Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died on Friday at the age of 87, immediately kicking off a nasty political dogfight over her successor on the Supreme Court. Trump and Mitch McConnell want to get a new justice on the bench as soon as possible, but do they have the votes?
Meanwhile, a new, expansive BuzzFeed investigation dives deep into the disturbing web of dark money funneled between criminal organizations and big banks. Corruption isn’t really a new trend, but some of the details here are shocking.
And lastly, Coronavirus cases near 200,000 in the U.S., as Trump makes outlandish promises about a vaccine that aren’t backed up by health officials.
THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:
RBG Replacement Race
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg died on Friday at the age of 87. Ginsberg was a legend on the Supreme Court, setting a high standard for razor sharp dissents against her conservative peers’ repressive interpretations of the law.
But her passing had been written on the wall for years, and Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump have wasted no time in exploiting it.
In statement released to NPR after her death, Ginsburg said: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.”
The Republicans have turned hypocrite as fast as they possibly can, abandoning 2016 promises to let a late-term Supreme Court vacancy be filled by the next president in a heartbeat as they rush to get the most conservative person possible into Bader Ginsberg’s seat.
Trump says he’ll announce his nominee this week, and promises it will be a woman. So far, the most likely candidates are federal appeals judge Amy Coney Barrett, a hard-line Catholic who would likely vote against abortion and to rule against the Affordable Care Act, and the very-slightly more moderate Florida Supreme Court Justice Barbara Lagoa. Lagoa is a bit less likely to dismantle Roe v Wade, but Trump could go with her in the hopes that she’d help lock in Florida’s electoral votes in November.
The big question is when the Senate confirmation vote gets held, and whether or not McConnell has the votes. Both Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have said they won’t vote on a
Justice before the election, but after that, especially in the lame duck period, who knows. And thus the exhausting fight over the Senate’s mythical moderates begins all over again.
Massive Leak Proves: Corruption? It's real!
An explosive leak of documents to BuzzFeed news has kicked off a massive, sprawling financial investigation into deep corners of the criminal underworld and financial elite. The leak and resulting stories are being referred to as the FinCEN Files.
The files themselves are a collection of 2,657 documents, most of which are suspicious activity reports, or SARs.
As BBC reported, SARs are not evidence of wrongdoing - banks send them to the authorities if they suspect customers could be up to no good. But what they do show is a massive paper trail between the biggest banks in the world and international organized crime.
One of the SARs, for instance, shows how HSBC was slow to act and shut down a known scammers accounts as he orchestrated an $80 million ponzi scheme. And that’s a relatively tame one. BuzzFeed’s reporting found SARs tracking billions of dollars flowing through the world’s largest banks that was used to launder money for drug cartels, organized crime rings, and fund terrorism across the globe.
When Banks do flag these operations, they’re sent as SARs to the U.S. Treasury department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FINCEN. But the core of BuzzFeed’s reporting shows that FINCEN often does little more with these documents than pass them on to other law enforcement agencies, and apply fines. It doesn’t shut the banks down, nor does it arrest the people at them laundering the dirty money.
This is a huge story and the ramifications of it are going to be echoing around politics and business for years. It might get lost in the news cycle as we go through the election, but for now, it’s a window in to the ways that negligent governments like ours enable the biggest thieves and criminals on the planet -- some of whom work out of corner offices in Manhattan.
200,000 Coronavirus Deaths
The Coronavirus pandemic didn’t go away over the summer. And it’s not going away in the fall. The U.S. is rapidly approaching 200,000 total deaths, as the world ticks closer to 1 million.
What it is becoming, though, is a political axis that could swing the 2020 election. Trump’s plan, as it has been for months, is to promise a vaccine and an end to the pandemic that he helped enflame before the election.
At a news conference on Friday, Trump said quote: “We will have manufactured at least 100 million vaccine doses before the end of the year. And likely much more than that. Hundreds of
millions of doses will be available every month, and we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April.”
What he’s doing is basically promising that right around election time, that vaccine is going to hit the streets. U.S. health officials aren’t quite so confident, putting the actual timeline at widespread vaccine availability in the U.S. a few months later, in mid 2021.
Meanwhile, we have no idea how bad any resurgence of cases is going to be. Madrid is Spain is about to go under a second lockdown due to a surge in cases, and colleges across the U.S. have emerged as hotspots of the disease after re-opening in the fall. The New York Times reports that there have been at least 88,000 new cases and 60 deaths of coronavirus linked to college campuses thus far, and the nation’s daily count of new cases is starting to climb again after declining for over a month.
In short, we have no idea where we’re at on this thing, and the president can’t be trusted.
AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:
Remember the strange hullabaloo over TikTok? President Trump approved the app’s strange sale to Oracle and Walmart after a weird pissing war with China. Along the way, he extracted his take: a promise that the company would give $5 billion in new taxes to the government to create some kind of nebulous education initiative. That sound like a slush fund to anyone else?
And in everyday corrupt, dangerous news, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency reauthorized the use of atrazine, an herbicide common in the United States but banned or being phased out in dozens of countries due to concerns about risks such as birth defects and cancer.
The Miami Herald’s Spanish-language sister paper was forced to apologize, and blamed quote “internal failures” after it published a paid insert that was a pages-long anti-semitic and racist tirade. Sounds like someone should have uh... checked that one out before sending it to the printer!
Mike Pompeo is once again stoking the flames of war with Iran, saying on Saturday night that UN sanctions on the country had been snapped back on. The U.N., meanwhile, said that they had not been. We’re gonna trust the UN on this one.
That’s it for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today. Stay tuned for the full show with Sam in a bit!
Sept 21, 2020 - AM Quickie
HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner
WRITER - Jack Crosbie
PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn