June 21, 2020

A bronze statue of Theodore Roosevelt that has been at the entrance of the American Museum of Natural History in New York City since 1940 will be removed.

The "Equestrian" statue depicts Roosevelt on horseback, with an African man on one side and a Native American man on the other. The museum approached the city — which owns the building and property — to discuss removing the statue "because it explicitly depicts black and indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement on Sunday. "The city supports the museum's request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue."

Activists have been calling on the museum to remove the statue for several years, and there has been a renewed interest in the wake of the George Floyd protests. Officials told The New York Times they are not sure when the statue will be taken down, where it will go, or if it will be replaced. In honor of Roosevelt's commitment to conservation, the museum will rename its Hall of Biodiversity after him.

Roosevelt's father was a founding member of the museum, and his great-grandson Theodore Roosevelt IV is now on its board of trustees. In a statement, he said the world does "not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice. The composition of the 'Equestrian' statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt's legacy. It is time to move the statue and move forward." Catherine Garcia

10:23 a.m.

Ellen DeGeneres is pledging to begin a "new chapter" at her show.

DeGeneres on Monday returned with the first episode of her talk show's new season, getting started by addressing the allegations that have emerged of a toxic work environment there. A BuzzFeed News report described "racism, fear, and intimidation" employees have allegedly experienced at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, while a second BuzzFeed report said that "sexual harassment and misconduct by top executive producers runs rampant" at the show.

"I learned that things happened here that never should have happened," DeGeneres said on Monday. "I take that very seriously, and I want to say I am so sorry to the people who were affected."

DeGeneres went on to say "I take responsibility for what happens at my show," and she promised that after having "a lot of conversations" about her workplace over the past few weeks, "We have made the necessary changes, and today, we are starting a new chapter." An investigation into the workplace environment at the show was opened in July, and in August, three top producers were ousted.

DeGeneres also addressed claims that "I am not who I appear to be on TV," namely the idea that, off the air, she is not "the kind lady" she is on her show.

"The truth is, I am that person that you see on TV," DeGeneres said. "I am also a lot of other things. Sometimes I get sad. I get mad. I get anxious. I get frustrated. I get impatient. And I am working on all of that. I am a work in progress." Brendan Morrow

10:18 a.m.

President Trump is seemingly just making things up about Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's dying wish.

Ginsburg died Friday after a long career fighting for gender equality, capped off with decades as the most prominent member of the Supreme Court's liberal wing. The timing of her death leaves room for Trump to appoint a conservative justice to replace her — something Ginsburg was acutely aware of even as she was dying.

In the days before her death, Ginsburg told her granddaughter that "My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed." But in his now-weekly appearance on Fox & Friends on Monday, Trump suggested, with no evidence, that Ginsburg's wish wasn't real. "I don't know that she said that," Trump said, asking if it was written by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

Trump's comments received criticism from Never Trump conservative Bill Kristol, who tweeted that "It's one thing to say you're not going to honor Justice Ginsburg's dying wish. It's another thing, as Trump does here, to accuse RBG's granddaughter, Clara Spera, of lying about her grandmother."

Trump also told Fox & Friends he would announce his nominee to replace Ginsburg on Friday or Saturday, a week after Ginsburg's death. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:57 a.m.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a new guidance has acknowledged that COVID-19 can spread through the air, CNN reports.

The CDC's website as of Friday says that "airborne viruses, including COVID-19, are among the most contagious and easily spread" and that the coronavirus commonly spreads "through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols."

The CDC's latest guidance also says, "It is possible that COVID-19 may spread through the droplets and airborne particles that are formed when a person who has COVID-19 coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond 6 feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes)."

The guidance from the CDC, CNN notes, previously described COVID-19 as mainly spreading through "respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes or talks" and within six feet. In the new guidance, when listing ways to protect oneself from COVID-19, in addition to steps such as social distancing and wearing a mask, the CDC also now says to "use air purifiers to help reduce airborne germs in indoor spaces."

The Washington Post notes that "scientists and public health experts have warned of mounting evidence that the novel coronavirus is airborne" for months, and University of Colorado at Boulder chemistry professor Jose-Luis Jimenez told the Post this acknowledgement from the CDC as a "major change."

"This is a good thing," Jimenez told the Post, "if we can reduce transmission because more people understand how it is spreading and know what to do to stop it."

Additionally, University of Maryland professor Donald Milton told CNN it's a "major improvement," adding, "I'm very encouraged to see that the CDC is paying attention and moving with the science. The evidence is accumulating." Brendan Morrow

7:22 a.m.

A sizable anti-abortion minority of U.S. voters are excited at the prospect of a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court striking down or effectively neutering Roe v. Wade, but the Affordable Care Act is in much more imminent danger after the death Friday of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The high court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Nov. 10 in a lawsuit by Texas and other conservative states, backed by the Trump administration, arguing that the entire ACA should be struck down because the GOP-controlled Congress zeroed out the individual mandate to buy insurance in 2017. The lawsuit "was largely shrugged off" when it was filed two years ago, Politico notes, but it has now "been validated by Republican-appointed justices in lower courts, and ObamaCare will have one less ally on the conservative-dominated bench when the Supreme Court considers the law's fate this fall."

"Conventional wisdom had held that Chief Justice John Roberts would likely join with the court's liberals to save the ACA once again," Axios reports. "But if President Trump is able to fill Ginsburg's former seat, Roberts' vote alone wouldn't be enough to do the trick, and the law — or big sections of it — is more likely to be struck down." Most at risk are the law's protections for pre-existing conditions, according to legal scholars following the litigation. But everything is on the table, including Medicaid expansion, coverage for people up to age 26 on their parents' insurance plans, and no-cost preventative care.

"A broad ruling against the entire ACA still requires some logical leaps," Axios notes. But "a lawsuit that once seemed like a long shot now has a much more reasonable chance at success — and that means 20 million people's health coverage really could be in the balance." Trump and congressional Republicans tried and narrowly failed to replace the ACA in 2017, and Trump has yet to release his frequently teased newer health care plan. Peter Weber

5:11 a.m.

President Trump gave approval Saturday for a deal in which China's ByteDance would partner with Oracle and Walmart to create a U.S. TikTok spinoff that would satisfy his security demands. ByteDance said Monday it wanted to clarify some "groundless rumors" about the deal, asserting that the Beijing company would control 80 percent of a wholly owned subsidiary, TikTok Global, after a public offering. Oracle would own a 12.5 percent stake and Walmart the other 7.5 percent.

U.S. backers of the deal argue that because U.S. investors own 41 percent of ByteDance, the 20 percent owned by Walmart and Oracle would give U.S. investors and companies a majority stake in the TikTok Global. Oracle and Walmart also said Americans would hold four of the five seats on the board of directors. ByteDance said Monday that one seat would go to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon but the other four would stay with current directors, including ByteDance founder Zhang Yiming.

Another "rumor" ByteDance sought to shoot down was Trump's assertion that the Chinese company would pay the U.S. $5 billion to create an education fund to teach American children "the real history of our country." ByteDance said the $5 billion figure was just an estimate of federal taxes it would pay over several years if its new subsidiary proved successful. Trump has said he wanted the buyers to pay the White House "key money" for facilitating the deal, but White House lawyers said that would violate the law.

ByteDance also said it will retain full control of TikTok's prized algorithms and source code, and Oracle can review the code for security threats but only in controlled locations. Trump's Aughst executive order giving ByteDance 90 days to sell to a U.S. company cited concerns that the personal data of Americans could be passed on to China's government. A senior Trump campaign official tells The Wall Street Journal that TikTok's Washington lobbyists had argued to Trump's campaign that banning a social media juggernaut with 100 million users, "including many who are of voting age and live in battleground states such as Florida," would be bad politics. Peter Weber

3:22 a.m.

There isn't really anything to agree or disagree with in a campaign ad Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden tweeted over the weekend, nothing to actually fight over. But it does win points for brevity, clocking in at 10 seconds, 5 of which is Biden saying he approves the message. The other 5 seconds is President Trump marveling that he might lose to Biden.

Trump also makes what Biden spins into a promise — and if so, it's not one Trump will keep. As The Week's Bonnie Kristian argued, you're (understandably) delusional if you think "that if Trump loses in November, he will, in some sense, go away." Peter Weber

2:21 a.m.

The White House said Sunday that President Trump will announce a Supreme Court nominee soon but will let Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) determine the calendar for a potential confirmation vote.

Trying to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died Friday, before the election or in the lame-duck session afterward would be a rushed process — and extremely contentious, especially given that McConnell blocked President Barack Obama's nominee in early 2016 on the grounds that voters should decide who gets to pick the nominee in an election year.

Two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Susan Collins (Maine), have publicly opposed filing Ginsburg's seat before the next president is chosen, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — who chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2016 — suggested in August he would oppose holding hearings if a seat opened up before the election. Four Republicans have to oppose Trump's pick for the nomination to fail. But if McConnell waits until the lame-duck session, that number might fall to three, thanks to Arizona's Senate race.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly, the Democratic nominee, is leading Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in most or all polls, and if he wins on Nov. 3, he could be sworn in by Nov. 30, NBC News reports. That's because this is actually a special election to fill the seat vacated when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) died. McSally was sent to Congress by Gov. Doug Ducey (R-Ariz.), not the voters, and state law says the winner of the election will take office once the results are certified. It's possible Ducey or McConnell could try to slow the process if Kelly wins.

Ginsburg's dying wish was for the president inaugurated next January to pick her successor. "But the decision of when to nominate does not lie with her," Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said Sunday. Peter Weber

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