October 17, 2020

Week 205

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

This week, despite millions of Americans having voted already, Senate Republicans started the process of confirming Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. With Republicans in control of the Senate, there was little Democrats could do to address the hypocrisy and outrage over Trump’s actions, other than show up to vote, which they did in record numbers.

Behind in the polls, Trump got out on the campaign trail, claiming he was no longer contagious and holding daily rallies in states, many of which were experiencing coronavirus outbreaks. As the virus surged nationally, there was no federal government response, and in fact Trump seemed increasingly to lean on Dr. Scott Atlas, who continued to push the notion of herd immunity. Trump also made increasingly desperate statements at his rallies, indicating he did understand the gravity of Election Day approaching and Biden’s lead.

State officials braced for violence on Election Day, as Trump continued to give credence to the QAnon conspiracy theory, and encouraged an “army” of supporters to sign up as poll watchers. Meanwhile, Attorney General Bill Barr remained conspicuously absent from the public eye, as the “unmasking” probe quietly and unceremoniously ended, and he had yet to comment on the alleged plot against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Trump allies Rudy Giuliani and Stephen Bannon introduced a supposed hard drive belonging to Hunter Biden in a “smoking gun” story at the New York Post, that was soon under investigation by the F.B.I. as a possible Russian intelligence operation.

  1. On Saturday, ABC News reported that some guests at Trump’s Saturday event on the White House’s South Lawn had their travel and lodging paid for by conservative provocateur Candace Owens’ group BLEXIT.
  2. On Saturday, the Trump campaign claimed the event on the South Lawn was not a campaign event, although most attendees wore “Make America Great Again” red caps, and Trump spent 18-minutes attacking Biden.
  3. On Saturday, NYT reported the event was Trump’s effort to show he was not as sick as the media reported, as Trump continued to pressure aides to let him resume campaigning with his standing continuing to fall in polling.
  4. While at Walter Reed, Trump floated the idea to aides of projecting strength when he left the hospital by wearing a Superman T-shirt under his white button-down shirt, which he would rip open.
  5. Late Saturday, Dr. Sean Conley issued a note saying Trump was “no longer considered a transmission risk to others” and that he was “fever-free for well over 24 hours.” He did not specify if Trump had tested negative.
  6. Late Saturday, a federal appeals court in Texas overturned a federal judge, limiting ballot drop-off boxes to one per county. All three judges were Trump nominees for vacancies created while Obama was in office.
  7. Late Saturday, a private security guard in Denver was taken into custody by police after a deadly shooting at a “Patriot Rally,” where there were counter-protests by activists affiliated with Black Lives Matter and antifa.
  8. Police said the shooter was not affiliated with antifa as alleged online. The man who was shot dead was a participant of the “Patriot Rally” who had sprayed Mace or a similar substance at the shooter.
  9. On Saturday, in an open letter, University of Notre Dame faculty called on Amy Coney Barrett to “halt” the nomination process until after the November election, saying millions of Americans had already voted.
  10. On Sunday, in an interview with Fox News’ Maria Bartiromo, Trump declared he “beat” the coronavirus, claiming, “I’m immune. So the president is in very good shape to fight the battles.”
  11. Trump added, “I passed the highest test, the highest standards, and I’m in great shape,” adding, “And I have to tell you I feel fantastically. I really feel good,” and “Having really a protective glow means something.”
  12. AP reported Covid-19 reinfection is unlikely for at least three months, but long-term immunity is unlikely. Medical experts were also skeptical Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting based on data provided.
  13. Trump also made a number of unhinged statements, claiming Biden would take away cars: “How can the auto industry vote for a guy that wants to take your cars away…he literally wants to take your cars away.”
  14. After the interview, Trump tweeted, “A total and complete sign off….That means I can’t get it (immune).” Twitter put a warning on his tweet, citing it “spreading misleading and potentially harmful information.”
  15. On Sunday, a WAPO/ABC poll found Biden up by 12 points. Trump tweeted, falsely claiming that in 2016, the “two Fake News Organizations changed the numbers prior to the Election” and are doing it again.
  16. Trump also falsely tweeted, “People don’t remember the chaos, hatred & discord that we all went through during the 8 years of Obama/Biden,” saying, “St. Louis, Oakland, Baltimore…were a complete & total disaster.”
  17. On Sunday, ABC anchor John Karl opened “This Week” saying the White House blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci and all the other medical experts on the White House coronavirus task force from appearing on his show.
  18. Eric Trump appeared on “This Week,” saying his father “got hit hard” in the first days of the virus, but falsely claimed Trump had taken a “vaccine” to combat the virus, which does not exist, rather than therapeutics.
  19. Eric added, “It actually probably goes to speak to…what my father’s done on the vaccine front, no one could have done,” adding, “He worked to push this vaccine. And now my father just took it.”
  20. On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci ripped the Trump campaign for misrepresenting his comments as endorsement for Trump in campaign ads, saying, “In my nearly five decades of public service, I have never publicly endorsed.”
  21. Fauci added, “The comments attributed to me without my permission in the GOP campaign ad were taken out of context from a broad statement I made months ago about the efforts of federal public health officials.”
  22. Shortly after, Trump lied about Fauci’s words, tweeting, “They are indeed Dr. Fauci’s own words. We have done a “phenomenal” job, according to certain governors,” adding, “Many people agree.”
  23. On Sunday, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told NPR that the military will not play a role in the election, saying, “We have established a very long 240-year tradition of an apolitical military.”
  24. He added, “we want to ensure that there is always civilian leadership, civilian control of the military, and we will obey the lawful orders of civilian control of the military.”
  25. On Sunday, Axios reported Trump wants to do rallies every day through the election, noting he needs a rebound being so far behind in the polls. One adviser cautioned, “He’s going to kill himself.”
  26. On Sunday, Patrick Austin, the local city commissioner of Sanford, Florida, Trump’s first stop on Monday, said of the rally, “He [Trump] has the right to do it,” but added, “I just don’t think it’s the right time” amid a virus surge.
  27. On Monday, Trump sent five tweets about protestors in Portland who toppled a statue in Columbus Day protests, tweeting, “Put these animals in jail, now,” and “This is Biden! Law & Order!” and “ANTIFA RADICALS.”
  28. On Monday, Conley said in a letter that Trump has tested negative for Covid-19 “on consecutive days,” using a newer rapid test from Abbott Laboratories, and claimed data and tests indicated he is not infectious.
  29. On Monday, Fauci told CNN that the Trump campaign should take the ad featuring him down, saying, “I think it’s really unfortunate and really disappointing that they did that.”
  30. Fauci also cautioned against Trump holding large rallies, saying, “that is asking for trouble when you do that,” noting states were seeing increases in positive rates, “It’s going in the wrong direction right now.”
  31. Fauci added we have seen “congregate settings where there are a lot of people without masks,” adding, now “is even more so a worse time to do that” because of the new surge, adding, “it’s really very troublesome.”
  32. On Monday, Pew Research found 89% of Republicans who rely on Trump and the task force for coronavirus news believe the U.S. has the virus controlled, versus 59% of Republicans who get news from other sources.
  33. On Monday, the California Republican Party admitted to placing more than 50 deceptively labeled “official” gray, metal drop boxes for mail-in ballots in Los Angeles, Fresno, and Orange Counties.
  34. California’s secretary of state and attorney general sent a cease-and-desist order, ordering the boxes to be removed, saying the boxes are illegal and could lead to voter fraud. The California GOP refused.
  35. On Monday, two ethics groups focused on U.S. government accused Attorney General William Barr of misusing his office to support Trump’s political agenda, and called on the House to impeach him.
  36. The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics said Barr did not represent the work of the DOJ accurately, and that he was not truthful in public statements.
  37. On Wednesday, Phillip Halpern, who served as a U.S. attorney for 36 years, resigned, saying in an op-ed that Barr is Trump’s “lap dog,” parroting conspiracy theories and interfering in cases.
  38. On Monday, Senate Judiciary hearings began for Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett. Republicans pushed through without requiring testing for the panel, and despite millions of Americans having already voted.
  39. During the hearing, Trump lied, tweeting, “Republicans must state loudly and clearly that WE are going to provide much better Healthcare” and will “always protect pre-existing conditions.” Trump has proposed no plan.
  40. On Monday, NYT reported that as Trump is starting traveling for campaign rallies, NYT, WAPO and WSJ were among major outlets to not assign reporters to travel with him citing his shunning of safety protocols.
  41. The White House Correspondents’ Association, which coordinates the pool of reporters traveling with Trump, scrambled to find journalists willing to staff his events — unprecedented in the weeks ahead of an election.
  42. Concerns included flight attendants and Secret Service agents on Air Force One not wearing masks, and White House aides who tested positive or were exposed returning to work before completing a 14-day quarantine.
  43. Reporters were alarmed to see Trump’s coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott Atlas on the White House grounds without a face mask, and Chief of Staff Mark Meadows objected to wearing a face mask when speaking to reporters.
  44. Safety concerns had also complicated Trump’s planned town hall on NBC News on Thursday in lieu of the second debate, as NBC executives have asked the White House for proof their employees will not be put at risk.
  45. On Monday, Trump held a rally in Florida, a state with a high positivity rate, with an estimated 7,000 supporters packed closely together, with only some wearing face masks.
  46. Trump told the crowd he wanted to make his treatment available to everyone, saying, “We are going to take whatever the hell they gave me and we are going to distribute it to hospitals.”
  47. Trump falsely claimed, “They say I’m immune,” and “I feel so powerful,” and said he would like to kiss people in the audience, “I’ll walk in there, kiss everyone in that audience. I’ll kiss the guys and the beautiful women.”
  48. Trump said he did not believe polls that show him likely to lose in a landslide, saying, “These are the real polls, right? The other guy gets out there and they work and work and work and 30 people show up.”
  49. Trump noted that more than 215,000 were dead, but falsely claimed, “we saved millions of lives. When this first came out if we did not do a good job they predicted 2.2 million people would die,” and added, “It’s China’s fault.”
  50. Trump ended the rally by dancing on stage to the Village People’s song “Y.M.C.A” while the crowd cheered.
  51. On Monday, a record 126,876 people voted in Georgia’s first day of early in-person voting. Long lines and waits were reported at predominantly Black districts, raising allegations of voter suppression.
  52. On Tuesday, shortly after midnight, Trump dismissed reporting that his campaign is slashing ad buys in key states tweeting, “I keep reading Fake News stories that my campaign is running low on money. Not true.”
  53. Trump added, “& if it were so, I would put up money myself,” falsely claiming, “we have much more money than we had 4 years ago, where we spent much less money than Crooked Hillary, and still easily won.”
  54. On Tuesday, starting just before 6 a.m., Trump sent 96 tweets and retweets during the day, on topics ranging from support for him, offensive memes, and promoting dangerous conspiracy theories.
  55. Trump sent a series of tweets, claiming a gaffe by Joe Biden means he has dementia, saying, “this obvious & rapidly getting worse “dementia” unacceptable for USA!”
  56. Trump also retweeted his own tweets from Monday, falsely claiming, “Biden is coughing and hacking and playing “fingers” with his mask,” and “Almost nobody showed up to the Sleepy Joe Biden “Rally” in Ohio.”
  57. Trump also attacked Fauci, falsely claiming, “Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications,” and lying that the “WHO no longer likes Lockdowns,” and lying, “We saved 2,000,000 USA lives!!!”
  58. On Tuesday, shortly after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to her caucus accusing the White House of being unserious in relief negotiations, Trump tweeted, “STIMULUS! Go big or go home!!!”
  59. On Tuesday, NYT reported according to interviews of 22 eyewitnesses, federal law enforcement may have shot antifa activist Michael Reinoehl without identifying themselves or giving commands before opening fire.
  60. Eyewitnesses also denied Reinoehl, killed in Week 199, had raised a gun. His gun was later found in his pocket. Barr had celebrated the operation as a “significant accomplishment” that removed a “violent agitator.”
  61. On Monday, Eric Trump canceled a campaign rally at Huron Valley Guns in Michigan after it was revealed that one of its former employees was linked to the domestic terrorism plot against Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
  62. On Tuesday, during a hearing in Michigan, the FBI said that Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was also a possible target of the anti-government plot by the 13 men targeting Whitmer.
  63. The group discussed “taking” Northam because of coronavirus lockdown orders. Notably Trump had been openly critical of Northam, and tweeted, “LIBERATE VIRGINIA” on April 17.
  64. On Tuesday, multiple Virginia state websites were shut down on the last day of voter registration after a fiber optic cable was accidentally severed during roadside work. Voting advocates sued for an extension.
  65. Later Tuesday evening, a federal judge in Richmond extended the state’s voter registration deadline by two days.
  66. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court blocked a lower court order requiring the Trump regime to continue gathering Census data in the field, saying it can stop the count while litigation continues in the 9th circuit court of appeals.
  67. The unsigned order, while technically a pause, effectively ended the count. Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, saying, “the harms associated with an inaccurate census are avoidable and intolerable.”
  68. On Tuesday, WAPO reported, after U.S. Attorney John Bash quietly resigned in Week 204, the “unmasking” probe commissioned by Barr concluded without criminal charges or any public report.
  69. The findings come as Trump publicly pressured federal law enforcement to move against his political enemies ahead of the election. The DOJ’s spokesperson Kerri Kupec had first made the probe public in May.
  70. Sens. Ron Johnson, Charles E. Grassley, and Rand Paul had declassified documents in May, with Paul calling it a “smoking gun.” Trump had told Fox Business of the probe, “I’m talking with 50-year sentences.”
  71. Asked if Bash had quit over the unmasking probe, Kupec said, “No, that was not my understanding.” Bash had said he resigned to accept an offer in the private sector, without offering further detail.
  72. On Tuesday, the DOJ argued that Trump’s tweet in Week 204 calling for the “total declassification of any & all documents” related to the Russia probe and Hillary Clinton’s emails should not be considered an order.
  73. The DOJ added in its filing with Judge Reggie Walton that they conferred with the White House counsel “and were informed that there was no order requiring declassification or disclosure of any document.”
  74. On Tuesday, Politico reported a new pro-Trump super PAC ad running in three battleground states uses stock footage from Russia and Belarus — the fourth time in three months a pro-Trump ad used footage of Russia.
  75. On Tuesday, NYT reported the Trump campaign suggested that Omarosa Manigault Newman pay for an ad campaign costing nearly $1 million as a “corrective” remedy for her critical comments on Trump in her 2018 book.
  76. On Tuesday, the DOJ sued Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, author of a tell-all book about First Lady Melania, claiming she violated a nondisclosure agreement.
  77. On Tuesday, WSJ reported Trump’s plan to send a discount card that can be used to pay for as much as $200 in prescription drug costs to 33 million Medicare beneficiaries will not reach them until after the election.
  78. The cards will go out in phases, starting late October, with most going out after the election. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is spending roughly $20 million for costs to print and send the letters.
  79. Later Tuesday, officials at the Department of Labor said Trish Scalia, the wife of Labor Sec. Eugene Scalia, tested positive for Covid-19 after attending the Barrett reception. She was seated next to Kellyanne Conway.
  80. On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in Johnstown, in must-win Pennsylvania where he lagged in the polls. NYT reported top aides know they must change the trajectory of the race with time running out.
  81. This week aides are sending him out with a teleprompter, hoping to keep him on message. Uncharacteristically, ahead of the speech, aides also shared excerpts of his speech with reporters.
  82. In his hour-long speech, Trump did read some staff written remarks, then veered off to say how embarrassed he would be to lose to Biden, referring to him as senile, saying, “He has no idea what he’s saying.”
  83. Trump begged, “Suburban women: Will you please like me?” adding, “Please. Please. I saved your damn neighborhood, OK?” based on polls showing his losing suburban voters, claiming he has “saved suburbia.”
  84. Trump admitted risks of being in the public, saying, “I got to get out and I have to meet people and…see people, and I know it’s risky to do that,” adding, “you have to do what you have to do. You know, I’m the president.”
  85. Trump repeated the lie, “Now, I’m immune,” adding again, “I could come down and start kissing everybody,” and “I’ll kiss every guy — man and woman. Look at that guy, how handsome he is. I’ll kiss him.”
  86. Later Tuesday, as Trump was losing senior voters, a key demographic for his win in 2016, he inexplicably tweeted an image of Biden photoshopped in a wheelchair sitting at a nursing home.
  87. Trump also retweeted a video of a baseless QAnon conspiracy theory claiming Navy SEALs killed an Osama bin Laden body double, a trophy kill, and that Obama and Biden had the SEALs killed to cover it up.
  88. On Wednesday, outgoing GOP Rep. Denver Riggleman condemned Trump for retweeting the conspiracy theory, and said there no dispute that Navy SEAL Team 6 killed bin Laden in a raid in 2011.
  89. On Wednesday, New York Post published a story claiming Rudy Giuliani and Stephen Bannon had obtained a trove of private materials from Hunter Biden, including email correspondence with Burisma officials.
  90. The Post claimed Giuliani got the emails from a computer repair shop in Delaware, where the owner claimed someone brought in a computer but did not pay for it, and the computer had a Beau Biden Foundation sticker.
  91. The shop owner, a Trump supporter, claimed instead of returning the computer, he made a copy of the hard drive and gave it to Giuliani’s lawyer, before turning it over to the FBI.
  92. The alleged emails showed Hunter was trying to gain influence for Burisma by setting up a meeting between a Burisma executive and then-Vice President Biden. The Biden campaign said meeting was never scheduled.
  93. The emails claimed Burisma was being investigated by the Ukrainian prosecutor, Viktor Shokin, who Joe Biden demanded be fired, suggesting a quid pro quo. This is not true — Shokin did not investigate Burisma.
  94. The story was written by Emma-Jo Morris, a former segment producer-booker for Fox News host Sean Hannity. She is not typically a writer for the NY Post.
  95. WAPO reported Bannon and Giuliani did not return phone calls seeking comment, not did they respond to multiple requests to review the hard drive and other materials for verification.
  96. Both Facebook and Twitter took unusual steps: Facebook preemptively limited the spread of the story while sending it to third-party fact-checkers, and Twitter marked the link as “potentially unsafe” and blocked it.
  97. Earlier in the day, Facebook cited “signals” that when a piece of content is false, its distribution could be reduced pending fact-checker review, learning from lessons of 2016, to stop viral misinformation.
  98. After the story became the number three trending topic, Twitter blocked access to the link to the original story, instead putting a warning, saying, “This link may be unsafe.”
  99. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “So terrible that Facebook and Twitter took down the story of ‘Smoking Gun’ emails related to Sleepy Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, in the @NYPost.”
  100. The Trump campaign’s Twitter account was suspended for violating Twitter’s “rules against posting private information.” A Trump campaign spokesperson called the suspension election interference.
  101. Later, the Twitter Safety account tweeted that the article included images that contained personal and private information in violation of its rules. CEO Jack Dorsey later tweeted communication on the action “was not great.”
  102. Later, Daily Beast spoke to the repair shop owner, John Paul Mac Isaac, who seemed nervous, and switched back and forth from saying he reached out to the FBI about the laptop or that they reached out to him.
  103. Isaac’s social media showed he was an avid Trump supporter and voted for him in 2016. He called impeachment a “sham” in the interview, and referenced the Seth Rich conspiracy theory.
  104. On identifying Hunter Biden, Isaac told WAPO “I’m 99.9 percent sure it was him, but because of my visual impairments I’m not going to lie,” adding, “I can’t be 100 percent sure.”
  105. On Wednesday, NBC received widespread criticism for agreeing to hold a Trump town hall at the same time Biden was scheduled to appear on ABC. The town halls came after Trump bowed out of the second debate.
  106. A former NBC executive tweeted, “The point of a news organization is to serve the public. This is the opposite.” The NBC town hall would be held outdoors, and audience members were required to wear a mask.
  107. On Wednesday, Daily Beast reported Trump told close associates he wanted to have his town hall counter-program the Biden town hall to score higher ratings, then use it to humiliate Biden.
  108. On Wednesday, more than 15 million Americans had voted early, propelled by Democratic enthusiasm, ten times the number at the same point in 2016, with Democrats outvoting Republicans by more than 2 to 1.
  109. On Wednesday, NYT reported the White House has embraced a declaration by a group of scientists arguing that authorities should embrace “herd immunity” through infections rather than a vaccine.
  110. On a call convened by the White House on Monday, an October 4 petition titled “The Great Barrington Declaration,” which argues against lockdowns and calls for a reopening of businesses and schools, was discussed.
  111. The 9,000 signatories wrote, “The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally.”
  112. One of the lead authors was Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, an economist at Stanford University, where Dr. Scott Atlas attended. It was produced at a meeting hosted by libertarian American Institute for Economic Research.
  113. Shortly after, William Haseltine, Chair and President of ACCESS Health International, told CNN he is “extremely concerned” that Trump is “being advised by people who speak of herd immunity.”
  114. Haseltine added, “herd immunity is another word for mass murder,” and “we are looking at two to six million Americans dead — not just this year but every year.”
  115. On Wednesday, in a lengthy note about her experience with the coronavirus, Melania said that Barron had tested positive, but had no symptoms. She wrote that she and Barron have since tested negative.
  116. On Wednesday, NYT reported on February 24, as Trump tweeted the virus was “very much under control,” Tomas Philipson, a senior member of his economic team, gave a different message to the Hoover Institution.
  117. Philipson told board members at a three-day gathering of the conservative group that he could not yet estimate the impact on the economy, an advance notice.
  118. The next day, director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow told CNBC the virus was contained, but with the group he was more sanguine, saying it was “contained in the U.S., to date, but now we just don’t know.”
  119. A hedge fund consultant who attended the gathering wrote in a memo that every official raised the virus “as a point of concern, totally unprovoked,” and noted a devastating outbreak was increasingly likely.
  120. As word of the memo spread to investors on Wall Street, it impacted trading as many went short stocks in reaction, resulting in a profit. Word also spread of how unprepared the regime was to handle the pandemic.
  121. On Wednesday, Twitter said the platform had suspended a slew of fake accounts pretending to be Black Trump supporters. The accounts all joined Twitter recently, and their Twitter handles referenced “MAGA” or “KAG.”
  122. On Wednesday, CNN reported for more than three years, federal prosecutors have investigated whether an Egyptian state-owned bank sent millions to the Trump campaign days before he won the 2016 election.
  123. The investigation pre-dated the Mueller probe, and examined whether there was an illegal foreign campaign contribution. The highly secret probe closed this summer with no charges filed.
  124. On Wednesday, Trump held a rally in Iowa at the Des Moines International Airport. Trump’s rally violated the state’s guidelines for public gatherings, which require attendees be at least six feet apart. Few wore masks.
  125. Public health officials said the rally could turn into a super-spreader event amid a surge in the state. Gov. Kim Reynolds, who attended , defended Trump, citing First Amendment rights.
  126. Trump, who won Iowa handily in 2016, faced a toss-up in 2020. He lied, saying, “For me to only be up six, I’m a little bit concerned.” Multiple polls have shown a much closer race.
  127. Trump again tried to appeal to suburban votes, saying he was not going to destroy the “American dream” for “stupid people” like “Cory Booker” — again referencing the Black Senator for no reason.
  128. Trump attacked Biden and Hunter over the Burisma story, adding, “Vice President Biden, you owe the people of America an apology because it turns out, you are a corrupt politician,” and “Let’s face it, Joe is shot.”
  129. Trump cited Barron as evidence to reopen schools, saying he recovered “within like two seconds,” and did not know he had it “because they’re young and their immune systems are strong and they fight it off.”
  130. Trump also said, “If I don’t get Iowa I won’t believe that one,” adding, “I may never have to come back here again if I don’t get Iowa.” Trump also joked, “Should I take off the tie or what?” and threw it into the audience.
  131. On the flight back from Iowa, Trump visited the press cabin on Air Force One, and spoke for about 10 minutes from the doorway without wearing a mask.
  132. On Thursday, the Labor Department reported weekly unemployment claims jumped to 898,000, higher than expectations, and a sign the economic recovery was losing steam amid a surging pandemic.
  133. On Thursday, in an open letter to NBCUniversal management, more than 100 prominent actors, writers, and producers protested the network hosting Trump at the same time as Biden.
  134. On Thursday, the Trump campaign complained about Twitter briefly locking its account for tweets related to the NY Post story, in which they called Biden a “liar” and accused him of “ripping off our country for years.”
  135. Shortly after, Trump told Fox Business on Twitter, “it’s going to all end up in a big lawsuit,” adding, “there are things that can happen that are very severe that I’d rather not see happen. But it’s probably going to have to.”
  136. On Thursday, NYT reported Trump’s language has become more heated heading into the election, raising fears of a rise in political violence with Trump’s rhetoric emboldening extremists.
  137. In addition to a planned domestic terrorist attack in Michigan, a gun store owner in Pennsylvania said people are buying guns, and a Democratic official in Iowa was threatened and signs vandalized with bullet holes.
  138. National security experts say this year is unlike any other. In the past presidents accepted the peaceful transition of power. Now there is concern that Trump’s words have given license to violence and states must prepare.
  139. The International Crisis Group, whose mission is to sound an alarm ahead of deadly conflicts globally, is watching the U.S.election for the first time, for fear right-wing militias could act in key states if ballots are contested.
  140. On Thursday, Chris Christie told the Times he was “wrong” not to wear a mask at the Barrett White House reception, and even though he was told people in the first three rows were tested, “I shouldn’t have relied on that.”
  141. Christie added, “I hope that my experience shows my fellow citizens that you should follow C.D.C. guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others,” and to social distance.
  142. On Thursday, Washington Examiner reported in a private call with constituents, GOP Sen. Ben Sasse was heard saying Trump mishandled the coronavirus response, “kisses dictators’ butts,” and “sells out our allies.”
  143. Sasse added Trump spends “like a drunken sailor,” mistreats women, and trash-talks evangelicals behind their backs, has “flirted with white supremacists,” and “treated the presidency like a business opportunity.”
  144. Sasse said of Trump’s handling of the pandemic, he “careened from curb to curb,” and “He refused to treat it seriously,” adding, “For months, he treated it like a news-cycle-by-news-cycle P.R. crisis.”
  145. The call took place during the Barrett confirmation hearing and included 17,000 Nebraskans, meaning there was a good chance it would be leaked. Sasse added, “We are staring down the barrel of a blue tsunami.”
  146. On Thursday, the Biden campaign halted Kamala Harris’s travel until Monday after two people in her orbit, a flight crew member and Harris’ communications director, Liz Allen, tested positive for coronavirus.
  147. The Biden campaign also said a staff member for the charter company that flies Biden tested positive, but Biden was not within 50 feet of the person. Harris was also not within what the CDC considered close contact.
  148. On Thursday, ActBlue, which collects donations for Democrats running for office, recorded a record shattering $1.5 billion in third quarter donations, fueled by small-dollar donations for candidates up and down the ballot.
  149. On Thursday, C-SPAN suspended its political editor Steve Scully, who was scheduled to moderate the second debate before it got canceled, indefinitely, after he admitted to lying that his Twitter account was hacked.
  150. Last week Trump had criticized Scully as a “never Trumper.” Scully tweeted “@Scaramucci should I respond to Trump.” When he saw his tweet had created controversy, Scully lied saying his account was hacked.
  151. On Thursday, Trump held a rally in Greenville, North Carolina — another state that he won in 2016 but found himself trailing in polls, for the first day of in-person voting, his sixth visit after discouraging mail-in voting.
  152. Trump spoke to a tightly packed crowd of about 2,000 supporters in front of Air Force One for 79 minutes, few of whom wore masks. Trump was not seen wearing a mask at any time.
  153. Trump said, “This is the most important election of our lives, maybe in the history of our country. So get your friends, get your family, get your neighbors, get out and vote,” claiming, “The red wave is coming.”
  154. Trump added, “I’m running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics…How do you lose?” and lied, “we’re leading in North Carolina. We’re leading everywhere where people are intelligent.”
  155. Trump said of Covid, “you’ve got to open up your businesses, open up your schools. Get it going,” adding of therapeutics he had access to, “We have incredible therapeutics, we have incredible drugs…in my opinion, a cure.”
  156. Trump said of Fauci, “you have my friend and he’s a nice guy Tony,” Trump said as supporters booed, falsely claiming Fauci was a Democrat who encouraged people to “not wear a mask under any circumstance.”
  157. Trump added, “suburban women should love Trump,” falsely claiming, “I let you have the American Dream,” and “They don’t want to have a (housing) project built next to that beautiful house.”
  158. Trump also praised the U.S. Marshals who killed Michael Reinoehl, saying it “took 15 minutes, it was over, 15 minutes it was over, we got him,” adding, “They knew who he was, they didn’t want to arrest him.”
  159. Trump also blasted NBC ahead of his town hall, “I’m being set up tonight, right. I’m doing this town hall with Con-cast,” calling NBC “the worst” and adding, “I figured, what the hell, we get a free hour on television.”
  160. Trump said of moderator, “And we have Savannah Guthrie,” adding, “She’s always lovely, isn’t she? But I figure why not.” Notably Trump has a long relationship with NBC, which aired “The Apprentice” for 14 seasons.
  161. On Thursday, a Texas judge lifted an order by Gov. Greg Abbott to limit ballot drop boxes to one per county, saying it “would likely needlessly and unreasonably increase risks of exposure to COVID-19 infections.”
  162. On Thursday, Fauci told Yahoo News that the White House coronavirus task force is only meeting once a week. He also said he last spoke to Trump last week.
  163. On Thursday, WAPO reported the White House was warned by U.S. intelligence last year that Giuliani was a target of a Russian intelligence operation to feed misinformation to Trump.
  164. The warnings were based on multiple sources showing Giuliani was interacting with people tied to Russian intelligence during a December 2019 trip to Ukraine to gather information on Hunter Biden.
  165. NSA Robert O’Brien advised Trump any information Giuliani brought back from Ukraine should be considered contaminated by Russia. Giuliani visited the White House on Dec. 13, then met with Trump eight days later.
  166. Intelligence also warned in early 2019 that Giuliani, in his effort to get information on the Bidens, was communicating with Russian assets. Several senior regime officials had an understanding that he was targeted.
  167. On Thursday, NBC News reported federal investigators are examining whether the emails allegedly describing activities by Joe and Hunter Biden in the NY Post story are linked to a foreign intelligence operation.
  168. The FBI seized the laptop and hard drive referenced in the story through a grand jury subpoena. The conservative, Murdoch family-owned NY Post had published a series of stories based on the emails from Giuliani.
  169. An attorney for Hunter said, “We have no idea where this came from, and certainly cannot credit anything that Rudy Giuliani provided to the New York Post,” adding, “this purported meeting never happened.”
  170. On Thursday, Giuliani’s daughter, Caroline Rose, urged Americans to vote for Biden, saying, “We have to stand and fight. The only way to end this nightmare is to vote. There is hope on the horizon, but we’ll only grasp it.”
  171. On Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz said alongside Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham that the committee would vote next week on whether to subpoena Twitter CEO Dorsey to appear before their panel on the NY Post story.
  172. On Thursday, South Carolina Democrats filed an ethics complaint against Graham for making a campaign fundraising appeal while speaking with reporters during judicial confirmation hearings for Barrett.
  173. On Thursday, Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement the FCC will review the liability shield for internet platforms which could result in scaling back protections, a change sought by Trump.
  174. Pai said the law has been applied too broadly, “an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230.”
  175. Later Thursday, Trump and Biden held competing town halls. CNN Fact Check found that the competing events highlighted Trump’s dishonesty, as he spewed a barrage of false claims, versus a few misstatements by Biden.
  176. Trump falsely claimed of coronavirus, “Just the other day, they came out with a statement that 85% of the people that wear masks catch it,” — which was him misrepresenting the findings of a CDC study.
  177. As the confirmation for Barrett continued, Trump lied, saying, “We’re always protecting people with pre-existing conditions.” Trump pushed the DOJ to try to overturn Obamacare at the Supreme Court.
  178. Despite fears that NBC town hall would amount to free promotion for the Trump campaign, the grilling by Guthrie was one of the toughest Trump had faced in office, with her repeatedly challenging his evasions.
  179. Asked about his retweeting the conspiracy about the bin Laden raid, Trump said he was just retweeting, and Guthrie countered, “You’re the president. You’re not like someone’s crazy uncle who can just retweet whatever.”
  180. Asked if he would state the QAnon conspiracy theory is not true, Trump lied, saying, “I know nothing about QAnon.” Guthrie pressed, “I just told you,” Trump refused, adding, “they are very much against pedophilia.”
  181. Asked about owing more than $400 million, Trump lied, “it’s a tiny percentage of my net worth,” but refused to turn over his tax returns claiming, “I’m under audit,” with Guthrie saying that does not stop you.
  182. Trump also falsely claimed, “DACA is somewhat different than Dreamers,” and later said, “I have done more for the African-American community than any president with the exception of Abraham Lincoln.”
  183. On Friday, Nielsen ratings showed more people watched Biden: 14.1 million people watched Biden’s town hall on ABC, while 10.9 million watched Trump on NBC, and 13.5 million total across all NBC channels.
  184. On Friday, an AP-NORC poll found 66% disapprove of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus, 33% approve. The poll also found 65% do not believe he took the pandemic seriously enough, 32% said he acted appropriately.
  185. The polls also found 85% think the country is greatly divided — 65% said divisions would worsen if Trump were re-elected, 35% say that of Biden, while 47% say the country would be more united with Biden.
  186. On Friday, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson took the unusual step of sending guidance to local election officials saying open carry inside and near polling places is banned on Election Day.
  187. On Friday, a GOP poll observer in North Carolina was charged with assault after he pushed an election worker who prevented him from entering an early-voting site in Wake Forest. He was a former member of the NC House.
  188. On Friday, The Wichita Eagle reported a local man was arrested on suspicion of threatening to kidnap and kill Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple over frustrations with the city’s mask mandate.
  189. Whipple said according to texts, the apparent motive was the suspect’s opposition to “masks and tyranny.” The suspect planned to kidnap the mayor and slash his throat.
  190. On Friday, ABC News reported online accounts tied to neo-Nazi sympathizers and “alt-right” groups such as the Proud Boys have been generating posts encouraging members to be poll watchers.
  191. Officials in multiple states are taking steps to protect voters on Election Day, as members of these, and other armed groups, look to sign up through the Trump campaign to be poll watchers.
  192. State officials in Oregon, Michigan, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and other states have already taken steps. Experts cited concerns over the Trump campaign’s use of the word “Army” in recruiting poll watchers.
  193. On Friday, the U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases, the highest number in the world, and representing more than 20% of all worldwide cases. The U.S. was also seeing an increase in hospitalizations.
  194. On Friday, Trump retweeted an article from the conservative satirical Babylon Bee, which suggested Twitter shut down its “entire network” to slow the spread of the NY Post story.
  195. On Friday, the Trump regime refused to grant a disaster declaration to California for wildfires, with FEMA saying the fires were “not of such severity and magnitude to exceed the combined capabilities of the state.”
  196. The rejection was unusual, but not unprecedented. California said it would appeal. Later in the day Trump reversed, with White House declaring “a major disaster” in seven counties ravaged by fires in September.
  197. On Friday, Dorsey apologized for blocking the NY Post story, tweeting, “Straight blocking of URLs was wrong, and we updated our policy and enforcement to fix.”
  198. On Friday, at an event in Florida aimed at seniors, Trump said Hunter Biden is “like a vacuum cleaner, he follows his father around collecting,” and said the Bidens are a “crime family” and an “organized crime family.”
  199. Trump also confused ally Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida with Rick Gates, a key witness in the Mueller investigation, saying at one point, “Can it ever be, like, Rick Gates’ fault?” and later scanning the crowd, “Where is Rick?”
  200. On Friday, NYT reported Cleveland printing company Midwest Direct was contracted to send absentee ballots to voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania, but was overwhelmed, leaving election officials scrambling for other solutions.
  201. In Pennsylvania, 30,000 ballots were sent to the wrong address. Midwest Direct flew a Trump 2020 flag over its headquarters. There was no evidence the company did anything improper, but rather failed in its job.
  202. On Friday, the Supreme Court said it would hear arguments next month on a Trump appeal to exclude undocumented immigrants from the Census count used to calculate apportionment of congressional districts.
  203. On Friday, CBS News reported that in December 2019, NSA O’Brien conveyed concerns to Trump that Giuliani was being targeted for a Russian disinformation campaign aimed at discrediting Biden.
  204. Giuliani and others with influence with the Trump regime were also notified they could be targets of foreign disinformation. Giuliani denied it: “I was never warned by anyone inside or outside the [U.S. government].”
  205. On Friday, AP reported according to documents from a former Cambridge Analytica insider, Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and a billionaire-funded pro-Trump super PAC illegally coordinated.
  206. A legal complaint filed by nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center with the FEC alleged Cambridge Analytica used information gained from the Trump campaign to develop and target ads for the super PAC to use.
  207. The filing added, “Cambridge Analytica not only misused people’s personal data, but it was a conduit for the wealthy family [the Mercers] that owned it to unlawfully support the Trump campaign in 2016.”
  208. On Friday, Judge Reggie Walton rebuked the DOJ and White House Counsel’s Office for dismissing without explanation Trump’s tweets ordering the declassification of Russia probe documents.
  209. Walton said, “I think the American public has a right to rely on what the president says his intention is,” and said of the tweets, “It seems to me when a president makes a clear, unambiguous statement […] that I can’t rely on the White House Counsel’s Office saying, ‘Well, that was not his intent.’”
  210. Walton directed the DOJ to clarify by Tuesday at noon with Trump or someone who has spoken directly to him as to whether he had intended to order the declassification and release of a fully unredacted Mueller report.
  211. On Friday, speaking before Trump at a rally, Georgia Sen. David Perdue, who serves with Kamala Harris on Senate committee, purposefully mispronounced her name: “Kah-mah-la or Kah-ma-la or Kamamboamamla.”
  212. On Friday, Trump held a rally in Macon, highlighting his need to focus on Georgia, a state he won by 10 points in 2016. Trump said, “I am moving heaven and earth to safeguard our seniors from the China virus.”
  213. Trump lied, saying, “The vaccines are getting ready to come out,” and “we’re rounding the corner very strongly,” as a surge in cases was underway, and lied, “the economy is looking very, very strong.”
  214. Trump said, “Running against the worst candidate in the history of presidential politics puts pressure on me,” and said if he loses, “maybe I have to leave the country, I don’t know.”
  215. At a Friday rally in Ocala, Florida, Trump asked ally Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, “are we gonna win,” adding if he loses, “I’m blaming the governor,” and claimed he would “find a way” to “fire him somehow. I’m going to fire him” — which he cannot do.
  216. Trump also led cheers of “lock him up,” stoking the crowd, saying, “Lock up the Bidens. Lock up Hillary,” falsely claiming, “We’ve learned over the last couple of months: Joe Biden is a corrupt politician.”
  217. On Friday, the U.S. reported more than 69,000 daily coronavirus cases, the highest number since late July, amid an alarming surge that public health officials said may mark the start of a fall surge.
  218. On Friday, in an open letter, more than 1,000 current and former CDC officers expressed dismay about the U.S. coronavirus response, and called for the CDC to play a more central role.
  219. The letter said, “The absence of national leadership on Covid-19 is unprecedented and dangerous,” adding, “CDC should be at the forefront of a successful response to this global public health emergency.”
  220. On Friday, AP reported the White House installed two political operatives inside the CDC ahead of the election, in an effort to control information as the Trump regime looks to paint a positive outlook.
  221. Neither appointee has any public health experience, but have been tasked with keeping an eye on CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, as well as scientists, to watch for messaging and seek to stop leaks.
  222. On Saturday, WKYT reported a USPS worker in Kentucky could face federal charges, after discarding 112 absentee ballots into a dumpster. The worker was also fired.
  223. On Saturday, Trump attacked Sasse in a series of tweets, calling him “Senator Little Ben Sasse,” and saying he is “the least effective of our 53 Republican Senators.”
  224. On Saturday, thousands wearing costumes and carrying signs gathered for the Women’s March in D.C. and other cities to protest the nomination of Barrett. In D.C., protestors marched to the Supreme Court.
  225. As the week came to a close, there were 39,444,960 worldwide cases and 1,106,221 dead from the coronavirus. The U.S. had 8,062,236 cases (20.4%), 218,766 deaths (19.8%), and a mortality rate of 2.7%.

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Copyright Amy Siskind, October 17, 2020

Thousands of people wait in line for early voting in Marietta, Georgia, Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. Georgia saw record turnout, as did other states.