Race to 270: taxes, debate and COVID-19 in the West Wing

Courtesy+of+Marco+Verch+via+Flickr

Courtesy of Marco Verch via Flickr

A busy two weeks in the 2020 race saw a look into the president’s taxes, a debate, a Covid-19 super spreader event and a stay at the hospital for President Donald Trump.

In a report by the New York Times, it was discovered that President Trump only paid $750 in taxes the year he won the presidency and the same amount during his first year in office.

The Times also found that Trump paid no personal income taxes at all in 10 of the previous 15 years, and that many of his businesses are losing money, despite the president’s claims that he is a very successful businessman.

Last week, Trump and Former Vice President Joe Biden faced off in chaotic fashion in the first of three planned debates between the two candidates.

The debate was one of the most chaotic in history, according to many political analysts.

Chris Wallace of Fox News moderated the debate and struggled to control the two candidates, with Trump continuously talking over Biden throughout the night.

During a question about filling the open Supreme Court Justice seat, the two candidates struggled to get a word in over the other until Biden asked Trump “Will you shut up, man?” and called Trump’s behavior “un-Presidential” as Wallace tried to end the segment.

Joe Lockhart, a CNN political analyst, tweeted about Wallace’s lack of control of the candidates.

“Wallace was the wrong choice for moderator,” Lockhart tweeted.

“Who does a better job…Chris Wallace or a seventh grade substitute teacher,” Lockhart also tweeted during the debate.

The candidates sparred over a variety of topics throughout the evening.

A topic both candidates brought up repeatedly was the COVID-19 pandemic, and their respective ideas on which direction to take the country in.

Biden said, “‘It is what it is’ because you are what you are,” in reference to a quote from an interview Trump had on HBO in August. Trump fired back stating that “If we would have listened to you, the country would have been left wide open. Millions of people would have died, not 200,000…”

One of the most notable and talked about moments of the debate was when President Trump was asked to condemn white supremisist groups. Trump said he would but immediately said that much of the violence he saw was coming from the radical left.

When pushed further on the issue, Trump asked Wallace what group he was being asked to condemn.

“Proud Boys,” Biden interrupted.

“Proud Boys, stand back and stand by,” Trump said.

Just over the 45 minute mark of the debate, Trump brought up Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, in a claim that he had been “thrown out of the military” and had been “dishonorably discharged.”

This claim from the President was fact checked by Reuters and found to be untrue, as Hunter Biden had been administratively discharged due to a failed drug test.

Because of the chaos that came with the debate, the Commission on Presidential Debates has announced changes it will make in order to keep order and have any further debates best serve the American people.

It is unclear if the two scheduled debates left will be affected by the President’s announcement early Friday morning that he and his wife, Melania Trump, tested positive for COVID-19 and would begin the two-week quarantine process. The Vice President, Mike Pence, also tested positive for COVID-19 and it is uncertain if the Vice Presidential Debate will continue. 

After testing positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning, Trump was taken to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, a hospital in Bethesda, Maryland. Trump was reported Friday evening to be having fatigue, congestion, a cough and a low-grade fever by NBC News

CBS News reported that a source that was familiar with Trump’s health said, “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical.” When asked if the President ever needed supplemental oxygen, Dr. Conley repeated that Trump was not on oxygen as of Saturday morning. 

It is believed that the virus spread through the Supreme Court Nomination event held for Amy Coney Barrett in the Rose Garden on Sept. 26.

A growing list of people close to the President have tested positive since his announcement on Thursday. Included are Senators Thom Tills of North Carolina and Mike Lee of Utah, senior advisor at the White House Hope Hicks, and the University of Notre Dame president Rev. John I. Jenkins. 

The newest names to come out have included Trump’s new campaign manager Bill Stepien, Republican National Committee chairman Ronna McDaniel, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and three journalists whose names had not been released. These names came from the live updates from NBC.

As of Tuesday, Kellyanne Conway and her daughter Claudia, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, White House staffers Karoline Leavitt and Chad Gilmartin, Donald Trump’s assistant Nicholas Luna, Stephen Miller and Pastor Greg Laurie who attended the Rose Garden event had all tested positive for COVID-19.

Dr. Kevin O’Connor, the doctor of presidential candidate Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden, confirmed Biden tested negative for COVID-19 after attending the debate with Trump on Tuesday. 

Members that are in the line of succession, including Pence and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, had been contacted on Friday about the continuity of government if something were to happen to Donald Trump. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell sent Senators home for the next two weeks on Saturday. McConnell canceled all scheduled Senate votes, but said “confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett” would still start on Oct. 12., according to The Wall Street Journal

Trump tweeted out a video Friday afternoon thanking people for their “tremendous support” and stated that “I think I’m doing very well” and that the First Lady was “doing very well.”

It was reported by The Washington Post that Secret Service details expressed their worry of infection with their friends and family, and were “angry and frustrated” with the way they were put at risk. 

Trump’s stay at Walter Reed lasted the weekend. On Sunday, Trump got in a sealed car to drive past his supporters in a “surprise visit” outside of the hospital, as the BBC reported. The Secret Service agents inside with him were put in quarantine for the next 14 days.

Trump was back at the White House Monday night, making an appearance on the Truman balcony to take photos. The Guardian wrote that Trump returned and “immediately took off his mask.” Videos from the balcony “suggested that he was breathing hard,” before waving and walking back inside, according to The Guardian. 

On his way home from Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday, Donald Trump tweeted “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life.” in regards to COVID-19, which has killed over 210,000 Americans, according to the CDC.