Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News
- Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper has urged American military commanders overseas not to make any decisions related to the coronavirus that might surprise the White House or run afoul of President Trump’s messaging on the growing health challenge, American officials said.
Esper’s directive, delivered last week during a video teleconference call with combatant commanders around the world, is the latest iteration of Mr. Trump’s efforts to manage public fears over the disease, even as it continues to spread around the world.
- The Pentagon issued a sharp rebuttal Tuesday to a New York Times article saying Defense Secretary Mark Esper directed commanders to notify the Department of Defense of their coronavirus responses to avoid surprising the White House, calling it a “dangerous and inaccurate mischaracterization.”
- In comments marking a significant reversal from Saturday, President Trump on Tuesday said the administration is no longer seriously considering closing the southern border due to the spread of the coronavirus. “We’re not looking at it very strongly,” Trump said during a visit to the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. “I don’t think we’ve seen any great evidence that that area’s a problem at this moment,” he added.
- Donald Trump donated his presidential paycheck for the fourth quarter of 2019 to the Department of Health and Human Services to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
- A coalition of 19 states is suing the Trump administration over its new diversion of $3.8 billion in defense funds to the border wall, arguing that the move is unconstitutional and ignores possible environmental impacts. “Use of these additional federal funds for the construction of a border wall is contrary to Congress’s intent and in violation of the U.S. Constitution,” said the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in California on Tuesday.
- President Trump said that he spoke with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the co-founder of the Taliban, in what is the first publicly disclosed call between a U.S. president and a senior Taliban official since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks. Trump said that he and Baradar had a “good conversation” and that both parties agreed that they do not want violence in Afghanistan.
- President Trump said he’s not considering restricting travel within the U.S. due to the coronavirus. “We’re not looking at that at all, no,” Trump told reporters as he departed the White House to visit the National Institutes of Health.
- President Trump told a group of Republicans that he will not support extending soon-to-expire intelligence programs without changes to the surveillance court.
Trump met with Attorney General William Barr and several GOP lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), amid a deadlock over how to deal with expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act.
- President Trump criticized the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut interest rates by half a percentage point as insufficient, demanding “more easing and cutting” in a tweet.
“The Federal Reserve is cutting but must further ease and, most importantly, come into line with other countries/competitors,” Trump tweeted. “We are not playing on a level field. Not fair to USA. It is finally time for the Federal Reserve to LEAD. More easing and cutting!”
- President Trump’s campaign has filed a multimillion-dollar libel lawsuit against The Washington Post, claiming the newspaper knowingly published false claims that Trump engaged in a conspiracy with Russia concerning U.S. presidential elections. The lawsuit, filed Monday in a Washington, D.C., federal court, comes a week after the Trump campaign filed a similar suit against The New York Times.
- The U.S. launched an airstrike against the Taliban in Afghanistan on Wednesday, days after the Trump administration signed a deal with the military group. A spokesperson for the U.S. military said the strike was launched to interrupt a Taliban attack on a checkpoint manned by the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, the latest in what the spokesperson said was a string of attacks on such installations.