Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 8/10/2020

I’m covering three press conferences tonight, but I first want to mention that the first two of those took place from the president’s private golf club. He once again spent the weekend golfing during the pandemic which has now killed 163,000 Americans. In 2014, Trump frequently attacked President Obama over golfing during the West African Ebola outbreak which killed two Americans. Two. Not only is the president continuing to funnel government money into his private businesses, but this weekend he had an audience made up of his own customers there to provide an audience for the press conference. Those customers booed reporters and shouted down questions so the president would not have to answer them. During the first press conference, the president was asked by CBS’s Paula Reid about his extremely frequent lie that he passed Veterans Choice, a law signed by President Obama. (He’s now told this lie over 150 times). Rather than answer, Trump abruptly ended the presser.

In today’s press conference, Trump lied about mail-in voting, Russian interference, Democrats interfering in the election, how great America is handling Covid-19, being the first to institute tariffs on China, having no ventilators at the beginning of the pandemic, Obama’s “campaign” spying on his campaign and the flu pandemic of 1917 ending WW2 which notably ended in 1945. Trump explained his previous lie that no one had ever acted to protect pre-existing conditions, a legal requirement for the past decade, thanks to the ACA by saying he was the first to protect them via executive order and issuing an executive order to protect pre-existing conditions despite already being protected by law showed how much the Republicans want to protect them. The Republican Party for a decade has been trying to remove all protections for pre-existing conditions and the Trump administration has literally argued before the Supreme Court that mandating such protections is illegal. Today he proposed a capital gains tax to affect those suffering from the pandemic. 75% of capital gains taxes are paid by ONE PERCENT of the population.

He’s announced 4 executive actions. He’s called these both laws and executive orders as he still uses the terms interchangeably despite referring to completely distinct things. Regardless, only one of the released documents is an executive order. The other three are merely memos.

In Saturday’s press conference, the president lied about support for a payroll tax cut, lied about mail-in voting, lied about saying there would be lawsuits over his executive actions (he said he expected them on Friday and on Saturday denied saying that), lied about Democrats not wanting to protect people facing eviction, and lied about passing the Obama-era Veterans Choice law.

He told the treasury to stop collecting payroll tax for those making under $104,000. There are multiple problems with this. Firstly, taxation is a power expressly given to Congress in the Constitution. The executive branch cannot arbitrarily decide to raise or lower a tax. This is only a deferral so in theory that amount will be owed at the end of the year. He wants to make these cuts permanent however going forward which he claims he’ll do after re-election. These taxes directly fund Social Security and Medicare. The president’s plan here is to run on massive cuts to the incoming revenue to social security. (Employer payroll taxes were already deferred by Congress). This is also problematic as it only helps people who still have their incomes who by and large are not suffering financially because of the pandemic.

The second memo calls for $400 a week in extra unemployment payments. The president doesn’t have the authority to simply conjure unemployment payments so he’s using a bit of sleight of hand. The money will be taken from FEMA’s disaster relief fund. If that sounds familiar, this exact idea was a plotline on House of Cards. This sounds though like a great idea until you examine the mechanics. As this is not actually an unemployment payment, the money cannot be distributed through the states’ existing unemployment systems. They will have to design a completely new system to process and handle the payments. Because this is legally disaster aid, the states are required by statute to fund 25% of the payments themselves. Several states have completely run out of cash to handle unemployment payments and are constrained from deficit spending by their constitutions. In short, they literally cannot make the required 25% payments. This entire system is likely dead in the water.

The third action, actually an executive order, regards evictions. I’ll note here that the eviction protection that was already in place from Congress covered just a small portion of people. The vast majority of renters received no federal protection from eviction. But the few that did will not actually be covered by this memo as it doesn’t do anything. All the memo does is direct HHS and, oddly, the CDC to CONSIDER if they should implement some sort of eviction ban. Meanwhile people have lost their supplemental unemployment payments and currently have no means to pay rent.

Which leaves us to the fourth action, deferring student loan payments and interest through the rest of the year. Breaking from my normal form, he both has the authority to do this and it’s absolutely the right thing to do. The last deferral was put in place by Congress, but the president can take the action himself. This is a needed action with little to no downside.

The Director of National Intelligence has tied pro-Putin Ukrainian Andriy Derkach to Russia’s attempt to interfere in the 2020 election. Specifically Derkach is providing disinformation about Hunter Biden to Republican politicians – regarding the same conspiracy theory the president keeps citing about the Bidens and Ukraine. Multiple members of congress, especially Devin Nunes and Ron Johnson, have been promoting the Russian disinformation for nearly the entire year. Johnson is currently heading the Senate investigation into it, despite being made aware that the basis for his investigation is literally a Russian attempt to swing the election to Trump. Derkach has appeared on Trump-favorite OANN and met with Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The New York Times did a deep dive into election intelligence that you should read https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/08/magazine/us-russia-intelligence.html?smid=tw-share but one important take away is that after the intelligence community determined Russia was working to see Trump re-elected, the Director of National Intelligence was told to alter this assessment. He was fired and replaced by Robert Maguire, who complied.

As we near an election which will see more mail-in ballots than any in history, the newly appointed Postmaster General, a major Trump donor, has reassigned or fired THIRTY-THREE USPS staffers. He’s also been implemented changes/cuts with have resulted in nationwide mail delays.

The White House reached out to the governor of South Dakota to find out what the process is for adding Trump to Mount Rushmore.

The White House is exploring multiple options to curb legal voting by mail.

Trump has narrowed the location of his acceptance speech to Gettysburg, located in a national park, and The White House, owned by the public. Using public resources for his campaign is blatantly illegal, but nothing will happen because the Republican Party does not care what laws he breaks.

Trump said that lifelong devout Catholic Joe Biden is “against God” and Biden’s election would “hurt the Bible, hurt God.” Biden has frequently talked about his faith for decades. Trump does not attend church and cannot name a single Bible verse. When asked if he’s ever asked God for forgiveness, one of the central tenants of Christianity, Trump said he hadn’t ever done anything requiring forgiveness. Asked to explain this today, Trump said Biden was against God because of the policy agreement he signed with Bernie Sanders. Unable to offer specifics because he doesn’t read, Trump gave higher taxes as one of the reasons Biden is going to hurt God. Eighty percent of white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump, the thrice married serial adulterer who bragged about how he sexually assaults women and who paid off a porn star he had an affair with weeks after his son was born. #familyvalues

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 8/6/2020

  • The Trump campaign is using doctored photos of Biden to make it seem like he is “hiding,” aligning with their false narrative that Biden won’t be seen in public. They used a photo of him at a football watch party, full of other people who were cropped out and a picture of him praying at a church in response to George Floyd’s murder. They’re also maintaining that Biden is afraid to debate Trump and won’t agree to it. Biden has already agreed to three debates. Trump has agreed to zero.
  • Facebook and Twitter are both removing video clips posted by the Trump campaign in which Trump says children are “almost definitely immune” from the coronavirus. This is an absolute lie.

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 8/4/2020

  • Trump today again spoke about how horrible mail-in voting is, except in Florida where it’s fine because not many people qualify for it. This is a lie. Any registered voter in Florida can receive a mail-in ballot. Florida just happens to be a swing state Trump has to win to retain office.

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 8/2/2020

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 7/29/2020

  • This isn’t a news item, but rather an op-ed from Republican political consultant Stuart Stevens. It raises several points I frequently talk about – namely the 2012 GOP autopsy calling for greater inclusion of women and minorities, and the fact that Trump is not an anomaly in the Republican party, but rather the end result of decades of racism, sexism, and xenophobia. It’s a must-read. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/29/opinion/trump-republican-party-racism.html
  • Trump doesn’t actually read anything he retweets and certainly doesn’t research it. That’s the real reason we’re seeing the situation with Dr. Immanuel right now. It isn’t that Trump knew about her alien DNA ideas. It’s that he had absolutely no idea who she was and couldn’t be bothered to find out. Today, the president hilariously retweeted out an op-ed about DHS activity in Portland. He obviously did not read said op-ed as it calls the administration’s actions illegal and unconstitutional, the beginnings of totalitarianism. Trump had simply searched for Portland, saw there was an article, and retweeted it. This complete lack of intellectual curiosity of effort is how he runs the entire US government.
  • In a new Jonathan Swan interview, Trump was finally pressed on Putin paying terrorists to murder US troops. Trump has spoken with Putin eight times since learning of the bounty program. He has not brought the subject up with him once. The president said the story may be “fake news” and that Colin Powell said as such. He’s lying. Powell did not say this. Despite Trump’s claim that the story is fake, the State Department has now warned Moscow of US retaliation if the practice resumes – the first action of any kind taken by the US. Trump was also asked about Russia directly arming the Taliban. He said he hadn’t seen anything about that and wasn’t sure if it was true. The source for this was General John Nicholson who happened to have commanded all of the US forced in Afghanistan when he publicly revealed Russia was arming the Taliban – TWO YEARS AGO. Trump went on to respond that if Russia was arming the Taliban, we supplied them weapons when they were fighting Russia. Even if this was somehow a valid response to Russia arming a group fighting the US, it isn’t true. The Taliban did not exist until years after Russia left Afghanistan and the group is unrelated to the groups which fought Russia in the 1980s. He twice today said Russia fighting the Taliban caused the breakup of the USSR, which he’s long claimed. Surprisingly, he’s wrong about this too because he doesn’t know anything about history.
  • Trump is following through on Putin’s goal of removing troops from Germany. Trump is rationalizing this with the same argument he’s been making for years – that other NATO countries are delinquent on their payments and need to get caught up. After three and a half years in office, the president doesn’t have the first clue about how NATO works. No countries owe the US or anyone else anything. They never have. The spending targets are targets for countries to spend ON THEIR OWN MILITARY. Several countries are below this threshold, which is a guideline, not a requirement, but it’s also not targeted to be in place for several more years. Africom and Eucom are both based in Germany. Moving them will have a gargantuan cost.
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 7/23/2020

  • In an interview with Sean Hannity, Trump once again accused Biden, Obama, James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, and John Brennan of TREASON for “spying” on his campaign. No one spied on the Trump campaign. His campaign was investigated which is exactly what he wants done to Joe Biden. The president accusing his predecessor of treason would normally be a massive news story, but it will barely be mentioned since the president is Donald Trump. Also in this interview the president mentioned how we are keeping the oil from countries we invade in the Middle East. This is explicitly a war crime which would violate multiple international treaties, include the Geneva Convention. Luckily, the president is lying. Despite being a war crime, the president has been advocating taking oil from invaded countries for at least five years. They also discussed the benefits of Hydroxychloroquine in treating Covid-19 despite the complete lack of evidence this works. Trump once again mentioned how well the border wall has been at stopping Mexicans from bringing the coronavirus into the United States. Mexico has done better than the US in containing the virus and at least one Mexican border state has banned Americans from entering because of the virus. Trump mentioned Portland mayor Ted Wheeler “getting the hell knocked out of him” as Wheeler was attacked by federal agents last night while meeting with protesters. The president got his name wrong. (Not providing a link here as I took my own notes)
  • I meant to mention this in the last update, but the president was asked about the arrest of his friend Ghislaine Maxwell who was instrumental in setting up Jeffrey Epstein’s sex trafficking ring which enabled the rape of dozens of girls. The president said he wished her well.
  • Trump promoted an article about how Biden is going to destroy the suburbs. One of the explicit examples given in the article is that more minorities will be able to move to them. A reminder that Trump was twice caught by the government refusing to rent properties to black tenants. The article is addressed to suburban women. Trump changed that to “suburban housewives” which is in line with his previously stated view that “putting a wife to work is a very dangerous thing.” (Yes, that is an exact quote.)
  • CDC had prepared a set of guidelines regarding reopening schools. The president, who has no scientific background whatsoever, felt they were too restrictive and said they needed to be relaxed. The CDC obliged. New guidelines have been issued with a focus that’s nearly entirely on reopening schools with next to no detail on how that should be done. In several areas where guidance would be helpful, the CDC simply suggests that schools make their own plans – what to do about an infection, who should be quarantined, physical distances, etc… Of note, the federal government is currently saying local authorities cannot handle graffiti and a federal response is required while simultaneously saying that schools should deal with a nationwide pandemic on their own. All of this comes on the day the president announced there will be no in-person GOP convention this year as it’s too dangerous. It is too dangerous for Republican delegates to meet for a weekend, but it isn’t too dangerous to push teachers to go back to work for months.

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 7/22/2020

  • The Deputy Director of the federal force arresting people in Portland addressed the arrest of a person seen in a viral video last week. CBP agents are seen grabbing the person who did not appear to be doing anything illegal and taking them away in an unmarked van. We now know why they were targeted. This person was earlier in a crowd next to someone shining a laser pointer at the agents. They wanted to question them. Rather than speaking to them there on the street, they took them to a federal courthouse where they were questioned for 20 minutes. Kris Cline, the deputy director of the Federal Protective Service, said this was perfectly legal. He is egregiously wrong on two counts. Firstly, he said this was not an arrest. The Supreme Court has ruled on situations exactly like this. This person was arrested. Secondly, the agents do not have probable cause to do anything other than ask questions simply because this person was nearby someone who is alleged to have committed a crime. This is also explicitly addressed by the Supreme Court. The people heading up the federal police action in Portland are either unaware of some very basic concepts of what they’re doing or they’re choosing to ignore them.
  • The president, both in live remarks and tweets, has commented this week about how the US response is the best or nearly the best in several metrics. He’s lying. 25% of confirmed global cases are in the US. The US is the tenth WORST country in the world for per capita cases. I didn’t check tonight to see how many countries are doing better in this category, but it’s above 170. Over 170 countries have a lower per capita infection rate than the US. The US has now had more confirmed cases than any country in the world in the past week. Per capita, that’s 7th worst in the world. (Take that, Montenegro!) 25% of global deaths have occurred in the US. Per capita, that falls into the same rank as total cases – 10th worst in the world. As far as recent deaths, the United States looks slightly better – second worst instead of worst, behind Brazil. The current daily death rate, which is increasing, is 11th worst in the world. As they once tried to pretend the pandemic was not happening, Republicans are now trying to pretend the pandemic has been handled well in the United States. It is difficult to understate how wrong this is. We are not merely doing worse than other industrialized democracies, we are doing worse than nearly every country on the planet.
  • The day after press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump is tested multiple times a day for the coronavirus, the president said he has never been tested more than once a day. It’s not clear which one of them is lying.
  • The president directed the ambassador to the United Kingdom to ask them to move the British Open to his failing golf course. This alone would be one of the biggest presidential scandals in history, but it’s barely a blip on anyone’s radar right now due to the dozens of other Trump scandals. Trump did absolutely no divestment from any of his private businesses and funnels taxpayer money to them, promotes them from official platforms, and encourages foreign governments to patronize them. Republicans are fine with that.
  • With unemployment assistance set to expire next week, the Republicans have no idea what they’d like to do about that other than cutting aid by 83%. Several of them have spoken about how they can’t pay people to stay home from work when paying people to stay home from work is the entire point of the program. We will absolutely not overcome this pandemic without giving money to people for not working. There are no other options. The longer this process is delayed, the worst the situation will be and the more it will cost to fix it. Notably, this concept of fiscal responsibility was not present when the Republicans passed a huge tax cut which blew a massive hole in the deficit.
  • Trump is still bragging about performing “well” on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment he took in 2018. He again said some of the questions are harder than identifying a drawing of a horse, but he’s finally offered a specific example of a “difficult” question – being able to recite 5 words which had been read to him. This test measures cognitive decline, primarily in dementia patients. Anyone without a severe brain issue should be able to achieve a nearly perfect score. The president thinks it’s good that his doctors were surprised he did well.

Trump Daily 7/17/2020

Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 7/14/2020

  • White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro has published an op-ed attacking Dr. Fauci. I’m not sure we have seen anything like this in modern US history – a White House official is publicly attacking a top government scientist. Before diving into the details, I want to compare their credentials. Dr. Fauci has been the lead infectious disease expert in the US for thirty six years. Before that he was a research scientist and a director of multiple government medical science organizations. Fauci has been heavily involved with, if not directly overseen, every major outbreak in the country across four decades. He is arguably the most experienced infectious disease expert on the entire planet. Peter Navarro has an economics degree. He ran for mayor of San Diego and lost, ran for city council and lost, ran for the board of supervisors and lost, ran for congress and lost, then finally ran for city council again… and lost. He has otherwise been a professor and author, but before joining the Trump campaign, was most known as a political pundit. He has zero medical, public health, or scientific experience. I’ll dive into his op-ed in the next bullet point.
  • The president turned what was supposed to be a press conference about Hong Kong into a campaign speech, speaking for nearly an hour and taking only three questions at the end, one of which was the softball “Do you see yourself as an underdog?” This was a particularly abnormal event, as you are not legally allowed to use White House resources to campaign. While talking about trade with China, Trump said the country was “taking money from the treasury.” In Bob Woodward’s book, he described economic adviser Gary Cohn trying to explain to Trump that trade deficits do not cost anything, but Trump insisted a trade deficit meant money was being taken from the US government. This is absolute nonsense. The president still believes it after several years in office. In the rest of his long incoherent rant, the president said the Paris Climate Accords required the country to close 25% of businesses, a lie, that Biden supported carbon regulations that would result in banning windows, a lie, and asked why Biden didn’t fix our highways while vice-president. Congress appropriates infrastructure spending. The president still does not have a basic grasp of how the government works. He threw in the typical attacks on Hunter Biden and mail-in voting. This was an event about Hong Kong.
Daily Summaries

Trump Daily 7/12/2020

  • The president defended his frequent golfing during the pandemic by saying Obama golfed more often. This is a lie. Trump frequently criticized Obama for golfing during the minor Ebola outbreak which killed two Americans. Obama at this point in his term had golfed 90 times. Trump so far has golfed 275 times. He has spent over a year of his presidency visiting his own businesses.