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Imagining the unimaginable: A second term for Donald Trump

With the high-water mark of the election just 14 days away, the tragedy of Nov. 8, 2016, haunts me more and more.

Four years ago, nearly everyone, including Donald Trump himself, was convinced Hillary Clinton was all but guaranteed a resounding victory. I remember articles predicting that Clinton would win the entire East Coast, including South Carolina. Later, following the third debate of that campaign season, I distinctly recall watching Steve Schmidt on MSNBC announcing in his dramatic monotone, "Hillary Clinton will be the 45th president of the United States." Election forecasters from Nate Silver to Sabato's Crystal Ball agreed.

None of that happened, of course, for a variety of reasons, including the attack by Russian military intelligence and what I've been calling the "American nervous breakdown." Sixty-two million of our fellow citizens lost track of right and wrong — brainwashed by a daily infusion of propaganda crapped into the world by Russian troll farms and the conservative entertainment complex. Millions of us lost track of why experience and presidential character were important, and the ideals of humility, decency and honor were rejected in favor of immature trolling, and petty vengeance.

And how'd that work out, Trump voters? Our republic is in worse shape today than it's been in a century, perhaps since the Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of us are dead due to Trump's herky-jerky response to a global pandemic. America is a global pariah. The economy is considerably worse than it was four years ago and 40 percent of our nation's grownups continue to be willingly suckered by a maniacal, sociopathic con man.

So sue me for being Captain Scarypants again, but despite the polls showing Joe Biden with a seemingly formidable lead, I'm still greatly concerned that Trump will somehow scam and sue his way to a second term. If he does, what will that mean for the United States?

With Trump, there's no way to know precisely what he'll do from moment to moment, much less next year or four years from now. As we've witnessed, his thing is to jump from childish vendetta to childish vendetta, and one transactional blunder after another. His actions, as always, will depend greatly on how whiny and victimized he feels. And he's always whining.

Even though there's no time-traveling DeLorean that enables us to forecast what another four years of the Trump crisis will look like, I can think of five specific things that will absolutely happen.

Trump will prosecute dissidents. He's already started with the Black Lives Matter protesters earlier this year, but now he has a real taste for it. No matter what, Trump will sue to have vote-by-mail ballots thrown out, and will appeal any adverse decisions all the way to the Supreme Court. In the process of doing so, protests will likely erupt, giving Trump his first post-election opportunity to order his secret police to gas, shoot and arrest protesters. He's already threatened to do exactly this, telling his loyalists, "Our country is gonna change. We're not gonna allow [more anti-Trump protests] to happen." Last week Trump bragged about what looked an awful lot like the extrajudicial murder of an American citizen by U.S. marshals in Washington state. Expect much more of that. As Michael Cohen wrote in his book, "Trump never actually jokes."

Conservatives will own the Supreme Court for a generation. Unless something emerges that forces her to withdraw, it looks like Amy Coney Barrett will be confirmed, giving conservatives on the high court a clear majority of 6-3. Meanwhile, Stephen Breyer, one of the three remaining Democratic appointees, is 82 years old, so it's reasonable to assume he'll retire or pass away within the next four years. Trump will name his replacement, leaving Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor as the last remaining liberals. If Clarence Thomas or Sam Alito decides to retire, Trump could add another justice or two, extending conservative control for 25 more years, and the ideological regression of America will be turbo-boosted to "ludicrous speed."

The pandemic will continue for years, not months. Trump has no intention of doing what's right. He never has. His genocidal "herd immunity" plan will continue to infect millions, while the CDC will be neutralized. In terms of a vaccine, if the scientists vouch for it, Trumpers won't take it, and if Trump vouches for it, everyone else will refuse to take it. As long as Trump is president, we'll be dealing with COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. I have no idea how our society can endure given all that, and my worst fear is that we'll have no choice but to live with the ongoing threat of infection and death.

The best approach? Assume the worst. He's given us no reason to assume otherwise. I fear he'll attempt to establish himself as the American Putin, maybe creating a new title and post for himself so he can remain in power, while juggernauting through the last roadblocks toward a full-on kleptocracy. Suffice it to say there are untold hazards ahead, with each hammer-blow further stripping away our constitutional system until America more closely resembles Russia — dismal, depressed and undemocratic.

I hope I'm wrong about all of this. But based on what we know about Donald Trump, as well as the sinister end-of-days cranks helping him along, I can't in good faith trust that things will transpire normally. We've got a Pandora's Box full of reasons to believe our country has been seized by villains who don't care whether the entire system is crushed under Trump's ponderous bulk. Given everything that's happened, I worry that they've covered their bases with election-stealing contingencies that include shenanigans we haven't even considered yet. After the shock of election night four years ago, I'm not willing to take anything for granted, including the polls.

There is also reason to believe an unprecedented coalition of American voters will successfully oust Trump, while perhaps humiliating him and his idiocratic movement back to the permanent margins of our politics. This has to be the result of the election. After all, the choice is either a decent, experienced man (who you might disagree with on policy) or a shrieking, saucer-eyed con artist who dry-heaves lies and incarcerates children while bragging to his cult about murdering American citizens. There are 14 days left to make sure it's not the latter outcome. If everything works out the way it should, I'll be thrilled to retract everything I wrote today. Please, America — make me do it.

Going broke? Here's how the Trump campaign plowed through $1 billion in cash

President Donald Trump's re-election campaign's fundraising efforts have surpassed $1 billion since 2017 but now, the vast majority of that money is gone as speculation rises about the true financial state of Trump's campaign.

Over the last several months, Trump has made several high-dollar political advertising decisions that have cost his campaign greatly. From the staggering $10 million-dollar Super Bowl ad during the primary while several Democratic presidential candidates were still in the race to using his campaign funds to cover the cost of excessive legal fees for his impeachment and war on mail-in voting, Trump has shelled out exorbitant amounts of money.

Many of Trump's campaign advisors and aides also turned heads with their own pricey purchases. In addition to purchasing a lavish $2 million-dollar home in Florida, Trump's former campaign manager Brad Parscale is said to have taken more than $40 million while running the campaign.

According to Huffington Post, financial reports also revealed a string of limited liability companies (LLCs) formed to conceal more than $310 million in campaign spending in an effort to keep the expenditures from being disclosed.

Now, there is one question looming over the president's campaign: is the president's re-election campaign going broke? As Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden continues to break fundraising records, the Trump campaign appears to be cash-strapped, according to multiple reports. The publication also reports some of Trump's campaign aides "privately acknowledge they are facing difficult spending decisions at a time when Democratic nominee Joe Biden has flooded the airwaves with advertising."

With just two weeks left until the election, Trump is putting more time into traveling to rallies to connect with voters than spending on political ads and other forms of advertising. Mike Murphy, a veteran Republican consultant and Trump critic. weighed in with his take on why Trump is likely so focused on rallies.

"They spent their money on unnecessary overhead, lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-famous activity by the campaign staff and vanity ads way too early," said Murphy. "You could literally have 10 monkeys with flamethrowers go after the money, and they wouldn't have burned through it as stupidly."

Travis Ridout, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, also expressed concern as he claimed the financial woes appear to be a bad sign for the president's re-election campaign.

"Advertising obviously isn't everything. But we do think ads matter for a couple percentage points in a presidential race. And it's just not a good sign for the Trump campaign," Ridout, who traces advertising statistics, said.

"We have more than sufficient air cover, almost three times as much as 2016," he told reporters Monday.

Trump publicly demands Bill Barr appoint special counsel to probe Biden in off-the-rails Fox News interview

In a wide-ranging and off-the-rails Fox News interview President Donald Trump is demanding Attorney General Bill Barr appoint a special counsel to investigate his Democratic opponent, former Vice President Joe Biden, over Russian disinformation spread by his personal attorney and a conservative media outlet owned by his friend.

Trump told "Fox & Friends" Barr has "got to act" against the former vice president and his son Hunter Biden, insisting the Attorney General give credence to the disinformation before Election Day.

"We've go to get the Attorney General to act, and he's got to act, and he's got to act fast. He's got to appoint somebody. This is major corruption and this has to be known about before the election," Trump demanded, before declaring, "we're going to win the election."

Fox News mentioned the letter sent to Barr by just 11 of the 198 House Republicans calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the Bidens.

Overnight Politico reported: "More than 50 former senior intelligence officials have signed on to a letter outlining their belief that the recent disclosure of emails allegedly belonging to Joe Biden's son 'has all the classic earmarks of a Russian information operation.'"

Watch:


Cash-strapped Trump campaign in danger of having lawsuits thrown out over unpaid legal bills: report

According to a report from Politico, Donald Trump's cash-strapped campaign is frantically attempting to collect settlements in legal disputes because it needs the money to fund other lawsuits that are in danger of being dismissed.

Noting that the campaign of the embattled president is pressing Omarosa Manigault Newman to make a delinquent $52,000 payment for writing an unauthorized book about White House doings, the report explains the money is desperately needed.

According to the report, the campaign is currently engaged in a "flurry of legal actions" in the days before the election which is an indication that money is tight.

Pointing out that Trump's people had previously pushed to collect $1 million from Manigault Newman, Politico reports the campaign is under the gun to keep itself funded.

"At one point, Trump's attorneys suggested Newman pay for a nearly $1 million ad campaign "to counteract the long-term adverse effects" of her remarks," the report states. "Yet the campaign has thus far stiffed the arbitrator assigned to mediate the case, according to a letter sent to the parties in the case. If Trump's attorneys don't pay the outstanding bill by next week, the case could be tossed out."

The Omarosa lawsuit is just the tip of the iceberg of lawsuits that the campaign is involved in with Politico reporting, "The campaign is helping fight accusations Trump harassed and sexually assaulted women. It's helping keep documents about his business deals hidden. Other cases are proactive, such as attempts to enforce nondisclosure agreements and to punish media companies the campaign accuses of defamation. And it is responding to lawsuits from people who say they were assaulted at Trump events, including one from a Missouri man who claimed he was arrested after laughing at a MAGA rally."

Those lawsuits won't go away after the election with one Washington attorney saying the president is facing massive legal bills.

"Even if he loses the election, very little actually ends once Trump leaves the White House in January 2021," explained Bradley Moss, a Washington lawyer who defended one of Trump's targets. "Litigation Trump has personally brought under his own name or through the campaign, whether it be protecting his tax returns or suing Omarosa, will continue for however long there is money to pay the lawyers."

According to the report, lawyers may be wary of continuing their representation of the president once he is out of office because of his extensive history of stiffing people he owes money to.

"Private contractors, bartenders, painters, real estate brokers and others have all claimed that Trump didn't adequately compensate them for their work before he was sworn into office. More recently, Trump has been accused of failing to pay local officials who provide thousands of dollars' in security assistance to the president's campaign during rallies," the report states before highlight the president's money woes with, "The Trump campaign's financial outlook is also faltering in the election's final weeks. Trump has fallen behind Biden on fundraising. In August, Democrats for the first time outraised Republicans by a staggering $154 million, eroding the president's longstanding cash-on-hand advantage. The pattern repeated itself in September, when Biden raised $383 million to Trump's $247.8 million."

You can read more here.

Trump is collapsing into a ball of self-absorbed spite and destruction

In the last weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump is collapsing in on himself. That's the story his campaign and White House team itself seems to want to push in the scurry to avoid blame themselves. On Sunday, a New York Times piece reported on gloom, grievance, and "backbiting" among Trump's staff as his reelection prospects dim, but more of note is the blame getting directed at the big orange hateburper himself.

"Among some of Mr. Trump's lieutenants," reports the Times, there is "a sense that the best they can do for the final stretch is to keep the president occupied, happy and off Twitter as much as possible, rather than producing a major shift in strategy."

Yes, it is truly a shocking development. In the last weeks of the campaign, Donald Trump is ignoring all advice, doubling down on his most hateful behaviors, and choosing closing themes based solely on his own obsessions, grievances, and malevolence. Whoever could have seen that coming? (Aside from everyone.)

The results speak for themselves—no, are so toxic that they are noticeable even to a four-year-flaccid national press. Trump's propensity to target women, select political enemies for demonization, and his renewed vigor in seemingly attempting to goad supporters into violent acts against them are becoming topics with more public weight than any campaign message the shouting twit threatens to stumble into in these last preelection days. It turns out that Donald Trump, left to himself with campaign staff abandoning any further pretense at controlling him, is hateful, spiteful, anti-democratic, misogynistic, openly racist, paranoid, and self-absorbed to the point of self-destruction.

If there's anyone who has survived through four full years of Trump's attentions and they didn't predict that, among his inner circle, they would have to be burrowed so far up his *** that they can peek out his nostrils.

The problem here is that Trump is only going to get worse in the next few weeks—no matter what. If polls continue to look bleak, his narcissistic bitterness will overwhelm him and his demands of his supporters will get even more extreme. His attacks on Democratic leaders that take pandemic precautions—which he considers to be personal attacks on himself and therefore illegitimate, whether the moves save American lives or not—have been getting more vigorous, but his inner circle continues to support those attacks wholeheartedly. He is already obsessing over the notion of invisible election "fraud" as means of delegitimizing the results—as a malignant narcissist, he will adopt whatever delusion is necessary to protect himself from the notion that his own actions are responsible for his failures, as opposed to widespread conspiracy against him.

And if he wins? God help us. A Trump fully untethered from ever having to face voters again, supported by an attorney general who has been so eagerly crooked in tilting the scales of justice that he may already rank as the worst in history, backed by a party fully purged of any but the most obscene lawmakers hailing from the most hard-right of gerrymandered districts; there would be no institutions left. No government scientists, no statistics gatherers, no oversight, no public services, nothing but a hierarchy of sycophants from Washington down to every office. His "conservative" team is turning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into a Trump-tailored propaganda shop during a worldwide pandemic. There's literally nothing left they would not be craven enough to do.

The good news is it looks like he's losing. Possibly even for real this time. The transparent Russian propaganda, though propped up this time by Republican senators and the clownish Rudy Giuliani, isn't motivating his hard-right base into nearly the froth against his male opponent that near-identical hokum spurred when directed at a woman. The Trump question of what do you have to lose has been clarified to all. The notion of choosing a reality show host as world leader does not have the same appeal as it once might have across generic American suburbia.

Trump's campaign and White House staff seem to know it. Last week saw a Washington Post report of the angst of Trump's phalanx of worst enablers as they fretted over possible career repercussions of 1) endlessly lying to the American people and 2) support a corrupt, cretinous toad of a man in 3) reforming the government into a white nationalist-premised, incompetent kleptocracy while destroying longstanding democratic institutions and premises. Consequences! Can you imagine there being consequences for such things? Truly, conservative pundits are beginning to stammer, it would be the end of democracy as we know it.

Lord help us, we are almost there. Only to Election Day, mind you: After that, even under the best-case scenario of American voters delivering a thumping to Trump so severe that not even his scandal-mongers can discredit the results, we still face an embittered Trump and Republican Party willing to dynamite the country into oblivion rather than let it pass unscathed into non-Republican hands.

For now, let's take some comfort in Dear Orange Leader apparently beginning to realize that he is in deep, deep trouble. Hopefully it will unhinge him mostly in ways that harm only himself and his malevolent aides, allies, and hangers-on. If we're lucky he'll demand William Barr arrest himself, or will turn on Rudy Giuliani for failing to sell the Moist Laptop Of Secret Crimes story with enough vim.

Trump's final ad buy betrays just how broke his campaign really is

On a call Monday, Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien revealed the campaign's total ad buy for the last two weeks of the presidential race would be a whopping a paltry $55 million ... split between no fewer than 11 states.

Um, just wow. And that's not only the Trump campaign, it represents coordinated spending with the Republican National Committee (RNC) too. Far from being a muscular way to close out the race, it feels more like a cry for help. By comparison, Biden campaign manager Jen O'Malley Dillon said last week that she still anticipates raising another $234 million through the election.

The 11 states included on the target list for both entities are: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maine-2, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.


According to an Axios article last week, Stepien views Ohio, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, and Maine's 2nd district as the foundation of their path to 270—in other words, must gets. In fact, the article quoted Stepien calling that line up the "easy part," but apparently not so easy that they're forgoing dropping money in all four supposed gimmes.

As New York Times journalist Shane Goldmacher, who was on the call, noted, "On the one hand, Stepien says he is 'certain' that they are winning Ohio and Iowa. On the other hand, he announces the campaign will be up with ads in those two states in final two weeks." Go figure.

One state the Trump campaign appears to have finally given up on altogether is Minnesota. Earlier on Monday, the Trump camp had announced cancelling ad buys in several Midwestern states even as they were preparing to reinvest in some of them through this coordinated ad buy with the RNC. But Minnesota, which has pretty much always been a pipe dream for Team Trump, was dropped altogether.

Even before this final Trump ad buy in the closing weeks, Biden's ad spending had outpaced Trump's by a 2-to-1 ratio for months, according to The New York Times. In a review of the two campaigns' spending in 10 battleground states, the only state where Trump outspent Biden was Georgia—which doesn't exactly jibe with that state's inclusion in Stepien's so-called "easy" list.

Biden's spending strategy has clearly centered on the Midwest. "His dominance is most pronounced in three critical swing states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — where he spent about $53 million to Mr. Trump's $17 million over the past month largely on ads assailing the president's handling of the virus as well as the economy and taxes," writes the Times.

And while Trump initially enjoyed a digital ad advantage in the early part of the campaign, Biden has steadily closed that gap in recent months, achieving near parity in the last 30 days at $50 million for each ad campaign on Google and Facebook, according to the Times.

What is perhaps most interesting in these final weeks is just how small Trump is playing even as Team Biden has played very big—and not just in terms of overall spending. As this Politico piece explains, the Biden campaign has seen so many paths to 270 open up that in some cases they realized it would be more cost effective to make national buys rather than spending astronomical amounts in smaller battleground markets. It's a worth a read.

Under normal circumstances, most campaigns at this point would be making buys to leverage their position in 10 or even fewer states. But the Biden campaign realized that making some national buys through the networks would actually cost only slightly more, for instance, than purchasing air time in states with major Senate races like Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia, where pricing had gone through the roof. The big upside of the national buys was that they had the advantage of not only reaching the desired markets in key battlegrounds but also establishing a Biden presence in states that were newly on the radar, like Texas.

"We are looking at a very wide map right now," Becca Siegel, the Biden campaign's chief analytics officer, said. "Normally at this stage of the campaign, we would be narrowing in. But at this stage of the campaign, we have a lot of pathways that have opened up."

So as Trump closes out with a whimper, Biden is heading out with a roar, and his sizable cash advantage has made all that possible.

In campaign call, Trump attacks Dr. Fauci and ‘these idiots’ who keep talking about COVID-19

President Donald Trump on Monday once again lashed out at America's top infectious disease expert.

During a call with campaign staff, the president bitterly complained that there has been so much attention paid to the COVID-19 pandemic, which so far has killed 220,000 Americans in eight months while simultaneously upending the American economy and putting millions out of work.

"People are tired of COVID," the president ranted during the call, according to the New York Times' Maggie Haberman. "People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots, all these idiots who got it wrong… Fauci's a nice guy, he's been here for 500 years."

The president also called Fauci "a disaster" and lamented that he would receive lots of negative press for firing him.

"If I listened to [Fauci], we'd have 500,000 deaths," the president fumed.

Trump for the last month has been trying to claim that America is "rounding the corner" on COVID-19, even though infections from the disease have been surging and are now averaging more than 50,000 a day.

"If I listened to [Fauci], we'd have 500,000 deaths," the president fumed.

Trump for the last month has been trying to claim that America is "rounding the corner" on COVID-19, even though infections from the disease have been surging and are now averaging more than 50,000 a day.

Trump brags about good town hall reviews -- but ratings signal a town hall win for Biden

President Donald Trump is always touting high ratings and great reviews but Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden may have finally hit the president where it hurts.

On Friday morning, the president boasted about the reviews he claims to have received from his town hall with NBC News' Savannah Guthrie. He tweeted, "Very good reviews on last night's [NBC News] Town Hall in Miami. Thank you!!!"

However, Trump's limited response may be due to the fact that his ratings paled in comparison to Biden's. According to Newsweek, NBC News' YouTube channel attracted 153,660 viewers for Trump's town hall while ABC News' YouTube Channel drew 507,445 viewers by the time Biden's town hall ended. Multiple reports also indicate that last night's viewership signals a win for Biden.

Vox also pointed out another reason Trump's ratings may have dropped. The publication noted that the president's biggest blunders occurred in the first 15 minutes of the broadcast when he was grilled by NBC News host Savannah Guthrie. From the very beginning, the questions were direct and aggressive, leaving very little room for Trump to pivot.

The president's tweet reacting to the town hall specials is a bit different from his usual boastful declarations after a televised event. For example, after the Republican National Convention aired, Trump made it a point to not only boast about the ratings but also share the stats.

At the time, he tweeted, "Wow! Despite the Democrats views across TV and online lie (Con!), we had 147.9 million, the Republican National Convention blew the Democrat National Convention AWAY. Not even close! Just like their lies on Russia, Football (PLAY!) and everything else! NOVEMBER 3rd."

The American public will have another opportunity to see both presidential candidates square off. The final presidential debate is scheduled for October 22, 2020.

Trump falls for satirical website's fake news story about Twitter helping Biden

President Donald Trump on Friday got fooled into believing a headline from a satirical website was an actual news story.

Specifically, the president posted a link to the conservative parody news website Babylon Bee, which earlier this week published a satirical story with the headline, "Twitter Shuts Down Entire Network To Slow Spread Of Negative Biden News."

"Wow, this has never been done in history," the president wrote. "This includes his really bad interview last night. Why is Twitter doing this. Bringing more attention to Sleepy Joe & Big T."

In reality, of course, Twitter couldn't have shut down its entire network because otherwise Trump would not be able to take to Twitter to complain about it.

DOJ admits Trump lied about declassification of Russia documents

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) was forced to assert that President Donald Trump actually lied when he tweeted that he had declassified documents relative to the federal investigation into the alleged "Russian Hoax."

The DOJ released a statement in response to an emergency motion filed by BuzzFeed News journalist Jason Leopold seeking unredacted sections of the Mueller report and 302s— Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) witness interview materials. BuzzFeed also requested that Senior U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton order the government agency to reprocess its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and lift redactions the Trump administration may have left in place.

The publication also argued that with the president's claim that the documents had been declassified, there was no longer a justifiable reason for the DOJ to legally continue withholding the documents.

However, the government agency pushed back against Trump's claims. While the DOJ officials acknowledged that the president does have the authority to declassify documents, they made it clear that he had not done so, despite his tweets suggesting otherwise.

"The President has the authority to declassify documents that are otherwise currently and properly classified. The President has not exercised this authority with respect to any of the FD-302s remaining at issue in this case," the DOJ wrote.

The DOJ added, "The Court cannot infer that any such sweeping order exists based on the President's Twitter statements because they merely suggest that the President 'authorized' the 'declassification' of unspecified information. The Twitter statements do not refer to any specific document and do not indicate that the President was exercising his Constitutional authority to declassify specific information. They were not an order to declassify particular material."

The latest controversy and DOJ response comes less than two weeks after Trump's problematic tweets. On October 6, the president claimed he had "fully authorized" the total declassification of the documents.

"I have fully authorized the total Declassification of any & all documents pertaining to the single greatest political CRIME in American History, the Russia Hoax. Likewise, the Hillary Clinton Email Scandal. No redactions!" Trump tweeted.

Just an hour after the initial tweet, Trump continued with his rant as he tweeted, "All Russia Hoax Scandal information was Declassified by me long ago. Unfortunately for our Country, people have acted very slowly, especially since it is perhaps the biggest political crime in the history of our Country. Act!!!"

Regardless of Trump's tweets, the DOJ also noted the White House's position, which suggests Trump's social media remarks carry no weight and cannot be enforced.

"And the White House has made clear that the Twitter statements 'do not require altering any redactions on any record at issue in this case, including, but not limited to, any redactions taken pursuant to any discretionary FOIA exemptions,'" the DOJ wrote. "Nor do the President's statements on Twitter prevent the Department from taking appropriate exemptions and redacting documents consistent with law and the positions the Department takes in FOIA matters.' Therefore, the Twitter statements do not, as Plaintiffs argue, operate as a waiver of any of these exemptions."

WH officials tipped off GOP elites, trade insiders at helm of pandemic: NYT report

President Donald Trump's White House is, yet again, at the center of controversy for its early response to the pandemic.

Although Trump has repeatedly been criticized for downplaying the coronavirus and not responding soon enough, The New York Times reports that some of his White House officials, including the president's economic advisor Larry Kudlow, actually did react—to warn insiders about the possible collapse of the stock market.

According to an NYT report published on Wednesday evening, the president's White House's economic advisers privately warned various conservative insiders and wealthy campaign donors of the uncertainty that might arise due to the coronavirus outbreak. The warnings are said to have been issued in late February, just a few short weeks before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the coronavirus a global pandemic.

This occurred all while Trump waged a public effort to give the American people a false sense of security about the virus. The publication's report centered on a memo written by a hedge fund consultant, who attended a three-day meeting at the Hoover Institution, widely known as a conservative public policy think tank at Stanford University.

The consultant's assessment detailed the possibility of a pandemic-related market crash as he warned Republican elites, along with other well-connected stock traders. A total of eight people received the consultant's memo but many different aspects of the memo spread to many New York investors other elite trade insiders.

Here is an excerpt from the NYT report:

The consultant's assessment quickly spread through parts of the investment world. U.S. stocks were already spiraling because of a warning from a federal public health official that the virus was likely to spread, but traders spotted the immediate significance: The president's aides appeared to be giving wealthy party donors an early warning of a potentially impactful contagion at a time when Mr. Trump was publicly insisting that the threat was nonexistent.

Interviews with eight people who either received copies of the memo or were briefed on aspects of it as it spread among investors in New York and elsewhere provide a glimpse of how elite traders had access to information from the administration that helped them gain financial advantage during a chaotic three days when global markets were teetering." - The New York Times.

The NYT report comes months after Republican elites like Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) faced scrutiny following her and her husband's speculative sale of $18.7 million in Intercontinental Exchange stock, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Georgia senator, who also serves on the Senate Health Committee, first began selling off her stock on January 24 — the same day the committee held its first private all-members session on COVID-19. Loeffler's stock sales transactions were completed over three dates with the last transaction being completed on March 11, just two days before the WHO's pandemic declaration.

"Senator Loeffler filed another Periodic Transaction Report (PTR) and the facts are still the same," Loeffler's spokesperson told Vox in a statement. "These transactions are consistent with historical portfolio activity and include a balanced mix of buys and sells. Her stock portfolio is managed independently by third-party advisors and she is notified, as indicated on the report, after transactions occur."