Your Daily Dose of Trump and His Administration News
- During an Earth Day ceremony where the president and first lady planted a tree, President Trump announced his administration “will begin to reopen our national parks and public lands for the American people to enjoy” after they were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“You have a lot of land to open up, too. People are going to be very happy,” Trump said.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs is spending almost $75,000 on masks with MyPillow, run by Trump friend Mike Lindell, according to a recent purchase order on USASpending.gov. Lindell said that the order has not been filled yet because the company has yet to find a subcontractor to actually make the masks, since the VA wants KN95 and disposable masks and MyPillow only makes cloth masks. Asked if MyPillow is going to profit off the order, Lindell said, “We’re not making one dime of profit.”
- President Trump nearly fired Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases after she said in February that the agency was preparing for a pandemic, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses,”, said on Feb. 25.
According to the Journal, Trump was angry with Messonnier after her statement resulted in a dip in the stock market. The same day, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the virus was “contained” in the U.S.
The next day Trump repeatedly said he did not think an outbreak was “inevitable” and appointed Vice President Pence as the head of the administration’s coronavirus task force.
- George Gianforcaro, a supplier of medical equipment, is disputing the legality of what he said were federal seizures of hundreds of thousands of N95 respirators.
The owner of the small, Newark, Delaware-based Indutex USA, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not pay him when it took possession of two imported shipments of masks bound for customers across the United States.
Those customers included Delaware nursing facilities, the state of Michigan and boat captains who steer foreign ships through U.S. bays.
He said he does not know where the seized N95 masks are today, or whether they have been distributed to medical facilities or others.
- White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in an interview with The Washington Post on Wednesday that President Trump will “move swiftly” to expand the use of the Defense Production Act for development of medical supplies.
Navarro told the Post that the act could be helpful in incentivizing private companies to increase their supply lines and mass produce the necessary equipment to respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
- The Trump administration will launch a review of the management structure of the World Health Organization amid criticism of its handling of the coronavirus outbreak, the head of a U.S. agency said Wednesday.
John Barsa, head of the United States Agency for International Development, said at a press conference that the Trump administration is interested in answering whether the WHO is “running it the way it should be run.”
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced Wednesday that enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has increased 40 percent since last month. The increase coincides with record numbers of applications for unemployment since the start of the coronavirus pandemic
- Dr. Rick Bright, the doctor who led the federal agency involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine, said on Wednesday that he was removed from his post after he pressed for rigorous vetting of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug embraced by President Trump as a coronavirus treatment, and that the administration has put “politics and cronyism ahead of science.”
Dr. Bright was abruptly dismissed this week as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, and removed as the deputy assistant secretary for preparedness and response. He was given a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health.
From his complaint: “This Administration….pressured me and other conscientious scientists to fund companies with political connections as well as [COVID-19] efforts that lack scientific merit.”
- President Trump on Wednesday expressed confidence that the coronavirus will not hit the U.S. with the same severity if it returns in the fall, suggesting that the disease that has killed tens of thousands of Americans “may not come back at all.” Pressed by a reporter a few minutes later, Trump denied saying it won’t come back at all, saying: “I didn’t say it’s not. I said if it does it’s not going to come back at anything near what we went through.”
- President Trump today said he informed Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp that he “strongly” disagreed with his decision to begin reopening parts of the state as soon as Friday.
“But at the same time, he must do what he thinks is right,” Trump added. “I want him to do what he thinks is right. But I disagree with him on what he’s doing.”
- President Trump has officially signed an executive order limiting immigration that is expected to temporarily suspend the issuance of new green cards, a move he says will protect American jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.
- President Trump said that the US “had no choice” but to pour trillions of dollars into fighting the coronavirus pandemic and its steep economic toll — as Republican lawmakers raise concerns over its impact on the national debt.
“Nobody’s ever seen anything like this,” Trump told reporters Wednesday.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield tried to temper remarks he made about the threat of a second wave of the novel coronavirus.
“I didn’t say that this was going to be worse. I said it was going to be more difficult and potentially more complicated because we would have flu and coronavirus circulating at the same time,” Redfield said at the top of a White House briefing Wednesday evening.
The CDC director’s comments came hours after President Trump complained about a Washington Post report from Tuesday that included the top health official’s remarks. Trump at the start of the briefing eviscerated the Post, calling the article “fake news” and the headline inaccurate.
Redfield acknowledged that his comments to the Post published Tuesday were quoted accurately, but he and Trump took issue with the news outlet’s headline, which characterized Redfield as warning that a “second wave of coronavirus is likely to be even more devastating.”
- Ivanka Trump on Wednesday defended the rights of protesters to gather in defiance of stay-at-home measures imposed by some states to fight the coronavirus pandemic, but encouraged demonstrators to practice social distancing and wear masks.
“Peaceful protest & freedom of assembly are beautiful American traditions that should always be protected,” the president’s oldest daughter and senior adviser tweeted. “If you choose to exercise your 1st Amendment rights, please practice social distancing & wear a face covering,” she added. “We can protect our rights & our health at the same time.”
- White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow on Wednesday said that businesses should not be held responsible for employees or customers getting sick as governors move to reopen state economies.
Other Administration News
- The President Tweeted: “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
Last week, the US Navy released a video that it says shows Iranian naval vessels repeatedly conducting “dangerous and harassing approaches” toward US Navy warships in the North Arabian Sea and claimed that one Iranian vessel came within 10 yards of colliding with a US ship.
It’s unclear if Trump’s tweet amounts to a standing order, and whether Central Command, which oversees operations in the Middle East, would fire upon an Iranian boat.
- The Trump administration has awarded a huge contract to Fisher Sand & Gravel of North Dakota, a company the president has repeatedly pushed to build his southern border wall.
“President Trump has personally and repeatedly urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to award a border wall contract to a North Dakota construction firm whose top executive is a GOP donor and frequent guest on Fox News,” The Washington Post reported in May of 2019..
The company received a $400 million contract. That contract is now being investigated by the Pentagon’s inspector general.
Even as it’s under investigation by the Defense Department inspector general. Specifically, Fisher on April 15 got $7,633,085 to build a mere ‘800 linear feet’ of bollard barrier—that slatted design Trump favors—for the wall in Yuma, AZ.
- President Trump announced during the latest press briefing that he will be holding military flyovers by the Thunderbirds and Blue Angels across the country to raise moral in cities hit hard by the coronavirus, and also announced plans for a massive July 4th gathering on the National Mall with a military display, which last year cost $2.5 million.
“On July 4 we’ll be doing what we had at the mall, as you know doing it last year was a tremendous success, I would imagine we’ll do it — hopefully I can use the term forever,” Trump said. “It was a great success.”
- The Trump administration launched an interactive webpage Wednesday streaming footage of the wall being constructed on the southern border between the U.S. and Mexico.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection webpage streams video and drone footage of the construction of the border wall.
- The Trump administration is mulling cutting back on its intelligence ties with countries that criminalize homosexuality in an effort to press those nations to change their laws, according to acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell.
Sources: ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Washington Post