Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Getty Images

News and Commentary

Morning Wire: Americans Still Trapped In Afghanistan, Another Cuomo Cover-up Revealed, Supreme Court Upholds Trump Immigration Policy

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It’s Thursday, August 26th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast here.

1) Americans Still Trapped In Afghanistan 

The Topline: The situation in Afghanistan continues to deteriorate as western forces withdraw from the country, despite an ongoing humanitarian crisis.

Quote Of The Day:

“I think it’s irresponsible to say that Americans are stranded. They are not. We are committed to bringing Americans who want to come home, home.”

— White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki

“We are stranded at home. We can’t get to the airport. When we try to get to the airport we either get beaten up or we are afraid for our lives.”
— Trapped American Citizen in Afghanistan

The Latest

President Biden decided against extending his own deadline of all forces withdrawing from Afghanistan by August 31st. Now, according to reports, the U.S. military is turning away some U.S. allies from the airport.

Earlier this week, a Taliban spokesperson said Biden’s deadline was a “red line” for them, and there would be “consequences” if they didn’t leave by August 31st.

Biden delivered a short speech on Tuesday from the White House, claiming the U.S. was aligned with its allies on the withdrawal strategy.

However, according to reports, the leaders of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom can’t “trust” the United States anymore under Biden’s leadership. According to some outlets, the G7 had an agreement in place to extend the deadline, which would mean Biden undercut his allies.

Sgt. Samuel Ruiz/U.S. Marine Corps/Handout via Getty Images

Biden’s New ‘Strategy’

The Biden administration is now trying to sell the withdrawal as a success story, touting the number of people evacuated in the past few weeks.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pushed back on the notion people are “stranded” in the country on Tuesday, but accounts continue to contradict her claim.

According to the Pentagon, there are more than 10,000 people still waiting to be flown out of the country, and it appears likely there will be an unknown number left after the withdrawal is complete.

The Precarious Kabul Airport: As General Sir Richard Barrons, commander Joint Forces Command from 2013 to 2016, said, “if the Taliban don’t want our aeroplanes to use the airport, one mortar round, one missile, one burst of machine gun fire, and the evacuation is over.”

Photo by Spencer Platt/Staff/Getty Images

2) Another Cuomo Cover-up Revealed

The Topline: New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Wednesday her predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, had underreported the state’s COVID death toll by over 12,000 victims.  

The Background

At the start of the pandemic, Governor Cuomo forced nursing homes to accept elderly patients from hospitals, whether they had COVID-19 or not. The policy was an immediate disaster and resulted in thousands of senior citizens dying in nursing homes.

According to a report from the state’s attorney general, Cuomo’s office originally underreported the number of nursing home deaths by 40%, reportedly in an attempt to protect himself politically.

New Revelations

Number of COVID-19 deaths in NY reported by Cuomo: 43,400 

Number of COVID-19 deaths in NY, reported by Hochul: 55,400

How Did This Happen?

Cuomo’s administration only counted laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 deaths for their tally, meaning they ignored cases where people died at home, in hospice care, or in prison. This also shows they didn’t count people who’d died without ever testing positive.

The Irony: The states Cuomo attacked for allegedly not taking the pandemic seriously — mainly Florida and Texas — rank 21st and 25th in COVID-19 deaths per capita. 

New York was second worst, behind only New Jersey. 

Hochul’s Strategy

According to Hochul, this was an intentional manipulation of data meant to downplay the truth. Hochul has promised increased accountability through a new COVID reporting system she says will give a more accurate look at COVID-19 data.

Howard Zucker, the state’s Health Commissioner, was heavily implicated in the initial Attorney General’s report. Hochul reportedly could remove him soon for his role in the scandal. 

Photo by Nick Ut/Contributor/Getty Images

3) Supreme Court Upholds Trump Immigration Policy

The Topline: The Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday a Trump administration immigration program known as “Remain In Mexico” must be reinstated.

The Trump-Era Policy

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Migrant Protection Protocols policy on Tuesday, purportedly to ensure certain people coming to the U.S. illegally, including those who are seeking asylum, have to remain in Mexico as they wait for their hearings. 

Prior to the policy, detained migrants were released into the U.S. while waiting to be processed, and oftentimes wouldn’t show up before an immigration judge, or put in an application for asylum.

The Supreme Court held the Biden administration “failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious.”

The Legal Battle

In April, the attorneys general of Missouri and Texas filed a lawsuit over the suspension of the policy. Earlier this month, a U.S. District judge sided with them and ruled the policy should be reimplemented. Biden’s Department of Justice took the decision to a circuit court, but they were denied and the legal challenge ended this week with the Supreme Court’s decision.

Since the program began under the Trump administration, tens of thousands of people attempting to cross the border illegally have been sent back to Mexico while they await their hearings. 

The Border Crisis By The Numbers

The Department of Homeland Security announced border patrol encountered over 200,000 migrants in the month of July. In April of 2020, that number was just 16,182.

According to a DHS document given to President Biden earlier this month, over 18% of migrant families and 20% of unaccompanied minors who came into the country recently tested positive for Covid when they left Border Patrol. 

The Bottom Line: The Trump-era policy is back for now. DHS said it disagreed with the ruling and would “continue to vigorously challenge” the order, but will comply as the appeal process goes on. 

J.Castro via Getty Images

Other Stories We’re Tracking

Chicago Police Union Defies Vaccine Mandate

Chicago’s leading police union is pushing back against vaccine mandates, vowing to take the issue to court if necessary. The president of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police said the union is “100% against mandated vaccines” for its members. This comes after Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said all city employees will “absolutely” be required to get the shot.

COVID Origin Report

A new U.S. intelligence report on the origins of the coronavirus is inconclusive on whether the virus jumped from animals to humans, or resulted from a laboratory accident. The report was ordered by President Biden in May and delivered to the White House on Tuesday.

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