By Robert A. Vella
Legendary journalist Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, has a new book coming out on the Trump presidency titled “Rage.” In a just-published article by The Washington Post, several intriguing details are revealed including what Trump knew about coronavirus in the early stages of the pandemic while he was contradicting himself in public, Trump’s adamant denials of racism and white privilege in America, Trump’s embrace of foreign dictators, and Trump’s intense conflicts with his own national security advisers. Woodward says that he will release tapes of the conversations he had with the president, and he makes an unusual assessment in the book about Trump as a man who is unfit for office.
In other news today, a Senate report released by Democrats documents mail delays by the U.S. Postal Service after Trump-ally Louis DeJoy was appointed Postmaster General including potentially life-threatening delays to prescription drug deliveries. In yet another blatant example of abuses of power by the Trump administration abridging the rule of law in America, Attorney General William Barr is using the Department of Justice to defend Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed by a woman who is accusing him of a sexual assault allegedly committed before he became president. Fresh polling on the 2020 election continues to show strong support for Joe Biden nationally, in most swing states, and among suburban voters; although, the race has tightened in Florida where the demographic composition of Hispanic voters is different from the rest of the nation and is more ideologically conservative. We’ll also cover COVID-19 news, racial injustice stories, and other headlines of importance.
Woodward book on Trump
President Trump’s head popped up during his top-secret intelligence briefing in the Oval Office on Jan. 28 when the discussion turned to the novel coronavirus outbreak in China.
“This will be the biggest national security threat you face in your presidency,” national security adviser Robert O’Brien told Trump, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward. “This is going to be the roughest thing you face.”
Matthew Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser, agreed. He told the president that after reaching contacts in China, it was evident that the world faced a health emergency on par with the flu pandemic of 1918, which killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide.
Ten days later, Trump called Woodward and revealed that he thought the situation was far more dire than what he had been saying publicly.
“You just breathe the air and that’s how it’s passed,” Trump said in a Feb. 7 call. “And so that’s a very tricky one. That’s a very delicate one. It’s also more deadly than even your strenuous flu.”
“This is deadly stuff,” the president repeated for emphasis.
At that time, Trump was telling the nation that the virus was no worse than a seasonal flu, predicting it would soon disappear, and insisting that the U.S. government had it totally under control. It would be several weeks before he would publicly acknowledge that the virus was no ordinary flu and that it could be transmitted through the air.
Senate report on mail delays
WASHINGTON — A report released Wednesday by two Democratic senators found “significant and increasing delays” in the mail delivery of prescription drugs under the tenure of Postmaster General Louis DeJoy.
The lawmakers in charge of the investigation – Sens. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts – said some of the nation’s largest pharmacies told them they were experiencing, on average, delivery delays of 18-32%, meaning deliveries that would normally take 1-2 days would instead take 3-4 days, the report concluded.
The senators said the delays could pose “serious health risks to millions of Americans and (increase) costs for consumers and taxpayers.”
Only one of the five companies surveyed by the senators said they had not experienced “unusual” delays, but the company told the senators fewer than 1% of their packages are handled by “for end-to-end delivery.”
DOJ intervenes in libel suit
The US Justice Department, in an extraordinary move on Tuesday, asked to take over the defense of President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll, a woman who has accused Trump of sexual assault.
While the alleged sexual assault occurred long before Trump became President, the Justice Department argued that it must take over because Trump’s comments spurring the defamation lawsuit came while he was in office. The move — defending Trump at taxpayer expense — comes amid ongoing criticism that the Justice Department has acted in the President’s personal interests.
Carroll, an advice columnist who for years wrote for Elle Magazine, alleged in a lawsuit filed last fall that Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at luxury Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s. Trump has denied the allegation, calling it “totally false” and saying he “never met this person in my life.”
The request and possible change of lawyers could further delay the lawsuit, or even kill it entirely. Should the Justice Department be allowed to take over, it could mean the end of Carroll’s lawsuit as the federal government can’t be sued for defamation, noted CNN legal analyst and University of Texas law school professor Steve Vladeck.
Trump called on his supporters in North Carolina to act as poll watchers, to watch out for “thieving, and stealing and robbing” that he is warning without evidence will taint Election Day. He made his call at a packed rally in Winston-Salem where he and many of his fans made a mockery of the state’s mask mandate — as well as the advice of his own government amid a pandemic that has killed nearly 190,000 Americans and was exacerbated by his prioritizing politics over science.
But most shockingly, and in one of the most stunning maneuvers in the modern history of the Department of Justice, government lawyers Tuesday applied to take over the defense of Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by a woman who accused him of rape in the 1990s.
The move will inflame claims that Attorney General William Barr, who misrepresented the Mueller report and has intervened in other highly political cases that are inconvenient to the President, is acting as Trump’s personal lawyer and desecrating his department’s traditional role.
New polling on 2020 election
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump in six 2020 swing states, as the Republican National Convention changed little in the race for the White House, according to a new CNBC/Change Research poll.
Across Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the former vice president holds a 49% to 45% edge over the Republican incumbent, the survey released Wednesday found. It compares with a 49% to 46% edge Biden held in a poll taken two weeks ago, after the Democratic National Convention but before the GOP’s nominating events.
Biden holds at least a narrow lead in all six of the states, which will play a major role in determining who wins the White House on Nov. 3. Here is where the race stands in all of those states, and how it has changed from the last survey:
Arizona: Biden 49%, Trump 45% (was Biden 49%, Trump 47%)
Florida: Biden 49%, Trump 46% (unchanged)
Michigan: Biden 49%, Trump 43% (was Biden 50%, Trump 44%)
North Carolina: Biden 49%, Trump 47% (was Biden 48%, Trump 47%)
Pennsylvania: Biden 50%, Trump 46% (was Biden 49%, Trump 46%)
Wisconsin: Biden 50%, Trump 44% (was Biden 49%, Trump 44%)