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Top health agency spokesperson accuses government scientists of "sedition" against Trump

Health and Human Services spokesperson Michael Caputo baselessly accused career scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Sunday of gathering a "resistance unit" for "sedition" against President Trump, the New York Times reports.

Driving the news: House Democrats are launching an investigation into allegations that Trump's political appointees — including Caputo, a former member of the Trump campaign with no scientific background — pressured CDC officials "to block the publication of accurate scientific reports" on the coronavirus.


What he's saying: Caputo encouraged followers to buy ammunition in a Facebook livestream on Sunday, while predicting that former Vice President Joe Biden would refuse to concede the 2020 election after, he believes, Trump wins re-election.

  • “And when Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin,” he said. "The drills that you’ve seen are nothing. If you carry guns, buy ammunition, ladies and gentlemen, because it’s going to be hard to get.”
  • Caputo described the killing of a right-wing activist during a pro-Trump rally in Portland — by a man who described himself on social media as "100% ANTIFA" — as a "drill," characterizing it, without evidence, as part of a broader attack on Trump supporters.
  • He also told his Facebook audience that he feels his "mental health has definitely failed" in part due to critical media coverage, and sounded "anguished" over the coronavirus death toll, according to the Times.

In attacks against CDC scientists, Caputo claimed they “haven’t gotten out of their sweatpants except for meetings at coffee shops” to plot “how they’re going to attack Donald Trump,” per the Times. “There are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president.”

The other side: HHS told the Times in a statement that Caputo is "a critical, integral part of the president’s coronavirus response, leading on public messaging as Americans need public health information to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The big picture: Trump has echoed the kind of "deep state" rhetoric promoted by Caputo and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro, claiming last month, without evidence, that the FDA was holding up progress on vaccines and therapeutics to damage him politically.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

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The coronavirus is worsening economic inequality around the world

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.

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McCarthy takes heat from every direction as House Republicans feud following the Capitol siege

Kevin McCarthy is learning you can get torched when you try to make everyone happy, especially after an insurrection.

Why it matters: The House Republican leader had been hoping to use this year to build toward taking the majority in 2022, but his efforts to bridge intra-party divisiveness over the Capitol siege have him taking heat from every direction, eroding his stature both with the public and within his party.

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The next big political war: redistricting

Democrats are preparing a mix of tech and legal strategies to combat expected gerrymandering by Republicans, who are planning to go on legal offense themselves.

Why it matters: Democrats failed to regain a single state legislature on Election Day, while Republicans upped their control to 30 states' Houses and Senates. In the majority of states, legislatures draw new congressional district lines, which can boost a party's candidates for the next decade.

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Vaccinations, relief timing dominate call among bipartisan group of 16 senators

Vaccine distribution, pandemic data and a cross-party comity dominated today's virtual meeting between White House officials and a bipartisan group of 16 senators, Senator Angus King told Axios.

Why it matters: Given Democrats' razor-thin majority in both chambers of Congress, President Biden will have to rely heavily on this group of centrist lawmakers — dubbed the "Sweet 16" — to pass any substantial legislation.

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Progressives use billboard to pressure Chuck Schumer to end Senate filibuster

A progressive coalition is pressuring Chuck Schumer on his home turf by running a digital billboard in Times Square urging the new majority leader to end the Senate filibuster.

Why it matters: Schumer is up for re-election in 2o22 and could face a challenger, and he's also spearheading his party's broader effort to hold onto its narrow congressional majorities.

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U.S. surpasses 25 million COVID cases

The U.S has confirmed more than 25 million coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins data updated on Sunday.

The big picture: President Biden has said he expects the country's death toll to exceed 500,000 people by next month, as the rate of deaths due to the virus continues to escalate.

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