September 26, 2020

Week 202

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

This week Trump said he would not accept a peaceful transition of power — a remarkable, unprecedented statement. While there was pushback in the form of the Senate voting for a resolution affirming its commitment to a peaceful transition — without mentioning Trump by name or condemning his statement — Trump persisted with his lies about mail-in ballot voter fraud, and refused to back down.

While polls show Biden winning nationally and in battleground states won by Trump in 2016, Trump’s threat, accompanied by an article in The Atlantic saying Trump might try a coup if he loses, left the country on edge — especially with Trump moving forward to appoint a Supreme Court nominee, stacking the court 6–3 ahead of legal challenges. Even Pentagon leaders were reported to be discussing what they would do if Trump tried to use troops on protestors. Yet, while Trump continued to sow doubt about the election, voters requested mail-in ballots in record numbers. States that revealed voting requests data by party identification showed a huge margin of Democrats requesting and sending back their ballots over Republicans.

This week, the U.S. passed the grim milestone of 200,000 dead and over 7,000,000 infected with the coronavirus. By week’s end, the virus was coming back into the spotlight, not only amid rising concerns about the politicization of a possible vaccine and federal health agencies, but also with a new surge in daily cases.

  1. On Sunday, the coronavirus death toll passed 200,000 Americans. Public health experts said tens of thousands of deaths were avoidable with a national plan and masks. Others noted we have a long way to go.
  2. The grim milestone marked the largest number of deaths in U.S. history other than the Civil War, World War II, and the 1918 pandemic. Trump continued to play down the pandemic as behind us, and took no action.
  3. On Sunday, the Washington National Cathedral rang its bells 200 times, once for every 1,000 lives taken by the virus. It was streamed for people at home to watch.
  4. On Monday, volunteers for the COVID Memorial Project placed 20,000 American flags to memorialize the 200,000 deaths from the coronavirus on the National Mall.
  5. The Star Tribune Editorial Board wrote, “If a terrorist attack took 200,000 American lives, the country would mobilize for war…Take time to reflect on the enormity of our loss — and the lack of a strategy to protect the U.S.”
  6. On Saturday, NYT reported in a power grab, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar asserted authority over health agencies in a September 15 memo sent to heads of operating and staff divisions within HHS.
  7. Azar’s memo barred health agencies, including the FDA, from signing any new rules regarding foods, medicines, medical devices, and other products, including vaccines without his approval.
  8. Experts expressed alarm the move would contribute to the growing public perception of political meddling at the nation’s health agencies. The move gave Trump control that there would be no surprises from the agency ahead of the election.
  9. On Sunday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former head of the FDA, told “Face the Nation” that centralizing control with HHS “makes no sense,” saying, “they should be reaffirming the independence and the integrity of these agencies.”
  10. On Saturday, Sen. Susan Collins split with Trump, saying the Senate should wait until after the election to vote on a Supreme Court nominee. Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined Collins on Sunday. Trump disparaged both.
  11. On Saturday, Trump said he would pick a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, saying, “We won and we have an obligation as the winners to pick who we want,” adding, “we’re here…now,” despite cries of hypocrisy.
  12. Trump also changed his mind again on the sale of TikTok, saying he approved of its sale to Oracle, after its CEO Larry Ellison, a Trump supporter, pledged to “ensure data privacy to TikTok’s American users.”
  13. On Saturday, Politico reported with RBG still on the bench, Chief Justice John Roberts had the power to join with the liberal justices to issue or deny emergency relief in election fights. Now this may become a GOP strategy.
  14. So far there have been between 170 and 250 election-related court cases filed or litigated in 45 states, a record pace in this election cycle. At the request of the losing side, the cases could end up at the Supreme Court.
  15. Later Saturday, Trump spoke at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina for an estimated 5,600 supporters who stood close together at an airport tarmac, and did not wear masks. Health officials urged attendees to get tested for Covid-19.
  16. Trump said he expected the courts to have a major role in the election, saying, “Now, we’re counting on the federal court system to make it so that we can actually have an evening where we know who wins.”
  17. Trump told the crowd, “Our allies, in many ways, treat us worse than our enemies,” and called the media the “enemy of the people” and fake news. He predicted a victory in November, “the likes of which you’ve never seen.”
  18. On Saturday, Trump supporters in Fairfax, Virginia disrupted early voting, chanting “four more years” as voters entered a polling location, and forming a line voters had to walk around at one point.
  19. Election officials said they stayed 100 feet from the entrance, but acknowledged some voters and polling staff members felt intimidated.The demonstration started at a nearby “Trump Train” parade.
  20. On Sunday, a Reuters poll found 62% of Americans believe the Supreme Court vacancy should be filled by the winner of the November election, 23% disagree. Eight in 10 Democrats and five in 10 Republicans agree.
  21. On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told “This Week” she would not rule out impeaching Trump or Attorney General William Barr to delay a Supreme Court vote in the Senate during the lame duck session.
  22. Pelosi added, “We have our options. We have arrows in our quiver that I’m not about to discuss right now,” and “We’ve taken an oath to protect and defend the Constitution” and “meet the needs of the American people.”
  23. On Sunday, an ABC News/Ipsos poll found just 9% had a great deal of confidence in Trump to confirm a coronavirus vaccine’s safety and effectiveness, 18% had a good amount of confidence.
  24. On Sunday, in a Fox News interview with host Mark Levin, Trump accused Democrats of denigrating a potential vaccine, saying ,“Instead of saying, ‘Wow, that’s great’…They started denigrating it.”
  25. Trump bragged, “I have totally changed the FDA process,” and complained, “You would think they’d be happy and thrilled and jumping up and down,” adding, “Instead … it’s just a terrible situation.”
  26. Trump also threatened the media, saying, “I would love to strengthen up the libel laws so when the New York Times writes ones of many fake stories, you can sue them and have a substantial chance of winning.”
  27. On Sunday, NPR reported based on internal emails and memos at the Census Bureau career officials warned on July 13 that shortening the census “will result in a census that has fatal data quality flaws.”
  28. In a series of emails and phone calls, career officials cited problems with rushing and shortening the national head count and the perception of “politically-manipulated results.”
  29. A report by the Commerce Department IG released on Monday, prompted by NPR reporting, warned of the risks to the accuracy and completeness of the count from speeding up the census schedule.
  30. On Monday, Trump called into “Fox & Friends.” He tweeted ahead to watch his appearance, and then used the virtual appearance to announce by phone that he had narrowed his list of replacements for the SCOTUS.
  31. Asked about Ginsburg’s dying wish that the next president picks her successor, Trump said, “I don’t know that she said that or was that written out by Adam Schiff and…” A co-host pressed, “It was reported.”
  32. Trump continued, “But that sounds like a Schumer deal or maybe a Pelosi or Shifty Schiff. So that came out of the wind, let’s say. I mean maybe she did or maybe she didn’t.”
  33. On the coronavirus, with 200,000 dead, Trump bragged, “We’re rounding the corner on the pandemic,” and “We’ve done a phenomenal job. Not just a good job. A phenomenal job.”
  34. Trump added, “On the job itself, we take an A+, with the ventilators and now with the vaccines that are years ahead of schedule,” and on “public relations, but that’s because I have fake news…I give myself a D.”
  35. Trump lied, saying, “We’re rounding the corner — with or without a vaccine — they hate it when I say that, but that’s the way it is.” Experts warned of a second wave. Already nearly half of states were seeing a rise.
  36. Trump also claimed “you’ll have” a vaccine “long before the end of the year, maybe, maybe by the end of October,” continuing to contradict all the public health experts.
  37. On Monday, ABC News reported neither Trump nor the White House have mentioned the 200,000 deaths milestone, nor indicated there any plans to mark the grim occasion. At 100,000 deaths, flags were lowered to half-staff.
  38. On Monday, stocks slid on fears of a coronavirus spike in some European countries after loosening restrictions, and the dwindling prospects for another coronavirus relief bill ahead of the election.
  39. On Monday, the CDC edited its webpage retracting recently added language saying it was “possible” that it spreads via airborne transmission. It marked the third major revision in guidelines since May.
  40. The agency had posted information on Friday that the virus can transmit over a distance beyond six feet, saying, “Airborne viruses, including COVID-19, are among the most contagious and easily spread.”
  41. Previously the CDC had said Covid-19 was thought to spread mainly between people in close contact, but Friday’s language had said “small particles, such as those in aerosols,” were a common vector.
  42. The WHO recognized the threat of airborne spread in July. Jay Butler, a CDC deputy director claimed the update was posted in error, saying, “an early draft of a revision went up without any technical review.”
  43. On Monday, the Justice Department targeted three Democratic cities — New York, Seattle, and Portland — “that have permitted violence and destruction of property,” calling them “anarchist jurisdictions.”
  44. The memo by AG Barr threatened to cut federal funding, saying he hopes the cities “will reverse course and become serious about performing the basic function of government and start protecting their own citizens.”
  45. A memo issued by Trump earlier this month indicated he wanted to get more aggressive against civil unrest in these three cities. Trump was unsuccessful in a similar funding cut over immigration policies.
  46. On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proposed legislation that would impose felony-level penalties on anyone who damages property, causes injury, or destroys public property during a protest.
  47. On Tuesday, citing protests three months ago, EPA administrator Andrew Wheeler said local agency officials had become so fearful of the New York City streets they are now considering moving offices.
  48. On Monday, BuzzFeed News obtained more than 2,100 suspicious activity reports by major U.S. and international banks, relating to more than $2 trillion of transactions between 1999 and 2017, under the FOIA.
  49. Over the eight years, the banks’ internal compliance officers flagged more than $2 trillion as possible money laundering, including $1.3 trillion of $2 trillion in transactions that passed through Deutsche Bank.
  50. The reports also showed suspicious payments to people in Trump’s orbit before and after key moments in the 2016 presidential campaign, although not to Trump or the Trump Organization.
  51. On Monday, Manhattan DA Cy Vance cited news reports in a court filing seeking eight years of Trump’s tax returns, and for the first time suggested criminal charges, including falsifying business records and tax fraud.
  52. On Monday, Andrew Weissman, one of Robert Mueller’s top deputies, wrote in a new book that the team found sufficient evidence that Trump committed a crime, enough to charge him if he wasn’t a sitting president.
  53. Weissman said the findings were impacted by Trump’s threat to fire Mueller, and said Mueller did not seek testimony by Trump for fear of “an explosive confrontation with the White House.”
  54. Weissman said of Barr, who was a friend of Mueller, that “one reason the president and his enablers were able to spin the report was that we had left the playing field open for them to do so.”
  55. On Monday, Daily Beast reported William Crews, a managing editor at far-right website Red State who is a public affairs specialist for the NIH, has spent months trashing the work of NIH under a pseudonym “streiff.”
  56. In months of negative posts, including dubbing Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the NIH, a “mask nazi,” Crews has floated the type of disinformation the agency warned has made it hard to control spread of the pandemic.
  57. On Monday, a federal judge in New York ordered the U.S. Post Office to treat election mail as priority mail. The judge also threatened to demand weekly updates on efforts to process the mail.
  58. On Monday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson echoed Trump: “We don’t know actually what Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s final words were. Did she really leave this world fretting about a presidential election? We don’t believe that.”
  59. On Monday, speaking to reporters, Trump was asked about whether the Kremlin poisoned Alexey Navalny, he sidestepped the question, saying, “Uh … We’ll talk about that at another time.”
  60. Later Monday, Trump held a rally in Vandalia, Ohio in a packed hangar where few were wearing face masks. Trump called Biden “a communist,” and said of Putin, “I like Putin, he likes me. We get along.”
  61. Trump lied on Covid-19, contradicting what he told Woodward, “Now we know it…It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems and other problems. That’s what it really affects.”
  62. Trump also lied, after telling Woodward “plenty of young people” will get infected, saying, “In some states, thousands of people — nobody young. Below the age of 18, like, nobody. They have a strong immune system.”
  63. Trump also lied, claiming, “Suburban women — they love me. You know why? They want security and they don’t want projects being right next to their house,” and said Biden would “destroy suburbia.”
  64. On Tuesday, NBC News reported while Trump has struggled to land an effective attack against Biden, he is increasingly stoking his base by warning vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris could become president.
  65. At his rally in North Carolina on Saturday, Trump lied, saying Biden was secretly forced to sign documents, mimicking, “I’m getting tired. I’d like to rest. I’d like to let Kamala take over as president!”
  66. On Tuesday, Trump shared a tweet that Harris would be a leading figure in opposing his Supreme Court pick, and added, “Great news. It will show how incompetent she is!”
  67. Trump also continued his attack on blue states, tweeting, “The Democrats are only interested in BAILING OUT their badly managed, high crime, Blue States,” adding, “Republican States are great!!!”
  68. Trump also announced he had expanded his ban on racial sensitivity training to federal contractors, tweeting, “Today, I’ve expanded that ban to people and companies that do business with our Country.”
  69. Trump also expanded to include “divisive and harmful sex and race-based ideologies,” and added, “Americans should be taught to take PRIDE in our Great Country, and if you don’t, there’s nothing in it for you!”
  70. On Tuesday, Sizzler USA, one of the country’s first casual restaurant chains, filed for bankruptcy citing the pandemic.
  71. On Tuesday, Yelp found 163,735 total U.S. businesses that use their website have closed since the beginning of the pandemic, and that 60% of those businesses, or 97,966, had closed permanently.
  72. On Tuesday, Costco pulled Palmetto Cheese from 120 of its stores, after Palmetto’s owner called the Black Lives Matter movement a “terror organization” on his Facebook page.
  73. On Tuesday, Yahoo News reported in an apparent play for votes from QAnon supporters, the National Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is using ads portraying Democratic lawmakers as sex offenders.
  74. On Tuesday, Bob Woodward said at a conference on the 200,000 deaths, in “covering nine presidents, I’ve never seen anything like it,” saying the “medical nightmare on the American population is staggering, stunning.”
  75. Woodward added, “It’s on his head, and he did not do enough. He just didn’t,” and that Trump has failed to build a team around him, and that he “harasses people” and “attacks people who work for him.”
  76. Woodward added, “This impulse decision-making, I’ve never seen anything like it in the presidency or any other institution where it’s this one man band and he’s going to say and do exactly what he wants.”
  77. Woodward added, “Nixon was a criminal president, and he was driven out of office by the Republican Party. His people used to say no one died…there’s a certain truth to that. Two hundred thousand people have died.”
  78. On Tuesday, at the daily press briefing, asked about Trump saying he was “downplaying” the virus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, lied, saying Trump “has never downplayed critical health information.”
  79. Asked about the 200,000 deaths which Trump had not mentioned, McEnany said, “The fact that we have come nowhere near 2 million deaths is a testament to this president taking immediate action.”
  80. On Tuesday, the White House escalated its attacks on Olivia Troye, the former Pence aide who endorsed Biden. Keith Kellogg, a national security adviser lying to reporters, saying, “The reason I fired her was her performances started to drop,” and he “escorted” her out.
  81. Troye responded, tweeting it was a “bald faced lie” to protect Trump, and adding, “I resigned on my own accord & was asked to stay,” and “The truth drives this White House crazy.”
  82. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Republicans indicated in a filing that they plan to appeal the mail-in deadline ruling, allowing voters to return ballots up to three days after the election, to the Supreme Court.
  83. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the FDA plans to announce new, tough standards for an emergency authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine to win back public trust, making it unlikely one will be cleared by November 3.
  84. The move came as the percentage of people who would take the vaccine dropped to 51 from 72 in May, amid Trump politicizing the vaccine and the regime’s interference in federal science agencies.
  85. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Pentagon funneled $1 billion of relief funds from the Cares Act meant for pandemic medical items, and mostly to defense contractors for jet engine parts, body armor, and dress uniforms.
  86. The taxpayer funds were meant to be used to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.” Some of the defense contractors had already got relief from the Paycheck Protection Program.
  87. On Tuesday, WAPO reported a top-secret August 31 CIA assessment concluded Russian President Putin was “probably directing” a Russian influence operation to denigrate Biden.
  88. The memo said Andriy Derkach worked through lobbyists, lawmakers, the media, and one “prominent” person connected to the Trump campaign thought to be Rudy Giuliani, to spread disparaging information on Biden.
  89. On Tuesday, NYT reported unlike 2016 when Russian trolls had to invent the disinformation in their attempt to influence the presidential election, in 2020, they are using Trump’s tweets and misleading statements.
  90. The FBI and DHS warned foreigners might try to exploit the time it takes to count ballots. Russian trolls have been amplifying Trump’s tweets and misinformation about the dangers of mail-in ballots.
  91. On Tuesday, Greg Fischer, the mayor of Louisville, declared a state of emergency “due to the potential for civil unrest,” ahead of a Kentucky grand jury presenting a report on Breonna Taylor’s fatal shooting.
  92. On Tuesday, according to watchdog blog Checks and Balances Project which filed the complaint, the Office of Special Counsel will investigate Education Sec. Betsy DeVos for potentially violating the Hatch Act.
  93. DeVos criticized Biden in an interview on Fox News, that was then also posted on the Education Department’s YouTube page, in early September.
  94. On Tuesday, WAPO reported, Alek Kyzik, the organizer of the MAGA caravan to Portland on Facebook that ended up in a shooting, was not a Republican activist. He had also tweeted at Donald Jr. from a new account.
  95. His real name was Alex Kuzmenko from Idaho. He and his family were immigrants from Belarus and Ukraine ­and had almost no political profile. The pro-Trump Idaho Liberty Dogs had not heard of Kuzmenko.
  96. The rally was promoted by the Kremlin-financed RT. The next day, Trump and conservatives tweeted about the rally and blamed the left. Intelligence has warned of foreign efforts to sow discord.
  97. On Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz told Fox News Mike Bloomberg might face a criminal probe for raising money to pay felons’ fines in Florida so they can vote. Bloomberg paid fines for 32,000 Black and Hispanic voters.
  98. On Tuesday, Gaetz cited a Bloomberg memo described in reporting that said, “Democratic support rate tends to be 90%-95%,” for Black voters. It was unclear what basis Gaetz had for a probe.
  99. On Tuesday, asked by reporters about deaths topping 200,000, Trump said, “Well I think it’s a shame,” adding, “I think if we didn’t do it properly and didn’t do it right, you’d have two and a half million deaths.”
  100. Pressed by a reporter on why he had not commented on the grim milestone, Trump did not answer, scanning the crowd for a friendly reporter, and saying, “Go ahead. Uhhh, anybody else?”
  101. On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in Pittsburgh to a packed crowd of thousands of supporters, few wearing masks, and many who were yelling and chanting, a known way to spread the virus.
  102. With 200,000 dead, Trump bragged again, “We closed it up, we saved millions of lives, that’s the bottom line,” and complained of the Democratic governor, “Are your churches still closed? They’re still closed?”
  103. Trump said of Biden, “I mean, honestly, what the hell did he spend all that money on the plastic surgery [for] if he’s gonna cover it up?” referring to Biden wearing a face mask.
  104. Trump continued his baseless claim that protestors have used canned food as weapons at protests, saying, “Cans of tuna fish. They go out and buy tuna fish and soup…They throw it. It’s the perfect weight, tuna fish.”
  105. Trump also attacked Somalian-born Rep. Ilhan Omar, saying, “She is telling us how to run our country. How did you do where you came from? How is your country doing?”
  106. Trump added, “We don’t need socialists, and we don’t need communists telling us how to run our country.” Trump smiled as supporters chanted “send her back” during one of his rants on Omar and other lawmakers of color.
  107. Omar responded, tweeting, “this is my country & I am a member of the House that impeached you,” and “I fled civil war when I was 8. An 8-year-old doesn’t run a country even though you run our country like one.”
  108. On Tuesday, Trump surrogate Pam Bondi defended Kyle Rittenhouse, telling Fox News host Sean Hannity that Rittenhouse was “a little boy out there trying to protect his community.”
  109. On Tuesday, Cindy McCain, the widow of Sen. John McCain, endorsed Biden, tweeting, “My husband John lived by a code: country first. We are Republicans, yes, but Americans foremost.”
  110. McCain said, “The most important thing that moved me a great deal was talking about troops being ‘losers,’” citing the article in The Atlantic, adding, “You know we have children in the military, as did the Bidens.”
  111. Asked if she considered Trump’s reaction, McCain said she would just “laugh it off” if Trump attacked her in one of his “5 in the morning” tweets. Trump tweeted the next morning at just after 4 a.m. Arizona time.
  112. Trump tweeted, “I hardly know Cindy McCain” and “Joe Biden was John McCain’s lapdog,” and “So many BAD decisions on Endless Wars,” adding, “Never a fan of John. Cindy can have Sleepy Joe!”
  113. On Wednesday, an article in The Atlantic laid out a case for Trump refusing to concede the election, citing a confluence of events enabling him like the pandemic and mail-in voting, a compromised USPS, and lawsuits.
  114. The article warned Trump could reject the election outcome, or use his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him, or obstruct a legally unambiguous victory for Biden.
  115. The article cited at the state and national levels, the GOP is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority.
  116. On Wednesday, the New York attorney general’s office argued Eric Trump has no right has to delay a subpoena for his testimony on whether the Trump Organization misvalued assets until after the election.
  117. A New York state judge ordered Eric to comply with the subpoena and testify before the election, no later than October 7, saying he found Mr. Trump’s arguments for a delay “unpersuasive.”
  118. On Wednesday, an inquiry led by Senate Homeland Committee Chair Ron Johnson into allegations of corruption by Biden and his son Hunter released a 87-page report finding no evidence of wrongdoing.
  119. The report found no evidence that Biden improperly manipulated American policy toward Ukraine or committed any other misdeed, despite Johnson’s boasting prior that it would show Biden’s “unfitness for office.”
  120. In a statement, Biden’s campaign said Johnson subsidized “a foreign attack against the sovereignty of our elections with taxpayer dollars” by promulgating “a long-disproven, hard-core right wing conspiracy theory.”
  121. On Wednesday, Politico reported CIA Director Gina Haspel has become very cautious on which, if any, Russian-related intelligence product makes its way to the White House, for fear of upsetting Trump.
  122. CIA’s general counsel has been reviewing work product before it goes to the White House, which one official called “unprecedented.” Russian officers may also be disillusioned and producing less.
  123. On Wednesday, NBC News reported DHS awarded $6 million in contracts to Berkeley Research Group, a consulting firm where Hope Wolf, wife of acting Sec. Chad Wolf, is vice president of professional staff operations.
  124. Although Berkeley has a long history of federal contracts, the company did not do work for the DHS prior to Chad taking the role of chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration, a DHS agency, in 2017.
  125. On Wednesday, Pelosi and her top lieutenants unveiled a 158-page sweeping Watergate-style anti-corruption package of reforms, tailored for a potential post-Trump era.
  126. Although the measures would not pass in a divided Congress, Democrats are presenting the measure under a potential Biden presidency to enshrine lawmakers’ oversight powers and reassert themselves as a coequal branch.
  127. On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy threatened to oust Pelosi if she moves forward to impeach Trump or Barr as a delay tactic to prevent the Senate from confirming Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
  128. On Wednesday, NBC News reported Ginsburg’s death led to a surge of voter registrations over the weekend, with nonpartisan Vote.org seeing a 68% increase: 62% were female, and most between 25 and 34 years-old.
  129. On Wednesday, The Hill reported employees at the CDC are in despair over recent events, and seeing their expertise questioned and their findings overturned. One said, “I have never seen morale this low.”
  130. On Wednesday, CNN reported Dr. Deborah Birx has told aides and friends that she is so unhappy with her diminished roll as coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force that she is not sure how long she can last.
  131. Birx views Dr. Scott Atlas as an unhealthy influence on Trump, saying Trump has found someone whose views match what Trump wants to believe. Birx is said to be “distressed” with the direction of the task force.
  132. Birx believes Atlas is feeding Trump misleading information on the efficacy of masks for controlling spread. He has also been reported to support herd immunity.
  133. Atlas denied there is bad blood when asked at the White House briefing room, where he stood alongside Trump, saying, “Dr. Birx speaks for herself but that’s a completely false story and she denied it today.”
  134. On Wednesday, testifying before the Senate, Fauci lost patience with Sen. Rand Paul over misinformation, saying on New York, “No, you misconstrued that, senator, and you’ve done that repetitively in the past.”
  135. When Paul falsely asserted New York had herd immunity, Fauci said, “I challenge that,” adding, “because this happens with Senator Rand all the time. You are not listening to what the director of the CDC said.”
  136. On Wednesday, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican who refused to order a mandatory mask mandate, tested positive for coronavirus. Parson was tested after his wife tested positive.
  137. On Wednesday, a study by CitiGroup found that since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost $16 trillion as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans.
  138. On Wednesday, at a White House event, Trump lied saying Democrats are “using COVID as a way of scamming the system,” adding foreign countries interfering “are nothing compared that what’s taking place.”
  139. Trump argued for appointing a Supreme Court justice, saying if “we go to January 20th…this scam that the Democrats are pulling” will be before the Supreme Court, and “having a 4–4 situation is not a good situation.”
  140. On Wednesday, at his daily briefing, Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transition of power after Election Day, shocking reporters in the room and the country as the news came out.
  141. Asked by a reporter, Trump said, “We’re going to have to see what happens,” adding the false claim, “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.”
  142. Pressed, Trump said, “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” referring again to mail-in ballots and his lies about fraud.
  143. Trump added the false claim, “The ballots are out of control. You know it, and you know who knows it better than anyone else? The Democrats.” Polls show Trump was likely to lose the election.
  144. Trump also questioned the need for tougher FDA standards standing with Atlas, saying, “We’re looking at that. That has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it. That sounds like a political move.”
  145. Trump added, “Why would [companies] have to be adding great length to the process? We want to have people not get sick. The vaccine is very important. I think that was a political move more than anything else.”
  146. Asked about the Breonna Taylor case, where a grand jury indicted one officer on criminal charges, Trump abruptly said he had to take an “emergency phone call” and left the briefing room.
  147. Later Wednesday, Courier Journal reported amid protests in Louisville, two reporters from the conservative Daily Caller were arrested and will be charged with misdemeanors for “breaking curfew & unlawful assembly.”
  148. Two officers were shot, but it was unclear if it was related to the protests. Trump tweeted, “Praying for the two police officers that were shot tonight…The Federal Government stands behind you and is ready to help.”
  149. Shortly after, starting Wednesday night with Sen. Mitt Romney, and continuing Thursday with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, GOP lawmakers pushed back against Trump’s statements about peaceful transition of power.
  150. All of the many comments that came via Twitter by Republicans addressed necessity of the peaceful transition of power, but none called out Trump by name or condemned his statements in any way.
  151. On Thursday, asked about a peaceful transition, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Fox News Trump “has been about the rule of law,” and “If every ballot is counted and if it’s a fair election, we have a history of a peaceful transition of power.”
  152. Meadows also lied, asserting there is “a perversion of the electoral process” with mail-in ballots during the pandemic, adding, “It’s really all about making sure that every vote counts, but that only one vote counts.”
  153. On Thursday, Barr said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, “All this bullshit about how the president is going to stay in office and seize power? I’ve never heard of any of that crap. I mean, I’m the attorney general.”
  154. On Thursday, at the daily briefing, McEnany declined to clean up Trump’s comments, and when asked repeatedly if Trump would accept a peaceful transition, she said, “The president will accept the results of a free and fair election.”
  155. McEnany added Trump “wants to get rid of mass mail-out voting. And that’s not because it — he’s said clearly that that could go either way,” lying that it is “because it’s a system that’s subject to fraud.”
  156. To back up her claim, McEnany claimed without evidence, “In fact, in the last 24 hours, police in Greenville, Wisconsin, found mail in a ditch, and it included absentee ballots.”
  157. On Thursday, weekly jobless claims increased to 870,000, suggesting a slowdown in the labor market’s recovery, as a third surge in coronavirus cases started.
  158. On Thursday, nearly 500 bipartisan retired senior military officers, former Cabinet secretaries, service chiefs, and other officials signed an open letter in support of Biden.
  159. The letter said, “We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and many cases risked our lives, for the United States. […] We are Republicans and Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it.”
  160. On Thursday as Trump visited to the steps of the Supreme Court, where Ginsburg was the first woman in history to lie in state, he was greeted with boos and chants of “vote him out” by the crowd. He was seen in a mask.
  161. On Thursday, testifying before the Senate, FBI Director Christopher Wray said the agency has “not seen, historically, any kind of coordinated national voter fraud effort in a major election, whether it’s by mail or otherwise.”
  162. Wray added, “Americans must have confidence in our voting system and our election infrastructure,” and “We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections.”
  163. On Thursday, an AP-NORC poll found support for racial injustice protests has fallen to 39% approve, 44% disapprove, down from 54% approval in June.
  164. On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said New York will conduct its own review of coronavirus vaccines authorized or approved by the federal government, citing concerns of politicization of the approval process.
  165. On Friday, Trump threatened New Yorkers, tweeting, “Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York wants to put New York at the END of the Vaccine List,” adding, “he doesn’t trust the @FDA or Federal Government.”
  166. On Thursday, WAPO reported USPS records from July contradict Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s testimony to Congress that it was low-level employees behind the slowdown.
  167. David Williams, a senior executive who is chief of logistics and processing operation ordered in a July PowerPoint presentation for the organizational changes that in the coming weeks led to the operational slowdown.
  168. On Thursday, NYT reported John Durham’s team sought information on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton Foundation investigation, raising questions about the scope of the inquiry and going after Trump’s enemies.
  169. Durham’s team suggested they are comparing the Clinton Foundation investigation to the Russia inquiry, but it was not clear if Durham’s investigators were looking for violations in the investigation.
  170. The approach is highly unusual because the suspected crimes are not comparable. Some law enforcement officials have refused to talk to Durham’s team because they thought the scope was highly unusual.
  171. On Thursday, Trump told Fox News Radio host Brian Kilmeade, without evidence, that Chris Wallace, the moderator for the first debate, will not ask Biden “tough questions,” and “will be controlled by the radical left.”
  172. Trump added he has “a lot of respect” for Wallace and had a good relationship with the journalist’s father. Kilmeade countered, “I will tell you for sure, he is not controlled by anyone,” and Trump responded, “We’ll see.”
  173. Trump also again alleged voter fraud: “These ballots are a horror show. They found six ballots in an office yesterday in a garbage can.They were Trump ballots — eight ballots in an office yesterday in…a certain state.”
  174. On Thursday, Trump repeated his conspiracy, telling reporters, “The ballots — that’s a whole big scam. They found 8 ballots in a waste basket, others in a river. They throw ’em out if they have the name Trump.”
  175. On Thursday, the DOJ issued a press release on Twitter, saying it had begun an inquiry into a handful of military ballots in a northeastern Pennsylvania county cast for Trump, bewildering experts and lawyers.
  176. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Pennsylvania said the inquiry would look into nine ballots that were found “discarded,” without elaborating, and saying all nine ballots were cast for Trump.
  177. The DOJ later issued an amended statement, saying seven of the ballots had been cast for Trump, and for two it could not be determined. The press release did not specify a crime or alleged wrongdoing.
  178. Pennsylvania AG Josh Shapiro later told CNN that the ballots were for the GOP primary, and there was an inquiry underway. Initially the inquiry found part of the problem to be sloppy work by election administrators.
  179. Before the press release came out, McEnany said, “I can confirm for you that Trump ballots, ballots for the president, were found in Pennsylvania,” in addition to Trump’s foreboding comments to Kilmeade.
  180. On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed a resolution stating its commitment to a “peaceful transfer of power” if Trump is defeated.
  181. Sponsor Sen. Joe Manchin said “to have the leader of the free world talk as if we are an autocracy, authoritarian versus a democracy is something that alarmed me and alarmed a lot of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
  182. On Thursday, at a rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump pledged to send $200 drug discount cards to 33 million Medicare recipients ahead of the election, in an aim to appeal to older voters. Details were unclear.
  183. The idea of a drug card was not mentioned to reporters in the briefing ahead of the event. Last week, a White House deal to have drug companies send out $100 gift card to older voters fell apart.
  184. On Thursday, ahead of the first presidential debate next week, Trump signed an executive order to protect people with preexisting health conditions. Notably there were no enforcement mechanism.
  185. Biden’s campaign criticized Trump for failing to put forward a plan, despite promising to do so several times, as Trump’s DOJ fights in the Supreme Court to overturn the ACA in the midst of the pandemic.
  186. On Thursday, WAPO reported a State Department IG investigation found the Trump regime rescinded an award recognizing the work of a journalist from Finland last year because she had criticized Trump on social media.
  187. Meeting notes revealed concern the “media could highlight the tweets and Facebook posts during the ceremony,” and cause “potential embarrassment to the Department,” and the First Lady.
  188. Journalist Jessikka Aro was selected for the department’s International Women of Courage Awards, for her work exposing Russian troll farms. The IG report could worsen tensions between State and the IG office.
  189. On Thursday, a federal judge blocked the DOJ attempt to dismiss a lawsuit brought by former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe alleging that he was fired as an act of political retribution at the behest of Trump.
  190. On Friday, a federal judge questioned the DOJ’s decision to release texts between former FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, saying she wanted to see more evidence about whether political influence played a role.
  191. On Thursday, Trump held a campaign rally in Jacksonville, Florida, where several thousand supporters gathered, packed together without face masks. Trump gave a meandering hour-long speech to the outdoor crowd.
  192. Trump lied, saying, “The Biden (health care) plan would destroy … protections for pre-existing conditions.” The opposite it true. He lied that Biden was launching an “anti-police crusade.”
  193. Trump again attacked Rep. Omar, saying, “She has total disrespect for our country and I think she has hatred for our country,” adding, “I would say Omar is a big reason we’re going to win.”
  194. Trump said of coronavirus, with more than 200,000 dead, “Some people call it coronavirus, that sounds like a beautiful place in Italy.”
  195. On Friday, Meadows attacked Wray for denying there is voter fraud, telling “CBS This Morning” Wray “has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI, let alone figuring out whether there’s any kind of voter fraud.”
  196. Meadows added Wray should “drill down on” the seven ballots in Pennsylvania, saying, “Perhaps he needs to get involved on the ground, and then he would change his testimony on Capitol Hill.”
  197. Shortly after, Meadow refused to say if Trump still had confidence in Wray, telling reporters,“We have a number of people that continue to serve at the pleasure of the president that he has differing degrees of confidence in.”
  198. On Friday, AP reported Trump first commented on the nine ballots after being briefed by AG Barr. Experts say the lack of information about these ballots leaves the door open to speculation and conspiracy theories.
  199. On Friday, Trump tweeted, “RINO Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts is unsuccessfully trying to defend Mail In Ballots.” Twitter added a label, saying, “Learn how voting by mail is safe and secure.”
  200. Trump also complained, “One of the worst polls in 2016 was the @FoxNews Poll. They were so ridiculously wrong,” after Fox News released a poll showing Biden up in Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
  201. On Friday, NYT reported there is growing fear at the Pentagon that Trump will try to use the military if there is unrest around the elections. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley has said he foresees no role for the military.
  202. Two retired officers said in an open-letter to Milley that if “Trump refuses to leave office at the expiration of his constitutional term, the United States military must remove him by force, and you must give that order.”
  203. Senior leaders are discussing what they would do if Trump tried to invoke the Insurrection Act between Election Day and Inauguration to send troops into the streets, as he threatened to with protest against police brutality.
  204. Several Pentagon officials said there could be multiple resignations among Trump’s senior generals, starting with Milley. Officials said Air Force chief of staff Gen. Charles Brown would also likely not carry out those orders.
  205. On Friday, Biden told MSNBC, “I’m confident that [despite] all of the irresponsible, outrageous attacks on voting, we’ll have an election in this country as we always have had.”
  206. Biden added, “The last thing we need is the equivalent of a coup,” and “No one’s going to back him when that occurs,” adding he is doing it “to take our eye off the ball, not to talk about” people dying of Covid-19.
  207. On Friday, in a statement, Putin called for a reset ahead of the November 3 election between Russia and the U.S. to guarantee not to engage in cyber-meddling in each other’s elections.
  208. Putin said, “One of the main strategic challenges of our time is the risk of a large-scale confrontation in the digital sphere,” calling “to reset our relations in the use of information and communication technologies.”
  209. On Friday, an ABC/WAPO poll found 57% of Americans favor delaying naming a new Supreme Court justice for the winner of the presidential election, 38% say Trump should do it now.
  210. On Friday, the U.S. surpassed 7 million coronavirus cases, as cases in the Midwestern states started to surge, with all states except Ohio seeing a rise in cases from the previous four weeks in August.
  211. South Dakota had the biggest percentage increase at 166%, while North Dakota’s new cases doubled, with most cases linked to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis.
  212. On Friday, the Star Tribune reported a door to door Covid-19 testing survey in greater Minnesota was halted after reports of residents intimidating and shouting racial and ethnic slurs at health workers.
  213. On Friday, Florida Gov. DeSantis moved his state back into Phase 3, reopening all bars and restaurants, even as the state had nearly 700,000 total cases, and 177 deaths on Friday alone.
  214. On Friday, Trump signed an executive order threatening termination of Federal funds to hospitals that do not provide medical treatment to infants “regardless of prematurity or disability.”
  215. On Friday, speaking to “Black Voters for Trump” event in Atlanta, Trump promised to make Juneteenth a federal holiday and designate the Ku Klux Klan as a terrorist organization, in a direct appeal to Black voters.
  216. Trump also outlined economic policies he claimed he would pursue in his second term, and claimed without evidence, “No one in Washington politics today has done more to hurt African Americans than Joe Biden.”
  217. Trump also lamented that he cannot joke about serving more than two terms, to which the crowd chanted “12 more years.”
  218. On Friday, DHS officials scrambled to explain details of the $200 discount cards Trump pledged, telling reporters said plans “are still being worked out” and they would “put out more details some time in the near future.”
  219. Sen. Ron Wyden labeled Trump’s pledge a “taxpayer funded bribe.” An anonymous White House official said Trump’s idea for the card could have originated with the drug company deal in Week 201.
  220. On Friday, Reuters reported about 3,500 U.S. companies, including Tesla, Ford, Target, Walgreen, and Home Depot have sued the Trump regime in the last two weeks over the imposition of tariffs on Chinese goods.
  221. The suit filed in the U.S. Court of International Trade named Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Customs and Border Protection agency, alleging the unlawful escalation of a trade war with China.
  222. On Friday, NYT reported much of the world is bewildered watching the pandemic and upcoming election play out in the U.S., saying they feel sorry for America, or comparing it to the fall of the Roman Empire.
  223. On Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders sought to assure Democrats, saying, “if Trump attempts to stay in office after losing, there will be a number of plans out there to make sure that he is evicted from office.”
  224. On Friday, the U.S. reported its highest new case total for a single day since mid-August, with more than 55,000 new daily cases — significantly higher than the peak level in the spring initial outbreak.
  225. On Friday, James Herbert, an assistant U.S. attorney said in an open-letter published in the Boston Globe that “The current attorney general has brought shame on the department he purports to lead.”
  226. Herbert added Barr “acts as though his job is to serve only the political interests of Donald J. Trump. This is a dangerous abuse of power.” It is highly unusual for a current federal prosecutor to criticize the AG.
  227. On Friday, a federal judge in Montana ruled that William Perry Pendley could not continue to serve as an acting head of the Bureau of Land Management, a post he has held for more than a year.
  228. Later Friday, at a rally in Newport News, Virginia, Trump said he would welcome “a smooth, beautiful transition” of power, but that he would only lose if Democrats cheated and “we’re not going to stand for it” if they do.
  229. Trump added, “it’s got to be an honest vote,” and “This is a disaster waiting to happen,” and “I could be leading, and then they’ll just keep getting ballots and ballots and ballots and ballots,” and they will still be counting.
  230. Trump added, “And we do want a very friendly transition. But we don’t want to be cheated,” lying that “we know that there were thousands and thousands of ballots that made the difference through cheating.”
  231. Trump also claimed without evidence that a large volume of mail-in ballots was “very hard to watch,” and that “that’s the only way we’re going to lose, is if there’s mischief.”
  232. Trump also mispronounced vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris’s name, saying, “Kamala — you know if you pronounce her name wrong she goes crazy. Kamala like a comma. It’s like a comma. She’s like a comma.”
  233. On Saturday, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a weekend state of emergency for Portland saying “white supremacist groups” were traveling from out of state for an event organized by the Proud Boys.
  234. In a letter to the community, state and local officials said participants have openly discussed tactical operations and military-style formations to cause chaos and violence while claiming to be acting in support of police.
  235. The Proud Boys publicized the protest on Facebook for weeks, despite the social network’s pledge to block such pages.
  236. As the week came to a close, there were 32,636,842 worldwide cases and 990,298 dead from the coronavirus. The U.S. had 7,048,285 cases (21.6%), 204,026 deaths (20.6%), and a mortality rate of 2.9%.

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Copyright Amy Siskind, September 26, 2020

Jamie Carter joins others in front of the Wallace Bennett Federal Building, to honor the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the high court’s liberal justices, and a champion of gender equality Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in Salt Lake City. With votes in hand, Senate Republicans are swiftly falling in line behind President Donald Trump’s push to quickly fill the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat on the Supreme Court.