September 19, 2020

Week 201

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

It’s hard to express the sense of loss this year has brought to the our country: already we’ve endured three years of division, broken norms, lawlessness, kleptocracy, bigotry and hate, gaslighting and non-stop lies — leaving our country anxious and exhausted entering 2020.

This year has brought illness, unemployment, starvation, death, wildfires, hurricanes, social unrest, and now the loss of a revered and beloved Supreme Court justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 46 days before the election. It’s hard to put into words the cumulative stress, sorrow, and anger our country is experiencing. Now, as Trump continues to lie and sow doubt about the integrity of the election, we face the unthinkable of a Supreme Court stacked in his favor possibly deciding the outcome of a contested election.

On top of that, this week brought more questions about Trump’s handling of the deadly pandemic as we approach an unthinkable 200,000 deaths. Bob Woodward’s book, combined with a town hall appearance by Trump this week, raised serious questions about Trump’s mental health and attachment to reality. Woodward concluded there is a nervous breakdown of the executive branch and Trump “is the wrong man for the job.” As the country starts voting this week in record numbers, America stands on edge.

  1. On Tuesday, Scientific American endorsed Joe Biden, the first time the magazine has endorsed a presidential candidate in its 175-year history, saying, “This year we are compelled to do so. We do not do this lightly.”
  2. The magazine cited “the evidence and the science show that Donald Trump has badly damaged the U.S. and its people,” noting the “devastating example” of “his dishonest and inept response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
  3. On Tuesday, Pew Research found the U.S. image has plummeted internationally: across the 13 nations, just 15% say the U.S. has done a good job of dealing with the pandemic, 85% say the U.S. has not.
  4. Just 16% have confidence in Trump, and 34% view the U.S. favorably. In the U.K., just 41% expressed a favorable opinion of the U.S., the lowest percentage registered in any Pew Research Center survey there.
  5. Trump was the least trusted leader, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 76%, French President Emmanuel Macron at 64%, Russian President Vladimir Putin at 23%, and Chinese President Xi Jinping at 19%.
  6. On Tuesday, an NBC News poll found 52% of adults do not trust Trump on a Covid-19 vaccine, 26% do, 20% were unsure. The poll also found just 39% said they would get a vaccine, 23% said they would not, 36% unsure.
  7. On Wednesday, Pew Research found 43% of Republicans identify mail-in ballot fraud as a major problem and 31% as a minor problem, while 11% of Democrats say major and 23% say minor.
  8. Of the 43% of Republicans who see mail-in fraud as a major problem, 61% tune in to only Fox News and conservative radio, and 61% say the Trump campaign is a major source of political news.
  9. On Saturday, NYT reported Trump will visit California on Monday, after receiving criticism for weeks of silence, which was especially notable in contrast to his actively speaking out on topics he thought would help his re-election.
  10. The apocalyptic images coming from the West Coast were a reminder of the consequences of climate change. Joe Biden delivered a speech Saturday addressing climate change, and the losses people in the West faced.
  11. On Saturday, Trump tweeted, “Was Andy McCabe ever forced to pay back the $700,000 illegally given to him and his wife, for his wife’s political campaign, by Crooked Hillary Clinton.” This claim is untrue in many ways.
  12. On Saturday, Trump held a rally in Minden, Nevada. As the rally at a tarmac opened, hundreds of people ran to grab seats close together, with no social distancing or masks, after standing together in line.
  13. Trump defied local officials by holding a rally for thousands in Minden, after his initial plan to hold a rally at a Reno venue was canceled. Trump unleashed a rambling 90-minute speech of grievances and attacks.
  14. Trump attacked Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, “This is the guy we are entrusting with millions of ballots…Who the hell is going to trust him?” adding, “The only way the Democrats can win the election is if they rig it.”
  15. Trump fumed about a Biden campaign ad, saying, “Now I can be really vicious,” saying Biden “doesn’t know he’s alive,” and “Sleepy Joe Biden. You know where he is now? He’s in his damn basement again.”
  16. Trump also invoked Hillary Clinton, leading the crowd to launch chants of “Lock Her Up!,” claiming he usually tried to stop the chant but “I don’t care if you say it anymore,” and added Clinton “should be in jail.”
  17. On Saturday, in an interview with Alex Jones’ far-right conspiracy-theory site, Infowars, Roger Stone echoed Trump, saying Democrats were trying to rig the election, and said Trump should declare “martial law” if he loses.
  18. On Saturday, AP reported Vice President Mike Pence dropped his plans to attend a fundraiser in Montana hosted by a couple who had expressed support for the QAnon conspiracy theory, reported in Week 200.
  19. On Saturday, NYT reported college campuses have become the new coronavirus hot spot, with colleges and universities recording 36,000 cases last week, bringing the total to 88,000 since the pandemic began.
  20. On Saturday, the Colorado secretary of state sued the U.S. Postal Service, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, and other officials over election mailers she said will mislead voters on timing, saying it was confusing and wrong.
  21. The mailers advise voters to request a vote-by-mail ballot at least 15 days before the election, and return the ballot at least seven days before — differing from the state’s rules. The judge granted a temporary restraining order.
  22. On Sunday, WAPO reported Michael Bloomberg will spend at least $100 million of his own money to help Biden in Florida. If Trump loses Florida in November he has almost no path to victory.
  23. On Sunday, Trump, who did not know the words to the Pledge of Allegiance in Week 200, tweeted, “Joe Biden cannot LEAD…They even removed the words “Under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance — twice.”
  24. Trump also tweeted he is running “to ensure the future belongs to AMERICA — NOT China,” adding, “If we win, AMERICA WINS! If Biden wins, China wins. If Biden Wins, the rioters, anarchists, and arsonists win.”
  25. Trump also quoted a tweet on Drudge’s ratings being down, saying, “Drudge is down 40% plus since he became Fake News,” adding, “he’s bleeding profusely, and is no longer “hot”…Lost ALL Trumpers.”
  26. Trump also tweeted about a gunman who shot two L.A. County deputies, saying, “Animals that must be hit hard!” and “If they[the deputies] die, fast trial death penalty for the killer. Only way to stop this!”
  27. Trump also attacked Bloomberg, tweeting, “I thought Mini Mike was through with Democrat politics after spending almost 2 Billion Dollars,” asking why no one challenged his “average” and “outdated” business.
  28. Trump also attacked NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio who encouraged social distancing and masks, tweeting, “But people don’t want to get mugged, beaten up, or killed. Let New York’s Finest (who proudly endorsed me!) do their job.”
  29. Trump also tweeted, “Deaths and hospitalizations way down, and even cases down despite far more Testing than any other country in the World.” This is false, and the U.S. was using less than half of its testing capacity.
  30. On Sunday, White House trade advisor Peter Navarro defended Trump on “State of the Union,” lying that “in February, nobody knew” about Covid, adding, “No, nobody knew. Not the president, not you, not Nancy Pelosi.”
  31. The interview became heated, with Navarro accusing anchor Jake Tapper of “cherry-picking” Trump’s comments, adding, “You’re not honest with the American people. CNN is not honest with the American people.”
  32. On Sunday, GOP Chair Ronna McDaniel defended Trump on “Meet the Press,” saying he was “calm and steady in a time of unrest and uncertainty,” and “history will look back” on how well he handled it.
  33. McDaniel also lied, blaming the high U.S. death toll on “more testing” — an unrelated metric.
  34. On Sunday, Peter Strzok told “Meet the Press” he believes Trump is “compromised by the Russians,” saying Trump’s financial enterprise placed him in a position “where the Russians have leverage over him.”
  35. On Sunday, Trump tweeted, “Remember, Miami Cubans gave me the highly honored Bay of Pigs Award for all I have done for our great Cuban Population!” No such award exists.
  36. On Sunday, Trump held a day rally in Nevada, again falsely claiming, “we are rounding the corner” on Covid-19, and said of the gunman who killed two deputies, “He’s not a human being — he’s an animal.”
  37. Biden also condemned the shootings, tweeting, “This cold-blooded shooting is unconscionable and the perpetrator must be brought to justice.”
  38. On Sunday, Politico reported Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is quietly relaunching his ‘Madison Dinners’ during the pandemic, even as Congressional Democrats are investigating the tax-payer funded events.
  39. Pompeo had planned to host the dinner for Monday at Blair House, the first since March, but it was moved to the State Department. The intimate dinners led to staffer grumbling as they require significant staffing.
  40. On Sunday, Bob Woodward told “60 Minutes” of tapes, “This is the tragedy. the president of the United States has a duty to warn. The public will understand,” saying Trump went down “the path of deceit and cover up.”
  41. Woodward said when he spoke to Trump in August Trump told him, “Nothing more could have been done,” and said “it almost took my breath away, that there was such certainty, when he was absolutely wrong.”
  42. Woodward said Trump told him the U.S. was close to war with North Korea. The CIA said of Kim Jong Un’s letters to Trump, “analysts concluded that they’re masterpieces. Because they are appealing to Trump’s sense of grandiosity.”
  43. On Sunday, Trump held his first indoor rally in three months, in defiance of the Nevada governor and his regime’s pandemic guidelines. The last indoor rally in Tulsa resulted in a surge of cases and Herman Cain’s death.
  44. Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, who limited in-person gatherings indoors and outdoors to 50 people since May, said Trump was “taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger here in Nevada.”
  45. The city of Henderson notified the event venue, Xtreme Manufacturing, owned by a Trump supporter, that the event was in violation of emergency directives and the company would be fined. Other venues had said no.
  46. With nearly 200,000 dead and more than 1,000 dying daily, Trump told the thousands packed together without masks, “We are not shutting the country again,” adding, “We will very easy defeat the China virus.”
  47. Trump gave an hour-long rambling speech, mentioning mandatory prison sentences for flag burning, praised various UFC fighters in attendance, and endorsed extrajudicial killings for those who target police officers.
  48. Trump attacked Biden, calling him a tired career politician who is “unfit to be president,” and blamed media coverage for Biden’s lead: “Maybe he’ll win because they don’t like me, they don’t like my personality.”
  49. Trump repeated his threat to serve more than two terms, saying, “We’re going to win four more years in the White House, and after we win four more years we’ll ask for maybe another four or so.”
  50. Trump said, “They nominated your president twice…for a Nobel prize,” adding with a xenophobic reference, saying, “Barack Hussein Obama, he got it” — Trump twice used Obama’s middle name in his speech.
  51. Trump also told the crowd, “If the governor comes after you, which he shouldn’t be doing, I’ll be with you all the way.” Xtreme Manufacturing could be fined $500 per attendee exceeding the 50 allowed.
  52. Later Sunday, Trump tweeted, “For the entire summer, Joe Biden was SILENT as left-wing mobs assaulted police officers…set fire to police cars, precinct stations…” and “called them “PEACEFUL PROTESTORS.””
  53. Trump lied, saying Biden wanted to cut police funding, and lied he “even called law enforcement “the ENEMY,”” and the GOP knows police officers are “not villains, but HEROES who risk their lives to KEEP US SAFE.”
  54. On Monday, Trump defended his Sunday indoor rally, telling the Las Vegas Review-Journal he did not believe that he was subject to Gov. Sisolak’s order limiting gatherings to 50 people.
  55. Asked if he was concerned about safety, Trump said, “I’m on a stage, and it’s very far away,” but did not address the health concerns about his supporters. Asked about his safety, he said, “I’m not at all concerned.”
  56. On Monday, NYT reported while his campaign defended his right to hold indoor rallies, privately aides were uneasy, calling it a game of political Russian roulette amid a concern that rallies would prolong the pandemic.
  57. The decision to hold the rally indoors was a last resort, and campaign officials admitted state officials pressured them not to host the rallies. The campaign told the Times it had no plans for more indoor rallies.
  58. On Monday, Tim Miller, the former communications director for Jeb Bush, in an op-ed called Trump’s rally “the single most appalling and reckless political event hosted by any presidential nominee in my lifetime.”
  59. On Monday, WAPO reported Trump’s rallies are getting a lot less television coverage than they did in 2016, particularly if they are held indoors. Trump’s Sunday rally was not covered, even by Fox News or C-SPAN.
  60. Citing health concerns at indoor rallies, correspondents and camera crews largely covered the Sunday rally from outside the facility. Just the small number of reporters from the White House press pool ventured inside.
  61. On Monday, U.S. District Judge William Stickman, a Trump appointee, ruled that Pennsylvania’s since-suspended business closure and stay-at-home orders, as well as limits on gatherings, were unconstitutional.
  62. Trump tweeted, “Congratulations Pennsylvania. Now we await the decision on the Rigged Ballot Scam, which is so bad for our Country!” and “Next up, the Ballot Hoax!” and retweeted several posts celebrating the ruling.
  63. On Monday, the World Health Organization reported the Sunday one-day increase of 308,000 global cases of Covid-19 was the highest since the pandemic began, with India, the U.S., and Brazil reporting the most cases.
  64. On Monday, WAPO reported Jeannette Young, a public health officer in Australia, became the latest healthcare official to face death threats for their response to the pandemic, joining officials in Germany and the U.S.
  65. On Monday, embattled Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko got a pledge of support from Putin, after the fourth weekend in a row of more than 100,000 protesting in Minsk, despite arrests and alleged torture.
  66. On Monday, with the election 50 days away, Trump spent the morning sending a series of rage tweets about Robert Mueller, his team and investigation, as well as Peter Strzok.
  67. On Monday, Politico reported a digital ad released by the Trump campaign on September 11 calling on people to “support our troops” used a stock image of Russian fighter jets and Russian models dressed as soldiers.
  68. On Monday, Michael Caputo, the top communications official at the Department of Health and Human Services, went on a Facebook live rant, claiming the CDC is harboring a “resistance unit” to undermine Trump.
  69. Caputo warned that he could be in danger due to reporting last week, and advised his followers, “If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”
  70. Caputo said his physical health was in question, and his “mental health has definitely failed,” and that the death toll was taking a toll on him, saying, “You are not waking up every morning and talking about dead Americans.”
  71. Caputo accused CDC employees of plotting “how they’re going to attack” Trump, adding, “there are scientists…who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president,” and accused them of “sedition.”
  72. Caputo was a Trump loyalist with no background in public health, and was appointed in April to protect Trump’s public image. In the 26-minute rant, like Trump, he cited conspiracy theories and the “deep state.”
  73. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported an internal memo by former Facebook data scientist Sophie Zhang alleged Facebook knew leaders of countries around the world were using it to manipulate voters, and failed to act.
  74. On Monday, celebrities including Kim Kardashian West and Mark Ruffalo said they are “freezing” their Facebook and Instagram accounts on Tuesday to protest the spread of hate speech and misinformation there.
  75. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Turning Point Action, a pro-Trump conservative youth organization, has enlisted teenagers in a social media scheme reminiscent of a troll-farm to coordinate pro-Trump messaging.
  76. On topics like the coronavirus and mail-in voting, the group has been conducting a secretive campaign that experts say evaded the guardrails meant to stop the spread of disinformation by the likes of Russia.
  77. The Post identified thousands of Facebook posts and 4,500 tweets associated with the group’s activity. The social media companies have removed some content and rebuked Turning Point.
  78. On Tuesday, Facebook and Instagram flagged posts by the Fox News show “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” saying they repeated information on Covid-19 “that multiple independent fact checkers say is false.”
  79. The clip included an interview with Li-Meng Yan, a Chinese virologist who claims that the virus “is not from nature,” and citing a false study, claiming it was made in a lab in China.
  80. On Tuesday, Daily Beast reported groups associated with Steve Bannon are behind the false study by Yan, and are meant to fit Trump’s narrative blaming China for weaponizing the pandemic.
  81. On Thursday, Bloomberg Businessweek’s cover featured Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a red “Make America Great Again” hat, with the cover story, “Facebook Needs Trump Even More Than Trump Needs Facebook.”
  82. On Monday, Woodward told the “TODAY” show that the idea of restricting travel from China due to the pandemic was not Trump’s idea, but came from Dr. Anthony Fauci after a January 28 meeting.
  83. On Monday, NYT reported the Biden campaign created a legal war room, including two former solicitors general and hundreds of lawyers, to fight battles on how people will vote and how to get their vote counted.
  84. The campaign is also preparing for what could be an extended legal battle over election results. The effort was billed by the campaign as the largest election protection program in presidential campaign history.
  85. On Monday, Politico reported the Trump campaign filed new arguments in its lawsuit to stop mail-in voting in New Jersey, claiming the law signed by the state’s governor violates the Constitution and federal statutes.
  86. The Trump campaign had claimed NJ’s Constitution only allows the state Legislature, not the governor, to determine how elections are passed. The Democrat-controlled legislature passed a law and the governor passed it.
  87. On Monday, NBC News reported the DOJ IG is investigating circumstances behind the sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, and focusing on events in February when prosecutors were told to seek a lighter sentence.
  88. On Monday, a federal court ruled 2-1 that Trump can phase out temporary protected status for more than 300,000 people from Sudan, Nicaragua, and Haiti as soon as March and from El Salvador by November 2021.
  89. The ruling would impact families that have been living and working legally in the U.S., many for decades. Biden has said he would allow TPS enrollees to stay. The decision was likely to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
  90. On Monday, Trump held an indoor event in Arizona with more than 100 attendees, most without masks, billed as a round table. The event came as Trump tried to control the news cycle ahead of the election.
  91. On Monday, WAPO reported at least 35 had died in California and Oregon as wildfires continued to rage. Thick plumes of smoke made it difficult to breathe, with air quality among the worst in the world.
  92. Later Monday, Trump headed to California. He told reporters on the tarmac, “When trees fall down…in about 18 months, they become really dry. They become really like a matchstick…and they just explode.”
  93. In explaining wildfires, Trump refused to acknowledge climate change, also adding, “if you have years of leaves, dried leaves on the ground, it just sets it up. It’s really a fuel for a fire. So they have to do something about it.”
  94. At a round table, Trump brushed off concerns by Natural Resources Sec. Wade Crowfoot, saying the weather “will start getting cooler.” Crowfoot said, “I wish science agreed with you.” Trump said, “I don’t think science knows.”
  95. Biden spoke about climate change, saying, “If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out?”
  96. As Hurricane Sally hit the gulf coast and delivered 20 to 30 inches of rain, amid a possible record number of hurricanes, Biden labelled Trump a “climate arsonist” and “denier” who would leave the U.S. underwater.
  97. Later Monday, Woodward shared tapes on Stephen Colbert’s show of Trump telling him on April 13, “Bob, it’s so easily transmissible, you wouldn’t even believe it.
  98. Trump also said, “I was in the White House a couple of days ago, a meeting of 10 people in the Oval Office, and a guy sneezed…just a sneeze…The entire room bailed out, okay?” adding, “Including me, by the way.”
  99. On Monday, the Daily Beast reported right-wing activist and conspiracists Jack Burkman and Jacob Wohl staged a fake FBI raid at Burkman’s home, by paying actors found on Craigslist to dress up as FBI agents.
  100. The Post, which reported on the raid, later retracted its story, saying the newspaper had been duped, and failed to obtain confirmation of the raid before publishing the story. Burkman and Wohl had lied to the Post.
  101. On Tuesday, Trump called in to “Fox & Friends,” telling the hosts, “we’ve agreed to do it once a week in the morning.” The hosts looked visibly uncomfortable, with one later saying, “Fox has not committed to that.”
  102. Trump lied, saying of Nevada Gov. Sisolak, “He’ll cheat on the ballots. I have no doubt about it … you’re going to see a rigged election.” Notably the secretary of state, not governor, oversees the election.
  103. Trump also lied about a possible Covid-19 vaccine, saying, “You wouldn’t have a vaccine for years … I speeded up the process with the FDA,” claiming it is coming “in a matter of weeks” and will be delivered “immediately.”
  104. Asked how to address climate change, Trump gave a meandering, false response, saying, “you have forests all over the world. You don’t have fires like you do in California, you know. In Europe, they have forest cities.”
  105. Without saying which country, Trump said, “they maintain their fire. They have an expression, they thin the fuel,” and “the trees that fall, they’re dry. They’re like — they’re like a matchstick, you know, after 18 months.”
  106. Trump also attacked the media, saying, “What’s happened to the news, what’s happened to the media in this country is a terrible thing. It’s a shame. And it’s really — much of it is absolutely the enemy of the people.”
  107. Trump added, “It’s the enemy of the people, whether it’s the New York Times, Washington Post, the networks.” With no pushback, a co-host asked, “Are we the enemy of the people?” Trump said, “No, you’re not.”
  108. Trump also baselessly accused Biden of taking drugs, saying, “He’s taking something. He’s taking something that gives him some clarity.” Biden later responded, telling reporters of Trump, “He’s a fool.”
  109. On Tuesday, Trump retweeted a post that labeled Biden of being a pedophile, promoting a false conspiracy theory that has been spread by QAnon.
  110. Trump also shared a manipulated video tweeted by an unverified account that was suspended of Biden in Florida replacing the song ‘Despacito’ with N.W.A’s anti-police anthem, and adding, “What is this all about?”
  111. Trump also tweeted after a big media buy by Biden, “We are advertising all over the place, but as much as we do, the Fake News likes to say we aren’t,” lying, “We have much more money than we had at same time in 2016.”
  112. Trump also attacked the NFL, saying their ratings have “Cratered,” citing, “We have plenty of politics to go around without disrespecting our great American Flag or Anthem,” adding, “Just not worth it, hard to watch!”
  113. On Tuesday, the World Trade Organization ruled that the Trump regime’s tariffs on Chinese goods, put in place in 2018 in the middle of Trump’s trade war, violated international trade rules. China had filed a complaint.
  114. The U.S. has 60 days to respond, but since Trump has refused to appoint new members to the WTO appellate, there is no functioning body to hear the case. China could ask to recoup losses through tariffs on U.S. goods.
  115. On Tuesday, AP reported Pennsylvania’s Department of State issued guidance saying counties cannot reject ballots based only over signatures, prompted by a League of Women Voters and the Urban League lawsuit.
  116. On Tuesday, in an interview, CNBC host Jim Cramer asked, “What deal can we have, Crazy Nancy? I’m sorry, that was the president…I would never use that term …” Pelosi responded, “But you just did.” Trump tweeted the clip.
  117. Cramer later apologized on his show, saying, “I made a very stupid comment.” Trump tweeted a clip of the apology and added, “Jim, you didn’t make a mistake. It’s true, and that’s why you said it. No pandering!”
  118. On Tuesday, Dawn Wooten, a whistleblower who worked as a nurse at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention center in Irwin County, Georgia, reported a high number of hysterectomies there.
  119. The nurse, along with four lawyers representing clients, said migrant women were routinely sent to Dr. Mahendra Amin, a gynecologist who left them bruised and performed unnecessary procedures.
  120. In the complaint, Wooten said her patients told her they were afraid to go to Amin, whom they called the “uterus collector.” Records showed his performing medically unnecessary hysterectomies on multiple detainees.
  121. The lawyers identified Amin from a complaint Wooten filed along with unnamed detainees with the DHS IG, citing detainees were not getting Covid-19 tests and other needed medical care. She was demoted in July.
  122. On Tuesday, The Hill reported the DOJ launched an investigation into John Bolton’s book, and whether it illegally disclosed classified information.
  123. On Tuesday, in an ABC town hall in Pennsylvania, Trump was, for the first time in many weeks, asked tough questions by undecided voters and the moderator. CNN calculated Trump made at least 22 misleading claims.
  124. WAPO’s fact checker found Trump made 24 false or misleading claims, including several that were considered “Four Pinocchios.”
  125. Asked why he downplayed the virus, Trump lied, saying, “I didn’t downplay it. I actually — in many ways I up-played it in terms of action.” Trump lied claiming Biden had said the pandemic was “totally over-exaggerated.”
  126. On why he does not wear a mask, Trump said, “a lot of people think that masks are not good.” Pressed as to who thinks that, Trump said, “waiters,” citing they touch the food and their masks while serving. This is misleading statement.
  127. Asked why the U.S. has more than 20% of all deaths, Trump repeated his lie, “We have 20% of the cases because of the fact that we do much more testing.” Testing does not created cases, it helps mitigate cases and deaths.
  128. Asked about his statement that the virus will go away, Trump said it would without a vaccine: “you’ll develop herd, like a herd mentality,” referencing herd immunity which would require 70% of American to be infected.
  129. Trump again lied that he was “doing a health care plan” and it would be coming out soon — a claim he has made since 2019. He also lied about protecting people with pre-existing conditions, while suing to end Obamacare.
  130. On crime, Trump lied that protestors in Seattle took over “20% of the city” — the truth is six blocks, and lied that due to cutting police, “crime is up 100%, 150%. I saw one form of crime up 300%” in some cities. Not true.
  131. Shortly after the town hall, Fox News host Laura Ingraham said on her show that Trump “loves mixing it up with everybody,” but said of the town hall where undecided voters asked questions, “this is an ambush.”
  132. On Tuesday, QAnon supporter Lauren Witzke won the GOP Senate primary in Delaware, becoming the second pro-QAnon candidate to win a 2020 primary. Witzke said in January she no longer promotes QAnon.
  133. Witzke has been photographed in a QAnon t-shirt, and has a history of posting QAnon hashtags on social media. She has also in the past pushed anti-Semitic, flat earth, and 9/11 conspiracies.
  134. On Tuesday, Trump held a ceremony at the White House to sign an accord with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu along with delegations from Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, almost entirely without masks.
  135. Other attendees seen without masks included Republican National Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Vice President Mike Pence, and the majority of the members of Trump’s cabinet who attended.
  136. On Wednesday, a WAPO/ABC News poll found non-college educated women, a key demographic for Trump in 2016, were fleeing him in Minnesota and Wisconsin, while non-college educated men continued to support.
  137. On Wednesday, Trump again shared the manipulated video of Biden in Florida from an unverified account that was later suspended, this time adding, “China is drooling. They can’t believe this!”
  138. On Wednesday, the Big Ten Conference announced its Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted unanimously to resume football games on October 23, reversing a vote in August to postpone.
  139. Shortly after, Trump took credit, tweeting, “Great News: BIG TEN FOOTBALL IS BACK. All teams to participate,” adding, “Have a FANTASTIC SEASON! It is my great honor to have helped!!!”
  140. While Trump continued to take credit, saying, “If we didn’t get involved, you wouldn’t even be talking about Big Ten right now,” no league officials pointed to Trump on the return, but credited other reasons.
  141. Trump also tweeted the lie, “Democrats are “heartless”. They don’t want to give STIMULUS PAYMENTS to people who desperately need the money.” The opposite was true: House Democrats passed a bill in May.
  142. Trump added, “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway.” Senate Republicans tried to pass a paltry $300 billion last week that failed. His tweet caught the GOP by surprise.
  143. Jared Kushner said Tuesday a deal might not happen until after November. Speaker Nancy Pelosi had lowered what the House would accept to $2.2 trillion, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was too high.
  144. On Wednesday, a survey found nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults under 40 were unaware that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and 48% of respondents could not name a single concentration camp.
  145. On Wednesday, after Newt Gingrich tried to repeatedly blame George Soros funding for violence in Democratic-run cities, a common anti-Semitic trope, Fox News hosts called him out, after which there was silence.
  146. On Thursday, Fox News co-host Harris Faulkner apologized to Gingrich on her show, saying he “is beloved and needed to be allowed to speak with the openness and respect that this show is all about.”
  147. On Wednesday, in a pre-Rosh Hashanah call, Trump urged American Jews to vote for him, invoking the anti-Semitic trope, “We love your country also” — signaling Israel, not the U.S.
  148. On Wednesday, federal officials who were part of the regime’s Operation Warp Speed outlined plans to begin distribution of a potential vaccine within 24 hours of any approval or emergency authorization.
  149. On Wednesday, HHS announced that Caputo would be taking a medical leave for the next 60 days to “focus on his health and the well-being of his family,” meaning he would not return before the November election.
  150. Caputo claimed he was taking temporary medical leave to “pursue necessary screenings for a lymphatic issue discovered last week.” He also said threats against his family were impacting his stress level.
  151. The agency also said that Paul Alexander, a top Caputo aide who in Week 200 was reported to have tried to exert control over coronavirus messaging and CDC weekly reports, would be leaving HHS permanently.
  152. On Wednesday, at a Senate hearing, CDC director Robert Redfield predicted most Americans will not have access to a coronavirus vaccine until late spring or summer of next year — contradicting Trump.
  153. Redfield also said masks are “the most important, powerful public health tool we have” and that universal mask use could bring the pandemic under control in a few months.
  154. Redfield added, “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine,” saying vaccines are not 100% effective, but masks worn properly can be.
  155. Redfield said he was “deeply saddened” by Caputo’s accusations that his agency contained a “resistance unit,” saying the CDC is made up of “made up of thousands of men and women, highly competent. It is the premier public health agency in the world.”
  156. On Wednesday, Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the outlook for the economy is “extraordinarily uncertain,” adding to follow advice that “to wear masks in public will help get the economy back to full strength.”
  157. On Wednesday, WAPO reported an August wedding in Maine of 65 family and friends, has been identified as a ‘superspreader’ event responsible for 175 cases and seven deaths. None who died attended the wedding.
  158. Later Wednesday, Trump disputed Redfield’s comments under oath on the vaccine, saying, “I called him — I said, ‘What did you mean by that?’ I think he just made a mistake…I think he misunderstood the question.”
  159. Trump added, “a vaccine is much more effective than the mask,” and “I said to him, what’s with the mask.’ He said I think I answered that question incorrectly.’ I think maybe he misunderstood it.”
  160. Trump also praised his coronavirus response, saying, “if you take the blue states out, we’re at a level I don’t think anybody in the world would be at” — again part of his pattern of acting as leader for just some of America.
  161. Trump also confirmed a White House staffer had tested positive, saying, “Last night I heard about it for the first time, and it’s a small number of cases,” adding, “And it’s not anybody that was near me.”
  162. Trump also threatened again to use military force against protestors on election night, saying, “We will put it down very, very quickly if there is. And I think the American public wants to see that.”
  163. When pressed on use of force, Trump again claimed, without evidence, “There’s going to be fraud all over the place,” and ranted about mail-in voting.
  164. Shortly after, Redfield tweeted, “I 100% believe in the importance of vaccines and the importance in particular of a #COVID19 vaccine,” saying it “is the thing that will get Americans back to normal everyday life.”
  165. Redfield added, “The best defense we currently have against this virus are the important mitigation efforts of wearing a mask, washing your hands, social distancing and being careful about crowds.”
  166. On Wednesday, Texas Tribune reported Texas state health officials revealed the state’s coronavirus positivity rate was higher in the spring than originally disclosed. The data was used to justify business reopening.
  167. On Wednesday, AP reported GOP Sen. Mitt Romney criticized Senate Homeland Security Chair Ron Johnson’s investigation at a committee meeting, saying the probe of Biden-Burisma is “not the legitimate role of government.”
  168. Romney also said that the investigation from the “outset had the earmarks of a political exercise.” Johnson did not respond to the comment, but withdrew requests for additional subpoenas earlier in the meeting.
  169. On Wednesday, Ohio’s chief justice Maureen O’Connor, a Republican, condemned the Ohio GOP’s “disgraceful, deceitful” allegations against a lower court Democratic judge in a ballot drop box lawsuit.
  170. On Wednesday, the Trump campaign filed an order with a federal judge seeking to stop New Jersey from early ballot counting, and permitting mail-in ballots to be accepted up to 48 hours after Election Day.
  171. On Wednesday, a whistleblower testified hours before law enforcement officials forcibly cleared protestors at Lafayette Square, federal officials stockpiled munitions and other extreme devices to clear crowds.
  172. In addition to about 7,000 rounds of ammunition to the D.C. Armory, officials sought devices that would emit deafening sounds and make anyone within range feel like their skin is on fire.
  173. Whistleblower D.C. National Guard Maj. Adam DeMarco told lawmakers in sworn testimony that defense officials sought crowd control technology deemed too unpredictable to use in war zones to use against protestors.
  174. DeMarco said a June 1 email to the D.C. National Guard asked if they had a Long Range Acoustic Device, a device that was shelved amid concerns about its effectiveness, and ethics of using it on human beings.
  175. DeMarco’s account also contradicted the regime’s claims that the protests were violent, that tear gas was never used on protestors, and that protestors were given ample warning to disperse.
  176. On Wednesday, WSJ reported in a call last week, Attorney General William Barr told the nation’s federal prosecutors they should consider charging rioters or those committing violent crimes with sedition, a highly unusual suggestion.
  177. Barr suggested violent protest could worsen ahead of the November election, and suggested prosecutors seek federal charges — seeming to align himself with Trump’s crackdown and law and order messaging.
  178. Although police said they are alarmed by armed fringe groups from both political sides, Barr has blamed all violence on leftist extremists including antifa, which he described as a movement advocating revolution.
  179. Sedition is a rarely used statute, and experts said prosecutors would need to prove there was a conspiracy to attack government agents or officials that posed an imminent danger, and would mark an escalation.
  180. NYT also reported Barr also asked prosecutors in the DOJ’s civil rights division to explore whether they could bring criminal charges against Mayor Jenny Durkan of Seattle for allowing a police-free protest zone.
  181. On Wednesday, CNN reported speaking at a celebration hosted by Hillsdale College on Wednesday night, Barr mocked hundreds of DOJ officials for wanting to “set the agenda,” comparing them to preschoolers.
  182. Barr said, “It might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it is no way to run a federal agency,” in defending his own politically tuned decision making in the Trump regime.
  183. Barr also compared lockdowns and stay at home orders to “house arrest,” adding, “Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history.”
  184. On Thursday, House Majority Whip James Clyburn said of Barr’s comments on slavery, “You know, I think that that statement by Mr. Barr was the most ridiculous, tone-deaf, God-awful thing I’ve ever heard.”
  185. On Thursday, Guardian reported former model Amy Dorris accused Trump of sexual misconduct, alleging he forced his tongue down her throat and groped her at the 1997 U.S. Open, leaving her feeling “sick” and “violated.”
  186. On Thursday, Trump sent a series of tweets about mail-in voting full of distortions, as he continued to discredit the election. All his tweets were labeled by Twitter with a tag saying, “Learn how mail is safe and secure.”
  187. Trump tweeted, “Because of the new and unprecedented massive amount of unsolicited ballots which will be sent to “voters”, or wherever…result may NEVER BE ACCURATELY DETERMINED,” and “Stop Ballot Madness!”
  188. Trump also tweeted, “Unsolicited Ballot States should give it up NOW,” adding, “ask people to go to the Polling Booths…Otherwise, MAYHEM!!! Solicited Ballots (absentee) are OK.” Both tweets were distortions.
  189. Trump later in the day tweeted, “Unsolicited Ballots are uncontrollable, totally open to ELECTION INTERFERENCE by foreign countries, and will lead to massive chaos and confusion!” Twitter again slapped a label on it.
  190. On Thursday, Baltimore Sun reported in a book by the late Rep. Elijah Cummings, he described Trump’s Twitter attacks: “You can imagine it and try to dismiss it,” but “the harsh cold onslaught, is just pure pain.”
  191. On Thursday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows sided with Trump on the vaccine, telling Fox News, “I’d bet on President Trump based on what I know behind the scenes,” adding, “I’m not sure where Dr. Redfield got his particular timetable.”
  192. On Thursday, in an op-ed, former DNI Dan Coats called for a commission to over the 2020 election, saying, “the most urgent task American leaders face is to ensure that the election’s results are accepted as legitimate.”
  193. Coats said, “Our democracy’s enemies, foreign and domestic, want us to concede in advance that our voting systems are faulty or fraudulent,” adding if these work, “we are lost, no matter which candidate wins.”
  194. Coats added, “No American…should want such an outcome. Total destruction and sowing salt in the earth of American democracy is a catastrophe well beyond simple defeat and a poison for generations.”
  195. On Wednesday, DNI John Ratcliffe reversed in a statement, saying his office will continue to brief congressional leaders and the Senate and House intelligence committees, but will not brief all lawmakers.
  196. On Thursday, CNN reported FBI Director Christopher Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee Russia has been “very active” in efforts to influence U.S. elections, with the primary goal being to “denigrate” Biden.
  197. Wray testified, Russia is using social media, proxies, state media and online journals to sow “divisiveness and discord” and to “denigrate” Biden. Unlike 2016, Russia is not targeting election infrastructure so far.
  198. Contradicting Trump and Barr, Wray also said white supremacist violence is the largest part of the greatest domestic terrorist threat in the country, what he called “racially motivated violent extremism.”
  199. Wray said antifa is “not a group or an organization. It’s a movement or an ideology,” putting him at odds with Trump who called it a terror group. Wray said some individuals who identify as antifa were a serious concern.
  200. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf, who was also called to testify, defied the subpoena, and was participating in a meeting with Senate Homeland Security Committee staff regarding his nomination.
  201. House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson said Wolf’s failure to appear “should appall every member of this committee.” DHS claimed since Wolf is a “pending nominee” he should not talk to Thompson’s panel.
  202. On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court blocked the Green Party presidential ticket from state ballots, saying the party did not submit signed filing papers in person. This follows a similar ruling in Wisconsin.
  203. In a separate case Thursday, the court sided with Democrats, ruling voters can turn in ballots via drop box in addition to the USPS, and allowed ballots to be returned up to three days after Election Day.
  204. On Thursday, in divisive remarks delivered at the White House, Trump said he would start a new commission to promote “patriotic education,” and would create a grant to develop a “pro-American curriculum.”
  205. In his continued attacks on purging critical race theory,” Trump derided a “twisted web of lies” being taught in U.S. classrooms about systemic racism in America, calling it “a form of child abuse.”
  206. Trump added, “the radicals have mistaken Americans’ silence for weakness…There is no more powerful force than a parent’s love for their children” and “patriotic moms and dads” are fed up with “hateful lies.”
  207. Although the federal government does not have jurisdiction over school curriculum, Trump said, “parents are not going to accept indoctrination in our schools, cancel culture at work or the repression of traditional faith.”
  208. Trump attacked the 1619 Project and Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States, calling them “toxic propaganda, ideological poison that, if not removed, will dissolve the civic bonds” and “will destroy our country.”
  209. Trump said instead schools should focus on “the legacy of 1776,” and blamed the left for “a vicious and violent assault on law enforcement” this summer. His speech drew comparisons to Hitler Youth.
  210. On Thursday, WAPO reported Olivia Troye, who worked as homeland security, counterterrorism, and coronavirus adviser to Pence for two years said she would vote for Biden, citing her experience in the White House.
  211. Troye, the first regime member who worked extensively on the coronavirus response to speak out, said Trump showed a “flat out disregard for human life,” noting his promoting “false narratives and incorrect information.”
  212. Troye organized and participated in every coronavirus task force meeting. She said Trump was unengaged in meetings, and went off on tangents. She said his pronouncements, like his promotion of hydroxyochloroquine, blindsided officials.
  213. She blamed Trump and his regime for the number of cases and deaths, pointing to Trump’s unwillingness to embrace masks, even as advisers “repeatedly begged.” She said people were afraid to disagree with Trump.
  214. On Thursday, NYT reported the CDC’s heavily criticized guidance posted last month that it was not necessary to test asymptomatic people even if they had been exposed to the virus was not written by CDC scientists.
  215. The recommendation was placed on the CDC website by HHS officials, despite CDC scientists’ serious objections. The Trump regime told the Times then that the document was a CDC document reviewed by Redfield.
  216. CDC scientists said the document contains “elementary errors,” including referring to “testing for Covid-19,” as opposed to testing for the virus that causes it, and recommendations inconsistent with the their stance.
  217. Adm. Brett Giroir told the Times the original draft came from the CDC, but he “coordinated editing” that included members of the taskforce, claiming he did not know why it circumvented the usual CDC scientific review.
  218. On Friday, following the Times reporting and criticism, the CDC reversed its guidance, saying people who have had close contact with someone infected with the coronavirus should get tested, even if asymptomatic.
  219. On Monday, Bloomberg reported U.S. Postmaster General DeJoy boosted his giving to $600,000 to Republican political campaigns over eight weeks after the opening of the postmaster general position was announced.
  220. On Monday, NBC News reported a 2001 audit by the USPS IG found New Breed Logistics, then run by DeJoy, was awarded more than $300 million in no bid contracts, costing $53 million more than if competitively bid.
  221. On Monday, Politico reported the Postal Police Officers Association sued the USPS and Dejoy, saying the USPS abruptly ordered its police officers to stop investigating mail theft that occurs away from post office property.
  222. The union said the changes were implemented on August 25, a day after DeJoy testified to Congress. The union said having the Postal Police Officers stop investigating thefts would be a sharp break from decades old practices.
  223. On Thursday, WAPO reported on nearly 10,000 USPS emails, memos, and other documents from March and April obtained under the FOIA. In April, mail carriers revolted, saying they had few protections from Covid-19.
  224. The USPS occasionally relied on Stefan Passantino for legal advice. Passantino was a former deputy White House counsel now serving on a group that could challenge 2020 election results, raising new ethical flags.
  225. In April, USPS leaders drafted a news release announcing plans to distribute 650 million masks nationwide — five face coverings to every American household. The plan was later scrapped by the Trump regime.
  226. The USPS board also retained Republican consultant Rick Hohlt, and considered tapping Reince Priebus, the former White House chief of staff, to help break the logjam over need for additional stimulus.
  227. The executive director of watchdog American Oversight, which obtained the emails, said, “I see President Trump’s fingerprints all over,” and also raised concerns of the overlap between the USPS and Republican Party.
  228. Later Thursday, a federal judge sided with 14 states, temporarily blocking operational changes at the USPS, citing Trump and DeJoy are “involved in a politically motivated attack” that could disrupt the election.
  229. The judge said changes “likely will slow down delivery of ballots,” creating a “substantial possibility that many voters will be disenfranchised” and the states may not be able to determine results in a timely, accurate manner.
  230. The judge added, “It is easy to conclude” that recent “changes is an intentional effort on the part the current Administration to disrupt and challenge the legitimacy of upcoming local, state, and federal elections.”
  231. The judge ordered the USPS to treat all election mail as first-class, and to reverse changes like having mail carriers leave mail behind at postal facilities, to stop requiring trucks to leave at set times if mail is not ready.
  232. On Friday, Vanity Fair reported in meetings in late March, Kushner resisted taking federal action like the Defense Production Act to alleviate shortages of PPE, since the virus was primarily impacting blue states.
  233. Even as Kushner was advised states were bidding against each other, he said, “It’s up to the states to figure out what they want to do,” and “Free markets will solve this. That is not the role of government.”
  234. Others cited New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appearances on the topic, to which Kushner said, “Cuomo didn’t pound the phones hard enough to get PPE for his state…His people are going to suffer and that’s their problem.”
  235. On Friday, NBC News reported an Idaho pastor who called himself a “no-masker” and prayed with his congregation in violation of a local ordinance, has been in an intensive care unit for two weeks with Covid-19.
  236. On Friday, four House committee chairs, Adam Schiff, Carolyn Maloney, Jerry Nadler, and Zoe Lofgren, asked the DOJ IG to conduct an “emergency investigation” into Barr’s handling of the Durham investigation.
  237. On Friday, Daily Beast reported lawyers representing the U.S. at Julian Assange’s extradition trial acknowledged that GOP congressman Dana Rohrabacher offered him a presidential pardon to cover Russia links.
  238. The offer was made at the Ecuadorian embassy in London on August 15, 2017, where Rohrbacher and one other claimed to be emissaries offering a pardon for not revealing the source of the WikiLeaks information.
  239. The lawyer for the U.S. government told the court, “The position of the government is we don’t contest these things were said. We obviously do not accept the truth of what was said by others.”
  240. On Friday, a Michigan state judge ruled that absentee ballots postmarked before Election Day can be counted if they arrive two weeks after the polls close, a victory for Democratic groups that brought the lawsuit.
  241. On Friday, at news conference, Trump announced a package of aid to Puerto Rico for Hurricane Maria, after blocking aid for years, telling reporters, “I’m the best thing that’s ever happened to Puerto Rico.”
  242. The announcement underscored the importance of Florida in the electoral college, as Trump found himself behind in several swing states he won in 2016, and seemed to suggest a direct appeal to buy votes.
  243. Shortly after, NYT reported a deal between the White House and pharmaceutical industry to lower drug prices collapsed after Meadows demanded drug companies send cash payments ahead of the election.
  244. Meadows insisted the drug companies send $100 cash cards to seniors, known as “Trump Cards,” ahead of the election. The drug companies did not want to be part of seeming to give Trump an 11th hour political boost.
  245. Later Friday, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at 87 from complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer. Ginsburg, a pioneer for women’s rights, served 27 years on the Supreme Court.
  246. According to her granddaughter Clara Spera, days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
  247. Shortly after her death, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who in 2016 stalled Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland from March until after the election, said he would bring a Trump nominee to a vote on the floor.
  248. Trump, who was speaking at a campaign rally in Minnesota was unaware of the news. Nearly 90 minutes after her death, Trump the crowd the next president will have “anywhere from 1 to 4 Supreme Court vacancies.”
  249. Biden said any vote should come after the election, saying, “Voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice to consider.”
  250. On Saturday, Trump urged the Senate to consider his Supreme Court pick “without delay,” tweeting, “We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us.”
  251. On Saturday, former president Barack Obama said in a statement, “A basic principle of the law — and of everyday fairness — is that we apply rules with consistency, and not based on what’s convenient or advantageous in the moment.”
  252. Obama added, “The rule of law, the legitimacy of our courts, the fundamental workings of our democracy all depend on that basic principle,” noting, “votes are already being cast in this election.”
  253. As the week came to a close, there were 30,588,989 worldwide cases and 953,482 dead from the coronavirus. The U.S. had 6,745,190 cases (22.1%), 198,921 deaths (20.9%), and a mortality rate of 3.0%.

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Copyright Amy Siskind, September 19, 2020

People gather at the Supreme Court Friday, Sept. 18, 2020, in Washington, after the Supreme Court announced that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died of metastatic pancreatic cancer at age 87.