The Past 24 Hours or So

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • The president’s re-election campaign has ordered red, Trump-branded face masks for supporters. Campaign officials have discussed giving away the masks at events or in return for donations.
  • The president encouraged Gretchen Whitmer to negotiate with armed terrorists who occupied the state capitol. Trump Tweeted: “The Governor of Michigan should give a little, and put out the fire. These are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely! See them, talk to them, make a deal.”
  • Vice President Pence’s office has banned Steve Herman, a reporter with Voice of America, from taking future trips with the VP.  Herman Tweeted that the vice president’s office told journalists to wear a face mask during Pence’s trip to the Mayo Clinic this week The vice president did not wear a mask during his visit. 

Herman Tweeted “all of us who traveled with him were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly”

Pence’s office reportedly told Herman that his tweet violated the off-the-record terms of a memo used for planning the trip.

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is being sued by student advocacy organizations for continuing to garnish wages of student borrowers amid the coronavirus pandemic despite provisions against the practice in Congress’s coronavirus relief package. 

Wage garnishment for student borrows allowed the Department of Education to withhold up to 15 percent of wages from those who owe student debt.

  • The Trump administration is fast-tracking authorization of the drug remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19.

The Food and Drug Administration announced the drug will receive an “emergency use authorization” after it showed promising results during a clinical trial.

Early results released this week showed the drug had modest success in reducing the time COVID-19 patients were in the hospital.

  • House Democrats seeking Anthony Fauci’s testimony next week on the coronavirus crisis have been rebuffed by the White House, which is blocking the nation’s top infectious disease expert from appearing before Congress.
  • The No. 2 official at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Anne Schuchat, says that the U.S. was too slow in banning travel from Europe and that the delay in closing the nation’s borders to travel from the continent helped accelerate the coronavirus’ spread.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned local leaders to avoid “leapfrogging” critical milestones in an effort to reopen their economies amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “Obviously you could get away with that, but you’re making a really significant risk,”

Fauci, who has repeatedly cautioned against prematurely easing restrictions, said he already noticed that some states and cities are not adhering to the steps laid out in the White House’s recently issued guidance on reopening — a plan that administration officials say will now replace the expired federal social distancing measures.

“If you follow the guidelines, there’s a continuity that’s safe, that’s prudent and that’s careful,” he said.

But if governors rush to reopen when they aren’t ready, Fauci cautioned that the move would likely only set back the progress their states have made.

  • President Trump on Saturday insisted that there is “tremendous” coronavirus testing capacity for senators returning to Washington, D.C., after Capitol physician Brian Monahan had said earlier in the week that his office did not have capacity to screen all 100 senators.

“There is tremendous CoronaVirus testing capacity in Washington for the Senators returning to Capital (sic) Hill on Monday. Likewise the House, which should return but isn’t because of Crazy Nancy P. The 5 minute Abbott Test will be used. Please inform Dr. Brian P. Monahan,” Trump tweeted, tagging his chief of staff Mark Meadows.

Other Administration News 

  • President Trump issued an executive order declaring a national emergency over threats to the U.S. power system, taking steps to defend the grid against cyberattacks and foreign interference. 

The executive order bans the use of equipment for the power grid that was manufactured by a company under the control of a foreign adversary, or the buying of any equipment that poses a national security threat.

  • “I will never lie to you. You have my word on that,” Kayleigh McEnany said early during her first press briefing as White House press secretary, in response from a question from the Associated Press’s Jill Colvin. The promise lasted for about all of 15 minutes.
  • The U.S. District Appeals Court has denied the Department of Justice’s motion to delay the ruling that it must hand over Mueller’s grand jury information to Congress.

The court gives DOJ until May 11 to seek a stay from the Supreme Court.

  • The White House announced President Trump’s new pick to serve as the Department of Health and Human Services’s inspector general after the president excoriated the official currently serving as the agency’s watchdog.

The White House announced in a press release the nomination of Jason Weida to fill the role at HHS. Weida is currently serving as an assistant U.S. attorney in Boston and previously worked in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy.

  • President Trump announced his nominee to serve as ambassador to Ukraine after the Senate’s impeachment trial thrust the relationship between Washington and Kyiv into the spotlight.

The White House said in a press release Friday that Trump is tapping Keith Dayton, the current director of the George C. Marshall Center in Garmisch, Germany, and the senior U.S. defense adviser to Ukraine.

Sources:  ABC News, CBS News, CNN, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Vanity Fair, Washington Post

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