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Trump's new political football: Saving college grid season 

President Donald Trump tosses the coin before the

President Donald Trump tosses the coin before the Army vs. Navy football game on Dec. 14 in Philadelphia. Credit: AFP via Getty Images / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds

Games over?

The coronavirus hasn't vanished as Donald Trump predicted, but this fall's big-time college football season could disappear. The president who said in May he wanted "big, big stadiums full of people" for games like Alabama vs. LSU may not even get the made-for-TV versions like major league baseball, hockey and basketball are staging, with the NFL likely to follow.

"Play College Football!" Trump tweeted Monday. "The student-athletes have been working too hard for their season to be canceled, he said, siding with a group of players lobbying for the games to go on.

Multiple sports news outlets are reporting that two of the top "Power Five" conferences — the Big Ten and Pac-12 — are expected to cancel their 2020 games because of virus transmission risks, according to reports from multiple sports news outlets. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC remain in a state of flux, according to Bleacher Report. The Mid-American Conference’s 12 teams announced over the weekend that they wouldn’t play football.

Dr. Amesh Adalja, a member of the NCAA's COVID-19 Advisory Panel told CNN that unlike the NHL and the NBA, Adalja said, student athletes do not typically isolate away from their peers at school and compete in a "bubble" cordoned off from the outside world.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey expressed uncertainty Monday afternoon about whether his powerhouse conference could play football. “Best advice I’ve received since COVID-19: ‘Be patient. Take time when making decisions.’ This is all new & you’ll gain better information each day," he tweeted.

A cancellation or disruption to the season would further undermine Trump's effort to show that the nation is starting to get back to normal ahead of the November election. He is popular in many states where college football fandom is most fervent, including the South and parts of the Midwest, notes The Washington Post. Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, a Republican, invoked love of the sports last month when he mandated that residents wear masks in public, "as irritating as that can be."

Several Republican members of Congress echoed Trump's calls for the colleges to play. Trump's political rivals, including the campaign of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, blamed Trump’s management of the pandemic for making the playing environment unsafe. “If Trump had done his job, weddings, graduations, sports, and all manner of other events wouldn’t be impacted in the way they are now,” said Biden spokesman Andrew Bates.

Scary moment

Shortly after Trump began a news conference Monday afternoon, a member of his security detail walked up and abruptly hustled him out of the room without explanation. Later, Secret Service officials said an agent shot a suspect outside the White House fence and took him to a hospital.

The Secret Service said in a statement that an adult man, carrying a firearm, approached the perimeter. When the suspect did not respond to verbal commands, he was shot once and taken into custody. The Secret Service recovered a firearm at the scene. 

Trump returned to the podium several minutes later, saying he waited for the all-clear from the Oval Office, and resumed the briefing. Asked if he was shaken by the incident, Trump asked reporters: “I don’t know. Do I seem rattled?” See a video clip of Trump's sudden exit.

Janison: Executive illusionist

Guests who gathered in a room at Trump's private golf club in New Jersey on Saturday got to glimpse an imitation of governance up close, writes Newsday's Dan Janison. They applauded their host after he signed pieces of paper of dubious legal value. The papers that he called "executive actions" may well come to symbolize Trump's inaction.

Critics may have understated the case when they said the three memos and one executive order that Trump signed over the weekend would fail to give the pandemic-strapped American people enough help. This is like raising the old complaint that the food is lousy and the portions are too small — when, in fact, the food may not even be there.

The Constitution gives Congress key fiscal and taxing powers. It's that simple. Senate Republicans have refused to go along with Trump's demand that any relief measure they negotiate with House Democrats and send him include a payroll tax deferral. 

An executive cannot serve as his own legislature, at least not in America. That doesn't keep the White House from pretending otherwise by ordering this tax deferral on its own. The real-life logjam will break if and when elected lawmakers on Capitol Hill negotiate a compromise between the Democrats' $3 trillion proposal and a cheaper Republican alternative.

Is anybody talking?

Trump suggested in a tweet that his executive orders will help bring about a deal in Congress. "So now Schumer and Pelosi want to meet to make a deal. Amazing how it all works, isn’t it," he tweeted Monday morning.

But his point man in negotiations, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, confirmed during the afternoon that he had not spoken to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer since talks broke down Friday.

The nation’s governors raised practical concerns on a bipartisan basis Monday about implementing Trump’s order aimed at extending enhanced unemployment insurance, and they urged Congress to act instead, The Washington Post reported.

The statement pointed to “significant administrative burdens and costs” associated with Trump's plan. It was issued by National Governors Association Democratic chairman, Andrew Cuomo of New York, and the Republican vice chairman, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas.

Mail-splaining

Democrats are already voicing suspicions connecting a slowdown in mail deliveries under Trump-appointed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to the president's drive to discredit mail-in voting in belief it will help his foes.

Joe Biden is charging that ordinary Americans are becoming collateral damage from Trump's alleged political manipulations, such as those who depend on mail-order prescription drugs. Members of Congress from both parties have complained about delays in vital deliveries, including prescription drugs, because of DeJoy's cost-cutting.

"President Trump keeps attacking the U.S. Postal Service, and now hundreds of thousands of veterans aren't getting their life-saving medications on time," Biden tweeted. "It's despicable. I promise you that as president, I will never put politics over the care of our nation's veterans."

A 2020 Gettysburg address?

Trump tweeted that he's down to two possibilities to give his Aug. 27 acceptance speech for the Republican nomination — either the White House or the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, where Abraham Lincoln in 1863 delivered one of the most famous speeches in American history.

Trump has long sought to compare himself to the president who ended slavery, telling Axios in a recent interview that he has done more for the Black community than anyone — "with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln."

A Trump Gettysburg address would be an inevitable reminder of Trump's insistence on keeping the names of Confederate military leaders on Army bases, including losers of the momentous battle.

As a candidate, Trump delivered a speech in Gettysburg in October 2016 most remembered for his threat to sue every woman who accused him of sexual misconduct — about a dozen of them. He never sued.

Showing Biden the money

Biden's prospective running mates have raised millions for his campaign while awaiting his decision, Politico reports.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts brought in more than $7.7 million, and Sen. Kamala Harris of California has raised more than $5 million. Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois co-headlined three fundraisers with Joe and Jill Biden, and appeared at other events, bringing in more than $3 million for the campaign.

The New York Times reports Biden has told allies that he has interviewed every finalist in his vice-presidential search, and his advisers are planning an announcement for Tuesday or Wednesday. The Democratic convention will be held next week.

More coronavirus news

For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • The U.S. Naval Academy isn't fully saluting Trump's call for in-person education this fall. According to military.com, while upper-class midshipmen will return to campus, much of their education will probably still be conducted online. Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Sean Buck said, "While not optimal, a significant portion of academic learning may be achieved in an online forum."
  • Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis sent a bigoted tweet Monday mocking Pennsylvania's transgender health secretary, Dr. Rachel Levine, referring to her as “this guy” who is "making decisions about your health." Ellis has a history of pushing anti-LGBT positions.
  • Trump has overseen a significant decline in white-collar-crime enforcement, Bloomberg News reports. Even before the pandemic slowed the courts, the prosecution of securities fraud, antitrust violations and other such offenses was down 26% to 30% for Trump’s first three years in office.
  • The president tweeted a complaint about a New York Times story, saying he "never suggested" to South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem that he would like to see his face on Mount Rushmore. However, while Trump's tweet called the story 'Fake News,' he also said: "sounds like a good idea to me!" Noem spoke on the record about Trump's Rushmore thoughts in a 2018 interview with a home state newspaper.
  • Trump gave a mashup of history during his Monday briefing. He said the flu pandemic of 1918 (which he says occurred in 1917) ended the Second World War, which ended in 1945. He's said previously it brought an end to World War I. Historians disagree.
  • Last week, Trump touted a deal to provide Eastman Kodak with a $765 million federal loan to make critical pharmaceutical ingredients and reduce U.S. reliance on foreign suppliers. The loan is now on hold while federal regulators investigate suspicions of insider trading by the company and its executives before the loan became public.

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