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Where things stand
It appears Wisconsinites will be going to the polls in the middle of a pandemic after all. A last-ditch attempt by the state’s Democratic governor to postpone today’s primary came to a screeching halt on Monday, when the State Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Republican-held State Legislature, which opposed the move. While Wisconsin’s presidential primaries are not expected to be particularly close, many other races on the ballot today — including a seat on the State Supreme Court that is currently held by a conservative supported by President Trump — are heavily contested.
In its first ruling on a coronavirus-related case, the federal Supreme Court also voted on Monday to prevent Wisconsin from extending its deadline for absentee voting. The court split along ideological lines, with the five conservative justices voting against their four liberal colleagues. Writing in dissent, Ruth Bader Ginsburg argued, “The court’s order, I fear, will result in massive disenfranchisement.” And voting-rights advocates are echoing those fears. They warned that many more virus-related voting cases were likely to come after Monday’s rulings. In Wisconsin, an all-important swing state in November’s general election, Republicans have fought hard to impose greater restrictions on voting, including a recent pre-pandemic effort to purge from the voter rolls roughly 200,000 people who were believed to have moved.
Once a gimmicky idea left Kellyanne Conway’s lips last week, it seemed inevitable that it would come true: The always outspoken White House adviser suggested that instead of criticizing Trump over his virus response, Joe Biden should call and offer to help. Apparently neither the president nor Biden wanted to be the one caught saying it shouldn’t happen, so they shared a brief, perfunctory call on Monday. And that was that. “It was short, it was 15 minutes,” Trump told reporters, saying only that the tone was “friendly” and that Biden had offered “suggestions.” Of course, we don’t know what they were, because Trump and Biden agreed not to talk publicly about that part. Apparently the two rivals are perfectly willing to have a constructive conversation about policy — as long as it’s not public, and totally nonbinding.
Photo of the day
A man left the Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building in Milwaukee on Monday after he wasn’t able to cast his ballot at the already closed drop-off site.
Trump appears to generally dislike inspectors general.
A national survey of hospitals revealed widespread frustration over difficulties in acquiring coronavirus tests, according to a report released Monday by the Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general.
But at his news conference on Monday, Trump didn’t want to hear about it.
Sparring with multiple reporters who asked him about the report’s findings — which were based on a survey of 323 randomly selected hospitals — he spent as much time insinuating that the inspector general was untrustworthy as he did speaking to the hospitals’ concerns.
Separately, Trump on Friday fired the intelligence community inspector general who had forwarded the whistle-blower report that led to the president’s impeachment. On Sunday, that inspector, Michael Atkinson, pointedly spoke out in support of whistle-blowers. “Please do not allow recent events to silence your voices,” he said in a statement.
At the briefing Monday, Trump seemed to grow irritated at the mention of the words “inspector general.”
He cut off multiple reporters, asking first for the name of the inspector general who had led the survey of hospitals (it’s Christi Grimm, he was told) and then challenging them to find out when she had been appointed to her position. (He was told that it was this year, and that she had been with the department since 1999.)
As he has consistently done in the past, Trump responded to questions about the availability of coronavirus tests by rejecting the premise. He bragged that the United States had conducted more tests than any other country. And he refused to accept that the buck stopped with him. “States can do their own testing,” he said. “We’re the federal government. We’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.”
With Boris Johnson, the British prime minister and a Trump ally, now in intensive care, the president did say that he was open to having more officials in his administration tested to make sure the virus wasn’t going around the White House. “I think we’ll probably have quite a few tests,” he said. “It’s not the worst idea.”