1) What some have been calling the “BriefingGate” scandal continues to deepen for Trump. Despite his lies and the lies of his spokespeople, news kept breaking yesterday that refuted Trump’s claim that he was never told about Russian targeting of US soldiers in Afghanistan. Last night the New York Times cited two sources who confirmed that Trump received a written briefing in late February informing him of Russian bounties paid to the Taliban to target US and coalition forces. National security experts and ex-Obama officials all agreed that the way the national security and intel apparatus communicates important issues is through the president’s daily briefing, which is what he received in late February. The briefing is also distributed to other senior and high-ranking officials in the Executive Branch so even if Trump blew off the reading (likely) or forgot, or read about it and didn’t care, other members of his cabinet were surely aware of the issue months ago. Moreover, former Trump adviser John Bolton told colleagues he briefed Trump on Russian bounties in March of 2019! If true, Trump has been sitting on this information for a long time, which makes his inaction and coddling of Putin even more detestable. Republicans in Congress have been, up to now, entirely unconcerned with Trump’s abuses of power and possible crimes. But this latest scandal might be a tough subject for them to ignore. Soldiers, veterans, and their families are rightly outraged by Russia’s actions, and much of the anger is beginning to be directed at Trump, as it should. This will only serve to keep his poll numbers depressed as he flounders and grasps for a response or, more likely, a distraction. Here’s a link to the story from the Times:
2) The Supreme Court yesterday stopped the state of Louisiana from enacting stringent new rules that would have put three of the last four abortion providers in the state out of business. The 5-4 decision was hailed as a surprise victory for women’s reproductive rights, with Chief Justice Roberts joining the four liberal justices in the majority, but the decision didn’t address the central issues in the historic Roe v. Wade case, so it remains unclear what will happen when those issues eventually appear before the court. Legal observers last night characterized the outcome as “good” but not necessarily “great.”
3) Covid case counts continued to explode in the Sun Belt and in California. Trump’s Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany described the hotspots as “embers” suggesting that they will burn out, but virologists hit back on cable news broadcasts, calling the situation a “raging fire.” Several states curtailed their re-opening guidelines including Arizona, Florida, Texas and California, and several cities were reluctantly mandating mask wearing, including Jacksonville, where Trump just recently moved the Republican convention because it’s prior location, Charlotte, would have required convention-goers to wear masks! The US death toll hit 126K last night, with 2.6M total cases thus far. It’s a catastrophe, and the only thing that differentiates us from other advanced nations is our utter lack of federal, centralized leadership and action. Experts agree that if we can raise the percentage of citizens wearing masks, we can dramatically slow the spread of the virus. But until Trump and Pence beg their supporters to comply, we will continue to suffer a roaring epidemic. In fact, even if Trump did a complete about-face and pleaded with his cult to wear masks, it might be too late. The conspiracy theories and bogus “liberty” mythology surrounding the Covid outbreak may be too entrenched for Trump to impact, which is a sad and horrifying prospect.
Keep wearing a mask, keep resisting Trump, and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”