Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News
- Jared Kushner’s shadow coronavirus task force appears to be violating both the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) by using private email accounts with no assurance their communications are being preserved and by meeting in secret, according to a letter sent today by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). The failure of the White House to comply with any of the PRA and FACA requirements leaves the public in the dark about the work the shadow task force has done and the influence of private industries on the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Kushner’s task force, composed of a team of allies from within the government and representatives from private industries, has operated adjacent to the official government task force spearheaded by Vice President Pence. With confusion over the shadow task force’s role and who its members are, and reports that the members of the shadow task force communicate using private email accounts, CREW has reason to believe the White House is not creating and maintaining accurate and complete records of the shadow task force’s activities as required by the PRA.
- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said Monday that the White House coronavirus task force aggressively lobbied President Trump to extend social distancing guidelines another month as the U.S. grapples with the fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We felt that if we prematurely pulled back, we would only form an acceleration or rebound of something, which would put you behind where you were before, and that’s a reason why we argued strongly with the president that he not withdraw those guidelines,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
- President Trump on Monday lashed out at House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for criticizing his response to the coronavirus pandemic, calling her a “sick puppy.” “It’s a sad thing,” Trump said during a call-in interview on “Fox & Friends” Monday morning after he was asked to respond to Pelosi’s criticism a day prior. “She’s a sick puppy in my opinion. She’s got a lot of problems.”
- In an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Trump referenced proposals from Democrats in the coronavirus stimulus negotiations that would have vastly increased funding for absentee and vote-by-mail options. The final package included $400 million for the effort, which was far less than what Democrats had sought.
“The things they had in there were crazy,” Trump said. “They had things — levels of voting that, if you ever agreed to it, you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”
- FEMA is sending refrigerated trucks to New York City to serve as temporary morgues as the death toll from the coronavirus grows. There is a “desperate need” for morgue space in Queens in particular, FEMA regional administrator Thomas Von Essen said Monday. The borough has the most coronavirus cases in the city, and Elmhurst hospital has been swamped with gravely ill patients.
- President Donald Trump used Monday’s White House daily briefing on coronavirus to again parade out private company executives — including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who used the platform to praise Trump and tell Americans amid a global pandemic to “read our Bibles.”
“God gave us grace on Nov. 8, 2016, to change the course we were on,” Lindell said, referring to the day Trump was elected. “God had been taken out of our schools and lives. A nation had turned its back on God.”
- President Trump told governors on a conference call on Monday that he had not “heard about testing in weeks,” suggesting that a chronic lack of kits to screen people for the coronavirus was no longer a problem.
But governors painted a different picture on the ground. For example, Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana, said that officials in his state were trying to do “contact tracing” — tracking down people who have come into contact with those who have tested positive — but that they were struggling because “we don’t have adequate tests.”
- “I have some friends that are unbelievably sick,” Trump says. “In one case he’s unconscious. In a coma. And you say, how did that happen.” This is the third time Trump has spoken of this friend, who has not been publicly identified.
For those wondering, Trump has described the friend in a coma as “a little older, and he’s heavy, but he’s tough person,” and as “he’s heavy and he’s not so young.” He hasn’t named the person or said where he lives.
- The Pentagon has ordered military bases and combatant commands to withhold coronavirus case numbers, citing operational security concerns.
- A U.S. Navy hospital ship arrived at New York Harbor on Monday to help relieve local hospitals being overwhelmed by coronavirus patients. The USNS Comfort will treat non-coronavirus patients, freeing up beds so local hospitals can focus on COVID-19.
- The Pentagon is on track to deliver 1,400 ventilators by early May as part of an $84.4 million deal signed over the weekend, according to the Defense Department.
- The Marine Corps is temporarily pausing sending new recruits to its Parris Island, S.C., training installation over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
Other Administration News
- Donald Trump suggested the United States should treat Germany more like an enemy because the two countries were adversaries in World War II as the president again lobbied for closer US-Russian relations.
- Mark Meadows resigned from Congress to officially start work as Trump’s chief of staff.
- The Natural Resources Defense Council plans to sue the Trump administration over a rollback to an Obama-era water law, arguing leaders failed to consider how it would impact endangered species.
The January policy from the Environmental Protection Agency replaces the already-repealed Waters of the United States rule, crafted under President Obama, which expanded the types of waterways protected by federal law.