Welcome to another edition of What Fresh Hell?, Raw Story’s roundup of news items that might have become controversies under another regime, but got buried – or were at least under-appreciated – due to the daily firehose of political pratfalls, unhinged tweet storms and other sundry embarrassments coming out of the current White House.
On Monday, three days before we learned that the Biden campaign had out-raised its opponents by $154 million in August, The New York Times detailed how Team Trump's lavish spending, much of it directed toward opaque companies controlled by various campaign officials, had wiped out their once-formidable cash advantage. Grifters are easy marks, and Trump's team somehow managed to burn through a record $1 billion before Labor Day, only to end up trailing his challenger by a significant margin. With some of his biggest donors abandoning him, Trump recently vowed to spend $100 million of his own money on his campaign, probably to assure nervous donors that their cash wouldn't be wasted. The campaign has gone dark in the ad wars for at least a period in several states in recent weeks. They're clearly strapped for cash as we head into the homestretch.
The good news for Trump--and bad news for the majority of American taxpayers who want him out of office, is that the president* is corrupting large swaths of the federal government in the service of his re-election campaign.
When Attorney General William Barr ordered the DOJ to take over Trump's defense of E. Jean Carroll's lawsuit alleging that he defamed her when she accused him of raping her, the primary purpose was to kill the lawsuit, as the government can't be sued for defamation. But it also alleviated the financial burden of litigating the issue. According to The Times, one reason the campaign has blown through so much cash is that "outsize legal bills were treated as campaign costs."
Larger efforts are underway to use the federal government to promote Trump's partisan messaging. Two weeks ago, Politico reported that "the Department of Health and Human Services is bidding out a more than $250 million contract to a communications firm as it seeks to 'defeat despair and inspire hope' about the coronavirus pandemic," and that "the vast majority of the money will be spent from now until January."
Meanwhile, Politico reports that "since Michael Caputo, a former Trump campaign official with no medical or scientific background, was installed in April as the Health and Human Services department's new spokesperson, there have been substantial efforts to align the [CDC's Coronavirus morbidity and mortality] reports with Trump's statements, including the president's claims that fears about the outbreak are overstated, or stop the reports altogether." According to the report, "in some cases, emails from communications aides to CDC Director Robert Redfield and other senior officials openly complained that the agency’s reports would undermine President Donald Trump's optimistic messages about the outbreak."
This follows reports that the regime has been leaning on the FDA to report some sort of vaccine or therapeutic breakthrough prior to the election.
The Hartford Courant reports that "federal prosecutor Nora Dannehy, a top aide to U.S. Attorney John H. Durham in his Russia investigation, has quietly resigned — at least partly out of concern that the investigative team is being pressed for political reasons to produce a report before its work is done, colleagues said." And John Choi, the elected prosecutor in Ramsey County, Minnesota, resigned from a presidential commission on law enforcement that is supposed to deliver a report prior to the election for similar reasons, according to The Huffington Post.
CNN reports that "Trump and several of his top national security advisers have repeatedly sought to emphasize the threat posed by China in recent months while downplaying the intelligence community's warnings related to Russian interference in the 2020 election." And it just so happens that according to a whistleblower complaint, Trump's illegally installed acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, Chad Wolf, "instructed DHS officials earlier this year to 'cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference' and, instead, focus their efforts on gathering information related to activities being carried out by China and Iran."
According to The Washington Post, that same whistleblower also alleged that "senior Trump administration officials had pressured him to provide what he considered misleading information about suspected terrorists crossing the border with Mexico, as part of an effort to bolster the case for building a border wall."
This story was accurate:
DHS official pushed NBC News to retract story on terrorists at border https://t.co/9jCXXlsA7o via @nbcnews— Ken Dilanian (@Ken Dilanian) 1599776091.0
And Trump installed Michael Pack, a close ally of Steve Bannon, to head the United States Agency for Global Media, which runs Voice of America among other government-subsidized media organizations, and former diplomats say he's undertaken "an effort to turn the news organizations... into partisan outlets."
This isn't an exhaustive list of agencies Trump has suborned to assist in his re-election campaign, but it is sufficient to make the point. Having blown through $1 billion from donors, much of it ending up in his and his family's pockets, Trump is now tapping a new group of unwitting donors: You, and the rest of American taxpayers.
Most companies are opting out of Trump's harebrained payroll tax suspension, which would have to be repaid in January. But federal employees cannot. That includes military personnel, but Trump vowed this week that if he is re-elected, that loan would be forgiven. If he isn't, then it won't. This is...bribery. [via Military.com]
The New York Daily News reported this week that "the Trump administration has secretly siphoned nearly $4 million away from a program that tracks and treats FDNY firefighters and medics suffering from 9/11 related illnesses."
According to The Daily Beast, Rudy Giuliani "has been working closely with 'an active Russian agent' trying to smear the president’s chief political rival."
That’s the conclusion of the U.S. Treasury Department, which on Thursday sanctioned one of Rudy Giuliani’s Ukrainian allies for interference in the upcoming U.S. elections. Andriy Derkach worked closely with Giuliani—and with the Trump-friendly cable network OANN—to push accusations of political misconduct against Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his son, Hunter. Derkach, a member of Kyiv’s parliament and son of a former KGB officer, has also been supplying documents to Republicans on Capitol Hill, where Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is conducting an election-eve investigation into the Bidens.
This is a familiar storyline by now...
BREAKING: Kathryn Mizelle, Trump's pick for the federal bench in Florida, was just rated NOT QUALIFIED by the ABA.… https://t.co/5zd65nzThN— Vanita Gupta (@Vanita Gupta) 1599659252.0
Mizelle is 33-years-old. It's a lifetime appointment.
"The Trump administration flew immigrant detainees to Virginia this summer to facilitate the rapid deployment of Homeland Security tactical teams to quell protests in Washington, circumventing restrictions on the use of charter flights for employee travel," according to The Washington Post. "After the transfer, dozens of the new arrivals tested positive for the novel coronavirus, fueling an outbreak at the Farmville, Va., immigration jail that infected more than 300 inmates, one of whom died."
For the first time in months, the Trump administration reveals the full extent of its expulsion policy in an ongoin… https://t.co/GM0xm21T0O— lomikriel (@lomikriel) 1599861170.0
In related news, Reuters reports that the regime has "proposed a sweeping expansion of its collection of DNA and other biometric data of immigrants, to go beyond detained migrants in order to include U.S. citizen sponsors and others."
Finally, a bit of positive news as David Badash reports that "a three-judge panel unanimously ruled President Donald Trump’s order to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census for purposes of determining congressional representation is unlawful. Trump had ordered that Congress not include undocumented immigrants in its counts when determining congressional districts." The Constitution says that the Census must count "persons," not citizens.