Editors’ Blog

Where Things Stand: Here Are The Admin Officials Who Don’t Want To Give You Daily COVID Info
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White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, senior adviser Jared Kushner, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and counselor to the president Hope Hicks, for starters.

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Biden Should Commit to it And Trump Should Be Warned: The Cover Ups End in January

It now seems likely that President Trump will lose his bid for reelection in November and perhaps by a margin large enough to head off any effort to contest the results and unconstitutionally hold on to power. But even if this doesn’t happen in November it will happen one day. Now is the time to plan for accountability for and recovery from the catastrophe of Trumpism.

One of the most abiding criticisms of the Obama administration is that no one was held accountable for the actions that led to the 2008 financial crisis. Relatedly, but addressing a different set of equities, others criticized Obama for ‘turning the page’ on the manipulated intelligence scandals that led to the Iraq War. These are complicated questions that are beyond the scope of this discussion. But there are at least potent reasons to avoid the cycle which has plagued so many countries in which losing power means vulnerability to political prosecutions and the necessity of exile.

But we often get this part of the civic accountability calculus wrong. Prosecution and criminal punishment play an important role in combating public wrongdoing. But they are not the most important tool. Indeed it often operates at cross purposes to the far more important goal of public exposure.

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Where Things Stand: The GOP’s Embarrassing Mask Prodding
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At this point, multiple Republicans and Trump allies have done their damnedest to quietly nudge President Trump on masks — all without actually calling him out for it.

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White Supremacy In The White House

“Woodrow Wilson was in wide company in being a white supremacist at the turn of the 20th century, but he stands apart in having overseen the triumph of this ideology at home and abroad,” writes journalist and author Colin Woodard for Cafe.

Reading John Roberts

TPM Reader JO, a lawyer, reacts to this morning’s Supreme Court decision on stare decisis (and abortion, of course!):
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Shoeless In St. Louis

TPM Reader BL writes in to offer a clarification on the gun-toting couple in St. Louis. It’s potentially important context in a legal sense, but in the larger context I’m not so sure that armed residents of a Gilded Age knockoff of an Italian Renaissance palazzo defending their own private street patrolled by private security guards changes the essential meaning we can draw from this cartoonish encounter:

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Where Things Stand: We Should’ve Known A While Ago That Kavanaugh Can’t Be Trusted
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Back in the days of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s contentious Senate confirmation, the Washington Post killed a story that could’ve exposed a striking example of Kavanaugh’s public disingenuousness.

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New Data Source

Here is a new source of COVID data I want to share with you: outbreak.info. There are a lot of these sites and I try to dig into just who is running them and what standards they’re using for their data. This one appears to be the work of a team headed up by Andrew Su at the Scripps Research Center Institute in La Jolla. A lot of the data is what you find at other great sites like The COVID Tracking Project, the Johns Hopkins data site, etc. But this is a team specializing in bioinformatics. So they’ve worked on creating uniform formats for COVID data so the data can be efficiently and accurately meshed together – so the data can talk to each other.

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Standing Athwart The Revolution

All that stands between us and a conservative revolution on the Supreme Court is one John Glover Roberts, Jr.

Bonnie And Clyde
Armed homeowners standing in front of their house along Portland Place confront protesters as they march to Mayor Lyda Krewson's house on Sunday, June 28, 2020, in the Central West End in St. Louis. (Laurie Skrivan/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS)

TPM Reader MD writes in with his personal account of the St. Louis protest that featured the gun-waving Bonnie and Clyde in front of their “Midwestern palazzo”:

Trump just re-tweeted images of the gun-toting St. Louis couple, so this seems destined to become a national obsession. Might as well send you my two cents.

I was in St. Louis last night. In fact, I attended the protest. Let me give you a play-by-play.

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Clean AF

We interrupt our regular programming for an unsolicited testimonial from TPM Reader JD:

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More on Shifting COVID Age Demographics

Yesterday I discussed how shifting age demographics could mean fewer deaths from the current COVID outbreaks than the ones mostly in the North in March and April. Here’s a much more granular discussion of this issue at the COVID Tracking website. Highly recommend if you’re interested in going deeper on this question.

Princeton Drops Woodrow Wilson from Name of Public Policy School

The Board of Trustees of Princeton University has voted to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from the University’s public policy school and one of its residential colleges.

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Thank You!

Super proud of the TPM team for the original investigative reporting this week on the Trump administration preparing to bail on COVID testing sites, particularly in Texas, where the pandemic is surging.

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Appreciate The Congrats

This speaks for itself:

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After TPM’s reporting this week, the Trump administration has reversed course and will not bail on five COVID testing sites in Texas as the pandemic surges there.

Texas Officials Brace For Fed Withdrawal

In a letter obtained by TPM, Dallas’ mayor asked HHS Secretary Azar to continue federal support for two testing sites in his city. Sens. Cruz and Cornyn have made the same request for seven sites across the state. The incident commander of the Dallas sites is holding out hope that federal support might continue.

But as the COVID outbreak in the state intensifies, the sunset date for federal support — June 30 — is drawing near.

Matt Shuham reports on the situation in Texas as the day approaches.

Not Long Ago. Not Even Past.

We should remember that until quite recently — just about a year ago — Harriet Tubman was scheduled to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill. It wasn’t just an idea. Much of the work and preparation had already been done. But the plan was canceled because it made President Trump mad.

Mystery Solved?

One of the most persistent mysteries of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. is why cases have largely plateaued (until the last couple weeks) while mortality figures have fallen substantially. As we’ve discussed, there’s been an ongoing debate about disentangling the evolving case counts from the ongoing rise in the number of tests being conducted every day. But particularly as cases started to rise in June it is clear that cases are growing well in excess of what can be explained by more testing. So why have the daily mortality numbers dropped? Why the disjuncture between the two numbers, even taking into account a two- or three-week lag between spikes in new cases and people succumbing to the disease?

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Guardians Not Warriors

Five years ago, former cop Seth Stoughton wrote one of the best things we’ve ever published at TPM. It was on point, expert yet accessible, and very timely. Now he’s back, with co-author Karen Collins Rice, with a new piece on the need to dramatically change police culture to embrace the guardian ethos.

Important Read

A former FEMA administrator tells us that the Trump administration’s approach on closing testing sites as hotspots flare is, to use the technical term, “dumb.”

Where Things Stand: TFW You Were Wrong
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Texas Governor Greg Abbott announces the reopening of more Texas businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic at a press conference at the Texas State Capitol in Austin on Monday, May 18, 2020. Abbott said that childcare facilities, youth camps, some professional sports, and bars may now begin to fully or partially reopen their facilities as outlined by regulations listed on the Open Texas website. (Lynda M. Gonzalez/The Dallas Morning News Pool)

Gov. Abbott is doing some self-reflection.

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This Didn’t Have to Happen
DALLAS, March 22, 2020 . Staff work at a drive-through COVID-19 testing site in Dallas, Texas, the United States, March 21, 2020. The number of COVID-19 cases in the United States topped 20,000 as of 1:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Saturday ,1730 GMT, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering ,CSSE, at Johns Hopkins University. (Photo by Dan Tian/Xinhua via Getty)

Let’s start with one chart that tells one part of the story.

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Where Things Stand: The Most-Picked-Up TPM Story This Year
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Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) angry-tweeted it this morning. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) is pushing back against the feds over it. Four members of Congress and local officials reached out to the Trump administration expressing “urgent concern” after we broke the news.

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Where Things Stand: Fauci Doesn’t Kid Either
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“I don’t kid.”

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More On Bill Barr’s Friday Night Caper

As we noted this morning, we still don’t know what was so urgent or important that Bill Barr tried to force the ouster of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York on Friday evening, even going so far as to lie in a series of press releases and letters about what US Attorney Geoff Berman had done (resigned; he hadn’t) or what President Trump had done (fired Berman; he denied it). But another critical question is why Barr thought he could trust the US Attorney from the District of New Jersey to handle whatever it was he couldn’t leave in the hands of Geoff Berman or his deputy Audrey Strauss, who would normally succeed him.

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Wait. Stop! Check This Out.

This is important. Also, I couldn’t have said it better than TPM Reader JS

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Just as important, this is a great way and a really important way to support our team’s work. It helps nudge us forward to even less dependence on paid advertising. Ready to give it a try? If you’re a Prime member, just click here. You’ll go to a page that explains the details with one simple button to push to get started.

Of Course Trump Slowed Testing and Condemned Tens of Thousands of Americans

As a man who above all things lacks discipline, Trump always tells on himself. People are rightly focusing on his casual claim to have told “his people” to “slow the testing down” to keep the COVID numbers low. The assumption has been that he’s possibly doing this now. And perhaps he is – we can never underestimate Trump’s depravity. But the US has now actually done a pretty sizable amount of testing relative to other major countries, even on a per capita basis. And the number of tests completed each day continues to creep up. There’s not a lot of clear evidence this is happening now. But there is a lot of evidence and has been for months that this is precisely what happened during the critical early weeks of the pandemic, from late January through the first weeks of March. That was the critical window of time in which the fate of tens of thousands of Americans was sealed.

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A TPM reader whose name I will withhold checks in with a reminder on the chaos COVID-19 has unleashed within the criminal justice system. Trump ousting Berman and appointing someone with no prosecutorial experience is bad. Doing it in the middle of the pandemic? Give this a read:

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Where Things Stand: Faulty Testing Logic
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Out of sight, out of mind.

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