trump is referring to a change in fair-housing rules. During the Barack Obama era, localities that received federal housing funding were required to address any biased practices that concentrated low-income housing in small geographic areas. The Trump administration has lifted that requirement.

But Trump did not merely declare this revision. His language laid bare his motivating biases. He was “happy” to make the announcement. Rather than being a distressing duty, exclusion seems to gladden his dreary day.

The president then embraced the capitalized, perhaps trademarked “Suburban Lifestyle Dream” — which I assume is like the American Dream, but with nicer lawns and fewer minority neighbors. These suburban dreamers will no longer be “bothered” by fellow citizens they consider unsightly. As if this pledge weren’t crass enough, Trump assured the suburbanites they will no longer be “financially hurt” by sharing their parks and neighborhoods with, you know, those people. The president may have ruined the economy through pandemic negligence, but his urgent priority seems to be the protection of suburban property values from predatory diversity.

We can be confident this tweet was racist rather than classist because it came in a certain context. Trump was fresh from refusing to attend John Lewis’s memorial events, and tweeting a supporter yelling “White power!”, and passing along videos of Black people assaulting White people, and playing down police violence against African Americans, and defending Confederate monuments and place names, and supporting right-wing groups carrying Confederate flags as they marched on state capitals, and observing that “people love” the Confederate flag.

This could be an inflection point in our history. The unblinking eye of social media has revealed the persistence and horrors of racial injustice. The nation seems to have reached a critical mass of disgust and conscience.

This is the main reason that Republicans — in the Oval Office, in the Senate, in the House — must lose, and lose decisively. Trump has made national Republicans fully complicit in his revolt against American principles. Party loyalty now consists of defending the indefensible. By the nature of our constitutional order, a firm decision against bigotry is an entry-level commitment of American politics. Trump’s pervasive influence among Republicans has necessitated their repudiation.

Racial Disputes, Political Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Three former presidents embrace the struggle for rights. The current one suggests delaying the election, Marc Fisher, July 30, 2020. In a country cleaved by political differences, paralyzed by a pernicious virus and suffering from a plunging economy, the funeral of civil rights icon and longtime lawmaker John Lewis presented painful contrasts.

Three presidents spoke in poetry, paying tribute to a fallen hero who believed — often against evidence to the contrary, including the cracking of his skull by state troopers — that America was good, its people driven by love to do right by one another.

One president, the current commander in chief, did not attend the funeral of Rep. John Lewis but instead spoke of dark forces in the country and suggested that the United States not hold its next presidential election on time.

In a country cleaved by political differences, paralyzed by a pernicious virus and suffering from a plunging economy, Thursday presented painful contrasts. It was a day of soaring tributes to the first Black lawmaker to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, offered from the pulpit of the mother church of the modern civil rights movement. And it was a day of pointed reminders that the nation is struggling, even after 244 years, to define itself, to decide what freedom and equality will mean.

  • Washington Post, Documenting John Lewis’s last public appearance, Paul Kane and John Wagner, July 30, 2020. Obama issues call to action in eulogy for John Lewis, links Trump to 1960s foes of civil rights.

bo john lewis eulogy cspan

Media Matters, Commentary: Right-wing media attack Barack Obama's eulogy for John Lewis, Jason Campbell, July 30, 2020. After the first Black president eulogizes a civil rights hero (above), conservatives lash out: “Barack Obama is a national disgrace”

Former President Barack Obama delivered a eulogy today for Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), commemorating the civil rights icon and longtime member of the House of media matters logoRepresentatives. Obama praised Lewis’ history of promoting civil rights and called for action to continue the late congressman’s legacy, including ending the Senate legislative filibuster and passing a new Voting Rights Act.

Right-wing media was quick to criticize Obama’s eulogy, claiming the former president had politicized the event. Some conservative media personalities mocked Obama and derided his speech as a campaign event for presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Even following a solemn funeral in which this country’s first Black president praised the legacy of a champion for civil rights, right-wing media continued to demonstrate its shameless hatemongering.

Sean Hannity spent large chunks of his radio show complaining about Obama's eulogy, including accusing the former president of lying and claiming that voter suppression is a myth even though multiple Republican figures have admitted otherwise. Sen. Lindsey Graham told Hannity that “Donald Trump has done more to help the people they're talking about at the funeral than President Obama did.”

trump family

washington post logojennifer rubin new headshotWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s racist housing tweet is par for his family, Jennifer Rubin, right, July 30, 2020. Donald Trump and his father defended their family’s real estate empire from housing discrimination claims in the 1970s. The Post reported in 2016:

In October 1973, the Justice Department filed a civil rights case that accused the Trump firm, whose complexes contained 14,000 apartments, of violating the Fair Housing Act of 1968.

The case, one of the biggest federal housing discrimination suits to be brought during that time, put a spotlight on the family empire led by its 27-year-old president, Donald Trump, and his father, Fred Trump, the chairman, who had begun building houses and apartments in the 1930s. . . .

Many whites were relocating to the suburbs, and minorities often moved in to rent or buy properties. Concern about the issue peaked following race riots that broke out across the country after the assassination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Amid growing evidence that landlords were refusing to rent to minorities, Congress acted one week after the King assassination by passing the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which banned such discrimination.

As is the case in many housing discrimination lawsuits, “White testers were encouraged to rent at certain Trump buildings, while the black testers were discouraged, denied or steered to apartment complexes that had more racial minorities, according to the testimony.” Trump’s defense was that he did not want to rent to people on welfare, “black or white.” The suit, eventually resolved by a settlement, may have taught Trump the wrong lesson — and fixed an antiquated view of the suburbs in his mind.

Fast forward to Trump’s floundering presidential reelection campaign. The Post reported: “The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule, promulgated by the Obama administration in 2015, sought to strengthen [anti-discrimination laws] by requiring local governments receiving federal money to draft plans to desegregate their communities.” Knowing Trump’s background, it was little surprise that “Trump moved last week to repeal that rule, with language that appeared to hark back to an era of Whites distancing themselves from Black Americans.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Prosecutor will not charge officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Jessica Wolfrom and Reis Thebault, July 30, 2020. Wesley Bell said his office conducted an independent reexamination of the case and determined there was not enough evidence to bring charges. But the investigation “does not exonerate Darren Wilson,” he added.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawmakers said aviation companies laid off workers even as they took Cares Act funds, Lori Aratani and Ian Duncan, July 30, 2020 (print ed.). An analysis by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis found that more than $500 million in federal funds went to four companies that have laid off more than 7,500 workers.

Democratic lawmakers have launched an investigation into whether four aviation contractors violated provisions of the Cares Act by laying off thousands of workers, despite receiving millions of dollars from the government to keep workers on the job.

An analysis by the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis found that more than $500 million in federal funds went to four companies that have laid off more than 7,500 workers.

On Wednesday, lawmakers sent letters to the companies, including three that provide catering services to airlines: Flying Food Fare, Gate Gourmet and Swissport. A fourth, G2 Secure Staff, provides services to airports including baggage handling, wheelchair assistance and pre-departure screening, according to its website.

“Congress created this program to ‘preserve aviation jobs’ by providing wage assistance to companies in exchange for keeping workers on the payroll,” lawmakers wrote. “Giving payroll support to companies that engaged in mass layoffs is not only contrary to congressional intent, but also wastes taxpayer dollars by covering the cost of payroll for employees that have already been laid off.”

washington post logoWashington Post, Senate hearing for Pentagon nominee canceled just before start, Dan Lamothe and Seung Min Kim, July 30, 2020. The nomination of a retired general for a senior civilian position in the Trump administration was cast into doubt Thursday when his confirmation hearing was canceled just before it was scheduled to begin amid signs that he did not have enough Anthony Tata resized 2013Republican votes.

Anthony J. Tata, shown in a 2013 photo at right, who was nominated by President Trump to be undersecretary of defense for policy, has faced opposition from Democrats for inflammatory past remarks that included calling President Barack Obama a “terrorist leader.” Trump had pressed the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), for a hearing, despite rising objections to Tata’s background.

One defense official familiar with the process, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue, said that once Inhofe and the administration mark esperfigured out late Wednesday that Tata did not have the votes needed, “there was no need” to go through a difficult hearing.

Tata has served since this spring as a senior adviser to Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, left, in an unconfirmed capacity, despite Esper’s pledge to shield the Defense Department from partisan politics.

Jonathan Rath Hoffman, the chief Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday afternoon that the Defense Department was looking forward to Tata having the opportunity to share his “experience and success” with the Armed Services Committee, and that he will remain with the department as a senior adviser.

World News

ny times logoNew York Times, Rising Seas Could Menace Millions Beyond Shorelines, Study Finds, Brad Plumer, July 30, 2020. As global warming pushes up ocean levels around the world, scientists have long warned that many low-lying coastal areas will become permanently submerged.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Will Cut 12,000 Forces in Germany, Thomas Gibbons-Neff, July 30, 2020. Defense Department officials say the redeployments will enhance American security and its ability to respond to threats. Allies and some in Congress see it as punishment for Germany. 

The United States is cutting back its deployments in Germany by nearly 12,000 troops and shifting some of those forces around the continent, including relocating some units to Belgium and Italy, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper announced on Wednesday.

german flagAbout 6,400 troops are set to return to the United States.

The move is certain to rankle European leaders and anger both Democratic and Republican lawmakers who see the United States troop presence on the continent, especially in Germany, as a cornerstone of post-World War II order.

The Pentagon’s decision to cut American troops in Germany from roughly 36,000 to about 24,000 is in keeping with President Trump’s “America First” approach and his deep-seated drive to bring home U.S. forces from wars started after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-Marine gets nine years in a Russian jail over drunken incident he says he can’t remember, Robyn Dixon, July 30, 2020. Trevor Reed is the latest American to get a tough prison sentence in a Moscow court.

Former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed was convicted of endangering Russian police with violence and sentenced to nine years in prison by a Moscow court Thursday, over a drunken incident he says he does not remember.

Reed, 29, traveled to Moscow last summer to spend time with his girlfriend, Alina Tsybulnik, and to study Russian. But a night out that went horribly wrong saw the Texan arrested last August while drunk and taken into custody.

Reed attended a party for his girlfriend’s colleagues on Aug. 15 where he was encouraged to drink a large amount of vodka, according to a statement posted by Reed’s family on a website about his case. “He has no memory of the evening past drinking vodka and being asked to toast many times,” the statement said. In the early morning hours of Aug. 16, he shared a ride home with some people from the party, became nauseated and asked to stop the car. Police said he resisted arrest as officers tried to calm him down during an argument with two women.

More On Virus Victims

ny times logoNew York Times, Teachers Are Wary of Returning to Class, and Online Instruction Too, Dana Goldstein and Eliza Shapiro, July 30, 2020 (print ed.). Union are threatening to strike if classrooms reopen, but are also pushing to limit live remote teaching. Their demands will shape pandemic education.

  • New York Times, Trump Says He Did Not Ask Putin About Suspected Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Charlie Savage, Michael Crowley and Eric Schmitt, July 30, 2020.

ny times logoNew York Times, U.S. Surpasses 150,000 Coronavirus Deaths, Far Eclipsing Projections, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, July 30, 2020. The national toll shows how difficult predicting the virus — or human behavior — can be. President Trump and leading experts have at times said that deaths would be much lower. The United States’ leading authority on infectious disease expressed hope in April that no more than 60,000 people in the country would die from the coronavirus. A revered research center predicted a few weeks later that the figure would be just over 70,000 people by early August. When the number of deaths shot up in May, President Trump said that anywhere between 75,000 and 100,000 people could die.

On Wednesday, the nation’s death toll surpassed 150,000.

That the figure, based on a New York Times database, has soared so soon and so far beyond those estimates illustrates how difficult it can be to accurately forecast the spread of the virus, or the way citizens and politicians will respond to it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Lawmakers, United in Their Ire, Lash Out at Big Tech’s Leaders, Cecilia Kang and David McCabe, July 30, 2020. The chiefs of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook faced withering questions from Democrats about anti-competitive practices and from Republicans about anti-conservative bias.

 

July 29

Top Stories

Virus Victims, Responses

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

Political Protests

Law, Crime, Courts

Inside DC

World News

 Media News

 

Top Stories

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ny times logoNew York Times, Trump Falsely Claims That Much of U.S. Is ‘Corona Free,’ July 29, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump made claims about the trajectory of the virus that clash with his own administration’s assessments and again defended a discredited drug. Federal officials distributed a new report which found that 21 states had outbreaks so severe that they were in the “red zone.”

djt hands up mouth open CustomThe Miami Marlins now have 17 cases within their traveling party and will stop playing games until at least Monday. A national teachers’ union said teachers may strike as a “last resort” if they don’t feel safe. Pilgrims to Mecca are finding a reconfigured hajj.

Democrats are pushing to extend a $600 weekly jobless benefit that Republicans want to reduce to $200.

President Trump returned to defending a discredited drug at a White House briefing Tuesday evening in which he also made claims about the trajectory of the virus that clash with his own administration’s assessments and bemoaned his low approval ratings.

The president defended sharing a version of a video promoting the use of the drug hydroxychloroquine that was deleted Monday night by Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, which all said that the video had violated their policies on sharing misinformation about the virus.

He claimed that “you can look at large portions of our country — it’s corona-free,” even as federal officials distributed a new report finding that 21 states had outbreaks so severe that they were in the “red zone.” Twenty-eight states were in the “yellow zone,” and only one state, Vermont, was in the “green zone.”

And he lamented that health officials in his administration, including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, were more popular than he is. “He’s got this high approval rating,” Mr. Trump said. “Why don’t I have a high approval rating — and the administration — with respect to the virus?”

ny times logoNew York Times, Deaths Top 150,000 in the United States, Staff reports, July 29, 2020. An average of about 1,000 virus-related deaths a day have been reported over the past week, the worst rate since early June; President Trump said governors should proceed with reopening despite a federal report that said 21 states were in a “red zone;.Federal officials urged states to take aggressive action to slow the spread of the virus while the president talked up nonexistent “virus-free” areas. Big retailers are mandating masks, but enforcement is an issue; Representative Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican who rarely wears a mask in the Capitol, tested positive for the coronavirus ahead of a planned trip with President Trump on Air Force One.

More than 150,000 people have died in the United States from the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database, as the rate of deaths continues to rise on the heels of ballooning infections and hospitalizations in many areas.

An average of about 1,000 virus-related deaths a day have been reported over the past week, the worst rate since early June, when the number of people dying seemed to be falling. Now, daily death counts are rising in 24 states and Puerto Rico.

The nation’s overall death toll reached the grim figure on Wednesday, five months after the first reported virus death in the United States in February. The nation passed the 50,000 mark on April 27 and 100,000 on May 27, a milestone whose approach The Times commemorated by filling its front page with names of the dead.

During the early peak of the U.S. epidemic in late April, the national death toll was driven by a surge in New York State, which at the worst was reporting about 1,000 deaths a day, roughly half the national total at that time.

These days, the toll is being felt much more widely across many states, especially in the South, while New York is reporting about 16 deaths a day on average. For example, more than 2,100 deaths have been reported in the past week in Texas, the state with the highest recent death toll relative to its population, followed by Arizona and South Carolina.

The trend in virus deaths generally lags the trend in infections, reflecting the delays between when people test positive, when they die and when those deaths are reported. Daily death tolls kept falling for a while after daily case reports began to climb significantly in June. Since early July, though, the death numbers have been rising, while infection reports have begun to level off at around 65,000 a day.

louis gohmertRepresentative Louie Gohmert, left,a Texas Republican who has frequently refused to wear a mask in the Capitol, tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday ahead of a planned trip with President Trump on Air Force One, officials familiar with the matter said.

The results immediately sent a shudder through the Capitol, where Mr. Gohmert has actively participated in multiple congressional hearings this week, including Tuesday’s Judiciary Committee session with Attorney General William P. Barr.

Lawmakers and Mr. Barr were seated more than six feet apart during the hearing, but reporters spotted an unmasked Mr. Gohmert outside the hearing room exchanging words with Mr. Barr and in close proximity to him. He also participated in a hearing held by the Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, without wearing a mask.

republican elephant logoMr. Gohmert is among a group of House Republicans who have pointedly refused to wear masks in many instances while in the Capitol in recent weeks despite warnings from public health experts and an outbreak in his home state. He told CNN last month that he did not wear a mask because he did not have coronavirus.

Democrats were furious at the news, and both parties spent Wednesday morning scrambling to retrace Mr. Gohmert’s steps. The House Judiciary Committee was waiting for official guidance from Congress’s attending physician. It is a daunting task since Mr. Gohmert is a frequent schmoozer who could have come into close contact with dozens of fellow lawmakers and aides this week alone.

Members of Congress have been flying weekly between Washington and their home states — some of which are experiencing serious outbreaks — and they are not required to be tested. Mr. Gohmert only received a test because he was scheduled to be in proximity to the president.

washington post logoWashington Post, Pelosi makes mask wearing mandatory for anyone on the House floor, Paul Kane and Colby Itkowitz, July 29, 2020. The House speaker announced the order following news that a lawmaker tested positive for the coronavirus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Coronavirus relief talks hit impasse on Capitol Hill, Erica Werner, Jeff Stein, Seung Min Kim and Rachael Bade, July 29, 2020. A meeting between top White House officials and Democratic leaders ended with no agreement on extending emergency unemployment benefits that expire Friday or on reviving a moratorium on evictions that lapsed last week.

Negotiations on a new coronavirus relief bill hit an impasse on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, leaving no clear path forward even as millions of Americans face a sudden drop in unemployment benefits, and the economy teeters on the brink.

A meeting between top White House officials and Democratic leaders ended with no agreement on extending emergency unemployment benefits that expire Friday or on reviving a moratorium on evictions that lapsed last week. That means some 20 million jobless Americans will lose $600 weekly enhanced unemployment benefits that Congress approved in March, which could send the economy reeling.

After a day of meetings, all parties declared their differences all but irreconcilable. Democrats shot down the idea of a short-term fix for unemployment insurance and the eviction moratorium, which President Trump had announced earlier Wednesday he would support. And the two parties remained far apart on a larger bill, with Democrats standing by their wide-ranging $3 trillion proposal even as Republicans struggled to coalesce around a $1 trillion bill released by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Monday.

Each side said the other was to blame for the failure. Paying the price will be the unemployed at a moment of deep uncertainty and fear, with coronavirus cases spiking and states pulling back on reopening as deaths near 150,000 in the United States. The talks could get back on track in coming days, but the signs Wednesday were not promising.

More than 20 million Americans remain unemployed and have been receiving a $600 weekly emergency unemployment payment that Congress approved in March, on top of whatever benefit their state offers. That extra federal benefit runs out Friday.

Democrats want to extend the extra jobless payment at its current level. The Senate GOP bill released Monday proposes cutting it to $200 weekly until states can phase in a new system that would aim to replace 70 percent of a worker’s wages before unemployment.

djt super tan july 4 2020

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump retweeted a video with false covid-19 claims. One doctor in it has said demons cause illnesses, Travis M. Andrews and Danielle Paquette, July 29, 2020. Immanuel, who appeared in a video that was retweeted by President Trump but banned by social media companies, is known for making outlandish claims.

After social media companies removed a viral video showing doctors spreading unsubstantiated information about the novel coronavirus, a phrase inspired by one doctor’s past claims began trending on Twitter: demon sperm. It turns out Stella Immanuel has a history of making particularly outlandish statements — including that the uterine disorder endometriosis is caused by sex with demons that takes place in dreams.

The video showed a group that has dubbed itself America’s Frontline Doctors, standing on the steps of the Supreme Court and claiming that neither masks nor shutdowns are necessary to fight the pandemic, despite a plethora of expertise to the contrary. It was live-streamed by the conservative media outlet Breitbart and viewed more than 14 million times — fueled by a tweet by Donald Trump Jr. and multiple retweets by President Trump, which have since been deleted.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have removed the various iterations of the video. Twitter told The Washington Post that they were “in violation of our covid-19 misinformation policy.”

As the Daily Beast’s Will Sommer first noted, Immanuel has asserted that many gynecological issues are the result of having sex with witches and demons (“succubi” and “incubi”) in dreams, a myth that dates back at least to the “Epic of Gilgamesh,” a Sumerian poem written more than 4,000 years ago. She falsely claims that issues such as endometriosis, infertility, miscarriages and STIs are “evil deposits from the spirit husband.”

djt i dont take responsibility at all

 washington post logoWashington Post, Trump calls GOP’s virus bill ‘semi-irrelevant,’ Erica Werner, Seung Min Kim and Jeff Stein, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). Legislation gets rocky reception as multiple Senate Republicans criticize provisions ranging from stimulus payments to Pentagon spending

President Trump brushed off the new $1 trillion Senate GOP coronavirus legislation as “sort of semi-irrelevant” Tuesday, dismissing its significance just a day after Senate Republican leaders overcame contentious internal divisions to roll it out.

At the Capitol, meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) disavowed a key Trump administration priority in the bill — funding for a new FBI headquarters — while the second-ranking GOP senator suggested that Congress might be unable to make a deal in time to avert the expiration of emergency unemployment benefits on Friday.

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said Congress might have to pass a stand-alone extension of the unemployment benefits, a piecemeal approach that administration officials have floated but that Senate Republican leaders had avoided publicly embracing before now.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Live Updates: U.S. nears 150,000 deaths as Trump asks why Fauci has higher approval, Staff reports, July 29, 2020. Young people are infecting older family members in shared homes; Arizona school districts provide liability waiver to parents.

As the coronavirus death toll approached 150,000 in the United States, President Trump questioned why he isn’t as popular as Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert. “He’s got this high approval rating,” Trump told reporters at the White House, claiming that he had implemented many of Fauci’s recommendations. “So why don’t I have a high approval rating?”

Fauci, meanwhile, warned that even while the outbreak in the Sun Belt might finally be leveling off, the number of positive tests was rising in the Midwest. “We just can’t afford, yet again, another surge,” he said Tuesday, as the United States reported more than 1,000 coronavirus fatalities for the second day in a row and Florida, Arkansas, Oregon and Montana recorded their highest single-day death tolls yet.

Here are some significant developments:

  • Twitter deleted a video filled with false information about the coronavirus — featuring a doctor who blames an illness on demon sperm — that had been retweeted by Trump and his son. Donald Trump Jr.’s account was limited, and he accused the company of “censoring” conservatives.
  • Teachers may go on strike “as a last resort” if forced to return to unsafe classrooms in the fall, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said Tuesday.

washington post logoanthony fauci CustomWashington Post, Virus live updates: Fauci said Midwest could face same surge as Southern states, Staff reports, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). Selfridges luxury department store chain to cut 14 percent of workforce in Britain; NFL, faced with another league’s outbreak, says it knows ‘this is going to be hard;’ To contain new outbreak, Belgium reimposes social distancing measures; Maine governor rips Republicans for caring ‘more about Massachusetts money’ than local lives.

2020 U.S. Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Americans are suffering. Trump offers them a doctor who warns of sex with demons, David Von Drehle, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). I guess there is no point in expressing my strong view that the president of the United States should not, in the midst of a deadly pandemic, pass along medical advice that undermines public health officials without good reason to believe that it comes from a qualified authority. The president doesn’t care.

And I suppose it’s pointless to say to my Christian brothers and sisters in Trump’s dwindling camp that a man who raises the profile of a heretical preacher is not a friend of the faith. Many so-called evangelicals who stick with Trump gave up on evangelism — that is, winning people over through selfless acts of love and charity — long ago.

So, let me speak to those Republicans cowering in closets and hiding under stairs in Washington and the state capitals, muttering prayers that Trump might somehow calm the flames that threaten to consume them.

Run away. Close your eyes and duck your heads and sprint as fast as you can away from Trump. Claim amnesia. Say you’ve been hiking the Appalachian Trail. Blame your spirit spouse — whatever.

A fury is building in Middle America that has nothing to do with Russia or impeachment or “Access Hollywood.” It’s rising among people who managed to look past all of that to find something they liked about the president. And now he’s repaying them with a stubby middle finger in their faces.

mary trump

washington post logoWashington Post, Mary L. Trump, president’s niece, says she’ll do ‘everything in my power’ to elect Biden, Michael Kranish, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). Speaking at a Post Live event, the best-selling author, right, acknowledged that she had not obtained permission to use a series of incendiary quotes from her aunt in which Donald Trump was referred to as a “clown” who would never get elected.

washington post logoWashington Post, As Trump demurs, an unimaginable question forms: Could the president reach for the military in a disputed election? Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump’s refusal to commit to accepting the results of the November election, paired with his penchant for plunging the military into the partisan fray, has prompted scholars and legal experts to ask a once-unthinkable question: How would the armed forces respond if pulled into a disputed election?

Speculation about whether the military could be asked to play a role in events following the 2020 presidential vote has intensified in the wake of the Pentagon’s involvement in the government’s response to demonstrations against racism and police brutality.

“If the president is willing to thrust the military leadership into so damaging a set of circumstances during the protests, just imagine what he would be willing to do if he wants to prevent an electoral outcome that would be damaging to him,” said Kori Schake, director of foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. “So yes, they should be absolutely worried about it.”

As the election approaches, the president has once again declined to say he would accept its results. “I have to see,” he said during a Fox News interview this month. “I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no. And I didn’t last time either.”

Political Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Trump’s crackdown sputters as ‘phased withdrawal’ from Portland begins, Greg Sargent, July 29, 2020. The Trump administration and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) have agreed to something of a cease-fire in their battle over President Trump’s insistence on keeping federal law enforcement in Portland. As so often happens in such situations, Trump’s armies are withdrawing while declaring victory.

But, based one what we know now, it appears Trump’s lieutenants have agreed to something of a climb-down, though it appears local officials have also made concessions.

During an interview, Brown used some interesting language to describe this truce, telling me that Trump’s acting homeland security secretary, Chad Wolf, left, had agreed to a “phased chad wolfwithdrawal” from the city.

If it seems jarring to hear the phrase “phased withdrawal” being applied to U.S. law enforcement’s actions with regard to an American city, that’s because it is: Those law enforcement battalions have been in Portland in direct defiance of Brown and Portland’s mayor, Ted Wheeler.

The terms of this cease-fire are somewhat murky. Brown put out a statement earlier saying that federal officers had agreed to “withdraw from Portland.”

But Wolf told reporters that Department of Homeland Security officers in Portland — many of whom appeared to be redeployed from immigration enforcement — would “remain” on standby until they were assured that Oregon State Police had secured the embattled Mark O. Hatfield U.S. Courthouse.

washington post logoWashington Post, Armed conservative groups are deploying to the front lines of the culture war, Joshua Partlow, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). Across the country, armed civilians have surged into public view — marching on statehouses, challenging Black Lives Matter protests, chasing Internet rumors — and bringing the threat of lethal force to local politics.

Before his political awakening this spring, Peter Diaz lived a quiet life near this leafy liberal bastion at the base of the Puget Sound. He ran a tree-trimming service and a business that built office cubicles. He was 37 and had never voted.

Now he has formed his own political party and is the leader of American Wolf, a roving band of civilians who have anointed themselves “peacekeepers” amid months of tense protests over racism and policing. In the name of law and order, members of his informal group have shot paintballs at demonstrators and carry zip ties and bear spray as they look for antifascists. Diaz has done “recon” in Minneapolis and Seattle’s “autonomous zone,” and drove his American Wolf mobile home to Mount Rushmore to celebrate Independence Day with President Trump.

America’s summer of anxiety and rage has swept up men like Diaz, energizing conservatives who are deploying to the front lines of the culture war. Across the country, conservative armed civilians have surged into public view — marching on statehouses, challenging Black Lives Matter protests, chasing Internet rumors — and bringing the threat of lethal force to local politics. Their emergence has prompted congressional hearings on the surge in anti-government militias and domestic extremism and has alarmed researchers who track hate groups.

Unlike the old image of militiamen as fringe elements motivated by a desire to overthrow the federal government, these groups often rally in defense of the president and see themselves as pro-government allies of local law enforcement.

washington post logoWashington Post, ‘Umbrella Man’ went viral breaking windows at a protest. He was a white supremacist trying to spark violence, police say, Jaclyn Peiser, July 29, 2020. Minneapolis police identified the man on Monday as an affiliate of a white supremacist group who allegedly sought to “incite violence" at the protest, according to a search warrant affidavit.

With an umbrella in his left hand and a hammer in his right, the man in black lobbed his weapon so nonchalantly into an auto parts shop’s windows that it surprised many others in Minneapolis marching nearby in a May 27 protest after George Floyd’s death.

Soon after the abrupt attack, the mostly calm demonstration near a police precinct erupted into looting and arson — the first fire in riots that eventually caused $500 million in damage and left two people dead, the Associated Press reported.

For weeks afterward, activists and Internet commenters homed in on a viral video of the figure nicknamed “Umbrella Man,” speculating that his intent was actually to turn the peaceful protests destructive.

On Tuesday, Minneapolis police identified him as an affiliate of a white supremacist group that allegedly sought to “incite violence,” according to a search warrant affidavit filed in the Hennepin County District Court. The Star Tribune first reported of the warrant. The 32-year-old man has not been charged.

The news comes amid rising fears of right-wing agitators purposefully stoking violence at protests. Last month, federal prosecutors charged supporters of the right-wing “boogaloo boys” movement in incidents including the killing of a security officer at a federal courthouse and plotting firebombs and explosives at a government building and peaceful protests — all with the aim of stoking racial conflict.

Theories that white supremacist groups may have been involved in the “Umbrella Man” case arose soon after video of him vandalizing the business began circulating widely on social media. Many falsely identified the man as a St. Paul police officer, causing the department to release surveillance footage showing the officer during the time of the protest.

washington post logoWashington Post, Viral video shows NYPD officers forcing protester into unmarked van, Allyson Chiu, When an unmarked Kia minivan screeched to a stop near protesters marching in Manhattan on Tuesday evening, the demonstrators’ surprise swiftly gave way to alarm. Several New York Police Department officers wearing T-shirts and shorts spilled out of the van and grabbed one of the protesters, dragging her toward the vehicle, according to videos filmed by bystanders.

The videos of the chaotic scene, which bore a marked similarity to the controversial tactics used by federal officers to detain demonstrators in Portland, Ore., quickly went viral. Protesters who witnessed the incident described it as a “kidnapping,” while a number of New York’s elected officials, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), decried the officers’ actions and demanded further explanations from the NYPD.

“Our civil liberties are on brink. This is not a drill,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “There is no excuse for snatching women off the street and throwing them into unmarked vans.”

The police department confirmed in a statement on Twitter that its officers had used an unmarked van in the arrest, adding that the woman who was taken into custody was “wanted for damaging police cameras during 5 separate criminal incidents in & around City Hall Park.”

In an email to The Washington Post, authorities identified the protester as 18-year-old Nikki Stone, who has also been referred to online as Nicki. Police said Stone is facing charges of criminal mischief related to the five incidents.

Law, Crime, Courts

ny times logoNew York Times, Barr Clashes With House Democrats Over Protests and Russia Inquiry, Nicholas Fandos and Charlie Savage, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). Attorney General William Barr vigorously defended the federal response to protests and his interventions in the cases of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. Democrats tried to portray Mr. Barr as a dangerous errand boy for the president, in what became a hostile election-season oversight hearing.

william barr hand out

washington post logoWashington Post, Analysis: Five takeaways from Barr’s contentious hearing, Amber Phillips, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). Attorney General William P. Barr came ready to defend himself from critics’ accusations that he is using the Justice Department to help President Trump politically.

1. He is all in as a partisan player. By now, Barr has established himself as a loyal defender of Trump, willing to make decisions that at the very least give the appearance that Barr is doing Trump’s personal bidding. Barr denies politics play a role in his decisions while leading the Justice Department.

Inside DC

washington post logoWashington Post, U.S. to limit work permits as it considers ending DACA program, Maria Sacchetti, July 29, 2020. The federal government will limit work permits for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children to one year instead of two.

washington post logoWashington Post, Ex-CIA director writes in upcoming memoir that Trump blocked access to records and notes, Shane Harris July 29, 2020. John Brennan says the CIA refused to let him see classified files as he wrote his book, breaking with decades of tradition in dealing with former directors.

john brennan twitterIn the fall of 2018, when former CIA director John Brennan, left, decided to write his memoir, he asked the agency for his official records, including his notes and any documents that he had reviewed and signed that were classified. The CIA, where Brennan had worked for nearly 30 years, said no.

It was a break with decades of tradition. The CIA routinely lets former directors review classified files when writing books about their careers. Their manuscripts are scrutinized to ensure they don’t expose any national secrets.

After months of “haggling,” Brennan learned that the CIA was following the orders of the man he had spent the previous two years publicly excoriating — President Trump, who in August 2018 “had issued a directive . . . that purportedly forbids anyone in the intelligence community from sharing classified information with me.”

CIA LogoBrennan recounts his battles with the president in the memoir he eventually wrote, with limited access to unclassified and heavily redacted material: “Undaunted: My Fight Against America’s Enemies, at Home and Abroad.” The Washington Post reviewed portions of the book, which is scheduled to be published on Oct. 6.

Trump’s directive appears tailored to one of his most prominent critics. In tweets, op-eds and television appearances, Brennan has denounced Trump as a unique threat to U.S. national security and democracy, once labeling his comments at a joint news conference in Helsinki with the president of Russia as “treasonous,” a comment that even some of Brennan’s friends and fellow Trump detractors said went too far.

washington post logoWashington Post, House Democrats grill Census director on Trump order to exclude undocumented immigrants from apportionment, Tara Bahrampour, July 29, 2020. Director Steven Dill­ingham told the House Oversight Committee that he had no advance notice of President Trump’s memorandum.

washington post logoWashington Post, Democrats and Republicans deliver lashing to big tech CEOs, Tony Romm, July 29, 2020. Democrats and Republicans criticized the executives of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for wielding their market power to crush competitors and amass data, customers and sky-high profits.

The chief executives of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook, four tech giants worth nearly $5 trillion combined, faced withering questions from Republican and Democratic lawmakers alike on Wednesday for the tactics and market dominance that had made their enterprises successful.

For more than five hours, the 15 members of an antitrust panel in the House lobbed questions and repeatedly interrupted and talked over Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Tim Cook of Apple, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Sundar Pichai of Google.

It was the first congressional hearing for some time where Democrats and Republicans acted as if they had a common foe, though for different reasons. Democratic lawmakers criticized the tech companies for buying start-ups to stifle them and for unfairly using their data hoards to clone and kill off competitors, while Republicans questioned whether the platforms had muzzled conservative viewpoints and were unpatriotic.

“As gatekeepers to the digital economy, these platforms enjoy the power to pick winners and losers, shake down small businesses and enrich themselves while choking off competitors,” said Representative David Cicilline, Democrat of Rhode Island and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. “Our founders would not bow before a king. Nor should we bow before the emperors of the online economy.”

In response, Mr. Pichai, Mr. Zuckerberg, Mr. Cook and Mr. Bezos, who testified via videoconference because of the coronavirus pandemic, were forced to strike a more humble chord. They presented themselves as participants in enormously competitive and fast-changing digital marketplaces, and they evaded questions about the decisions that turned their companies into giants.

washington post logoWashington Post, Labor unions petition Transportation Dept. for a mandatory mask rule, Larry Willis, the president of the Transportation Trades Department, a coalition of 33 unions, wrote in the petition that the government needed to go beyond issuing guidance and set clear nationwide rules for the use of masks.

World News

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump says he has not spoken to Putin about alleged bounties on U.S. troops, John Wagner, July 29, 2020. The Trump administration has questioned the veracity of the intelligence. But some of the president's own senior intelligence officials viewed the information as credible enough to warn the Pentagon and allies.

Wayne Madsen Report, Investigative commentary: MbS, aided and abetted by Kushner, backing ISIL rebellion in Mozambique, Wayne Madsen, July 29, 2020. Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS), aided and abetted by his friend and facilitator in the West Wing of the White House, Jared Kushner, is actively backing an Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)-directed rebellion in Cabo Delgado, a majority Muslim province in northern Mozambique.

washington post logoChina FlagWashington Post, Hong Kong was a pandemic poster child. Now it’s a cautionary tale, Shibani Mahtani, July 29, 2020 (print ed.). A new outbreak and tougher restrictions are drawing scrutiny of quarantine exemptions that experts say jeopardized earlier progress.

Media News

Media Matters, Commentary: Tucker Carlson's coverage of Breitbart's "Frontline Doctors" video, Nikki McCann Ramirez, July 29, 2020. Tucker Carlson’s deceitful coverage of Breitbart's COVID-19 “Frontline Doctors” video. Late on July 27, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook removed a hyperviral video riddled with misinformation related to the novel coronavirus posted by the far-right media outlet Breitbart.

fox news logo Smallmedia matters logoPresident Donald Trump and other prominent conservatives had shared the video, and its removal sparked cries of censorship from conservatives, including Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who on Tuesday night covered the story through cherry-picked snippets, outlandish accusations, and misrepresentation.

Carlson opened his show by claiming that with “the ruthlessness of Chinese authoritarians but with double the self-righteousness,” technology companies had collaborated with Democrats to pull the video from social media, viewing it as “a threat to Joe Biden's campaign.” Carlson claimed out-of-control tech companies were wielding unchecked power to silence “a group of physicians giving a press conference about medical advances in the fight against COVID.” In reality, the video was a hodgepodge of largely debunked medical claims.

 

July 28

Top Stories

Trump Justice, Impeachment'

Virus Victims, Responses

Race, Brutality Protests

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

Inside Trump's White House

Law, Crime, Courts 

 

 

Top Stories

covad 19 photo.jpg Custom 2

washington post logoWashington Post, Economic relief talks ramp up as GOP unveils $1 trillion plan, Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). McConnell, GOP leaders unveil $1 trillion package and Pelosi and Schumer meet with Mnuchin and Meadows as they face the expiration of jobless aid within days.

The prospects for a bipartisan deal remained far from certain as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) met late Monday with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows to begin formal negotiations.

The White House officials described the talks as productive and said they would resume on Tuesday, but Democrats left the nearly two hour meeting describing the initial GOP offer as inadequate.

The prospects for a bipartisan deal remained far from certain as Democratic leaders met with Trump administration officials to begin formal negotiations.

In the new GOP plan, Senate Republicans propose cutting weekly emergency unemployment benefits from $600 to $200 until states can bring a more complicated program online. The $600 weekly jobless benefit expires in a few days, and House Democrats have proposed extending it until January because the unemployment rate remains very high.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Let’s throw the kitchen sink at covid-19 and get back to normal by October, Editorial Board, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). Any day now, the United States will cross another grim threshold of death from the coronavirus: 150,000 people lost. By contrast, South Korea has lost 299 people, Germany 9,125. Per million population, the United States has lost 423.6, Germany 110 and South Korea 5.8. Behind these statistics lies the epic failure of President Trump and his administration to mount a national response in the face of catastrophe.

The experience of other nations in fighting outbreaks — even raging outbreaks — should make Americans realize: It doesn’t have to be this way. The United States could tamp down the wildfires of virus in two months. The methods are not a secret, and they are not rocket science. Two prominent public health experts have suggested that with a concerted effort, the United States could reach near normal by Oct. 1. Andy Slavitt, a former health care official in the Obama administration, and Peter Hotez, a professor and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, have separately outlined how the United States might reach a point where schools and businesses can reopen.

Full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic

“Let’s say we threw the kitchen sink at COVID-19 in the U.S. Let’s say we started now with the goal of being open for business in October — meaning schools, in person voting, sports, everything. If we did everything. What would happen?” Mr. Slavitt wrote on Twitter.

Trump Justice, Impeachment

william barr hand out

 washington post logoWashington Post, Barr hearing live updates: Democrats press defiant attorney general on response to protests, intervention in high-profile cases, Karoun Demirjian, John Wagner, Felicia Sonmez and Devlin Barrett, July 28, 2020. Attorney General William P. Barr, shown above in a file photo, appeared Tuesday at a combative hearing of the House Judiciary Committee, where he is facing pointed questions from Democrats about the government’s response to protests across the nation over police brutality, his controversial interventions in high-profile cases and an array of other matters.

“Shame on you, Mr. Barr,” Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said at one point early in the proceedings, expressing frustration.

Barr, who is appearing before the panel for the first time since Democrats took control of the House, defended the administration’s response to civil unrest in the country, saying, “Violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims."

Barr also told the committee he has not inappropriately intervened in Justice Department business, as Democrats contend. In a written statement to the committee, he alleged that Democrats have tried to “discredit” him since he vowed to investigate the 2016 FBI probe of possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign and that the media has been unfair in covering the unrest.

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) confronted Barr over the federal response to protests, accusing the Trump administration of cracking down violently on Black Lives Matter demonstrators while turning a blind eye to anti-lockdown protests in states such as Michigan.

Jayapal mentioned a recent phone call Trump held with governors, during which the president said the way to deal with protests against police violence is to “dominate” the demonstrators, who he described as “terrorists,” and pledged to “activate” Barr as part of the federal response.

Jayapal noted that the federal government did not intervene, however, when some who had opposed coronavirus restrictions in Michigan made threats against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and brought guns and a doll with a noose around its neck to protests outside the state capitol.

washington post logonorman eisen SmallWashington Post, Opinion: Trump wanted his Roy Cohn. In William Barr, he found his John Mitchell instead, Norman Eisen, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). Norman Eisen, right, served as an impeachment counsel to the House Judiciary Committee and is author of “A Case for the American People: The United States v. Donald J. Trump.”

“Where’s my Roy Cohn?” That was President Trump’s famous lament after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation. But in Sessions’s eventual replacement, William P. Barr, Trump may have done even better — by his standards — than Cohn, the notoriously unscrupulous defense lawyer.

As Barr prepares to testify before the House Judiciary Committee for the first time as Trump’s attorney general, he has instead come to resemble another disgraced lawyer of the past: former attorney general John Mitchell, whose misplaced loyalty to President Richard M. Nixon outweighed the duty he owed to the Justice Department and the country.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump’s lawyers say subpoena for his tax records is ‘wildly overboard,’ amounts to ‘harassment,’ Shayna Jacobs, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). President Trump's lawyers are pushing to kill a grand jury subpoena for his tax records by arguing that the Manhattan district attorney's order to produce documents is "wildly overbroad" and tantamount to "harassment," Justice Department log circularaccording to an amended lawsuit filed in federal court here on Monday.

The president’s latest attempt to shield his financial records comes as Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. seeks to accelerate his investigation into hush-money payments made to two women during the 2016 presidential campaign. It follows a major Supreme Court ruling earlier this month that found Trump’s status as a sitting president does not make him immune to investigation by local authorities.

Trump’s civil complaint seeks to block Vance from obtaining Trump’s records through a subpoena to his accounting firm, Mazars USA. His lawyers, barred by the Supreme Court’s 7-to-2 ruling from arguing presidential immunity, are focused now on challenging the subpoena’s legality.

ny times logoNew York Times, A National Guard officer at Lafayette Square will testify that the police used “excessive” force on peaceful protesters, July 28, 2020.In a prepared opening statement, Attorney General William P. Barr defends his response to “violent rioters and anarchists” and his actions to discredit “the bogus ‘Russiagate’ scandal.”

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, A Small Georgia City Plans to Put Students in Classrooms This Week, Richard Fausset, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). In-person classes without mask requirements are scheduled to resume in Jefferson, worrying some parents, students and teachers.

When Jennifer Fogle and her family moved from Indiana to Georgia 13 years ago, they settled in Jefferson, a small, handsome city an hour’s drive from Atlanta, because they had heard about the excellent schools. And until recently, they had little to complain about. The teachers are passionate and committed, and the facilities rival those found at some private schools.

But in recent days Ms. Fogle found herself uncharacteristically anxious, after learning that Jefferson City Schools planned to offer face-to-face instruction in the midst of a resurgent coronavirus pandemic that has seen thousands of new cases reported daily in Georgia.

As other districts around the state delayed their back-to-school days or moved to all-remote learning, Jefferson school officials announced that they were sticking with their Friday start date, one of the earliest in the nation. And while school officials said they would “strongly encourage” masks for students and teachers, they stopped short of making masks mandatory.

Race, Brutality Protests

washington post logojohn lewis officialWashington Post, Lawmakers, Biden honor John Lewis as he lies in state at the Capitol, Paul Kane, Felicia Sonmez, Meagan Flynn and Michael Brice-Saddler, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). The late congressman made a final journey to the capital’s civil rights landmarks, pausing at the Lincoln Memorial, where he was the youngest speaker at the 1963 March on Washington.

washington post logoWashington Post, More federal agents sent to Portland as protests rise in other cities, Devlin Barrett, Nick Miroff, Marissa J. Lang and David A. Fahrenthold, July 28, 2020 (print ed.).  The Trump administration is sending more agents to Oregon, where protesters and local officials say tactics have inspired more clashes and re-energized protests across the nation.

washington post logoWashington Post, When Black Lives Matter came to white, rural America, Hannah Natanson, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). Mentored by an older generation of activists, three young women brought the protest movement to southern Virginia.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

 ny times logopaul krugmanNew York Times, Opinion: The Cult of Selfishness Is Killing America, Paul Krugman, right, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). The right has made irresponsible behavior a key principle.

ny times logoNew York Times, Why Montana Is a Test Case for Democrats Winning the Senate, Jonathan Martin, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). The race between Steve Daines, the Republican incumbent, and Gov. Steve Bullock could prove crucial this year.

In the deeply polarized election of 2016, every state that supported President Trump backed Republican senators — and each state that Hillary Clinton carried voted for a Democratic Senate candidate.

But four years later, Democratic hopes for gaining a clear Senate majority depend in part on winning in conservative-leaning states where Mr. Trump may also prevail, even as he sags in the polls. In states like Alaska, Iowa, Georgia and here in Montana, Democrats are hoping their Senate candidates can outperform Joseph R. Biden Jr., their presumptive nominee.

ny times logoNew York Times, Opinion: Twilight of the Liberal Right, Michelle Goldberg, right, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). Conservatism always contained the seeds of authoritarianism. Anne Applebaum’s new michelle goldberg thumbbook, “Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, begins cinematically, with a party she threw at a Polish manor house to mark the dawn of the new millennium.

Applebaum’s husband was then the deputy foreign minister in Poland’s center-right government; she was a right-leaning journalist who would go on to write a Pulitzer Prize-american flag upside down distresswinning history of the Soviet gulag. Many of the guests came from the cosmopolitan anti-Communist intelligentsia. About half of them, she writes, no longer speak to the other half.

In “Twilight of Democracy,” Applebaum tries to understand why so many of her old friends — conservatives who once fancied themselves champions of democracy and classical liberalism — have become paranoid right-wing populists. “Were some of our friends always closet authoritarians?” she asks. “Or have the people with whom we clinked glasses in the first minutes of the new millennium somehow changed over the subsequent two decades?”

To Applebaum, today’s right, in both America and Europe, “has little in common with most of the political movements that have been so described since the Second World War.” Until recently, she writes, the right was “dedicated not just to representative democracy, but to religious tolerance, independent judiciaries, free press and speech, economic integration, international institutions, the trans-Atlantic alliance and a political idea of ‘the West.’” What happened?

washington post logoWashington Post, DeVos aide played role in helping failing for-profit colleges, texts and emails show, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel, July 28, 2020. New documents show that Diane Auer Jones, the Education Department's point person on higher education policy, was far more involved in helping the owner of the Art Institutes and Argosy University prop up the failing for-profit colleges than she told members of Congress.

Inside Trump's White House

washington post logoWashington Post, Lawsuit: Trump campaign shielded millions in payments, Michelle Ye Hee Lee, July 28, 2020. The complaint alleges that President Trump's campaign and an affiliated fundraising committee have not properly reported nearly $170 million in campaign spending that was done through firms that paid subcontractors on behalf of the campaign.

A legal complaint filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission alleges that the Trump campaign and an affiliated fundraising committee have not properly reported nearly $170 million in campaign spending that was done through firms that paid subcontractors on behalf of the campaign.

The Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for greater regulation of money in politics, alleged in the complaint that payments made by two firms that were set up and run by former campaign manager Brad Parscale should have been reported to the public because the ultimate recipients of the payments effectively worked for the campaign.

Under campaign finance law, campaign committees must publicly disclose the names of firms and people they are paying. These firms are not required to disclose payments they make to others as long as they are not simply acting as a conduit for payments to avoid public disclosure.

washington post logoWashington Post, GOP coronavirus bill replaces money for Pentagon projects Trump used for border wall, Erica Werner and Karoun Demirjian, July 28, 2020. The programs are part of $30 billion in defense spending that Democrats are already objecting to. Republicans are defending the spending as important to protect jobs and help the Pentagon cope with the effects of the coronavirus.

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump reportedly made unexpected first pitch announcement out of irritation with Fauci, Des Bieler, July 28, 2020. President Trump reportedly caught both White House aides and the New York Yankees by surprise when he said Thursday at a White House coronavirus briefing that he was accepting an invitation by the team to throw out a ceremonial first pitch and would do so on Aug. 15.

Trump backtracked from that plan on Sunday, saying in a tweet that he would not be able to throw out the pitch that day because a “strong focus on the China Virus, including scheduled meetings on Vaccines, our economy and much else” would prevent him from traveling to New York at that time.

By that time, White House staff had informed the Yankees that Trump had an unspecified prior engagement on Aug. 15, according to a report Monday in the New York Times. Trump did have a standing invitation to throw out a first pitch from Yankees President Randy Levine, whom he called a “great friend,” but nothing specific had been arranged.

When the president said he would throw the first pitch at an Aug. 15 Yankees game, he caught the White House and the Yankees off guard.

Trump’s comments from a White House podium happened to occur just hours before MLB’s coronavirus-delayed Opening Day was set to begin with a game between the visiting Yankees and the Washington Nationals. Throwing out the first pitch for that much-anticipated event was Anthony S. Fauci, the Trump administration’s top infectious-disease official.

Trump was irritated that Fauci was given the honor, the Times reported, citing an official familiar with his reaction. Not to be outdone, he reportedly told his staff to get in touch with the Yankees and take Levine up on his offer, but then the president went ahead and threw a curveball at the coronavirus briefing with his claim that he would take the mound on Aug. 15.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Turns out Donald Trump was lying about throwing out the New York Yankees first pitch, July 28, 2020. When Donald Trump announced that he would be throwing out the first pitch for the New York Yankees on August 15th, Palmer Report predicted that it would never end up happening. After all, the Yankees are all taking a knee this season, making clear what side of social justice they’re on – and it’s not Trump’s side.

bill palmer report logo headerWhen Trump announced days later that he was canceling his August 15th first pitch because he was going to have too many meetings that day, we got a good laugh out of it. Trump was clearly canceling for some other reason. Now it turns out the reason was more deranged than even we were expecting.

The New York Times is now reporting that the New York Yankees never invited Donald Trump to throw out the first pitch to begin with. He just made up the whole thing out of thin air, because he was jealous that Dr. Fauci had been invited to throw out the first pitch at a Washington Nationals game. It turns out Trump truly is that far removed from reality.

ny times logoNew York Times, Like Father, Like Son: President Trump Lets Others Mourn, Annie Karni and Katie Rogers, July 28, 2020. Mr. Trump rarely displays empathy in public, behavior that his friends and family say he learned from his father, a hard-driving disciplinarian. The Marble Collegiate Church on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan was packed with developers, politicians and New York celebrities, more than 600 in all, for the funeral of Fred C. Trump, the builder whose no-frills brick rental towers transformed Brooklyn and Queens.

Three of his four living children, who had grown up listening to the sermons of the church’s most famous minister, Norman Vincent Peale, offered loving eulogies to their father. Then it was Donald Trump’s turn.

He began by talking about himself.

He had learned of his father’s death, he told the crowd that day in June 1999, just moments after reading a front-page New York Times article about his biggest development to date, Trump Place.

“Donald started his eulogy by saying, ‘I was having the greatest year of my business career, and I was sitting having breakfast thinking of how well things were going for me,’” when he learned of his father’s death, said Alan Marcus, a former public relations consultant for the Trump Organization. “Donald’s eulogy was all about Donald, and everybody in Vincent Peale’s church knew it.”

Law, Crime, Courts 

Palmer Report, Opinion: New turn in Jeffrey Epstein – Ghislaine Maxwell case, Bill Palmer, July 28, 2020. The arrest of Ghislaine Maxwell isn’t just putting Jeffrey Epstein’s hideous crime spree back into public focus. It’s also serving as something of an opportunity to carry out the criminal case that should have played out against Epstein – perhaps having the potential to finally bring some measure of justice for his victims. It could also take down Epstein’s co-conspirators, whoever they may be.

bill palmer report logo headerTo that end, a judge has ordered that by tomorrow, several documents must be unsealed from an old lawsuit between Epstein and one of his victims. That evidence will include Maxwell’s testimony and her communications with Epstein. Interestingly, it’ll also include testimony from Epstein’s lawyer and friend Alan Dershowitz, who has been accused of participating in Epstein’s sex crimes.

It’s still not entirely clear where this is all headed. But Ghislaine Maxwell is facing seven felony counts related to underage sex trafficking, and she could end up cutting a deal against everyone else involved if the evidence gets ugly enough against her. So this is all headed somewhere.

 

July 27

Top Stories

Virus Victims, Responses

Race, Brutality Protests

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

Media News

 

Top Stories

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washington post logoWashington Post, America’s global standing is at a low point. The pandemic made it worse, Dan Balz, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). At home, President Trump’s handling of the pandemic has created division and confusion rather than a national strategy. The global community, is questioning the United States’ capacity for a leadership role at a time when the myriad crises call out for cooperation.

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washington post logoWashington Post, Why isn’t Trump showing greater effort to solve this? Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). Supporters and foes agree that question dogs him. Trump’s shortcomings have perplexed even some of his most loyal allies, who increasingly have wondered why the president has not at least pantomimed a sense of command over the crisis or conveyed compassion for the millions of Americans impacted by it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Miami Marlins Outbreak Postpones 2 Games and Rocks M.L.B.’s Return, Tyler Kepner, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). At least 14 members of the team, including 12 players, have tested positive after playing three games in Philadelphia this weekend. The Yankees’ game at the Phillies was also called off.

major league baseball mlb logoThe return of Major League Baseball took a troubling turn on Monday when the league’s worst fear became reality: an outbreak of positive coronavirus tests within a team.

The Miami Marlins postponed their home opener against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday — four days after the season opener — after learning that 14 members of the team’s traveling party, including two coaches, had tested positive for the virus.

Virus Victims, Responses

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: First large-scale test of experimental vaccine begins in U.S., July 27, 2020. Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine enters Phase 3 trial; WHO chief calls coronavirus ‘the most severe’ health emergency the agency has ever declared.

The race to develop a vaccination against the novel coronavirus hit a major milestone Monday, with the launch of large-scale clinical trials that will test the effectiveness and safety of experimental vaccines developed by biotechnology company Moderna in collaboration with the U.S. government.

Half of the 30,000 participants are set to receive the shot, the other half a placebo. Other smaller-scale tests are underway around the world, but the U.S. trials are the most sweeping in scale, with more planned in the coming months.

The United States reported 59,737 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, pushing the total number of cases that have been reported since February past 4,217,000. Three states — Nevada, Texas and South Carolina — saw their seven-day averages for fatalities reach new highs. In the United States, at least 143,000 people have died of covid-19 to date, amounting to approximately one-fifth of the world’s death toll.

 washington post logorepublican elephant logoWashington Post, White House urges Congress to act on a slimmed-down stimulus bill to keep unemployment benefits flowing, Erica Werner and Jeff Stein, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). Pelosi has rejected this approach but deadline looms for expiring jobless benefits The president has failed, allies and opponents agree, at the one task that could help him achieve all of his goals — confronting the pandemic with a clear strategy and consistent leadership.

washington post logoWashington Post, A trial for vaccine researchers: Making sure black and Hispanic communities are included in studies, Carolyn Y. Johnson, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). Younger people of color die of the coronavirus at twice the rate of white people, and black, Hispanic and Native Americans are hospitalized at four to five times the rate of white people in the same age groups.

washington post logoWashington Post, Live updates: First large-scale test of experimental vaccine begins in U.S., July 27, 2020. Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine enters Phase 3 trial; WHO chief calls coronavirus ‘the most severe’ health emergency the agency has ever declared.

The race to develop a vaccination against the novel coronavirus hit a major milestone Monday, with the launch of large-scale clinical trials that will test the effectiveness and safety of experimental vaccines developed by biotechnology company Moderna in collaboration with the U.S. government.

Half of the 30,000 participants are set to receive the shot, the other half a placebo. Other smaller-scale tests are underway around the world, but the U.S. trials are the most sweeping in scale, with more planned in the coming months.

The United States reported 59,737 new coronavirus infections on Sunday, pushing the total number of cases that have been reported since February past 4,217,000. Three states — Nevada, Texas and South Carolina — saw their seven-day averages for fatalities reach new highs. In the United States, at least 143,000 people have died of covid-19 to date, amounting to approximately one-fifth of the world’s death toll.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: With Trump on the sideline, nation’s governors must put aside political differences and lead on coronavirus, Robert McCartney, July 27, 2020. National Governors Association offers framework for coordinated effort to contain the disease.

robert obrien oCNN, Trump's national security adviser tests positive for Covid-19, Staff report, July 27, 2020. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien, right, has tested positive for Covid-19, according to an official familiar with what happened.

washington post logoWashington Post, Editorial: Schools are moving toward closing for the fall. That is not their fault, Editorial Board, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). Republicans’ pandemic blunders keep piling higher. The White House has made it unmistakably clear that it wants schools to open this year with full in-person instruction, and that nothing — least of all the science — should stand in the way.

But the actual decisions on whether to allow children back into the classroom are thankfully being made not by a president hellbent on making a political point, but by school officials who are listening to public health experts and consulting with members of their communities. Many of them are coming to the reluctant conclusion that the failure to contain the novel coronavirus — something that actually is the responsibility of President Trump’s administration — makes it unwise to return children to the classroom.

washington post logoWashington Post, As public schools go all virtual, parents eye private schools that plan to open their campuses, Perry Stein, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). While most of the region’s public school districts say their campuses will remain closed for the start of the fall semester, many private schools — which can charge more than $45,000 a year in tuition and fees — are still planning to bring students into classrooms for at least part of the week. It’s a situation that could exacerbate existing inequalities, with wealthier students attending classes in person at private schools, and everyone else using public schools’ distance learning, which left many students behind in their academics.

  • Washington Post, Places with highest daily reported cases per capita, July 27, 2020 (print ed.).Weekly trend of daily new reported cases per 100,000 residents.

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Nears National Peak as 18 States Set Single-Day Records, Staff reports, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). Friday was the fourth day running that the United States reported over 1,100 deaths. Pirate attacks are among the crime patterns shifting in the pandemic. New research sheds light on male vulnerability to severe Covid-19. South Carolina announced 80 new deaths on Saturday, a single-day record.

California. South Carolina. North Dakota, Kentucky. Hawaii. Those are among the 18 states that set single-day case records in the last week, putting the country on track to breaking a national single-day record for new coronavirus cases set less than two weeks ago.

More than 73,500 cases were reported on Friday, according to a New York Times database, approaching the country’s record of 75,697 cases, set on July 16. Since June 24, the seven-day average has more than doubled, to more than 66,100 on Friday from 31,402.

washington post logoWashington Post, About 4,000 federal employees say they contracted virus at work — and 60 have died, Eric Yoder, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). The total number of covid-19 claims for disability compensation or death benefits is expected to reach 6,000 within weeks. The report by the Labor Department’s inspector general assessed coronavirus-related trends in workers’ compensation programs including the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act, which covers the 2.1 million employees of executive branch departments and agencies plus the 630,000 employees of the semi-independent U.S. Postal Service.

Race, Brutality Protests

washington post logoWashington Post, Barr plans to mount a defiant defense of Trump in showdown with House Democrats, Matt Zapotosky and Karoun Demirjian, July 28, 2020 (print ed.). The attorney general is likely to face critical questioning today on his response to protests of police brutality across the nation.

Attorney General William P. Barr will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday that President Trump has not inappropriately intervened in Justice Department business — even though Barr has more than once moved in criminal cases to help the president’s allies — and he will defend the administration’s response to civil unrest in the country, according to a copy of his opening statement.

washington post logoWashington Post, African American mayors lay out plan for police reform without ‘defunding,’ Tom Jackman, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). Peace Pact urges U.S. mayors to rethink budgets, police accountability and transparency.

In the movement to reform American policing, some of the most powerful players, with the most immediate options available, are the country’s mayors. They typically can hire or fire police chiefs, influence police departments to change policies, oversee city budgets, and negotiate collective bargaining agreements with police unions.

Realizing this, the nation’s black mayors gathered last month and devised a Peace Pact for Community Centered Policing. The plan outlined by the African American Mayors Association calls for providing transparency in policing, reevaluating police policies and union contracts, advocating for federal policy changes, improving community engagement, and creating city budgets reflecting community values.

ny times logoNew York Times, Cities in Bind as Turmoil Spreads Far Beyond Portland, Staff reports, July 27, 2020. The U.S. government exercised extensive authority in Portland, Ore., a city that has made it clear it opposes the presence of federal agents.

New protests in other cities are creating a dilemma for local leaders who had succeeded in easing some of the turbulence in their streets.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump touts N.J. fraud case to attack mail voting. Local leaders say he’s not telling the whole story, Rosalind S. Helderman, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). Five days before the citizens of Paterson, N.J., selected new members of their city council in May, a postal employee in a neighboring town spotted something suspicious in a local post office: 347 mail-in ballots, bundled together.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainThe discovery kicked off weeks of tumult in New Jersey’s third-largest city, a densely populated and diverse community. Four men, including a city councilman, have been charged with fraud. Amid the controversy, the county election board disqualified 19 percent of ballots cast in the race.

The episode probably would have remained a local dust-up but for the sudden interest of President Trump, who has spent the past several months attacking voting by mail as a practice he says is susceptible to massive fraud. In recent weeks, he has seized on the situation in Paterson as the prime exhibit in the case he is making about why the November election will be “rigged,” as he has repeatedly put it.

But those involved in the Paterson case said the president is vastly oversimplifying what took place in a local election, using it to serve his own political purposes and overstating the extent to which problems in their city serve as some kind of national cautionary tale.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Baseball’s Miami Marlins just caused a huge problem for Donald Trump, Bill Palmer, July 27, 2020. When the NBA and NHL announced that their shortened seasons major league baseball mlb logowould be played in an isolated bubble which prevented players from coming into contact with anyone in the outside world, it seemed like a solid plan. When Major League Baseball attempted to start the season by having teams travel to each other’s cities for games, it felt iffy at best.

bill palmer report logo headerSure enough, just a few games into the season, a double digit number of Miami Marlins players, coaches, and employees have already tested positive for coronavirus. The Marlins are now canceling games, and MLB is trying to figure out whether nor it’ll have to cancel the entire season. So what does this have to do with Donald Trump?

Trump has been trying to sell Americans on the notion that the coronavirus threat has dissipated, or that it was all a hoax, and that it’s safe to do things like reopen schools and indoor places of business. But the Marlins just demonstrated that it’s not even safe for a baseball team to travel to a different city for games without catastrophic results – even when that team is taking all possible precautions.

If the baseball season gets canceled, or if it continues but results in even worse coronavirus outbreaks, it’ll blow a huge hole in Donald Trump’s narrative that everything is just fine. It’ll serve as a reminder to all Americans that Trump has made a complete mess of the pandemic, that it’s getting even worse, and that he’s lying about it. For Trump’s lies to stick, he needs things like sports games go to well – and instead they’re already going south.

washington post logojosh hawley missouriWashington Post, Sen. Hawley lays down new antiabortion marker for Supreme Court nominees, Robert Costa, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). “I will vote only for those Supreme Court nominees who have explicitly acknowledged that Roe v. Wade is wrongly decided,” said the member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, right.

washington post logoWashington Post, The ‘squad’ gears up for two tough primaries, David Weigel, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) is defending her seat against Brenda Jones, the Detroit City Council president she defeated by just 900 votes in 2018. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) of Minnesota will face challenger Antone Melton-Meaux.Washington Post, Opinion: In just one month, Trump commits a new set of potentially impeachable offenses, Fred Hiatt, July 27, 2020 (print ed.).

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: Reagan Foundation to Trump, RNC: Quit raising money off Ronald Reagan’s legacy, Karen Tumulty, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which runs the 40th president’s library near Los Angeles, has demanded that President Trump and the Republican National Committee (RNC) quit raising campaign money by using Ronald Reagan’s name and likeness.

“It was simply handled with a phone call mid-last week to the RNC, and they agreed to stop,” Reagan Foundation chief marketing officer Melissa Giller said in an email Saturday.

What came to the foundation’s attention — and compelled officials there to complain — was a fundraising email that went out July 19 with “Donald J. Trump” identified as the sender and a subject line that read: “Ronald Reagan and Yours Truly.”

ronald reagan oThe solicitation offered, for a donation of $45 or more, a “limited edition” commemorative set featuring two gold-colored coins, one each with an image of Reagan and Trump. The coins were mounted with a 1987 photograph of Reagan and Trump shaking hands in a White House receiving line — the type of fleeting contact that presidents have with thousands of people a year.

“Friend,” the fundraising email purportedly from Trump said, “I just saw our new Trump-Reagan Commemorative Coin Sets and WOW, these coins are beautiful - I took one look and immediately knew that I wanted YOU to have a set. These aren’t any ordinary coins. They symbolize an important time in our Nation. This year, in addition to being re-elected as YOUR President, it also marks the 40th anniversary of our Nation’s 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, we already sold out of the first batch we had in stock. But I liked these coins so much that I asked my team to rush order another batch for my TOP SUPPORTERS ONLY.”

It cautioned: “I’ve authorized a very limited production of these iconic coins, which is why I’m ONLY offering them to our top supporters, like YOU. This offer is NOT available to the general public, so please, do NOT share this email with anyone.”

Proceeds from the coin sales went to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising operation that benefits both the Trump campaign and the RNC.

rnc logo*The joint committee website, where the coins were for sale, noted: “The President only authorized the production of 5,000 sets of these iconic coins, which is why we’re ONLY offering them to our TOP supporters.”

In the 1990s, both Reagan and his wife Nancy signed legal documents that granted the foundation sole rights to their names, likenesses and images. Of course, there are countless photos and videos of Reagan that are in the public domain. But the foundation claims power to block them from being used for commercial purposes and political endorsements. When Reagan Foundation officials were made aware of the Trump email solicitation, they decided “within seconds” to put a stop to it, said Giller.

Athough the RNC accepted the foundation’s demand regarding the fundraising emails, “we still have a lot of additional work,” Giller said. The foundation is looking into how many people might have seen the email and how many of the coin sets were sold, and may still decide to get lawyers involved, she added.

Real Clear Politics, Analysis: The (Unspoken) Reason the Left Now Wants Bass for VP, Bill Scher, July 27, 2020. Last week, in the race for the Democratic vice presidential nomination, the progressive activist wing appeared to make a sudden shift in its support: away from Sen. Elizabeth Warren and toward Rep. Karen Bass, right.

karen bass headshotOn Wednesday, Markos Moulitsas penned a Daily Kos post that was explicit about making that shift. United Farmworkers founder Dolores Huerta told the progressive publication Payday Report that, despite her support of Sen. Kamala Harris in the presidential primary, Democrats should “pray” that Joe Biden picks Bass because “I always think of the Bernie Bros and Bernie Sisters, and [Bass] would bring them to the table and the campaign.”

The embrace of Bass on the left is, on the surface, odd, because she is more of an inside player than outside agitator. As California Assembly speaker, she worked with Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on a plan to solve the state’s fiscal crisis that included spending cuts four times larger than new tax revenues. While she is a nominal sponsor of the “Medicare for All” bill introduced in the House, she does not insist that a single-payer system is the only path to universal health coverage. She told Vox last year: “Probably a difference I would have would be whether or not ... there was still an alternative for people that did not want to do Medicare-for-all. … I think it’s an important debate, and it doesn’t mean that everybody in the caucus is wedded one way or another.” Such ambivalence has long roused suspicion among die-hard single-payer supporters.

More recently, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, she positioned herself as a pragmatist when it comes to police reform. She said in a Washington Post interview that “Defund the Police” was "probably one of the worst slogans ever." While she quickly apologized and said on Twitter, "I would never mean to malign a movement of activists,” she soon after offered further pointed language directed towards progressive activists: “It is the role of an activist to push us as far as they can push us. It is our role to legislate, and that is a different role. ... We work on the inside, we know what is realistic. We are very committed to making a difference, and that is different than making a point. You can either make a point, or you can make a difference.” Those are fighting words to the average activist, who scorns the language of pragmatism as defeatist.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Everyone piles on as Melania Trump’s Rose Garden stunt goes off the rails, Bill Palmer, July 27, 2020. With the coronavirus continuing to ravage the United States in deadly and worsening fashion, the resulting economic impact continuing to worsen, and civil unrest in the streets, Donald Trump keeps finding new ways to show us how out of touch he is. He tweets about inane nonsense all day, then he goes golfing – a reminder to voters that he’s uniquely unfit for office. Now his wife is trying to compete with him on that front.

bill palmer report logo headerMelania Trump has announced that with the nation falling apart at the seams, she’s going to focus on… renovating the White House Rose Garden? Wait, that can’t be right. Except it is. The New York Times says that Melania is planning to install a new walkway and electrical equipment in the Rose Garden as an “act of expressing hope and optimism for the future.”

Wait, really? She’s that far out of touch? No one who’s trying to fend off a deadly virus, or trying to figure out how to make rent this month, or trying to figure out how not to get murdered by the police, cares about this kind of thing even a little bit. There’s a reason the name “Marie Antoinette” is trending right now. Melania may be even more derangedly out of touch than her husband.

Media News

washington post logoWashington Post, Congress prepares for epic clash with Big Tech, Tony Romm, July 27, 2020. Congress brought the country’s big banks to heel after the financial crisis, cowed a tobacco facebook logoindustry for imperiling public health and forced airline leaders to atone for years of treating their passengers poorly.

amazon logo smallNow, lawmakers are set to turn their attention to technology, channeling long-simmering frustrations with Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google into a high-profile hearing that some Democrats and Republicans hope will usher in sweeping changes throughout Silicon Valley.

On Wednesday, the industry’s four most powerful chief executives are set to appear, swear an oath and submit to a grilling from House lawmakers who have been probing the Web’s most recognizable names to determine whether they have become too big and powerful. The focus is antitrust, and the extent to which a quartet of digital behemoths — representing a nearly $5 trillion slice of the U.S. economy — has harmed competition, consumers and the country writ large.

washington post logomargaret sullivan 2015 photoWashington Post, Perspective: Media coverage of the 2016 campaign was a disaster. Now’s the last chance to get 2020 right, Margaret Sullivan, right, July 27, 2020 (print ed.). How did the news media mess up in the 100 days leading up to the 2016 presidential election? Let me count the ways.

Journalists relied too much on what opinion polls were saying and often presented a skewed interpretation of their meaning. That fed the sense that Hillary Clinton would be the inevitable winner.

They vastly overplayed the Clinton email story, particularly the “reopened investigation” aspect in October. Given Donald Trump’s background and behavior, the emphasis was astonishingly out of whack with reality.

News organizations failed to understand the tear-it-all-down mood of large segments of the voting public, or the racism and sexism that often fueled it.

ny times logoNew York Times, Did Hearst’s Culture Kill Hearst’s Biggest Magazine Story? Ben Smith, July 27, 2020. The workplace environment at the company’s magazine division was troubled under Troy Young. And it may not have been good for ambitious investigative journalism, either. 

 

July 26

Top Headlines

Fake News From TV Network?

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

Race, Street Protests, Crackdowns

Personal Finance / Joblessness

 

Top Stories

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washington post logoWashington Post, Trump retreats as virus surges out of control, Philip Rucker, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). In a week of reversals, the president has bent to opposition — including from his President Donald Trump officialown party — on masks, tax cuts and the Republican convention.

Weakened politically by his response to the pandemic, Trump changed course after polls showed his positions did not align with public attitudes or — as was the case with the payroll tax cut — his Republican allies on Capitol Hill declined to advance his interests.

washington post logoWashington Post, As virus hit, Florida governor sidelined scientists to follow Trump, Cleve R. Wootson Jr., Isaac Stanley-Becker, Lori Rozsa and Josh Dawsey, July 26, 2020. The state’s crisis has revealed the shortcomings of a response built on shifting metrics, influenced by a few advisers and tethered to the Trump administration.

ron desantis oAs Florida became a global epicenter of the coronavirus, Gov. Ron DeSantis, left, held one meeting this month with his top public health official, Scott Rivkees, according to the governor's schedule. His health department has sidelined scientists, halting briefings last month with disease specialists and telling the experts there was not sufficient personnel from the state to continue participating.

"I never received information about what happened with my ideas or results," said Thomas Hladish, a University of Florida research scientist whose regular calls with the republican elephant logohealth department ended June 29. "But I did hear the governor say the models were wrong about everything."

As the virus spread out of control in Florida, decision-making became increasingly shaped by politics and divorced from scientific evidence, according to interviews with 64 current and former state and administration officials, health administrators, epidemiologists, political operatives and hospital executives. The crisis in Florida, these observers say, has revealed the shortcomings of a response built on shifting metrics, influenced by a small group of advisers and tethered at every stage to the Trump administration, which has no unified plan for addressing the national health emergency but has pushed for states to reopen.

washington post logoWashington Post, Virus deaths in the U.S. top 1,000 four days in a row, David Lynch, Meryl Kornfield and Marisa Iati, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). People with milder coronavirus cases have been reporting health issues for weeks after testing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The United States reported more than 1,100 coronavirus-related deaths on Friday, the fourth day in a row that the grim tally has been above 1,000. The recent run is the first time since late May that the daily number of deaths has been above 1,000 for the United States. More than 74,000 new infections were reported nationally on Friday, one of the highest single-day totals yet.

Here are some significant developments:

  • While millions of people are days away from losing unemployment benefits — and a federal eviction moratorium — a new stimulus package has been delayed. Senate Majority mitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedLeader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), right, said it may take several weeks to complete a deal.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert, said states hit hard by the virus in recent weeks needed to halt or walk back their reopenings as they grapple with surges of infections. During a live interview with The Post, Fauci also said a vaccine would likely not be “widely available” until “several months in” to 2021.
  • Many people with milder covid-19 symptoms continue to report health issues two to three weeks after testing,
  • The Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers that at least 77 hand sanitizer products may contain methanol, a toxic compound that can cause blindness or even possible death.

ny times logoNew York Times, Fires and Pepper Spray in Seattle as Protests Widen Across U.S., Mike Baker and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Updated July 26, 2020. Weeks of violent clashes between protesters and federal agents in Portland, Ore., galvanized thousands of people to march through American cities.

One of the most intense protests was in Seattle, where a day of demonstrations focused on police violence left a trail of broken windows and people flushing pepper spray from their eyes. At least 45 protesters had been arrested as of early evening, and both protesters and police officers suffered injuries.

washington post logodana milbank CustomWashington Post, Opinion: Stop fretting about Trump and do something about it. Right now, Dana Milbank, right, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). Do this now.

Take a pause from President Trump’s latest outrage (sending federal police to foment violence in U.S. cities in hopes that it will help his flagging campaign) or inanity (“Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV.”) — and do the only thing guaranteed to end the nightmare.

Go to Vote.org, or, if you are reading this in the dead-tree edition, type vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote into your browser, spend 30 seconds entering your name, address and date of birth, and you’ll find out instantly if your voter registration is current. If not, follow the instructions to register.

Next, click this link or type vote.org/absentee-ballot into your browser, and sign yourself up to receive an absentee ballot for the November election. That takes about two minutes.

Finally, make sure your friends and family do the same. If they’re technology-challenged, help them through it or give them the phone numbers for their states’ elections offices, available election assistance commission Sealhere at the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, eac.gov/voters/election-day-contact-information.

Heck, do it even if you support Trump. Fine by me. If turnout is higher than in 2016 — if Americans truly have their say in November — then Trump doesn’t stand a chance. As he said himself this year, if you have higher “levels of voting … you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

One hundred days from Sunday, the election will decide whether the madness subsides or accelerates.

Lawmakers so far haven’t provided states with the funds needed to prepare for the expected onslaught of mail-in ballots because of the pandemic; New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice estimates $2 billion to $4 billion would be needed to avoid a massive electoral crisis. And Trump, who is counting on chaos so that he can dispute unfavorable results, has publicly cast doubt on the security of mail-in ballots at least 50 times this year, The Post calculates. (He draws an essentially meaningless distinction between “mail-in” and “absentee” ballots.).

Underfunded state election offices mean we can expect serious backlogs with the distributing and tallying of mail-in ballots. This is why now is the time to request ballots, before the Democratic-Republican Campaign logossystems are overwhelmed. The Post’s Kate Rabinowitz and Brittany Renee Mayes this past week calculated that 76 percent of American voters can cast ballots by mail in the fall.

Several Republican-controlled states have imposed voter-suppression measures — purges of voting rolls, voter identification laws, closing polling places, restricting voting hours and limiting early voting — and those assaults on voting rights will disenfranchise many. Trump’s attacks on mail-in ballots, without which people would be forced to risk their health in long voting lines, could discourage many more.

But sufficiently massive turnout will overwhelm all voter suppression schemes — and the results will leave no doubt for Trump to exploit. The first registration and absentee-ballot deadlines are in about 60 days. Check your registration and get your absentee ballot — now.

Fake Virus 'News' From TV Network

sinclair broadcast logo custom

washington post logoWashington Post, Sinclair stations delay airing interview with ‘Plandemic’ researcher amid backlash, Meryl Kornfield, July 26, 2020. After facing intense scrutiny for planning to air a baseless conspiracy theory that infectious-disease expert Anthony S. Fauci helped to create the coronavirus, conservative TV broadcaster Sinclair Broadcast Group announced Saturday that it will delay the segment to edit the context of the claims.

Sinclair, which has 191 stations across the country, received backlash this week after “America This Week” host Eric Bolling interviewed Judy Mikovits, a former medical researcher featured in the debunked “Plandemic” conspiracy online film.

In the Sinclair interview, Mikovits claimed that Fauci “manufactured” the coronavirus and shipped it to Wuhan, China, where the outbreak originated. A chyron during the segment reads, “DID DR. FAUCI CREATE COVID-19?”

Mikovits and her lawyer Larry Klayman dropped other unfounded allegations during the show, including President Trump soft-pedaling relations with China because he has evidence of the country’s involvement with the inception of the virus.

The show was released online earlier this week before it was to be aired on local news channels. The segment was first reported by Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog. As of Saturday afternoon, the show was pulled from Sinclair websites.

Bolling, a former Fox News personality, did not challenge Mikovits’s assertions, calling what she said a “hefty claim.” He later told The Washington Post via text that he brought Fox News medical contributor Nicole Saphier on the show after to provide an He later told The Washington Post via text that he brought Fox News medical contributor Nicole Saphier on the show after to opposing viewpoint.

Saphier said during her interview that it was “highly unlikely” Fauci was responsible for the coronavirus.

anthony fauci CustomFauci, right, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has come under heavy criticism by some conservatives as he has stated positions opposite of the president over the virus and measures needed to contain its spread. Trump, while at times praising the doctor, also has been critical at times.

A Sinclair spokesperson did not respond to requests from The Post for comment, but the company issued a statement saying that it is not “aligning with or endorsing the viewpoints” aired in the segment, but adding that it is “a supporter of free speech and a marketplace of ideas and viewpoints, even if incredibly controversial.”

“We will spend the coming days bringing together other viewpoints and provide additional context,” the company later shared. “All stations have been notified not to air this and will instead be re-airing last week’s episode in its place.”

We hear your feedback regarding a segment on this week's "America This Week." At no juncture are we aligning with or endorsing the viewpoints of Dr. Mikovitz or Mr. Klayman or endorsing the "Plandemic" documentary. Full stop.

— Sinclair Broadcast Group (@WeAreSinclair) July 25, 2020

Based in Maryland, Sinclair owns and operates local news stations across the country and has endured criticism for its anchors parroting Trump’s remarks.

“As a propaganda machine, Sinclair is far more dangerous than OANN,” New York University professor Jay Rosen tweeted following the news of the interview with Mikovits. “Although it’s emerging a little more as itself lately, it is still for the most part a stealth network that operates through local 'community’ stations that present to the viewer as ABC CBS NBC & Fox affiliates.”

Mikovits did not respond to a request for comment but previously told The Post that her troubles stem from a cabal aimed at dismantling her career.

huff post logoHuffPost, Sinclair To Push Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory Via Massive Local News Network: Reports, Sara Boboltz, July 25, 2020. Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the local news behemoth that runs nearly 200 stations across the country, is reportedly set to promote a baseless and inflammatory conspiracy theory about the origin of the coronavirus on some of its channels.

Eric Bolling, a former Fox News host who now hosts a program for Sinclair called “America This Week,” spent several minutes on his latest show interviewing Judy Mikovits, a discredited scientist who is a central character in the conspiracy film “Plandemic,” Media Matters was first to report.

Virus Victims, Responses

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Nears National Peak as 18 States Set Single-Day Records, Staff reports, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). Friday was the fourth day running that the United States reported over 1,100 deaths. Pirate attacks are among the crime patterns shifting in the pandemic. New research sheds light on male vulnerability to severe Covid-19. South Carolina announced 80 new deaths on Saturday, a single-day record.

California. South Carolina. North Dakota, Kentucky. Hawaii. Those are among the 18 states that set single-day case records in the last week, putting the country on track to breaking a national single-day record for new coronavirus cases set less than two weeks ago.

More than 73,500 cases were reported on Friday, according to a New York Times database, approaching the country’s record of 75,697 cases, set on July 16. Since June 24, the seven-day average has more than doubled, to more than 66,100 on Friday from 31,402.

California's San Quentin prison (Aerial view by ABC-TV 7, San Francisco).

California's San Quentin prison (Aerial view by ABC-TV 7, San Francisco).

 washington post logoWashington Post, Guest Opinion: Inside San Quentin prison, you sit and wait until covid-19 comes for you, Joe Garcia, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Garcia is incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, where he is a staff member of the San Quentin News and an editorial liaison for the Prison Journalism Project.

As a working prison journalist, I wanted to keep my eyes and ears wide-open. I wanted to detail everything going on around me as covid-19 raged out of control here. But a fog crept through me. Was it just a cold, a sinus infection, influenza — all things I’ve battled before? I woke to strange chills in the night; there was an acrid aftertaste along the back of my tongue. Maybe I just needed to pull out a blanket.

Is this what covid-19 feels like? My temperature had been normal every day. My breathing remained strong and clear. I wanted to believe that meant I was fine.

On June 22 and 23, everyone in my building, San Quentin’s North Block, lined up for covid-19 testing. I had just begun to feel weirdly awful. I overheard other guys describing the same things I was feeling. None of us wanted to alert the medical staff. So, you admit you’re sick? Well, let’s remove you from the few familiar comforts you have and throw you in an empty cell for a 14-day quarantine. That’s the protocol we all feared worse than covid-19.

Eventually, I did receive a notice informing me that I’d tested positive for covid-19 — one more number in a group that has now passed 2,000. Fifteen San Quentin inmates have died.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Media coverage of the 2016 campaign was a disaster. Now’s the last chance to get 2020 right, Margaret Sullivan, July 25, 2020. How did the news media mess up in the 100 days leading up to the 2016 presidential election? Let me count the ways.

Journalists relied too much on what opinion polls were saying and often presented a skewed interpretation of their meaning. That fed the sense that Hillary Clinton would be the inevitable winner.

They vastly overplayed the Clinton email story, particularly the “reopened investigation” aspect in October. Given Donald Trump’s background and behavior, the emphasis was astonishingly out of whack with reality.

News organizations failed to understand the tear-it-all-down mood of large segments of the voting public, or the racism and sexism that often fueled it.

  • Washington Post, Rep. Ted Yoho removed from board of Christian charity over his comments about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

 california institution resized for women cal dept corrections rehab aerialAn aerial view of the California Institution for Women, right (California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation).

washington post logoWashington Post, Inmates witnessed a suicide attempt. They received coloring pages instead of counseling, Eileen Guo, July 26, 2020. Inmates at the California Institution for Women try to cope with the mental toll of the coronavirus.

On a morning in mid-May, Anna "C.J." Rugg, a 38-year-old transgender man who had tested positive for the coronavirus at the California Institution for Women, set his room in the medical isolation unit on fire.

"I made my room an inferno," he told The Washington Post by JPay, the inmate emailing system, and "laid down on the floor and waited for the smoke to get me."

Rugg had serious health issues and struggled with acceptance since coming out in prison as transgender, but it was the extra stresses of covid-19 measures that pushed him over the edge. “This lockdown is too much,” he wrote to Arlene Veronesi, a close friend and former cellmate. “I lost it. Don’t hate me.”

Even before the coronavirus pandemic, incarcerated individuals in California’s 35 state prisons faced poor mental health care. The situation is especially dire for the rapidly increasing number of female prisoners, who make up 4 percent of the state’s incarcerated population but 11 percent of suicides, according to 2016 figures. Seven women committed suicide between 2013 and 2016 at the California Institution for Women, a 1398-bed prison currently housing close to 1500 women; in 2018, a woman experiencing a psychotic episode waited hours for care, ripping out and swallowing her own eye before receiving treatment.

Multiple state audits of the prison have found slow response rates to mental health incidents as a major factor in suicides. A class-action lawsuit filed in 1990, on behalf of all of California’s incarcerated individuals receiving mental health services, is ongoing.

The pandemic has exacerbated the lack of mental health care at CIW. Inmates have refused tests, temperature checks and other measures meant to contain the virus’s spread to avoid being put in isolation, and four women have attempted suicide while in quarantine or isolation for the coronavirus. “Rather than treat[ing] their mental health,” the pandemic has shifted the entire correctional health care system’s priority to “basically just trying to keep people alive,” said Michael Bien, lead counsel in the class-action lawsuit.

When CIW’s first positive coronavirus test came back on April 6, correctional officials quarantined women to their own cells if they might have been exposed. Prison officials put whole housing units into lockdown and moved positive patients into separate medical isolation units.

But a number of inmates say that CIW staff never told them what was happening.

On the same day as the first positive test at CIW, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) issued guidance requiring all staff to wear face masks. It was “our first time seeing any staff in a mask,” Rianne Theriaultodom, an incarcerated woman who was in the medical isolation unit with Rugg, told The Post via JPay. This left the women “confused and terrified” about the disease’s progression in their facility.

  • Washington Post, Trump’s chief economic adviser says federal eviction ban will be extended, Meryl Kornfield and Marisa Iati, July 26,  2020.

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logoWashington Post, Spin, deride, attack: How Trump’s handling of Trump University presaged his presidency, David A. Fahrenthold, Joshua Partlow and Jonathan O'Connell, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). The judge was out to get him, he said. So was that prosecutor in New York, whom he called a dopey loser on a witch hunt. So were his critics, who he said were all liars. Even some of his own underlings had failed him — bad people, it turned out. He said he didn’t know them.

Donald Trump was in trouble.

Donald Trump Logo Make America Great AgainNow, he was trying to attack his way out, breaking all the unwritten rules about the way a man of his position should behave. The secret to his tactic: “I don’t care” about breaking the rules, Trump said at a news conference. “Why antagonize? Because I don’t care.”

That was 2016. He was talking about a real estate school called Trump University. Trump University, which shut down in 2011 after multiple investigations and student complaints, was treated as a joke by many of Trump’s political opponents — much as they treated Trump Steaks or Trump Vodka. But to those who knew the school well, it wasn’t a joke.

It was a premonition.

The saga of Trump University showed how far Trump would go to deny, rather than fix, a problem, they said — a tactic they have now seen him reuse as president many times, including now, in the face of a worsening pandemic. For months, President Trump promised something wonderful but extremely unlikely — that the virus would soon disappear.

washington post logornc logoWashington Post, House GOP’s pleas to RNC for financial help go unanswered, Rachael Bade, Josh Dawsey and Michelle Ye Hee Lee, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has reached out to the deep-pocketed Republican National Committee and the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, as Democrats have been outraising Republicans by a significant amount.

washington post logoWashington Post, A month later, this New York City primary is still a train wreck and a warning to us all, Jada Yuan, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). New York City's hottest primary election is the 12th Congressional District.

democratic donkey logocarolyn maloney oIn one corner, you have Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, a pal of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s who has been in Congress since 1993 and was recently elected chair of the House Oversight Committee. In the other is Suraj Patel, a former Obama campaign staffer and attorney who has never held public office and helped run his family’s business constructing and franchising hotels in the Midwest before moving to New York in 2010.

Their contest has everything. The Upper East Side. The Lower East Side. A tenacious, white, wealthy 74 year-old Democratic incumbent. A 36-year-old Indian-American challenger who has taught at New York University’s business school and aims to be the state’s first South Asian representative in Congress.

Just 648 in-person votes are separating them, with 65,000 mail-in ballots still being counted. And an entire district of 718,000 people across three boroughs have no idea who their next representative will be — a full month after Election Day.

Veteran Rep. Carolyn Maloney is “pulling away” from Democratic rival Suraj Patel and smelling victory as mail-in votes were counted Thursday night to determine their nail-biting primary, a campaign spokesman said. “It’s all over but the celebration,” said Maloney spokesman George Artz.

Maloney, 74, first elected in 1992 and chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, held a slim 648-vote lead over Patel in the June 23 machine count for the 12th Congressional District encompassing Manhattan’s East Side, the western Queens neighborhoods of Long Island City and parts of Astoria and Woodside and the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn.

But Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order making it easier for New York primary voters to vote via absentee ballot to reduce exposure at polling sites during the coronavirus pandemic. In the 12th CD, as it turns out, more than 65,000 absentee ballots are being counted — far exceeding the in-person voting. About two-thirds of the mail-in-ballots — 47,794 — were sent by Manhattan’s East Side voters.

Maloney comfortably won the larger Manhattan portion of the district while Patel easily carried Brooklyn and Queens. But she only led with 40.3 percent of the machine vote to Patel’s 38.75 percent, with the rest of the votes divided among two other candidates.

washington post logoted yoho oWashington Post, Rep. Ted Yoho removed from board of Christian charity over his comments about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Colby Itkowitz, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). A Christian nonprofit organization that fights world hunger asked Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), right, to resign from its board after he confronted a female colleague and then reportedly used a sexist expletive after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) was out of earshot.

Bread for the World announced Yoho’s resignation in a statement on Saturday, saying that his “recent actions and words as reported in the media are not reflective of the ethical standards expected of members of our Board of Directors

Race, Street Protests, Crackdowns

Portland feds medium (Photo by Doug Brown of the ACLU of Oregon)

Photo by Doug Brown of the ACLU of Oregon

Associated Press via Washington Post, Portland officials declare riot as protesters breach fence around federal courthouse, Gillian Flaccus and Sara Cline, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). Police described via Twitter the “violent conduct of people downtown” as creating a “grave risk of public alarm.”

Authorities declared a riot early Sunday in Portland, Oregon, where protesters breached a fence surrounding the city’s federal courthouse building where U.S. agents have been stationed.

Police described via Twitter the “violent conduct of people downtown” as creating a “grave risk of public alarm.” Police demanded people leave the area surrounding the courthouse, around 1:20 a.m. Sunday, and said that those who fail to adhere may be arrested or subjection to teargas and impact weapons.

By 1:40 p.m., both federal officers and Portland police could be seen on the streets, surrounding the courthouse, attempting to clear the area and deploying teargas.

Protesters remained in the streets past 2:30 a.m., forming lines across intersections and holding makeshift shields, as police patrolled and closed blocks abutting the area. Multiple arrests were made, but it wasn’t immediately clear how many.

washington post logoWashington Post, Seattle police declare riot at renewed protests, Gregory Scruggs, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). Police said protesters set fire to a construction site for a juvenile detention facility and were throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at officers.

The Seattle Police Department declared a riot on Saturday afternoon and used nonlethal weapons in an attempt to disperse a crowd of roughly 2,000 people in the Capitol Hill neighborhood marching in the city’s largest Black Lives Matter protest in more than a month.

The riot declaration came after protesters set fire to a construction site for a juvenile detention facility and as the police department reported that one person had breached the fencing surrounding the East Precinct, the site of nightly clashes in June that led to a nearly month-long protest occupation, and officers saw smoke in the lobby.

Police said protesters were throwing rocks, bottles and fireworks at the officers. As of 7:30 p.m. local time, the department had reported 25 arrests and three police injuries, including an officer hospitalized with a leg injury caused by an explosive. The department posted a photo of unused fireworks found at the scene to its Twitter feed.

washington post logoWashington Post, Opinion: The federal crackdown in Portland is ‘legal.’ That’s the problem with it, Garrett M. Graff (right, former editor of Politico magazine and the author of "Raven Rock: The garrett graff twitterStory of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself — While the Rest of Us Die"), July 26, 2020 (print ed.). Department of Homeland Security officials are following the letter of the law — and flagrantly abusing its spirit.

When Americans worried about their nation veering toward dystopian authoritarianism, no one ever expected those nightmares to involve the Federal Protective Service. That’s in part because, before the post-apocalyptic images of officers in military gear waving flaming cans of smoke and wearing gas masks on the streets of Portland, Ore., few Americans knew the FPS existed at all.

Yet the force — which languished for years within the Department of Homeland Security, with depleted ranks and a dwindling budget — has suddenly become central to the Trump administration’s plan to assert federal power in America’s cities, against the wishes of local officials, in a ploy to demonstrate President Trump’s “law and order” credentials and further his reelection campaign. And officers assisting FPS are riding around in unmarked rental vans, snatching protesters off the streets with seeming disregard for civil liberties.

DHS, run by Chad Wolf, below left — a onetime Hill staffer turned lobbyist with no law degree, law enforcement experience or military background, who is in his eighth month as acting chad wolfsecretary — has become over the past two years a textbook example of what happens when legal structures built for good governance are hijacked.

Now, the Trump administration has transformed federal building guards into an intimidating catchall invading army. (Ironically, most of the federal officers giving the FPS a bad name aren’t even members of the tiny service — they’re agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Border Patrol who have been granted sweeping temporary powers to help the FPS patrol federal buildings and facilities.) “The scandal isn’t what’s illegal,” as the journalist Michael Kinsley once quipped. “The us dhs big eagle logo4scandal is what’s legal.”

The legal fudging in this episode begins at the top. Most of the key decision-makers at DHS hold their jobs because the administration has thumbed its nose at the Senate’s constitutional advise-and-consent role and has left key vacancies open for so long that officials have had to legally relinquish their “acting” title and are now referred to as “senior officials performing the duties.”

Like Wolf, Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli is also a temporary appointment, as is the general counsel, Chad Mizelle. The statutes that allow officials to serve in acting roles were crafted with the expectation that presidents would actually attempt to fill the jobs. But that’s not how Trump uses them — just one way his presidency has turned into a civics lesson in what’s possible if you ignore the spirit of the law and focus only on its letter.

 Personal Finance / Joblessness

washington post logoivanka trump goya pose resized july 14 2020Washington Post, Personal Finance Commentary: Ivanka Trump’s Find Something New career campaign is more hype than help, Michelle Singletary, July 26, 2020 (print ed.). People who’ve lost their jobs because of the coronavirus don’t need a new website. They need better guidance.

Two rich people have decided to tell millions of unemployed people that all they need to do to feed their families and put a roof over their heads is “find something new.”

White House adviser Ivanka Trump (shown at right in her recent promo of Trump allied Goya Foods), and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are co-chairs of the American Policy Workforce Advisory Board, which this month launched the Find Something New ad campaign with a website aimed at helping people find a fresh career path.

The initiative didn’t go over so well on social media. In defense of the effort, the first daughter tweeted to one critic: “I suggest that you visit http://FindSomethingNew.org. This initiative is about challenging the idea the traditional 2 and 4 yr college is the only option to acquire the skills needed to secure a job. This work has never been more urgent.”

 

July 25

Top Headlines

Virus Victims, Responses

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

U.S. Law, Courts

Race, Brutality Protests

World News

 

Top Stories

washington post logomitch mcconnell elevator getty croppedWashington Post, McConnell says stimulus deal could take ‘weeks,’ which would put millions of people in limbo, Jeff Stein and Erica Werner, July 25, 2020 (print ed.). The temporary $600 weekly benefit expires next week, and Republicans are seeking a way to scale it back.

With days to go before enhanced jobless benefits expire, the White House and Senate Republicans are struggling to design a way to scale back the program without overwhelming unemployment agencies and imperiling aid to more than 20 million Americans.

ny times logoNew York Times, Coronavirus Live Updates: U.S. Nears National Peak as 18 States Set Single-Day Records, Staff reports, July 25, 2020. Friday was the fourth day running that the United States reported over 1,100 deaths. Pirate attacks are among the crime patterns shifting in the pandemic. New research sheds light on male vulnerability to severe Covid-19. South Carolina announced 80 new deaths on Saturday, a single-day record.

California. South Carolina. North Dakota, Kentucky. Hawaii. Those are among the 18 states that set single-day case records in the last week, putting the country on track to breaking a national single-day record for new coronavirus cases set less than two weeks ago.

More than 73,500 cases were reported on Friday, according to a New York Times database, approaching the country’s record of 75,697 cases, set on July 16. Since June 24, the seven-day average has more than doubled, to more than 66,100 on Friday from 31,402.

washington post logoWashington Post, A federal eviction moratorium is ending. Here’s what renters should know, Renae Merle, July 25, 2020 (print ed.). The end of the four-month moratorium puts 12 million renters at risk of eviction as the pandemic continues to surge.

For millions of America’s renters, there’s a cliff approaching. Enhanced unemployment benefits that have kept many afloat will expire soon. The recession triggered by the pandemic is expected to be deeper and longer than initially forecast as coronavirus cases surge across the country.

And this week, a federal moratorium that had protected an estimated 12 million renters from eviction for four months is expiring. Of the 110 million Americans living in rental households, 20 percent are at risk of eviction by Sept. 30, according to an analysis by the Covid-19 Eviction Defense Project, a Colorado-based community group. African American and Hispanic renters are expected to be hit hardest.

Virus Victims, Responses

 sinclair broadcast logo custom

huff post logoHuffPost, Sinclair To Push Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory Via Massive Local News Network: Reports, Sara Boboltz, July 25, 2020.  The conservative company owns a huge swath of the local news market in the U.S.

Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the local news behemoth that runs nearly 200 stations across the country, is reportedly set to promote a baseless and inflammatory conspiracy theory about the origin of the coronavirus on some of its channels.

Eric Bolling, a former Fox News host who now hosts a program for Sinclair called “America This Week,” spent several minutes on his latest show interviewing Judy Mikovits, a discredited scientist who is a central character in the conspiracy film “Plandemic,” Media Matters was first to report.

The episode was streamed online this week and is expected to air over an unknown number of Sinclair’s stations this weekend, according to Media Matters and CNN Business.

“Plandemic” is a 26-minute concoction that argues America’s top doctors ― particularly Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House’s coronavirus task force and the nation’s leading expert on infectious disease ― cannot be trusted to provide information on the crisis.

The film was banned from Facebook and YouTube when it started gaining traction earlier this year for providing false information on COVID-19.

Now, key elements of the conspiracy theory will be shown across Sinclair’s vast network of stations, which cover roughly 40% of the American market.

It’s not the first time the company’s conservative leadership has sought to use its platform to push unsubstantiated right-wing theories. In 2018, Sinclair instructed anchors to recite a “must-run” segment decrying the “troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country.”

Mikovits told Bolling that she believes Fauci “manufactured the coronaviruses in monkey cell lines” and shipped them to Wuhan, China, where the illness was first detected.

Contrary to her claims, scientists believe the virus has a natural origin, having evolved to infect humans from bats by way of some unknown intermediary animal. Because Wuhan’s live animal markets bring together animals that would not otherwise normally mix, they provide the perfect environment for such a virus to emerge in the human population. The genetic makeup of the novel coronavirus is also not similar enough to any known human pathogen to have originated in a lab.

Mikovits is a known figure in the anti-vaccine movement whose body of work includes a study on chronic fatigue syndrome that was roundly criticized in the scientific community and abruptly retracted in 2011. She has since attempted to position herself as a victim whose work has been continually suppressed by “Big Pharma.”

U.S. 2020 Elections, Politics

washington post logojoe biden 2020 button CustomWashington Post, Biden predicts that Trump will try to ‘indirectly steal’ election, Annie Linskey, July 25, 2020 (print ed.). Joe Biden on Thursday night warned donors that President Trump will try to “indirectly steal” the 2020 election by making a case against mail-in ballots, a voting method that many are expected to use to avoid exposure to the novel coronavirus during November’s election.

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee asked donors attending a virtual event to spread the word that “this president is going to try to indirectly steal the election by arguing that mail-in ballots don’t work.”

Trump will present mail-in ballots as fraud by making the argument that “they’re not real, they’re not fair,” Biden said.

Palmer Report, Opinion: Donald Trump has a lot less time left than you think, Bill Palmer, right, July 25, 2020. Two things that are equally true: 1) Donald Trump is so far behind in the polls right now bill palmerthat he’s currently on track to lose in a blowout so large that no amount of polling errors or cheating can make a difference. 2) There are still three and a half months until election day, and a lot can change before then. But that second one comes with something of an asterisk.

Yes, Election Day is November 3rd. But here’s the thing. Early voting starts, well, early. We’re less than two months away from the earliest of early voting. Why does that matter? Despite all the talk we hear about not getting complacent, the reality is that most voters love a winner. They like voting for someone they think is going to win anyway, because then they get to be on the winning team. When a candidate is heavily favored, they often win by more than that margin, not less.

bill palmer report logo headerIf Joe Biden is still ten to fifteen points ahead by the start of early voting, we’re going to start seeing a lot of folks locking in their votes early. Even if some weird last minute fluke like the 2016 Comey letter ends up making this a closer race in the end, some of Biden’s bandwagon votes will already be in the can. The bottom line is that Donald Trump has about two months to turn things around before the votes against him start getting locked in.

I know what you’re already thinking: this didn’t help Hillary Clinton in 2016. But that was a very different election for a number of reasons. First, Hillary was never as far ahead of Trump as Biden is right now. Not even close. Second, the media spent most of the 2016 election pretending it was a close race, even during the long stretches where it wasn’t. This time around, due to the sheer size of Biden’s blowout lead, the media is regularly talking about how much of a lead and momentum Biden has.

Of course this all largely comes down to whether you go start putting in the work now on voter registration and voter turnout, in order to start locking in votes for Joe Biden as soon as early voting gets underway. Biden is on track to win – in a huge blowout – but no side ever wins an election without putting in the work required to win.

  • Palmer Report, Opinion: This can’t be real, Bill Palmer, July 25, 2020. There’s no master plan here. “Person, woman, man, camera, TV” isn’t a viable slogan for reelection. Every time Trump talks about his cognitive test, he merely reminds voters that he’s facing serious questions about whether he’s going senile.

washington post logoWashington Post, Jon Ossoff, Georgia nominee for U.S. Senate, sidelined by coronavirus concerns, Colby Itkowitz, July 25, 2020. Jon Ossoff, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Georgia, is self isolating while he awaits the results of a coronavirus test after his wife’s came back positive.

Ossoff and his wife, Alisha Kramer, an OB/GYN, are both experiencing symptoms, according to a statement from his campaign,

jon ossoff Custom“Jon has not held or participated in an in-person campaign event in over a month and will remain in isolation until medical professionals clear both him and Dr. Kramer,” campaign spokeswoman Miryam Lipper said.

Ossoff, right, is running against incumbent Sen. David Perdue (R) in one of a handful of competitive races around the country that Democrats hope to win in their effort to take control of the Senate. Cook Political Report rates the contest a toss-up.

Ossoff made his name in Democratic politics in 2017 in a hard fought special election for a House seat that Democrats had hoped to win to signal a repudiation of President Trump, even in long-held Republican districts. Ossoff ultimately lost 48 percent to 51 percent to Karen Handel, but Democrats seized upon the strong showing as proof of Trump’s vulnerability.

washington post logoWashington Post, Perspective: Media coverage of the 2016 campaign was a disaster. Now’s the last chance to get 2020 right, Margaret Sullivan, July 25, 2020. How did the news media mess up in the 100 days leading up to the 2016 presidential election? Let me count the ways.

Journalists relied too much on what opinion polls were saying and often presented a skewed interpretation of their meaning. That fed the sense that Hillary Clinton would be the inevitable winner.

They vastly overplayed the Clinton email story, particularly the “reopened investigation” aspect in October. Given Donald Trump’s background and behavior, the emphasis was astonishingly out of whack with reality.

News organizations failed to understand the tear-it-all-down mood of large segments of the voting public, or the racism and sexism that often fueled it.

  • Washington Post, Rep. Ted Yoho removed from board of Christian charity over his comments about Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Law, Courts

washington post logoWashington Post, Trump sued over plan to exclude undocumented people from representation, Tara Bahrampour, July 25, 2020 (print ed.). Multiple lawsuits were filed in response to a memorandum signed by the president Tuesday that called for an unprecedented change in how House seats are apportioned.

A flurry of lawsuits have been filed challenging President Trump’s directive to block undocumented immigrants from being counted in congressional apportionment.

The government watchdog organization Common Cause and several cities, groups and individuals filed a complaint, Common Cause v. Trump, on Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

The American Civil Liberties Union, New York Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Texas, and the law firm Arnold & Porter followed suit on Friday, filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of immigrants’ rights groups. The suit, New York Immigration Coalition v. Trump, was filed in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of New York.

New York Attorney General Letitia James, backed by 21 attorneys general across the country, also filed a suit Friday on behalf of a coalition of states, cities, and counties.

washington post logoWashington Post, Supreme Court rejects Nevada church’s argument against pandemic restrictions, Robert Barnes, July 25, 2020 (print ed.). The Supreme Court Friday night denied a Nevada church’s plea that the state’s coronavirus-related restrictions on houses of worship unlawfully treat them worse than the state’s famous casinos.

The vote was 5 to 4, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and the court’s liberals in the majority. They did not give a reason for rejecting the emergency plea from Calvary Chapel Dayton Valley, a church in Dayton, Nev. That is not unusual in the court’s treatment of such petitions and in line with what the Supreme Court did in rejecting a challenge to California’s restrictions in May.

But the court’s four most consistent conservatives made their objections clear in three lengthy dissents.

Race, Brutality Protests

ny times logoNew York Times, Federal Agents Push Into Portland Streets, Stretching Limits of Their Authority, Mike Baker, Thomas Fuller and Sergio Olmos, July 25, 2020. Federal agents are venturing blocks from the buildings they were sent to protect. Oregon officials say they are illegally taking on the role of riot police.

After flooding the streets around the federal courthouse in Portland with tear gas