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Barf BagWelcome to Barf Bag, a daily politics roundup to help you sort through the chaotic Trumpian news cycle.

John Bolton, President Trump’s former national security advisor, has some juicy goss to share with the class these days, some goss that would have been nice to have revealed a little earlier on but, okay, sure. Tea is tea, so let’s drink up, I guess.

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On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from Bolton’s forthcoming book The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir. The snippet includes a litany of damning allegations which would be far more scandalous if it was coming from anyone but Trump.

For example, Bolton alleges that Trump encouraged Chinese President Xi Jinping to build concentration camps to detain millions of Uighur Muslims, a marginalized group.

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Bolding mine:

Beijing’s repression of its Uighur citizens also proceeded apace. Trump asked me at the 2018 White House Christmas dinner why we were considering sanctioning China over its treatment of the Uighurs, a largely Muslim people who live primarily in China’s northwest Xinjiang Province.

At the opening dinner of the Osaka G-20 meeting in June 2019, with only interpreters present, Xi had explained to Trump why he was basically building concentration camps in Xinjiang. According to our interpreter, Trump said that Xi should go ahead with building the camps, which Trump thought was exactly the right thing to do. The National Security Council’s top Asia staffer, Matthew Pottinger, told me that Trump said something very similar during his November 2017 trip to China.

Trump also, allegedly, sought the Xi’s help to help ensure a re-election victory, a far cry from the anti-Chinese rhetoric Trump has spouted publicly.

Trump then, stunningly, turned the conversation to the coming U.S. presidential election, alluding to China’s economic capability and pleading with Xi to ensure he’d win. He stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome. I would print Trump’s exact words, but the government’s prepublication review process has decided otherwise.

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Oh, and remember Ukraine and impeachment and all that shit? Well, Bolton has a take on that too. From the Washington Post:

Bolton is silent on the question of whether he believes that Trump’s actions Ukraine were impeachable and is deeply critical of how House Democrats managed the process. But he writes that he found Trump’s decision to hold up military assistance to pressure newly elected Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky “deeply disturbing,” and that he tried to work internally to counter it, reporting concerns to Barr and the White House Counsel’s Office.

“I thought the whole affair was bad policy, questionable legally and unacceptable as presidential behavior,” he writes.

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That’s nice and all, but Bolton was mighty quiet during the impeachment proceedings. Get ready to see Democrats grace Bolton with accolades for his honesty and completely absolve him of his cowardice when it, arguably, mattered most. Trump was a corrupt, amoral figure before all of these aforementioned scandals, and Bolton still decided to work for the guy.

Let’s be a little more selective with our heroes. Again, tea is tea, but 2020 is chaotic enough without rehabilitating War Mustache.

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Vice President Mike Pence is confident that the covid-19 scare is over, caput, old news, ancient history... despite the fact that Florida and Texas and 16 other states are seeing their largest uptick in covid-19 cases since the pandemic begun. But this is apparently of little consequence to Pence, the official leader of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force. He wrote an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal Tuesday, asserting that what appears to be a second wave of covid-19 is simply increased testing.

While talk of an increase in cases dominates cable news coverage, more than half of states are actually seeing cases decline or remain stable. Every state, territory and major metropolitan area, with the exception of three, have positive test rates under 10%. And in the six states that have reached more than 1,000 new cases a day, increased testing has allowed public health officials to identify most of the outbreaks in particular settings—prisons, nursing homes and meatpacking facilities—and contain them.

Lost in the coverage is the fact that today less than 6% of Americans tested each week are found to have the virus. Cases have stabilized over the past two weeks, with the daily average case rate across the U.S. dropping to 20,000—down from 30,000 in April and 25,000 in May. And in the past five days, deaths are down to fewer than 750 a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago—and a far cry from the 5,000 a day that some were predicting.

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Pence proceeded to kiss Trump’s butt until the very end of his piece, and made sure to stick it to the “fear mongering” media for good measure. “The media has tried to scare the American people every step of the way, and these grim predictions of a second wave are no different,” Pence wrote.

Pence made similarly rosy remarks during a phone call Monday, but as CNN reports, Pence is being misleading.

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From CNN (bolding mine):

Pence attributed a rise in US coronavirus cases to an increase in testing during a Monday call with the nation’s governors. But those comments came in the context of an extensive conversation between Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Dr. Deborah Birx on rising cases that weren’t attributed to increased testing.

[...]

An official familiar with the work of the task force was more blunt and told CNN that the surge in cases is also due to more infections.

“They just don’t want to deal with the reality of it,” the official said of Trump, Pence and other top officials. “They’re in denial.”

And a senior US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official told CNN that Pence is selectively choosing data to make his point.

“I don’t know what his source is on that information, but that’s not accurate,” the senior CDC official said of Pence’s assertion that only a small percentage of places in the US are seeing an uptick in cases. “You can cherry-pick a handful of counties and use that as way to say things are not as bad as they look. But that’s not the reality.”

The senior CDC official added, “Our data shows that there continues to be spread, particularly in communities of color. It’s both higher rates and disproportionate numbers. By state, the numbers are absolutely increasing and they’re increasing in states that opened up earlier.”

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Hm, so... it looks like Pence is putting out a false sense of security during an incredibly dangerous time in a scramble to maintain political capital and please Trump. Did I get that right? We’re fucked, lads.


  • The officer who shot Rayshard Brooks has been charged with felony murder. [AP]
  • And in other nauseating news on the Brooks front:
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  • Trump golf club wants some rent relief, pretty please. Yeah, well, get in line. [Palm Beach Post]
  • A judge has demanded that the Trump administration hand over covid-19 $679 million in relief funds to tribes. [HuffPost]
  • Democrats want creepy Senate nominee out. [New York Post]
  • Well, that’s... nice? About time?
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  • People are making Barron Trump fancams:
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  • Seriously, get me out of here!
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I’VE HAD ENOUGH, BYE!

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

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