Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News
- Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that U.S. health officials do not know how many Americans have been tested for coronavirus.
- President Trump is calling for a paid sick or family leave program — a major Democratic policy priority — as part of a stimulus package to counter the effects of the spread of coronavirus.
“We will listen. We all recognize this is an extraordinary situation and we may need to take extraordinary measures, and President Trump’s providing that leadership,” GOP Sen. Ron Johnson said following a closed-door lunch Tuesday between Trump and Senate Republicans, who traditionally balk at the policy.
- The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that attaching Chinese to a description of the coronavirus was wrong after both President Trump and the top House Republican were accused of racism for labeling it.
- Because of State Department travel advisories, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention travel recommendations, and restrictions imposed on foreign visitors by certain countries the Food and Drug Administration is postponing most inspections of foreign manufacturers of pharmaceutical products, medical devices and food imported into the United States. The inspections will be suspended through April.
“For cause” inspections — ones in which the FDA is investigating a specific problem, for example — will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The agency already had suspended most inspections in China.
- President Trump said he sees “no reason” to get tested for the coronavirus but suggested he would be open to doing so if he were given such advice.
“I don’t think it’s a big deal. I would do it. I don’t feel any reason. I feel extremely good. I feel very good, but I guess it’s not a big deal to get tested and it’s something I would do,” Trump told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon after a meeting with Senate Republicans.
Trump said that the White House physician advised him he didn’t need to take the test, even though the president made contact with lawmakers who have since self-quarantined because they had contact with a person who tested positive for the coronavirus.
- Senior Trump administration officials discussed shutting down travel from Italy and South Korea as the coronavirus outbreak worsened in those countries, but ultimately decided the virus is spreading too quickly to be contained.
- Washington state Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler says her constituents aren’t getting coronavirus test results for days after being tested. CDC Director Redfield responds that there is “not enough equipment, not enough people, not enough internal capacity.”
- Russ Vought, the acting director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, on Tuesday doubled down on proposed cuts to health services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite the coronavirus outbreak.
- In a day-long snafu last month, HHS officials lost email access while working to negotiate a funding package to fight coronavirus. The outage led to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services chief Seema Verma being stripped of control of her agency’s emails and appealing to the White House to intervene.
- An annual intelligence report that has been postponed without explanation by President Trump’s administration warns that the U.S. remains unprepared for a global pandemic.
The office of the Director of National Intelligence was scheduled to deliver the “Worldwide Threat Assessment” to the House Intelligence Committee.
Two officials who have read the new report say it contains warnings similar to those in the 2019 installment. The 2019 report warns, “The United States will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support.”
Other Administration News
- President Trump ramped up pressure on the Federal Reserve to slash interest rates, berating the central bank one week before it is expected to cut borrowing costs for the second time this month.
In a tweet, Trump renewed his call for the Fed and Chairman Jerome Powell to slash rates to 0 percent or lower to match much weaker economies in Europe and Asia, one day after the stock market suffered its worst day of losses since 2008.
“Our pathetic, slow moving Federal Reserve, headed by Jay Powell, who raised rates too fast and lowered too late, should get our Fed Rate down to the levels of our competitor nations. They now have as much as a two point advantage, with even bigger currency help. Also, stimulate!” Trump tweeted.
- The White House is strongly considering pushing federal assistance for oil and natural gas producers hit by plummeting oil prices.
President Trump has touted the growth of oil and natural gas production under his administration, celebrating their rise in politically crucial swing states such as Pennsylvania. But many oil and gas firms were hammered Monday by the price war that broke out between Saudi Arabia and Russia, driving oil prices down in their steepest one-day drop in almost 30 years.
- President Trump awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to retired four-star Army Gen. Jack Keane, now a senior strategist analyst for Fox News, at a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, describing him as “a courageous warrior and a fearless patriot.”
- The House of Representatives has won access to secret grand jury material gathered in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and cited in the Mueller report, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.
The ruling may breathe new life into a House Judiciary Committee investigation into President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice, which failed to gain steam since Mueller issued his report on Trump and testified last summer and since the White House has blocked administration witnesses from appearing before Congress.
- President Donald Trump’s campaign manager is quietly channeling money to Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, The New York Times reported Monday.
The payments are hidden from public view because they’re made through campaign manager Brad Parscale’s private company, Parscale Strategy, based in San Antonio, sources told the Times. Typically, such payments would be part of public filings required by the Federal Election Commission so that donors can find out how their contributions are being used — in this case, to pay members of the president’s family.
- President Trump endorsed former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville in his Alabama runoff election against Jeff Sessions, dealing a blow to Trump’s former attorney general as he attempts to get back into the Senate. “Coach Tommy Tuberville, a winner, has my Complete and Total Endorsement. I love Alabama!” Trump tweeted.