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US Monthly Headline News March 2020 Page 2

Taking President Trump’s lead, many commentators have played down fears.
By Jeremy W. Peters and Michael M. Grynbaum

Sean Hannity used his syndicated talk-radio program on Wednesday to share a prediction he had found on Twitter about what is really happening with the coronavirus: It’s a “fraud” by the deep state to spread panic in the populace, manipulate the economy and suppress dissent. “May be true,” Mr. Hannity declared to millions of listeners around the country. As the coronavirus spreads around the globe, denial and disinformation about the risks are proliferating on media outlets popular with conservatives. “This coronavirus?” Rush Limbaugh asked skeptically during his Wednesday program, suggesting it was all a plot hatched by the Chinese. “Nothing like wiping out the entire U.S. economy with a biothreat from China, is there?” he said. The Fox Business anchor Trish Regan told viewers on Monday that the worry over coronavirus “is yet another attempt to impeach the president.” Where doctors and scientists see a public health crisis, President Trump and his media allies have seen a political coup afoot. Even on Wednesday night, after Mr. Trump gave an unusually somber address to the nation in which he announced he was suspending all travel from Europe for 30 days, Mr. Hannity criticized Democrats and vigorously defended the president’s response to the crisis, saying that when he instituted travel restrictions on China over a month ago, “no president had ever acted that fast.” Distorted realities and discarded facts are now such a part of everyday life that the way they shape events like impeachment, a mass shooting or a presidential address often goes unmentioned. But when partisan news meets a pandemic, the information silos where people shelter themselves can become not just deluded but also dangerous, according to those who criticize conservative commentators for shedding any semblance of objectivity when it comes to covering the president. “This sort of media spin poses a clear and present danger to public health,” said Charlie Sykes, a longtime conservative host and author who published a book, “How the Right Lost Its Mind,” in 2018. “If you have people out there who feel all of this is overblown, and feel the need to act out their lack of concern by not taking precautions, it could be exceptionally dangerous. “That’s not just a problem for the right wing, that becomes a real threat to the general population,” added Mr. Sykes, who is also a contributor to MSNBC. “When people start dying, the entertainment value wears off.”

The coronavirus is causing sports cancellations and postponements all across the world
By Gabriel Fernandez

The rapid spread of the coronavirus is causing cancellations and postponements of sporting events around the globe. As of Tuesday afternoon, there have been at least 116,000 coronavirus cases worldwide, according to CBS News. While 64,000 people have recovered, more than 4,000 have died. In America, multiple states are under a state of emergency and some politicians and public health officials are recommending large gatherings of people -- including sporting events -- in coronavirus hotspots be canceled or closed to the public. As college basketball's postseason, MLB Opening Day and the NBA and NHL stretch runs approach, the coronavirus is set to have a serious effect on American sports. Abroad, soccer games in Europe are already being played in empty arenas without fans in certain countries. Here's a breakdown of cancellations and postponements of sporting events so far:

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.

By Ariane de Vogue, CNN Supreme Court Reporter

Washington (CNN)The Supreme Court said on Wednesday that the controversial Trump administration "Remain in Mexico" asylum policy can stay in effect while legal challenges play out. The court's order is a victory for the administration, which warned there would be a "rush to the border" if the policy that has been in effect for a year was blocked by the courts. It's a devastating loss for immigrant rights groups who say asylum seekers sent back to Mexico are living in dangerous conditions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor would have denied the government's application, the court said. The policy, officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols, mandates that non-Mexican asylum return to Mexico as they await hearings in the United States. It has resulted in the creation of makeshift camps where hundreds of migrants have waited for weeks, if not months, in squalid and unsafe conditions. In some cases, migrant families have opted to send children across the US-Mexico border alone. Lawyers for the asylum seekers called the government's policy illegal and said that in the months that it has been in effect "reports of murder, rape, torture kidnapping, and other violent assaults against returned asylum seekers have climbed." The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals blocked the policy last month, but allowed it to remain in effect just long enough for the Supreme Court to consider whether to step in.

By Maria Puente, Patrick Ryan USA TODAY

NEW YORK – Ex-movie mogul-turned-convicted sex offender Harvey Weinstein will spend the next 23 years in prison for his conviction of third-degree rape and forcible sexual assault of two women. Judge James Burke pronounced the sentence Wednesday after Weinstein's victims scathingly denounced him while demanding the stiffest punishment possible, and after Weinstein addressed the court to express remorse to all the women who testified against him. “The sentence of the court is as follows: (For) criminal sexual act in the first degree, you are sentenced to 20 years in prison, five years post-release supervision....(For) rape in the third degree, three years prison, five years post-release supervision.” Meanwhile, in Los Angeles County prosecutors announced they had begun the process to extradite Weinstein to California to face similar sex-crimes charges there. “I feel remorse for this situation. I feel it deep in my heart. I’m really trying to be a better person," Weinstein said, addressing his victims when he spoke just before Burke pronounced his sentence.

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 Dawn Kopecki, Berkeley Lovelace Jr., William Feuer

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on Wednesday as the new coronavirus, which was unknown to world health officials just three months ago, has rapidly spread to more than 121,000 people from Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the United States. “In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.” Tedros said several countries have demonstrated the ability to suppress and control the outbreak, but he scolded other world leaders for failing to act quickly enough or drastically enough to contain the spread. “We’re deeply concerned both by the alarming levels of spread and severity, and by the alarming levels of inaction,” he said, just before declaring the pandemic. “We have rung the alarm bell loud and clear.” Cases in China and South Korea have significantly declined, he said, adding that 81 countries don’t have any confirmed cases and 57 countries have 10 or fewer cases. “We can not say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough: All countries can still change the course of this pandemic,” he said. “Some countries are struggling with a lack of capacity. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resources. Some countries are struggling with a lack of resolve.” Declaring a pandemic is charged with major political and economic ramifications, global health experts say. It can further rattle already fragile world markets and lead to more stringent travel and trade restrictions. WHO officials had been reluctant to declare a global pandemic, which is generally defined as an illness that spreads far and wide throughout the world.

By Dahlia Lithwick and Mark Joseph Stern

Nowhere is the problem of asymmetrical rhetorical warfare more apparent than in the federal judiciary. For the past several years, federal judges, notably those appointed by Donald J. Trump, have felt unmoored from any standard judicial conventions of circumspection and restraint, penning screeds about the evils of “big government” and rants against Planned Parenthood. Most of the judicial branch, though, has declined to engage in this kind of rhetoric. There are norms, after all, and conventions, standards, and protocols. There seems to also be an agreement that conservative judges demonstrate deeply felt passion when they delve into such issues, while everyone else just demonstrates “bias” if they decide to weigh in. So when Justice Clarence Thomas just last year used a dissent to attack the integrity of a sitting federal judge in the census case, it was mere clever wordsmithing. But when Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggests, as she did recently, that the conservative wing of the high court seems to be privileging the Trump administration’s emergency petitions, she is labeled—by the president himself—unfit to judge. It’s such a long-standing trick, and it’s so well supported by the conservative outrage machine, that it’s easy to believe that critiques of fellow judges by conservative judges are legitimate, while such critiques from liberal judges are an affront to the legitimacy of the entire federal judiciary. This dynamic is why it’s so astonishing to see progressive judges really go for broke in criticizing conservative bias in the judiciary, as U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Adelman does in criticizing the five conservative justices on the Roberts Supreme Court in an upcoming Harvard Law review article. The article begins, brutally:

By now, it is a truism that Chief Justice John Roberts’ statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee that a Supreme Court justice’s role is the passive one of a neutral baseball “umpire who [merely] calls the balls and strikes” was a masterpiece of disingenuousness. Roberts’ misleading testimony inevitably comes to mind when one considers the course of decision-making by the Court over which he presides. This is so because the Roberts Court has been anything but passive. Rather, the Court’s hard right majority is actively participating in undermining American democracy. Indeed, the Roberts Court has contributed to insuring that the political system in the United States pays little attention to ordinary Americans and responds only to the wishes of a relatively small number of powerful corporations and individuals.

By Katelyn Polantz, CNN

(CNN) The House of Representatives has won access to secret grand jury material gathered in former special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation and cited in the Mueller report, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday. The appeals panel sided with the chief judge of the DC District Court, who had roundly criticized the Justice Department's legal theories to keep the Mueller materials under seal and endorsed the House's investigation into President Donald Trump. The decision was split 2-1. The Justice Department could appeal to the Supreme Court or again to the DC-based appeals court.

Washington Post

President Trump retweeted a video of Joe Biden, edited to sound as though Biden endorsed Trump for reelection at a campaign speech in St. Louis on March 7. Read more: https://wapo.st/3cJyami.

"Black Monday": Virus Fear Wipes Off Billions Of Dollars From Markets
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-Press

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 Campaign Chief Is Funneling Pay To Eric Trump's Wife, Don Jr.'s Girlfriend: Report
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.

“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?

An attempt to attack the Bidens backfired spectacularly on Twitter.
By Ed Mazza

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-Calif.) latest attack on former Vice President Joe Biden didn’t go exactly as planned. McCarthy, who is part of President Donald Trump’s inner circle, seemed to accuse Biden of nepotism over son Hunter Biden’s work for a Ukrainian energy company. Just one problem: Everything he said could apply equally to the Trump family:

   Omfg, this dummy doesn’t realize he’s describing the President’s children pic.twitter.com/kvrlVgUO5e
   — Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) March 8, 2020

Daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner currently serve as White House advisers ― positions neither would hold in any other administration. During her time serving her father, Ivanka Trump has been granted multiple trademarks by the government of China, even as the White House attempted to negotiate trade issues with Beijing.

A complete accounting of how much taxpayers have forked over to the Trump Organization since its CEO's election is as likely as a Trump pardon for Michael Cohen.
By Zach Everson

On Wednesday night, when President Donald Trump addressed supporters from behind a Trump Hotels lectern in a room at his Trump International Hotel Washington, D.C., one of his company's most faithful customers accompanied him. The U.S. Secret Service. The government agency charged with protecting the president has paid his businesses at least $471,000 to fulfill its congressional mandate, according to documents The Washington Post recently obtained via the Freedom of Information Act. That's money from U.S. taxpayers flowing to the Trump Organization, with a venerable 155-year-old law enforcement organization being used like one of Michael Cohen's Delaware shell companies and serving as a conduit for presidential profit. And that $471,000 figure? It's only through April 2018. In an interview with Yahoo Finance in October, Trump Organization Executive Vice President Eric Trump claimed his company charged the government only enough to recoup its costs when hosting the president. (Eric Trump also denied the new Washington Post reporting.) But the rates the new documents detail — $650 per room at Mar-a-Lago! $17,000 to rent a cottage for a month at Trump Bedminster! payments to the D.C. hotel despite Trump's never having spent a night there as president! — seem a bit higher than what it costs to clean a room and freshen the linens. These formerly federal funds can and do reach the president's pocket, albeit through another conduit: Trump's 400-plus business interests are held in a revocable trust that is not blind and can "distribute net income or principal to Donald J. Trump at his request," as ProPublica reported. (Maybe the president withdrew $1 from it to buy a Coke while you read that last sentence — we simply don't know.) That's money from U.S. taxpayers flowing to the Trump Organization, with a venerable 155-year-old law enforcement organization being used like one of Michael Cohen's Delaware shell companies.

A federal official says the White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus
By MIKE STOBBE AP Medical Writer

NEW YORK -- The White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus, a federal official told The Associated Press. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention submitted the plan this week as a way of trying to control the virus, but White House officials ordered the air travel recommendation be removed, said the official who had direct knowledge of the plan. Trump administration officials have since suggested certain people should consider not traveling, but they have stopped short of the stronger guidance sought by the CDC. The person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity did not have authorization to talk about the matter. The person did not have direct knowledge about why the decision to kill the language was made. In a tweet, the press secretary for Vice President Mike Pence, Katie Miller, said that “it was never a recommendation to the Task Force” and called the AP story “complete fiction." On Friday, the CDC quietly updated its website to tell older adults and people with severe medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease to "stay home as much as possible" and avoid crowds. It urges those people to “take actions to reduce your risk of exposure,” but it doesn't specifically address flying.

Eric Trump claims that taxpayers were billed $50 per night, but the receipts show the real figure is closer to $400
By Igor Derysh

President Donald Trump's properties have charged taxpayers nearly eight times more than previously claimed for Secret Service stays, according to new documents obtained by the watchdog group Public Citizen. Eric Trump has claimed that Secret Service agents "stay at our properties for free — meaning, like, cost for housekeeping." He insisted last year that "we charge them, like, 50 bucks." But receipts obtained by Public Citizen and first reported by The Washington Post show that Trump's properties have charged the Secret Service $396 per night for 177 rentals at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort since he took office. The Post previously reported that some Trump properties charge taxpayers as much as $650 per room. The president's Bedminster, N.J. golf club also charged $17,000 per month for Secret Service agents to rent a cottage on the property. The Secret Service continued to pay for the cottage even after he left. The report found that taxpayers spent more than $471,000 on Trump properties, but the new receipts show that the Trump Organization charged Secret Service an additional $157,000 since 2017, bringing the total to more than $628,000. Eric Trump insisted to The Post that the company charges Secret Service agents "at cost," but the rates reveal that Mar-a-Lago charged Secret Service double what it charged officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Unlike other government officials, Secret Service agents who are on duty are exempt from federal limits on hotel spending for federal employees. Past presidents and vice presidents allowed the Secret Service to use space on their properties for free, according to The Post. Trump has spent 355 days, or nearly a full third of his presidency, at his own properties. After reviewing hundreds of Trump property stays, The Post was unable to find any instance in which the Trump Organization charged agents for $50, as Eric Trump claimed, or even below $100. The bills from Mar-a-Lago do claim that the $396 room rate is the property's "at-cost" rate, but hotel experts told The Post that the average housekeeping bill at a luxury hotel is typically between $40 and $50. Diego Bufquin, a professor at the University of Central Florida's Rosen College of Hospitality Management, told The Post it was "not possible" that at-cost rates would balloon to nearly $400. "Let's say that you use the best shampoos, the best soaps, the best conditioners, the best coffee," he explained. "At the end of the day, you may have something approaching $100 if you have the top products in the world in your guest room . . . I've never seen variable costs per room sold at $400."

Facebook says it’s taking down ads that link to the form because of its policy against misleading census content.
By Shirin Ghaffary

Shortly ahead of the US National 2020 census, President Trump’s campaign is running ads on Facebook that some are saying are misleading users into thinking that a data-gathering and fundraising survey for the Trump presidential campaign is actually the official US national census. Facebook confirmed with Recode that it plans to take down the ads. According to Facebook’s ad library, Trump’s Facebook page is running a series of hundreds of ads asking users to respond to what it calls a “census.” But in fact, the ads point to a campaign survey for Trump, not the official 2020 US census. Critics say the ads could mislead users into thinking that they’re filling out the actual census when they’re not — potentially discouraging people from filling out the real US census that will be hitting mailboxes next week. The US census is critical in determining representation and funding for communities, including how $1.5 trillion in federal resources are spent. While the ads also refer to the form as a “survey” to help Trump craft a “winning strategy,” many are saying they conflate political campaign language with that of official census communications. Facebook has touted its policy against census misinformation, banning “misleading information about when and how to participate in the census and the consequences of participating,” including in ads. But the social media giant reportedly told Judd Legum’s Popular Information, which first pointed out the issue Thursday morning, that the ads do not violate Facebook’s policy because in Facebook’s view they are related to the Trump campaign and not the census. Upon further review, though, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told Recode later on Thursday that Facebook is taking down the ads in question and shared the following company statement: “There are policies in place to prevent confusion around the official U.S. Census and this is an example of those being enforced.”

By Lauren Hirsch

Topping a week of conflicting statements from the administration about how many tests the U.S. is now able to administer for the coronavirus, President Donald Trump on Friday told reporters at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta that “anybody who wants a test gets a test.” U.S. health officials started the week by defending themselves to members of Congress for a shortage of tests across the country. That shortage, along with tight restrictions from the CDC on who could be tested, allowed infected people to go undetected and further spread it, say health experts. After being rebuked for the delays, Food and Drug Administration chief Stephen Hahn on Tuesday told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions that, with the aid of private sector partnerships, the government would be able to test roughly a million individuals by the end of the week. But by Thursday, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters he expects public laboratories this week to test 400,000 people. Later that day, Vice President Mike Pence said “we don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.” Pence is leading the government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.


US President Donald Trump has replaced his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, whose departure had long been rumoured. He said North Carolina lawmaker Mark Meadows would take over the job, a development tipped for weeks. Mr Trump said Mr Mulvaney would become US special envoy to Northern Ireland. Mr Mulvaney was perceived to have implicated the president in last year's impeachment inquiry in an off-the-cuff remark at the White House podium. When Mr Mulvaney gave a rare White House press conference in October, he shrugged off criticism over an alleged corrupt deal with Ukraine by saying: "We do that all the time." Mr Trump was reportedly outraged by the gaffe. Mr Mulvaney then walked back his comments in a written statement that said: "Let me be clear, there was absolutely no quid pro quo between Ukrainian military aid and any investigation into the 2016 election." Last month, Mr Trump said reports that Mr Mulvaney would be fired were "false", insisting he had a "great relationship" with him.

The president went off on Inslee for saying that he wanted Trump to stick to the science when discussing the coronavirus outbreak.

President Donald Trump on Friday called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a snake” for criticizing his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. Speaking in Atlanta at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump went off on Inslee for saying that he wanted Trump to stick to the science when discussing the outbreak. Trump has repeatedly tried to downplay the gravity of the outbreak and floated his own hunches on matters of science. “I told Mike not to be complimentary of that governor because that governor is a snake,” Trump said, referring to Vice President Mike Pence. “So Mike may be happy with him but I'm not, OK?”

“He didn’t say that,” Conway said just before Fox News played a clip of Trump saying just that.
By Matt Wilstein

“Oh, we’ll be cutting.” Those four words—spoken in response to a question about entitlements during a Fox News town hall on Thursday—are likely to haunt President Donald Trump for the rest of his re-election campaign. But don’t worry, Kellyanne Conway said Friday morning on Fox News, the president didn’t actually say what you heard him say. Fox News host Ed Henry brought those comments, referring to them as something Trump “seems to be trying to clean up this morning,” during the White House counselor’s latest appearance on the network. “Kellyanne, the president this morning promising he’ll protect Social Security and Medicare,” Henry said. “You were there at that town hall, he said the opposite. He said that he, in a second term, would cut Social Security and Medicare and he would cut entitlement programs. Why did he say that?” “He didn’t say that,” Conway replied with a straight face. “You’re misquoting him, respectfully.” She went on to explain that when she brought up the reaction to the comments with Trump directly, he told her, “No, I’m talking about cutting deficits.” Henry could have let it go at that, but instead he played the video clip of the moment, which clearly contradicts that explanation.  At the town hall, Fox host Martha MacCallum told the president, “If you don’t cut something in entitlements, you’ll never really deal with the debt.” “Oh, we’ll be cutting,” Trump said in response. “But we’re also going to have growth like you’ve never had before.” “So Martha MacCallum said right there, but you’re going to have cut entitlements to cut the deficit and he said, ‘We’ll be cutting,’” Henry said after the clip finished. And yet, in the face of video evidence, Conway maintained her spin. “But that wasn’t what he was talking about, he wasn’t talking about cutting entitlements,” she insisted, pointing to a statement from Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham that similarly tried to clean up those comments. She then deftly pivoted to blaming President Barack Obama, and the show moved on to the coronavirus.

By Curt Devine, Drew Griffin and Majlie de Puy Kamp, CNN Investigates

(CNN) Tito Vazquez says he still remembers the day three decades ago when, as a wrestler at Ohio State University, the doctor he'd gone to see about a bloody nose insisted on examining his genitals. He also recalls how one of his coaches dismissed his immediate complaint. "'I have nothing to do with this,'" Vazquez quoted the assistant coach saying, as he effectively ended the conversation and went on with wrestling practice. That coach, Vazquez says, was Jim Jordan, now an Ohio congressman and an influential voice in Republican politics, perhaps best known for his pugnacious defense of President Donald Trump during the recent impeachment proceedings. Vazquez is one of six former OSU wrestlers who told CNN in recent interviews that they were present when Jordan heard or responded to sexual misconduct complaints about team doctor Richard Strauss. Eight others say Strauss' inappropriate behavior was an open secret in the athletic department and that Jordan, among others, must have known about it. What Jordan and other coaches knew, and when they knew it, has been under scrutiny since 2018, when OSU announced an investigation into the allegations against Strauss. An independent report commissioned by the university concluded last year that Strauss "sexually abused at least 177 male student-patients" between 1979 and 1998. The doctor died by suicide in 2005. A number of lawsuits have been filed against OSU over allegations related to Strauss. On Friday, OSU announced that it reached a monetary settlement with Strauss' victims in 11 out of 18 pending cases. Since the scandal emerged, Jordan has emphatically denied that he knew anything about Strauss' abuse during his own years working at OSU, between 1987 and 1995. "Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during his time as a coach at Ohio State," his congressional office said in 2018.

By Philip Ewing and Claudia Grisales - NPR

Sen. Mitt Romney has cleared the path for his Republican colleagues to intensify their investigation next week into former Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter. The Utah Republican said Friday that he'll go along with his fellow members of the Senate Homeland Security Committee and authorize a subpoena as part of an investigation into what Republicans call potential conflicts of interest from Biden's tenure in office. Romney had wavered about joining the other Republicans on the panel, who control the majority but would have needed him to break a tie if all the Democrats present opposed a subpoena. On Friday, a spokeswoman said that Romney and Sen. Ron Johnson, the Wisconsin Republican who chairs the committee, reached an accord that made Romney comfortable with going along. "Senator Romney has expressed his concerns to Chairman Johnson, who has confirmed that any interview of the witness would occur in a closed setting without a hearing or public spectacle," said spokeswoman Liz Johnson. "He will therefore vote to let the chairman proceed to obtain the documents that have been offered." Johnson and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, have been seeking interviews with witnesses and documents about Hunter Biden for several months. They've contacted the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department and a political consultancy, Blue Star Strategies — among others — with requests for responses. Johnson and Grassley, who is not on the homeland security committee, have said they haven't gotten satisfactory responses to their formal requests, which is why Johnson's committee is expected to begin issuing subpoenas now that Romney is on board.

By Daniel Dale and Tara Subramaniam, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump made a rapid-fire series of false claims at a televised town hall event hosted by Fox News on Thursday in Scranton, Pennsylvania. We counted at least 14 false claims in our first dive into the transcript, plus four claims that were lacking some important context. The numbers might well rise as we delve deeper, but here's the preliminary list:

Hunter Biden's career
Trump claimed that, before Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of directors of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings, Hunter Biden "didn't have a job." Facts First: At the time Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Burisma in 2014, he was a lawyer at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's foreign service program, chairman of the board of World Food Program USA, and chief executive officer and chairman of Rosemont Seneca Advisors, an investment advisory firm. He also served on other boards. Before Joe Biden became vice president in 2009, Hunter Biden, a lawyer who graduated from Yale Law School, worked as a lobbyist. He became a partner at a law and lobbying firm in 2001. (He stopped lobbying late in the 2008 election.) Before that, he had worked for financial services company MBNA, rising to senior vice president and worked for the US Commerce Department. None of this is to say that Hunter Biden's name was not a factor in the Burisma appointment; Hunter Biden has acknowledged that he would "probably not" have been asked to be on the board if he were not a Biden. But Trump's repeat portrayal of him as a pitiful unemployed man is inaccurate.

House lawyers say the alternatives to judicial review of congressional subpoenas would be a menu of unpalatable options.

House lawyers argued Friday that an appeals court ruling blocking lawmakers from suing to obtain information from the executive branch would leave Congress with little choice but to exercise extreme options — such as arresting “current and former high-level” officials to get answers to its subpoenas. “The House could direct its sergeant at arms to arrest current and former high-level executive branch officials for failing to respond to subpoenas, after which the legal issues dividing the branches would then be litigated through habeas actions,” House lawyers wrote in a filing seeking a rehearing of the matter by the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. “But arrest and detention should not be a prerequisite to obtaining judicial resolution of the enforceability of a congressional subpoena.” The filing comes a week after an appeals court panel ruled 2-1 that the House may not ask judges to force the White House to make former counsel Don McGahn available for testimony. The panel determined that courts have no place intervening in disputes between Congress and the executive branch, a ruling that would remake the balance of power between the two branches of government if it stands. The judges in that ruling worried that allowing the House to turn to the courts to resolve a subpoena dispute with the White House would lead to a flood of litigation. Though two of the three judges doubted the White House’s argument that McGahn is “absolutely immune” from testifying to Congress, the opinion said the House lawsuit failed altogether because the courts don’t have a say. House lawyers said these arguments were bogus and left lawmakers with a menu of unpalatable options to obtain information the White House doesn’t want to provide. In addition to arresting people, the House could “use its appropriations power to shut down the government in response to executive stonewalling.” “The panel’s belief that Congress can use ‘political tools to bring the Executive Branch to heel’ is sorely misguided,” House Counsel Doug Letter wrote in the filing. “Use of the appropriations process to grind the Government to a halt over a subpoena dispute would be extraordinary and immensely damaging to the whole Nation. Appealing to the public in the next election does not aid this Committee in its urgent inquiries. Impeachment is not an appropriate means to obtain information — indeed, President Trump ordered all subpoenaed documents withheld from Congress during the House’s impeachment inquiry.” “Nor is referring the matter to DOJ for a contempt prosecution — a referral that DOJ has made clear it would not pursue ... a proper substitute for judicial enforcement of subpoenas,” Letter added.

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