Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News
- The Federal Reserve is continuing its extraordinary efforts to prop up the US economy in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The central bank announced a new $2.3 trillion round of loans that include even more support for small businesses and consumers — and, for the first time, for states, cities and municipalities, too.
The Fed said Thursday that it is creating a Municipal Liquidity Facility with up to $500 billion in loans and $35 billion in credit protection in order to “help state and local governments manage cash flow stresses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.”
- Many drive-through COVID-19 test sites will close as Trump admin ends funding. The loss of testing comes as states expect to see peak hospitalizations in next two weeks.
A FEMA spokesperson framed the withdrawal of funding as allowing states to dictate their own priorities, “The transition will ensure each state has the flexibility and autonomy to manage and operate testing sites within the needs of their specific community and to prioritize resources where they are needed the most.”
- President Trump blamed Amazon for the U.S. Postal Service’s losses. “The Postal Service has lost billions of dollars a year for many years,” Trump said during Tuesday’s coronavirus task force media briefing. “I’ll tell you who’s the demise of the Postal Service…Amazon or these other internet companies.”
NOTE: The Postal Regulatory Commission reviews the Postal Service’s contracts, and they’ve concluded the opposite – that the Postal Service does make money from its shipping contracts.
- Attorney General William Barr claimed that the press is on a “jihad” against President Trump over his promotion of an anti-malaria drug to treat the novel coronavirus.
In an interview with Fox News’s Laura Ingraham, Barr lauded Trump’s response to the outbreak of the virus, saying that the president has been “very statesmanlike” in his efforts to work with governors around the country to address the crisis.
He railed against the media’s coverage of those efforts, arguing that the president has been the target of “snarky, gotcha questions from the White House media pool.”
- Later, Barr suggested that the federal government in May should begin relaxing some of the “draconian” social distancing restrictions imposed throughout the U.S. Barr said, that the U.S. had to be “very careful” to ensure some of the measures being “adopted are fully justified, and there are not alternative ways of protecting people” amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.
“I think, you know, when this — when this period of time is — at the end of April expires, I think we have to allow people to adapt more than we have and not just tell people to go home and hide under the bed, but allow them to use other ways — social distancing and other means — to protect themselves,” he said.
- The Trump administration is laying the foundation to push for a reopening of parts of the U.S. economy as early as the beginning of May amid rising pressure over unemployment numbers rivaling those during the Great Depression.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told CNBC on Thursday that he believes companies could reopen in May as long as Trump “feels comfortable with the medical issues.”
- President Trump shrugged off the need to significantly expand nationwide coronavirus testing capabilities in order to be able to restart the U.S. economy and then keep it open.
“We want to have it and we’re going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes,” Trump said. “We’re talking about 325 million people. And that’s not going to happen, as you can imagine, and it would never happen with anyone else either.”
- President Trump blasted The Wall Street Journal for an editorial criticizing the daily White House press briefings, complaining that the news outlet failed to give proper attention to the number of viewers they attract.
Trump Tweeted: “The Wall Street Journal always “forgets” to mention that the ratings for the White House Press Briefings are “through the roof” (Monday Night Football, Bachelor Finale, according to @nytimes) & is only way for me to escape the Fake News & get my views across. WSJ is Fake News!”
- Senate Democrats are negotiating with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in hopes of reaching a deal to provide an additional $250 billion for a popular small-business emergency lending program and include in the same package more funds for hospitals and state governments.
Bipartisan talks are continuing behind the scenes despite a blowup on the Senate floor Thursday morning in which Republicans and Democrats blocked each other’s proposals to shore up funding shortfalls in the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package.
- Roughly 6.6 million Americans filed new applications for unemployment benefits in the first week of April as the coronavirus pandemic devastates the U.S. economy and forces millions out of work, according to data released Thursday by the Labor Department.
- Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, said he thinks the U.S. death toll from the virus could be much lower than the 100,000 to 200,000 first estimated by the White House.
“I believe we are going to see a downturn in that, and it looks more like the 60,000 [range] than the 100,000 to 200,000,” Fauci said.
- The White House will administer rapid coronavirus tests to members of the press corps attending Thursday’s daily briefing after a journalist in the building on Tuesday started experiencing symptoms.
The added layer of caution comes after a member of the White House press corps began showing symptoms of the coronavirus on Wednesday, one day after they were inside the complex for the daily briefing.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) extended its “no sail order” for all cruise ships indefinitely.
“We are working with the cruise line industry to address the health and safety of crew at sea as well as communities surrounding U.S. cruise ship points of entry,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said in a statement.
Other Administration News
- U.S. Air Force fighter jets intercepted two Russian patrol aircraft near Alaska, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) announced. The U.S. F-22 Raptors “intercepted two Russian IL-38 aircraft entering the Alaskan Air Defense Identification Zone,” NORAD said over multiple posts to Twitter on Thursday.
- A U.S. air base in Afghanistan was struck by several rockets early Thursday in an apparent ISIS attack, defense officials confirmed.
“Five rockets were fired at Bagram airfield early this morning. There were no casualties or injuries,” Operation Resolute Support tweeted.
- Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said he’s confident global oil producers will agree to drop production to address falling prices. OPEC members and other oil-producing countries will gather for a virtual meeting as the coronavirus paired with a trade war between Russia and Saudi Arabia has pushed oil prices to their lowest level in 18 years.
- The Food and Drug Administration has told InfoWars founder Alex Jones to remove various products for sale on his website that falsely claim to cure COVID-19.
The federal agency also lists a variety of federal laws that Jones has violated by selling the products on his website, requesting that the known conspiracy theorist “take immediate action to cease the sale” of these products.
- Multiple Cabinet-level federal agencies on Thursday recommended that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revoke authorizations for China Telecom, a state-owned company, to operate services to and from the U.S.
According to the agencies, China Telecom made inaccurate statements about where it stored its U.S. records, misrepresented its cybersecurity practices and is vulnerable to control by the Chinese Communist Party.