The Trump administration fired yet another key watchdog from the government, this time giving the boot to the State Department Inspector General that was investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Not too subtle, is he?
Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos is also doing some corruption in plain sight, by funneling coronavirus relief funding to private and religious schools that she’s long tried to foist on the Federal government.
And lastly, there may be some hope in weakening big Tech’s grasp over, well, everything: according to several reports, the Justice Department and several state AGs are planning to level an antitrust case at Google sometime in the next few months.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Donald Trump fired yet another key federal watchdog on Friday, eliminating yet another check on his administration’s ability to do whatever it wants, regardless of those little things called laws.
On Friday, Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, the main watchdog in charge of making sure State Department officials are playing by all the government’s rules. Guess what Linick’s latest project was? Investigating Mike Pompeo.
According to NBC News, Linick was investigating Pompeo’s alleged use of State Department staffers to carry out personal duties -- everything from walking his dog to picking up his dry cleaning -- which is a pretty big breach of policy for public servants.
This is all part of a trend, remember? He canned Christi Grimm at Health and Human Services after she issued a report criticizing his coronavirus response, and also fired Michael Atkinson, the inspector who handled the whistleblower report that got him impeached.
It’s pretty surreal that Trump can just do this with little to no consequences. Congressional Democrats say they’re investigating, but what’re they going to do -- impeach Trump all over again before November? Not at the pace Pelosi and Schumer move, so it’s more than likely Trump will get away with putting one more watchdog to sleep.
DeVos Does Corona Corruption
Schools may be closed, but fortunately Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been hard at work during the pandemic. Unfortunately, her job is mostly corruption.
According to the New York Times, DeVos has been pushing parts of the massive $2 trillion coronavirus relief effort into her pet projects, which are private and religious schools.
The New York Times reports that DeVos used $180 million of the $30 billion plus allocated in the CARES act to push states to create quote “microgrants” that parents can use to pay private school tuition. And universities didn’t escape her bias either: she funneled most of a $350 million fund set aside to help struggling colleges straight to small, private, and often religious institutions, even if they didn’t need the money.
In one case, the Times reports, a tiny private college that has a full website claiming that it isn’t a cult, got almost half a million dollars.
I don’t know about you, but there aren’t a lot of public universities that have to debunk cult rumors on a regular basis. Maybe we should make sure federal money is going to them! And not, you know, cults.
DeVos might have to wait a bit to get her claws on the next round of money.
Google Antitrust Case Brewing
It’s basically a fact of life now that Google owns, and will make money off of, almost every possible revenue stream based on the internet.
That’s what used to be known as a Monopoly, which is a great thing if you’re playing the capitalist dystopian board game but not so great of a thing if you’re, you know, trying to exist in real life. Fortunately, federal and state regulators may be on the brink of filing an antitrust case against the internet giant.
According to CNBC, the case will likely focus on Google’s advertising business -- something it has wielded iron-clad control over to the massive detriment of many industries that rely on ads for money. Both the Federal Department of Justice and the Attorneys General of several states are expected to join in on the suit, following a multi-state investigation.
It’s hard to overstate how big such an investigation would be -- this would be one of the biggest antitrust actions by the federal government since the 90s.
The investigation is likely trying to build a case around some truths that we all know: Google has way too much power over the way we shop, search, and speak online. Breaking up its grasp over the advertising industry can only be good for people who don’t want to welcome in a Silicon Valley owned world order anytime soon.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
A Washington Post report confirms one of the most tragic and predictable effects of the coronavirus pandemic: truly essential transit workers are paying the price. One NYC bus driver told the Post that by his count, 129 transit workers have died of COVID, and the distressing trend is playing out in cities all over the U.S.
We’re moving swiftly towards full dystopia: according to the Intercept, the federal government has ramped up spending on security and police, even writing orders for new riot gear for some security forces at Veterans Affairs facilities under a specific justification that cites the pandemic.
Despite recent turmoil, including a horrific terrorist attack at a maternity hospital, U.S. officials say they’re on schedule to keep pulling forces out of Afghanistan as part of an agreement with the Taliban. Officials say we’ll be down to 8,600 troops by July 15 and will be abandoning five bases. It’s only about 19 years too late.
A U.S. district judge smacked down infamous Pharma bro Martin Shkreli’s [SCHKRELLY] petition to be let out of prison in order to put his expertise as a pharma bro to use on a coronavirus cure. Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, in a no-nonsense ruling, said that Shkreli’s ask was the kind of quote “delusional self-aggrandizing behavior,” that put him in jail in the first place. Points for trying though!
That’s it for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie Today. Stay tuned for the full show with Sam this afternoon.
May 18, 2020 #LEFTISBEST
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn