Headlines: October 9, 2020
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House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has moved to create a panel that could determine President Donald Trump’s fitness for office. Joined by Maryland Congressman Jamie Raskin, the two Democrats announced on Friday that they would create a commission to “help ensure effective and uninterrupted leadership” in the White House. Raskin and Pelosi explained that the process would include a medical diagnosis of the President. The Washington Post explained, “Under the 25th Amendment, a president could be declared ‘disabled’ and involuntarily removed from office by joint agreement of the vice president and a majority of the Cabinet, something that has never happened.”
Meanwhile Trump, who by all accounts should still be in the process of recovery from the coronavirus, has claimed he is in perfect health and is not contagious. In fact he expects to be out in public by Saturday for a rally in Florida. In a memo published on Thursday Trump’s physician Dr. Sean Conley claimed that by Saturday he could safely return to public life, ten days after his positive Covid test. Experts have said that the President’s treatment with a very strong steroid and with experimental antibody medication indicate that his illness was likely serious and that any return to public life ought to come only after a negative Covid-19 result conducted using a very accurate laboratory test. After the Commission on Presidential Debates decided to switch next week’s presidential debate into a virtual event as a precaution, Trump simply pulled out of the debate, leaving the plans in disarray. Indicating that Trump fears having his mic cut off in a virtual environment, he told Fox News, “That’s not what debating is all about — you sit behind the computer and do a debate, it’s ridiculous…And then they cut you off whenever they want.”
Trump has vainly attempted to remain in the public eye with less than a month before the election by appearing on as many favorable phone interviews as possible. Among his virtual appearances over the past few days was on rightwing shock jock Rush Limbaugh’s radio program. Trump had surprised everyone by giving Limbaugh the Freedom Medal earlier this year. On Limbaugh’s show this week Trump claimed without evidence that there was a cure for Covid-19 even though no nation, agency, lab, drug company, or doctor says there is a cure. Meanwhile academy award winning filmmaker Alex Gibney is releasing an explosive new documentary called Totally Under Control exposing the Trump Administration’s failures on the pandemic. Here is the film trailer.
Polls continue to show Trump struggling to surmount his rival Joe Biden’s lead in swing states but now even reliably Republican-voting states show a very close race. Arizona Republican Jeff Flake who was a GOP Senator and who is now supporting Biden, told the New York Times, “There are limits to what people can take with the irresponsibility, the untruthfulness, just the whole persona.” Older voters are turning away from Trump in large numbers as well even though their age demographic tends to back Republicans. The latest Reuters/Ipsos polls show that among older Americans, “47% say they are voting for Biden on Nov. 3 while 46% back Trump.” In a thinly veiled attempt to use public funds to boost his reelection Trump is now demanding his cabinet scramble to fulfill a last-minute promise to send seniors $200 drug discount cards before the election. Politico reported on the $8 billion plan that would use funds from the Medicare Trust Fund and distribute cards that bear Trump’s name. Representative Frank Pallone, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce committee called the move, “a shameless stunt that steals billions from Medicare in order to fund a legally dubious scheme that’s clearly intended to benefit President Trump’s campaign right before Election Day.”
More details have emerged about the FBI arrests in a plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Thirteen people have been arrested, all of them white men. Whitmer gave a press conference reflecting on the incident and slamming Trump for stoking hatred and division.
After going back and forth repeatedly on whether he would support Covid-economic relief legislation Trump has decided to pursue a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for all Americans. The White House made clear that the president was interested only in a stand-alone bill approving a new round of checks. Experts concluded from the first round of checks that, “The data shows that targeting payments to households with low cash levels or lower income would result in more spending,” and therefore a greater economic stimulus.
In other news, New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating a massive tax break that the president received a few years ago. In exchange for agreeing to preserve a forest behind his New York mansion Trump received a $21 million tax break based on what appears to be an overvaluation of his land. According to the Washington Post, “The valuation has now become a focal point of what could be one of the most consequential investigations facing President Trump as he heads into the election.”
In other news, a former Trump megadonor named Elliot Broidy just pled guilty in a federal criminal charge involving foreign interference. The Daily Beast, which reported the story explained that the charge was, “over an alleged scheme to influence the Trump administration on behalf of a Malaysian businessman at the center of a massive international money laundering conspiracy.” Broidy is charged with a violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act and becomes one of an ever-increasing circle of Trump associates charged with crimes.
And finally the Nobel Peace Prize for 2020 was just announced and it has been awarded to the World Food Programme. The United Nations agency has ensured food aid for many nations on the brink of starvation through a combination of war and the coronavirus pandemic.