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As cities reel under protest and violence, Black Lives Matter leaders say the president has failed his country
By David Smith

“Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims. I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon – and I mean very soon – come to an end.” These were the words of Donald Trump, not in May 2020 but July 2016, as he accepted the Republican presidential nomination at the national convention in Cleveland. For many observers, there was a distinct echo of Richard Nixon’s 1968 acceptance speech – “We see cities enveloped in smoke and flame” – and a foreboding that history could take a newly dark and dangerous turn. For three years, the first president elected without political or military experience rode his luck and skirted past disaster. In the fourth year, the fates demanded payback. Not even Trump’s harshest critics can blame him for a virus believed to have come from a market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, nor for an attendant economic collapse, nor for four centuries of slavery, segregation, police brutality and racial injustice. But they can, and do, point to how he made a bad situation so much worse. The story of Trump’s presidency was arguably always leading to this moment, with its toxic mix of weak moral leadership, racial divisiveness, crass and vulgar rhetoric and an erosion of norms, institutions and trust in traditional information sources. Taken together, these ingredients created a tinderbox poised to explode when crises came. Trump, they say, was uniquely ill-qualified for this moment. He tried to wish away the threat of the coronavirus and failed to prepare, then paid no heed to how communities of colour bore the brunt of its health and economic consequences. As unrest now grips dozens of cities, he speaks an authoritarian language of “thugs”, “vicious dogs” and “when the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The nation waits in vain for a speech that might heal wounds, find a common sense of purpose and acknowledge the generational trauma of African Americans. That would require deep reading, cultural sensitivity and human empathy – none of which are known to be among personal attributes of Trump, who defines himself in opposition to Barack Obama.

To do so, the president would need to invoke the Insurrection Act that allows U.S. troops to be deployed domestically.
By Courtney Kube, Carol E. Lee and Dareh Gregorian

WASHINGTON — As the sound of sirens wailed and flash bangs popped across the street, President Donald Trump announced from the Rose Garden that he would use the U.S. military to stop the riots across the county that have been sparked by the death of George Floyd. “I am mobilizing all federal and local resources, civilian and military, to protect the rights of law abiding Americans,” Trump said in the extraordinary address, which was delivered as police fired tear gas outside to push protesters back from the White House. "If a city or state refuses to take the actions necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them," Trump said, referring to himself as "your president of law and order and an ally of all peaceful protesters.” To activate the military to operate in the U.S., Trump would have to invoke the 213-year-old Insurrection Act, which four people familiar with the decision had told NBC News he planned to do. The military police forces would come from Fort Bragg in North Carolina and possibly Fort Belvoir in Virginia and could arrive in Washington within hours, these people said.

LISTEN FOR YOURSELF: Trump’s ‘Unhinged’ Rant to Governors on Protests

The Daily Beast
By Erin Banco - National Security Reporter

President Trump on Monday told the nation’s governors that they needed to get “much tougher” in responding to the protests breaking out across the country. He said the lack of response has so far made state officials look weak. Trump encouraged them to mass arrest those inciting violence at protests and said if they didn’t they would “look like a bunch of jerks.” “You have to arrest people and you have to try people. And they need to go to jail for what they’ve done,” Trump said.

White House: Trump to use 'federal assets' in response to violent protests
By Ellen Mitchell

President Trump plans to use “additional federal assets” across the country in response to protests over the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, the White House said Monday. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the unspecified assets will be used in addition to a “central command center” to include Joint Chiefs Chair Gen. Mark Milley, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Attorney General William Barr. “What the president has said is he wants to dominate the streets with National Guard, with a police presence,” McEnany told reporters.McEnany’s comments come after Trump, in a leaked phone call with state governors, said he put Milley “in charge” of the protest response. Asked about what Trump meant, McEnany said the four-star general has “been on point in talking about the National Guard, the effectiveness and in ensuring that they’re utilized to great effect across the country,” appearing to indicate that he would be the face of any ordered military response.

By Dan Mangan

Two Democratic governors fired back at President Donald Trump on Monday, accusing the president of “inflammatory” and “dangerous” rhetoric about protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. Illinois Gov. Jay “J.B.” Pritzker directly challenged Trump during a conference call Monday morning with the nation’s governors, in which the president castigated many of them for what he called their “weak” response to the protests that have occurred since Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police. “I’ve been extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that’s been used by you,” Pritzker told Trump, according to a transcript of their exchange tweeted by New York Times reporter Katie Rogers. “It’s been inflammatory, and it’s not okay for that officer to choke George Floyd to death,” Pritzker said. Trump during the call had said: “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’ve got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you’ll never see this stuff again,”  the president said. Pritzker noted that he had called out the Illinois National Guard and state police to deal with civil disturbances during protests over Floyd’s death. “But the rhetoric that’s coming out of the White House is making it worse,” Pritzker said.

By Josh K. Elliott Global News

U.S. President Donald Trump bragged over the weekend that he watched “every move” the Secret Service made to protect him on Friday night while hundreds of Americans rallied outside the White House to protest his response to the death of George Floyd. Trump described the Secret Service as “very cool” on Twitter and pushed the conspiracy theory that the protests were not legitimate. He failed to mention that he spent nearly an hour of his Friday night in the White House’s fortified bunker in a rare security response that typically only occurs in the face of a terrorist threat. The Secret Service made the decision to whisk Trump, his wife Melania and his son, Barron, off to the bunker, the New York Times reports. Trump’s critics responded to news of his bunker visit with outrage and mockery, particularly after Trump boasted about his defenders and ridiculed the protesters in several tweets on Saturday. Many Twitter users accused Trump of “hiding” from the American citizens whom he’s supposed to lead through a time of crisis. They also accused him of refusing to acknowledge the anger that has spurred sweeping protests across the United States in recent days after the death of Floyd, the latest unarmed Black man to be killed in an encounter with police. Floyd died in Minneapolis, Minn., last week after a police officer pinned him down with a knee on his neck for several minutes.

The US President Donald Trump on Friday took shelter in a bunker as anti-racism protesters gathered outside the White House in Washington, DC.

"Biden went to a protest site. Trump went to his bunker. That says everything." Following the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, the United States has been experiencing a series of violent clashes amid protesting demonstrators and police across cities. Several cities in the United States looked like a war zone after rioters torched several police clubs. The US President Donald Trump on Friday took shelter in a bunker as anti-racism protesters gathered outside the White House in Washington, DC. The President was there for a little under an hour before being brought upstairs. On Saturday, only hours after the protests outside the White House had ended, Trump declared himself safe as he lashed out at the city's Democratic mayor and raised the prospect of his supporters gathering in a place that night in what would amount to a counter-protest. The news of Trump "hiding" in the presidential bunker was broken by The New York Times and once Twitter got the whiff of it, they came down hard on the US President. "Donald Trump is hiding in a WH bunker. Most cowardly "tough guy" in history," tweeted one user.


WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump on Monday 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 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." The days of protests were triggered by the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer. They turned violent in several cities, with looting and mayhem, and fires ignited in the historic park across from the White House. The president urged the governors to deploy the National Guard, which he credited for helping calm the situation Sunday night in Minneapolis. He demanded that similarly tough measures be taken in cities that also experienced a spasm of violence, like New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. "You've got to arrest people, you have to track people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years and you'll never see this stuff again," said Trump. "We're doing it in Washington, D.C. We're going to do something that people haven't seen before." The president told the governors they were making themselves "look like fools" for not calling up more of the National Guard as a show for force on city streets. - The mayors are not the weak ones, Donald J. Trump is the weak one. Only the weak hid when times get tough and Donald J. Trump is the only one who hid in a bunker.

While Twitter started labeling some of the president’s inflammatory posts, Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, has said his company should leave them alone.
By Sheera Frenkel and Mike Isaac

OAKLAND, Calif. — Dozens of Facebook employees, in rare public criticism on Monday of their own company, protested executives’ decision not to do anything about inflammatory posts that President Trump had placed on the giant social media platform over the last week. The employees, who took the day off by logging into Facebook’s systems and requesting time off to support protesters across the country, also added an automated message to their emails saying that they were out of the office in a show of protest. The group is one of many clusters of employees attempting to push back on executives. As of Monday morning, many employees continued to discuss a list of demands for management. The movement — a virtual “walkout” of sorts since most Facebook employees are working from home because of the coronavirus pandemic — comes as staff members have circulated petitions and threatened to resign. More than a dozen current and former employees have described the unrest as the most serious challenge to Mr. Zuckerberg’s leadership since the company was founded 15 years ago. Mr. Zuckerberg has argued on a number of occasions that Facebook should take a hands-off approach to what people post, including lies from elected officials and others in power. He has repeatedly said the public should be allowed to decide what to believe.

By Chris Mills Rodrigo

Facebook employees have publicly criticized the company for not taking action against President Trump's comments on protests against police brutality in Minnesota. Tensions between the staff and top executives were exacerbated after Trump used his social media accounts to weigh in on the demonstrations in Minneapolis against the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last week while in police custody. “These THUGS are dishonoring the memory of George Floyd, and I won’t let that happen," the president wrote Friday on Facebook and Twitter. “Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts," he added. "Thank you!" While Twitter placed a warning on the tweet, Facebook left it untouched. The Facebook post has received over 254,000 reactions and 71,000 shares. CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained his decision to keep leave the post up as is, saying the platform’s policy around incitement of violence “allows discussion around state use of force.” “I disagree strongly with how the President spoke about this, but I believe people should be able to see this for themselves, because ultimately accountability for those in positions of power can only happen when their speech is scrutinized out in the open,” Zuckerberg wrote on Friday. At least seven Facebook employees have slammed Zuckerberg's decision. Jason Stirman, a design manager at the company, said that while he doesn’t know what to do, “doing nothing is not acceptable.”

Bloomberg Politics

Jun.01 -- Leslie Vinjamuri, head of U.S. and Americas Programme at Chatham House, comments on President Donald Trump's handling of the unrest in dozens of U.S. cities following the death of George Floyd, a black Minneapolis man who died after a white police officer pressed a knee into his neck for more than eight minutes. She speaks on "Bloomberg Surveillance."

By James Walker

Chinese state media has mocked President Donald Trump over the ongoing George Floyd protests, with one newspaper editor telling the commander-in-chief not to "hide behind" law enforcement. As demonstrations against police brutality have spread to cities across the U.S. in the wake of Floyd's death, Chinese propaganda outlets have called instances of rioting "retribution" for American support of Hong Kong's pro-democracy protesters. The state mouthpieces have also called on U.S. politicians to solve problems in America before "trying to create new problems" in other countries. "Mr. President, don't hide behind the Secret Service," Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin tweeted on Saturday. "Negotiate with them, just like you urged Beijing to talk to Hong Kong rioters." Xijin later peddled an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory that "Hong Kong rioters" had infiltrated the U.S. and were the "mastermind of violent protests" impacting cities across the country. In a Global Times editorial published on Sunday, the state-operated newspaper compared Hong Kong pro-democracy demonstrations with the ongoing protests over Floyd's death in police custody. "The ongoing chaos in the US will not lead to due reflection, but will bring the practices of verbal assault and buck-passing to a new height," the editorial read. "No matter what happens, the US will always believe its political system is the best." In a separate op-ed published on Monday morning, the Global Times said the sight of rioting in the U.S. felt like "retribution" for American support of Hong Kong protests last year. "The US incited Hong Kong's rioters, but now it is facing the same troubles," the article said. "Chinese netizens' feelings are direct reaction to the US' mistaken polices toward China."

Boente was asked to resign on Friday and two sources familiar with the decision to dismiss him said it came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray.
By Julia Ainsley and Pete Williams

After a 38-year career with the Justice Department, the FBI's top lawyer Dana Boente was asked to resign on Friday. Two sources familiar with the decision to dismiss Boente said it came from high levels of the Justice Department rather than directly from FBI Director Christopher Wray. His departure comes on the heels of recent criticism by Fox News for his role in the investigation of former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. A spokesman for the FBI confirmed to NBC News that Boente did in fact resign on Friday. Fox News has recently criticized Boente's role in the investigation of Flynn, whose criminal charge for lying to the FBI was recently dropped by the Justice Department based in part on the argument that his lies were not material to an underlying investigation. Boente also said in a recently leaked memo that material put into the public record about Flynn was not exculpatory for the former national security advisor. The memo undermines the Justice Department's latest position that material about Flynn was mishandled by prosecutors. Fox Business host Lou Dobbs said on April 27 that, "Shocking new reports suggest F.B.I. General Counsel Dana Boente was acting in coordination with F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray to block the release of that evidence that would have cleared General Flynn." Wray formally asked for Boente's resignation, but the decision to end his tenure at the FBI came from Attorney General William Barr's Justice Department, which oversees the FBI, according to two sources.

By Kevin Liptak and Ryan Nobles, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump, agitated and distressed after three nights of violent protests in dozens of cities across the country, including outside of his home, told the nation's governors in a video teleconference Monday to aggressively target violent protesters he said would only respond to a show of force. "You have to dominate or you'll look like a bunch of jerks, you have to arrest and try people," the President told the governors in a call from the basement White House Situation Room, according to an audio recording of the call obtained by CNN. In the conversation -- which drew a rebuke from Illinois's Democratic governor on the call -- Trump appeared angry and chastised what he characterized as a weak response to protests in certain places, which he said allowed violence to take hold. Trump emphasized his belief the violence is being fomented by forces from the "radical left." And he suggested to governors it was their responsibility, not his, to tamp down harshly on the continued unrest. "It's a movement, if you don't put it down it will get worse and worse," Trump said. "The only time its successful is when you're weak and most of you are weak." In admonishing the governors for not doing more to quell the violence, which raged again on Sunday night, Trump was reverting to a hardline "law and order" mantle he believes is the best way to confront growing racial unrest across the nation. Trump said the "whole world was laughing at Minneapolis over the police station getting burned," referring to the city where protests began last week after the death of an unarmed black man who was being taken into police custody. On the phone call, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker told Trump the nation was craving a steady hand from the top. "Rhetoric coming out of the White House is making it worse, people are experiencing real pain," Pritzker, a Democrat, told the President. "We've got to have national leadership calling for calm and legitimate concern for protestors." "I don't like your rhetoric that much either," Trump fired back. "You could have done much better on coronavirus." The message to governors came as Trump and his advisers were continuing to debate the wisdom of a national address following the protests, one of which outside the White House caused him and his family to retreat to an underground bunker on Friday night. Along with the phone call to governors -- which also included law enforcement and national security officials -- aides were beginning outreach to black leaders to gauge interest and availability for a "listening session" later this week, which some of Trump's advisers believe is necessary before delivering any formal address to the nation.

Two problems here: Antifa isn't really an organization, and there's no "domestic terrorist" designation anyway
By Jon Queally

Civil liberties advocates and progressive voices threw up immediate flags of alarm on Sunday afternoon after President Trump threatened to officially designate "ANTIFA" — a moniker that stands for anti-fascist but is not, as informed people were forced to point out, an actual organization — as a "terrorist organization." In recent years, the term "antifa" has become a broad stand-in phrase used to describe certain left-wing activists — including some anarchist and anti-fascist groups or networks. As protests and uprisings have occurred in cities nationwide over recent days in the wake of last week's killing of George Floyd by police officers in Minneapolis, Trump and other officials have blamed so-called "Antifa instigators" — mostly without providing any solid evidence — with stoking violence or carrying out property destruction. After Trump tweeted Sunday that "The United States of America will be designating ANTIFA as a Terrorist Organization," critics immediately saw it as a blatant effort to use the authority of such a designation as a way for Trump to target lawful and constitutionally-protected free speech and the right to assemble. "Terrorism is an inherently political label, easily abused and misused," the ACLU declared in reaction to Trump's tweet. "Let's be clear: There is no legal authority for designating a domestic group. Any such designation would raise significant due process and First Amendment concerns." Progressive journalists like Ben Norton and Jeremy Scahill also sounded warnings, calling it a "terrifying" and worrying escalation against the right to dissent.

President on racially charged phrase: 'I don't know where it came from, where it originated. It's accurate.'
By John T Bennett - Washington Bureau Chief

Donald Trump claimed ignorance about the origin of a phrase he tweeted – "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" – about violent protests in Minneapolis after a 46-year-old black man was killed by a white police officer. "I don't know where it came from, where it originated. It's accurate," Mr Trump said, saying he was unaware it was uttered by Miami's police chief amid racial violence there in 1967. Mr Trump claimed to have heard the phrase "from many other places." As he often does, he did not elaborate. The president said there were "good people" protesting on Thursday night in Minneapolis on a violent night as people took the streets to protest the death of George Floyd while a white police officer kneeled on his throat. Mr Floyd pleaded for mercy, saying, "I can't breathe." The police officer was arrested on Friday. Mr Trump's remarks came during an event with industry executives about reopening the country amid the coronavirus pandemic that he has spoken to family members of Mr Floyd, calling them "terrific people."

Pockets of violence, looting, and vandalism have marked nationwide protests over death of George Floyd
By Griffin Connolly

The Democratic mayors of major American cities are lighting into Donald Trump for his controversial tweets and statements surrounding the nationwide protests of the police killing of an unarmed black man in Minneapolis last week. "He's making it worse," Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. "This is not about using military force. This is about where we are in America. We are beyond a tipping point in this country, and his rhetoric only inflames that, and he should sometimes just stop talking," Ms Bottoms said, responding to a tweet by the president over the weekend urging "Liberal Governors and Mayors" to get "MUCH tougher" or the feds would begin using "the unlimited power of our Military." Mr Floyd, 46, died on 25 May after a Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck for several minutes even though Mr Floyd did not have a weapon and complained he couldn't breathe. Mr Chauvin has been arrested on Friday and charged with third-degree murder. The ensuing protests against police brutality over the last several days in Minneapolis and other major US cities such as Atlanta, Brooklyn, Washington DC, and Chicago have led to heated confrontations between demonstrators and law enforcement, some of which have broken out into small pockets of violence. There were several instances of looting, vandalism, and arson of entire buildings over the weekend. Thousands of Americans in cities all across the country were hit with pepper spray, tear gas, or police batons over the weekend. Local journalists have been fired upon with rubber bullets, and a CNN reporter and his production crew were arrested in Minneapolis on Friday for shooting live film in a part of the city that the Minnesota state patrol was trying to block off to the public. Some protesters gathered outside CNN headquarters in Atlanta, with some breaking its glass windows and tagging profanities with spray paint.

The president spent Sunday out of sight, berating opponents on Twitter, even as some of his campaign advisers were recommending that he deliver a televised address to an anxious nation.
By Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman

WASHINGTON — Inside the White House, the mood was bristling with tension. Hundreds of protesters were gathering outside the gates, shouting curses at President Trump and in some cases throwing bricks and bottles. Nervous for his safety, Secret Service agents abruptly rushed the president to the underground bunker used in the past during terrorist attacks. The scene on Friday night, described by a person with firsthand knowledge, kicked off an uneasy weekend at the White House as demonstrations spread after the brutal death of a black man in police custody under a white officer’s knee. While in the end officials said they were never really in danger, Mr. Trump and his family have been rattled by protests near the Executive Mansion that turned violent for a third night on Sunday. After days in which the empathy he expressed for George Floyd, the man killed, was overshadowed by his combative threats to ramp up violence against looters and rioters, Mr. Trump spent Sunday out of sight, even as some of his campaign advisers were recommending that he deliver a nationally televised address before another night of violence. The building was even emptier than usual as some White House officials planning to work were told not to come in case of renewed unrest. Thousands of protesters demonstrated peacefully near the White House during the day, but by nightfall, with hundreds still in the streets, the scene turned more volatile as crowds surged forward against lines of riot police with plastic shields as the two sides vied for control of Lafayette Square across from the White House. Protesters threw water bottles, set off fireworks and burned a pile of wood and at least one car. One of the fires on H Street NW a block from the White House may have spread because soon afterward flames erupted in the basement of St. John’s Episcopal Church, the iconic “church of presidents” attended at least once by every chief executive going back to James Madison, but were soon doused by firefighters. Businesses far away from the White House boarded up to guard against vandalism, and Mayor Muriel E. Bowser ordered an 11 p.m. curfew. The White House turned off at least some of its exterior lights. Mr. Trump remained cloistered inside, periodically sending out Twitter messages like “LAW & ORDER!” until the evening, when he went quiet. While some aides urged him to keep off Twitter, Mr. Trump could not resist blasting out a string of messages earlier in the day berating Democrats for not being tough enough and attributing the turmoil to radical leftists. “Get tough Democrat Mayors and Governors,” he wrote. Referring to his presumptive Democratic presidential opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., he added: “These people are ANARCHISTS. Call in our National Guard NOW. The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe. Is this what America wants? NO!!!”

By Associated Press

Secret Service agents rushed President Trump to a White House bunker Friday night as hundreds of protesters gathered outside the executive mansion, some of them throwing rocks and tugging at police barricades. Trump spent nearly an hour in the bunker, which was designed for use in emergencies like terrorist attacks, according to a Republican close to the White House who was not authorized to publicly discuss private matters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The account was confirmed by an administration official who also spoke on condition of anonymity. The abrupt decision by the agents underscored the rattled mood inside the White House, where the chants from protesters in Lafayette Park could be heard all weekend and Secret Service agents and law enforcement officers struggled to contain the crowds. Friday’s protests were triggered by the death last week of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after he was pinned at the neck by a white Minneapolis police officer for several minutes. The demonstrations in Washington turned violent and appeared to catch officers by surprise. They sparked one of the highest alerts on the White House complex since the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

The move comes after violent protests across the country over the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.
By Allan Smith

President Donald Trump said Sunday that he will designate antifa as a terrorist organization after Democratic and Republican officials pointed to extremist groups and out of town demonstrators as responsible for violent episodes at protests in major cities across the country. Trump and Attorney General William Barr had earlier pointed to anti-fascist organizers and anarchists as culprits behind the mayhem following the death of a 46-year-old black man, George Floyd, at the hands of Minneapolis police. Others said right-wing extremists such as Boogaloo followers, who hope to bring about a second Civil War, were pushing for such uprising in the protests. In a Sunday statement, Barr said the Justice Department is taking aim at "apprehending and charging the violent radical agitators who have hijacked peaceful protest and are engaged in violations of federal law." The attorney general said that "to identify criminal organizers and instigators," federal law enforcement officials are utilizing "our existing network of 56 regional FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces." "Preventing reconciliation and driving us apart is the goal of these radical groups, and we cannot let them succeed," Barr added. "The violence instigated and carried out by antifa and other similar groups in connection with the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly."

By Alex Rogers, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump pledged a crackdown of the protests that arose from the police killing of George Floyd, sparking concerns from some Democrats and Republicans that his response to the crisis further deepens the divide in a country already unnerved by a pandemic, distressed economy and racial unrest. Mayors from at least 25 cities issued curfews for Saturday night, as police responded with rubber bullets, tear gas and arrests to disperse occasionally violent crowds. In the nation's capital, more than 1,000 demonstrators hit the streets, including some who threw bricks and dispersed only early Sunday morning when the Secret Service began to fire tear gas. The President tweeted on Saturday that if protesters breached the White House's fence, they would "have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen." And he called on Democratic officials to "get MUCH tougher" or the federal government "will step in and do what has to be done, and that includes using the unlimited power of our Military and many arrests." Elected officials on both sides of the aisle said on Sunday that the President should instead focus on unifying the nation or decline to address the country at all. "He should just stop talking," said Democratic Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on CNN's "State of the Union" with Jake Tapper. "He speaks and he makes it worse." "It's sort of continuing to escalate the rhetoric," added Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on CNN. "I think it's just the opposite of the message that should have been coming out of the White House. DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, also urged Trump to help "calm the nation" and to stop sending "divisive tweets" in an interview Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." Her comments followed a press conference Saturday where Bowser noted how Trump's reference to the "vicious dogs" was "no subtle reminder" of segregationists who would attack African Americans with dogs.

Several US states activate National Guard troops as protests over police killings of unarmed Black people grow.
by Ted Regencia, Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath & Lucien Formichella

Another round of protests is gripping major cities across the United States against police brutality and violence, especially against unarmed Black people. Several states have called in National Guard troops to help quell the protests, with some turning violent with fires and looting. Cities nationwide have also implemented curfews, but protesters appear undeterred. Protesters in Minneapolis, Minnesota, have pledged to stay in the streets until all four officers involved in the death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, are charged. Floyd died on Monday after a white officer pinned his neck to the ground. The officer - Derek Chauvin has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The other officers have not been charged. Trump orders Pentagon to put military police on alert, saying they may be deployed to Minnesota. Latest updates:

Did Trump Retweet a Video Saying ‘The Only Good Democrat is a Dead Democrat’?
The original comment was made by a public official in New Mexico.
By Bethania Palma

On May 27, 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump retweeted a video posted to Twitter by the group “Cowboys for Trump” in which the group’s leader, Cuoy Griffin, a commissioner for Otero County in New Mexico, stated, “I’ve come to a place where I’ve come to the conclusion that the only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.” Trump, a Republican, retweeted the video and added the comment, “Thank you Cowboys. See you in New Mexico!”

Did Trump Post a Video with Biden Logo on a Coffin?
A video posted to U.S. President Donald Trump's Facebook page drew instant criticism.
By Bethania Palma

In late May 2020, readers asked Snopes to verify whether U.S. President Donald Trump’s Facebook page had shared a video showing the logo of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign superimposed on a coffin, implying that either Biden was (figuratively) inside the coffin or his campaign was dead. No caption was included with the video, leaving interpretation up to the viewer. The queries from readers came the same week Trump and the official White House Twitter account were flagged by Twitter for posting tweets that violated the platform’s rules against “glorifying violence.” It’s true that on May 26, the Donald J. Trump Facebook page did post such a video. The video features a troupe of Ghanian pallbearers who have gone viral for performing exuberant dance routines while carrying coffins at funerals. The video posted to Trump’s Facebook page shows Biden stating, “If you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t Black.” It then shows the dancing pallbearers video with Biden’s campaign logo superimposed on the coffin.

The president also said that his base “love the black people” before traveling to Florida to watch a rocket launch.
By Maggie Haberman

A day after claiming he didn’t mean to suggest that law enforcement officials should shoot people who were part of the unrest in Minnesota, President Trump said on Saturday that the Secret Service had been prepared to sic the “most vicious dogs” on protesters outside the White House gates on Friday night. “Great job last night at the White House by the U.S. @SecretService,” Mr. Trump tweeted in a string of four posts on Saturday. “They were not only totally professional, but very cool. I was inside, watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more safe.” He continued that the Secret Service allowed the protesters to “scream & rant as much as they wanted” and only acted when “someone got too frisky or out of line.” “The front line was replaced with fresh agents, like magic,” he added. “Big crowd, professionally organized, but nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen. That’s when people would have been really badly hurt, at least.”

By Kathryn Watson

President Trump announced Friday that he's "terminating" the United States' relationship with the World Health Organization, claiming China has total control over it. As he listed a litany of grievances with China, the president announced he's suspending the entry of certain Chinese nationals and sanctioning Chinese officials who have eroded Hong Kong's freedom. The president for weeks has expressed frustration with China, blaming the communist country and in part the W.H.O. for the spread of the deadly virus that has left more than 100,000 dead in the U.S. "Our actions will be strong, our actions will be meaningful," Mr. Trump said. But he hasn't always been so harsh on China. In the early days of the pandemic, the president applauded Chinese President Xi Jinping for his handling of the pandemic. "China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus," the president tweeted on January 24. "The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well. In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!" But as time went by and the virus' devastation swept the country, his tune changed. In what was billed by the White House as a news conference, the president took no questions Friday, despite the long list of national news stories.

By Associated Press

Transcripts of phone calls that played a pivotal role in the Russia investigation were declassified and released Friday, showing that Michael Flynn, as an adviser toPresident-elect Donald Trump, urged Russia’s ambassador to be “even-keeled” in response to punitive Obama administration measures, and assured him “we can have a better conversation” about relations between the two countries after Trump became president. Democrats said the transcripts showed that Flynn had lied to the FBI when he denied details of the conversation, and that he was undercutting a sitting president while communicating with a country that had just interfered in the 2016 presidential election. But allies of the president who maintain that the FBI had no reason to investigate Flynn in the first place said the transcripts showed he had done nothing wrong. The transcripts were released by Senate Republicans on Friday after being provided by Trump’s new national intelligence director, John Ratcliffe, who waded into one of the most contentious political topics in his first week on the job. Ratcliffe’s extraordinary decision to disclose transcripts of intercepted conversations with a foreign ambassador is part of ongoing efforts by Trump allies to release previously secret information from the Russia investigation in hopes of painting Obama-era officials in a bad light. The transcripts are unlikely to significantly reshape public understanding of the contact between Flynn and then-Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, a central moment in the Russia investigation. The information released Friday conforms with the rough outlines of the call described in the 2017 guilty plea that Flynn reached with the team of prosecutors working for special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

By Ariel Zilber For Dailymail.com

President Trump on Friday retweeted a Twitter post suggesting that CNN’s headquarters in Atlanta was being damaged by rioters that the cable news giant itself encouraged as the nation is engulfed in protests over the death of a black man at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. ‘In an ironic twist of fate, CNN HQ is being attacked by the very riots they promoted as noble & just. Oops’ the caption of the tweet read. The tweet, which included video footage of protesters spraying graffiti and shattering glass at the entrance to the CNN center in Atlanta, was posted by a supporter of the president.

By Michael S. Rosenwald

In late 1967, as armed robberies and unrest gripped black neighborhoods in Miami, the city’s white police chief — a tough-talking former U.S. Army Cavalry officer who parted his hair straight down the middle — held a news conference “declaring war” on criminals. The police, Chief Walter Headley warned, would use shotguns and dogs at his command. And then he uttered the phrase that President Trump drew from Friday morning on Twitter to denounce the unrest in Minnesota and elsewhere fueled by deadly police brutality. “I’ve let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Headley said. A Miami Herald report on Headley’s comments said “his men have been told that any force, up to and including death, is proper when apprehending a felon.” Headley, the Miami police chief for 20 years, liked to brag that he was early to hire black police officers, though only white officers were allowed to be called “policemen.” Black officers were called “patrolmen.” By 1967, any semblance of outreach toward minorities became a non-starter for Headley. “Community relations and all that sort of thing has failed,” he said during his news conference. “We have done everything we could, sending speakers out and meeting with Negro leaders. But it has amounted to nothing.” He had a message for those in the black community. “Don’t these people know that most of the crimes in the Negro districts are against Negroes?” he said, according to the Miami Herald. “Don’t they know we’re trying to protect Negroes as well as whites?” In August of 1968, the city exploded during the Republican National Convention. Three days of violence left three people dead and 18 wounded. More than 200 people were arrested.

By Brian Stelter and Donie O'Sullivan, CNN

New York (CNN Business) Twitter says President Donald Trump and the White House's official Twitter (TWTR) account have violated its rule against glorifying violence and has affixed a warning label to tweets on both, marking the first time such action has been taken against the accounts. The social media platform is using what it calls a "public interest notice" to flag the incendiary post about the protests and violence in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This means the tweets will not be removed, but will be hidden behind a notice that says "this Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public's interest for the Tweet to remain accessible." Users can view it if they click past the notice. The company's move risked escalating tensions with the White House during an already tense week. Trump signed an executive order that purported to address "censorship" by Twitter and other social media companies, following Twitter's earlier decision to affix fact-check type labels to two of his misleading posts about mail-in voting ballots. Hours after Twitter flagged the tweet from Trump, the official White House account posted the same message. Twitter then took the same action with that message. "As is standard with this notice, engagements with the Tweet will be limited," Twitter said in a tweet explaining its earlier decision to place a warning label on Trump's tweet. "People will be able to Retweet with Comment, but will not be able to Like, Reply or Retweet it." A spokesperson for Twitter said the decision was made by teams within the company and CEO Jack Dorsey was informed of the plan before Trump's tweet was labeled. Trump continued his criticisms of Twitter on Friday after it labeled his post, tweeting that "it well be regulated." The president posted an identical message to Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram. CNN has reached out to Facebook for comment.

By Justin Wise

Wednesday strongly hit back at claims from President Trump that mail-in voting leads to high levels of fraud, asserting that there is "no basis" for such allegations and that the falsehoods "may well undermine the American people's faith in our democracy." In a more-than-60-tweet thread on the subject, Weintraub cited a range of reports and news stories to argue that there is no evidence that voting by mail leads to widespread voter fraud. She described the president's claims as "dead wrong," "crying wolf," "false" and a "debunked lie." "There's simply no basis for the conspiracy theory that voting by mail causes fraud. None," Weintraub said, pointing to fact-checks from The Washington Post and CNN, as well as reports from other organizations about the effectiveness of the voting method.

By Elizabeth Crisp

President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order related to social media Thursday after Twitter—his favored mode of direct communication to his supporters—attached a fact-check disclaimer to his tweets about mail-in voting this week. What the order will say is not yet clear. However, two of Trump's close GOP allies in Congress signaled earlier Wednesday a willingness to strip the social media giant of the special speech liability immunity it receives because of the fact-checking flap. Trump's move, in the end, is widely expected to be a strong-arming of the platform into not flagging his tweets. Trump declined to answer reporters' questions about his plans after he returned to the White House following a trip to Florida on Wednesday. However, he expressed his frustration—on Twitter no less—about the messaging platform. "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," Trump tweeted Wednesday. "Twitter has now shown that everything we have been saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct. Big action to follow!" One of Trump's supporters, U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on Wednesday questioning the platform's "unprecedented decision to single out the President for disfavor, based on his political speech."

By Andrew Kaczynski, CNN

(CNN) Donald Trump repeatedly attacked then-President Barack Obama for golfing during times of tragedy and disaster from 2011 to 2016, a CNN KFILE review of his comments finds. In media appearances, posts on social media, and speeches as a commentator and later as candidate for president, Trump said Obama's golfing made it appear he was tired of being president, adding that Obama should have given up golf when his White House term started. "He may play more golf than any human being in America, and I'm not sure that's good for the President," Trump said in one January 2015 comment. The President is now facing his own criticism for golfing twice during Memorial Day weekend as the coronavirus death toll in the United States approaches 100,000 -- an action he defended as "exercise" accompanied by attacks on Obama's golfing habits. Trump previously drew criticism for golfing during Hurricane Dorian in September of 2017 and later that month attended a golf tournament and his own New Jersey club after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico. Trump said the media never covered, "all of the time Obama spent on the golf course, often flying to Hawaii in a big, fully loaded 747, to play. What did that do to the so-called Carbon Footprint?" "Barack was always playing golf," he added in a tweet. Since taking office, Trump has golfed and traveled more than Obama, a CNN fact check on Monday reported -- with the President spending one out of every 4.92 days so far at a golf property. Speaking on Fox News in March 2011, Trump criticized Obama for golfing when Japan was hit by the earthquake and tsunami that damaged several nuclear facilities. "For him to be playing golf, simultaneously with that happening -- you're talking about the day of and the day after -- to be playing golf I think is very inappropriate," Trump said at the time. "The image of him on a golf course, while Japan is in that kind of trouble," he added. "This is catastrophic trouble, I think is totally inappropriate." In a tweet on November 18, 2013, a day after several tornado outbreaks struck the Midwest, Trump tweeted, "President Obama played golf yesterday???" Trump's trip this past weekend to the golf course was his first since March 8, when there were 550 cases of the coronavirus in the US.

2014 criticisms
Trump was a frequent critic of Obama golfing in 2014, attacking him for golfing after the beheading of journalist James Foley and when there were two confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States. "This was a bad time to be playing golf," he added. Speaking on Fox News' "On The Record" in October 2014, Trump said Obama's golfing after the beheading made it appear he was tired of being president. "You wouldn't think that that's something that's not a PR person has to say it's not a good time for you to be playing golf," he said. "That's really bad. That was just bad. And it just looks to me like he's tired of the position." In September 2014, Trump mixed mockery with his criticism, offering Obama a lifetime of free golf if he resigned from office in a viral tweet. "If Obama resigns from office NOW, thereby doing a great service to the country—I will give him free lifetime golf at any one of my courses!," Trump tweeted. "It was a terrible image," Trump said of Obama golfing after a news conference of Foley's beheading.

Zach Fuentes, former deputy chief of staff to President Trump, won the contract just days after registering his company. He sold Chinese masks to the government just as federal regulators were scrutinizing foreign-made equipment.
by Yeganeh Torbati and Derek Willis

A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Zach Fuentes, President Donald Trump’s former deputy chief of staff, secured the deal with the Indian Health Service with limited competitive bidding and no prior federal contracting experience. The IHS told ProPublica it has found that 247,000 of the masks delivered by Fuentes’ company — at a cost of roughly $800,000 — may be unsuitable for medical use. An additional 130,400, worth about $422,000, are not the type specified in the procurement data, the agency said. What’s more, the masks Fuentes agreed to provide — Chinese-made KN95s — have come under intense scrutiny from U.S. regulators amid concerns that they offered inadequate protection. “The IHS Navajo Area Office will determine if these masks will be returned,” the agency said in a statement. The agency said it is verifying Fuentes’ company’s April 8 statement to IHS that all the masks were certified by the Food and Drug Administration, and an FDA spokesperson said the agency cannot verify if the products were certified without the name of the manufacturer. Hospitals in the Navajo Nation, which spans Utah, New Mexico and Arizona, have been desperate for protective supplies as the numbers of coronavirus infections and deaths have grown quickly. As of Friday, the Navajo Nation reported 4,434 COVID-19 cases and 147 deaths, a crisis that has prompted outcries from members of Congress and demands for increased funding.

By Zack Budryk

President Trump on Tuesday evening 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. “@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!” The social media site placed a warning on two of Trump’s tweets for the first time earlier in the day, noting that his claim that California would send mail-in ballots to anyone living in the state was false and that mail-in ballots are already in use in several states, including Oregon, Utah and Nebraska. Trump himself also voted by mail in the Florida Republican primary this year.

By Daniel Dale and Holmes Lybrand, CNN

Washington (CNN) Criticized for golfing twice on a Memorial Day weekend during which the US coronavirus death toll approached 100,000, President Donald Trump responded Sunday and Monday by drawing attention, again, to former President Barack Obama's golfing. Trump denounced the media, which he called "sick with hatred and dishonesty," for supposedly failing to mention that Saturday was his first time golfing in three months. (CNN, among other outlets, did note that it was his first golf outing since March 8.) Trump also accused the media of failing to talk about "all of the time Obama spent on the golf course, often flying to Hawaii in a big, fully loaded 747, to play. What did that do to the so-called Carbon Footprint?" "Barack was always playing golf," he said in one of his five golf-related tweets. Facts First: Trump has spent much more time playing golf than Obama did through this point of the term -- after repeatedly attacking Obama's golfing and claiming he would not play if he got elected himself. Just Trump's airplane trips to his Mar-a-Lago Club and residence in Florida, from which he has often taken a motorcade ride to a nearby golf course he owns, have required far more air travel than Obama's once-a-year Hawaii vacations did through this point in the term.

Obama vs. Trump: Golf by the numbers
Obama played 98 rounds of golf through this point in his presidency, according to data provided to CNN by Mark Knoller, a veteran CBS News White House correspondent who is known for tracking presidential activities. By contrast, Knoller said, Trump has spent all or part of 248 days at a golf course. CNN's own count has Trump at 266 days spending some time at a Trump golf course. Since Trump and his aides often refuse to confirm that he actually played golf during a visit to a golf club, even when he has been spotted in golf attire, it is not possible to definitively say how many times Trump has golfed as President. And some of Trump's rounds, like when he plays with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, mix leisure with official business. Regardless, it is clear that Trump has spent more time golfing than Obama. And Trump's own golf-related "carbon footprint" has been bigger than Obama's even if you count only air travel. Through this point in his first presidential term, Obama had made three vacation trips to his birth state of Hawaii for a total of 29,978 miles in the air, Knoller tweeted, while Trump has made 30 trips to Palm Beach, Florida, the home of Mar-a-Lago, for a total of 51,540 miles. Obama played 333 rounds during his eight years as president, according to Knoller. In other words, Obama played golf once every 8.77 days as president. Trump, conversely, has been at a golf club once every 4.92 days so far.

By Christina Zhao

A Philadelphia pastor has warned his congregation that President Donald Trump's order for churches to be allowed to reopen immediately is "political pandering," and that science still suggests it's not safe to gather in large crowds. Trump on Friday pushed for the reopening of churches across America that have been closed amid the pandemic to stop people gathering and worsening the coronavirus outbreak. "Allow these very important, essential places of faith to open right now for this weekend. If they don't do it, I will override the governors," the president said at the White House. "In America we need more prayer, not less." Senior pastor Alyn Waller, of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, home to one of the city's largest African American congregations, told his 31,000 Facebook followers in a video on Saturday that Trump's move is "political pandering to the right, extreme right-wing, to make a point for their votes." Waller maintained that while the church is "essential," it is more than just a Sunday morning in-person service. "If your church was closed because you could not worship in a sanctuary, then you weren't being the church," he said. The pastor also informed his congregation that he will continue to hold services through Zoom and Facebook Live until health authorities deem it safe to gather in large groups. "The truth of the matter is the science still suggests that it is not safe to gather in large crowds," Waller said.

By Simon Denyer

TOKYO ­— North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to implement "new policies" to boost the country's nuclear deterrent, state media reported Sunday, underlining his decision to turn his back on denuclearization talks with the United States. Kim made the call at a meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party’s Central Military Commission, nearly two years after he met President Trump at a historic summit in Singapore that seemed to offer hope of progress between the two nations. Subsequent talks made little progress before dissolving in acrimony last year, and North Korea has since returned to a harder line in its public posturing. Kim’s attendance at the meeting was his first public appearance in three weeks, with the country still on high alert over coronavirus. A three-week period out of the public eye last month provoked intense speculation about Kim’s health before he reappeared to open a fertilizer factory.

White House press secretary called out by conservative on Fox News for her "grotesque" behavior defending Trump
By Tom Boggioni

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, the editor of the conservative Dispatch slammed White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany for her no-holds-barred defense of Donald Trump, calling her behavior "indefensible and grotesque." Speaking with host Chris Wallace, who also called out the new press secretary's recent foray before the press, saying "I spent six years in the White House briefing room covering Ronald Reagan. I have to say, I never, and in the years since, I never saw a White House press secretary act like that. If Kayleigh McEnany had told Sam Donaldson and me what questions we should ask, that would not have gone well," Jonah Goldberg joined in the pile-on.


“I spent six years in the White House briefing room covering Ronald Reagan. I have to say, I never ... saw a White House press secretary act like that.”
By Justin Baragona

Fox News anchor Chris Wallace tore into White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Sunday morning for questioning the religious beliefs and faith of White House reporters, saying he’s never seen a press secretary act like that in his long career. Following President Donald Trump’s Friday announcement in which he demanded that all houses of worship reopen “right now” and toothlessly threatened to “override” governors who have limited gatherings due to coronavirus restrictions, McEnany took a snide shot at the press corps. Asked what federal powers Trump had to force states to open up places of worship during the pandemic, McEnany said the president would “strongly encourage” the governors that churches are essential before snarking that she found it “interesting to be in a room that desperately wants to seem to see these churches and houses of worship stay closed.” Noting that McEnany received strong pushback from reporter Jeff Mason, Wallace introduced a Fox News Sunday panel discussion on her remarks by taking issue with her suggestion that the press corps doesn’t care about religion. “Donna, I spent six years in the White House briefing room covering Ronald Reagan. I have to say, I never—and in the years since too, I never saw a White House press secretary act like that,” Wallace declared to former Democratic National Committee interim chairperson Donna Brazile. Brazile, who says she personally knows McEnany as an “extraordinary person,” said that this combative approach isn’t the “right posture” and McEnany should turn it down a “little bit.” Wallace, meanwhile, went on to further criticize the White House spokesperson for lecturing reporters on what questions they should ask her at the briefings. “I have to say that if Kayleigh McEnany had told Sam Donaldson and me what questions we should ask, that would not have gone well,” the Fox anchor told The Dispatch’s Jonah Goldberg after playing a clip of McEnany browbeating reporters on the Michael Flynn “unmasking” story. “What Donald Trump wants in a press secretary is a Twitter troll who goes on attack,” Goldberg replied. “Doesn’t actually care about doing the job they have, and instead wants to impress really an audience of one and make another part of official Washington another one of these essentially cable news and Twitter gladiatorial arenas.”

By Greg Sargent - Opinion writer

During the impeachment of President Trump, an expert witness called by Democrats floated a theoretical scenario involving the president threatening a state hammered by a natural disaster, to illustrate the corruption of Trump’s shakedown of Ukraine. What would we think if Trump dangled federal disaster aid as leverage to force a governor to do his political bidding, asked Stanford law professor Pamela Karlan, adding: “Wouldn’t you know in your gut that the president had abused his office? That he betrayed the national interest?” Trump has now done something very close to this. And the answer to Karlan’s question is: Yes, Trump is abusing his office and betraying the national interest: Trump is referring to the Michigan secretary of state’s announcement that applications for absentee ballots will be mailed to 7.7 million residents. That’s to ensure that Michiganders can vote safely amid a pandemic that has brought more than 50,000 cases of coronavirus to the state and killed more than 5,000 people. Trump’s new threat is not a precise parallel to Karlan’s scenario. But Trump is threatening to somehow withdraw federal aid unless Michigan drops vote-by-mail, a naked effort to extort Michigan into doing something that could help him politically. (Trump rage-tweeted a similar threat at Nevada.) That last point is crucial. It has been widely reported that Trump’s advisers fear he’s losing Michigan, which he probably needs again, especially with Arizona at risk. We also know Trump fears vote-by-mail can hurt his chances. Trump explicitly admitted that with such Democratic voting rights measures, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” And so, in lodging this threat, Trump is saying the corrupt part out loud — with a bullhorn. There have long been grounds for asking whether Trump has corrupted the process of doling out aid to states. A Post investigation found big disparities in how states are treated, which has left some officials “wondering whether politics is playing a role in the response.” Now Trump has made the threat as explicit as anyone could imagine.

What Trump threatened is illegal
As a threshold matter, what Trump is threatening is illegal, according to Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “The federal government does not have the power to withhold funding from states because the president disagrees with something the states are doing,” Vladeck told me. “There’s no legal mechanism by which he can do that.” Theoretically, Trump might try to do this. Under the Cares Act, which recently passed Congress, states get allotted coronavirus aid money from the Treasury Department, and then subsequently certify that they used it all on coronavirus-related purposes, a spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee tells me.


Now that Trump reportedly is toying with a resumption of nuclear testing, the Kremlin intends to take full advantage.
By Julia Davis

President Donald J. Trump has announced the U.S. intends to exit the “Open Skies” treaty. The 34-nation agreement allows the United States, Russia and other countries to conduct observation flights over each other’s territories in the interests of transparency and international security.

“An infectious disease specialist for the Russian Health Ministry said Trump must really be taking hydroxychloroquine, since it’s known to cause psychotic side effects. ”

Speaking to reporters, Trump said: “We’re going to pull out, and they’re going to come back and want to make a deal. We’ve had a very good relationship lately with Russia.” While the Trump administration is citing Russia’s various violations of the agreement as the main reason for the U.S. withdrawal, Russian experts and government officials believe that the abrupt decision is rooted in Trump’s desire to throw all international treaties out the window in pursuit of a bigger, better deal which he can claim to pursue during his election campaign even if it comes to nothing. Such flippant methods may work for reality television, but tend to backfire in real life. Case in point, Trump's gambit with Iran, where U.S withdrawal from the nuclear deal led to the expansion of Tehran’s nuclear stockpile. Now that Trump reportedly is toying with the idea of resuming nuclear testing as well, the Kremlin intends to take full advantage of that harebrained idea. Washington’s approach reportedly is rooted in the flawed assumption that renewed nuclear testing would prompt the Kremlin to pressure the Chinese into joining a trilateral agreement with the United States and Russia. This concept was dismissed out of hand by Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov. During an online forum conducted by the Gorchakov Fund, a Russian think tank, Ryabkov asserted that the Kremlin didn’t intend to apply any pressure to China to please Washington.  

What happened in Michigan this week was no "mistake." Infrastructure was privatized for profit, and it's crumbling
By Sophia Tesfaye

President Trump spent another week feuding with a Democratic governor, this time as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer dealt with historic levels of rainfall which led to the collapse of a pair of privately-owned dams in the state. Instead of momentarily pausing his politics of petty revenge, Trump made matters worse, as is his wont. The president diverted already strained resources for a campaign stop in Michigan that doubled as a political stunt, advertising his personal refusal to wear a mask, even in settings where everyone else is required to. Trump's antagonistic rhetoric towards a state that is facing multiple life-or-death crises at the same time was widely criticized. But what he did more quietly this week reveals just how vulnerable his deregulatory actions have left America. In a move strikingly reminiscent of the Ukraine scandal, Trump took to Twitter on Wednesday to threaten to withhold federal funding from Michigan, even as floodwaters from the two breached dams forced thousands of residents of the city of Midland to flee their homes. Trump's apparent goal was to coerce Michigan officials not to send vote-by-mail applications to the state's 7.7 million registered voters. As usual, the president was unclear about exactly what funding he had in mind. Hours later he sent another tweet claiming that his administration had already activated military and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) response teams but said Gov. Whitmer "must now 'set you free' to help." Whitmer said at a news briefing on Tuesday that she had already contacted federal officials for help and activated the National Guard. Once again, nobody really knows what Trump was talking about. Nevertheless, the salient point here is that the president of the United States, after witnessing the flooding of an entire region amid a major public health crisis, was to suggest, in public, that the government and people of Michigan owed him something in exchange for federal aid. Trump then traveled to a Ford plant in Michigan on Thursday and offered this explanation for the failure of the privately-owned dams: "Perhaps there was a mistake." Like many disasters, the beginnings of the Michigan dam failures are far removed in time from the actual event, so this event can hardly be described as a mistake. All indications are that this week's historic flooding was caused by years of neglect and mismanagement of a public good that was co-opted for private profit. It doesn't help that the headquarters of Dow Chemical, including a Superfund site with known cancer-causing chemicals, is directly downstream of all this floodwater.

By Robert Kuznia, Curt Devine and Nick Valencia, CNN

(CNN) In the early weeks of the US coronavirus outbreak, staff members in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tracked a growing number of transmissions in Europe and elsewhere, and proposed a global advisory that would alert flyers to the dangers of air travel. But about a week passed before the alert was issued publicly -- crucial time lost when about 66,000 European travelers were streaming into American airports every day. A whistleblower holding an envelope. The delay, detailed in documents obtained by CNN, is the latest example to emerge of a growing sense of disconnect between the CDC and the White House. In interviews with CNN, CDC officials say their agency's efforts to mount a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science. The result has worsened the effects of the crisis, sources inside the CDC say, relegating the 73-year-old agency that has traditionally led the nation's response to infectious disease to a supporting role.

An analysis of 96,000 patients shows those treated with hydroxychloroquine were also more likely to suffer irregular heart rhythms
By Ariana Eunjung Cha and Laurie McGinley

A study of 96,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients on six continents found that those who received an antimalarial drug promoted by President Trump as a “game changer” in the fight against the virus had a significantly higher risk of death compared with those who did not. People treated with hydroxychloroquine, or the closely related drug chloroquine, were also more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, that can lead to sudden cardiac death, it concluded. The study, published Friday in the medical journal the Lancet, is the largest analysis to date of the risks and benefits of treating covid-19 patients with antimalarial drugs. It is based on a retrospective analysis of medical records, not a controlled study in which patients are divided randomly into treatment groups — a method considered the gold standard of medicine. But the sheer size of the study was convincing to some scientists. “It’s one thing not to have benefit, but this shows distinct harm,” said Eric Topol, a cardiologist and director of the Scripps Research Translational Institute. “If there was ever hope for this drug, this is the death of it.” David Maron, director of preventive cardiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said that “these findings provide absolutely no reason for optimism that these drugs might be useful in the prevention or treatment of covid-19.” Past studies also found scant or no evidence of hydroxychloroquine’s benefit in treating sick patients, while reports mounted of dangerous heart problems associated with its use. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration last month warned against the use of the drug outside hospital settings or clinical trials.

By Nicole Gaouette, Ryan Browne and Vivian Salama, CNN

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump confirmed the US will be exiting the Open Skies Treaty, a pact designed to reduce the risk of military miscalculations that could lead to war, and said Russia's actions had prompted him to take the decision. "Russia didn't adhere to the treaty, so until they adhere, we will pull out," Trump told reporters outside the White House Thursday. The President predicted that the US withdrawal would force Moscow back to the table. "There's a chance we may make a new agreement or do something to put that agreement back together," Trump said. "I think what's going to happen is we're going to pull out and they're going to come back and want to make a deal." Trump also denied that the withdrawal would increase tensions with Russia. "No, I think that we're going to have (a) very good relationship with Russia," the President said. The 1992 treaty allows member countries to conduct short-notice, unarmed, reconnaissance flights over the other countries to collect data on their military forces and activities. It is the latest major arms control treaty that the US will abandon under the Trump administration. Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said the Trump administration is "committed to our treaty obligations, but in this era of great power competition we are looking to advocate for agreements that benefit all sides and that include partners who comply responsibly with their obligations." The Open Skies Treaty is part of a broad web of arms control agreements meant to ensure stability and predictability on the European continent and reduce the risk of misunderstandings that could spiral into conflict by ensuring transparency. Bipartisan groups of former national security officials reacted with dismay to the news the US will withdraw, saying that will reduce US leadership in the world, hand Russia a victory and undermine US and global security.

'This is insane'
"This is insane," tweeted Gen. Michael Hayden, the retired four-star general who served as former National Security Agency director, a former principal deputy director of national intelligence and was President George W. Bush's director of the CIA. The New York Times was first to report a final decision has been reached. European allies, who have lobbied for the US to remain in the treaty, see it as a central part of their security infrastructure and the US decision to withdraw will likely add to the strain in transatlantic relations, analysts say. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a nearly 1,000-word statement explaining the decision that the US understands Europeans still value the treaty.

President Donald Trump blasts plans to expand voting by mail in Michigan but dropped threats to withhold federal funding for the state after an avalanche of criticism from Democrats.

By Chantal Da Silva

The Trump administration has reportedly signed its biggest border wall contract yet, awarding a North Dakota construction firm a nearly $1.3 billion deal to put up fencing in Arizona. Fisher Sand and Gravel, the construction firm awarded the contract, is expected to see 42 miles of black-painted fencing erected across the mountainous terrain of southern Arizona, according to The Washington Post. Given the deal's $1.28 billion price tag, that works out to a cost of more than $30 million per mile. Previously, Fisher Sand and Gravel had been passed over for other border wall construction projects. However, the North Dakota firm reportedly gained President Donald Trump's support in White House meetings after Tommy Fisher, the company's CEO, praised the president on cable news and made donations to Trump's GOP allies. The company's only other major border contract, a $400 million deal to build 31 miles of border wall across the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge southwest of Tucson, is currently under review by the Defense Department inspector general after Democratic Congress members expressed concerns over the White House's influence on the contracting process. On Wednesday, the DoD inspector general's office confirmed to Newsweek that the audit was still ongoing.

The president falsely cited the risk of voter fraud in tweeted threats to defund Nevada and Michigan, both 2020 swing states
By Sam Levine in New York

Donald Trump falsely accused two states of facilitating voter fraud and threatened to withhold critical election funding from them on Wednesday because of their efforts to make it easier to cast a ballot during the Covid-19 pandemic. Trump targeted Nevada and Michigan, a critical swing state he won by just over 10,000 votes in 2016. Trump incorrectly said Michigan was planning to send a mail-in ballot to every voter for elections in 2020. The state announced on Tuesday it was sending an absentee ballot application, not a ballot, to every registered voter. Georgia’s secretary of state, a Republican, announced a similar plan earlier this year, a plan reportedly developed in coordination with the Trump campaign. Republican secretaries of state in other places, including Iowa and West Virginia have also decided to send absentee ballot applications to all voters. In a second tweet on Wednesday, Trump also suggested he would block federal funding from Nevada after its Republican secretary of state decided to mail a ballot to voters for the state’s 9 June primary. Facing a Democratic-led lawsuit, Clark county, home of 70% of voters, agreed to send ballots to not just active voters, but inactive ones the state suspects have moved. Republicans argue that decision leaves ballots vulnerable to fraud. Several studies have shown voter fraud is extremely rare and Trump himself voted by mail in Florida earlier this year.

By Joe Sommerlad, Danielle Zoellner

Nancy Pelosi has doubled down on her attacks against Donald Trump by saying he and his aides have "doggy doo" on their shoes when speaking to CNN. A battle heightened between the speaker of the house and the president after she called Mr Trump "morbidly obese". CDC offiicals have also attacked Trump and his administration, according to CNN. Officials within the public health office accused the president of "muzzling" science in favour of politics when handling the coronavirus pandemic. This comes after Mr Trump made the extraordinary claim that it is a “badge of honour” for the US to lead the world in coronavirus infections - currently 1.56m and more than 92,250 deaths - as it simply means the country is doing more testing than others.

By Katelyn Polantz and Marshall Cohen, CNN

(CNN) Almost immediately after special counsel Robert Mueller closed his investigation last year, Attorney General William Barr was huddling with the prosecutor he assigned to re-examine the Russia probe -- in a series of meetings that haven't been previously known and appear to highlight Barr's drive to rewrite the legacy of the Mueller investigation. Barr met at least six times with US Attorney John "Bull" Durham over a 10-week period in spring 2019, including once during the critical days after Mueller submitted his report to the Department of Justice and before it was released to the public, according to Justice Department records released to the transparency group American Oversight and shared with CNN this week. American Oversight sued the Justice Department in August for records of Durham-Barr communications and meetings. The records could begin to fill in gaps about the start of Durham's review. Barr has been clear about his skepticism of the Russia investigation since even before he became attorney general, yet how the Durham probe began, how closely Barr has directed Durham's work and the full sweep of Durham's investigation isn't known. While it's unclear how routinely Barr was meeting with other prosecutors in Durham's position at the end of the Mueller investigation, the newly discovered details of his meetings with Durham illuminate how the two men communicated at a crucial time. The newly released records show Barr moved quickly after becoming attorney general in February 2019 to get face time with Durham.

By Nikki Carvajal and Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump claimed Monday he is taking daily doses of hydroxychloroquine, a drug he's long touted as a potential coronavirus cure even as medical experts and the US Food and Drug Administration question its efficacy and warn of potentially harmful side effects. Speaking at a meeting of restaurant executives, Trump said he began taking the antimalarial drug after consulting the White House doctor, though stopped short of saying his physician had actually recommended the drug. "A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it," Trump said. He later said he'd been taking it every day for a week and a half. The admission was a dramatic development in Trump's attempts to promote hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for coronavirus, which began earlier in the outbreak and has been met with resistance from medical professionals. Because the drug is prescribed to treat malaria and other conditions, Trump has cast it as safe and suggested coronavirus patients have little to lose by trying it. But at least one study has shown the drug does not work against Covid-19 and could cause heart problems. The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It follows a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine that also showed the drug doesn't fight the virus. Even before these reports were published, the FDA and the National Institutes of Health issued warnings about using the drug for coronavirus patients. Trump said he hadn't been exposed, and that he started taking the drug because he had heard from frontline responders who sent him letters saying they were taking it preventatively. "Here's my evidence: I get a lot of positive calls about it," Trump said. Asked if the White House doctor recommended he begin taking hydroxychloroquine, Trump demurred. "I asked him what do you think, he said, 'Well if you'd like it,' " the President told reporters. While Trump admitted he doesn't know if the drug works, he claimed "if it doesn't, you're not going to get sick and die."

Trump was a gamble. It’s not paying off.
By Ezra Klein

A few months ago, I had dinner with a friend who argued that it was time to rethink Donald Trump’s presidency. After all, the economy was fine, we hadn’t ended up in a nuclear war, and the tough posture toward China was paying some trade dividends. Maybe the madman routine was working. Maybe it really was just a routine, and Trump was managing the presidency well enough. Wasn’t it time for critics like me to rethink their most dire warnings? Wasn’t it time to admit we’d gotten him wrong? There were, even then, obvious rebuttals, and I made some of them. The lethal mismanagement of the Hurricane Maria response, for instance. But there was a power to the argument. The worst hadn’t happened. Didn’t that require a reckoning? And then the novel coronavirus came, and President Trump did nothing for week after week, month after month. We sit, still, in the void where a plan should be, forced to choose between endless lockdown and reckless reopening because the federal government has not charted a middle path. Instead, we wake to presidential tweets demanding the “liberation” of states, and laugh to keep from crying when the most powerful man in the world suggests we study the injection of disinfectants. Trump has let disaster metastasize into calamity. The feared collision of global crisis and presidential recklessness has come, and it is not close to over. There is a lesson here, one of particular consequence in an election year. In politics, we evaluate leaders on the clearest of metrics: what did or didn’t happen. Unemployment rose. The bill failed. The war began. We grasp for certainty, and understandably so. In a post-truth age, it is hard enough to discuss reality; it is maddening to try to debate hypotheticals. But much of any presidency takes place in the murky realm of risk. Imagine that there are 10 horrible events that could befall the country in a president’s term, each with a 1 in 40 chance of happening. If a president acts in such a way that they all become much likelier — say, a 1 in 10 chance — he may never be blamed for it, because none of them may happen, or because the one that does falls during his successor’s term. But in taking calamity from reasonably unlikely to reasonably likely, he will have done the country terrible harm. The logic works in reverse, too. A president who assiduously works to reduce risk may never be rewarded for their effort because the outcome will be a calamity that never occurred, a disaster we never felt. We punish only the most undeniable of failures and routinely miss the most profound successes.


A military contractors’ report circulating on Capitol Hill claims to have evidence that COVID-19 escaped from a Chinese lab. It’s filled with information that’s just plain wrong.
By Erin Banco, Adam Rawnsley, Lachlan Cartwright

A shocking report suggesting that the coronavirus was “release[d from] the Wuhan Institute of Virology” in China is now circulating in U.S. military and intelligence circles and on Capitol Hill. But there’s a critical flaw in the report, a Daily Beast analysis reveals: Some of its most seemingly persuasive evidence is false—provably false. Multiple congressional committees have obtained and are scrutinizing the 30-page report, produced by the Multi-Agency Collaboration Environment (MACE), a part of Sierra Nevada, a major Department of Defense contractor. The report claims to rely on social media postings, commercial satellite imagery, and cellphone location data to draw the conclusion that some sort of “hazardous event” occurred at the Wuhan virology lab in October 2019—an event that allowed COVID-19 to escape. It’s a theory that has gained currency on the political right and in the upper tiers of the Trump administration. But the report’s claim centers around missing location data for up to seven phones — and in many cases, less than that. It’s too small a sample size to prove much of anything, especially when the same devices showed similar absences in the spring of 2019. The MACE document claims a November 2019 conference was canceled because of some calamity; in fact, there are selfies from the event. What’s more, imagery collected by DigitalGlobe’s Maxar Technologies satellites and provided to The Daily Beast reveals a simpler, less exotic reason for why analysts believed “roadblocks” went into place around the lab after the supposed accident: road construction. The Maxar images also show typical workdays, with normal traffic patterns around the lab, after the supposedly cataclysmic event.

The attorney general said that an investigation into the Russia inquiry was focusing on others, not the former president.
By Katie Benner and Adam Goldman

WASHINGTON — Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed President Trump’s attempts to rebrand the Russia investigation as a criminal plot engineered by former President Barack Obama, saying on Monday that he expected no charges against either Mr. Obama or former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a result of an investigation into how their administration handled Russian election interference. “As long as I’m attorney general, the criminal justice system will not be used for partisan political ends,” Mr. Barr said during a news conference announcing that the gunman in last year’s shooting at Florida military base had links to Al Qaeda. Mr. Barr said that John H. Durham, the federal prosecutor investigating how law enforcement and intelligence officials confronted Russia’s operations to meddle in the 2016 election, was examining some aspects of the case as potential crimes but that he was focused on other people, not Mr. Obama or Mr. Biden. “I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either man,” Mr. Barr said. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others.”

By Zachary Cohen, CNN

Washington (CNN) The State Department inspector general fired by President Donald Trump on Friday, Steve Linick, had nearly completed an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's decision to fast-track an $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia, according to House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman, Rep. Eliot Engel. "I have learned that there may be another reason for Mr. Linick's firing. His office was investigating — at my request — Trump's phony declaration of an emergency so he could send weapons to Saudi Arabia. We don't have the full picture yet, but it's troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed," Engel, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement to CNN Monday. Last May, the Trump administration declared an emergency to bypass Congress and expedite billions of dollars in arms sales to various countries -- including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- citing the need to deter what it called "the malign influence" of Iran throughout the Middle East. "These sales will support our allies, enhance Middle East stability, and help these nations to deter and defend themselves from the Islamic Republic of Iran," Pompeo said in a statement at the time, which put the value of the sales at $8.1 billion. But the move drew bipartisan condemnation, with lawmakers decrying the precedent it sets, questioning the administration's claims of an emergency and raising the issue of Saudi Arabia's human rights record and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now, Engel says Pompeo might have removed the federal watchdog who was looking into his handling of the arms sale. Linick's Saudi Arabia investigation was first reported by The Washington Post. The revelation will increase scrutiny of Trump's firing of Linick on Friday evening -- the latest in a series of dismissals of independent government watchdogs tasked with oversight of the President's administration. A senior State Department official previously confirmed to CNN that Pompeo recommended Linick be removed, but they did not know the reasons why.

IG was also investigating whether Pompeo made a staffer perform errands
On Saturday, CNN reported that Linick was also investigating whether Pompeo made a staffer perform a variety of personal errands, including walking his dog, picking up dry cleaning and making a dinner reservation for him and his wife. But at this time, House Democrats say they do not yet know which investigation was the biggest factor behind the decision to dismiss Linick. "I wouldn't assign percentages," a Democratic committee aide said.

By Spencer Kimball

President Donald Trump fired the State Department’s inspector general on the recommendation of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a White House official said Saturday. Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick Friday night, notifying Congress of the decision in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump, who has targeted several government agency watchdogs in the past several weeks, told Congress he no longer had full confidence in Linick, but did not provide an explanation as to why. “Secretary Pompeo recommended the move, and President Trump agreed,” a White House official said. Democratic lawmakers said the inspector general was investigating potential misconduct by Pompeo. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., launched an investigation into Linick’s removal Saturday, claiming Pompeo wanted the inspector general removed because the secretary was under investigation. Menendez and Engel have called for the White House to turn over records related to Linick’s firing. “Such an action, transparently designed to protect Secretary Pompeo from personal accountability, would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions and may be an illegal act of retaliation,” the lawmakers said in press release Saturday. “This concern is amplified by the fact that it came only hours after the House of Representatives passed the Heroes Act, which contains additional legal protections for inspectors general.” A Democratic aide told NBC News that Linick was scrutinizing Pompeo’s alleged misuse of a political appointee to perform personal tasks for himself and his wife, Susan. The firing of Linick was also met with skepticism by some Republican lawmakers. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Trump must provide details to Congress about why Linick was removed. “As I’ve said before, Congress requires written reasons justifying an IG’s removal,” said Grassley, who co-chairs the Whistleblower Protection Caucus “A general lack of confidence simply is not sufficient detail to satisfy Congress.”

The president seems more interested in blaming his predecessor than tackling the coronavirus – so what’s driving Trump’s fixation?
by David Smith in Washington

President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump once sat together in the Oval Office. “I was immediately struck by Trump’s body language,” wrote journalist Jon Karl in his memoir Front Row at The Trump Show. “I was seeing a side of him I had never seen. He seemed, believe it or not, humbled.” It was November 2016 and, just for once, Trump was not in charge of the room, Karl recalls. Obama was still president, directing the action and setting the tone. His successor “seemed a little dazed” and “a little freaked out”. What the two men discussed in their meeting that day, only they know. But what became clear in the next three and a half years is that Obama remains something of an obsession for Trump; the subject of a political and personal inferiority complex. Observers point to a mix of anti-intellectualism, racism, vengeance and primitive envy over everything from Obama’s Nobel peace prize to the scale of his inauguration crowd and social media following. Ben Rhodes, a former Obama national security aide, tweeted this week: “Trump’s fact-free fixation on Obama dating back to birtherism is so absurd and stupid that it would be comic if it wasn’t so tragic.” “Birtherism” was a conspiracy theory that Trump started pushing in 2011 (“He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one but there is something on that birth certificate – maybe religion, maybe it says he’s a Muslim, I don’t know.”) . Nine years later, he has come full circle with “Obamagate”, which accuses his predecessor of working in league with the “deep state” to frame Trump for colluding with Russia to win the 2016 election. There is zero evidence for this claim. Indeed, a case could be made that the supposed “deep state” did more to help Trump than hurt him when the FBI reopened an investigation into his opponent, Hillary Clinton, just before election day. When questioned by reporters, Trump himself has struggled to articulate what “Obamagate” means. Ned Price, a former CIA analyst, dubbed it “a hashtag in search of a scandal”. But his allies in the Republican party and conservative media are stepping up to build a parallel universe where this is the big story and Obama is at the center of it. Sean Hannity, a host on Fox News, demanded: “What did Barack Obama know and when did he know it?” Over the past week, the channel’s primetime shows have devoted more coverage to the bogus crimes of “Barack Hussein Obama” than to the coronavirus pandemic – and Trump’s mishandling of it. Tara Setmayer, a former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill, said: “Donald Trump always need a foil. This riles up his base because they cling to anything that diverges responsibility for anything from Donald Trump over to someone else. And in this case Barack Obama is the boogeyman of the month.” Beyond political expediency, there is a more profound antipathy at work. From the Iran nuclear deal to the Trans Pacific Partnership, from environmental regulations to the Affordable Care Act, Trump has always seemed to be on a mission to erase his predecessor’s legacy. With few deep convictions of his own, Obama became a negative reference point for Trump. Between 22 November 2010 and 14 May 2020, he tweeted about Obama 2,933 times, according to the Trump Twitter Archive.

Trump says “if we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” Nope.
By Aaron Rupar

Nearly four months since the first coronavirus case in the US was reported, President Donald Trump continues to struggle to come to grips with how testing for the virus works and why it’s important. During remarks on Thursday at the Owens & Minor distribution center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Trump tried to downplay the severity of the US’s coronavirus outbreak by arguing the country wouldn’t be leading the world in cases if it weren’t for the fact that so much testing is being done here — as if coronavirus cases simply wouldn’t exist if we didn’t test to find them. “Don’t forget, we have more cases than anybody in the world. But why? Because we do more testing,” Trump said. “When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They [the media] don’t want to write that.” It stands to reason that conducting more tests correlates with finding more cases — but that’s a good thing. More testing helps public health experts and policymakers understand the full scope of the problem, isolate those who have tested positive, and then trace their contacts to help contain potential outbreaks. But for Trump, the downside is it undercuts his argument that it’s already safe for states to lift stay-at-home orders that are hurting the economy and therefore hurting his reelection hopes. - Trump makes rocks look smart.

The new guidelines provide brief checklists meant to help key businesses and others operating in public reopen safely.

The CDC on Thursday released previously withheld guidance documents on reopening schools, restaurants and other institutions locked down during the pandemic, one week after the White House ordered the agency to revise an earlier draft it deemed "too prescriptive." The new CDC guidelines, which appear to be watered down from previously leaked versions, provide brief checklists meant to help key businesses and others operating in public reopen safely. In separate one-page documents, the CDC offers decision-making tools for schools, workplaces, camps, child care programs, mass transit systems, and bars and restaurants.  the White House had rejected at least two prior CDC drafts providing more detailed recommendations for reopening, according to documents published by the Associated Press in the previous week. A White House spokesperson last week said the administration requested changes because draft agency guidance didn't comport with President Donald Trump's strategy of putting states in charge of reopening decisions. The new guidance comes as dozens of governors, to varying degrees, have begun easing restrictions on businesses and social activities, and Trump urges them to move faster — even as his health officials warn against moving too quickly. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, on Tuesday warned that reopening the country too early could yield “really serious” consequences if states don’t have the capacity to respond to new infections. The CDC said its newly released tools are meant to give state and local areas control over their reopening strategies. In many instances, they are shorter and less specific than previously reported drafts.

A preliminary study has cast doubt on the efficacy of the Abbott device, which can provide results in minutes.
By Nick Visser

The Food and Drug Administration warned Thursday a coronavirus test touted by the White House may provide false results. The agency said the Abbott ID NOW point-of-care test, which was given emergency authorization by the FDA in March, may return false negatives in some cases where patients actually have the coronavirus. The FDA said it had received 15 reports that the device didn’t reflect accurate results. “We are still evaluating the information about inaccurate results and are in direct communications with Abbott about this important issue,” Tim Stenzel, director of the FDA’s office of in vitro diagnostics, said in a statement.“This test can still be used and can correctly identify many positive cases in minutes. Negative results may need to be confirmed with a high-sensitivity authorized molecular test.” The agency noted it was sharing its concerns publicly “in the spirit of transparency,” clarifying that “no diagnostic test will be 100% accurate.” More than 1.4 million people in the U.S. have been infected with the coronavirus and more than 85,000 have died. Cases have continued to climb, but President Donald Trump and other lawmakers have urged some regions to reopen in an effort to kickstart an economy devastated by the pandemic. The FDA stressed Thursday that any patient tested for COVID-19 who was given negative results but had ongoing symptoms consistent with the virus should have their results confirmed by another test.

By Jason Lemon

President Donald Trump suggested on Thursday that the U.S. could "cut off the whole relationship" with China, claiming that doing so would save the country $500 billion. "There are many things we could do," Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo on Thursday morning. "We could cut off the whole relationship." The U.S. and many other nations have become increasingly critical of China amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, which first arose in the Chinese city of Wuhan. China has been accused of covering up the extent of the outbreak and failing to be transparent about the seriousness of the virus. China has attempted to dismiss these criticisms and claimed that the Trump administration is trying to deflect criticism of its own response to the crisis. The president suggested on Thursday that cutting ties with China would save the U.S. money. "Now, if you did, what would happen?" he asked. "You'd save $500 billion if you cut off the whole relationship."

Manafort's lawyers had requested release, citing age, pre-existing conditions.
By Katherine Faulders and Luke Barr

President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been released from prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement because of concerns over the novel coronavirus, two sources familiar with the matter told ABC News. Manafort was released from FCI Loretto in central Pennsylvania early Wednesday morning, the two sources said. An attorney for Manafort confirmed he had been released to home confinement but declined to comment further. The Bureau of Prisons also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.  Manafort, 71, has been serving out his more than seven-year sentence for charges related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation in a federal correctional institution in central Pennsylvania. He was found guilty of tax fraud and conspiracy and was sentenced by a federal judge in March 2019. He was slated to be released from prison November 4, 2024. The charges stemmed from his work related to Ukraine between 2006 and 2015. Manafort joined the Trump campaign in March 2016 as the campaign's convention manager. He served as Trump's campaign chairman from May 2016 until he resigned in August 2016. The decision to move Manafort to home confinement comes after his attorneys wrote a letter to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) last month requesting that he be immediately transferred to home confinement because he is at high risk of contracting COVID-19 because of his age and pre-existing conditions.

By Christopher WilsonSenior Writer,Yahoo News

With more than 80,000 Americans dead from the coronavirus, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Trump are trying to deflect blame to former President Barack Obama. In a dialogue with Trump’s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, live-streamed by the Trump campaign on Monday evening, McConnell said that Obama’s team, which exited office over three years ago,“did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like [the coronavirus pandemic].” Politico reported in March that the Obama National Security Council left its successors a document titled “Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents.” It warned of potential problems like shortages in personal protective equipment that have plagued the nation’s response. The Trump administration neglected to implement its recommendations. “We literally left them a 69-page Pandemic Playbook.... that they ignored,” tweeted Ron Klain, who oversaw the Ebola response under Obama and now advises presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. “And an office called the Pandemic Preparedness Office... that they abolished. And a global monitoring system called PREDICT .. that they cut by 75%.” “The maddening thing is Obama left them a WH office for pandemics, a literal playbook, a cabinet-level exercise, and a global infrastructure to deal with ‘something like this,’” tweeted former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes. - Mitch McConnell and the GOP think the American people are dumb of course, that excludes people who listen to Fox news or right wing media they will believe anything except the truth. Trump has been in office for three years and was giving a 69-page Pandemic Playbook that the Trump administration ignored. If Mitch McConnell wants to place the blame on someone, he needs to point to Donald J. Trump and the Trump administration.

'Chaotic disaster': Obama hits Trump's coronavirus response, warns of disinformation ahead of election
The former president was also critical of the Justice Department directing prosecutors to drop their case against Michael Flynn, warning that the “rule of law is at risk.”
By Mike Memoli

After largely staying out of the fray since leaving the White House, former President Barack Obama pointedly criticized the Trump administration on a range of issues while also sounding the alarm about the spread of misinformation ahead of the presidential election as he rallied former members of his administration to join him in doing all they can to back his former vice president. In a call with thousands of alumni of his administration Friday night, the contents of which were first reported by Yahoo! News, Obama also was harshly critical of the Justice Department directing prosecutors to drop its case against former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, warning that the “rule of law is at risk.” This is how “democracies become autocracies,” he warned. And Obama slammed the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as an “absolute chaotic disaster.” “What we're fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that that has become a stronger impulse in American life,” Obama said according to audio provided to Yahoo! News, the authenticity of which was confirmed by multiple sources who participated on the call. “It's part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic, and spotty, and it would have been bad, even with the best of governments,” he said. - Mitch McConnell and the GOP think the American people are dumb of course, that excludes people who listen to Fox news or right wing media they will believe anything except the truth. Trump has been in office for three years and was giving a 69-page Pandemic Playbook that the Trump administration ignored. If Mitch McConnell wants to place the blame on someone, he needs to point to Donald J. Trump and the Trump administration.

By Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump hoped this would be the week he emerged into a nation recovering from pandemic. Instead the pandemic came to him. A day after breaking his White House self-isolation for a cross-country trip meant to signal the country's readiness to restart, Trump received word that one of his Oval Office valets tested positive for the virus. Two days later, Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary also tested positive, setting off another round of tests, delaying the vice president's trip to Iowa and causing more hand-wringing inside the White House about who might be infected. Ivanka Trump's personal assistant also tested positive for coronavirus, a source familiar told CNN on Friday night, although she has been teleworking for nearly two months and has not been around the President's daughter in several weeks. The arrival of coronavirus to the West Wing only served to illustrate the continued spread of the disease months into a pandemic that's taken more than 77,000 American lives and turned a once hot economy to ice. Even the nightly deep cleanings, regular testing and a lot of wishful thinking couldn't prevent the virus from arriving on Trump's doorstep. Meanwhile, Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, will self-quarantine for 14 days after coming in contact with an individual who tested positive for coronavirus, an FDA spokesman confirmed to CNN. And Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is following suit, self-quarantining for two weeks after he was exposed to a person at the White House who tested positive for Covid-19, a CDC spokesperson confirmed to CNN on Saturday. As Trump agitates for states to loosen their restrictions and allow Americans back into workplaces and businesses, the sight of his aides contracting the disease did little to boost confidence the nation is ready to return to normal, even as jobless claims skyrocket to never-seen-before levels and options for reviving the economy fall short.

By Kevin Johnson - USA TODAY

It started almost immediately, with the roll-out of the Russia investigation. Before the results of special counsel Robert Mueller’s 22-month inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election were made public a year ago, Attorney General William Barr declared that there was insufficient evidence to charge President Donald Trump with obstruction of justice. A month later, Barr announced the appointment of a federal prosecutor to review the origins of Mueller’s investigation, adding to a startling assertion that the FBI had spied on the Trump campaign. When prosecutors in February recommended a stiff prison sentence for former Trump adviser Roger Stone – the last person charged in Mueller’s inquiry – Barr intervened again, prompting the dramatic withdraw of four department lawyers from case in protest. Justice's latest decision to abandon the prosecution of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn, analysts said, adds yet a new chapter to the steady dismantling of Mueller’s work that had long threatened Trump’s presidency, while exposing Barr, yet again, to fresh recriminations of fueling a continuing politicization of Justice as a powerful annex of the White House. “The Department of Justice under Attorney General Bill Barr will likely be remembered as the most political Department of Justice in history,” said Jimmy Gurule, who once worked under Barr during the attorney general’s first stint at the department during the George H.W. Bush administration. "It deeply saddens me to witness the severe damage inflicted ... to the independence and integrity of the Department of Justice.” David Weinstein, a longtime former federal prosecutor in Miami, said Justice's repeated interventions in the Mueller cases is "setting a pattern that I have never seen before." "Brick by brick, Barr is taking apart the house that Mueller built," Weinstein said. "And the only reasonable explanation for it is that the president wanted it to happen."

By Maegan Vazquez, Kaitlan Collins, John Harwood and Jim Acosta, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump confirmed Friday that Vice President Mike Pence's press secretary, Katie Miller, tested positive for the coronavirus. Miller is now the second White House staff member known to have tested positive for the coronavirus this week, after one of Trump's personal valets tested positive on Thursday. "She's a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and then all of a sudden today she tested positive," Trump said during a meeting with Republican members of Congress at the White House. The President said that Miller has not come into contact with him but noted that she has been in contact with Pence. Miller was frequently in contact with members of the press, and the White House is now making more coronavirus testing available to journalists, a White House official told CNN's Jim Acosta. Katie Miller is married to Trump's senior adviser, Stephen Miller.

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) On Thursday, President Donald Trump called the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election a "hoax." While on the phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin. "I said, 'You know, it's a very appropriate time, because things are falling out now and coming in line showing what a hoax this whole investigation was, it was a total disgrace, and I wouldn't be surprised if you see a lot of things happen over the next number of weeks,"' Trump told reporters about his conversation with Putin. "This is just one piece of a very dishonest puzzle." You don't have to think hard to imagine the huge smile on Putin's face when he heard those words from Trump. Because what it means is that Trump continues to be unable to decouple the findings that Russia actively sought to interfere in the last presidential election from the idea that admitting that fact somehow robs him of credit for winning. The two things, of course, aren't mutually exclusive. Russia did meddle in the election to help Trump and hurt Hillary Clinton, and Trump won. The President's inability to grasp that nuance means that he continues to reject the findings of the intelligence community, Robert Mueller's special counsel investigation and the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee -- all of which concluded that, yes, Russia ran a broad and deep campaign to interfere in the 2016 election and, yes, it was aimed at helping Trump, who they believed was better for their interests than Clinton. (To be clear: None of those investigations produced definitive proof that a singe vote had been changed by Russia's effort.)

By Tucker Higgins

Chief Justice John Roberts on Friday paused a lower court order that would have required the Trump administration to turn over to Congress secretive materials produced in connection with former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The order is procedural and was not opposed by the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee, which is expected to ask the Supreme Court to ultimately require the Department of Justice to hand over the documents. Roberts’ action comes one day after the Trump administration asked the top court to temporarily halt a March ruling by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordering the Justice Department to hand over Mueller’s grand jury materials.

By Christina Wilkie

WASHINGTON — An aide to Vice President Mike Pence has tested positive for coronavirus, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Friday. On Thursday, news broke that President Donald Trump’s personal valet has also tested positive. A spokeswoman for Pence did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. Pence was scheduled to travel to Des Moines, Iowa, in the morning, but his departure from Andrews Air Force Base was delayed by nearly an hour as staff dealt with news of the diagnosis. Reporters traveling with Pence said several staffers disembarked from Air Force Two just before takeoff. Those staffers left the plane because they had been in contact with the staffer who tested positive, NBC News reported. In response to the positive test, the White House medical office has embarked on a program of contact tracing for the individual, an official told NBC. Some of these staffers have already been retested. As of Friday, more than 75,000 Americans have died of Covid-19, and more than 1.2 million have tested positive.

By Andrew Kaczynski and Em Steck, CNN

(CNN) New White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was a harsh critic of then-candidate Donald Trump before she became a fierce advocate for him, including calling comments he made about Mexican immigrants in 2015 "racist." Before becoming a prominent pro-Trump commentator during his first campaign, McEnany said it was "unfortunate" and "inauthentic" to call him a Republican. McEnany made the comments in a series of panels on CNN and Fox Business. McEnany, at the time a Republican writer and Harvard Law student would go on to defend Trump as a CNN contributor during the 2016 presidential election year. After Trump was elected, she served as a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee and the Trump re-election campaign, before being named White House press secretary in early April. In 2015, McEnany was particularly critical of statements Trump made while announcing his campaign, in which he said Mexico was sending immigrants to the US who were "rapists" and bringing drugs and crime to the country. Trump added that "some, I assume, are good people." "To me, a racist statement is a racist statement. I don't like what Donald Trump said," she said in an exchange on CNN in late June 2015, in which she compared his remarks to comments about Jewish people made by the Rev. Al Sharpton in the 1990s. McEnany added that Trump's comments were "derogatory" and as "equally hateful" as Sharpton's. "Donald Trump has shown himself to be a showman, I don't think he is a serious candidate," she added. "I think it is a sideshow. It's not within the mainstream of the candidates." McEnany did not return multiple requests for comment. During a press briefing on Friday, McEnany attributed her past comments to "watching CNN" and "naively believing some of the headlines" during the first four weeks of the 2016 presidential election.
"I very quickly came around and supported the President," she said.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

Washington (CNN) The Justice Department is dropping the criminal case against President Donald Trump's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, whose lies about his contacts with Russia prompted Trump to fire him three years ago and special counsel Robert Mueller to flip him to cooperate in the Russia investigation. The request to drop the case, filed with a federal judge in DC District Court on Thursday, is a sudden end to a protracted legal battle that's lately been fertile ground for Trump to attack the early Russia investigation and former FBI leadership he dislikes. The court must still formally approve the request. Flynn twice, before two separate judges, affirmed his December 2017 agreement to plead guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI about his interactions with the then-Russian ambassador during the Trump presidential transition. But last year, he fired his original defense team and waged a campaign to try to get a judge to reverse his guilty plea. In its filing, the department condemned the FBI's work when it interviewed Flynn in the West Wing in the first weeks of the Trump presidency. The Justice Department called the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Flynn for his contacts with Russia "a no longer justifiably predicated investigation," according to the filing. "After a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information appended to the defendant's supplemental pleadings, the Government has concluded that the interview of Mr. Flynn was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI's counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn -- a no longer justifiably predicated investigation that the FBI had, in the Bureau's own words, prepared to close because it had yielded an 'absence of any derogatory information.'" Thursday, the Justice Department also says it can't prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Flynn lied, nor that his lies were substantial. - Barr is Trump's new Roy Cohn

By Kaitlan Collins and Peter Morris, CNN

(CNN) A member of the US Navy who serves as one of President Donald Trump's personal valets has tested positive for coronavirus, CNN learned Thursday, raising concerns about the President's possible exposure to the virus. The valets are members of an elite military unit dedicated to the White House and often work very close to the President and first family. Trump was upset when he was informed Wednesday that the valet had tested positive, a source told CNN, and he was subsequently tested again by the White House physician. In a statement, the White House confirmed CNN's reporting that one of the President's staffers had tested positive. "We were recently notified by the White House Medical Unit that a member of the United States Military, who works on the White House campus, has tested positive for Coronavirus," deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement. "The President and the Vice President have since tested negative for the virus and they remain in great health." A White House source said the valet, a man who has not been identified, exhibited "symptoms" Wednesday morning, and said the news that someone close to Trump had tested positive for coronavirus was "hitting the fan" in the West Wing. Trump, who is a self-described germophobe, has chastised aides before who coughed or sneezed in his presence. He has claimed to rarely get sick himself. Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and the senior staffers who regularly interact with them are still being tested weekly for coronavirus, two people familiar told CNN. The White House is continuing to use the rapid Abbott Labs test, which provide results in about 15 minutes. Several officials who have received the test said it's often administered in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next door to the West Wing on the White House grounds. A medical official swabs the staffer's nostrils and informs them that they'll be notified within the next several minutes if it's positive. Still, the White House has not enforced strict social distancing guidelines for staffers and few people inside the building wear masks during the day, including valets.

By Kaitlan Collins, Jeremy Diamond and Kevin Liptak, CNN

(CNN) Dr. Rick Bright, the ousted director of the office involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine, formally filed an extensive whistleblower complaint Tuesday alleging his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and that his caution at a treatment favored by President Donald Trump led to his removal. "I was pressured to let politics and cronyism drive decisions over the opinions of the best scientists we have in government," Bright said on a call with reporters after filing his complaint. Bright said in the complaint he raised urgent concerns about shortages of critical supplies, including masks, to his superiors in the Trump administration but was met with skepticism and surprise. While Bright said some officials shared his concerns -- including top White House trade adviser Peter Navarro -- he describes an overall lack of action at the top of the administration even as the virus was spreading outside of China. Bright had led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority since 2016 when he was reassigned last month to a narrower position at the National Institutes of Health. An attorney for Bright told reporters on Tuesday he was scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill next week. Democratic Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, the chairwoman of the House's Health Subcommittee, told CNN last month she planned to call in Bright to testify before her panel as she reviews the circumstances of his removal. In his whistleblower complaint, Bright says he raised concerns about US preparedness for coronavirus starting in January but was met with "indifference which then developed into hostility" by leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services. Later, he says he pushed back on HHS's leadership when they sought to make "potentially harmful drugs" available for treating Covid-19, including hydroxychloroquine, which had been repeatedly touted by Trump as a potential cure despite a lack of robust testing. "His efforts to prioritize science and safety over political expediency and to expose practices that posed a substantial risk to public health and safety, especially as it applied to chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, rankled those in the Administration who wished to continue to push this false narrative," the complaint reads. READ: Rick Bright's full whistleblower complaint

By Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly - Washington Post

When we last updated our database of President Trump’s false or misleading claims, it was on Jan. 19, the end of his third year as president. The president’s most frequently repeated false claim was that he presided over the best economy in the history of the United States. The next day, the first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus was reported in the United States. So, with this update through April 3, we’ve added a new category — coronavirus — that already has more than 350 items. Much has changed in the world, with stay-at-home orders, massive economic disruption and topsy-turvy securities markets, but one thing has remained constant — the president’s prolific twisting of the truth. As of April 3, Trump’s 1,170th day in office, our database shows that he has made 18,000 false or misleading claims. That’s an average of more than 15 claims a day, though since our last update 75 days ago, he’s been averaging just over 23 claims a day. That’s slightly higher than the 22 a day he recorded in 2019. With millions of Americans suddenly unemployed or facing cuts in pay, the president’s claims of an economic boom are woefully out of date. But that has not stopped him from recalling the pre-coronavirus environment with rose-colored glasses. “Again, we had the strongest economy in the world,” he said at a news conference on April 3. “We had our best ever. We had probably the best economy in the history of the world, bigger than China, bigger than anybody.” Such economic statistics were a mainstay of the president’s campaign rallies, which were always a rich source of suspect claims. Before the pandemic forced the president to stop holding such events, he held seven rallies between Jan. 30 and March 2. Reading his remarks at those rallies now is like opening a time capsule, as he bragged about job numbers and a soaring stock market while dismissing the coronavirus as a problem akin to the flu that would magically disappear in April. In a case of counting his chickens before they hatch, Trump repeatedly proclaimed he had the best unemployment numbers of any presidential term. But he was measuring his three-year average against full four- or eight-year terms. Given the swoon in the economy, it’s now doubtful he will have best record once his term is completed. Grounded at home, the president has replaced the campaign rallies with his near-daily briefings at the White House on the pandemic. These news conferences have also been a rich source of misinformation. The president has over-promised (such as announcing a Google website that did not exist), sought undue credit or tried to pin the blame for the crisis on others. For many weeks, Trump played down the emerging crisis. He frequently said there were only 15 cases and these patients would soon be better. He often claimed the low figure was the result of travel restrictions he placed on non-U.S. citizens traveling from China. At the time the virus was spreading rapidly through the United States, largely undetected because the Trump administration failed to quickly set up effective testing.

By Cristina Marcos

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Monday blasted the White House's move to restrict officials leading the nation's coronavirus response from testifying before Congress, suggesting that the Trump administration "might be afraid of the truth." The Trump administration on Monday issued new guidance instructing coronavirus task force members not to accept invitations to participate in congressional hearings this month unless approved by White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. The move came after the White House late last week blocked Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, from testifying before a House committee hearing scheduled for Wednesday. Pelosi said Congress needs to hear from officials handling the COVID-19 response to help lawmakers determine how resources should be allocated in upcoming coronavirus relief legislation. "The fact is that we need to allocate resources for this. In order to do that, any appropriations bill must begin in the House. And we have to have the information to act upon," Pelosi said during an interview on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."


John Ratcliffe’s campaign Twitter account follows Pizzagaters, JFK Jr. conspiracists, and a 9/11 Truther account with just one follower besides himself.
By Spencer Ackerman, Will Sommer - the daily beast

For a nominee to helm the U.S. government’s intelligence apparatus, Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) draws on some unusual sources of information. Ratcliffe’s official, verified campaign Twitter account follows several accounts on the political fringe, including a 9/11 truther account with just one follower besides himself and four promoting the outlandish QAnon conspiracy theory, which posits that the world is run by a cabal of Democratic pedophile-cannibals—and has been ruled a potential source of domestic terrorism by the FBI. The conspiracy theorists followed by Ratcliffe, whose nomination for director of national intelligence goes before the Senate intelligence committee Tuesday morning, cover a bizarre range of beliefs. They posit that John F. Kennedy Jr. faked his death to help Trump to take down the Deep State. Others claim a Democratic sex dungeon exists in in a Washington pizzeria. But Ratcliffe and the QAnon promoters he follows have one thing in common: utter loyalty to Trump. Even before Ratcliffe’s QAnon interest was known, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), a committee member, told The Daily Beast, “Congressman Ratcliffe is a partisan politician who has spent the last two years promoting conspiracy theories in defense of Donald Trump.” It’s not clear whether Ratcliffe followed conspiracy theorists himself, or whether it was done by someone else with access to his Twitter account. The QAnon accounts Ratcliffe follows were first noted by CQ Roll Call editor Ryan Kelly on Twitter.

He also sent out a bizarre tweet talking about coronavirus like it was a biblical plague.
By Zeeshan Aleem

Amid rising confirmed coronavirus case counts, and a death toll that has begun to plateau, President Donald Trump spent much of Sunday lashing out at politicians, attacking the media, and bragging about his poll numbers. He also seemed to suggest Covid-19 is a cosmic or biblical force — and one that has already been stopped. Sunday morning, the president panned former President George W. Bush’s recent call for bipartisan unity in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, arguing his predecessor should have spoken up on his behalf during Trump’s impeachment process. “Let us remember how small our differences are in the face of this shared threat,” Bush said Saturday in a video message to the public. “In the final analysis, we are not partisan combatants.” Trump felt this was inappropriate, however, quoting comments made by Pete Hegseth, a weekend cohost of Fox & Friends, who asked “where [Bush] was during impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” To this, Trump added, “He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!”

Donald J. Trump
.@PeteHegseth  “Oh bye the way, I appreciate the message from former President Bush, but where was he during Impeachment calling for putting partisanship aside.” @foxandfriends  He was nowhere to be found in speaking up against the greatest Hoax in American history!

After sending out the tweet about Bush, Trump proceeded to send out one adversarial and divisive post after another. He deemed NBC and CNN “Chinese puppets who want to do business there” and “the enemy of the people.” He boasted about his approval ratings among Republicans and said that a new Gallup poll shows “Trump beating Sleepy Joe Biden.” (It does not.) He said there were “many complaints coming in” over Maine’s coronavirus response (despite the state government’s rising approval ratings) — and then added that he won the state. He also retweeted some of his old tweets, one in which he declared a video of a boat owner who painted Trump’s name onto his boat “very cool,” and another in which he falsely claims Democrats want “OPEN BORDERS.” He capped off his spree with a tweet about America coming together as a nation — and it was an odd one, in which he described an America rising from the “death and destruction” caused by “a great and powerful Plague” that led to “lost souls all over the World:”

But even as President Trump acknowledged that the coronavirus has been deadlier than he had previously predicted, he pressed to reopen the country.
By Peter Baker

WASHINGTON — President Trump predicted on Sunday night that the death toll from the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the country may reach as high as 100,000 in the United States, far worse than he had forecast just weeks ago, even as he pressed states to reopen the shuttered economy. Mr. Trump, who last month forecast that fatalities from the outbreak could be kept “substantially below the 100,000” mark and probably around 60,000, acknowledged that the virus has proved more devastating than expected. But nonetheless, he said that parks, beaches and some businesses should begin reopening now and that schools should resume classes in person by this fall. “We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people,” the president said in a virtual “town hall” meeting at the Lincoln Memorial hosted by Fox News. “That’s a horrible thing. We shouldn’t lose one person over this.” But he credited himself with preventing the toll from being worse. “If we didn’t do it, the minimum we would have lost was a million two, a million four, a million five, that’s the minimum. We would have lost probably higher, it’s possible higher than 2.2” million. The death toll passed 67,000 on Sunday, more than the total American deaths in the Vietnam War and already higher than the president’s earlier prediction. More than 1,000 additional deaths have been announced every day since April 2 and while the rate appears to have peaked, it has not begun to fall in a significant, sustained way. The model embraced by the White House a month ago had assumed the death rate would begin to fall substantially by mid-April.

A rare moment of bipartisanship of today’s hyper-partisan Washington — and what it means for Russia, President Trump and holding clean elections on November 3.
By Frank Vogl

Recently, Republicans and Democrats on the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously approved a report totally supporting the findings by U.S. intelligence agencies that there was widespread Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Unfortunately, in stark contrast to past times when bipartisanship was a regular occurrence in the U.S. capital, arriving at such shared judgments has become a matter of great rarity in today’s hyper-partisan political environment.

Burr’s big moment
The unanimous approval was all the more meaningful as Richard Burr, the Republican chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from North Carolina, is a staunch Trump supporter. The conclusions of this new report, published just a week ago on April 21, 2020, will be particularly distressing to Trump, as well as to Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell. The Senator from Kentucky has so far steadfastly refused to support special measures to counter Russian interference in this year’s election.

Senator Burr, speaking for the full committee noted:
"One of the ICA’s (Intelligence Community Assessment) most important conclusions was that Russia’s aggressive interference efforts should be considered ‘the new normal.’ That warning has been borne out by the events of the last three years, as Russia and its imitators increasingly use information warfare to sow societal chaos and discord. With the 2020 presidential election approaching, it’s more important than ever that we remain vigilant against the threat of interference from hostile foreign actors."

McConnell under increasing pressure
Given that stunningly clear statement by a leading Republican Senator and Trump trooper, McConnell will face mounting pressure within his own ranks in the Senate to allocate resources to protect the 2020 election. After all, one of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s prime conclusions is that the Russians are at it again, seeking to undermine the 2020 U.S. elections.

White House blocks Fauci from testifying next week
By Jim Acosta, CNN

(CNN) House Appropriations Committee spokesman Evan Hollander told CNN on Friday that the White House is blocking Dr. Anthony Fauci, a key member of the White House coronavirus task force, from testifying on Capitol Hill next week. "The Appropriations Committee sought Dr. Anthony Fauci as a witness at next week's Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee hearing on COVID-19 response. We have been informed by an administration official that the White House has blocked Dr. Fauci from testifying," Evander said in a statement.

By Eugene Kiely

In her first press briefing, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany repeated a false talking point about the Russia investigation. McEnany claimed the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election ended in “the complete and total exoneration of President Trump.” In fact, on the question of whether Trump obstructed justice, special counsel Robert Mueller’s report pointedly said that the investigation “does not exonerate him.” McEnany, who became White House press secretary early last month, held her first press briefing on May 1. Asked if she would promise not to lie to the media, McEnany said, “I will never lie to you, you have my word on that.” She did, however, repeat a falsehood that others in the administration, including the president, have told before about the Russia probe that consumed the first two years of his administration. On the day the Mueller report was issued on April 18, 2019, Trump tweeted: “NO COLLUSION – NO OBSTRUCTION.” It’s true that the investigation “did not establish that the [Trump] Campaign conspired and coordinated with the Russian government in its election-interference activities.” However, as we have written, the report said this about the issue of obstruction of justice: “Our investigation found multiple acts by the President that were capable of exerting undue influence over law enforcement investigations, including the Russian-interference and obstruction investigations.” “The incidents were often carried out through one-on-one meetings in which the President sought to use his official power outside of usual channels,” the report said. “These actions ranged from efforts to remove the Special Counsel and to reverse the effect of the Attorney General’s recusal; to the attempted use of official power to limit the scope of the investigation; to direct and indirect contacts with witnesses with the potential to influence their testimony.” Ultimately, the report did not recommend the prosecution of Trump and stated that the special counsel did not have the authority to do so. It cited an opinion by the Office of Legal Counsel that said “the indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would impermissibly undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions” in violation of “the constitutional separation of powers.”

By D'Angelo Gore

President Donald Trump falsely claimed that his administration was not initially able to meet the increasing demand for ventilators to treat COVID-19 patients because “we weren’t left ventilators by a previous administration.” We can’t say for sure how many ventilators there were in the Strategic National Stockpile when Trump took office, but there were likely thousands. A 2017 article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated there were roughly 9,000 ventilators in the federal stockpile as of at least 2010, and ventilators in the U.S. stockpile had never been distributed in the 20 years prior to the global coronavirus outbreak in 2020, according to Richard Branson, a respiratory care specialist and professor at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who advises the federal government on ventilator supplies. Reporters also described seeing some of the government’s stash of ventilators in 2016, when they toured at least one of the secret U.S. warehouses where the breathing machines and other equipment are stored in the event of a health crisis, such as a pandemic. Trump repeatedly has made the general claim that the federal stockpile of emergency medicine and supplies was “empty” or “bare” when he took office. That’s false, as we have written before. But he specifically said there weren’t any ventilators when answering reporters’ questions during a recent White House event about his administration’s efforts to protect seniors from contracting the novel coronavirus. Seniors are vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, particularly those in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes.

Trump, April 30: We had a ventilator problem that was caused by the fact that we weren’t left ventilators by a previous administration. The cupboards were bare, as I say often. And not only are the cupboards full now, we have ventilators; we’re the king in the world of ventilators. We have thousands and thousands of them now being delivered.

But it’s not true that the Trump administration did not inherit any ventilators. Reporters said they saw ventilators during a tour of one of the U.S. facilities housing the stockpile’s massive inventory. “As we walk, I hear a loud hum. It’s a giant freezer packed with products that have to be kept cold,” wrote NPR science correspondent Nell Greenfieldboyce in June 2016 — only months before Trump was inaugurated in January 2017. “Just outside it, there are rows upon rows of ventilators that could keep sick or injured people breathing. [Shirley] Mabry explains that they’re kept in a constant state of readiness. ‘If you look down to the side you’ll see there’s electrical outlets so they can be charged once a month,’ she says. Not only that—the ventilators get sent out for yearly maintenance.” VICE News also reported seeing the machines when its film crew visited one of the facilities for an episode of “VICE News Tonight” that aired in December 2016. “[A]lthough we couldn’t reveal where it was or what exactly it had inside. It looked like a prepper’s Ikea, with row after row of containers filled with mystery medications and equipment — including that one item everyone’s been talking about lately, ventilators,” Vice News said.

By Ted Johnson

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Friday did something her predecessor never did: She held an official press briefing. “I will never lie to you. You have my word on this,” she said in response to a question from Associated Press correspondent Jill Colvin. She also told reporters that they do plan to continue the briefings and she will announce “timing forthcoming.” She said that she is “normally with the president in the Oval Office” in response to a query of how she will relay how President Donald Trump is thinking on certain issues. McEnany succeeded Stephanie Grisham as press secretary last month. Grisham never held an official briefing, and the last one was held was in March, 2019. As CNN noted, that was 417 days ago. As they asked questions, a number of reporters thanked McEnany for holding one. Let’s see how long that last.

By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN

Washington (CNN) Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin called on private schools with endowments to return the funds they received from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, after media reports of some elite schools applying for the loans meant to keep smaller businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic. "It has come to our attention that some private schools with significant endowments have taken #PPP loans. They should return them," Mnuchin wrote on Twitter Friday. Some private schools like St. Andrew's Episcopal in Maryland, where Barron Trump is a student, plan to accept funds from the PPP, despite having an endowment of more than $8 million, according to a 2017 tax filing. The school told CNN in a statement Thursday that it applied for the funds to "ensure retention of our full faculty and staff, including hourly employees and coaches, during this very challenging and uncertain time." CNN has reached out to St. Andrew's for comment on Mnuchin's tweet. Some large and wealthy private organizations that received money have faced scrutiny over accepting the funds, since the stimulus program's first tranche of funds quickly ran dry and a lot of small businesses missed out on the first wave of funding. The coronavirus crisis has also put the spotlight on existing inequalities in America's classrooms. The New York Times reported another elite school in Washington, DC, Sidwell Friends, which counts among its alumni Chelsea Clinton and Malia and Sasha Obama, also plans to keep its loan. The Times reported that while Sidwell Friends has an endowment of more than $53 million, Sidwell's board of trustees said it plans to accept a $5.2 million loan. A spokeswoman for the National Association of Independent Schools told CNN's Brian Todd that some institutions' endowments don't "necessarily translate to liquidity." "Some of these endowments are restricted funds that can't just be accessed like you might access a savings account," Myra McGovern told CNN, adding, "The pandemic has really resulted in a lot of schools losing income as they've had to change their programs."

By Katelyn Polantz and Ariane de Vogue, CNN

(CNN) The Trump administration will have another 10 days to rush to the Supreme Court for help before it'll have to turn over Mueller grand jury secrets to the House of Representatives, a federal appeals court said on Friday. In a brief order, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, said it would give the Justice Department time to appeal to the Supreme Court. The court had previously said documents and details from special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation would have to be turned over Friday. Now, the deadline is May 11, the day before the Supreme Court hears another high-profile case about House Democrats' investigations into President Donald Trump. The Justice Department has said it would ask the Supreme Court to intervene in the Mueller grand jury case. If that happens and the Supreme Court wants to hear the case, it could be months before it's resolved. Last month, the appeals court ruled, 2-1, that the Democratic-controlled House could see the grand jury material from the Mueller probe and redacted portions of the Mueller report. The majority agreed that the House Judiciary Committee has a "compelling need" to view the secretive details prosecutors had collected from witnesses and about Trump. The Justice Department argued that once the grand jury materials were turned over to the House Judiciary Committee, they could eventually be made public. "Unless the mandate is stayed, this Court's decision will upset the status quo by requiring the Department to turn over the grand jury materials at issue, irreversibly breaching the secrecy of those materials, and raising serious questions about whether they could ever be retrieved from Congress once in Congress's possession," the Justice Department wrote last week.

Trump says he's seen evidence virus started in Chinese lab, but U.S. intel disagrees. President Trump claimed Thursday he's seen evidence the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab and he threatened tariffs on Beijing over its role in the global pandemic. The president's assertion was undermined by his intelligence office and his top diplomat, who said, "We don't know precisely where it began." Scientists believe the virus jumped from animals to humans, emerging in China late last year, possibly from a market selling exotic animals for meat. But speculation has swirled about a top-secret lab, reinforced by internet rumors and right-wing radio hosts -- and increasingly taken up by Mr. Trump. Asked if he had seen anything giving him a high degree of confidence that the Wuhan Institute of Virology was the source of the outbreak, the president replied, "Yes, I have." He refused to give details. However, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated he hadn't seen definitive evidence. "We don't know precisely where it began," he said. "We don't know if it came from the Wuhan Institute of Virology. We don't know if it emanated from the wet market or yet some other place. We don't know those answers." - Trump lies about his lies so you cannot believe anything he says.

By Tom Porter

US Vice President Mike Pence's office threatened to punish a reporter who exposed that it knew Pence was supposed to wear a face mask for his visit to the Mayo Clinic on Tuesday. Pence, who leads the White House's coronavirus task force, has been widely criticized for flouting official guidance and not wearing a mask during his visit to the renowned clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Karen Pence, the vice president's wife, has defended her husband, saying in a Fox News interview on Thursday that he was unaware of the clinic's rule requiring visitors to wear a mask or face covering. But in a tweet on Thursday, the Voice of America reporter Steve Herman said Pence's office knew all along about the face-mask rule. "All of us who traveled with him were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly," he wrote.

Trump is attacking Obama for not developing tests for a virus that didn’t exist when he was president. Seriously.
By Aaron Rupar

Barack Obama left office in January 2017. The coronavirus didn’t arrive in the United States until three years later. Yet over the weekend, President Donald Trump repeatedly tried to pin blame on his predecessor for the testing failures and shortage of medical supplies that have marred his administration’s response to the pandemic. “I started with an obsolete, broken system from a previous administration,” Trump claimed during his daily press briefing on Saturday, later adding: “Unfortunately, some partisan voices are attempting to politicize the issue of testing, which they shouldn’t be doing, because I inherited broken junk. Just as they did with ventilators where we had virtually none, and the hospitals were empty.” Trump sounded the same theme on Sunday. Asked by ultra-sycophantic One America News Network if he sees the government’s testing failures as “a function of lax oversight from the Obama/Biden administration,” Trump indicated he does. “We inherited a lot of garbage,” Trump said. “We took, ah, they had tests that were no good, they had, all the stuff was no good. It came from somewhere, so whoever came up with it.” “Our stockpiles were empty,” he added. “We had horrible stockpiles, we had horrible ventilators, we had very few of them too ... CDC had obsolete tests, old tests, broken tests, and a mess.” This is totally nonsensical. The CDC couldn’t have bad tests left over from the Obama administration, because the coronavirus test didn’t exist until this year. And the stockpile was far from empty — its problem was that it was poorly maintained, an issue that rests on the Trump administration’s shoulders. Of course, it’s not surprising that Trump is trying to blame Obama. His political rise was fueled by pushing racist conspiracy theories about America’s first black president, and a central theme of Trump’s political life is trying to erase Obama’s legacy across a spectrum of issues. But even by Trump’s standards, the brazenness involved in this particular effort to rewrite history is jarring. So while it’s a sad commentary on our times that such an examination is even necessary, what follows is a look at why Obama is not, in fact, to blame for the coronavirus killing more people in America than in any other country.

Trump was president for three full years before the coronavirus hit
First of all, Trump was president for three full years before the first official coronavirus case was reported in the US on January 20, 2020. However, Trump failed to start replenishing the national stockpiles of ventilators, masks, and other medical supplies. (In fact, Trump actually fired the government’s pandemic response team in spring 2018.) Beyond that, it’s simply not the case that Obama left the national stockpiles empty. FactCheck.org recently detailed how news reports in 2016 described the warehouses that store the Strategic National Stockpile as “packed with stuff,” filled with “row after row of containers filled with mystery medications and equipment — including that one item everyone’s been talking about lately, ventilators.” Last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci said there were nearly 13,000 ventilators in the national stockpile. Some of them were broken down. That total may not have been enough to meet the demands created by the coronavirus, but even when it became clear that additional supply was required, Trump was slow to act. The Associated Press, citing a review of federal purchasing contracts, recently reported that federal agencies “largely waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment needed by front-line health care workers.” “By that time, hospitals in several states were treating thousands of infected patients without adequate equipment and were pleading for shipments from the Strategic National Stockpile,” the AP added. So not only did Trump do nothing to replenish the national stockpile during his first three years in office, but he also waited nearly two months after the first US coronavirus case to begin addressing its shortfalls.

Blaming Obama for the CDC’s testing failures is totally absurd
Perhaps the federal government’s biggest coronavirus-related failure was the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) testing mishaps. Instead of using kits developed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC insisted on developing its own. But its initial tests didn’t work reliably, resulting in a delay that allowed the virus to spread across the country in a mostly undetected manner in February and early March. As previously mentioned, Trump on Sunday tried to blame Obama for this. Watch:  But Trump’s talking point that the CDC “had obsolete tests, old tests, broken tests” because of Obama makes absolutely no sense. A test for the novel coronavirus obviously couldn’t be developed before the virus was discovered, which first happened in China in late 2019 — nearly three years after Obama left office. Responsibility for the CDC’s decision not to use the WHO coronavirus test and its subsequent failure to develop its own in January and February rest entirely with the organization and its leadership, including CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, whom Trump appointed to the role in March 2018.

Obama literally provided Trump with a blueprint
In addition, the Trump administration failed to follow a detailed pandemic response playbook put together by Obama’s National Security Council in 2016. A recent report from Politico detailed how following that document’s guidance could’ve resulted in the Trump administration responding in a quicker and more decisive manner:

An exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta revealed just how impervious to correction the president’s falsehoods can be.
By Aaron Rupar

Observers of American politics sometimes wonder why White House reporters don’t do a better job asking President Donald Trump questions that expose his obviously false claims for what they are. An exchange on Thursday showed why it isn’t so simple. During a White House press availability on Thursday, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Trump to explain how it makes sense to blame former President Barack Obama for testing problems pertaining to a virus that didn’t even exist until nearly thee years after he left office. “The last administration left us nothing. We started off with bad, broken tests, and obsolete tests,” Trump asserted, prompting Acosta to jump in and ask: “You say ‘broken tests’ — it’s a new virus, so how could the tests be broken?” Acosta’s question succinctly revealed the fundamental absurdity of Trump’s ongoing efforts to pin blame for coronavirus testing problems on his predecessor. Trump, however, just plowed forward with variations of the same false claim over and over again. “We had broken tests. We had tests that were obsolete. We had tests that didn’t take care of people,” Trump insisted, before pivoting to bashing Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden for their handling of the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, which killed about 12,500 Americans. (As of April 30, the coronavirus has killed more than 61,000 people in the US.) Trump never answered Acosta’s question. Watch:

Yahoo News
By Dylan Stableford

The United States passed 60,000 coronavirus deaths on Wednesday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, more than three months earlier than had been predicted by a model the White House has frequently used. Until recently, the 60,000 mark was touted by President Trump as a measure of success. Just 10 days ago, Trump said that as many as 60,000 Americans were expected to die from the coronavirus. That was far below earlier estimates of 100,000 to 200,000 from the White House coronavirus task force, and the high range of over 2 million predicted by British researchers on the assumption that no social distancing measures would be implemented.  “Now we’re going toward 50 — I’m hearing, or 60,000 people. One is too many. I always say it,” Trump said during a coronavirus task force briefing at the White House. “But we would have had millions of deaths instead of — it looks like we’ll be at about a 60,000 mark, which is 40,000 less than the lowest number thought of.”  

Trump’s executive order requiring industrial meatpackers to keep operating is murder.
By Kate Aronoff

Invoking the Korean War–era Defense Production Act, Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday mandating that American meat production keep running at all costs—workers and grave threats to public health be damned. According to the United Food and Commercial Workers, 20 industry employees—many working shoulder to shoulder at a rapid clip, without proper protection, in what was already one of the country’s most dangerous jobs—have already died. In dramatic full-page ads in The Washington Post, The New York Times, and Arkansas Democrat-Gazette on Sunday, Tyson Foods warned that the country’s food supply chain was breaking. A Tyson facility in Waterloo, Iowa, had to be shut down last weekend after being linked to 200 cases of Covid-19. Many workers have been walking off their meatpacking jobs in protest at pitiful conditions. As of Monday, 44 percent of the Waterloo plant’s workforce had tested positive for coronavirus; 90 percent of cases in surrounding Black Hawk County can be traced back to the plant. At least 4,400 meatpacking workers across 80 plants in 26 states had tested positive as of Wednesday. These spreads could now be replicated around the country as shuttered meatpacking facilities limp back to life, including in some parts of the United States already proving to be coronavirus hot spots. Trump’s executive order could give the plants further license to ignore guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which is voluntary anyway. These facilities were already a danger to public health. The increasingly consolidated industrial meat-raising and meatpacking operations run by Tyson, Smithfield, and the other companies now begging for federal assistance have long been veritable petri dishes for zoonotic pathogens. Their business models rely on what author Mike Davis has called “vast excremental hells, containing tens of thousands of animals with weakened immune systems suffocating in heat and manure while exchanging pathogens at blinding velocity with their fellow inmates.” As it infects workers with the coronavirus, industrial animal agriculture may well be brewing the next deadly, world-stopping pandemic. Meanwhile, the factories’ rampant air and water pollution, and the health conditions they provoke, make the inordinately poor, black, and brown communities surrounding them more vulnerable to Covid-19 and other diseases. That’s not even to mention factory farming’s gargantuan contributions to global warming, which itself increases the likelihood of future zoonotic epidemics.

The move drew an angry response from Democrats, who say the administration is "trampling" on Congress' power of the purse.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper is restoring more than half a billion dollars in funding for military construction projects in the U.S. that were put on hold to help fund President Donald Trump's border wall, and instead will take money from projects that are primarily overseas. The move, which is laid out in a memo dated Monday and obtained by POLITICO, drew an angry response from Democrats, who say the administration is "trampling" on Congress' power of the purse. Altogether, $545.5 million in previously withheld funds, all for projects in the U.S. with award dates in 2020, will be allowed to move forward. "To enable the execution of certain projects scheduled for award in calendar year 2020, I direct you to release funding associated with 22 currently deferred projects within the United States totaling $545.526 million," Esper wrote in the memo to acting Pentagon Comptroller Elaine McCusker. Esper removed 22 projects from the list of border-related deferrals, all of which have award dates in 2020. Of these, $160 million is for two projects at West Point, where Trump is slated to speak at commencement ceremonies. Another $62.6 million is for a middle school project at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is up for reelection in November. To fill the hole left by restoring the $545.5 million, Esper proposes in his memo to substitute a new set of about 19 projects totaling an equal amount. Most of these projects are overseas and were funded by Congress from fiscal 2020 Overseas Contingency Operations appropriations outside the military base budget. The projects are in countries such as Germany, Japan, Norway, Spain and Jordan. This is significant because lawmakers specify in the annual appropriations bills that OCO funds are to be spent for projects overseas, and here they will be used for a wall in the U.S. Moreover, the appropriations to fund the new list of deferred projects were approved by Congress after the president’s emergency border declaration.

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