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April 30, 2020: Biden Faces Growing Pressure
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

Donald Trump’s Justice Department flaunts its collusion with Republican donors. A memo from Bill Barr signals support for corporate lawsuits over state pandemic restrictions.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden’s campaign said it expects the sexual assault allegations against him to go away. But there was a new report showing his campaign interfered in a MeToo effort to call him to account.

And lastly: What you’re telling me is, the president can tell people to inject cleaning solutions, but I can’t pretend to be a doctor? Prosecutors crack down on coronavirus snake oil scammers – at least, some of the dumber ones.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Attorney General Bill Barr is arguing that state efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus may be unconstitutional. He says as much in a memo for all US Attorneys and other Justice Department officials. It was dated April 27 and reported on yesterday. The New York Times said Barr’s memo is a signal to conservative business and religious groups that the Trump administration will have their back in any legal challenges to public health measures.

Barr has ordered two deputies to monitor state and local policies related to the pandemic and QUOTE if necessary, take action to correct them ENDQUOTE. Barr has put the department’s civil rights division on point for this job. Which is pretty twisted when you think about it. In Georgia, for instance, it was reported that eighty percent of COVID-19 patients are African- American. Once upon a time, the DOJ Civil Rights division might see it as a problem that Republican governors were opening their economies prematurely and putting minorities at risk of dying. But that was before this Trump gang took over the US government.

With oil tycoons and religious charlatans setting public health policy, this administration is basically a sequel to There Will Be Blood. None of the twelve energy advisers on Trump’s so- called Opening the Country council represent renewable industries. Eight of them are oil and gas executives who have personally donated millions of dollars to Trump’s reelection effort, according to the Huffington Post. These are the people setting public health policy during the pandemic, while Donald Trump watches himself on TV: Republican donors.

Biden Faces Growing Pressure

The Joe Biden campaign told the New York Times yesterday it expects the sexual assault allegations against him to blow over. Not long after those ill-advised remarks, the Washington Post editorial board showed why this would not be the case. The Post (owned by Trump’s adversary, Jeff Bezos) called on Biden to respond directly to sexual assault allegations by former Biden staffer Tara Reade. So far he has not done this. Also yesterday, the New York Times reported that several feminist organizations had drafted a letter calling on Biden to take the allegation more seriously. They wanted him to model good behavior. But after the campaign caught wind of the letter, they ensured it was never sent.

All this on a day when the campaign said the allegations were not QUOTE resonating politically ENDQUOTE. They also said Reade’s account will be met with great skepticism by voters. Voters may in fact greet Biden with skepticism, however. After many weeks of speculation that he would pick a black woman as his vice presidential nominee, there’s been a shift. A key Biden supporter, senior House Democrat Jim Clyburn, said a black woman as VP was not a must for the campaign. Biden himself said as much in a recent local news interview. As NBC reported, the campaign is debating how diverse the ticket really needs to be. I guess we’ll see. An announcement on the VP pick is expected soon, maybe this week.

Also yesterday, Biden said that if elected he would keep the US Embassy in Jerusalem. Remember, Trump moved it to make some donors happy. So nothing will fundamentally change, except to the extent that it already has under Trump.

Prosecutors Bust Coronavirus Quacks

Some people see a disaster like the coronavirus pandemic and don’t think, how can I help? They can only think of how to profit. Well, it might just be the small-timers, but at least some scam artists are getting their comeuppance. A federal court in Utah slapped an injunction on an unlicensed quack doctor who was selling ingestible silver over the internet, claiming it would cure COVID-19.

Federal prosecutors have charged Gordon Pederson of Cedar Hills, Utah, with defrauding consumers by hawking his silver cure-all to people afraid of contracting coronavirus.

Pedersen’s publicist – I guess it was a profitable scam, if he could hire a publicist -- told the Daily Beast that the fake doctor was QUOTE shocked, as all the statements he has made are supported by scientific documents ENDQUOTE. Shocked, ladies and gentlemen. This is a guy who was reportedly cited by the state two years ago for unauthorized practice of medicine. And who was charging people $299.95 per gallon for a mix of water, baking soda, and a substance extracted from silver wire. Pedersen had bragged about going on a cruise to Europe with his proceeds from ripping off people who were sick and frightened.

More than eight criminal and civil cases like this have been brought in the last two weeks against COVID-19 scammers. They should really think bigger. Like insurance executives. If this guy in Utah is smart, he’ll aim for a presidential pardon. Never hurts to ask.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

Cities and counties around the country are closing libraries, laying off garbage collectors, police, firefighters, and emergency responders, the Washington Post reported. The economic crisis that’s closing businesses also means budget cuts for local government. Up to one million public sector workers could soon be out of a job, according to the National League of Cities. Trump wants to make federal aid contingent on things like going along with his racist immigration policies.

As of yesterday, children in Washington, DC, with COVID-19 have been admitted to hospitals also experiencing symptoms similar to a inflammatory condition called Kawasaki disease. This has also been happening in Europe, particularly Italy and Britain, and doctors are investigating a possible link. Kawasaki disease symptoms include fever, rash, eye irritation, swollen lymph nodes and swelling in the hands and feet. It can be a serious condition, and though COVID-19 has been said to be mild in most children, there’s much about this public health crisis that has yet to be learned.

Elon Musk, who yesterday Tweeted in support of the Republican plan to reopen America and sacrifice the working poor for the sake of corporate profit, has more legal problems. At least his company does. Tesla is being sued in California by the family of a man in Japan who standing on the street when he was hit by a car was running on what Tesla called QUOTE autopilot ENDQUOTE. Bloomberg News said it is the first pedestrian fatality linked to Musk’s software.

Amazon is censoring internal emails to prevent workers from organizing. That’s according to a new report by Recode, which said IT administrators at the company this week warned anyone who managed large lists of employees that managers needed to pre-approve any messages sent to the group. Employees had used the company listservs to organize a recent sick-out over working conditions and environmental policies.

That’s all for the AM Quickie. Join us this afternoon on the Majority Report.

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Corey Pein

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn