The Slatest

Collapsing Regime Lashes Out at Citizens, Press, Public Health Statistics

Trump points with a gloved hand, a large Thin Blue Line flag and bleachers full of supporters behind him.
Donald Trump at Waukesha County Airport in Wisconsin on Saturday. Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Let’s review the news from Washington!

• President Donald Trump held a campaign rally on Saturday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, which is 40 miles away from Kenosha, Wisconsin; Kenosha is where an unarmed Black man named Jacob Blake was shot seven times in the back by a police officer in August, and where a Trump supporter named Kyle Rittenhouse has been charged with murder for shooting two people to death at a September protest. Trump made his Wisconsin appearance in front of a “Thin Blue Line” version of the American flag, an image that has been adopted by police officers and right-wing members of the general public as a response to Black Lives Matter protests; the flag was also flown at the 2017 Charlottesville, Virginia, rally during which a white supremacist intentionally ran over and killed a counterprotester with his car.

• Five advisers and staffers who work with Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive for COVID-19, but Pence (whose office says he has tested negative) will continue to make in-person campaign appearances this week. According to the New York Times, Trump and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows attempted to keep the positive tests secret.

• Despite Trump’s ongoing insistence that the country is “rounding the turn” toward victory over the coronavirus, Meadows argued in a Sunday TV appearance that “we are not going to control the pandemic” through the public health measures other countries have used and that collective efforts should be focused instead on developing COVID-19 treatments and a vaccine. On Monday Meadows announced that the White House plans to hold an event later in the day to celebrate Amy Coney Barrett’s expected confirmation to the Supreme Court; this would be a deliberate reprise of the now-notorious September Rose Garden gathering to celebrate Barrett’s nomination, which is believed to have been a “superspreader” event at which the virus was transmitted or contracted by a number of high-ranking Republicans (including two, Trump and Chris Christie, whose cases required hospitalization). Trump tweeted Monday morning that media reports about the United States’ record-high ongoing coronavirus case counts should be considered an “election law violation.”

• White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner said on Fox News that Trump is trying to help Black Americans with “the problems that they’re complaining about” but that “he can’t want them to be successful more than they want to be successful.” Kushner inherited control of a real estate company (one that has been accused of predatory and abusive behavior by Black tenants) from his father, Charles Kushner, who also apparently secured Jared’s admission to Harvard despite questionable credentials with a $2.5 million donation, and who served more than a year in federal prison in 2005 and 2006 after being convicted of 18 felonies, including tax fraud and a charge of retaliating against a witness that was related to his effort to blackmail his brother-in-law by hiring a prostitute to seduce him.

• On Sunday, 60 Minutes broadcast the taped interview with Lesley Stahl that Trump whined about all last week. In the segment, administration staffers present Stahl with an 800-page “health care plan” that is just a bound compilation of previously implemented executive orders and legislation involving health care. Then Trump leaves the interview early while complaining that Stahl is asking him “tough questions.”

• A federal staffing administrator appointed by Trump himself has publicly resigned to protest the president’s attempt to give himself the authority to fire nonpartisan civil servants for political reasons. Elsewhere in the bureaucracy, a plan to offer mall Santas early access to a coronavirus vaccine in exchange for their work on a public information campaign—which, honestly, was not the worst idea, in the abstract—has been abandoned, the Wall Street Journal reports, in part because potential celebrity participants “including actor Dennis Quaid” were afraid that the project might be used to promote Trump personally. Perhaps relatedly, the Trump adviser who created the plan recently took a leave of absence after claiming during a Facebook Live broadcast that a “resistance unit” within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was planning to have him killed.

In summary, America’s teetering and erratic regime is adopting far-right imagery and tropes about racial inferiority while trying to suppress and discredit media reports about the deadly virus that it has failed to prevent from spreading even in its own ranks. Regardless of the election outcome, this administration will continue running the country for at least 86 more days. P.S. The stock market is crashing, also.