The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 6 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • President Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar reportedly suggested that the social habits and living conditions of workers at meatpacking plants were the reason for recent outbreaks at processing facilities, apparently implying the way they live at home led to their illness more than a lack of safety measures at plants.

“I find those remarks to be reprehensible, nothing short of racism,” said Rep. García. “It seeks to blame the victims of the tough working conditions, dangerous working conditions, that people in the meatpacking industry endure.”

  • NIH Director Francis Collins testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions and said the quick Abbott testing systems have a 15 percent “false negative rate,” meaning about 15 percent of patients who are positive for Covid-19 would falsely be told they are negative.
  • Within minutes of the CDC announcing its updated mask recommendations last month, the president said, “I don’t think that I’m going to be doing it.”

Trump has told advisers that he believes wearing one would “send the wrong message,” according to one administration and two campaign officials not authorized to publicly discuss private conversations.

The president said doing so would make it seem like he is preoccupied with health instead of focused on reopening the nation’s economy — which his aides believe is the key to his reelection chances in November.

  • A member of the US Navy who serves as one of President Donald Trump’s personal valets has tested positive for coronavirus, raising concerns about the President’s possible exposure to the virus.

The valets are members of an elite military unit dedicated to the White House and often work very close to the President and first family. Trump was upset when he was informed that the valet had tested positive and the President was subsequently tested again by the White House physician.

  • The Trump administration shelved a document created by the nation’s top disease investigators with step-by-step advice to local authorities on how and when to reopen restaurants and other public places during the still-raging coronavirus outbreak.

The 17-page report by a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention team, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help faith leaders, business owners, educators and state and local officials as they begin to reopen.

It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” according to a CDC official.

  • President Trump will be tested for coronavirus on a daily basis after a military member who serves as the president’s valet tested positive.

“So, we test once a week. Now we’re going to go testing once a day,” Trump said during an Oval Office meeting with the governor of Texas on Thursday. “But even when you test once a day, somebody could — something happens where they catch something.”

The president said the daily testing regimen would apply to the vice president and certain high-level White House officials as well.

  • President Trump spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to commemorate the 1945 Allied victory over Nazi Germany and discuss efforts to combat the novel coronavirus.

Trump said he was prepared to assist Russia in combating COVID-19, according to White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere, an offer the president has extended to other countries.

Trump later told reporters in the Oval Office that he offered to send ventilators to Russia to help the country treat patients with the coronavirus.

Other Administration News 

  • The U.S. is removing Patriot anti-missile systems from Saudi Arabia and is considering reductions to other military capabilities—marking the end, for now, of a large-scale military buildup to counter Iran.
  • The Department of Justice released a copy of a memo outlining the scope of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and the potentially criminal activity Mueller was authorized to examine. The memo, authored by then-deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, was sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham at his request.

In the Aug. 2, 2017 memo, titled “The Scope of Investigation and Definition of Authority,” Rosenstein said the order authorized Mueller to conduct an investigation into “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump” as well as “any matters that arose or may arise directly from that investigation.”

The memo then laid out a “more specific description” of Mueller’s authority and lists specific allegations that were deemed to be within the scope of his mandate.

The newly unredacted bullet points show Rosenstein expressly approved of Mueller and his team investigating whether Carter Page committed any crimes by “colluding with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.” Rosenstein also approved probes into allegations against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, and former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

A fifth bullet point remains redacted, indicating that it likely referred to someone who was never charged in the investigation.

  • The Justice Department is dropping the criminal case against ex-Trump adviser Michael Flynn, according to court filing obtained by AP.  
  • The Senate on Thursday failed to override President Trump’s veto of a resolution seeking to rein in his ability to take military action against Iran.

Senators voted 49-44, falling short of the two-thirds support necessary to nix Trump’s veto and send the effort to the House.

The Senate vote comes less than a day after Trump vetoed the resolution, marking the seventh time he has used his veto pen since entering office in 2017.

  • The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to shield redacted grand jury materials related to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe from the Democratic-led House.

The 37-page request, filed by the Justice Department, asks the justices to temporarily block the release of transcripts and other documents that Democratic lawmakers initially requested as part of the House impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

  • President Trump’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, was mocked on social media for comparing the campaign to the Death Star, a space station with a galactic weapon constructed by the Empire that gets blown up in two “Star Wars” films.

Parscale Tweeted: “For nearly three years we have been building a juggernaut campaign (Death Star). It is firing on all cylinders. Data, Digital, TV, Political, Surrogates, Coalitions, etc. In a few days we start pressing FIRE for the first time.”

  • The House Intelligence Committee released the transcripts related to the GOP-led investigation by the panel into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

The committee released 57 transcript interviews from 2017-2018 that reveal what was said behind closed doors as lawmakers sought to determine whether members of the Trump campaign and Russia coordinated to tip the scales of the election. While the committee has already released a report on its findings from the investigation, the transcripts have since been tied up in a classification review.

  • President Trump is sending a White House ally to the Pentagon to vet officials’ loyalty to him. 

Michael Cutrone, who has served as Vice President Pence’s top national security aide for South Asia, is expected to serve in a behind-the-scenes role in the Pentagon to measure how loyal other officials are to Trump, two current administration officials told the Foreign Policy.

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

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