Where Thing Stand: Conspiracy Theories And Consequences

December 16, 2020 1:00 p.m.

Who could have seen this coming?

Matt Shuham this morning covered the story of a former Houston police captain who allegedly held a terrified air conditioner repairman at gun point. The former captain, now a private investigator, was apparently convinced that this repairman was in fact using his truck to participate in some kind of election-stealing scheme. The truck was, according to the Harris County DA, actually filled with air conditioner parts.

The Texas Tribune has more of the backstory on how we got here. The Liberty Center for God and Country, a right-wing group headed by prominent Texas activists, told the Tribune that it hired approximately 20 private investigators, including the man in question. The activists at the Center — who have espoused wild conspiracy theories — then sent tips about suspected voter fraud to the investigators for them to “look into the allegations.”

“His alleged investigation was backward from the start — first alleging a crime had occurred and then trying to prove it happened,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said in a statement.

If more stuff like this surfaces, we’ll let you know.

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Josh Kovensky and Kate Riga are continuing to investigate the vaccine distribution process. Lacking both funding and a cohesive national plan, the Trump administration’s predictions of a widely available vaccine by early spring are raising expectations unrealistically.

Tierney Sneed has a story up this morning about another ticking time-bomb awaiting the Biden administration: The Census Bureau’s well-intentioned efforts to keep data from the 2020 survey confidential are making the numbers unusable, she writes. That could lead to the population counts and makeups of some communities being wildly incorrect, which, in turn, could lead to myriad other effects.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo held a large indoor holiday party. Most people, prudently, didn’t show. But, alas, today, a State Department spokesperson told us that Pompeo was “identified as having come into contact with someone who tested positive for COVID.” He is quarantining.

Purge on hold? Biden reportedly plans to ask FBI head Christopher Wray to stick around into the next administration — a situation that would become complicated if Trump were to fire him first. The President is not keen on his FBI chief — but NBC reports this morning that White House attorneys are urging the President not to oust Wray yet.

If You Read Anything On COVID-19 Today, Read This

The Trump Admin Has A Plan To Distribute The Vaccine — That Ends When Biden Takes Office — Josh Kovensky, Kate Riga

Coming Up

Trump held a cabinet meeting at 11:30 a.m. ET and has nothing else on his schedule for today.

At 4:00 p.m. ET, Vice President Mike Pence will hold a coronavirus task force meeting.

President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will meet virtually with governors this afternoon.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Report: Pompeo To Meet With Biden SOS After ‘Second Trump Admin’ Fantasy Falls Flat — Cristina Cabrera

What We Are Reading

A new stimulus deal is emerging. But it heralds a grueling new normal. — Greg Sargent

The Undoing of Jeffrey Toobin: How a leading man of legal journalism lost his sweetest gig. — Katherine Rosman and Jacob Bernstein

Nearly 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the summer — Heather Long

Texas Wedding Photographers Have Seen Some $#!+ — Emily McCullar

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