The Past 24 Hours or So

Read TIme: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • As the death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic in the United States neared 100,000 on Saturday morning, President Trump arrived at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia—his 185th such outing in 247 days
  • President Trump defended his move to go golfing amid the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that the media was making it “sound like a mortal sin” while also targeting former Vice President Joe Biden and former President Obama: “They don’t mention Sleepy Joe’s poor work ethic, or all of the time Obama spent on the golf course.”
  • Foreign athletes from multiple professional sports leagues will be allowed to return to the United States after Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf signed an order on Friday exempting them from any proclamations barring their entry into the US during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Pentagon is actively planning on living with the coronavirus well into 2021, putting Defense Department leaders at risk of angering President Trump as he expresses confidence that the U.S. is containing the disease and aggressively pushes for states to reopen.
  • President Trump threatened to move the Republican Party’s 2020 convention due to North Carolina’s coronavirus restrictions, warning that the party will be forced to find a new location unless the governor can guarantee they will be allowed to “fully occupy” Charlotte’s Spectrum Center.
  • The nation’s leading infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said he is “totally in favor” of reopening the country if it is done appropriately and cautiously: “Now is the time, depending upon where you are or what your situation is, is to begin seriously looking at reopening the economy — reopening the country — to try to get back to some degree of normal.”
  • At least half of the states in the U.S. won’t meet the White House’s deadline for nursing home coronavirus testing, with some states not even attempting to meet the deadline, according to a new report.
  • The White House has announced President Trump is restricting the entry of non-U.S. citizens traveling from Brazil as the Latin American country sees a surge in coronavirus cases.
  • Vice President Pence said the next coronavirus relief bill would need to provide a legal shield for businesses in order for the country to be able to reopen. 

“What we want to do is make it possible if businesses or professional sports reopen and begin to operate consistent with CDC guidelines that they can do that with confidence and that they will have liability protection,” he said. 

“What we don’t want, in the midst of a recovering economy, we don’t want it to be saddled down with thousands of frivolous lawsuits filed all over the country,” he added.

  • Unemployment rates sparked by the coronavirus pandemic could remain in the double digits through the presidential election in November, White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Sunday.
  • While discussing whether the U.S. economy might recover this fall after the coronavirus downturn, Senior White House Economic Adviser Kevin Hassett referred to the American worker as “human capital stock.”

Hassett made the wildly insensitive remark after CNN’s Dana Bash asked whether unemployment numbers would remain in double digits come November.

“Our capital stock hasn’t been destroyed, our human capital stock is ready to get back to work, and so there are lots of reasons to believe that we can get going way faster than we have in previous crises,” Hassett said.

Other Administration News 

  • A US Navy warship has successfully tested a new high-energy laser weapon that can destroy aircraft and drones mid-flight, the US Navy says.
  • President Trump spent part of his Memorial Day weekend using his Twitter account to promote personal attacks on Democrats, retweeting posts that took aim at former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’s appearance and another that called former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a “skank,” among others.
  • Taliban attacks on Afghan forces were high in the first three months of the year even with a one-week reduction in violence ahead of the Trump administration signing a withdrawal deal with the insurgents, a U.S. government watchdog revealed.
  • GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger called on President Trump to stop promoting “the completely unfounded conspiracy” theory regarding the death of an intern for MSNBC “Morning Joe” anchor and former Florida lawmaker Joe Scarborough.

“Just stop,” Kinzinger said. “Stop spreading it, stop creating paranoia. It will destroy us.”

  • President Trump marked Memorial Day, laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery before delivering remarks at Fort McHenry in Baltimore.

First lady Melania Trump, Vice President Pence, second lady Karen Pence and Defense Secretary Mark Esper joined the president for the wreath-laying ceremony.

  • Trump escalated an ongoing feud with Jeff Sessions, a former Republican senator from Alabama who as attorney general recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

Trump said in an interview, “Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general,” said during the “Full Measure” interview, which aired on Sunday morning. “He’s not mentally qualified to be attorney general. He was the biggest problem.”

  • Saturday evening, Trump lashed out at Sessions on Twitter, accusing the GOP Alabama Senate candidate of ‘ruining lives’ when he decided to recuse himself from the Department of Justice’s Russia probe.

The tweet from Trump slamming Sessions is the latest installment in a back-and-forth between the two over Memorial Day Weekend.

“Jeff, you had your chance & you blew it. Recused yourself ON DAY ONE (you never told me of a problem), and ran for the hills. You had no courage, & ruined many lives,” Trump shared, retweeting Sessions’s earlier rebuke.

“The dirty cops, & others, got caught by better & stronger people than you. Hopefully this slime will pay a big price. You should drop out of the race & pray that super liberal @DougJones, a weak & pathetic puppet for Crazy Nancy Pelosi & Cryin’ Chuck Schumer, gets beaten badly. He voted for impeachment based on “ZERO”. Disgraced Alabama. Coach @TTuberville will be a GREAT Senator!” Trump continued.

  • A federal judge threw out a lawsuit attempting to reinstate a moratorium on leasing federal land to coal producers.

The administration first attempted to end an Obama-era ban on new coal leasing on public lands in 2017, although Judge Brian Morris ruled last year that the Trump administration did not take the required steps to comply with environmental laws.

Morris ruled Friday that the administration has since “remedied the violation” after completing an assessment this year which found no significant impacts of resuming coal leases.

Sources:  ABC News, Axios, CBS News, CNN, Financial Times, Fox News,The Hill, NBC News, NPR, NY Times, Politico, Reuters, Salon, Slate, Vanity Fair, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

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