Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News
- Fourteen municipal governments — from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Wildwood, New Jersey — want Trump’s campaign committee to clear a combined $1.82 million worth of public safety-related debt connected to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign rallies, according to interviews with local officials and municipal records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, whose city wants the Trump campaign to pay nearly $543,000 stemming from an Oct. 10 rally. “During this crisis, that loss is even more pronounced. $150,000, for instance, could pay for emergency rental assistance for 100 Minneapolis families,” Frey told Public Integrity.
- Demand for Azithromycin tablets — better known by its brand name Z-Pack — is soaring after President Trump promoted it as a treatment for the coronavirus and as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise in the U.S. There is little evidence, however, that it works to treat the virus, and now those who use the drug to treat STDs are finding themselves struggling to fill their prescriptions.
- Ivanka Trump traveled with her family from Washington to Bedminster, NJ, last week to celebrate Passover, a White House official said Thursday.
Trump’s decision to leave Washington, first reported by The New York Times, disregarded the federal coronavirus guidelines advising against discretionary travel that she has urged other Americans to follow.
“Ivanka — with her immediate family — celebrated Passover at a closed down facility considered to be a family home. Her travel was no different than had she been traveling to/from work and the location was less populated than the surrounding area near her home in D.C.,” the official told CNN in a statement Thursday. The official continued, “While at Bedminster she has been practicing social distancing and working remotely. Her travel was not commercial. She chose to spend a holiday in private with her family.”
- Americans filed 5.2 million jobless claims last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, pushing the four-week total to over 22 million as the coronavirus pandemic continued to send the workforce into a tailspin.
This week’s report is the first to record claims by self-employed workers, who were made temporarily eligible for jobless benefits under Congress’s $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package. Many, however, were still waiting this week to have their claims processed as state unemployment offices struggled to update their systems
- Senator Mitt Romney is the only Republican senator not on a congressional task force created by the White House to study reopening parts of the country shuttered by the coronavirus. A list released by the White House on Thursday afternoon of the “Opening Up America Again Congressional Group” included nearly 70 senators, including all 52 of Romney’s GOP colleagues in the chamber.
- The Trump administration has awarded a $55 million contract for N95 masks to a company with no experience producing medical supplies and whose parent company filed for bankruptcy protection last year.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency reports that the company, Panthera, is scheduled to deliver the masks on April 23.
- The Kremlin says Russia will gratefully accept U.S. President Donald Trump’s offer to provide ventilators for coronavirus patients.
Trump said the U.S. was ready to send ventilators to Russia, saying “they’re having a hard time in Moscow. We’re going to help them.” He added the U.S. also stands ready to provide ventilators to other countries, including Italy, Spain and France.
NOTE: Less than a month ago, President Trump put the onus on governors to obtain the critical equipment their states need to fight the coronavirus pandemic, telling reporters that the federal government is “not a shipping clerk” for the potentially life-saving supplies.
- The Department of Justice is giving a temporary pass to companies that are required to make penalty payments to the federal government, citing the financial strain of the coronavirus.
The new policy, which extends until at least June 1, affects firms that are required to pay civil penalties after entering into a legal settlement with the federal government.
- President Trump told Republican and Democratic senators Thursday that he would be open to attaching $100 billion for hospitals and $150 billion for state and local budgets requested by Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer and Speaker Nancy Pelosi to new money for the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, according to Sen. Roy Blunt, who participated in the call.
- Citing a statement by the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists urging it to do so, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that it would begin including “probable” cases of the coronavirus in its count of cases in the U.S.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue stressed that the nation’s food supply chain is safe and resilient, adding, however, that processing has dropped amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Well, the good news is, I think, we’re safe. We’re sound. The food supply chain is resilient. Are we processing as much as we did? No, but we don’t have the demand from institutional settings like restaurants and other congregate feeding that we had as well, so the demand is down from that side, but the supply is down somewhat but adequate for our people at grocery stores and retail establishments,” Perdue told Fox Business’s Maria Bartiromo.
- The initial $349 billion pool for emergency loans for small businesses derailed by the coronavirus pandemic has run dry as Republicans and Democrats squabble over how to replenish the relief program.
- In a sharp departure from the president’s claims Monday of total authority over the nation’s governors, Trump outlined new federal guidelines for states, dubbed “Opening Up America Again,” saying they would “allow governors to take a phased and deliberate approach to re-opening their individual states.”
“Governors will be empowered to tailor [an] approach that meets the diverse circumstances of their own states,” Trump said Thursday. “Every state is very different. They’re all beautiful. We love ’em all. But they’re very, very different.”
- As President Donald Trump laid out new federal guidelines for states and stressed their authority, he stopped short of condemning protesters who challenge it.
“I think they’re listening, I think they listen to me,” when asked if they should listen to local authorities. “They seem to be protesters that like me and respect this opinion, and my opinion is the same as just about all of the governors,” Trump said.
- Regarding the return of sports, President Trump said, “Many of them are going to be starting without the fans so it’ll be made for television. The good old days, made for television. And it’ll go that way and then fans will start coming in, maybe they’ll be separated by two seats. And then ultimately, we want to have packed arenas. When the virus is gone, we’re going to have packed arenas, and we’re going to be back to enjoying sports the way they’re supposed to be.”
- President Donald Trump defended a sharp drop in commercial laboratory coronavirus testing as a positive development Thursday despite public health experts’ warnings that the U.S. needs millions of additional tests each week to safely reopen the country.
- The emergency relief CARES act that Congress passed and President Trump signed in late March will end up costing the government $1.76 trillion, according to a preliminary estimate from the Congressional Budget Office. That figure is significantly below the $2.2 trillion price tag that had been calculated for the bill until this point.
- Several world leaders have rebuked Donald Trump for his decision to stop funding the World Health Organization, telling the president that multilateral cooperation is essential to fight the coronavirus pandemic.
- U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson said Thursday that funds should be designated to assist mortgage companies with higher risks of failure, citing predictions of millions of missed payments by homeowners.
“Obviously, we want there to be money to help the servicers of these mortgages because some of them don’t have deep pockets,” Carson said in an interview with Fox News.
- Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Mark Calabria is rebuffing requests by bankers and affordable housing advocates for the administration to tap Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the state-controlled mortgage finance companies with a $200 billion line of credit to the Treasury, for a mortgage industry bailout
Other Administration News
- The Environmental Protection Agency finalized a decision that critics say threatens regulations designed to limit pollution from power plants.
The finalized rule doesn’t roll back the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. Instead, it undermines the rule by preventing the agency from weighing certain “co-benefits” in its justification for the standards.
- The Navy on Thursday identified the USS Theodore Roosevelt sailor who died from the coronavirus as a 41-year-old Chief Petty Officer Charles Robert Thacker Jr., of Fort Smith, AK.
- Secretary of Defense Mark Esper on Thursday said that he has “an open mind” to the possibility of reinstating the fired commander of the Navy’s USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier.
The ship’s former commanding officer, Capt. Brett Crozier, was fired on April 2 after he warned in a letter of potentially dire consequences if most of the 4,800 crew members weren’t evacuated from the vessel, where the coronavirus was rapidly spreading.
- An email containing a now-famous memo from the captain of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier was sent to fewer people than the Navy said it was when officials justified firing him. The email from Capt. Brett Crozier was sent to three admirals and copied to seven other captains, contradicting former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s assertion it was sent to “20 or 30” people.
- The first U.S. service member to test positive for the coronavirus has been declared virus-free after seven weeks of isolation, U.S. Forces Korea said Thursday.
The 23-year-old male soldier was cleared to leave isolation after being asymptomatic for more than a week, being fever-free without using medicine, testing negative for the virus on two tests taken 24 hours apart.
- President Trump’s ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, after serving less than a year in prison, will be released to finish his three-year sentence in home confinement due to coronavirus concerns.
- A proposed order that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai issued Thursday would approve long-pending applications from a Virginia satellite company called Ligado, formerly known as LightSquared. The company wants to offer 5G service on airwaves it already holds, a step that wireless industry officials and some public interest advocates say could speed the path toward next-generation technologies like smart homes, self-driving cars and telemedicine.
But skeptics including the Pentagon scoff at Ligado’s plans, contending that they would cause severe interference with GPS signals that are critical for the military. Some defense hawks on Capitol Hill are so alarmed they’re asking President Donald Trump to intervene.
- The health department’s refugee office is pushing to implement immigration policies favored by White House senior adviser Stephen Miller, according to four health department officials and internal documents reviewed by POLITICO.
The office — which takes custody of thousands of migrant children — is now seeking to delay placing migrant children in shelters operated by the health department, which would instead leave those children in the custody of the Border Patrol for an extended length of time.