Meanwhile, Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.) suggested at the lunch that the GOP needs to be willing to keep racking up debt to maintain power. He argued that the full conference needs to focus on protecting their most vulnerable members. Cotton postulated that Democrats would spend more money if they win the Senate majority in November and, therefore, it is cheaper in the long run to allow the size of the spending package to grow with more goodies to benefit incumbents who are up for reelection.
Cruz and Cotton are among the small clique of ambitious Republican senators in their 40s who have been laying the groundwork to run for president in 2024, along with Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.) and Josh Hawley (Mo.). The dueling stances Cruz and Cotton staked out behind closed doors offer an early taste of the ideological battles we can expect as Republicans increasingly vie to take the torch from President Trump. These fights will flare up faster and hotter if the president loses in November. Others outside the Senate, such as Vice President Pence and former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, are also expected to compete for the nod.
Trump, who has proudly pronounced himself “the king of debt” and drove multiple businesses into bankruptcy before entering politics, has shown little personal concern, beyond occasional rhetoric, that the country is drowning in red ink on his watch. When Trump accepted the Republican nomination four years ago last night in Cleveland, he was campaigning on the promise to eliminate the national debt altogether in eight years. As president, though, Trump has grown the size of the debt from $19.9 trillion when he was inaugurated to $26.5 trillion.
The U.S. budget deficit widened to a record-high $864 billion last month, the Treasury Department announced last week.
But it is not right to blame the ballooning debt entirely on this novel coronavirus crisis. Congressional Republicans, including Cotton and Cruz, were voting to spend like sailors on shore leave long before this contagion necessitated emergency spending. Driven by the GOP tax giveaways to major corporations and the richest 1 percent in 2017, along with massive spending increases that were not paid for, the annual deficit grew from $442 billion in 2015 to $984 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
Republicans also ran up the debt when they had unified control of the government under George W. Bush, which helped fuel the energy behind the tea party movement in 2010.
The spending parameters are just one element of a widening intraparty rift over the next phase of the coronavirus relief package. Erica Werner, Jeff Stein and Seung Min Kim – who reported on the private comments of Cruz and Cotton – note that the Republican and White House positions changed multiple times Tuesday. The White House appears to be backing away from Trump’s demand for a payroll tax cut and its previous resistance to more spending on testing and to shore up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The whole process now appears likely to spill into August, something the White House and congressional Democrats had hoped to avoid, because it would mean more than 20 million Americans would lose emergency unemployment benefits when they expire at the end of this month,” per Erica, Jeff and Seung Min. “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that the goal was to keep the spending bill around $1 trillion, but by Tuesday he had abandoned that. … Republicans do appear to be gravitating toward a proposal on what to do about the expiring unemployment benefits, however. In March, Congress approved an additional $600 weekly benefit through the end of July for unemployed Americans. Democrats have proposed extending those benefits through January, but the White House and some Republicans now want to cut the extra benefits to about $200 per week.”
More on Republicans in disarray
The president's son questioned the loyalty of the highest-ranking GOP woman in Congress.
“Members of the House Freedom Caucus chided [Rep. Liz Cheney (Wyo.)], the chair of the House Republican Conference, for supporting Anthony S. Fauci and breaking with the president on recent foreign policy issues. Cheney stood her ground in the closed-door meeting, firing back that the conservative agitators were the ones who typically lack loyalty to Trump and fellow Republicans,” Paul Kane and Rachael Bade report. “‘House Republicans deserve better as our Conference Chair. Liz Cheney should step down or be removed,’ Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) wrote on Twitter … Donald Trump Jr. joined Gaetz in calling for Cheney’s ouster … However, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) defended Cheney … during a news conference." Cheney dismissed Trump Jr.’s attack, arguing that he isn’t a House Republican and thus his input doesn’t matter.
Trump threatened to veto military spending over Confederate base names, but 108 House Republicans ignored him.
The president issued a formal veto threat hours before the majority of members of his party in the House passed the $740 billion bill with a veto-proof majority. “Senators are expected to vote on their bill next week," Karoun Demirjian reports. “In the meantime, they are waiting on leaders in that chamber — particularly Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) — to indicate whether there will be votes on proposed amendments that could either bring the Senate more in line with Trump’s wishes or put that chamber on a similar collision course with the White House. Inhofe has indicated a preference not to change the bases’ names, but he has not announced whether an amendment from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) that would remove the mandate, replacing it with a study process, will get a vote in the Senate. Legislation also is pending from Senate Democrats that would accelerate the three-year timeline to one year.”
The president’s advisers also objected to language to block Trump from removing U.S. troops stationed in Germany: "In the Senate, Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has been pushing for a similar provision in its version of the defense bill. His bipartisan amendment is co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and Marco Rubio (Fla.), suggesting that if the legislation came up for a vote, it could secure enough votes to pass. Inhofe, who has expressed his disappointment with the decision to withdraw troops from Germany, has not said whether Romney’s amendment will be considered on the Senate floor.”
The powerful GOP speaker of the Ohio House was arrested in a $60 million bribery case.
“Federal prosecutors say Republican Speaker Larry Householder and four others — including a former state GOP chairman — perpetrated a $60 million federal bribery scheme connected to a taxpayer-funded bailout of Ohio’s two nuclear power plants,” the AP reports. “The scope of the accusations threatens to unfurl the GOP’s tight hold on Ohio’s governing body, which is set to draw new congressional maps in 2021 that will dictate Ohio’s representation in Washington for a decade … Among U.S. Attorney David M. DeVillers’ allegations is that Householder used millions of dollars caught up in the scheme to fund his own campaign and the campaigns of a network of sitting lawmakers and legislative newcomers who would eventually support his bid for the speakership. Those 21 candidates — who ran in the 2018 primary and general elections — were not named in the complaint, but DeVillers did not rule out future charges in the probe. ‘This is by no means over,’ he told reporters Tuesday. …
“Householder is a Trump supporter whose caucus includes one member who refused to have her temperature taken before entering the Statehouse and another who urged the public not to get tested for covid-19. A political maverick who harbors ambitions to higher office, Householder also has been critical of [Republican Gov. Mike] DeWine over the governor’s early aggressive moves against the coronavirus. The speaker backed legislation that would have undercut the DeWine administration’s power to enforce its virus-related health orders. DeWine vetoed the bill Friday.”
Gaetz has engaged in spending practices that appear to conflict with House ethics rules.
Gaetz, one of Trump's closest allies on Capitol Hill, “improperly sent tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to a limited liability company linked to a speech-writing consultant who was ousted from the Trump administration, in direct conflict with House rules,” Politico reports. “In another possible violation, a private company installed a television studio in his father’s home in Niceville, Fla., which Gaetz uses when he appears on television. Taxpayers foot the bill to rent the television camera, and the private company that built the studio — which Gaetz refuses to identify — takes a fee each time he appears on air, his office said. It’s unclear how much it cost the private company to construct the studio. This may run afoul of the House gift rule, which prohibits any lawmaker, aide, and their family members from accepting gifts worth more than $50. The Florida Republican concedes that he improperly sent $28,000 in taxpayer funds to a limited liability company connected to the speech-writing consultant, Darren Beattie, a former White House aide who was ousted after appearing at a convention known as a forum for racist and white supremacist views. … Gaetz’s aides said the House Ethics Committee approved both arrangements but declined to produce any evidence that that was the case."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) says Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) cursed at her outside the Capitol.
Yoho called AOC “disgusting” and told her “you are out of your freaking mind” for describing poverty as a root cause of crime, Felicia Sonmez reports. “Yoho also used a sexist slur to describe Ocasio-Cortez once she was out of earshot, according to the Hill newspaper, which first reported on the exchange. According to the Hill, Yoho uttered the words ‘f---ing b---h.’ A spokesman for Yoho denied that the congressman used the epithet and said he instead uttered the word ‘bulls---’ to himself … [Ocasio-Cortez] criticized another GOP lawmaker, Rep. Roger Williams (Tex.), who was present for at least part of the exchange …. She accused Williams of joining Yoho in ‘yelling’ at her and blasted the Texas Republican for later telling a reporter he had not been paying attention to the confrontation between the other two lawmakers.”
More on the coronavirus
The U.S. daily coronavirus death toll topped 1,000 for the first time since May.
“More than 65,000 new coronavirus cases were recorded on Tuesday, adding to a nationwide tally of more than 3,874,000 since the crisis began. Meanwhile, several states that were quick to reopen — Florida, Arizona and Texas — each counted more than 130 new deaths. Tuesday’s death toll is the highest reported since June 2, but still lower than the worst days of the outbreak in April,” our colleagues report in a live blog. “Only a small portion of Americans — including those in hard-hit areas — possess the necessary antibodies for immunity to the coronavirus, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency also revealed Tuesday that the number of coronavirus infections in the United States is probably two to 13 times higher than the official count.”
Pfizer and BioNTech will supply the federal government with 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine under a $1.95 billion deal announced this morning. “The agreement via the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed vaccination effort would allow the government to acquire an additional 500 million doses of the vaccine candidate, provided it has proved effective and secures regulatory approval,” per Hannah Denham.
The president said the pandemic is likely to “get worse before it gets better.”
“Trump walked to the lectern in the White House briefing room alone Tuesday, attempting to single-handedly hit the reset button on the public blame he is facing for failing to control the novel coronavirus pandemic,” Toluse Olorunnipa reports. “Three months after he abandoned the daily virus briefings and attempted to turn the country’s attention to what he described as the ‘great American comeback,’ Trump’s low-key reappearance before reporters seemed to be a tacit admission that his previous strategy had not worked. … While Trump continued to showcase his trademark boosterism with repeated praise of his administration, he also appeared to acknowledge that the virus he once said would soon disappear continues to pose a serious threat to the country, as well as to his reelection chances. ‘It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better,’ he said during the 30-minute briefing in which he spoke in subdued tones. ‘Something I don’t like saying about things, but that’s the way it is.’ …
“On the same day that his Democratic rival Joe Biden slammed him by saying ‘he’s quit on this country,’ Trump … urged Americans to wear masks and stay away from crowded bars. … He contradicted press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s claims that he gets tested multiple times a day for the virus … Trump favorably compared the United States to other countries during the briefing, saying ‘we’ve done much better than most.’ In reality, the United States has performed far worse than most of the industrialized world … While Americans make up less than 5 percent of the global population, the United States accounts for almost a quarter of all coronavirus deaths. … Trump did take a moment during his prepared remarks to acknowledge the more than 139,000 Americans who have died — though he stopped short of taking any responsibility for lost lives.”
Quote of the day
“I wish her well, frankly,” Trump said during the briefing, referring to Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime associate of sex offender Jeffrey Epstein who was recently arrested on charges that she aided Epstein in his years-long exploitation and abuse of underage girls. "I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach. But I wish her well, whatever it is.” (Colby Itkwoitz and John Wagner)
Fauci said he was not invited to the briefing.
After Trump labeled the government's top infectious-disease expert “a little bit of an alarmist” on Sunday, Anthony Fauci told CNN on Tuesday that he considers himself “more a realist than an alarmist."
- Several properties owned by Trump – from Washington to North Carolina – have continued to host gatherings with guests and employees that ignore state- and city-mandated face-mask guidance as well as the Trump Organization’s own public rules for resuming business. During a fundraiser at Trump’s D.C. hotel, multiple guests – including the president, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) – were photographed not wearing masks in the lobby while bunched closely together. (ABC)
- The owners of a Maine brewery canceled a Trump reelection event, saying the president's representatives initially told them that some members of the organization were just going to drop by for a beer. They later found out that the hangout was being advertised as a campaign event headlined by Lara Trump, the first stop in a “Women For Trump” bus tour. (Bangor Daily News)
- Major Trump donors have received at least $41 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans for their companies. Together, 15 recipients have given Trump and the GOP $1.4 million in big checks while their businesses collected millions more in federal assistance. (HuffPost)
Miami's mayor said the city will dedicate 39 law enforcement officers to enforcing the city’s mask ordinance.
Violators will be fined $50 for a first offense, $100 for a second offense and $500 after that. Anyone who violates the ordinance more than three times will be arrested. (Antonia Farzan)
- A coalition of black mayors, including Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D), called on governors to allow cities to institute and enforce mask mandates in their communities. (Katie Shepherd)
- Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain, will require guests to wear masks in common areas. (Taylor Telford)
- Lowe’s said its employees won’t enforce its new mask mandate out of concern for their safety. (Charlotte Observer)
You should isolate for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms if you test positive.
“The CDC had previously recommended people who test positive isolate until they had two negative swabs for the coronavirus — but that turned out to be impractical given the shortage of tests. It now advises most people with active cases of covid-19 … to isolate for 10 days after symptoms begin and 24 hours after their fever has broken. After that, they are free to leave isolation,” Ariana Eunjung Cha reports. “For those who have a positive test but are asymptomatic, the public health agency as of Friday recommended isolating 10 days from the testing date. … The CDC noted that a ‘limited number of persons with severe illness’ may continue to produce the virus longer and may warrant extending the isolation period to as much as 20 days.”
- Most states are failing to report key data, according to former CDC chief Tom Frieden. Only two states are reporting data on how quickly contact tracers were able to interview people who test positive to learn about potential contacts. Not a single state reports on the turnaround time for diagnostic tests. Week-long waits for results hobble efforts to track real-time virus spread and make contact tracing almost irrelevant. (Lena Sun)
- More than 500 women tested positive for the virus at a federal medical prison in Fort Worth. (Dallas Morning News)
- The Congregation of the Sisters of St. Felix of Cantalice, in Livonia, Mich., has lost 13 nuns to the virus – a fifth of the convent’s community – with 12 dying in one month. (Shepherd)
- Even in places where Trump is popular, some school leaders are rejecting his push to reopen schools. (Moriah Balingit)
- The superintendents of three large public school systems in Virginia and Maryland – Fairfax, Loudoun and Montgomery – are calling for an all-virtual start to the fall semester, a reversal from earlier plans to offer a mix of in-person and distance learning. (Hannah Natanson and Donna St. George)
The Sierra Club denounced John Muir, its founder.
The environmental icon disparaged African Americans and Native Americans in the early 1900s, Darryl Fears and Steven Mufson explain.
- Planned Parenthood will remove Margaret Sanger’s name from a New York clinic over her views on eugenics. (Samantha Schmidt)
- The “Silent Sentinel” Confederate statue was removed from outside the Loudoun County courthouse in Leesburg. (Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff)
- Redwood City, Calif., washed away a massive Black Lives Matter street painting. Supporters of the artwork, who expressed outrage over its removal, said that the city was prompted to take action by a resident’s request for “MAGA 2020” painting. (Allyson Chiu)
- Twitter banned 7,000 QAnon accounts, limiting 150,000 others as part of crackdown on the conspiracy theory. (NBC)
- Facebook is creating new teams dedicated to studying and addressing racial biases in the algorithms on its core platform and on Instagram after previously limiting similar efforts. (Wall Street Journal)
Trump is turning Homeland Security powers inward as unrest continues on American streets.
“Images of militarized Border Patrol agents clubbing protesters and stuffing them into unmarked vehicles have alarmed civil liberties advocates and administration critics, and the displays of government power echo tactics long associated with authoritarian rule. Legal analysts say that while the department has broad authority to enforce federal laws, officers’ actions — especially in Portland, Ore. — seemed to be pushing the boundaries and pulling DHS into a domestic policing role,” Nick Miroff and Matt Zapotosky report. “DHS officials defended their tactics in Portland again Tuesday, saying the department has an obligation to protect government buildings in the city that have been targeted for more than 50 consecutive nights by black-clad protesters shooting fireworks, lobbing projectiles and attempting to set alight the federal courthouse. … In the coming days, two administration officials said, the Justice Department is expected to announce an expansion of its ‘Operation Legend,’ an initiative to surge federal agents from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to Kansas City, Mo., to help address a spike in violent crime."
- A Trump campaign ad showing an image of protesters attacking a police officer is actually a 2014 photo from a pro-democracy protest in Ukraine. (Business Insider)
- DHS confirmed that three units sent paramilitary officers to Oregon. (Reuters)
- Agency employees worry that the Portland donnybrook is destroying their agency’s reputation. (BuzzFeed)
- Tom Ridge, George W. Bush's DHS secretary and the former GOP governor of Pennsylvania, said it’d be “a cold day in hell” before he’d let “uninvited” federal agents into one of his cities. “The department was established to protect America from the ever-present threat of global terrorism. It was not established to be the president’s personal militia,” Ridge said. (Pennsylvania Capital-Star)
- Fourteen people were shot near a funeral home on the South Side of Chicago and one person was taken into custody, authorities said, as Trump prepares to deploy federal agents to the city. (Timothy Bella)
- As Trump deploys federal agents to Chicago, his toxic history with the city has officials and residents on edge. Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) sent Trump a letter specifying areas where the city would welcome federal support but added “we do not welcome dictatorship.” (Kim Bellware and Mark Guarino)
- The Minneapolis police experienced a surge of departures in the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing. “Veteran officers say that morale within the department is lower than they have ever experienced. Some officers are scaling back their policing efforts, concerned that any contentious interactions on the street could land them in trouble. And many others are calling it quits altogether,” the Times reports.
- An Old Dominion University student John William Kirby Kelley, 19, admitted being involved with a division of the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division. Many of the group’s "swatting" targets were journalists, activists and politicians. Kelley and John Cameron Denton, one of the group’s leaders, could face up to five years in prison for conspiracy to make interstate threats. (Rachel Weiner)
Trump moved to bar undocumented immigrants from a portion of the 2020 Census.
“Trump signed a memorandum Tuesday in support of barring undocumented immigrants from being counted for congressional apportionment next year,” Tara Bahrampour reports. “Democratic lawmakers blasted it, and groups that successfully challenged the administration’s attempt to add a citizenship question to the census said they will sue over it. … New York Attorney General Letitia James (D), who led a multistate suit against the question, also said she will challenge the memo in court. … The administration also last month added two high-level political appointees to the Census Bureau, … raising concern that the new hires could attempt to influence the count. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) called the memo ‘an illegal and unconstitutional attempt to scare people from participating in the Census and influence congressional representation.’ Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, said the committee will hold an emergency hearing on the census next week and is considering additional ways to respond to the memo. …
“The memo seeks to overturn a system in place since the decennial count began in 1790. Typically by the end of a census year, the data from the count is delivered to the president, who then presents it to Congress to use for apportionment of representatives, based on the count of people living in each jurisdiction. … ‘It’s patently unconstitutional,’ said Thomas Wolf, senior counsel and Spitzer Fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law. … The 14th Amendment, enacted after the Civil War, mandates that representatives be apportioned ‘counting the whole number of persons in each State.’ (The Constitution originally contained similar language but distinguished between free people and enslaved people, who counted as three-fifths of a person.)”
The new world order
The Trump administration ordered China to close its consulate in Houston by Friday.
“Beijing immediately vowed to retaliate for the ‘unprecedented escalation,’ leading to speculation it could order the closure of the U.S. Consulate in Wuhan, which has been shuttered since the coronavirus epidemic spread across the city in January,” Anna Fifield reports. “The first sign of the American order came when Houston NBC affiliate KPRC2 aired video showing people in the courtyard of the consulate apparently burning documents after 8 p.m. local time on Tuesday. Police and fire officials went to the scene in response to calls from neighbors but, in accordance with diplomatic rules, did not enter the building … Witnesses in nearby apartment buildings told police that people were burning paper in what appeared to be trash cans, a police official told the Houston Chronicle.”
- A draft of the Democratic Party platform promises Biden would take a tougher stand on China than Trump. The document, obtained by Michael Scherer, opposes “regime change,” proposes “less” spending on national defense and remains silent on Joe Biden’s proposal to ban new fracking leases on public lands.
- A new report released by the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warns that China will write the rules of the Internet unless the United States and its allies counter Beijing's efforts at mass surveillance and censorship. Meanwhile, the Democratic-led House voted to bar federal employees from downloading TikTok on their government-issued devices. (Shibani Mahtani)
- U.S. officials accused China of sponsoring criminal hackers who are targeting biotech firms around the world working on coronavirus vaccines and treatments. “In an indictment unsealed in Spokane, Wash., the Justice Department charged two former engineering students with hacking companies engaged in high-tech manufacturing, pharmaceuticals and gaming software development, and with targeting dissidents, clergy and human rights activists in the United States, China and Hong Kong,” Ellen Nakashima and Devlin Barrett report.
- Japan is paying 87 companies to shift production back home or into Southeast Asia after the pandemic disrupted supply chains, exposed an overreliance on Chinese manufacturing. (Simon Denyer)
Trump is again accused of using his office to pursue personal profit.
“The American ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood Johnson IV, told multiple colleagues in February 2018 that Trump had asked him to see if the British government could help steer the world-famous and lucrative British Open golf tournament to the Trump Turnberry resort in Scotland,” the New York Times reports. “The ambassador’s deputy, Lewis A. Lukens, advised him not to do it, warning that it would be an unethical use of the presidency for private gain … But Mr. Johnson apparently felt pressured to try. A few weeks later, he raised the idea of Turnberry playing host to the Open with the secretary of state for Scotland, David Mundell. In a brief interview last week, Mr. Mundell said it was ‘inappropriate’ for him to discuss his dealings with Mr. Johnson and referred to a British government statement that said Mr. Johnson ‘made no request of Mr. Mundell regarding the British Open or any other sporting event.’ The statement did not address whether the ambassador had broached the issue of Turnberry, which Mr. Trump bought in 2014, but none of the next four Opens are scheduled to be played there.”
CNN reports that Johnson was investigated by the State Department inspector general after allegations that he made racist and sexist comments to staff. Citing three sources and a diplomat familiar with the complaint to the department’s watchdog, the network reports that Johnson “made racist generalizations about Black men and questioned why the Black community celebrates Black History Month. … His comments about women's looks have been ‘cringeworthy,’ a source with knowledge of the situation said, and two sources said it was a struggle to get him on board for an event for International Women's Day. ‘He's said some pretty sexist, racist,’ things, the diplomat with knowledge of the complaints made to the IG said of Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune and one of the owners of the New York Jets. Asked about the specific allegations reported by CNN, Johnson did not deny them.” The White House referred questions to the State Department, which expressed confidence in the ambassador.
- The U.S. and Britain agreed to “new arrangements” surrounding immunity agreements that allowed Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. official, to leave the U.K. after her car struck and killed British teenager Harry Dunn. The British foreign secretary said the changes would mean that something similar cannot happen again. (Karla Adam and Jennifer Hassan)
- The British Parliament said its government failed to investigate possible Russian election interference. “Successive British governments have embraced Russian oligarchs and then looked the other way on alleged election interference, according to the United Kingdom's long-delayed and highly anticipated ‘Russia Report,’ released Tuesday,” William Booth and Karla report.
Social media speed read
A 2016 editorial page from the Boston Globe picturing what America would look like under Trump pales in comparison to today’s stories:
Anthony Scaramucci shared a story of Trump's germaphobia from his brief time as White House communications director:
And Arizona's Democratic senator tried on a new hairdo:
Videos of the day
Stephen Colbert said Trump has alienated a group of single-issue voters, the “anti-dying demographic”:
Seth Meyers held a White House press conference: