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By John Kruzel

A full federal appeals court bench will reconsider a Democratic bid for the testimony of former White House counsel Don McGahn, after a three-judge panel said he could defy a congressional subpoena. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday said a majority of judges had voted to vacate the panel’s ruling and hold a rehearing, which will take place April 28. The review by the full bench, a relatively rare procedural allowance, gives the Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee another chance to persuade the court to enforce its subpoena against McGahn, whom lawmakers consider an eyewitness to wrongdoing by Trump.  It could also yield an important separation-of-powers precedent that redraws the line between congressional oversight and White House immunity. Seven of the nine judges who will preside over the full court review were appointed by Democratic presidents. Two Republican-appointed judges were recused from the rehearing. The Friday order vacated the three-judge panel’s 2-1 decision last month that McGahn could defy Democrats' subpoenas. That ruling overturned a lower court judge who said McGahn was obligated to testify before Congress.

By Adriana Belmonte

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19, also known as the new coronavirus, to be a pandemic on March 11. The virus has killed thousands of people worldwide, with over 135,000 confirmed cases and over 5,000 deaths. Public reaction has been mixed — many people have been rushing to grocery stores to stock up for a potential quarantine, while others have called the responses to be an overreaction.  According to Dr. Marty Makary, a medical professor at Johns Hopkins University, the coronavirus is something that “people need to take seriously.”
“I’m concerned when I hear a neighbor or a friend say that they’re planning to go to a kid’s swim meet in three weeks or going on vacation next week,” Makary said on Yahoo Finance’s “On the Move” (video above) on Friday. “No — we’re about to experience the worst public health epidemic since polio.”

‘Don’t believe the numbers you see’
In the U.S. there are over 1,600 confirmed cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), with 41 deaths. Makary said that the number of cases, though, is likely much higher. “Don’t believe the numbers when you see, even on our Johns Hopkins website, that 1,600 Americans have the virus,” he said. “No, that means 1,600 got the test, tested positive. There are probably 25 to 50 people who have the virus for every one person who is confirmed.” He added: “I think we have between 50,000 and half a million cases right now walking around in the United States.” Part of the reason the number of cases might be higher without people realizing it is because of the shortage of coronavirus testing kits from the CDC. Between Jan. 18 and March 12, there were 13,624 tests for COVID-19 conducted in the U.S. Meanwhile, South Korea has conducted over 100,000 tests, and the U.K. has tested nearly 25,000 people.

By Caroline Kelly and Sarah Westwood, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump announced new measures on Friday aimed at easing the burden of student loans as universities and colleges across the country shut their doors in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. "I've waived interest on all student loans held by federal government agencies, and that will be until further notice," Trump said during an appearance in the Rose Garden, noting the number of schools that have sent students home amid the growing outbreak. A Department of Education spokesperson said that under the new policy, any borrower with a federal loan -- including those in income-driven repayment and in forbearance -- will have interest waived until the temporary policy ends. The spokesperson added that the department does not know exactly how long the policy will be in effect. The interest will be waived automatically, the spokesperson said, and the policy will be put into effect over approximately the next week, retroactive back to Friday's announcement by the President. The news came during Trump's coronavirus press conference on Friday, where he announced that he was declaring both a national emergency and invoking the Stafford Act, which gives access to additional funding, according to a source familiar with his decision. Trump highlighted a slew of new initiatives impacting several key federal agencies. The emergency orders, Trump said, will "confer broad new authorities" to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Azar will be able to "waive provisions of applicable laws and regulations to give doctors, hospitals -- all hospitals -- and health care providers maximum flexibility to respond to the virus," Trump added.

By Christopher Flavelle

WASHINGTON — The federal government is giving local officials nationwide a painful choice: Agree to use eminent domain to force people out of flood-prone homes, or forfeit a shot at federal money they need to combat climate change. That choice, part of an effort by the Army Corps of Engineers to protect people from disasters, is facing officials from the Florida Keys to the New Jersey coast, including Miami, Charleston, S.C., and Selma, Ala. Local governments seeking federal money to help people leave flood zones must first commit to push out people who refuse to move. In one city in the heartland, the letters have already started going out. Last year, Giovanni Rodriguez, whose white midcentury house backs onto a creek in the southern suburbs of Nashville, got a letter saying his home “is eligible for participation in a floodplain home buyout program.” The surprise came a few lines lower: If necessary, the city “would acquire properties through the use of eminent domain.” Mr. Rodriguez, a 39-year-old freelance musician and composer of funk, R&B and Latin jazz, said he had no interest in selling — at least not for what the city is offering, which he said wasn’t much more than the $188,500 he paid for the home in 2013. “I would lose this house that I love,” he said. Eminent domain — the government’s authority to take private property, with compensation, for public use — has long been viewed as too blunt a tool for getting people out of disaster-prone areas. It has a controversial history: Local governments have used it to tear down African-American neighborhoods, as well as to build freeways and other projects over residents’ objections. Even when the purpose of eminent domain is seen as legitimate, elected officials are generally loath to evict people. Still, in a sign of how serious the threat of climate change has become, some local governments have told the Corps they will do so if necessary, according to documents obtained through public records requests and interviews with officials. Other cities have yet to decide, saying they feel torn between two bad options. The willingness to use eminent domain shows how quickly the discussion around climate has shifted. Even as President Trump publicly dismisses the scientific consensus of climate change, his administration is wrestling with how to move people out of the way of rising seas and increasingly intense rainfall. Still, threatening to push people out of their houses is an extreme step, experts said.

By Brian Naylor

President Trump, widely criticized for his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, tried to shift blame Friday to his predecessor's handling of a health crisis 11 years ago. In a series of tweets, Trump accused former President Barack Obama of making unspecified changes that "complicated" the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention's testing system. Trump falsely charged the Obama administration's response to the H1N1 swine flu outbreak as a "full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now."

   .... Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!
   — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020

Trump has on numerous occasions accused the Obama administration of implementing a rule change that complicated testing. However, no such rule was ever put in place, according to FactCheck.org. Coronavirus testing has been a key point of criticism of the Trump administration, with testing only becoming widespread in the U.S. this week, and kits remain in limited supply. Trump announced Friday in a tweet that "testing will soon happen on a very large scale basis. All Red Tape has been cut, ready to go!" He appeared to be referring to an announcement that the Department of Health and Human Services has awarded grants to two companies developing tests that can show results in under an hour. These tests, however, won't be available for about six to 12 weeks.

President maintains America is ‘in really good shape’, despite warnings of worse to come
By Harry Cockburn

Donald Trump’s inner circle at the White House is blocking calls from at least one former advisor who has been trying to advise the president on the US coronavirus response, it has been claimed. Thomas Bossert, a former Trump homeland security adviser, has reportedly tried several times in recent days to reach the president or vice president to warn them just how dire the coronavirus pandemic really is, only to be blocked by officials, according to The New York Times, citing “two people familiar” with the matter.  Mr Trump’s administration has been upbraided for its handling of the global crisis, with little guidance for the public, inconsistent restrictions on travel and events, and testing in US hospitals slow to be made available. A lack of testing kits means as few as 11,000 US citizens may have been tested for the disease to date, even though the first known case was detected on 21 January in Washington state.  Meanwhile in South Korea, over 10,000 people are being tested every day after a huge national effort to stop the spread of the virus. The measures have seen a significant fall in cases.

It has taken a good deal longer than it should have, but Americans have now seen the con man behind the curtain.
By Peter Wehner - Contributing writer at The Atlantic and senior fellow at EPPCBy

When, in January 2016, I wrote that despite being a lifelong Republican who worked in the previous three GOP administrations, I would never vote for Donald Trump, even though his administration would align much more with my policy views than a Hillary Clinton presidency would, a lot of my Republican friends were befuddled. How could I not vote for a person who checked far more of my policy boxes than his opponent? What I explained then, and what I have said many times since, is that Trump is fundamentally unfit—intellectually, morally, temperamentally, and psychologically—for office. For me, that is the paramount consideration in electing a president, in part because at some point it’s reasonable to expect that a president will face an unexpected crisis—and at that point, the president’s judgment and discernment, his character and leadership ability, will really matter. “Mr. Trump has no desire to acquaint himself with most issues, let alone master them” is how I put it four years ago. “No major presidential candidate has ever been quite as disdainful of knowledge, as indifferent to facts, as untroubled by his benightedness.” I added this: Mr. Trump’s virulent combination of ignorance, emotional instability, demagogy, solipsism and vindictiveness would do more than result in a failed presidency; it could very well lead to national catastrophe. The prospect of Donald Trump as commander in chief should send a chill down the spine of every American. It took until the second half of Trump’s first term, but the crisis has arrived in the form of the coronavirus pandemic, and it’s hard to name a president who has been as overwhelmed by a crisis as the coronavirus has overwhelmed Donald Trump. To be sure, the president isn’t responsible for either the coronavirus or the disease it causes, COVID-19, and he couldn’t have stopped it from hitting our shores even if he had done everything right. Nor is it the case that the president hasn’t done anything right; in fact, his decision to implement a travel ban on China was prudent. And any narrative that attempts to pin all of the blame on Trump for the coronavirus is simply unfair. The temptation among the president’s critics to use the pandemic to get back at Trump for every bad thing he’s done should be resisted, and schadenfreude is never a good look.

By Emily Goodin, Senior U.s. Political Reporter For Dailymail.com

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for coronavirus, according to local reports. President Donald Trump dined with Bolsonaro at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday night and shook hands with his fellow world leader. One of the major newspapers in Rio de Janeiro, Journal O Dia, reported The Guardian's Tom Phillips, had the news of Bolsonaro's positive test. Bolsonaro was checked for the disease after his aide Fabio Wajngarten tested positive for it. The results of a second test on the Brazilian president are expected to be known on Friday. The entire plane containing the Brazilian delegation to America is reported to be contaminated. On Thursday, Trump brushed aside concerns about the encounter - the latest in a series of brushes the president has had with the highly-contagious disease. Both Bolsonaro and Wajngarten, his press secretary, were at the Winter White House Saturday night. Trump and the first family have resisted going into self-quarantine despite other lawmakers who came into contact with those testing positive for the disease going into voluntary isolation. Other world leaders, too, are self-quarantining. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in a voluntary 14-day quarantine after his wife, Sophie, tested positive for the disease.

Trump Now Blaming Americans for Not Getting Coronavirus Tests That Don’t Exist
Apparently the blame lies not with the federal government for its woefully inadequate preparation.
By Bess Levin

In addition to the issues that arise from having a completely inept president whose brain matter seems to consist of Tiddlywinks and empty Coke cans, one of the biggest factors that allowed the coronavirus to gain a foothold in the United States was the failure to provide adequate testing in a timely fashion. “The incompetence has really exceeded what anyone would expect with the CDC,” Michael Mina, an epidemiologist at Harvard told the New York Times earlier this month. People exhibiting symptoms of the virus have been turned away for testing due to federal guidelines limiting who can perform such tests, a shocking, practically criminally inadequate supply of testing kits, and, alarmingly, problems with kits that do exist. Not only has that caused the virus to spread, but it’s kept the number of confirmed cases artificially low. At present, the U.S. has conducted just 11,000 tests in total—to put that figure in perspective, South Korea is said to be testing 10,000 people per day, and China has likely tested millions by now. Yesterday, in the U.S. the CDC apparently conducted zero tests: Not surprisingly, Trump has addressed the extremely serious issue in the way he addresses most things in life: with bald-faced lies. During his first press conference on the matter, he insisted: “We’re testing everybody that we need to test,” which was obviously completely untrue. During a visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he repeated the same lie, saying, “As of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test [can have one], that’s the important thing.” On Thursday, following a uniquely disastrous address to the nation from the Oval Office, Trump doubled (tripled?) down, telling reporters, “Frankly, the testing has been going very smooth.” Later, when asked about people returning to the United States from abroad, he very falsely claimed that everyone is tested upon arrival:

By Noam N. LeveyStaff Writer

Despite mounting pleas from California and other states, the Trump administration isn’t allowing states to use Medicaid more freely to respond to the coronavirus crisis by expanding medical services. In previous emergencies, including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina and the H1N1 flu outbreak, both Republican and Democratic administrations loosened Medicaid rules to empower states to meet surging needs. But months into the current global disease outbreak, the White House and senior federal health officials haven’t taken the necessary steps to give states simple pathways to fully leverage the mammoth safety net program to prevent a wider epidemic. That’s making it harder for states to quickly sign up poor patients for coverage so they can get necessary testing or treatment if they are exposed to coronavirus. And it threatens to slow efforts by states to bring on new medical providers, set up emergency clinics or begin quarantining and caring for homeless Americans at high risk from the virus. “If they wanted to do it, they could do it,” said Cindy Mann, who oversaw the Medicaid program in the Obama administration and worked with states to help respond to the H1N1 crisis in 2009. One reason federal health officials have not acted appears to be President Trump’s reluctance to declare a national emergency. That’s a key step that would clear the way for states to get Medicaid waivers to more nimbly tackle coronavirus, but it would conflict with Trump’s repeated efforts to downplay the seriousness of the epidemic. Another element may be ideological: The administration official who oversees Medicaid, Seema Verma, head of the government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, has been a champion of efforts by conservative states to trim the number of people enrolled in Medicaid.

By Veronica Stracqualursi and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

(CNN) Australia's home affairs minister confirmed Friday that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, less than a week after meeting with Attorney General William Barr, senior White House adviser Ivanka Trump and other White House officials. In a statement, Minister Peter Dutton said that he woke up on Friday morning "with a temperature and sore throat" and was "subsequently tested for COVID-19." Dutton was advised by Queensland Health that his tests returned positive on Friday afternoon. Dutton had met with Trump, Barr, Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway and Director of the Domestic Policy Council Joe Grogan in the US less than a week ago. CNN has reached out to the White House for comment. Dutton said Friday that under the policy of Queensland Health, "anyone who tests positive is to be admitted into hospital and I have complied with their advice." Dutton added that "I feel fine and will provide an update in due course."

By Brian Fung, CNN Business

(CNN Business) The US Department of Defense on Thursday said it wishes to re-evaluate its decision to award the Pentagon's multibillion-dollar cloud contract with Microsoft, signaling a potential victory for Amazon in its protest of the award. The department "wishes to reconsider its award decision in response to the other technical challenges presented by AWS," it said in a court filing, referring to Amazon Web Services. The agency said it does not anticipate needing to discuss the matter with either AWS or Microsoft. The contract — called Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure, or JEDI — involves providing cloud storage of sensitive military data and technology, such as artificial intelligence, to the Department of Defense, and could result in revenue of up to $10 billion over 10 years. Amazon Web Services lost the contract to Microsoft's Azure cloud business in October, a decision that surprised many industry experts given Amazon's leadership in the industry. Amazon filed a suit with the US Court of Federal Claims contesting the decision, arguing that it was politically motivated by President Donald Trump's dislike of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Washington Post, which Bezos owns. Earlier this month, the judge presiding over that case said that Amazon stood a substantial chance of succeeding in it protest on the merits.

By Daniel Dale

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's Oval Office remarks on Thursday before a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar were so thoroughly inaccurate it was a challenge to figure out which to fact check first. We're still looking into some of Trump's claims. But here are the two we picked as most egregious:

Trump falsely claimed anybody coming into the US from Europe is being tested for the coronavirus
When a reporter noted that an American could bring back the coronavirus even with Trump's new travel restrictions on some European countries, Trump said, "Sure. But we have them very heavily tested. If an American is coming back or anybody is coming back, we're testing. We have a tremendous testing set up where people coming in have to be tested."

Facts First: It's not true that Americans or others returning from Europe "have to be" tested for the coronavirus -- and no system is being set up to actually test these returning travelers. Instead, they will be funneled to specific airports and put through an inspection known as "enhanced screening," which cannot prove whether someone has the virus. Previous US airport screening for the coronavirus has involved temperature checks, questions about travelers' health and travel history, and an inspection for symptoms like a cough or breathing trouble. The administration's statements about the enhanced screening for travelers from Europe made no mention of coronavirus tests being conducted.

Trump falsely claimed testing has been "going very smooth"
Trump was asked about a case in which a doctor in Houston reported being unable to obtain permission to get a patient tested despite the patient having "symptoms of something" and having tested negative for the flu. Trump responded that this was a mere "one case" and that "frankly, the testing has been going very smooth." He also claimed: "If you go to the right agency, if you go to the right area, you get the test."

Facts First: It's simply not true that testing has been going smoothly or that, as Trump suggested, it's simple to get a test by contacting the proper authorities.

By Alex Rogers, Jeremy Herb and Manu Raju, CNN

(CNN) Senators are expected to leave Washington on Thursday without striking an agreement on a crucial surveillance law, setting the stage for various national security provisions to expire on Sunday. The Senate debate collapsed over whether to give some concessions to the law's critics, such as votes on their amendments to the bill overhauling the surveillance law, or to pass a temporary extension providing more time to negotiate. The Senate leadership hoped to vote on the bill as soon as Thursday and pledged that if the authorities lapsed it would only be for a short period. But its critics, including Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah, argued that the changes didn't go far enough to fix the surveillance law known as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA. "Senate Republican leaders are trying to ram through fake FISA amendments without any real changes," Paul tweeted. "I will object. I continue to stand with @realDonaldTrump in his reservations to this bill." Lee asked for unanimous consent for a 45-day FISA extension. Sen. Richard Burr, the chairman of the Intelligence committee, objected. "I'll let us go dark," the North Carolina Republican said, noting that the Senate will come back next week and can soon pass the House bill.

By Ellen Mitchell

The Pentagon’s top leaders on Thursday confirmed that Iranian-backed militia groups were behind the rocket attack in Iraq that killed two U.S. troops and one British soldier a day earlier, saying that “all options are on the table” for a response. “Yesterday’s attack by Iranian-backed Shia militia groups consisted of multiple indirect fires that originated from a stationary platform and was clearly targeting coalition and partnered forces on Camp Taji,” Defense Secretary Mark Esper told reporters at the Pentagon. “Let me be clear, the United States will not tolerate attacks against our people, our interests or our allies,” Esper added. “All options are on the table as we work with our partners to bring the perpetrators to justice and maintain deterrence. … We will take any action necessary to protect our forces in Iraq and the region," he said. The U.S.-led coalition in Iraq on Wednesday evening announced that 18 Katyusha rockets hit Camp Taji north of Baghdad, killing three and wounding 12. Iraqi forces found a rocket-rigged truck a few miles from the base, the coalition said. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Mark Milley, who spoke alongside Esper, echoed that all options are on the table and “we're looking at everything,” as a potential response.

By Rob Picheta, Shasta Darlington and Jonny Hallam, CNN

(CNN) Fabio Wajngarten, the press secretary for Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday, two sources have told CNN. Bolsonaro's health is being monitored. It comes just days after Wajngarten met US President Donald Trump in Florida. Bolsonaro's aide posted an image of himself standing with Trump and US Vice President Mike Pence at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend. He was accompanying Bolsonaro on a trip to the US, during which the two leaders dined together. Earlier in the day, the pair had spoken to reporters about the coronavirus outbreak. "I'm not concerned at all," Trump told the press. He had been asked about his attendance at the CPAC conference, where another person was also tested positive for coronavirus. Trump said he was aware of the aide's diagnosis during remarks in the Oval Office on Thursday. "We did nothing very unusual, we sat next to each other for a period of time," he added, referring to Bolsonaro. Trump on Wednesday announced sweeping travel bans for people coming into the United States from mainland Europe, as his administration attempts to tackle the ongoing pandemic.

By Asma Khalid, Bobby Allyn

Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden on Thursday took direct aim at the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus outbreak, saying, "The administration's failure on testing [potential cases] is colossal." "We must know the true extent of this outbreak," Biden added in prepared remarks. The United States' coronavirus testing capacity has been widely criticized by public health experts. The former vice president also said President Trump risks acerbating the spread of the virus by downplaying its severity and being "dismissive" of science. "Our government's ability to respond effectively has been undermined by hollowing out our agencies and disparagement of science," Biden said. "Our ability to drive a global response is dramatically undercut by the damage Trump has done to our credibility and relationships around the world." The novel coronavirus has rapidly and dramatically shifted the mood and the political reality in the presidential race. Biden's Democratic rival Bernie Sanders is set deliver his own remarks responding to the virus later Thursday. In a roundtable convened in Detroit on Monday, the Vermont senator said Trump's response up until that point was making the epidemic worse. Both Biden and Sanders have called for guaranteed paid sick leave for workers. Trump has strenuously defended his administration's handling of the crisis. But Biden said that by cutting investment in global health initiatives, the Trump administration has left the country "woefully unprepared for the exact crisis we now face." "No president can promise to prevent future outbreaks," said Biden, who is trying to present himself as a calm, experienced alternative to Trump. "But I can promise you this: When I'm president, we will be better prepared, respond better and recover better. We will lead by science." The dual statements from the Democratic presidential contenders come hours after Trump addressed the nation about his administration's response to the pandemic, though it also brought additional confusion when he announced a 30-day ban on travel for foreign nationals coming to America from many European nations.

By Brian Naylor, Roberta Rampton

President Trump on Thursday defended new restrictions on travelers from most parts of Europe, a decision that angered allies and trading partners, was questioned by some public health experts, and sent stock markets reeling. Trump told reporters that he viewed the ban as one way to protect Americans from the virus spreading, and he predicted the stock market would eventually bounce back. "It's not important compared to life and death," Trump said in the Oval Office, where he met with the Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar. "You have to have separation, or this thing takes longer to go away," he said. Trump said he didn't warn European leaders before he made the decision because "it takes a long time to make the individual calls" but said he spoke to some leaders. He said Americans returning from Europe would be tested for the virus and would not be allowed in to the country if they have the virus. The DHS has said Americans and permanent residents returning to the country who have traveled in the Schengen visa region in the past 14 days will be screened, but there are no announced plans to test them for the coronavirus. "We're not putting them on planes if it shows positive," Trump said. The returning travelers are being asked to self quarantine for 14 days. Trump said the United Kingdom was excluded from the ban because "they're doing a very good job" controlling the virus. "They don't have very much infection at this point and hopefully they'll keep it that way." Johns Hopkins University tracking shows that the UK currently has 459 cases, compared to more than 1,300 in the United States, and more than 12,000 in Italy.

By Jeff Cox

The Federal Reserve stepped into financial markets Thursday for the second day in a row and the third time this week, this time dramatically ramping up asset purchases amid the turmoil created by the coronavirus. “These changes are being made to address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” the New York Fed said in an early afternoon announcement amid a washout on Wall Street that was heading toward the worst day since 1987. Stocks were off their lows following the announcement though some of the gains were pared as the market digested the moves. Some in the market were skeptical that the move was enough, and even whether the the Fed itself had the proper tools to reverse the current market downtrend. “We continue to emphasize that this Fed will act aggressively and in particular that central banks are focused on safeguarding market functioning at this point, and will continue to provide liquidity in scale,” Ebrahim Rahbari, director of global economics at Citi Research. “However, despite the sharp initial risk rally, we think these measures will still not be sufficiently to durably stabilize market sentiment yet in light of credit concerns and escalating health concerns.”

Published Wed, Mar 11 20206:06 PM EDTUpdated Moments Ago
By Fred Imbert, Thomas Franck

Stocks plummeted once again on Thursday after President Donald Trump and the Federal Reserve failed to quell concerns over the possible economic slowdown stemming from the coronavirus, leading to historic moves in U.S. markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average traded 1,991 points lower, or 8.5%. The index was on pace for its worst drop since the 1987 market crash, when it collapsed by more than 22%.The S&P 500 traded down 8%, joining the Dow in a bear market. The Nasdaq Composite traded 7.9% lower. “The coronavirus is scary and people don’t know what to expect,” said Kathy Entwistle, senior vice president of wealth management at UBS. “It’s like the tsunami is coming. We know it’s going to hit any day and nobody knows what the outcome is going to be.” The major averages got a brief respite after the Fed announced it will ramp up its overnight funding operations to more than $500 billion on Thursday. It will then offer more repo operations totaling $1 trillion on Friday. The Fed also expanded the types of securities it would purchase with reserves. However, stocks quickly traded back towards their session lows as investors awaited more aggressive measures to support the economy amid the virus outbreak.  “These changes are being made to address highly unusual disruptions in Treasury financing markets associated with the coronavirus outbreak,” said the statement from the New York Federal Reserve, which conducts these operations on behalf of the Fed. Thursday’s sell-off got so bad, that trading was halted briefly after the open for 15 minutes as markets hit the mandated “circuit-breaker” threshold used by U.S. exchanges. The Dow was on pace for the sixth-worst decline in its history, according to FactSet. Even the worst one-day drop of 2008 financial crisis did not reach this magnitude.

President Trump is pushing a nearly $1 trillion fiscal stimulus that some economists say would not be well targeted to offset damage from the coronavirus.
By Jim Tankersley

WASHINGTON — Almost overnight, President Trump has gone from insisting the economy would not need fiscal help to weather the coronavirus to proposing a stimulus plan that would cost more than the 2008 Wall Street bank bailout or the 2009 stimulus bill aimed at digging the United States out of a deep recession. The centerpiece of Mr. Trump’s stimulus proposal, which remains a work in progress, is a temporary tax cut that by itself would add nearly $1 trillion to the national debt: a suspension of all Social Security payroll taxes through the end of the year. Some economists have cheered the idea as the right move at a fraught moment when workers are quarantined, schools are closing and large gatherings are being canceled. But others — including those who have called for aggressive congressional action — say the plan would be an inefficient way of stoking consumer demand at a time of supply shortages and a growing number of quarantines. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have given the proposal a cool reception. Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, the Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, told reporters on Wednesday that he did not see a need for immediate action on a payroll tax cut. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the second-ranking Democrat in the House, said Wednesday that the proposal was a “nonstarter.” Mr. Trump and his top advisers have pitched the cut as a much-needed lift for consumers and businesses at a time when the spreading virus is beginning to chill economic activity. “The payroll tax holiday is probably the most important, powerful piece of this,” Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, told reporters on Tuesday. Under Mr. Trump’s plan — as described by Peter Navarro, one of his economic advisers — the government would, through the end of the year, stop collecting the 6.2 percent Social Security tax currently taken out of workers’ paychecks and the 1.45 percent tax taken for Medicare. It would also suspend equally large taxes paid on behalf of workers by their employers. Self-employed workers would be relieved of the entire 15.3 percent tax they currently pay.

(CNN) Read President Donald Trump's speech to the nation on the coronavirus here:
My fellow Americans: Tonight, I want to speak with you about our nation's unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world. Today, the World Health Organization officially announced that this is a global pandemic. We have been in frequent contact with our allies, and we are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people. This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history. I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures, we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens, and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus. From the beginning of time, nations and people have faced unforeseen challenges, including large-scale and very dangerous health threats. This is the way it always was and always will be. It only matters how you respond, and we are responding with great speed and professionalism. Our team is the best anywhere in the world. At the very start of the outbreak, we instituted sweeping travel restrictions on China and put in place the first federally mandated quarantine in over 50 years. We declared a public health emergency and issued the highest level of travel warning on other countries as the virus spread its horrible infection. And taking early intense action, we have seen dramatically fewer cases of the virus in the United States than are now present in Europe. The European Union failed to take the same precautions and restrict travel from China and other hotspots. As a result, a large number of new clusters in the United States were seeded by travelers from Europe. After consulting with our top government health professionals, I have decided to take several strong but necessary actions to protect the health and wellbeing of all Americans.
To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days. The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight. These restrictions will be adjusted subject to conditions on the ground. There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. These restrictions will also not apply to the United Kingdom. At the same time, we are monitoring the situation in China and in South Korea. And, as their situation improves, we will reevaluate the restrictions and warnings that are currently in place for a possible early opening.

By Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump has been comprehensively misinforming the public about the coronavirus. Trump has littered his public remarks on the life-and-death subject with false, misleading and dubious claims. And he has been joined, on occasion, by senior members of his administration. We've counted 28 different ways the President and his team have been inaccurate. Here is a chronological list, which may be updated as additional misinformation comes to our attention.

February 10: Trump says without evidence that the coronavirus "dies with the hotter weather"
Trump said on Fox Business: "You know in April, supposedly, it dies with the hotter weather." He told state governors: "You know, a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat -- as the heat comes in. Typically, that will go away in April." And he said at a campaign rally: "Looks like by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away. I hope that's true." Facts First: Experts were not saying this. They were saying, rather, that it was too soon to know how the coronavirus would respond to changing weather. "It would be reckless to assume that things will quiet down in spring and summer," Dr. Peter Hotez, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, told CNN. "We don't really understand the basis of seasonality, and of course we know we absolutely nothing about this particular virus." You can read a longer analysis here.

February 24: Trump baselessly claims the situation is "under control"
Trump tweeted: "The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA." Facts First: "Under control" is subjective, but by any reasonable definition, the coronavirus was not under control in the US -- and there was no way for the government to fully understand how dire the problem was given how few Americans were being tested. There were 53 confirmed cases and no deaths on the day of Trump's tweet; as of March 11, there were more than 1,000 cases and 31 deaths.

Among other things, the president fears that the House Speaker would use a private meeting to try and embarrass him.
By Asawin Suebsaeng White House Reporter, Sam Brodey Congressional Reporter

All of official Washington has come to an agreement that swift, bold action is needed to counteract the dramatic economic impact of the coronavirus’ spread. But negotiations around such a package have been complicated by the fact that President Donald Trump can’t stand the idea of negotiating one-on-one with his chief counterpart, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Indeed, he suspects that she would use the moment to try to humiliate him. Two senior Trump administration officials described a president who, out of an intense bitterness toward the House Speaker, has shuddered at the prospect of being in the same room with her during the ongoing public-health crisis and economic reverberations. Instead, Trump has deputized some of his more prominent lieutenants to handle the delicate negotiations. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, in particular, has emerged as one of the administration’s top envoys to Capitol Hill, as Team Trump and lawmakers attempt to cobble together some form of economic stimulus in the wake of a now-declared global pandemic. “At this time, the president does not see it as productive to [personally] negotiate directly with Nancy Pelosi,” said one of the senior administration officials. “For now, it’s best for her to deal directly with Sec. Mnuchin and others in the administration.” The official recalled how Trump bristled at Pelosi for, in the president’s estimation, “immediately” leaving recent private meetings the two had to leak its contents and try to, in the source’s characterization, “make the president look bad and score political points.” “When you’re in the middle of a public health crisis, you don’t need that kind of theater,” this official added.

By Aram Roston, Marisa Taylor

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House has ordered federal health officials to treat top-level coronavirus meetings as classified, an unusual step that has restricted information and hampered the U.S. government’s response to the contagion, according to four Trump administration officials. The officials said that dozens of classified discussions about such topics as the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions have been held since mid-January in a high-security meeting room at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), a key player in the fight against the coronavirus. Staffers without security clearances, including government experts, were excluded from the interagency meetings, which included video conference calls, the sources said. “We had some very critical people who did not have security clearances who could not go,” one official said. “These should not be classified meetings. It was unnecessary.” The sources said the National Security Council (NSC), which advises the president on security issues, ordered the classification.”This came directly from the White House,” one official said. The White House insistence on secrecy at the nation’s premier public health organization, which has not been previously disclosed, has put a lid on certain information - and potentially delayed the response to the crisis. COVID19, the disease caused by the virus, has killed about 30 people in the United States and infected more than 1,000 people.

By Mary Papenfuss

President Donald Trump’s campaign manager is quietly channeling money to Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle, The New York Times reported Monday. The payments are hidden from public view because they’re made through campaign manager Brad Parscale’s private company, Parscale Strategy, based in San Antonio, sources told the Times. Typically, such payments would be part of public filings required by the Federal Election Commission so that donors can find out how their contributions are being used — in this case, to pay members of the president’s family. The family benefits are linked to a network of politically connected private companies — operating with the support and help of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — that have charged roughly $75 million since 2017 to the Trump reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and other Republican clients, according to the Times. Guilfoyle last year angrily confronted Parscale about late checks owed to her, two witnesses told the Times. He reportedly promised that the situation would be rectified by his wife, Candice Parscale, who often handles his company accounts. One of Lara Trump’s most notorious contributions to her father-in-law’s campaign early this year was to mock rival Joe Biden’s stutter, which he has grappled with since he was a child.

WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned "the threat of a pandemic has become very real," but stressed that "it would be the first pandemic in history that can be controlled".
World Agence France-Presse

Global financial markets tanked, Italy extended strict quarantine measures across the whole country on Monday as the deadly coronavirus disrupted economies and societies across the world. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned "the threat of a pandemic has become very real," but stressed that "it would be the first pandemic in history that can be controlled". The death toll from the novel coronavirus neared 4,000, with more than 110,000 cases recorded in over 100 countries since the epidemic erupted in December in Wuhan, China. It has disrupted global travel, and cancelled conferences and sporting events. In Italy -- Europe's hardest-hit country -- Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte issued unprecedented nationwide measures, telling his citizens to "stay home", banning public gatherings and suspending all sporting events, including Serie A football matches. "The whole of Italy will become a protected zone," he said, extending measures that had already been put in place in the country's most affected northern regions -- mimicking a lockdown at the disease's epicentre in China -- across the whole country. Tens of millions of people are now in quarantine worldwide but there are fears that the disease will spread further and force several economies into recession. The number of cases in Europe passed 15,000 on Monday as Germany and Canada reported their first coronavirus deaths, but the vast majority of fatalities have been in China, where there are signs the outbreak has peaked. Ireland meanwhile announced that it was cancelling the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade in Dublin. France's Culture Minister Franck Riester became the latest high-profile official to test positive. It was also revealed that two US lawmakers who had recent close contact with President Donald Trump were in self-quarantine after being exposed to the virus. Republican Representative Doug Collins, who shook hands with Trump on Friday, and Matt Gaetz, who travelled with the president on Air Force One on Monday, said they came in close contact with an infected person at a conference 11 days ago. Neither have reported any symptoms, and both are awaiting test results.

Trump cut a secret deal to get out of Afghanistan — and for once congressional Republicans are unhappy with him
By Sophia Tesfaye

Congressional Republicans have remained remarkably unwavering in their fealty to President Trump. But even as they march lock-step right into the middle of a global health outbreak — mocking the crisis while simultaneously self-quarantining — a number of GOP lawmakers have broken with the president over his latest foreign policy bungle. On Monday, U.S. officials confirmed that the initial troop withdrawal out of Afghanistan had begun, with aims to remove all U.S. troops within 14 months, which would bring 18 years of intermittent combat operations to an end. The U.S. is following through on its part of a peace agreement with the Taliban to reduce its troop strength in Afghanistan — even after confirming that the Islamist militant network has already reneged on its pledges. Ending America's longest and most unpopular war would undoubtedly be a good thing for a president facing a panicked economy and looming pandemic. Afghan and American forces killed more civilians in 2019 than the Taliban did, according to a UN report. Within hours of signing a peace deal with the Taliban late last month, however, this supposedly historical achievement by the Trump administration turned into a public embarrassment. Less than 24 hours after the peace deal was signed, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, whose government was not involved in the agreement, rejected the Taliban's main demand: the release of 5,000 Taliban prisoners. It was then revealed that Defense Secretary Mark Esper had approved the withdrawal of U.S. troops before a weeklong truce, a crucial test for the Taliban, was even completed. Then, just hours after President Trump said he'd had a "very good talk" with the Taliban's chief negotiator, Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was released from a Pakistani prison so he could sign the deal, U.S. warplanes bombed a Taliban position in support of Afghan troops. "We had a good conversation. We've agreed there's no violence. We don't want violence," Trump told journalists last Tuesday, after the Taliban publicized the call before even White House officials were informed. Esper defended the U.S. airstrikes against the Taliban as allowed under the peace agreement. "It's the commitment I made to the Afghans when I was [in Kabul] on Saturday, that we would continue to defend the Afghans, support them."

“During a campaign appearance . . . Ms. Guilfoyle confronted Mr. Parscale: Why were her checks always late?"
By Brad Reed

This article originally appeared on Raw Story

Brad Parscale, the man running President Donald Trump's reelection campaign, has been using his own private firm to make payments to members of the president's family. The New York Times reports that Parscale's flagship firm, called Parscale Strategy, has essentially taken over the Republican Party's fundraising machinery even as it "has billed nearly $35 million to the Trump campaign, the R.N.C. and related entities since 2017." In addition to being the central hub for online fundraising, Parscale Strategy has also been used to make "payments out of public view" to Lara Trump, the wife of Eric Trump, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump, Jr. During a campaign appearance last summer in Orlando, Ms. Guilfoyle confronted Mr. Parscale: Why were her checks always late?

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