There are many things we’ve known for a while about President Donald Trump and his administration. We’ve known, for instance, that his administration’s cozy relationship with white supremacists was a stain upon his office, and that his fear-mongering over “voter fraud” was a deterrent to people exercising the franchise. And we’ve suspected that there was a reason Trump has refused to release his tax returns to the American public. But this week’s news still drove all those points home.
During Tuesday night’s presidential debate, Trump pointedly refused to condemn the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys, and even instructed them to “stand back and stand by.” As is his habit, he’s now claiming to know nothing about the group. But as we noted this week on Twitter, his administration’s policies have often overlapped with the white nationalist agenda.
In the days before the debate, the New York Times had published an in-depth look at more than two decades of Trump’s tax information, revealing questionable measures undertaken to reduce his taxes as well as chronic losses at his namesake businesses. In 2017, he only paid $750 in taxes, and avoided paying any income tax at all in the majority of the years the Times looked at. But a hefty bill could be looming on the horizon — the president’s $72.9 million refund in 2010 is the subject of an IRS audit, and if things don’t shake out in his favor, he could owe more than $100 million.
Another major story from the Times this week called attention to how the president’s claims — and those of his top supporters — about voter fraud are “being used to disenfranchise Americans.” These baseless assertions have been trafficked since before Trump’s inauguration, were given a veneer of legitimacy by the now-defunct Presidential Advisory Committee on Election Integrity (PACEI) that found no evidence of widespread fraud, and have now found a haven in the prospect of increased use of absentee voting.
For more news — surprising and otherwise — read on:
Back in February, the change in sentencing recommendations for Roger Stone — now the subject of an inspector general investigation — was a shocking example of the lengths Attorney General William Barr’s Justice Department was willing to go to in order to intervene in the cases of Trump’s friends. This week, we obtained records that shed new light on the circumstances surrounding the controversial move. The emails show how the abrupt change created confusion and chaos, and provide new information on who was involved in drafting the revised sentencing memo.
Related: Barr’s Justice Department serves up talking points for Trump (Politico); Barr’s Approach Closes Gap Between Justice Dept. and White House (New York Times)
Following last week’s ruling by a federal judge in California striking down the Trump administration’s plans to cut short the census count by a month, the Census Bureau announced the extraordinary decision that Oct. 5 would be its new “target date” for ending counting operations — still much earlier than the original Oct. 31 date, and a potential violation of the judge’s order. The administration appealed the district court’s decision, and on Wednesday, the 9th Circuit rejected its attempt to block the lower court’s order.
Headlines You Might Have Missed
“6 whistleblowers allege misconduct by government media boss.” Politico
“Trump official stalls polar bear study that could affect oil drilling in Alaska.” Washington Post
“Postal Service workers quietly resist DeJoy’s changes with eye on election.” Washington Post
“DeJoy Says Mail Sorting Machines Were Stripped for Parts and Can’t Be Reinstalled.” HuffPost
“Questions mount as release of grand jury recordings in Breonna Taylor case delayed.” ABC News
“Pompeo to keynote Florida conservative Christian event, raising ethical and legal questions.” CNN
“The Federal Government Promised Native American Students Computers and Internet. Many Are Still Waiting.” ProPublica
“White House Blocked CDC Order to Keep Cruise Ships Docked.” New York Times
Over at the Covid-19 Oversight Hub, we’re continuing to keep our eye on the White House’s attempts to put the president’s political interests over the recommendations of science. Be sure to sign up for our weekly Covid-19 Oversight News email.
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