By Robert A. Vella
In congressional testimony, FBI Director Christopher Wray warned the nation that Russia is actively interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get reelected by falsely smearing his Democratic opponent Joe Biden; and, Trump’s former Director of National Intelligence (DNI) Dan Coats is urging Congress and social media companies to conduct oversight of the election to protect against foreign (i.e. Russia) and domestic (i.e. Trump) disinformation campaigns intended to discredit America’s democratic process and the election outcome. Meanwhile, additional public opinion polls released this week show Biden’s lead over Trump is solidifying.
Trump’s quack “herd immunity” (“herd mentality” in Trump-speak) doctor Scott Atlas, who is pushing an irresponsible and dangerous plan to allow COVID-19 to run wild through the U.S. population which would statistically equate to millions more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, has been rebuked as a fraud by his own alma mater Stanford University. Also, Trump tried to cast doubt on CDC Director Robert Redfield‘s congressional testimony on the effectiveness of face masks and the timetable for a potential vaccine, but was immediately contradicted by him again. New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are ticking back up again right before the seasonal flu season in a worrying sign that the pandemic is resurging a second time. There are now 6.725 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and 200,000 deaths. Globally, the numbers are 30 million and 943,000 respectively.
Attorney General William Barr is going full-Nazi by unleashing his inner Heinrich Himmler in a desperate attempt to rescue Trump from electoral defeat. Or, is he a covert Russian agent too? Barr went wild yesterday accusing Black Lives Matter protesters and local public officials of sedition, expressing hostility towards his own Justice Department officials for not obeying his dictatorial edicts, and describing social restrictions designed to contain the pandemic as “slavery.”
We’ll also cover more Trump shenanigans and some important international news.
FBI warning on Russia interference
FBI Director Christopher Wray said Thursday that Russia has been “very active” in its efforts to influence US elections, with the primary goal being to “denigrate” Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Wray told lawmakers that Russia is primarily interfering through “malign foreign influence in an effort to hurt Biden’s campaign” — echoing the intelligence community’s public assessment on Moscow’s meddling efforts issued last month.
Foreign election interference efforts differ from what was observed in 2016, when there was also an effort to target election infrastructure, Wray said. “We have not seen that second part yet this year or this cycle, but we certainly have seen very active, very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020,” he added.
According to Wray, Russia is using social media, proxies, state media and online journals to sow “divisiveness and discord” and “primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment.”
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights spent months analyzing threats to minority voting rights during the coronavirus pandemic, coming up with what one commissioner called a “behemoth” set of recommendations.
But no one will see them. Conservative commissioners recently appointed by President Donald Trump voted to shelve the report, its findings and recommendations, even commissioners’ statements.
The commissioner who led the research provided a glimpse of the report’s contents during an August meeting, noting it covers problems with in-person and mail-in balloting faced by voters of color, people with disabilities, and those with medical conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus.
Trump’s “herd immunity” doctor
A group of 78 researchers and doctors from Stanford Medical School took aim this week at Dr. Scott Atlas, the expert President Donald Trump recently added to the White House pandemic response task force, for embracing and peddling what they described as “falsehoods and misrepresentations of science” in his public musings about the coronavirus.
Atlas, a neuroradiologist by training with no background in treating infectious diseases, joined the president’s medical advisory staff last month. Before doing so, he made frequent appearances on Fox News, where he often cast doubt on the efficacy of wearing masks and pushed for schools to reopen with in-person learning – positions in line with Trump’s own public sentiments.
In a “Dear Colleagues” letter penned Wednesday, the Stanford experts wrote that they have a “moral and ethical responsibility” to push back on Atlas’ controversial claims about mitigating the spread of the coronavirus, which they characterized as “opinions and statements [that] run counter to established science” and “undermine public health authorities and the credible science that guides effective public health policy.”