Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive Friday for coronavirus according to local reports. President Trump dined with Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night and shook hands with his fellow world leader. Bolsonaro was checked for the disease after his aide Fabio Wajngarten tested positive for it.
- Despite mounting pleas from California and other states, the Trump administration isn’t allowing states to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the coronavirus crisis by expanding medical services. In previous emergencies, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the H1N1 flu outbreak, both Republican and Democratic administrations loosened Medicaid rules to empower states to meet surging needs.
- President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency over the coronavirus, freeing up additional resources and funding as federal, state and local governments attempt to combat the rapidly spreading disease.
The move allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to tap into billions of dollars and mobilize personnel more quickly to help state and local agencies and leaders respond.
- President Trump vowed to overhaul the coronavirus testing approach in the U.S., with “drive-thru” options available in some locations. The promised revamp comes after weeks of testing delays and difficulties accessing test kits by both doctors and patients.
Under the new approach, people who think they need to be tested can fill out an online screening questionnaire and be directed to the nearest drive-thru, with results provided in 24 to 36 hours.
- President Trump said Friday that he had waived all federal student loan interest “until further notice” amid the coronavirus outbreak.
- When reporter Kristen Welker of NBC asked Trump whether he takes responsibility for the lag in making test kits available, Trump replied, “No. I don’t take responsibility at all.”
- Google will not be publishing a national-scale website for coronavirus testing anytime soon, contrary to claims made by President Trump.
- President Trump indicated he will “most likely” be tested for the coronavirus — but said he doesn’t intend to self-isolate. Brazilian officials who posed alongside Trump for a photo at Mar-a-Lago have tested positive.
UPDATE: President Trump’s physician issued a statement Friday night saying Trump is at low risk for COVID-19 because his exposure to 2 people who have the disease was limited and occurred before they had symptoms. The doctor said testing “is not currently indicated” for Trump.
UPDATE: The President said he was tested for coronavirus Friday night and is awaiting results.
UPDATE: The President tested negative for the virus.
- The White House has begun checking the temperatures of anyone in close contact with President Donald Trump or Vice President Mike Pence.
- Vice President Pence said travel to the US from the UK and Ireland will be restricted
- Dr. Fauci on whether the US will have enough ventilators for the coronavirus crisis: “If you get to a worst case scenario, you’ve got to be realistic. There might not be.”
- The German government confirms that Trump apparently tried to pay German scientists to give him exclusive rights to the Covid-19 vaccine they were working on developing. He wanted it “for the US only.”
- The White House is urging all federal agencies to consider restricting travel for government personnel to only critical activities as the Trump administration seeks to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
A memo issued Saturday by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) encourages agencies to conduct meetings via phone or video conference when possible or consider whether non-critical travel can be delayed.
- When Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker Tweeted critically at the White House last night about the O’Hare mess and demanded federal action, “Here’s what I got,” Pritzker told Chuck Todd. “I got a call at eleven last night from a White House staffer who yelled at me about the tweet. That’s what I got.”
- The Federal Reserve is cutting interest rates to 0%. The Fed says: “The effects of the coronavirus will weigh on economic activity in the near term and pose risks to the economic outlook.”
- CDC recommends no events of more than 50 people for next eight weeks.
- The White House budget office will send Congress another funding request that would potentially bolster the Pentagon, the VA and Homeland Security as federal agencies work to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
- The White House is calling for federal workers to work from home or telework when possible as the administration seeks to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Other Administration News
- President Trump has formally nominated Kenneth Weinstein to serve as the U.S. ambassador to Japan, the White House announced Friday evening. Weinstein is the president and CEO of the conservative think tank Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.,
- Richard Grenell, the recently-appointed acting director of national intelligence (DNI), has initiated a temporary hiring freeze in the agency.
- The top U.S. commander for the Middle East said the threat from Iran remains high even as he touted the success of retaliatory U.S. airstrikes on an Iran-backed militia in Iraq that officials blamed for killing two U.S. troops this week.
- President Trump said Friday that the U.S. would purchase “large quantities” of crude oil in order to help the industry, which has been hit by sinking prices this week.
- House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva gave the Department of the Interior a seven-day ultimatum to comply with his requests for documents, threatening to use his new subpoena power if the documents are not turned over.
- Three US servicemen were wounded, along with two Iraqi soldiers, during daylight hours on Saturday when some 33 katyusha rockets slammed into al-Taji Base north of Baghdad. Two of the US soldiers were seriously wounded and are in hospital in Baghdad. The rocket attacks were likely revenge for US air strikes on Friday that killed 5 Iraqi soldiers and security police and one civilian, on a base at Jurf al-Sakhar.