The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said that he doesn’t think that the $600-per-week boost to unemployment benefits will be extended in subsequent coronavirus relief legislation, suggesting that a future package would instead include alternatives to encourage people to go back to work.
  • The Supreme Court said it will not block a federal judge’s order requiring a prison suffering from a coronavirus outbreak to begin moving at-risk inmates from the facility.

The court denied the Trump administration’s request for a stay of the order, but left open the possibility that the government could appeal again further along in the court proceedings.

  • Vice President Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, returned to work on Tuesday, just more than two weeks after testing positive for the novel coronavirus. Miller said on Twitter that she had tested negative three times for COVID-19.
  • Scott Gottlieb, President Trump’s former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, pointed to the reopening of the economy as a link to an uptick in coronavirus hospitalizations.

“We now see a trend and an uptick in hospitalizations,” Gottlieb said in an appearance on CNBC. “It’s a small uptick, but it is an uptick and it’s unmistakable, and it is probably a result of reopening.”

Experts say they expect increases in cases and hospitalizations as stay-at-home orders end and people interact with each other more. The size of those increases is not yet clear.

  • An inside source speaking to Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman says President Trump spent his Memorial Day weekend “in a f*cking rage” over what he sees is his unfair treatment over his response to the coronavirus outbreak. Even as the death toll neared 100,000 and unemployment swelled to over 38 million, Trump still sees himself as the victim, Sherman writes.
  • When President Trump took office in 2017, his team stopped work on new federal regulations that would have forced the healthcare industry to prepare for an airborne infectious disease pandemic such as COVID-19. That decision is documented in federal records reviewed by NPR.

“If that rule had gone into effect, then every hospital, every nursing home would essentially have to have a plan where they made sure they had enough respirators and they were prepared for this sort of pandemic,” said David Michaels, who was head of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration until January 2017.

  • President Trump said the governor of North Carolina must decide within a week whether the GOP can host its full convention in Charlotte as top Republican officials threaten to seek an alternative site otherwise.

Trump and Republican officials have pressured Gov. Roy Cooper (D) in recent days to inform them whether he will allow a full-scale convention to take place in August amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Health experts are growing alarmed after seeing photos and videos of big crowds over Memorial Day weekend. 

People are significantly less likely to get the coronavirus while outside, but the crowds of people in packed bars and pools in Missouri, boardwalks in Virginia and a race track in North Carolina are renewing concerns about whether safety measures to contain the virus are being taken seriously. 

As states lift coronavirus-related restrictions, experts are warning that people are still at risk of catching COVID-19.

Other Administration News 

  • Timothy Klausutis, the husband of a woman who died while working for former Rep. Joe Scarborough has asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to remove tweets posted by President Trump that suggest her death was a part of a conspiracy theory involving the MSNBC “Morning Joe” host.

In his letter to Dorsey, which was obtained by The New York Times, told the Twitter founder that his “wife deserves better.”

“These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage.”

Twitter said that while it is sorry about the statements and the attention they are drawing, it would not be removing the tweets.

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended President Trump’s promotion of the conspiracy theory about the 2001 death of a woman who worked for then-Rep. Joe Scarborough.

McEnany argued that the theory recently amplified by the president was not “an original Trump thought” and that reporters should direct their questions about the matter to Scarborough.

McEnany faced a barrage of questions during Tuesday’s briefing about Trump’s tweets promoting an unsubstantiated theory alleging Scarborough was at fault in the death of Lori Klausutis.

McEnany said Trump hadn’t seen a letter from Klausutis’ husband that accused the president of promoting “horrifying lies.”

  • President Trump dismissed the letter saying he believed the deceased aide’s family wanted to “get to the bottom” of her death.

“I’m sure that, ultimately, they want to get to the bottom of it, and it’s a very serious situation,” Trump told reporters Tuesday after saying he had read the letter written by Lori Klausutis’ widower.

  • The Pentagon’s former top watchdog, whom President Trump replaced last month, has resigned from the inspector general’s office, officials announced on Tuesday.

Glenn Fine submitted his resignation Tuesday morning as the Pentagon’s principal deputy inspector general, saying in a statement that he believes “the time has come for me to step down and allow others to perform this vital role”

  • President Trump is “displeased” with the Chinese government’s latest attempt to crack down on Hong Kong, the White House said Tuesday, adding to tensions between the U.S. and Beijing.

“He’s displeased with China’s efforts and that it’s hard to see how Hong Kong can remain a financial hub if China takes over,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters, relaying a message she said came from the president.

  • Most seniors on Medicare plans will pay no more than $35 for a month’s worth of insulin under a new agreement reached by insurers, drug manufacturers and the Trump administration. 

More than 1,750 Medicare Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans will cap the cost of insulin copays at $35, saving enrollees an average of $446 per year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

  • In a win to environmentalists and conservationists, a federal court has ruled that 440 oil and gas leases on public land sold by the Trump administration are invalid because officials did not properly follow rules that set aside land for a threatened bird species.

“It confirms that the Trump administration violated the law in bulldozing those commitments in its haste to sell off lands that are owned by all Americans to the oil and gas industry,” Earthjustice attorney Michael Freeman said.

The government will have to return millions of dollars for oil and gas contracts spread over some 336,000 acres.

  • President Trump railed against mail-in voting in California on Tuesday and claimed the general election would be “rigged” if Gov. Gavin Newsom mailed absentee ballots to every voter in the state.

In a series of Tweets, Trump wrote: “There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed. The Governor of California is sending Ballots to millions of people, anyone… in the state, no matter who they are or how they got there, will get one. That will be followed up with professionals telling all of these people, many of whom have never even thought of voting before, how, and for whom, to vote. This will be a Rigged Election. No way!”

  • Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said that “a lot of states” have offered to host the party’s convention in August after President Trump threatened to move it from North Carolina.
  • The Treasury Department and IRS have released new finalized rule changes under which certain tax-exempt groups, such as the NRA and ACLU, will no longer be required to provide the names and addresses of major donors on annual returns filed with the IRS, a move backed by Republicans but which Democrats worry raises the potential for so-called “dark money” from foreign countries to influence elections.
  • Twitter placed warnings on two posts from President Trump earlier in the day in which he railed against mail-in voting in California, claiming without evidence that the practice is full of fraud.
  • President Trump accused Twitter of “stifling FREE SPEECH” and interfering in the 2020 election by fact-checking one of his tweets on the issue of voting by mail.

The president Tweeted: “@Twitter is now interfering in the 2020 Presidential Election. They are saying my statement on Mail-In Ballots, which will lead to massive corruption and fraud, is incorrect, based on fact-checking by Fake News CNN and the Amazon Washington Post,”  the president tweeted Tuesday evening. “Twitter is completely stifling FREE SPEECH, and I, as President, will not allow it to happen!”

  • Former House staffers to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are being asked to sign a letter offering him support after a “smear campaign” that he and his wife asked staffers to carry out trivial tasks such as bringing him lunch or getting his dry cleaning.

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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