Headlines: October 26, 2020
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 8:23 — 7.7MB)
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows stunned the nation on Sunday when he said in an CNN appearance that the federal government was not going to make any efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus. He explained, “it’s just like the flu,” which medical experts have said over and over, is not true. Here is Mr. Meadows speaking with Jake Tapper. The comments came at the same time that Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff has tested positive for the virus, along with 4 others in Pence’s close circle. Pence’s office said that he and his wife Karen Pence have both tested negative for the virus. David O’Malley, a Pence office spokesperson said, “the vice president will maintain his schedule in accordance with the C.D.C. guidelines for essential personnel.” According to the New York Times, “Two people briefed on the matter said that the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, had sought to keep news of the outbreak from becoming public.”
Democratic Nominee Joe Biden blasted the Trump campaign for its failure to curb the virus and also to allow Pence to keep campaigning in light of the outbreak in his office. In a statement responding to Meadows’ CNN remarks, Biden’s campaign said that the Trump administration, “stunningly admitted this morning that the administration has given up on even trying to control this pandemic, that they’ve given up on their basic duty to protect the American people.” Infectious diseases expert Dr. Sandra Nelson of Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital told Huffington Post, “With multiple members of his office testing positive, this would be considered a work-based cluster. Anytime there is a cluster like this, I would advise that the entire office transition to remote work for 14 days.” Biden’s campaign has created a website to showcase Trump’s failure on the coronavirus called TrumpCovidPlan.com which points to a page that simply says, “Not Found,” and adds in small type, “The Trump plan to defeat the Coronavirus and reopen safely does not exist,” along with a timeline of Trump’s many comments claiming that the virus would disappear on its own.
The President who only recently recovered from the virus has continued to travel around the nation at breakneck speed, encouraging his followers to congregate in large crowds without masks. In the week before the election he is hitting up numerous battleground states like Pennsylvania and even traditionally Republican states like Texas where the polling is close. On Monday in Allentown, Pennsylvania he spoke as he has repeatedly done, about the virus going away. Meanwhile the U.S. has had the highest number of virus infections in the past two days.
While Trump narrowed his lead in 9 out of 12 swing states as per new polling figures, former Joe Biden remains in the lead in 10 out of those 12 states. That lead is small though. In the crucial states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, Biden’s popularity among voters remains above 50% while Trump’s is in the low-to-mid 40s. Sixty million Americans have already voted in early voting states shattering all records. Still, Republicans are doing their best to constraint voting, perceiving it as hurting their party politically. Even as Covid-19 cases are surging in some GOP-controlled states like Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee have refused to make it easier for voters to cast ballots by mail.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is waiting on the Trump administration to signal whether it will support some version of the House-passed Covid-economic relief bill. Pelosi expected to speak with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin by phone on Monday. But with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell resolutely controlling the Senate agenda and holding talks hostage to Trump’s reelection, there is little hope for financial aid for millions of struggling Americans. Even stocks fell on Monday in response to the latest surge in infections. Instead McConnell plans to push through the confirmation of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday evening. McConnell reveled in his power saying about the Democrats, “They won’t be able to do much about this for a long time to come.” According to the Guardian newspaper, “Two Republicans, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, opposed limiting debate. But Murkowski said on Saturday she intends to vote to confirm.” Democrats demanded that Vice President Pence, who could be called upon as tie-breaker in the Senate, skip the hearing because of his office being a Covid-19 hotspot.
Trump’s 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl finally aired on CBS on Sunday as expected. Trump had taped the interview last week, walked out petulantly before the interview aired, railed against Stahl on social media, and then broke his CBS agreement and posted a White House tape of the unfinished interview on Facebook. 60 Minutes posted a video of a bizarre incident with the White House Press secretary after Trump walked out. Lesley Stahl explained how she was handed a book claiming to be Trump’s healthcare plan but it was as detailed as his coronavirus plan.
The New York Times published an investigative article about the Trump campaign’s attempt to break a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop contents via the Wall Street Journal. Before the Journal could verify the story Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani gave the New York Post the story and eventually the Journal printed a small story saying Joe Biden was not implicated. And, Mr. Giuliani led a car caravan in New York City that proclaimed it was a group called Jews for Trump. The rally drew counter protesters who threw eggs at the caravan. Eventually 11 people were arrested. And, a new study by a Swedish University examining the American political system has concluded that the Republican Party has undergone a “dramatic shift” toward authoritarianism and away from democracy. It is the largest study of its kind and, according to the Guardian, “The shift has both led to and been driven by the rise of Donald Trump.”
Fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh region may be coming to a standstill after representatives from Armenia and Azerbaijan signed a ceasefire agreement. The U.S. which was involved in the talks that led to the ceasefire, said alongside the two Caucasus nations that fighting would stop for humanitarian reasons.
And finally, Chileans voted in a landslide election, to rewrite their nation’s Constitution and end once and for all, the legacy of the U.S.-backed Pinochet dictatorial regime. According to the LA Times, “With 99% of ballots counted, 78% of voters favored drafting a new national charter, while 22% rejected the initiative.”