"Where you can find almost anything with A Click A Pick!"
Go to content
Donald J. Trump Has Failed In His Response To Coronavirus (Covid-19) - Page 7
By Daniel Dale, Marshall Cohen, Tara Subramaniam, David Wright and Liz Stark, CNN

Washington (CNN) It's hard to know where to begin fact checking. President Donald Trump's latest coronavirus press conference on Saturday afternoon was littered with false claims about both the pandemic crisis and various unrelated matters Trump decided to talk about, from North Korea and Iran to Chinese tariffs. Trump continued to be dishonest on the critical subject of coronavirus testing, wrongly claiming he "inherited" faulty tests -- they were developed this year, during his presidency -- and painting an overly rosy picture of the US testing situation. He also repeated several of the false claims he likes to make at his campaign rallies. Here's a rundown of the claims and the facts.

Governors and testing
Trump continued to favorably compare the coronavirus testing situation in the US to the situation in other countries. He alleged that Democratic governors are deliberately not using testing capacity the federal government has created -- and suggested that the only governors "complaining" about testing challenges are Democrats. "Now they're giving you the other -- it's called 'testing, testing.' But they don't want to use all of the capacity that we've created. We have tremendous capacity ... they know that, the governors know that. The Democrat governors know that. They're the ones that are complaining," he said. Facts First: There is no evidence that any governor is deliberately not using available testing capacity. And it's not only Democratic governors who have spoken of problems and challenges with testing. Governors from both parties, and public health officials around the country, have warned that they are still unable to do the amount of testing needed to safely lift social and economic restrictions. Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and his health chief expressed frustration on Friday that testing at hospitals in the state was being impeded by a shortage of critical components. Republican Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said on NBC on Thursday that he believes Maryland is going to get, "in the next several weeks," to the level of testing needed, but he also said: "This has been the No. 1 stumbling block in America, the lack of availability of testing, and you really can't get to any point where you can reopen the country until, not just in my state, but across the country, until we can do much, much larger-scale testing." Republican Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said Wednesday that it has been "a challenge" to get all of the supplies needed to conduct tests. Peter Iwen, director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory, told Omaha's KETV in a story published Wednesday that supplies they need to run tests were being sent instead to labs in other states: "We're trying to compete with those people, and we're just not getting the reagents sent to us." Democratic governors are expressing concerns similar to those of their Republican colleagues. Democratic Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly told CNN on Thursday: "We have had a very difficult time getting access to tests and all the stuff you need to complete those tests."

By Sergei Klebnikov - Forbes Staff

The White House issued a sharp rebuke Saturday to billionaire Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, who reportedly spent over $1.7 million on flights bringing medical supplies from China in secret—out of fear the Trump administration would seize the cargo for the federal stockpile. Reports first emerged earlier this week that Illinois was “secretly” getting PPE and other medical supplies shipped from China in order to avoid interference from the federal government. The Chicago-Sun Times first reported Pritzker’s China flight payments, citing a source familiar with the matter who said that the governor didn’t want to release details “because we’ve heard reports of Trump trying to take PPE in China and when it gets to the United States.” In an online portal that tracks all of the state’s coronavirus-related spending, released by the Illinois State Comptroller on Tuesday, there are two payments of $888,275 each, listed as “aircraft charter flight to Shanghai, China for COVID-19 response.” “We’ve had to search the entire globe to find what we need. Shipping is very difficult,” Pritzker told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday, after his office confirmed the original reports a day earlier. He said that because “the federal government seems to be interrupting supplies that are being sent elsewhere in the nation” he “wanted to make sure that we received what we ordered,” and also told CNN that he had  “given up” on receiving help from the Trump administration. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere responded, telling RealClearPolitics that Pritzker, “through ignorance or incompetence or a propensity to politicize everything,” was wrong, and that the administration had been providing Illinois with resources.

Crucial quotes
"We have gotten very little help from the federal government,” Pritzker told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Tuesday. “It's fine. I've given up on any promises that have been made.” In his rebuke of Pritzker’s comments that Illinois was “doing what we need to do despite” the president, Deere insisted that Trump didn’t see a distinction between red or blue states and had directed federal aid to “every state regardless of the political affiliation of the state’s governor.”

Washington's governor accuses Trump of encouraging 'dangerous acts' after he urged supporters to 'LIBERATE' some states.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Friday accused Donald Trump of "fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies" after the United States president urged supporters to "LIBERATE" three states led by Democratic governors. "The president's statements this morning encourage illegal and dangerous acts. He is putting millions of people in danger of contracting COVID-19," Inslee said in a series of tweets on Friday afternoon. "His unhinged rantings and calls for people to 'liberate' states could also lead to violence. We've seen it before," Inslee added. "The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies - even while his own administration says the virus is real, it is deadly and we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted." Inslee's tweets came after Trump apparently encouraged the growing protests against the stay-at-home restrictions aimed at stopping the coronavirus.

   The president is fomenting domestic rebellion and spreading lies - even while his own administration says the virus is real, it is deadly and we have a long way to go before restrictions can be lifted. 2/7 — Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) April 17, 2020

"LIBERATE MINNESOTA!" "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" "LIBERATE VIRGINIA," Trump said in a tweet-storm in which he also lashed out at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for criticising the federal response. Cuomo "should spend more time 'doing' and less time 'complaining,'" the president said. - Donald J. Trump is the worse president ever.

The president’s social media posts come amid growing frustration among some conservative groups over state mitigation measures.

President Donald Trump culminated a swerving, week-long power struggle against the nation’s governors with an apparent endorsement of protesters who have defied leaders of coronavirus-stricken states, public health experts and the most senior members of his own administration. In a series of tweets Friday afternoon, the president issued an online call to “LIBERATE” Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia — all states where aggrieved residents have gathered in public in recent days to demonstrate in opposition to stay-at-home orders declared by Democratic governors. “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!” Trump wrote, followed soon after by a message that read, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” He also tweeted, “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” At Friday's White House press briefing, Trump said certain states are going to "come online" "sooner rather than later." The president’s remarks and social media posts come as some conservative groups have grown increasingly frustrated with the local directives that have slammed the brakes on the U.S. economy, the strength of which had been a key selling point of Trump’s reelection effort. Trump’s tweets also represent the latest salvo in a rhetorical back-and-forth between governors seeking more robust assistance from his administration and a president loath to accept blame for a federal response that has been widely criticized as inadequate and slow-footed. Amid the urgent state efforts, thousands of protesters — many wearing Trump paraphernalia — have congregated in the capital cities of Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia, flouting stringent mitigation measures imposed by Democratic Govs. Tim Walz, Gretchen Whitmer and Ralph Northam. Northam was dismissive of Trump’s unexpected broadside at a news conference Friday, telling reporters that he and his staff are “fighting a biological war. I do not have time to involve myself in Twitter wars.”


ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo embarked on a 20-minute stemwinder during his press briefing Friday, hitting back on a series of presidential tweets accusing him of overreacting to the coronavirus pandemic. Cuomo, who has for weeks said he doesn’t want to fight President Donald Trump, couldn't resist lobbing a few verbal grenades after Trump tweeted during Cuomo’s Friday appearance that the governor “should spend more time ‘doing’ and less time ‘complaining.’” Trump said that federal help to build hospital bed capacity and provide additional ventilators has proven unnecessary and that Cuomo has not been appreciative of his help. Cuomo, who has styled himself as a governor of “action,” responded that if Trump is watching his televised press event “maybe he should get up and go to work, right?" Cuomo said the federal help he requested has been based on White House projections for the state’s medical needs and suggested Trump hasn’t read any of the reports his administration has issued through the Centers for Disease Control and the White House coronavirus task force. “If you want to point fingers — we built more beds than we needed — our only mistake was believing your numbers, believing your projections,” Cuomo said, suggesting Trump use his reality TV catchphrase "You're fired" to can CDC and coronavirus task force officials for botching their own projections. "Whose projections were wrong? Head of the CDC, Peter Navarro and head of the White House coronavirus task force. Fire them all. That's what I say. Fire them," Cuomo said. "You know that show the president did?"

Democrats erupted after receiving vague answers from Vice President Mike Pence about efforts to ramp up coronavirus testing.

Senate Democrats exploded in frustration during a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence and Trump administration officials on Friday afternoon, with one normally laid-back senator asserting it was the most maddening phone call he’s ever been on, according to participants and people familiar with the call. The call between President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force and Senate Democrats on Friday left the Senate minority “livid,” according to one Democrat on the call, due to the lack of clear answers about national testing for the disease.  Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) called it a “dereliction of duty,” said a second person on the call. King added: “I have never been so mad about a phone call in my life.” King is generally among the most mild-mannered senators but was extraordinarily frustrated with the Trump administration’s testing woes. He said that the administration had left states adrift. Pence responded to King by saying there have been misunderstandings about the federal government’s work with states, according to a person familiar with a call, and Pence explained how the administration had been coordinating with states to ramp up testing. Pence was even keeled in the face of the frustration, that person said. But Democrats said afterward they felt he wasn't giving clear answers to their questions.

By John Fritze, David Jackson - USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump called on supporters Friday to "liberate" states that have experienced protests over coronavirus lockdowns, a day after he unveiled guidelines aimed at reopening the nation's economy. Less than 24 hoursafter declining to name states he felt are prepared to begin easing social distancing guidelines to halt the spread of the virus, Trump named Virginia, Michigan and Minnesota as states that could benefit from what he described asliberation. "LIBERATE MICHIGAN!" Trump posted in a series of all-caps tweets. Trump has lurched from slamming Democratic governors, to saying he has developed friendships with them and back to attacking them. In a series of combative tweets Friday, Trump defended his performance on the virus, renewed his criticism of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and attacked his predecessor, President Barack Obama. All three states that Trump called to "liberate" are led by Democratic governors, and all three have experienced protests in recent days demanding a rollback of stay-at-home orders. Demonstrators drove thousands of vehicles to Michigan's state Capitol this week to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's stay-at-home order, for instance. It was not clear exactly what Trump meant with the tweets. The only context he offered came with a third "liberate" tweet, directed at Virginia, in which he urged supporters to "save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!" The White House did not immediately respond to a request for further information about the president's intention. Critics said the president appeared to be encouraging protests in the states, all three of which are also important for the presidential election. - Trump and the GOP are willing to put American lives at risk so he can will reelection. Shame on Trump, sham on the GOP.

The administration envisions meeting that criteria each time a locality progresses through three phases.

President Donald Trump's new guidelines for reopening parts of the country recommend states and localities confirm a two-week downward trend in coronavirus symptoms and documented cases before starting to ease lockdowns while assuring hospitals have adequate capacity and robust testing in place. The administration envisions states or localities meeting those criteria each time they progress through three phases. It's not prescribing target dates for meeting each phase, and officials acknowledged restrictions could snap back if there's a resurgence in cases.

By Daniel Dale, Tara Subramaniam and Liz Stark, CNN

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump inaccurately declared at Thursday's White House coronavirus briefing that some states do not have "any problem" with the virus's outbreak, minimizing the situation even in the least-affected states. Trump also repeated his incorrect suggestion that he has the power to decide when governors lift their pandemic-related restrictions. And he argued that "people should have told us" about the virus, omitting the fact that he continued to downplay the virus for weeks after public warnings. We fact checked these items below.

States without any problems
As part of the administration's three-phase recommendation for re-opening the country, Trump said some states could be ready to enter phase one of the reopening process as soon as Friday because, when it comes to coronavirus, "you have states without any problem." He added that some states are "at a point where there is almost nothing" in terms of coronavirus cases, and that "you have states with few cases and those few cases have healed." Facts First: It's not true that some states currently don't have "any problem" related to coronavirus. At the time the President spoke, all 50 states each had more than 200 confirmed cases, and 41 states have more than 1,000 confirmed cases. There is no definitive state-by-state data on how many infected people have recovered. Wyoming, which has the fewest cases of any state, has reported 288 cases. While Trump was hesitant to name which specific states could be the first to reopen, none of them have close to zero cases, according to the latest data from Johns Hopkins University. Further, testing issues have raised concerns that cases or deaths are being undercounted, so it's difficult to know the accuracy of the existing data. Trump has made similar false claims in past briefings. In early April, he said that certain states, specifically those without stay-at-home orders, were "not in jeopardy" or at risk from the coronavirus. The number of coronavirus cases in all those states, except Wyoming, have since more than doubled, though two of them -- Wyoming and North Dakota -- remain among the five states with the least amount of cases.

By Rem Rieder

President Donald Trump is making false and exaggerated claims about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Feb. 24 trip to San Francisco’s Chinatown. Pelosi urged people to shop and eat there at a time when tourism was suffering because of the novel coronavirus, which originated in China late last year. Trump falsely tweeted that “Crazy Nancy Pelosi” had deleted a video from Twitter of her visit to Chinatown. “She wanted everyone to pack into Chinatown long after I closed the BORDER TO CHINA,” Trump said. But there is no record such a video was ever posted on Twitter by Pelosi. At an April 13 coronavirus briefing, Trump falsely claimed that during her visit Pelosi said, “‘Let’s all have the big parade — Chinatown parade.'” Pelosi didn’t say that. In fact, that parade had taken place on Feb. 8, more than two weeks before Pelosi went to Chinatown. At a coronavirus briefing on April 15, Trump exaggerated when he said Pelosi “was trying to have, in San Francisco, parties in Chinatown, because she thought it would be great.” Pelosi didn’t mention parties during her visit, although she urged people to come to Chinatown to shop and eat. Trump also falsely said Pelosi visited Chinatown “to show that this thing doesn’t exist,” referring to the novel coronavirus. Pelosi never suggested that it didn’t exist. She stressed the need for “prevention, prevention, prevention” — urging people to be “concerned and vigilant,” but not “afraid.” The president has raised Pelosi’s visit several times in recent days to counter criticism that he was slow to react to the coronavirus. He repeatedly mentions that he issued travel restrictions on China, which he did on Jan. 31. Meanwhile, he points out, the House speaker was urging people to go to Chinatown. Trump is mischaracterizing and exaggerating what she said during her visit. And while Trump did issue the travel restrictions, as we have reported, he also downplayed the danger of the virus in a series of remarks and tweets from Jan. 22 to March 10. The California Democrat’s visit to Chinatown came three weeks before six Bay Area counties implemented shelter-in-place restrictions. On the same day as Pelosi’s visit, Trump tweeted, “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!” Here’s Trump’s April 16 tweet accusing Pelosi of deleting a video from her Twitter account:

By Colby Itkowitz and Mike DeBonis

President Trump threatened Wednesday to try to force Congress to adjourn so he could fill his administration’s vacancies without Senate approval, the second time this week he has claimed unprecedented executive authority amid the coronavirus pandemic. The president cited a never-exercised constitutional power to shut down Congress if the House and Senate are in disagreement over adjourning, pushing both the executive and legislative branches into uncharted territory. On Monday, Trump had asserted that he had “total” authority over the decision to reopen the country, overruling governors intent on protecting public health and containing further spread of the coronavirus. He seemed to backtrack Tuesday, suggesting that he would work with the governors on such a step. At his daily coronavirus task force briefing Wednesday, Trump slammed the common practice by the House and Senate to hold pro forma sessions every two or three days but never formally adjourn, thwarting Trump’s ability to bypass the regular Senate confirmation process and install nominees by recess appointments. “The current practice of leaving town while conducting phony pro forma sessions is a dereliction of duty that the American people cannot afford during this crisis. It is a scam. What they do, it’s a scam and everybody knows it,” Trump told reporters at his daily briefing on the coronavirus. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) spoke to Trump on Wednesday, but signaled that he wasn’t on board with the president’s plan. Any attempt to formally adjourn the Senate would require all 100 senators traveling back to Washington for such a vote — which McConnell and Senate leaders have deemed an unsafe move at this point. “The leader pledged to find ways to confirm nominees considered mission-critical to the covid-19 pandemic, but under Senate rules that will take consent from Leader Schumer,” said a McConnell spokesman, referring to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.). McConnell has prioritized confirming lifetime appointments to the federal judiciary, leaving nominees to sub-Cabinet posts, commissions and other posts to languish. With the Senate now adjourned indefinitely due to the coronavirus, all those nominations remain stalled. Trump claimed he needed to fill jobs in his administration to deal with the public health emergency, complaining that Senate Democrats blocked his nominations, even though most of the vacancies in the federal government are because Trump hasn’t selected anyone to fill them. Several of the ones he has nominated haven’t had a confirmation hearing yet in the Republican-led Senate, including Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.), the nominee for director of national intelligence. Trump mentioned Ratcliffe as an example of someone he wanted quickly confirmed.

By Clare Foran, CNN

Washington (CNN)House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday called the decision for President Donald Trump's name to appear on stimulus checks amid the coronavirus pandemic "shameful." The President's name will appear on checks sent to Americans to combat economic fallout from the spread of the disease in a last-minute Treasury Department order, a senior administration official confirmed to CNN on Tuesday. Pelosi condemned the move in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper on "The Lead," saying that it is "shameful" and "people are really desperate to get a check." Americans "want their checks," Pelosi said, "they want their unemployment check, they want their direct payment check that you're talking about here, they want the Paycheck Protection Program checks to come forward and they're not seeing that," referring to a new small business relief program that has so far been marred by a rocky rollout.  Two senior Treasury officials told The Washington Post, which first reported the decision for the President's name to appear on checks, that the move will probably set back the delivery date on the first set of paper checks -- potentially slowing a process that could already take up to 20 weeks. The Internal Revenue Service, however, insists that the move will not result in a delay. Trump's name will be on the memo line of the check, a Treasury spokesperson confirmed to CNN. The President's name will be on all paper checks sent to people who are receiving stimulus payments. Many others are receiving the payments through direct deposit, if they have their bank information on file with the Treasury Department. Some of those direct deposit payments have already begun being deposited in bank accounts.

Pelosi weighs in on stalemate in Congress over small business loan program
Congressional Democrats and Republicans are currently locked in a stalemate over how to move forward on additional interim coronavirus aid with Republicans insisting on a clean funding increase for the small business loan program. Democrats however argue that in addition to a funding increase there should be more money for states and hospitals as well as conditions on how that small business funding can be used. Pelosi said that Democrats "want to support the small businesses, all of them, and support the PPP and hope that we can work together to do that," using an acronym to refer to the small business relief program.

By Cristina Cabrera

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) issued a scathing letter to her Democratic colleagues on Tuesday night that ripped into President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak roiling the country. “The truth is,” Pelosi wrote, that among other things, Trump “took insufficient action and caused unnecessary death and disaster” after ignoring warnings of the looming pandemic, that he “dismantled the infrastructure handed to him which was meant to plan for and overcome a pandemic,” and that the economy is now a disaster thanks to his “incompetent reaction” to the coronavirus. “The truth is a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others,” she wrote. “The truth is, from this moment on, Americans must ignore lies and start to listen to scientists and other respected professionals in order to protect ourselves and our loved ones.” White House spokesperson Judd Deere told TPM in an emailed statement that Pelosi “should stop lying and pay attention to the facts.”

Trump has a list of villains to blame for his criminal incompetence. But only his cult members are still listening
By Bob Cesca

Whenever you read about an obvious scam perpetrated by Donald Trump, it's important to remember one thing: He's lying to his own disciples more than anyone else. The rest of us — the "normals," for lack of a better term — aren't necessarily the dupes in his various acts of desperate treachery, even though, yeah, we're all the victims of the consequences. But the initial targets of his Batman-villain gambits are his own gullible fanboys, and they're devouring it the way Trump himself devours trans fats. For example: Trump is engaged in his latest cover-his-own-ass maneuver, while parked in the midst of an historic breakdown of the federal government's responsibilities during a cataclysmic pandemic. This time, the president's scheme involves blaming everyone except himself for his blind inaction and delusional, carefree attitude toward COVID-19 for months on end, another example of his shrieking impotence, so far removed from the normal behavior of strong, legitimate leaders. When it comes to this upside-down, horrendously illegitimate presidency, the buck stops with everyone who's not Trump. His strategy to defer blame is aimed at deceiving his own people, the only people who actually believe his screechy gibberish. None of what he's up to is meant for the consumption of anyone outside his brainwashed cult — a cult that continues to swallow his loopy "Jim Jones for Dummies" act.

Step One: Blame China
It's already well established that ever since he tried to coin his own phrase for the virus, the "Chinese virus," Trump's intention has been to find a visible culprit to blame in order to deflect criticism of his unforgivable ineptitude. Namely China.

By Daniel Dale, Tara Subramaniam and Nathan McDermott, CNN

(CNN) Another coronavirus briefing. Another series of false claims. Speaking Tuesday in the Rose Garden of the White House, President Donald Trump denied making a comment he did make. He criticized the World Health Organization for the same thing he has done before. He wrongly suggested he was the only national leader to impose travel restrictions on China. He claimed he was "authorizing" governors to lift coronavirus restrictions even though this power always belonged to governors. He falsely claimed, again, that "nobody ever thought" there would be a crisis like this. And he repeated some of his favorite false claims about his tariffs on China. Here's a rundown of Trump's claims, and the facts around them.

Trump's praise for China's supposed transparency
After he criticized the World Health Organization for praising China's supposed transparency over the coronavirus, Trump was pressed about his own previous praise of China's supposed transparency. "I don't talk about China's transparency," Trump responded. "You know, if I'm so good to China, how come I was the only person, the only leader of a country, that closed our borders tightly against China?"

Facts First: Trump did praise China, and its president, Xi Jinping, for its supposed transparency. Moreover, Trump didn't completely shut down travel between China and the United States; nearly 40,000 people traveled from China to the United States after he announced travel restrictions, according to an April 4 New York Times analysis of data collected in both countries. And Trump was far from the only leader to impose travel restrictions from China. A Washington Post analysis found that 38 countries imposed significant travel restrictions on China "before or at the same time the U.S. restrictions were put in place." (The Post analysis did not count 12 other countries "that took some sort of action before the United States but with measures that were not as sweeping.")

By Jeff Mason, Paulina Duran

WASHINGTON/SYDNEY (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s move to halt funding to the World Health Organization over its handling of the coronavirus pandemic prompted condemnation on Wednesday from world leaders who appealed for cooperation and unity. Trump, who has reacted angrily to accusations his administration’s response to the worst epidemic in a century was haphazard and too slow, had become increasingly hostile towards the U.N. agency before announcing the halt on Tuesday. The WHO, which is based in Geneva, had promoted China’s “disinformation” about the virus that likely led to a wider outbreak than otherwise would have occurred, Trump said. WHO had failed to investigate credible reports from sources in China’s Wuhan province, where the virus was first identified in December, that conflicted with Beijing’s accounts about the spread and “parroted and publicly endorsed” the idea that human to human transmission was not happening, Trump said. “The WHO failed in this basic duty and must be held accountable,” Trump told a White House news conference on Tuesday.

Constitutional experts, government agencies and Republican governors all say otherwise.
By Linda Qiu

President Trump, in a combative news conference on Monday, falsely and repeatedly asserted that he had the unilateral power to compel states to lift stay-at-home orders and businesses to open. Here’s a fact check of that and other claims.

What Was Said
Reporter: “There’s a debate over what authority you have to order the country reopened. What authority do you have on this one?”
Mr. Trump: “Well, I have the ultimate authority.”

False. He does not have the authority to override stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders from governors, or “total” authority in general. “I don’t know of anything that would allow him to do this,” said Chris Edelson, a professor of government at American University. “We live in a constitutional system with checks and balances. Nobody has total authority.” “The President has no formal legal authority to categorically override local or state shelter-in-place orders or to reopen schools and small businesses,” Stephen I. Vladeck, a professor at the University of Texas School of Law, said on Twitter. “No statute delegates to him such power; no constitutional provision invests him with such authority.”

By Betsy Klein and Jennifer Hansler, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he is halting funding to the World Health Organization while a review is conducted. Trump said the review would cover the WHO's "role in severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of coronavirus." Trump's announcement comes in the middle of the worst global pandemic in decades and as he angrily defends his own handling of the outbreak in the United States. Amid swirling questions about whether he downplayed the crisis or ignored warnings from members of his administration about its potential severity, Trump has sought to assign blame elsewhere, including at the WHO and in the news media. The US funds $400 million to $500 million to the WHO each year, Trump said, noting that China "contributes roughly $40 million." "Had the WHO done its job to get medical experts into China to objectively assess the situation on the ground and to call out China's lack of transparency, the outbreak could have been contained at its source with very little death," Trump said. His decision to withdraw funding from the WHO follows a pattern of skepticism of world organizations that began well before the coronavirus pandemic. Trump has questioned US funding to the United Nations, withdrawn from global climate agreements and lambasted the World Trade Organization -- claiming all were ripping off the United States. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, who serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said earlier Tuesday that while the WHO and China "made mistakes," Trump is also looking to deflect blame from his own administration. "Right now, there is a very coordinated effort amongst the White House and their allies to try to find scapegoats for the fatal mistakes that the President made during the early stages of this virus," he said. Murphy added: "It is just wildly ironic that the President and his allies are now criticizing China or the WHO for being soft on China when it was in fact the President who was the chief apologist for China during the early stages of this crisis."

By Sara Murray and Scott Glover, CNN

(CNN) Donald Trump was in his element. Playing to a cheering crowd at a Detroit-area auto parts plant in January, the president railed against disgraceful Democrats, bad trade deals and the dishonest media as he touted his record of creating jobs "like you have never seen before." The brewing coronavirus crisis merited only a brief mention at the end of his speech. He wanted to assure his audience that his administration had it "very well under control." "We think it's going to have a very good ending," Trump said. Since then, an employee at the plant tested positive for coronavirus. Afterward, the plant ceased production, leaving its hourly workforce to collect unemployment. The company, Dana Inc., which has locations around the globe, has seen its stock price plummet by more than 40% amid fears of the virus' uncontrolled spread. As opposed to a good ending, there is currently no end in sight. Southeastern Michigan, where the plant is located, emerged as a coronavirus hot spot, at one point pushing the state's caseload to among the top in the nation. When Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, recently appealed to the federal government for help, Trump took offense at her criticism of the federal response and what he saw as her ingratitude. He lobbed insults, calling her "Gretchen 'Half' Whitmer" on Twitter and telling Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the coronavirus task force, "don't call the woman in Michigan." While government officials and public health experts have devoted years to efforts to enhance US preparedness for a pandemic, a key factor went overlooked: a president like Trump. His response to the Covid-19 crisis has been marred by many of the same traits that have characterized his presidency, including a penchant for false statements, deflection of blame, self-aggrandizement and bullying. The president's approach made it more difficult for those around him who scrambled to mount a cohesive response to the pandemic, according to public health experts and other officials. A whistleblower holding an envelope. There was no contingency plan for a commander in chief who would deem the threat from Covid-19 "under control" when it was anything but. There was no tabletop exercise that simulated a President telling Americans the virus would "miraculously" disappear. Nor did anyone anticipate that the millions of Americans who watch Fox News would see the mysterious, rapidly spreading novel coronavirus minimized and politicized for weeks. There was no playbook for dealing with a public health disaster of this magnitude in Trump's America.

Experts inside and outside the government identified the threat early on and sought to raise alarms even as President Trump was moving slowly. Read some of what they had to say among themselves at critical moments.
By Eric Lipton

WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus emerged and headed toward the United States, an extraordinary conversation was hatched among an elite group of infectious disease doctors and medical experts in the federal government and academic institutions around the nation. Red Dawn — a nod to the 1984 film with Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen — was the nickname for the email chain they built. Different threads in the chain were named Red Dawn Breaking, Red Dawn Rising, Red Dawn Breaking Bad and, as the situation grew more dire, Red Dawn Raging. It was hosted by the chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Duane C. Caneva, starting in January with a small core of medical experts and friends that gradually grew to dozens. The “Red Dawn String,” Dr. Caneva said, was intended “to provide thoughts, concerns, raise issues, share information across various colleagues responding to Covid-19,” including medical experts and doctors from the Health and Human Services Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Homeland Security Department, the Veterans Affairs Department, the Pentagon and other federal agencies tracking the historic health emergency. Here are key exchanges from the emails, with context and analysis, that show the experts’ rising sense of frustration and then anger as their advice seemingly failed to break through to the administration, raising the odds that more people would likely die.

A Veterans Affairs official worried in January that the W.H.O. and C.D.C. were slow to address the spread of the virus.
One of the most active participants in the group was Dr. Carter E. Mecher, a senior medical adviser at the Veterans Affairs Department who helped write a key Bush-era pandemic plan. That document focused in particular on what to do if the government was unable to contain a contagious disease and there was no available vaccine, like with the coronavirus. The next step is called mitigation, and it relies on unsophisticated steps such as closing schools, businesses, shutting down sporting events or large public gatherings, to try to slow the spread by keeping people away from one another. As of late January, Dr. Mecher was already discussing the likelihood that the United States would soon need to turn to mitigation efforts, including perhaps to “close the colleges and universities.”

A former Bush and Obama adviser compared the outbreak to major disasters in world history.
Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Nebraska who served in the White House under President George W. Bush and as an adviser to President Barack Obama, was also a regular participant in the email chain. He stayed in regular communication with federal officials as the United States attempted to figure out how to respond to the virus. From the beginning he predicted this would be a major public health event

By Devan Cole, CNN

Washington (CNN) Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday that calls to implement life-saving social distancing measures faced "a lot of pushback" early in the US coronavirus outbreak and that the country is now looking for ways to more effectively respond to the virus should it rebound in the fall. "I mean, obviously, you could logically say that if you had a process that was ongoing and you started mitigation earlier, you could have saved lives," Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the Union" when asked if social distancing and stay-at-home measures could have prevented deaths had they been put in place in February, instead of mid-March. "Obviously, no one is going to deny that. But what goes into those decisions is complicated," added Fauci, who is a key member of the Trump administration's coronavirus task force. "But you're right, I mean, obviously, if we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then." Asked why the President didn't recommend social distancing guidelines until mid-March -- about three weeks after the nation's top health experts recommended they be put in place -- Fauci said, "You know, Jake, as I have said many times, we look at it from a pure health standpoint. We make a recommendation. Often, the recommendation is taken. Sometimes it's not. But we -- it is what it is. We are where we are right now." The comments from Fauci come a day after a report from The New York Times detailed the Trump administration's missteps in the early days of the pandemic and how President Donald Trump ignored his advisers' warnings of the potentially deadly disease.

An examination by The New York Times reveals that there were warnings from the intelligence community, national security aides and government health officials — even as the president played down the crisis.
By Michael D. Shear

WASHINGTON — Top White House advisers as well as experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies all sounded alarms and urged aggressive action to counter the threat from the coronavirus, but President Trump remained slow to respond, a detailed examination of the government’s response found. Mr. Trump’s views were colored by long-running disputes inside the administration over how to deal with China and his own suspicion of the motivations of officials inside what he viewed as the “Deep State.” And recommendations from public health officials often competed with economic and political considerations in internal debates, slowing the path toward belated decisions. Interviews with dozens of current and former officials and a review of emails and other documents reveal the key turning points as the Trump administration struggled to get ahead of the virus, rather than just chase it, and the internal debates that presented Mr. Trump with stark choices along the way.

Intelligence agencies and the N.S.C. produced early warnings.
National Security Council officials received the warnings in early January about the potential dangers from a new virus in Wuhan, China. The State Department’s epidemiologist warned early that the virus could develop into a pandemic, while the National Center for Medical Intelligence, a small outpost of the Defense Intelligence Agency, reached the same conclusion. Weeks later, biodefense experts in the National Security Council office responsible for tracking pandemics looked at what was happening in Wuhan and started urging officials to think about what would be entailed in quarantining cities the size of Chicago and telling people to work at home. But some of the earliest warnings came from national security hawks eager to blame China, and they often ran into opposition from the president’s economic advisers, who were concerned about upsetting relations with China at a time when Mr. Trump was negotiating a trade deal with Beijing.

Trump was told of a memo saying 500,000 “American souls” could die.
Peter Navarro, the president’s top trade adviser, wrote a searing memo at the end of January arguing that a pandemic caused by the virus could cost the United States dearly, producing as many as half a million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses. The memo, in which Mr. Navarro argued in favor of limits on travel from China, says that in a worst-case scenario, 30 percent of the population in the United States would be infected with the virus, leading to the deaths “on the order of a half a million American souls.”

An examination reveals the president was warned about the potential for a pandemic but that internal divisions, lack of planning and his faith in his own instincts led to a halting response.
By Eric Lipton, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, Michael D. Shear, Mark Mazzetti and Julian E. Barnes

“Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion,” President Trump said last month. He has repeatedly said that no one could have seen the effects of the coronavirus coming.

WASHINGTON — “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,” a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of Jan. 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. “The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.” A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation’s public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action. “You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,” he wrote to the group, which called itself “Red Dawn,” an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. “Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities.” His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action. The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials. It was a problem, he said, that had come out of nowhere and could not have been foreseen. Even after Mr. Trump took his first concrete action at the end of January — limiting travel from China — public health often had to compete with economic and political considerations in internal debates, slowing the path toward belated decisions to seek more money from Congress, obtain necessary supplies, address shortfalls in testing and ultimately move to keep much of the nation at home. Unfolding as it did in the wake of his impeachment by the House and in the midst of his Senate trial, Mr. Trump’s response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives. Decision-making was also complicated by a long-running dispute inside the administration over how to deal with China. The virus at first took a back seat to a desire not to upset Beijing during trade talks, but later the impulse to score points against Beijing left the world’s two leading powers further divided as they confronted one of the first truly global threats of the 21st century. The shortcomings of Mr. Trump’s performance have played out with remarkable transparency as part of his daily effort to dominate television screens and the national conversation. But dozens of interviews with current and former officials and a review of emails and other records revealed many previously unreported details and a fuller picture of the roots and extent of his halting response as the deadly virus spread:

By Marina Pitofsky

President Trump reportedly asked Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert and a key member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, whether U.S. officials could allow the coronavirus pandemic to “wash over” the country, The Washington Post reported. During a coronavirus task force meeting in the Situation Room last month, on the same day Trump ordered travel to be suspended from the United Kingdom and Ireland in an effort to stem the spread of the virus, Trump reportedly asked Fauci, “Why don’t we let this wash over the country?” Two anonymous sources familiar with the president’s comments confirmed the question to the newspaper. Trump was reportedly also seeking to understand why “herd immunity” to the coronavirus had been rejected. Herd immunity occurs when a large amount of the population becomes immune either through infection and recovery or inoculation. “Mr. President, many people would die,” Fauci reportedly responded to the president’s question. The Washington Post reported that Fauci initially did not understand what the president meant by “wash over” but was then reportedly alarmed. The Washington Post also reported that six doctors who serve within the Trump administration have started holding their own meetings to discuss public health and medical questions nearly every day, including Fauci, Deborah Birx, Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield. The group was reportedly formed after some of the doctors became frustrated with what the paper referred to as “voodoo” — such as Trump's push for the use of hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug, as a possible treatment for coronavirus — in larger meetings for the coronavirus response.

By Maegan Vazquez, Jason Hoffman, Kristen Holmes and Jeremy Diamond, CNN

(CNN) A new report on the Trump administration's missteps in the early days of the coronavirus' spread into the US was published in the New York Times on Saturday, detailing new instances showing how President Donald Trump ignored the warnings of his advisers about the lethal infectious disease approaching America's doorstep. According to the report, Dr. Robert Kadlec, the top disaster response official at the Department of Health and Human Services, convened the White House coronavirus task force on February 21. During his meeting, the group conducted a mock-up exercise of the pandemic. It predicted 110 million infections, 7.7 million hospitalizations and 586,000 deaths. As a result, the group "concluded they would soon need to move toward aggressive social distancing, even at the risk of severe disruption to the nation's economy and the daily lives of millions of Americans." However, it would take more than three weeks for Trump to enact social distancing guidelines on March 16. Two days after that meeting Kadlec learned of human-to-human transmission from asymptomatic individuals, the Times report states. But instead of immediately implementing mitigation steps, the President's focus turned to messaging. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, issued a warning that the virus would disrupt daily life. Trump canceled a meeting where mitigation efforts would be discussed. Instead, he appointed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the task force and funneled coronavirus messaging through him. There were also other administration officials who went on television saying the virus was contained. Over nearly three weeks from February 26 to March 16, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States grew from 15 to 4,226. Since then, more than half a million Americans have tested positive for the virus and authorities say hundreds of thousands more are likely infected. An administration official confirmed to CNN that the government's top public health experts agreed in the third week of February on the need to begin moving away from a containment strategy and toward a mitigation strategy that would involve aggressive social distancing measures. The agreement among the health officials came after they held a tabletop exercise to game out the potential for a full-blown pandemic. The public health officials had planned to urge the President to move toward a mitigation strategy after he returned from India, the administration official said, but that meeting was scrapped after Trump returned to Washington infuriated by a plunging stock market and Messonier's warning about "severe" disruptions to daily life. Messonier was merely voicing the consensus among the administration's public health experts, but she jumped the gun -- doing so without getting official buy-in. The official also confirmed that an email chain among the group, and highlighted by the Times, was a focus of some conversations inside the administration. A Feb. 23 email from a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology sharing a report of potential asymptomatic spread of the disease caused alarm among several top officials, the official said. The Times also describes how Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar had been briefing the President on the issue. Azar "briefed him about the potential seriousness of the virus" during a January 18 phone call. A few days later, in what appeared to be his first comments about the virus to the press, Trump told a reporter at Davos, "We have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It's -- going to be just fine."

By Lori Robertson

In early March, President Donald Trump said that restrictions he placed on travel to and from China “saved a lot of lives,” a claim that grew to “probably tens of thousands” and “hundreds of thousands” by early April. But we found no support for such figures. The few studies that have been done estimate the U.S.’ and other countries’ travel restrictions regarding China had modest impacts, slowing the initial spread outside of China but not containing the coronavirus pandemic. We didn’t find a study that looked at the U.S. restrictions alone, and we found only one non-peer-reviewed study, on Australia, that found an impact of such policies on deaths, though it has significant limitations. Past studies, too, have found international travel restrictions could delay the path of the spread of diseases but do little to contain them. Saad B. Omer, director of the Yale Institute for Global Health, told us he hasn’t seen any evidence to support the president’s claims. Previous studies of viruses with a reproduction number of 1.9 or higher, meaning the average number of other people one person infects, have shown the restrictions have to be very strict to have an effect, he said. Travel restrictions “can have an impact if you shut down 90% of all travel,” Omer said. But, “even then, it delays it a little bit but it doesn’t stop it.” Omer co-authored a Feb. 3 article on why a travel ban wouldn’t stop the coronavirus. Alex Nowrasteh, director of immigration studies at the libertarian Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity, looked at several of the same studies we examined and concluded that “by themselves, travel restrictions do little but delay the onset of a crisis mentality and shift the curve to the right rather than flattening it.” As we have found with prior claims from the president, Trump’s assertions have progressively grown:

By Elizabeth Cohen and Dr. Minali Nigam, CNN

(CNN) There are several treatments being studied to prevent or treat coronavirus, but President Trump has been a cheerleader for one in particular: hydroxychloroquine, a drug currently used to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Over the past month, he's made many optimistic statements about hydroxychloroquine. CNN has fact-checked the president multiple times -- such as here, here, and here -- and found that he's being unrealistically enthusiastic. Physicians, including Trump's own advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have emphasized that in order to know if a drug is going to work -- and be safe -- it has to be studied in clinical trials. It might work, but it might not. It might be safe, but it also could hurt patients. Clinical trials are considered the gold standard in medicine. Boiled down to the essentials, clinical trials take a large group of people, give half of them the drug and half of them a placebo, and see how each group fares. The half that takes the placebo is called the control group. The reason to have a control group is that it allows the doctors to tell if it's the drug itself that is having an effect on the study subjects, and not something else. If the drug group and the placebo group have the same results, then it's likely the drug did not have an effect. CNN searched clinicaltrials.gov, the National Institutes of Health database of privately and publicly funded clinical studies around the world, and found there are at least 15 research centers in the United States studying hydroxychloroquine to prevent or treat coronavirus. Over the past few weeks, Trump has made several erroneous statements relating to hydroxychloroquine studies. Here are basic questions about these studies with answers from the president and then answers from doctors.

Committees demand answers after officials in multiple states report the feds seized their supplies without warning
By Igor Derysh

Two House committees have called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to turn over documents related to reports that the agency is seizing orders of coronavirus medical supplies from states, as well as the involvement of President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in overseeing those efforts. The chairs of the House Homeland Security and Oversight committees called on FEMA to turn over documents responding to a "troubling report" from the Health and Human Services Department's inspector general detailing "severe shortages" of emergency equipment reported by hospitals around the country. "The report confirms that — in the richest nation in the world — hospitals are lacking masks, gowns and other basic materials," Homeland Security Chairman Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., and Oversight Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in a letter to FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor. The committees also requested a response to media reports that that agency was "redirecting" medical supplies ordered by states and hospitals. Officials in at least a half-dozen states have reported that FEMA hijacked supplies sent to states without informing them. "After encouraging the states to take care of themselves, the Trump administration now appears to be positioning FEMA to engage in the redirection of private supply chains — but the agency's opaque and evolving processes are clearly not meeting the needs that communities have right now for [personal protective equipment] and medical supplies," the letter said. The committees requested documents to understand how FEMA is operating its "Airbridge" program, in which the administration pays to fly in supplies from China for private companies to sell to states and hospitals in the U.S., and to "understand the role of Jared Kushner in managing FEMA's operational efforts to obtain and distribute" supplies. Thompson and Maloney said their committees "do no understand the role" that Kushner is playing in FEMA's efforts. "It appears that Mr. Kushner is unclear about basic facts regarding the purpose of the Strategic National Stockpile," the letter said, noting that Kushner "erroneously" described it as "our stockpile" that is "not supposed to be the state stockpiles that they then use."

By Andrew Feinberg

President Donald Trump on Thursday said a widespread COVID-19 testing program to assess whether workers can safely return to their workplaces is "never going to happen" in the United States. As he addressed reporters during the daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Trump touted the fact that 2 million Americans had been tested for the virus as a "milestone" in the U.S. fight against the global pandemic caused by SARS-Cov-2. The 2 million tests that have been administered so far represents a high water mark after weeks of problems in obtaining and administering tests caused by the Trump administration's rejection of a test developed by the World Health Organization. However, that number means only .61 percent of the 330 million U.S. population has been tested for COVID-19. That's a paltry number compared to many other countries which have implemented testing programs. Italy, for example, has administered tests to approximately 1.4 percent of its population, and South Korea, which flattened its infection curve with widespread testing, has reached .9 percent of its population. Most public health experts have stressed the need for the U.S. to significantly expand its testing program, both with currently available tests to determine whether a given person is infected with SARS-Cov-2, and with so-called "antibody tests" to determine whether a person has successfully fought off the virus and is therefore immune to it. - If you do not have mass testing how do you know who has it and who does not? If you do not have mass testing you will have a second wave of infection.

By Maegan Vazquez and Betsy Klein, CNN

(CNN) President Donald Trump said Thursday that there have been more than two million coronavirus tests conducted in the United States but conceded that mass testing is not going to happen. "I'm reporting today that we passed two million tests completed in the United States," Trump said during the White House coronavirus task force's news briefing, adding that the tests are "highly sophisticated and highly accurate." The Trump administration has faced widespread criticism for the lack of a testing system across the country to identify coronavirus patients and track the spread of the outbreak. While testing has ramped up in recent weeks, the lack of an aggressive testing regimen early in the outbreak led to accusations that the government missed a chance to reduce the speed and scale of the pandemic in the US. The US now leads the world in the number of reported cases. As many people with symptoms consistent with coronavirus struggle to get tested -- including health care workers such as nurses -- it's still not clear how the country will emerge from its current state. Many states are operating under stay-at-home orders and the federal government is recommending strict social distancing guidelines in order to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. Trump conceded to CNN's Jim Acosta that there will not be mass coronavirus testing for all Americans when the country goes back to work. - If you do not have mass testing how do you know who has it and who does not? If you do not have mass testing you will have a second wave of infection.

The publisher of a French study cited by Trump put out a statement announcing it did not meet "expected standards"
by Igor Derysh

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday quietly removed bizarre guidelines for using the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a potential treatment for the new coronavirus. The unproven treatment has been repeatedly hyped by President Donald Trump in spite of the warnings of Dr. Anthony Fauci. The CDC published "highly unusual" dosing guidance based on "unattributed anecdotes rather than peer-reviewed science" last month amid pressure on federal health officials from Trump, Reuters reported. The agency now appears to have quietly removed those guidelines from its website this week. Eli Lee of the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington first flagged the changes Tuesday. The site no longer says that "some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally different hydroxychloroquine dosing" and both hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are "reportedly well-tolerated in COVID-19 patients." It also no longer says that both drugs "are currently recommended for treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in several countries." Instead, the first line of the page now reads: "There are no drugs or other therapeutics approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prevent or treat COVID-19." The page adds that "hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine are under investigation in clinical trials." Medical experts were alarmed when the site published the previous guidance. "Why would CDC be publishing anecdotes? That doesn't make sense. This is very unusual," Dr. Lynn Goldman, the dean of the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University, told Reuters. Trump has repeatedly touted the drug, which is also sometimes prescribed to patients with lupus and rheumatoid arthritis, as a potential cure for the coronavirus even as doctors warned that the drug had "major side effects," including "severe cardiac arrhythmias that can even cause death." The president has dismissed those warnings, questioning: "What do you have to lose?" But the CDC has also warned that the drug "can cause serious health consequences, including death." The Department of Health and Human Services cautioned that clinical trials were needed to "provide scientific evidence that these treatments are effective." The American Medical Association further expressed concern that the rush to order, prescribe and dispense the medication could result in shortages for patients in need. Trump has repeatedly cited a small French study recently published in a medical journal. However, the publisher put out a statement last week announcing the study did not meet its "expected standards," according to Retraction Watch.

By Bill Chappell

Using the COVID-19 pandemic to score political points is dangerous and will only result in "many more body bags," World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday, less than a day after President Trump criticized the WHO and its relationship with China. Tedros also revealed he has received death threats in recent months. "Please don't politicize this virus," Tedros said in a briefing in Geneva, after he was asked about Trump's remarks. He later urged political leaders to "please quarantine politicizing COVID." "The focus of all political parties should be to save their people," Tedros said. He added that politicizing the virus only exploits differences at the national level. "If you want to be exploited and if you want to have many more body bags, then you [politicize the virus]," the WHO leader said. "If you don't want many more body bags, then you refrain from politicizing it." The remarks came after Trump sharply criticized the WHO during a White House coronavirus task force briefing Tuesday night and suggested he might put a hold on U.S. funding — the largest single source of money for the health organization. Tedros did not refer to Trump by name as he stressed the importance of confronting COVID-19 as a common enemy. And he stated several times that he does not mind being targeted by personal attacks. Everyone's focus, he said, should remain on the coronavirus, not political or international rivalries.

The Pentagon warned the White House about a shortage of ventilators, face masks, and hospital beds in 2017—but the Trump administration did nothing.
By Ken Klippenstein

Despite President Trump’s repeated assertions that the Covid-19 epidemic was “unforeseen” and “came out of nowhere,” the Pentagon was not just well aware of the threat of a novel influenza but even anticipated the consequent scarcity of ventilators, face masks, and hospital beds, according to a 2017 Pentagon plan obtained by The Nation. “The most likely and significant threat is a novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel influenza disease,” the military plan states. Covid-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel (meaning new to humans) coronavirus. The document specifically refers to coronaviruses on several occasions, in one instance saying, “Coronavirus infections [are] common around the world.” The plan updates an earlier Department of Defense pandemic influenza response plan, noting that it “incorporates insights from several recent outbreaks including…2012 Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.” Titled “USNORTHCOM Branch Plan 3560: Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease Response,” the draft plan is marked for official use only and dated January 6, 2017. The plan was provided to The Nation by a Pentagon official who requested anonymity to avoid professional reprisal. Denis Kaufman, who served as head of the Infectious Diseases and Countermeasures Division at the Defense Intelligence Agency from 2014 to 2017, stressed that US intelligence had been well aware of the dangers of coronaviruses for years. (He retired from his decades-long career in the military in December 2017.) “The intelligence community has warned about the threat from highly pathogenic influenza viruses for two decades, at least. They have warned about coronaviruses for at least five years,” Kaufman said in an interview. “There have been recent pronouncements that the coronavirus pandemic represents an intelligence failure…. It’s letting people who ignored intelligence warnings off the hook.” In addition to anticipating the coronavirus pandemic, the military plan predicted with uncanny accuracy many of the medical supply shortages that will now apparently soon cause untold deaths. The plan states, “Competition for, and scarcity of resources will include…non-pharmaceutical MCM [medical countermeasures] (e.g., ventilators, devices, personal protective equipment such as face masks and gloves), medical equipment, and logistical support. This will have a significant impact on the availability of the global workforce.”

The right-wing cable channel’s biggest stars have begun pushing Trump to ignore those egghead medical experts and view the viral pandemic as over and done with.
By Justin Baragona

Throughout the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump’s decisions and stances have seemingly been influenced by the unofficial advisers he treasures most: Fox News primetime hosts. After downplaying for weeks the threat of the virus, just as many on Fox News did the same, the president began taking it seriously last month after Tucker Carlson personally confronted him before delivering an on-air monologue calling for action. Elsewhere, Fox stars have been the primary driving force behind Trump’s incessant promotion of an unproven anti-malarial drug as the miracle COVID-19 cure. And in recent days, it seems, the president has been receiving his newest coronavirus intel briefing from Fox News. This time, they say, the pandemic is over and it’s time to move on. Throughout Tuesday night’s primetime stretch, Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham were in lockstep in telegraphing to Trump a message that the pandemic’s threat has been overstated, death counts have been inflated, and the U.S. is already on the downside of the curve. Carlson, who received mainstream plaudits for his “admirable” early coronavirus coverage, kicked off his show by declaring that the crisis “may have passed,” noting that health-care systems across the country haven’t come close to collapsing—“except in a handful of places.” “Patients are not dying alone in the hallways of emergency rooms with physicians too overwhelmed to treat them,” he asserted. “That was the concern. It happens in other countries, it's not happening here. Thank God for that.” There have been numerous reports and testimonials from health-care workers expressing horror over the conditions of overcrowded hospitals and the stress it has placed on both medical staffers and patients. Much reporting has also been done on how many patients are dying alone and away from family members and friends from the disease. But despite nearly 13,000 U.S. deaths and at least 400,000 confirmed cases, with portions of the country having yet to suffer the worst effects of the outbreak, Carlson called for a quick reversal of social-distancing restrictions in order to jumpstart the economy, citing downward revisions of coronavirus models as the key reason. “Before we go ahead and alter our lives and our country forever, it is fair to ask about the numbers, their numbers, the ones we acted on the first time, that turned out to be completely wrong,” the Fox star fumed. “How did they screw that up so thoroughly? That is a fair question.” Adjustments of expected death tolls in some models—which, weeks ago, showed as many as 240,000 American deaths—have largely occurred due to the widespread adoption of social-distancing guidelines and the assumption that school and business closures will stay in place through the summer. Even factoring all that in, the models still project roughly 80,000 deaths. Nevertheless, over the past few days, Carlson has been pushing the president to ignore medical expertise and quickly move forward with economic activity. “Is there a single person who sincerely expects the coronavirus itself will hurt more people in the end than the damage we're causing in our response to it? Probably not,” he said on Monday night. “Mass unemployment is almost certain to cause far more harm, including physical harm, to the average family than this disease.”

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

(CNN) Even as his administration -- and the country -- continue to battle the coronavirus, President Donald Trump keeps finding time to call into Fox News' host Sean Hannity's show. Trump and Hannity talked March 5 and then again on March 27. And the two were back at it on Tuesday night. Below, the lines you need to see from that conversation.

1. "So, you know, things are happening. It's a -- it's -- I haven't seen bad. I've not seen bad."

This is Trump talking about his push for hospitals to use hydroxychloroquine on patients struggling to combat coronavirus. Worth noting here that: a) Trump is not a doctor and b) most doctors are wary of recommending the anti-malarial drug's use broadly until more testing is done. And away we go!

2. "And I was -- I was excoriated by the fake news and by the press, by these people that are bad people. They're just bad people. They don't -- they cannot love our country, I can tell you." In which the President openly claims that the media are "bad people" who "cannot love our country." His evidence? An inaccurate allegation that he was "excoriated" by the press for closing down travel from China when the coronavirus outbreak began.

3. "Once you get it -- I mean, if you're in the wrong group, if you're -- if you have a medical condition, if you're older -- it seems that older is certainly prime time for this -- this plague, this horrible virus." An unedited "sentence" uttered by the President of the United States.

4. "I mean, you look at what's going on with the hospitals in New York and New Jersey. I was -- I was watching a little while ago, and it's -- it's terrible, a terrible thing." A good reminder here that the lens through which Trump sees -- and perceives -- the world is cable television. Forever and always.

“We must not allow President Trump to openly flout the oversight measures," a trio of Democrats say.

A top House committee chairwoman is proposing legislation that would undo President Donald Trump's move to sideline the federal watchdog originally tapped to oversee the $2 trillion coronavirus relief law. House Oversight and Government Reform Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, along with Reps. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), offered a bill Wednesday that would expand the roster of officials permitted to lead the oversight effort, ensuring that Trump's incursion on the panel would not prevent the original pick — Pentagon watchdog Glenn Fine — from keeping the position. Fine, who until Monday was the acting inspector general for the Defense Department, was selected by fellow federal watchdogs as the chairman of a new committee meant to oversee the implementation of the massive $2 trillion coronavirus law. He, along with two dozen other inspectors general, were expected to form a powerful committee of investigators meant to ensure proper safeguards were in place. But Trump abruptly replaced Fine on Tuesday with the EPA's inspector general, a move that effectively demoted Fine to his previous role as principal deputy inspector general for the Pentagon, making him ineligible to lead the coronavirus panel. But Maloney's proposal would allow any senior staff of principal deputy IGs to serve on the coronavirus oversight panel, known as the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. “We must not allow President Trump to openly flout the oversight measures that Congress put in place," Maloney, Lynch and Connolly said in a statement. "There are literally trillions of taxpayer dollars at stake, and Americans across the political spectrum want those funds to be spent without waste, fraud, abuse or profiteering."

While safe for most, the drug carries serious side effects for some, including sudden cardiac arrest.
By Heidi Przybyla

WASHINGTON — As the U.S. scales up purchase and use of the drug hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, a leading Mayo Clinic cardiologist is sounding a warning: Anyone promoting the drug also needs to flag its rare but serious — and potentially fatal — side effects. President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted the potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine, which has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat malaria, lupus and other autoimmune ailments but hasn't yet been proven effective and safe in treating the coronavirus. "What do you have to lose?" Trump asked Saturday at the White House when pressed by reporters about hydroxychloroquine's effectiveness. And while he's suggested that patients consult with their physicians about the treatment, he's also said the drug can "help them, but it's not going to hurt them." On Tuesday, when asked about the drug’s potential side effects, he downplayed them. “The side effects are the least of it,” said Trump. “You’re not gonna die from this pill,” he said. “I say ‘try it’” he said, noting “I’m not a doctor” and to get a physician’s approval. But the president's reassurance is raising concerns among experts about the dangers the drug poses to some. After observing the debate over hydroxychloroquine on TV news and in social media, Dr. Michael Ackerman, a genetic cardiologist who is director of the Mayo Clinic's Windland Smith Rice Genetic Heart Rhythm Clinic, took the unusual step in late March of issuing guidance for physicians. "What disturbed me the most was when I was seeing not political officials say these medications are safe but seeing on the news cardiologists and infectious disease specialists say" hydroxychloroquine "is completely safe without even mentioning this rare side effect," Ackerman said in an interview. "That's inexcusable," he added.

By Andrew Feinberg

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said he never read or considered reading a memorandum in which his top trade adviser warned of the need to implement an "aggressive containment" strategy to prevent a massive loss of life and economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic. The document in question was authored in January by the White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, Dr. Peter Navarro, and submitted to the president via National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien. In it, he warned of "an increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life as many as 1-2 million souls." Navarro, a maverick Harvard-educated economist who has long advocated a tougher stance against Chinese trade practices, pressed for "an immediate travel ban on China" as part of an "aggressive containment" strategy to mitigate what a Council of Economic Advisers study predicted could be a $3.8 trillion loss in terms of economic act as a result of a pandemic. But when asked about the memorandum during a White House press briefing on Tuesday, Trump said he did not see it at the time. "I heard he wrote some memos talking about a pandemic," Trump said. "I didn't see them, I didn't look for them either."

by Dawn Kopecki, Berkeley Lovelace Jr.

President Donald Trump blamed the World Health Organization for getting “every aspect” of the coronavirus pandemic wrong and threatened to withhold funding from the international organization. “They did give us some pretty bad play calling ... with regard to us, they’re taking a lot of heat because they didn’t want the borders closed, they called it wrong. They really called, I would say, every aspect of it wrong,” Trump said at a White House press conference Tuesday. The WHO, the United Nations’ health agency, started sounding the alarm on the outbreak of a new coronavirus in Wuhan, China in mid-January, designating the COVID-19 pandemic as a global health emergency on Jan. 30 when there were just 8,200 cases in 18 countries across the world. The coronavirus has since wreaked havoc across the globe, spreading to more than 1.4 million people and killing more than 81,000, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. WHO officials declared the outbreak a pandemic on March 11, when there were just 121,000 global cases. In the U.S. alone, there are now more than 380,000 cases, according to Hopkins. “Take a look, go through step by step. They said there’s no big deal, there’s no big problem. There’s no nothing, and then ultimately when I closed it down, they said I made a mistake in closing it down and it turned out to be right,” Trump said, referring to travel restrictions he put in place on people flying to the U.S. from China on Jan. 31 when he declared it was a public health emergency in the U.S. While WHO officials have praised the U.S. response to the coronavirus, they’ve also been critical of some of Trump’s policies and practices surrounding it. They’ve urged people against calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” as Trump has done, saying that it could unintentionally lead to racial profiling.

Back to content