Another One
July 4, 2020

The United States on Friday reported 57,497 newly confirmed coronavirus cases, the largest single-day total in the country since the pandemic began. It was the seventh time in nine days the U.S. set a new record, and at least 20 states set new highs for the average number of daily new infections over the last seven days.

Florida reported the most new cases at 9,488, and hospitals in at least two Texas counties are reportedly at full capacity, prompting county judges to urge people to shelter in place during the Independence Day weekend. Some governors and mayors have attempted to limit holiday celebrations in their states and cities and are either mandating or encouraging people wear masks, but there is concern the weekend will help keep cases rising. President Trump, for his part, held a large gathering at the base of Mount Rushmore on Friday evening, and attendees reportedly flouted public health guidelines.

Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases across the globe surpassed 11 million Friday. Read more at The Washington Post and CNN. Tim O'Donnell

May 14, 2020

Apparently one Senate investigation just wasn't enough.

On Thursday, Senate Judiciary Chair Lindsey Graham (R-N.C.) announced his committee would be opening an investigation into Crossfire Hurricane, the FBI investigation into possible ties between President Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia. Graham's announcement comes just a few weeks after the Senate Intelligence Committee released its own report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and months after the Department of Justice released its own report on the probe's origins.

Hearings on "all things related to Crossfire Hurricane" will begin in early June, Graham said Thursday. "Our first phase will deal with the government’s decision to dismiss" the case of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who Trump fired after he admitted to lying to the FBI. Flynn was indicted under former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe. The Justice Department moved to drop Flynn's charges last week after it concluded the FBI "conducted" an investigation into Flynn "without any legitimate investigative basis." The Senate Judiciary Committee will look into what Graham called "unmasking requests made by the Obama administration officials," but declined Trump's request to mandate former President Barack Obama be brought in.

The Justice Department's inspector general did determine there were several flaws in the FBI's FISA applications to surveil a Trump aide, but said they didn't mean there was "political bias" in Mueller's investigation. The GOP-led Senate Intelligence Committee meanwhile concluded Russia did try to interfere in the 2016 election on Trump's behalf. Kathryn Krawczyk

March 9, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden has picked up an endorsement from yet another former Democratic rival.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Monday endorsed Biden for president, saying the former vice president "won't only win — he'll show there's more that unites us than divides us." In an email to supporters, Booker also said that "while I'm no longer running for president, I still know that to win, Democrats need a nominee who understands that the way to beat Donald Trump is to bring people together."

Booker joins the growing list of former Democratic candidates for president who have backed Biden after he recently picked up endorsements from Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D).

The New York Times reports Booker and Harris will both appear with Biden at a Monday night rally in Detroit, and Booker will also campaign with Biden in Flint, Michigan. Michigan is one of six states set to hold its primary on Tuesday, a week after Biden dominated on Super Tuesday and became the heavy favorite to win the Democratic nomination. A CNN poll of registered voters on Monday showed Biden leading Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) by 16 points nationally. Brendan Morrow

February 7, 2020

The White House served up a double dose of seemingly vendetta-driven dismissals on Friday.

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, the National Security Council's top Ukraine expert, was fired on Friday in what his lawyer says was a decision based on "revenge" for Vindman's impeachment testimony. Vindman's twin brother Lt. Col. Yevgeny Vindman also worked for the NSC and, despite giving no public statements about President Trump or impeachment, was fired along along with him, The New York Times reports.

Alexander Vindman was escorted from the White House on Friday after Trump "decided to exact revenge," Vindman's lawyer wrote in a statement. That same revenge apparently extended to Yevgeny Vindman, who two sources say was escorted out at the same time as his brother, per the Times. Alexander Vindman's lawyer later confirmed Yevgeny Vindman's firing.

Alexander Vindman testified for Congress in Trump's impeachment inquiry, calling Trump's phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky "improper" and saying he reported it to a White House lawyer. Yevgeny Vindman, by all public accounts, didn't do any of that. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 30, 2020

It's pretty clear that President Trump knew exactly who Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas were.

In a video published Thursday by The Washington Post, Fruman and Parnas — two associates of Rudy Giuliani who aided him in Ukraine — are seen at an April 2018 Republican donor dinner with Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort. This marks the third video showing Fruman and Parnas in close proximity to Trump, and reveals that they'd been in the same place as some other top GOP officials as well.

The video captures Trump walking into a dining room at Mar-a-Lago and sitting down the table from whoever was recording. Fruman's nametag is spotted on the table, and directly across from and next to his are tags for then-Counselor to the President Johnny DeStefano and Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel. Parnas is shown taking a photo with Trump.

This recording was taken 10 days before one released last week in which Trump is heard telling Parnas and Fruman to "get rid of" former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

An RNC spokesperson said McDaniel "greets hundreds if not thousands of people at events across the country" and that "this is nothing more than that." Read more at The Washington Post. Kathryn Krawczyk

December 2, 2019

President Trump is back with another unexpected and unspecific tariff announcement.

Trump will restore steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina because the countries "have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies," he said in a Monday tweet. This "is not good for our farmers," Trump said, while also pushing the Federal Reserve to "likewise act" so other countries can "no longer take advantage of our strong dollar."

The unexpected announcement mirrors Trump's previous spur-of-the-moment tariff revelations, seeing as it came with no explanation of when and how the tariffs would roll out. Steel is Brazil's second-largest export to the U.S. after crude oil, with $2.25 billion in steel sent out from January to October this year, Bloomberg notes via Brazilian data.

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro declined to comment on the announcement until he talked to his economic minister. But "if needed, I can also talk to Trump, I have an open channel with him," Bolsonaro told reporters Monday morning. Kathryn Krawczyk

October 3, 2019

There's a new whistleblower in town, and they've reportedly got tax return dirt.

An IRS official says they were told a Treasury Department appointee tried to "improperly interfere" with an audit of President Trump or Vice President Mike Pence's tax returns. That's according to multiple people familiar with a whistleblower report the appointee filed — and there's a chance the new report might become public, The Washington Post reports.

White House officials have "dismissed the whistleblower's complaint as flimsy because it is based on conversations with other government officials," the Post writes. But congressional Democrats are reportedly sending it around Capitol Hill, have "flagged it for a federal judge," and are talking about making it public, the Post continues. It's an especially volatile topic for the Democrats considering their longstanding demands for Trump's tax returns and his constant refusal to turn them over.

This second whistleblower has been publicly known to exist for months, though this is the first time it's been reported that they're a career IRS official, and that they're alleging a Treasury official interfered with the audit process. Talk of this IRS whistleblower has heightened after an intelligence whistleblower alleged Trump pushed Ukraine's president to investigate the Biden family for his political gain, prompting an official impeachment investigation into the president. Kathryn Krawczyk

July 12, 2019

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta is right on trend.

President Trump announced Friday that Acosta would step down as labor secretary by the end of next week, saying it was Acosta's decision to do so. But rising controversy surrounding Acosta's role in fashioning a lenient deal for Jeffrey Epstein more than a decade ago obviously influenced the decision, and it means he's far from the first official in Trump's Cabinet to leave in disgrace.

When Acosta was a prosecutor in Florida, his office arranged a plea deal that let Epstein off easy amid allegations of sexual abusing underage girls. Epstein's Sunday arrest in New York over similar allegations dredged up Acosta's old decision, which, in a Wednesday press conference, he said he stood by.

Acosta follows former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price out the Cabinet's scandal-driven exit door. The department's inspector general had concluded Price wasted at least $341,000 on travel, namely on chartered flights. While Price paid back some of the costs, news of his outlandish spending sent him packing in September 2017. Next out of the Cabinet was former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin, who was fired in March 2018 after a watchdog report accused him of using taxpayer money for an extended vacation. Former EPA Head Scott Pruitt followed, as he was found to have a spending problem on everything from chartered flights to moisturizer. Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, meanwhile, left at the end of last year as investigations swirled around deals he made in office.

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn wasn't technically a part of Trump's Cabinet, but his quick departure from the West Wing came after probably the biggest scandal of all. Kathryn Krawczyk

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