Trump Administration, Week 192: Friday, 18 September – Thursday, 24 September 2020 (Days 1,337-1,343)

Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


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Friday, 18 September 2020, Day 1,337:


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion of Gender Equality, Dies at 87, NPR, Nina Totenberg, Friday, 18 September 2020: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the demure firebrand who in her 80s became a legal, cultural and feminist icon, died Friday. The Supreme Court announced her death, saying the cause was complications from metastatic cancer of the pancreas. The court, in a statement, said Ginsburg died at her home in Washington, D.C., surrounded by family. She was 87. ‘Our nation has lost a justice of historic stature,’ Chief Justice John Roberts said. ‘We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her, a tireless and resolute champion of justice.’ Architect of the legal fight for women’s rights in the 1970s, Ginsburg subsequently served 27 years on the nation’s highest court, becoming its most prominent member. Her death will inevitably set in motion what promises to be a nasty and tumultuous political battle over who will succeed her, and it thrusts the Supreme Court vacancy into the spotlight of the presidential campaign. Just days before her death, as her strength waned, Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter Clara Spera: ‘My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.'” See also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court’s Feminist Icon, Is Dead at 87, The New York Times, Linda Greenhouse, Friday, 18 September 2020: “Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court and a pioneering advocate for women’s rights, who in her ninth decade became a much younger generation’s unlikely cultural icon, died on Friday at her home in Washington. She was 87. The cause was complications of metastatic pancreatic cancer, the Supreme Court said. By the time two small tumors were found in one of her lungs in December 2018, during a follow-up scan for broken ribs suffered in a recent fall, Justice Ginsburg had beaten colon cancer in 1999 and early-stage pancreatic cancer 10 years later. She received a coronary stent to clear a blocked artery in 2014.” See also, Justice Ginsburg’s Judicial Legacy of Striking Dissents. She was part of the Supreme Court’s 4-member liberal wing throughout her 27-year tenure and led it in her last decade. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Friday, 18 September 2020: “There was a framed copy of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 on the wall of the chambers of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday. She counted the law among her proudest achievements, even as it illustrated her limited power. As part of the Supreme Court’s four-member liberal wing, she did her most memorable work in dissent. The law was a reaction to her minority opinion in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, the 2007 ruling that said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 imposed strict time limits for bringing workplace discrimination suits. She called on Congress to overturn the decision, and it did. On the court, however, her notable victories were few. As she put it in a 2013 interview in her chambers, she was fully engaged in her work as the leader of the liberal opposition on what she called ‘one of the most activist courts in history.’ There were exceptions, of course. One of her favorite majority opinions, she often said, ruled that the Virginia Military Institute’s male-only admissions policy violated the Equal Protection clause.” See also, ‘A Titan of Justice’: Leaders React to Justice Ginsburg’s Death, The New York Times, Christopher Mele, Friday, 18 September 2020: Political leaders from both sides of the aisle and the chief justice of the United States offered tributes to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday, remembering her as a trailblazer and a warrior for justice. But their comments also reflected what is expected to be a bruising fight over her replacement.” See also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court justice and legal pioneer for gender equality, dies at 87, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Michael A. Fletcher, Friday, 18 September 2020: “Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the second woman to serve on the high court and a legal pioneer for gender equality whose fierce opinions as a justice made her a hero to the left, died Sept. 18 at her home in Washington. She was 87. The death was announced in a statement by the U.S. Supreme Court. She had recently been treated for pancreatic cancer. Born in Depression-era Brooklyn, Justice Ginsburg excelled academically and went to the top of her law school class at a time when women were still called upon to justify taking a man’s place. She earned a reputation as the legal embodiment of the women’s liberation movement and as a widely admired role model for generations of female lawyers. Working in the 1970s with the American Civil Liberties Union, Justice Ginsburg successfully argued a series of cases before the high court that strategically chipped away at the legal wall of gender discrimination, eventually causing it to topple. Later, as a member of the court’s liberal bloc, she was a reliable vote to enhance the rights of women, protect affirmative action and minority voting rights and defend a woman’s right to choose an abortion.” See also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Great Equalizer. How a scholar, advocate, and judge upended the entirety of U.S. political thought. The New Yorker, Jill Lepore, Friday, 18 September 2020: ” See also, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Vows Vote on Ginsburg Replacement as Her Death Upends the 2020 Race, The New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 18 September 2020: “The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday instantly upended the nation’s politics in the middle of an already bitter campaign, giving President Trump an opportunity to try to install a third member of the Supreme Court with just weeks before an election that polls show he is currently losing. The White House had already made quiet preparations in the days before Justice Ginsburg’s death to advance a nominee without waiting for voters to decide whether to give Mr. Trump another four years. Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, vowed Friday night to hold a vote on a Trump nominee but would not say whether he would try to rush it through before the vote on Nov. 3 in what would surely be a titanic partisan battle. The sudden vacancy on the court abruptly transformed the presidential campaign and underscored the stakes of the contest between Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger. It also bolstered Mr. Trump’s effort to shift the subject away from his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and remind Republicans why it matters whether he wins or not, while also potentially galvanizing Democrats who fear a change in the balance of power on the Supreme Court.” See also, McConnell vows Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee will get a Senate vote, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Friday, 18 September 2020: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has made judicial confirmations a hallmark of his legacy, is now confronting an extremely fraught Supreme Court fight that will challenge his pledge to leave no vacancy behind amid charges of hypocrisy and as his party’s control of the Senate hangs in the balance. McConnell (R-Ky.), who blocked President Barack Obama’s final nominee to the Supreme Court for the near entirety of 2016, said Friday that President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court will get a vote on the floor of the Senate, although he did not say when that vote would be held.” See also, Ginsburg’s death jolts chaotic presidential race as both sides prepare for Supreme Court battle, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Matt Viser, Sean Sullivan, and Robert Costa, Friday, 18 September 2020: “An already chaotic and corrosive presidential campaign was jolted anew Friday night by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as a sudden vacancy on the Supreme Court just 46 days before the election immediately galvanized both political parties. The impending fight for the Supreme Court thrusts issues of civil rights, abortion rights and health care to the forefront of a campaign that had been centered on the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and race relations, and it could boost voter enthusiasm and turnout numbers. Democratic and Republican leaders assembled for all-out political war. Despite Ginsburg’s dying wish that her successor not be determined until after the election, White House officials said President Trump is preparing to nominate a replacement in the coming days. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said that nominee would receive a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate — a departure from McConnell’s refusal to consider a nominee chosen by President Barack Obama before the 2016 election. ‘President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate,’ McConnell said in a statement. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden warned the Senate not to hold an election-year confirmation vote to fill Ginsburg’s seat. ‘Tonight and in the coming days we should focus on the loss of the justice and her enduring legacy. But there is no doubt — let me be clear — that the voters should pick the president and the president should pick the justice for the Senate to consider,’ he told reporters in a hastily arranged appearance late Friday. Previewing the path ahead, Democratic vice-presidential nominee Kamala D. Harris said in a statement Friday: ‘Tonight we mourn, we honor, and we pray for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her family. Tomorrow we fight for her legacy.'”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Great Equalizer. How a scholar, advocate, and judge upended the entirety of U.S. political thought. The New Yorker, Jill Lepore, Friday, 18 September 2020: “The change [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg ushered into American politics began a half century ago, and reckoning with its magnitude requires measuring the distance between now and then. At the time, only three in a hundred legal professionals and fewer than two hundred of the nation’s ten thousand judges were women. In 1971, as Richard Nixon prepared to make two appointments to the Supreme Court, he faced a dilemma. Yet another Southerner he’d tapped had been nixed for an opposition to desegregation, so Nixon decided to look for someone who was, preferably, not a racist. He considered naming a woman. ‘I’m not for women, frankly, in any job,’ he told his aides, in a little fit of hysterics. ‘Thank God we don’t have any in the Cabinet.’ He didn’t think women should be educated, or ‘ever be allowed to vote, even.’ But, given the momentum of the women’s-rights movement, he conceded the political necessity of naming a woman to the bench: it might gain him a small but crucial number of votes in the upcoming election. ‘It’s like the Negro vote,’ he said. ‘It’s a hell of a thing.’ Then Chief Justice Warren Burger, in a similar huff, told Nixon that, if he were to nominate a woman, he’d resign. In the end, Nixon named Lewis Powell. While all these men were dithering, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was working for the A.C.L.U., writing the brief for a case set to go before the Court, Reed v. Reed. Decided on November 22, 1971, weeks after Powell’s confirmation hearings, Reed v. Reed upended a century of American jurisprudence and the entirety of political thought going back to the beginning of the Republic. Before 1971, as Ginsburg would later write, ‘Neither legislators nor judges regarded gender lines as “back of the bus” regulations. Rather, these rules were said to place women on a pedestal.’ Thomas Jefferson had taken the trouble to explain that women had no part in the Framers’ understanding of the government devised by the Constitution. ‘Were our state a pure democracy,’ he wrote, ‘there would yet be excluded from their deliberations . . . women; who, to prevent deprivation of morals, and ambiguity of issues, could not mix promiscuously in the public gatherings of men.’ Women were to be excluded for their own protection. The early women’s-rights movement, in the middle decades of the nineteenth century, had not defeated that argument, and the Fourteenth Amendment, ratified in 1868, did not explicitly—or implicitly, according to the Court—bar discrimination on the basis of sex. In 1873, ruling on a case in which Myra Bradwell had sued the state of Illinois for denying her the right to practice law, one Supreme Court Justice explained his logic this way: ‘The natural and proper timidity and delicacy which belongs to the female sex evidently unfits it for many of the occupations of civil life.’ That, as Ginsburg liked to say, was a cage, pretending to be a pedestal. Reed v. Reed, in 1971, involved an Idaho statute that gave preference to men—’males must be preferred to females’—in executing estates. The Court, following Ginsburg’s brief, ruled for the first time that discrimination on the basis of sex violated the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Writing for the majority, Burger used language that had been introduced by Ginsburg: ‘To give a mandatory preference to members of either sex over members of the other, merely to accomplish the elimination of hearings on the merits, is to make the very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the equal-protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment; and whatever may be said as to the positive values of avoiding intrafamily controversy, the choice in this context may not lawfully be mandated solely on the basis of sex.’ Just a few years later, Ginsburg was arguing her own cases before the Court, and the Chief Justice was stumbling over how to address her. ‘Mrs. Bader? Mrs. Ginsburg?'”

Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 18 September 2020: After Criticism, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Reverses Covid-19 Guidelines on Testing People Who Were Exposed, The New York Times, Friday, 18 September 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Continue reading Week 192, Friday, 18 September – Thursday, 24 September 2020 (Days 1,337-1,343)

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 18 September 2020: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reverses controversial guidance, saying tests are for anyone who has been in close contact with someone with covid-19, The Washington Post, Jennifer Hassan, Adam Taylor, Paulina Villegas, Derek Hawkins, Paulina Firozi, Hannah Denham, Meryl Kornfield, and Darren Sands, Friday, 18 September 2020: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reversed a heavily criticized guidance it issued last month about who should be tested for the novel coronavirus. The agency updated its recommendation to call for testing anyone — including people without symptoms — who has been in close contact with someone diagnosed with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus. The change took place after the agency was directed last month by the White House Coronavirus Task Force to shift its testing guidance. The Task Force-directed guidance said those without symptoms ‘do not necessarily need a test.’

Here are a few significant developments included in this article:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) Reverses Testing Guidelines for People Without Covid-19 Symptoms. The agency now says anyone exposed to an infected person for more than 15 minutes needs a test. An earlier guideline saying it might not be necessary had shocked public health experts. The New York Times, Apoorva Mandavilli, Friday, 18 September 2020: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday reversed a controversial recommendation suggesting people who have had close contact with a person infected with the coronavirus do not need to get tested if they have no symptoms. The change comes after widespread criticism of the earlier guideline, as well as reporting from The New York Times that the recommendation came from political appointees in the Trump administration and skipped the agency’s usual rigorous scientific review. The previous phrasing, which suggested asymptomatic people who have had close contact with an infected individual ‘do not necessarily need a test,’ now clearly instructs them: ‘You need a test.’ Public health experts welcomed the change as consistent with research showing that people without symptoms can spread the virus to others. ‘It’s good to see science and evidence taking a front seat for a change,’ said Scott Becker, chief executive of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. ‘It has been a wild few weeks.'”

Trump now says the U.S. will have vaccine doses for all Americans in April 2021, Politico, Sarah Owermohle, Friday, 18 September 2020: “President Donald Trump said Friday that there will be enough doses of coronavirus vaccine for every American by April, contradicting administration health officials who have projected the country would not reach that point until mid-2021. ‘Hundreds of millions of doses will be available every month and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April,’ he said at a White House press briefing. Trump earlier in the week said that doses would be broadly available by March.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci says he’ll take responsibility if a coronavirus vaccine rolled out in the US is faulty, Business Insider, Tom Porter, Friday, 18 September 2020: “Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading US infectious-disease expert, has pledged to ‘take the heat’ for any problems with a vaccine for COVID-19. ‘Do you assure all of us that if the corners have been cut, if there is something sideways or wrong with the process, that you will tell us and take the heat for that?’ MSNBC’s Chris Hayes asked Fauci during an interview Thursday. He responded: ‘The answer, Chris, is yes.’ Fauci’s comments come amid concern that President Donald Trump is politicizing public-health departments and may seek to rush through a vaccine in time for November’s presidential election.”

New revelations reinforce concerns that Trump’s political motives are a higher priority than Americans’ health, CNN Politics, Maegan Vazquez, Friday, 18 September 2020: “A series of new revelations about the federal government’s coronavirus response could reinforce concerns about whether the Trump administration’s political motives were a higher priority than the health of Americans. The New York Times reported Thursday that a US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation narrowing the scope of who should get tested for coronavirus was not written by CDC scientists, but ‘dropped’ into the CDC’s public-facing website by the Department of Health and Human Services. The Washington Post recently revealed that this past spring, the US Postal Service and HHS were working on a plan to send masks to heavily infected areas and eventually nationwide. But the idea was reportedly nixed by the White House out of concern receiving masks could cause panic. And on Friday, President Donald Trump told reporters that there will be enough coronavirus vaccines for all Americans by April, once again contradicting estimates made by medical experts within his own administration. But thus far, despite Trump’s optimistic outlook, no vaccine currently in trials has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. Reacting to Trump’s prediction, an administration health official cautioned that timing depends on the vaccine development process, which is still under way. The official went on to say that Americans may still not be able to get back to normal life until the third or fourth quarter of next year, essentially backing up what CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said earlier this week.”

2020 Election Updates: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Death Sets Off Battle Over Court Vacancy. The death of Justice Ginsburg led to an outpouring of grief and upended the presidential race. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said he would move forward with President Trump’s nominee to replace her. The New York Times, Friday, 18 September 2020:

  • The Supreme Court vacancy has abruptly transformed the presidential campaign.

  • Biden says ‘voters should pick the president, and the president should pick the justice.’

  • Grief and tributes for Ginsburg as mourners gather outside the Supreme Court.

  • McConnell says Trump’s nominee to replace Ginsburg ‘will receive a vote’ in the Senate.

  • Ginsburg’s death raises scrutiny over a list of Supreme Court nominees Trump updated last week.

  • Obama praises Ginsburg as ‘a warrior for gender equality.’

  • Here’s what McConnell said about Supreme Court picks in 2016.

  • The winner of the Arizona Senate race could be seated in time for a vote on a Supreme Court pick.

  • Democrats shatter ActBlue’s donation records after Ginsburg’s death.

Election 2020: Biden and Trump head to Minnesota as early voting begins, The Washington Post, John Wagner and Colby Itkowitz, Friday, 18 September 2020: “President Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden are converging on Minnesota on Friday, as both hold events in the Midwestern battleground state. Biden plans to visit a union training center in the afternoon, while Trump is set to hold an evening rally. The dueling events coincide with the first day of in-person early voting in the state. It also began Friday in Virginia with long lines reported at some polling places. On Thursday, Biden leaned heavily on his middle-class roots as he made his pitch at a town hall in Pennsylvania, while Trump staged a lengthy rally in Wisconsin, another key battleground state.

With 46 days until Election Day …

  • A former aide to Vice President Pence says she will vote for Biden because of Trump’s ‘flat-out disregard for human life’ during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A federal judge temporarily blocked U.S. Postal Service operational changes amid concerns about mail slowdowns and the November elections.
  • Trump alleges ‘left-wing indoctrination’ in schools, says he will create national commission to push more ‘pro-American’ history.
  • Biden leads Trump by nine percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 42 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is smaller in key states: eight points in Michigan, seven points in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, five in Arizona, and one in Florida.
  • Election night 2020 could go on for weeks — just look at the primaries.

Many Hospitals Charge Private Insurance Companies More Than Twice What Medicare Pays for the Same Care. The gap between rates set for private insurers and employers vs. those by the federal government stirs the debate over a government-run health plan. The New York Times, Reed Abelson, Friday, 18 September 2020: “Hospitals across the country are charging private insurance companies 2.5 times what they get from Medicare for the same care, according to a new RAND Corporation study of hospital prices released on Friday. In a half-dozen of 49 states in the survey, including West Virginia and Florida, private insurers paid three or more times what Medicare did for overnight inpatient stays and outpatient care.”

A Deal on Drug Prices Undone by White House Insistence on ‘Trump Cards.’ The White House and the pharmaceutical industry were nearing a major deal to lower drug prices. Then the administration demanded that $100 cash cards be sent to millions of seniors before the election — and the industry balked. The New York Times, Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman, Friday, 18 September 2020: “After months of heated accusations and painstaking negotiations, the White House and the pharmaceutical industry neared agreement late last month on a plan to make good on President Trump’s longstanding promise to lower drug prices. The drug companies would spend $150 billion to address out-of-pocket consumer costs and would even pick up the bulk of the co-payments that older Americans shoulder in Medicare’s prescription drug program. Then the agreement collapsed. The breaking point, according to four people familiar with the discussions: Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s chief of staff, insisted the drug makers pay for $100 cash cards that would be mailed to seniors before November — ‘Trump Cards,’ some in the industry called them. Some of the drugmakers bridled at being party to what they feared would be seen as an 11th-hour political boost for Mr. Trump, the people familiar with the matter said. White House officials insist they didn’t plan to emblazon the president’s name on the cards, which they envisioned sending to tens of millions of Americans to use for prescriptions. Mr. Trump, of course, has a long history of branding everything from skyscrapers to stimulus checks. Regardless, one drug company executive said they worried about the optics of having the chief executives of the country’s leading pharmaceutical makers stand with the president in the Rose Garden as he hoisted an oversized card and gloated about helping a crucial bloc of voters.”

After Back-to-Back Hurricanes Ravaged Puerto Rico in 2017, Trump Was So Resistant to Spending Billions of Dollars to Restore the Territory That He Suggested Simply Getting Rid of It Instead. ‘Can we sell the island?’ he asked aides. Now he is presenting himself as a friend of Puerto Rico. The New York Times, Peter Baker and Patricia Mazzei, Friday, 18 September 2020: “After back-to-back hurricanes ravaged Puerto Rico in 2017, President Trump was so resistant to spending billions of dollars to restore the territory that he suggested simply getting rid of it instead. ‘Can we sell the island?’ he asked aides, according to a cabinet member who was there. Three years later, after repeated Twitter outbursts, angry recriminations, blocked aid and a paper towel-throwing visit that went over badly, Mr. Trump sought on Friday to present himself as a friend of Puerto Rico, announcing the release of $13 billion to rebuild its electric grid and repair schools a mere 1,095 days after the second of the hurricanes made landfall. The most important date on the calendar, though, may not be the day the storms swept through the island but the day that islanders will render their judgment on the president’s leadership. Puerto Ricans who fled the island now make up an increasingly critical voting bloc in Florida, a must-win state for Mr. Trump as he seeks re-election in November. Mr. Trump’s abrupt aid announcement came just two days after former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., his Democratic challenger, visited Florida seeking Hispanic votes. The president made no mention on Friday of his searing feuds with Puerto Rican leaders nor his eagerness to divest the United States of the territory.” See also, Trump Administration Grants $11.6 Billion in Aid to Puerto Rico. The funds come as the island continues to recover from 2017’s Hurricane Maria, and as Trump and Biden vie for Florida’s Latino voters. The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia and Andrew Scurria, Friday, 18 September 2020: “The Trump administration announced $11.6 billion in aid to Puerto Rico, as the U.S. territory continues to struggle from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the president’s reelection campaign courts Puerto Rican voters in Florida.” See also, Trump announces aid package for Puerto Rico in a campaign year reversal Democrats call brazenly political, The Washington Post, Seung Min Kim, Josh Dawsey, and Jose A. Del Real, Friday, 18 September 2020: “President Trump on Friday announced a package of billions in federal aid for Puerto Rico to help it recover from a powerful hurricane that hit the island three years ago — a move that comes as his reelection campaign increasingly relies on winning Florida with support from its Latino communities. The announcement marks a sharp reversal from the president’s past approach toward disaster aid for the U.S. territory, assistance that Trump and his administration had held up even as the island struggled to recover from hurricane Maria, which ravaged it in September 2017. Since that storm ripped across the island, Trump has repeatedly said he didn’t want more aid sent to Puerto Rico, publicly questioned the hurricane death toll and called the territory’s leaders corrupt while trading insults with some of them as they pushed Washington for more assistance. But on Friday, Trump ignored that history and brazenly declared that his only interest has been in helping the island.”

Watchdog group calls on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate donations to Trump and others by relatives and associates of Louis DeJoy, The Washington Post, Aaron C. Davis, Friday, 18 September 2020: “A pattern of campaign contributions by former employees and family members of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy indicates a possible effort to reimburse his associates for donations as recently as 2018, according to a Federal Election Commission complaint filed Thursday by a government watchdog group. The filing by the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center is the third complaint seeking a state or federal investigation since The Washington Post this month reported allegations that DeJoy and his aides urged employees at New Breed Logistics, his former North Carolina-based company, to write checks and attend fundraisers on behalf of Republican candidates. DeJoy then defrayed the cost of those political contributions from 2003 to 2014 by boosting employee bonuses, two employees told The Post. Although it can be permissible to encourage others to make donations, reimbursing them for those contributions is a violation of North Carolina and federal election laws. Known as a straw-donor scheme, the practice allows donors to evade individual contribution limits and obscures the true source of money used to influence elections.”

Treasury Investigates Claims of Racial Discrimination at U.S. Mint. Black employees ask Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to address what they describe as ‘rampant racism.’ The Wall Street Journal, Khadeeja Safdar, Friday, 18 September 2020: “The Treasury Department said it has opened an investigation into allegations of racial harassment and discrimination raised by Black employees at the U.S. Mint, the government entity responsible for circulating coins in the country. A group of Black employees at the Mint wrote a letter in June asking Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to intervene and address what they say is ‘rampant racism’ at the bureau, according to the letter, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. In the letter and meetings with Treasury officials, the Black employees said that there was a lack of diversity in the Mint’s executive ranks, that Black workers were treated unfairly by the legal department—which they noted consisted of only white attorneys—and that Mint leaders often sought to find out who was making a complaint rather than investigating the contents.”

Trump ‘associates’ offered WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange pardon in return for his revealing the source of leaked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton, The Guardian, Peter Beaumont, Friday, 18 September 2020: “Two political figures claiming to represent Donald Trump offered Julian Assange a ‘win-win’ deal to avoid extradition to the US and indictment, a London court has heard. Under the proposed deal, outlined by Assange’s barrister Jennifer Robinson, the WikiLeaks founder would be offered a pardon if he disclosed who leaked Democratic party emails to his site, in order to help clear up allegations they had been supplied by Russian hackers to help Trump’s election in 2016. According to a statement from Robinson read out to the court, the offer was made by the then Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher and Trump associate Charles Johnson at a meeting on 15 August 2017 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Assange was then sheltering. At the time he was under secret investigation by a US grand jury. Robinson added: ‘The proposal put forward by Congressman Rohrabacher was that Mr Assange identify the source for the 2016 election publications in return for some kind of pardon, assurance or agreement which would both benefit President Trump politically and prevent US indictment and extradition.’ Rohrabacher said he had come to London to talk to Assange about ‘what might be necessary to get him out,’ Robinson said, and presented him with a ‘win-win situation’ that would allow him to leave the embassy and ‘get on with his life’ without fear of extradition to the US. The barrister added that Assange did not name the source of the emails. While Assange’s legal team first made the claim in February detailing a deal for a pardon in exchange for denying the source of the emails was Russia, Robinson’s statement – admitted as evidence by the court – provides substantial details of the meeting.”

Emails Detail Effort to Silence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (C.D.C.) and Question Its Science, The New York Times, Noah Weiland, Friday, 18 September 2020: “On June 30, as the coronavirus was cresting toward its summer peak, Dr. Paul Alexander, a new science adviser at the Department of Health and Human Services, composed a scathing two-page critique of an interview given by an experienced scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Anne Schuchat, a 32-year veteran of the C.D.C. and its principal deputy director, had appealed to Americans to wear masks and warned, ‘We have way too much virus across the country.’ But Dr. Alexander, a part-time assistant professor of health research methods, appeared sure he understood the coronavirus better. ‘Her aim is to embarrass the president,’ he wrote, commenting on Dr. Schuchat’s appeal for face masks in an interview with The Journal of the American Medical Association. ‘She is duplicitous,’ he also wrote in an email to his boss, Michael R. Caputo, the Department of Health and Human Services’s top spokesman who went on medical leave this week. He asked Mr. Caputo to ‘remind’ Dr. Schuchat that during the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009, thousands of Americans had died ‘under her work.’ Of Dr. Schuchat’s assessment of the dangers of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, he fumed, wrongly, ‘The risk of death in children 0-19 years of age is basically 0 (zero) … PERIOD … she has lied.’ Dr. Alexander’s point-by-point assessment, broken into seven parts and forwarded by Mr. Caputo to Dr. Robert R. Redfield, the C.D.C. director, was one of several emails obtained by The New York Times that illustrate how Mr. Caputo and Dr. Alexander tried to browbeat career officials at the C.D.C. at the height of the pandemic, challenging the science behind their public statements and trying to silence agency staff. On Friday, two days after Mr. Caputo went on medical leave and Dr. Alexander was dismissed from the Department of Health and Human Services, the C.D.C. reversed a heavily criticized recommendation suggesting that people who have had close contact with a person infected with the coronavirus do not need to get tested if they have no symptoms. The emails shed light on the monthslong fight that led to their departures.” See also, Trump’s appointees sought to censor what government scientists said about the coronavirus, emails show, The Washington Post, Lena H. Sun, Yasmeen Abutaleb, and Lenny Bernstein, Friday, 18 September 2020: “Trump political appointees tried to silence a longtime top official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after she stressed the seriousness of the coronavirus, arguing her statements to a medical group contradicted those of top Trump administration officials, including Vice President Pence. In a June 30 email, Paul Alexander, one of those appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services, excoriated Anne Schuchat, CDC principal deputy director, for remarks she made before the group affiliated with one of the nation’s leading medical journals. Schuchat, a physician, had spoken to JAMA Network the day before, saying she hoped the country could ‘take it seriously and slow the transmission,’ adding that ‘we have way too much virus across the country … right now.’ The emails were first reported by the New York Times.”

Civil-Rights Group Muslim Advocates Alleges That Facebook ‘did nothing’ about violent militia and hate groups for 5 years despite being warned at least 10 times, Business Insider, Tyler Sonnemaker, Friday, 18 September 2020: “The civil-rights group Muslim Advocates is accusing Facebook of long ignoring repeated warnings that militia and hate groups are promoting violence against Muslims. Muslim Advocates published a timeline Wednesday of 10 instances since 2015 in which it said it alerted the company to militias and hate groups using Facebook events to organize armed anti-Muslim rallies. ‘For more than five years Facebook has failed to stop this,’ the group’s public-advocacy director said. Facebook has come under fire twice in recent weeks for failing to enforce its own militia ban despite being warned about groups threatening violence in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and Portland, Oregon.”


Saturday, 19 September 2020, Day 1,338:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 19 September 2020: AstraZeneca Releases Blueprints for Virus Vaccine Trial Amid Safety Scrutiny, The New York Times, Saturday, 19 September 2020:

In ‘Power Grab,’ Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar Asserts Authority over the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.), The New York Times, Sheila Kaplan, Saturday, 19 September 2020: “In a stunning declaration of authority, Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, this week barred the nation’s health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, from signing any new rules regarding the nation’s foods, medicines, medical devices and other products, including vaccines. Going forward, Mr. Azar wrote in a Sept. 15 memorandum obtained by The New York Times, such power ‘is reserved to the Secretary.’ The bulletin was sent to heads of operating and staff divisions within H.H.S. It’s unclear if or how the memo would change the vetting and approval process for coronavirus vaccines, three of which are in advanced clinical trials in the United States. Political appointees, under pressure from the president, have taken a string of steps over the past few months to interfere with the standard scientific and regulatory processes at the health agencies. For example, a much criticized guideline on testing for the coronavirus was not written by C.D.C. scientists, and was posted on the agency’s public website over their objections. It was reversed on Friday.”

Election 2020 Updates: A Tip Sheet for the Senate Fight Over Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat, The New York Times, Saturday, 19 September 2020:

  • Trump says he will nominate a woman to replace Ginsburg next week.

  • The future of the Supreme Court rests on the personal and political calculations of these Senate Republicans.

  • As Lindsey Graham reverses his position, Judiciary Committee Democrats urge him to delay hearings.

  • Susan Collins says she opposes holding a vote on a replacement for Ginsburg before the election.

  • With Collins opposed to court vote, the spotlight shifts to Romney, Grassley and Gardner.

  • With a battle looming, Biden will seek to link the Supreme Court vacancy to the future of health care.

  • Social conservatives see a goal within reach, thanks to their bargain with Trump.

  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reflects on Ginsburg’s legacy and says Biden should hold off on a list of judges.

  • Poll shows Ginsburg’s popularity and points to advantage for Democrats.

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020 Updates: Trump says he will nominate a woman to the Supreme Court next week, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Derek Hawkins, and Hannah Knowles, Saturday, 19 September 2020: “President Trump said Saturday that he expects to announce his nomination for the Supreme Court next week and that he will pick a woman. ‘It will be a woman — a very talented, very brilliant woman,’ Trump said at an evening campaign rally in North Carolina. ‘We haven’t chosen yet, but we have numerous women on the list.’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on Friday has set off an intense political battle ahead of the election, as leading Republicans seek to vote quickly on a successor and cement a conservative majority on the court. Democrats have called for the Senate to wait until the next president takes office. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) — one of several closely-watched Republican senators who could play a crucial role in a vote — said Saturday that whoever is elected this November should nominate Ginsburg’s replacement.

The latest:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Updates: A Tip Sheet for the Senate Fight Over Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Seat, The New York Times, Saturday, 19 September 2020:

  • Trump says he will nominate a woman to replace Ginsburg next week.
  • The future of the Supreme Court rests on the personal and political calculations of these Senate Republicans.
  • As Lindsey Graham reverses his position, Judiciary Committee Democrats urge him to delay hearings.
  • Susan Collins says she opposes holding a vote on a replacement for Ginsburg before the election.
  • With Collins opposed to court vote, the spotlight shifts to Romney, Grassley and Gardner.
  • With a battle looming, Biden will seek to link the Supreme Court vacancy to the future of health care.
  • Social conservatives see a goal within reach, thanks to their bargain with Trump.
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reflects on Ginsburg’s legacy and says Biden should hold off on a list of judges.
  • Poll shows Ginsburg’s popularity and points to advantage for Democrats.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Hysterectomy Doctor Wasn’t Even a Board-Certified Ob-Gyn. Dr. Mahendra Amin has been accused of performing unnecessary uterus removals on detained immigrants. The Daily Beast, Emily Shugerman and William Bredderman, Saturday, 19 September 2020: “The doctor at the center of a scandal over unwanted hysterectomies at an immigrant detention facility in Georgia is not a board certified OB-GYN, The Daily Beast has learned. Dr. Mahendra Amin came under scrutiny after immigrant rights groups issued a report accusing him of conducting unnecessary or unwanted gynecological procedures on women detained at the Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia. On Friday, a spokesperson for the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology told The Daily Beast that its records show Amin is not certified by the organization. A spokesperson for the American Board of Medical Specialties, the leading organization for physician board certification in the U.S., said Amin was not certified by any of the 24 ABMS member boards.”


Sunday, 20 September 2020, Day 1,339:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 20 September 2020: Health Officials Tiptoe Around Trump’s Coronavirus Vaccine Timeline, The New York Times, Sunday, 20 September 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020: Senator Lisa Murkowski says she doesn’t support filling Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat before the election, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Felicia Sonmez, and Hannah Knowles, Sunday, 20 September 2020: “President Trump said Saturday that he expects to announce his nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this week, putting him on track to announce his decision before the first presidential debate with Joe Biden on Sept. 29. He said he intends to pick a woman for the seat. ‘It will be a woman — a very talented, very brilliant woman,’ Trump told supporters at an evening campaign rally in North Carolina. ‘We haven’t chosen yet, but we have numerous women on the list.’ A growing number of Republicans say they will support the push by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to vote quickly on Trump’s nominee rather than waiting until the next president takes office. But Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — one of several closely watched Republican senators who could play a crucial role in a vote — said Sunday that she does not support filling Ginsburg’s seat before the November presidential election. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Saturday that whoever is elected in November should nominate Ginsburg’s replacement.

The latest:

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Updates: Biden Says Election Winner Should Pick Nominee, The New York Times, Sunday, 20 September 2020:

As Supreme Court Fight Heats Up, Biden Urges Republican Senators to ‘Follow Your Conscience,’ The New York Times, Sunday, 20 September 2020: “Joseph R. Biden Jr. urged Republicans on Sunday not to rush a Supreme Court nominee through the Senate in the final six weeks before the presidential election, suggesting that such a move would amount to an ‘abuse of power’ at an already perilous moment in American political history. In his first extensive remarks on the looming Supreme Court battle since he acknowledged the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, Mr. Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, appealed directly to the few pivotal Senate Republicans ‘who really will decide what happens,’ urging them to oppose an effort to push through a new nominee before the election. ‘Please, follow your conscience,’ he pleaded in a speech at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. ‘Don’t vote to confirm anyone nominated under the circumstances President Trump and Senator McConnell have created. Don’t go there. Uphold your constitutional duty, your conscience. Let the people speak. Cool the flames that have been engulfing our country.'”

Trump mocks MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi for getting shot with rubber bullet, CNN Business, Oliver Darcy, Sunday, 20 September 2020: “Donald Trump on Friday mocked an American news anchor for being shot with a rubber bullet during George Floyd protests in May, calling it a ‘beautiful sight’ during a political rally in Minnesota. While speaking of the protests against racial injustice that swept the country earlier this year, Trump recalled the moment that police fired on MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi and his crew as they were reporting from Minneapolis. ‘I remember this guy Velshi,’ Trump said. ‘He got hit in the knee with a canister of tear gas and he went down. He was down. “My knee, my knee.” Nobody cared, these guys didn’t care, they moved him aside. And they just walked right through. It was the most beautiful thing,’ Trump said. ‘No, because after we take all that crap for weeks and weeks, and you finally see men get up there and go right through them, wasn’t it really a beautiful sight? It’s called law and order.’ The crowd then erupted in applause and cheers. Velshi responded to Trump in a tweet, noting he was actually hit by a rubber bullet, not a tear gas canister, and asking, ‘What law did I break while covering an entirely peaceful (yes, entirely peaceful) march?’ In a statement, an MSNBC spokesperson said, ‘Freedom of the press is a pillar of our democracy. When the President mocks a journalist for the injury he sustained while putting himself in harm’s way to inform the public, he endangers thousands of other journalists and undermines our freedoms.'” See also, Crowd Cheers as Trump Gloats About This One Time the Cops Shot a Reporter With a Rubber Bullet for No Reason, Slate, Tom Scocca, Sunday, 20 September 2020.


Monday, 21 September 2020, Day 1,340:


Some Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 21 September 2020: Coronavirus Upends College Admissions Tests, Creating Chaos for Students, The New York Times, Monday, 21 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, 21 September 2020: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reverses statement on airborne transmission of coronavirus, says draft accidentally published, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Rick Noack, Lateshia Beachum, Adam Taylor, Marisa Iati, Kim Bellware, Hannah Denham, Reis Thebault, and Meryl Kornfield, Monday, 21 September 2020: “On Monday morning, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention swiftly edited its Web page describing how the novel coronavirus spreads, removing recently added language saying it was ‘possible’ that the virus spread via airborne transmission. The agency had posted information Friday suggesting the virus can transmit over a distance beyond six feet, suggesting that indoor ventilation is key to protection against its spread. Experts had been advancing that idea, and it had appeared that the agency had come around. But Monday, the CDC said an unreviewed draft had been published in error.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:

Fresh Surge in U.S. Coronavirus Cases Feared, as Death Toll Nears 200,000. The U.S. continues to lead the world in confirmed cases and deaths. The Wall Street Journal, Ted Mann and Talal Ansari, Monday, 21 September 2020: “Deaths in the U.S. attributed to the coronavirus neared 200,000 Monday amid concerns from some health experts that the country was heading for another wave of infections. The U.S. continues to lead the world in both total confirmed cases and deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University, though the country doesn’t have the highest percentage of fatal cases. ‘Two hundred thousand deaths is disturbing and frustrating because in this pandemic, deaths are preventable if we utilize appropriate public-health measures,’ said Thomas Russo, head of infectious disease at Jacobs School of Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at the University of Buffalo.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stumbles again and mistakenly posts ‘draft’ guidance about airborne Covid-19 spread, NBC News, Erika Edwards, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday walked back information posted on its website just three days ago, which stated the coronavirus can spread through aerosolized droplets. The CDC now says that Friday’s guidance was posted ‘in error,’ and that new information will be issued shortly. The move is yet another misstep for the nation’s leading public health agency, which recently reversed its guidance for the second time on testing asymptomatic people for the coronavirus. On Friday, an update posted to the CDC’s website stated the virus can be transmitted through tiny, aerosolized droplets that are ‘produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes.’ That information was already well known, according to infectious disease experts. It was ‘not surprising or jarring,’ Dr. Jill Weatherhead, an assistant professor of infectious diseases at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said. ‘The scientific community has been raising the alarm about this since February, that airborne spread can happen,’ said Joseph Allen, an associate professor in the department of environmental health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. So infectious disease experts were perplexed Monday, when the CDC scrubbed that section of the website of any mention of airborne transmission, writing that ‘a draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency’s official website.’ The agency reverted to its previous language, stating that the virus is thought to spread ‘between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).'” See also, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Removes Guidelines Saying Coronavirus Can Spread From Tiny Air Particles, The Wall Street Journal, Caitlin McCabe, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pulled new guidelines acknowledging the new coronavirus could be transmitted by tiny particles that linger in the air, saying a draft version of proposed changes was posted in error on the agency’s website. For months, the CDC said the new coronavirus is primarily transmitted between people in close contact through droplets that can land in the mouths or noses of people nearby. On Friday, however, it added that Covid-19 can also be spread by ‘droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols’ that can be inhaled and cause infection. Then abruptly on Monday, the CDC reversed course and removed the additions. Much of the guidelines’ earlier description of Covid-19 transmission, emphasizing spread via close contact and droplets, was restored.”

  • In Ohio, Trump attacks Biden for ‘globalist’ policies.

  • In Wisconsin, Biden appeals to Obama voters who backed Trump.

  • Grassley and Gardner will back a vote on Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, strengthening McConnell’s hand.

  • Trump says he will ‘probably’ announce his Supreme Court pick on Saturday.

  • In a letter to Democrats, Lindsey Graham defends his reversal on filling Supreme Court vacancies.

  • Trump and his base continue downplaying the pandemic ahead of the election.

  • A shutdown looms with Democrats and Republicans at odds over a stopgap spending bill.

  • A judge extends Wisconsin’s mail-in voting deadline, allowing ballots to arrive up to six days after the election.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Election 2020 Updates: Trump and Biden head to battleground states as court drama plays out in Washington, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Donna Cassata, Monday, 21 September 2020: “President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden traveled Monday to battleground states — Ohio and Wisconsin, respectively — as the drama over replacing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg continues to play out in Washington. In remarks at an aluminum foundry, Biden criticized the president over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic while also making an appeal to Trump voters, telling them, ‘You will be seen, heard and respected by me.’ Trump met Monday with Amy Coney Barrett, who is at the top of his Supreme Court shortlist. He also told reporters that he will ‘probably’ nominate a replacement for Ginsburg on Saturday, after services for the justice are held. Ginsburg will lie in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday and lie in state Friday at the Capitol.

With 43 days until Election Day …

Senator Lindsey Graham Is Defiant on His Supreme Court Reversal. In 2016 he said he would refuse to confirm a Republican’s Supreme Court nominee in a presidential election year. Now he is rushing to deliver President Trump’s third justice. The New York Times, Catie Edmondson, Monday, 21 September 2020: “When Senator Lindsey Graham joined a Republican blockade of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee in 2016, he went out of his way to frame his position that a confirmation to the court should never be allowed in an election year as principled, apolitical and utterly permanent. ‘I want you to use my words against me,’ Mr. Graham said then, swearing that he would hold the same stance even if it meant denying a future Republican president the chance to confirm his chosen nominee. But less than 24 hours after that hypothetical became a reality with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Friday, Mr. Graham, now the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made a complete and brazen reversal. He promised that he would push forward immediately to confirm President Trump’s pick — seemingly unbothered by the obvious conflict between his position four years ago and his stance now.” See also, Republican Senators Line Up to Back Trump on Supreme Court Fight. Senator Lindsey Graham, the Judiciary Committee chairman, says Republicans have the votes to confirm the president’s choice before the Nov. 3 election, though it will still be a challenge. The New York Times, Peter Baker and Nicholas Fandos, Monday, 21 September 2020: “President Trump appeared to secure enough support on Monday to fill the Supreme Court seat left open by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg without waiting for voters to decide whether to grant him a second term in what would be the fastest contested confirmation in modern history. As Mr. Trump promised to announce his choice for the seat by Friday or ‘probably Saturday,’ after memorial services for Justice Ginsburg, several key Senate Republicans threw their support behind a campaign-season dash to replace the liberal jurist by the election on Nov. 3 with a conservative who would shift the court’s ideological center to the right for years to come.”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Says for the First Time That Trump Could Be Investigated for Tax Fraud, The New York Times, Benjamin Weiser and William K. Rashbaum, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The Manhattan district attorney’s office, which has been locked in a yearlong legal battle with President Trump over obtaining his tax returns, suggested for the first time in a court filing on Monday that it had grounds to investigate him and his businesses for tax fraud. The filing by the office of the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., offered rare insight into the office’s investigation of the president and his business dealings, which began more than two years ago. Mr. Vance, a Democrat, has never revealed the scope of his office’s criminal inquiry, citing grand jury secrecy. The investigation has been stalled by the fight over a subpoena that the office issued in August 2019 for eight years of the president’s tax returns. Lawyers for Mr. Trump have said the subpoena should be blocked, calling it ‘wildly overbroad’ and politically motivated. Mr. Vance responded to that argument in a carefully worded new filing that did not directly accuse Mr. Trump or any of his businesses or associates of wrongdoing and took pains to avoid disclosing details about the inquiry. However, prosecutors listed news reports and public testimony that alleged misconduct by Mr. Trump and his businesses. The reports, prosecutors wrote, would justify a grand jury inquiry into a range of possible crimes, including tax and insurance fraud and falsification of business records. It was the first time the office had suggested tax fraud might be among the possible areas of investigation. ‘Even if the grand jury were testing the truth of public allegations alone, such reports, taken together, fully justify the scope of the grand jury subpoena at issue in this case,’ prosecutors wrote.” See also, The Manhattan district attorney’s office cites news reports to argue for eight years of Trump tax returns, The Washington Post, Shayna Jacobs, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office made a more pointed case for the legality of its grand jury subpoena for eight years of President Trump’s tax returns and related records, saying in a brief to an appeals court Monday that news reports of misconduct alone justify such a wide-ranging review of business dealings. The filing marks the first time the prosecutor has publicly suggested specific criminal charges — including falsifying business records and tax fraud — that could hypothetically apply, should the grand jury find evidence to support them. District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr.’s investigation includes alleged hush-money payments in 2016 to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump, as well as a ‘variety of business transactions,’ according to a filing by the office’s general counsel, Carey Dunne. The investigation ‘is based on information derived from public sources, confidential informants, and the grand jury process,’ according to the filing.”

In Latest Legal Rebuke, Federal Court Orders Postal Service to Prioritize Mail-In Voting. A federal judge, in response to a lawsuit filed in New York, also ordered the agency to reverse operational changes that have slowed mail delivery in recent months. The New York Times, Luke Broadwater, Monday, 21 September 2020: “A federal judge in New York on Monday ordered the Postal Service to reverse operational changes that have slowed mail delivery in recent months and to prioritize election mail, the latest legal rebuke to Louis DeJoy’s management of the agency. By Friday, Judge Victor Marrero said in his ruling, the Postal Service must begin treating all election mail, including ballots, as first-class or priority mail; preapprove all overtime requested from Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, the peak times for election mail; and submit a plan to restore on-time delivery of mail to its highest level this year. ‘The right to vote is too vital a value in our democracy to be left in a state of suspense in the minds of voters weeks before a presidential election, raising doubts as to whether their votes will ultimately be counted,’ Judge Marrero said.”

Department of Justice labels New York, Portland, and Seattle ‘anarchist jurisdictions’ and seeks to withdraw federal funds from these three cities, The Guardian, Lauren Aratani, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The US Department of Justice on Monday designated three cities as ‘anarchist jurisdictions,’ where it says elected officials have allowed property destruction and violence during protests over racism and police brutality. The move is an explicitly political gambit, part of the Trump administration’s ‘law and order’ re-election push. In seeking to withdraw federal funding from the three cities, the DoJ is likely to be stymied in the courts.” See also, Justice Department Threatens to Cut Funds to New York City, Seattle, and Portland, The Wall Street Journal, Sadie Gurman, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The Justice Department on Monday threatened to withhold federal funding from New York, Portland, Ore., and Seattle over the cities’ responses to violence that sometimes accompanied demonstrations against racial injustice this summer. The move would mark an escalation of the Trump administration’s broader action against the violence and property destruction that President Trump has seized upon as a campaign issue. The White House sent a memo earlier this month directing the Justice Department to identify jurisdictions it said were ‘permitting anarchy’ by failing to aggressively quell civil unrest.” See also, Justice Department Threatens to Withhold Federal Funds From New York City, Seattle, and Portland. Attorney General William P. Barr criticized the cities for their responses to protests against police brutality. Democrats called it an effort to help President Trump’s re-election campaign. The New York Times, Katie Benner, Monday, 21 September 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr on Monday escalated the Trump administration’s attacks on Democratic-led cities by threatening to withhold federal funding from New York, Seattle and Portland, Ore., over their responses to protests against police brutality, portraying them as inadequate as President Trump seeks to make the unrest a cornerstone of his re-election campaign.”

The Inside Story of the Mueller Investigation’s Mistakes. In a new book, Andrew Weissmann, one of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s top deputies, lays out the limits and letdowns of the years-long Russia investigation. The Atlantic, George Packer, Monday, 21 September 2020: “Andrew Weissmann was one of Robert Mueller’s top deputies in the special counsel’s investigation of the 2016 election, and he’s about to publish the first insider account, called Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation. The title comes from an adapted quote by the philosopher John Locke that’s inscribed on the façade of the Justice Department building in Washington, D.C.: ‘Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.’ Weissmann offers a damning indictment of a ‘lawless’ president and his knowing accomplices—Attorney General William Barr (portrayed as a cynical liar), congressional Republicans, criminal flunkies, Fox News. Donald Trump, he writes, is ‘like an animal, clawing at the world with no concept of right and wrong.’ But in telling the story of the investigation and its fallout, Weissmann reserves his most painful words for the Special Counsel’s Office itself. Where Law Ends portrays a group of talented, dedicated professionals beset with internal divisions and led by a man whose code of integrity allowed their target to defy them and escape accountability.” See also, Andrew Weissmann, Top Aide to Robert Mueller, Says Mueller’s Team Should Have Done More to Investigate Trump-Russia Links, The New York Times, Charlie Savage, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The team led by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, failed to do everything it could to determine what happened in the 2016 election, shying away from steps like subpoenaing President Trump and scrutinizing his finances out of fear he would fire them, one of Mr. Mueller’s top lieutenants argued in the first insider account of the inquiry. ‘Had we used all available tools to uncover the truth, undeterred by the onslaught of the president’s unique powers to undermine our efforts?’ wrote the former prosecutor, Andrew Weissmann, in a new book, adding, ‘I know the hard answer to that simple question: We could have done more.’ The team took elaborate steps to protect its files of evidence from the risk that the Justice Department might destroy them if Mr. Trump fired them and worked to keep reporters and the public from learning what they were up to, Mr. Weissmann wrote in ‘Where Law Ends: Inside the Mueller Investigation,’ which Random House will publish next week. While he speaks reverently of Mr. Mueller, he also says his boss’s diffidence made him ill-suited for aspects of shepherding the politically charged investigation. He saw Mr. Mueller and his deputy, Aaron M. Zebley, as overly cautious…. And he elevates particular details — for example, emphasizing that the same business account that sent hush payments to an adult film star who alleged an extramarital affair with Mr. Trump had also received ‘payments linked to a Russian oligarch.’ The president has denied the affair; his former lawyer Michael D. Cohen controlled the account. Mr. Mueller transferred the Cohen matter to prosecutors in New York.” See also, Andrew Weissmann, a former prosecutor on special counsel Robert Mueller’s team, says Mueller ‘could have done more’ to hold Trump accountable, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky and Spencer S. Hsu, Monday, 21 September 2020: “A former prosecutor on special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s team writes in a new book that the group failed to fully investigate President Trump’s financial ties and should have stated explicitly that they believed he obstructed justice, claiming that their efforts were limited by the ever-present threat of Trump disbanding their office and by their own reluctance to be aggressive. In an explosive tell-all that offers the most detailed account yet of what happened behind the scenes during Mueller’s two-year investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, Andrew Weissmann writes of his frustration that the special counsel failed to subpoena the president and otherwise pulled punches for fear of incurring Trump’s wrath. He lays particular blame on Mueller’s top deputy, Aaron Zebley, for stopping investigators from taking a broad look at Trump’s finances….”

A Young Kennedy, In Kushnerland, Turned Whistle-Blower. Robert F. Kennedy’s grandson Max volunteered with Jared Kushner’s XOVID-19 task force; he likened the Trump Administration’s pandemic response to ‘a family office meets organized crime, melded with ‘Lord of the Flies.'” The New Yorker, Jane Mayer, Monday, 21 September 2020: “Months before Bob Woodward’s book ‘Rage’ documented President Trump’s efforts to deceive Americans about the peril posed by covid-19, Robert F. Kennedy’s twenty-six-year-old grandson tried to blow the whistle on the President’s malfeasance from an improbable perch—inside Trump’s coronavirus task force…. On his first day, he showed up at the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and joined around a dozen other volunteers, all in their twenties, mostly from the finance sector and with no expertise in procurement or medical issues. He was surprised to learn that they weren’t to be auxiliaries supporting the government’s procurement team. ‘We were the team,’ he said. ‘We were the entire frontline team for the federal government.’ The volunteers were tasked with finding desperately needed medical supplies using only their personal laptops and private e-mail accounts. As the days passed, and the death count climbed, Kennedy was alarmed at the way the President was downplaying the crisis. ‘I knew from that room that he was saying things that just weren’t true,’ he said. Trump told the public that the government was doing all it could, but the P.P.E. emergency was being managed by a handful of amateurs. ‘It was the number of people who show up to an after-school event, not to run the greatest crisis in a hundred years,’ Kennedy said. ‘It was such a mismatch of personnel. It was one of the largest mobilization problems ever. It was so unbelievably colossal and gargantuan. The fact that they didn’t want to get any more people was so upsetting.’ Kennedy believes that the Administration relied on volunteers in order to sidestep government experts and thereby ‘control the narrative.'”

A Notorious COVID Troll Actually Works for Dr. Anthony Fauci’s Agency. Bill Crews is a PR official at the National Institutes of Health. But he also has another job: an anonymous RedState editor who rails against the agency for which he works. The Daily Beast, Lachlan Markay, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The managing editor of the prominent conservative website RedState has spent months trashing U.S. officials tasked with combating COVID-19, dubbing White House coronavirus task force member Dr. Anthony Fauci a ‘mask nazi,’ and intimating that government officials responsible for the pandemic response should be executed. But that writer, who goes by the pseudonym ‘streiff,’ isn’t just another political blogger. The Daily Beast has discovered that he actually works in the public affairs shop of the very agency that Fauci leads. William B. Crews is, by day, a public affairs specialist for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. But for years he has been writing for RedState under the streiff pseudonym. And in that capacity he has been contributing to the very same disinformation campaign that his superiors at the NIAID say is a major challenge to widespread efforts to control a pandemic that has claimed roughly 200,000 U.S. lives.” See also, William B. Crews, a Public Affairs Officer at the National Institutes of Health, Departs After Anonymous Posts Attacking Public Health Leaders. He denounced the agency’s work and its director, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci. The New York Times, Zach Montague, Monday, 21 September 2020: “The National Institutes of Health said on Monday that one of its public affairs officers would retire after he was revealed to be surreptitiously attacking his employer and one of its directors, Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, in pseudonymous posts on Twitter and the right-wing website RedState. The official, William B. Crews, worked for and promoted the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases while simultaneously denouncing the agency’s work and its director, Dr. Fauci, dismissing their research and public health advice in wild and conspiratorial terms under the pen name Streiff. His work was exposed on Monday by The Daily Beast.”


Tuesday, 22 September 2020, Day 1,341:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 22 September 2020: Miami-Dade County, the Fourth-Largest U.S. School District, Will Allow Students Back in Classrooms, The New York Times, Tuesday, 22 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Tuesday, 22 September 2020: Trump calls 200,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. ‘a shame,’ The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jennifer Hassan, Paulina Firozi, Lateshia Beachum, Kim Bellware, Siobhán O’Grady, Hannah Denham, and Meryl Kornfield, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “The coronavirus death toll in the United States surpassed 200,000 on Tuesday, marking another milestone of loss at a time when many have become numb to the rising fatality count. The tally represents the upper boundary of a fatality range that President Trump in March said would signal that his administration had ‘done a very good job’ of protecting Americans from the coronavirus. As he left the White House for Pennsylvania on Tuesday evening, Trump responded to a reporter’s question about the 200,000 deaths, saying, ‘It’s a shame.’

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:
  • A forecast released by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington this month predicted that U.S. fatalities could reach 410,000 by the end of the year.
  • The Food and Drug Administration is expected as soon as this week to spell out a new standard for an emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine that will make it exceedingly difficult for any vaccine to be cleared before Election Day.
  • The novel coronavirus is spreading at dangerous rates in many states as autumn arrives and colder weather — traditionally congenial to viruses — begins to settle across the nation, public health data shows.
  • Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the nation’s ‘divisive state’ is hindering consistent messaging during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used for making things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms.
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that Britain has reached a ‘perilous turning point’ in the pandemic as he introduced new curfews on pubs and restaurants and encouraged remote working — measures that could remain in place for six months.
  • Trump lashed out at China in prerecorded remarks played at the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, claiming officials allowed the virus to ‘leave China and infect the world’ He called on the United Nations to hold the country ‘accountable for its actions.’

‘It affects virtually nobody,’ Trump says, minimizing the effect of the coronavirus on young people as the U.S. death toll hits 200,000, The New York Times, Glenn Thrush, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “Playing down the dangers the coronavirus poses to young people, President Trump falsely told supporters in Ohio on Monday night that the virus ‘affects virtually nobody,’ hours before the country reached the grim milestone of 200,000 recorded deaths linked to the pandemic, according to a New York Times database. Mr. Trump, who has veered back and forth between claiming that he takes the crisis seriously and dismissing it as a transient problem that will disappear on its own, made his remarks during a rambling late-night rally at an airport hangar in Dayton. They were part of a chain of assertions Mr. Trump made about the virus centered around the misleading claim, made by the president and other Republicans, that the virus only sickens the old and the ill. ‘It affects elderly people, elderly people with heart problems, if they have other problems, that’s what it really affects, in some states thousands of people — nobody young — below the age of 18, like nobody — they have a strong immune system — who knows?’ Mr. Trump said. ‘It affects virtually nobody,’ he added. ‘It’s an amazing thing — by the way, open your schools!’ Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has rejected that argument. He told CNN on Tuesday that 25 to 30 percent or more of the population has an underlying condition, like obesity, that contributes to their risk of severe illness. ‘It can be serious in young people,’ he said.” See also, U.S. Coronavirus Death Toll Tops 200,000, The Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Calfas, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “More than 200,000 people in the U.S. have died from Covid-19, a grim milestone as Americans enter another new season with a pandemic that continues to shape every facet of life. The U.S. leads the world in both total confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data, though the country doesn’t have the highest percentage of fatal cases. More than 6.8 million cases have been reported in the U.S. since the outbreak began. ‘It’s a shame,’ President Trump said when asked about the U.S. reaching 200,000 Covid-19 deaths. The president then blamed China and touted measures the administration had taken to combat the virus.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is poised to announce tougher standards for a covid-19 vaccine that make it unlikely one will be cleared by Election Day, The Washington Post, Laurie McGinley and Carolyn Y. Johnson, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “The Food and Drug Administration is expected to spell out a tough new standard for an emergency authorization of a coronavirus vaccine as soon as this week that will make it exceedingly difficult for any vaccine to be cleared before Election Day. The agency is issuing the guidance to boost transparency and public trust as it approaches the momentous decision of whether a prospective vaccine is safe and effective. Public health experts are increasingly worried that President Trump’s repeated predictions of a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 3, coupled with the administration’s interference in federal science agencies, may prompt Americans to reject any vaccine as rushed and potentially tainted. The stakes are high: polls show the relentless politicization of the race to develop a vaccine is taking its toll. Pew Research Center recently reported that the percentage of people who said they would get the vaccine if it were available today has dropped to just over 50 percent from 72 percent in May. The guidance, which is far more rigorous than what was used for emergency clearance of hydroxychloroquine or convalescent plasma, is an effort to shore up confidence in an agency that made missteps during the pandemic.” See also, Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) to Release Stricter Guidelines for Emergency Vaccine Authorization, The New York Times, Noah Weiland and Sharon LaFraniere, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “The Food and Drug Administration plans to soon issue stricter guidelines for the emergency authorization of any new coronavirus vaccine, adding a new layer of caution to the vetting process even as President Trump continues to contradict his own scientific experts and promise that a vaccine will be available as early as next month. The guidelines, which may be formally released as early as this week if approved by the White House, would lay out more specific criteria for clinical trial data and recommend that the data be vetted by a committee of independent experts before the F.D.A. authorizes any vaccine, according to several people familiar with the draft. The guidelines would be the most detailed description yet by the federal government about how the vaccine vetting process will proceed. With the election just six weeks away, Mr. Trump has repeatedly promised that the nation’s problems will soon be solved with a vaccine, although no vaccine has yet been proven to work. His own scientific experts continue to counter his statements, telling Congress that it will likely be the middle of next year, if not later, before a vaccine is readily available to most Americans.”

Election 2020 Updates: Romney backs voting this year on Trump nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Colby Itkowitz, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) announced Tuesday that he believes President Trump should get to choose a replacement for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg regardless of whether he wins in November. The move clears the way for a vote this year by the GOP-led Senate on a nominee that Trump is expected to name at 5p.m. on Saturday. The development came as both the campaigns of Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden focused Tuesday on Rust Belt states Trump narrowly won four years ago. Trump headed a rally in Pennsylvania, while Biden dispatched his running mate, Kamala D. Harris, to Michigan, while he held virtual fundraisers. During a stop in Flint, Mich., Harris highlighted  fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, which has claimed more than 200,000 lives in the United States. Vice President Pence campaigned in New Hampshire, a state Democrat Hillary Clinton narrowly won in 2016.

With 42 days until Election Day …
  • Biden’s moderation contrasts with Democratic rage as a fight looms over the Supreme Court vacancy.
  • Democrats are largely powerless to stop the GOP from confirming Trump’s Supreme Court choice.
  • Trump says he will announce his Supreme Court pick by the end of the week after meeting with a top candidate for Ginsburg’s seat.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Michigan and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, six in Arizona and two in Florida.
  • How to vote in your state: The Post’s guide to registering and casting your ballot.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top aides are ‘probably directing’ an influence operation to denigrate Joe Biden and to support Trump, The Washington Post, Josh Rogin, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “Russian President Vladimir Putin and his top aides are ‘probably directing’ a Russian foreign influence operation to interfere in the 2020 presidential election against former vice president Joe Biden, which involves a prominent Ukrainian lawmaker connected to President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani, a top-secret CIA assessment concluded, according to two sources who reviewed it. On Aug. 31, the CIA published an assessment of Russian efforts to interfere in the November election in an internal, highly classified report called the CIA Worldwide Intelligence Review, the sources said. CIA analysts compiled the assessment with input from the National Security Agency and the FBI, based on several dozen pieces of information gleaned from public, unclassified and classified intelligence sources. The assessment includes details of the CIA’s analysis of the activities of Ukrainian lawmaker Andriy Derkach to disseminate disparaging information about Biden inside the United States through lobbyists, Congress, the media and contacts with figures close to the president. ‘We assess that President Vladimir Putin and the senior most Russian officials are aware of and probably directing Russia’s influence operations aimed at denigrating the former U.S. Vice President, supporting the U.S. president and fueling public discord ahead of the U.S. election in November,’ the first line of the document says, according to the sources.” See also, Officials say the CIA assessed Putin is likely directing Russian effort to discredit Biden and to support Trump, NBC News, Ken Dilanian and Courtney Kube, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “The CIA assessed in late August that Vladimir Putin and other top Russian officials are ‘probably’ directing a Russian operation to intervene in the election by discrediting Joe Biden, current and former intelligence officials told NBC News. The assessment was first reported by Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin. Two of the officials said the CIA assessment analyzed the activities of Andreii Derkach, a Ukrainian lawmaker who has provided information to the president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani has said he ‘interviewed’ Derkach three times.”

Mike Bloomberg raises $16 million to allow former felons to vote in Florida, The Washington Post, Michael Scherer, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “Former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg and his team have raised more than $16 million to pay the court fines and fees of nearly 32,000 Black and Hispanic Florida voters with felony convictions, an effort aimed at boosting turnout for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden. The money will go to fund a program organized by the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition to pay the fines, fees and restitution costs for former prisoners who are already registered to vote in Florida but barred by law from participating in the election because of those outstanding debts. Bloomberg, who has committed at least $100 million to electing Biden in the state, raised the money from individuals and foundations over the past week, his advisers said. He saw the donations as a more cost-effective way of adding votes to the Democratic column than investing money to persuade voters who already have the right to vote, a Bloomberg memo said.” See also, Michael Bloomberg and other big names step in to help ex-felons in Florida become eligible to vote. The New York Times, Patricia Mazzei, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “A fund created to help former felons in Florida pay back court fines and fees so that they may become eligible to vote has seen a huge burst in support ahead of the state’s Oct. 5 registration deadline. The Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, which runs the fund, said on Tuesday that it had raised more than $20 million toward its $25 million goal. Most of the money has come in since Sept. 11, when the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit upheld a Florida law that leaves former felons disenfranchised unless they repay outstanding legal debts. A lower court had previously ruled that the law was unconstitutional because it amounted to a poll tax. ‘When we got news of the ruling from the 11th Circuit, a clarion call was sent out throughout the entire country,’ Desmond Meade, the executive director of the coalition, said in an interview. Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former New York mayor who ran in this year’s Democratic presidential primary, tapped his network to raise the bulk of the money — $16 million, none of it which came from Mr. Bloomberg himself, according to an aide to Mr. Bloomberg. He has vowed separately to spend $100 million in Florida to help Joseph R. Biden Jr. win the state.”

Bernie Sanders Sounds Alarm on a Trump ‘Nightmare Scenario.’ Warning that this election is an ‘extremely dangerous moment’ for the country, he said in an interview that he would aggressively push to try to stop President Trump from delegitimizing the vote. The New York Times, Sydney Ember, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “Senator Bernie Sanders is planning to mount an aggressive campaign to counter potential attempts by President Trump to delegitimize the results of the November election, warning that Democrats and Republicans alike must do ‘everything that we can to prevent that from happening.’ In a phone interview on Monday evening, Mr. Sanders said he would spend the next six weeks urging the country to prepare for a ‘nightmare scenario’ in which Mr. Trump declares himself the winner of the election and refuses to step down even if he loses. As part of his effort, he is set to deliver a speech in Washington on Thursday — his first in-person appearance related to the election since before he dropped out of the presidential race — to outline in stark terms the danger that he says Mr. Trump poses to the nation’s democracy. ‘We are living in an unprecedented and dangerous moment — extremely dangerous moment — in American history,’ Mr. Sanders said. ‘And what this speech is going to be about is whether or not the United States of America will continue to be a democracy and a nation ruled by law and our Constitution.'”

Cindy McCain Endorses Joe Biden, Citing Trump’s Disparagement of Troops as Losers. The widow of Senator John McCain praised Joe Biden’s ‘character and integrity’ and noted that both he and her family had children who had served in the military. The New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “Cindy McCain, the widow of Senator John McCain of Arizona, formally endorsed Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president on Tuesday, praising the ‘character and integrity’ of her late husband’s longtime friend and colleague while voicing her unease with President Trump. Ms. McCain, who spoke in a video at the Democratic convention last month, said in a telephone interview that she had been uncertain about how public a role she would play in this year’s campaign. But after reading reports this month that described Mr. Trump denigrating members of the military, she said, she became ‘more and more frustrated’ with the president. ‘The most important thing that moved me a great deal was talking about troops being losers,’ Ms. McCain said, referring to an article in The Atlantic. ‘You know we have children in the military, as did the Bidens.'”

Pentagon used taxpayer money meant for masks and swabs to make jet engine parts and body armor, The Washington Post, Aaron Gregg and Yeganeh Torbati, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “A $1 billion fund Congress gave the Pentagon in March to build up the country’s supplies of medical equipment has instead been mostly funneled to defense contractors and used to make things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms. The change illustrates how one taxpayer-backed effort to battle the novel coronavirus, which has killed more than 200,000 Americans, was instead diverted toward patching up long-standing perceived gaps in military supplies.”

Senator Mitt Romney backs vote on Supreme Court nominee, clearing the way for Trump. The announcement means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has enough votes to move forward with Trump’s pick. Politico, Burgess Everett, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “Sen. Mitt Romney said Tuesday he would support a floor vote to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, essentially clinching consideration of President Donald Trump’s nominee this year despite the impending election. Just two Republican senators have asked for the party to put the brakes on the confirmation. And with a 53-seat majority, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) now has the votes he needs to move forward with a nominee. The move is a blow to Democrats’ hopes of keeping the seat vacant for the next president, potentially their nominee, Joe Biden. But Romney said he had no qualms about Democrats’ charges of hypocrisy or about strengthening the high court’s conservative majority.” See also, Mitt Romney backing of Supreme Court vote paves the way for election-year confirmation, CNN Politics, Clare Foran and Manu Raju, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah signaled on Tuesday that he is on board with the Senate’s taking up a new Supreme Court nominee during the current election year, an announcement that all but ensures a nominee put forward by President Donald Trump will be confirmed barring any potential missteps by the nominee during the confirmation process. In a statement, Romney did not raise any objections to holding a vote on a Trump nominee this year and said, ‘If the nominee reaches the Senate floor, I intend to vote based upon their qualifications.’ With momentum from their conference behind a quick vote, GOP leaders are now making clear they are pressing ahead to get the nomination confirmed before Election Day, which would amount to one of the quickest proceedings in modern times. And it comes despite Senate Republicans’ refusal to move on then-President Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to a seat in 2016 when they said his choice — eight months before November — was too close to the elections.”

Climate Disruption Is Now Locked In. The Next Moves Will Be Crucial. The New York Times, John Branch and Brad Plumer, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “America is now under siege by climate change in ways that scientists have warned about for years. But there is a second part to their admonition: Decades of growing crisis are already locked into the global ecosystem and cannot be reversed. This means the kinds of cascading disasters occurring today — drought in the West fueling historic wildfires that send smoke all the way to the East Coast, or parades of tropical storms lining up across the Atlantic to march destructively toward North America — are no longer features of some dystopian future. They are the here and now, worsening for the next generation and perhaps longer, depending on humanity’s willingness to take action.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to Be Investigated for Potential Violation of Ethics Law. A watchdog filed a complaint over the Education Department distributing a Fox News clip of Secretary Betsy DeVos criticizing Joe Biden, potentially in violation of the Hatch Act. The New York Times, Hailey Fuchs, Tuesday, 22 September 2020: “An independent government agency will investigate whether Education Secretary Betsy DeVos breached a law forbidding federal employees from engaging in political activities on the job after her department distributed a clip of Ms. DeVos criticizing the Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., through government channels. The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which has jurisdiction to investigate violations of the law, known as the Hatch Act, will conduct the inquiry, according to the investigative watchdog blog that filed the complaint. The revelation is the latest in a string of Trump administration officials to face accusations of breaching the government ethics law. But the power to levy penalties on officials like Ms. DeVos falls to President Trump, and he has shown little inclination to mete out punishment or follow the office’s recommendations.”


Wednesday, 23 September 2020, Day 1,342:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 23 September 2020: Undercutting Scientists, Trump Says Tightening Covid-19 Vaccine Guidelines ‘Sounds Like a Political Move,’ The New York Times, Wednesday, 23 September 2020:

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Wednesday, 23 September 2020: Trump attacks FDA (Food and Drug Administration) plan for tougher standards on emergency vaccine approval as a ‘political move,’ The Washington Post, Paulina Firozi, Paulina Villegas, Miriam Berger, Hannah Denham, Amy Goldstein, Laurie McGinley, Darren Sands, and Meryl Kornfield, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “President Trump on Wednesday said a plan by the Food and Drug Administration to issue tough new standards for emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine ‘sounds like a political move’ and warned that the White House might reject it.

Here are a few of the significant developments included in this article:

Trump May Reject Tougher Food and Drug Administration Vaccine Standards, Calling Them ‘Political,’ The New York Times,Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “President Trump said on Wednesday that the White House ‘may or may not’ approve new Food and Drug Administration guidelines that would toughen the process for approving a coronavirus vaccine, and suggested the plan ‘sounds like a political move.’ The pronouncement once again undercut government scientists who had spent the day trying to bolster public faith in the promised vaccine. Just hours earlier, four senior physicians leading the federal coronavirus response strongly endorsed the tighter safety procedures, which would involve getting outside expert approval before a vaccine could be declared safe and effective by the F.D.A. The president’s comments, to reporters in the White House briefing room, came after the doctors told a Senate panel that they had complete faith in the F.D.A., and that science and data — not politics — were guiding its decisions. Last week, Mr. Trump used the same setting to declare that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had ‘made a mistake’ when he said most Americans would not complete the vaccination process until next summer and that masks were at least as important as a vaccine to control the virus’s spread.”

Trump Administration Dips Into Protective Gear and CDC Funds to Fund Vaccine Push, Bloomberg, John Tozzi, Riley Griffin, and Shira Stein, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “The Trump administration has shifted billions of dollars previously allocated to public-health programs into its Operation Warp Speed vaccine push, reflecting the U.S. government’s increasing focus on a medical solution to ease the Covid-19 pandemic. The transfers, disclosed in a government audit, reported by Bloomberg News and described by congressional aides, have grown the budget of the Warp Speed program to as large as $18 billion, much larger than the $10 billion figure the administration has routinely cited in public.”

An Indictment of the System: Protests Erupt as Police Are Cleared for Killing Breonna Taylor in Her Home, Democracy Now!, published on Thursday, 24 September 2020: “[P]rotests erupted in Louisville, Kentucky, after police officers who shot Breonna Taylor in her own home were not charged for her death. A grand jury indicted a third officer for ‘wanton endangerment’ for shooting into an adjacent apartment during the fatal raid that killed Breonna Taylor in March. Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the country demanding justice for Taylor and defunding of police departments. ‘The lack of indictments in the grand jury process is an indictment on the system itself,’ says Sadiqa Reynolds, president and CEO of the Louisville Urban League. ‘They have created a completely separate grand jury system for police officers.'” See also, Fired Police Officer Is Indicted in Breonna Taylor Case; Protesters Wanted Stronger Charges. A former officer was charged with ‘wanton endangerment’ for endangering Ms. Taylor’s neighbors with gunshots when she was killed by police officers in her Louisville apartment. The New York Times, Rukmini Callimachi, Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, John Eligon, and Will Wright, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “A grand jury weighing evidence in one of the country’s most contentious police shootings indicted a former Louisville police detective on charges of reckless endangerment on Wednesday for his role in the raid on the home of Breonna Taylor, but the two officers who shot Ms. Taylor six times faced no charges. Protesters poured into the streets in Louisville after the announcement, and at least two police officers were shot shortly before a 9 p.m. curfew. There were also demonstrations in New York, Chicago, Milwaukee and smaller cities around the country. The demonstrators called for all three officers, who are white, to be held to account for Ms. Taylor’s death in March. The officers had fired a total of 32 shots after they stormed her apartment with a warrant.” See also, Wanton endangerment charge: What it means in the Breonna Taylor case, CNN, Theresa Waldrop, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “A grand jury indicted former Louisville police officer Brett Hankison on three counts of wanton endangerment in the first degree in connection with the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor in March. The charges drew immediate criticism from demonstrators who wanted more serious charges, as well as the arrests of the three officers involved. Hankison is not charged with causing the death of Taylor. Rather, the police department said, he ‘wantonly and blindly’ fired into her apartment — shooting 10 rounds. According to the Kentucky statute, someone ‘is guilty of wanton endangerment in the first degree when, under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he wantonly engages in conduct which creates a substantial danger of death or serious physical injury to another person.'” See also, Democrats decry Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s decision on Breonna Taylor as an example of systemic injustice, The Washington Post, Chelsea Janes, Wednesday, 23 September 2020.

Election 2020 Updates: Trump Refuses to Commit to ‘A Peaceful Transfer of All Power’ After Election. A Republican-led inquiry into Hunter Biden and Ukraine found no wrongdoing by his father, Joe Biden. The New York Times, Wednesday, 23 September 2020:

  • Trump refuses to commit to ‘a peaceful transfer of all power’ after election.

  • Biden, pressed on the Breonna Taylor case and Trump’s court shortlist, has little to say.

  • Trump says he wants a conservative majority on the Supreme Court in case of an Election Day dispute.

  • Biden warns Supreme Court would gut women’s rights if Trump’s nominee is approved.

  • Senate leaders trade verbal jabs over Republican effort to fill Justice Ginsburg’s seat.

  • Texas Republicans are suing the governor to block an expansion of early voting.

  • Florida wants an investigation into fund-raising that helps ex-felons become eligible to vote.

  • Ilhan Omar responds to Trump’s attack: ‘Not only is he a racist, but he’s a racist xenophobic.’

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg, lying in repose at the Supreme Court, is honored by colleagues, family and the public.

Election 2020: Trump says he’ll ‘see what happens’ on election results and won’t commit to a peaceful transfer of power; Biden makes appeal to Black voters in North Carolina, The Washington Post, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Emily Guskin, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “President Trump held a news conference at the White House in which he responded to a question about whether he would agree to a peaceful transfer of power by saying, ‘Well, we’re going to have to see what happens.’ Earlier in the day, he predicted the election would end up in the Supreme Court. Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden made an appeal Wednesday to Black voters in North Carolina, promoting his plans for improving education and housing disparities as he made his first trip to the battleground state since the primaries. Later, he issued a statement urging peaceful protests in response to no officer being charged with murder in the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor.

With 41 days until Election Day …
  • Allegations of racism have marked Trump’s presidency and become a key issue as the election nears.
  • Trump appears to have secured a Senate majority for his Supreme Court pick, even before naming one.
  • A Washington Post-ABC poll finds Trump and Biden in tight races in Florida and Arizona.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Michigan and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

Trump declines to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the presidential election, NBC News, Allan Smith, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “President Donald Trump was asked Wednesday whether he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power should he lose this fall to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. The president declined to do so. ‘Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,’ Trump said. ‘You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.’ Pressed further, Trump said: ‘We’ll want to have — get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very — we’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation.'” See also, Trump Won’t Commit to ‘Peaceful’ Post-Election Transfer of Power. In response to a question, the president complained about mail-in ballots and said: ‘There won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation.’ The New York Times, Michael Crowley, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “President Trump declined an opportunity on Wednesday to endorse a peaceful transfer of power after the November election, renewing his baseless warnings about extensive voting fraud before saying there would be no power transfer at all. Asked whether he would ‘commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the November election,’ Mr. Trump demurred, passing on a chance to call for a calm and orderly election process.” See also, What Senate Republicans are saying after Trump refused to commit to an orderly transfer of power, The Washington Post, Paul Kane, Rachael Bade, and Colby Itkowitz, published on Thursday, 24 September 2020.At the Supreme Court, a Farewell to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “The Supreme Court will honor Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Wednesday at a ceremony in its Great Hall, just steps from the courtroom where she reshaped American law, first as a litigator who secured landmark victories for women’s rights and then as a justice whose skill and grit turned her into a cultural icon.” See also, Scenes of Remembrance: Capturing How Ruth Bader Ginsburg Was Honored in Washington. Justice Ginsburg will be honored at the Supreme Court and the Capitol for three days. The New York Times, Wednesday, 23 September 2020. See also, Ruth Bader Ginsburg Is Remembered as Champion of Justice as Struggle Continues Over Her Successor. Long lines of mourners waited outside the Supreme Court to pay their respects, but President Trump again made clear he would not honor her dying wish that filling her seat wait until the next president was chosen. The New York Times, Peter Baker, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “They came from far and near on a bright, warm, early autumn day, the powerful and the powerless, filled with appreciation and anxiety, to pay tribute to the daughter of a Brooklyn bookkeeper who changed the law of the land so that future generations would not have to face the obstacles that she overcame. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the young scholar spurned by every law firm in New York because of her gender before going on to become a champion of women’s rights and a liberal icon, was honored on Wednesday by a former president, by her colleagues on the Supreme Court and by long lines of everyday Americans who felt the influence of her long and storied career.”

Cost of Racism: U.S. Economy Lost $16 Trillion Because of Discrimination, According to a New Study by Citigroup, NPR, Adedayo Akala, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “Nationwide protests have cast a spotlight on racism and inequality in the United States. Now a major bank has put a price tag on how much the economy has lost as a result of discrimination against African Americans: $16 trillion. Since 2000, U.S. gross domestic product lost that much as a result of discriminatory practices in a range of areas, including in education and access to business loans, according to a new study by Citigroup. It’s not an insignificant number: By comparison, U.S. GDP totaled $19.5 trillion last year. And not acting to reverse discriminatory practices will continue to exact a cost. Citigroup estimates the economy would see a $5 trillion boost over the next five years if the U.S. were to tackle key areas of discrimination against African Americans. ‘We believe we have a responsibility to address current events and to frame them with an economic lens in order to highlight the real costs of longstanding discrimination against minority groups, especially against Black people and particularly in the U.S.,’ wrote Raymond J. McGuire, a vice chairman at the bank and the chairman of its banking, capital markets and advisory team.”

Republican Inquiry by the Senate Homeland Security and Finance Committees Finds No Evidence of Wrongdoing by Biden. The report delivered on Wednesday appeared to be little more than a rehashing of unproven allegations that echoed a Russian disinformation campaign. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: An election-year investigation by Senate Republicans into corruption allegations against Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son, Hunter, involving Ukraine found no evidence of improper influence or wrongdoing by the former vice president, closing out an inquiry its leaders had hoped would tarnish the Democratic presidential nominee.”

Judge Orders Eric Trump to Testify in New York Fraud Inquiry, The New York Times, William K. Rashbaum and Danny Hakim, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “A New York state judge on Wednesday ordered President Trump’s son Eric to answer questions under oath before the election in a fraud investigation into his family’s real estate business. Last week, Eric Trump’s lawyers said he was willing to be interviewed — but would only do so after the presidential election because he did not want his deposition to be used ‘for political purposes.’ But on Wednesday, a judge in the State Supreme Court in Manhattan, Arthur F. Engoron, ruled that Mr. Trump had to sit for a deposition no later than Oct. 7, rejecting his arguments that a delay was necessary. ‘This court finds that application unpersuasive,’ Justice Engoron said in his ruling Wednesday afternoon, which he read from the bench after a two-hour hearing earlier in the day. ‘Mr. Trump cites no authority in support of his request, and in any event, neither petitioner, nor this court, is bound by timelines of the national election.'”

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded $6 million in contracts to firm where Acting Secretary Chad Wolf’s wife is executive, NBC News, Julia Ainsley, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “The consulting firm where the wife of acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf is an executive has been awarded more than $6 million in contracts from the Department of Homeland Security since September 2018, according to records on the federal government website USA Spending. Wolf became chief of staff at the Transportation Security Administration, a DHS agency, in 2017 and chief of staff to Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in 2018. He took over as acting secretary in November and has been nominated to become secretary. His confirmation hearing before the Senate is scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday. Wolf’s wife, Hope Wolf, is vice president of professional staff operations at Berkeley Research Group, a consulting firm. Although the company has a long history of federal contracts, it did not do work for DHS until after Wolf became the TSA’s chief of staff in 2017.”

Chad Wolf, the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security, Says White Supremacist Extremists Represent a Lethal Domestic Terrorist Threat, The New York Times, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Wednesday, 23 September: “Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of homeland security, told senators at his confirmation hearing on Wednesday that white supremacist extremists represented a lethal domestic terrorist threat, even as he strongly denied suppressing a report that would have rendered that judgment more officially. ‘It’s a fabrication, completely,’ Mr. Wolf said of charges that he buried a Homeland Security Department threat assessment that singled out racist extremists, as well as Russian election interference, because it would have reflected poorly upon President Trump. Mr. Wolf, who has emerged as one of Mr. Trump’s most loyal cabinet members, was pressed over how the agency had responded to unrest, election interference and domestic terrorism during a hearing that could propel him to become the first confirmed head of the department in more than a year.”

White House Aides Are Accused of Improperly Intervening to Prevent a Manuscript by John Bolton from Becoming Public, The New York Times, Michael S. Schmidt and Charlie Savage, Wednesday, 23 September 2020: “White House aides improperly intervened to prevent a manuscript by President Trump’s former national security adviser John R. Bolton from becoming public, a career official said in a letter filed in court on Wednesday, accusing them of making false assertions that Mr. Bolton had revealed classified material and suggesting that they retaliated when she refused to go along. The disclosures by the official who oversaw the book’s prepublication review, Ellen Knight, were the latest in a series of accounts by current and former executive branch officials as the election nears accusing the president and his aides of putting his personal and political goals ahead of the public interest and of an evenhanded application of the rule of law. In an extraordinary 18-page document, a lawyer for Ms. Knight portrays the Trump administration as handling its response to the book in bad faith. Her account implied that the Justice Department may have told a court that the book contains classified information — and opened a criminal investigation into Mr. Bolton — based on false pretenses.”


Thursday, 24 September 2020, Day 1,343:


Some Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 24 September 2020: Stalled Talks Over Covid-19 Stimulus in the U.S. Show Signs of Life, The New York Times, Thursday, 24 September 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic for Thursday, 24 September 2020: Child vaccinations plummeted during the pandemic, federal data shows, The Washington Post, Antonia Noori Farzan, Jennifer Hassan, Paulina Firozi, Paulina Villegas, Siobhán O’Grady, Hannah Denham, and Reis Thebault, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “Huge numbers of low-income children are going without crucial medical care during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Child vaccinations were down more than 20 percent, and dental visits fell by nearly 70 percent, among other worrying trends. ‘This decline may have significant impacts on long-term-health outcomes for children,’ CMS officials said in a statement accompanying the release.

Here are some significant developments:

Election 2020 Updates: Trump, at Florida Rally, Revisits Supreme Court Battle After Casting Doubt on Election, The New York Times, Thursday, 24 September 2020:

  • At a Florida rally, Trump returns to attacking Democrats over the Supreme Court.

  • After the White House said Trump would accept the results of the election, he once again suggests it may be tainted.

  • Trump’s refusal to commit to a peaceful transfer of power prompts McConnell to promise ‘an orderly transition.’

  • Democrats sound alarms about Trump’s refusal to guarantee a peaceful transfer of power: ‘This is how democracy dies.’

  • Trump, who is seeking to strike down the Affordable Care Act, outlined his own plan today in North Carolina.

  • Facebook removes Russian-linked disinformation networks with the potential to warp the election.

  • Bernie Sanders says America faces an election ‘between Donald Trump and democracy.’

  • ‘Vote him out,’ protesters chant as Trump visits Justice Ginsburg’s coffin.

Many other significant developments are included in this document.

Election 2020: Trump briefly stops by Supreme Court and visits North Carolina and Florida, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, John Wagner, and Anne Gearan, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “President Trump was highly visible Thursday, making a brief stop at the Supreme Court to pay respects to the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and later visiting two crucial battlegrounds states. Trump gave a health-care policy speech in North Carolina and then held a campaign rally in Florida. Democratic nominee Joe Biden had no events as he prepared for next week’s first debate. The campaign is playing out amid multiple controversies, including Trump’s refusal Wednesday to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses. Several Republicans stepped forward Thursday to offer assurances that there would be a peaceful transfer, and Trump said in a radio interview that he would accept a Supreme Court ruling on the election results.

With 40 days until the election …
  • Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election, asserting that if he does not win, it will be because of fraudulent mail-in voting.
  • Trump said a plan by the Food and Drug Administration to issue tough new standards for emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine ‘sounds like a political move’ and warned that the White House might reject it.
  • Republicans are hoping that the fight over Ginsburg’s successor boosts Trump’s reelection bid and helps their party hold its Senate majority.
  • Biden leads Trump by eight percentage points nationally, 51 percent to 43 percent, according to a Washington Post average of polls. Biden’s margin is the same in Michigan and smaller in other key states: seven points in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, five in Arizona and one in Florida.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump Again Sows Doubt About Election as Republicans Scramble to Assure Voters. Trump declined for a second day to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the election, while Republicans, including Mitch McConnell, implicitly rebuffed him, promising an ‘orderly transition.’ The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Emily Cochrane, and Glenn Thrush, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “President Trump declined for a second straight day to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he lost the election, repeating baseless assertions that the voting would be a ‘big scam,’ even as leading Republicans scrambled to assure the public that their party would respect the Constitution. ‘We want to make sure that the election is honest, and I’m not sure that it can be,’ Mr. Trump told reporters on Thursday before leaving the White House for North Carolina. The president doubled down on his stance just hours after prominent Republicans made it clear that they were committed to the orderly transfer of power, without directly rebuking him. ‘The winner of the November 3rd election will be inaugurated on January 20th,’ Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, wrote on Twitter early Thursday. ‘There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.’ Democrats were far less restrained, comparing Mr. Trump’s comments to those of an authoritarian leader and warning Americans to take his stance seriously. ‘You are not in North Korea; you are not in Turkey; you are not in Russia, Mr. President, and by the way, you are not in Saudi Arabia,’ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. ‘You are in the United States of America. It is a democracy, so why don’t you just try for a moment to honor your oath of office to the Constitution of the United States?’ Chris Edelson, an American University professor who has studied the expansion of presidential power during national emergencies, said Mr. Trump’s comments represented a unique threat to a central pillar of democracy. ‘It’s impossible to underscore how absolutely extraordinary this situation is — there are really no precedents in our country,’ he said. ‘This is a president who has threatened to jail his political opponents. Now he is suggesting he would not respect the results of an election. These are serious warning signs.'” See also, Trump Again Declines to Say He Will Accept Election Result, and He Questions Reliability of Ballots. McConnell, Rubio, and other Republican lawmakers contradict Trump’s message–without naming him–as FBI director seeks to ease fraud concerns, The Wall Street Journal, Alex Leary and Lindsay Wise, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “Congressional Republicans said they were committed to a peaceful election process and transfer of power if Democrats win the White House, after President Trump declined to do so. During a news conference Wednesday, Mr. Trump was asked if he would commit to a peaceful transfer whether he won or lost in November. ‘Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,’ he responded. ‘I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots. The ballots are out of control.’ Pressed on the question, the president said, ‘Get rid of the ballots and…we’ll have a very peaceful—there won’t be a transfer. Frankly, there’ll be a continuation.’ As he was leaving the White House on Thursday for an event in North Carolina, Mr. Trump again questioned the integrity of the election.” See also, Trump’s escalating attempts to undermine the legitimacy of the election on 3 November prompt fears of a constitutional crisis, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Amy Gardner, and Annie Linskey, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “President Trump reiterated Thursday that he may not honor the results should he lose reelection, reaffirming his extraordinary refusal to commit to a peaceful transition of power and prompting election and law enforcement authorities nationwide to prepare for an unprecedented constitutional crisis. Trump escalated his months-long campaign to undermine the legitimacy of the Nov. 3 election with comments Wednesday that, taken together and at face value, pose his most substantial threat yet to the nation’s history of free and fair elections. In recent days, the president cast doubt on the integrity of vote totals. He said he might not accept the results if they show him losing to Democratic nominee Joe Biden. He said it was imperative to quickly fill the Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because the nation’s high court could determine the winner of the election. And when asked directly whether he would commit to a ‘peaceful transition of power,’ Trump responded, ‘We’re going to have to see what happens.’ He went on to suggest that authorities ‘get rid of the ballots,’ an apparent reference to the huge uptick in votes cast by mail amid the coronavirus pandemic, adding that, if they did, ‘there won’t be a transfer [of power], frankly. There will be a continuation.'”

Senate posses resolution reaffirming commitment to peaceful transition of power, The Hill, Jordain Carney, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “The Senate passed a resolution on Thursday reaffirming its support for a peaceful transition of power, one day after President Trump refused to commit to such a transition next year if he loses in the November election. The resolution, offered by Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.), passed by unanimous consent, meaning no senator objected to it. ‘We’re in the most difficult times right now, and for the president to even address — to even address the subject of maybe not knowing if he would accept or not is beyond all our checks that that would ever happen in America,’ Manchin said. ‘I believe to have the leader of the free world talk as if we are an autocracy, authoritarian versus a democracy, is something that alarmed me and alarmed a lot of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, even those quiet as some may be, I know they’re alarmed,’ he added. In the non-binding resolution, the Senate reaffirms ‘its commitment to the orderly and peaceful transfer of power called for in the Constitution of the United States.’ It also throws the Senate’s support behind the idea that ‘there should be no disruptions by the president or any person in power to overturn the will of the people of the United States.’ Trump has sparked bipartisan backlash after he told reporters at the White House that he would have to ‘see what happens’ when asked if he would commit to ensuring a peaceful transition of power if he loses in November. He also tried once again to sow doubt about the security of mail-in ballots.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray says widespread mail ballot interference would be a ‘major challenge’ for foreign agents, The Washington Post, Devlin Barrett, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “FBI Director Christopher A. Wray told senators Thursday that the United States has not experienced large-scale voter fraud by mail or other means, and said it would be a ‘major challenge’ for a foreign country to attempt such a thing, despite repeated claims made by President Trump in the run-up to November’s election. ‘Americans must have confidence in our voting system and our election infrastructure,’ Wray told the Senate Homeland Security Committee. ‘We are not going to tolerate foreign interference in our elections.'” See also, F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray Sees No Evidence of National Mail Voting Fraud Effort. The comments undercut Trump’s claims about mail-in ballots. The New York Times, Adam Goldman and Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “The F.B.I. has not seen evidence of a ‘coordinated national voter fraud effort,’ its director, Christopher A. Wray, told lawmakers on Thursday, undercutting President Trump’s efforts to stoke fears about mail-in ballots by claiming without evidence that they are an election threat. Any fraud effort would have to be widespread and well coordinated to change the election outcome, and carrying out that kind of fraud would be a ‘major challenge for an adversary,’ Mr. Wray said. But he made it clear he was not minimizing other threats to election security, including smaller-scale frauds. ‘It’s on our radar,’ Mr. Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.”

Nearly 500 former senior military and civilian leaders signal support for Biden, The Washington Post, Karen DeYoung, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “Nearly 500 retired senior military officers, as well as former Cabinet secretaries, service chiefs and other officials, have signed an open letter in support of former vice president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, saying that he has ‘the character, principles, wisdom and leadership necessary to address a world on fire.’ The letter, published Thursday morning by National Security Leaders for Biden, is the latest in a series of calls for President Trump’s defeat in the November election. ‘We are former public servants who have devoted our careers, and in many cases risked our lives, for the United States,’ it says. ‘We are generals, admirals, senior noncommissioned officers, ambassadors and senior civilian national security leaders. We are Republicans and Democrats, and Independents. We love our country. Unfortunately, we also fear for it.’ The letter has been signed by 489 people.”

Internal US Postal Service documents link changes behind mail slowdowns to top executives. Newly obtained records appear in conflict with months of Postal Service assertions that blamed lower-level managers for strategies tied to delivery delays. The Washington Post, Jacob Bogage, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “A senior executive at the U.S. Postal Service delivered a PowerPoint presentation in July that pressed officials across the organization to make the operational changes that led to mail backups across the country, seemingly counter to months of official statements about the origin of the plans, according to internal documents obtained by The Washington Post. David E. Williams, the agency’s chief of logistics and processing operations, listed the elimination of late and extra mail trips by postal workers as a primary agency goal during the July 10 teleconference. He also told the group that he wanted daily counts on such trips, which had become common practice to ensure the timely delivery of mail. Several top-tier executives — including Robert Cintron, vice president of logistics; Angela Curtis, vice president of retail and post office operations; and vice presidents from the agency’s seven geographic areas — sat in. The presentation stands in contrast with agency accounts that lower-tier leaders outside USPS headquarters were mainly responsible for the controversial protocols, which tightened dispatch schedules on transport trucks and forced postal workers to leave mail behind. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy told a House panel last month that he pressed his team to meet dispatch and mail-handling schedules but did not issue a blanket ban on such trips.” See also, Postmaster Louis DeJoy says Trump is ‘incorrect’ that the US Postal Service isn’t equipped to handle mail-in voting, CNN Politics, Chandelis Duster and Ross Levitt, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “Postmaster General Louis DeJoy said Thursday that President Donald Trump ‘is incorrect’ when he says the United States Postal Service isn’t equipped to handle the surge in mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has repeatedly railed against mail-in voting, falsely claiming that it will lead to widespread voter fraud while also encouraging his supporters to cast their ballots by mail. The President also said in August he opposed additional funding for the USPS because he didn’t want to see it used for mail-in voting in the November election while claiming the Postal Service could not handle the volume of ballots.”

The Election That Could Break the United States. If the vote is close, Trump could easily throw the election into chaos and subvert the result. Who will stop him? The Atlantic, Barton Gellman, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “There is a cohort of close observers of our presidential elections, scholars and lawyers and political strategists, who find themselves in the uneasy position of intelligence analysts in the months before 9/11. As November 3 approaches, their screens are blinking red, alight with warnings that the political system does not know how to absorb. They see the obvious signs that we all see, but they also know subtle things that most of us do not. Something dangerous has hove into view, and the nation is lurching into its path. The danger is not merely that the 2020 election will bring discord. Those who fear something worse take turbulence and controversy for granted. The coronavirus pandemic, a reckless incumbent, a deluge of mail-in ballots, a vandalized Postal Service, a resurgent effort to suppress votes, and a trainload of lawsuits are bearing down on the nation’s creaky electoral machinery. Something has to give, and many things will, when the time comes for casting, canvassing, and certifying the ballots. Anything is possible, including a landslide that leaves no doubt on Election Night. But even if one side takes a commanding early lead, tabulation and litigation of the ‘overtime count’—millions of mail-in and provisional ballots—could keep the outcome unsettled for days or weeks…. The worst case … is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him. If Trump sheds all restraint, and if his Republican allies play the parts he assigns them, he could obstruct the emergence of a legally unambiguous victory for Biden in the Electoral College and then in Congress. He could prevent the formation of consensus about whether there is any outcome at all. He could seize on that un­certainty to hold on to power. Trump’s state and national legal teams are already laying the groundwork for postelection maneuvers that would circumvent the results of the vote count in battleground states. Ambiguities in the Constitution and logic bombs in the Electoral Count Act make it possible to extend the dispute all the way to Inauguration Day, which would bring the nation to a precipice. The Twentieth Amendment is crystal clear that the president’s term in office ‘shall end’ at noon on January 20, but two men could show up to be sworn in. One of them would arrive with all the tools and power of the presidency already in hand.”

Justice Department Discloses Pennsylvania Ballot Inquiry, Prompting Fears of Politicization, The New York Times, Nick Corasaniti and Michael S. Schmidt, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “The Justice Department on Thursday released details about an investigation into nine discarded mailed-in ballots in Pennsylvania, an unusual step that stoked new fears that President Trump’s political appointees were using the levers of law enforcement to sow doubt about the election. The U.S. attorney for central Pennsylvania, David J. Freed, announced in a statement that F.B.I. investigators were examining mail-in ballots from military members in Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania that had been ‘discarded.’ Seven of the nine ballots were cast for Mr. Trump, Mr. Freed said. In a letter to the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections released on Thursday evening, Mr. Freed said investigators found that the nine ballots had been ‘improperly opened by your elections staff.’ Under Pennsylvania election law, no ballots can be opened until Election Day, even for processing. Mr. Freed added that the investigation found that ‘envelopes used for official overseas, military, absentee and mail-in ballot requests are so similar, that the staff believed that adhering to the protocol of preserving envelopes unopened would cause them to miss such ballot requests,’ and had been opening envelopes. Mr. Freed said he was taking the rare step of releasing details about the investigation because of ‘the limited amount of time before the general election and the vital public importance of these issues.’… Election experts said the announcement was highly irregular. Justice Department policy calls for keeping voter fraud investigations under wraps to avoid affecting the election outcome, and the experts said it was almost unheard-of for the department to provide an update on the case and disclose the name of the candidate for whom the ballots had been cast. ‘The question of who voters voted for would be immaterial in any kind of tampering investigation, and it seems to be in there for political reasons, to bolster the president’s arguments that the election is being rigged against him,’ said Richard L. Hasen, a professor of law at the University of California, Irvine.”

The House Oversight Committee Found That Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detainees Died After Receiving Poor Medical Care, BuzzFeed News, Hamed Aleaziz, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “The House Oversight Committee has found that ICE detainees died after receiving inadequate medical care and that jail staff ‘falsified records to cover up’ issues, according to a report released on Thursday. Committee staffers visited several for-profit detention centers during the course of their investigation and reviewed 60,000 pages of records related to the care of immigrants. The report also frequently cited in its findings a memo obtained by BuzzFeed News that revealed a whistleblower’s complaint alleging that care at several facilities overseen by ICE was so dire, it resulted in two preventable surgeries, including an 8-year-old boy who had to have part of his forehead removed, and contributed to four deaths. The allegations in the whistleblower memo are still being investigated by Congress, according to the report released Thursday. ‘The Committee’s investigation shines a critical new light on the failures of the Administration’s immigration detention system and the deaths of immigrants in custody,’ said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, chair of the committee. ‘This staff report and the documents the Committee obtained explain how the Administration and its private prison contractors have let known problems fester into a full-blown crisis — a crisis that has become far worse during the coronavirus pandemic.'”

After years of promising his own health care plan, Trump settles for rebranding rather than repealing Obamacare, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “President Trump capped his fruitless four-year journey to abolish and replace the Affordable Care Act by signing an executive order Thursday that aims to enshrine the law’s most popular feature while pivoting away from a broader effort to overhaul the nation’s health insurance system. The order declares it is the policy of the United States for people with preexisting health conditions to be protected, avoiding the thorny details of how to ensure such protections without either leaving the ACA, or Obamacare, in place or crafting new comprehensive legislation. Trump announced the move during a trip to North Carolina, outlining his ‘vision’ for revamping parts of the nation’s health care. During the speech, which came shortly before a campaign swing to Florida, Trump barely veiled the political nature of his intent. ‘The historic action I’m taking today includes the first-ever executive order to affirm it is the official policy of the United States government to protect patients with preexisting conditions,’ Trump said, despite the fact such protections are already enshrined in law. ‘We’re making that official. We’re putting it down in a stamp, because our opponents, the Democrats, like to constantly talk about it.'”

High Jobless Claims Suggest Slowing in Labor Market’s Recovery. Applications for unemployment benefits hold steady at just under 900,000 amid coronavirus pandemic. The Wall Street Journal, Sarah Chaney and Kim Mackrael, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “The number of applications for unemployment benefits has held steady in September at just under 900,000 a week, as employer uncertainty about the economic recovery six months into the coronavirus pandemic continued to restrain hiring gains. Jobless claims increased slightly to 870,000 last week from 866,000 a week earlier, according to Thursday’s Labor Department report. The totals remain well above pre-pandemic peaks but are down significantly from nearly seven million in March.”

Two Louisville officers shot amid Breonna Taylor protests, Associated Press, Dylan Lovan, Piper Hudspeth Blackburn, and John Minchillo, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “Hours after a Kentucky grand jury brought no charges against Louisville police for Breonna Taylor’s death and protesters took to the streets, authorities said two officers were shot and wounded Wednesday night during the demonstrations expressing anger over the killings of Black people at the hands of police. Interim Louisville Police Chief Robert Schroeder said a suspect was in custody but did not offer details about whether that person was participating in the demonstrations. He says both officers are expected to recover, and one is undergoing surgery.” See also, Evidence in Breonna Taylor case stirs fight between Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear and Attorney General Daniel Cameron, NBC News, Erik Ortiz, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “With protests flaring in his state and nationwide and some turning violent overnight, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Thursday affirmed his call for state Attorney General Daniel Cameron to release evidence in the fatal police shooting of Breonna Taylor after a grand jury declined to directly charge the officers involved. ‘It’s time to post all the information,’ Beshear, a Democrat, said on MSNBC. ‘All the facts, all the interviews, all the evidence, all the ballistics, to truly let people look at the information. One of the problems we’ve had over the last six months is a total lack of explanation and information,’ he added. ‘And the vacuum that’s created there — our emotions, frustrations — can truly fill that. It’s time for people … to be able to come to their own conclusions about justice.'” See also, What We Know About Breonna Taylor’s Case and Death, The New York Times, Richard A. Oppel Jr., Derrick Bryson Taylor, and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Thursday, 24 September 2020. See also, Outrage over lack of charges in Breonna Taylor’s death turns into protests across the US, CNN, Madeline Holcombe, Steve Almasy, and Dakin Andone, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “Outrage and heartbreak boiled over into protests in cities across the US on Wednesday after news broke that none of the three officers involved in Breonna Taylor’s death were charged with her killing. More than six months after Taylor was shot to death after Louisville police officers broke down the door to her apartment while executing a warrant, a grand jury decided to indict only one of the three officers involved on first-degree wanton endangerment charges. The charge applies to the risk put on Taylor’s neighbors but does not aim to hold the officer responsible for her death. From Louisville to Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York, masses of people congregated to protest the decision. Police in Portland declared protests outside the justice center there a riot. And in Seattle, 13 people were arrested after a night of fires and protesters throwing glass bottles and fireworks at police, authorities said.” See also, Breonna Taylor updates: Calls mount for more information on grand jury’s decision-making, The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Maria Sacchetti, Marisa Iati, Mark Berman, Hannah Knowles, Meryl Kornfield, and Derek Hawkins, Thursday, 24 September: “Calls are mounting from activists and politicians for more information on how a grand jury decided not to charge Louisville police officers in the killing of Breonna Taylor, who was fatally shot as police raided her home in March. As protests and anger over the outcome continued to rise on Thursday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) reiterated his calls for Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R) to post online whatever he can from his investigation without interfering with the pending criminal case against one ex-officer — who is charged with endangering neighbors the night of Taylor’s death. Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath said Cameron ‘needs to release the grand jury report now.’ Cameron has said releasing such information could interfere with ongoing investigations.

Here are some significant developments:
  • A suspect has been charged in the Wednesday night shooting of two police officers, police announced. One injured officer has been released, while the other is in stable condition, authorities said Thursday.
  • A turbulent night in Louisville resulted in the arrest of 127 people, according to a police spokesman.
  • Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer (D) said Thursday afternoon that he was extending a curfew through the weekend amid protests following a grand jury’s decision.
  • Taylor’s family members, in their first public comments after the grand jury decision, expressed dismay that no police officers face homicide charges. They will speak at a news conference Friday morning, their attorneys said.
  • Police have killed 1,010 Americans in the past year. Despite the unpredictable events that lead to fatal shootings, police nationwide have shot and killed almost the same number of people each year — nearly 1,000 — since The Washington Post began tracking these numbers in 2015.
  • Sen. Tim Scott — the lone Black Republican in the Senate — said he is ‘disappointed that the only charge brought was completely unrelated to Ms. Taylor’s death.’ In Congress, Democrats have been the loudest critics of the charging decision.

See also, Suspect Is Charged in Shooting of 2 Louisville Police Officers, The New York Times, Thursday, 24 September 2020:

Trump Administration Releases Plan to Open Tongass Forest to Logging. The effort to open the Alaskan wilderness area, the nation’s largest national forest, has been in the works for about two years. The New York Times, Coral Davenport, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “The Trump administration on Friday finalized its plan to open about nine million acres of the pristine woodlands of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest to logging and road construction. The administration’s effort to open the Tongass, the nation’s largest national forest, has been in the works for about two years, and the final steps to complete the process have been widely expected for months. They come after years of prodding by successive Alaska governors and congressional delegations, which have pushed the federal government to exempt the Tongass from a Clinton-era policy known as the roadless rule, which banned logging and road construction in much of the national forest system…. Supporters in Alaska said have long said that lifting the roadless rule protections in their state would provide a sorely needed economic boost. Environmentalists say that it could devastate a vast wilderness of snowy peaks, rushing rivers and virgin old-growth forest that is widely viewed as one of America’s treasures. Climate scientists also point out that the Tongass, which is also one of the world’s largest temperate rain forests, offers an important service to the billions of people across the planet who are unlikely to ever set foot there: It is one of the world’s largest carbon sinks, storing the equivalent of about 8 percent of the carbon stored in all the forests of the lower 48 states combined.”

Memo Suggests Tactics for Democrats to Slow Trump’s SCOTUS  Pick, Daily Poster, David Sirota, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “As Donald Trump tries to stack the Supreme Court in hopes that it will decide the national election, a new memo circulating among activists and Capitol Hill aides details various ways that Democratic lawmakers can try to block a nomination from moving forward. The document, which appears to have been compiled by people knowledgeable about Senate procedure, emerged after Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on House and Senate leaders to ‘use every tool at our disposal’ to stop Trump from installing a new justice on the court. ‘Much of the broad electorate will want to see Congressional Democrats fighting to protect the Court and their Constitutional rights,’ says the memo, which was obtained by The Daily Poster. ‘Mere capitulation to what Washington insiders see as the inevitable will be viewed by many as abandonment of the Democratic base and could undermine enthusiasm.’ While the memo does not promise victory and makes clear it is not a comprehensive set of options, it asserts that there is ‘reason to believe that not all potential (delay) options have been thoroughly explored’ by congressional Democrats. It then explains some of the tools that could be available to them. Entitled ‘Safeguarding the Court,’ the document outlines19 ideas for Senate and House Democrats to consider in an effort to slow down or halt a court nomination.”

Mary Trump Sues President and Family, Claiming Fraud of Millions. Two months after she claimed in a tell-all book that her family cheated her out of her inheritance, Ms. Trump made similar allegations in a civil suit in Manhattan. The New York Times, Alan Feuer, Thursday, 24 September 2020: “In her best-selling memoir, Mary L. Trump, President Trump’s niece, told a family story that detailed the ways in which she claims her relatives — the president among them — tricked, bullied and ultimately cheated her out of an inheritance worth tens of millions of dollars. On Thursday, more than two months after the book was published and a little more than one month before the election, Ms. Trump told her story again — this time in a lawsuit. The suit, filed in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, accused Mr. Trump, his sister Maryanne Trump Barry and their brother Robert Trump, who died in August, of fraud and civil conspiracy. It seeks to recover the millions of dollars Ms. Trump claims to have lost. In its first sentence, the lawsuit says that, for the Trumps, ‘fraud was not just the family business — it was a way of life.’ Beginning in the 1980s, the suit contends, the president and his siblings took control of the New York City real estate empire their father, Fred Trump Sr., had built and ‘exploited it to enrich themselves’ to the detriment of everyone around them.”