October 24, 2020

Week 206

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

This week, with Election Day nearing, the coronavirus raged out of control, with a record number of new daily cases on Thursday, and then again Friday, topping 83,000. Hospitalizations also soared in many states, and the death toll started to rise. Trump meanwhile continued to hold campaign rallies in battleground states, almost all of which were in the midst of surging cases. His supporters stood packed together, shoulder-to-shoulder, and mostly without face masks. It was unthinkable that a leader would do such a thing — but Trump proved once again his care is only for himself and his re-election, even though many of his supporters will end up getting sick and some will die.

Meanwhile, Americans voted in record number, by Thursday topping the early votes for all of 2016, and by week’s end, 56 million had voted, 40% of all who voted in 2016. Record turnout continued in multiple states, with registered Democrats far outpacing Republicans. Despite the huge turnout, Senate Republicans continued to push through Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — even as Democrats boycotted the Judiciary Committee vote — and while eschewing a Covid relief bill, as 8 million more Americans descended into poverty.

Trump spent the week all over place: attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, then “60 Minutes” anchor Lesley Stahl, and gaining no ground as Americans voted and Election Day neared. News of foreign interference loomed large, as did acts of violence and intimidation from far-right groups.

  1. On Saturday, an American Psychological Association survey found 68% of adults say the presidential election, in the midst of a pandemic and social unrest, is a significant source of stress in their lives, up from 52% in 2016.
  2. The group did not track election stress prior, because psychologists were not hearing about it. Experts said 2020 is in the top five stressful election years, or three including 1860 during the Civil War and 1932 during the Great Depression.
  3. On Saturday, a study by Columbia University showed 8 million Americans slipped into poverty during the pandemic, as federal stimulus checks ended, and with Senate Republicans unwilling to take up legislation.
  4. On Tuesday, NYT reported an estimated 1.5 million New Yorkers cannot afford food in the pandemic, and count on food pantries to get by, where lines can be blocks long.
  5. On Saturday, USA TODAY reported the FBI is investigating whether the material supplied to the New York Post by Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, is part of a disinformation campaign by Russia to target Joe Biden.
  6. On Saturday, ahead of the third and final debate this week, Trump attacked the moderator, tweeting of Kristen Welker, “She’s always been terrible & unfair, just like most of the Fake News reporters.”
  7. On Saturday, AP reported rural Midwest hospitals are struggling to handle the inflow of coronavirus patients, as rural counties across Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Montana top the nation in the surge.
  8. Even amid the surge, Republican governors have been reluctant to act. In swaths of the region where Trump supporters live, people took their cues on wearing face masks from his cavalier attitude on the virus.
  9. On Saturday, WAPO reported within weeks of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally attended by 500,000, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Minnesota, and Montana, were leading the nation in new coronavirus infections per capita.
  10. The surge was particularly pronounced in the Dakotas. At least 330 cases and one death can be tied to Sturgis, but that count is likely a small sampling as there was no contact tracing, and with asymptomatic spread.
  11. On Saturday, WAPO reported a domestic violence shelter in Wisconsin suffered board resignations, and the loss of $25,000 in funding and police department partnerships, after posting Black Lives Matter signs.
  12. On Saturday, Joseph Zacharek, a police recruit in Lafayette, Indiana, was fired after an anti-fascist flagged his apparent participation in a neo-Nazi internet forum, “Iron March,” four years ago.
  13. On Saturday, Trump held a crammed campaign rally in Muskegon, Michigan at an airport. He said of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, “get your governor to open up your state,” and “get your schools open!”
  14. When the crowd erupted, “lock her up!” Trump egged them on, saying, “Lock ’em all up,” adding, “So, I guess they said she was threatened. And she blamed me!” Fourteen men were charged in a plot against her.
  15. Shortly after, Whitmer tweeted, “This is exactly the rhetoric that has put me, my family, and other government officials’ lives in danger while we try to save the lives of our fellow Americans,” adding, “It needs to stop.”
  16. Trump also said there was “something very beautiful” about “watching everybody get pushed around” in Minneapolis when the National Guard responded to protests around George Floyd’s killing.
  17. Trump added, “they came in, these soldiers … And they had their tear gas, and they had their pepper spray,” adding the forces “marched forward…and the whole thing was over,” to which the crowd cheered.
  18. Trump also referenced Rep. Ilhan Omar of Michigan, mispronouncing her name, and saying she “does not love our country too much” and in fact “hates” it. He mentioned her three times.
  19. Trump also again pandered to suburban women, saying, “Would you like a nice low-income housing project next to your suburban beautiful ranch style house?” lying, “I saved your suburbs…you’re supposed to love Trump.”
  20. Trump also lied, saying, “I read where they [Democrats] want to blow up Mount Rushmore,” a lie he has told repeatedly, adding, “They want to blow it up. ‘We want to blow the face off Mount Rushmore.’”
  21. Later Saturday, Trump held a rally in Jamesville, Wisconsin, even as state officials said Friday that cases were surging, and the seven-day average was above 3,000 daily cases, the highest on record.
  22. Trump said, “You’ve got to open your state up. You’ve got to open it up,” and joked about not leaving office for “four years, eight years, 12 years, 16,” adding, “Now the story with the fake news will be, ‘He is a fascist!’”
  23. Trump also lied that his wall on the border with Mexico was almost finished, and he railed against refugees, adding allowing more people in, as Democrats want, would open “the floodgates to radical Islamic terrorism.”
  24. On Sunday, Lara Trump defended Trump for the “lock her up” chants at his Saturday rally, obfuscating, “Well, gosh. I would like to show people my social media and the threats against me, the threats against my children.”
  25. When pressed, she said, “He wasn’t doing anything, I don’t think, to provoke people to threaten this woman at all,” adding, “He was having fun at a Trump rally,” and “people want to get the country reopened.”
  26. Asked about her mocking Biden’s stutter, Lara claimed she “had no idea” that Biden struggled with a stutter, adding, “I think what we see with Joe Biden, Jake, is very clearly a cognitive decline.”
  27. On Sunday, Sen. Ron Johnson falsely suggested on Fox News that the reason the FBI subpoenaed Hunter Biden’s laptop was related to child pornography on the computer.
  28. Shortly after, CNN anchor Jake Tapper tweeted, “It was always a fait accompli that someone from Fox and someone from the GOP would start Q-Anon-ing the race with disgusting allegations/zero evidence.”
  29. On Sunday, NYT reported the New York Post story on Hunter Biden was mostly written by Bruce Golding, a Post reporter since 2007, who refused to put his name on it citing concerns about its credibility.
  30. Many Post staffers also questioned whether the newspaper had done enough to verify the authenticity of the hard drive, and also had concerns about the reliability of its sources and its timing.
  31. Top editors met on October 11 to discuss how to use the materials provided by Giuliani. Golding and at least one other refused to add their bylines. Emma-Jo Morris did not have a bylined Post article prior.
  32. On Sunday, Michael Osterholm, a top infectious disease expert, told “Meet the Press” that “the next six to 12 weeks are going to be the darkest of the entire pandemic,” noting the surge without a vaccine until next year.
  33. Osterholm added the U.S. is facing a messaging problem, due to the lack of a lead voice to guide Americans, saying leaders need to bring people together to understand why masks and social distancing are worth doing.
  34. On Sunday, Twitter removed a tweet by Dr. Scott Atlas, Trump’s top Covid adviser, sent on Saturday which falsely claimed masks do not work to prevent the spread of coronavirus, saying it violated rules and policies.
  35. On Sunday, LA Times reported four National Guard spy planes flew over four cities including Minneapolis, Phoenix, and D.C.,to monitor protests in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd in early June.
  36. The fourth plane flew over El Dorado Hills, an affluent suburb of Sacramento, and home Maj. Gen. David Baldwin, the head of the California National Guard. Gov. Gavin Newsom criticized the operation.
  37. On Sunday, Trump held a rally in Nevada, where a crowd of 5,000 stood packed together at Carson City Airport, with few wearing masks. Trump lied, “There’s even more enthusiasm now than we had four years ago.”
  38. Trump said Biden was from a “corrupt political class,” and led cheers of “lock him up!” adding, “Biden is and has been a corrupt politician” and “the Biden family is a criminal enterprise.”
  39. Trump also mockingly said that Biden would “listen to the scientists,” adding, “If I listened totally to the scientists, we would right now have a country that would be in a massive depression.”
  40. Trump also veered off into a monologue about water pressure, saying Americans “have to flush their toilet 15 times,” adding, “it’s sort of gross to talk about, right? I will not talk about it. I’ll only talk about showers.”
  41. In speaking about dishwashers, Trump segued to women voters, saying “Suburban women, please vote for me. I’m saving your house. I’m saving your community. I’m keeping your crime way down.”
  42. Trump also warned that if Biden wins, “the Christmas season will be canceled.”
  43. On Sunday, in an interview with “60 Minutes,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said he was “absolutely not” surprised that Trump got Covid, citing his concern with Trump not practicing social distancing or encouraging masks.
  44. Fauci said he now power walks with a security detail, saying he and his family have all been harassed and threatened, calling it “sad,” and adding, “it bothers me less than the hassling of my wife and my children.”
  45. Asked if the White House has controlled the media’s access to him, Fauci said, “I think you’d have to be honest and say yes. I certainly have not been allowed to go on many, many, many shows that have asked for me.”
  46. On Monday, on a conference call with staffers on his campaign, Trump claimed, “People are tired of Covid,” and “People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots,” and called Fauci a “disaster.”
  47. Trump added of Fauci, “There’s a bigger bomb if you fire him,” saying he is a nice man, but has “been here for 500 years.” Fauci is a civil servant who, under the law, cannot be directly fired by Trump.
  48. Trump also attacked Fauci on Twitter, saying, “Fauci says we don’t allow him to do television” but he was on “60 Minutes,” adding, “All I ask of Tony is that he make better decisions. He said “no masks & let China in”.”
  49. Trump also tweeted that Fauci has a “bad arm,” adding he “should stop wearing the Washington Nationals’ Mask for two reasons,” including, “Tony threw out perhaps the worst first pitch in the history of Baseball!”
  50. On Monday, WAPO reported that since Atlas has got Trump’s ear, he has shut down attempts to expand testing, and openly feuded with other doctors on the White House task force and succeeded in sidelining them.
  51. Atlas has advanced fringe theories that social distancing and mask-wearing were meaningless, and would not have changed the course of the virus in hard-hit areas, and advocated for herd immunity.
  52. Atlas also cultivated Trump’s repeated false assertion that the pandemic was almost over, and his willingness to falsely claim a vaccine would be ready ahead of the election.
  53. Infighting between Atlas and the scientists has plagued the White House task force, leading to distrust and inaction ahead of a surge that some public health experts say could lead to 400,000 deaths by year’s end.
  54. On Monday, Mediate reported Giuliani first approached Fox News to run with the story, but the news division turned it down unless or until the sourcing and veracity of the emails could be authenticated.
  55. On Monday, on Fox Business, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe countered House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff, who said Hunter’s e-mails are “part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”
  56. Ratcliffe claimed, “there is no intelligence that supports that,” adding, “we shared no intelligence” with Schiff or members of Congress that Hunter’s “laptop is part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”
  57. On Monday, the Justice Department announced charges against six Russian GRU officers for a series of hacking and malware deployment operations to attack other countries’ infrastructure, elections, and other actions.
  58. The indictment cited GRU’s efforts to “undermine, retaliate against or otherwise destabilize” Ukraine, Georgia, elections in France, the 2018 Olympic Games, and attempts to hold Russia accountable for nerve gas.
  59. The DOJ also noted several members of the GRU’s role in interfering in the 2016 U.S. election, and said the U.S. should ignore a recent offer extended by Russia calling for a cyber “reset” between the two countries.
  60. On Monday, the Texas state Board of Social Work Examiners voted to adopt Gov. Greg Abbott’s recommendation to allow social workers to turn away clients based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and disability.
  61. On Monday, WSJ reported farmers will largely stick with Trump in the election, despite his trade wars. The USDA projects will pay a record $37.2 billion this year to farmers, with an additional $14 billion pledged.
  62. On Monday, at a rally in Prescott, Arizona, Trump attacked Biden, telling the crowd he “wants to lock you down, he wants to listen to Dr. Fauci,” then prompting a “lock him up!” chants.
  63. Trump added, “They’re getting tired of the pandemic, aren’t we?” and “You turn on CNN. That’s all they cover. COVID, COVID, pandemic. COVID, COVID, COVID…People aren’t buying it, CNN, you dumb bastards.”
  64. Trump said of Biden, “I know people that would have had him locked up five weeks ago,” adding, “Bill Barr is a very nice man and a very fair man. And in many ways, it doesn’t make some of us happy.”
  65. Trump again complained about the debate moderator, saying of Welker, “She’s a radical Democrat. She deleted her entire account…She’s no good.”
  66. On Monday, Biden confirmed he would listen to the scientists, starting with Fauci, saying, “If I’m elected, I’ll immediately reach out to Dr. Fauci and ask him to continue his incredible service to our country.”
  67. On Monday, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel said it would investigate whether Secretary of State Mike Pompeo violated the Hatch Act by pledging to release Hillary Clinton’s emails.
  68. On Monday, Navy Admiral Bill McRaven, who led the Osama bin Laden raid, endorsed Biden, saying even though his beliefs are traditionally GOP, “We need a president with decency and a sense of respect.”
  69. On Monday, the Commission on Presidential Debates announced for the third debate, the candidates’ microphones will be muted during the two minute opening remarks at the beginning of each 15 minute segment.
  70. Shortly after, in a letter to the “BDC (Biden Debate Commission),” Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien denounced the move, saying, “It is completely unacceptable” for some unnamed person “to wield such power.”
  71. Later Monday, Trump told reporters of the change in debate rules, “I just think it’s very unfair,” adding, “I will participate, but it’s very unfair that they changed the topics,” and “we have an anchor who’s totally biased.”
  72. On Monday, Florida shattered its opening day record for in-person early voting, with at least 350,000 casting ballots, many waiting in long lines in the rain.
  73. On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 4-4 to let stand a ruling by Pennsylvania’s highest court allowing mail-in votes to be tallied for up to three days post Election Day if mailed by Election Day.
  74. On Tuesday, Trump continued his attacks on Fauci in an interview on “Fox & Friends,” again falsely claiming, “He’s a Democrat,” and saying, “He is a little bit not a team player.”
  75. The co-hosts pleaded with Trump to change his debate strategy, with Brian Kilmeade saying, “Are you using anybody different to get you ready?” and Will Cain asking, “Will you change your strategy?”
  76. Trump said, “Well, Joe lies, and he lies a lot,” then switched to attacking Hillary Clinton, saying, “she was dirty” and “I mean, look, with the e-mails and everything else, I’m not talking about that. She was terrible.”
  77. Trump again called on Attorney General William Barr to act against his political enemies before the election, saying, “He’s got to act, and he’s got to act fast. He’s got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption.”
  78. Trump also complained about the Pennsylvania ruling, saying, “We got a ruling yesterday that was ridiculous,” adding, “So we’re gonna wait until after November 3rd and start announcing states? It’s crazy.”
  79. Trump also complained about the debate, saying of the commission, “These people are not good people,” and of moderator Welker, “she is very unfair,” and “cannot be neutral at all.”
  80. On Tuesday, the USA TODAY Editorial Board endorsed Biden, saying, “In 2016, we broke tradition in urging you not to vote for Trump. Now we’re making our first presidential endorsement. We hope it’s our last.”
  81. The Board asked is America better off than it was four years ago, “Beset by disease, economic suffering, a racial reckoning and natural disasters fueled by a changing climate, the nation is dangerously off course.”
  82. On Tuesday, former RNC Chair Michael Steele endorsed Biden, saying, “Because I’m an American first,” citing a litany of shortcomings, and that he “has posited a single purpose for the GOP — the celebration of him.”
  83. On Tuesday, a YouGov poll found 50% of Trump supporters believe the QAnon conspiracy theory. Overall, 55% of voters said they had never heard of QAnon, and 59% who have call it an extremist conspiracy theory.
  84. On Tuesday, in an apparent dog whistle to QAnon conspiracists, acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf announced “a new center for countering human trafficking.”
  85. On Tuesday, McClatchy reported Pompeo addressed the Florida Family Policy Council, despite concerns by his advance team of overtly anti-gay flyers, and that the anti-LGBTQ group promoted conversion therapy.
  86. On Tuesday, a spokesperson for First Lady Melania said she would not travel with Trump to a scheduled campaign rally Tuesday night, citing a lingering cough from Covid-19.
  87. On Tuesday, a CDC report found the coronavirus caused 299,000 more deaths in the U.S than would be expected in a typical year, two-thirds from Covid and the rest from other causes.
  88. The report found the virus has taken a disproportionate toll on Latinos and Blacks, and that the “excess death” rate for ages 25 to 44 year-olds was up 26.5 percent over previous years, the largest change for any age group.
  89. On Wednesday, WAPO reported months after three college campuses reopened in La Crosse, Wisconsin, researchers linked infections that spread throughout the community and led to deaths in nursing homes.
  90. On Tuesday, Trump abruptly cut off an interview with “60 Minutes” star Lesley Stahl. A person briefed said Trump had spent 45 minutes with Stahl and the interview had not wrapped up when he wanted it to.
  91. In cutting it short, Trump missed the “walk and talk” segment of the interview, and a segment with Vice President Mike Pence. Biden and VP candidate Kamala Harris taped a segment together on Monday.
  92. Shortly after, Trump tweeted, “I am pleased to inform you that, for the sake of accuracy in reporting, I am considering posting my interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes, PRIOR TO AIRTIME!”
  93. Trump also tweeted that the interview was “FAKE and BIASED,” and adding, “Everyone should compare this terrible Electoral Intrusion with the recent interviews of Sleepy Joe Biden!”
  94. Trump also tweeted short video clip of Stahl at the White House, saying, “Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes not wearing a mask in the White House after her interview with me. Much more to come.”
  95. Stahl had worn a mask up until the interview started. The clip showed her conferring with two CBS producers, both wearing masks, just after the interview had ended.
  96. On Tuesday, AP reported of the $1 billion in campaign funds Trump plowed through, using a web of limited liability corporations, $310 million in spending was not accounted for.
  97. While outside groups are helping Trump in the final days, the Biden campaign is outspending him 2-to-1, including the Trump campaign needing to cancel ads in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Ohio.
  98. On Tuesday, a F.E.C. filing revealed the Trump campaign’s cash on hand had dwindled to $63 million at the end of September.
  99. On Thursday, NYT reported that despite Trump publicly saying in September that he would invest his own money if needed, Trump has not donated any money to his re-election campaign.
  100. On Tuesday, CNN reported after ignoring Trump’s controversies, scandals, and inappropriate behavior, and being in lockstep with his agenda, in the final two weeks before the election, GOP Senators fear a Trump loss.
  101. Publicly and privately many are trying to distance themselves from Trump: Sen. John Cornyn told the press he clashed behind closed-doors with Trump, and Susan Collins avoided a rally by Vice President Pence in Maine.
  102. On Tuesday, a poll worker in Shelby County, Tennessee was fired after turning away voters who were wearing “Black Lives Matter” masks and t-shirts.
  103. On Tuesday, the Mendham Borough Republican Committee in New Jersey sent a letter to voters saying they will not be able to vote in person on November 3 unless they are visually impaired. This is false.
  104. On Tuesday, Trump held a rally in Erie, Pennsylvania, telling supporters, standing packed together, “Before the plague came in, I had it made. I wasn’t coming to Erie. I mean, I have to be honest.”
  105. Trump added, “I didn’t have to. I would’ve called you and said, ‘Hey, Erie. You know, if you have a chance, get out and vote.’ We had this thing won…We had the greatest economy ever, greatest jobs, greatest everything.”
  106. Trump said of Biden, “It’s not his home state. He left you when he was nine, right? adding “yeah it’s my home state.’ It’s not his home state. I actually went to college in Pennsylvania.”
  107. Trump added of Biden, “If you want depression, doom and despair, vote for Sleepy Joe,” adding, “and boredom,” and “Nobody’s going to be interested in politics anymore.”
  108. On Tuesday, Miami Herald reported state and federal law enforcement are investigating a string of voter intimidation emails, purportedly sent by far-right hate group the Proud Boys to registered Democrats in Florida.
  109. The email from address, info@officialproudboys.com, said, “Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for.”
  110. Another email said, “We are in possession of all your information You are currently registered as a Democrat…You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you.
  111. The leader of the Proud Boys denied involvement, saying, “Two weeks ago I believe we had Google Cloud services drop us from their platform, so then we initiated a url transfer…We kind of just never used it.”
  112. CBS News and Vice News reported that the IP address associated with the emails, which were also sent to citizens in Alaska, came from IP addresses linked to servers in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Estonia.
  113. On Tuesday, CyberNews reported a popular Russian hacking forum leaked the data of roughly 15 million Florida voters. The scraped data seemed to date from August 2018. It was unclear who leaked the data.
  114. On Tuesday, NYT reported while Trump has painted Biden as soft on China, and claimed Hunter “opened a bank account” there, tax records show Trump has a bank account and attempted business deals in China.
  115. Trump spent a decade unsuccessfully pursuing business deals in China, including operating an office there during his 2016 presidential run, and forging a partnership with a major government-controlled company.
  116. The account is controlled by Trump International Hotels Management, which paid $188,561 in taxes in China while pursuing licensing deals there from 2013 to 2015. He also has accounts in Britain and Ireland.
  117. In 2017, Trump’s first year in office, TIHM reported an unusually large spike of $17.5 million in revenue, more than the previous five years combined. That year Trump withdrew $15.1 million from the account.
  118. On Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told MSNBC of the China account, “They can watch the flow of money” and have some “sway over the person…So it is a national security issue. Shame on the president.”
  119. On Tuesday, CNN reported senior officials throughout various departments and agencies in the Trump regime said they are alarmed by a push to fast track a lucrative 5G spectrum contract to a Trump ally.
  120. The White House, led by chief of staff Mark Meadows, has pushed to grant an essentially no-bid contract to Rivada Networks, a company in which prominent Republicans and supporters of Trump have investments.
  121. Trump was encouraged to help Rivada by Karl Rove. In August, a 70 megahertz of spectrum went for more than $4.5 billion. The Rivada Request for Proposal would be for 350 megahertz of spectrum.
  122. On Tuesday, according to a filing by the ACLU, lawyers appointed by the court said they have been unable to find the parents of 545 migrant children separated by the Trump regime in 2018 under its “zero-tolerance” policy.
  123. The ACLU said, “It is critical to find out as much as possible about who was responsible for this horrific practice while not losing sight of the fact that hundreds of families have still not been found and remain separated.”
  124. The ACLU added, “we will not stop looking until we have found every one of the families…The tragic reality is that hundreds of parents were deported to Central America without their children, who remain here.”
  125. On Wednesday, the WAPO Editorial Board blasted the Trump regime for family separation, saying, “For all intents and purposes, these children were kidnapped by the U.S. government.”
  126. The board also referenced “the U.S. government that has [not] tried to reunite these sundered families,” leaving it instead to “court-appointed body organized by the American Civil Liberties Union.”
  127. On Wednesday, Meadows criticized Stahl, telling Fox Business she “came across more like an opinion journalist than a real reporter.”
  128. Meadows also lied, saying Trump “didn’t walk out,” saying, “he spent over 45 minutes with Lesley Stahl. I’ve looked at every single minute of the interview and then some. We have tape of every single minute.”
  129. On Wednesday, in the soon-to-be-released movie sequel to “Borat,” Giuliani was caught in a prank, and could be seen on a bed with his hand down his pants with a young woman posing as a female reporter.
  130. On Wednesday, Politico reported the State Department is considering labeling several prominent international NGOs — including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and Oxfam — as “anti-Semitic.”
  131. Pompeo is pushing for the declaration, which would cause an uproar among civil society groups and could spur litigation, eyeing a future presidential run, to gain favor with pro-Israel and evangelical voters.
  132. On Wednesday, the USPS IG criticized Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s sweeping operational changes in a report, saying they “negatively impacted the quality and timeliness of mail delivery” across the country.
  133. The report also found documentation provided to customers and congressional lawmakers “was generally accurate but incomplete,” and that mail service performance dropped significantly in July 2020.
  134. On Wednesday, NYT reported Trump ally Erik Prince recruited a former British spy to help in a secretive effort to hire dozens of operatives to train employees of conservative group Project Veritas.
  135. Job applicants traveled to Wyoming in 2017 to meet with the former intelligence officer Richard Seddon, for interviews conducted in a small town of Cody, near the Prince family ranch.
  136. Project Veritas, known to publish deceptively edited videos, looked to build an intelligence-gathering apparatus to infiltrate Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations, news media, and others.
  137. On Wednesday, a Maryland man, James Dale Reed, 42, faced federal charges for allegedly threatening Biden and vice presidential candidate Harris, in a handwritten note.
  138. On Thursday, court documents revealed a North Carolina man, Alexander Treisman, who was indicted on child pornography, was also planning to assassinate Biden and commit a mass shooting during the holidays.
  139. On Thursday, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, white supremacist groups were behind most of the U.S. terrorist attacks: 41 of 61 in the first eight months of 2020.
  140. On Friday, federal law enforcement announced Ivan Harrison Hunter helped burn down and loot Minneapolis’ Third Precinct building as part of a coordinated attack from Boogaloo Bois to trying to ignite a civil war.
  141. Hunter opened fired with an AK-47-style gun and screamed, “Justice for Floyd” as he ran away, in part of a coordinated attack by the far-right anti-government group. Trump had blamed the attack on the left.
  142. On Wednesday, the Justice Department opted to forego oral arguments at a hearing on whether the DOJ will be allowed to take over for Trump as a defendant in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit.
  143. The lawyer had traveled from Virginia, which is subject in New York to a 14-day quarantine. The DOJ was given the options to find another lawyer, participate by phone, or submit paperwork— and chose the latter.
  144. On Wednesday, Trump issued his most sweeping executive order aimed at career federal employees, which stripped protections from employees involved in policymaking, allowing them to be dismissed with little cause.
  145. Under Trump’s order, federal scientists, attorneys, regulators, public health experts, and many others would lose the right to due process. The White House did not say how many jobs would be impacted.
  146. On Wednesday, Judge Reggie Walton ruled Trump’s tweets on declassifying Russia probe documents will not trigger release of additional information, saying Meadows’ clarification amounted to a retraction.
  147. Later Wednesday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that Alabama’s ban on curbside voting can stay in effect. The majority did not write any explanation of why it voted to stay the lower court’s injunction.
  148. Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote in her dissent that voters with disabilities, “for whom COVID-19 is disproportionately likely to be fatal,” should not be required to stand indoors to vote amid maskless voters.
  149. On Wednesday, The Hill reported the 10 Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee planned to boycott the panel’s vote on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination, calling it a “sham process.”
  150. In a statement, they said, “We will not grant this process any further legitimacy […] just twelve days before the culmination of an election that is already underway.” More than 40 million Americans had already voted.
  151. The rules require 12 Senators to be present, which the GOP will have, and also two members of the minority party in order to transact business. Chair Lindsey Graham said he would move ahead without the Democrats.
  152. On Wednesday, in an abruptly called evening news conference, Ratcliffe, standing with FBI Director Christopher Wray, announced Iran and Russia have obtained American voter registration data.
  153. There was no evidence election results were changed, voter roll information altered, or that any nation hacked into voter registration systems. Rather it appeared they used publicly available information.
  154. Ratcliffe said Iran used the data to send spoofed emails, pretending to be the Proud Boys, and claimed Iran had three goals: “to intimidate voters, incite social unrest and damage President Trump.”
  155. Multiple Democrats pushed back on Ratcliffe’s assessment of threatening emails being sent to Democrats. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, who was briefed, told MSNBC he was “surprised” by Ratcliffe’s remarks.
  156. Later, the House Homeland Security Committee tweeted, “TO CLARIFY: These election interference operations are clearly not meant to harm President Trump,” adding Ratcliffe “TOO OFTEN” politicized intelligence.
  157. On Wednesday, armed men claiming to be security guards with the Trump campaign stood outside an early polling site in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Trump campaign said it did not hire the men or direct them to be there.
  158. On Wednesday, Obama gave a scathing take-down of Trump in Pennsylvania, saying he is “incapable of taking the job seriously,” and has shown no interest in “helping anybody but himself and his friends.”
  159. Later Wednesday, at a campaign rally in Gastonia, North Carolina, Trump mocked Obama, saying after he won, “The only one more unhappy than Crooked Hillary that night was Barack Hussein Obama.”
  160. Trump said, “Somebody said, ‘Sir, maybe this isn’t good. President Obama’s campaigning for Sleepy Joe Biden,’” adding, “No, it’s good. There is nobody that campaigned harder for Crooked Hillary Clinton than Obama.”
  161. On Thursday, Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee skipped the hearing, and filled their empty seats in the committee room with posters of people who risk losing their health insurance if the ACA is overturned.
  162. Graham held the vote nonetheless, with Republicans voting 12-0 to move the nomination to the full Senate, saying, “That was their choice. It will be my choice to vote the nominee out of committee.”
  163. On Thursday, 795 economists, including seven Nobel Prize winners, opposed Trump in an open-letter, saying one term in, he has rendered the U.S. “unrecognizable,” and “faced no consequences for doing so.”
  164. They cited a “sustained assault” on democracy, a fumbled response to the pandemic, and the spread of “dangerous misinformation,” and called Trump “selfish and reckless.”
  165. On Thursday, Trump attacked Fox News for polls showing him behind in three battleground states, tweeting, “@FoxNews Polls are totally FAKE, just like they were in 2016. I am leading in all of the states mentioned.”
  166. On Thursday, Trump posted a 37-minute unedited version of the “60 Minutes” interview on Facebook, days before its scheduled broadcast, writing, “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS.”
  167. The interview started with Stahl asking, “Are you ready for some tough questions?” and Trump responding, “No, I’m not,” and showed Trump getting increasingly agitated and hostile as the interview went on.
  168. When Trump said he created “the greatest economy in the history of the country,” Stahl said, “You know that’s not true.” When Trump said, “We tell people to wear masks,” she said, “No, you don’t.”
  169. Trump boasted of his rallies, Stahl said, “you used to have bigger rallies.” Trump said on the Post story, “it’s one of the biggest scandals we’ve ever seen and you’re not covering it,” and she replied, “Because it can’t be verified.”
  170. When Stahl asked about Trump repeatedly asking suburban women to like him, Trump called it “fake news,” and Trump claimed, “I said that in a joking way. The way you have it is…like I’m begging. I’m kidding.”
  171. Stahl told Pence that he and Trump had “insulted 60 Minutes,” saying both were “not answering our questions” and instead “giving set campaign speeches,” and adding, “I’m upset.”
  172. Shortly after, CBS News called the decision to disregard their agreement and air footage “unprecedented,” saying the pre-election interview was one “which presidents have participated in for decades,” and said the interview would still air Sunday as planned.
  173. Shortly after, Trump again complained about the debate moderator, saying, “Look at the bias, hatred and rudeness on behalf of 60 Minutes and CBS. Tonight’s anchor, Kristen Welker, is far worse!”
  174. On Thursday, more than 47.5 million Americans had voted twelve days ahead of Election Day, already eclipsing the total early vote of 47.2 million in 2016. Registered Democrats outpaced Republicans roughly 2-to-1.
  175. On Thursday, NYT reported FBI and Homeland Security officials say Russia poses a bigger election threat than Iran, based on having infiltrated Russian networks to piece together their plan to interfere in the election.
  176. Russia’s state hackers had targeted dozens of state and local governments and aviation networks starting in September, and were believed to be operating under orders of Russia’s Federal Security Service.
  177. Officials believe Russia plans to interfere in the final days or immediately after Election Day, in an operation that would help Trump by exacerbating disputes around the results in the race is too close to call.
  178. Officials said there is no evidence Russians have changed any vote tallies or voter registration information; but rather had penetrated the state and local computer networks without further action, as they did in 2016.
  179. Officials noted the Russian and Iranian activity could give way to “perception hacks,” which creates the impression they have greater access to voting systems than they do, to prompt inaccurate charge of fraud.
  180. Security experts said the Proud Boys email campaign attributed to Iran did appear to rely on publicly available, not hacked, data. One expert said he was not convinced it was Iran based on evidence produced so far.
  181. Shortly after, WAPO reported Trump has repeatedly discussed firing Wray after Election Day, as Trump has become increasingly frustrated that federal law enforcement did not deliver an October surprise.
  182. Conversations between Trump and senior aides primarily focused on Wray, but Barr also had not done what Trump hoped — to indicate Biden, Hunter, and other Biden associates were under investigation.
  183. In recent weeks, Trump has intensified calls to jail his opponent, Biden, much as he did with Hillary in 2016. Trump wanted an announcement 11 days prior to the election, like the Comey Letter in 2016.
  184. In a letter to Congress, an assistant FBI director said the FBI “can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation or persons or entities under investigation” relating to the Post story.
  185. On Thursday, Southern Poverty Law Center published 83 hours of calls with more than 100 participants linked to a white supremacist group, The Base, about hosting paramilitary trainings and bringing firearms.
  186. On Thursday, NYT reported the worse coronavirus outbreaks are now in the rural areas. Almost all the counties with the larges outbreaks had populations under 50,000, and nearly all Midwest or Mountain West.
  187. On Thursday, Trump attacked Obama, as Obama announced another campaign stop for Biden, tweeting, “Obama is campaigning for us. Every time he speaks, people come over to our side.”
  188. Trump also lied, tweeting, “Finally! Suburban women are flocking over to us,” adding, “They realize that I am saving the Suburbs,” and, “I terminated the Regulation that would bring projects and crime to Suburbia.”
  189. Trump also tweeted ahead of the debate, “Wow. Today’s @nypost story on Joe Biden’s corruption is a monster,” and “This isn’t going away,” lying that even the “Lamestream Media” was starting to cover it — they were not.
  190. Biden’s communications director told WSJ if at the debate Trump attacks “Vice President Biden’s family, I think we need to be very, very clear that what he’s doing here is amplifying Russian misinformation.”
  191. On Thursday, last minute, Trump brought Anthony Bobulinski, a former business associate of Hunter Biden, to the debate to discuss with media an alleged business deal involving a Chinese firm that involved Biden.
  192. At the final debate, Trump toned-down, and the debate was like a typical discussion of ideas; however, Trump’s performance was riddled with lies, and Biden stretched the truth a few times.
  193. On the pandemic, Trump lied that the coronavirus was “going away,” lied we have a vaccine ready, lied that 99% of people recover from Covid, and claimed he was “kidding” when he suggested ingesting bleach.
  194. Trump also lied that he banned travel with China in January, and again lied that Pelosi was dancing in the streets of Chinatown. Trump also lied that Biden received $3.5 million from Russia.
  195. On immigration, Trump lied that separated migrant children arrived with “bad people,” lied that the children were “so well taken care of,” and lied that immigrants “never come back” for court appearances.
  196. Later Thursday, WSJ reported text messages provided by Bobulinski, mostly from the spring and summer of 2017, did not show either Hunter or James Biden discussing a role for Joe Biden in the venture.
  197. On Friday, NBC News reported the U.S. reported a record 77,640 new cases on Thursday, topping the previous record of 75,723 set on July 29. There were 921 deaths on Thursday.
  198. On Friday, Fauci told MSNBC that Trump had not attended a White House coronavirus task force meeting in “several months,” and that he does not have Trump’s ear “as much as Scott Atlas right now.”
  199. On Friday, NYT reported the Trump regime shut down a vaccine safety study office last year, the National Vaccine Program Office, which would have played a key role in assessing the long-term safety of Covid vaccines.
  200. Health and Human Services tried to downplay the concern, saying, “The office was not ‘closed,’ but was merged with the Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS Policy and was strengthened.”
  201. On Friday, a new study published in the journal Nature Medicine found universal mask use could prevent nearly 130,000 deaths, of the 500,000 deaths predicted by March 21.
  202. The findings follow a tweet by Atlas, which was removed by Twitter, that masks are ineffective. On Wednesday, the CDC updated its guidance to recommend mask use in public settings, including public transportation.
  203. On Friday, in defending Trump on separated families, Trump campaign spokesperson Tim Murtaugh lied, telling CNN, “in many cases the parents do not want the children returned.”
  204. On Friday, Politico reported Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the DOJ to conduct a review in the Michael Flynn case, and certify by Monday that none of the other materials filed in court have been manipulated.
  205. The order came after the DOJ acknowledged two documents it had filed, handwritten notes by former FBI officials Peter Stzrok and Andrew McCabe, were altered “inadvertently” to include inaccurate dates.
  206. On Friday, NYT reported Pennsylvania’s attorney general said the Trump campaign has been videotaping voters at ballot drop boxes in Philadelphia, warning the tactic that could amount to voter intimidation.
  207. The Trump campaign made a complaint to the city on October 16, saying they had surveilled voters depositing two or three ballots at drop boxes. The campaign included photos of three voters dropping off ballots.
  208. On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, 78, and running for re-election, told reporters there was “no concerns” about what appeared to be bruises and bandages on both his hands in recent days.
  209. On Friday, Trump held a rally in the retirement community The Villages in Florida. Trump repeated, “Please please love me, suburban woman, I want you to love me,” which he also claimed he is “kidding” about.
  210. Trump attacked Harris, saying, “look we’re not going to be a socialist nation,” and the U.S. can never have a “socialist president,” but especially a “female socialist president.”
  211. Trump added, “American seniors must come first,” and lied about Biden, saying, “Did you hear him last night? ‘Oh I’d lock down the country.” Biden actually said he would shut “down the virus, not the country.”
  212. Later Friday, Trump held a rally in Pensacola for thousands of supporters packed closely together mostly without masks. Trump lied, saying, “Biden will delay the vaccine, close down your schools.”
  213. Trump also lied, saying the country is “rounding the turn with or without the vaccine,” saying there would be 100 million doses by the end of the year, and “We understand the disease. I know it better than you; I had it.”
  214. On Friday, Milwaukee Sentinel reported Wisconsin Republican lawmakers and top GOP aides are facing a coronavirus outbreak in recent weeks, following in-person events, that they are trying to keep under wraps.
  215. On Friday, the U.S. set another record of more than 83,000 new daily cases. The number of hospitalizations also spiked by 40% in the past month.
  216. On Saturday, Politico reported Trump’s top advisers have plunged into paranoia and finger-pointing, common for campaigns that believe they are going to lose, but happening at an uncommon level in his campaign.
  217. Advisers are questioning Brad Parscale for spending, Meadows for mishandling Trump’s hospitalization, and Trump for not taking fundraising seriously and losing seniors by painting Biden as senile.
  218. On Saturday, Ivanka and Jared threatened to sue the Lincoln Project, a group of anti-Trump Republicans, over two billboards up in Times Square, New York depicting the two of them on the topic of the pandemic.
  219. Ivanka’s image is next to the words, “more than 33,000 New Yorkers and 221,000 Americans have died,” and Jared, saying “[New Yorkers] are going to suffer, and that’s their problem.”
  220. As the week came to a close, there were 42,419,042 worldwide cases and 1,147,020 dead from the coronavirus. The U.S. had 8,529,944 cases (20.1%), 224,385 deaths (19.6%), and a mortality rate of 2.6%.

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Copyright Amy Siskind, October 24, 2020

Supporters of Trump cheer as he arrives for a campaign rally at The Villages Polo Club, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in The Villages, Florida, a retirement community. Supporters stood closely packed together, and most did not wear face masks.