Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, the GOP collectively decided to make Anthony Fauci, M.D., public enemy number one, having found in the veteran immunologist the perfect target through which to whip up their base and take the spotlight off the fact that the then president had let the virus gain a foothold in the country while actively lying about it at every turn. Fauci, of course, is everything conservatives hate: An educated man of science with not one but two degrees, he committed what Republicans believe was a capital offense when he failed to back up everything Donald Trump said about the disease, including the part about treating it by freebasing bleach. While tiresome and dangerous—Fauci and his family required a security detail at one point—the ridiculous attacks and conspiracies, like that Fauci invented the coronavirus and is “part of a secret cabal with Bill Gates and George Soros to profit from vaccines” have had little impact. Fauci remains employed by the government, and by all accounts Joe Biden is happy with his work. “The president and the administration feel that Dr. Fauci has played an incredible role in getting the pandemic under control and being a voice to the public throughout the course of this pandemic,“ White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said this week.
But like the living embodiment of a QAnon forum, Republicans, Trump, and Fox News now appear to believe they’ve found some kind of smoking gun showing Fauci is somehow responsible for the virus, based on the fresh interest in the lab-leak theory (which the doctor himself is supportive of investigating, which you wouldn’t think he would be if he was implicated in the whole thing, a slight wrinkle conservatives will probably explain at a time and place TBD). So naturally, they’re amping up their attacks like he‘s the second coming of Benghazi/Hillary Clinton/Pol Pot.
President Trump plans to make Anthony Fauci a top target at upcoming rallies, using increased attention to the Wuhan lab-leak theory as a weapon against an official long viewed as more trustworthy. Why it matters: Trump and conservative media have made Fauci an improbable face of the opposition, trying to give him the cartoon-villain status once accorded to former Sen. Harry Reid, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, or—in Trump’s case—Hillary Clinton. Trump amped up his longtime Fauci rants yesterday in a statement calling for COVID reparations from China: “The correspondence between Dr. Fauci and China speaks too loudly for anyone to ignore. China should pay Ten Trillion Dollars to America, and the World, for the death and destruction they have caused!”
Fox News’ prime-time stars are [also] amping up their Fauci rants based on new questions about COVID’s origins. “[A]ll the smirking morons in the American news media changed their view completely overnight,” Tucker Carlson said last night, 24 hours after saying Fauci should be criminally investigated. “LORD FAUCI EXPOSED,” said one Tucker graphic. Another dubbed him “Lord Fauci, Patron Saint Of Wuhan.” Sean Hannity jumped the gun last night with a graphic calling new revelations “the FALL of FAUCI.”
Reality check: The theory most experts still believe to be most likely is that the virus was transmitted from a bat to some other species of animal, then to humans. That’s what happened with plenty of other viruses.
Incidentally, none of the people calling for the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to basically be tried for war crimes have expressed the slightest interest in any investigation whatsoever into the events of January 6 and in fact have lost their collective shit over the prospect of anyone digging into the that day, and the lead-up, too closely.
Meanwhile, in an interview with the Financial Times, Fauci himself said China should release medical records for nine people whose sicknesses could shed some vital light onto the question of COVID-19’s origins. “I have always felt that the overwhelming likelihood—given the experience we have had with SARS, MERS, Ebola, HIV, bird flu, the swine flu pandemic of 2009—was that the virus jumped species,” Fauci said. “But we need to keep on investigating until a possibility is proven.” As for the possibility he or his organization might actually be responsible for the virus because they provided a small amount of funding to the Wuhan lab, Fauci, like most sane people, believes the idea is absurd. “Are you really saying that we are implicated because we gave a multibillion-dollar institution $120,000 a year for bat surveillance?” he asked.
Mike Pence continues to be weirdly understanding about that time Donald Trump nearly had him killed
Was the former V.P. thrilled about the insurrection that took place as he was attempting to certify Joe Biden‘s win, which involved Trump supporters chanting “Hang Mike Pence”? No, but he’s not going to let it come between him and the 45th president, whom he continues to hold in high regard. Per The Washington Post:
“President Trump and I have spoken many times since we left office, and I don’t know if we’ll ever see eye-to-eye on that day,” Pence said [on Thursday in a speech at the Hillsborough County GOP’s annual Lincoln–Reagan Dinner in Manchester, N.H.], before raising his voice to emphasize the next point. “But I will always be proud of what we accomplished for the American people over the last four years. And I will not allow Democrats or their allies in the media to use one tragic day to discredit the aspirations of millions of Americans.”
Pence’s remarks were a rare public acknowledgment that he and Trump have continued to speak about the Capitol siege and that Pence has apparently been able to set aside his initial anger and apparent continued disagreements with Trump over the events of Jan. 6 to continue publicly supporting the former president. The speech was also a tacit signal to other Republicans who may feel conflicted about supporting Trump after Jan. 6 that it could be okay to do so.
“I learned a lot serving alongside President Donald Trump. Some people think we’re a little bit different,” Pence said. “But I think what President Trump showed us was what Republicans can accomplish when our leaders stand firm on conservative principles and don’t back down.… It was four years of consequence, four years of results. It was four years of promises made and promises kept.”
In February, the Post reported that in spite of the angry mob his ex-boss sicced on him, Pence “does not share the animus or fury that some of his former aides have for the president” and has told allies that Trump was simply “getting bad advice from some of his senior staff, who allowed baseless claims about the election being stolen to reach his desk.” Which, again, seems weirdly understanding!
Facebook to remain Trump–free for another two years
Which is great news for the next two years, though semi-worrisome given the fact that, come 2023, he could be let back on the platform in time for a 2024 bid for office. Per CNN:
Facebook announced Friday that former President Donald Trump would be suspended from its platform until at least January 7, 2023—two years from when he was initially suspended. Facebook said it will then assess the circumstances to see if he should be allowed back on. The move guarantees Trump won’t be able to post from his Facebook account, which had tens of millions of followers, prior to the 2022 midterm elections. But Facebook’s announcement does leave open the possibility his suspension could lift ahead of the 2024 presidential election.
In a post published to the site Friday, Nick Clegg, the company’s vice president for global affairs, wrote that once the two years is up, Facebook “will look to experts to assess whether the risk to public safety has receded. We will evaluate external factors, including instances of violence, restrictions on peaceful assembly and other markers of civil unrest. If we determine that there is still a serious risk to public safety, we will extend the restriction for a set period of time and continue to re-evaluate until that risk has receded.” In a statement to The Verge, Trump called the continued ban “an insult” to his supporters and added that Facebook “shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this censoring and silencing.”
JPMorgan freezes donations to Republicans who contested 2020 election (Reuters)
CDC director urges parents to vaccinate teens, noting increased hospitalization rates (Washington Post)
Bitcoin Slips After Elon Musk Tweets Broken-Heart Emoji for Token (Bloomberg)
U.S. economy adds 559,000 jobs in May, as the recovery shows signs of strength (Washington Post)
Bargain hunters pounce as Trump condo prices hit decade lows (Politico)
Congress finally gets its Don McGahn testimony (Politico)
Matt Gaetz Friend Faces Sentencing in August, Judge Accepts Pleas (NBC Washington)
Sharks Almost Went the Way of the Dinosaurs 19 Million Years Ago (NYT)
Dildo Drone Interrupts “Tough on Crime” New Mexico Sheriff’s Speech, Chaos Ensues (Gizmodo)
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