By Robert A. Vella
Today, we’ll examine the pro-Trump gunman who allegedly murdered two protesters in Kenosha plus the latest on the police killing of Jacob Blake, boycotts by professional sports players in support of the racial injustice protests, how the Trump administration pressured the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to ease COVID-19 testing recommendations (which would allow health insurance companies to avoid paying for it), hundreds more former GOP officials who are opposing President Trump’s reelection, and a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) warning to employees about engaging in political activity within their official capacity.
Readers should pay particular attention to the DHS story because it could result in a lot of legal jeopardy for federal employees who are now violating the law in service to Donald Trump. Although Joe Biden has stated that he wouldn’t misuse the Department of Justice for political retaliation (like Trump is doing), he also has said that he wouldn’t interfere in DOJ prosecutions if he becomes president. That means the DOJ would be unencumbered to pursue criminal charges, should it choose to do so, against the numerous individuals who have broken the law under Trump’s direction (including the former president himself).
Authorities investigating social media accounts associated with the name [Kyle Rittenhouse] of the alleged gunman in Kenosha, Wisconsin, have found references of support for President Donald Trump and a video that appears to show the poster at a Trump rally, law enforcement officials told ABC News.
The social media accounts were deactivated Wednesday and are now part of the investigation into the deadly shooting. Investigators are looking to determine whether the accounts are legitimate and are scrubbing them for any information pertinent to the probe, two law enforcement officials told ABC News.
Local law enforcement agencies are not commenting on the social media accounts.
Before he took his rifle to confront the unrest Tuesday in Kenosha, Wis., and was charged in a fatal shooting at the protests, Kyle Rittenhouse seemingly idolized one thing: the police.
Growing up in Chicago’s far northern suburbs, the 17-year-old shadowed local law enforcement as a cadet and filled his social media feeds with posts declaring that “Blue Lives Matter.” There were videos from the front row of a Trump rally, and photos of himself posing with guns.
Much else is still unknown about Rittenhouse, who was charged Wednesday with first-degree intentional homicide after two people were killed and another seriously wounded by gunfire at the demonstrations. But brief accounts from neighbors and local institutions paint the picture of a high school dropout who viewed law enforcement officers as his personal heroes.
So much so that, when massive protests, looting and fires broke out in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday, he crossed state lines to offer his support to local policemen — at times, speaking as if their duties were his, too.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Athletes from the N.B.A., W.N.B.A., Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer took their boldest stand yet against systemic racism and police brutality, boycotting games on Wednesday in response to the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wis. The moves dramatically escalated a season of athletes demonstrating for social justice as some expressed doubts about continuing to play amid widespread social unrest.
The wave of boycotts and postponements was sparked by Milwaukee Bucks players’ responding to the shooting of Jacob Blake by refusing to come out of their locker room on Wednesday afternoon for a playoff game against the Orlando Magic. Two more N.B.A. playoff games scheduled for Wednesday night were quickly postponed, inspiring players in other leagues to follow the Bucks’ lead and causing numerous professional basketball, baseball and soccer games to be called off because athletes would not participate.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is defending its controversial new guidance on coronavirus testing following outcry from various medical groups and allegations of political intervention.
Earlier this week, the CDC quietly revised its guidance on coronavirus testing, dropping its previous recommendation to test everyone who’s come into close contact with a person infected with Covid-19 — even those who don’t have symptoms. The agency previously advised testing everyone with a “recent known or suspected exposure” to the virus, saying the virus can be transmitted a few days before symptoms show as well as by asymptomatic people who never develop them.
Medical groups and some lawmakers raised concern about the new guidance, saying that early and widespread testing of people without symptoms can help contain the outbreak in the U.S.
The CDC, which referred calls to the Department of Health and Human Services all day Wednesday, defended the change in a statement from CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield released around 10 p.m. Wednesday night.
Redfield said the new guidelines were “coordinated in conjunction with the White House Coronavirus Task Force,” adding that they “received appropriate attention, consultation and input from task force experts.”
But [Dr. Anthony] Fauci later told CNN’s chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta that he “was under general anesthesia in the operating room and was not part of any discussion or deliberation regarding the new testing recommendations.”
The New York Times reported later Wednesday that two federal health officials said the CDC was pressured into changing the guidance from top officials at the White House and HHS.
More Republicans oppose Trump
WASHINGTON — Several hundred former aides to President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain announced Thursday that they are endorsing Joe Biden for president.
A political action committee, 43 Alumni for Biden, that launched last month posted a list of nearly 300 members of the Bush administration or campaigns who are publicly backing the Democratic nominee. The names range from members of the Cabinet, including former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and former Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, to ambassadors, to White House and advance staffers.
Meanwhile, more than 100 former staff of McCain’s congressional offices and campaigns also endorsed Biden for president.
“Given the incumbent president’s lack of competent leadership, his efforts to aggravate rather than bridge divisions among Americans, and his failure to uphold American values, we believe the election of former Vice President Biden is clearly in the national interest,” they said in a letter.
DHS employees warned
Department of Homeland Security employees received an email on Thursday reminding them to not to engage in “partisan political activity” just days after Acting DHS Secretary Chad Wolf participated in a naturalization ceremony that was broadcast at the Republican National Convention.
Wolf’s participation in the event, which was taped and broadcast at the RNC, prompted immediate outcry from Democrats who alleged that Wolf had violated the Hatch Act — a law that restricts most executive branch employees from engaging in partisan political activity.
The letter sent out to all DHS employees on Thursday, obtained by POLITICO, was billed as a “reminder” about the Hatch Act, which the email says prohibits “using official authority or influence for the purpose of impacting the result of an election,” “conducting any political activity while on duty or while in a government room, building, vehicle” or engaging in political activity while “wearing a DHS badge or insignia, or while using government equipment.”