October 03, 2020

Week 203

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

On Thursday of this week, around 5 p.m., I tweeted that this week was unusually quiet in terms of the chaos, and was on pace for the fewest broken norms in 2020. I wrote that I was not sure what to attribute it to, but “We might be heading toward the end.” Hours later, Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs broke the news that Hope Hicks had tested positive for coronavirus, which led to a cascade of disclosures. Shortly after midnight that evening, Trump announced on Twitter that both he and First Lady Melania were also positive.

The original plotline seemed to set Hicks up to be the patsy, but within the next 24 hours, it became clear that most top Republicans contracted the virus at a White House reception for the announcement of Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett, held Saturday, even before Ruth Bader Ginsburg was buried.

Ahead of these disclosures, the Times had a bombshell story on Sunday, disclosing for the first time information on two decades of Trump’s tax returns. This week was also the first presidential debate, which many pundits pegged as the worst in modern history. Trump was an unhinged, raging, maniacal mess, who delivered no campaign message but anger. One startling takeaway was Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists. Again. In fact, he ordered far-right hate group the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by.” He also spewed a series of lies about election fraud, and continued to undermine the validity of the upcoming election. The Times noted in a front page story that the country has successfully held presidential elections since 1788, but “now faces the gravest challenge in its history to the way it chooses a leader and peacefully transfers power.”

As the week came to an end, Trump was admitted to Walter Reed Medical Center. As has been the case in all his years in office, there was no clear communication or truth about his condition. The American people sat on edge with Election Day one month away, unsure about his condition, and even when he tested positive for the virus.

  1. On Saturday, after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown declared a state of emergency over a protest led by the far-right Proud Boys, hundreds of law enforcement agents seized weapons, baseball bats, and shields.
  2. Hundreds of Proud Boys showed up after thousands were expected, wearing tactical gear and carrying weapons. Police arrested a handful of protestors, and were largely able to keep things under control.
  3. On Sunday, an NYT/Sienna poll found 56% say the winner of the election should fill the SCOTUS vacancy, 41% disagree. Also, 56% said they would be less likely to vote for Trump with anti-Roe nominee, 24% more inclined.
  4. On Sunday, in a series of tweets, Trump tweeted, “I will be strongly demanding a Drug Test of Sleepy Joe Biden prior to, or after, the Debate on Tuesday night.” Trump, who sniffles, has been accused of drug use.
  5. Trump also attacked Sen. Richard Blumenthal, tweeting, “Hanoi Dick, who lied for years by saying he was a war hero in Vietnam, and was never even there (Impeach him!).” Trump dodged the Vietnam War draft five times.
  6. Trump also tweeted, “Wow, nobody realized how far Mini Mike Bloomberg went in bribing ex-prisoners to go out and vote for Sleepy Joe.” Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, a Republican, opened a probe.
  7. Trump also bragged about his efforts in court to repeal Obamacare, tweeting, “Obamacare will be replaced with a MUCH better, and FAR cheaper, alternative if it is terminated in the Supreme Court…big WIN.”
  8. Trump also tweeted, “WATCH THE BALLOTS!!!” Shortly after, he headed to his Virginia golf course, golfing for the 299th time since he took office.
  9. On Sunday, former Pennsylvania GOP governor and head of Homeland Security Tom Ridge endorsed Biden in a scathing rebuke of Trump, saying he “lacks the empathy, integrity, intellect, and maturity to lead.”
  10. On Sunday, at an abruptly called press briefing ahead of an NYT bombshell report on his tax returns, Trump told reporters the Times reporting was “fake news,” and claimed he paid “a lot” of taxes to New York state.
  11. Trump also continued with his unfounded claims against Biden ahead of the Tuesday debate, saying, “people say he was on performance-enhancing drugs. A lot of people say that,” directing reporters to look on the internet.
  12. Later Sunday, the NYT released a bombshell story, based on two decades of tax returns for Trump and his companies. Trump paid no taxes for 11 of 18 years, and in 2016 and 2017, his first year in office, he paid just $750.
  13. The Times noted, “Trump has been more successful playing a business mogul than being one in real life,” as Trump’s businesses lost hundreds of millions of dollars that he used as losses to avoid paying taxes.
  14. Most of Trump’s meaningful income came from his licensing and endorsement with “The Apprentice,” which netted him $427.4 million, which he largely used to buy golf courses that devoured his cash.
  15. The returns showed Trump paid Ivanka nearly $750,000 in consulting fees, which he took as a deduction, and enjoyed a lavish lifestyle taking deductions for items like $70,000 in hairstyling for television.
  16. The returns showed Trump has $421 million in debt he personally guaranteed from unknown sources, with over $300 million coming due in the short-term, raising national security concerns he could be blackmailed.
  17. The returns showed Trump is still fighting with the IRS over a $72.9 million tax refund he was granted in 2010, for which, if he loses, he would owe $100 million.
  18. Of the $130 million personal and corporate charitable donations Trump reported, $119.3 million were related to a property in Westchester County he signed to be a land conservatory, but the family used as a compound.
  19. The returns showed Trump earned $73 million from business dealings in foreign countries in his first two years in office, including millions from licensing deals in authoritarian countries like India and Turkey.
  20. Shortly after, right-wing website The Drudge Report published a headline in red letters: “THE FAKE BILLIONAIRE?” In response, Trump tweeted, “Our people have all left Drudge. He is a confused MESS.”
  21. Shortly after, advisor to the Trump campaign and former campaign manager Brad Parscale was hospitalized, after police were called to his Fort Lauderdale, Florida home by his wife who said he had guns and was threatening to hurt himself.
  22. Later Sunday, a judge temporarily blocked Trump’s executive order that would have banned TikTok from being downloaded from U.S. app stores. The Commerce Department said it would continue to defend the order.
  23. On Monday, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department report on Parscale said police removed 10 firearms from the home, and his wife “had several bruises on both of her arms as well as scratches and bruising on her face.”
  24. Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh gave a statement in support on Monday, a different tone than Sunday, saying “the disgusting, personal attacks from Democrats and disgruntled RINOs have gone too far.”
  25. On Monday, Rep. Kevin Brady, the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee called for a probe into the source of NYT Trump tax return, claiming a “felony crime was committed” by giving them up.
  26. On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to colleagues, “We cannot leave anything to chance,” emphasizing the importance of winning House seats in case the House must settle the presidential election.
  27. Pelosi said, “It’s sad we have to have to plan this way, but it’s what we must do to ensure the election is not stolen,” saying Trump “will do whatever it takes to remain in power,” and asked for help with state delegations.
  28. On Monday, Pelosi told MSNBC, “I’ve been working on this for a while, I’ve been working on almost every scheme he might have to steal the election.” Congress has not had to decide a presidential election since 1877.
  29. Pelosi added the focus will be on “Anything we do to increase our numbers in the House, whether it’s state delegations or members of Congress wherever they are, will help us hold the House and enlarge our size.”
  30. Pelosi said Trump having over $400 million in debt was a national security concern, saying, “To whom? Different countries? What is the leverage they have? So for me, this is a national security question.”
  31. On Monday, Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a tweet that the 2020 census would end its count on October 5, despite a federal court ruling last week that the count should continue until the end of October.
  32. The judge asked federal government attorneys at a hearing Monday to provide documents on how the new decision was made. Notably Census Bureau director Steven Dillingham was not part of the announcement.
  33. Census supervisors in Buffalo, New York, and Northern California said they were pressured to end their count by September 30. Some supervisors, including one in Texas, wrote to the judge to report a Sept. 30 deadline.
  34. On Monday, Pennsylvania Republicans asked the Supreme Court to halt the mail-in voting extension approved by a state court allowing ballots to be counted if postmarked by Election Day and received three days after.
  35. On Monday, an analysis by WAPO of nearly 90 state and federal voting lawsuits found that judges are broadly skeptical of GOP claims of voter fraud, declining their arguments to add limits to mail in voting.
  36. On Monday, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned on “Good Morning America” about a rise in coronavirus cases, saying, “We’re not in a good place,” adding, “The U.S. has been averaging an “unacceptably high” 40,000 new cases per day.”
  37. Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers declared a new public health emergency in his state, over the objections of Republican state lawmakers, as cases to jumped to more than 2,500 daily.
  38. On Monday, NBC News reported CDC Director Robert Redfield told a colleague that Dr. Scott Atlas is arming Trump with misleading information on the efficacy of masks, young people’s risk, and benefits of herd immunity.
  39. Redfield added of Atlas, “everything he says is false.” The CDC said in a statement that NBC News is reporting “one side of a private phone conversation” that was overheard at the Atlanta airport.
  40. On Monday, a federal judge in Pennsylvania became the fourth to order Postmaster Louis DeJoy to suspend operational changes ahead of the election that cause a slowdown in mail, joining Washington, New York, and D.C.
  41. The judge wrote the delays “clearly pose a threat to the delivery of Election Mail to and from the voters,” saying the slowdown from the initiatives “have not been fully remedied and pose a threat” to the election.
  42. On Monday, WAPO reported, according to a new book by Rick Gates, Trump suggested Ivanka for his vice president, saying in June 2016, “She’s bright, she’s smart, she’s beautiful, and the people would love her!”
  43. On Monday, former White House physician Ronny Jackson baselessly told Fox News host Sean Hannity that Biden had “good days and bad days,” which is how “cognitive decline usually happens.”
  44. Jackson added, “I think it’s completely reasonable to ask if he’s taking medications to help him with his alertness and his memory,” adding, “They certainly would be asking Donald Trump that.”
  45. On Tuesday, Rudy Giuliani told “Fox & Friends” that Biden “has dementia. There’s no doubt about it. I’ve talked to doctors” and Trump is “quite right to say maybe he’s taken Adderall.” The co-hosts looked uncomfortable.
  46. On Tuesday, a Trump campaign official also told Fox News that Biden had requested breaks every 30 minutes during the 90 minute debate. The Biden campaign said this was a lie.
  47. On Tuesday, Fox News anchor Brett Bair was asked about a right-wing conspiracy theory that Biden would wear an earpiece in the debate, and he legitimized it saying, “We’re going to have to follow that through the day.”
  48. On Tuesday, at a contentious hearing, Michael Flynn’s attorney Sidney Powell, when pressed by Judge Emmett Sullivan, admitted she has spoken to Trump in the past two weeks, claiming it was to say not to pardon Flynn.
  49. On Tuesday, WAPO reported Republican strategists are worried about an early surge of Democratic mail-in voting. Of ballot requests in five early states, 52% were Democrats, 28% Republicans, and 20% unaffiliated.
  50. An internal memo of Democrats and Republicans in Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, which do not report by party affiliation, showed a similar trend. Democrats are returning ballots at a higher rate.
  51. Trump’s continual attacks on mail-in voting has sowed GOP mistrust, concerning state and local Republicans of what has been a key turnout advantage for Republicans in past elections.
  52. On Tuesday, the world surpassed one million deaths from coronavirus in 10 months, already taking more lives than H.I.V., malaria, influenza and cholera. The U.S. alone made up more than 20 percent of deaths.
  53. On Tuesday, NYT reported based on an analysis of 16 immigrants detained at an ICE-contracted center in Georgia, and treated by Dr. Mahendra Amin, were given unneeded surgeries and other gynecological procedures.
  54. Several said they had invasive procedures that they later learned might have been unnecessary, including two who had full hysterectomies. Some also said they did not have the symptoms listed on the charts.
  55. On Tuesday, WAPO reported the Trump regime is planning an immigration enforcement blitz next month in so-called sanctuary cities to amplify Trump’s campaign messaging on law and order.
  56. The operation, known as “sanctuary op,” will be carried out by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and could begin in California as soon as later this week, then expanding to Denver and Philadelphia.
  57. Trump planned to send Chad Wolf, acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, to at least one city to boost his claim that leaders in Democratic cities have failed to keep their residents safe.
  58. On Tuesday, hours before the debate, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe declassified a Russian intelligence assessment that had been rejected by the Senate Intelligence Committee as having no factual basis.
  59. The assessment claimed that in 2016 Hillary Clinton “personally approved an effort “to stir up a scandal”” against Trump “by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.”
  60. Ratcliffe sent the assessment to Chair Lindsey Graham, adding intelligence “does not know the accuracy of this allegation or the extent to which the Russian intelligence analysis may reflect exaggeration or fabrication.”
  61. The Senate panel was made aware of the assessment early in its investigation, and quickly dismissed it. Ranking member Mark Warner called the release 35 days ahead of the election “very disturbing.”
  62. Shortly after, Ratcliffe tried to bolster the credibility of the Kremlin-sourced claims, saying, “To be clear, this is not Russian disinformation and has not been assessed as such by the intelligence community.”
  63. The information also claimed that then CIA director John Brennan had briefed former president Barack Obama on the claims. Ratcliffe blocked some Democrats from attending a briefing on the assessment.
  64. Shortly before the debate, Biden mocked Trump, releasing a photo of Apple earphones and ice cream, tweeting, “I’ve got my earpiece and performance enhancers ready.” He also released his 2019 tax returns.
  65. Shortly before, Brit Hume told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “I don’t think there’s any doubt Biden’s senile,” claiming “elderly people” with mental acuity issues “can go for periods of hours at a time and be just fine.”
  66. Shortly before the debate started, the Trump campaign mistakenly sent out a fundraising email claiming, “I just finished debating Joe Biden” and “This debate will go down in history.”
  67. On Tuesday, the first presidential debate devolved into chaos as Trump incessantly shouted, interrupted, and cross-talked while Biden was speaking. Moderator Chris Wallace failed to reign Trump in or hold him to the rules.
  68. Trump came out as the aggressor, speaking over Biden, and bulldozed over both Biden and Wallace for the entire 90 minutes, but did not stay on point or convey his positions or issues. He seemed to lack a strategy or plan.
  69. The most memorable moment was when Wallace asked Trump to condemn White supremacists, Trump said, “Give me a name,” Biden said, “The Proud Boys.” Trump replied, “The Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.”
  70. Trump repeatedly refused to condemn white supremacists, trying to change the subject saying, “But I’ll tell you what, I’ll tell you what, somebody’s got to do something about antifa and the left.”
  71. Another low point was Trump attacking Biden’s son Hunter, talking about his history of drug use and falsely claiming he had been “dishonorably discharged,” after Biden spoke about his deceased son Beau.
  72. Biden called Trump “a racist” and “the worst president America has ever had,” and said the country had become “weaker, sicker, poorer, more divided and more violent” under him.
  73. Wallace tried to get Trump to stop interrupting. Trump said, “Well, and him, too,” Wallace said “frankly, you’ve been doing more interrupting,” Trump: “But he does plenty,” Wallace: “No, less than you have.”
  74. Trump spent the last minutes of the debate making a series of lies undermining the election, lying, “When you have 80 million ballots sent in and swamping the system, you know it can’t be done.” This is not true.
  75. Trump also lied, “There’s fraud. They found them in creeks…They are being dumped in rivers,” referencing three trays of mail in Wisconsin, containing some absentee ballots, which may have been uncompleted.
  76. Trump also referred to the seven or nine ballots in Pennsylvania, “They found ballots in a wastepaper basket three days ago, and they all had the name — military ballots…they all had the name Trump on them.”
  77. Trump also wrongly claimed, “Today there was a big problem…In Philadelphia they went in to watch. They’re called poll watchers. A very safe, very nice thing. They were thrown out.” The voting is mail-in ballots.
  78. Trump also completely made up: “Take a look at West Virginia — mailmen selling the ballots. They are being sold.” In his diatribe, Trump also made untrue claims about New Jersey, New York, and solicited ballots.
  79. Many political analysts said it was the worst debate in American history, with some calling it unpresidential and a national humiliation — “more of a primal scream than a political appearance.”
  80. Shortly after, the Proud Boys celebrated Trump’s remarks, saying in messaging groups that his comment was a tacit endorsement of their violent tactics, and claiming to see a spike in “new recruits.”
  81. Asked about his comment, VP candidate Kamala Harris said the U.S. president in 2020 “refuses to condemn White supremacists,” and added, “People talk about, ‘Is he dog-whistling?’ Dog-whistling through a bull horn.”
  82. Shortly after, after Trump had claimed the “Portland Sheriff” supported him during the debate, Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese tweeted, “I have never supported Donald Trump and will never support him.”
  83. After the debate, Trump attacked Wallace on Twitter, sending a graphic of him on one side, and then “VS” Biden and Wallace, and retweeted other claims like Wallace owing him an apology.
  84. He continued Wednesday morning, tweeting, “Chris had a tough night,” falsely claiming, “Two on one was not surprising, but fun,” and lied, “Radical Left is dumping Sleepy Joe. Zero Democrat enthusiasm.”
  85. Trump also falsely claimed, “Biden REFUSED to use the term, LAW & ORDER! There go the Suburbs.” Biden refuted this claim at the debate.
  86. On Wednesday, CNN reported while Trump allies are publicly praising him, behind the scenes several aides said he was overly aggressive and did not use the tactics discussed in debate preparations.
  87. Several allies said he crashed and burned in a consequential debate. One called it a “disaster.” Trump was said to be in good spirits as his campaign said it was “the greatest debate performance in presidential history.”
  88. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told MSNBC the debate was about “how poor Chris Wallace did as a debate moderator,” and a White House spokesperson claimed Trump “told [the Proud Boys] to stand back.”
  89. On Wednesday, Pelosi told MSNBC it was a “sad night for our country” as Trump refused to “disassociate himself from white supremacists,” adding, “I lost a lot of sleep last night over that one fact.”
  90. Pelosi added, “I think one thing he did present was the authenticity of who he is,” and “He’s been enabled his whole life, and now the American people are paying a price… no one has ever said to him, ‘no.’”
  91. Trump’s remarks on the Proud Boys drew bipartisan criticism. The CEO of the Anti-Defamation League called Trump’s remarks a “call to arms,” adding, “This isn’t an outlier, it is an indication of a pattern.”
  92. On Wednesday, speaking to reporters about his comments on the Proud Boys, Trump lied, saying, I don’t know who the Proud Boys are. You’ll have to give me a definition because I really don’t know who they are.”
  93. Trump added, “I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work,” and “people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is and how weak, the law enforcement is.”
  94. Trump added, “Just stand by. Look, law enforcement will do their work. They’re going to stand down,” adding, “Now, antifa is a real problem. Because the problem is on the left. And Biden refuses to talk about it.”
  95. On Wednesday, Wallace told NYT, “I’m a pro. I’ve never been through anything like this.” He said he was initially “reluctant” to step in, and called the debate “a terrible missed opportunity.”
  96. On Wednesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates said it would be making changes to future debates “to ensure a more orderly discussion.” The Trump campaign said the commission was “moving the goal posts.”
  97. On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump’s debate performance made it clear he is the gravest threat to the upcoming election, as he escalates unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud, further eroding trust in voting.
  98. Trump said balloting underway was “a fraud and a sham” and proof of “a rigged election,” and made the extraordinary proclamation as sitting president that he would try to throw the election outcome to the courts.
  99. He also repeated calls to supporters to “go into the polls” and “watch very carefully.” Presidential historian Michael Beschloss noted we have never had a sitting president deliberately cast doubt on election integrity.
  100. NYT noted the U.S. has successfully run presidential elections since 1788, through wars, a pandemic and national disasters, but “now faces the gravest challenge in its history to the way it chooses a leader and peacefully transfers power.”
  101. On Wednesday, Vanity Fair reported Trump believes he won the debate, even though he did not. A Republican with ties to the campaign said, “does anyone have the balls to tell him that? No. They’d be fired.”
  102. One insider said the NYT story was worse to Trump than losing re-election, saying, “If you had told Donald back in 2015 that his tax returns would be exposed” by investigations, “he wouldn’t have run.”
  103. There is also concern among the Trump family about Parscale, amid rumors he stole from the Trump campaign and RNC and might cooperate with law enforcement about possible campaign finance violations.
  104. On Wednesday, WSJ reported officials at the CIA, NSA, and career personnel in Ratcliffe’s office urged him not to disclose the information, fearing it would give credence to unsubstantiated Kremlin material.
  105. On Wednesday, District Judge Reggie Walton ordered the DOJ to publicly disclose some parts of Mueller report by November 2, saying the Trump regime failed to justify certain redactions.
  106. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported Pope Francis refused to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on his visit to Rome, after the Vatican accused Trump of trying to the exploit the Pope ahead of the election.
  107. On Wednesday, WAPO reported while North Korea’s Kim Jong Un sent Trump letters, calling him “Your excellency” and other flattering terms in December 2018, he continued to build up his nuclear capability.
  108. New intelligence showed after their summit in 2018, Kim continued to work on nuclear weapons at six of the country’s military bases, even though he refrained from carrying out provocative tests to draw attention.
  109. On Wednesday, a federal judge in Montana rejected an effort by Trump’s re-election campaign and GOP groups to block the state from voting mostly by mail, saying claims of widespread voter fraud is “a fiction.”
  110. On Wednesday, Portland police arrested Proud Boys member Alan Swinney for pointing a firearm and firing a paintball gun at anti-racism protesters at protests in Portland on August 15 and August 22.
  111. On Wednesday, Bloomberg Businessweek reported Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees Facebook is likely to fare better under Republicans. Employees accused Facebook of aiding Trump’s re-election.
  112. On Wednesday, at a campaign rally in Duluth, Minnesota, Trump falsely claimed, “Now they’re all back,” of thousands of Iron Range jobs, seemingly unaware the region’s mines had closures and furloughs with the pandemic.
  113. Trump falsely claimed, “Biden will turn Minnesota into a refugee camp,” and led the crowd of 3,000, tightly packed together with no masks, in chants of “lock her up” against Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
  114. Trump also complained, “I’m not doing well in the suburbs. Are you people crazy?” and falsely claimed Biden will destroy the suburbs by “abolishing single-family zoning.”
  115. Later Wednesday, Trump signed an executive order seeking to use the Defense Production Act to bolster the mining industry. The order was said to offer little of substance, and railed against China.
  116. On Thursday, La Crosse, Wisconsin Mayor Tim Kabat called on Trump to reconsider a scheduled rally there on Saturday, amid a spike in cases in the state, and its highest statewide daily death toll on Wednesday.
  117. Shortly after, Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich also asked Trump to cancel his scheduled rally there on Saturday. The White House coronavirus task force listed La Crosse and Green Bay as “red zones.”
  118. On Thursday, Politico reported last week the Agriculture Department started to require food aid boxes of surplus food that are sent out to needy families include a letter from Trump.
  119. The executive director of the Ohio Association of Food Banks said she had “never seen something this egregious” in her 30 year career. The addition came five weeks ahead of the election.
  120. On Thursday, NBC News reported internal DHS documents showed federal law enforcement officials were prepped to make comments sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse when speaking to the media.
  121. The documents suggested DHS officials say Rittenhouse “took his rifle to the scene of the rioting to help defend small business owners.” It is unclear if the talking points came from the White House or DHS leadership.
  122. On Thursday, Trump proposed capping refugee admissions at 15,000 in the next fiscal year, a historic low. Obama had admitted 110,000 when he left office, and Trump lowered the number each year.
  123. On Thursday, NYT reported Cornell researchers analyzed 38 million articles about the pandemic in English-language media worldwide, and found Trump was the “single largest driver” of misinformation.
  124. The study found Trump alone made nearly 38% of the overall “misinformation conversation.” The lead author of the study said, “That’s concerning in that there are real-world dire health implications.”
  125. On Thursday, Forbes reported IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig’s financial disclosure forms revealed he is profiting by more than $100,000 per year off of two rental properties at the Trump International Waikiki.
  126. On Thursday, at the daily briefing, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany sparred with reporters, but refused to provide a declarative statement by Trump denouncing white supremacists.
  127. McEnany also falsely claimed that Amy Coney Barrett is a “Rhodes scholar.” Barrett is not, she received a bachelor’s degree from Rhodes College in Memphis. When pressed, McEnany said, “my bad.”
  128. McEnany also refused to name the river where Trump had repeatedly said ballots were dumped, saying they were found by “Local authorities. It was a ditch in Wisconsin” — but providing no specific location.
  129. On Thursday, Trump tweeted, saying he was opposed to rule changes for the next debates, “Why would I allow the Debate Commission to change the rules for the second and third Debates when I easily won last time?”
  130. On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a proclamation closing 11 mail ballot drop-off sites in Harris County, leaving just one. The order said counties can only designate one location for completed ballots.
  131. Abbott claimed the order was to improve ballot security, and must allow poll watchers to “observe any activity conducted at the early voting.” Democrats slammed Abbott for suppressing the vote.
  132. On Thursday, AP reported conservative operatives Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman were charged with felonies for false robocalls aiming to dissuade residents in Detroit and other U.S. cities from voting by mail.
  133. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, who brought the suit, said the two conspired to intimidate voters in violation of election law, and used a computer to commit crimes by deterring Black voters from voting.
  134. The robocalls targeted residents in majority-Black Detroit and urban areas in at least four other states and made false claims that voting by mail could result in arrest, debt collection, and forced vaccination.
  135. On Thursday, 1,600 former DOJ attorneys expressed concern in an open letter that Attorney General William Barr is using the power of the agency to help Trump win re-election, citing his comments on mail-in voting and Russian interference.
  136. The letter said, “We fear that Attorney General Barr intends to use the DOJ’s vast law enforcement powers to undermine our most fundamental democratic value: free and fair elections.”
  137. On Thursday, Reuters reported the Russian group, Internet Research Agency, has an operation in which it poses as an independent news agency to target right-wing social media users ahead of the election.
  138. IRA established a pseudo media organization called the Newsroom for American and European Based Citizens to target U.S.voters. IRA played a key role in Russia’s 2016 interference to help Trump.
  139. On Thursday, H.R. McMaster, Trump’s former NSA who has been mostly silent until now, told MSNBC on Russian interference, Trump “is aiding and abetting Putin’s efforts by not being direct about this.”
  140. McMaster said, “This sustained campaign of disruption, disinformation and denial is aided by any leader who doesn’t acknowledge it,” adding, “Russia is the primary problem in this area.”
  141. McMaster did not offer an explanation of why Trump is so deferential to Putin, but offered, “if he confronts Putin directly” he will “inadvertently draw his own election into question.”
  142. On Thursday, speaking at the virtual 75th annual Al Smith Dinner, Trump claimed, “Anti-Catholic bigotry has absolutely no place in the United States of America — it predominates in the Democrat Party.” Biden is Catholic.
  143. On Thursday, tapes of Melania from 2018 were shared by Stephanie Winston Wolkoff on CNN. Melania said of White House Christmas decorations, “Who gives a fuck about the Christmas stuff and decorations?”
  144. Melania downplayed Trump’s child separation policy, saying, “I’m working on Christmas and planning for the Christmas and they said, ‘Oh, what about the children that they were separated?’ Give me a fucking break.”
  145. On Thursday, Bloomberg News reporter Jennifer Jacobs reported at 8:09 p.m. that Hope Hicks, who traveled with Trump on Air Force One to and from the debate, and to his Minnesota rally yesterday, has coronavirus.
  146. On Thursday, as news broke about Hicks, Trump called in to Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show at 9:49 p.m. Asked about the Bloomberg story on Hicks, Trump said, “Yeah. She did test positive. I just heard about this.”
  147. Trump said of Hicks, “She is a hard worker…a lot of masks, she wears masks a lot. But she tested positive,” adding, “I just went out with the test, I’ll see, ’cause, you know, we spend a lot of time…”
  148. Trump added, “You know, it’s very hard — when you’re with soldiers, when you’re with airmen, when you’re with the Marines, and the police officers — I’m with them so much,” saying it’s hard to tell them to “stay back.”
  149. Trump again tried to blame the military and law enforcement, saying Hicks “is a very warm person, she has a hard time — when soldiers and law enforcement come up to her, you know, she wants to treat them great.”
  150. Trump claimed, “I will get my test back either tonight or tomorrow morning, but I spend a lot of time with Hope and so does the first lady, and she’s tremendous,” adding of her testing positive, “I was a little surprised.”
  151. Trump also for the first time condemned white supremacists, telling Hannity, “I condemn the [Ku Klux Klan]. I condemn all white supremacists. I condemn the Proud Boys.”
  152. Trump also falsely claimed, “I’ve said it many times,” and lied about the Proud Boys, saying, “I don’t know much about the Proud Boys, almost nothing. But I condemn that.”
  153. Only after Bloomberg News reporting on Hicks, did Trump confirm the infection on Fox News, or speak about his exposure. There was no information given to the public. McEnany held a press briefing Thursday.
  154. On Friday, at 12:54 a.m., Trump tweeted, “Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
  155. NYT reported while Trump canceled his campaign rally in Florida scheduled for Friday, aides discussed whether he should give an address to the nation from the White House on Friday to reassure the public.
  156. On Friday, the White House said Trump “does have mild symptoms,” but did not elaborate. Trump was said to be fatigued and hoarse at his fundraiser in Bedminster on Thursday.
  157. On Friday, former White House physician Ronny Jackson told “Fox & Friends” that Trump will “absolutely” be ready before the next presidential debate, claiming Trump is “asymptomatic right now.”
  158. On Friday, RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said she tested positive. McDaniel, who frequently interacts with Trump and senior Republicans, found out Wednesday. She was sick after a Mar-a-Lago visit, but tested negative.
  159. On Friday, CNN reported there was no contact from the Trump campaign or the White House to alert the Biden campaign of possible exposure. The Biden campaign learned along with the public. Biden later tested negative.
  160. On Friday, moderator Chris Wallace told Fox News “thank God” the debate commission decided no opening handshakes at the debate, and noted, “They were about eight feet apart from each other at their podiums.”
  161. Wallace noted that Trump arrived too late to be tested before the debate as required, saying he “didn’t arrive until Tuesday afternoon” in Cleveland, and he relied on the “honor system” that Trump was tested daily.
  162. On Friday, WAPO reported that Trump’s debate guests, including Melania, who tested positive, and his family, had refused to wear masks inside the debate hall. Wallace said Friday when asked, “They waved them away.”
  163. The Commission on Presidential Debates said it was a violation of the rules both campaigns had agreed on. Trump’s guests, including the first family, entered with masks, but then took them off, flouting rules.
  164. Campaigns were also responsible for testing their candidates and guests. The White House said Trump and his guests received rapid coronavirus tests on Tuesday, which miss infections 20 to 30 percent of the time.
  165. On Friday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows confirmed the White House knew Hicks was positive before Trump traveled to a fundraiser Thursday afternoon at his Bedminster club aboard Marine One.
  166. Meadows said, “We actually pulled some of the people” who had been in close contact with Hicks, and “we had already started to contact tracing” before the event. Senior staffers told CNN they were not told.
  167. On Friday, GOP Sen. Mike Lee announced he had tested positive. Lee was at the White House Saturday and met with Barrett on Tuesday in person, without masks or social distancing.
  168. On Friday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for contact tracing of all senators and staffers who met with Amy Coney Barrett. The GOP-led Senate still did not have a mask mandate, unlike the House.
  169. On Friday, Trump asked Vice President Mike Pence to replace him on a scheduled 12:15 call on Covid-19 support for vulnerable seniors. Trump did not publicly appear or tweet since his announcement after midnight.
  170. On Friday, Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins announced he had tested positive after attending the White House announcement reception last Saturday for Barrett, without a mask.
  171. On Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox News Trump has “a very moderate case,” assuring he “was kind of barking out orders for all of us” and “He’s on the phone so I have not seen him.”
  172. On Friday, a letter from Trump’s doctor said Trump received a dose of an experimental antibody cocktail being developed by Regeneron, which is still in clinical trials and has not been approved by the FDA.
  173. Later Friday, the White House said Trump would head to Walter Reed medical center “Out of an abundance of caution, and at the recommendation of his physician and medical experts.”
  174. Bloomberg News reported Trump, who avoid hospitals at any cost for fear it will make him look weak or vulnerable, will spend the “next few days” there. The White House waited for the stock market to close to share the news.
  175. Before leaving for Walter Reed, Trump tweeted a video of himself, looking pale and saying, “I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out.”
  176. The White House gave no public indication as to whether Trump was planning to hand over power to Pence, and said he would be working out of offices at Walter Reed. Pence was said to be resuming campaigning.
  177. Notably, Trump had repeatedly mocked Biden for wearing a mask, as have many of his surrogates and commentators and hosts on Fox News and other conservative media outlets.
  178. On Friday, Biden’s campaign said he would continue to campaign as scheduled with social distancing and mandatory mask events. The campaign did pull down attack ads as Trump departed for the hospital.
  179. On Friday, ABC News reported at Trump’s Bedminster fundraiser on Thursday, 100 campaign supporters paid up to $250,000 to attend, and were served a buffet lunch. Most wore masks.
  180. Guests said Trump appeared healthy, and had no idea he was infected. New Jersey health officials are now trying to locate those who attended, to find those who shook hands or snapped photos with Trump.
  181. On Friday, according to memos from the White House Correspondents Association, three journalists who work at the White House tested positive. Reporters and White House spokespeople work together in close quarters.
  182. On Friday, the Michigan Supreme Court struck down Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders issued over the past five months to prevent the spread of coronavirus in a 4-3 ruling by the GOP led court.
  183. On Friday, Fox News host Tucker Carlson compared criticism from “the left” about Trump not taking precautions on Covid-19 to blaming a sexual assault victim for “dressing provocatively.”
  184. After arriving at Walter Reed, later in the evening, Trump tweeted, “Going welI, I think! Thank you to all. LOVE!!!” It was unclear if Trump or staffers were tweeting from his account.
  185. Later Friday, Trump’s physician Navy Commander Dr. Sean Conley said in an update that he is “doing very well” and “not requiring any supplemental oxygen,” and added, “we have elected to initiate remdesivir therapy.”
  186. Later Friday, Sen. Thom Tillis announced he tested positive. Tillis also attended the Barrett reception, and was seated near to Lee. Both Tillis and Lee serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
  187. Later Friday, former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway announced she had tested positive, after her daughter told TikTok her mom was coughing all day Friday. She too attended the Barrett reception.
  188. Later Friday, Bill Stepian, Trump’s campaign manager, said he had tested positive for the coronavirus. A spokesperson said he was experiencing “mild flu-like symptoms.”
  189. Later Friday, in addition to cancelling the campaign rally in Florida scheduled for Friday, the campaign also postponed rallies planned for Saturday in Wisconsin, and next week in Nevada and Arizona.
  190. Later Friday, WAPO reported that the Barrett reception was like the time before the pandemic, as attendees sat close together, almost all without masks, and later attended indoor receptions without masks.
  191. Rev. Jenkins said attendees were tested that morning, and were instructed they did not need masks, including indoors where guests included Cabinet members, senators, Barrett’s family, and Fox News host Laura Ingraham.
  192. Inside the West Wing, where for months staffers worked in close proximity without masks amid an air of invincibility, the atmosphere became one of apprehension and panic, as aides worried about their own risk.
  193. Hicks’ diagnosis was kept secret in the White House. McEnany did not know when she briefed reporters Thursday, but learned that afternoon when she was pulled from the trip to Bedminster for exposure to Hicks.
  194. Trump’s decision to go ahead with the Bedminster fundraiser went against CDC guidelines. Secret Service agents also expressed anger and frustration, saying Trump’s actions repeatedly put them at risk.
  195. On Saturday, an NYT/Sienna poll found voters in crucial states Pennsylvania and Florida were repelled by Trump’s debate behavior: 65% disapproved, 25% approved, and 48% said they support him less after.
  196. On Saturday, Trump ally Chris Christie who had helped him to prepare for the debate in a closed-door setting, and attended the Barrett reception, said he tested positive.
  197. On Saturday, Dr. Conley, who was handpicked by Ronny Jackson to succeed him, held a news conference in front of Walter Reed, where doctors gave contradictory information and refused to answer questions.
  198. A reporter asked Conley when Trump had last tested negative, and he refused to answer. He later said we’re “just 72 hours into the diagnosis,” meaning Trump could have tested positive as early as Wednesday.
  199. The medical team said Trump is fever-free, and that they are “extremely happy” with the progress he has made, but also refused to answer when he was first diagnosed or whether he had received supplemental oxygen.
  200. Asked for more clarity on the timeline, Conley then claimed Trump was tested on Thursday afternoon “following the news of a close contact” and he received confirmation late Thursday that he’d tested positive.
  201. Shortly after, Meadows told reporters that Trump went through a “very concerning” period Friday, and that “the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care.”
  202. The comments came after it was revealed that Trump was administered supplemental oxygen after he had trouble breathing at the White House on Friday, before he was taken to Walter Reed.
  203. Shortly after, McConnell announced he was canceling the Senate votes for two weeks, but that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearing for Barrett would move ahead, starting on October 12.
  204. On Saturday, Barr said he would not quarantine, despite attending the Barrett reception, and being seen in close conversation with Conway, and seated nearby Sens. Lee and Tillis.
  205. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “Doctors, Nurses and ALL at the GREAT Walter Reed Medical Center, and others from likewise incredible institutions who have joined them, are AMAZING!!!”
  206. Trump added, “Tremendous progress has been made over the last 6 months in fighting this PLAGUE. With their help, I am feeling well!
    It was unclear who sent the tweet, and information
    was contradictory.
  207. Shortly after, Conley issued a statement clarifying his comments, saying he “incorrectly used the term “72 hour”” instead of “day three,” and that Trump received Regeneron, which he misspelled, on Friday.
  208. CBS News reported according to a spokesperson for Regeneron, Conley also mischaracterized it in his memo by calling it polyclonal antibody theory, saying, “It is two monoclonal antibodies.”
  209. On Saturday, the New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton tested positive. The NFL initially said the game against the Kansas City Chiefs was on, but later postponed with positive cases on both teams.
  210. As the week came to a close, there were 34,697,220 worldwide cases and 1,029,823 dead from the coronavirus. The U.S. had 7,345,485 cases (21.2%), 208,863 deaths (20.3%), and a mortality rate of 2.8%.

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Copyright Amy Siskind, October 3, 2020

In this Sept. 26, 2020, photo President Donald Trump, center, stands with Judge Amy Coney Barrett as they arrive for a news conference to announce Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington.