That’s the Question Prime Badge

I think TPM Reader DC has this right. The real question isn’t when Trump tested positive. It’s the last time he had a negative test result. That seems likely to be the issue with the muddled timeline …

The most important question for timeline is when the last negative test was, and exactly when and what testing platform were positive results obtained.

I am supposing he tested negative Wednesday AM using the daily Abbott rapid test. 50% false negative rate.

In retrospect reports that he was dragging Wednesday Night might explain why Conley indicated he had been sick for 72 hours.

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Like a Novel and Not a Good One Prime Badge

It’s like a novel and not a terribly good one. It now seems quite probable, if not certain, that the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg on September 18th triggered a chain of events that led directly to the President’s diagnosis and subsequent hospitalization for COVID-19. As you may have heard, a growing body of circumstantial evidences points strongly to the conclusion that the announcement event for Amy Coney Barrett as the President’s nominee to replace Ginsburg was the spreader event that has led to the current outbreak at the White House and in the upper echelons of the GOP.

To date, Trump, Melania Trump, Sens. Lee and Tillis, the President of Notre Dame University, Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager Bill Stepien, Hope Hicks have all tested positive in the last 48 hours. RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel and Sen. Ron Johnson have also tested positive, though their connection to the Rose Garden event is less direct or at least unclear.

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Where Things Stand: Come For The Trump COVID News, Stay For The Congressional Probe Prime Badge
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NYTIMPEACH Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL) questions Gordon Sondland, US Ambassador to the European Union, during a House Intelligence Committee impeachment inquiry hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on November 20, 2019. (Pool Photo by Samuel Corum for The New York Times)

This is one of a handful of times in TPM’s history that our reporting sparked a congressional probe.

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It Looks Like a Cover Up Prime Badge

The timeline of events leading up to the disclosure of President Trump’s diagnosis point overwhelmingly to some mix of a coverup and gross negligence and likely both.

Let’s review some key facts, as far as we presently know them.

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Processing the News and the Spread Prime Badge

Under any circumstances, the President contracting a potentially fatal disease – and one that moves quickly – constitutes a grave national security crisis. We cannot and should not shy away from the fact that the President’s affliction – and likely those of others around him – is a direct result of his own reckless behavior. Overnight reports suggest his top aides seldom wear masks in his presence “in deference to the president’s disdain for them.” At Tuesday night’s debate his family and entourage pointedly refused to wear masks, even refusing a Cleveland Clinic doctor’s appeals to do so, which the debate rules mandated. Given these facts it is all but certain that a significant number of other top officials at the White House also have COVID.

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Feds Delivering The Goods For Trump Campaign Just In Time For Election Day Prime Badge
This Week in the Swamp: A weekly dive into the muck of the Trump administration.
Where Things Stand: Check Out Melania’s Latest Side Project Prime Badge

If you watched the debate on Tuesday or have paid attention to the Trump family’s public appearances in the last 48 hours, you don’t need me to point out the irony here.

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If Winning is Your Ideology, Being a Loser is Fatal

A friend asked me to read and give my reaction to this debate reaction piece by Tim Alberta in Politico. Of late I haven’t been on the same page on many things Alberta has written. There are various assumptions and claims in this one I don’t agree with. But on the big point I think Alberta really nails a key element of what happened Tuesday night. I mentioned yesterday that there’s a certain roguish fun and entertainment Trump can bring which we shortchange ourselves not to understand and credit no matter how much we might loathe him or despise what he represents.

This was one of Trump’s campaign superpowers in 2016. Whatever else you could say it was really, really clear that Trump was enjoying himself. And why wouldn’t he be? He was breaking the rules and getting away with it. On his maiden political campaign he was felling the men who were supposed to be the futures of the Republican Party one after another. He was being himself and it was working. He would provoke, crack a joke, offend and while his competitors were prepping tut-tutting press releases he was on Fox or on Twitter moving on to his next stunt.

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Where Things Stand: Does Tim Scott Get Tired? Prime Badge
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He’s been one of the most confusing senators to me for some time.

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Where Things Stand: No Surprises Here Prime Badge
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White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was practically jumping at the opportunity to back Rep. Kevin Brady’s (R-TX) attempt to force an investigation into one of the most basic pillars of journalistic protections.

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An FDR Moment Prime Badge

Last week we were joined on the podcast by a rising star of the New York Democratic party, incoming Congressman Ritchie Torres. Torres is 32 years old, currently serving on the City Council and recently won a very hard fought primary race for the Democratic nomination in the 15th district, which is in the Bronx. This is one of or perhaps the most Democratic district in the country. So he will certainly be a member of the House next year. We talked about the “FDR moment” incoming Democrats may confront in 2021.
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UNITED STATES - AUGUST 24: Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testifies during the House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing titled “Protecting the Timely Delivery of Mail, Medicine, and Mail-in Ballots,” in Rayburn House Office Building on Monday, August 24, 2020. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call/Pool)
Another Federal Judge Says That Recent USPS Policy Changes Hurt Voters Prime Badge
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box.
Where Things Stand: Trump’s Meager Tax Bill Prime Badge
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The New York Times’ bombshell reporting on Sunday of President Trump’s tax avoidance was especially potent because its top-line takeaway was so easy to digest: Trump paid a mere $750 in federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017. Did you pay more — maybe even a lot more — than that? I know I did, and many Americans are in the same situation. Read More

The Law Is Coming Prime Badge

Since we live in a period of misdirection and high volume propaganda it is important to restate the things we may sort of know but which are pushed to the edges of our awareness. High, high on that list is this: virtually every argument President Trump has used to stymie lawsuits, congressional probes and criminal investigations is tied to his being the **current** President of the United States. As Josh Kovensky reports here, he’s sticking to these maximal claims of immunity even after being rejected on this front by his packed Supreme Court.

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Where Things Stand: So Why Are We Here? Prime Badge

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court knocked down the idea, advanced by President Trump’s lawyers, that their client was immune from criminal investigations. Today, that case came back before the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, where lawyers for the President advanced new arguments for why Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance cannot subpoena Trump’s financial records.

Except, not really.

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TikTok closeup logo displayed on a phone screen, smartphone on the American flag or U.S. flag, the national flag of the United States are seen in this multiple exposure illustration. Tik Tok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by a Beijing based internet technology company, ByteDance.  It is used to create short dance, lip-sync, comedy and talent videos. ByteDance launched TikTok app for iOS and Android in 2017 and earlier in September 2016 Douyin fror the market in China. TikTok became the most downloaded app in the US in October 2018. President of the USA Donald Trump is threatening and planning to ban the popular video sharing app TikTok from the US because of the security risk.  On August 3, 2020 in Thessaloniki, Greece.(Photo by Nicolas Economou/NurPhoto)
Let Us Behold Trump’s TikTok Two Step Prime Badge
This Week in the Swamp: A weekly dive into the muck of the Trump administration.
Where Things Stand: Trump Sows New Fears About Election Prime Badge

Like clockwork, President Trump on Wednesday sparked a new controversy centered on his shirking of democratic norms. This time, it was Trump refusing to commit to a peaceful transition of power if he loses the November election. Read More

Where Things Stand: A Swing And A Miss Prime Badge
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Allies of the president have been murmuring ominously about potential October surprises all year. There’s the Durham investigation, Giuliani’s conspiracy theories, and Senator Ron Johnson’s (R-WI) investigation into Ukraine-related Biden allegations, to name a few.

We got the results of that last one this morning. But, alas! There is no surprise.

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Bringing the State Up to Code Prime Badge

As I’ve mentioned a number of times, beyond our ordinary tasks of government, I think an audit of the executive branch is critical after President Trump leaves office. But in these perilous final weeks before the 2020 election we can see another pressing need spotlighted by a lawless President but not created by him: the scaffolding of the US government, the state, the Republic itself, simply isn’t up to code. Like an old house that long predates all the codes and regulations that are mandatory in new structures it’s held up well enough and it simply makes no sense to force a renovation. But in a storm all those problems come to the surface. And in the aftermath of damage you wouldn’t rebuild it in the old way.

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Where Things Stand: Senate GOP Falls In Line Behind McConnell Prime Badge

There was never any real doubt that Republicans would move swiftly to fill the seat of the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And now a number of key Republican senators have come out to endorse Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) effort to do so. Whether a vote will happen before or after Election Day remains something of an open question, but once McConnell has the votes he will say “go.”

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General Principles Prime Badge

As you’ve seen me argue, Democrats must add either two or four seats to the Supreme Court if Republicans proceed with another corrupt Court appointment and Democrats win the presidency and the Senate. There may be other remedies I haven’t thought of. There may be better ones. But I’m certain we are at the point where a real, practical and credible remedy is essential. With that in mind I wanted to make a point about general principles.

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Scramble To Set Pandemic Election Rules Winds Down As Early Voting Begins In Earnest
This Week in Voting Rights: A weekly roundup of news on Americans' access to the ballot box.
Where Things Stand: The Short List Prime Badge
This is your TPM afternoon briefing.

President Trump wasted no time declaring when his SCOTUS nomination announcement will be because the Senate majority leader wasted no time — literally no time, maybe minutes after the late justice’s death broke news Friday night — to declare he’d bring him or her to the Senate floor.

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Expand the Court

After a bit more time to reflect, some more thoughts.

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More on Collins

Mainer TPM Reader AF follows up with some important detail and correction about my note on Susan Collins and her statement. I stand by the point I made last night. But it was an – I hope – uncharacteristic imprecision to call it a “promise”. As AF states, it’s definitely not. If Collins thinks it is in her interest I definitely think she will vote to confirm before the election. And I think it’s highly likely she’ll do so, win or lose, during the lame duck session after the election. But my same point holds, she’s judged it is strongly against her interest to vote at all before the election. It’s Democrats’ challenge to press her on this purported commitment and her history of breaking such commitments for the next six weeks. TPM Reader AF

Susan Collins’ statement is punditry, without any promised actions.

Collins said a vote on a nomination should wait until after the election. She didn’t say a word about what she would do or not do.

Take a closer look at Collins’ statement. She says Trump has the right to make a nomination. She says she has “no objection to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s beginning the process of reviewing his nominee’s credentials.” After that she says there shouldn’t be a vote before the election.

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Where Things Stand: More Than Just ‘Disgruntled’ Ex-Employees Prime Badge
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In the last 24 hours, we’ve seen two former Trump administration officials take significant steps to speak out against President Trump and Vice President Pence, flinging their White House secrets-laced weight behind Democratic candidate Joe Biden.

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Understanding What’s Wrong With Facebook Prime Badge
The Facebook login screen is seen in this photo illustration on March 13, 2019 in Warsaw, Poland. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto)

We are now back in one of those recurrent waves of bad publicity for Facebook. It deserves every bit of it. Facebook is the prime online, global incubator of racist, quasi-fascist propaganda, conspiracy theories, state-run psyops and agit-prop operations, even in at least one case actual state-backed programs of population transfer and arguable genocide. But to really understand the problem with Facebook we need to understand the structural roots of that problem, how much of it is baked into the core architecture of the site and its very business model. Indeed much of it is inherent in the core strategies of the post-2000, second wave Internet tech companies that now dominate our information space and economy.

Facebook is an ingenious engine for information and ideational manipulation. Good old fashioned advertising does that to a degree. But Facebook is much more powerful, adaptive and efficient. That’s what all the algorithms do. That’s why it makes so much money. This is the error with people who say the fact that people do bad things with Facebook is no different from people doing bad things with phones. Facebook isn’t just a ‘dumb’ communications system. It’s not really a platform in the original sense of the word. (The analogy for that is web hosting.) Facebook is designed to do specific things. It’s an engine to understand people’s minds and then manipulate their thinking. Those tools are refined for revenue making but can be used for many other purposes. That makes it ripe for misuse and bad acting.

The core of all second wave Internet commerce operations was finding network models where costs grow mathematically and revenues grow exponentially. The network and its dominance is the product and once it takes hold the cost inputs remained constrained while the revenues grow almost without limit. With the possible exception of Apple, which is still driven mostly by the production of physical products, that’s the core feature of all the big tech Goliaths.

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