Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News
- Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday he was unaware of any indication from his agency that physical barriers along America’s borders would help halt the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. — contradicting an assertion President Trump made earlier in the day.
- Top Trump administration officials on Wednesday cut short their testimony at a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing on the response to the coronavirus, with the White House saying they were needed at a meeting focused on the spreading virus.
- President Trump pushed back on a Vanity Fair article that reported he is “melting down” over the coronavirus. The article, published Monday, cites a person close to the administration saying Trump is “definitely melting down over this,” referring to the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump hit back, Tweeting: “Vanity Fair Magazine, which will soon be out of business, and their third rate Fake reporters, who make up sources which don’t exist, wrote yet another phony & boring hit piece. The facts are just the opposite. Our team is doing a great job with CoronaVirus!”
- President Trump is concerned that declaring an emergency would hamper his narrative that the coronavirus is similar to the seasonal flu. (The declaration would bring in FEMA and free up funding and resources for states struggling to contain COVID-19.) Instead, Trump is expected to sign within days a more limited designation to allow the federal government to cover small business loans, paychecks for hourly workers and delay tax bills.
- The White House ordered meetings where officials discussed the coronavirus to be classified, which barred information and delayed the government’s response, four Trump administration officials told Reuters. Federal health officials were directed to keep dozens of meetings that started in mid-January, including discussions on the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions confidential.
- Press coverage of Vice President Pence’s meeting with hospital executives has been canceled. The meeting is still happening, VP office says.
- A spokeswoman for President Trump’s reelection campaign defended Trump’s decision to continue holding campaign rallies despite the spread of coronavirus, saying in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Stuart Varney that Trump is “the best authority on this issue.”
Campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said the rallies would continue despite National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head Anthony Fauci’s recommendation against such large public gatherings.
UPDATE: In a decision that reflects the latest guidance from public health officials, who have cautioned against attending large gatherings, President Trump canceled events scheduled for this week in Nevada and Colorado due to the coronavirus, the White House announced Wednesday. The president was scheduled to fly to Nevada on Thursday to attend a fundraiser and speak at Saturday’s Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas. He was expected to stop in Denver on Friday.
- European Union leaders condemned President Trump’s decision to impose a 30-day ban on travel from Europe in response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying they were not consulted.
“The coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” European Council President Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint statement.
- After weeks of playing down the threat of the epidemic as a Democratic “hoax”and on Tuesday telling Americans to “stay calm. This will go away,” in Wednesday’s Oval Office Address the President pivoted. He announced suspension of all travel from Europe for 30 days.This action contradicts expert guidelines. The WHO clearly advises against international travel bans because they stifle the flow of medicines and aid, and “may divert resources from other interventions.”
UPDATE: Homeland Security Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf’s issued a statement correcting the President. The U.S. is suspending the entry of most foreign nationals who have been in certain European countries in the past 14 days, with many exceptions.
- Two weeks ago, Mr Trump said that the $8.5 Billion the Democrats had requested to tackle the virus was too high. He only asked for $2.5 Billion. On Wednesday, he called for a three-month suspension of the payroll tax, which will cost at least $300 Billion — more than 100 times larger.
Other Administration News
- Senate Democrats, joined by a handful of Republicans, voted to reverse a Department of Education rule reducing protections for student loan borrowers, sending the House-passed bill to President Trump’s desk. DeVos’ proposal would add restrictions to an Obama-era rule that helped students who are defrauded by for-profit colleges.
- The U.S. Supreme Court said Wednesday that the Trump administration can continue its practice of returning asylum-seekers to Mexico along the entire southern border while immigration authorities process their claims. In a brief, unsigned order, the court said enforcement can go on while the justices decide whether to hear an appeal of lower court rulings that declared the program illegal.
- Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told lawmakers the administration is considering tax relief and loan guarantees to help the airline industry cope with the coronavirus outbreak — but people shouldn’t call it a bailout.
- Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday announced his support of the House’s renewal of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).
“I have reviewed the House FISA bill and support its passage,” Barr said in a statement. “The bill contains an array of new requirements and compliance provisions that will protect against abuse and misuse in the future while ensuring that this critical tool is available when appropriate to protect the safety of the American people.”
- President Trump will launch a “Catholics for Trump” coalition in a campaign appearance in Milwaukee next week, his reelection campaign said Wednesday.
- Attorneys general for 18 states are asking the Trump administration to withdraw a rule that would roll back a bedrock environmental law, arguing the proposal is “unlawful, unreasonable, and unjustified.” The White House in January announced sweeping changes to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which requires that an environmental review accompany any major infrastructure project such as building highways or pipelines.
- President Trump met with close to a dozen chiefs of the largest U.S. banks and their advocates in Washington, D.C., as the financial sector faces pressure to prepare for an economic slowdown.