Playbook: “What an abject disaster of a morning for the three Ms: Steve Mnuchin, Mark Meadows and Mitch McConnell.”
“After a few weeks of anticipation, the Senate GOP leadership had to abandon its plans to release a Covid relief bill after disagreements on policy with the Trump White House.”
“To put this in context: Republicans can’t even get on the same page with each other for a bill that is simply meant to jumpstart negotiations with Democrats. In other words, the bill that the White House and Senate GOP leadership are arguing over will never get a vote. Now think about how hard it will be for Republicans to put together a big package with Democrats over the next few weeks.”
“Senate Republicans have cast aside one of President Trump’s key demands from a new coronavirus stimulus package, refusing to include a payroll tax cut in their opening offer to Democrats, which could be unveiled as soon as Thursday,” the Washington Post reports.
Axios: Why economists don’t like the idea of a payroll tax cut.
President Trump blamed Democrats after Senate Republicans rejected a payroll-tax cut in the pandemic relief package that they’re negotiating with the White House.
Said Trump: “The Democrats have stated strongly that they won’t approve a Payroll Tax Cut (too bad!) It would be great for workers. The Republicans, therefore, didn’t want to ask for it. Dems, as usual, are hurting the working men and women of our Country!”
New York Times: “Six months since the coronavirus crisis was first detected in the United States, the Northeast stands in sharp contrast with the rest of the nation.”
“Along the East Coast, from Delaware through Maine, new case reports remain at a low level, a small fraction of their April peak. Six of the country’s 11 states with flat or falling case levels are in that Northeastern corridor.”
“Like Europe, the Northeast suffered a devastating wave of illnesses and deaths in March and April, and state leaders responded, after some hesitation, with aggressive lockdowns and big investments in testing and tracing efforts. Residents have largely followed rules and been surprisingly supportive of tough measures, even at the cost of economic pain.”
New York Times: “More people are on track to be hospitalized with the coronavirus in the United States than at any point in the pandemic, a disturbing sign of how the current surge has spread widely and is seriously sickening as many people as ever.”
“The country is averaging more than 66,000 new virus cases per day, more than twice as many as a month ago, and deaths have also started trending upward, with an average of more than 800 daily. But hospitalizations may be the clearest measure of how widely the virus is causing the most serious illnesses, and could offer a glimpse of what is ahead.”
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D) was tear gassed by the U.S. government late Wednesday as he stood at a fence guarding a federal courthouse during another night of protest against the presence of federal agents sent by President Trump to quell unrest in the city, the AP reports.
Wheeler “appeared slightly dazed and coughed as he put on a pair of goggles someone handed him and drank water. He didn’t leave his spot at the front, however, and continued to take gas.”
Gary Hart: “We have recently come to learn of at least a hundred documents authorizing extraordinary presidential powers in the case of a national emergency, virtually dictatorial powers without congressional or judicial checks and balances. President Trump alluded to these authorities in March when he said, ‘I have the right to do a lot of things that people don’t even know about.’”
“No matter who occupies the office, the American people have a right to know what extraordinary powers presidents believe they have. It is time for a new select committee to study these powers and their potential for abuse, and advise Congress on the ways in which it might, at a minimum, establish stringent oversight…”
“What little we know about these secret powers comes from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School, but we believe they may include suspension of habeas corpus, surveillance, home intrusion, arrest without a judicial warrant, collective if not mass arrests and more; some could violate constitutional protections.”
President Trump’s explanation to Fox News of why he took a mental acuity test is definitely worth watching.
Washington Post: “Medical and public health experts stress that the cognitive exam is not what Trump seems to think it is — an indicator of IQ or a cudgel to be wielded against a political opponent like a debate challenge.”
“Experts say the president’s fixation on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment is particularly puzzling because the test is normally administered only if someone is concerned that they or their loved ones may be experiencing dementia or other cognitive decline. Getting a perfect score — as Trump has repeatedly claimed he did — merely signifies that the test-taker probably does not have a cognitive impairment as measured by the exam.”
President Trump joined his allies in attacking Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), the number three ranking Republican in the House.
“Liz Cheney is only upset because I have been actively getting our great and beautiful Country out of the ridiculous and costly Endless Wars. I am also making our so-called allies pay tens of billions of dollars in delinquent military costs. They must, at least, treat us fairly!!!”
“Having a daughter does not make a man decent. Having a wife does not make a decent man. Treating people with dignity and respect makes a decent man.”
— Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), responding to Rep. Ted Yoho’s (R-FL) non-apology after calling her a “fucking bitch.”
Stephen Collinson: “President Trump’s new political self-preservation effort to show he has a grip on a pandemic that is killing hundreds of Americans every day is being exposed by his refusal to share the stage with scientific experts — or the facts…”
“The anchor of Trump’s new, punchier briefings is a scripted opening in which he cherry picks the most hopeful aspects of a pandemic that has destroyed the rhythm of American daily life and turned the economy upside down. Wednesday was yet another tragic day, with another 1,195 new deaths and 71,695 fresh infections.”
“In his two briefings so far, his rejigged approach seems more like a cosmetic political exercise than an attempt to provide the country with meaningful public health advice as the pandemic gets worse. And the new tone detected by some political commentators did not survive a Fox News interview in which the President again doubted the value of diagnostic testing, which scientists say is crucial to isolating newly infected patients and stopping the spread of the disease.”
“Two cafeterias used by White House staff members were closed and contact tracing was conducted after an employee tested positive for the coronavirus,” the New York Times reports.
“The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol, the latest effort by Congress to respond to the nationwide protests over systemic racism and injustice,” Politico reports.
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the release from prison of President Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen by Friday afternoon, CNBC reports.
Judge Alvin Hellerstein found that Cohen was sent back to prison on July 10 in retaliation for failing to agree to not to publish a book about Trump as one of multiple conditions for serving the remainder of his three-year prison term on home confinement.
Said Hellerstein: “I’ve never seen such a clause, in 21 years in being a judge.”
Politico: “Internal FBI data reveal a jarring new stat: The number of people trying to buy guns who can’t legally own them has skyrocketed. That came as part of a surge in gun purchases in the first three months of 2020, compared to the same time period in 2019. And the change has raised concerns about gun safety.”
“In March 2019 and February 2020, the NICS system blocked about 9,500 and 9,700, respectively. But in March 2020, it blocked more than double that amount: a whopping 23,692 gun sales.”
“The House Judiciary Committee staff initially drew up 10 articles of impeachment against President Trump last year, alleging a wide range of high crimes and misdemeanors before the case was whittled down to his interactions with Ukraine, according to a book to be published next week,” the New York Times reports.
“The decision to pursue a narrower case has long posed one of the most perplexing what-if counterfactuals of the entire impeachment and trial of Mr. Trump: What would have happened if House Democrats had thrown everything they had against the president rather than stick to just his campaign to pressure Ukraine to incriminate his Democratic rivals? Would a broader case have been more compelling as some Democrats argued or be viewed as overreach as the leaders of the impeachment drive concluded?”
Sen. Mitt Romney said he will vote against Judy Shelton, one of two Trump administration nominees to the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, Bloomberg reports.
“If, as expected, Democrats vote in unison to reject Shelton’s controversial candidacy, her confirmation could be blocked by Romney and three additional Republicans voting against. No floor vote has yet been scheduled for either nominee.”
White House adviser Stephen Miller’s grandmother dies from the coronavirus and his uncle tells Mother Jones that the Trump administration is partly to blame for her death.
A statement from Miller denied his grandmother died from the virus even though the death certificate lists her cause of death as “respiratory arrest” resulting from “COVID-19.”