Donald Trump has coronavirus, and his prognosis is... well... nobody really knows, and the administration isn’t really talking. As of Sunday night, he was taking joy-rides in a motorcade for supporters outside of the hospital he’s supposed to be quarantined at.
Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell is pushing for an adjournment in the Senate to postpone the possibility of confirming Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court thanks to the wave of GOP Senators who have fallen ill. Can Democrats whip up the votes to stop him?
And lastly, a new investigation by HuffPost found that millions in Federal government loans went to major energy companies that had recently violated environmental rules.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
Trump Takes Contagious Joyride
After months of denial, false information, and downplaying the seriousness of the crisis, Donald Trump has coronavirus. The president announced his diagnosis late on Thursday night, and has been hospitalized at Walter Reed over the weekend. His medical team and administration, however, have been less than forthcoming about what his actual condition is. Here’s what we know so far, in case you took the weekend to actually log off.
Trump was admitted to Walter Reed on Friday. According to his doctors, he had a high fever that day, and on two occasions over the weekend, his oxygen levels dropped enough that he required supplementary oxygen. Trump’s medical team on Sunday tried to play it off like he was fine, but the New York Times reports that the fluctuating oxygen levels and Trump’s treatment with a course of steroids suggest his case may be more severe than he’s letting on.
Earlier in the day on Sunday, Trump took a spin around Walter Reed in a motorcade, flaunting quarantine guidelines to have a little joy ride in front of his supporters. Sounds about right. He’s also posted the occasional video updating fans about his condition on Twitter, but we all know just how much his personal testimony is worth.
The timeline on when he knew he was sick is also completely unclear. On Sunday night, the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump didn’t disclose a positive test he got back on Thursday morning, before he went on a Fox News appearance and while he was still performing normal duties in the White House. In other words, there’s no telling how many people he could have personally infected, but the cluster that probably got him sick is spreading around the administration and GOP higher ranks like crazy. That’s where we’re at as of late Sunday night -- Monday will surely have more updates and speculation. What a time to be alive.
Mitch McConnell Loses Votes to Corona
The coronavirus cluster sweeping through the top ranks of the GOP might have some pretty significant legislative consequences. Politico reports that Mitch McConnell is going to attempt to call a vote to adjourn the Senate until October 19, ostensibly to protect more Senators from getting infected. But McConnell also wants the Senate’s various committees to keep doing their jobs during this, meaning the Judiciary Committee’s hearings on Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett could continue.
This is an obvious ploy to ram forward Coney Barret’s nomination at full speed while denying the rest of the Senate a chance to do much -- and, most importantly, preserving any more GOP Senators from getting too sick to vote her in. Already, two Republican members of the Judiciary Committee have the disease, Thom Tillis and MIke Lee, and another, Ted Cruz, is in quarantine after being exposed to the virus.
It’s worth noting that the potential exposure event for basically all of these guys was a relatively mask-less, close quarters ceremony at the White House last weekend when ACB was announced.
The question now becomes what the Democrats are going to do to stop this. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is pushing to stop the committees while the full Senate adjourns, which could help stall any vote on Barrett’s confirmation until after the election. With at least 3 GOP senators out with COVID and 3 more in quarantine, McConnell is going to have a hard time getting the votes to push anything through right now, which gives the Democrats some power for once.
It’s possible that if Schumer thinks he has the votes, that the Democrats could get a vote to adjourn until after the election, not until October 13. That wouldn’t necessarily block Barrett’s confirmation but would kick the can quite a ways down the road. We’ll see how this plays out on Monday morning.
Government Loans Went to Dirty Energy Companies
Meanwhile, outside of the COVID pit that is Washington DC, a new report from Huffington Post finds further injustice in the application of the Paycheck Protection Program loans doled out during the pandemic.
According to HuffPost, at least five companies who have collectively paid more than $52 million in penalties for violating clean air and other environmental regulations received a whole bunch of that money back from the federal PPP program. Between them, they secured $32 million in loans.
Chris Saeger, a spokesman for Washington-based watchdog Accountable dot US said quote:
“These companies have a clear history of violating public trust and the law by contaminating the environment in pursuit of profits. Our federal government should not be essentially giving back portions of the penalties they’ve paid, but that’s exactly what the Trump administration is doing through the PPP.”
The sector overall got enormous amounts of money. Huffpo reports that as many as 7,000 companies received anywhere from 3 to 7 billion dollars in PPP loans.
And remember, this is just the latest example of corruption and mismanagement within the PPP, which doled out millions to companies owned by members of congress and Trump donors. This puts the current bailout fight in new focus, as Trump and the GOP are generally trying to shift even more money from direct relief and bailouts to necessary services and into big corporate slush funds that they can funnel to their cronies.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
The previously frozen conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia escalated dramatically this weekend, as Azerbaijani forces shelled the major city of Stepankert and Armenian forces shelled the city of Ganja. The conflict is also a complicated proxy war between forces in the region, as Turkey openly supports Azerbaijan and Russia is generally aligned with Armenia, though it sells weapons to both sides.
New York City, the original hotspot of the U.S. coronavirus infection, is adopting new restrictions as a second wave sweeps through certain neighborhoods in the city, further complicating the city’s slow reopening plan. In the affected neighborhoods, public and private schools would shut down alongside all non-essential businesses.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has been accused by his own staffers of offenses involving abuse of office, improper influence, bribery, and other criminal acts. Paxton is already under indictment on felony charges related to Securities fraud.
If you were wondering where Biden is during all this, his team said late Sunday night that he had again tested negative for coronavirus, after obviously being in contact with Trump during the debate last week. So that’s encouraging for now!
That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM quickie today! Stay tuned for more Presidential Health Watch updates on the Majority Report later today.
Oct 5, 2020 - AM Quickie
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn