The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • Anthony Fauci said there is no evidence that shows the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine is effective at treating COVID-19. The sharp rebuke puts the nation’s top infectious disease doctor at odds with President Trump, who has embraced the drug as a “game changer” and a “miracle.”

Fauci said evidence also shows the likelihood that the drug can cause severe irregular heart rhythms.

  • Fauci said that a second wave of coronavirus infections is “not inevitable” if people are vigilant about proper mitigation efforts.
  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is vowing that she will make public schools share their federal coronavirus relief funds with private schools as they face financial ruin.
  • More than 100,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus, a staggering wave of death that has brought the world’s largest economy to its knees as the federal government struggles even now to mount a concerted, nationwide response.
  • A dire new report from the Federal Reserve found that economic activity across the United States dropped “sharply” in May, leaving businesses large and small “highly uncertain” about their futures and “pessimistic about the potential pace of recovery” as the coronavirus pandemic continues to send shockwaves through American industries.
  • A study of dozens of COVID-19 patients in China found that those who were asymptomatic were contagious for shorter periods of time than symptomatic patients.
  • A group of Republican senators is asking the Trump administration not to restrict temporary work-based visas amid the coronavirus pandemic. Some conservative lawmakers have called for the suspension of work visas amid widespread unemployment, but other Republicans warn: “The temporary and seasonal nature of the work, it is exceedingly difficult to find American workers, even now, who wish to work only on a temporary basis.”
  • Concerns about the ongoing coronavirus pandemic have led U.S. officials to accelerate the drawdown of troops in Afghanistan ahead of a deadline agreed upon by the U.S. and the Taliban earlier this year.

Reuters reported that a U.S. plan to reduce the number of troops in the country to around 8,600 by mid-July will now be completed in June, due mostly to concerns about spreading the virus among U.S. service members.

Other Administration News 

  • The Justice Department said that it opposes House-proposed changes to surveillance reform legislation and will urge President Trump to veto the bill if it reaches his desk. The threat is a marked shift from March when Attorney General Bill Barr helped negotiate the initial version of the bill with House leadership.
  • President Trump yet again raised a conspiracy theory about the death of an aide to former Rep. Joe Scarborough, despite a barrage of criticism about his earlier tweets from lawmakers, the media and the widower of the woman who died.

Trump tweeted about Scarborough minutes before today’s showing of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” concluded, underscoring how the topic is on his mind, and on his refusal to back down on the subject in the face of criticism. 

“Psycho Joe Scarborough is rattled, not only by his bad ratings but all of the things and facts that are coming out on the internet about opening a Cold Case,” the president tweeted. “He knows what is happening!”

  • President Trump on Wednesday morning ratcheted up his feud with social media platforms, threatening to “close them down” one day after Twitter fact-checked a pair of the president’s tweets on mail-in voting: “Republicans feel that Social Media Platforms totally silence conservatives voices. We will strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.”
  • A coalition of 23 states have sued the Trump administration over its rollback of a key Obama-era climate measure that required automakers to meet ambitious fuel efficiency standards. The new Trump standards are considered particularly vulnerable in court because they cost consumers some $13 billion more than they would save.
  • President Trump’s press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who has defended President Trump’s attacks on mail-in voting, has voted by mail 11 times since 2010. The information on her voting record comes as Trump has alleged mail-in voting leads to widespread fraud.
  • On the flight back from Florida, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters on Air Force One that Trump plans to sign an executive order aimed at social media companies. White House says the executive order will be signed Thursday.
  • In a related story, a federal appeals court is rejecting claims that tech companies like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Apple have conspired to suppress conservative viewpoints on their platforms.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit that was filed by the conservative legal organization Freedom Watch and far-right activist Laura Loomer. Freedom Watch and Loomer alleged that the Silicon Valley giants were coordinating together to silence conservative viewpoints and that they were violating the First Amendment and antitrust policies.

  • President Trump is threatening to veto legislation reauthorizing expired government surveillance tools if it passes in the House, citing “massive abuse” of the government powers in the Russia investigation. Trump and conservatives have continued to allege wrongdoing by Obama officials in the wiretapping former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page as part of the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference.
  • President Trump says he asked the Justice Department and FBI to expedite an investigation into the death of George Floyd, who was killed in custody of Minneapolis police earlier this week.

“I have asked for this investigation to be expedited and greatly appreciate all of the work done by local law enforcement. My heart goes out to George’s family and friends. Justice will be served!”

  • The Trump administration is preparing to end the last remaining sanctions waivers enshrined in the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal, which President Trump has been working to withdraw from since 2018.
  • Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify next week as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s probe into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation, Sen. Lindsey Graham announced on Wednesday.

The hearing, scheduled for June 3, marks the first public hearing Graham will hold as part of his deep dive into “Crossfire Hurricane,” the name for the investigation into Russia’s 2016 election interference and the Trump campaign.

  • The Trump administration is making it easier for renewable energy projects to take advantage of certain tax credits amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service issued a notice Wednesday that said it would give some companies that started construction in 2016 or 2017 an extra year before they have to put their projects in service.

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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