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Congress stares down funding cliff for coronavirus aid

Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will spend the next few weeks mapping out their parties’ demands for the next round of coronavirus relief — a package initially expected to focus more on the flatlining economy. But new hotspots in Texas, Florida, California and Arizona could force lawmakers to rethink how to control the pandemic, going back to negotiations from this spring.

“The dangerous uptick in cases all across America tells us that we don’t have a handle on this health issue,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) said. “We do need to put more resources towards it.”

The U.S. caseload has reached record levels in the past week, now adding more than 50,000 cases per day — up from the previous one-day peak of 36,000 on April 24. The unexpected spike has prompted dire new warnings from federal health officials, with Dr. Anthony Fauci warning lawmakers this week that the number of daily cases could soon reach 100,000 if more isn’t done.

Congress’s fifth coronavirus aid package was always going to be the most difficult to negotiate: The two parties have grown only more divided over what to do after their rare bipartisan agreement in the early months of the pandemic.

Now, Republicans and Democrats will need to revisit the thorniest policy decisions in those early bills — including the extra $600 in additional weekly jobless benefits for the millions of Americans who are unemployed, which will expire at month’s end. They’ll also need to address funding and flexibility for state and local governments. And Republicans insist that any next package must also include liability reform to protect businesses from coronavirus-related lawsuits.

“It’ll be challenging, for sure, but in the end if we need to move and we need to act we will,” said Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.). “The key right now is to try to get the White House and Republicans on the Hill in the same place.”

Thune said outreach to Democrats will “happen at some point” but added that right now Senate Republicans have to make their own assessments of where the greatest needs are, including ensuring schools can reopen in the fall.

Complicating it further is a U.S. economy that, on paper at least, shows some signs of improving. More than 4.5 million jobs were added in June, and the unemployment rate fell to about 11 percent, giving Trump and Republicans a much-needed talking point on the economy that could make them wary of renewing the additional weekly benefits.

Still, the unemployment rate remains at an alarmingly high level not seen since the Great Depression with nearly 18 million unemployed in June. And experts are warning that not only will it likely get worse as states start to shutter again to stem the spread of the virus, but the high unemployment rate could last for a decade.

In addition, many Republicans on Capitol Hill share a deep sense of skepticism about the public health measures pushed by Fauci and other health officials. Some point to the rising caseloads that have, so far, avoided the staggering death tolls seen early on in states like New York, and say it’s time for the economy to reopen for those who feel safe.

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said this week he believed the U.S. should not have shuttered the entire economy, noting that more than 60 percent of deaths in his home state took place in nursing homes.

“We obviously did not protect the really vulnerable, but instead we put healthy and much less vulnerable people effectively in quarantine. That in hindsight, we know that was a mistake, in my view. And we certainly should not go back to that,” Toomey told reporters.

Other Republicans have pointed to this week’s drop in the U.S. unemployment rate — sliding to 11.1 percent, down from 13.3 percent — to argue that Congress doesn’t need to deliver as much cash as it did in earlier rounds.

“Our constituents think we’ve already done too much. So one dollar for a lot of our constituents is too much,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) told reporters.

“I think there is going to be a bill. How big? It’s going to depend on what happens to the economy,” Grassley said, adding that the “good news” from the latest jobs report would point to a smaller package overall.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) also called the numbers “very encouraging,” and said that could help shape the final package.

“There are some senators who feel that we don’t need one so I can’t predict exactly what will happen,” Romney said Thursday. “But I know there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes.”

But Democrats say more assistance is urgently needed — including a cash infusion to state and local governments that have seen revenues dry up and have been forced to lay off public employees.

“We’re about to have massive layoffs across the country, police, fire, first responders,” Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) said, noting that her home state, which has also seen a sharp increase in cases, has a $6 billion budget shortfall. “There’s a cliff there.”

Many Democrats also warn that if the caseloads continue to rise, they will need to go even bigger packages, with billions more needed for public health efforts like contact tracing and hospital capacity — as well as delivering a much-needed jolt to the economy.

“It should have started long before now. I’m afraid that there hasn’t been any serious effort,” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said Thursday, but acknowledged the speed with which Congress can move when it wants to. “I know we can, we did the first Cares Act in eight days.”

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Ghislaine Maxwell ‘Knows Everything’ and Will Be ‘Naming Names’


Ghislaine Maxwell, the former confidante of high-profile convicted sexual predator Jeffrey Epstein, will flip following her arrest and give police information about the pair’s alleged activities, according to a report.

A person close to Maxwell’s arrest says the British socialite and daughter of media tycoon Robert Maxwell is prepared to cooperate with the FBI’s investigation of alleged child sex trafficking, The Sun reported.

According to the outlet, former Epstein associate Steven Hoffenberg said Maxwell “will be naming names” as she cooperates with the FBI, and that the news may be concerning for the U.K.’s Prince Andrew, who was close with Epstein and has been accused of using Maxwell and Epstein as pimps.

“She’s going to cooperate and be very important,” Hoffenberg said.

The Sun added in its reporting that Hoffenberg, a former employer of Epstein, has claimed that Maxwell “knows everything” about Epstein’s alleged former activities.

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A woman named Virginia Roberts Giuffre has alleged that Prince Andrew had sex with her while she was a 17-year-old sex slave for Epstein and Maxwell.

Prince Andrew has denied the accusation, and was reportedly “bewildered” after he reached out to American investigators, who have not responded to him, the U.K. Daily Mail reported.

Do you think more people linked to Jeffrey Epstein will be arrested?

Hoffenberg claimed in his conversation with The Sun that Maxwell’s stunning arrest Thursday could implicate many powerful people, including the British royal, in a sex and human trafficking ring.

“Andrew handled it poorly, very poorly, he should have spoken to [the FBI] through his lawyers, and given them some guidance,” he said. “He should have given them something.

“Andrew may be very concerned, and there’s a lot of people very worried, a lot of powerful people been named [in the scandal], and [Maxwell] knows everything,” Hoffenberg added.

“She’ll totally cooperate.”

Epstein died last year while in jail in New York. His death was reported a suicide, but the circumstances surrounding his death have become a topic of debate online over Epstein’s many rumored high-profile relationships.

RELATED: Jeffrey Epstein’s Infamous Companion Arrested by FBI

Epstein was known to run in circles with wealthy elites such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Business Insider reported, as well as others.

A Netflix documentary has claimed that former President Bill Clinton visited Epstein’s private island, Fox News reported.

Attorney General William Barr first warned of an investigation into Epstein’s inner circle last August following the wealthy sex offender’s mysterious death.

“We are now learning of serious irregularities at this facility that are deeply concerning and demand a thorough investigation,” Barr said.

Maxwell was arrested Thursday for allegedly conspiring with Epstein to sexually abuse minors at a New Hampshire estate that was paid for by cash through an anonymous LLC last year.

CNN reported that a federal indictment shows Maxwell is charged with enticement and conspiracy to entice minors to travel to engage in illegal sex acts and transportation and conspiracy to transport minors with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

She also faces two counts of perjury.

The Daily Beast spoke with the real estate broker who facilitated the purchase of the estate Maxwell was living in.

“She wanted to know what the flight patterns were over the house, which was very strange,” the broker told the outlet.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Mueller Gang Requested Corrupt Judge Amy Berman Jackson to Oversee Roger Stone Case

Roger Stone is going to prison after a kangaroo court overseen by Judge Amy Berman Jackson convicted him of bogus crimes in a criminal case that was a fraud (the Trump – Russia collusion case).  Not surprisingly the Mueller gang asked for Judge Jackson to oversee his case.

The corrupt Muller gang knew that President Trump had no connections to Russia when they joined the Mueller Special Counsel.  These gangsters wanted to see President Trump attempt to obstruct the fraudulent investigation in order to have him removed from office.

Fortunately for America, President Trump never committed any crimes and AG Barr came in and shut down the Mueller cabal.  Next, AG Barr began an investigation into the many presumed criminal actions taken by the Obama Administration to create the Mueller gang and harass President Trump during his entire Presidency.  Let’s hope and pray justice is finally served soon, if not, there will no longer be a free country.

Not only was the Mueller gang corrupt, its many associates in the government and judiciary were also corrupt, but perhaps none as corrupt as Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

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In 2013 Judge Jackson rejected arguments from the Catholic Church that Obamacare’s requirements that employers provide cost free coverage to contraceptive services in spite of being contrary to their religious beliefs. This was overturned by the Supreme Court.

In 2017 Judge Jackson dismissed the wrongful death suit against Hillary Clinton filed by two of the families who lost loved ones in Benghazi. The families argued that Clinton had done little to help their sons and then lied to cover it up.

Then for some strange random string of luck, Judge Jackson was given a number of Mueller gang cases to oversee.  The Hill reported in March of 2019 on the many Mueller cases that landed under her realm [emphasis added]:

Lisa Klem, special assistant to Chief Judge Beryl Howell at the federal D.C. court, said Jackson was randomly assigned the criminal case that Mueller brought against Manafort and his associate Richard Gates, as well as the criminal case against 12 Russian military officers who were indicted on charges of conspiring to hack into networks used by the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee ahead of the 2016 election.

The criminal cases against Alex van der Zwaan and Sam Patten were also given to Jackson, but Klem said that was because federal prosecutors has designated them as cases “related” to Manafort.

Van der Zwaan, a Dutch lawyer, was the first person charged in Mueller’s probe. He pleaded guilty to lying to Mueller’s office about his contacts with Gates and was sentenced to 30 days in prison.

Patten, a GOP consultant linked to Manafort, pleaded guilty in August to failing to register as a foreign agent while lobbying for a Russia-linked political party in Ukraine and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. He is scheduled to be sentenced April 12.

The case against Roger Stone was also assigned to Jackson because Mueller and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in D.C. said it was related to the case against the 12 Russian officers.

The Stone case was to be randomly assigned but the Mueller gang petitioned the court and asked they assign the case to Judge Jackson.  The reasoning for the Mueller case was because the case was related to the Mueller gang’s indictment of a group of Russians who supposedly were involved in the hacking of the DNC and transmission of emails to WikiLeaks.

Stone’s team knew they wouldn’t get a fair trial under Judge Jackson so they petitioned the court to reassign the Stone case to a randomly appointed judge in DC on February 8, 2019:


Unfortunately for Roger Stone, Judge Jackson was on his case and the government declined Stone’s request for a non-biased judge:

Judge Jackson soon after this placed Stone under a gag order like she had done for Paul Manafort.  The case was hers.

Next somehow Judge Jackson was assigned to Obama White House counsel Greg Craig’s case related to the Mueller investigation.  The only individual related to Obama that was indicted in the investigation was then let go after Judge Jackson dismissed one of the two counts the Feds filed against him and then ultimately let him off all together.

After this Judge Jackson tossed a lawsuit over SPLC’s ‘Hate Group’ labels.

No individual who disagrees with Obama will ever receive justice in Judge Jackson’s court.  This is precisely why Mueller’s gang requested she oversee the bogus sham case of Roger Stone.

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Convictions of violent cops prove elusive, but not in Dallas

Two bailiffs stood before a massive Texas flag, clutching their duty belts, as the judge glimpsed over at the cop charged with killing 15-year-old Jordan Edwards, a Black high school student. The courtroom went silent.

“We the jury,” the judge said, reading the verdict in the murder case of Roy Oliver, a police officer in a suburb east of Dallas, “unanimously find the defendant guilty of murder.”

In that moment, those last three words — “guilty of murder” — stunned Charmaine Edwards, Jordan’s mother. And when she thinks back to the 2018 conviction of the officer who fired his rifle into a car of unarmed Black teenagers and killed her child the year before, she can hardly believe the outcome — one that so many other families deserve, she says, but never receive.

“So many of these murders, so many Black men and boys killed by police never see justice,” she said on a recent evening. “I’m just glad there was some form of justice for my son.”

In the weeks since the killing of George Floyd, whose body went limp after a Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, the nation’s grief followed as a now devastatingly common pattern played out.

First came the cellphone video and family members weeping on TV, then the protests and rousing speeches from lawyers and civil rights activists.

But then came the step that in the past has infrequently happened: Prosecutors filed criminal charges against the police officers.

Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, stands accused of second-degree murder, while three other officers at the scene on May 25 face aiding-and-abetting charges. And last month, prosecutors in Atlanta swiftly charged the officer who shot Rayshard Brooks in a Wendy’s parking lot with felony murder. In Louisville, Ky., and across the nation, protesters continue to demand criminal prosecution of a now-fired officer who burst into Breonna Taylor’s home with a no-knock warrant and fatally shot the 26-year-old emergency medical technician.

While the filing of criminal charges against an officer has in the past been unusual, convictions have proved even more rare.

“Historically,” said Pamela Metzger, director of the Criminal Justice Reform Center at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, “jurors have been sympathetic toward police officers, giving them the benefit of every doubt.”

While the size and prolonged nature of recent demonstrations may indicate a cultural shift, Metzger said, it is unclear whether the ferment will translate into more guilty verdicts against police officers who kill citizens.

If it does, Dallas County could prove an early indicator of that shift.

Since 2018, juries here have convicted two police officers of murder — Oliver, who shot Jordan Edwards, and Amber Guyger, the officer who killed Botham Jean, 26, inside his own apartment, which she said she mistook for her own on a lower floor. (Guyger is serving 10 years. Oliver received a 15-year sentence.)

Jordan Edwards with his father, Odell Edwards, in an undated photo. Jordan was fatally shot by a police officer in 2017.

(Family photo)

For Charmaine Edwards, the tragic Saturday night in April 2017 replays in her mind daily like a horror movie.

Jordan and his older brothers — Kevon and Vidal, both then 17 — cleaned their bedrooms and vacuumed the house. That evening, the boys asked if they could go to a party three miles away in nearby Balch Springs. Their father agreed but told them to be home by midnight.

When they arrived at the house party about 10 p.m., other teenagers were dancing and taking turns trying to impress one another with their plans for the summer.

Within an hour, Officer Oliver and his partner showed up, responding to a noise complaint. While inside the house breaking up the party, Oliver — a six-year veteran of the department — said he heard gunshots outside. He hurried out to his patrol car, grabbed an MC5 rifle and soon began firing into the car where Jordan sat in the front passenger’s seat as it pulled away.

“His life was taken without regard,” Edwards said.

The two convictions in Dallas County came after decades of cops shooting unarmed Black men and not facing any criminal charges.

Before Oliver’s conviction, the last time a police officer was convicted of murder in Dallas County was in 1973.

That year, Darrell Cain, a white officer, shot and killed 12-year-old Santos Rodriguez, a Mexican American boy who sat handcuffed in a patrol car as police investigated calls about an alleged burglary. While in the backseat of the car, prosecutors say, Cain forced the boy to play a “Russian roulette”-style game while trying to get a confession.

Cain was sentenced to five years in prison.

Three years earlier, Cain had shot to death unarmed Black 18-year-old Michael Morehead, who was allegedly fleeing the scene of a burglary. Morehead was struck by bullets fired by Cain and his partner.

John Fullinwider, a longtime Dallas activist, says the murder of Santos has “haunted this city ever since.”

“He is a ghost who stands at every door, who we remember every time a cop kills another person,” Fullinwider said.

Since Santos’ slaying, dozens of cops here have killed people. There have been few charges filed and no convictions until Oliver was sent to prison in 2018.

In the last decade, Fullinwider said, Dallas-area officials have started to take more responsibility, establishing an independent special unit under the district attorney’s office that investigates police shootings.

That’s a practice that should be adopted by all prosecutors, Fullinwider said. And really, he said, there must be more federal oversight.

“All in all, the national imperative should be to have federal prosecutors and investigators on every fatal police shooting,” he said.

Collette Flanagan, who founded Mothers Against Police Brutality, a Dallas-based group that has addressed police killings of unarmed Black men, believes local advocacy helped lead to change.

In March of 2013, a Dallas police officer fatally shot her unarmed son Clinton, 25. The officer shot Clinton seven times and hit him in the back. Law enforcement alleged that Clinton tried to choke the officer. No convictions followed.

“No one ever questioned police,” she said. “It was as if my son was solely to blame.”

Her group, which she formed after Clinton’s death, held vigils and met with members of the City Council. They started talking to anyone who would listen about her son’s death and Santos Rodriguez’s killing years earlier and how a police officer had not been convicted here in four decades.

The recent convictions are a sign of progress, Flanagan said, but she believes there is still a lot of work to do.

Local news coverage, Flanagan says, plays a key role in framing the public narrative after police killings.

“The attention is always on what the victim might have done wrong,” she said. “It’s never on police.”

A protester remembering Breonna Taylor listens to speakers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas.

A protester remembering Breonna Taylor listens to speakers at a Black Lives Matter rally in Dallas on June 3.

(Tom Fox / Dallas Morning News)

Charmaine Edwards agrees.

When she reflects on her son’s death, she sometimes wonders why it was his case that resulted in a conviction.

The answer she’s settled on is a tendency by reporters to dig into the background of victims more deeply than those of officers. You might see a headline about a victim using drugs, she said, or having a police record.

“There is always this rush to justify why police kill Black men and children,” she said. “As if they deserve it. As if their life does not matter.”

It would have no doubt been that way in her son’s case, she said, except that there was nothing to shift the narrative. He was a high school student with a clean record. A football player. A boy who had simply gone to a party with his brothers and never came home.

“Prosecutors had to step forward,” Edwards said. “There had to be action.”

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Internal polling shows Trump behind in Georgia — and Kansas

He won Kansas by 20 points four years ago. I don’t think I’d even bother linking a public poll showing him behind in Kansas now. The electorate’s moved considerably towards Democrats over the past six weeks, but “considerably” means eight or nine points, not 20.

He’s not going to lose Kansas. But if Kansas is even remotely competitive…

This NYT piece has lots of interesting tidbits beyond the polling numbers, including Jared Kushner pointing fingers at Brad Parscale and the president himself allegedly pointing fingers at Kushner. Which we already sort of knew.

In addition to public surveys showing him losing decisively to Joseph R. Biden Jr. in a number of battleground states, private Republican polls in recent weeks show the president struggling even in conservative states, leading Mr. Biden by less than five points in Montana and trailing him in Georgia and even Kansas, according to G.O.P. officials who have seen the data

One Republican official who is in frequent contact with the campaign expressed incredulity at how some aides willfully distort the electoral landscape to mollify Mr. Trump, recalling one conversation in which they assured him he was faring well in Maine, a state where private polling shows he’s losing…

Equally revealing — at a moment when Mr. Trump is bleeding support from independents and some moderate Republicans — is how often his advisers pacify him by highlighting his standing with voters he largely has in hand: those who participate in party primaries…

What mystifies many Republicans about Mr. Trump is why he is so unwilling to take easy steps that could help remedy his political difficulties.

I’ve been mystified by that myself. Probably no president in recent American history has had a political base more devoted to them than Trump has, yet on issue after issue he keeps trying to please them when it’s voters in the center who are drifting away towards Biden. “He is who he is. People know who he is. You think he’s going to change?” said Sen. Rick Scott to the Times. If he goes on to lose big to Biden this fall, that question will confound historians. Why didn’t he adjust his strategy? Any other politician would look at the state of play right now and conclude that (a) he needs to show much more seriousness of purpose on the virus, if only to prove to wary senior citizens that he grasps their anxiety, and (b) he needs to show a little more empathy towards protesters, if only to prove to wary white college grads that he’s interested in racial reconciliation. It looks increasingly like he won’t do either.

Is it because he can’t or because he won’t? If he won’t, is it a narcissistic thing in which he believes his own instincts are infallible, whatever the polling might say? (Some Trump aides told the Times that their internal polling shows the race tighter than public polling does, but that’s unlikely if there’s any truth to the claim that he’s trailing in Kansas.) Or is it an anxiety thing in which he’s terrified of alienating a few of his most ardent fans, even if doing so would lose him the election? He can try to tack to the center, *maybe* get reelected, but lose the adulation he enjoys on the right, or he can stay to the right on all issues, very likely lose, but remain an icon afterward among Republican populists.

Which outcome would someone with Trump’s psychological make-up prefer?

Part of the problem may be that he’s allegedly seeking advice privately from Tucker Carlson, the one guy doing more than anyone else in major media right now to try to convince Trump to double down on culture-war material like battling the left over monuments and criticizing Black Lives Matter:

With Donald Trump’s approval sinking to Jimmy Carter levels and coronavirus cases spiking across the country, Trump is reluctantly waking up to the grim reality that, if the current situation holds, his reelection is gone. Republicans that have spoken with Trump in recent days describe him as depressed and “down in the dumps.” “People around him think his heart’s not in it,” a Republican close to the White House said. Torn between the imperative to win suburban voters and his instincts to play to his base, Trump has complained to people that he’s in a political box with no obvious way out. According to the Republican, Trump called Tucker Carlson late last week and said, “what do I do? What do I do?”

To console himself, Trump still has moments of magical thinking. “He says the polls are all fake,” a Republican in touch with Trump told me…

A Republican strategist close to Mitch McConnell told me that Republicans have Labor Day penciled in as the deadline for Trump to have turned things around. After that, he’s on his own.

No, he isn’t. People continue to indulge this silly scenario in which Senate Republicans “abandon” Trump, which is something that might plausibly happen with a conventional president who’s beholden to his party but can’t possibly happen with an outsider as self-centered as Trump is. If McConnell were to start criticizing him, Trump would start encouraging his fans to punish him and the caucus for disloyalty and end up taking the whole party down with him.

The GOP’s only shot is to convince him that he’s in trouble and needs to start doing things differently, right now. The Times claims that Chris Christie sent Trump a memo a week ago warning him that he’ll lose if he keeps trying to re-run the 2016 campaign against Biden. There’s a story in the WSJ today whispering that tech billionaire and major Trump 2016 booster Peter Thiel intends to sit out the election this time and focus on supporting Republicans downballot as he “doesn’t believe the campaign has settled on a winning argument to convince the electorate to stay the course.” (“One person who speaks to Mr. Thiel about politics says he described Mr. Trump’s campaign as the ‘S.S. Minnow.’”) The obvious argument open to POTUS is “Biden would be worse,” the same lesser-of-two-evils pitch that worked so well for him four years ago, but that’s a hard sell when the country’s beset by an endless pandemic and civil unrest and mass layoffs.

To phrase that differently, and in Trump’s defense: Could any president get reelected if they were saddled with what he’s saddled with right now? They could adjust to the circumstances better than he has and improve their polling in a way he hasn’t been able to, but could they actually win? That’d be daunting, especially against a perfectly generic challenger like Biden whom people have no strong reason to dislike (or like).

Speaking of which, here’s the latest ad from Team Trump. I think this is their best play against Biden at the moment, but you can imagine how much more effective an attack like this would be against a true radical like Bernie Sanders than it is against Sleepy Joe. Weirdly, the Times claims that Trump’s inclinations *aren’t* to go negative against Biden despite the fact that that strategy delivered for him against Hillary Clinton. “Several people in touch with Mr. Trump and his campaign said the president strongly preferred seeing positive ads about his own accomplishments to negative ones about Mr. Biden,” the paper reports. No doubt ads like that are gratifying to his ego, but his accomplishments are already largely priced into his stock and no one’s going to care much about tax cuts in November if the virus rages uninterrupted from now until then. He’s better off trying to make Americans fear and loathe his enemy, which is normally his specialty in political battles. It’s bizarre that he’d veer away from that approach now — although he hasn’t done so entirely, as you’re about to see.

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As states wait for coronavirus stimulus, Senate goes on recess

It’s now been more than six weeks since the House passed the HEROES Act, its latest take on additional stimulus as workers, businesses, and states continue to grapple with the economic fallout of the coronavirus. The Senate, however, wants to wait two more before considering a bill of its own.

Both chambers of Congress have officially left for a two-week July Fourth recess and Senate Republicans have said floor consideration of stimulus legislation won’t happen until they’re back. “A month from now we should be in the final stages of getting that bill together,” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told reporters earlier this week. (The House is focused on committee work in the interim.)

Democrats have argued that this delay could have serious consequences, as states stare down budget cuts and households across the country deal with layoffs and upcoming rent and mortgage payments. Republicans, meanwhile, have noted that some of the previous stimulus funding is still being distributed and emphasize that they’re waiting to see how the economy performs as some states reopen.

The updates, so far, have been mixed: This past week, a monthly report showed an influx of 4.8 million jobs in June, a seemingly promising boost, but data collected more recently also revealed that more than 1 million new unemployment claims were filed last week. Additionally, the current unemployment rate remains one of the highest the country has seen in years, at 11.1 percent. Another complicating factor: Some recent gains are a result of states reopening businesses, a move that some have had to reverse as coronavirus cases have spiked.

Economists tell Vox they’re particularly concerned about the limbo states are left in as a result of the Senate’s stimulus timing. While many have rainy-day funds, the delays of additional support make it tough for states to plan how well they will (or won’t) be able to provide public schooling, support for higher ed and Medicaid payments as they keep fielding sharp dips in revenue. For many states, their fiscal year budgets began on July 1, which has now come and gone.

“States are making decisions every day about what services they can provide and where they are going to need to lay people off, and, if they don’t know for sure that more funding is in the pipeline, they are going to err on the side of caution,” says Harvard Kennedy School economics professor Karen Dynan, a former chief economist for the Treasury Department. “That can’t be good, particularly when we are seeing cases surge in some places and all the more need for good health care and aggressive public health policy.”

Democrats’ legislation would have allocated more than $900 billion to states and localities to help cover some of the revenue shortfalls they’ve experienced, in addition to the $150 billion that’s already been set aside to help address coronavirus-related costs in the CARES Act. In the past, however, Republicans have chafed at providing more federal aid to states, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissing such efforts as a “bailout” that could be used to address “preexisting” problems. He’s since noted that more funding is likely needed but shied away from the amounts Democrats have proposed.

It’s unclear whether Democrats and Republicans will be able to reach an agreement on the boost in state funds and next steps on other important programs, including pandemic unemployment insurance, which is due to expire at the end of July. For now, it’s a question the Senate won’t be addressing for a few weeks.

State funding and pandemic UI are immediate areas where more action is needed

Additional state funding and an agreement on pandemic unemployment are among the areas where there’s an urgent need for more action.

As Vox’s Emily Stewart has reported, state and city budgets have faced immense strain throughout the pandemic as they’ve seen massive declines in both sales and income tax revenues, as well as growing costs associated with addressing the coronavirus. Before the coronavirus outbreak, “Arizona expected a $1 billion surplus and is now staring down a $1.1 billion deficit,” she writes.

Some states, including Michigan, have already proposed significant cuts to the budgets for the next fiscal year, including more than $450 million in reductions to schools and universities. According to Pew, state and local governments have temporarily laid off or furloughed 1.5 million workers as of June.

“Assuming that this is just a delay and that Congress eventually passes a bill, I think the most immediate impact is on state budgets,” says UC Berkeley public policy and economics professor Jesse Rothstein. “States have been kicking the can down the road, hoping that the federal government gets its act together. … The longer that is delayed, the worse off we will all be.”

At this point, it’s uncertain if Senate Republicans will be on board with much state funding even after they return to the Capitol: Top leaders including McConnell have signaled more openness to the idea but have been reluctant about an expansive package. If states don’t get the support they need — fast — more layoffs and budget reductions could add to the current economic fallout.

“When you cut the budget, you have to cut positions for workers, and that further compounds the recession that we’re having right now,” says University of Kansas economics professor Donna Ginther. “This is the exact wrong time for state governments to fend for themselves.”

A July 31 deadline is also looming over the expanded unemployment insurance that was included in the CARES Act. Slated to sunset at the end of the month, this policy adds another $600 per week to the unemployment support that individuals receive.

Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic, and the layoffs that have persisted at many businesses, Democrats have argued that this support should continue. As Cecilia Rouse, a former economic adviser for the Obama administration, previously told Vox, ideal pandemic response policies would help put the economy on pause and tide workers over, while the country resolves the public health crisis.

Republicans, though, have argued that state reopenings will provide a key boost and worried that extending the increased UI will deter people from returning to work as businesses rehire. The Labor Department’s most recent unemployment report, which saw an additional 1.4 million people file last week, however, made clear that many people are still dealing with job losses.

If the expanded UI benefits end by August, this change could have a notable impact on consumer spending and households’ ability to cover living costs including food and rent. “Everything I’ve seen suggests that unemployment is going to come part of the way back, but not all the way,” says Ginther.

Lawmakers have a narrow window to approve stimulus in July and August

Now that it’s off for recess, the Senate won’t be back until Monday, July 20 — when lawmakers will have a narrow window to strike a deal on the next package, before they’re due to leave once again for their next recess on August 10.

The upcoming UI deadline is among the notable dates putting pressure on Congress to work something out — both to ensure individuals continue to have the support they need and so that states can have the time to update their approach to UI distribution if that’s required.

Complicating the issue, as usual, is the White House. “The shape of any kind of package is very much up in the air,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said Thursday, while noting that the administration opposes the pandemic unemployment insurance.

Experts emphasize that more stimulus is sorely needed, especially as cases of the coronavirus are spiking again in several states including Arizona, Texas, and Florida.

“The health crisis — and thus the economic crisis — show no signs of slowing down, and now is not the time to scale back on support to those who need it most,” says Natasha Sarin, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Trump Mocks Chris Cuomo’s Ratings

President Trump on Thursday mocked CNN’s Chris Cuomo, calling him ‘Fredo’ and suggesting he be moved back to a morning slot because of his “really bad” ratings.

Earlier in the week, the Hollywood Reporter released rating numbers which show Cuomo coming in third for his time slot behind MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, and Fox News’ Sean Hannity who led the way.

As bad as it is for the brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, the President still believes he could beat out another feeble media personality – Joe Scarborough.

RELATED: Chris Cuomo Tries To Prove Trump Is The Cause Of ‘Systemic Racism,’ Ends Up Discrediting Obama Instead

Fake News Doesn’t Pay

‘Fredo’ is a reference to Fredo Corleone, the fictional weaker brother in ‘The Godfather’ movie, a man who doesn’t get much respect from his father or anyone else in the family.

Cuomo was confronted by a heckler months back who referred to him as such, and the inferior Cuomo brother blew his top.

Earlier in the week, President Trump slammed the CNN anchor yet again.

RELATED: Fox News’ Janice Dean Slaps CNN For Avoiding Nursing Home Scandal In Cuomo Interview

Cuomo An Embarrassment

Trump is correct – fake news doesn’t pay.

And Cuomo’s descent has coincided with an incident in April, when he was caught staging a segment showing him emerging from his basement quarantine for the ‘first time.’

Turned out – by his own admission – he had been out in public a week earlier, breaking social distancing requirements, and got into an altercation with a “loser, fat tire biker” that required a police report filing.

Since then, Cuomo has been caught using Obama-era statistics in an attempt to ‘prove’ President Trump is responsible for ‘systemic racism’ in America.

And he has held several comedic interviews with his brother while completely ignoring a nursing home scandal in New York state.

Even CNN’s viewers have figured out Fredo’s shtick.

The New York Post reported previously that Cuomo’s ratings have plummeted since he and his brother have been doing their ridiculous interviews and staging coronavirus stories.

“Americans have spoken with their clickers — and they’re sick of Chris and Andrew Cuomo show,” the Post writes. “The ratings for Cuomo Prime Time have tanked, plummeting by 50 percent since Chris recovered from COVID.”

Maybe CNN should consider taking him off the air altogether.

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EXCLUSIVE: Corrupt and Biased Obama Judge Amy Berman Jackson Refuses Stone Request

EXCLUSIVE: Corrupt and Biased Obama Judge Amy Berman Jackson Refuses Stone Request – Orders Him to Prison on July 14th

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Trump makes it hard for red states to battle the coronavirus

To George Fuller, mayor of McKinney, Texas, his recent decision seemed a no-brainer: Require everyone in his city to wear a mask inside businesses to stem the spread of coronavirus and avert a full economic shutdown.

Some constituents in his Dallas exurb saw it differently. They pelted him with profane emails, calling him a “pathetic, cowardly little dictator,” even disparaging his teenage daughter for contracting the virus. The vitriol toward masks, Fuller said, reflected President Trump’s refusal to fully embrace them as a tool to stop the spread.

“It’s from the top — it’s why we have the problem we have,” said Fuller, a nonpartisan mayor who has long voted Republican. “It’s unbelievable to me that it’s become the political thing that it is. Our president could have shifted this or diverted from this path, easily.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic bearing down on red states that had previously been spared, officials in these hot zones are finding their efforts to combat the outbreak undermined by the leader of their own party.

Many GOP politicians followed the president’s lead in the early months of the crisis by embracing a swift reopening of their economies. Now, as infection rates are surging in several states, these same leaders are ratcheting up their efforts to curb the contagion. But doing so while not contradicting Trump, who continues to forgo wearing a mask in public and broadly downplays the threats of the virus, has proven difficult.

“The dilemma is they were playing politics with it for so long and trying to be loyal to the president for so long that they’ve now painted themselves into a corner and cannot get out,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican consultant who works with The Lincoln Project, an anti-Trump campaign group.

So far, Republican officials have found greatest consensus around promoting face coverings, which experts initially downplayed but now believe could substantially curb transmission of the virus. In recent days, Vice President Mike Pence, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Fox News personalities have all spoken of the benefits of masks. On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who at one point banned local governments from requiring masks, issued an ordermandating face coverings in public in most counties, as well as allowing local officials to prohibit gatherings of more than 10 people.

Trump remains reticent to be seen in a mask, going so far as to wear one in May while touring a Ford plant but removing it when cameras were present. Soon after, he retweeted a message mocking Biden for wearing a face covering at a Memorial Day observance.

With pressure from allies building, Trump changed his tune on Wednesday, saying in a Fox Business Network interview that he thought masks were good and saying he would have no problem wearing one publicly.

“I had a mask on. I sort of liked the way I looked,” he said. “It was a dark black mask, and I thought it looked OK. Looked like the Lone Ranger.”

Overall, though, Trump has put more emphasis on reinvigorating the economy. He was ebullient Thursday about the 4.8 million jobs added in June, and said the country was on track to “vanquish and kill the virus,” despite the escalating case numbers.

The president’s continued insistence that the crisis will soon pass has left the GOP scrambling for a coherent approach.

The pandemic’s initial sweep left a lot of Republican-led states relatively unscathed, especially compared to states such as New York, Michigan and California with Democratic leaders. Governors in some red states pushed for early reopening of their businesses and resumption of normal life. Now, some of the fastest-growing infection rates are occurring in such states, including Arizona, Texas and Florida.

The phenomenon is not occurring solely along partisan lines. In the Republican-led states of Massachusetts, Vermont and Maryland, among others, coronavirus cases are trending downward. California, a Democratic bastion, has seen its case count remain stubbornly high, prompting new restrictions on Wednesday.

But much of the surge is concentrated in red states, where leaders have taken different approaches to curbing the outbreak. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who welcomed the Republican National Convention after the original host North Carolina warned it would impose safety measures, has resisted new restrictions to curb the spread. But the Republican mayor of Jacksonville, the new site for Trump’s nominating festivities, imposed a mask requirement for indoor gatherings.

South Dakota’s Republican Gov. Kristi Noem said there will be no enforcement of social distancing this weekend at a July 4th celebration at Mount Rushmore, which Trump is scheduled to attend. But other GOP governors such as Abbott of Texas and Doug Ducey of Arizona have struck a decidedly more urgent tone.

“Our message to Arizonans today is clear: They are safer at home. If they do go out, we want them to mask up. We want them to physically distance. We want them to wash their hands,” Ducey said Wednesday at a news conference with Pence. Both wore masks.

Republicans may have to work overtime to bring their constituents on board. A National Science Foundation-backed survey has found the divide between Democrats and Republicans is growing over health behaviors that could mitigate the spread; the latter were less likely to wear a mask, avoid gatherings and self-quarantine.

Shana Gadarian, a Syracuse University researcher on that survey, said people tend to get cues from their elected officials.

“The political leaders of the Republican party for a long time have not had a consistent message about what keeps people safe,” Gadarian said.

The politicization of the virus is a potent sign of our times, a combustible combination of a long-held skeptical streak in some quarters coupled with the eagerness of this president to engage in culture wars.

“It’s a wide and deep strain in American culture and history,” said Michael Steel, a Republican and former adviser to ex-House Speaker John Boehner. But “the president’s distrust of experts and analysis and his penchant for operating based on his own gut instincts is to my knowledge without parallel in the Oval Office.”

Trump’s allies say the blame should not fall on the president, who is dealing with vastly different scenarios across the country.

“A couple states in the South and Southwest are flaring up. Should the president be asking people in states that don’t have a problem to wear a mask?” said Matt Mackowiak, a veteran GOP strategist from Texas who plans to attend the Republican convention as a delegate supporting Trump. “It’s reasonable to not come to a conclusion on that. I think the answer is listening to public health officials and experts in your local area who have the best information.”

Harmeet K. Dhillon, a Republican National Committee member based in San Francisco, said that many elected officials have muddled the messaging, pointing to Democratic officials who restricted gatherings at houses of worship but condoned mass demonstrations in support of Black Lives Matter.

“When a government leader exhibits that level of hypocrisy and double standard, it undermines everything that comes out of their mouth,” Dhillon said.

Officials in states that had previously loosened pandemic restrictions now face the daunting task of getting the public to comply once again with a clampdown.

In Arizona, the statewide stay-at-home restrictions were lifted in mid-May. Businesses were encouraged to follow recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it was an honor system, said Will Humble, executive director of the Arizona Public Health Assn.

“Quite rapidly, a bunch of nightclubs and bars began to act like pre-pandemic,” he said, pointing to clubs in Scottsdale that hired celebrities to DJ and passed out free champagne to fire-capacity crowds.

New cases have soared since Memorial Day, surpassing 4,800 mid-week before dipping on Thursday. Meanwhile, the number of available hospital beds declined to the point that the state activated an emergency plan to help hospitals prioritize scarce resources based on factors such as how long a patient would likely live if they recover.

John Giles, the Republican mayor of Mesa, instituted a city-wide mask requirement last week as soon as Ducey retracted the state order banning cities from taking such measures.

“There’s absolutely a perception that this is a political statement by some people, that it is acquiescence of some sort to a Big Brother conspiracy and that’s very unfortunate,” Giles said. “We have to do a lot of education.”

That’s been the case as well for Fuller in North Texas, who has been sharing scientific research with constituents about the benefits of wearing masks. Most have been supportive, but he said resistance has come from Trump’s base.

He appreciated the president’s recent favorable comments about facial coverings. Now he wants Trump to go further and wear one in public.

“Nothing beats leading by example,” he said.

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150 federal cases tied to rioting

The top prosecutor in the nation’s capital said the Justice Department has charged 150 people in cases related to acts of violence during protests that followed the death of George Floyd.

Acting U.S. Attorney for D.C. Michael Sherwin, picked by Attorney General William Barr in mid-May after a stint as deputy attorney general for national security, revealed the number on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show Thursday evening while providing an update on the Justice Department’s law enforcement efforts tied to the demonstrations over the past five weeks.

“Under the leadership of President Trump, and the direction of the Attorney General, the United States attorney’s offices across the United States have charged to date 150 federal cases related not only to the destruction of federal property but also a litany of other crimes that really have been lost in the shuffle,” Sherwin said. “In addition to the arson cases, there are several other federal charges that a been levied across the United States … related to murder in California, to arson throughout the United States, and destruction of properties.”

The 150 figure is a jump from the number given by Barr on month ago. The attorney general announced on June 4 that the federal government had made 51 arrests “for federal crimes in connection with violent rioting.”

The Justice Department charged four men for attempting to tear down the statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Square in late June. Federal prosecutors on Thursday charged and arrested Jason Charter — a “ring leader” of the leftist anarchic and socialist group Antifa — both for his role in attempting to tear down the Andrew Jackson statue and vandalizing the statue of Confederate Gen. Albert Pike.

“People can’t unilaterally decide what is right and what is wrong,” Sherwin said. “And If those people do make that decision on their own and take the law into their own hands, the law will come after them and the United States will use federal resources to charge you if you’re inciting violence or destroying these monuments. Obviously we will use all resources to protect these monuments both in the D.C. area and throughout the United States, but we are also using these resources not only to charge federal cases … but also what people don’t realize is the fact that under the direction of the attorney general, the FBI, and other federal law enforcement officials have leveraged and worked with local officials throughout the United States to charge hundreds of other cases.”

Sherwin said the federal government helped with obtaining local charges such as assault and battery and theft.

“Even though we don’t get a federal stat for those cases, there are hundreds of other cases the federal government has used to assist those local law enforcement agencies to ensure that, look, this violence will not be tolerated and it cannot be condoned in any way, he said. Sherwin stressed that “there is a difference between these crimes and legitimate protests.”

Protests have taken place across the country and around the world after Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man, died in police custody on Memorial Day after a white Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him down by placing a knee on the back of his neck for nearly nine minutes. Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder. Footage of the incident set off a wave of outrage and some of the demonstrations have had violent offshoots in which people have rioted, looted stores, destroyed property, burned buildings, and clashed with police.

President Trump signed an executive order in late June aimed at encouraging federal law enforcement to protect federal monuments.

“Anarchists and left-wing extremists have sought to advance a fringe ideology that paints the United States of America as fundamentally unjust and have sought to impose that ideology on Americans through violence and mob intimidation,” Trump said.

The Justice Department charged Lore-Elisabeth Blumenthal with felony arson in June for setting two police cars ablaze during late May protests in Philadelphia, tracking her down by tracing the shirt she was wearing to an Etsy page and to her social media accounts.

Two Brooklyn lawyers, Colinford Mattis and Urooj Rahman, were charged with hurling “Molotov Cocktails” at New York City Police Department cars during late May protests in the city.

“We have evidence that Antifa and other similar extremist groups, as well as actors of a variety of different political persuasions, have been involved in instigating and participating in the violent activity,” Barr said in early June. “We are also seeing foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence. The Department of Justice is working to restore order in the District of Columbia and around the nation.”

Prosecutors also allege that Steven Carrillo was the gunman in the late May drive-by shooting in California that resulted in the death of Protective Security Officer David Patrick Underwood and in injuries to another security officer. In a gun battle with sheriff’s deputies in early June, Carillo allegedly wrote Boogaloo phrases on a carjacked vehicle. The Boogaloo Movement is a loosely affiliated group of extremists with a loose ideology that is variously far right, anarchist, anti-government, or libertarian, and which focuses on the possibility of a second civil war.

“We have not identified, and this is a work in progress, to identify who is the command and control for some of these groups, but right now, there appears to be with some of these individuals, there’s a loose affiliation with some extremist groups on the left and on the right,” Sherwin told Carlson. “And it appears that the bulk of, if not all of, the individuals that of interested related to some of these very violent acts are self-radicalized or lone wolves that self identify with these groups. That’s not saying that there isn’t an overall command and controlled, but we have not identified that full architecture yet.”

The federal prosecutor said that he didn’t want to “pigeonhole any specific group” and “the FBI has looked at several extremist groups throughout the full spectrum.”

“We are charging cases not of the basis of political affiliation,” Sherwin said. “We’re charging cases on the evidence purely.”