By Robert A. Vella
Today’s news roundup is highlighted by President Trump falling to a new low in public approval for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic while the number of new COVID-19 cases has reached a new high in the U.S. With the dismal political fortunes of Trump and Republicans becoming ever more apparent for the November elections (FiveThirtyEight currently has Trump’s aggregate approval rating nearly 16 points underwater at 55.8% to 40.1%, and its generic congressional ballot disfavoring Republicans by 9 points at 49.4% to 40.4%), the rats are jumping off the proverbial sinking ship while party insiders and conservative pundits are starting to plan for the future of the GOP.
Astute political observers know that such premature acceptance of defeat is unthinkable for a party trying to reelect an incumbent president. Doing so is extremely risky under normal circumstances, and it is especially so considering Trump’s vindictive and retaliatory nature. The only typical situation in which so many party members would not be gung-ho for their presidential candidate is if they were convinced that he/she would be dead meat on election day.
They’re right. Republicans don’t want their party to disintegrate like the Whigs did before the Civil War. Outwardly, they will avoid antagonizing Trump. Inwardly, they will increasingly take steps to save their individual careers and plan to reform the GOP under new leadership. Those who survive reelection, those who might be newly elected, and influential figures who are not running for office this year, will all vie for prominence. I suspect that whomever emerges on top will be a traditional fiscal and social conservative who rejects the abusive and racist trappings of Donald Trump. If that happens, the year 2021 will mark the end of Republicans’ deal with the devil and the cult of right-wing extremist populism will return to wandering around headless in the abyss.
If you were to look at the average of polls, it’s pretty clear that as coronavirus cases surge in the US, the public is becoming more and more disenchanted with how Trump and his administration are handling the issue.
WASHINGTON – Attorney General William Barr repeatedly pressed recently ousted Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman to resign during a chaotic weekend last month, the former prosecutor told a House panel Thursday.
Berman provided the account in an opening statement during a closed-door meeting with the House Judiciary Committee, following his abrupt firing as chief of the Justice Department’s most prestigious office.
“The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired. He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign,” Berman told lawmakers on the committee, which has been investigating allegations of politicization of the Justice Department.
A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.
The testimony from Berman, whose office has investigated and prosecuted several of President Donald Trump’s allies, is certain to raise additional questions about the Justice Department’s independence from a White House that has purged watchdogs, whistleblowers and others seen as disloyal.
The committee said it will release a transcript of the testimony. A summary of the interview released by the committee accused Barr of lying.
America’s top general launched an outspoken attack on the Confederacy and signaled his support for the military renaming bases named for Confederate leaders on Wednesday, in his latest public comments that seem to put him at odds with President Donald Trump.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley did not hold back in an appearance before the House Armed Service Committee, stating that “those officers turned their back on their oath,” referring to the names on the bases. “It was an act of treason, at the time, against the Union, against the Stars and Stripes, against the US Constitution.”
Milley added that “the way we should do it matters as much as that we should do it,” and he said he recommended establishing “a commission of folks to take a hard look at the bases, the statues, the names and all of this stuff, to see if we can have a rational, mature discussion” on this issue.
The remarks could set him on a collision course with Trump, who has made clear he will block any plans to rename the bases and has made exploiting racial and cultural divisions a key tenet of his reelection strategy.
The Russian company charged with orchestrating a wide-ranging effort to meddle in the 2016 presidential election overwhelmingly focused its barrage of social media advertising on what is arguably America’s rawest political division: race.
The roughly 3,500 Facebook ads were created by the Russian-based Internet Research Agency, which is at the center of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s February indictment of 13 Russians and three companies seeking to influence the election.
While some ads focused on topics as banal as business promotion or Pokémon, the company consistently promoted ads designed to inflame race-related tensions. Some dealt with race directly; others dealt with issues fraught with racial and religious baggage such as ads focused on protests over policing, the debate over a wall on the U.S. border with Mexico and relationships with the Muslim community.
The company continued to hammer racial themes even after the election.