By Robert A. Vella
The desperation of President Trump‘s reelection campaign is getting feverish. Following the Senate hearing on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy‘s abortive moves to slowdown mail deliveries intended to impede voting by mail and sabotage the U.S. Postal Service, which turned into a public relations disaster for Trump with another hearing scheduled for Monday in the House of Representatives, the president reached deep into his bag-of-tricks and offered an absurd red-herring to appease his rabid supports. Trump said that he would send law enforcement personnel to in-person polling stations to prevent non-existent voter fraud (i.e. voter intimidation and suppression). He can do no such thing, and his ridiculous statement only reveals the high anxiety Trump is feeling about the 2020 election. With little more than two months remaining in the campaign, Trump is left frustrated, politically isolated, and facing a broad opposing coalition which is numerically superior to his own. His plans for the Republican National Convention have fallen apart disastrously by his arrogant meddling, and next week’s bifurcated events will likely pale in comparison to the professional production displayed by Democrats. Nervous and embittered, Trump is turning on Republicans and turning towards Vladimir Putin for assistance. The Russian strongman, however, may be more of a hindrance than a help. After the recent poisoning of his main political rival, and his support for the rigged election in Belarus, Putin is persona non grata in America and around much of the world.
A new exposé on Fox News details a hostile takeover by Trump supporters (including Attorney General William Barr) and internal turmoil following the ouster of Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes during the 2016 election campaign. The fascinating reporting by CNN’s Brian Stelter uncovers a right-wing propaganda machine which had serious reservations about their chosen leader.
Lastly, we’ll update the latest on Putin’s rival Alexei Navalny, news on COVID-19, and some court rulings which are adding to Trump’s woes.
A day after Donald Trump told Sean Hannity he wanted law enforcement officers at polling places, a chorus of experts including multiple secretaries of state told ABC News the president can’t ask them to go there.
Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, told ABC News the president can’t give orders to local sheriffs and can’t send federal forces into polling places.
“There’s no law that I’m aware of that permits, or that would authorize, the president to deploy federal law enforcement or military or anything like that for domestic use in and around in or around polling places,” Ho told ABC News. “Just checking someone’s ID at the door doesn’t really do anything from an election security perspective — from a voter intimidation perspective, I can see how having law enforcement ask people for IDs when you’re entering into a polling location could be intimidating.”
The law enforcement officers dispatched on Election Day to help maintain order typically aren’t checking IDs.
“While I can’t speak for every individual sheriff, I am not aware of any plans to operate outside of normal duties on Election Day,” David A. Mahoney, sheriff of Transylvania, North Carolina, told ABC News in an email. “I have not had any contact with the Department of Justice regarding polling places. I have no plans to conduct ID checks, and voters in Transylvania County should not expect anything out of the ordinary on Election Day.”
Under the Voting Rights Act, DOJ can deploy poll watchers to specified locations “to help assess compliance with the federal voting rights laws,” according to the department’s website.
The DOJ didn’t respond to a request for comment from ABC News.
Fox News exposé
The attorney general, William Barr, told Rupert Murdoch to “muzzle” Andrew Napolitano, a prominent Fox News personality who became a critic of Donald Trump, according to a new book about the rightwing TV network.
Barr’s meeting with Murdoch, at the media mogul’s New York home in October 2019, was widely reported at the time, with speculation surrounding its subject. According to Hoax: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth, by CNN media reporter Brian Stelter, subjects covered included media consolidation and criminal justice reform.
“But it was also about Judge Andrew Napolitano.”
Stelter’s in-depth look at Fox News, its fortunes under Trump and its links to his White House will be published on Tuesday. The Guardian obtained a copy.
Navalny poisoning update
MOSCOW —Russia’s most prominent Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny, was in a critical condition and undergoing full tests at a German hospital Saturday after an emergency medical flight from Russia with suspected poisoning.
Navalny, in a coma since collapsing early Thursday, arrived in a convoy of ambulances under a heavy security escort at the Charité hospital following a flight from Siberia that was tracked closely by international media.
Navalny, 44, was stricken on a plane traveling from the Siberian city of Tomsk to Moscow. His spokeswoman and others suspect he was the target of a deliberate poisoning — a method used before by Russian agents — possibly in tea he drank at an airport cafe.
On Friday, Alexander Murakhovsky, chief physician at Omsk Emergency Hospital No. 1, denied permission for Navalny to be transferred to German care, prompting Navalny’s colleagues to accuse authorities of trying to cover up a proper investigation of the suspected poisoning.
Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh called the refusal to allow Navalny to depart an attempt to take his life, suggesting on Twitter that authorities wanted to thwart an investigation by stalling “until the poison in his body can no longer be traced.”
One of the hallmarks of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States is that the disease disproportionately strikes people of color. But it doesn’t have to be that way, a new study suggests.
Researchers analyzed more than 11,000 COVID-19 patients who were sick enough to seek treatment at a hospital and found that Black Americans in the study were no more likely to die of the disease than their white counterparts. Even when they zeroed in on the sickest patients — those who were admitted to an intensive care unit and who had to be put on ventilators — the results were the same.
The patients in the study were treated between Feb. 19 and May 31 at one of 92 Ascension hospitals in 12 states: Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin. All of the hospitals in that Catholic healthcare system followed the same protocols for testing and treating their COVID-19 patients.
Black patients were overrepresented among the 11,210 patients included in the study — they accounted for 37% of those with confirmed cases of COVID-19, though they’re 13.4% of the U.S. population. Another 41% of the patients were white, and the racial identities of the remaining 22% was either “other” or “missing.”
Compared to the white patients, those who were Black were about five years younger and more likely to have a history of serious health conditions, including asthma, chronic kidney disease, congestive heart failure, diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity. They were also more likely to be insured by Medicaid and to have a higher “neighborhood deprivation index,” indicating more poverty and less employment and education.