The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes

Protest News

  • Speaking to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials, President Donald Trump derided the nation’s governors as “weak” and demanded tougher crackdowns on protesters in the aftermath of another night of violent protests in dozens of American cities.

Trump called on them to step up enforcement: “You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you, you’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”

Trump spoke to governors on a video teleconference with law enforcement and national security officials, telling the local leaders they “have to get much tougher” amid nationwide protests and criticizing their responses.

“Most of you are weak,” Trump said. “You have to arrest people.”

  • Attorney General William Barr is reportedly directing the Federal Bureau of Prisons to deploy riot teams to Washington, D.C.and Miami as part of the Trump administration’s response to escalating protests against police brutality in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
  • Secretary of Defense Mark Esper during White House call with governors: “I think the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal.”
  • Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a former congressman and top Democratic National Committee official, said he has not seen any evidence that violence at demonstrations in Minnesota has been linked to antifa as President Trump has claimed, saying: “We don’t see what the president is talking about, I don’t think the president sees what he’s talking about.”
  • Flash bangs could be heard from the Rose Garden as law enforcement officials fired tear gas at demonstrators outside the White House at the same time that President Trump delivered remarks on his response to nationwide protests and violence in the wake of the death of George Floyd. Video from nearby showed officials trying to disperse protesters amid loud bangs as tear gas lingered in the air near the White House.
  • President Trump said he would mobilize “all available federal resources, civilian and military” to clamp down on protests across the country, declaring himself the “president of law and order.” Trump said he was dispatching the military across Washington, D.C., and urged governors nationwide to “dominate” their streets by deploying the National Guard. If they refused, he said, he would send in troops to American cities.
  • Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser condemned the use of tear gas on peaceful protesters outside the White House and called the move “shameful,” saying “federal police used munitions on peaceful protestors in front of the White House, an act that will make the job of @DCPoliceDept officers more difficult.”
  • Just moments after protesters were forcefully removed from the park directly outside the White House by law enforcement who fired tear gas into the crowd, President Trump walked down the street to a historic church that was set on fire by protesters on Sunday. At the church, he posed for a photo and told reporters he was going to keep the building “safe” while also declaring: “Greatest country in the world!”
  •  Rev. Mariann Budde, the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, sharply criticized President Donald Trump for staging a visit to the historic St. John’s Church across from the White House, where he held up a Bible after authorities had cleared the area of peaceful protesters.

“I am outraged,” pausing between words to emphasize her anger as her voice slightly trembled.

She said she had not been given any notice that Trump would be visiting the church, and did not approve of the manner in which the area was secured for his appearance.

“I am the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington and was not given even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.”

  • President Trump was angered by coverage that he was rushed to the underground bunker during protests Friday night and told aides he wanted to be seen outside the White House gates leading in part to his walk to St. John’s today.
  • A U.S. Army Blackhawk helicopter used a “show of force” maneuver on protesters in Washington, D.C. on Monday night. It’s a tactic often conducted by low-flying jets in combat zones to scare away insurgents.
  • Customs and Border Protection have deployed troops in Washington, D.C., officials announced, as President Trump mobilized the military in the capital city to address the protests.

Other Administration News

  • Any push by Trump to readmit Russia to the G7 would be vetoed by the U.K., Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said.
  • Canada is opposed to Russia rejoining the G-7 meeting because Moscow continues to disregard international rules, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters.
  • The Taliban has maintained ties with al Qaeda despite signing an agreement with the United States the Trump administration has touted as a commitment from the insurgents to break from the terror group, according to a United Nations report.
  • Judge Emmet G. Sullivan should not be required to act as a “mere rubber stamp” for the government’s unusual move to undo the guilty plea of President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, the judge’s lawyers told a federal appeals court in Washington on Monday.

Sullivan’s attorneys asked the appeals court to stay on the sidelines to give the judge an opportunity to ensure the “integrity of the judicial process” and to rule on the Justice Department’s request to dismiss Flynn’s case.

  • The Trump administration gutted a key portion of the Clean Water Act, limiting states’ ability to block controversial pipeline projects that cross their waterways. The Trump administration is specifically targeting the section which lets states halt projects that risk hurting their water quality.
  • The Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision granting House Democrats access to redacted grand jury materials from former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe.

The filing serves as the Trump administration’s formal appeal of a March order to hand over secret transcripts and exhibits that Democratic leaders of the House Judiciary Committee initially sought as part of the impeachment inquiry into President Trump.

  • An early morning shooting at Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota has left two active-duty military members dead. The incident is under investigation.
  • In retaliation against President Trump for announcing he would strip Hong Kong of its special status, China has told state-owned firms to stop buying U.S. soybeans and pork, a move that would break a key provision of the phase one trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.


  • Anthony Fauci said his meetings with President Trump have “dramatically decreased” in recent weeks. “We used to have task force meetings every single day, including Saturday and Sunday, and about 75 percent of the time after the task force meeting we’d meet with the president. So I was meeting with him four times a week back, a month or so ago,” Fauci said in an interview with STAT News published Monday.

“But as you probably noticed, that the task force meetings have not occurred as often lately. And certainly my meetings with the president have been dramatically decreased,” he added.

When asked whether the president has frequently discussed work on a coronavirus vaccine with him, Fauci bluntly responded, “No.”

  • Drug company, Eli Lilly, announced that it has administered the first doses of a possible new treatment for coronavirus patients as it begins a phase one clinical trial. The treatment uses an antibody that the body produces to fight coronavirus.
  • The Food and Drug Administration is reporting shortages of Zoloft and the generic version of the antidepressant as demand soars and supply chains for key ingredients are interrupted by the pandemic. Zoloft is commonly prescribed to treat depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental illnesses.
  • Adm. Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health leading the COVID-19 testing efforts, will return to his regular duties in mid-June.

Giroir will return to his regular duties next month after spending the past several weeks working with FEMA to increase COVID-19 testing capacity.

  • According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nearly 26,000 nursing home residents have died from COVID-19, the first public acknowledgement about the scope of the disease in the care facilities.
  • About 15 West Point cadets who returned to campus for graduation, during which President Trump is scheduled to deliver an address, have tested positive for the coronavirus, the Army said.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic will reduce the size of economic output by a combined $7.9 trillion over the next decade in real terms, or 3 percent of cumulative GDP, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office.

The report compared economic and budgetary projections from before the pandemic to the most recent round of projections in May.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 7 Minutes


Administration News 

  • The White House went into lockdown on Friday night as protests over the death of George Floyd raged nearby, according to reporters who said they were in the building at the time. Footage showed one person spray painting “fuck Trump” on the building adjacent to the White House and a large crowd of protesters nearby.
  • White House social media director Dan Scavino said that Twitter was “full of shit” for warning that one of President Trump’s tweets violated the company’s policies by glorifying violence.

“Twitter is targeting the President of the United States 24/7, while turning their heads to protest organizers who are planning, plotting, and communicating their next moves daily on this very platform.”

  • Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe announced that he has declassified the transcripts related to Michael Flynn’s conversations with a Russian diplomat during the presidential transition.

The newly declassified transcripts show that Michael Flynn urged a top Russian diplomat in late 2016 to make a “reciprocal” response to the Obama administration’s sanctions on the Kremlin for its interference in the recently completed presidential race, arguing against escalating matters.

  • President Trump on Friday announced his administration is preparing a slew of changes to the full range of U.S. agreements between the U.S. and Hong Kong, saying the territory no longer appeared autonomous from Beijing.
  • The Trump administration is ramping up efforts to secure land along the U.S.-Mexico border for construction of a wall by increasing the pace at which it brings lawsuits against private landowners, filing 13 such lawsuits in March alone, the highest since Trump took office. Acquisition of private land for Trump border wall construction is a particularly thorny issue in Texas, where a majority of land on the border is privately owned.
  • President Trump is doubling down on his claims that “looting leads to shooting,” as he faces widespread backlash for the comments, but says he’s not inciting any violence: “Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night,” Trump told reporters Friday. “It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters.”
  • Vice President Mike Pence offered prayers for the families of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery, two unarmed black men who were killed in high-profile incidents.

“We have no tolerance for racism in America. We have no tolerance for violence inspired by racism. And as President Trump said, justice will be served. We also believe in law and order in this country. We condemn violence against property or persons.”

  • First lady Melania Trump issued her first public comments on the violent demonstrations surrounding the death of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man who died in Minneapolis policy custody.

Mrs. Trump Tweeted: “Our country allows for peaceful protests, but there is no reason for violence. I’ve seen our citizens unify & take care of one another through COVID19 & we can’t stop now. My deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd. As a nation, let’s focus on peace, prayers & healing.”

  • President Trump early Friday morning lashed out at protesters demonstrating in Minneapolis against the police killing of George Floyd, threatening to send National Guard troops.

“These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen … Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!”

  • Twitter placed a warning on a tweet from the official White House account Friday that mirrored one it has placed on President Trump’s identical tweet threatening military action against protesters, reading “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

The label notes that that the language violated the platform’s policies on “the glorification of violence based on the historical context of the last line, its connection to violence, and the risk it could inspire similar actions today.”

  • President Trump accused Twitter of unfairly targeting him and other Republicans, just hours after the social media giant said his tweet threatening military action against “thugs” protesting in Minnesota violated the company’s policies by glorifying violence.
  • A top Trump official at the Interior Department, Assistant Interior Secretary Douglas Domenech, was found to have violated federal ethics rules by using his government connections to help a family member secure a job at the Environmental Protection Agency, according to an internal government watchdog.
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has rebuffed Donald Trump’s invitation to attend a G7 summit, which the president is keen to portray as a symbol of a return to normality from the upheaval of the coronavirus crisis.
  • AG William Barr announced a federal civil rights investigation into the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police this week.
  • President Trump has vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have overturned new regulations from the Education Department to restrict access to federal student loan forgiveness. The move is a victory for DeVos over veterans groups that said her rules, which rolled back Obama-era regulations, make it harder for veterans to get loans forgiven if they say were cheated by dishonest for-profit colleges.
  • At a White House event, a reporter asked Donald Trump about his concerns regarding border tensions between India and China. The president described a call he had with  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi..

“They have a big conflict going with India and China. Two countries with 1.4 billion people. Two countries with very powerful militaries. And India is not happy, and probably China is not happy. But I can tell you, I did speak to Prime Minister Modi. He’s not — he’s not in a good mood about what’s going on with China.”

Reuters reported that this conversation apparently did not occur in reality.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has not spoken with Trump about the nation’s military standoff with China. A government source said, “There has been no recent contact between PM Modi and President Trump,” a government source said. “The last conversation between them was on April 4, on the subject of hydroxychloroquine.”

A report in The Hindu added officials in India were particularly “taken by surprise” when Trump reflected publicly on Mondi’s “mood,” despite the fact that the two had not spoken.

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • In the midst of a global pandemic, President Trump has announced that the United States is “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organization over its response to the novel coronavirus.
  • Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said that he disagrees with President Trump’s decision to end U.S. membership in the World Health Organization, adding a prominent Republican voice to criticism of the move from health experts and Democrats. 

“I disagree with the president’s decision,” Alexander said in a statement.

“Certainly there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it,” he said.

  • Texas on Thursday recorded 1,855 new coronavirus infections and 39 related deaths, the highest single-day tally for new cases that the state has seen as it continues to reopen its economy.
  • A troop of monkeys attacked a lab technician in India and stole blood samples of patients who tested positive for COVID-19, authorities confirmed on Friday.

According to Reuters, the eccentric attack happened this week after a laboratory technician was walking on the campus of a state-run medical college in Meerut near Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

  • A class-action lawsuit filed Friday accuses the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin of illegally seizing student loan borrowers’ tax refunds even after Congress halted government debt collection during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • More than 11,000 cases of COVID-19 have been tied to plants of the three top U.S. meat processors, Tyson Foods, Smithfield Foods and JBS, according to a new analysis that follows President Trump’s executive order to compel meat processing plants to stay open after coronavirus outbreaks sparked closures and led to shortages at grocery stores and fast-food chains.
  • “Right now, we’re not in the second wave. We’re right in the middle of the first wave globally,” World Health Organization Mike Ryan said. “We’re still very much in a phase where the disease is actually on the way up.”
  • Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel claimed in a new letter to North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper that the GOP can adopt a set of safety protocols to hold a full, in-person convention in Charlotte later this year despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • The Council of Economic Advisers, the internal White House economic team will not release an updated round of economic projections, as the U.S. faces its deepest downturn since the Great Depression. 

CEA will not release the typical midsummer review of its initial economic projections in July or August even as top Trump administration officials publicly predict a swift recovery from the crisis caused by COVID-19. The projections are typically produced jointly by the Office of Management and Budget, CEA and Treasury Department.

  • Over 2.1 million Americans filed new claims for jobless benefits as President Trump and governors push some states to loosen coronavirus-related restrictions, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

In the week ending May 23, a seasonally adjusted 2,123,000 Americans filed initial claims for unemployment benefits. The non-seasonally adjusted number totaled 1,914,958.

Other Administration News 

  • The Trump campaign on Thursday resurfaced a “Game of Thrones”-style meme previously used by the president to knock Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey ahead of an executive order pertaining to social media companies.

The @TeamTrump account shared an image of Trump with the phrase “Fairness Is Coming” and the date. Dorsey’s handle was also tagged in the tweet.

  • Attorney General William Barr has appointed a U.S. attorney to scrutinize episodes of the intelligence practice known as “unmasking” that took place “before and after” the 2016 election as part of the Justice Department’s broader review of the Russia investigation
  • The State Department inspector general fired by President Trump over alleged leaks to the media had been cleared of any wrongdoing earlier this year, long before his dismissal. Reports he was cleared of leaks come after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo cited the issue as cause for his firing.

An investigation by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General found no evidence that Steve Linick or anyone from his office shared information with the media about an inquiry into the State Department that Linick’s office was working on.

  • President Donald Trump’s attempt to punish companies like Twitter, Google and Facebook for alleged anti-conservative bias takes aim at the online industry’s most-cherished legal protections — but the shot could ultimately be a glancing blow.

Trump announced the action Thursday, signing an executive order that he said would “defend free speech from one of the greatest dangers” — tech platforms that have amassed “unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences.”

“My executive order calls for new regulations … to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield,” he said.

  • President Trump declared Twitter should be shut down over alleged anti-conservative bias.

Reporter: “How would you shut down an American company?”

Trump: “I don’t know, I’d have to ask the lawyers..If it were able to be legally shut down, I would do it”

  • The Trump administration is extending the federal deployment of over 40,000 National Guard troops aiding coronavirus relief efforts, reversing plans for an earlier cutoff following bipartisan backlash and pressure from top defense officials,
  • The U.S. government has charged 28 North Korean and five Chinese individuals with facilitating more than $2.5 billion in illegal payments for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile program in what court papers describe as a clandestine global network operating from countries including China, Russia, Libya and Thailand.

In a 50-page federal indictment unsealed Thursday in Washington, D.C., the Justice Department accused the individuals of acting as agents of North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank in what officials say is the largest North Korean sanctions violations case charged by the U.S.

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

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

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

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged that it is combining the results from viral and antibody COVID-19 tests when reporting the country’s testing totals, despite marked differences between the tests.

Combining the tests inhibits the agency’s ability to discern the country’s actual testing capacity.

Viral tests are used to determine whether or not a person is currently infected with the disease.

Antibody tests allow doctors to see if someone has previously been exposed to the virus.

Several states, including Pennsylvania, Georgia, Texas and Florida, have also been combining the results of the two tests.

The combining of the tests could lead to the skewing of the overall positivity rate of the test, a measurement that is one of the benchmarks used in the reopening guidelines released by the White House

  • Coronavirus patients who took hydroxychloroquine or its related drug chloroquine were more likely to die or develop an irregular heart rhythm that can lead to sudden cardiac death, compared to those who did nothing, a retrospective review published in The Lancet shows.

The medical journal’s review consisted of 96,000 hospitalized patients diagnosed with the coronavirus in six continents, the largest analysis of medical records on the drug. 

Those given the drug alone had a 34% increased risk of dying and a 137% increased risk of heart arrhythmias.

Those who took the drug paired with an antibiotic had a 45% increased risk of death and a 411% risk of heart arrhythmias. This combination is one President Trump has been encouraging.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services will distribute  nearly $5 billion to help nursing homes respond to COVID-19. The funding can be used to increase testing capacity, purchase protective equipment for staff, hire more workers and cover other pandemic-related expenses.
  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper on Friday said that he would support extending National Guard deployments if it’s needed to continue fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

About 45,000 National Guardsmen are deployed across the country to help combat the pandemic, but that mission is set to end on June 24 — just one day before the troops would qualify for federal benefits like reduced tuition and retirement.

“If they have a valid mission assignment that’s verified by FEMA, my view is we should extend those tours of duty,” Esper said.

  • President Trump on Friday ordered governors to allow houses of worship to open immediately, declaring them “essential” to American life during the coronavirus pandemic: “If they don’t do it I will override the governors. America, we need more prayer, not less.”
  • President Trump ordered governors to allow houses of worship to open immediately, declaring them “essential” to American life during COVID-19. 

“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now, this weekend,” Trump said during brief remarks at the White House that his press shop had touted as a briefing.

Trump took no questions, however, and left immediately after his brief statement.

“If they don’t do it I will override the governors. America, we need more prayer, not less,” he said.

NOTE: The president doesn’t have the authority to override any governor’s decisions.

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested reporters want to see houses of worship remain closed as she declined to offer specifics on what authority President Trump has to override governors to reopen those facilities.

During a short but contentious briefing with reporters she clashed with reporters on the lack of specifics regarding Trump’s announcement on houses of worship, and later scolded them for not asking about allegations involving former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s case.

When pressed repeatedly on what power Trump had to compel churches to reopen, McEnany dismissed it as a “hypothetical.”

  • “The president will strongly encourage every governor to allow their churches to reopen, and boy it’s interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed,” she said.
  • A former White House aide received a $3 million contract from the federal government to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona, some of which now appear to be faulty.

Zach Fuentes, President Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, won the contract just eleven days after he founded a company to sell personal protective equipment.

Other Administration News 

  • President Trump lashed out at Fox News after the network released a poll that showed him trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by 8 points nationally.

The president, who consistently attempts to cast doubt on any poll that shows him trailing, tweeted that Fox News “should fire their Fake Pollster.”

“Hope Roger A is looking down and watching what has happened to this once beautiful creation!” Trump tweeted, a reference to the late Fox News executive Roger Ailes, who resigned from the network in 2016 following sexual misconduct allegations.

  • A coal company has challenged an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) power plant pollution regulation in court after the agency recently finalized changes to the standards that weaken the standards’ legal underpinnings. 

Westmoreland Mining Holdings sued the EPA in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Friday over its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule, which regulates the emission of mercury and other toxins emitted from power plants. 

The Trump administration last month issued a final rule concerning the standards. The final rule did not change the Obama-era standards but did alter the cost-benefit analysis that justifies them.

  • FBI Director Christopher Wray ordered an internal review into the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn amid rising GOP pressure on the FBI chief to examine the circumstances of the case.
  • Members of the Trump administration have explored conducting the first U.S. nuclear test since 1992 in a move that would mark a reversal from a decades-long freeze on such tests.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read TIme: 8 Minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • Coronavirus testing in the United States is disorganized and needs coordination at the national level, infectious disease experts said in a new report. “It’s a mess out there,” Mike Osterholm, head of the university’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), which issued the report, told CNN. “Testing is very, very important, but we’re not doing the right testing.”

The number of tests that have been completed – numbers widely reported by states and by the White House – show only part of the picture, the report reads. “The data is really kind of screwed up,” Osterholm said. “It’s because the public health system is overwhelmed.”

The full report can be read here:

  • The U.S. agency providing humanitarian assistance abroad is slamming the United Nations for highlighting access to abortion as an essential health service part of the global response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

John Barsa, acting administrator for the U.S. Agency for International Development, sent a letter to U.N. Secretary General António Guterres accusing the global forum of “cynically” advancing sexual and reproductive health as an essential service.

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says there is a “strong likelihood” that another coronavirus relief bill will be needed, an apparent break from a top White House economic adviser and some Republicans who say it’s not needed.
  • Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin in an interview with The Hill said Congress will have to act to make changes to the Paycheck Protection Program, such as extending the amount of time that small businesses have to use funds intended to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic — a request made by small businesses.
  • President Trump dismissed a Columbia University study that showed roughly 36,000 fewer people would have died from coronavirus in the U.S. if the country imposed restrictions just one week earlier.

“Columbia is an institution that’s very liberal,” Trump said. “I think it’s just a political hit job, you want to know the truth.”

  • According to new figures released Thursday by the Department of Labor, 2.4 million people filed initial claims for unemployment for the week ending May 16. That brings a nine-week total — dating back to when states began closing non-essential businesses amid the pandemic — to 38 million initial claims for unemployment.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield today denied reports that the White House rejected a set of guidelines his agency drafted for reopening the country, saying it received “constructive criticism” from the coronavirus task force that delayed the release of the document.
  • President Trump said the United States would not shut down in the case of a second coronavirus wave.

“People say that’s a very distinct possibility. It’s standard. And we’re going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country. We’re going to put out the fires,” Trump told reporters

  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signaled that the Senate GOP’s decision to pause before starting work on another coronavirus relief bill could be nearing an end. 

“I think there’s a high likelihood that we’ll do another rescue package. … We’re not quite ready to intelligently lay down the next step, but it’s not too far off,” McConnell said

  • President Trump said Thursday he will lower flags on government buildings to half-staff to honor the almost 100,000 Americans who have died of coronavirus.

“I will be lowering the flags on all Federal Buildings and National Monuments to half-staff over the next three days in memory of the Americans we have lost to the CoronaVirus,” Trump tweeted.

He noted flags will remain at half-staff on Monday for Memorial Day.

  • After refusing for weeks to release reopening guidance for churches, the Trump administration on Thursday abruptly changed course — with the president saying he had instructed health officials to put the advice out.

Other Administration News 

  • The New York Times reports that for spy agencies, holding President Trump’s attention during briefings can be challenging. The president veers off on tangents and getting him back on topic is difficult. He has a short attention span and rarely, if ever, reads intelligence reports, relying instead on conservative media and his friends for information. He interrupts intelligence officers and riffs based on tips or gossip he hears from the former casino magnate Steve Wynn, the retired golfer Gary Player or Christopher Ruddy, the conservative media executive.

Mr. Trump rarely absorbs information that he disagrees with or that runs counter to his worldview, the officials said. Briefing him has been so great a challenge compared with his predecessors that the intelligence agencies have hired outside consultants to study how better to present information to him.

Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser disputed the characterization of Mr. Trump as inattentive. “The president is laser-focused on the issues at hand and asks probing questions throughout the briefings — it reminds me of appearing before a well-prepared appellate judge and defending the case,” 

Mr. Trump’s demeanor is hardly judicial, former officials said, but they acknowledged he occasionally asks good questions.

  • President Trump plans to withdraw from another major arms control agreement. The Open Skies Treaty allows the pact’s 35 signatories to fly unarmed observation flights over each other with the intention of providing transparency about military activities to avoid miscalculations that could lead to war.

The administration says it wants out of the treaty because Russia is violating the pact, and imagery can be obtained quickly at less cost from US or commercial satellites.

  • The former head of the CIA, Gen. Michael Hayden, responded to Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty, calling the move “insane.”

Hayden, who served as director of the CIA mostly under President George W. Bush between 2006 and 2009, replied on Twitter in reaction to the news of the withdrawal.

“This is insane,” he said. “I was the director of CIA.” 

  • On the same day the president railed against Michigan and Nevada regarding mail-in voting, the Trump campaign itself encouraged supporters to request absentee ballots, such as in an email sent to Pennsylvania voters Wednesday that urged them to “request your ballot and cast your vote from your own home.”
  • Mike Pompeo’s wife reportedly used diplomatic security officials to pack up her mother’s home in Louisiana and cart away boxes when her mother prepared to move to a retirement home in Kansas.
  • Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged State Department officials to look for a way to legally justify the Trump administration’s use of an emergency declaration to sell more than $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates without congressional approval, CNN reported.

“They seemed to have a game plan and it had to be justified,” an official who reported the incident to the now-dismissed State Department inspector general told CNN. 

“The attitude was very Trumpian,” the official said.

  • The Senate confirmed Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) to be President Trump’s next spy chief. 

Senators voted 49-44 on Ratcliffe’s nomination to the director of national intelligence, a position that has been filled in an acting capacity since former DNI Dan Coats stepped down in August 2019.

  • In a series of Tweets, the president criticized Fox News for not promoting him and other republican candidates. “Many will disagree, but @FoxNews  is doing nothing to help Republicans, and me, get re-elected on November 3rd. Sure, there are some truly GREAT people on Fox, but you also have some real “garbage” littered all over the network, people like Dummy Juan Williams, Schumerite Chris…

….Hahn, Richard Goodstein, Donna Brazile, Niel Cavuto, and many others. They repeat the worst of the Democrat speaking points, and lies. All of the good is totally nullified, and more. Net Result = BAD! CNN & MSDNC are all in for the Do Nothing Democrats! Fox WAS Great!”

  • The Trump administration failed to turn over hundreds of emails and other internal documents before going to trial over the now-blocked census citizenship question — and a federal judge says it has to pay for it.

U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman of New York has ordered the administration to cover the attorney’s fees and other costs related to a legal dispute over the previously undisclosed documents.

  • The shooting at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi in Texas on Thursday is terrorism related, the FBI said. 

The shooter, who has not been identified, is dead, but a second person of interest may be at large in the community, according to the FBI. 

“We have determined that the incident this morning at the Naval Air Station Corpus Christi is terrorism related,” said Leah Greeves, FBI supervisor senior resident agent in Corpus Christi.

  • The Senate has confirmed Kenneth Braithwaite to be secretary of the Navy, after the service and former secretary came under sharp criticism for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier that infected more than 1,000 sailors.
  • The Defense Department has rescinded a policy that banned recruits from enlisting in the military if they have been hospitalized for coronavirus, the Pentagon’s head of manpower said.

The original policy, released earlier this month, began as a total ban on recruits who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the past. That was then changed to potentially barring the enlistee if they had been hospitalized due to the illness.

  • A Trump election conspiracy theory fell apart when Florida’s law enforcement agency said it had found no widespread voter fraud in the 2018 races for Senate and governor.

President Donald Trump had complained repeatedly about election “fraud” and theft in heavily populated, Democrat-rich Broward and Palm Beach counties, which had slowly but erratically updated their vote totals after polls closed on Election Day.

  • President Donald Trump put forth a false “Choice” when he boasted about a program aimed at improving veterans’ health care by steering more patients to the private sector.

Heading toward the Memorial Day weekend, Trump bragged anew that he got the Veterans Choice program passed so veterans now can choose to go to private doctors immediately for care if they have to wait too long for appointments at government-run VA medical facilities.

But the Choice program was achieved by his predecessor. And it is currently restricted because of the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Republicans on the Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance President Trump’s nominee to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media.

The meeting over Pack’s nomination was contentious as expected . He is under investigation by the D.C. attorney general’s office for misuse of funds from his nonprofit, the Public Media Lab.

The committee voted 12-10 along party lines to send Michael Pack’s nomination to the full Senate.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • A report from the CDC says New York City’s death toll from the coronavirus may be thousands of fatalities worse than the official tally kept by the city and state.
  • President Trump backed Pennsylvania residents who oppose restrictions intended to slow the spread of the coronavirus in the state and accused Democratic governors of leaving such measures in place “for political purposes.”

Trump Tweeted: “The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails. The Democrats are moving slowly, all over the USA, for political purposes. They would wait until November 3rd if it were up to them. Don’t play politics. Be safe, move quickly!”

NOTE: Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has a 69% approval rating from Pennsylvania residents for his handling of the coronavirus in his state. 

  • The White House has directed all West Wing staff to wear masks at all times in the building, except when they are at their own desks.The shift in protocol comes days after two White House staffers tested positive for the coronavirus. One is a military member who serves as one of President Trump’s personal valets, and the other is Vice President Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller.
  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro disparaged the media’s coverage of the staggering 14.7 percent unemployment rate in April caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That was a pity party yesterday on the Sunday shows,” Navarro complained on “Fox and Friends,” singling out CBS News “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan, ABC News “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos and “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace.

“This is not the Great Depression,” the White House official continued. “Anybody who thinks this is the Great Depression doesn’t understand either history or economics.”

Navarro claimed that President Donald Trump had built “the strongest and most beautiful economy” before the virus took hold.

  • Hydroxychloroquine, a decades-old malaria medicine touted by the president as a coronavirus treatment, showed no benefit for thousands of patients hospitalized in New York.

There was also no noticeable advantage for patients that took the drug paired with the antibiotic azithromycin, according to hotly anticipated research published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

President Donald Trump had repeatedly championed hydroxychloroquine from the press briefing stage, saying it had “tremendous promise” and was safe because “it’s been used for a long time.”

  • President Trump abruptly left his coronavirus news conference in the Rose Garden after tense exchanges with two female reporters, one of which, who was Asian American, asked him why the statistics surrounding the virus are a “global competition” to him.
  • President Trump boasted that the U.S. has “prevailed on testing” — despite public health experts’ warnings that millions more tests per week are needed to safely reopen the country.

The president claimed, “We have met the moment, and we have prevailed.”

NOTE: The U.S. has the most coronavirus cases and deaths in the world, and is still nowhere near performing enough testing to safely open our economy. The U.S. ranks 29th in per capita. 

Other Administration News 

  • The Justice Department announced that it is reviewing all of the evidence in the fatal shooting of Ahmaud Arbery and considering whether federal hate crime charges are warranted. Arbery, a 25-year-old unarmed black man, was fatally shot in February while jogging just outside the port city of Brunswick, Georgia. Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested and charged with murder and aggravated assault last Thursday, after video of the incident sparked outrage over the handling of the case.
  • Stone prosecutor Jonathan Kravis blasted Attorney General Barr’s meddling in the Stone and Flynn cases: “In both cases, the department undercut the work of career employees to protect an ally of the president, an abdication of the commitment to equal justice under the law.”
  • Nearly 2000 Justice Department officials have signed onto a letter calling for Attorney General William Barr to resign over what they describe as his improper intervention in the criminal case of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The letter, signed mostly by former career officials in the department, accuses Barr of joining with Pres. Trump in “political interference in the Department’s law enforcement decisions.”

  • Interpol has issued an international arrest warrant for an American diplomat’s wife accused of killing a British teenager by driving dangerously.

Anne Sacoolas invoked diplomatic immunity after a crash in Northamptonshire in August that killed 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn near a British military base that houses U.S. troops.

Sacoolas was allowed to leave the United Kingdom following the incident, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in January rejected an extradition request from the British government. She is alleged to have been driving on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash.

  • President Trump declined to name the crime he believes former President Obama committed, as he was pressed on a string of critical tweets he sent over the weekend accusing his predecessor of committing the biggest political crime in history. Trump has amplified his attacks on the Russia investigation in the days since the Justice Department moved to drop charges against his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

“You know what the crime is. The crime is very obvious to everybody. All you have to do is read the newspapers, except yours,” Trump told Washington Post reporter Phil Rucker.

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

The Past 24 Hours or So

Read Time: 5 minutes

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Updates

  • After seeing an ad critical of his performance created by The Lincoln Project, Trump went on a Tweetstorm slightly before 1 AM. 

The President unleashed a series of Tweet: “A group of RINO Republicans who failed badly 12 years ago, then again 8 years ago, and then got BADLY beaten by me, a political first timer, 4 years ago, have copied (no imagination) the concept of an ad from Ronald Reagan, “Morning in America”, doing everything possible to….”

“….because they don’t know how to win, and their so-called Lincoln Project is a disgrace to Honest Abe. I don’t know what Kellyanne did to her deranged loser of a husband, Moonface, but it must have been really bad. John Weaver lost big for Kasich (to me). Crazed Rick Wilson….

“….lost for Evan “McMuffin” McMullin (to me). Steve Schmidt & Reed Galvin lost for John McCain, Romney’s campaign manager (?) lost big to “O”, & Jennifer Horn got thrown out of the New Hampshire Republican Party. They’re all LOSERS, but Abe Lincoln, Republican, is all smiles!”

  • President Trump on Tuesday said Anthony Fauci will be allowed to testify before the Senate next week, but that he would prevent the government’s top infectious diseases expert from appearing before the Democratically-controlled House because he believes it’s full of “Trump haters.”

When asked why he will not permit Fauci to appear before the House, Trump replied, “Because the House is a set up. The House is a bunch of Trump haters … they, frankly, want our situation to be unsuccessful, which means death.”

  • President Trump downplayed the significance of a key forecasting model used by the White House that now shows the U.S. death toll doubling as states ease restrictions from roughly 70,000 lives in early August to nearly 135,000 by that time.

Trump inaccurately claimed that the model doesn’t take into account mitigation measures. 

  • Vice President Pence says the White House task force on coronavirus will begin winding down and is set to be scaled back by Memorial Day, a surprising decision that comes as most states are preparing to loosen restrictions meant to slow the spread of the pandemic. Members are likely to return to their respective departments and manage the coronavirus response from there.
  • The Trump administration’s former vaccine chief repeatedly warned top officials about shortage of critical resources and supplies for fighting the coronavirus as early as January but the administration took no action, according to a whistleblower complaint from Rick Bright, the former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority who was ousted by Trump officials.

He also said he was pressured to “award lucrative contracts for… drugs even though they lacked scientific merit.”

  • Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, the chairman of the Senate’s small business committee, blocked an attempt by Democrats to pass a bill that would require the Trump administration to report new details on how small business aid is being dispersed amid the coronavirus pandemic as they seek to ensure funds go to small businesses.
  • “They will be, and so will other doctors, and so will other experts in the field,” the president said Tuesday when asked if Fauci and Birx, who both serve on the task force, would continue advising the White House on its COVID-19 efforts. “We are bringing our country back.”
  • Guidelines at the Honeywell plant in Arizona, which is mass producing N95 face masks crucial for health care providers during the pandemic, read: “Please wear your mask at all times.”

Trump and his officials didn’t wear a mask on their tour of the facility, even though when asked before the trip if he’d wear a mask, the president had responded: “If it’s a mask facility, I will. I don’t know if it’s a mask facility.”

  • President Trump on Tuesday said some people would be “affected badly” by the decision to begin reopening the country despite the coronavirus pandemic, but that it was important to get the economy moving.

Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open and we have to get it open soon,” Trump said Tuesday. He later doubled down, saying in an ABC News interview: “It’s possible there will be some [deaths], because you won’t be locked into an apartment or a house or whatever it is.”

  • Trump told David Muir that Obama left him with broken tests.

NOTE: The COVID19 virus didn’t exist until 2019.

  • The Pentagon’s top uniformed official maintained that available evidence indicates the virus that has caused a global pandemic was natural and not man-made or released purposely from a Chinese lab.

“The weight of evidence — nothing’s conclusive — the weight of evidence is that it was natural and not man-made,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark Milley said of the coronavirus.

  • A complaint filed by a whistleblower alleges that the team established by Jared Kushner which was responsible for PPE had little success in helping the government secure such equipment, in part because none of the team members had significant experience in health care, procurement or supply-chain operations. In addition, none of the volunteers had relationships with manufacturers or a clear understanding of customs requirements or Food and Drug Administration rules,  and two senior administration officials.

Supply-chain volunteers were instructed to fast-track protective equipment leads from “VIPs,” including conservative journalists friendly to the White House, according to the complaint and one senior administration official.

Other Administration News 

  • CBS White House correspondent Paula Reid on Tuesday embraced a dig from President Trump that she is not like iconic actress Donna Reed, who often portrayed a ’50s housewife in film and television, with Reid responding: “Fact Check: True.”

“It wasn’t Donna Reed, I can tell you that,” Trump said in an interview with the New York Post. “Paula Reid, she’s sitting there and I say, ‘How angry. I mean, what’s the purpose?’ They’re not even tough questions, but you see the attitude of these people, it’s like incredible,” he added.

Reid responded with a tweet to her more than 266,000 followers. 

“President Trump tells @nypost I am nothing like 50’s American archetypal mom Donna Reed. Fact-check: True,” she wrote, earning more than 17,000 likes.

  • President Trump rejected the idea of granting statehood to the District of Columbia, arguing in a new interview it would be too politically beneficial to Democrats.

“D.C. will never be a state,” Trump told The New York Post during an Oval Office interview. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.”

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