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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Trump Has Problems with Weaponization of Government

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well underway.  Trump is weaponizing the federal government for his political benefit.

Lara Seligman at Politico:
President Donald Trump's campaign is running an online political ad that uses an image of his vice president, his Pentagon chief and his most senior military adviser watching the raid on ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from the Situation Room on Oct. 29, 2019.

"President Trump wants you to request your ballot," the ad says. Clicking on the ad, which includes the tagline "Paid for by Donald J. Trump for President, Inc," leads to the Trump campaign's voter sign-up page.

But the campaign didn't seek approval from Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley to use his image in the ad, a defense official said. “This photo, like many others, was not used with [Milley's] knowledge or consent,” said the official, who requested anonymity to speak about a sensitive topic.

Erin Banco and Justin Baragona at The Daily Beast:

The nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci demanded that the Trump campaign refrain from using him in future campaign ads, saying Monday that it would be “outrageous” and “terrible” if he was featured in another commercial and it could “come back to backfire” on Team Trump.

Asked by The Daily Beast if his comments were a thinly-veiled threat to leave his post if he ended up in a new campaign spot, Fauci replied: “Not a chance.”

"Not in my wildest freakin’ dreams,” he said, “did I ever think about quitting."

From there, Fauci went on to explain what he meant by “backfire.”

"By doing this against my will they are, in effect, harassing me,” Fauci said. “Since campaign ads are about getting votes, their harassment of me might have the opposite effect of turning some voters off."

Stephanie Armour at WSJ:

President Trump’s plan to send 33 million Medicare beneficiaries a card that can be used to help pay for as much as $200 in prescription drug costs won’t be completed until after the election, according to a person familiar with the plan.

The cards will be mailed in phases, with some likely going out later in October but most not until after the Nov. 3 presidential election, the person said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is spending an estimated $20 million for administrative costs to print and send letters to Medicare beneficiaries informing them that they will be getting cards, the person said.

Plans for the overall drug-discount program have been sent to the Office for Management and Budget, the person said. It is unclear if or when the office will approve the program, which could cost $8 billion, the person said. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees Medicare designed for people 65 and older, is unable to say exactly when the cards will go out because the proposal is still at OMB. Beneficiaries will have two years to use the discount cards, the person said. 
 Matt Zapotosky and Shane Harris at WP:
The federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General William P. Barr to review whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals whose names were redacted in intelligence documents has completed his work without finding any substantive wrongdoing, according to people familiar with the matter.
The revelation that U.S. Attorney John Bash, who left the department last week, had concluded his review without criminal charges or any public report will rankle President Trump at a moment when he is particularly upset at the Justice Department. The department has so far declined to release the results of Bash’s work, though people familiar with his findings say they would likely disappoint conservatives who have tried to paint the “unmasking” of names — a common practice in government to help understand classified documents — as a political conspiracy.
The president in recent days has pressed federal law enforcement to move against his political adversaries and complained that a different prosecutor tapped by Barr to investigate the FBI’s 2016 investigation of his campaign will not be issuing any public findings before the election.