July 31, 2020

Lives likely could've been saved if the White House had focused on people rather than politics when the pandemic began, Vanity Fair reports.

Unlike other countries, the U.S. has struggled to present a unified national strategy on COVID-19 testing, and the country now leads the world both in confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths. But it reportedly had experts developing a testing plan since the virus' beginnings — and then scrapped it entirely once it appeared the virus was largely hitting Democratic states, one expert tells Vanity Fair.

Despite his lack of scientific or governmental experience, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner took charge of the testing plan and stacked a team with "bankers and billionaires," Vanity Fair writes. But diagnostic testing experts were eventually called in, and the team created a plan to tackle testing supply shortages and delays in reporting results.

"The plan, though imperfect, was a starting point," Vanity Fair writes, and "would have put us in a fundamentally different place" today, one person who worked on it said. But it faced resistance from the top of the White House, where Trump reportedly worried high test numbers would hurt the economy and his re-election prospects. And perhaps most disturbingly, one member of the team suggested there was no point in rolling out the plan because the virus seemed to be hitting blue states, an expert told Vanity Fair. "The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy," the expert said.

All of that might explain why Kushner was so hopeful just a few months ago. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:14 p.m.

Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar won Tuesday's primary in Minnesota's 5th Congressional District, defeating four challengers, including one who received millions in donations.

Her closest challenger was Antone Melton-Meaux, a mediation lawyer who used the millions he raised to outspend Omar by a two-to-one margin on TV ads, Politico reports. The website Open Secrets, which tracks campaign donations, said more than $2.5 million was spent by outside interests in an attempt to defeat Omar.

Omar was first elected in 2018, along with three other progressive women of color — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Rashida Tlaib (Mich.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.) — dubbed "The Squad." She faced criticism in 2019 from members of the left and right when she made comments about Israel that some called anti-Semitic; Omar later apologized. Catherine Garcia

10:35 p.m.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, an adherent of the right-wing QAnon conspiracy theory who has previously expressed racist views in videos, won Tuesday's Republican primary runoff in Georgia's 14th Congressional District.

Greene, the owner of a construction company, defeated John Cowan, a neurosurgeon. She will face off against Democrat Kevin Van Ausdal, an IT specialist, in November. The district is considered a Republican stronghold.

In June, Politico reported that Greene uploaded videos to her Facebook page in which she made derogatory comments about Black people, Muslims, and the Jewish philanthropist and investor George Soros. Her remarks were condemned by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), but he did not take sides in the House race. Catherine Garcia

9:31 p.m.

There are a few things Sarah Palin wants Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) to know about life as a vice presidential candidate.

On Instagram, Palin said she learned a lot of lessons when she was the late Sen. John McCain's running mate in 2008. Her first piece of advice? "Out of the chute, trust no one new," she said, adding, "Fight mightily to keep your own team with you — they know you, know your voice, and most importantly are trustworthy." Palin also suggested Harris "connect with media and voters in your own unique way. Some yahoos running campaigns will suffocate you with their own self-centered agenda, so remember, YOU were chosen for who YOU are."

Palin said when she was on the campaign trail, her favorite thing was the "ropeline," which allowed her to shake hands with and hug supporters. Each interaction, she said, "melted my heart, energized my soul, and gave me the utmost hope in the greatest country on Earth!" These were pre-pandemic times, so it's not likely that Harris will be able to greet people the way Palin did, but if she does she must "be sincere in looking in their eyes, understanding why they're there, never forgetting they represent the innumerable Americans putting their trust in you to serve for the right reasons." Catherine Garcia

8:29 p.m.

The Colorado attorney general's office on Tuesday announced it has launched a civil rights investigation into the Aurora Police Department's "patterns and practices," following several high-profile cases of alleged excessive force and misconduct.

This review began several weeks ago, a spokesperson said, and is separate from an investigation into the 2019 death of 23-year-old Elijah McClain, an unarmed Black man who died after officers used a chokehold on him. Earlier Tuesday, McClain's family filed a lawsuit against the Aurora Police Department and paramedics who injected him with ketamine.

Last week, a video went viral showing Aurora officers holding a Black family at gunpoint, after the officers mistakenly thought the family was in a stolen car. As they all lay face down on the pavement, one of the children is heard sobbing and screaming, "I want my mother!" The department later apologized, and interim Chief of Police Vanessa Wilson said there will be a review of how officers are trained to conduct high-risk stops. Catherine Garcia

7:23 p.m.

President Trump hasn't gotten over the way Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) grilled Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh during his 2018 Senate confirmation hearing, saying on Tuesday she was "nasty" to Kavanaugh.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden announced Harris as his running mate Tuesday afternoon, and Trump was asked about this during his evening coronavirus briefing. Harris was Trump's own "No. 1 pick" for Biden's ticket, he said, but Biden is still "handing over the reins to Kamala while they jointly embrace the radical left." He criticized her for supporting the expansion of government health care.

Trump then brought up Harris' pointed questioning of Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing. "She was nasty to a level that was just a horrible thing, the way she was, the way she treated now-Justice Kavanaugh," he said. "And I won't forget that soon." When asked if he thinks Harris will boost Biden's appeal to voters, Trump responded: "Well, I like Vice President Mike Pence much better, he is solid as a rock. I will take him over Kamala and the horrible way she again treated Justice Kavanaugh. That was a horrible event. I thought it was terrible for her. I thought it was terrible for our nation. I thought she was the meanest, the most horrible, the most disrespectful of anybody in the U.S. Senate." Catherine Garcia

6:30 p.m.

President Trump's campaign may be calling her "Phony Kamala" now, but Trump once liked Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) enough to twice donate to her re-election campaign for California attorney general.

The Sacramento Bee first reported the donations in 2019, but they are receiving renewed interest now that former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has chosen Harris to be his running mate.

Before she became a senator, Harris was attorney general of California; she was first elected in 2010, and was re-elected four years later. Trump made two donations to Harris' re-election campaign — $5,000 in 2011 and $1,000 in 2013. His daughter, Ivanka Trump, also gave Harris $2,000 in 2014.

A spokesperson for Harris' campaign previously told McClatchy that in 2015, Harris donated the $6,000 she received from Trump to a nonprofit organization that advocates for civil and human rights for Central Americans. Catherine Garcia

5:53 p.m.

History has its eyes on Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) — in more ways than one.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, announced Harris as his pick to hold the position he once held under former president Barack Obama on Tuesday.

The former California attorney general is rightly being recognized as the first Black woman to sit on a major political party's national ticket, but the historic nature of Harris' position contains multitudes.

To start, Harris is the first person with Indian heritage to run on a national presidential ticket. Her late mother was born in India, and Harris has credited her maternal grandfather, a former Indian diplomat, with helping her to appreciate the "importance of democracy and a government that represents the people — all the people,” Politico reports.

Harris's nomination also marks the first time a major nominee has graduated from an HBCU, a.k.a Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Harris graduated from Howard University in 1986, receiving her B.A. after studying political science and economics.

Howard University president Wayne A.I. Frederick released a statement saying the senator's nomination "represents a milestone opportunity for our democracy to acknowledge the leadership Black women have always exhibited, but has too often been ignored.”

Harris went on to attend the University of California, Hastings where she received her J.D., making this the first time in over 35 years the Democratic ticket consists of two people who did not attend an Ivy League school.

If Harris and Biden succeed in ousting President Trump from office, Harris will also hold the honor of being the first female and the first Asian American to be elected to national office, but we'll save that conversation for another day. Marianne Dodson

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