June 25, 2020

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ON THE RECORD.....

“As a physician, my oath is to do no harm, and to sit silently on this matter feels wrong. I was raised in a conservative, pro-life, Southern Baptist household and continue to have these values today with my own family. It’s not about President Trump. For me, it doesn’t matter if this is for a Republican, Democrat or Queen Elizabeth herself. It’s a terrible idea.” — Dr. Samantha Whiteside, a Tulsa emergency physician, on the plan for a Trump rally in Tulsa.

“Tony Fauci has nothing to do with NFL Football. They are planning a very safe and controlled opening. However, if they don’t stand for our National Anthem and our Great American Flag, I won’t be watching!!!” — Trump 

“It really does feel like the U.S. has given up. I can’t imagine what it must be like having to go to work knowing it’s unsafe. It’s hard to see how this ends. There are just going to be more and more people infected, and more and more deaths. It’s heartbreaking.” — Siouxsie Wiles, an infectious-diseases specialist at the University of Auckland.

REPORTER (Gray Television’s Jacqueline Policastro): Coronavirus cases are rising in 22 states, including Oklahoma, where you plan to hold a big rally this week. Aren't you worried about people getting sick?
TRUMP: No, because if you look, the numbers are very minuscule compared to what it was. It's dying out.

“I feel that if the Democrats get in we are literally going to end up in a recession-slash-depression the likes of which you’ve never seen. There will be tremendous negative growth, tremendous bedlam all over the place, there won’t be law and order. You’ll have a Seattle, you’ll have a Minneapolis like you’ve never seen before. The whole country will be Minneapolis.” — Trump during a 20-minute interview with Donald Trump Jr. on his online show “Triggered.”

“We’re going to keep the moral fabric of this county. Because when you watch the nonsense on TV, when you see these animals literally taking over our cities, burning down churches, this isn’t America. That’s not what Americans do.” --Eric Trump

REPORTER: Why does the president keep hiring people that are “dumb as a rock, overrated, way over their heads, whacko, and incompetent”?
KAYLEIGH McENANY: He likes the model of having a team of rivals, like what we saw in President Lincoln’s administration.

“My 16-year-old daughter and her friends in Park City, Utah, have hundreds of tickets. You have been rolled by America’s teens. @realDonaldTrump you have been failed by your team. You have been deserted by your faithful. No one likes to root for the losing team.” — Steve Schmidt, the campaign manager for John McCain in 2008.

“The unhinged left-wing mob is trying to vandalize our history, desecrate our monuments, our beautiful monuments, tear down our statues and punish, cancel and persecute anyone who does not conform to their demands for absolute and total control,” — Trump

Musical accompaniment for Trump’s Walk of Shame as he arrived back at the White House from his #EmptySeats #Tulsa rally. VIDEO

“She’s not allowed to write a book. You know, when we settled with her and her brother, who I do have a good relationship with — she’s got a brother, Fred, who I do have a good relationship with, but when we settled, she has a total … signed a nondisclosure.” — Trump about his niece, Mary Trump.

“You know, whoever hired Bolton should get fired.” — John Bolton, when asked about President Trump calling him a “sick customer,” a “dope” and “washed up guy.”

Washed up Creepster John Bolton is a lowlife who should be in jail, money seized, for disseminating, for profit, highly Classified information. Remember what they did to the young submarine sailor, but did nothing to Crooked Hillary. I ended up pardoning him - It wasn’t fair! — Donald J. Trump

“I am here to say the help is on the way if we do the work because there’s nobody I trust more to be able to heal this country and get back on track than my dear friend Joe Biden.” — Barack Obama at a virtual fundraiser for Joe Biden.

POLITICAL ADS

Tulsa was a flop | The Lincoln Project: https://twitter.com/ProjectLincoln/status/1274828565385805824

Slow the Testing | Priorities USA: https://youtu.be/elpwSWbWTqQ

War Zone| The Lincoln Project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5FvBtu3gB4

Truth | The Lincoln Project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEzfHfLaLG4

War Zone| The Lincoln Project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5FvBtu3gB4

Trump’s actions are intentional and malicious | MeidasTouch.com: https://twitter.com/MeidasTouch/status/1275652702786260994

America or Trump | The Lincoln Project:
https://twitter.com/ProjectLincoln/status/1267278651583848448

#VoteOutHate | MeidasTouch.com: https://twitter.com/MeidasTouch/status/1272651199502643200

#TrumpKillsUS | MeidasTouch.com: https://twitter.com/MeidasTouch/status/1275571841176760322

End Trump's American Carnage | Republican Voters Against Trump: https://camwoodsum.com/the-best-anti-trump-viral-videos-americaortrump/

IN THIS ISSUE

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Offers Stimulus Checks to Anyone Willing to Come to His Next Rally
2. Biden Takes Dominant Lead as Voters Reject Trump on Virus and Race
3. Trump’s ‘trench warfare’ reelection campaign begins
4. With Tweets, Videos and Rhetoric, Trump Pushes Anew to Divide Americans by Race
5. Trump, without evidence, accuses Obama of ‘treason’
6. With ‘kung flu,’ ‘thugs,’ and ‘our heritage,’ Trump leans on racial grievance as he reaches for a campaign reset
7. Tennessee Newspaper Apologizes for ‘Utterly Indefensible’ Anti-Muslim Ad
8. The Death of Trump’s Illusions
9. Vehicle Attacks Rise As Extremists Target Protesters
10. George Soros conspiracy theories surge as protests sweep US
11. Trumpworld Fears Its ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Is Coming True
12. Trump allies see a mounting threat: Biden’s rising evangelical support
13. Trump, citing pandemic, orders limits on foreign workers, extends immigration restrictions through December
14. Trump says mail-in voting could cost him reelection
17. Biden Proves an Elusive Target, Adding to Trump’s Frustration
18. Facebook removes Trump ads with symbol once used by Nazis to designate political prisoners
19. The Trump Administration Reversing 100 environment
al Rules
20. Twitter, Facebook remove 'racist baby' video posted by Trump
21. Someone keeps hiring staffers who Trump thinks are terrible
22. Trump administration has considered ending coronavirus emergency, even as cases surge
23. GOP lawmakers launch new attacks on Black Lives Matter protesters
24. Florida Democrats gain vote-by-mail advantage
25. UNF Poll: As the RNC preps for Jacksonville, voters brace for coronavirus and social unrest
26. Trump Inherited More Ventilators Than Have Been Distributed
27. Prosecutor says he was pressured to cut Roger Stone 'a break' because of his ties to Trump
28. Exclusive: Dozens of Republican former U.S. national security officials to back Biden
29. The DAILY GRILL
30. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

OPINION

1. Steve Schmidt: The Worst President This Country Has Ever Had
2. Andy Kroll: Donald Trump’s Presidency Is a Saturday-Night Massacre That Never Ends
3. Jamelle Bouie: The Boy Who Cried Fake News
4. Eric Lutz: Trump’s 2020 Strategy: It’d Really Help If Fewer People Voted
6. Susan B. Glasser: John Bolton’s Epic Score-Settling
7. Windsor Mann: Bolton shockingly reveals everything we already knew about Trump
8. William Kristol: John Bolton Tells the Truth
9. John Cassidy: As New York Reaches a Coronavirus Landmark, Parts of Red America Are Facing a Potential Disaster
10. Jeff Sharlet: Inside The Cult Of Trump, His Rallies Are Church And He Is The Gospel
11. Tim Miller: Make Arenas Empty Again
12. Preet Bharara: The Wrong Justice Department Official Lost His Job This Weekend
13. Timothy L. O'Brien: Trump and Barr Discard Law, Morality and Honor
14. Jonathan Chait: Barr Trying to Purge the Last Prosecutor Who Can Still Investigate Trump
15. Jonathan Chait: What If I Told You Joe Biden Is Actually Running a Great Campaign?

FYI

1. Andy Borowitz: Trump Offers Stimulus Checks to Anyone Willing to Come to His Next Rally

Hoping to avert another debacle like the one at his rally in Tulsa, Donald J. Trump said on Tuesday that he was offering economic-stimulus checks to anyone willing to come to his next rally, in Arizona.

Displaying a sample check in the Oval Office, Trump said that he hoped eventually to put millions of unemployed Americans back to work as full-time audience members at his rallies.

“The dishonest media are saying that people wouldn’t go to one of my rallies if I paid them,” Trump said. “Well, we’ll see about that.”

Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic adviser, said that the twelve-hundred-dollar stimulus checks would be paid “in installments, based on how long the recipients actually stay at the rally.”

“If you walk out after the first hour, you only get six hundred,” he said. “You’re really going to have to earn the full twelve hundred.” https://www.newyorker.com/humor/borowitz-report/

2. Biden Takes Dominant Lead as Voters Reject Trump on Virus and Race

Joseph R. Biden Jr. has taken a commanding lead over President Trump in the 2020 race, building a wide advantage among women and nonwhite voters and making deep inroads with some traditionally Republican-leaning groups that have shifted away from Mr. Trump following his ineffective response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new national poll of registered voters by The New York Times and Siena College.

Mr. Biden is currently ahead of Mr. Trump by 14 percentage points, garnering 50 percent of the vote compared with 36 percent for Mr. Trump. That is among the most dismal showings of Mr. Trump’s presidency, and a sign that he is the clear underdog right now in his fight for a second term. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/24/us/politics/trump-biden-poll-nyt-upshot-siena-college.html

3. Trump’s ‘trench warfare’ reelection campaign begins

In Tulsa, and in the days beforehand, Trump and his allies signaled the beginning of a scorched earth campaign. Donald Trump Jr. has posted memes portraying Biden — baselessly — as a pedophile. Trump’s campaign released an ad on Friday depicting Biden as aged and confused, calling him “clearly diminished” and lacking “mental fortitude.” On Saturday, he continued to suggest without evidence that Biden has health issues, saying, ‘There’s something wrong with Biden.”Trump’s advisers have long believed he could recover if he could drag Biden’s favorability ratings down. Confronting an opponent who is viewed more favorably than Hillary Clinton was in 2016, Trump is laboring not only to depict Biden as mentally unfit – but as an addled tool of the Democratic Party’s most extreme fringe. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/22/trump-biden-trench-warfare-general-election-331020

4. With Tweets, Videos and Rhetoric, Trump Pushes Anew to Divide Americans by Race

President Trump has repeatedly pushed inflammatory language, material and policies in recent days that seek to divide Americans by race as he tries to appeal to his predominantly white base of voters four months before Election Day rather than try to broaden his support.

Trailing in national polls and surveys of crucial battleground states, and stricken by a disappointing return to the campaign trail, Mr. Trump has leaned hard into his decades-long habit of falsely portraying some black Americans as dangerous or lawless. And he has chosen to do so at one of the most tumultuous periods in decades as Americans protest recent episodes of police brutality against black people that have highlighted the nation’s long history of racial injustice.

Over the last few days the president has tweeted context-free videos of random incidents involving black people attacking white people and baselessly argued that President Barack Obama, the country’s first black leader, committed “treason.” In an interview with the Catholic News Agency that was posted online on Monday, Mr. Trump said he planned to sign an order to protect national monuments at a time when statues of Confederate generals are being torn down across the country. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/23/us/politics/trump-race-racism-protests.html

5. Trump, without evidence, accuses Obama of ‘treason’

Trump on Monday accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of treason, without offering any evidence or details to back up his claim.

Trump made the accusation in an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network. The president has frequently accused others of “treason,” but Monday marked the first time that he has leveled that claim against the man who preceded him in the Oval Office. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-without-evidence-accuses-obama-of-treason/2020/06/22/14bc42c6-b4f3-11ea-aca5-ebb63d27e1ff_story.html

6. With ‘kung flu,’ ‘thugs,’ and ‘our heritage,’ Trump leans on racial grievance as he reaches for a campaign reset

He referred to the disease caused by the novel coronavirus as the “kung flu.” He called racial justice demonstrators “thugs.” He attacked efforts to take down Confederate statues as an assault on “our heritage.” And in an ominous hypothetical, he described a “very tough hombre” breaking into a young woman’s home while her husband is away.

Even at a moment of national reckoning over race and racism, Trump demonstrated the extent to which the final four months of the 2020 election will build on the darker themes of a previous campaign notable for its attacks on Hispanic immigrants and Muslims. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/with-kung-flu-thugs-and-our-heritage-trump-leans-on-racial-grievance-as-he-reaches-for-a-campaign-reset/2020/06/21/945d7a1e-b3df-11ea-a510-55bf26485c93_story.html

7. Tennessee Newspaper Apologizes for ‘Utterly Indefensible’ Anti-Muslim Ad

The Tennessean newspaper in Nashville is investigating how it came to publish a full-page ad on Sunday by a biblical prophecy group claiming “Islam” would detonate a bomb in the city.

The ad, which included a photo collage of President Trump, Pope Francis and burning American flags, urged readers to visit a website offering more details. The ad was credited to the group Ministry of Future for America, which says its mission is to “proclaim the final warning message” from the Bible. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/business/media/the-tennessean-islam-ad.html

8. The Death of Trump’s Illusions

It is impossible—not “difficult,” but “impossible”—to look at Trump’s reelection campaign and find any positive indicators.

The president’s job approval has never been higher than 47 percent and is currently in the low 40s.

He has trailed Joe Biden in all but four of the polls taken this cycle. Go look.

He is being out-fundraised by Biden.

Unemployment is above 13 percent.

120,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus.

The right-track/wrong-track number now stands at -41.

And then there are those empty seats.

This is what a campaign in free-fall looks like. https://thebulwark.com/newsletter-issue/the-death-of-trumps-illusions/

9. Vehicle Attacks Rise As Extremists Target Protesters

Right-wing extremists are turning cars into weapons, with reports of at least 50 vehicle-ramming incidents since protests against police violence erupted nationwide in late May.

At least 18 are categorized as deliberate attacks; another two dozen are unclear as to motivation or are still under investigation, according to a count released Friday by Ari Weil, a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago's Chicago Project on Security and Threats. Weil has tracked vehicle-ramming attacks, or VRAs, since protests began.

The 20 people facing prosecution in the rammings include a state leader of the Virginia Ku Klux Klan, as well as a California man who was charged with attempted murder after antagonizing protesters and then driving into them, striking a teenage girl. Video footage of some attacks shows drivers yelling at or threatening Black Lives Matter protesters before hitting the gas. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/21/880963592/vehicle-attacks-rise-as-extremists-target-protesters

10. George Soros conspiracy theories surge as protests sweep US

George Soros, the billionaire investor and philanthropist who has long been a target of conspiracy theories, is now being falsely accused of orchestrating and funding the protests over police killings of Black people that have roiled the United States. Amplified by a growing number of people on the far right, including some Republican leaders, online posts about Soros have skyrocketed in recent weeks.

They have been accompanied by online ads bought by conservative groups that call on authorities to “investigate George Soros for funding domestic terrorism and his decades-long corruption.”

Soros, 89, has donated billions of dollars of his personal wealth to liberal and anti-authoritarian causes around the world, making him a favored target among many on the right. The Hungarian-American, who is Jewish, has also been the subject of anti-Semitic attacks and conspiracy theories for decades.

Over just four days in late May, negative Twitter posts about Soros spiked from about 20,000 a day to more than 500,000 a day, according to an analysis by the Anti-Defamation League. https://apnews.com/f01f3c405985f4e3477e4e4ac27986e5

11. Trumpworld Fears Its ‘Nightmare Scenario’ Is Coming True

Early this month, one senior White House official told The Daily Beast that their “nightmare scenario” would be for the president to slip beneath 40 percent support in a sustained string of public and private surveys—thus signaling that a previously unshakable base was starting to grow a bit disillusioned. Trump’s consistent—though perhaps unenviable—standing in the low 40s had for years remained an illustration of his enduring base and iron Republican support. 

“Until then, I’m not a doomsayer,” this official said, referring to the nerve-racking 30s in national, and some state, polling. https://www.thedailybeast.com/ahead-of-tulsa-rally-trumpworld-fears-its-nightmare-scenario-is-coming-true

12. Trump allies see a mounting threat: Biden’s rising evangelical support

Biden, a lifelong Roman Catholic, has performed better in recent polling among white evangelicals — and other religious groups — than Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton did in 2016 and is widely perceived as more religious than the current White House occupant. A Pew Research study conducted earlier this year showed that a majority of U.S. adults (63 percent) think Trump is “not at all” or “not too religious,” versus 55 percent who said they believed Biden is somewhat or very religious.

Many conservative evangelical leaders have argued that Biden’s positions on cultural issues — like abortion, judges and religious freedom — are disqualifying. Still, anxiety is growing inside Trump’s orbit about the former vice president’s ability to peel off Christian voters who supported Trump in 2016, including the 81 percent of white evangelicals he carried, according to eight administration officials, White House allies and people involved with the Trump campaign.

Such an outcome could deal a fatal blow to the president’s reelection, which largely hinges on expanding his support among religious voters to compensate for enthusiasm gaps elsewhere. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/21/trump-allies-see-threat-biden-evangelical-support-330780

13. Trump, citing pandemic, orders limits on foreign workers, extends immigration restrictions through December

Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday barring many categories of foreign workers and curbing immigration visas through the end of the year, moves the administration characterized as necessary to protect U.S. workers following steep job losses amid the coronavirus pandemic,” the Washington Post reports.

The freeze will apply to work visas that many companies use, especially in the technology sector, landscaping services and the forestry industry. It excludes agricultural laborers and some health care workers and includes a special exemption for the approximately 20,000 child-care providers who come to the United States as ‘au pairs.’ https://www.washingtonpost.com/immigration/trump-immigration-workers-coronavirus/2020/06/22/3b969e88-b489-11ea-9b0f-c797548c1154_story.html

14. Trump says mail-in voting could cost him reelection

President Donald Trump called mail-in voting the biggest threat to his reelection and said his campaign's multimillion-dollar legal effort to block expanded ballot access could determine whether he wins a second term.

The president’s assertion that mail-in voting will endanger his reelection comes as states across the country are rushing to accommodate remote voting in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Millions of voters could be disenfranchised if they decide to stay home on Election Day rather than risk contracting the virus at crowded polling stations.

But Trump and his campaign argue, despite a lack of evidence, that widespread mail-in voting will benefit Democrats and invite fraud. The Republican Party is spending tens of millions of dollars on a multifront legal battle. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/19/trump-interview-mail-voting-329307

15. Trump made 192 false claims from May 4 through June 7

Trump made 192 false claims over the five weeks from May 4 through June 7. Sixty-one of them were about the coronavirus or the pandemic crisis, by far the most of any subject.

Trump's average during the five-week period, about 5.5 false claims per day, was below his overall average of about 7.7 false claims per day since July 8, 2019, when we started our tracking at CNN. It was also down from his seven-per-day average during the previous 14-week period we wrote about here.

But still: 192 false claims, 5.5 per day. That's a whole lot of dishonesty from the President of the United States.

Details at: https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/19/politics/fact-check-trump-192-false-claims-may-4-june-7/index.html

17. Biden Proves an Elusive Target, Adding to Trump’s Frustration

When Senator Bernie Sanders lost the Democratic nomination and the economy collapsed this spring, two pillars of President Trump’s re-election strategy collapsed at the same time: his plan to run on prosperity and against a far-left opponent. But Mr. Trump’s campaign took comfort in the expectation that Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s penchant for gaffes would at least offer them dependable fodder for attack.

The pandemic, and Mr. Biden’s play-it-safe campaign, however, have starved them of even that. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/19/us/politics/donald-trump-joe-biden-coronavirus.html

18. Facebook removes Trump ads with symbol once used by Nazis to designate political prisoners

Facebook on Thursday deactivated dozens of ads placed by President Trump’s reelection campaign that included a symbol once used by the Nazis to designate political prisoners in concentration camps.

The marking appeared as part of the campaign’s online salvo against antifa and “far-left groups."

A red inverted triangle was used in the 1930s to identify Communists, and was applied as well to Social Democrats, liberals, Freemasons and other members of opposition parties incarcerated by the Nazis. The badge forced on Jewish political prisoners, by contrast, featured a yellow triangle overlaid by a red triangle so as to resemble a Star of David.

The red triangle appeared in paid posts sponsored by Trump and Vice President Pence, as well as by the “Team Trump” campaign page. It was featured alongside text warning of “Dangerous MOBS” and asking users to sign a petition about antifa, a loose collection of anti-fascist activists whom the Trump administration has sought to link to recent violence, despite arrest records that show their involvement is trivial.

Eighty-eight ads with the inverted red triangle ran in total — across pages for Trump, Pence and the official “Team Trump” page on the social network. They targeted all 50 states. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/06/18/trump-campaign-runs-ads-with-marking-once-used-by-nazis-designate-political-prisoners/

19. The Trump Administration Reversing 100 Environmental Rules

With elections looming, the administration has sought to wrap up some of its biggest regulatory priorities quickly, said Hana V. Vizcarra, a staff attorney at Harvard Law School’s Environmental and Energy Law Program. Further delays could leave the new rules vulnerable to reversal under the Congressional Review Act if Democrats are able to retake Congress and the White House in November, she said.

The bulk of the rollbacks identified by the Times have been carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, which repealed and replaced the Obama-era emissions rules for power plants and vehicles; weakened protections for more than half the nation's wetlands; and withdrew the legal justification for restricting mercury emissions from power plants.

At the same time, the Interior Department has worked to open up more land for oil and gas leasing by cutting back protected areas and limiting wildlife protections. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/climate/trump-environment-rollbacks.html

20. Twitter, Facebook remove 'racist baby' video posted by Trump

Twitter labeled a video tweeted by President Donald Trump on Thursday night as "manipulated media" because it attributes to news media a nonexistent story on race.

The video depicts a fake CNN headline that states, "TERRIFIED TODDLER RUNS FROM RACIST BABY," as a Black toddler runs ahead of a white toddler in the same direction and ominous music plays.

The video then displays the words, "WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED," and shows the original clip of two children running toward each other on a sidewalk before embracing.

"AMERICA IS NOT THE PROBLEM," the video proclaims. "FAKE NEWS IS.” https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/donald-trump/twitter-labels-video-tweeted-trump-manipulated-media-n1231511

21. Someone keeps hiring staffers who Trump thinks are terrible

Trump administration officials who were apparently smart enough for Trump to hire, but once they left the administration, developed the intellectual capacity of a “rock.”

Rex Tillerson: Former Secretary of State: “Didn’t have the mental capacity needed. He was dumb as a rock and I couldn’t get rid of him fast enough. He was lazy as hell.”

James Mattis: Former Secretary of Defense: “The world’s most overrated General.”

John Kelly: Former White House Chief of Staff: “He knew full well that he was way over his head. Being Chief of Staff just wasn’t for him. He came in with a bang, went out with a whimper,”

Steve Bannon: Former White House Chief Strategist: “Cried when he got fired and begged for his job. Now Sloppy Steve has been dumped like a dog by almost everyone. Too bad!

Jeff Sessions: Former Attorney General: “You had no courage, & ruined many lives. The dirty cops, & others, got caught by better & stronger people than you.”

Anthony Scaramucci: Former White House Communications Director: “Anthony Scaramucci is a highly unstable ‘nut job’; I barely knew him until his 11 days of gross incompetence-made a fool of himself, bad on TV. Abused staff,… got fired. —- Getting divorced. He was a mental wreck. We didn’t want him around. Now Fake News puts him on like he was my buddy!”

Omarosa Manigault Newman: Former Director of Communications for the Office of Public Liaison: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

Alexander Vindman: Former Director for European Affairs for the U.S. National Security Council: ”He was very insubordinate, reported contents of my “perfect” calls incorrectly …. had problems with judgement, adhering to the chain of command and leaking information.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/06/18/who-keeps-hiring-these-administration-staffers-trump-thinks-are-so-terrible/

22. Trump administration has considered ending coronavirus emergency, even as cases surge

The Trump administration, eager to claim victory over the coronavirus, has been considering scaling back the national emergency declared earlier this year to control the pandemic, according to healthcare industry officials who have spoken with the administration.

The prospect has stoked alarm among public health leaders, physicians, hospital officials and others who are trying to control the outbreak and fear that such a move would make it more difficult for state and local governments and health systems to keep the coronavirus in check. https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-06-23/trump-may-end-coronavirus-national-emergency

23. GOP lawmakers launch new attacks on Black Lives Matter protesters

A congressman from Minnesota said Tuesday that those aligned with Black Lives Matter in protest of police brutality are “at war” with “western culture” — language that advocacy groups note has long been used to promote white nationalism.

Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) made the comment on Facebook in response to a news article about the activist Shaun King, who said this week that murals and statues that depict Jesus as white should be torn down. Numerous Confederate monuments have come down in recent days, at the hands of protesters or under orders from local officials.

“The Democrat ‘Black Lives Matter’ Party, along with armies of rioters, are at war with our country, our beliefs and western culture,” Hagedorn wrote Tuesday. “Their radical movement is orchestrated and growing. We must never let them take power. We must stand up and defend our county [sic], our nation’s identity, our Judeo-Christian values and our American way of life.”

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which documents the language of hate groups, has noted that “Western culture” and similar terms have frequently been used to peddle white nationalist ideology. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/06/23/jim-hagedorn-matt-gaetz-black-lives-matter/

24. Florida Democrats gain vote-by-mail advantage

Democrats have opened up a 302,000-voter advantage over Republicans in vote-by-mail enrollment, an edge that could pay big dividends in President Donald Trump’s newly adopted must-win state.

Five months before Election Day, more than 1.46 million Democrats have signed up to vote by mail compared to 1.16 million Republicans, according to an analysis of state Division of Election data released Friday. By comparison, in 2016, Democrats held an advantage of about 8,800 in vote-by-mail enrollment. https://www.politico.com/states/florida/story/2020/06/24/florida-democrats-gain-vote-by-mail-advantage-1294263

25. UNF Poll: As the RNC preps for Jacksonville, voters brace for coronavirus and social unrest

In light of the RNC coming to Jacksonville, respondents were asked whether they approve or disapprove of the decision. Among respondents, 58%, strongly or somewhat oppose Jacksonville hosting the RNC, with 42% supporting it. When asked how concerned they were about COVID-19 transmission if a large number gathered for the RNC in Jacksonville, 71% were very or somewhat concerned. Similarly, 61% were very or somewhat concerned about protests and social unrest during the RNC in Jacksonville. In terms of economic impact, 66% agree that the RNC could generate up to 100 million dollars for Jacksonville’s economy. However, 56% of respondents disagree that the RNC will bring positive media attention to Jacksonville. https://www.politico.com/states/f/?id=00000172-e390-dd89-a5fa-fff50a1e0001

26. Trump Inherited More Ventilators Than Have Been Distributed

Contrary to President Trump’s repeated claims that he inherited a Strategic National Stockpile with “empty” or “bare” cupboards, the federal government had more ventilators in stock than it ended up distributing amid the coronavirus pandemic, FactCheck.org reports. https://www.factcheck.org/2020/06/trump-inherited-more-ventilators-than-have-been-distributed/

27. Prosecutor says he was pressured to cut Roger Stone 'a break' because of his ties to Trump

A prosecutor who withdrew from the Roger Stone case after Justice Department leaders intervened to recommend a lighter sentence intends to testify before Congress that he and his colleagues were repeatedly pressured to cut Stone "a break," and were told that it was because of his relationship with President Donald Trump.

"What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President," Aaron Zelinsky, one of four prosecutors who quit the case, plans to tell the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday, according to his prepared testimony. "I was also told that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was 'afraid of the President.'" https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/23/prosecutor-says-he-was-pressured-to-cut-roger-stone-a-break-because-of-his-ties-to-trump-336075

28. Exclusive: Dozens of Republican former U.S. national security officials to back Biden

Dozens of Republican former U.S. national security officials are forming a group that will back Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, people familiar with the effort said, in a further sign that President Donald Trump has alienated some members of his own party.

The group will publicly endorse Biden in the coming weeks and its members plan to campaign for the former vice president who is challenging Trump in the Nov. 3 election, the sources said. It includes at least two dozen officials who served under Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, with dozens more in talks to join, the sources added.

They will argue that another four years of a Trump presidency would endanger U.S. national security and that Republican voters should view Biden as the better choice despite policy differences, the sources said. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-election-biden-republicans-exclus-idUSKBN23U2LY

29. The DAILY GRILL


Trump boasted that his initial plan to hold his rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth “made Juneteenth very famous.” He added that “nobody had ever heard of it” prior to his recent rescheduling.

VERSUS

“Thank you President Trump for 'making Juneteenth famous.' Much like when Bull Connor made 'Civil Rights' famous. My family will be donating 500 thousand dollars to the Equal Justice Initiative in honor of your heroic effort. — George Clooney, who has referred to Trump as a “xenophobic fascist” in the past, found inspiration in the President’s words.

 

“Look at what happened tonight. Law enforcement said, ‘Sir, they can’t be outside, it is too dangerous.’ We had a bunch of maniacs come and sort of attack our city. The mayor, the governor did a great job. But they were very violent. And our people are not nearly as violent, but if they ever were, it would be a terrible, terrible day for the other side.” — Trump

VERSUS

Even on the Fox News Channel, coverage leading into Mr. Trump’s rally showed few people milling about outside Tulsa’s BOK Center and noted that there was little interaction between Trump supporters and people protesting his event. -- NY Times


“I don’t see any indication that there were any white supremest groups mixing in. This is an ANTIFA Organization. It seems that the first time we saw it in a major way was Occupy Wall Street. It’s the same mindset.” @kilmeade @foxandfriends TRUE! — Trump, in a tweet, June 1

AND

“Our nation has been gripped by professional anarchists. Violent mobs, arsonists, looters, criminals, rioters, antifa and others.” — Trump, in remarks at the White House Rose Garden, June 1

AND

“We have antifa, we have anarchists, we have terrorists, we have looters. We have a lot of bad people in those groups. I mean, you watch and you see.” — Trump, in an interview, June 3

VERSUS

This is not the first time Trump has pointed to antifa as a shadowy nemesis. But the misinformation created by his continued insistence of antifa’s involvement has led to more chaos and violence in an already turbulent moment. As always, the burden of proof rests with the speaker — and the administration has provided no evidence, only assertions that it has evidence. — Washington Post Fact Checker

30. From MEDIA MATTERS (They watch Fox News so you don't have to)

From Fox News’ airwaves to right-wing talk radio to the pages of the nation’s most prominent conservative newspaper editorial section, the novel coronavirus is being declared a hoax again. More than 115,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, caseloads and hospitalizations are soaring in key states, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, is warning that the nation is “still in the first wave” and won’t return to normality this year. But Trumpists have returned to the talking point they settled on at the start of the pandemic: Democrats and the press, they claim, are conspiring together, exaggerating the danger from the virus in order to damage President Donald Trump’s political standing. https://www.mediamatters.org/coronavirus-covid-19/more-outbreaks-emerge-trumps-propagandists-suggest-coronavirus-hoax-again

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): Political cults all have one thing in common, they just try to destroy history and culture to conform to their vision. It's always year zero for them. We've seen it all over the world throughout history. In Afghanistan in 2001, the Taliban dynamited 1500-year-old giant Buddhas, they called them idols. They destroyed them. Mao's Red Guards desecrated the graves of emperors and destroyed ancient art by the truckload. Now that same impulse to destroy art has come to the United States. https://www.mediamatters.org/tucker-carlson/tucker-carlson-compares-taking-down-confederate-statutes-taliban-destroying-ancient

TUCKER CARLSON (HOST): This is not a momentary civil disturbance.This is a serious and highly organized political movement. It is not superficial, it is deep and profound, it has vast ambitions. It is insidious, it will grow. Its goal is to end liberal democracy and challenge Western civilization itself. This is an ideological movement. The ideas that fuel it have incubated for decades on college campuses. … We are too literal or too good-hearted to understand what's really happening. Our decency is the mob's main weapon against us. We have no idea who we're up against.  https://www.mediamatters.org/tucker-carlson/tucker-carlson-says-black-lives-matter-protests-are-insidious-attempt-challenge

Fox guest Rudy Giuliani: “Black Lives Matter wants to come and take your house away from you.” Giuliani: “There were well over 100 people wounded with guns and 25 Americans killed over the weekend. That didn't happen accidentally, Laura. That's part of a plan and we better wake up to it.” https://www.mediamatters.org/black-lives-matter/fox-guest-rudy-giuliani-black-lives-matter-wants-come-and-take-your-house-away

 

OPINION

1. Steve Schmidt: The Worst President This Country Has Ever Had

Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don’t say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.

When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don’t use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We’ve never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country whose ever been charged with substantial responsibilities.

It’s just astonishing that this man is president of the United States. The man, the con man, from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show, that branded him as something that he never was. A successful businessman. Well, he’s the President of the United States now, and the man who said he would make the country great again. And he’s brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let’s be clear. This isn’t happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you’re the most likely to die from this disease. We’re the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk. https://twitter.com/Eleven_Films/status/1261557712590012416

2. Andy Kroll: Donald Trump’s Presidency Is a Saturday-Night Massacre That Never Ends

Current and former prosecutors say they fear that the actions of the Barr-led Justice Department undermine the independence and integrity of the nation’s top law enforcement agency. Career prosecutors have responding by withdrawing themselves from cases, quitting their jobs, or even agreeing to appear before Congress as whistleblowers. On Wednesday, two career prosecutors who worked on the Stone case will testify before the House Judiciary Committee to speak about Barr’s time as attorney general. Jonathan Kravis, a federal prosecutor who worked on the Stone case and quit his job entirely after DOJ higher-ups tried to help Stone, wrote in a recent op-ed that the department’s actions in the Stone and Flynn cases “will do lasting damage to the institution.”

The implications of that damage are far from trivial. Political interference, perceived and real, undermines the DOJ’s mission and hurts the morale of the thousands of career employees committed to ensuring the fair and impartial administration of justice. For the federal prosecutors across the country tasked with enforcing the law on behalf of the American people, their job becomes more difficult when lawyers on the opposite side of the courtroom demand that their clients receive the same preferential treatment as Michael Flynn, say, or Roger Stone. (A Justice Department spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.)

If you also consider the recent firings of several inspectors general and Trump’s repeated attacks on the judiciary, you’re left with the notion that President Trump sees himself as above accountability. “What makes autocrats autocrats is that they believe they alone possess all power in a society and that no one and no institution can properly check that power,” says Ian Bassin, a former associate White House counsel under President Obama who now runs Protect Democracy, a nonpartisan group dedicated to resisting authoritarianism in the U.S. “If courts try to check his power, he calls them ‘so-called judges.’ If inspectors general try to check his power, he removes them. If the Department of Justice tries to investigate him, he politicizes it and fires U.S. attorneys.” https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/william-barr-donald-trump-justice-department-geoffrey-berman-roger-stone-michael-flynn-1018964/

3. Jamelle Bouie: The Boy Who Cried Fake News

If there’s anything we’ve learned in the five years since Donald Trump came down that escalator, it’s that he cannot thrive without a constant stream of attention, adulation and affirmation. It’s why he’s obsessed with cable news and Fox in particular; why his cabinet meetings begin with almost worshipful praise from each of his appointees; and why he’s constantly touting his sky-high support from other Republicans.

It’s also why, on Saturday, he held an indoor rally in the midst of a respiratory disease pandemic. “I guarantee you after Saturday, if everything goes well, he’s going to be in a much better mood,” an unnamed Trump political adviser told CNN the day before the event. “He believes that he needs to be out there fighting and he feeds off the energy of the crowds.”

The president is plainly unable to handle bad news, or even the idea that he isn’t popular or well-liked. Someone who rejects the idea of being rejected may, for example, believe that voter fraud is the only threat to his re-election. And he’s constructed a bubble, let’s call it a safe space, in which he’s insulated from bad news, negative feedback and pretty much any kind of criticism. The result is that he’s unable to respond to a changing national mood, unable to adjust to a public that wants more leadership than spectacle. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/23/opinion/maga-trump-fake-news.html

4. Eric Lutz: Trump’s 2020 Strategy: It’d Really Help If Fewer People Voted

“My biggest risk is that we don’t win lawsuits,” the president told Politico, referring to Republicans’ pricey legal fight against mail-in voting.

Republicans have been engaging in shady voter suppression tactics for years, but none have been quite so obvious about it as Donald Trump. However blatant the scheme, the GOP has, in the past, at least sought to maintain a certain amount of plausible deniability. But Trump, a man about as subtle as a foghorn, has felt no real need to hide what he is trying to do. Sure, he’ll rant and rave about the widespread voter fraud he claims is rigging American elections, despite the absence of evidence. But then, in public remarks, he’ll go ahead and state his intentions directly.

Speaking to Politico about his reelection prospects on Thursday, Trump once again made clear what all his whining about supposed voter fraud is really all about, telling the publication that he believes efforts to expand Americans’ safe access to the ballot in an election beset by pandemic are his biggest obstacle to defeating Joe Biden. “My biggest risk is that we don’t win lawsuits,” the president said, referring to Republicans’ pricey legal fight against mail-in voting. “We have many lawsuits going all over. And if we don’t win those lawsuits, I think—I think it puts the election at risk.”https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/06/trumps-2020-strategy-itd-really-help-if-fewer-people-voted

5. Gabriel Sherman: “Make Sure I Win”: John Bolton’s Unredacted Book Shows What Trump Was Really Trying To Hide

John Bolton’s account that Donald Trump asked Chinese President Xi Jinping last June to buy more American farm products to help Trump’s reelection is so explosive that White House officials prevented Bolton from directly quoting Trump in Bolton’s new tell-all memoir. “I would print Trump’s exact words but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise,” Bolton writes in The Room Where it Happened.

For months, Bolton has been in a standoff with the Trump administration over the book’s contents. Back in January, the White House sent a cease-and-desist letter to Bolton’s lawyer demanding that Bolton’s book not be released without the removal of certain details from the manuscript. Most recently, William Barr’s Justice Department filed a federal lawsuit asking the judge to block the release of the book next week. Vanity Fair has seen unredacted pages from the book and it’s clear why the White House tried to keep Trump’s words secret: they are deeply embarrassing and illustrate Trump’s naked politicization of America’s foreign policy.

Bolton renders Trump’s interactions with President Xi in vivid detail. In the passages, Trump comes off like a needy supplicant. For example, at last year’s G20 dinner, with only interpreters present, Xi explained to Trump why China was building concentration camps for the country’s minority Uighur population. Trump allegedly told Xi he approved of the brutal human rights violation. “According to our interpreter, Trump said to Xi, ‘go ahead, you’re doing exactly the right thing.’” Bolton writes. Earlier in the same passage, Bolton writes that Trump told Xi on a phone call ahead of their G20 meeting: “I miss you,” and then said, “this is totally up to you, but the most popular thing I’ve ever been involved with is making a deal with China.… Making a deal with China would be a very popular thing for me.’” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/06/boltons-unredacted-book-shows-trump-trying-to-hide

6. Susan B. Glasser: John Bolton’s Epic Score-Settling

John Bolton was not looking to make friends in the Trump White House when he served as the national-security adviser, nor did he do so. Bolton’s disdain for his colleagues in the Administration announces itself early and often in his new memoir, “The Room Where It Happened,” which is due out Tuesday, pending the outcome of a legal battle with Trump’s Justice Department. Bolton mocks, disparages, or clashes with Steven Mnuchin, Nikki Haley, Rex Tillerson, James Mattis, Mike Pompeo, and others, all within the book’s first hundred pages. By the end of the nearly five-hundred-page book, Bolton also criticizes Mick Mulvaney, Jared Kushner, the entire White House economic team, many of his foreign counterparts, and, although he shares their misgivings about Trump, the House Democrats who impeached the President.

This is Washington score-settling on an epic scale. Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, “had no idea what he was talking about.” Haley, who served as the Ambassador to the United Nations, is a self-promoting pol who sucked up to Trump’s family. Mattis, the former Defense Secretary, is a bureaucratic obstructionist who deluded himself into thinking that an “axis of adults” could manage the unmanageable President. Pompeo, the Secretary of State, who would emerge as the great internal enemy during Bolton’s seventeen-month tenure, is an untruthful hypocrite who flatters Trump to his face while dumping on him privately. “He is so full of shit,” Pompeo writes of the President in a note to Bolton while they are in a conference room in Singapore, listening to Trump exchange frothy compliments and unrealistic denuclearization plans with the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un. After that summit, Pompeo told a Principals Committee meeting in the White House that Trump’s nuclear diplomacy with North Korea had “zero probability of success.” Later, after a G-20 meeting, Pompeo told Bolton that Trump was always causing problems: “You can’t leave him alone for a minute.”

One of the few other senior advisers to Trump with whom Bolton did not openly clash was John Kelly, perhaps because they both shared an outsized disdain for the President. Kelly, the retired Marine general who served as the second of Trump’s four-and-counting White House chiefs of staff, sat Bolton down to brief him a couple of days before Bolton’s first day on the job, in the spring of 2018. Trump swears and speaks to his staff in “rough language,” Kelly cautioned Bolton. Trump routinely attacks the two previous Republican Presidents, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush, and despises those who served in their Administrations, as Bolton did. Trump changes his mind “constantly,” Kelly said. Bolton was nothing if not forewarned. Two years and two months after that conversation, Bolton has come forward to say in public what Kelly told him privately that day—and much more. The ultimate score-settling in the book is not with Pompeo or Mnuchin. It is with Donald Trump, a man so corrupt and profoundly unsuited for the Presidency that his own national-security adviser, a lifelong Republican with unimpeachable partisan credentials, came to believe he adopted “obstruction of justice as a way of life.” https://www.newyorker.com/news/letter-from-trumps-washington/john-boltons-epic-score-settling

7. Windsor Mann: Bolton shockingly reveals everything we already knew about Trump

Trump loves books about himself and hates books about himself. If you write a book praising him, he will respond by not reading it and praising it. If you write a book criticizing him, he will respond by not reading it, condemning it and you, and possibly trying to ban it and prosecute you.

This is how he has responded to his former National Security Adviser John Bolton's new memoir, The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir, which comes out next Tuesday. Trump called Bolton a "traitor," a "liar," "Wacko John Bolton," "incompetent," a "sick puppy," a "disgruntled boring fool," and "a dope," but neglected to call him someone he hired. Trump called Bolton's book "a compilation of lies and made up stories, all intended to make me look bad" and "pure fiction," which prompts the question: Why does the president want to ban a work of pure fiction and criminally prosecute its author?

The only benefit to working in the Trump administration is that you can write a tell-all memoir after you leave. Your real service to the country can begin when your service to Trump ends. Please, by all means, tell all. https://theweek.com/articles/920886/bolton-shockingly-reveals-everything-already-knew-about-trump

8. William Kristol: John Bolton Tells the Truth

Whether or not one is surprised by what Bolton reports, no one should really doubt the truth of it. I have no doubt that Bolton is telling the truth. Not simply because of my two, as it were, generally corroborating sources. But because I’ve known John Bolton a long time, and John Bolton is an honest man. He tells the truth.
Full stop.

Those who continue to support Trump need to accept that they’re supporting a man who has done what Bolton says Trump has done. And those who support a Trump second term need to accept that they are supporting four more years in office for a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

And those who continue to keep silent are keeping silent from us, their fellow citizens, their judgment of a president who has done what Bolton says Trump has done.

Enough. Bolton has spoken. Surely there are others who will now dare to disturb the sound of silence. https://thebulwark.com/john-bolton-tells-the-truth/

9. John Cassidy: As New York Reaches a Coronavirus Landmark, Parts of Red America Are Facing a Potential Disaster

It has long been a basic principle of democratic governance that where public health comes into conflict with individual freedoms, the latter may have to be constricted, at least temporarily. But with Trump in the White House and elected Republicans terrified of incurring his supporters’ wrath, there is now, in parts of red America, nobody willing to make this argument or to follow through with actual edicts. Local leaders and their constituents are left to fend for themselves. Indeed, DeSantis, in Florida, said this openly on Wednesday, when, after insisting that he wouldn’t suspend any of his reopening measures, he added that residents of the state should “make wise decisions for themselves based upon their own personal risk.”

In DeSantis’s America, which is Trump’s America, you are on your own, even during a pandemic. According to a mathematical model maintained by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which the White House used for a time, the death toll from the virus, which is currently at about a hundred and eighteen thousand, will rise to more than two hundred thousand by October, and it could hit a quarter of a million. To be sure, this is just a prediction, and a lot of assumptions went into it. But it’s an indication of how things have deteriorated over the past few weeks, and how unlikely it is that an effective nationwide response will be found. https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/as-new-york-reaches-a-coronavirus-landmark-parts-of-red-america-are-facing-a-potential-disaster

10. Jeff Sharlet: Inside The Cult Of Trump, His Rallies Are Church And He Is The Gospel

Yusif Jones, standing in front of a long row of porta-potties, slides his plastic Trump mask over his face. “I’m him!” he exclaims. He puffs up his chest in his homemade Trump shirt. It’s a short-sleeved American flag pullover, onto which he has ironed black felt letters across vertical red and white stripes: GOT TRUMP? Then he flashes the O.K. sign, a silver ring on his pinky. “I’m him, dude!”

To attend a Trump rally is to engage directly in the ecstasy of knowing what the great man knows, divinity disguised as earthly provocation. Jones tells me about Jesse Lee Peterson, a right-wing pastor and talk show host who calls Trump “the Great White Hope.” He doubles over and slaps his knee, signaling to me that it’s another joke. “He’s black!” says Jones, meaning Jesse Lee Peterson. “I love that dude,” he says. He considers Peterson, like the White Hope himself, awesomely witty. Jones straightens up. “But it’s true!” he adds. Which is how racism works at a Trump rally, just like the president’s own trolling—signal, disavowal, repeat; the ugly words followed by the claim that it was just a joke followed by a repetition of the ugly words. Joking! Not joking. Play it again, until the ironic becomes the real.

In Trump’s case, divine backing is more about smiting than healing. When Rep. Elijah Cummings died last October shortly after sparring with Trump about Baltimore, Peterson declared on his radio show, “He dead”—like Trump enemies John McCain and Charles Krauthammer, Peterson noted. “That’s what happens when you mess with the Great White Hope. Don’t mess with God’s children.” https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/06/inside-the-cult-of-trump-his-rallies-are-church-and-he-is-the-gospel

11. Tim Miller: Make Arenas Empty Again

The impending Tulsa rally felt like a plotline from an HBO show about a dystopian alternate timeline in which a buffoonish celebrity strongman forces his followers to pack themselves into a dangerous arena amidst a global pandemic.

But as Trump took the stage, the story transformed from dystopian fiction to absurdist farce.

It turned out that President Trump was not, in fact, set to appear in front of throngs of MAGA die-hards who were waiting for their dear leader while stirring a COVID-Kool-Aid. Instead he was about to appear before a half-empty arena and complain about people who are mean to him.

The Trump on display in Tulsa was not a strong man steeling himself for a crackdown against protesters while standing astride a silent majority of mask-eschewing followers with a death wish.

Instead, out from behind the curtain came a weak and whiny D-list Rodney Dangerfield, obsessed with minor slights and not getting enough respect from the Fake News Media that he claims to hate but seems to be kind of super into.

This is not to say that the speech was free of evil: He claimed to have asked that COVID-19 testing to be slowed down in the hopes his mismanagement wouldn’t look as bad; he described the virus that has killed 120,000 Americans in 4 months (and counting) as “the sniffles”; and he repeatedly attacked Black Lives Matters protesters as violent thugs.

Yet these bromides felt gross but rote. Like a guy hitting his spots even after losing confidence in his routine, because he doesn’t know any other material. https://thebulwark.com/make-arenas-empty-again/

12. Preet Bharara: The Wrong Justice Department Official Lost His Job This Weekend

President Trump has long made clear that, for him, “rule of law” is a limited-utility slogan. By word and deed, he has demonstrated his belief that the law and its instrumentalities exist to serve him, personally and politically.

He has pressured individuals and institutions to pervert their usual independent government missions to comply with a mandate of pure self-interest to protect the president’s friends and pursue the president’s adversaries. This explains Trump’s ire at his former attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for recusing himself from the Russia investigation; recusal made the protection part of the mandate harder to accomplish.

It also explains the president’s conduct at the heart of impeachment — using the diplomatic and financial levers of government to coerce Ukraine into announcing a damaging investigation of Joe Biden, his chief political rival. The episode is what former Russia adviser Fiona Hill disparagingly referred to in her testimony as “a domestic political errand.”

Trump’s latest domestic political errand involves the office I led for almost eight years — the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan, commonly known as S.D.N.Y., a place where politics is supposed to be off limits. The United States Attorney Geoffrey Berman was fired on Saturday in a manner and under circumstances that warrant criticism and scrutiny.

What prompted the termination? We don’t know and neither Mr. Barr nor President Trump has publicly said. Mr. Berman is a registered Republican, donated to the Trump campaign and was personally interviewed by the president. There has been no suggestion of impropriety or incompetence.

Against that backdrop, the only sin ascribable to S.D.N.Y. under Mr. Berman’s leadership, it seems, is violation of the commandment to protect the president’s friends and pursue his rivals. The president was unhappy with how the case against his former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was handled. The president was displeased that his handpicked U.S. attorney, Mr. Berman, removed himself from the case, unable to protect Mr. Trump from being incriminated in open court. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/opinion/trump-bill-barr-geoffrey-berman.html

13. Timothy L. O'Brien: Trump and Barr Discard Law, Morality and Honor

There’s scant reason to trust Barr’s take on matters of the law any more. He misrepresented the conclusions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into ties between Trump’s team and Russians trying to sabotage the 2016 election, saying Mueller found no evidence of collusion or obstruction of justice. He’s publicly savaged federal prosecutors who had ample reason to investigate Trump and then launched a witch hunt to discredit them. He’s tried to interfere with or undermine other high-profile cases involving Trump associates or appointees such as Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. His office soft-pedaled its investigation of Trump’s maneuvers in Ukraine. He supported the use of force to clear peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters from the streets outside the White House so Trump could pursue a photo op in front of a church — and then dissembled about it. 

In short, Barr has repeatedly turned his office and the Justice Department upside down to protect Trump from the consequences of his own actions. There’s little reason to believe that Berman’s doesn’t fit that pattern.

Barr maintains an imperial view of the presidency and, for the most part, sees presidents as existing beyond the rule of law. He also thinks the U.S. suffers from a morality vacuum. Last October, he delivered a speech at Notre Dame Law School in which he emphasized the importance of religion in society. On his way toward blurring the separation of church and state, he also claimed an assault on religion was afoot in the U.S. – which, he said, not only threatened individual freedom but the need for a “transcendent moral order.”

If Barr cares so much about morality, he could set an example by acting morally. Telling the truth and upholding the law would be a good start. https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-06-21/trump-and-barr-fire-berman-and-discard-law-morality-and-honor

14. Jonathan Chait: Barr Trying to Purge the Last Prosecutor Who Can Still Investigate Trump

Throughout this presidency, there has been a wide gap between President Trump’s authoritarian ambitions and his means to carry them out. The sanguine analysis is to dismiss the threat, which indeed can seem ineffectual and even silly. Just in the last day, he threatened violence against peaceful protesters in, and is siccing the Department of Justice in a hopeless lawsuit to stop John Bolton’s book even after it has been widely read.

And yet over the last three years, the gap has asymptotically narrowed through a process of trial and error, as Trump has discovered which officials are unwilling to undermine the rule of law and removed them. The most chillingly effective step in this process has been the tenure of William Barr. The attorney general’s combination of panic-fueled commitment to total culture war and experience in implementing the theory of the unified executive (under Republican administrations) has perfectly suited him for the task.

Barr, the perfect bureaucratic authoritarian, has carried out Trump’s vision of law enforcement as a sword against his enemies and a shield for his allies. The latest step is a purge of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who is running the Southern District of New York.

The SDNY is perhaps the key source of legal risk to Trump and Barr. Not only does the office traditionally operate with unusual independence from Washington, its territory covers Trump’s own center of operations. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/barr-purge-berman-trump-prosecutor-giuliani-inauguration.html

15. Jonathan Chait: What If I Told You Joe Biden Is Actually Running a Great Campaign?

For all the derision that has surrounded Biden’s generally low profile, it is the broadly correct move. Trump is and always has been deeply unpopular. He managed to overcome this handicap in 2016 because Hillary Clinton was also deeply unpopular, though somewhat less so, and turning the election into a choice allowed anti-Clinton sentiment to overpower anti-Trump sentiment. The fact that Biden has attracted less attention than Trump is not (as many Democrats have fretted) a failure. It is a strategic choice, and a broadly correct one.

Second, Biden’s isn’t just hiding out. He is doing some things. He has delivered speeches, given interviews, and met with protesters. These forums have tended to display his more attractive qualities, especially his empathy. Only one of them (his Breakfast Club interview) yielded a major gaffe.

And third, Biden has managed to communicate a coherent campaign theme. This is often a challenge for Democrats, who usually want to change a whole bunch of policies (health care! environment! progressive taxation!) that resist a simple unifying slogan. But Biden has been able to carry forward the message he used to start his campaign, which he built around Trump’s shocking embrace of racist supporters at Charlottesville, into a promise of healing racist divisions. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/joe-biden-running-great-campaign-2020-trump.html

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