What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

Today's essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics. Read in moderation.
Curated by @matt_kiser

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Day 1267: "The pandemic is still accelerating."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~12,129,000; deaths: ~552,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,089,000; deaths: ~133,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Another 1.3 million workers filed new claims for state unemployment benefits last week – the 14th straight week of declines. More than 48 million people have now filed for unemployment benefits for the first time in the past 16 weeks. (CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The Supreme Court cleared the way for prosecutors in New York to enforce a subpoena for Trump’s financial and tax records, rejecting Trump’s assertion that he enjoys “absolute” immunity from investigation while in office. The decision allows Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. to subpoena Trump’s accounting firm for years of financial documents and tax records as part of a criminal investigation into hush-money payments made before the 2016 election to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. “No citizen, not even the president, is categorically above the common duty to produce evidence when called upon in a criminal proceeding,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority. In a separate decision, the court ruled that Congress could not see many of the same records, citing “significant separation of powers concerns.” Both cases will now go back to the lower courts to determine if Trump needs to turn over any documents, making it unlikely that Americans will see Trump’s taxes before Election Day. In a series of tweets, Trump called the rulings “a political prosecution” that were “not fair to this Presidency or Administration!” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR / CNBC / Associated Press)

3/ Dr. Anthony Fauci advised states “having a serious problem” with a surge in coronavirus cases to “seriously look at shutting down.” The government’s top infectious disease expert said some states “went too fast” with reopening and that in other states, residents didn’t follow social distancing guidelines. Trump, meanwhile, continued to push to reopen the country as quickly as possible despite the U.S. setting another record for new cases on Wednesday – the fifth national record in nine days. At least five states — Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and West Virginia — set single-day records for new infections on Wednesday as the daily number of new cases had increased by 72% over the past two weeks. (Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

4/ The CDC will not revise its guidelines for reopening schools despite pressure from Trump and the White House. Dr. Robert Redfield said the CDC was already planning to issue additional reference documents for schools in coming days. On Wednesday, however, Pence told reporters that the CDC would be issuing a new “set of tools” next week after Trump complained that the existing guidelines were too “tough” and “impractical.” (CNN / Associated Press / The Hill / Washington Post)

5/ The World Health Organization acknowledged that the coronavirus may become airborne and spread through particles in the air in “indoor crowded spaces.” The agency also acknowledged that the virus can be transmitted by people who do not have symptoms. WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned that “the pandemic is still accelerating.” The Republican National Convention, meanwhile, could be moved to an outdoor stadium. While no decision has been made, Republicans involved in the planning believe there could be less risk of transmission at a large outdoor stadium. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Washington Post)

  • A group of attorneys in Jacksonville, FL filed a lawsuit to prevent the GOP from holding the Republican National Convention in the city next month. The suit claims holding the convention amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic would be “a nuisance injurious to the health [and] welfare” of the city. The suit was filed days after Florida set new records for the most confirmed COVID-19 cases in one state in a single day — more than 11,400 cases on Saturday. The plaintiffs are requesting that the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena admit no more than 2,500 people and leave the rest of the 15,000 seats in the arena “isolated or roped off” to ensure social distancing. (CNN / The Hill)

6/ Attorney General William Barr pressured Manhattan’s former former U.S. attorney to resign during a June 18 meeting at a New York hotel and in a subsequent phone call. Geoffrey Berman, who had pursued a number of investigations close to Trump’s inner circle, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani, was fired after refusing Barr’s request for him to resign. “The Attorney General said that if I did not resign from my position I would be fired. He added that getting fired from my job would not be good for my resume or future job prospects. I told him that while I did not want to get fired, I would not resign,” Berman told the House Judiciary Committee in a closed-door interview. Berman was fired late on Friday, June 19th. (Politico / CNN / Axios)

7/ Michael Cohen was taken into custody by U.S. Marshals for violating terms of his early release from prison. Cohen’s detention came a week after he was photographed eating at a Manhattan restaurant. Cohen, who is writing a book about his time working for Trump, also reportedly balked an agreement that he not talk to the media or write a book while serving the rest of his criminal sentence in home confinement. (CNBC / CNN / New York Times)

Day 1266: "A campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~11,923,000; deaths: ~547,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~3,036,000; deaths: ~133,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Trump threatened to cut federal funding if schools don’t fully physically reopen. Trump, however, lacks the authority to force schools to reopen and federal funding has already been appropriated by Congress. About 90% of school district budgets are raised by states and municipalities. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, claimed there is “no excuse” for schools not to reopen, saying “adults who are fear mongering and making excuses simply have got to stop doing it and turn their attention on what is right for students and for their families.” (Politico / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC)

  • Several states are suing the Department of Education over its decision to divert COVID-19 relief funding from K-12 public schools and give it to private schools. Attorneys general in California, Michigan, Maine, New Mexico, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia have all joined the suit, which claims the DOE unlawfully interpreted the CARES Act by allowing school districts to receive funding based on the total student population instead of the total public school student population. The interpretation has lead tens of millions of dollars to be diverted from public schools in the poorest districts to private schools with tuition rates that are similar to private colleges. The suit specifically names Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as one of the defendants. (PBS News Hour)

  • Harvard and MIT sued the Trump administration over new rules barring international students from staying in the U.S. while taking classes online. The schools are seeking a temporary restraining order and an injunction preventing the government from enforcing the directive, arguing that the administration is trying to pressure institutions to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. (ABC News / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The CDC will issue new guidance on school openings after Trump called the existing guidelines too “tough,” “very impractical,” and “expensive.” Trump’s tweet about the CDC came minutes after he threatened to cut federal funding to schools that do not physically reopen. At a White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, Pence said the government would partner with school districts to figure out the best approach if they found the CDC guidelines a barrier to reopening. During the briefing, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said the agency’s guidance “is intentional for reopening and keeping our schools open,” and should not be “used as a rationale to keep schools closed.” He added: “Clearly, the ability of this virus to cause significant illness in children is very, very, very, very limited.” However, later in the briefing, Dr. Deborah Birx clarified that the data is incomplete because the U.S. has not been testing enough children to conclude how widespread the virus is among people younger than 18 and whether they are spreading the virus to others. (Washington Post / NPR / Politico / New York Times / CNBC)

3/ The U.S. reported more than 60,000 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday as the total number of confirmed cases crossed 3 million. The 60,021 reported cases set a record for new cases reported in a single day. After the coronavirus was first reported in the U.S. in January, the first million cases were reported over three months. The second million cases were reported over a period of about six weeks. It took less than a month for the case count to rise from 2 million on June 11 to more than 3 million. In the first five days of July, the U.S. has reported 250,000 new cases. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Trump’s campaign rally in Tulsa “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in new coronavirus cases, Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart said. Tulsa County reported nearly 500 confirmed new cases on Monday and Tuesday. (Associated Press / Axios)

  • Pence touted “early indications” that coronavirus infections are starting to level off in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, which have each seen a surge of new infections in recent weeks. In Arizona and Florida, the seven-day average of tests that were positive has started to level off at about 20% and 17%, respectively. Texas’ testing positivity rate has remained steady at around 14% over the past few weeks. Trump’s health officials have suggested a positivity rate below 10% is desirable. Other public health experts say the goal should be 5% or lower. Pence, however, said the “takeaway for every American” was to “keep doing what you’re doing.” (Politico)

  • More than a fifth of Americans – about 71.5 million people – live in counties where the new highs in coronavirus cases was reached on Monday. (Washington Post)

4/ Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman will retire from the U.S. Army after more than 21 years of military service over a “campaign of bullying, intimidation, and retaliation” by Trump. Vindman testified under subpoena last fall about his concerns surrounding a call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the impeachment inquiry. He was up for promotion to colonel, but Trump instead fired Vindman from his White House National Security Council assignment following the testimony. (CNN / NPR / Washington Post)

5/ The Supreme Court upheld the Trump administration’s regulation to allow employers with religious objections to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to provide contraceptive care. An estimated 70,000 to 126,000 women could lose contraceptive coverage from their employers. Seventeen states challenged the policy as fundamentally unlawful and it’s rationale as “arbitrary and capricious.” Since 2010, all FDA-approved contraceptives have been included under the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that insurers include “preventive care and screenings” as part of “minimal essential coverage” for Americans. In 2018, however, the Department of Health and Human Services exempted any employer with a religious or moral objection to contraception from the requirement. (ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico)

  • Chief Justice John Roberts was briefly hospitalized last month after falling while walking near his home. Roberts, 65, has reported having two previous seizures – one in 1993 and another 2007. A Supreme Court spokeswoman said doctors ruled out a seizure in the latest incident, saying Roberts was dehydrated. (Washington Post / CNN)

poll/ 60% of Americans said they found reports of Russian bounties on American soldiers to be “very” or “somewhat” believable, while 21% said they were not and the rest said they were unsure. 39% said they think Trump knew about Russia’s bounty program before it was reported in the news, while 26% said Trump didn’t know. (Reuters)

poll/ 91% of Americans believe racism and police violence are a problem in the U.S., with 72% deeming it is a serious one. 89% think police violence is a problem and 65% consider it serious. 47% disapprove of Trump’s response to the protests, while 31% approve. (The Guardian)

Day 1265: "Gave up and didn't try."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~11,712,000; deaths: ~541,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,981,000; deaths: ~132,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The Trump administration officially notified the United Nations that it will withdraw from the World Health Organization amid a global pandemic that has infected more than 11.6 million people and killed more than a half a million. In April, Trump announced that the U.S. would freeze funding to the organization pending a review, followed by Trump’s threat in May that the U.S. would be “terminating” its relationship with the WHO over its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. is required to give a year’s notice in writing and pay its debts to the agency in order to leave. In 2019, the U.S. contributed roughly 15% of the health agency’s budget. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times)

2/ Trump pressed schools to physically reopen in the fall despite a surge in COVID-19 cases in parts of the country. During a series of conference calls and roundtable discussions at the White House – billed as a “National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools” – Trump argued that keeping children at home longer would be worse than the virus itself, and that the governors, mayors, and other local officials who control the schools “think it’s going to be good for them politically so they keep the schools closed.” Trump added: “We are very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools to get them open.” On Monday night, Trump has made his position clear, tweeting: “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, meanwhile, said she was “disappointed frankly in schools and districts that didn’t figure out how to serve students or that just gave up and didn’t try” to reopen in the fall. (New York Times / NPR / Politico / Bloomberg)

3/ Dr. Anthony Fauci called Trump’s recent focus on the coronavirus’s decreasing mortality rate in the U.S. a “false narrative” and that “by getting infected, you’re propagating this pandemic.” Trump, contradicting health experts, has called “99 percent” of coronavirus cases “totally harmless.” The nation’s top infectious disease expert said the lower mortality rate is the result of the country getting better at treating people and that the mean age of those getting infected has dropped by about 15 years. The White House, meanwhile, claimed that the U.S. is the “leader” in the fight against the coronavirus, despite the number of deaths in the U.S. passing 130,000 and cases nearing three million. (Washington Post / The Guardian)

  • Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for COVID-19 after downplaying the virus for months. “There’s no problem,” Bolsonaro told reporters. “It’s natural. There’s no dread. It’s life.” (CNN / Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms tested positive for the coronavirus after displaying no symptoms. (Axios)

  • The federal government awarded $2 billion to two drugmakers to develop and manufacture a potential vaccine against COVID-19. Novavax received $1.6 billion to expedite clinical studies of its experimental coronavirus vaccine and deliver 100 million doses for use in the U.S. by the beginning of next year. Regeneron Pharmaceuticals received a $450 million federal contract to manufacture thousands of doses of its experimental treatment. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The White House wants Congress to pass another stimulus package before lawmakers leave for the August recess. Trump administration officials want to keep the cost at $1 trillion or less. (Bloomberg)

4/ Companies tied to Trump family members and associates were approved for up to $21 million in loans from the Paycheck Protection Program, which are meant to help small businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic, according to data released by the U.S. Treasury Department and Small Business Administration. Unlike the CARES Act, there is no provision in the PPP that excludes government officials and their family members from receiving bailout funds. The program was designed to allow small businesses — generally, those with fewer than 500 employees — to apply for loans of up to $10 million each. The loans can also be forgiven if they are used to cover payroll expenses, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. Companies tied to Jared Kushner were approved for up to $6 million. A Dallas megachurch where Mike Pence recently spoke — whose pastor has been a vocal Trump supporter and sits on Trump’s evangelical advisory board — was approved for a forgivable loan worth $2-5 million. The school where Barron Trump is a student was approved for $2-5 million. The attorney who represented Trump in the Mueller investigation, as well as dozens of tenants of Trump’s real estate company, also received money. 22 companies at 40 Wall Street, an office building Trump owns in Lower Manhattan, received a combined total of at least $16.6 million in loans. (ProPublica / Independent / Reuters / Washington Post / Daily Beast)

  • Billionaires, well-connected D.C. firms, and several major chains received millions of dollars in loans from the PPP. The list includes PF Chang’s and Silver Diner, each of which have private-equity investors and received millions of dollars in loans. It also includes Kanye West’s Yeezy, which made $1.3 billion in 2019, and the Church of Scientology. (Daily Beast / NBC News / Hollywood Reporter / Washington Post)

Notables.

  1. The Republican National Convention in Jacksonville, FL will test attendees for COVID-19 on a daily basis. A spokesperson for the convention said in an email that “everyone attending the convention within the perimeter will be tested and temperature checked each day.” The spokesperson later reiterated that attendees will actually be tested for COVID-19 and not just given a basic health screening before they enter the 15,000-person VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in late August. (CNN)

  2. The Trump administration is “looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese apps. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News that “the United States will get this one right,” adding that he didn’t want to “get out in front” of Trump, “but it’s something we’re looking at.” Pompeo said Americans should only download the app “if you want your private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” TikTok is owned by a Beijing-based company, but led by an American CEO and has previously said that U.S. user data is stored in the United States. (CNN / CNBC / NBC News / Axios)

  3. Roger Stone asked Trump grant him a pardon or commute his sentence before he starts a 40-month prison term on July 14. Stone filed an emergency appeal after U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson denied his motion to set a Sept. 3 surrender date. (Bloomberg / Politico)

Day 1264: "Really not good."


1/ Trump used the Fourth of July weekend to sow division during a global pandemic that has killed over 130,000 Americans, shirked his responsibility to contain the coronavirus, and promoted an updated version of his “American carnage” vision for the country. In a pair of remarks – at Mount Rushmore on Friday and from the White House on Saturday – Trump depicted the recent protests against racism and police brutality as an “angry mob” looking to “unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities” by “tear[ing] down our statues” in order to “erase our history” and “end America.” Trump, making no mention of the victims of police violence, warned of a “growing danger” to the values of the nation through a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history, defame our heroes, erase our values, and indoctrinate our children.” “Make no mistake,” Trump told several thousand people mostly without masks, “this left-wing cultural revolution is designed to overthrow the American Revolution.” Trump also claimed that media outlets “slander” him and “falsely and consistently label their opponents as racists.” Trump provided no evidence to support any of his claims. (New York Times / Washington Post / Associated Press / NPR / CNN / ABC News / Los Angeles Times / New York Times / Axios / Associated Press)

  • Trump demanded that NASCAR’s only full-time Black driver apologize for an investigation into an noose found in the driver’s garage. In the same tweet, Trump also suggested that NASCAR had made a mistake banning the Confederate flag from all raceways. The FBI found that the noose had been in the garage since last year and Bubba Wallace was therefore not a victim of a hate crime. The White House press secretary, meanwhile, refused to denounce the Confederate flag after Trump’s complaint. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Axios)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the country was still “knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic, saying that the more than 50,000 new cases a day recorded several times in the past week were “a serious situation that we have to address immediately.” The nation’s top infectious disease expert noted that Europe managed to drive infections down, but the U.S. “never came down to baseline and now are surging back up.” Over the first five days of July, the United States reported its three largest daily case totals with 14 states recording single-day highs as the death toll from the pandemic passed 130,000. Fauci added: “the current state is really not good.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / ABC News)

  • The seven-day average for new coronavirus cases in the U.S. hit a record high for the 28th day in a row. 13 states reported new highs in their seven-day case averages. Montana, Delaware, and Alaska saw their biggest percentage changes from their previous records. West Virginia also set a record number of daily cases. South Carolina, Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and California all reported record numbers of hospitalizations from the virus. (Washington Post / Texas Tribune)

  • 239 scientists from 32 countries warned that airborne transmission is a significant factor in the coronavirus pandemic. In an open letter to the World Health Organization, the group of scientists outlined the evidence that the virus can spread indoors through aerosols that linger in the air and can be infectious in smaller quantities than previously thought. The WHO, however, has maintained that the coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets that fall quickly to the floor. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

3/ The White House’s new message to Americans is that they need to learn to “live with the virus being a threat.” Trump campaign officials and advisers have suggested that the goal is to convince Americans to accept the escalating death toll and tens of thousands of new cases a day while pushing for schools to reopen and professional sports to return. For nearly six months the administration have offered a series of predictions, from Trump promising that “the problem goes away in April” to predicting “packed churches all over our country” on Easter Sunday to Pence’s claim that “by Memorial Day weekend we will have this coronavirus epidemic behind us” to Jared Kushner’s promise that the country would be “really rocking again” by July, all while highlighting a potential vaccine and an economic recovery. Among the pronouncements that never came to fruition was the White House’s initial message in January that the virus wasn’t a threat at all.[Editor’s note: Let’s not forget Trump’s suggestion that the lungs could be cleaned of coronavirus with disinfectants.] (Washington Post / NBC News)

  • Chuck Grassley will skip the Republican National Convention, citing coronavirus. (Des Moines Register)

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau turned down a White House invitation to celebrate the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, citing the coronavirus pandemic. (Associated Press)

4/ Trump falsely claimed that 99% of coronavirus cases are “totally harmless.” Trump made the false claim during his Independence Day speech in South Dakota. The number appears to be based on the estimated death rate, which excludes the thousands people who have spent weeks in the hospital or at home with mild to moderate symptoms that still caused debilitating health problems. The 1% death rate also narrowly focuses on the number of people who die compared to the total number of people who were infected, including those who are asymptomatic and don’t experience any illness, and those with mild cases who experience fleeting symptoms. Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, who isn’t an epidemiologist, backed up Trump’s false claim, saying “the risks are extremely low, and the president’s right with that and the facts and statistics back us up there.” He provided no evidence to support the false claim. (The Guardian / New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Axios)

  • The FDA commissioner declined to defend Trump’s false claim that 99% of COVID-19 cases “are totally harmless.” Stephen Hahn also refused to confirm Trump’s claims that a COVID-19 “solution” would likely be available “long before the end of the year.” (ABC News / NBC News)

5/ At least 40 lobbyists with ties to Trump helped clients secure more than $10 billion in federal coronavirus aid. The lobbyists either worked in the Trump administration, served on his campaign, were part of the inaugural committee or were part of his transition. Many are donors to Trump’s campaigns. (Public Citizen / Associated Press / New York Times)

  • The Treasury Department and Small Business Administration released a list of businesses that received more than $150,000 as part of the Paycheck Protection Program. Among the recipients were Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao’s family’s business received between $350,000 and $1 million. Chao is the wife of Mitch McConnell. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue’s trucking company was approved for $150,000 to $350,000 in loan money. And, Trump’s business partner in a hotel and residential tower in Waikiki, Hawaii received a loan from the Paycheck Protection Program between $2 million to $5 million. (CNBC / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Daily Beast / New York Times)

6/ Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that international students pursuing degrees in the United States will have to leave the country if their universities switch to online-only courses for the fall semester. The State Department will not issue visas to students enrolled in online-only programs and Customs and Border Protection will not allow these students to enter the country. Foreign nationals currently enrolled in U.S. educational institutions “may face immigration consequences including, but not limited to, the initiation of removal proceedings” unless part of their course load is taken in-person. The announcement comes as some colleges and universities, including Harvard, have announced that they will hold online-only courses this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / The Hill / Axios)

poll/ 38% of Americans approve of the way Trump has handled the coronavirus pandemic, while 54% disapprove. 52% believe the coronavirus crisis will continue to get worse. 76% fear that current re-openings will increase the number of cases. 84% say they’ve worn a face mask in public. (YouGov)

poll/ 38% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – three percentage points above his personal low of 35%, which he registered on four separate occasions in 2017. (Gallup)


Notables.

  1. Simon & Schuster will publish Mary Trump’s tell-all book two weeks earlier than expected, citing “high demand and extraordinary interest.” The book, “Too Much and Never Enough, How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” portrays Trump as a “damaged man” with “lethal flaws” who “threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric.” (CNN / Politico)

  2. Michael Cohen was seen eating out at a New York City restaurant after the federal Bureau of Prisons released him for “home confinement” due to the coronavirus risk. Cohen was released 10 months into his three-year prison sentence. (New York Post)

  3. Congress adjourned for a two-week recess without addressing the recent spikes in coronavirus cases across the southern and western United States. When they return on July 20, lawmakers will have three weeks to debate and pass a new relief package before they adjourn again through Labor Day. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said the next rescue bill will be the last. Meanwhile, enhanced unemployment benefits are scheduled to end on July 31 and both chambers of Congress remain divided on whether or not to issue additional stimulus checks to Americans. (Washington Post)

  4. At least eight Secret Service agents in Phoenix either tested positive for the coronavirus or were showing symptoms of being infected. Pence was scheduled to visit Phoenix on Tuesday, but instead went on Wednesday so healthy agents could be deployed. (CNN / Washington Post)

  5. Trump Jr.’s girlfriend tested positive for the coronavirus. Kimberly Guilfoyle traveled to South Dakota with Trump Jr. and planned to attend Trump’s Fourth of July fireworks display where Trump was set to speak, but Guilfoyle tested positive before the event. She did not travel on Air Force One and is the only person in her group who tested positive. Guilfoyle is now the third person in possible proximity to Trump to have contracted the virus. (New York Times / ABC News / CNN)

  6. Trump Jr. and Kimberly Guilfoyle were spotted maskless last Saturday at a Hamptons party with 100 other guests. (PageSix)

  7. The Trump campaign “strongly” encourages attendees to wear a mask at Trump’s upcoming rally Saturday in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The campaign will also provide face masks and hand sanitizer for all attendees. (Axios)

Day 1260: "We are not flattening the curve right now."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,781,000; deaths: ~519,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,725,000; deaths: ~129,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The United States set a single-day coronavirus case record for the fifth time in eight days after reporting more than 50,000 new cases on Wednesday – the largest single-day total since the start of the pandemic. “We are not flattening the curve right now,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, the government’s coronavirus testing coordinator. “The curve is still going up.” Dr. Anthony Fauci added: “I think it’s pretty obvious that we are not going in the right direction.” At least 23 states have paused reopening plans ahead of the holiday weekend. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNN / CNBC)

  • Coronavirus cases in the U.S. rose by nearly 50% in June, led by states that tried to reopen their economies first. (Washington Post)

  • Herman Cain was hospitalized with COVID-19. The former 2012 Republican presidential candidate was at Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, last month, and was photographed sitting in close proximity with other attendees, none of whom appeared to be wearing masks. At least eight Trump advance team staffers at the Tulsa rally also tested positive for coronavirus. (CNN / CNBC)

  • More than 40 Bay Area school principals were exposed to coronavirus during in-person school reopening planning meeting. The superintendent insisted the meeting was necessary. (San Francisco Chronicle)

2/ Texas issued a statewide mandate requiring face masks in public in any county with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases. Gov. Greg Abbott previously opposed attempts by mayors and local officials requiring people wear face masks while in public, but reversed course after the state reported a record of more ​​​​than 8,000 new cases on Wednesday. Florida, meanwhile, reported 10,109 new cases on Thursday, marking a new single-day record for the state and the 25th consecutive day that Florida has set a record high in its seven-day rolling average. And in California, where hospitalizations are up more than 40% from two weeks ago, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the mandatory closure of bars, indoor restaurants, movie theaters, zoos, and museums in 19 counties where 70% of the state’s population lives. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

3/ Another 1.427 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week. The U.S. economy gained 4.8 million jobs in the month of June to bring the unemployment rate to 11.1%, down from a peak of 14.7% in April – higher than in any previous period since World War II. It was the second month of gains after a loss of more than 20 million in April. (New York Times / NBC News / CNBC)

  • The Congressional Budget Office’s 10-year forecast expects the U.S. unemployment rate to stay above its pre-pandemic levels through the end of 2030. The agency said the country’s economic outlook over the coming decade has “deteriorated significantly” since the CBO published its economic projections in January. This recession could also nearly quadruple the federal budget deficit this year, pushing it to $3.7 trillion. (Washington Post / CNN)

  • U.S. ambassadors to Uruguay, France, Morocco, and Italy sold stock as Trump tried to downplay the coronavirus outbreak in its early stages. Records show that the transactions occured in January and continued throughout February. (CNBC)

4/ A New York appellate court judge ruled that Simon & Schuster can publish Mary Trump’s tell-all book about her uncle, Donald Trump. The decision from Judge Alan Scheinkman reverses a lower court decision that temporarily halted publication of the book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” which is scheduled for release at the end of July. In his decision, Judge Scheinkman declined to address the central claim from the Trump administration: that Mary Trump violated a 20-year-old non-disclosure agreement by writing the book. Instead, the judge ruled that Simon & Schuster was not a party to the agreement and therefore could not be bound by it. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News)

  • The Republican National Convention is paying a former “Celebrity Apprentice” producer who was accused of having “all the dirt” on Trump. From August 2019 through May 2020, the Committee on Arrangements for the 2020 Republican National Convention paid more than $66,000 to the firm run by Chuck Labella for “production consulting services.” (Daily Beast)

5/ The Commerce Department is blocking the release of an investigation’s findings into whether it pressured the head of the NOAA into supporting Trump’s false claim in 2019 that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama, according to the department’s inspector general. Peggy E. Gustafson sent a memo to Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross claiming that staff in his department had “thwarted” the publication of her report. Gustafson says the department claims portions of her report contain information that cannot be made public, but refuses to indicate which sections. She says the department’s refusal to allow the release of the report “appears to be directly linked to the content of our report and the findings of responsibility of the high-level individuals involved.” (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1244: NOAA’s acting administrator “engaged in the misconduct intentionally, knowingly, or in reckless disregard” for the agency’s scientific integrity policy when he released a statement that backed Trump’s false statement about the path of Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Neil Jacobs criticized the National Weather Service forecast office in Birmingham for a tweet that contradicted Trump’s inaccurate tweet that Hurricane Dorian, which was then approaching the East Coast of the U.S., would hit Alabama “harder than anticipated.” No punishments have been proposed, despite the violations. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1110: Officials at NOAA were “sick” and “flabbergasted” about Trump’s inaccurate statements, altered forecast map, and tweets about Hurricane Dorian in September, according to emails released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests. The emails also show that the No. 2 official at the agency claimed that neither he nor the acting administrator approved the unsigned statement that a NOAA spokesperson issued on Sept. 6, which criticized the Birmingham National Weather Service forecast office for a tweet that contradicted Trump’s inaccurate assertion that Alabama “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” from the Category 5 storm. (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post / NBC News)

poll/ 50% of voters have ruled out voting for Trump, while 39% say the same about Biden. (Monmouth University Polling Institute)

Day 1259: "It's going to sort of just disappear, I hope."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,578,000; deaths: ~513,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,659,000; deaths: ~128,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The number of confirmed U.S. coronavirus deaths is “a substantial undercount” of the true tally, according to researchers at Yale University. Researchers found that the 781,000 total deaths in the U.S. from March 1 through May 30 were about 19% higher than what would normally be expected. And, the number of excess deaths from any cause were 28% higher than the official tally of U.S. COVID-19 deaths during those months. In 45 states, seven-day averages of new infections are higher than they were a week ago and more than 800,000 new cases were reported in the U.S. in June — led by Florida, Arizona, Texas and California. The World Health Organization, meanwhile, warned that some countries might have to reimplement lockdowns to curb the spread of the coronavirus. (CNBC / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The Federal Reserve raised concerns in June about a surge in coronavirus infections and how a second wave could disrupt the economic recovery, trigger a spike in unemployment, and prolong the recession. When this Fed meeting concluded on June 10, there were 20,456 new coronavirus cases in the United States. On Tuesday, the U.S. reported 44,474 new cases. (Washington Post)

  • U.S. companies added fewer jobs than expected in June. Businesses’ payrolls increased by 2.37 million in June, while economists predicted a 2.9 million rise. (Bloomberg)

  • The Treasury Department lent $700 million in coronavirus stimulus funds to a trucking company that warned in May it was in danger of going out of business. The Treasury – aka U.S. taxpayers – will take a 29.6% equity stake in the company, YRC Worldwide, whose stock had fell 27% this year and was worth $70 million. In 2018, the Justice Department sued YRC for allegedly overcharging the Pentagon millions of dollars for shipping. (CNN / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post)

2/ Trump said he’s “all for masks” and would have “no problem” wearing one in public but thinks coronavirus will “disappear” someday. He then added: “At some point.” While coronavirus cases surge to all-time highs and states reverse reopening plans, Trump told Fox Business that “we are going to be very good with the coronavirus” because “it’s going to sort of just disappear, I hope.” Trump also said he thought he “looked OK” the one time he was seen wearing a face mask and that he thought he resembled the “Lone Ranger.” (CNN / Daily Beast / Associated Press / Washington Post)

3/ The U.S. bought nearly the entire global stock of one of the drugs proven to work against COVID-19, leaving the rest of the world unable to purchase it for at least the next three months. Remdesivir, which has been shown to help people recover faster from COVID-19, is the first drug to be approved by the FDA to treat the disease. The Trump administration bought more than 500,000 doses of remdesivir, which is Gilead’s entire stock for July and 90% of the supply for August and September. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump called reports that Russia offered bounties to Taliban fighters who kill American and coalition forces a “HOAX!” designed to “damage me and the Republican Party.” In a subsequent tweet, Trump repeated his claim that he was never briefed by intelligence officials about the bounty program “because any info that they may have had did not rise to that level.” White House officials, however, were first informed in early 2019 of intelligence reports that Russia was offering bounties to kill U.S. and coalition military personnel. Officials also provided Trump with a written briefing of the finding in late February. Trump has also repeatedly dismissed the credibility of the intelligence and White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany has acknowledged the existence of the intelligence, but said there was “no consensus” and that it hadn’t been completely “verified.” In an additional tweet, Trump claimed that “this is all a made up Fake News Media Hoax started to slander me & the Republican Party.” (The Hill / NPR / Washington Post)

  • Taliban commanders confirmed that Russia offered financial and material support in exchange for attacking U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Three sources confirmed the practice takes place and that Russian intelligence officials are known to pay. Iran and Pakistan reportedly also fund these activities. The spokesman for former Taliban leader Mullah Omar also said “The Taliban have been paid by Russian intelligence for attacks on U.S. forces—and on ISIS forces—in Afghanistan from 2014 up to the present.” (Business Insider / Daily Beast)

5/ Senate Republicans forced the removal of a provision from the updated National Defense Authorization Act that would have required presidential campaigns to report offers of foreign election help. The Senate is debating the defense authorization legislation on the floor this week. (CNN)

6/ Trump called New York City’s decision to paint “Black Lives Matter” on Fifth Avenue a “symbol of hate” that would “denigrate” the “luxury” street outside Trump Tower and “further antagonize” police. Trump’s tweets were directed at Mayor Bill de Blasio, who order the “Black Lives Matter” tribute be painted in large yellow letters. De Blasio responded to Trump’s tweets, calling them “the definition of racism.” (NPR / Politico / Axios / Washington Post)

  • The United Nations Human Rights Council debated launching a special investigation of racism in America after the killing of George Floyd. The 47-member council ultimate decided against a U.S.-focused probe and instead requested a report on anti-Black racism worldwide. That the Trump administration quit the council two years ago. (Politico)

7/ Trump threatened to veto a must-pass defense spending bill if it includes an amendment requiring the Pentagon to rename military bases named after prominent Confederate figures. The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act would change the name of 10 U.S. military bases and require the removal of Confederate likenesses, symbols, and paraphernalia from defense facilities across the country within three years. While most Republican senators said they had no problem with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s amendment, Trump tweeted that he would veto it “if the Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren (of all people!) Amendment, which will lead to the renaming (plus other bad things!) […] is in the Bill!” (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

8/ A federal judge overturned the Trump administration’s 2019 policy that prohibited immigrants from claiming asylum in the U.S. if they didn’t attempt to first apply for asylum in a country they passed through on the way to the U.S. border. U.S. District Judge Timothy Kelly ruled that the so-called “third-country asylum rule” violated the Immigration and Nationality Act, that the administration “unlawfully promulgated” the rule, failed to show it was in the public interest and didn’t abide by the Administrative Procedure Act when adopting the policy. The INA allows anyone who has made it to U.S. soil to apply for asylum, with some exceptions, and the APA requires that Americans be given enough time and opportunity to weigh in on certain rule changes. It’s the second time a lower court has concluded the rule is unlawful. Judge Kelly was appointed to the federal bench by Trump in 2017. (NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

9/ Trump’s reworking of the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect today. Trump has touted the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as “the best and most important trade deal ever made by the USA.” The deal, however, is not expected to significantly increase trade within the region. (Politico / New York Times)

10/ Jared Kushner had the Trump reelection campaign’s chief operating officer “reassigned” in an effort to designate blame for the Tulsa rally. Michael Glassner will be replaced with Jeff DeWit, who held the same position in Trump’s 2016 campaign. DeWit will also oversee campaign rally operations. A campaign spokesman said that the change was “not a reaction” to what happened in Tulsa. (Axios / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • Trump’s re-election campaign has spent more than $325,000 in Facebook ads promoting the social media pages of his campaign manager, Brad Parscale. The Trump campaign said that it was testing the use of Parscale’s page to run ads from different accounts. (New York Times)

11/ Trump recently told people that he regrets following some of Jared Kushner’s political advice and will instead stick closer to his own instincts moving forward. (Axios)

poll/ 39% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president. 59% disapprove. (Politico)

Day 1258: "We're going in the wrong direction."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,394,000; deaths: ~509,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,624,000; deaths: ~128,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a Senate committee that the U.S. is “not in total control” of the coronavirus and that infections could more than double to 100,000 a day if the country fails to contain the surge. The nation’s top infectious diseases expert said “we’re going in the wrong direction” and the recent sharp rise in cases, largely in the South and the West, “puts the entire country at risk.” Fauci declined to estimate the number of potential deaths, but said “It is going to be very disturbing, I guarantee you that.” (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News / CNN / CNBC)

  • A new strain of the H1N1 swine flu virus is spreading on pig farms in China and should be “urgently” controlled to avoid another pandemic, according to a new study. The new strain, known as G4 EA H1N1, has been common on China’s pig farms since 2016 and has characteristics of the 2009 H1N1 virus and 1918 pandemic flu. The H1N1 swine flu emerged in Mexico in April 2009 and infected at least 700 million worldwide and 60.8 million people in the U.S. An estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people died from the virus globally. (New York Times / BBC / CNBC)

  • South Dakota will not require thousands of people who attend a July 3 event at Mount Rushmore with Trump to practice social distancing. Gov. Kristi Noem said “We told those folks that have concerns that they can stay home, but those who want to come and join us, we’ll be giving out free face masks, if they choose to wear one. But we won’t be social distancing.” (Axios / NBC News)

  • The European Union formally extended a travel ban for U.S. residents, deeming the American response to the coronavirus pandemic insufficient. (New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • The deadline to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program will end today with more than $130 billion left unused. For many small businesses, the process to receive PPP funding was confusing and some businesses were hesitant to apply as forgiveness guidelines shifted multiple times. (ABC News / Washington Post)

2/ The White House and the National Security Council learned that Russia was offering bounties on U.S. and coalition troops in early 2019 – at least a month before an April 2019 car bomb attack in Afghanistan that killed three U.S. Marines. The intelligence was also included in at least one of Trump’s President’s Daily Brief documents at the time, according to U.S. officials with direct knowledge of the intelligence. John Bolton, Trump’s national security adviser at the time, reportedly told colleagues he briefed Trump on the intelligence in March 2019. (Associated Press / NBC News)

3/ Trump received a second written presidential daily briefing earlier this year that Russia paid bounties for the killing of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. The intelligence was included months ago in Trump’s President’s Daily Brief in late February. One official cited the Feb. 27 briefing document. Trump doesn’t fully or regularly read the President’s Daily Brief, preferring to receive an oral briefing two or three times a week by his intelligence officials. While the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, confirmed that “The president does read,” she claimed that Trump was not briefed about the bounties in an oral session, saying “He was not personally briefed on the matter. That is all I can share with you today.” McEnany also condemned the New York Times for publishing “unverified” allegations, suggesting that “rogue intelligence officers” were undermining Trump and national security. (New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / Axios)

  • Intelligence analysts intercepted electronic data showing large financial transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account. (New York Times)

4/ Republicans have skipped all but one of the House Intelligence Committee’s meetings since March. Democrats claim Republicans are boycotting the sessions out of partisan spite, while Republicans say they have legitimate concerns about the security of the virtual sessions. The committee has held at least seven bipartisan open- and closed-door sessions since the coronavirus pandemic hit the U.S. in March. (Politico)

5/ A New York judge temporarily blocked the publication of Mary Trump’s book about her uncle, Donald Trump, saying no copies can be distributed until he hears arguments in the case. Robert Trump asked the court to block Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” saying its publication would violate the nondisclosure agreement she signed. The book is set for release on July 28. (Politico / Washington Post / CNBC)

poll/ 71% of Americans say they would get a coronavirus vaccine, while 27% say they probably or definitely would not. According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, at least 70% will need immunity to the virus to reach herd immunity. (Washington Post)

poll/ 87% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country, while 12% are satisfied. (Pew Research Center)

Day 1257: "Nobody told me."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~10,200,000; deaths: ~503,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,565,000; deaths: ~126,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ Russian intelligence officers offered bounties to Taliban militants to kill U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan over the past year, according to a classified U.S. intelligence assessment. Trump and administration officials were briefed on the Russian operation in recent months, while the U.S. was in the midst of peace negotiations with the Taliban to end the 18-year war in Afghanistan. The White House’s National Security Council also discussed the issue at an interagency meeting in late March. Additionally, U.S. intelligence officials and Special Operations forces in Afghanistan alerted superiors about the covert Russian operation as early as January 2020. U.S. intelligence officials say the bounties are believed to have resulted in the deaths of multiple U.S. troops in the region over the last few years, though it is unclear exactly how many were targeted or killed under the program. The same Russian unit has been linked to assassination attempts and other covert actions in Europe and has offered rewards for successful attacks in the past. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / ABC News / Washington Post / The Guardian)

2/ Trump denied receiving an intelligence briefing on the alleged Russian bounty program, tweeting that “nobody briefed or told me” and that he had “just” heard about it. Trump also claimed that the intelligence community didn’t brief Pence or White House chief of staff Mark Meadows about the Taliban bounty payments because “they did not find this info credible.” White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, meanwhile, claimed that Trump and other top administration officials were not “briefed on the alleged Russian bounty intelligence.” Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe also “confirmed that neither the President nor the Vice President were ever briefed on any intelligence” related to a Russian bounty, and that all news reports “about an alleged briefing are inaccurate.” Trump added that “nobody has been tougher on Russia than the Trump Administration” and called for the New York Times, which broke the story, to “reveal” its sourcing. (Associated Press / Axios / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / NPR)

3/ The White House insisted that Trump still “has not been briefed on the matter” of Russian bounties. Press secretary Kayleigh McEnany suggested that the intelligence was unconfirmed, saying there was “no consensus,” that there were “dissenting opinions,” and that the “veracity of the underlying allegations continue to be evaluated.” As she spoke, however, administration officials were briefing a limited number of House Republicans at the White House on intelligence that Russia offered bounties. (ABC News / Bloomberg / Politico / NPR / CNN)

  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany: “I think it’s time that The New York Times and The Washington Post hand back their Pulitzers.” During the briefing, a reporter asked, “If he hasn’t been briefed, how is he certain that Russia didn’t put out this bounty?” McEnany responded, accusing The New York Times of being “absolutely irresponsible” reporting that Trump had, in fact, been briefed. She then called on the Times and Post to turn in their Pulitzers before abruptly ending the briefing. (Mediaite / Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration is close to finalizing a decision to withdraw more than 4,000 troops from Afghanistan. The move would reduce the number of troops from 8,600 to 4,500. (CNN)

4/ Trump promoted a video on Twitter of a supporter shouting “White power! White power!” from a golf cart bearing “Trump 2020” and “America First” signs. Trump retweeted the racist video – which shows a white man driving past anti-Trump protesters at a Florida retirement community and shouting racist rhetoric – and thanked the “great people of The Villages” in the video. He deleted the tweet more than three hours later. White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere later claimed that Trump “did not hear the one statement made on the video,” adding that all Trump saw “was tremendous enthusiasm from his many supporters.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NPR / Politico / Associated Press / NBC News / Bloomberg / Axios / The Guardian)

5/ Trump retweeted a video of a white man and woman aiming a semiautomatic rifle and a handgun at peaceful black protesters in St. Louis. The couple stood in front of their mansion with guns and repeatedly shouted “Get out! Private property, get out!” at protesters, who were marching to Mayor Lyda Krewson’s home to demand her resignation after she released the names and identifying details of people who support defunding the police. Mark and Patricia McCloskey are personal-injury lawyers who work together in The McCloskey Law Center. They own a million dollar home. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch / New York Times / Bloomberg / The Guardian / Washington Post)

6/ Twitch temporarily suspended Trump’s channel and Reddit banned its biggest community devoted to Trump. Twitch suspended Trump’s campaign channel for “hateful conduct” that was aired on stream, saying the videos ran afoul of its rules against content that “promotes, encourages or facilitates discrimination, denigration, objectification, harassment or violence” based on an individual’s identity. Separately, Reddit banned the subreddit “The_Donald” for consistently breaking its rules, including promoting hate based on “identity or vulnerability,” antagonized other communities, and for failing to meet Reddit’s “most basic expectations.” The_Donald had more than 790,000 users devoted to posting memes, viral videos, and supportive content about Trump. [Editor’s note: Where you at Twitter and Facebook?] (Politico / The Verge / Axios / TechCrunch / New York Times / CNBC / CNN)

7/ The World Health Organization warned that the coronavirus pandemic is “speeding up” and the “worst is yet to come.” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ comments come as the global number of coronavirus cases passed 10 million, with more than 500,000 deaths. The CDC’s principal deputy director added that “this is really the beginning” as the United States surpassed 2.5 million confirmed cases. With more than 100,000 confirmed cases, Los Angeles County health officials warned that conditions were deteriorating as data showed an “alarming increases in cases, positivity rates and hospitalization.” Florida reported 5,266 new cases of the coronavirus Monday, bringing its rolling seven-day average to a record high for the 22nd day in a row. South Carolina set a record on its rolling seven-day average for the 21st day in a row. Arizona saw a record high in hospitalizations and its seven-day rolling average for new cases is 12% higher than it was a week ago. In Texas, coronavirus-related hospitalizations reached a record high for the 16th day in a row, while its rolling seven-day average for cases topped 19 days in a row. Texas Medical Center hospitals stopped updating metrics showing hospital capacity or projections of future capacity after their base intensive care capacity had hit 100% for the first time during the pandemic. And, at least 14 states have paused or rolled back their reopening plans to slow the surge of coronavirus cases. Pence, meanwhile, postponed campaign events in Florida and Arizona “out of an abundance of caution” while White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany played down the spike in cases, saying, “We’re aware that there are embers that need to be put out.” (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNBC / CBS News / Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

  • Jacksonville will institute a city-wide mask order to stem the spread of coronavirus. The Republican National Committee relocated its August convention to Jacksonville after a battle with North Carolina about restrictions on the event in Charlotte. (Axios / Politico)

  • The first drug shown to be effective against the coronavirus will cost U.S. hospitals $3,120 for the typical patient with private insurance. Gilead Sciences will charge patients who are covered by government programs like Medicaid will be charged $2,340 for remdesivir. (CBS News / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The FBI issued a warning about scammers who advertise fraudulent COVID-19 antibody tests as way to obtain personal information that could be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud. (New York Times)

  • The Trump campaign removed thousands of “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers from seats hours before Trump’s rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. (Washington Post / The Guardian)

8/ The Supreme Court struck down a restrictive abortion law in Louisiana that would have left the state with only one abortion clinic. Chief Justice John Roberts, who joined the court’s liberals in the 5-to-4 decision, said “The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents.” Roberts’s vote was unexpected because he dissented in the 2016 Texas case, which was essentially identical to the Louisiana case. The Louisiana law required any doctor offering abortion services to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles, which would have left one doctor at a single clinic to provide services for nearly 10,000 women who seek abortions in the state each year. In the past two weeks, Roberts has voted with the court’s liberals on job discrimination against gay and transgender workers, on a program protecting Dreamers, and now on abortion. (Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / ABC News / The Guardian / Axios)


✏️ Notables.

  1. A federal judge ruled that Immigration and Customs Enforcement must release children held in family detention centers by July 17 because of the danger posed by the coronavirus pandemic. The children must be released with their parents or to “available suitable sponsors or other available COVID-free non-congregate settings” with the consent of their parents or guardians. (NBC News / CNN)

  2. A federal judge ordered Roger Stone to report to prison by July 14. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson granted a two-week delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, but not the two months that Stone had requested. (Washington Post)

  3. Iran has issued an arrest warrant for Trump on “murder and terrorism charges” related to the killing of top general Qassem Soleimani in January. Iran also asked Interpol for help detaining Trump and dozens of others involved in the drone strike. (Al Jazeera / CNN / Daily Beast)

  4. Trump visited his private golf course in Virginia Saturday – one day after saying he had canceled a weekend trip to his New Jersey golf club so he could stay in Washington, D.C. to “make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.” (The Guardian / Daily Beast)

Day 1254: "And we have an election coming up."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,696,000; deaths: ~492,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,454,000; deaths: ~125,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The United States set a daily record for new COVID-19 cases for the third time in three days, passing the 40,000 mark for the first time. Five states set new single-day highs and 11 states set their own records for the average number of new cases reported over the past seven days. (Washington Post / NPR / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal)

  • Florida reported nearly 9,000 new coronavirus cases in 24 hours, surpassing its previous single-day record of 5,511 reported on Wednesday. The coronavirus has now infected 122,960 people in Florida – with 29,163 new cases over the last seven days – and killed at least 3,327 people. The state’s former leading COVID-19 data scientist, meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis of “cooking the books” in an effort to hide the impact of the pandemic. (Miami Herald / CNBC / Axios / The Guardian / New York Times / Politico)

  • Texas rolled back reopening plans after reporting 5,996 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, which beat Wednesday’s record of 5,551. Gov. Greg Abbott ordered bars to close and restaurants to scale back capacity to 50%. (Texas Tribune / Washington Post / Associated Press / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

2/ The White House coronavirus task force held its first briefing in two months, as Pence took a victory lap, saying “We slowed the spread, we flattened the curve, we saved lives.” While Pence acknowledged that cases have been rising “precipitously” in some states, he argued that Americans are seeing “encouraging news” despite cases surging because all 50 states – he claimed – “are opening up safely and responsibly.” Pence insisted “this moment is different” than two months ago, suggesting “We’re in a much better place” because “the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country.” Pence also defended Trump’s decision to resume holding campaign rallies, claiming “The freedom of speech, the right to peaceably assemble, is enshrined in the constitution of the United States […] Even in a health crisis, the American people don’t forfeit our constitutional rights.” He added: “And we have an election coming up this fall.” (NPR / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Hill)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that the coronavirus outbreaks largely in the South and West could spread across the U.S. The nation’s top infectious diseases expert pleaded for Americans to practice social distancing and mask wearing, saying “You have an individual responsibility to yourself but you have a societal responsibility.” The Trump administration is also weighing testing groups of people together. “Pool testing” could help officials test more people with fewer resources. (New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act as the U.S. has recorded more than 120,000 deaths from COVID-19, with nearly 2.5 million confirmed cases. In an 82-page brief submitted an hour before the midnight deadline, the Trump administration said that “the entire ACA must fall,” arguing that the individual mandate was rendered unconstitutional after Congress ended the financial penalty for not having health insurance in 2017. If the court agrees, more than 23 million Americans would lose health care coverage. (NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NPR / Politico)

4/ Trump canceled his planned trip to his private golf club in Bedminster, N.J. The White House claimed the cancellation “had nothing to do” with a state order mandating a 14-day quarantine for visitors who have been in states with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases. The weather forecast, however, showed that thundershowers are expected throughout the area this weekend. Hours later Trump tweeted that he canceled the trip to stay in Washington “to make sure LAW & ORDER is enforced.” (CNBC / Politico)

5/ The European Union will block most travelers from the United States, Russia, and other countries considered too risky because they have not controlled the coronavirus outbreak. The U.S. banned most European Union travelers in March, but has not eased its restrictions, even though European infections and deaths have dropped. The ban goes into effect on July 1. (New York Times)

poll/ 76% of Americans are concerned about being infected by the coronavirus – up from 69% in early June. 56% of Americans believe the U.S. is reopening the economy too quickly, while 15% say the economy is reopening too slowly, and an additional 29% believe the economy is being reopened at the right pace. (Ipsos / ABC News)

poll/ 89% of Americans who left their home in the last week said they wore a face mask or a face covering, compared to only 11% who said they did not. (ABC News)

poll/ 40% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 58% disapprove – an all-time high. In a hypothetical general election matchup, Biden leads Trump by 8 percentage points – 52% to 44%. (NPR)

poll/ 58% of Americans said racism is “a big problem” in America, while 41% said racism is “somewhat,” a “small problem,” or “not a problem at all.” (Kaiser Family Foundation)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration does not have the authority to use military funding to pay for construction of a border wall, a federal appeals court ruled. In a 2-1 ruling, the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said that diverting $2.5 billion Congress had appropriated for the military violated the Constitution and is unlawful. Congress holds the authority to appropriate money. (NBC News / CNN / Los Angeles Times)

  2. The House voted to grant statehood to Washington, D.C. – the first time Congress has approved establishing the nation’s capital as a state. The White House, however, confirmed that it opposes statehood, and Mitch McConnell said he will not bring the legislation to a vote in the Senate. (New York Times / Washington Post)

  3. The head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers will depart at the end of June. Tomas Philipson last appeared publicly at the White House in early June, when Trump boasted about the latest job numbers. (Politico)

  4. The House passed an expansive policing reform bill aimed at combating racial discrimination and excessive use of force in law enforcement. The measure bans police from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug-related cases, while lowering legal standards to pursue criminal and civil penalties for police misconduct. Republicans said the bill is a federal overreach into policing that will never pass the Senate, and the White House has threatened a veto. (New York Times / NPR)

Day 1253: "An explosion."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,524,000; deaths: ~485,000

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,412,000; deaths: ~123,000

  • Source: Johns Hopkins University


1/ The CDC estimated that the number of Americans infected with the coronavirus could be as high as 23 million — 10 times the 2.3 million currently confirmed cases. CDC Director Robert Redfield said the estimate is based on blood samples collected from across the country for the presence of antibodies. For every confirmed case of COVID-19, 10 more people had antibodies. Redfield added that between 5% and 8% of Americans have been infected to date. Trump, meanwhile, claimed that “It’s going away.” (Axios / NBC News / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Coronavirus cases are up 30% nationwide compared to the beginning of this month. While the Trump administration repeatedly claimed that case counts are up because the U.S. has increased testing, the assertions are not backed up by the data and the increase in positive cases cannot be attributed to the rise in testing alone. (Axios / ProPublica)

  • Coronavirus cases are rising in states with relaxed policies on wearing masks. In 16 states that recommend, but do not require, that residents wear masks in public new coronavirus cases have risen by 84% over the last two weeks. In 11 states that mandate wearing masks in public, new cases have fallen by 25% over the last two weeks. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

  • Texas halted reopening as hospitals were inundated with “an explosion” of new COVID-19 cases and officials warned there might not be enough beds available. Hospitals in Bexar, Dallas, Harris and Travis counties were ordered to stop nonessential procedures to make sure beds are available for coronavirus patients. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN)

2/ Dozens of U.S. Secret Service agents who worked at Trump’s rally in Tulsa were ordered to self-quarantine after two of their colleagues tested positive for the coronavirus. The Secret Service field office in Tulsa arranged a special testing session at a local hospital to determine which agents contracted the virus while working at the rally. The number of Secret Service personnel who have tested positive is still unknown because the agency refuses to divulge that information in order to “protect the privacy of our employees’ health information and for operational security.” A law enforcement official, however, said the number of quarantined agents is on the “low” side of dozens. (CNN / Washington Post)

3/ The federal government sent $1.4 billion in coronavirus stimulus checks to over a million dead people. The finding is part of a review of the federal government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Government Accountability Office. While the government has asked survivors to return the money, it’s not clear they’re required to. (NBC News / Associated Press / Washington Post)

4/ Unemployment claims topped one million for the 14th week in a row after nearly 1.5 million workers filed new claims last week. An additional 728,000 workers filed for benefits from Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Meanwhile, continuing claims fell below 20 million for the first time in two months. (New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / NBC News / CNBC)

5/ The Supreme Court ruled that people seeking asylum from persecution have no right to a federal court hearing. The court’s 7-2 ruling allows the Trump administration to expedite the deportation of thousands of immigrants picked up at or near the border who have claimed to be escaping from persecution and torture in their home countries. A 2004 immigration policy targets any undocumented immigrant picked up within 100 miles of the border and within 14 days of entering the country for quick deportation. The Trump administration has sought to expand a 2004 deportation policy so that undocumented immigrants anywhere in the U.S. can be picked up for any reason and quickly deported up to two years after their arrival. (NPR / ABC News / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)

6/ The Trump administration is discussing ending congressional review of weapons sales to foreign governments, because lawmakers from both parties have held up arms sales to Saudi Arabia over civilian casualties in Yemen. Under the current system, the State Department gives informal notification to relevant foreign policy committees in Congress of proposed arms sale and lawmakers can block sales. (New York Times)

7/ Trump’s nominee to take over the Manhattan federal prosecutors office refused to say whether he would recuse himself from pending investigations involving Trump’s interests and associates if confirmed. Trump nominated Jay Clayton — currently the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission for U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York after Geoffrey Berman was abruptly removed last week. Berman had pursued a number of investigations close to Trump’s inner circle, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. Appearing before a House Financial Services subcommittee, Clayton deflected questions about his nomination and the circumstances under which Berman was removed, characterizing the Senate confirmation process as “way down the road.” (Washington Post / Politico)

8/ A New York judge rejected an effort by Trump’s brother to block the publication of his niece Mary Trump’s book, “Too Much and Never Enough.” Queens County Surrogate Court Judge Peter Kelly cited “several improprieties” in Robert Trump’s filing that rendered it “fatally defective.” (The Guardian / Daily Beast / Washington Post)

Day 1252: "A massive outbreak."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,331,000; deaths: ~480,000 (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,370,000; deaths: ~122,000


1/ Coronavirus cases are accelerating across the U.S. and seven states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — are reporting record-high COVID-19 hospitalizations. On Tuesday, more than 800 people died from the virus — the first time U.S. fatalities have increased since June 7 – and more than 35,000 new coronavirus cases were identified across the United States – the highest single-day total since late April and the third-highest total of any day of the pandemic. Case numbers are rising in more than 20 states. New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut will now require visitors from virus hot spots to quarantine for 14 days. Top federal health officials warn that the surge could worsen without new restrictions. Trump’s administration, meanwhile, plans to end support for 13 coronavirus testing sites across the country at the end of the month, including seven in Texas. Four of the seven Texas sites are in Houston and Harris County, which public health experts say could become the area worst hit by COVID-19 in the country. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times / NBC News / The Hill)

  • California reported an additional 7,149 COVID-19 cases since Tuesday – a 69% increase in two days. (CNBC)

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said the state is facing a “massive outbreak” in the coronavirus pandemic. For the second straight day, Texas had more than 5,000 new coronavirus cases and more than 4,000 hospital patients with COVID-19. (Houston Chronicle)

  • Trump plans to ignore New Jersey’s order that requires all visitors from states with high numbers of coronavirus cases to quarantine for 14 days. Trump traveled to Arizona on Tuesday, which has seen a rise in the rate of its COVID-19 cases. Instead, Trump will travel to his golf club in Bedminster, N.J. (CNBC)

  • Stocks fell on fears that officials would have to reinstate lockdown measures. All three indexes suffered their steepest losses since June 11, with the Dow falling 2.7%, the S&P500 declining 2.6%, and the Nasdaq losing 2.2%. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • The head of the White House Council of Economic Advisers will leave the administration at the end of the month. Tomas Philipson, the acting chairman of the CEA, took over in July 2019 after serving as a member of Trump’s three-person council for almost two years. (Politico)

2/ The Trump administration has considered scaling back the national emergency declared earlier this year to control the coronavirus pandemic. Healthcare leaders said they’re confused by the administration’s unwillingness to publicly commit to an extension of the emergency declarations, one of which is scheduled to expire next month. The declarations have loosened or waived rules and regulations on hospitals and other medical providers to help route needed money to states, allow hospitals to quickly hire more staff, and, in some cases, add beds without going through a lengthy permitting process. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters that Trump is “not looking at lifting the national emergency declarations.” McEnany, however, also claimed that Trump was joking when he said he’d directed aides to slow coronavirus testing. Trump later said he wasn’t joking. [Editor’s note: Who knows even what’s real anymore with these guys.] (Los Angeles Times)

3/ Black Lives Matter protests across the country have not led to an increase in coronavirus cases, according to a new study from the National Bureau of Economic Research. The study looked at protests from more than 300 of the largest American cities and found no evidence that cases of COVID-19 increased in the weeks after the demonstrations. Researchers found that social distancing measures actually went up in the wake of the protests. (CNN)

4/ More than 13,000 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service workers could face extended furloughs starting on August 3 unless the agency receives additional funding from Congress. The fees from visa and citizenship applications and other services have dropped significantly since the coronavirus pandemic began, causing the funding for USCIS operations to fall accordingly. Three-fourths of the USCIS workforce would see their salaries and hours cut for up to 30 days or longer. The agency said it needs an additional $1.2 billion infusion over the rest of the fiscal year, plus a 10% surcharge on application fees, in order to stay afloat. (Washington Post)

5/ A federal appeals court ordered Judge Emmet Sullivan to dismiss the criminal case against Michael Flynn. The former Trump national security adviser pleaded guilty — twice — to lying to the FBI during Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 election, but the U.S. District Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled 2-1 that the DOJ’s decision to abandon the perjury case against Flynn settles the matter. The Justice Department first moved to dismiss the case in May as part of a broader effort by Attorney General William Barr to review and, in some cases, undo several of the rulings from Mueller’s Russia investigation. The panel of judges ruled that they didn’t have enough cause to overturn the Justice Department’s decision to drop the case. It is possible that the case could continue on if other appeals court judges take interest in the matter. If not, the D.C. ruling would exonerate Flynn after he asked to change his plea and claimed he was innocent. (CNN / New York Times / Associated Press / Bloomberg / Axios / ABC News / USA Today / CNBC)

6/ 65 faculty members from Attorney General William Barr’s law school wrote a letter saying Barr has “failed to fulfill his oath of office to ‘support and defend the Constitution of the United States.’” The bipartisan group of law professors and other faculty from George Washington University also wrote that Barr’s actions as AG have “undermined the rule of law, breached constitutional norms, and damaged the integrity and traditional independence of his office and of the Department of Justice.” The letter was posted amid the fallout over Barr’s firing of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. (CNN)

  • Barr has agreed to testify before the House Judiciary Committee for a “general oversight hearing” on July 28 after House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler threatened to issue a subpoena. Democrats have accused Barr of intervening in the cases of Trump associates Roger Stone and Michael Flynn for political purposes, including firing Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York who had been investigating Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. (Axios)

7/ Senate Democrats blocked Republicans from taking up a police reform bill, calling the legislation “irrevocably flawed” and “partisan.” Democrats want the bill to include bans on chokeholds and “no-knock” search warrants and to address qualified immunity, which shields police officers from lawsuits. (NBC News / Axios)

8/ Trump’s 200th lifetime federal judge was confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. By comparison, Obama successfully appointed 334 federal judges during his two terms. (CNN / Washington Post / HuffPost)

poll/ 37% of Americans approved of the way Trump has responded to the coronavirus pandemic, while 58% said they disapproved. (Reuters)

poll/ 44% of voters approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 53% disapprove. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 50% of Americans say they would vote for Biden over Trump if the election was held today, compared to 36% who say they’d vote for Trump. In 2016, Trump won 46% of the popular vote. (New York Times)

Day 1251: "Mixed bag."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,179,000; deaths: ~475,000; recoveries: ~4,596,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,339,000; deaths: ~122,000; recoveries: ~642,000.


1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci: “None of us have ever been told to slow down on testing — that just is a fact. In fact, we will be doing more testing.” White House officials, however, have defended Trump’s comments that he wanted to slow down testing for the coronavirus, calling them “tongue-in-cheek” and a joke. Fauci told the House committee that the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has been a “mixed bag,” adding that the increase in cases is “disturbing” and “The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states.” (Politico / Daily Beast / NBC News / Washington Post / New York Times / New York Times / The Hill / Associated Press)

2/ When asked whether he was joking that he asked officials to slow down coronavirus testing, Trump replied: “I don’t kid.” Trump also tweeted that “we did a great job on CoronaVirus” and said “the Fake News refuses to acknowledge this in a positive way.” More than 120,000 Americans have already died as a result of COVID-19, and the total number of confirmed infections nationwide has surged beyond 2.3 million. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany later told reporters that Trump was making a “serious point, and that’s why he said ‘I don’t kid.’” (CBS News / Politico / Axios)

3/ Dr. Deborah Birx told governors that it was vital to increase coronavirus testing to prevent further community spread. “Hopefully I have left you with the impression that increased testing is good,” Birx said on the call. “We would like to even see it even more. Identifying cases early including your asymptomatic [ones] will really help us protect the elderly and the additional people with comorbidities.” (Daily Beast)

4/ The European Union may block Americans travelers from entering because the United States has failed to control the spread of the coronavirus. European nations are currently negotiating over two potential lists of acceptable visitors based on how countries have managed to control the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. has, so far, been deemed too risky. A final decision on who can visit is expected early next week, before the bloc reopens on July 1. (New York Times)

5/ Trump threatened that anyone who vandalizes “any monument, statue or other such federal property” would be arrested and face up to 10 years in prison. Trump’s twitter announcement that he “authorized” the government to arrest vandals comes after he complained about an attempt by demonstrators to remove a statue of Andrew Jackson that sits across from the White House. Trump also suggested that the penalties could be applied “retroactively” to anyone who damaged or pulled down monuments in recent weeks, citing the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, “or such other laws that may be pertinent.” Despite Trump’s assertions, the act doesn’t require his authorization. (NPR / CBS News / The Independent)

  • The Secret Service ordered some members of the White House press corps to immediately leave the premises after protesters attempted to topple a statue of Andrew Jackson in Lafayette Park. Typically in security situations at the White House, the press is locked down inside the complex. Later, the Secret Service issued a statement that said “four members of the media were misdirected” to leave the White House grounds after the clash between police and protesters. (CNN / The Independent)

6/ The House Judiciary Committee will subpoena Attorney General William Barr to testify about the firing of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman. Chairman Jerry Nadler wants Barr to appear on July 2 to explain why Berman was fired, who had been investigating Rudy Giuliani and other Trump associates. Nadler also asked Berman to testify. Nadler has called on Barr several times in recent weeks to testify before the committee about the Justice Department’s handling of the criminal cases involving former Trump advisers, including Roger Stone and Michael Flynn. (Axios / Politico / NBC News)

7/ The White House admitted that Trump was involved Geoffrey Berman’s firing after Trump initially claimed that he was “not involved” in the process. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump was “involved in the sign-off capacity,” describing Berman’s removal as a simple swap that would allow SEC chairman Jay Clayton to take over the job. Clayton has never been a litigator or prosecutor but has expressed interest in the position at the Southern District of New York. McEnany was unable to explain why Berman was dismissed before Clayton was confirmed by the Senate. (CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1250: Attorney General William Barr said Trump fired the federal prosecutor whose office prosecuted several of his associates, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani.

8/ A former Roger Stone prosecutor will testify that he and his colleagues were repeatedly pressured to cut Stone “a break” because of his relationship with Trump. Career prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky, who withdrew from the Stone case after the Justice Department intervened and recommended a lighter sentence, plans to tell the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that “What I heard – repeatedly – was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the President. I was also told that the acting U.S. Attorney was giving Stone such unprecedentedly favorable treatment because he was ‘afraid of the President.’” (Axios / Politico / New York Times)

9/ Trump’s family requested a temporary restraining order to block the publication of a tell-all book by Trump’s niece. The filing is against Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster, and seeks to stop publication on the grounds that Mary Trump signed a nondisclosure agreement. (New York Times)

  • The State Department muted the line of a reporter asking about John Bolton’s book during a briefing highlighting the importance of press freedom. (Politico)

Day 1250: "Underwhelming."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~9,037,000; deaths: ~471,000; recoveries: ~4,394,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,306,000; deaths: ~121,000; recoveries: ~641,000.

  • Trump claimed that he told “his people” to “slow the testing down” for the coronavirus, calling testing “a double-edged sword” because the “bad part” is the increase in recorded coronavirus cases. Speaking at a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, Trump remarked that “When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases, so I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’” (Washington Post / Axios / BuzzFeed News / Daily Beast)

  • Trump, Pence, and administration officials all gave conflicting explanations as to what Trump meant when he said he instructed staff to slow down coronavirus testing. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed Trump had not “directed” a coronavirus testing slowdown and that his comment had been made “in jest.” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro claimed that Trump’s comments were clearly “tongue in cheek” and a light moment. Pence, meanwhile, told governors that Trump’s testing comments at the rally were “a passing observation.” Trump, however, wouldn’t directly answer whether he had ordered slowing testing down, saying “If it did slow down, frankly, I think we’re way ahead of ourselves, if you want to know the truth.” Trump also declined to confirm that he was joking about his comment to slow down testing. (Politico / NBC News / Daily Beast / Bloomberg / USA Today / Axios)

  • Trump referred to the coronavirus in racist terms, calling it both the “Chinese virus” and “Kung Flu” during his rally in Tulsa. In March, CBS News reporter Weijia Jiang, who is Chinese-American, said a White House official referred to the coronavirus as the “Kung Flu” to her face. And then in May, Trump told Jiang to “ask China” about his administration’s efforts to ramp up testing. (BuzzFeed News)

  • The Trump administration has yet to distribute up to $14 billion in funding authorized by Congress for coronavirus testing and contact tracing. Top Democrats sent a letter to Heath and Human Services secretary Alex Azar demanding to know why the administration has “still failed” to distribute more than $8 billion of the $25 billion Congress set aside in April to expand testing and contact tracing. The letter calls on the White House to “immediately disburse the remainder of the $25 billion in funds to ramp up testing and contact tracing capacity,” including up to $2 billion meant to ensure testing is available to uninsured Americans. (NBC News)

  • The White House stopped conducting mandatory temperature checks for staffers and visitors entering the grounds. Those who come in close contact with Trump and Pence, however, will still have their temperature checked and be questioned about symptoms. (NBC News)

  • The World Health Organization said the record number of global coronavirus cases are not the result of more testing. On Sunday, the number of new cases reported to WHO jumped by more than 183,000, “easily” the most in a single day so far, WHO officials said. As of Sunday, the U.S.′ seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases increased more than 24% compared with a week ago, and cases are growing by 5% or more in 25 states across the U.S. (CNBC)


1/ Trump was reportedly “furious” about the “underwhelming” crowd at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. About 6,200 attendees filled the 19,000-person capacity BOK Center, despite Trump’s re-election campaign earlier boasting that nearly one million people had registered for tickets to attend the event. Trump went on to spend nearly two hours airing grievances, falsehoods, and misleading claims, referring to COVID-19 as the “kung flu,” calling racial justice demonstrators “thugs,” attacking efforts to take down Confederate statues as an assault on “our heritage,” and even making up a hypothetical scenario involving a “very tough hombre” who broke into a woman’s home while her husband was away. Trump and Pence also canceled plans at the last minute to speak at an outdoor overflow rally, which was almost entirely empty. (Washington Post / NBC News / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump “pissed” at campaign manager Brad Parscale over his promise of a much larger crowd at the Tulsa rally, according to a Trump campaign source. In a statement, Parscale, however, blamed the low attendance on “a week’s worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of COVID and protesters”, which he said “coupled with recent images of American cities on fire, had a real impact on people bringing their families and children to the rally.” (CNN / The Guardian)

  • TikTok users and fans of Korean pop music may have inflated the Trump campaign’s expectations for attendance that led to Saturday’s disappointing turnout. TikTok and K-pop fan accounts claimed to have registered potentially hundreds of thousands of tickets for Trump’s campaign rally as a prank. (New York Times / Associated Press)

2/ Two members of Trump’s campaign team who attended Saturday’s rally have tested positive for the coronavirus. In total, eight members of Trump’s team involved in the Tulsa rally have tested positive. Hours before Trump was expected to arrive in Oklahoma, six campaign staffers tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump was “particularly angry that before he even left DC, aides made public that six members of team in Tulsa tested positive for COVID-19.” (CNBC / CNN / Associated Press / NBC News)

3/ Trump claimed on Twitter that the 2020 election will be “RIGGED” by “FOREIGN COUNTRIES, AND OTHERS”, who he says will print “MILLIONS OF MAIL-IN BALLOTS” to throw off the official vote counts. He added that “IT WILL BE THE SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES!” Trump argued that vote-by-mail isn’t necessary during the coronavirus pandemic because “we voted during World War One and World War Two with no problem.” To successfully forge mail-in ballots, a foreign entity would need to have a list of absentee voters in a state, know who had already voted, and be able to replicate key details like precinct and voter ID numbers and the local races on each ballot. It would have to also match the forged signature on the envelope to the one on file, and then mail them locally to ensure a proper postmark. (Bloomberg / The Independent / Washington Post)

4/ Attorney General William Barr said Trump fired the federal prosecutor whose office prosecuted several of his associates, including Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. Late Friday, Barr announced that Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman had resigned and that Trump planned to nominate the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, for the job. Berman, however, said he had not resigned and intended to stay in the job to ensure the cases continue unimpeded. The day before, supervisors at the Justice Department asked Berman to sign a letter criticizing New York Mayor Bill de Blasio for the city’s enforcement of social distancing rules to block religious gatherings but not protests. Berman refused to sign the letter Thursday, prompting Barr to abruptly announced Berman’s resignation Friday. In a letter released by the Justice Department, Barr told Berman that Trump had fired him and that he would be replaced temporarily with his chief deputy, Audrey Strauss. Barr said he had asked Trump to fire Berman. Trump, however, told reporters that Berman’s ouster was “all up to the attorney general” and that he wasn’t involved in the matter, because “That’s his department, not my department.” [Editor’s note: Including all the links to all the stories over this 48-hour span of news.] (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / CNN / NBC News / New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post)

5/ A federal judge ruled that John Bolton can publish his memoir, rejecting the Trump administration’s effort to block the release because of concerns that it contained classified information. U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth, however, said the former Trump national security adviser “likely jeopardized national security” and exposed himself to criminal prosecution. Lamberth noted that the book, which is scheduled to be released Tuesday, had already been widely distributed with more than 200,000 copies already shipped for sale, and could easily be distributed further on the internet, even if the court said it could not be. (New York Times / Associated Press / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Trump claimed that his niece had signed a nondisclosure agreement and is “not allowed” write her tell-all book about Trump and his family. Mary Trump signed a nondisclosure agreement following a 2001 settlement from litigation disputing Fred Trump Sr.‘s estate. Mary Trump’s book reportedly reveals that she was the primary source for The New York Times’ 2018 investigation that found Trump helped “his parents dodge taxes” in the 1990s, including “instances of outright fraud” that allowed him to amass a fortune from them. (Axios / Daily Beast / CNN)

Fox News poll/ 80% of voters have a favorable view of mask-wearers. Separately, 59% said presidential candidates holding large political events and rallies is a bad idea. (Fox News)


Notables.

  1. Trump issued an executive order barring many categories of foreign workers and curbing immigration visas through the end of the year. Administration officials claimed the move will safeguard jobs for unemployed Americans amid the coronavirus pandemic. The measures will apply only to applicants seeking to come to the United States, not workers who already are on U.S. soil. (Washington Post / NPR / Wall Street Journal)

  2. Trump backtracked on his remarks that he’s had second thoughts about his decision to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela and that he was open to meeting with dictator Nicolás Maduro. (Washington Post / Axios)

  3. White House adviser Kevin Hassett will leave the administration this summer. Hassett, who returned to the White House as an unpaid volunteer in March, has consistently warned about the economic downsides from the pandemic and has pushed for more spending to combat an unemployment rate that he’s warned could hit 23%. (Axios / Washington Post)

Day 1247: Priorities.

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~8,560,000; deaths: ~458,000; recoveries: ~4,205,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,210,000; deaths: ~119,000; recoveries: ~600,000.


1/ Trump threatened the “protesters, anarchists, agitators, looters or lowlifes” planning to gather at his Saturday rally in Tulsa that they “will not be treated like you have been in New York, Seattle, or Minneapolis.” Trump, who does not control local law enforcement, did not elaborate on what protesters might face, but promised that “It will be a much different scene!” Trump’s campaign and Tulsa officials expect more than 100,000 of his supporters to be in town for the rally. (Bloomberg / Politico / CNBC / The Hill / Axios / New York Times)

2/ The mayor of Tulsa declared a civil emergency, imposing – but later rescinding – a curfew surrounding the arena where Trump will hold his campaign rally. In his executive order establishing a curfew through the weekend, Mayor G.T. Bynum cited the unrest that followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month. Trump later tweeted that the curfew would not be in place after speaking with the city’s mayor. Separately, the Oklahoma Supreme Court rejected a legal effort to stop Trump’s rally over health concerns. Residents and businesses filed the lawsuit over concerns that Trump’s campaign rally could worsen the coronavirus outbreak in the city. They demanded that the arena adhere to the CDC social distancing guidelines or that the event be canceled or postponed. (Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / USA Today)

3/ The Trump campaign hasn’t distributed a “health and safety” plan for preventing the spread of the coronavirus at Trump’s rally in Tulsa on Saturday. A spokesperson for the 19,000-seat BOK Center said the venue requested that the Trump campaign provide them with “a written plan detailing the steps the event will institute for health and safety, including those related to social distancing” so it can share the plan with local health officials. The campaign has not provided the plan, but did previously commit to supplying rally-goers with masks and hand sanitizer. The campaign, however, will not require attendees to wear masks or keep attendees six feet apart or require social distancing. Attendees, however, are required to sign a waiver absolving the campaign and venue of liability if they contract COVID-19.(Washington Post / Business Insider)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx both advised against Trump’s Tulsa rally. Trump and his campaign advisers, however, claim attendees “assume a personal risk” and “that is part of life.” (NBC News)

  • Pence has overstated the amount of coronavirus-related medical supplies distributed by a Trump administration through Project Airbridge. Pence claimed the program had delivered more than 143 million N95 masks, 598 million surgical and procedural masks, 20 million eye and face shields, 265 million gowns and coveralls and 14 billion gloves. According to FEMA, however, through June 18 the program had delivered 1.5 million N95 masks, 113.4 million surgical masks, 2.5 million face shields, 50.9 million gowns, 1.4 million coveralls and 937 million gloves – or about one-thirteenth—of the numbers cited by Pence. (Wall Street Journal)

4/ The White House insisted that COVID-19 is “absolutely … still a priority” for the administration. The White House coronavirus task force last held a public briefing on the virus on April 27 – 53 days ago. And, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Tuesday that he hadn’t spoken to Trump in two weeks. (CNBC)

5/ Twitter labeled Trump’s tweet of a manipulated video complaining about “fake news” as fake news. The video fakes a CNN segment that depicts a white toddler running after a black child. The original footage is from a viral 2019 video that showed two toddlers, one black and one white, hugging. In Trump’s version, the video includes ominous background music and a fake CNN chyron that reads: “Terrified toddler runs from racist baby.” A subsequent chyron reads, “Racist baby probably a Trump voter.” Twitter appended a label to the tweet warning of “manipulated media” after finding that it deceptively doctored footage in a way that was “likely to cause harm.” This is the third time Twitter has taken action against one of Trump’s tweets. (Washington Post / NPR / ABC News / The Guardian / Axios / Reuters)

6/ Trump called an increase in mail-in voting the “biggest risk” to his reelection. Despite few documented voter fraud cases in the U.S. — and nothing close to the level that would constitute “rampant” fraud – Trump and his campaign have repeatedly argued that widespread mail-in voting invites fraud and benefits Democrats. The Republican Party is spending tens of millions of dollars on a multi-front legal battle. “If we don’t win those lawsuits,” Trump said, “I think — I think it puts the election at risk.” (Politico / NBC News / Axios)

poll/ 74% of Americans say the country is heading in the wrong direction, including 63% of Republicans. Nearly two-thirds of Americans — including 37% of Republicans — say Trump is making America more divided. 24% of Americans say the country is headed in the right direction, down from 33% a month ago and 42% in March. (Axios / Associated Press)


Notables.

  1. The Air Force inspector general is investigating whether the U.S. military improperly used a reconnaissance drone to monitor protests in Washington and Minneapolis earlier this month. The investigation was launched after lawmakers raised concerns that the use of the military surveillance aircraft may have violated the civil rights of the protesters demonstrating against police killings of Black men in Minneapolis and across the U.S. A spokesperson for the Air Force confirmed that the secretary of the Air Force is “conducting an investigation into the use of Air National Guard RC-26 aircraft to support civil authorities during recent protest activity in U.S. cities,” but declined to answer any other questions about the probe. (New York Times)

  2. The acting senior director for European and Russian Affairs at the National Security Council is stepping down and will return to his previous position at the Pentagon. Tom Williams was Trump’s fourth Russia director at the NSC in three years. His predecessor, Andrew Peek, was placed on administrative leave pending a security review back in January. The other two, Fiona Hill and Tim Morrison, testified as part of the House impeachment inquiry into Trump’s dealings with Ukraine. National security adviser Robert O’Brien says Williams is returning to the Pentagon “after two years of service detailed to the NSC,” which he said is “customary.” (Axios)

  3. Former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that Trump “didn’t hire very well.” Mulvaney, who served as the top aide to Trump in an acting capacity until March, said “If there was one criticism that I would level against the president, [it] is that he didn’t hire very well. He did not have experience at running government and didn’t know how to put together a team that could work well with him.” (Politico / Washington Post / CNN)

Day 1246: "On the cusp of losing control."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~8,422,000; deaths: ~452,000; recoveries: ~4,118,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,183,000; deaths: ~119,000; recoveries: ~593,000.

  • Seventy-seven nations have seen a growth in new coronavirus cases over the past two weeks, while 43 have seen declines.(New York Times)

  • Florida, Texas and Arizona set records for new COVID-19 cases. The governors, however, are not considering another shutdown. (NBC News)

  • Some parts of the U.S. are “on the cusp of losing control” of the coronavirus, according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb. (CNBC)

  • Trump: “I personally think [coronavirus] testing is overrated.” Trump added that “even though I created the greatest testing machine in history,” testing “makes us look bad” because more tests lead to a higher number of confirmed cases. Trump also questioned the use of masks as a means of slowing the spread. (Axios / Wall Street Journal)

  • The federal government has stockpiled 63 million doses of hydroxychloroquine that it can no longer distribute because the FDA revoked authorization for its use to treat coronavirus. The U.S. started stockpiling the anti-malarial drug in late March after Trump began touting it as a “game-changer” that was a “very powerful” treatment for COVID-19. Now, the FDA says there is “no reason to believe” the drug is effective in treating or protecting against the virus. The national stockpile also includes 2 million doses of chloroquine, a related drug manufactured by Bayer. The stockpile had already distributed 31 million doses of hydroxychloroquine by the time the FDA revoked its authorization. (CNN)

  • The Trump administration paid $7.3 million for more than 3 million test tubes, but received plastic tubes made for bottling soda. Health officials say the tubes don’t fit the racks used in laboratory analysis of test samples and the company’s process likely contaminated the tubes. The FEMA signed the deal with Fillakit on May 7 – six days after the company was formed by a former telemarketer repeatedly accused of fraudulent practices over the past two decades. If Fillakit fulfills its contractual obligation to provide 4 million tubes, it will receive a total of $10.16 million. (ProPublica)


1/ The Supreme Court ruled that Trump violated federal law when he ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program in 2017, which has allowed nearly 800,000 young people, known as Dreamers, to avoid deportation and remain in the U.S. The court ruled that while Trump did have the legal authority to end the program, the government failed to provide an adequate justification for ending the federal program. (New York Times / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / Axios / CNN / Washington Post / CNBC / CBS News / Bloomberg / Associated Press)

2/ Trump attacked the Supreme Court, tweeting that its DACA decision was “horrible & politically charged” and complained that it felt like “shotgun blasts into the face.” Trump also questioned whether the Supreme Court “doesn’t like me,” while calling for “NEW JUSTICES” to be appointed. (NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ Trump took credit for popularizing Juneteenth, the commemoration of the end of slavery in the U.S., saying: “I did something good: I made Juneteenth very famous.” Trump also claimed that “nobody had ever heard” of the June 19 celebration before he planned a rally in Tulsa originally scheduled on that day. Trump, confused by the criticism for initially planning to hold a campaign rally on June 19, said a black Secret Service agent eventually told him the meaning of Juneteenth. (Wall Street Journal / Politico / Axios / CNN)

4/ Facebook removed dozens of ads placed by Trump’s reelection campaign that included a symbol used by the Nazis to designate political prisoners in concentration camps. Facebook said the posts violated the social network’s “policy against organized hate.” Eighty-eight ads ran across pages for Trump, Pence, and the official “Team Trump” page on Facebook, targeting all 50 states. Before their removal, the ads had gained more than a million impressions. (Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / CNN)

  • The Justice Department asked Congress to take up legislation that would remove protections for large tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. The stated goal is to incentivize tech giants to address criminal activity on their platforms, such as child exploitation, terrorism or cyber stalking, while increasing transparency for users whenever a company removes otherwise legal content. In a statement, Attorney General William Barr said the reforms are “targeted at platforms to make certain they are appropriately addressing illegal and exploitive [sic] content while continuing to preserve a vibrant, open and competitive internet.” (Reuters)

5/ The Justice Department asked a federal judge to block publication of John Bolton’s memoir, claiming that it contains classified information. The DOJ also urged the judge to make sure the restraining order it’s seeking prevents Bolton’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, from distributing copies of the book once they receive notice of it. In a court filing, the Trump administration claims that publication and distribution of the book, titled “The Room Where It Happened,” would “damage the national security of the United States.” The latest move is a significant escalation from the DOJ’s original lawsuit alleging that Bolton failed to complete the pre-publication review process he agreed to undergo when he received his security clearance to become Trump’s national security adviser. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Bolton: Trump’s not “fit for office” and doesn’t have “competence to carry out the job.” (ABC News)

6/ Another 1.5 million people applied for unemployment benefits last week. 760,000 more filed new claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a federal emergency program that extends benefits to self-employed workers, independent contractors, and others who don’t qualify for standard benefits. It’s the 13th straight week that filings topped one million. Previously, the most new claims in a single week had been 695,000 – in 1982. (NBC News / CNBC / Bloomberg / New York Times / Wall Street Journal)


Notables.

  1. A senior State Department official is resigning in response to Trump’s handling of racial tensions across the country, saying Trump’s actions “cut sharply against my core values and convictions.” Mary Elizabeth Taylor was unanimously confirmed to her position in October 2018 and is the youngest assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs in history and the first black woman to serve in that post. (Washington Post)

  2. One of the Pentagon’s most prominent and respected policy officials will resign after Trump dropped plans to nominate her for an intelligence post. Kathryn Wheelbarger had been named by the White House on Feb. 13 to a senior intelligence position at the Department of Defense, but the White House instead announced plans last week to nominate Bradley Hansell, a former special assistant to Trump, to the position of deputy under secretary of defense for intelligence. (CNBC)

  3. Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media started his tenure by sidelining or firing senior leaders at the agency and the chiefs of all the government-sponsored foreign broadcast networks that his agency oversees. Micahel Pack showed up to work on Wednesday – two weeks after being approved by the Senate – and immediately fired the heads of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia, the Office of Cuban Broadcasting, which oversees Radio and Television Martí, and the Middle East Broadcasting Networks, which runs Alhurra and Radio Sawa. The two highest-ranking officials at Voice of America resigned days earlier in anticipation of Pack’s arrival. Pack also dissolved the advisory boards overseeing each of the networks and replaced them with his own aides. Pack gave no reason for his actions other than his own authority to do so. (NPR)

  4. The EPA won’t regulate an additive in rocket fuel known to cause brain damage in infants. The EPA made the decision to reverse an Obama administration limit on perchlorate after a new analysis showed the toxic chemical is too rare in public water supplies to meet the legal test to set a federal limit. [Editor’s note: Seems like the Obama-era rules were working as intended.] (Wall Street Journal)

Day 1245: "Obstruction of justice as a way of life."

  • 😷 Dept. of “We Have It Totally Under Control.”

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~8,283,000; deaths: ~447,000; recoveries: ~4,027,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,158,000; deaths: ~118,000; recoveries: ~584,000.

  • At least 10 states reported either new single-day highs or set a record for seven-day new case averages of the coronavirus. 21 states are seeing upward trends in newly reported cases from one week to the next, eight states are seeing steady numbers of newly reported cases, and 21 states are seeing a downward trend. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • Trump’s focus in meetings over the past several weeks has been on economic figures and developing a vaccine – not the increase in coronavirus cases. As one administration official close to the coronavirus task force said: “They just don’t want to deal with the reality of it. They’re in denial.” (CNN)

  • Pence incorrectly argued that the spike in coronavirus cases is a function of more testing, while dismissing the idea that there’s an emerging second wave of cases in the United States, saying the “panic is overblown.” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Pence also argued that the effort to eliminate the disease before a vaccine is ready is not the goal anymore. Rather, the White House measures its success in “fewer than 750 [COVID-19 deaths) a day, a dramatic decline from 2,500 a day a few weeks ago.” [Editor’s note: Pence is correct: We aren’t seeing a second wave (yet); we’re still dealing with the first one.] (Washington Post / Politico)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci: “People keep talking about a second wave. We’re still in a first wave.” The top infectious disease expert warned that the rise in coronavirus infections coupled with a relaxed approach to social distancing and mask wearing pose significant hurdles to state and federal efforts to contain the spread. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Chinese officials raised the country’s emergency warning to its second-highest level in response to a new outbreak of coronavirus in Beijing. More than 60% of the flights into the city have been canceled. Chinese officials described the situation in Beijing as “extremely grave” and said the new outbreak “has truly rung an alarm bell for us.” A party official said Beijing expects to have tested at least 700,000 people by the end of the day, roughly half of whom are workers at Beijing’s food markets, residents, and close contacts. (Associated Press)

  • Global greenhouse gas emissions are rebounding sharply as countries and states reopen. In early April, fossil fuel emissions worldwide were roughly 17% lower than they were in 2019. As countries ease their lockdowns, emissions habe ticked back up to 5% below the 2019 average. (New York Times)


1/ John Bolton claimed that Trump personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help him win the 2020 presidential election, according to an excerpt of his book, “The Room Where It Happened.” Bolton alleges that Trump “stressed the importance of farmers and increased Chinese purchases of soybeans and wheat in the electoral outcome,” explicitly asking President Xi to increase purchases “to help with the crucial farm-state vote” and “ensure he’d win” the election. The former national security adviser also described several others incidents where Trump expressed willingness to halt criminal investigations “to, in effect, give personal favors to dictators he liked,” and that “the pattern looked like obstruction of justice as a way of life, which we couldn’t accept.” Bolton also writes that he reported his concerns to Attorney General William Barr. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump is considering suing his niece, Mary Trump, to prevent her from publishing her tell-all book about him. After being briefed about the contents of the book, Trump told people close to him that he has his lawyers looking into his options when it comes to legal retribution. It is unclear what kind of response Trump and his legal team will ultimately take, if any. (Daily Beast)

3/ Officials in Tulsa have asked the Trump campaign to cancel his campaign rally on Saturday, calling it “the perfect storm of potential over-the-top disease transmission. It’s a perfect storm that we can’t afford to have.” The 20,000-person indoor event will likely worsen the current spike in coronavirus infections, which its one-day high in new cases on Monday. Officials warn that it could become a “super spreader.” The White House, meanwhile, said supporters “assume a personal risk” when they attend Trump’s rallies. (New York Times / Politico)

  • A Tulsa judge rejected a request from local residents and business owners to prevent Trump from holding his campaign rally due to fears that it would exacerbate the spread of coronavirus in Oklahoma. The lawsuit filed in the Tulsa County district court sought a temporary injunction against the company that manages the venue in order to “protect against a substantial, imminent, and deadly risk to the community” if the event was to go forward. Judge Rebecca Nightingale denied the request. Tulsa’s Republican mayor also said he would not use his emergency powers to prevent Trump from holding the rally, despite his own reservations about the event. (Washington Post)

poll/ 68% of voters say discrimination against black people in the United States is a serious problem, while 27% say it is not. 57% of voters have a favorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement, while 30% have an unfavorable one. (Quinnipiac)

Day 1244: Transgressions.

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~8,140,000; deaths: ~441,000; recoveries: ~3,934,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,135,000; deaths: ~117,000; recoveries: ~584,000.

  • The FDA revoked the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19 because it’s “unlikely to produce an antiviral effect,” according to the FDA’s chief scientist. Doctors still have the option to prescribe hydroxychloroquine as an “off label” treatment for coronavirus because the drug is approved for other uses, and clinical trials will also be allowed to continue. (Politico / The Guardian / NBC News / New York Times)

  • Trump and Pence downplayed the latest spikes in COVID-19 cases and misleadingly attributed the rise in new cases to increases in testing. On a private call with governors, Pence urged them to “make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing” and said that “in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that’s more a result of the extraordinary work you’re doing.” In reality, experts have warned that seven-day averages have increased since May 31 in several states with coronavirus outbreaks, and positive cases in at least 14 states have outpaced the average number of tests that have been administered. Trump also downplayed the rise of new cases across the country, suggesting during a White House event for seniors that if the United States “stopped testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any.” (New York Times / The Independent / The Hill / CNN)

  • In late July, the Trump administration plans to end the $600 additional weekly unemployment benefit created in response to the nationwide job losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. “I mean, we’re paying people not to work. It’s better than their salaries would get,” said National Economic Council Chairman Larry Kudlow. “That might have worked for the first couple of months. It’ll end in late July.” He added that the White House is instead considering a “reform measure” that would provide a smaller incentive for people to return to work, but said it won’t be as substantial. (Politico / HuffPost / Common Dreams)

  • At least four members of Congress benefited from the Paycheck Protection Program. The bipartisan group of lawmakers acknowledged that businesses either run by their families or employ their spouse as a senior executive benefited from the half-trillion-dollar small-business loan program. (Politico)

  • Trump’s former chief of staff sold up to $550,000 in securities the same day Trump declared that the “economy is doing fantastically.” Mick Mulvaney, then the acting White House chief of staff and the director of the Office of Management and Budget, sold between $215,000 and $550,000 in holdings in three mutual funds on March 4. (Daily Beast)

  • Nursing homes and other senior-care facilities represent at least 40% of the overall count of the coronavirus death toll. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci said the public was initially told not to wear masks to stop COVID-19 because of shortages of PPE for doctors. Fauci explained the early advice against masks by saying: “The public-health community — and many people were saying this — were concerned that it was at a time when personal protective equipment, including the N95 masks and the surgical masks, were in very short supply.” (Business Insider / The Street)

  • 😳 Flushing a toilet can generate a cloud of coronavirus aerosol droplets that rise nearly three feet. A new study shows how turbulence from a toilet bowl can create a large plume that is potentially infectious to a bathroom’s next visitor. (New York Times)


1/ Trump signed an executive order incentivizing police reform that includes an exception for chokeholds “if an officer’s life is at risk.” The order does not mandate any immediate action, but does create federal incentives through the Justice Department for local police departments that seek “independent credentialing” to certify higher standards for the use of force and de-escalation training. The executive order falls short of the sweeping policy changes activists have called for following the death of George Floyd. Trump did not address racism directly during the Rose Garden event, but instead claimed that a “very tiny […] a very small percentage” of police officers have killed unarmed black Americans, adding that “nobody wants to get rid of them more than the really good and great police officers.” Trump also claimed that Americans “demand law and order,” saying “Some of them don’t know that that’s what they want but that’s what they want.” Trump added: “Without police, there is chaos.” (Politico / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / CBS News / NPR)

  • Los Angeles Unified school police will return three grenade launchers, but keep 61 rifles and a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected armored vehicle it received through a federal program that furnishes local law enforcement with surplus equipment. (Los Angeles Times)

2/ The Secret Service admitted that it used pepper spray to clear crowds of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square so Trump could have his picture taken in front of St. John’s church in Washington, D.C. In a statement, the Secret Service said “one agency employee” used pepper spray, reversing its previous statement on June 5 that “no agency personnel used tear gas or capsicum spray during efforts to secure the area.” The Secret Service claimed that pepper spray was used “in response to an assaultive individual.” (NBC News / Washington Post)

3/ The Supreme Court ruled that the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay and transgender employees from workplace discrimination. Trump-appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court’s four liberal justices and Chief Justice John Roberts in a 6-to-3 majority to extend protections to gay, lesbian and transgender workers under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The Trump administration had urged the court to rule against gay and transgender workers, and previously barred most transgender people from serving in the military. Gorsuch wrote the majority opinion for the court, and Trump, who claimed he read the 119 page decision, called it “very powerful” and said “we live with” it. (New York Times / Politico / NPR / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

  • The Trump administration finalized a regulation that would will remove protections for transgender patients against discrimination by doctors, hospitals, and health insurance companies. The rule change narrows the legal definition of “sex discrimination” as only applying when someone faces discrimination for being female or male, and does not protect people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. (New York Times / NPR

  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development will allow single-sex homeless shelters to choose to accommodate only people whose biological sex matches that of those they serve. (Washington Post)

4/ The Trump administration sued former national security adviser John Bolton to stop the publication of his book about his time in the White House, saying it contained classified information and risks “compromising national security by publishing a book containing classified information.” The Justice Department and the U.S. attorney’s office in Washington, filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit seeking to delay the publication of Bolton’s book, “The Room Where It Happened,” which alleges that Trump committed “Ukraine-like transgressions” in a number of foreign policy decisions. The lawsuit seeks to order Bolton to both complete the prepublication review process and stop the publication and dissemination of his book “as currently drafted.” The memoir is due to go on sale June 23, and has already been shipped to distribution centers across the country. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / Axios / ABC News)

  • Trump’s niece plans to publish a book in which she claims to be the primary source for a New York Times investigation into Trump’s tax fraud schemes. Mary Trump plans to release the book, “Too Much And Never Enough,” on Aug. 11. In it, she says she was the one who provided the Times with Fred Trump Sr.‘s tax returns and other highly confidential family financial documentation. Mary Trump is the daughter of Trump’s older brother, Fred Trump Jr., who died in 1981. The book also claims that Trump and Fred Trump Sr. contributed to Fred Trump Jr.’s death and neglected him at critical stages of his alcohol addiction. (New York Times / Daily Beast / Business Insider / The Guardian / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 621: Trump inherited his family’s wealth through fraud and questionable tax schemes, receiving the equivalent today of at least $413 million from his father’s real estate empire. Trump has repeatedly claimed that “I built what I build myself.” Trump and his siblings used fake corporations to hide financial gifts from his parents, which helped his father claim millions in tax deductions. Trump also helped his parents undervalue their real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars when filing their tax returns. In total, Fred and Mary Trump transferred more than a $1 billion in wealth to their children and paid a total of $52.2 million in taxes (about 5%) instead of the $550+ million they should have owed under the 55% tax rate imposed on gifts and inheritances. Trump also “earned” $200,000 a year in today’s dollars starting at age 3 from his father’s companies. After college, Trump started receiving the equivalent of $1 million a year, which increased to $5 million a year when he was in his 40s and 50s. Trump has refused to release his income tax returns, breaking with decades of practice by past presidents. There is no time limit on civil fines for tax fraud. [Editor’s note: This is a must read. An abstract summary does not suffice.] (New York Times)

poll/ Americans are the unhappiest they’ve been in 50 years, with 14% of Americans saying they’re very happy. Since 1972, no less than 29% of Americans have ever called themselves very happy in that survey. (Associated Press / NBC News)

poll/ American pride fell to its lowest point in two decades. 42% of adults said they are “extremely proud,” 21% said they’re “very proud,” 15% said they are “moderately proud,” 12% “only a little proud,” and 9% “not at all proud.” (Gallup)

poll/ 80% of Americans are worried about a second wave of coronavirus in the U.S. 85% say they are likely to resume social distancing measures if their state experiences a second wave. 79% said they would stop having gatherings with friends and family, 77% would keep their children home from school or child care, 73% would stop going to non-grocery retail stores, and 65% would go back to self-quarantining. (Axios)


Notables.

  1. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider the Trump administration’s challenge to a California sanctuary law that limits local police cooperation with federal immigration authorities. The Trump administration wanted the Court to hear its appeal of lower court rulings that upheld the California law, which prohibits police and sheriff’s departments from giving ICE agents advance notice when immigrants are about to be released after serving sentences for local crimes. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals previously ruled that local officials have no duty to help immigration agents enforce federal law. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / USA Today / Los Angeles Times)

  2. Trump seemed to struggle to drink from a glass of water and walk down a ramp during a commencement ceremony at West Point Military Academy on Sunday. Video from the event shows Trump attempting to drink a glass of water during his speech, but having trouble lifting the glass to his mouth with one hand, so he used his other hand to push the glass to his lips. After the speech, Trump gingerly walked down the ramp one step at a time. After the videos began circulating online, Trump took to Twitter to defend himself and claimed that the short and shallow ramp was “very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery.” He also claimed that he “ran down to level ground” during the last ten feet of the ramp, adding, “Momentum!” There is no evidence that the ramp was slippery and there were no clouds in sight during the ceremony. (New York Times / Politico / Washington Post)

  3. Fox News published digitally altered and misleading photos on stories about Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone. Fox’s coverage spliced a June 10 photo of an armed man at a Seattle protests with a photo from June 10, of a sign reading, “You Are Now Entering Free Cap Hill,” and others photos captured May 30 of a shattered storefront and other unrest downtown. Fox later removed the manipulated images from its website. (Seattle Times / CNN / Washington Post)

  4. Two top officials at Voice of America resigned as Trump appointee prepares to take control of the network and other U.S. federally-funded media operations. (CNN)

  5. NOAA’s acting administrator “engaged in the misconduct intentionally, knowingly, or in reckless disregard” for the agency’s scientific integrity policy when he released a statement that backed Trump’s false statement about the path of Hurricane Dorian in 2019. Neil Jacobs criticized the National Weather Service forecast office in Birmingham for a tweet that contradicted Trump’s inaccurate tweet that Hurricane Dorian, which was then approaching the East Coast of the U.S., would hit Alabama “harder than anticipated.” No punishments have been proposed, despite the violations. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  6. The U.S. dropped to 10th place in the ranking of the world’s most competitive economies. In 2019, the U.S. ranked 3rd. (Bloomberg)

Day 1240: "There's no strategy."

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~7,671,000; deaths: ~423,000; recoveries: ~3,582,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,032,000; deaths: ~115,000; recoveries: ~541,00

  • COVID-19 hospitalizations surge in some states. The post-Memorial Day outbreaks in states come roughly a month after stay-at-home orders were lifted. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The rise in coronavirus cases seen in about half a dozen states across the U.S. isn’t the “second wave” — it’s still the first, scientists and infectious disease specialists say. (CNBC)

  • How 133 Epidemiologists Are Deciding When to Send Their Children to School. For many parents, the most pressing question as the nation emerges from pandemic lockdown is when they can send their children to school, camp or child care. (New York Times)


1/ The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff did not tell the White House that he planned to release a video admitting that it was a mistake for him to appear at Trump’s photo-op outside of St. John’s church last week. Before publishing his pre-recorded apology, during which he declared “I should not have been there,” Gen. Mark Milley contacted other high-ranking military officials and former Joint Chiefs, but not the White House. Separately, Gen. Milley discussed resigning over his participation in the photo-op, speaking “to several of his longstanding mentors to discuss his situation.” In recent days, however, Trump has tried to downplay any tension between himself, Mark Esper, and Milley. “If that’s the way they feel, I think that’s fine,” he said. “I have good relationships with the military. I have rebuilt our military.” (CNN / NBC News)

  • Defense Secretary Mark Esper ordered a review of the National Guard deployments in support of U.S. law enforcement in response to the nationwide protests over the murder of George Floyd. The review is considered standard procedure after any significant operation, and will specifically focus on the Guard’s work with federal and local police forces as it relates to the training, organizing, and deployment of National Guard units. Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy will lead the review, which is expected to be completed and submitted to Esper by the end of July. A total of roughly 74,000 National Guard members were activated across the U.S., the largest domestic deployment in recent history. (CNN)

2/ The Trump administration plans to reinterpret a Cold War-era arms treaty in order to allow U.S. defense contractors to sell armed drones to governments that been previously barred from buying them. U.S. agencies including the Commerce, Energy, Justice, and Homeland Security departments all approved the new interpretation in May. The change to the 33-year-old Missile Technology Control Regime is scheduled for review by the White House National Security Council at its June 16 meeting, and the State Department expects to approve the first drone sales under the new interpretation this summer. (Reuters)

3/ Trump’s advisers have urged him to fire his campaign manager, arguing Brad Parscale lacks the political instincts needed to lead the team to a second term in the White House. “People within his inner circle continue to question Brad’s ability to bring the campaign down the home stretch because of his inexperience,” one adviser said. “There’s no strategy, there’s no messaging.” (New York Post)

  • Trump’s reelection campaign is selling “Baby Lives Matter” onesie on its website. They were originally offered in January and remain available for purchase for $18, listed as a “limited edition” item. (CNN)

4/ Trump will accept the Republican nomination in Jacksonville, Florida, and make a speech at the 15,000-person VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on on Aug. 27. Attendees will not be required to wear masks or practice social distancing. The date of Trump’s speech coincides with the 60th anniversary of “Ax Handle Saturday,” where a white mob organized by the Ku Klux Klan attacked a group of mostly black civil rights protesters for sitting at Jacksonville’s whites-only lunch counters. (New York Times / CNN)

  • People who attend Trump’s rally next week in Tulsa have to sign a waiver promising that they will not sue if they contract COVID-19 while at the event. Upon registering for the event, participants are met with a waiver before officially signing up that reads: “You are acknowledging that an inherent risk to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. By attending the rally, you and any guests voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19 and agree not to hold Donald J. Trump for President, Inc.; BOK Center; ASM Global; or any of their affiliates, directors, officers, employees, agents, contractors, or volunteers liable for any illness or injury.” (Variety / Rolling Stone / New York Times)

poll/ 82% of Americans support banning police from using chokeholds, 83% support banning racial profiling, and 92% support requiring federal police to wear body cameras. 89% of Americans want to require police to give the people they stop their name, badge number and reason for the stop, and 91% support allowing independent investigations of police departments that show patterns of misconduct. 75% of Americans, including 60% of Republicans, support “allowing victims of police misconduct to sue police departments for damages.” (Reuters)


👑 Portrait of a President.

  1. As Public Opinion Shifts on Racism, Trump Digs In. With public opinion shifting quickly on racism in America, and even some of the most cautious leaders and institutions talking openly about discrimination and reconciliation, there is still one glaring outlier: President Trump. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post)

  2. Trump’s Aides Are Desperately Trying to Soothe His Anxieties. From the Trump campaign to the federal government, the president’s staff are spending freely to make their boss feel secure again. (The Atlantic)

Day 1239: "This is not a game."

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~7,441,000; deaths: ~419,000; recoveries: ~3,507,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~2,014,000; deaths: ~114,000; recoveries: ~534,000

  • Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. could reach 200,000 by early fall. “Sometime in September, we’re going to cross 200,000, and we still won’t be done,” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute said. “This pandemic is going to be with us until next spring or summer when we have a vaccine. This is not faded.” Jha explained that if the current number of coronavirus deaths per day in the U.S. — between 800 and 1,000 — stays the same, roughly 25,000 to 30,000 people will continue to die every month. (NBC News / Today)

  • Trump’s coronavirus task force told governors they are worried about a spike in infections due to the protests taking place across the country. Deborah Birx, Trump’s coronavirus response coordinator, said the yelling by protesters could potentially negate the health benefits of wearing a mask. Pence added that protest-related infection spikes were “an issue our team is following and there is a concern.” (Daily Beast)

  • Population-wide face mask use could prevent further COVID-19 outbreaks, according to a British study. The research suggests that lockdowns alone will not stop the resurgence of the coronavirus, but homemade masks can dramatically reduce transmission rates if enough people wear them in public. (Reuters)

  • Pence tweeted, then deleted, a photo of Trump’s reelection campaign staff not wearing face masks or social distancing. (CNN)


1/ More than 1.5 million Americans filed new unemployment claims last week, adding to the tens of millions of people who have applied for the benefits since the pandemic began. More than 44 million people have applied for unemployment benefits during the pandemic — about 29% of the workforce. Additionally, at least 700,000 gig and formerly self-employed workers filed new claims for benefits through the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • Treasury Secretary Mnuchin: “We can’t shut down the economy again.” He added: “I think we’ve learned that if you shut down the economy, you’re going to create more damage.” (CNBC)

2/ The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff apologized for participating in Trump’s photo op at St. John’s Church, saying it “was a mistake that I have learned from.” Gen. Mark Milley walked with Trump across Lafayette Square for a photo after the authorities used tear gas and rubber bullets to clear the area of peaceful protesters. “I should not have been there,” Milley said. “My presence in that moment, and in that environment, created the perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” (CNN / Politico / New York Times / Washington Post / Axios)

  • The Army’s 3rd Infantry Regiment was issued bayonets in scabbards and live ammunition in case active-duty troops were deployed in the U.S. capital last week. As many as 800 members of the Army’s “Old Guard” were on alert. The “Old Guard” is based at Fort Myer, just out of Washington. (Bloomberg)

3/ Trump threatened to intervene and “take back” Seattle, tweeting that the protesters who have taken over several city blocks were “domestic terrorists” while blaming the city’s “radical left” Democratic leadership for the situation. After more than a week of demonstrations, city leaders closed the Seattle Police Department’s East Precinct and allowed demonstrations to continue without police presence. Since then, protesters proclaimed the area the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” where the police are forbidden, food is free, and people discuss priorities, and listen to speeches and poetry readings. Documentaries are also screened at night. “This space is now property of the Seattle people,” reads a banner hung from the entrance of the now-empty police station. There have been no incidents of violence or looting. Trump, however, tweeted for Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to “take back your city NOW,” adding that “if you don’t do it, I will.” He continued: “This is not a game. These ugly Anarchists must be stooped [sic] IMMEDIATELY. MOVE FAST!” Inslee responded, saying he “will not allow… threats of military violence against Washingtonians coming from the White House.” Durkan added: “Make us all safe. Go back to your bunker.” (New York Times / Seattle Times / CNN / KOMO News / Washington Post / Politico / The Hill / The Guardian)

4/ Trump will hold a campaign rally on Juneteenth, a holiday marking the emancipation of slaves, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the site of the 1921 massacre of hundreds of African Americans. The campaign is not expected to implement any social distancing measures or compel attendees to wear masks because Trump has deemed it unnecessary and has made it clear he doesn’t want it to look like he’s speaking in front of a crowd that looks empty. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed that Juneteenth is a “meaningful day” to Trump. (New York Times / The Guardian / CNN / NBC News)

5/ Trump administration will not disclose the amounts or recipients of $511 billion in taxpayer-backed coronavirus loans, backtracking on an earlier commitment to release individual loan data. “As it relates to the names and amounts of specific PPP loans, we believe that that’s proprietary information, and in many cases for sole proprietors and small businesses, it is confidential information,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at a hearing before the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. (Washington Post)

6/ The Senate Judiciary Committee voted along party lines to authorize subpoenas targeting former Obama administration officials involved in the counterintelligence investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Lindsey Graham now has authority to subpoena documents and more than 50 individuals related to the Russia investigation, including former FBI director James Comey, former CIA director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. (Axios / Politico / Washington Post / Reuters)

Day 1238: "Everything about this is irregular."

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~7,303,000; deaths: ~414,000; recoveries: ~3,425,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~1,995,000; deaths: ~113,000; recoveries: ~525,000

  • At least 19 states are seeing a rise in the number of new coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in at least nine states have been on the rise since Memorial Day. Data from states that are reporting some of their highest seven-day averages of new cases also disproves the notion that the country is seeing a spike because of an increase in testing. Meanwhile, 24 states are trending downward and seven states’ trends are holding steady. (CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • The White House coronavirus task force hasn’t held a daily briefings in more than a month, despite the virus killing up to 1,000 Americans per day. Trump and top White House officials, including Jared Kushner, insist that they “made every decision correctly,” and that the outbreak is under control. “We may have some embers or some ashes or we may have some flames coming,” Trump said last week, “but we’ll put them out. We’ll stomp them out.” The task force has also scaled back its once-daily internal meetings, now meeting twice per week. (Politico)

  • Data and public health experts contradict Trump’s claim that the spike COVID-19 cases is because the U.S. is doing more testing. Three states with some of the biggest surges in the disease caused by the coronavirus began reopening more than two weeks ago. (NBC News)

  • Asylum-seeking migrants detained at an Arizona ICE center with one of the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases say they were forced to clean the facility with inadequate personal protective equipment. The migrants say the facility forced detainees to clean and work in the facility’s kitchen during crowded meal times, clean the trash from the nurses’ office, where sick patients were treated, and one said he was asked to clean the feces-covered cell of a mentally ill detainee without gloves. ICE’s says that as of June 7, 78 detainees have tested positive at the La Palma facility, with 14 cases currently under monitoring and zero deaths. (NBC News)

  • Republicans have tentatively moved the Republican National Convention to Jacksonville, Fla. The decision to seek an alternative location for the convention’s marquee events stems from Trump’s desire to accept his party’s nomination before an enormous crowd. North Carolina declined to allow a packed arena for the Aug. 24-27 event, as public health officials are urging Americans to avoid big gatherings, wear face coverings, and practice social distancing. (Washington Post)

  • [Analysis] The Real Economic Catastrophe Hasn’t Hit Yet. Just Wait For August. After a terrifying spring spent in lockdown and a summer of protests in the streets, things are going to get a lot worse in the fall. (BuzzFeed News)


1/ More than 1,250 former Justice Department workers called on the agency’s inspector general to investigate Attorney General William Barr’s role in clearing peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square so Trump could walk across the street for a photo op at St. John’s Church. In a letter to Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, the group said it was “deeply concerned about the Department’s actions, and those of Attorney General William Barr himself, in response to the nationwide lawful gatherings to protest the systemic racism that has plagued this country throughout its history.” The group asked Horowitz to “immediately open and conduct an investigation of the full scope of the Attorney General’s and the DOJ’s role” in that and other events. (Washington Post)

2/ The White House press secretary defended Trump’s baseless tweet that a 75-year-old man injured by police “could be an ANTIFA provocateur,” saying Trump was just raising “questions that need to be asked.” Kayleigh McEnany told “Fox & Friends” that “based on a report that he saw. They’re questions that need to be asked, and every case we can’t jump on one side without looking at all the facts at play.” The conspiracy theory Trump amplified originated on a far-right blog and made its way to Trump via a report on One America News Network, which has a history of conspiracy-focused reporting. (Axios)

3/ The Justice Department’s handling of Michael Flynn’s case was a “gross abuse of prosecutorial power,” according to the court-appointed attorney and former judge tapped to review the criminal case against Flynn. John Gleeson’s 82-page analysis found evidence of misconduct by both the government and Flynn, and urged that the retired three-star general be sentenced for the crime he pleaded guilty to back in 2017. Gleeson rebuked the Justice Department’s request to drop the case, saying the move for dismissal was “corrupt,” “politically motivated,” and that the department “has engaged in highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the President.” Gleeson added: “Everything about this is irregular.” (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Trump tweeted that he will “not even consider” renaming the 10 Army bases named after Confederate leaders. On Monday, a Pentagon official said that both Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy were “open to a bipartisan discussion on the topic” of removing Confederate names from the bases. Trump, however, shot down any discussions, tweeting, “my Administration will not even consider the renaming of these Magnificent and Fabled Military Installations.” (Axios / New York Times)

5/ Trump’s golf courses in Scotland are expected to receive a tax rebate of nearly £1 million as part of a government bailout package for tourism businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Trump’s resorts in Aberdeenshire and Turnberry will both receive emergency funding from the Scottish government. Property taxes paid by hospitality, leisure and retail businesses in Scotland will be waived. Trump Turnberry owed £850,766 in property taxes for this year, while Trump Aberdeenshire owed £121,170. Both properties are expected to qualify for 100% relief. Both properties have also been able to avoid paying the main business tax in the UK, known as the corporation tax, because they consistently report such heavy losses due to their debts to Trump himself, which totaled £155 million in 2018. (The Guardian)

6/ The Trump administration plans to push for oil and gas drilling off Florida’s coast after the November election. Interior officials said they expect the plan to come out after the Nov. 3 election, but before Trump’s current term ends in January. (Politico)

7/ The White House told John Bolton that his memoir still contains classified information, claiming it could present a security threat. The book by Trump’s former national security adviser is scheduled for publication in less than two weeks and Trump has repeatedly told advisers he wants to stop the publication of the book. The book’s publisher, however, said copies have already been shipped to warehouses. (New York Times)

poll/ 27% of Americans say they see Trump as a religious person. 55% disagree. 50% of Christians in the U.S. don’t view Trump as religious, while 40% evangelicals say he is. Ideological conservatives (55%) and Republicans (60%) were the only two groups in which a majority of respondents characterized Trump as religious. (Politico)

poll/ 39% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president – the first time his approval rating as dipped below 40% since October. (Gallup)

poll/ Trump trails Biden by 14 points, 55%-41%, among registered voters. The 41% who say they support Trump is the lowest since April 2019. Biden’s 55% support is his highest mark yet. (CNN)

  • Trump’s campaign demanded that CNN retract and apologize for a poll showing him trailing Joe Biden. After the poll was released, Trump tweeted that he had hired Republican pollster McLaughlin & Associates to “analyze” the poll because “I felt [they] were FAKE based on the incredible enthusiasm we are receiving.” McLaughlin is one of the least accurate pollsters, as measured by FiveThirtyEight. (CNN)

  • Wave of new polling suggests an erosion of Trump’s support. Joe Biden appears in a stronger position to oust an incumbent president than any challenger since Bill Clinton in the summer of 1992. (New York Times)

  • Republicans fear Trump’s weakened standing jeopardizes the party in November. A raft of fresh polling nationally and in battleground states shows Trump losing ground to presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, a precipitous slide that has triggered deep distress within the GOP about the incumbent’s judgment and instincts, as well as fears that voters could sweep the party out of power completely on Election Day. (Washington Post)

Day 1237: "We're still at the beginning."

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~7,186,000; deaths: ~409,000; recoveries: ~3,353,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~1,974,000; deaths: ~112,000; recoveries: ~519,000

  • 14 states and Puerto Rico saw their highest-ever seven-day average of new coronavirus cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Infections rates have slowed down in former hot spots like New York and Illinois, but other parts of the country that had previously avoided high numbers of cases — Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Carolina, Mississippi, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah — have all started to see record high case numbers. The latest numbers are believed to stem from the efforts to reopen states across the country, but public health officials say the last two weeks of protests against police brutality will be another variable in how the virus spreads. (Washington Post)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci called COVID-19 his “worst nightmare” come to life as the coronavirus continues to rapidly spread across the globe. “In a period of four months, it has devastated the whole world,” Dr. Fauci said. “And it isn’t over yet […] Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it.” (CNBC / New York Times)

  • The World Health Organization walked back an earlier assertion that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was “very rare.” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, who made the original comment, called it a “misunderstanding” to say asymptomatic transmission was rare globally. (New York Times)


1/ Trump tweeted an unfounded conspiracy theory that the 75-year-old man Buffalo police pushed to the ground and seriously injured during a protest may be an “ANTIFA provocateur,” alleging that the protester was trying to “set up” the police officers who assaulted him. Trump tweeted that Martin Gugino “was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment […] I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?” The video, however, shows the longtime peace activist holding his phone as he approached two officers outfitted in tactical gear. After a brief interaction, the officers forcefully push Gugino, causing him to fall backward onto the pavement. He is then seen bleeding from his head as officers walk by. Buffalo police initially said Gugino “was injured when he tripped & fell.” (ABC News / Politico / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / NBC News / Axios / Bloomberg)

  • A number of Republican senators dodged questions about Trump’s suggestion that a 75-year-old man who was seriously injured after being shoved by police officers in Buffalo may have been part of a “set up.” Mitch McConnell refused to say whether Trump’s tweet was appropriate. (CNN / Politico / Washington Post / NBC News)

2/ Attorney General William Barr contradicted Trump’s claim that he was “inspecting” the security bunker beneath the White House. Barr said the Secret Service recommended moving Trump to the bunker on June 1 for his own safety after “three days of extremely violent demonstrations” taking place outside the White House gates. Melania Trump and Barron were also taken to the bunker for their protection. Trump previously asserted that his visit to the bunker was for “inspection.” (CNN / New York Times / Vanity Fair / Axios)

3/ Trump wanted to fire Defense Secretary Mark Esper for not supporting his idea to use active-duty troops to quell protests in Washington, D.C., Minneapolis, and elsewhere following the killing of George Floyd. Advisers and allies reportedly talked him out of it. Esper is Trump’s fourth defense secretary since taking office in January 2017. (Wall Street Journal)

  • Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy now says he is “open” to renaming 10 military bases and facilities that are named after leaders of the Confederacy after previously rejecting the idea. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper also supports having “a bi-partisan discussion on the topic,” according to a spokesperson. McCarthy’s reversal is due in part to the ongoing protests over the murder of George Floyd, which have “made us start looking more at ourselves and the things that we do and how that is communicated to the force as well as the American public,” said one Army official. In February, the Army declared that it had no plans to rename its facilities, even after the Marine Corps announced that it would ban Confederate flags from its bases. (Politico)

4/ Trump Jr’s hunting trip in Mongolia last year cost American taxpayers nearly $77,000 in Secret Service costs. During the trip, Trump Jr. not only killed an endangered sheep, but secretly met with Mongolian President Khaltmaagiin Battulga. (HuffPost)

poll/ 69% of Americans say the murder of George Floyd represents a broader problem within law enforcement, while 29% say it was an isolated incident. 61% disapprove of the way Trump has handled the protests, while 35% say they approve. (Washington Post)

Day 1236: "Now that everything is under perfect control."

1/ Trump ordered National Guard troops to begin withdrawing from the streets of Washington, D.C. “now that everything is under perfect control.” Trump warned that the troops “will be going home, but can quickly return, if needed.” The move comes amid a barrage of criticism over his violent response to mostly peaceful protests across the city and his threats to further militarize the government’s response to nationwide demonstrations against police brutality and the murder of George Floyd. (New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ Trump privately demanded that the military deploy 10,000 troops onto U.S. streets during a heated argument with White House officials in the Oval Office last week. Trump reportedly faced opposition from Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, and AG William Barr. A senior U.S. official said Trump eventually eased his demands after National Guard troops were deployed and Esper recommended that they preposition — but not deploy — active duty soldiers from the 82nd Airborne and other units to the D.C. area. “Having active duty forces available but not in the city was enough for the president for the time,” said the official. (Reuters / CBS News)

  • Top Pentagon officials ordered the National Guard to use Black Hawk helicopters and combat-style “persistent presence” tactics to disperse protesters in Washington D.C. last week. Army secretary Ryan McCarthy ordered two National Guard helicopters to fly low over groups of protesters and use the downward blast from their rotor blades to force people on the ground to take cover as signs were ripped from the sides of buildings. The pilots from one of the helicopters have been grounded pending the outcome of an inquiry into the incident. Military officials said the Guard used the tactics after the Pentagon threatened to send in active duty rapid-response units from the 82nd Airborne Division if they were unable to handle the situation on their own. (New York Times)

3/ White House officials are debating whether to have Trump address the nation on race and national unity. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson suggested that Trump would address the killing of George Floyd and the tensions his death exposed. “I think you’re going to be hearing from the President this week on this topic in some detail,” Carson said. “And I would ask you maybe to reserve judgment until after that time.” (CNN)

4/ Attorney General William Barr defended his decision to have D.C. police violently clear out a crowd of peaceful protesters from Lafayette Park last week so Trump could have his picture taken in front of a church across the street from the White House. Barr also defended his decision to have police use tear gas and so-called “less lethal” projectiles against the group of peaceful protesters, whom Barr claimed “were not peaceful.” Barr also claimed that no chemical irritants were used to clear the crowd. “Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant,” Barr said. “It’s not chemical.” The CDC specifically classifies pepper spray as a form of tear gas, and a spokesperson for the Park Police later admitted that it was a “mistake” for them to have claimed officers didn’t use tear gas on the scene. (CBS News / Daily Beast)

5/ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats in the House and the Senate proposed a sweeping police reform bill. The bill, called the “Justice in Policing Act,” would ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants in drug cases, while changing the definition of criminal misconduct for police and curtailing “qualified immunity” that shields police officers from being held liable for civil damages for rights violations in civil lawsuits. (NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

6/ The U.S. economy entered its first recession in over a decade in February as the coronavirus pandemic triggered the shutdown of businesses across the country, ending the longest American economic expansion on record. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  • Lockdowns may have prevented about half a billion coronavirus infections in six countries. In the U.S., as many as 60 million coronavirus cases were prevented. (Bloomberg)

7/ Trump will restart his MAGA rallies in the next two weeks despite the coronavirus. Advisers are still determining where the rallies will take place and what safety measures will be implemented. (Politico)

poll/ 80% of Americans say things are out of control in the United States, while 15% say things are under control. 59% say they’re more troubled by Floyd’s death and the actions of police than they are about recent protests or occasional looting, compared to 27% who are more concerned about the protests. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 38% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the presidency, while 57% disapprove – his worst approval rating since January 2019. (CNN)


⚡️ Day 1232

  1. Another 1.8 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, a decline from the previous week’s upwardly revised total of 2.126 million. 623,073 people filed for benefits under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. This week marks the first time that weekly jobless claims were under 2 million since the week that ended on March 14. Continuing claims, which indicates how many Americans remain unemployed overall, totaled 21.5 million, an increase of 649,000 from last week. Both numbers are higher than expected, according to projections by economists. (CNBC / Politico)

  2. The Senate Intelligence Committee approved a measure that would require campaigns to report any offers of foreign election interference to federal authorities. The move comes in response to Russia’s attempts to interfere in the 2016 election to help Trump get elected. The committee adopted the measure in a classified session behind closed doors. The measure was added to the Intelligence Authorization Act, which sets policies for the intelligence community. It passed with a vote of 8-7. Susan Collins was the only Republican on the panel to vote in favor of the measure. (CNN)

  3. Trump Has Flooded DC With Law Enforcement Officers Who Won’t Identify Themselves. (Mother Jones)

  4. Trump denies tear gas use despite evidence. (Associated Press)

  5. Law Enforcement Seized Masks Meant To Protect Anti-Racist Protesters From COVID-19. The masks, reading “Stop killing Black people,” were meant to quell the spread of the coronavirus, which has disproportionately affected Black Americans. (HuffPost)

  6. Black Lives Matter sues Trump, Barr for forcibly clearing White House protesters. Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit against President Trump, Attorney General Bill Barr and other federal officials on behalf of Black Lives Matter and other peaceful protesters who were forcibly removed with rubber bullets and chemical irritants before Trump’s photo-op at the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday. (Axios / BuzzFeed News)

  7. Trump promises Stone won’t serve prison time: ‘He can sleep well at night!’ The president’s social media post represents his latest intervention in Stone’s case and comes after Trump and Attorney General William Barr were widely rebuked by congressional Democrats and career Justice Department officials for involving themselves in the federal law enforcement matter just a few months ago. (Politico)

  8. People are sawing through and climbing over Trump’s border wall. U.S. Customs and Border Protection has asked contractors for help making President Trump’s border wall more difficult to climb over and cut through, an acknowledgment that the design currently being installed along hundreds of miles of the U.S.-Mexico boundary remains vulnerable. (Washington Post)

  9. Trump signed an executive order directing agencies to look for ways to speed up building of highways and other major projects by scaling back environmental reviews, invoking special powers he has under the coronavirus emergency. (Associated Press)

  10. poll/ 41% of Americans hold favorable views of Trump, while 55% hold unfavorable views of him. (Public Religion Research Institute)

  11. poll/ 81% of Americans feel that discrimination against African-Americans exists today, while 50% say there is a lot of discrimination. 17% percent say there is not much or no discrimination. 52% believe whites have a better chance of getting ahead in life, up 13 points from 2015. (CBS News)


⚡️ Day 1233

  1. Defying mayor, Trump threatens to deploy more federal forces to D.C. Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has requested Trump “withdraw all extraordinary federal law enforcement and military presence” from the city. (Politico)

  2. D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser renamed a street in front of the White House “Black Lives Matter Plaza” and had the slogan painted on the asphalt in massive yellow letters, a pointed salvo in her escalating dispute with President Trump over control of D.C. streets. (Washington Post / NBC News)

  3. Barr says he didn’t give tactical order to clear protesters. Administration officials have spent much of the week trying to explain how the situation escalated and why smoke bombs, pepper balls and police on horseback were needed to clear the largely peaceful crowd. (Associated Press)

  4. Pentagon Ordered National Guard Helicopters’ Aggressive Response in D.C. The high-profile episode, after days of protests in Washington, was a turning point in the military’s response to unrest in the city. (New York Times)

  5. US Park Police said using “tear gas” in a statement was a “mistake.” The new statement denying use of tear gas in a protest near the White House comes after immense criticism, including from Congress. (Vox / Washington Post)

  6. Esper orders all remaining active-duty troops home from D.C. area. The active-duty troops are heading out and will be gone by Saturday, Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said. (Politico)

  7. 89 former Defense officials: The military must never be used to violate constitutional rights. (Washington Post)

  8. Former White House chief of Staff John Kelly: ‘I agree’ with Jim Mattis that President Donald Trump is “the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people” as nationwide protests have intensified over the death of George Floyd. (CNN)

  9. A ‘misclassification error’ made the May unemployment rate look better than it is. The special note said that if this “misclassification error” had not occurred, the “overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported,” meaning the unemployment rate would be about 16.3 percent for May. But that would still be an improvement from an unemployment rate of about 19.7 percent for April, applying the same standards. (Washington Post)

  10. As Trump Rekindles N.F.L. Fight, Goodell Sides With Players. The president tweeted to say it was disrespectful to kneel during the national anthem, as Colin Kaepernick and other players began doing in 2016 to protest racial injustice. N.F.L. Commissioner Roger Goodell then said the league supported players peacefully protesting. (New York Times)

  11. Security Concerns Give the White House a Fortified New Look. It increasingly resembles a Washington version of the Green Zone that sheltered American and Iraqi officials in Baghdad. (New York Times)

  12. Trump has signed off on a plan to permanently withdraw up to one-third of about 34,500 U.S. troops currently based in Germany. Trump pledged during his last presidential campaign to end U.S. involvement in what he has called America’s “forever wars,” primarily in the Middle East and Afghanistan. He has repeatedly threatened to end or reduce the peacetime defensive deployments of troops in Asia and Europe, charging that those countries were not paying enough for what he has described as U.S. protection. (Washington Post)

  13. poll/ 62% of Americans said they support the protests in response to the death of George Floyd and others in the black community, while 48% oppose supplementing police with active-duty military. (Morning Consult)


👑 Portrait of a President.

  • James Mattis Denounces President Trump, Describes Him as a Threat to the Constitution. In an extraordinary condemnation, the former defense secretary backs protesters and says the president is trying to turn Americans against one another. (The Atlantic)

  • Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Condemns Trump’s Threat To Use Military At Protests. In rare public comments, the former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Ret. Gen. Martin Dempsey condemned Trump’s threat to use military force to suppress nationwide protests as “dangerous” and “very troubling.” (NPR)

  • I Cannot Remain Silent. Our fellow citizens are not the enemy, and must never become so. (The Atlantic)

  • CIA veterans who monitored crackdowns abroad see troubling parallels in Trump’s handling of protests. Current and former U.S. intelligence officials have expressed dismay at the similarity between events at home and the signs of decline or democratic regression they were trained to detect in other nations. (Washington Post)

  • With White House effectively a fortress, some see Trump’s strength — but others see weakness. The security perimeter around the White House keeps expanding. Tall black fencing is going up seemingly by the hour. Armed guards and sharpshooters and combat troops are omnipresent. (Washington Post / WSB)

  • After a botched response to two national crises, Trump’s polls are cratering, and “no one is telling him what he wants to hear,” igniting a new round of grumbling about Kushner. (Vanity Fair)

Day 1231: "No idea."

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~6,446,000; deaths: ~383,000; recoveries: ~2,771,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~1,848,000; deaths: ~107,000; recoveries: ~464,000

  • Hydroxychloroquine failed to prevent healthy people exposed to COVID-19 from getting the disease caused by the coronavirus in the first scientifically rigorous study of its potential. Trump has repeatedly promoted the antimalarial drug as a “game changer” and recently said he took it for several days. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president.

  • An oral history of 6:30 to 7:18 p.m. on June 1, 2020. Over the course of 48 minutes, Donald Trump put on a show that may have changed America, yet again. It involved an overture to the nation, a physical attack on Americans, and a Bible. It began suddenly, in the Rose Garden, with a statement about “law and order” and “dangerous thugs.” The president promised justice for the family of George Floyd, whose death in the custody of Minneapolis police last week triggered nationwide protests, looting and violence, and a roiling debate about who we are and what we hope to become. (Washington Post)

  • How Trump’s idea for a photo op led to havoc in a park. When the history of the Trump presidency is written, the clash with protesters that preceded Trump’s walk across Lafayette Square may be remembered as one of its defining moments. (New York Times)

  • 60 minutes of mayhem: How aggressive politics and policing turned a peaceful protest into a violent confrontation. (CNN)


1/ Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he doesn’t support sending active duty troops into cities to quell protests triggered by the murder of George Floyd, adding that the use of active duty military forces to perform law enforcement responsibilities within the U.S. is “a matter of last resort” and that the National Guard is better-suited for the job. “I don’t think they need to be used […] only in the most urgent and dire situations,” Esper said. “We are not in one of those situations now. I do not support invoking the Insurrection Act.” On Monday, Trump raised the possibility of invoking the 1807 law in a Rose Garden as federal officers used force to clear peaceful protesters from outside the White House. Esper’s statement comes two days after Trump threatened to send U.S. military forces to cities and states that don’t stop the protests. White House officials are reportedly unhappy with Esper’s comments and when asked whether Trump retains confidence in Esper, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said: “As of right now, Secretary Esper is still Secretary Esper, and should the president lose faith, we will all learn about that in the future.” (NBC News / Politico / CNBC / Axios / Bloomberg / ABC News / CNN / Washington Post)

  • Minnesota officials charged three more former police officers in the death of George Floyd, and upgraded charges against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck. (Star Tribune)

  • At least twice in the past week, senior Trump administration officials in the Defense Department directed service chiefs to keep quiet about the killing of George Floyd. (Washington Post)

  • The U.S. Air Force’s top enlistee said he’s “outraged” by the death of George Floyd, vowed to do more to fix the racial inequality among ranks and encouraged his fellow airmen to fight for justice and equality, and understanding. (CNN)

  • U.S. Air Force commander called George Floyd’s death “a national tragedy” and voiced support for the service’s top enlistee, Chief Master Sgt. Kaleth Wright (CNN)

  • The FBI found “no intelligence indicating antifa involvement/presence” in the violence in D.C. during the George Floyd protests on May 31. The internal FBI situation report was circulated on the same day Trump announced on Twitter that his administration would designate the group of anti-fascist activists as a terrorist organization, even though the U.S. government does not have the authority to apply that designation to a domestic group. Attorney General William Barr also blamed “Antifa and other similar groups” for the violence and declared that “the rioting is domestic terrorism and will be treated accordingly,” despite the assessment to the contrary from his own agents. (The Nation)

2/ Esper claimed he had “no idea” what Trump was planning when he led administration officials from the White House to St. John’s Episcopal Church. “I thought I was going to do two things: to see some damage and to talk to the troops,” Esper said. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, was also surprised when Trump led the group to the church for a photo op while holding a Bible. “Their understanding is they were going into Lafayette Park to review the efforts of the troops,” said one defense official. Esper said he was unaware of Trump’s plan to forcefully clear out the crowd of peaceful protesters in the park moments before the group walked through it. (NBC News / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 1230: As he spoke from the Rose Garden, police cleared peaceful protesters outside the White House with tear gas and flash grenades so Trump could pose by a church for photographs to dispel the notion that he was “weak” for hiding in a bunker over the weekend. Following his remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump left the White House and walked through Lafayette Square, where riot police and military police had cleared protesters moments before. Once Trump reached the far side of the square, he raised a bible in front of the church for a photo. Trump’s decision to speak to the nation from the Rose Garden and to then visit the church came together because he was reportedly upset about the news coverage of him retreating to the White House bunker amid the protests. Just before Trump spoke, Attorney General William Barr personally ordered law enforcement officials to clear protesters from Lafayette Square. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Vox / Washington Post / YouTube / Religious News Service)

3/ Trump’s reelection campaign demanded that news organizations issue a correction that the U.S. Park Police had used tear gas to disperse demonstrators outside the White House so that Trump could cross the street to pose for photos at a church. The U.S. Park Police released a statement saying they used “pepper balls” and “smoke canisters,” but asserted that “no tear gas was used” in the Lafayette Square incident. According to the CDC, however, “Riot control agents (sometimes referred to as “tear gas”) are chemical compounds that temporarily make people unable to function by causing irritation to the eyes, mouth, throat, lungs, and skin.” And, “several different compounds” fall under this definition, which are all typically referred to as “tear gas” because their most prominent effect is to bring on tears. (Washington Post / Vox)

  • Mitch McConnell blocked a resolution in the Senate condemning the use of tear gas and rubber bullets against peaceful protesters in order to allow Trump to walk over to St. John’s Church. The resolution was introduced by Chuck Schumer and affirmed that the First Amendment rights of Americans “must be respected,” and that “violence and looting are unlawful, unacceptable and contrary to the purpose of peaceful protests.” McConnell said the resolution doesn’t deal with the issues Americans want addressed, and instead “indulges in the myopic obsession with President Trump that has come to define the Democratic side of the aisle.” McConnell then proposed his own resolution condemning racial injustice and rioting, which Schumer blocked. (Axios)

  • Police Target Journalists as Trump Blames ‘Lamestream Media’ for Protests. “I’ve really never seen anything like this”: Reporters and news photographers describe being roughed up, arrested and shot with projectiles while covering demonstrations across the country. (New York Times)

4/ Trump denied, then admitted, that he retreated to an underground bunker beneath the White House amid protests outside the executive mansion. Trump claimed that he went to the bunker for an “inspection” – not his own safety – because the Secret Service “said it would be a good time to go down, take a look, because maybe some time you’re going to need it.” Trump added: “I was there for a tiny, short little period of time.” According to arrest records and people familiar with the incident, Trump was rushed to the secure bunker by Secret Service after a group of protesters hopped over a temporary barricade set up near the Treasury Department. Trump also said he’s previously visited the bunker “two and a half times.” (CNN / Politico / The Guardian / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1229: On Friday, Trump took shelter inside an underground bunker for nearly an hour as protests continued outside the White House and across Washington, D.C. Trump was abruptly taken by Secret Service agents inside the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, an underground bunker that is used to shelter presidents during threatening situations, like terrorist attacks. Trump and his family have reportedly been “shaken” by the experience and the size of the protests. (Associated Press / New York Times / CBS News)

poll/ 64% of Americans say they are “sympathetic to people who are out protesting right now.” 27% said they weren’t sympathetic, and 9% were unsure. More than 55% of Americans said they disapproved of Trump’s handling of the protests, including 40% who “strongly” disapproved, while one-third said they approved - lower than his overall job approval of 39%. (Reuters)


Notables.

  1. Trump and the Republican National Committee will no longer hold their August convention in Charlotte, N.C. Trump accused Gov. Roy Cooper of forcing the RNC to “seek another State to host the 2020 Republican National Convention” after Cooper rejected the GOP’s request to hold a full-scale convention without proper health protocols in place. (Politico)

  2. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein defended his decision to appoint special counsel Robert Mueller after Trump fired FBI director James Comey. Rosenstein is testifying before the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee, which is investigating the origins of the Russia investigation amid allegations of misconduct by law enforcement. He defended and explained his decision to appoint Mueller in 2017, and blamed high-level FBI leadership for the “significant errors” that appeared in applications to surveil a former Trump campaign adviser — even though he signed off on one of them. (Axios / Politico / NBC News / ABC News)

  3. The Trump administration threatened to block flights by Chinese airlines from flying to and from the U.S. starting June 16. The Transportation Department said China hasn’t approved requests by U.S. airlines to resume flights after they were suspended amid the pandemic, accusing China of violating an agreement that governs air travel between the two countries. (Wall Street Journal)

  4. The White House released the results of Trump’s annual physical, which says the “president remains healthy.” Trump made an unannounced visit to Walter Reed in November to “begin portions of his routine annual physical exam” that included a “quick exam and labs.” Medical staff at Walter Reed did not get a staff-wide notice about a presidential visit. (ABC News / CNN)

  5. Trump tried to register to vote in Florida using his out-of-state address. Trump’s September 2019 registration application listed his legal residence as 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, the location of the White House. Florida law, however, requires voters to be legal residents of the state. A month later, Trump resubmitted his application to use a Florida address and in March he voted by mail in Florida’s Republican primary. (Washington Post)

Day 1230: "Everything to divide us."

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases: ~6,326,000; Total deaths: ~378,000; Total recoveries: ~2,728,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases: ~1,821,000; Total deaths: ~106,000; Total recoveries: ~458,000

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci has not spoken or met with Trump in two weeks. The last time the two interacted was on May 18, when Trump asked Fauci to provide medical context during a call with U.S. governors. As of Monday, more than 1.7 million Americans have contracted COVID-19 and at least 104,300 have died from it, according to Johns Hopkins University. (CNN)

  • The Trump administration’s coronavirus testing czar will be “demobilized” from his role at FEMA. Adm. Brett Giroir will stand down from his role in a few weeks. There are no plans to appoint a new “head of efforts” for coronavirus testing. (NPR)

  • Almost one-third of unemployment benefits owed to Americans who lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic haven’t been paid yet. The Treasury disbursed $146 billion in unemployment benefits in the three months through May – short of a total bill that should have reached about $214 billion for the period. (Bloomberg)


1/ Trump threatened to deploy “thousands and thousands of heavily armed soldiers” to end “riots and lawlessness” if states and cities failed to quell the demonstrations sparked by the killing of George Floyd. In a brief Rose Garden speech, Trump declared himself “your president of law and order” and said he would mobilize every available federal force, both “civilian and military,” to “quickly solve the problem” and end the nationwide protests. Trump denounced the violence as “domestic acts of terror” as he ordered governors and mayors to establish “an overwhelming law enforcement presence.” Trump, however, stopped short of invoking the Insurrection Act, which would allow him to deploy active duty U.S. troops to respond to protests in cities across the country. After Trump made the announcement, he left without taking questions from reporters. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / CNBC / CNN / Axios / NBC News / NPR / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post)

  • Pentagon officials are reportedly “concerned” about Trump’s threat to use the military to “dominate” protesters. Officials have tried to make the case that the situation does not call for deploying active duty troops unless state governors make a clear argument such forces are needed.(CNN)

  • Twitter suspended a white nationalist group claiming to belong to an “antifa” organization. The account, linked to the white nationalist group Identity Evropa, was pushing violent rhetoric related to ongoing protests. (NBC News)

  • Twitter added a warning label to a tweet by Rep. Matt Gaetz that called for members of the radical activist group antifa to be hunted down like “terrorists.” Twitter restricted the tweet for violating its policies against glorifying violence, following a similar action taken against Trump last week. (The Verge / Politico)

  • Mark Zuckerberg defended his decision to not do anything about Trump’s Facebook posts, saying that he had made a “tough decision” but that it “was pretty thorough.” Zuckerberg tried to justify his position in a question-and-answer session with employees, saying Facebook’s principles and policies around free speech “show that the right action where we are right now is to leave this up.” (New York Times)

2/ As he spoke from the Rose Garden, police cleared peaceful protesters outside the White House with tear gas and flash grenades so Trump could pose by a church for photographs to dispel the notion that he was “weak” for hiding in a bunker over the weekend. Following his remarks in the Rose Garden, Trump left the White House and walked through Lafayette Square, where riot police and military police had cleared protesters moments before. Once Trump reached the far side of the square, he raised a bible in front of the church for a photo. Trump’s decision to speak to the nation from the Rose Garden and to then visit the church came together because he was reportedly upset about the news coverage of him retreating to the White House bunker amid the protests. Just before Trump spoke, Attorney General William Barr personally ordered law enforcement officials to clear protesters from Lafayette Square. (New York Times / CNN / ABC News / Vox / Washington Post / YouTube / Religious News Service)

  • Trump’s Response to Protests Draws Bipartisan Rebuke in Congress. Speaker Nancy Pelosi called President Trump a “fanner of the flame” of division, as two Republican senators criticized the use of tear gas to clear the way for his photo opportunity. (New York Times)

  • ‘Outraged’: Trump faces condemnation for clearing protesters, threatening military force. Meanwhile, local and state leaders objected to the commander in chief’s push to deploy troops to their communities. (Politico)

  • [Speech] Biden denounces Trump’s actions against protesters and vows to heal racial wounds. (Washington Post)

  • [Obama] How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change. (Medium)

  • Gregg Popovich: “The System Has to Change.” The legendary San Antonio Spurs coach is past done with Donald Trump’s inability to rise to this moment. (The Nation)

3/ The Episcopal bishop of Washington is “outraged” at Trump for using St. John’s Church as a backdrop to threaten the use of the military against Americans. Right Rev. Mariann Budde said she had not been given any notice that Trump would be visiting the church or “even a courtesy call, that they would be clearing [the area] with tear gas so they could use one of our churches as a prop.” Budde added: “Everything [Trump] has said and done is to inflame violence. We need moral leadership, and he’s done everything to divide us.” (Washington Post)

4/ Trump demanded that New York call up the National Guard to stop the “lowlifes and losers” after businesses were vandalized and looted in New York City on Monday night. In an earlier tweet, Trump complained that Gov. Andrew Cuomo “refuses to accept my offer of a dominating National Guard” before claiming CNN anchor Chris Cuomo’s ratings were down. Trump added: “Act fast! Don’t make the same horrible and deadly mistake you made with the Nursing Homes!!!” (Associated Press / Yahoo News / The Hill)

5/ Trump has made 19,127 false or misleading claims in 1,226 days – 16 claims a day over the course of his presidency. (Washington Post)

poll/ 74% of Americans say the country is on the wrong track while 21% say the country is headed in the right direction. [Editor’s note: No shit.] (Monmouth University Polling)

Day 1229: Bunker boy.

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases ~6,230,000; Total deaths: ~374,000; Total recoveries: ~2,673,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,800,000; Total deaths: ~105,000; Total recoveries: ~445,000

  • [Promising news] The coronavirus is losing its potency and has become much less lethal, top Italian doctor says. (Reuters)

  • [Bad news] Florida’s seen a “statistically significant” uptick in the number of pneumonia and influenza deaths. The CDC said it’s likely COVID-19. (Daily Beast)

  • [Bad news] Public health and government officials warned that the ongoing protests against police brutality could lead to a new wave of coronavirus infections. The new cases could add to the already disproportionate burden the disease has had on African-American and Latino populations. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • [Interesting theory] Coronavirus May Be a Blood Vessel Disease, Which Explains Everything. 40% of deaths from COVID-19 are related to cardiovascular complications, and the disease starts to look like a vascular infection instead of a purely respiratory one. (Elemental)

  • 👑 Portrait of a president.

  • While Trump shelters in the White House, America cries out for leadership. Under siege in the White House, Trump is aggravating America’s latest racial anguish in a nation now simultaneously beset by violence-wracked cities, a deadly disease, and staggering economic deprivation. (CNN)

  • As Protests and Violence Spill Over, Trump Shrinks Back. Trump spent Sunday out of sight, berating opponents on Twitter, even as some of his campaign advisers were recommending that he deliver a televised address to the nation. (New York Times)


1/ After a weekend out of sight, Trump emerged from the White House bunker and called America’s governors “weak” and demanded that they “dominate” the protesters, which he labeled “terrorists.” Trump asked “Why aren’t you prosecuting them?” while demanding “retribution.” He warned governors that they’d look like “a bunch of jerks” if they didn’t send the protesters to “jail for long periods of time.” Otherwise, Trump added, “you’re wasting your time.” Trump, who has not formally addressed the nation since the protests began, continued: “you have to use the military […] we have a wonderful military,” adding that they would look like “fools” if they didn’t take control of the situation. Trump also accused Minnesota of becoming “a laughingstock all over the world.” (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CBS News)

  • Trump blamed the “Lamestream Media” for the protests, calling journalists “truly bad people with a sick agenda” after they were repeatedly targeted by police nationwide last weekend with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and excessive use of force. (New York Times)

2/ On Friday, Trump took shelter inside an underground bunker for nearly an hour as protests continued outside the White House and across Washington, D.C. Trump was abruptly taken by Secret Service agents inside the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, an underground bunker that is used to shelter presidents during threatening situations, like terrorist attacks. Trump and his family have reportedly been “shaken” by the experience and the size of the protests. (Associated Press / New York Times / CBS News)

3/ The White House turned off almost all the exterior lights Sunday night as more than 1,000 people gathered to protest outside of its gates. It is unclear why the Trump administration decided to do so, but the White House insisted that there was “nothing new” about the lights-out incident, saying “lights go out at about 11 p.m. almost every night.” In normal times, however, the lights are only ever turned off when a president dies. Trump, meanwhile, from safely inside the White House had nothing to say other than to tweet for mayors and governors to “get tough” and that “The World is watching and laughing at you and Sleepy Joe.” (Vox / The Guardian /New York Magazine / Newsweek / Washington Post / Slate)

4/ Trump tweeted that the U.S. would designate a group of anti-fascism activists as a terror organization, despite lacking the legal authority. Trump, his top officials, Attorney General William Barr, and national security adviser Robert O’Brien have all blamed antifa for the violent protests across the country. Antifa, however, is not an organization and does not have a leader, membership roles or any defined, centralized structure. Further, if antifa were a real organization, current law only permits the State Department to designate foreign organizations as terrorist groups. The U.S. does not have domestic terrorism statute. (Politico / New York Times / CNN)

  • Trump dismissed advice from numerous advisers both inside and outside the White House urging him to tone down his rhetoric and make a formal address to the nation. (Axios / NBC News)

poll/ 54% of Americans support Twitter’s decision to add a fact-checking label to Trump’s tweets. 26% thought Twitter was wrong, while 20% have no opinion of the move. (Axios)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Trump will postpone next month’s G-7 summit at the White House after German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined his invitation to attend, citing the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Trump responded by telling reporters on Air Force One that he feels the group is “very outdated” and doesn’t properly represent “what’s going on in the world. He said he plans to invite Russia, Australia, South Korea, and India. Russia was ejected from the group — previously the G8 — after its annexation of Crimea in 2014. (Politico / Associated Press / Politico)

  2. The Justice Department urged a federal Appeals Court to dismiss the prosecution of Michael Flynn. A lower-court judge has held up the dismissal, citing the Justice Department’s “unusual” reversal. (Politico)

  3. Transcripts show that Michael Flynn told Russia’s ambassador to Washington in late 2016 to take “reciprocal” actions in response to Obama administration sanctions for election interference, rather than escalating the situation into a “tit for tat.” (Politico)

  4. The top lawyer for the FBI was forced to resign by the Justice Department following criticism by Fox News for his role in the investigation of Michael Flynn. Dana Boente was asked to step down by senior officials at the DOJ. Boente was the one who signed off on a warrant in 2017 authorizing the FBI to conduct surveillance on Flynn. He also signed one of the reauthorizations to surveil Trump campaign associate Carter Page. Several of Trump’s supporters have recently gone on Fox News and other conservative media outlets to criticize Boente’s brief role in the Russia probe. Boente spent nearly 40 years at the FBI as its general counsel and a former acting attorney general. (The Guardian / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press)

Day 1228: American carnage.

  • Editor’s note. Hello. This is an unfortunate but necessary abridged weekend edition of WTF Just Happened Today?

1/ Police nationwide responded to protests against police violence by deliberately targeting demonstrators, journalists, and bystanders with pepper spray, tear gas, rubber bullets, and excessive use of force. The ongoing protests following the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer – who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes – have taken place in at least 75 cities, including at the gates of the White House, in the days since Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has since been fired, arrested, and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Since then, police have tear-gassed protesters, drove vehicles through crowds, opened fire with rounds of rubber bullets and pepper balls on journalists and bystanders, pushed over an elderly man with a cane who was walking away, shot a woman in the face with a rubber bullet as she left a grocery store, and shot a photojournalist in the eye with a rubber bullet, who is now permanently blind. Curfews have been enacted in more than two dozen cities, and about 5,000 National Guard troops have been activated in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Organizers have tried to keep the protests focused on police accountability and social justice through chanting and marching, but agitators, posing as peaceful protesters, have exploited the situation by looting stores, setting fire to buildings and police cars, and throwing firecrackers, bottles, bleach, and, reportedly, a molotov cocktail at police. Some advisers, meanwhile, have urged Trump to formally address the nation and call for calm, while others have said he should condemn only the looting or risk losing middle-of-the-road voters in November. The White House, however, declared a lid, which means no one should expect to see or hear from Trump for the rest of the day. (Slate / Nick Waters / Vox / Washington Post / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Week)

2/ Trump reacted to the protests and incidents of vandalism by threatening demonstrators with “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons.” He previously suggested that looters in Minneapolis would be shot, referred to protesters as “thugs,” and prepared the Pentagon to use military force against American citizens. In a series of Saturday tweets, Trump accused demonstrators who gathered at the White House of being “professionally managed so-called ‘protesters’” and suggested that his supporters should confront them, saying: “Tonight, I understand, is MAGA NIGHT AT THE WHITE HOUSE???” When asked if he was stoking racial divisions by calling for a counter-protest, Trump replied: “No, not at all. MAGA is make America great again. These are people that love our country. I have no idea if they’re going to be here. I was just asking. … By the way, they love African-American people. They love black people. MAGA loves the black people.” (NBC News / Politico / Bloomberg / New York Times / ABC News / CBS News / Washington Post)

3/ Meanwhile, more than 100,000 Americans have lost their lives, and another 40 million their livelihoods, amid the coronavirus pandemic.


👑 Portrait of a President.

  1. Trump confronts a culture war of his own making as election looms. The president and his top allies are trying to fit his election-year interests in black voters into a political career filled with encouragements of police power. (Politico)

  2. Trump Is Terrified of Protest. Violent demonstrations across the United States bring out a particular weakness in the 45th president. (The Atlantic)

  3. In Days of Discord, a President Fans the Flames. Trump has presented himself as someone who seeks conflict, not conciliation, a fighter, not a peacemaker. And he has lived up to his self-image at a perilous time. (New York Times)

  4. America is at low ebb, shaken by multiple blows, and Trump adds to the distress. Trump has spewed division with ill-chosen tweets about looting and “shooting” or “vicious dogs” and overpowering weapons. He has attacked Democratic leaders as their communities burn. He flails rather than leads, his instincts all wrong for what confronts the country. (Washington Post)

  5. Trump has sown hatred of the press for years. Now journalists are under assault from police and protesters alike. But the seeds of that long day were planted years ago: The press has been attacked and disparaged by politicians for decades, whenever they found it served their purposes to slap around the “nattering nabobs of negativism” as Richard Nixon’s vice president, Spiro Agnew, once put it. (Washington Post)

  6. Twitter Had Been Drawing a Line for Months When Trump Crossed It. Inside the company, one faction wanted Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s chief, to take a hard line against the president’s tweets while another urged him to remain hands-off. (New York Times)

  7. Inside Twitter’s Decision to Take Action on Trump’s Tweets. A weeks-old policy about virus misinformation laid the groundwork for the social platform’s steps this past week to push back on the president’s posts. (Wall Street Journal)


  • 👋 If you have a few bucks to spare, join me in supporting the following organizations.

  • Black Visions Collective — “A political home for black people across Minnesota.” This Minnesota nonprofit is dedicated to creating safe, autonomous black communities. Donate here.

  • Reclaim the Block — A coalition that demands that Minneapolis divest from policing and invest in long-term alternatives that promote healthier, safer, and more diverse communities. Donate Here

  • Minnesota Freedom Fund — This nonprofit “pays criminal bail and immigration bond for those who cannot afford to” as they “seek to end discriminatory, coercive, and oppressive jailing.” Donate here.

Day 1226: Fuck this shit.

  • 😷 Dept. of We Have It Totally Under Control.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases ~5,886,000; Total deaths: ~363,000; Total recoveries: ~2,469,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,741,000; Total deaths: ~103,000; Total recoveries: ~400,000

  • The CDC quietly removed warnings contained in guidance for the reopening of houses of worship that singing in choirs can spread the coronavirus. The agency also added new language about the First Amendment to its guidance on reopening houses of worship. (CNBC / Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration’s initial distribution of remdesivir went to – in some cases – the wrong hospitals, to hospitals with no ICUs and therefore no eligible patients, and to facilities without the refrigeration needed to store it. Remdesivir is the only approved coronavirus medication. (Washington Post)

  • Congress and the White House are discussing a $450 “return-to-work bonus.” Republican lawmakers have repeatedly claimed that increased unemployment benefits reward workers for staying home. Their idea is to make returning to work more attractive than remaining on unemployment. (Washington Post)


1/ Trump threatened military violence against U.S. citizens in Minneapolis who were protesting the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed, unarmed black man who was killed while pleading for air as a white police officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. Trump, who previously called the video of Floyd’s death “shocking,” tweeted that the protesters were “THUGS” and warned that “the Military is with [Gov. Tim Walz] all the way […] Any difficulty and we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts. Thank you!” Hours later, the White House reposted Trump’s comment on its official account. Last month, Trump tweeted support for protesters in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia to “LIBERATE” themselves and defy coronavirus stay-at-home orders. In 2017, when neo-Nazis marched in Charlottesville, Va., and a counter-protester was killed, Trump responded by saying there were “very fine people” on “both sides” of the issue. (New York Times / Politico / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN)

  • A former Minneapolis police officer involved in George Floyd’s death has been charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. The announcement comes days after the release of a video that shows Derek Chauvin’s knee pressed on Floyd’s neck for at least seven minutes. (NPR)

  • 📌 Day 1184: Trump tweeted support for protesters in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia to “LIBERATE” themselves by defying stay-at-home orders — all states where protesters have gathered in public this week to demonstrate against stay-at-home orders issued by Democratic governors. Less than 24 hours after unveiling a plan that deferred to governors to determine when they could safely reopen their states, Trump sent a series of tweets calling on people to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!; LIBERATE MINNESOTA!; LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Trump’s tweets were sent moments after a Fox News report about protests in Minnesota and elsewhere. (Bloomberg / Politico / USA Today / ABC News / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 208: Trump, again, blamed both sides for the Charlottesville violence, asking why the “alt-left” is not being blamed because, he says, they were “very, very violent” when they confronted white nationalist and Nazi groups. He asked if George Washington statues were going to come down next. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico / Bloomberg)

2/ Twitter placed a warning on Trump’s tweet that suggested protesters in Minneapolis could be shot by the military, saying it violated the company’s rules against “glorifying violence.” Twitter also flagged the tweet posted by the official White House Twitter account. Trump later tried to clean up and defend his remarks, tweeting: “Looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night […] I don’t want this to happen, and that’s what the expression put out last night means […] It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media. Honor the memory of George Floyd!” The company left the tweet up, saying “it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” Earlier this week Twitter added a fact-check label to two Trump tweets that made unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting. Trump responded with an executive order aimed at limiting some legal protections for social media companies from liability for the content posted on their platforms. (New York Times / Axios / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

3/ Trump denied knowing the origin of the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” saying he’s heard the phrase “for a long time” and that he doesn’t know where it came from or where it originated. The phrase was used by Miami’s police chief, Walter Headley, in 1967, when he addressed his department’s “crackdown on … slum hoodlums,” saying: “There is only one way to handle looters and arsonists during a riot and that is to shoot them on sight. I’ve let the word filter down: When the looting starts the shooting starts.” When a reporter noted it was said by Headley, Trump said he “has also heard from many other places,” adding that he believed the phrase meant that “when there’s looting, people get shot and they die.” The phrase was also used by presidential candidate and segregationist George Wallace in 1968. (CNN / New York Times / NBC News)

4/ A CNN reporter was arrested, handcuffed, and led away by police in Minneapolis while reporting live on-air. CNN reporter Omar Jimenez, an African-American man, was reporting on the protests that followed the death of George Floyd. He was arrested for allegedly not moving after being told by police, though the live footage shows Jimenez talking with police and offering to “move back to where you like.” Jimenez was released about an hour later. (CNN / Bloomberg / Axios / Politico)

5/ Trump announced that he is “terminating” U.S. membership with the World Health Organization as the global coronavirus pandemic continues. Trump accused the WHO of becoming a puppet organization of China, claiming Beijing “has total control […] despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year.” The move was criticized by public health experts, who said it doesn’t make sense to cut off funding for the group amid the ongoing pandemic. Last month, Trump temporarily froze U.S funding and threatened to permanently cut off funding to the WHO pending a review of its initial response to the coronavirus outbreak. In what was billed by the White House as a news conference, Trump took no questions. Instead, Trump walked away as reporters shouted questions about Floyd, Minnesota, and the coronavirus pandemic. (Politico / CNBC / CNN / NBC News / CBS News / Wall Street Journal / Reuters / The Guardian / Vox)

  • 📌 Day 1216: Trump threatened to permanently cut off funding to the World Health Organization and revoke U.S. membership. Trump sent a letter to the WHO director-general complaining about the “repeated missteps by you and your organization,” and claiming that the WHO “ignored credible reports of the virus” and “repeatedly made claims about the coronavirus that were either grossly inaccurate or misleading.” Trump threatened that the U.S. would permanently end all U.S. financial contributions to the WHO if the organization didn’t “commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days.” Trump suspended U.S. funding to the WHO last month. Trump, however, offered no other details about the reforms he was seeking or what specific changes would unlock U.S. funding. Trump tweeted that his letter is “self-explanatory.” Leaders in Europe and Asia, meanwhile, stressed the importance of the WHO’s work, calling on the U.S. to “stop the blame game” because – during the global pandemic – this is “not the time for finger pointing.” (CNN / NBC News / Politico / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CBS News / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 1182: Trump cutoff U.S. funding to the World Health Organization in response to the agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “We have not been treated properly,” Trump said, deflecting blame for his dismissal of the virus as a threat to Americans and the U.S. economy. The hold will remain for up to 90 days while the Trump administration conducts a funding review. Trump said the U.S. had “a duty to insist on full accountability,” accusing the WHO of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the crisis. Trump also said that “if we cannot trust them,” then the U.S. will be “forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals.” The U.S. is the largest donor to the WHO, and contributes between $400 million and $500 million a year to the organization, which has an annual budget of around $6 billion. (Washington Post / Politico /USA Today / Wall Street Journal / Axios / CNN / NBC News / BBC News)


✏️ Notables.

  1. Roger Stone was ordered to report to prison by June 30. Stone, who is designated to be inmate #19579-104 after a federal judge sentenced him to 40 months in prison for lying to Congress and witness intimidation, will quarantine at a still-unspecified prison for 14 days upon his surrender. (CNN / Politico / Axios)

  2. Trump will eliminate Hong Kong’s favored trade status with the United States as punishment for China placing new national security powers on the independent territory. “They’ve ripped off the United States like no one has ever done before,” Trump said of China, alleging that Beijing had “raided our factories” and “gutted” American industry. By revoking Hong Kong’s preferential treatment, Hong Kong would be subject to the same duties that Trump imposed on more than $350 billion worth of Chinese goods. Those goods – about $4.7 billion worth – are currently exported from Hong Kong without additional duties. (CNBC / CNN / ABC News / New York Times / Politico / Axios / Associated Press)

  3. Republicans gave North Carolina until June 3 to approve their plan to host the Republican National Convention in Charlotte despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. In a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper, the RNC laid out a series of precautions and safety measures it would put in place during the convention. “We still do not have solid guidelines from the State and cannot in good faith, ask thousands of visitors to begin paying deposits and making travel plans without knowing the full commitment of the Governor, elected officials and other stakeholders in supporting the Convention,” the letter reads. The letter does not indicate whether attendees would be required to wear masks or get tested before entering the arena. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  4. A senior Trump administration official misused his office to help get his son-in-law a job at the EPA, investigators said in an Interior Department inspector general report. Assistant Interior Secretary Douglas Domenech reached out to a senior EPA official in person and later by email in 2017 to advocate for the son-in-law when he was seeking a job at the agency. (Associated Press)

  5. The EPA will not formally object to the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska, where mining could damage the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. The Army Corps of Engineers will decide this summer whether to grant a federal permit to the Pebble Partnership to move forward with the project. (Washington Post)

Day 1225: "Big action."

1/ 2.1 million more Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. Nearly 41 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since the coronavirus pandemic started in mid-March — the equivalent of one out of every four American workers. The pandemic has resulted in a national unemployment rate exceeding 14% – the highest rate since the Great Depression. This is the eighth week in a row, however, that new jobless claims have continued to fall from their peak of around 6.9 million. (New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post)

2/ The Trump administration will not release updated economic projections this summer, which are expected to show the country in a severe economic downturn as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. White House officials are supposed to release a federal budget proposal every February, and they usually follow that up with a “mid-session review” in either July or August that includes updated projections on economic trends such as unemployment, inflation, and economic growth. No other administration has failed to provide economic forecasts in its mid-session review since at least the 1970s. “It gets them off the hook for having to say what the economic outlook looks like,” said a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. (Washington Post)

  • The U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 5% in the first quarter – the biggest quarterly decline in more than a decade. (Politico)

  • Around 110 publicly traded companies each received $4 million or more in emergency aid from the Paycheck Protection Program. Of those subject to taxes, 12 of the companies used offshore accounts to cut their tax bills. These 12 companies also received more than $104 million in loans from U.S. taxpayers, and seven of them paid no U.S. tax at all for the past year. (Reuters)

3/ Trump signed an executive order seeking to limit the legal protections that shield social media companies from liability for the content users post on their platforms. The order seeks to make it easier for federal regulators to argue that companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube, and Twitter are suppressing free speech when they suspend users or delete posts, among other examples. “Big Tech is doing everything in their very considerable power to CENSOR in advance of the 2020 Election,” Trump tweeted late Wednesday after Twitter applied a fact-checking notice to his tweets about voter fraud. Trump, an attempt to portray the order as an attempt to stamp out political bias on social media platforms, announced on Twitter that “This will be a Big Day for social media and FAIRNESS!” The order directs the Commerce Department to petition the Federal Communications Commission to set up a rule-making proceeding to clarify the scope of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. The executive order is expected to draw immediate court challenges. (Washington Post / Axios / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Bloomberg / CNN / The Verge / CNBC / ABC News / Politico /Yahoo News)

  • Twitter continued fact-checking posts even as Trump threatened to limit protections for social media companies. Twitter added fact-checking labels to messages from a spokesman for China’s foreign ministry, who had claimed that the coronavirus outbreak may have begun in the United States and been brought to China by the U.S. military. Twitter also added notices on hundreds of tweets alerting viewers that an image was “manipulated media.” (New York Times)

  • [ANALYSIS] Trump’s “big action” against social media companies rests on limited legal powers. His administration cannot rewrite the law that protects tech companies from many lawsuits. But a noisy fight with Silicon Valley could rally his base. (Politico)

  • [EARLIER] A draft of Trump’s executive order targeting social media companies was leaked to the press. The draft specifically targets Facebook, Twitter, and Google, as well as a section of U.S. law that says tech platforms can’t be held legally responsible for what their users post and gives them broad powers to police content on their sites. The draft order asks the FCC to reexamine whether altering or removing user content causes the platforms to forgo those protections afforded to them under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Trump is expected to formally sign the order today after Twitter recently labeled two of his tweets about mail-in voting as “potentially misleading.” (New York Times / CNN / Business Insider / The Independent / Washington Post / Reuters)

4/ Trump singled out a Twitter employee in a tweet complaining that Twitter’s decision to fact check his tweets about mail balloting could “taint” the U.S. election. Trump, in a tweet, shared the Twitter handle of the company’s “Head of Site Integrity,” Yoel Roth, who co-wrote a May 11 blog post explaining how the platform would handled misleading information moving forward. “So ridiculous to see Twitter trying to make the case that Mail-In Ballots are not subject to FRAUD,” Trump tweeted. “How stupid, there are examples, & cases, all over the place. Our election process will become badly tainted & a laughingstock all over the World.” Trump then directed his 80 million Twitter followers to “tell that to your hater.” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey responded, tweeting “there is someone ultimately accountable for our actions as a company, and that’s me. Please leave our employees out of this.” (Bloomberg / CNBC)


Notables.

  1. The Trump administration will extend the federal deployment of more than 40,000 National Guard troops aiding coronavirus relief efforts, reversing plans to terminate the deployment one day before thousands of Guard members would have qualified for key retirement and education benefits. (Politico)

  2. Trump’s signed coronavirus post card cost the U.S. Postal Service $28 million. The cards cost $4.6 million to print and $28 million overall. (USA Today)

  3. Pence’s chief of staff owns between $506,043 and $1.64 million worth of individual stocks in companies related to the Trump administration’s pandemic response. Marc Short declared at least some of his stock holdings as potential conflicts of interest after he joined Pence’s office last year. He did not, however, divest those holdings. (NPR)

  4. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham urged senior federal judges to step aside so that Republicans can fill the vacancies now. “This is an historic opportunity,” Graham said. “We’ve put over 200 federal judges on the bench. . . . If you can get four more years, I mean, it would change the judiciary for several generations. So if you’re a circuit judge in your mid-60s, late 60s, you can take senior status, now would be a good time to do that, if you want to make sure the judiciary is right of center.” (Washington Post)

  5. The National Security Agency warned that a Russian hacking operation is engaged in an ongoing campaign. The NSA said the hacking activity was tied directly to the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency. The security alert describes how the GRU is targeting a vulnerability in unpatched Unix-based operating systems. It does not specify who it has seen targeted. (Reuters / NBC News)

Day 1224: 100,000 dead.

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~5,648,000; Total deaths: ~353,000; Total recoveries: ~2,325,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,695,000; Total deaths: ~100,000; Total recoveries: ~385,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. have passed 100,000. The toll exceeds the number of U.S. military combat fatalities in every conflict since the Korean War. The U.S. has recorded more COVID-19 deaths than any other country in the pandemic, and almost three times as many as the second-ranking country, Britain, which has recorded more than 37,000 deaths. Trump, meanwhile, has encouraged state governors to reopen businesses in order to boost the economy. (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / The Guardian / NPR / Politico / CNBC)

  • Antibody tests used to identify people who have been infected with the coronavirus might be wrong up to half the time. New CDC guidance says the results from antibody test are not accurate enough to be used to make important policy decisions, including “decisions about grouping persons residing in or being admitted to congregate settings, such as schools, dormitories, or correctional facilities.” The guidance also says the results should not be used to make “decisions about returning persons to the workplace.” (CNN)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci: Hydroxychloroquine is not an effective treatment for the coronavirus. “The scientific data is really quite evident now about the lack of efficacy,” Fauci said. (Politico)

  • 💻 Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / CNBC / NBC News


1/ Twitter added a fact-check label to two of Trump’s tweets, marking them as “potentially misleading.” Trump falsely claimed that mail-in voting leads to widespread voter fraud. In response, Twitter – for the first time – added a banner notification underneath each tweet that reads, “Get the facts about mail-in ballots,” and brings the user to news articles about mail-in voting and Trump’s claims when clicked. Trump’s tweets, according to a spokesperson for Twitter, “contain potentially misleading information about voting processes and have been labeled to provide additional context around mail-in ballots.” There is no evidence that mail-in ballots result in higher rates of voter fraud. (Washington Post / The Verge / NPR)

  • [OPINION] Twitter must cleanse the Trump stain. Trump is spreading a vile conspiracy theory on the platform. Maybe Twitter should finally hold him to its rules. (New York Times)

  • [OPINION] Trump’s slanderous attack on Joe Scarborough is incompatible with leadership. Whatever his issues with Scarborough, President Trump’s crazed Twitter rant on this subject was vile and unworthy of his office. (Washington Examiner)

  • [OPINION] The hidden risk in Donald Trump’s tweets. Again Tuesday, the president of the United States decided to suggest that a TV morning-show host committed murder. (New York Post)

  • [OPINION] A presidential smear. Trump imitates the Steele dossier in attacks on Joe Scarborough. (Wall Street Journal)

2/ Trump threatened to “close” Twitter and other social media platforms after Twitter labeled two of his tweets about unsubstantiated claims about widespread mail-in voting fraud as “potentially misleading.” Trump tweeted that social media platforms “totally silence conservatives voices” and that he would “strongly regulate, or close them down, before we can ever allow this to happen.” Hours later, Trump continued, singling out Twitter, and claiming that everything “we have being saying about them (and their other compatriots) is correct” and that there will be “Big action to follow.” Trump can’t unilaterally regulate or close public companies, and any effort would likely require action by Congress. (Axios / ABC News / NPR / Associated Press / Business Insider / Politico)

  • Trump has considered establishing a panel that would look into complaints of bias against conservatives on social media and other online platforms. While plans are still under discussion, they may include establishing a “White House-created commission” that would work in conjunction with the Federal Elections Commission and Federal Communications Commission to examine bias and censorship online. (Wall Street Journal / The Verge)

3/ A conservative organization working to restrict voting in the 2020 election is part of a dark money network that has been helping Trump remake the U.S. federal court system. The Honest Elections Project announced in April that it planned to spend $250,000 on ads warning of the dangers of mail-in voting, accusing Democrats of cheating, and using misleading data to accuse states of having bloated voter rolls while threatening them with lawsuits. HEP has also filed briefs in favor of voting restrictions in several states and is often represented by the same law firm that represents Trump. Despite presenting itself as a distinct entity, HEP is a legal alias for the Judicial Election Project, a conservative group that has played an instrumental role in Trump’s unprecedented effort to reshape the federal judiciary by appointing scores of conservative judges. (The Guardian)

4/ Trump’s press secretary has voted by mail in every Florida election she has participated in since 2010 but insists that mail-in voting is rife with fraud. Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting fraud, saying: “Absentee voting has the word absent in it for a reason. It means you’re absent from the jurisdiction or unable to vote in person. President Trump is against the Democrat plan to politicize the coronavirus and expand mass mail-in voting without a reason, which has a high propensity for voter fraud. This is a simple distinction.” Florida, however, does not have absentee voting. Anyone can vote by mail without a reason. (Tampa Bay Times)

5/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Congress that the Trump administration no longer regards Hong Kong as autonomous from mainland China after the Chinese Communist Party unveiled a new security law that will criminalize sedition, foreign influence, and secession in Hong Kong. Pompeo’s pronouncement could trigger sanctions or other punitive measures against Beijing. Revoking Hong Kong’s preferential trade status would also hasten its economic and financial decline. The 1992 Hong Kong Policy Act allowed the U.S. to treat Hong Kong as a separate entity from mainland China and required the State Department to assess its autonomy from China. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News / Axios)


✏️ Notables.

  1. White House counsel Pat Cipollone “failed to address” why Trump removed inspectors general for the intelligence community and the State Department. Instead of providing an explanation for the dismissals, Cipollone’s letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley emphasized Trump’s “constitutional right and duty” to remove inspectors general when he “loses confidence” in them. Grassley, responded, saying that there “ought to be a good reason” for the dismissals of State Department IG Steve Linick and Intelligence Community IG Michael Atkinson. “I don’t dispute the president’s authority under the Constitution,” Grassley said in his response, “but without sufficient explanation, it’s fair to question the president’s rationale for removing an inspector general. If the president has a good reason to remove an inspector general, just tell Congress what it is.” (CNN / Washington Post)

  2. The Trump administration is preparing a new sale of precision-guided weapons to Saudi Arabia, similar to the package that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo approved in 2019, which Congress voted to condemn. The proposed sale comes less than two weeks after Trump fired State Department inspector general Steve Linick, who was investigating Pompeo’s decision to invoke emergency authorization to circumvent legislators. (Daily Beast)

  3. The Trump administration is ending sanctions waivers that allow Russian, Chinese, and European companies to work at Iranian nuclear sites. Nonproliferation experts say the waivers reduce Tehran’s incentive to enrich uranium and provide a view into the country’s atomic program. (Washington Post)

  4. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein will testify next week as part of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s probe into the origins of the FBI’s Russia investigation. Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller in May 2017 as special counsel to investigate potential ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself due to his role as an adviser to the Trump campaign. Rosenstein also signed off on renewing the final application to monitor Carter Page. (Axios / Politico / Associated Press / The Hill)

Day 1223: "Shutdown mood."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~5,551,000; Total deaths: ~349,000; Total recoveries: ~2,270,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,673,000; Total deaths: ~98,700; Total recoveries: ~380,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • Pandemic lockdowns loosen as U.S. deaths near 100,000. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The U.S. economy is showing signs of recovering from the shock of the coronavirus, yet Americans are still losing jobs by the millions and other figures — consumer confidence, retail sales, steel output, oil drilling — keep sinking in what is a clear sign that the recovery will be arduous and fitful. (Bloomberg)

  • World Health Organization warns of “immediate second peak” if they let up too soon on measures to halt the outbreak in areas where COVID-19 declining. (NBC News)

  • Trump questioned the official coronavirus death toll, suggesting the numbers are inflated. (New York Times)

  • At least half of states are not going to meet White House’s deadline to test every nursing home resident and staff member for the coronavirus within 14-days. Some states said the logistics, costs, and manpower needs are too great, while others say they need another week or so. (Associated Press)

  • 💻 Live blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / CNN / NBC News / CNBC


1/ Trump spent Memorial Day weekend mocking female politicians, tweeting about conspiracy theories, and golfing as the U.S. death toll from coronavirus neared 100,000. In a series of tweets and retweets, Trump called Stacey Abrams “Shamu,” mocked Nancy Pelosi’s appearance, and called Hillary Clinton a “skank.” Trump also revived a long-debunked conspiracy theory that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough killed his intern when he was a member of Congress, and claimed, without evidence, that mail-in voting consistently results in ballot stuffing and voter fraud. Trump spent both Saturday and Sunday golfing at his private club in Virginia. He made no mention of the sacrifice Americans honor on Memorial Day or the lives lost from the virus. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / The Guardian / CNN / Mother Jones / NBC News / New York Daily News / New York Times)

  • 😳 An incalculable loss. America is fast approaching a grim milestone in the coronavirus outbreak — each figure here represents one of the nearly 100,000 lives lost so far. But a count reveals only so much. Memories, gathered from obituaries across the country, help us to reckon with what was lost. (New York Times)

  • 😔 Little sense of shared grief as coronavirus deaths near 100,000. While Americans have shared undeniable hardships since March — including more than 38 million people forced to file for unemployment, and tens of millions more forced to hunker down at home to avoid the contagion — the carnage is hitting them unevenly. (Los Angeles Times)

  • Twitter refused to delete Trump’s baseless conspiracy theory tweets that Joe Scarborough was allegedly involved in the death of his intern in 2001. In a letter to Jack Dorsey, the widower of Lori Klausutis said Trump had violated Twitter’s terms of service by falsely suggesting that Scarborough murdered his wife. Klausutis died as a result of a heart condition that caused her to collapse at work and hit her head on her desk. Twitter said Trump’s tweets did not violate the company’s terms of service, even though its policies say users “may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so.” (Axios / The Guardian / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post)

2/ The WHO temporarily suspended testing of hydroxychloroquine as a coronavirus treatment in order to review safety concerns about the drug. The suspension comes in response to a global study of 96,000 hospitalized patients across six continents that found patients who took the drug were more likely to die or develop heart irregularities than those who did nothing to treat the virus. Trump, meanwhile, announced that he “just finished” taking a two-week course of hydroxychloroquine. “And by the way, I’m still here.” Trump has repeatedly promoted hydroxychloroquine as a “game changer” and recently claimed he has been taking the drug for weeks as a preventative measure against the virus. (Axios)

3/ Trump suspended all travel to the U.S. from Brazil by non-U.S. citizens. Starting Thursday, all non-U.S. citizens who have been in Brazil in the past 14 days will be denied entry. Brazil has the second largest number of reported coronavirus cases behind the U.S. and has become a hot spot for the virus in the southern hemisphere. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has dismissed the virus as a “little flu” and has pushed to reopen the economy. (Axios)

4/ The Pentagon’s acting inspector general submitted his resignation, more than a month after Trump effectively removed him as chairman of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, which was tasked with overseeing $2 trillion in emergency coronavirus funding. Glenn Fine’s resignation takes effect June 1st. (CNN / New York Times /Washington Post / New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1174: Trump removed the Pentagon’s acting inspector general, who was tapped to lead the group responsible for preventing “waste, fraud, and abuse” of the $2 trillion coronavirus emergency stimulus package passed last month. A panel of inspectors general had named Glenn Fine to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. Trump, instead, replaced Fine with EPA’s watchdog, Sean O’Donnell, as the temporary Pentagon watchdog. Because Fine is no longer acting inspector general, he is ineligible to hold the spending watchdog role, since the new law permits only current inspectors general to fill the position. (Politico / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg)

5/ Trump threatened to move the Republican National Convention out of Charlotte if North Carolina’s Democratic governor doesn’t allow the event to go forward at full capacity. The convention is expected to draw roughly 50,000 people, and the state’s health and human services secretary has said that the GOP should “plan for the worst” because large gatherings will be a “very big challenge” if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase. Trump, complaining that North Carolina was still in “Shutdown mood,” tweeted that the “many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans” who are planning to head to North Carolina in August “must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied.” If not, Trump added, “we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site.” Florida Republicans, meanwhile, said they would “welcome the opportunity to host the Republican National Convention” if Trump decides to pull the event out of Charlotte. (Axios / Tampa Bay Times / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

6/ Trump’s reelection campaign promoted a top political adviser to deputy campaign manager. Bill Stepien, who previously served as the White House political director and had been advising the reelection effort, will serve under Brad Parscale, who has been campaign manager since 2018. Trump recently “erupted” at Parscale after seeing polling data that showed him trailing Joe Biden in several swing states in the presidential race. (Politico / New York Times)

  • Trump opts for a 2016 disruption strategy that Democrats say is ill-suited for a pandemic. Trump’s moves in recent days make clear that the president has decided to revive the disruptive themes of his 2016 bid, aimed at branding his opponent as a corrupt member of the Washington establishment and himself as an insurgent problem-solver. (Washington Post)

7/ The Justice Department will not pursue insider trading charges against three senators, but will continue to investigate stock sales before the coronavirus market turmoil by Sen. Richard Burr. Prosecutors will close their investigations into Kelly Loeffler, James Inhofe, and Dianne Feinstein. Burr’s mid-February stock sales, however, have drawn scrutiny from the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission. FBI agents recently seized his cellphone. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

Day 1219: "Petulant child."


1/ Trump demanded that governors reopen houses of worship “right now” and threatened to “override” them if restrictions aren’t lifted “by this weekend.” Trump, however, does not have the authority to override state orders to close churches or limit the size of services. Hours later, the CDC released “interim guidance” for reopening places of worship after Trump deemed all places of worship “essential.” (Bloomberg / Associated Press / Axios / CNBC / NBC News / CNN / Politico / Wall Street Journal)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that extended lockdowns could cause “irreparable damage” and have “unintended [health] consequences.” Dr. Fauci said he supported states taking cautious steps to restore normality and lift stay-at-home orders, adding that “Now is the time […] to begin seriously looking at reopening the economy, reopening the country to try and get back to some degree of normal.” Dr. Fauci, however, cautioned states against reducing social distancing measures too quickly, adding they must take “very significant precautions.” (CNBC / Business Insider)

3/ The CDC estimates that roughly a third of coronavirus infections are asymptomatic and around 40% of coronavirus transmission occurs before people feel sick. CDC officials cautioned that those numbers are subject to change as they continue to learn more about the virus, and that the current numbers are only meant for planning and preparation purposes. The CDC also said its “best estimate” is that 0.4% of people who show symptoms and have the virus will die. (CNN)

4/ A study of 96,000 hospitalized coronavirus patients across six continents found those who received hydroxychloroquine had a significantly higher death rate than those who did not receive the drug. Trump has repeatedly promoted the drug as a “game changer,” and recently claimed that he has been taking the drug the last few weeks. The study also found that patients who were given hydroxychloroquine were more likely to develop a type of irregular heart rhythm, or arrhythmia, which can lead to sudden cardiac death. The study represents the largest analysis of the risks and benefits of treating coronavirus patients with antimalarial drugs to date. “It’s one thing not to have benefit, but this shows distinct harm,” said a cardiologist at the Scripps Research Translational Institute. The director of preventative cardiology at Stanford said the study’s findings offer “absolutely no reason for optimism that these drugs might be useful” in treating COVID-19. (Washington Post / The Lancet / Politico)

5/ Trump accused the Michigan Attorney General of “taking out her anger and stupidity” after she called him a “petulant child who refuses to follow the rules.” Michigan’s attorney general had implored Trump to wear a face mask on his visit to a Ford plant, citing a “legal responsibility” under state law, as well as a “social and moral responsibility.” Trump refused, saying “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” (The Hill)

6/ Trump hasn’t completed his annual 2020 physical after claiming six months ago that he had started the process. The White House declined to explain why. In November, Trump made an unscheduled visit Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The White House claimed it was to “begin portions of his routine annual physical exam” that included a “quick exam and labs.” (NBC News)

poll/ 27% of Americans think their state is moving too quickly to reopen, while 21% say their state is moving too slowly, and 51% say their state is moving “about right.” (Kaiser Family Foundation)

poll/ 39% of Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, while 60% disapprove. (ABC News)

poll/ 44% of Americans approve of the job Trump is doing as president, while 54% disapprove. Last month, Trump’s approval rating was at 49%. (Fox News)

poll/ 56% of voters say Trump does not care about average Americans, while 42% say he cares. (Quinnipiac)

Day 1218: "Social and moral responsibility."


1/ Another 2.4 million workers filed new unemployment claims last week. Since efforts to the contain coronavirus pandemic nine weeks ago, more than 38.6 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits, leading to levels of unemployment not seen since the Great Depression. An analysis of the coronavirus pandemic’s effects on the labor market estimates that 42% of recent layoffs will result in permanent job loss. (Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal /Bloomberg)

  • The White House’s top economic official expressed uncertainty that America’s economy would quickly rebound from the downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic despite Trump’s confidence. Larry Kudlow said there are some “small glimmers of hope,” but “The numbers coming in are not good. In fact, they are downright bad in most cases.” (Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1162: A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week – the largest number of unemployment claims ever recorded for a single week since the government began collecting data in 1967. The number shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 claims in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982. As a result, the U.S. unemployment rate has likely already risen to 5.5% from 3.5% in February – a level not seen since 2015. A similarly large number of initial unemployment claims is expected next week when the Labor Department releases its report on claims filed this week. In the prior Labor Department report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000. (NPR / CNBC / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 1169: More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week – double the 3.3 million who applied the previous week. About 6% of the U.S. work force filed for jobless benefits in the last two weeks. In March, more than 10 million Americans lost their jobs, erasing nearly all the jobs created in the past five years. Economists say the real number of people out work is probably higher and that as many as 20 million people could be out of work this summer. The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, updated its economic projections and expects U.S. unemployment to exceed 10% in the second quarter – eclipsing the peak of the last recession – and gross domestic product to fall by more than 7%, or an annualized 28%. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / CNN / CBS News / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 1176: Another 6.6 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week — marking the largest and fastest string of job losses since 1948. More than 17 million new claims have been filed over the last three weeks – or about 10% of the U.S. workforce. Economists estimate that the U.S. unemployment rate is now 13% – the worst level of joblessness the nation has seen since the Great Depression. In February, the unemployment rate was 3.5%. The number of jobs lost in the last three weeks now exceeds the 15 million that it took 18 months during the Great Recession, from 2007 to 2009. (CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN / Vox / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 1183: More than 5.2 million Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week. In the past four weeks, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid — wiping out nearly all the job gains since the Great Recession. The U.S. unemployment rate is now over 20% and is expected remain close to 10% through the end of the year. (NPR / Washington Post / CNBC / Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 1190: More than 26 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the last five weeks – wiping out all of the job gains since the Great Recession. More than 4.4 million people filed for unemployment last week – down from more than 5.2 million the week before – which marks the fifth straight week that job losses were measured in the millions. Roughly 22 million jobs were created after the 2008 financial crisis. Economists predict that by summer the unemployment rate will be within range of the 25% peak recorded in 1933 during the Great Depression and that the U.S. GDP will shrink by around 6% this year. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / CNBC / Reuters / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 1197: Another 3.8 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. The number of first-time claims over the past six weeks total 30.3 million people – roughly 18.6% of the entire U.S. labor force – the highest since the Great Depression and far above the 10% peak reached in 2009. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, however, are still waiting to receive unemployment benefits, which means the official unemployment tally is almost certainly an undercount. (CNN / CNBC / Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 1204: An additional 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, down slightly from 3.8 million the previous week. More than 33.5 million have filed for unemployment over the last seven weeks and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the week ending April 25 was 15.5%. Continuing claims – the number of people receiving ongoing benefits – is now at more than 22 million, surpassing the recessionary peak of 6.6 million. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / ABC News / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 1211: Another 2.98 million people filed unemployment claims last week, bringing the two-month total to 36.5 million. While the weekly count of new claims has been declining since late March, it was the eighth-straight week of numbers in the millions. Continuing claims is now at around 22.8 million. A survey by the Federal Reserve found that in households making less than $40,000 a year, nearly 40% of those who were working in February lost their jobs in March or the beginning of April. The jobless rate has more than tripled to 14.7% from 4.4% a month earlier. Trump, meanwhile, said he doesn’t see the U.S. unemployment rate dropping below 10% until September. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / The Guardian / Bloomberg / CNBC)

2/ Mitch McConnell promised House Republicans that enhanced unemployment benefits enacted earlier this spring “will not be in the next bill.” The $600 per week federal unemployment benefit, which adds to the sum individuals normally get from states, will expire at the end of July. House Democrats passed a $3 trillion rescue package last week that would extend the financial backstop through January, but McConnell has questioned the need for more federal spending and has said he is comfortable waiting to see how effective the nearly $3 trillion in previously approved coronavirus spending is before moving forward on the next relief legislation. (Politico / CNBC)

3/ The United States could have prevented about 36,000 deaths if social distancing had been put in place seven days earlier — about 40% of fatalities reported to date. If the U.S. imposed social distancing two weeks earlier, about 83% of the nation’s deaths would have been avoided, according to from Columbia University disease modelers. (New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ Trump warned Americans that “we are not closing our country” again if the U.S. is hit by a second wave of coronavirus infections. “People say that’s a very distinct possibility, it’s standard,” Trump said. “We are going to put out the fires. We’re not going to close the country. We can put out the fires. Whether it is an ember or a flame, we are going to put it out. But we are not closing our country.” (CNBC)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci hasn’t given a national television interview or spoken at a coronavirus task force briefing in about two weeks. Fauci’s last nationally televised interview was on May 4. Fauci has been on “modified quarantine” after possibly being exposed to the virus, but he still managed to testify remotely before the Senate last week. He also appeared at Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” briefing on Friday, but he was conspicuously silent the entire time. (CNN Business)

5/ Trump refused to wear a mask while touring the Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan despite recommendations from federal health officials and an executive order from the state’s governor. Michigan’s attorney general implored Trump to wear a face mask on his tour, citing a “legal responsibility” under state law, as well as a “social and moral responsibility.” Trump claimed “I had one [a mask] on before,” in an area that was not visible to reporters and that it was “not necessary,” but added: “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.” (CNBC / Washington Post / CNN)

6/ The Trump administration will withdraw from another international major arms control treaty. The Open Skies treaty allows 35 nations, including Russia, to conduct unarmed reconnaissance flights over each other’s territory in order to assure that nations are not preparing for military action. The Trump administration argued that Russia has been violating the agreement by blocking the U.S. from flying surveillance missions. (CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN)

7/ Michael Cohen was released from prison to serve the remainder of his three-year sentence under home confinement due to the coronavirus in U.S. federal and state prisons. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress, tax fraud, making false statements to a bank, and two campaign finance charges for facilitating hush money payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal – two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump. (CNN / The Guardian)

8/ The Senate confirmed Rep. John Ratcliffe as the next director of national intelligence in a 49-to-44 vote along party lines. Ratcliffe received more votes against his confirmation than any DNI in the 15-year history of the office. (Washington Post / Politico)

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee advance Trump’s choice to head the Voice of America and other U.S. government-funded international broadcasters. Michael Pack’s whose nonprofit organization is being investigated for possible tax violations. (Associated Press / Washington Post)

9/ The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee voted to authorize a subpoena targeting Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. The committee authorized Sen. Ron Johnson to subpoena Blue Star Strategies, a public relations firm that did consulting work for Burisma, the Ukrainian energy company where Hunter Biden served on the board. Johnson’s probe claims Blue Star tried to leverage Hunter Biden’s position on the board to influence U.S. State Department matters under the Obama administration. The subpoena is seeking documents from Blue Star Strategies and an interview with CEO Karen Tramontano. Trump has openly encouraged the Senate’s investigation. (Politico)

poll/ 51% of Americans who rely on the White House for coronavirus news believe the pandemic is overblown, 40% say the outbreak has been approached about right, and 8% say the task force has made it a smaller deal than it really is. Meanwhile, Americans who rely mainly on national news outlets, local news outlets, local and state officials, or public health officials and organizations for coronavirus news are more likely to say that the outbreak has been underplayed. (Pew Research Center)

poll/ 65% of Americans think it will take at least six months before things return to “normal” as states reopen. 32% of those surveyed think it will take less than six months. 78% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans feel the same. (NPR)

Day 1217: "We still have a long way to go."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,966,000; Total deaths: ~326,000; Total recoveries: ~1,875,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,541,000; Total deaths: ~93,100; Total recoveries: ~289,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • More than 100,000 coronavirus cases were reported to the World Health Organization in the last 24 hours – “the most in a single day since the outbreak began.” WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus added: “We still have a long way to go in this pandemic.” (NBC News / CNBC)

  • All 50 states have now taken steps to reopen. Many began to reopen despite not meeting White House guidelines for progress against the virus, and newly reported cases have been increasing in some states, including Texas and Minnesota, that are moving to ease restrictions. Public health officials, meanwhile, warn that moving too fast could risk more outbreaks. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)

  • Black Americans are dying of coronavirus at a rate three times higher than that of white Americans, according to a new report. More than 20,000 African Americans have already died from the virus. (The Guardian)

  • 💻 Live blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / CNBC / NBC News / CNN


1/ Trump threatened to “hold up” federal funds for Michigan and Nevada because they are expanding mail-in voting to make it easier to vote during the coronavirus pandemic. Trump, set off by an announcement by Michigan’s secretary of state to send absentee ballot applications to every voter in the state, tweeted that Jocelyn Benson had gone “rogue” and sent absentee ballots “illegally and without authorization […] I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!” Trump later deleted the tweet but sent a similar one that said “absentee ballot applications” without noting mistake. Trump made a similar threat to Nevada, claiming the state had created “a great Voter Fraud scenario” and adding “If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State.” Nevada is mailing absentee ballots to all registered voters for the state’s June 9 primary — an all-mail election — and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, has closed nearly all of the state’s in-person polling places for the primary. Both Michigan and Nevada have requested emergency funding from the Election Assistance Commission to prepare for holding an election during a pandemic. (Associated Press / NPR / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / The Guardian / Reuters)

2/ The CDC released its reopening guidance that the White House had shelved. The 60-page document provides detailed guidance for schools, businesses, transit systems, and other industries to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. CDC officials, meanwhile, say their early efforts to coordinate a response to the COVID-19 pandemic were sidelined by a White House driven by politics rather than science. As one current CDC official said: “We’ve been muzzled. [….] if we would have acted earlier on what we knew and recommended, we would have saved lives and money.” (New York Times / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1204: The Trump administration refused to issue CDC guidelines drafted to give states and business owners detailed instructions on how to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, calling the guidance “overly prescriptive.” The 17-page report, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help from faith leaders, business owners, educators, and state and local officials to provide detailed advice for making site-specific decisions related to reopening schools, restaurants, summer camps, churches, day care centers, and other institutions. It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” because the Trump administration had already”made clear that each state should open up in a safe and responsible way based on the data and response efforts in those individual states.” Several states, meanwhile, have already moved ahead with reopening despite not meeting the threshold criteria set by the administration’s previously-issued reopening guidelines, which call for a two-week downward trajectory in cases within a 14-day period. (Associated Press / ABC News / New York Times / Axios / CNN / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1208: Emails show that top White House officials buried CDC guidance for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic. The document, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” included detailed flow charts aimed at helping business owners, educators, and state and local officials navigate whether to reopen or remain closed. As early as April 10, CDC Director Robert Redfield had emailed the guidance to Trump’s inner circle: Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway, Joseph Grogan, assistant to the president for domestic policy, Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other task force members. White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said that the documents had not been approved by Redfield, but the new emails show that Redfield had cleared the guidance. (Associated Press)

3/ The Supreme Court blocked Congress from seeing secret grand jury material from Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump administration and Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election. The court agreed with a request from the Justice Department to put on hold a lower court decision granting the House Judiciary Committee some previously undisclosed material from the investigation. The action increases the chances that the information will remain shielded through the 2020 election. (Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1146: A federal appeals court granted House Democrats permission to access grand jury material from Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The Justice Department must now give lawmakers access to all the report’s blacked-out words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and pages, as well as underlying interviews and memos cited in Mueller’s probe. The lawsuit was filed before the start of the impeachment inquiry, but House lawyers told the court that lawmakers are still trying to determine whether Trump lied in his written responses to questions from Mueller’s investigators. The ruling can be appealed to the full court or to the Supreme Court.

  • 📌 Day 1202: The House Judiciary Committee wants to continue investigating Trump for potentially impeachable offenses related to Robert Mueller’s investigation. In a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the House wrote that “its investigation into President Trump’s misconduct is ongoing” and that material from the grand jury will help it decide whether Trump “committed additional impeachable offenses in obstructing Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller’s investigation and whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.”

  • 📌 Day 1204: The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block the release of secret Robert Mueller grand jury evidence. House Democrats have argued that their investigation into possible misconduct by Trump is ongoing, and that the grand jury material will inform its determination of whether Trump obstructed Mueller’s investigation and whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.

  • 📌 Day 1216: The House Judiciary Committee told the Supreme Court they need Robert Mueller’s secret grand jury materials to determine if there is new evidence of impeachable offenses involving Trump, saying Trump “did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial.”

4/ Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined to be interviewed by the State Department inspector general about the Trump administration’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Pompeo instead only provided answers to written questions from Steve Linick, who was fired by Trump last week on Pompeo’s recommendation. Last year, Pompeo declared an “emergency” that allowed the Trump administration to bypass a congressional freeze on $8 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their war in Yemen. Today, Pompeo defended his push to have his inspector general fired, telling reporters he “should have done it some time ago,” but refused to explain his reasoning for recommending Trump remove Linick from his job. Prior to being fired, Linick had also recently completed up an investigation into two of Pompeo’s top aides, determining that they had likely failed to report allegations of workplace violence. (New York Times / Politico / CNBC / CNN / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1215: Trump fired the State Department inspector general, who had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Steve Linick was investigating whether Pompeo made a staffer run personal errands for him, including walking his dog, picking up his dry cleaning, and making dinner reservations for him and his wife. Linick was also investigating Pompeo’s decision to bypass Congress and expedite last year’s $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia by declaring an emergency. Pompeo reportedly refused to sit for an interview with Linick as part of the probe. Trump informed Congress of the move in a letter late Friday, saying that he “no longer” had full confidence in Linick. Lawmakers from both parties criticized Linick’s firing, with congressional Democrats launching an investigation to determine whether was an act of illegal retaliation intended to shield Pompeo from accountability. Pompeo, meanwhile, said he recommended that Linick be fired because the independent watchdog was “undermining” the department. Pomepo would not address specifics, except to say it was not in retaliation, because he did not know beforehand that Linick was investigating allegations that he had an aide run personal errands for him. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / Washington Post / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

  • Democrats are launching an investigation into Trump’s replacement of the Department of Transportation inspector general who was overseeing an ongoing investigation into Transportation Secretary Ellen Chao’s dealings with the state of Kentucky. Trump tapped Howard Elliot to replace Mitch Behm as acting DOT inspector general, making Behm the fifth IG that Trump has ousted in recent months. Behm was overseeing an investigation into whether Chao gave preferential treatment to projects in the state where her husband, Mitch McConnell, serves as U.S. senator. In a letter to Chao and Elliot, lawmakers on the House Oversight and Transportation committees said they are “concerned that Mr. Behm’s removal could be an effort to undermine the progress of this investigation, which we understand is ongoing.” They added: “Any attempt by you or your office to interfere with the Office of Inspector General’s investigation of yourself is illegal and will be thoroughly examined by our Committees.” (Washington Post / Politico / CNN)

5/ Republican political operatives are recruiting “extremely pro-Trump” doctors to go on TV and make the case for reopening the U.S. economy as quickly as possible, according to leaked audio from a May 11 conference call with members of the Trump reelection campaign. The Trump campaign communications director confirmed that the effort to recruit doctors to support reopening the economy without waiting to meet the CDC safety benchmarks. Trump, meanwhile, has ordered his campaign to find a way to get him back on the road and restart rallies to re-energize his base. Trump’s 2020 team is keeping an eye on regional reopenings, where modified campaign activities could soon be permitted. (Associated Press / Politico)

6/ The Trump administration’s purchase of mask-cleaning machines ballooned from $60 million to $600 million after Trump pressured the FDA to waive safety and contracting rules. The machines promised to allow protective masks to be reused up to 20 times, but scientists and nurses say the treated masks begin to degrade after two or three treatments – not 20. The Pentagon put the potential cost to taxpayers at $600 million as a result of awarding the deal without an open bidding process or an actual contract. (NBC News)

7/ The Trump administration awarded a $1.3 billion contract to build 42 miles of border wall to a construction firm backed by Trump. It is the largest border wall contract ever awarded. Trump has repeatedly touted Fisher Sand and Gravel during White House meetings with border officials and military officers. The company’s first and only other federal construction contract was for $400 million and is currently under review by the Defense Department over concerns about undue influence by the White House over the procurement process. The latest contract boasts an average cost of more than $30 million per mile of border wall – more expensive than any of Trump’s other border wall contracts. (Washington Post)

Day 1216: "Badge of honor."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,877,000; Total deaths: ~323,000; Total recoveries: ~1,673,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,524,000; Total deaths: ~92,000; Total recoveries: ~283,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉

  • Trump called the high number of U.S. COVID-19 cases a “badge of honor” because it means the U.S. is testing more people. “Really, it’s a badge of honor,” Trump said. “It’s a great tribute to the testing and all of the work that a lot of professionals have done.” The U.S. death toll stands at roughly 92,000 with more than 1.5 million confirmed cases of coronavirus. (CNN)

  • The Congressional Budget Office projects GDP dropping 38% in the second quarter as 26 million Americans remain unemployed. (CNBC)

  • The Federal Reserve chair said the U.S. would have a slow recovery from the “biggest shock that the economy’s had in living memory,” suggesting that a full rebound from the lockdowns could take until the end of 2021. (New York Times)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said “there is the risk of permanent damage” to the economy if the country remains closed. He said he plans to use all of the $500 billion that Congress provided to help the economy through direct lending. (Bloomberg)

  • A leaked Pentagon memo warned of “the real possibility of a resurgence” of the coronavirus and that an effective vaccine will not be ready until “at least the summer of 2021,” contradicting Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s vow to deliver a vaccine “at scale” by the end of the year. “We have a long path ahead,” the memo reads, reportedly authored by Esper. “Therefore, we must now re-focus our attention on resuming critical missions, increasing levels of activity, and making necessary preparations should a significant resurgence of COVID-19 occur later this year.” (Task and Purpose / Daily Beast / Military.com / Raw Story)

  • White House officials, however, predict a swift economic recovery, suggesting that the “reopening” of states will reverse the economic damage caused by the coronavirus. Some economists and Wall Street analysts say the unemployment rate could remain above 10% into 2021 — unseen since the Great Depression — even if lawmakers approve more emergency aid. (Washington Post)

  • By Wednesday, all 50 states will have begun lifting restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak despite daily case rates continue to rise in parts of the country. Only 16 states’ average new daily cases have dropped more than 10%, and as of Tuesday, at least 17 states have recorded a rise in average new daily cases of at least 10%. (CNN / Washington Post)

  • 💻 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / CNN / NPR / Wall Street Journal / CNBC


1/ Trump threatened to permanently cut off funding to the World Health Organization and revoke U.S. membership. Trump sent a letter to the WHO director-general complaining about the “repeated missteps by you and your organization,” and claiming that the WHO “ignored credible reports of the virus” and “repeatedly made claims about the coronavirus that were either grossly inaccurate or misleading.” Trump threatened that the U.S. would permanently end all U.S. financial contributions to the WHO if the organization didn’t “commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days.” Trump suspended U.S. funding to the WHO last month. Trump, however, offered no other details about the reforms he was seeking or what specific changes would unlock U.S. funding. Trump tweeted that his letter is “self-explanatory.” Leaders in Europe and Asia, meanwhile, stressed the importance of the WHO’s work, calling on the U.S. to “stop the blame game” because – during the global pandemic – this is “not the time for finger pointing.” (CNN / NBC News / Politico / NPR / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / CBS News / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 1182: Trump cutoff U.S. funding to the World Health Organization in response to the agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “We have not been treated properly,” Trump said, deflecting blame for his dismissal of the virus as a threat to Americans and the U.S. economy. The hold will remain for up to 90 days while the Trump administration conducts a funding review. Trump said the U.S. had “a duty to insist on full accountability,” accusing the WHO of “severely mismanaging and covering up” the crisis. Trump also said that “if we cannot trust them,” then the U.S. will be “forced to find other ways to work with other nations to achieve public health goals.” The U.S. is the largest donor to the WHO, and contributes between $400 million and $500 million a year to the organization, which has an annual budget of around $6 billion. (Washington Post / Politico /USA Today / Wall Street Journal / Axios / CNN / NBC News / BBC News)

  • The Lancet, one of the top peer-reviewed medical journals in the world, rebuked Trump for incorrectly citing its research in a letter threatening to permanently pull U.S. funding to the WHO. The British medical journal refuted Trump’s claim that the global health body “consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal.” The Lancet called “This statement is factually incorrect,” noting it published “no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China.” (Politico)

2/ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said she didn’t know “the exact rationale” behind Trump’s decision to take hydroxychloroquine, but that “the president just wanted to be transparent about his personal health decision that he made in consultation with his doctor.” McEnany noted that “any use of hydroxychloroquine has to be in consultation with your doctor” and requires a prescription. Trump’s admission that he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine for a “couple of weeks” despite testing negative for the coronavirus alarmed health experts, who cautioned that people risk serious heart problems and other complications from the decades-old anti-malaria drug. Trump is part of the cohort most at risk: he has a common heart disease, with a buildup of plaque in his blood vessels, according to records the White House released after his 2018 physical exam. Trump’s physician, meanwhile, said in a statement that it was decided after “numerous discussions” that “the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks” of hydroxychloroquine. Unlike Trump, Pence said he is not taking hydroxychloroquine. Trump later criticized a hydroxychloroquine study he disagreed with, calling it a “Trump enemy statement.” (Bloomberg / ABC News / Politico / New York Times / Axios / NBC News)

  • Fox News host Neil Cavuto warned viewers that taking hydroxychloroquine “will kill you. I cannot stress enough.” Speaking immediately after Trump revealed that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine as a preventative measure for the coronavirus, Cavuto said on his show: “The president insisted that [hydroxychloroquine] has enormous benefits for patients either trying to prevent or already have Covid-19. The fact of the matter is, though, when the president said, ‘What have you got to lose?’ the number of studies [show] the population have one thing to lose: their lives.” Trump in turn retweeted half a dozen posts attacking Cavuto, calling him an “idiot,” “foolish,” “gullible,” and “an asshole.” Trump proceed to complain that Fox News “is no longer the same,” and that “You have more anti-Trump people, by far, than ever before. Looking for a new outlet!” (Axios / Politico)

  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned that Trump shouldn’t be taking hydroxychloroquine because he is “morbidly obese.” “He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists,” Pelosi said, “especially in his age group, and in his, shall we say, weight group: ‘Morbidly obese,’ they say.” (NBC News / Washington Post / Axios / CBS News)

  • The FDA softened its earlier advisory against taking hydroxychloroquine, saying it’s “ultimately” a choice between patients and their health-care providers. FDA warned last month that the drug should only be taken in hospitals because of the risk of heart complications. Its effectiveness against the virus is unproven. (CNBC)

3/ The Trump administration will end deployments for more than 40,000 National Guard members currently helping states with coronavirus test and trace programs one day before thousands of members become eligible for key federal benefits, including early retirement and education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill. Members will face a “hard stop” on their deployments on June 24. (Politico / The Hill)

4/ The Trump administration signed a $354 million contract to create the nation’s first strategic stockpile of generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients needed to treat COVID-19, which are currently made overseas. The goal is to enable the U.S. to manufacture essential drugs at risk of shortage and to create a reserve of active pharmaceutical ingredients in order to reduce the dependence on foreign suppliers. (NBC News / New York Times)

5/ The House Judiciary Committee told the Supreme Court they need Robert Mueller’s secret grand jury materials to determine if there is new evidence of impeachable offenses involving Trump, saying Trump “did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial.” The new filing comes in response to the Justice Department’s request that the Supreme Court put aside a federal appeals court order that Congress had a “compelling need” to view the secret grand jury evidence. The Justice Department, meanwhile, is asking the Supreme Court to block the release, saying it would suffer “irreparable harm” if it had to turn over the records before the justices had decided whether to take up the appeal. (CNN / Washington Post)

6/ Sen. Bob Menendez will introduce a bill that would limit Trump’s ability to fire inspectors general within his administration. The legislation is a response to Trump’s recent firing of State Department inspector general Steve Linick, the fourth IG that Trump has fired in recent months. Menendez says his bill would “prevent a President from carrying out an unjustified—or worse, politically motivated—removal” by giving Congress a “mechanism” to review attempts by a president to remove inspectors general. The bill would only allow a president to remove an IG “for cause,” including for misusing funds, abusing their power, or breaking the law. (The Hill)

7/ The Senate Intelligence Committee approved Rep. John Ratcliffe’s nomination as the nation’s top intelligence official. Trump’s next director of national intelligence was approved in a straight party-line vote, 8 to 7. The nomination must still be confirmed by the Senate. If confirmed, Ratcliffe would take over from acting national intelligence director Richard Grenell. (Politico / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 73% of Americans are certain that climate change is happening – matching the highest level of acceptance recorded by the survey. 54% said they are “extremely” or “very” certain that climate change is happening while 10% said climate change is not happening, and 6% said they were “extremely” or “very” sure it’s not happening. (New York Times)

Day 1215: "I seem to be okay."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,783,000; Total deaths: ~318,000; Total recoveries: ~1,777,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,505,000; Total deaths: ~90,200; Total recoveries: ~283,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to stimulate an immune response against the virus. Moderna said the early-stage human trial for a coronavirus vaccine produced COVID-19 antibodies in all 45 participants and the vaccine also produced neutralizing antibodies in at least eight participants. The findings do not prove that the vaccine works. Many vaccines fail to pass muster, even after showing positive signs in early testing. The FDA, however, gave Moderna permission to begin the second stage of testing and the company said a vaccine could be ready for emergency use as early as the fall, if it proves to work safely in subsequent testing. Moderna’s announcement comes days after one of its directors, Moncef Slaoui, stepped down from the board to join Operation Warp Speed, a White House initiative to speed up vaccine development. (New York Times / CNBC / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • FRIDAY: The House approved a rule change to allow lawmakers to vote remotely during the coronavirus pandemic – the most radical change to its rules in generations – allowing its members pass a $3 trillion pandemic relief package to send aid to state and local governments and another round of direct $1,200 payments to taxpayers. Republicans have made clear that the relief package is dead on arrival in the Senate and the bill faces a veto threat from Trump. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / NPR / CNN / NBC News / CNBC

  • 👑 Portrait of a president.

  • A Sitting President, Riling the Nation During a Crisis. By smearing his opponents, championing conspiracy theories and pursuing vendettas, President Tru​mp has reverted to his darkest political tactics in spite of a pandemic hurting millions of Americans. (New York Times)

  • We could stop the pandemic by July 4 if the government took these steps. A $74 billion investment in testing, tracing and isolation could rescue the economy — quickly. (Washington Post)


1/ Trump claimed that he’s taking hydroxychloroquine “right now” and that he started taking it “a couple of weeks ago” despite the fact he continues to test negative for the coronavirus. Trump said he consulted with the White House doctor, who recommended he take the unproven treatment for COVID-19 that he has repeatedly promoted. Trump said he hadn’t been exposed, but started taking the drug because “I get a lot of positive calls about it.” Trump said he said he doesn’t know if it works, but claimed “if it doesn’t, you’re not going to get sick and die.” The FDA, however, has warned against hydroxychloroquine’s use for COVID-19 outside of a hospital setting due to a risk of serious heart problems. Trump added: “So far, I seem to be okay.” [Editor’s note: This is breaking news and the blog post will be updated.] (CNBC / Politico / Wall Street Journal / CNN – Daniel Dale / NBC News / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN)

  • Clinical trials, academic research, and scientific analysis of hydroxychloroquine indicate that the drug significantly increases the risk of death for certain patients. Evidence showing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating COVID-19 has also been scant. (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s campaign team is pursuing scenarios that would allow him to return to in-person rallies. Trump’s last rally was in March. (CNN)

  • Eric Trump claimed that the coronavirus will “magically” disappear after the November election. He suggested that the virus was a politically expedient Democratic ploy meant to prevent his dad from holding rallies across the country. Eric said his dad’s “greatest tool” is “being able to go into an arena and fill it with 50,000 people every single time,” and suggested that social distancing restrictions and stay-at-home orders were part of a “cognizant strategy” by Democrats to keep Joe Biden competitive in the November election. “You watch, they’ll milk it every single day between now and November 3,” Eric Trump told Fox News. “And guess what, after November 3, coronavirus will magically, all of a sudden, go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.” (Washington Post)

2/ After a former top vaccine official called the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic slow and chaotic, Trump took to Twitter to complain that whistleblowers like Rick Bright are “causing great injustice and harm” to the nation. Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, criticized Trump for failing to have a plan in place to address the coronavirus outbreak and repeated his claim that he was retaliated against after raising concerns about hydroxychloroquine. Trump tweeted that he had never met nor heard of Bright and claimed that the former federal vaccine doctor was a “disgruntled employee.” Bright responded, saying he was not a disgruntled employee but instead “frustrated at a lack of leadership.” (CBS News / Washington Post / The Hill)

  • 📌 Day 1202: The federal scientist involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, alleges that he was removed from his position for pushing back on “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” and that he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency.” In the complaint, Bright charged the Department of Health and Human Services with “an abuse of authority or gross mismanagement,” saying the agency’s chaotic response was the result of “pressure from HHS leadership to ignore scientific merit and expert recommendations and instead to award lucrative contracts based on political connections and cronyism.” Bright was removed from his post on April 20 after having served as BARDA director for nearly four years. He was reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health. (NBC News / NPR / CNN / Washington Post / Axios / CBS News)

  • 📌 Day 1210: The top U.S. vaccine doctor who was ousted in April testified that the U.S. could face the “darkest winter in modern history” because the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus. According to Dr. Rick Bright’s prepared testimony, “Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities.” Dr. Bright testified that the Department of Health and Human Services “missed early warning signals” in January, February, and March about a potential shortage of medical supplies and “forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook” early on. Dr. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint last week, alleging that he was ousted over his attempts to limit the use of hydroxychloroquine — the unproven drug touted by Trump — to treat the coronavirus. (CNN / Axios / Politico)

  • White House trade adviser Peter Navarro blamed the CDC for faulty coronavirus testing, saying the agency “really let the country down.” Navarro’s criticism came after CDC director, Robert Redfield, appeared remotely at a Senate committee hearing last week. Redfield detailed the CDC’s efforts to combat the pandemic, saying “We need to rebuild our nation’s public health infrastructure: data and data analytics, public health laboratory resilience and our nation’s public health workforce.” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar called Navarro’s comments “inaccurate and inappropriate.” (CNN / Washington Post / Politico)

3/ Trump fired the State Department inspector general, who had opened an investigation into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Steve Linick was investigating whether Pompeo made a staffer run personal errands for him, including walking his dog, picking up his dry cleaning, and making dinner reservations for him and his wife. Linick was also investigating Pompeo’s decision to bypass Congress and expedite last year’s $8 billion arms sale to Saudi Arabia by declaring an emergency. Pompeo reportedly refused to sit for an interview with Linick as part of the probe. Trump informed Congress of the move in a letter late Friday, saying that he “no longer” had full confidence in Linick. Lawmakers from both parties criticized Linick’s firing, with congressional Democrats launching an investigation to determine whether was an act of illegal retaliation intended to shield Pompeo from accountability. Pompeo, meanwhile, said he recommended that Linick be fired because the independent watchdog was “undermining” the department. Pomepo would not address specifics, except to say it was not in retaliation, because he did not know beforehand that Linick was investigating allegations that he had an aide run personal errands for him. (Politico / NBC News / CNN / New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / CNBC / Washington Post / NBC News / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News)

4/ A $500 billion Treasury Department fund created by the CARES Act in March to help prop up large segments of the U.S. economy has barely lent any money, according to a Congressional Oversight Commission report. The commission was created by the CARES act to oversee how the taxpayer money is being used. The first report was issued even though it still doesn’t have a chairman. (Washington Post)

  • Trump will meet with the governor of Kansas at the White House today to discuss how to protect the U.S. food supply and agricultural sector from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Laura Kelly, a Democrat, also plans to discuss her own strategy for reopening Kansas’s nonessential businesses. The meeting comes a day before Trump is scheduled to leave Washington and visit Michigan for the first time since the pandemic began, where he will participate in a tour of a Ford plant that is manufacturing ventilators. (The Hill)

5/ Cellphone location data suggests that demonstrators at anti-lockdown protests may have spread coronavirus hundreds of miles after returning to all parts of their states. The anonymized location data was captured from opt-in cellphone apps and was used it to track the movements of devices present at protests in late April and early May in Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Colorado, and Florida. (The Guardian)

  • A report suggesting that the coronavirus was intentionally released from a lab in Wuhan, China was based on probably false evidence. The 30-page report produced by defense contractor Sierra Nevada claims to rely on cell phone location data, social media postings, and commercial satellite imagery to conclude that some kind of “hazardous event” occurred in October 2019 at the Wuhan Institute for Virology, allowing COVID-19 to escape into the world. But the sample size for the cell phone data is too small, there are selfies taken at the conference the report claims was canceled the following month after the “hazardous event,” and additional satellite imagery shows a much more mundane reason for the lack of traffic around the same time as the supposed incident: road construction. The director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies called the report “an illustrated guide on how not to do open source analysis.” (Daily Beast)

6/ Sen. Marco Rubio will temporarily serve as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee after Sen. Richard Burr said he would step aside as chairman while he faces an FBI investigation into his stock trades. (Politico)

7/ Attorney General William Barr dismissed Trump’s attempts to rebrand the Russia investigation as a criminal plot engineered by Barack Obama. Barr said he did not expect the prosecutor he handpicked to review the 2016 FBI investigation into Trump’s campaign would investigate Obama or Joe Biden. Barr said that John Durham was examining some aspects of the case as potential crimes but that he was focused on other people, saying “I don’t expect Mr. Durham’s work will lead to a criminal investigation of either [Obama or Biden].” (CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

Day 1212: "Inconsistent and incoherent."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,517,000; Total deaths: ~306,000; Total recoveries: ~1,622,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,432,000; Total deaths: ~87,000; Total recoveries: ~247,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • House Democrats plan to pass a $3 trillion coronavirus rescue plan late Friday. The House was also set to approve Friday a slate of changes enabling lawmakers to operate remotely during the pandemic, including proxy voting. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNBC)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC


1/ Despite public health experts repeatedly cautioning that developing an effective coronavirus vaccine will take at least a year to a year and a half, Trump claimed that the coronavirus will “go away at some point” and declared – without evidence – that a vaccine would be ready “by the end of the year, maybe before.” Trump named a two-man team to lead his administration’s effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, saying Operation Warp Speed is currently evaluating 14 vaccine candidate. Trump urged state governments to reopen their economies regardless of whether the timeline was met, suggesting that the lack of a vaccine would not prevent the U.S. from reopening. “I just want to make something clear. It’s very important: Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” Trump said. “We’re starting the process.” Operation Warp Speed consists of Moncef Slaoui, the former head of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division, and Gen. Gustave Perna, a four-star U.S. Army general. Slaoui called Trump’s goal of a vaccine by January 2021 a “credible objective,” but acknowledged that “Frankly, 12-18 months is already a very aggressive timeline. I don’t think Dr. Fauci was wrong.” (CNN / Politico / CNBC / NBC News / New York Times)

2/ The CDC issued six, one-page checklists of recommendations to guide schools, businesses, restaurants and bars, child care centers and mass transit systems on how to safely reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. The White House coronavirus task force originally asked the CDC to revise a more extensive set of guidelines – which was about 57 pages – that the agency had prepared more than a month ago, calling it “overly prescriptive.” (Associated Press / Axios / Washington Post / Politico / Vox)

  • One of the world’s oldest and best-known medical journals urged Americans to elect a president who will support – rather than undermine – public health experts, criticizing Trump’s “inconsistent and incoherent national response” to the coronavirus pandemic. The unsigned editorial from the Lancet accused the Trump administration of relegating the CDC to a “nominal” role that is dangerous for both the U.S. and the world. (NPR / Washington Post)

  • Mitch McConnell admitted that he was wrong to claim that the Obama administration had not left behind a plan to deal with a pandemic in the U.S. The concession comes days after he falsely accused the Obama administration of failing to leave the Trump administration “any kind of game plan” for something like the coronavirus pandemic. Obama officials had prepared a 69-page document containing hundreds of recommendations for dealing with many of the problems currently plaguing the nation’s coronavirus response — from shortages of personal protective equipment to the need for unified public guidance on the crisis. (CNN / Politico)

3/ Trump called coronavirus testing “frankly overrated,” despite health experts insisting that it is critical to safely reopen businesses. The U.S. has more than 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases – the most of any country in the world. “We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing,” Trump said. “When you test, you have a case. When you test you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” Meanwhile, Trump praised the coronavirus rapid test used to screen White House staff and visitors, calling it “a great test,” despite a study finding that it may miss up to half of infections detected by other tests on the market.(The Hill / Politico)

4/ Betsy DeVos has directed millions of federal dollars intended for public schools and colleges to private and religious schools. DeVos used $180 million of the $30 billion for education institutions included in the CARES Act to create “microgrants” that parents can use to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. DeVos has used $180 million to encourage states to create “microgrants” that parents of elementary and secondary school students can use to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. She has also directed school districts to share millions of dollars designated for low-income students with wealthy private schools. About $350 million in higher education funding set aside for struggling colleges has instead been directed to small colleges — many of them private, religious or on the margins of higher education — regardless of need. (New York Times)

  • The ACLU sued Betsy DeVos over new federal guidelines on how campus handle sexual assault allegations, alleging that the Title IX changes would “inflict significant harm” on victims, make it “more difficult for victims of sexual harassment or sexual assault to continue their educations” and “dramatically undermine” their civil rights. (NBC News)

5/ U.S. taxpayers have paid at least $970,000 to the Trump Organization since Trump took office. The payments include more than 1,600 for room rentals at Trump’s hotels and golf clubs, including 950 nights at Bedminster and 530 nights at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has visited his own properties 250 times since taking office. The Secret Service, meanwhile, signed a $179,000 contract to rent golf carts and other vehicles this summer in Bedminster, N.J. (Washington Post)

  • A company tied to Trump’s campaign manager received nearly $800,000 from the federal coronavirus relief fund for small businesses, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Brad Parscale has been CloudCommerce’s largest beneficial shareholder since 2017. He currently owns 35% of the company. (CBS News)

6/ Trump’s nominee to lead a federal media agency with oversight of Voice of America is under investigation by the District of Columbia’s attorney general. The D.C. attorney general’s office is investigating whether Michael Pack use of funds from his nonprofit, Public Media Lab, was “unlawful and whether he improperly used those funds to benefit himself.” Pack is a conservative filmmaker with ties to Stephen Bannon. (Washington Post)

poll/ 58% of Americans who are going to work fear that they could be exposed to the coronavirus and infect members of their household. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans have continued to leave the house for work at least once a week, and more than one-third of people still going to work said they or a household member has a serious chronic illness. 13% said they lack health insurance themselves. (Washington Post)

Day 1211: "Not an acceptable answer."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,427,000; Total deaths: ~302,000; Total recoveries: ~1,584,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,413,000; Total deaths: ~86,000; Total recoveries: ~247,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / CNBC

  • 👑 Portrait of a President.

  • Inside Trump’s coronavirus meltdown. What went wrong in the president’s first real crisis — and what does it mean for the US? (Financial Times)


1/ Another 2.98 million people filed unemployment claims last week, bringing the two-month total to 36.5 million. While the weekly count of new claims has been declining since late March, it was the eighth-straight week of numbers in the millions. Continuing claims is now at around 22.8 million. A survey by the Federal Reserve found that in households making less than $40,000 a year, nearly 40% of those who were working in February lost their jobs in March or the beginning of April. The jobless rate has more than tripled to 14.7% from 4.4% a month earlier. Trump, meanwhile, said he doesn’t see the U.S. unemployment rate dropping below 10% until September. (NBC News / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / The Guardian / Bloomberg / CNBC)

  • 📌 Day 1162: A record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week – the largest number of unemployment claims ever recorded for a single week since the government began collecting data in 1967. The number shatters the Great Recession peak of 665,000 claims in March 2009 and the all-time mark of 695,000 in October 1982. As a result, the U.S. unemployment rate has likely already risen to 5.5% from 3.5% in February – a level not seen since 2015. A similarly large number of initial unemployment claims is expected next week when the Labor Department releases its report on claims filed this week. In the prior Labor Department report, for the week ended March 14, initial claims totaled 282,000. (NPR / CNBC / Washington Post / CNN / New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 1169: More than 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week – double the 3.3 million who applied the previous week. About 6% of the U.S. work force filed for jobless benefits in the last two weeks. In March, more than 10 million Americans lost their jobs, erasing nearly all the jobs created in the past five years. Economists say the real number of people out work is probably higher and that as many as 20 million people could be out of work this summer. The Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, updated its economic projections and expects U.S. unemployment to exceed 10% in the second quarter – eclipsing the peak of the last recession – and gross domestic product to fall by more than 7%, or an annualized 28%. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Bloomberg / New York Times / Politico / CNBC / CNN / CBS News / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 1176: Another 6.6 million Americans filed first-time unemployment claims last week — marking the largest and fastest string of job losses since 1948. More than 17 million new claims have been filed over the last three weeks – or about 10% of the U.S. workforce. Economists estimate that the U.S. unemployment rate is now 13% – the worst level of joblessness the nation has seen since the Great Depression. In February, the unemployment rate was 3.5%. The number of jobs lost in the last three weeks now exceeds the 15 million that it took 18 months during the Great Recession, from 2007 to 2009. (CNBC / Associated Press / Washington Post / New York Times / Politico / CNN / Vox / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 1183: More than 5.2 million Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week. In the past four weeks, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid — wiping out nearly all the job gains since the Great Recession. The U.S. unemployment rate is now over 20% and is expected remain close to 10% through the end of the year. (NPR / Washington Post / CNBC / Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 1190: More than 26 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the last five weeks – wiping out all of the job gains since the Great Recession. More than 4.4 million people filed for unemployment last week – down from more than 5.2 million the week before – which marks the fifth straight week that job losses were measured in the millions. Roughly 22 million jobs were created after the 2008 financial crisis. Economists predict that by summer the unemployment rate will be within range of the 25% peak recorded in 1933 during the Great Depression and that the U.S. GDP will shrink by around 6% this year. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / CNBC / Reuters / The Guardian)

  • 📌 Day 1197: Another 3.8 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. The number of first-time claims over the past six weeks total 30.3 million people – roughly 18.6% of the entire U.S. labor force – the highest since the Great Depression and far above the 10% peak reached in 2009. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, however, are still waiting to receive unemployment benefits, which means the official unemployment tally is almost certainly an undercount. (CNN / CNBC / Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • 📌 Day 1204: An additional 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, down slightly from 3.8 million the previous week. More than 33.5 million have filed for unemployment over the last seven weeks and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the week ending April 25 was 15.5%. Continuing claims – the number of people receiving ongoing benefits – is now at more than 22 million, surpassing the recessionary peak of 6.6 million. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / ABC News / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • The White House threatened to veto a $3 trillion pandemic relief bill. White House officials called the legislation a nonstarter and accused Democrats of being “more concerned with delivering on longstanding partisan and ideological wish lists than with enhancing the ability of our nation to deal with the public health and economic challenges we face.” (New York Times)

2/ Trump criticized Dr. Anthony Fauci’s warning about the risks of reopening schools and businesses too soon as “not an acceptable answer,” accusing the nation’s top infectious disease expert of “wanting to play all sides of the equation.” Dr. Fauci told a Senate committee Tuesday that his “concern” is that we’ll see “see little spikes that might turn into outbreaks” if cities and states “prematurely open up without having the capability of being able to respond effectively and efficiently.” Dr. Fauci also told the panel that a vaccine for the coronavirus would not be ready in time for the new school year, warning of the dangers of the virus to children. Trump, however, told reporters he was “surprised by his answer,” adding: “To me it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.” Past public disagreements between Trump and officials have been followed by an eventual dismissal or resignation. See: Tillerson, Rex; Sessions, Jeff; Bolton, John; Kelly, John. (New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / ABC News / NPR / NBC News)

  • 📌 Day 1209: Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that reopening the country too soon “could turn the clock back” and lead to “suffering and death that could be avoided.” The nation’s top infectious diseases expert contrasted Trump’s effort to quickly restart the economy, saying “My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that then turn into outbreaks. The consequences could be really serious […] there is no doubt that when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases reappear.” Dr. Fauci added that the death toll is “almost certainly” higher than official counts. He also dismissed the notion that a vaccine would be available by the time schools reopen in the fall, calling it “a bit of a bridge too far.” He added: “There’s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective.” Dr. Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, and Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA, all testified by videoconference because they are self-quarantining after possible exposure to COVID-19. (Associated Press / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • The Pentagon fired its lead official responsible for executing the Defense Production Act to increase production of masks and equipment to help fight COVID-19. The decision to fire Jennifer Santos was reportedly made by “the White House and interagency” and not her immediate boss. (Politico / CNN)

3/ The Trump administration plans to extend its coronavirus border restrictions indefinitely. On March 21, the CDC imposed a 30-day restriction on all nonessential travel into the U.S. from Mexico and Canada, which was extended for another 30 days on April 20. Since then, only two migrants have been permitted to remain in the U.S. to pursue asylum. A new order under review would extend the restrictions indefinitely until the director of the CDC decides the coronavirus no longer a threat. (New York Times)

4/ Sen. Richard Burr stepped down as chairman of the Intelligence Committee following an FBI investigation into whether he sold stocks after secret briefings on the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, which led to the seizure of his cellphone by federal agents. Burr has denied he did anything wrong and previously asked the Ethics Committee to review the stock sales. Burr sat on two committees that received briefings on the growing coronavirus epidemic, including one on Jan. 24. On Feb. 13, Burr sold as much as $1.7 million in stock. The decision to execute a search warrant on a sitting member of Congress, which was approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department, requires federal prosecutors and agents to persuade a judge there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed. (Los Angeles Times / USA Today / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News)

5/ A private jet company founded by a Trump donor received nearly $27 million in government grant as part of the CARES Act. The funding is a grant rather than a loan, and doesn’t need to be repaid. The company also received the largest grant of any private jet company, according to government filings. (CNBC)

6/ A federal appeals court revived a lawsuit accusing Trump of illegally profiting from the presidency, allowing the case to proceed to fact-gathering about Trump’s profits from his luxury Washington hotel. The lawsuit brought by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia alleges that Trump has violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution by accepting profits through foreign and domestic officials who stay at the Trump International Hotel. The decision by the Richmond, Virginia-based 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reverses a ruling in favor of Trump last July. (Associated Press / ABC News / Politico / CNN / Reuters / Wall Street Journal / Axios)

7/ The federal judge overseeing the case against Michael Flynn appointed a former federal judge to oppose the Justice Department’s request to dismiss Flynn’s guilty plea and examine whether Flynn may have committed perjury. Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to investigators as part of a larger inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The judge requested a recommendation on whether Flynn should face a criminal contempt hearing for pleading guilty to a crime of which he now claims to be innocent. (Washington Post / New York Times)

8/ The EPA will not limit a toxic chemical used in rocket fuel that contaminates water and has been linked to fetal and infant brain damage. In 2011, the Obama administration announced that it would regulate perchlorate, reversing a decision by the George W. Bush administration not to control it. The EPA plans to send a federal register notice to the White House in the coming days for review that will declare it is “not in the public interest” to regulate the chemical. (New York Times)

9/ The U.S. Postal Service will review package delivery fees as a top Republican fundraiser and Trump campaign donor is set to takeover as postmaster general. The Postal Service in recent weeks has sought bids from consulting firms to reassess what the agency charges companies to deliver products on their behalf. Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman will leave before new agency head Louis DeJoy takes over, leaving its board of governors without any officials who predate Trump, who has dubbed the U.S. Postal Service “a joke.” (Washington Post)

poll/ 43% of Americans say Trump’s doing a good job of handling the coronavirus outbreak – 5 points lower than three weeks ago and 10 points lower than in March. 38% say they trust Trump to provide accurate information about the coronavirus. Meanwhile, 46% of Americans have a favorable view of Dr. Fauci and 62% say they trust him for information. (CBS News)

Day 1210: "The darkest winter in modern history."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,331,000; Total deaths: ~296,000; Total recoveries: ~1,539,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,388,000; Total deaths: ~84,000; Total recoveries: ~244,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NPR / NBC News / CNN

  • 👑 Portrait of a President.

  • We don’t have a president, or a plan. 60 days into the coronavirus crisis, the White House does not have a plan, a framework, a philosophy, or a goal. (Vox)

  • Trump is resorting to his preferred and battle-tested tactic to fight the biggest threat to his re-election: diversion. The totality of Trump’s display underscored the extent to which the pandemic has worn on the president, who has watched his popularity in key swing states plummet. Just two months ago Trump was reveling in a booming economy and a field of Democratic challengers that appeared in disarray. Now, he faces harsher realities: More than 81,000 dead people and an economy in the deepest contraction in memory. The virus has meanwhile crept into the White House itself, infecting staffers in the Vice President Mike Pence’s office and one of the president’s own valets. (Bloomberg)

  • Trump Has Lost the Plot. The president is talking about things most Americans can’t comprehend, let alone care about. (The Atlantic)


1/ Trump and the coronavirus task force is pushing the CDC to change its methodology for how they count coronavirus deaths, which could lead to far fewer deaths being counted than originally reported. The Trump administration specifically wants the agency to change how it works with states to count coronavirus-related deaths. Dr. Deborah Birx has reportedly urged CDC officials to exclude from coronavirus death-count reporting for individuals who either did not have confirmed lab results and are presumed positive or who had the virus and may not have died as a direct result of COVID-19. Trump has suggested that coronavirus deaths could have been incorrectly tallied or inflated by current methodology. Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, said the U.S. death toll count is likely higher than is reflected in government data. Meanwhile, researchers have developed a new method to compare and merge coronavirus models into a single “ensemble” projection. The result? 110,000 dead Americans by June 6. Total U.S. deaths currently stand at ~84,000. (Daily Beast / NPR / Washington Post)

  • Roughly 27 million people have likely have lost job-based health coverage since the coronavirus. About 80% have other options, such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program, but the remaining 20% are out of luck because they live in a state that didn’t expand Medicaid or they are ineligible for other kinds of subsidized coverage. (Axios)

  • Sen. John Cornyn encouraged his Texas constituents to use the Affordable Care Act if they’ve lost their jobs and need health insurance. Cornyn has voted to repeal the ACA more than a dozen times. (HuffPost)

  • The “rapid” coronavirus test used at the White House missed nearly half of positive cases, according to a New York University analysis. Abbott’s ID NOW missed at least one-third of positive cases detected with a rival test and as much as 48% when using the recommended dry nasal swabs. (Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 1197: Trump erupted at his campaign manager after seeing polling data that showed him trailing Joe Biden in several swing states in the presidential race. “I am not fucking losing to Joe Biden,” Trump shouted at Brad Parscale during a conference call with his top political advisers last week after he was told he would have lost the Electoral College if the election had been held earlier this month. At one point, Trump threatened to sue Parscale. Trump’s aides had attempted to highlight the political cost of the coronavirus crisis and the unforced errors by Trump from his freewheeling press briefings after two polls – one from the Republican National Committee and another from the Trump campaign — both showed him trailing Biden in swing states. “I don’t believe the polls,” Trump said. “I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.” Trump also initially resisted the advice to curtail his daily coronavirus briefings, saying people “love” the briefings and think he is “fighting for them.” Trump later defended Parscale, tweeting: “Actually, he is doing a great job. I never shouted at him.” (Associated Press / CNN / Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times)

2/ Jared Kushner refused to rule out that the presidential election could be postponed due to the pandemic despite the opinion of a White House staff member having no bearing on when the election is held. Election Day takes place, by law, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November and neither Trump nor Kushner have the authority to unilaterally postpone the election. Nevertheless, when asked if there was a chance the presidential election could be postponed, Kushner replied: “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan.” Kushner later tried to clarify his earlier response, saying “I have not been involved in, nor am I aware of, any discussions about trying to change the date of the presidential election.” Last month, Trump told reporters at a news conference that “The general election will happen on Nov. 3.” Separately, Trump told reporters that “I never thought of changing the date of the election. November 3. Good number.” (Time / New York Times / Washington Post)

3/ The top U.S. vaccine doctor who was ousted in April testified that the U.S. could face the “darkest winter in modern history” because the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus. According to Dr. Rick Bright’s prepared testimony, “Our window of opportunity is closing. If we fail to develop a national coordinated response, based in science, I fear the pandemic will get far worse and be prolonged, causing unprecedented illness and fatalities.” Dr. Bright testified that the Department of Health and Human Services “missed early warning signals” in January, February, and March about a potential shortage of medical supplies and “forgot important pages from our pandemic playbook” early on. Dr. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint last week, alleging that he was ousted over his attempts to limit the use of hydroxychloroquine — the unproven drug touted by Trump — to treat the coronavirus. (CNN / Axios / Politico)

  • 📌 Day 1202: The federal scientist involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, alleges that he was removed from his position for pushing back on “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” and that he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency.” In the complaint, Bright charged the Department of Health and Human Services with “an abuse of authority or gross mismanagement,” saying the agency’s chaotic response was the result of “pressure from HHS leadership to ignore scientific merit and expert recommendations and instead to award lucrative contracts based on political connections and cronyism.” Bright was removed from his post on April 20 after having served as BARDA director for nearly four years. He was reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health. (NBC News / NPR / CNN / Washington Post / Axios / CBS News)

4/ Paul Manafort was released from prison to serve the remainder of his sentence from home due to concerns over the coronavirus. Manafort is serving a seven-year term, set to end in November 2024, after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. and obstruct justice related to his undisclosed lobbying for a pro-Russian politician and political party in Ukraine. (ABC News / Washington Post / NBC News / CBS News / CNBC / The Guardian)

5/ Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell sent Republican senators a list of former senior Obama administration officials who made “unmasking” requests that might have identified Michael Flynn in classified foreign intelligence reports. Unmasking of U.S. identities in intelligence reports is a routine process that occurs thousands of times annually and is requested by senior administration officials to better understand the context of intercepted conversations that are being reviewed. The requests were made and approved through the National Security Agency’s regular process between Trump’s November 2016 election and inauguration in January 2017. (Wall Street Journal / Politico)

  • The federal judge overseeing the criminal case of Michael Flynn put the Justice Department’s motion to drop the case on hold. Judge Emmet Sullivan said he would set a schedule to accept briefs from outside parties who might have an interest in the case. (New York Times / Washington Post / Politico)

6/ The Trump administration’s coronavirus restrictions have granted asylum at the southern border to two people since March 21. In 2018, U.S. immigration courts granted asylum to 13,248 people. Citing the threat to public health from the coronavirus, the Trump administration suspended most due-process rights for migrants while “expelling” more than 20,000 unauthorized border-crossers to Mexico. (Washington Post)

Day 1209: "That's not prevailing."


1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee that reopening the country too soon “could turn the clock back” and lead to “suffering and death that could be avoided.” The nation’s top infectious diseases expert contrasted Trump’s effort to quickly restart the economy, saying “My concern is that we will start to see little spikes that then turn into outbreaks. The consequences could be really serious […] there is no doubt that when you pull back on mitigation, you will see some cases reappear.” Dr. Fauci added that the death toll is “almost certainly” higher than official counts. He also dismissed the notion that a vaccine would be available by the time schools reopen in the fall, calling it “a bit of a bridge too far.” He added: “There’s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective.” Dr. Fauci, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC, and Stephen Hahn, the head of the FDA, all testified by videoconference because they are self-quarantining after possible exposure to COVID-19. (Associated Press / Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC)

  • Rand Paul to Dr. Fauci: “I don’t think you’re the end-all” on coronavirus and “I don’t think you’re the one person who gets to make a decision.” Dr. Fauci replied: “I have never made myself out to be the end-all, or the only voice in this. I’m a scientist, a physician and a public health official. I give advice according to the best scientific evidence. … I don’t give advice about economic things. I don’t give advice about anything other than public health.” (Reuters / Axios)

  • Six takeaways from Anthony Fauci’s and other health officials’ testimony. (Washington Post)

2/ Yesterday: Trump declared that “we have prevailed” over the coronavirus as U.S. deaths from the disease exceeded 80,000. Trump later clarified that he meant the U.S. had “prevailed” only in creating enough testing capacity for Americans, saying “You never prevail when you have 90,000 people, 100,000 people, when you have 80,000 people as of today, when you have the kind of death you are talking about, when you have potentially millions of people throughout the world that are dying. That’s not prevailing.” Behind Trump were a row of American flags and a pair of giant signs reading: “AMERICA LEADS THE WORLD IN TESTING.” (Bloomberg / Politico / NBC News)

  • An unreleased coronavirus task force report shows coronavirus infection rates are spiking to new highs in several cities and smaller communities across the country, contradicting Trump’s recent claims that “all throughout the country, the numbers are coming down rapidly.” The undisclosed data in the May 7 report shows the 10 areas with the highest rates of infection — which includes Nashville, TN, Des Moines, IA, Amarillo, TX and Central City, KY — recorded surges of 72.4% or greater over a seven-day period when compared to the previous week. Central City saw an increase of 650%. (NBC News)

  • New York City had four times the number of deaths as expected during its COVID-19 outbreak. Between March 11 and May 2, about 24,000 more people died in the city than researchers would ordinarily expect during that time period, according to a CDC report. While COVID-19 was explicitly tied to 18,879 of the excess deaths through confirmed or probable cases, there were 5,293 excess deaths that may have come from other causes. (Associated Press / Bloomberg)

  • Mike Pence will be “maintaining distance for the immediate future” from Trump after consulting with the White House medical unit. It is not clear exactly how long Pence plans to stay away from Trump. Pence also said he has been taking extra precautions lately, including by spending time “in a separate room on my own” instead of joining other members of the coronavirus task force in the situation room. (CNN)

3/ Yesterday: Trump ended his press conference after he told an Asian-American journalist to “ask China” about her question and then refused to take a question from another White House reporter. After boasting about his administration’s efforts to ramp up testing, Weijia Jiang, a White House correspondent for CBS News, asked Trump why he sees coronavirus testing as a global competition when more than 80,000 Americans have died. Trump replied “maybe that’s a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question.” Trump attempted to move on to a question from Kaitlan Collins, a White House correspondent for CNN, but continued to engage with Jiang, calling her question a “nasty question” when she asked “why are you saying that to me specifically?” Trump then denied Collins an opportunity to ask a question before abruptly leaving the Rose Garden altogether. (CNN / Associated Press / Washington Post)

  • ✏️ Senate Republicans break with Trump over “Obamagate.” Trump accused the former president of committing the “biggest political crime in American history.” (Politico)

  • ✏️ Trump promotes conspiracy theory accusing MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough of murder. The president was apparently referring to the 2001 death of congressional staffer Lori Klausutis. (Politico)

4/ Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats unveiled a new $3 trillion coronavirus rescue bill that would direct money to state and local governments, health systems, and other initiatives. The bill would also send a second round of stimulus checks to millions of Americans and include more funding for the Postal Service. The House is expected to vote on the package Friday, while Trump and Senate Republicans object to the proposal. (Washington Post / Politico / ABC News)

5/ The Supreme Court heard the first arguments in a landmark dispute over access to Trump’s financial records and tax returns. The cases involve subpoenas for Trump’s financial records issued by three Democratic-led House committees and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance to Trump’s banks and accounting firm, Mazars USA, and banks, Deutsche Bank, and Capital One. Lower courts in Washington and New York have upheld the subpoenas. The House argued that records about Trump’s businesses and personal finances could inform future legislation about foreign election interference, presidential disclosures, or money laundering. “We’re asking for temporary presidential immunity,” Jay Sekulow told the Supreme Court, suggesting that Trump could face legal consequences for his personal behavior after leaving office. The court’s ruling is expected by July. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg / ABC News / Axios / CNBC / Washington Post / CNN / The Hill / CNN)

6/ Trump’s acting director of national intelligence declassified a list of names of former Obama administration officials who allegedly requested the “unmasking” of Michael Flynn’s identity, an action that identified him in intelligence reports following Trump’s election in 2016. Richard Grenell reportedly does not intend to release the list. The decision to declassify the information came days after the Justice Department moved to drop its criminal case against Flynn. A senior Justice Department official said the department has been reviewing unmasking as part of U.S. attorney John Durham’s review of the activities of investigators in 2016 and 2017 during the Russia probe. (ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN)

poll/ 54% of Americans say the Trump administration is doing a poor job preventing the spread of COVID-19, while 44% think the federal government is doing a good job. 52% said they feel the worst is yet to come. 44% said they think worst is behind us. (CNN)

Day 1208: "It's scary to go to work."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~4,160,000; Total deaths: ~285,000; Total recoveries: ~1,434,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,345,000; Total deaths: ~80,100; Total recoveries: ~216,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NPR / CNBC / The Guardian / NBC News

  • 👑 Portrait of a President.

  • Trump sought a reopening but found the virus in the White House instead. A day after breaking his White House self-isolation for a cross-country trip meant to signal the country’s readiness to restart, Trump received word that one of his Oval Office valets tested positive for the virus. (CNN)

  • As deaths mount, Trump tries to convince Americans it’s safe to inch back to normal. The administration is struggling to expand the scale of testing to what experts say is necessary to reopen businesses safely, and officials have not announced any national plan for contact tracing. Trump and some of his advisers are prioritizing the psychology of the pandemic as much as, if not more than, plans to combat the virus, some aides and outside advisers said — striving to instill confidence that people can comfortably return to daily life despite the rising death toll. (Washington Post)

  • The White House race to contain coronavirus in its ranks: “It is scary to go to work.” With two White House staff members testing positive, some officials fear the disease is already spreading rapidly through the West Wing. Over the weekend, three members of the coronavirus task force went into quarantine or partial quarantine or took precautions to work from home more after finding out a top aide to Vice President Pence tested positive for the coronavirus. Trump’s military valet also tested positive. In the Senate, the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), will go into quarantine in his home state “out of an abundance of caution” after one of his aides tested positive. (New York Times / Washington Post)


1/ Three members of the White House coronavirus task force will self-quarantine after possibly being exposed to the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci has begun a “modified quarantine” after he had “low risk” contact with a White House aide who tested positive last week for coronavirus. Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control, will also self-quarantine for 14 days. FDA chief Stephen Hahn has been in self-quarantine since Friday. Fauci tested negative for COVID-19 and is “actively monitoring his temperature and other health indicators.” (NBC News / CNN / CNN / Politico / CNN / CBS News)

  • Multiple members of the Secret Service have tested positive for COVID-19. According to Department of Homeland Security documents, there are at least 11 active cases at the agency, 23 members who have recovered, and an additional 60 employees who are self-quarantining. (Yahoo News)

  • Trump and Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with World War II veterans without masks. The veterans were not wearing masks. (Washington Post)

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Robert Redfield will testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee over video conference. The White House Office of Legislative Affairs sent a memo to all House and Senate committee staff directors last week that bars all members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force from appearing before a congressional committee without the permission of chief of staff Mark Meadows. (CBS News)

2/ Pence will not self-quarantine after his press secretary tested positive because he “has tested negative every single day.” During an event with GOP members, Trump suggested “the whole concept of tests isn’t great,” but said he was satisfied with the procedures in place to protect him and his top aides. Trump, however, appeared puzzled that the aide, Katie Miller, had contracted the virus “out of the blue” after testing negative several times during routine White House screening program put in place last month. Miller is married to one of Trump’s closest advisers, Stephen Miller, who is not expected to come into the White House for the foreseeable future. Stephen tested negative for the virus on Friday after his wife’s positive diagnosis earlier in the day. (CNN / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

3/ The White House encouraged staffers to come into the office, including the aides who travel with Trump and Pence. All White House staffers, however, received a conflicting memo, which instructed them to “practice maximum telework” and to “work remotely if at all possible.” The memo also told employees to quarantine for 14 days if they leave the Washington region and to report all travel. Trump, meanwhile, expressed concern that aides contracting coronavirus undercut his message that the outbreak was waning and states should begin reopening. Trump also reportedly asked why his valets weren’t ordered to wear masks before this week after one of his personal valets tested positive for the coronavirus. (Washington Post / CNN / New York Times)

  • White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett acknowledged that working in the White House is risky now that several staff have tested positive for the coronavirus, saying “It’s scary to go to work.” (Politico)

4/ The White House directed most officials – but not Trump – to wear masks at all times inside the building except when sitting at their desks. The memo also directs officials to restrict in-person visits to the White House unless they are necessary. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that the “coronavirus numbers are looking MUCH better, going down almost everywhere” while accusing Democrats of not opening their states sooner because they are trying to hurt his re-election efforts. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / New York Times)

5/ Emails show that top White House officials buried CDC guidance for reopening communities during the coronavirus pandemic. The document, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” included detailed flow charts aimed at helping business owners, educators, and state and local officials navigate whether to reopen or remain closed. As early as April 10, CDC Director Robert Redfield had emailed the guidance to Trump’s inner circle: Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway, Joseph Grogan, assistant to the president for domestic policy, Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other task force members. White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said that the documents had not been approved by Redfield, but the new emails show that Redfield had cleared the guidance. (Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 1204: The Trump administration refused to issue CDC guidelines drafted to give states and business owners detailed instructions on how to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, calling the guidance “overly prescriptive.” The 17-page report, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help from faith leaders, business owners, educators, and state and local officials to provide detailed advice for making site-specific decisions related to reopening schools, restaurants, summer camps, churches, day care centers, and other institutions. It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” because the Trump administration had already”made clear that each state should open up in a safe and responsible way based on the data and response efforts in those individual states.” Several states, meanwhile, have already moved ahead with reopening despite not meeting the threshold criteria set by the administration’s previously-issued reopening guidelines, which call for a two-week downward trajectory in cases within a 14-day period. (Associated Press / ABC News / New York Times / Axios / CNN / NBC News)

  • ✏️The Trump administration cut funding for coronavirus researcher, jeopardizing possible COVID-19 vaccine. An American scientist who collaborates with the Wuhan Institute of Virology had his grant terminated in the wake of unsubstantiated claims that COVID-19 is either manmade or leaked out of a Chinese government lab. (CBS News)

  • ✏️ In the early days of the pandemic, the U.S. government turned down an offer to manufacture millions of N95 masks in America. Even today, production lines that could be making more than 7 million masks a month sit dormant. (Washington Post)

  • ✏️ Whistleblower exposes infighting and animus in Trump’s coronavirus response. The allegations suggest personal clashes influenced how the administration responded to the pandemic. (New York Times)

6/ Obama warned that the Justice Department’s decision to drop its prosecution of Michael Flynn puts “our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk.” In a private call with former members of his administration, Obama said that “There is no precedent that anybody can find for somebody who has been charged with perjury just getting off scot-free,” referring to Attorney General William Barr’s decision to drop charges against Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying in a January 2017 interview with the FBI about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to Washington during the presidential transition. Obama also called Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic “an absolute chaotic disaster” and “anemic.” (Yahoo News / CNN / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • More than 1,900 former Justice Department employees called on William Barr to step down as attorney general, asserting in an open letter that he had “once again assaulted the rule of law” by moving to drop the case against Michael Flynn. (Washington Post)

  • The former acting assistant attorney general for national security accused Attorney General William Barr of twisting her words to suggest that the FBI’s interview with Michael Flynn in 2017 was illegitimate. Mary McCord’s interview with Flynn was used by Barr and the DOJ as evidence that the FBI had no valid counterintelligence reason to interview Flynn. McCord claims her interview with Flynn was “constitutional, lawful and for a legitimate counterintelligence purpose,” but said Barr’s motion to dismiss the charges against Flynn “makes a contorted argument that Mr. Flynn’s false statements and omissions to the F.B.I. were not ‘material’ to any matter under investigation.” McCord added that her interview doesn’t support the DOJ’s conclusion that the interview shouldn’t have taken place, and said it was “disingenuous for the department to twist my words to suggest that it does.” (New York Times / Axios)

  • Pence: “I’d be happy” to see Flynn back in the government. (Axios)

7/ Trump spent Mother’s Day sending 126 tweets, retweets, and quote-tweets about the Russia investigations by the FBI and the House Intelligence Committee. Falling just 16 short of the single-day posting record he set during his impeachment trial in January, Trump spent much of his holiday bouncing between wishing everyone a “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY” to railing against Obama, “60 Minutes,” Jimmy Kimmel, and Chuck Todd. The U.S. coronavirus death toll, meanwhile, crossed 80,000. (Axios / Vox / The Guardian / Washington Post)

poll/ 55% of Americans disapprove of protests against restrictions aimed at preventing the spread the coronavirus. 31% approve of the demonstrations. (Associated Press)

Day 1205: "Literally off the charts."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,911,000; Total deaths: ~273,000; Total recoveries: ~1,306,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,274,000; Total deaths: ~76,500; Total recoveries: ~195,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / NPR / NBC News / CNN

  • 👑 Portrait of a President.

  • In recent weeks Trump attempted to block and downplay the severity of the coronavirus pandemic, urging a return to normalcy and a reopening of the economy. The Trump administration has sidelined or replaced officials not seen as loyal, rebuffed congressional requests for testimony, dismissed statistics and models, praised states for reopening without meeting White House guidelines, and pushed to disband a task force created to combat the virus and communicate about the public health crisis. (Washington Post)


1/ The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 14.7% — the highest level since the Great Depression and the worst monthly loss on record. The U.S. lost a total of 20.5 million jobs in April, roughly double what the nation experienced during the 2007-09 crisis. The “real” unemployment rate, which includes the underemployed and those who aren’t currently looking for jobs, jumped to 22.8%. In total, the U.S. has lost roughly 21.4 million jobs since the spread of COVID-19. (CNBC / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / NPR / Politico / Associated Press / CNN / The Hill)

  • The White House is considering pushing the federal tax deadline back again, along with additional measures aimed at providing economic relief for Americans that can be adopted without legislation from Congress. Tax Day has already been pushed to July 15, but could be extended to Sept. 15, or as late as Dec. 15. (NBC News)

  • How bad is unemployment? “Literally off the charts.” (New York Times)

2/ Pence’s press secretary tested positive for coronavirus — making her the second administration staffer known to have become infected this week. Katie Miller, the wife of White House adviser Stephen Miller, said she tested positive on Friday after testing negative on Thursday. She said she’s asymptomatic. (NPR / NBC News / CNBC / Politico / Bloomberg / CNN)

  • White House staff will now be tested for the coronavirus on a daily basis. “In addition to social distancing, daily temperature checks and symptom histories, hand sanitizer, and regular deep cleaning of all work spaces,” the deputy White House press secretary said in a statement, “every staff member in close proximity to the president and vice president is being tested daily for COVID-19 as well as any guests.” (New York Times)

3/ A breakdown in communication and coordination within the Trump administration has undermined the distribution of remdesivir, a promising treatment for COVID-19. Gilead Sciences, the company that makes remdesivir, donated hundreds of thousands of doses to the federal government after the FDA authorized it as an emergency treatment for coronavirus patients. More than 32,000 doses of remdesivir, however, were shipped, but many of these doses went to “less impacted counties” instead of the high-priority hospitals where it’s most needed, an administration official said. Administration officials reportedly responded by shifting blame and avoiding responsibility. (Axios)

  • White House’s pandemic relief effort Project Airbridge is swathed in secrecy and exaggerations. Almost six weeks after its launch, Project Airbridge has completed its 122nd flight, having cost taxpayers at least $91 million. But its impact on the pandemic is unclear and shrouded in secrecy: The White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the companies involved have declined to disclose where supplies have been delivered. (Washington Post)

  • Republicans praise Trump’s pandemic response with Senate majority at risk. Nearly all GOP senators running for reelection have decided there’s little utility in breaking with the president, particularly after seeing some fellow Republicans collapse at the ballot box with such a strategy. And if the economy recovers and the virus dissipates by the fall, Republicans could benefit by sticking with Trump. (Politico)

4/ The Trump administration is moving to expand immigration restrictions, believing that the public is willing to accept new limits on immigration during the pandemic. Trump’s immigration advisers are working on an executive order that would ban the issuance of some new temporary, work-based visas. The order is expected to focus on H-1B visas, designed for highly skilled workers, and H-2B, for seasonal migrant workers, as well as student visas. Though the order hasn’t yet been finalized, administration officials said it could range from suspensions of entire visa categories to the creation of incentives to hire Americans in industries hit by layoffs. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Office of Special Counsel found “reasonable grounds” to investigate whether Dr. Rick Bright was retaliated against for questioning Trump administration actions. The office “made a threshold determination” that the Department of Health and Human Services “violated the Whistleblower Protection Act by removing Dr. Bright from his position because he made protected disclosures in the best interest of the American public.” It is up to the Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services, to decide whether send Dr. Bright back to Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority during the inquiry. (New York Times)

  • 📌 Day 1202: The federal scientist involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, alleges that he was removed from his position for pushing back on “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” and that he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency.” In the complaint, Bright charged the Department of Health and Human Services with “an abuse of authority or gross mismanagement,” saying the agency’s chaotic response was the result of “pressure from HHS leadership to ignore scientific merit and expert recommendations and instead to award lucrative contracts based on political connections and cronyism.” Bright was removed from his post on April 20 after having served as BARDA director for nearly four years. He was reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health. (NBC News / NPR / CNN / Washington Post / Axios / CBS News)

  • 📌 Day 1189: The director of the federal agency responsible for developing a coronavirus vaccine was removed after pressing for rigorous vetting of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, which Trump has repeatedly embraced. Dr. Rick Bright cited “clashes with political leadership” as a reason for his abrupt dismissal as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, as well as his resistance to “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.” Dr. Bright said that science, not “politics and cronyism” must lead the way, adding that he believed he was removed from his post because he insisted that “the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic” be put toward “safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.” He was assigned a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health. (New York Times /New York Times / CNN / STAT News / CNBC / Axios)

6/ Trump signaled uncertainty over the future of FBI Director Christopher Wray a day after the Justice Department decided to drop criminal charges against Michael Flynn. Speaking to Fox News, Trump said “the jury’s still out” on Wray and the bureau’s handling of the Flynn investigation. “It’s disappointing,” Trump said when asked about Wray’s role. “Let’s see what happens with him.” Trump also praised Attorney General William Barr for nullifying the case by Robert Mueller, in which Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in 2017 about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during the 2016 presidential transition. (Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

  • Trump and his allies want Flynn to assume a public-facing role during the election campaign. Trump reportedly had made clear that if legal circumstances permitted, he would want Flynn to get “something good” in his political, but it’s unclear if Trump meant a job in the administration, a role for the 2020 campaign, or another position. (Daily Beast)

  • Flynn’s Path to Freedom Runs Through Judge Who May Say No. While judges typically sign off on such motions, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan could refuse and instead demand answers from the DOJ about who requested the sudden about-face(Bloomberg / Reuters)

  • [Analysis] Understanding the twists and turns in the Michael Flynn case. (Washington Post)

  • [Opinion] The Appalling Damage of Dropping the Michael Flynn Case. It embeds into official U.S. policy a shockingly extremist view of law enforcement as the enemy of the American people. (New York Times)

7/ Senate Republicans are preparing for a swift confirmation process if a vacancy on the Supreme Court opens up before the November election. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent hospitalization has raised the prospect of another possible vacancy for Trump to fill. GOP senators say they plan to act quickly if an opening presents itself, despite denying Obama the same opportunity at the end of his second term. If there’s a vacancy, “we’re going to fill it,” said Sen. John Barrasso. “If you thought the Kavanaugh hearing was contentious this would probably be that on steroids,” said Sen. John Cornyn. “Nevertheless,” he added, “if the president makes a nomination then it’s our responsibility to take it up.” Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said in 2016 that during an election year voters should be the ones decide which president should choose the next Supreme Court justice. But McConnell has repeatedly said he plans to fill any vacancy that opens up under Trump. (Politico)

poll/ 64% of Americans say the country now is not worth the risk to human life. 92% of Democrats compared to 35% of Republicans say opening the country is not worth it. (ABC News)

poll/ 55% of Americans said they plan to get vaccinated against COVID-19 if and when a vaccine arrives. 45% said they won’t or they’re not sure they will get vaccinated. (Yahoo News)

Day 1204: "Overly prescriptive."


1/ An additional 3.2 million Americans filed unemployment claims last week, down slightly from 3.8 million the previous week. More than 33.5 million have filed for unemployment over the last seven weeks and the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for the week ending April 25 was 15.5%. Continuing claims – the number of people receiving ongoing benefits – is now at more than 22 million, surpassing the recessionary peak of 6.6 million. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / ABC News / NBC News / The Guardian)

  • Friday’s job report is expected to be “the single worst jobs report in history.” Forecasters expect the nation’s jobless rate, which was at 4.4% in March, to jump to an annualized unemployment rate of 15% to 20% for the April period. (CBS News)

  • The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program limited the size of loans it issues without publicly announcing the change. After initially telling businesses that individual disaster loans could be as high as $2 million, SBA has now imposed a $150,000 limit. Additionally, the agency will only accept applications from agricultural businesses “due to limitations in funding availability and the unprecedented submission of applications already received. (Washington Post)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin responded to Axl Rose calling him an “asshole” on Twitter by tweeting: “What have you done for the country lately?” Mnuchin, however, included the emoji of the Liberian flag, apparently mistaking the it for the American flag. (Politico / The Guardian)

  • poll/ 77% of laid-off or furloughed workers expect to be rehired by their previous employer once the stay-at-home orders in their area are lifted. Economists, however, predict that 42% of recent layoffs from the pandemic will result in permanent job losses. (Washington Post)

2/ The Trump administration refused to issue CDC guidelines drafted to give states and business owners detailed instructions on how to safely reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, calling the guidance “overly prescriptive.” The 17-page report, titled “Guidance for Implementing the Opening Up America Again Framework,” was researched and written to help from faith leaders, business owners, educators, and state and local officials to provide detailed advice for making site-specific decisions related to reopening schools, restaurants, summer camps, churches, day care centers, and other institutions. It was supposed to be published last Friday, but agency scientists were told the guidance “would never see the light of day,” because the Trump administration had already”made clear that each state should open up in a safe and responsible way based on the data and response efforts in those individual states.” Several states, meanwhile, have already moved ahead with reopening despite not meeting the threshold criteria set by the administration’s previously-issued reopening guidelines, which call for a two-week downward trajectory in cases within a 14-day period. (Associated Press / ABC News / New York Times / Axios / CNN / NBC News)

  • More than half of the states that have started to reopen don’t meet the criteria recommended by the White House for resuming business and social activities. The Trump administration’s guidelines are nonbinding, but they recommend that states have a “downward trajectory” of either documented coronavirus cases or new positive test results. Most of the 30 states currently in the process of reopening not only fail to meet those basic criteria, but also have either upward trajectories for case counts, positive tests, or both. Most of the states are reopening with more new cases or a higher share of positive tests than two weeks ago. The guidelines also recommend that states should wait for a decline in the number of patients with coronavirus symptoms and a return to normal hospital capacities before reopening, standards which many states also fail to meet. (New York Times)

  • States moving forward with reopening are seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases. However, states that expect to keep social distancing restrictions in place have seen drops in the number of new daily cases relative to a month ago. (Washington Post)

3/ One of Trump’s personal valets tested positive for the coronavirus and Trump is reportedly “not happy” about it. The White House said Trump and Pence have since tested negative. (CNN / CNBC / NBC News)

4/ Trump defended his decision not to wear a mask during a tour of a mask production facility, saying “I didn’t need it” and that he had been told it wasn’t necessary. A sign posted at the facility, however, said: “Please wear your mask at all times.” Trump has told advisers that he believes wearing a mask would “send the wrong message,” because doing so would make it seem like he is preoccupied with health instead of reopening the nation’s economy. (NBC News / Associated Press)

5/ Trump contradicted a nurse who said that some parts of the country were experiencing shortages of protective medical gear, calling the supply of PPE “sporadic” but “manageable.” Trump shot back, “Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people,” adding that the country is “now loaded up” with a “tremendous supply to almost all places.” (CNBC / Bloomberg)

6/ A top Republican fundraiser and Trump campaign donor was named to be the head of the U.S. Postal Service. Louis DeJoy currently runs a private logistics and distribution company in North Carolina. He was chosen by the Postal Service’s Board of Governors to replace Postmaster General Megan Brennan, who was appointed in 2015 and is the first woman to hold the position. Since January, DeJoy has donated $360,000 to the Trump’s re-election campaign and roughly $70,000 to the Republican National Committee. (NBC News / Washington Post / Reuters)

7/ The Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block the release of secret Robert Mueller grand jury evidence. In March, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit cleared the way for Congress to access material from Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The administration is asking the justices to freeze that opinion. House Democrats have argued that their investigation into possible misconduct by Trump is ongoing, and that the grand jury material will inform its determination of whether Trump obstructed Mueller’s investigation and whether to recommend new articles of impeachment. (Washington Post / CNN / Axios)

8/ The Justice Department dropped its prosecution of Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents about his conversations with a Russian diplomat in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration. The Justice Department said in its filing that it made its decision “after a considered review of all the facts and circumstances of this case, including newly discovered and disclosed information.” In particular, the review concluded that the FBI interview in which Flynn lied “was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and “conducted without any legitimate investigative basis.” (Associated Press / CNBC / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Axios)

9/ Trump vetoed legislation that would have limited his ability to wage war against Iran without Congressional approval because he felt it was an “insulting,”“unnecessary and dangerous” prohibition. The legislation was first introduced in response to the U.S. assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. Trump said in a statement that the bill was “a very insulting resolution,” which “implies that the President’s constitutional authority to use military force is limited to defense of the United States and its forces against imminent attack. That is incorrect.” Congress is not expected to have the votes to override Trump’s veto. (Independent)

Day 1203: "We've solved every problem."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,725,000; Total deaths: ~261,000; Total recoveries: ~1,227,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,217,000; Total deaths: ~72,200; Total recoveries: ~190,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📈

  • Private payrolls dropped more than 20.2 million jobs in April, according to ADP’s private jobs report. It was the worst monthly job loss in the report’s history. (CNBC / Axios)

  • Experts warn that Trump’s push to reopen the country risks a “death sentence” for many Americans. Trump has praised governors of states that have started to loosen restrictions on social distancing and business activity, even though he admitted that people will suffer as a result. “Will some people be affected badly? Yes,” Trump said on Tuesday. “But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.” (The Guardian)

  • The World Health Organization warned world leaders that there can be “no going back to business as usual” following the coronavirus pandemic. “The only way to control and suppress this virus, this COVID-19, is to actually find [cases], quarantine those contacts, isolate the cases and it will be brought under control,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s lead scientist on Covid-19, said during a press conference. (CNBC)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / NPR / CNN


1/ Trump contradicted his plan to shut down the coronavirus task force, vowing that the group would “continue on indefinitely” because of “how popular the task force is.” In a series of tweets, Trump said that the task force will be “very focused” on “SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN,” as well as on the development of a coronavirus vaccine. He added that he would be announcing “two or three new members to the task force” soon. Trump’s change of plans come a day after he told reporters during a visit to a mask factory in Phoenix that he would wind down the task force. (Politico / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / The Guardian / Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC)

2/ On the same day Trump praised himself for solving “every problem” and taking care of “all of the things,” members of his own administration privately warned that states were still experiencing shortages of masks, gowns, and other medical gear. A May 1 recording of an interagency conference call between FEMA and HHS officials began with the director of the CDC’s influenza division saying: “The numbers of deaths definitely will be high.” Other officials discussed their ongoing struggle to keep up with requests from governors for more medical equipment and PPE. Meanwhile, Trump was telling the public that the federal government had “loaded up hospitals with things to take care of people” and “We’ve ensured a ventilator for every patient who needs one. The testing and the masks and all of the things, we’ve solved every problem. We solved it quickly.” (Politico)

  • The governor of Texas: “every scientific and medical report shows” reopening states leads to an increase in coronavirus cases in those states. Gov. Greg Abbott told state lawmakers during a private phone call that “the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening […] it actually will lead to an increase and spread.” He added: “The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility is for transmission. So, the goal never has been to get transmission down to zero. It never can be.” A spokesperson confirmed the audio from the call was authentic. (Daily Beast / Quorum Report / San Antonio Current)

3/ Trump complained to advisers about how coronavirus deaths are calculated, suggesting the real numbers are actually lower. While there is no evidence that the death rate has been exaggerated, and experts believe coronavirus deaths in the U.S. are being undercounted, one senior administration official said he expects Trump to publicly questioning the death toll as it closes in on his prediction that “We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.” (Axios)

4/ The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “We don’t know” where the coronavirus began, but “the weight of evidence is that it was natural and not man-made” and “that it was probably not intentional[ly]” released from a Chinese lab. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, however, insisted that “there is significant evidence that this came from the laboratory,” but conceded that “We don’t have certainty […] We’re all trying to figure out the right answer.” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. intelligence community, and the “Five Eyes” international intelligence alliance have all said that the coronavirus “was not manmade or genetically modified,” suggesting that it “evolved in nature,” and likely originated in a Chinese wet market as a result of “natural human and animal interaction.” (The Hill / Politico / CNN)

  • 📌 Day 1197: The Trump administration pressured U.S. intelligence agencies to provide evidence supporting White House claims that the coronavirus outbreak originated in state-run laboratory accident in China. Trump – without offering any evidence – said he had reason to believe that the outbreak originated from a lab in China, saying “we should have the answer to that in the not-so-distant future.” The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, however, reported that intelligence agencies concur “with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.” The White House, meanwhile, have been exploring retaliatory measures against China, including suing for compensation, which would involve stripping China of “sovereign immunity” or cancelling debt obligations to China. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNBC / ABC News / The Guardian / Associated Press / Politico / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 1202: Dr. Anthony Fauci, contradicting both Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said the best scientific evidence shows that the coronavirus did not originate in a Chinese laboratory. “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now,” Fauci said, the scientific evidence “is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.” Fauci added that he doesn’t subscribe to the theory that someone found the virus in the wild, brought it into a lab, and then allowed it to escape and spread to the rest of the world, saying “Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.” (National Geographic)

5/ The Trump administration will urge the Supreme Court to overturn the Affordable Care Act, despite Attorney General William Barr warning Trump officials about the political ramifications of undermining the health care safety net during the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration position backs a lawsuit filed by a group of Republican states seeking to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act after Congress eliminated the tax penalty for not having health insurance. (Politico / CNN)

6/ Betsy DeVos released finalized guidelines for how universities and K-12 schools should handle complaints of sexual assault and misconduct. The new federal rules provide new protections for the accused, including the presumption that they are innocent throughout the disciplinary process and the right to be provided all evidence collected against them. Students can also cross-examine their accusers during live hearings to challenge their credibility. The new regulation also offers a narrow definition of sexual harassment, requiring that it be severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive. (New York Times / NBC News / Politico / Washington Post / CNN / Axios)

7/ Trump ordered Jared Kushner and other aides to move forward with painting his border wall black, which is projected to add at least $500 million in costs. Federal contracting estimates show that costs for a premium “powder coating” could exceed $3 billion. While the White House has not picked a grade of paint, Trump has insisted that the barrier be black to discourage climbers, because of its heat-absorbent properties. Military commanders and border officials, however, consider the black paint unnecessary, costly, and a maintenance burden, which is why they left it out of the original U.S. Customs and Border Protection design specifications. (Washington Post)

Day 1202: "Weaker and sicker and poorer."


1/ Dr. Anthony Fauci, contradicting both Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said the best scientific evidence shows that the coronavirus did not originate in a Chinese laboratory. “If you look at the evolution of the virus in bats and what’s out there now,” Fauci said, the scientific evidence “is very, very strongly leaning toward this could not have been artificially or deliberately manipulated.” Fauci added that he doesn’t subscribe to the theory that someone found the virus in the wild, brought it into a lab, and then allowed it to escape and spread to the rest of the world, saying “Everything about the stepwise evolution over time strongly indicates that [this virus] evolved in nature and then jumped species.” (National Geographic)

  • Scientists identified a new strain of the coronavirus that appears to be more contagious than the versions that spread in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new strain appeared in February in Europe, migrated to the East Coast of the U.S., and has been the dominant strain across the world since mid-March. The new strain may also make people vulnerable to a second infection after a first bout with the disease. (Los Angeles Times)

2/ Trump blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying before the House because, he claims, it’s “a setup” with a “bunch of Trump haters.” Trump, however, confirmed that he will allow Dr. Fauci to testify before the Republican-controlled Senate sometime next week. The White House told the House that members of the coronavirus task force won’t be allowed to testify, claiming it would divert resources from the pandemic response. (Politico / The Hill / Axios / NPR / CNBC / Washington Post / CNN)

  • Trump’s nominee for the newly created “special inspector general for pandemic response” vowed to resist pressure from Trump or administration officials seeking to undermine his independence. Brian Miller is also a member of his White House counsel’s office. His position was created by the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief law signed on March 27. (Politico / Politico)

3/ Mike Pence said the White House is in “preliminary discussions” to wind down the coronavirus task force, because “of the tremendous progress we’ve made as a country.” The task force could wrap up by early June. A senior White House official said the task force would meet less regularly as the administration focuses on reopening the economy and that the shift is intended to signal that the country is moving into a new phase of the pandemic. Health experts, however, have warned that reopening too soon could lead to more death and economic damage. It’s not clear whether another group would replace the task force. The official added that the change was not intended as a “declaration of victory.” (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Axios / NBC News / Washington Post / Reuters)

  • Jared Kushner’s coronavirus team relied on inexperienced volunteers from consulting and private equity firms with little expertise in the jobs they were assigned. The volunteer group, composed of about two dozen employees from Boston Consulting Group, Insight, McKinsey and other firms, was tasked with securing protective equipment. Some government officials expressed alarm at the presence of the volunteers, saying that their role in the response is unclear and that they needed guidance on basic questions. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN)

4/ Trump promised to resume the White House coronavirus briefings, saying “everybody” enjoyed them — including himself. Trump, who ended the daily briefings last week, said “we’ll probably do maybe one a week, sometimes two depending on the news” as he pivots to reopening the economy. Trump added that he enjoys sparring with reporters, but “I was told that some people didn’t like the combative attitude so much.” Trump then congratulated himself, saying: “We set every record with those press conferences. Six million people all the time. You know we had tremendous numbers, literally […] I heard, is this true? It was the highest-rated hour in cable television history. That’s what I heard. I don’t know if that’s true.” (New York Post)

  • 👑 Trump: “The one thing that the pandemic has taught us is that I was right.” In a New York Post interview, Trump said he thinks Americans are “starting to feel good now.” (Vox)

  • 👑 The President Is Unraveling. The country is witnessing the steady, uninterrupted intellectual and psychological decomposition of Trump. (The Atlantic)

5/ Trump said “it’s possible there will be some” deaths as states roll back restrictions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus, acknowledging that it was the choice the country faces to reopen and jumpstart the economy. Trump encouraged Americans to view themselves as “warriors,” saying it’s not realistic to keep up strict social distancing guidelines in the long term. On Monday, Dr. Fauci said that the decision to reopen states amounted to balancing “how many deaths and how much suffering are you willing to accept to get back to what you want to be, some form of normality, sooner rather than later.” When asked what he would say to Americans who have lost a loved one to the coronavirus, Trump replied: “I love you.” (ABC News)

6/ Trump complained that “bailouts” for states are unfair to Republicans because, he said, the states that would benefit most from funding are run by Democrats. Trump suggested that California, Illinois, and New York are in “tremendous debt” because they “have been mismanaged over a long period of time.” All three are currently run by Democratic governors. Trump, however, said “Florida is doing phenomenal, Texas is doing phenomenal, the Midwest is, you know, fantastic — very little debt.” Trump continued, “It’s not fair to the Republicans because all the states that need help — they’re run by Democrats in every case.” (NBC News)

7/ Trump lashed out at a group of Republicans seeking to defeat him in November, tweeting that “They’re all LOSERS.” Trump’s outburst came in response to a new video released by the Lincoln Project, a super PAC launched by disaffected Republicans including George Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. The “Mourning in America” video bashes Trump’s coronavirus response efforts, saying he made the U.S. “weaker and sicker and poorer.” Trump later said Kellyanne Conway “must have done a big number on” George, whom he called a “stone-cold loser” with a “Moonface.” (Politico / Axios / Bloomberg / Washington Post)

  • CNN’s parent company sent a cease-and-desist letter accusing the Trump campaign of misusing the network’s news coverage in a way that is “false, misleading and deceptive.” WarnerMedia claims a new ad from the Trump re-election campaign titled, “American Comeback,” takes a segment about the threat of the coronavirus on CNN out of context. The letter claims the Trump campaign ad “purposely and deceptively edits the clip” to imply that Wolf Blitzer and Dr. Sanjay Gupta were praising Trump’s January travel ban for saving millions of American lives, “when in fact Mr. Blitzer and Dr. Gupta were discussing recently implemented social distancing guidelines and stay-at-home orders issued by state and local governments.” The letter “hereby demands” that the campaign stop airing the ad, which “has been distorted in such a way as to mislead the public.” (CNN / Bloomberg)

8/ The federal scientist involved in developing a coronavirus vaccine filed a whistleblower complaint with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel. Dr. Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, alleges that he was removed from his position for pushing back on “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections” and that he tried to “prioritize science and safety over political expediency.” In the complaint, Bright charged the Department of Health and Human Services with “an abuse of authority or gross mismanagement,” saying the agency’s chaotic response was the result of “pressure from HHS leadership to ignore scientific merit and expert recommendations and instead to award lucrative contracts based on political connections and cronyism.” Bright was removed from his post on April 20 after having served as BARDA director for nearly four years. He was reassigned to a narrower role at the National Institutes of Health. (NBC News / NPR / CNN / Washington Post / Axios / CBS News)

  • 📌 Day 1189: The director of the federal agency responsible for developing a coronavirus vaccine was removed after pressing for rigorous vetting of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, which Trump has repeatedly embraced. Dr. Rick Bright cited “clashes with political leadership” as a reason for his abrupt dismissal as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, as well as his resistance to “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.” Dr. Bright said that science, not “politics and cronyism” must lead the way, adding that he believed he was removed from his post because he insisted that “the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic” be put toward “safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.” He was assigned a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health. (New York Times /New York Times / CNN / STAT News / CNBC / Axios)

9/ The House Judiciary Committee wants to continue investigating Trump for potentially impeachable offenses related to Robert Mueller’s investigation. The committee is still trying to obtain grand jury secrets from the Mueller probe, but the Justice Department has blocked the disclosure of the materials because it plans to take the case to the Supreme Court. In a letter to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, the House wrote that “its investigation into President Trump’s misconduct is ongoing” and that material from the grand jury will help it decide whether Trump “committed additional impeachable offenses in obstructing Special Counsel [Robert] Mueller’s investigation and whether to recommend new articles of impeachment.” The letter adds: “The current pandemic notwithstanding, the Committee’s investigation is not ‘dormant.’” The committee is particularly interested in the differences between what the witnesses from the Trump campaign told Mueller’s investigators and what Trump said to Mueller in his written answers, as well as what convicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort said about Trump during his secret testimony. (CNN)

poll/ 75% of Americans rated Dr. Fauci’s response to the coronavirus outbreak “excellent,” while 44% said the same of Trump. (Washington Post)

poll/ 32% of Americans believe the reported coronavirus death toll numbers. 44% believe the number of Americans dying from COVID-19 are higher, while 23% say the number is lower. Among Democrats, 63% say the number of reported deaths are higher while 24% of Republicans say the same. (Axios)

Day 1201: "It goes up rapidly."


1/ The CDC projects that by June 1, the coronavirus death toll in the U.S. will reach about 3,000 daily deaths – nearly double the current number of about 1,750 – and COVID-19 cases will surge to about 200,000 per day – up from about 25,000. The draft report, based on government modeling and put together in chart form by FEMA, predicts a sharp increase in both cases and deaths beginning around May 14. The White House and the CDC, however, disavowed the report, which carries the logo of the CDC and Departments of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security, calling it an “internal CDC document” that had not been presented to Trump’s coronavirus task force. Separately, a coronavirus model frequently cited by the White House is now forecasting that 134,000 people will die of COVID-19 in the U.S. – nearly double its previous prediction. The increases in both models are tied to relaxed social distancing and increased mobility as states, including Florida, Colorado, Indiana, Nebraska and South Carolina, have eased restrictions. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / Bloomberg / CNBC / Axios / NPR / The Guardian)

  • The U.S. reported its deadliest day with 2,909 people dying of COVID-19 in 24 hours. The next highest U.S. daily death toll was 2,471 reported on April 23. (CNBC)

  • The U.S. recorded an estimated 37,100 excess deaths in March and the first two weeks of April – nearly 13,500 more than are now attributed to COVID-19 for that same period. There were 16,600 estimated excess deaths in the week of April 5 to April 11, compared with 20,500 over the prior five weeks. The nation surpassed 64,000 confirmed coronavirus deaths on Friday. [Editor’s note: Those excess deaths are not necessarily attributable directly to COVID-19, but are deaths above what is historically expected for this period.] (Washington Post)

  • Mike Pence admitted that he “should have worn a mask” during his visit to the Mayo Clinic last week. During a Fox News town hall, Pence said he “didn’t think it was necessary” at the time, but he decided to wear one “when I visited the ventilator plant in Indiana” two days later. Pence said he thought that since he is constantly tested for the virus, wearing a mask wouldn’t be necessary because the masks are only meant to prevent people who have the virus from spreading it. The reversal comes after Pence faced widespread public backlash for not wearing the mask at the Minnesota-based medical clinic. (Politico / NPR)

2/ Trump revised his estimated coronavirus death toll for the fifth time in two weeks, projecting that “We’re going to lose anywhere from 75, 80 to 100,000 people.” In April, Trump predicted that fatalities from the outbreak could be kept “substantially below the 100,000” mark. A week later, Trump said the overall American death toll would “probably” be as low as 60,000 people. On Wednesday, Trump suggested that the number of fatalities could be as low as 65,000. But on Sunday, Trump conceded, “I used to say 65,000 and now I’m saying 80,000 or 90,000 and it goes up and it goes up rapidly.” While he called it “a horrible thing,” Trump praised his administration’s response to the outbreak, saying it is “one of the reasons we’re successful, if you call losing 80 or 90 thousand people successful.” Trump also said he is “very confident” that there will be a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, despite scientists repeatedly warning that a vaccine may take 12-18 months or longer. (New York Times / The Guardian / MSNBC / CNN / The Hill / NBC News / CBS News)

  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow defended his Feb. 25 claim that the U.S. had “contained” the coronavirus “pretty close to airtight,” arguing that his comments were “based on the actual facts” at the time. (Axios)

3/ Trump claimed that he gets treated worse by the press than Abraham Lincoln, who was assassinated in 1865, while sitting in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Trump suggested to Fox News that he is “greeted with a hostile press the likes of which no president has ever seen” other than “that gentleman right up there,” gesturing toward the statue of Lincoln. “They always said nobody got treated worse than Lincoln,” he added. “I believe I am treated worse.” (CNN / Daily Beast)

4/ Trump moved to replace the top watchdog at the Department of Health and Human Services after her office released a report highlighting supply shortages and testing delays at hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. The White House waited until after business hours to nominate a permanent inspector general to take over for Christi Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general who has run the office since January. Grimm was publicly assailed by Trump at a news briefing three weeks ago. The White House nominated Jason Weida. (Washington Post / New York Times)

5/ Trump is reportedly not happy with FBI director Christopher Wray and wants to replace him, but has deferred to Attorney General William Barr, who is unlikely to remove Wray before the election. (Axios)

6/ A four-page Department of Homeland Security intelligence report claims that the Chinese government “intentionally concealed the severity” and how contagious the coronavirus was from the world in early January in order to stock up on the medical supplies needed to respond to the virus. The report says Chinese leaders attempted to cover their tracks by “denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data.” The report also says China refused to inform the World Health Organization that the virus “was a contagion” and says its conclusions are based on the 95% probability that the changes in China’s imports and exports were outside of the normal range. Separately, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that there’s “enormous evidence” to support the theory that the coronavirus originated in the Wuhan Institute of Virology, not a nearby market. No evidence was offered by Pompeo to back up the assertion. While the Wuhan Institute of Virology was studying bat-borne coronaviruses at the time of the first known outbreak nearby, there has been no evidence showing it possessed the previously unknown strain. Trump, meanwhile, promised a “conclusive” report on the Chinese origins of the coronavirus outbreak. (Associated Press / Axios / Bloomberg / The Guardian / NBC News)

Day 1198: "I will never lie to you."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,321,000; Total deaths: ~237,000; Total recoveries: ~1,044,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,095,000; Total deaths: ~64,200; Total recoveries: ~160,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉

  • The FDA granted Gilead emergency authorization for remdesivir to treat coronavirus. A federal trial found that patients receiving remdesivir recovered more quickly: in 11 days, versus 15 in a group receiving a placebo. The drug did not significantly reduce fatality rates. (CNBC / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / New York Times)

  • At least 30 states have started allowing some businesses to operate or announced plans to do so in May. The reopening of America, however, is happening with little consensus on how it should proceed with state and local officials — and, in some cases, business owners — drawing their own conclusions about how to balance medical and economic risks. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The World Health Organization extended its declaration of a global health emergency. (New York Times)

  • The coronavirus pandemic is likely to last at least another 18 months and won’t be controlled until about two-thirds of the world’s population is immune, said a report by a team of longstanding pandemic experts. They recommended that the U.S. prepare for a worst-case scenario, including a second big wave of coronavirus infections in the fall and winter. In the best-case scenario, people will continue to die from the virus, they predicted. (CNN / Bloomberg)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNN / CNBC / The Guardian / ABC News / CBS News / NPR


1/ Trump is “in no rush” to provide federal assistance to states that are short of money because of the coronavirus. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said states and localities are seeking about $1 trillion in assistance as part of the next stimulus bill. Trump, however, indicated that Democrats would have to make concessions if they want grants for state governments, saying “If they do it, they’re going to have to give us a lot.” (Bloomberg)

2/ Attorney General William Barr said it’s time “to start rolling back” social distancing restrictions in an “orderly and sensible way,” a signal the Justice Department could consider legal action against officials who resist acting. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted support for protesters – some of whom were armed – in Michigan, telling Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to “make a deal” with them. Last month, Trump tweeted to “LIBERATE” Michigan. (Bloomberg / CNN)

3/ The White House is blocking Dr. Anthony Fauci from testifying before the House Appropriations Committee, which is investigating the coronavirus outbreak and response. The Trump administration officials denied the request for Fauci’s testimony at a hearing next week. (Washington Post / Politico)

4/ Mike Pence’s office threatened to retaliate against the journalist who revealed that Pence’s staff aware of the requirement to wear face masks while visiting the Mayo Clinic. Pence was the only one in the room not wearing one during his visit, despite the Minnesota clinic requiring all visitors to wear masks to prevent further spread of the coronavirus. Karen Pence claimed that Pence wasn’t aware of the rule until after the visit, but reporter Steve Herman tweeted that “All of us who traveled with [Pence] were notified by the office of @VP the day before the trip that wearing of masks was required by the @MayoClinic and to prepare accordingly.” Pence’s office contacted Herman, saying he violated the off-the-record terms that had been sent to him and other reporters before the trip and then banned him from traveling on Air Force Two unless Herman apologizes for his tweet. On Thursday, Pence wore a face mask while visiting a General Motors plant that is making ventilators. (Washington Post / New York Times / CNBC / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 1195: Pence toured the Mayo Clinic without a mask despite the medical facility requiring all visitors wear masks to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The clinic tweeted, then deleted the tweet, that Pence’s office was informed of the masking policy prior to his visit. (CNBC / NBC News / The Guardian / New York Times)

5/ Publicly traded companies received more than $1 billion in funds meant for small businesses from the economic stimulus package. Nearly 300 public companies have reported receiving money from the Paycheck Protection Program. (Washington Post)

6/ The Secret Service paid more than $33,000 to rent rooms at Trump’s Washington hotel for 137 nights in a row so it could guard Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin while he stayed in a luxury suite. The Secret Service also rented the room next to Mnuchin’s at taxpayer expense so they could screen Mnuchin’s visitors and deliveries. For that room, the Trump International Hotel charged the Secret Service at the maximum possible rate for federal agencies in 2017: $242 per night. The total bill for both rooms was $33,154. Mnuchin paid for his own room, but his decision to stay at a Trump property produced two revenue streams for Trump’s company. “The Secretary was not aware of what the U.S. Secret Service paid for the adjoining room,” a spokesperson for Mnuchin said. (Washington Post)

7/ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany held the first daily news briefing in more than a year. “I will never lie to you,” McEnany promised reporters. “You have my word on that.” Fifteen minutes later, she raised the subject of Michael Flynn, which no one had asked about, and offered a false claim that an FBI note “says, quote, we need to get Flynn to lie, quote, and get him fired.” The FBI note, however, is phrased as a question of possible ways of confronting Flynn – not a plan of action: “What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” McEnany is Trump’s fourth press secretary. (Washington Post / NPR / CNN / New York Times)

poll/ 43% of Americans hold mostly or very favorable views of Trump, compared to 54% who hold mostly or very unfavorable views of him. In mid-March, Trump’s favorable rating was 49%, the highest at any point since 2015, and the first time that Americans have been more likely to say they have a favorable than the unfavorable view 46%. (Public Religion Research Institute)

Day 1197: "Honestly, I'm really in charge."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,272,000; Total deaths: ~233,000; Total recoveries: ~1,009,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,067,000; Total deaths: ~63,000; Total recoveries: ~126,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉

  • The White House social distancing guidelines will expire today. Trump, rejecting the idea of extended social distancing and mask-wearing as a “new normal” in America “with or without” a vaccine, said “I want to go back to where it was.” He continued: “Look, this thing will pass, and when it passes, that’ll be a great achievement,” despite no vaccine against the virus. “Again this is going away. This is going away. I think we’re gonna come up with vaccines and all, but this is going away. And when it’s gone, we’re going to be doing a lot of things.” (Associated Press)

  • Trump will travel to Arizona next week – though it’s not clear for what purpose. He said he “hopes” to have rallies again before the November election, citing “a tremendous pent up demand.” Trump also said he was considering making a trip to Ohio. (ABC News)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / The Guardian / Washington Post / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / CNN / ABC News / CBS News / NPR / CNBC

  • 👑 Portrait of a president.

  • Trump and Kushner engage in revisionist history in boasting of success over coronavirus. “We did all the right moves,” Trump said. “The federal government rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story,” said Kushner. (New York Times)

  • Miscalculation at every level left the U.S. unequipped to fight the coronavirus. A shortfall in masks lays bare the blunders by hospitals, manufacturers, and the federal government. The Trump administration further weakened the safety net as it rejiggered the Health and Human Services Department’s main emergency-preparedness agency, prioritized other threats over pandemics, cut out groups such as one that focused on protective gear and removed a small planned budget to buy respirator masks for the national stockpile, according to former officials. (Wall Street Journal)

  • A tale of two summers: White House diverges from health experts over what’s to come. Trump and his top aides are contending with public health officials who paint a less optimistic picture of a return to life as Americans knew it. (NBC News)


1/ Another 3.8 million Americans filed for first-time unemployment benefits last week. The number of first-time claims over the past six weeks total 30.3 million people – roughly 18.6% of the entire U.S. labor force – the highest since the Great Depression and far above the 10% peak reached in 2009. Hundreds of thousands of Americans, however, are still waiting to receive unemployment benefits, which means the official unemployment tally is almost certainly an undercount. (CNN / CNBC / Washington Post / NPR / New York Times / New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • Worst economy in a decade. What’s next? The “worst in our lifetime.” U.S. gross domestic product declined in the first quarter, dragged down by the pandemic’s grip in March. Don’t even ask about this quarter. (New York Times)

  • The brands that could disappear because of coronavirus. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump claimed he’s done a “spectacular job” handling the coronavirus pandemic, despite more than 60,000 Americans dead, a million infected, and 30 million filing jobless claims. While economists warn of serious long-term damage to the economy, Trump told reporters in the Oval Office he’s anticipating a major rebound in the coming months and a “spectacular” 2021, saying “I think we can actually surpass where we were – I feel it.” He then added: “I think sometimes what I feel is better than what I think, unfortunately or fortunately.” (Associated Press)

3/ Trump erupted at his campaign manager after seeing polling data that showed him trailing Joe Biden in several swing states in the presidential race. “I am not fucking losing to Joe Biden,” Trump shouted at Brad Parscale during a conference call with his top political advisers last week after he was told he would have lost the Electoral College if the election had been held earlier this month. At one point, Trump threatened to sue Parscale. Trump’s aides had attempted to highlight the political cost of the coronavirus crisis and the unforced errors by Trump from his freewheeling press briefings after two polls – one from the Republican National Committee and another from the Trump campaign — both showed him trailing Biden in swing states. “I don’t believe the polls,” Trump said. “I believe the people of this country are smart. And I don’t think that they will put a man in who’s incompetent.” Trump also initially resisted the advice to curtail his daily coronavirus briefings, saying people “love” the briefings and think he is “fighting for them.” Trump later defended Parscale, tweeting: “Actually, he is doing a great job. I never shouted at him.” (Associated Press / CNN / Reuters / Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Trump encouraged Sean Hannity to threaten the New York Times with legal action for reporting that Hannity had downplayed the threat of the coronavirus. As Trump’s re-election campaign was filing lawsuits against various local and national media outlets, Trump reportedly thought it was a good idea for Hannity to explore legal action against the Times for its critical coverage of how Fox News handled the coronavirus crisis. (Daily Beast)

4/ Trump claimed that China’s handling of the coronavirus is proof that Beijing “will do anything they can” to make him lose his re-election bid in November, adding he believed China wants Joe Biden to win to ease the pressure on U.S.-China trade relations. Trump provided no evidence for why China would deliberately mishandle an outbreak that killed more than 4,600 of its citizens, but said he was considering ways of punishing Beijing. “I can do a lot,” Trump said, without going into detail. He added: “There are many things I can do.” China, meanwhile, rejected Trump’s assertion, saying they had “no interest” in interfering in internal U.S. affairs. (Reuters / The Guardian / Bloomberg)

5/ The Trump administration pressured U.S. intelligence agencies to provide evidence supporting White House claims that the coronavirus outbreak originated in state-run laboratory accident in China. Trump – without offering any evidence – said he had reason to believe that the outbreak originated from a lab in China, saying “we should have the answer to that in the not-so-distant future.” The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, however, reported that intelligence agencies concur “with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not man-made or genetically modified.” The White House, meanwhile, have been exploring retaliatory measures against China, including suing for compensation, which would involve stripping China of “sovereign immunity” or cancelling debt obligations to China. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / Washington Post / CNBC / ABC News / The Guardian / Associated Press / Politico / Axios)

  • 📌 Day 1196: Trump ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to find out whether China and the World Health Organization initially hid what they knew about the coronavirus pandemic as it emerged. The White House sent a specific “tasking” to the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency seeking information about the early days of the outbreak, specifically what the WHO knew about two research labs studying coronaviruses in Wuhan, China. The CIA received similar instructions. “Understanding the origins of the virus is important to help the world respond to this pandemic but also to inform rapid-response efforts to future infectious disease outbreaks,” a White House spokesperson said. (NBC News)

6/ Dr. Anthony Fauci suggested that it would be “doable” to have hundreds of millions of doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine ready by January “if things fall in the right place.” While the FDA has not approved a vaccine for the coronavirus and vaccine trials are still in the early phase – and U.S. health officials have repeatedly said it would take at least 12 to 18 months to produce a vaccine – Dr. Fauci confirmed that the Trump administration is working to speed development, testing, and review of any potential vaccine. The initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, would involve manufacturers of the best potential vaccine candidates ramping up production “at risk — proactively — start making it, assuming it’s going to work,” Fauci said. “And if it does, then you can scale up and hopefully get to that timeline.” Trump, meanwhile, said “honestly […] I’m really in charge” of “fast track[ing] a vaccine like you’ve never seen before.” Trump added: “I’m not overpromising.” (NPR / CNBC / Washington Post / New York Times / CNN / The Hill)

  • 📌 Day 1196: The Trump administration has been organizing a Manhattan Project-style effort to cut the time needed to develop a coronavirus vaccine, with a goal to have 100 million doses ready by year’s end. Called “Operation Warp Speed,” the program will pull together private pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and the military to try to cut the development time for a vaccine by eight months. Separately, a group calling themselves Scientists to Stop COVID-19 has acted as the go-between for pharmaceutical companies looking for a link to Trump administration decision makers. The group, comprised of chemical biologists, an immunobiologist, a neurobiologist, a chronobiologist, an oncologist, a gastroenterologist, an epidemiologist and a nuclear scientist, are working as an ad hoc review board for the research on the coronavirus, weeding out flawed studies before they reach policy makers. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

  • How long will a vaccine really take? The truth is that a vaccine probably won’t arrive any time soon. Clinical trials almost never succeed. We’ve never released a coronavirus vaccine for humans before. Our record for developing an entirely new vaccine is at least four years — more time than the public or the economy can tolerate social-distancing orders. (New York Times)

7/ Trump said Michael Flynn is “in the process of being exonerated” and will “come back bigger and better,” after newly unsealed FBI records noted an internal discussion about the FBI’s handling of the case. One of the pages unsealed by a federal judge is a handwritten note about the bureau’s interview with Flynn. “What’s our goal? Truth/Admission or get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?” Elsewhere, it says, “we have a case on Flynn + Russians.” The single page of handwritten notes is dated Jan. 24, 2017, which was the same day of Flynn’s White House FBI interview. Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to charges that he lied to the FBI by falsely denying that he had conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. during the Trump transition. Flynn is now seeking to withdraw his guilty plea. Trump, meanwhile, argued his former national security adviser was victimized by “dirty, filthy cops at the top of the FBI,” saying “Look at what they did to the guy. I mean, he couldn’t have known too much [about] what was happening.” (CBS News / Politico / NBC News / NPR)

8/ Roger Stone is appealing his conviction and three-year prison sentence for seeking to impede congressional and FBI investigations into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016. Stone’s lawyers filed the notice in federal court, appealing his prison sentence and a judge’s order denying Stone’s request for a new trial based on Stone’s accusations of jury bias. The FBI reportedly advised Stone’s legal team that they plan to delay his surrender date to begin his prison sentence by at least 30 days because of COVID-19. (Associated Press / Politico / ABC News)

9/ The head of the Trump’s Domestic Policy Council resigned and will leave the administration next month. Joe Grogan is the latest official to depart following the arrival of Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Grogan was considered an ally of Meadows’ predecessor, Mick Mulvaney. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

poll/ 67% of voters approved of states holding elections exclusively using mail-in voting rather than having people go in-person to the polls, while 33% disapprove. (The Hill)

Day 1196: "A great success story."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,173,000; Total deaths: ~225,000; Total recoveries: ~960,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,031,000; Total deaths: ~60,200; Total recoveries: ~117,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • U.S. GDP contracted 4.8% in the first quarter – the first negative reading since the first quarter of 2014 and the worst result on record since the Great Recession of 2009. Economists say the first quarter is a precursor to a far grimmer report to come on the April-June period, with business shutdowns and layoffs striking with devastating force. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that economic activity will plunge this quarter at a 40% annual rate. (CNBC / Associated Press / Vox)

  • Trump said existing coronavirus social distancing guidelines – set to expire with the end of April – will not be extended further. The administration said the existing social distancing recommendations will “be fading out, because now the governors are doing it.” (NPR)

  • Millions of municipal workers could find themselves out of a job or without pay as cities and states face an urgent financial crisis, according to a new estimate from the National League of Cities. The reductions in staffing could affect education, sanitation, safety and health, and more. (Washington Post)

  • Several states warned residents who are called back to work that they may be cut off from unemployment benefits if they refuse to return because they don’t feel safe. Concern about exposure to coronavirus is typically not a sufficient enough reason to stay home and continue collecting benefits, according to a recent guidance from the US Department of Labor. (CNN)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / CNBC / NBC News / CNN / CBS News / ABC News / NPR / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal


1/ Jared Kushner called the coronavirus crisis “a great success story” as the U.S. death toll crossed 60,000, with more than one million COVID-19 cases confirmed. “We’re on the other side of the medical aspect of this,” Kushner claimed in an interview with Fox News without citing evidence. “We’ve achieved all the different milestones that are needed. The federal government rose to the challenge.” Kushner also promised that that much of the country could be “back to normal” by June and for the nation to be “really rocking again” by July. [Editor’s note: Jared Kushner is a shithead.] (Daily Beast / CNN / The Hill / Business Insider)

  • CDC data suggests that the U.S. coronavirus death toll is far higher than reported. Total deaths in seven states are nearly 50% higher than normal for the five weeks from March 8 through April 11. (New York Times)

  • Florida officials stopped releasing the list of coronavirus deaths being compiled by Florida’s medical examiners. Earlier this month, the medical examiners’ death count was 10% higher than the figure released by the Florida Department of Health. (Tampa Bay Times)

  • Trump’s re-election campaign launched a digital ad campaign of Democratic governors praising his response to the coronavirus crisis. This ad splices together statements from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham each saying something positive about Trump or the federal government. (CNN)

2/ Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that a second round of the coronavirus is “inevitable.” He added that “we have put into place all of the countermeasures” to address the pandemic, but “If we don’t do that successfully, we could be in for a bad fall and a bad winter.” If states begin lifting restrictions too early, Fauci said the country could see a rebound of the virus that would “get us right back in the same boat that we were a few weeks ago.” (CNN)

  • The federal government ordered 100,000 new COVID-19 body bags for what officials described as preparations for a “worst possible case national scenario.” The order, costing $5.1 million, was placed April 21 by FEMA. Trump, however, said he expected that the pandemic could cost 60,000 to 70,000 lives in the U.S. (Wall Street Journal / NBC News)

3/ The FDA plans to announce emergency authorization for remdesivir after a federal trial showed the experimental antiviral drug could speed recovery in patients infected with the coronavirus. Dr. Anthony Fauci said the drug had produced a minor improvement in deaths — 11% for the placebo and 8% for remdesivi – and that patients given remdesivir recovered 31% faster than those given a placebo. Dr. Fauci hailed the results as “highly significant” but added that while the result “doesn’t seem like a knockout,” it was a strong “proof of concept.” He cautioned, however, that the results of the study overseen by his agency, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, still needs to be peer reviewed. However, a separate study of remdesivir – released today – concluded that the drug failed to improve patients’ condition or reduce the pathogen’s presence in the bloodstream, compared with placebo. Remdesivir has never been approved as a treatment for any disease. It was developed to fight Ebola, but results from a clinical trial in Africa were disappointing. Nevertheless, the FDA has been in “sustained and ongoing” discussions with Gilead Sciences to make remdesivir available to COVID-19 patients “as quickly as possible, as appropriate.” Note: An emergency authorization by the FDA is not the same as a drug approval by the agency. When the federal government declares a public health emergency, the FDA can approve certain drugs or tests to address the emergency if there are no other alternatives. (New York Times / Washington Post / Bloomberg / Reuters / CNBC / STAT News / Axios / NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

  • The Trump administration has been organizing a Manhattan Project-style effort to cut the time needed to develop a coronavirus vaccine, with a goal to have 100 million doses ready by year’s end. Called “Operation Warp Speed,” the program will pull together private pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and the military to try to cut the development time for a vaccine by eight months. Separately, a group calling themselves Scientists to Stop COVID-19 has acted as the go-between for pharmaceutical companies looking for a link to Trump administration decision makers. The group, comprised of chemical biologists, an immunobiologist, a neurobiologist, a chronobiologist, an oncologist, a gastroenterologist, an epidemiologist and a nuclear scientist, are working as an ad hoc review board for the research on the coronavirus, weeding out flawed studies before they reach policy makers. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal)

4/ Trump – providing no evidence – promised that the U.S. will be able to carry out more than five million coronavirus tests per day “very soon” after a Harvard University study said the U.S. needed to be capable of carrying out at least 5 million tests a day by early June – and 20 million per day by late July – in order to safely reopen the economy. He later claimed that he never said that, blaming it on a “media trap.” Since the beginning of the year, however, the Trump administration has conducted 5.7 million tests in total. And, the largest number of tests conducted by the U.S. in a single day was 314,182. Trump didn’t offer how his administration was going to account for the 1,500% increase in testing, but assured those at the briefing: “If you look at the numbers, it could be that we’re getting very close,” adding “I don’t know that all of that’s even necessary.” Trump also credited expanded testing for the 1 million confirmed cases of coronavirus that the U.S. has reported, saying “It’s a number that in one way sounds bad but in another is an indication our testing is more superior.” On March 6, Trump said that anyone who wanted a coronavirus test could get one. Dr. Fauci, however, said Tuesday that “Hopefully, we should see that as we get towards the end of May, the beginning of June.” (Time / Washington Post / Bloomberg / CNN / CBS News / Vox)

5/ Trump ordered U.S. intelligence agencies to find out whether China and the World Health Organization initially hid what they knew about the coronavirus pandemic as it emerged. The White House sent a specific “tasking” to the National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency seeking information about the early days of the outbreak, specifically what the WHO knew about two research labs studying coronaviruses in Wuhan, China. The CIA received similar instructions. “Understanding the origins of the virus is important to help the world respond to this pandemic but also to inform rapid-response efforts to future infectious disease outbreaks,” a White House spokesperson said. (NBC News)

  • A debate over an executive order to boost American production of medical supplies has gripped the White House, as Trump weighs how to confront China over the coronavirus outbreak without exacerbating the economic crisis sparked by the pandemic. (Washington Post)

poll/ 47% of adults in the U.S. said they were “very” or “somewhat” likely to follow recommendations from Trump when it comes to the coronavirus — 15% lower than a month ago. 98% of Americans said they would not try to inject themselves with bleach or other disinfectants if they got the coronavirus. (Reuters)

poll/ 50% of Americans say they or someone in their household has either lost hours or a job due to the coronavirus — up from 18% a month ago. (NPR)

poll/ 85% of Americans said it was a bad idea to have students return to schools without adequate testing, a vaccine or medications to treat coronavirus. Americans also said it was a bad idea to have people return to work (65%), allow large groups of people to attend sporting events (91%), and reopen restaurants (80%). (PBS)


✏️ Notables.

  1. The Senate Intelligence Committee is preparing to hold a confirmation hearing next week for Trump’s nominee for Director of National Intelligence, Rep. John Ratcliffe, when lawmakers return to Washington. Confirming Ratcliffe as the nation’s top intelligence official would send Richard Grenell, the acting director of national intelligence, back to Berlin for his primary job of U.S. ambassador to Germany. (CNN / Politico)

  2. A former economist at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accused Trump’s appointees of manipulating the bureau’s research to justify reversing payday lending rules. On his final day of work at the nation’s consumer finance watchdog agency, Jonathan Lanning detailed several attempts by his political apointees that he considered legally risky and scientifically indefensible, including pressuring staff economists to water down their findings on payday loans and using statistical gimmicks to downplay the harm consumers would suffer if the payday restrictions were repealed. (New York Times)

  3. Nearly three-dozen unsealed search warrants reveal a web of contacts between Roger Stone, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and other key figures in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election. Weeks after Robert Mueller was appointed special counsel in the Russia investigation, Stone reassured Assange in a Twitter message that if prosecutors came after him, “I will bring down the entire house of cards.” Investigators from Mueller’s investigation also told a judge that Stone orchestrated hundreds of fake Facebook accounts and bloggers to run a political influence scheme on social media in 2016. (CNN / Politico / Associated Press)

Day 1195: "Can't imagine why."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,095,000; Total deaths: ~216,000; Total recoveries: ~920,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~1,005,000; Total deaths: ~58,000; Total recoveries: ~115,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • U.S. reported 1 million confirmed coronavirus cases — nearly a third of the global total. The U.S. also has the world’s highest death toll from the virus, with more than 56,700 deaths reported by Tuesday afternoon — more than one-quarter of the 213,000 deaths confirmed around the world. (CBS News / Wall Street Journal)

  • The U.S. consumer confidence index plunged to its lowest point since June 2014 – to 86.9, down from 118.8 in March. (CBS News)

  • Trump is expected to invoke the Defense Production Act to classify meat-processing plants as essential infrastructure that must remain open to head off a disruption to the food supply. The government will provide additional protective gear for employees as well as guidance. (Bloomberg / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / NPR / NBC News / CBS News / ABC News / CNN / The Guardian / Wall Street Journal / CNBC

  • 👑 Portrait of a President.

  • Inside Donald Trump and Jared Kushner’s two months of magical thinking. Obsessed with impeachment and their enemies and worried about the stock market, the president and his son-in-law scapegoated HHS Secretary Alex Azar, and treated the coronavirus as mostly a political problem as it moved through the country. (Vanity Fair)

  • Briefings were “not worth the time,” but Trump couldn’t stay away. Just hours after his own White House officially canceled his planned appearance, the lure of the cameras in the Rose Garden proved too hard to resist. (New York Times)

  • Trump campaign lashes out over “Don’t defend Trump” memo. A strategy memo on coronavirus distributed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee infuriated Trump aides. (Politico)


1/ Trump announced a new federal coronavirus testing “blueprint” for governors lifting stay-at-home restrictions. Trump billed the plan as a “phased and very safe reopening” of the U.S. over the next few months, despite the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States crossing 1 million. Republican and Democratic governors, meanwhile, warned of financial calamity if Washington doesn’t provide relief. (NBC News / CNN / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal)

  • Trump’s guidance puts burden on states to reach COVID-19 testing targets. (The Guardian)

  • Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said states that had poorly managed budgets before coronavirus should not be rescued by the federal government. Mnuchin said he approves of local governments using coronavirus funding to enforce public safety through law enforcement, but not for revenue lost because of the economic shutdown or “states that were mismanaged” before the pandemic hit. Mitch McConnell, meanwhile, said he is open to providing reeling states and cities with relief, but that he will “insist” Congress limit the liabilities of health care workers, business owners, and employees from lawsuits. (Bloomberg / Politico / New York Times)

  • Mitch McConnell panned Trump’s idea of using a coronavirus stimulus bill to fund major infrastructure investment, saying “We need to keep the White House in the box.” (Axios)

  • The Federal Reserve plans buy $500 billion in bonds issued by large companies, but won’t require them to limit dividends, executive compensation and stock buybacks, and does not direct the companies to maintain certain employment levels. (Washington Post)

2/ Trump urged governors to “seriously consider” reopening their public schools before the end of the academic year as part of his push to restart the economy. Trump told the governors on a conference call to “maybe get going on it” because “young children have done very well in this disaster that we’ve all gone through” and that “a lot of people are wanting to have school openings.” Dozens of states, however, already have said it would be unsafe for students to return until the summer or fall. (CNN / ABC News)

3/ Attorney General William Barr directed federal prosecutors to look for state and local coronavirus restrictions that go too far or violate constitutional rights. Barr instructed the assistant attorney general in charge of the Civil Rights Division, along with all 93 U.S. attorneys, to be “on the lookout for state and local directives that could be violating the constitutional rights and civil liberties of individual citizens.” Barr warned that many policies “that would be unthinkable in regular times have become commonplace in recent weeks,” and said that although some of the restrictions imposed by state and local governments have been necessary to slow the spread of the virus, “there is no denying that they have imposed tremendous burdens on the daily lives of all Americans.” (NBC News / Washington Post)

4/ Trump takes no responsibility for any increase in the number of people misusing disinfectants, despite suggesting that ingesting disinfectants might serve as a coronavirus treatment. When asked about the increase in people improperly using disinfectants, Trump said he “can’t imagine why” people might think it was a potential treatment for the virus. When asked if he takes responsibility, Trump said: “No, I don’t.” (CNN / Independent)

5/ Pence toured the Mayo Clinic without a mask despite the medical facility requiring all visitors wear masks to avoid spreading the coronavirus. The clinic tweeted, then deleted the tweet, that Pence’s office was informed of the masking policy prior to his visit. (CNBC / NBC News / The Guardian / New York Times)

6/ The House won’t return to Washington next week, abruptly reversing course a day after announcing that it would reconvene next week. The change of course comes after a backlash from members in both parties who warned the move would be unsafe. (Politico / NBC News)

poll/ 66% of Americans say their state’s current restrictions on businesses are appropriate, 17% said they were too restrictive, and 16% said they weren’t restrictive enough. 64% said the current restrictions on the size of public gatherings were appropriate, 14% said they were too restrictive, and 22% said they were not restrictive enough. (Washington Post)

poll/ 89% of Americans are worried about the U.S. economy collapsing during the coronavirus pandemic. 56% of Republicans worry their communities are opening up too soon, while 88% of Democrats feel the same. (Axios)

Day 1194: "Not worth the time and effort."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~3,020,000; Total deaths: ~210,000; Total recoveries: ~886,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~980,000; Total deaths: ~56,000; Total recoveries: ~108,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • The World Health Organization warned that there is “no evidence” that people who have had COVID-19 are immune from getting the virus again. The WHO also recommended that countries refrain from issuing “immunity passports” to people who have been infected with the coronavirus. (NPR / CNN / Vox)

  • The death toll from coronavirus could be 60% higher than reported in official counts. Mortality statistics show 122,000 deaths in excess of normal levels across 14 countries analyzed. In the early weeks of the coronavirus epidemic, the U.S. recorded an estimated 15,400 excess deaths – nearly twice as many as were attributed to COVID-19 at the time. (Financial Times / Washington Post)

  • U.S. intelligence agencies warned Trump about the coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings in January and February. For weeks, the President’s Daily Brief traced the spread of the coronavirus, made clear that China was suppressing information about the transmissibility and death toll, and raised the prospect of political and economic consequences. (Washington Post)

  • Democrats will push for a vote-by-mail provision in the next coronavirus relief package, according to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Trump, however, opposes the idea and has urged Republicans to fight the effort. (NBC News)

  • Tyson Foods: “The food supply chain is breaking” and “millions of pounds of meat will disappear” from the national food supply chain as the coronavirus outbreak forces the closure of some of the country’s biggest slaughterhouses, where tens of thousands of animals are processed daily. One commodity broker/livestock analyst suggested that “around May 1, shortages will begin developing at retail meat counters.” (NBC News / Washington Post / Bloomberg / The Guardian)

  • The White House is finalizing expanded guidelines to allow the phased reopening of the country, including schools and camps, child-care programs, certain workplaces, houses of worship, restaurants and mass transit. (Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration is prepared to send all 50 states enough tests to screen at least 2% of residents for the coronavirus. A senior administration official claimed that testing 2% of each state’s population was the minimum needed to maintain public health. Trump is scheduled to make the announcement this afternoon in a meeting with retail executives. (Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / The Guardian / NBC News / CNN / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / ABC News / CBS News

  • 👑 Portrait of a president.

  • Transcripts of Trump’s White House coronavirus briefings reveal a display of presidential hubris and self-pity unlike anything historians say they have seen before. After analyzing than 260,000 words Trump has spoken at the briefings about the virus, the most recurring utterances are self-congratulations, roughly 600 of them, which are predicated on exaggerations and falsehoods. Trump credits others (more than 360 times) for their work, but he also blames others (more than 110 times) for inadequacies the response. Trump’s attempts to display empathy or appeal to national unity (about 160 instances) amount to a quarter of the number of times he complimented himself or a top member of his team. (New York Times)

  • Trump has spoken for more than 28 hours in the 35 daily coronavirus task force briefings held since March 16 – eating up 60% of the time that officials spoke. Over the past three weeks, the tally comes to more than 13 hours of Trump — including two hours spent on attacks and 45 minutes praising himself and his administration, but just 4½ minutes expressing condolences for coronavirus victims. He spent twice as much time promoting an unproven antimalarial drug that was the object of a Food and Drug Administration warning Friday. Trump also said something false or misleading in nearly a quarter of his prepared comments or answers to questions, the analysis shows. (Washington Post)

  • The White House claimed Trump works so much that he sometimes skips lunch. Staffers said Trump works around the clock and can make five dozen work-related calls a day during the pandemic, refuting a report that he spends his days obsessing over TV coverage and eating fries. (New York Post)

  • Trump’s suggestion about injecting disinfectants raises a question about the “very stable genius.” Trump’s self-assessment has been consistent: “I’m, like, a very smart person,” he assured voters in 2016; “A very stable genius,” he said two years later; “I’m not a doctor,” he allowed on Thursday, pointing to his head, “but I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.” But then Trump suggested that an “injection inside” the body with a disinfectant like bleach could help fight the coronavirus. (New York Times)


1/ Trump tweeted that his daily coronavirus briefings were “not worth the time and effort” because – he claims – he’s asked “hostile questions” by the press, who “get record ratings.” After nearly 50 coronavirus press briefings in March and April, Trump’s aides and allies are worried that his appearances are backfiring and damaging his reelection prospects. White House officials also said they are evaluating whether to reduce his participation in news conferences after Trump suggested that people might be able to inject household cleaning products and disinfectants to deter the coronavirus. (NBC News / Politico / The Guardian / Axios)

  • The White House scheduled, canceled, and then rescheduled Trump’s coronavirus briefing today. White House press secretary Kaleigh McEnany, after announcing the briefing cancellation earlier Monday, tweeted its reinstatement, saying the briefings “may have a different look” this week. (CNN / ABC News / Politico / Axios / The Hill)

  • Dr. Deborah Birx downplayed Trump’s suggestion that injecting disinfectants and light could work as treatments for coronavirus, arguing the news media should move on from the incident. The White House coronavirus response coordinator said “It bothers me that this is still in the news cycle, because I think we’re missing the bigger pieces of what we need to be doing as an American people to continue to protect one another.” (Politico / The Guardian)

2/ The White House plans to shift its coronavirus messaging toward the economy by highlighting “success stories” of businesses while reducing its public emphasis on health statistics – days after he publicly mused that scientists should explore the injection of disinfectants as a potential virus cure. The coronavirus task force “will continue but take a back seat to the forward-looking, ‘what’s next’ message,” a White House official said. (Axios / Associated Press)

  • The Small Business Administration’s system to apply for coronavirus relief loans went down four minutes after it opened. Congress allocated an additional $310 billion for Paycheck Protection Program loans last week after the initial allotment of about $350 billion ran out on April 16. (Politico / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • Coronavirus stimulus check recipients will also receive a letter from Trump explaining why they’re getting the money. The one-page letter is signed by Trump and comes in an envelope from the IRS. It reads, in part, “We are fully committed to ensuring that you and your family have the support you need to get through this time,” and includes the exact amount of money the person will receive and how. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, meanwhile, is planning to introduce a provision – called the “No PR Act” – in the next coronavirus package that would stop Trump from putting his name on any additional stimulus checks. (CNN / Politico)

3/ Dr. Deborah Birx: “Social distancing will be with us through the summer.” Although recent trends have given her “great hope” for a slow reopening over the next few months, Birx added that the U.S. needs a “breakthrough” on coronavirus testing to get a more accurate picture of the virus’ spread as more than a dozen states prepare to loosen restrictions on social and business interactions. Dr. Anthony Fauci, meanwhile, said the U.S. should at least double coronavirus testing efforts in the coming weeks before starting to reopen the economy. The U.S. currently goes through anywhere between 1.5 million and 2 million tests per week, but Fauci says “we should probably should get up to twice that as we get into the next several weeks.” He added: “And I think we will.” (Washington Post / NBC News / Vox / Politico / Philadelphia Inquirer)

4/ State Department officials have stripped references to the WHO from coronavirus fact sheets, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has instructed employees to “cut out the middle man” when it comes to public health initiatives the U.S. previously supported through the WHO. The U.S. is also attempting to reroute the WHO funds to nongovernmental organizations involved in public health after Trump announced a 60-day hold on U.S. funds to the WHO. (Washington Post / Bloomberg)

5/ Trump denied that he was going to fire Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar after it was reported that White House officials were discussing possible replacements as frustrations have grown over Azar’s handling of the coronavirus crisis earlier this year, and the uproar following the removal of a top vaccine official in his agency last week. Trump, however, insisted that Azar was “doing an excellent job.” (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal /CNN / Politico / CNN / Politico)

6/ Trump tweeted — and later deleted — a series of attacks against journalists who received awards for their reporting on Russia and the Mueller investigation. He called on all reporters who received “Noble Prizes” – misspelling the word “Nobel” – to return them “so that they can be given to the REAL REPORTERS & JOURNALISTS who got it right.” The Nobel Prize, however, is not awarded for works of journalism. Trump then quickly deleted the tweets and claimed he was only being sarcastic when he posted them. “Does sarcasm ever work?” he tweeted. It is the second time over the last two weeks that Trump has tried to deflect blame for his comments by claiming that he was being sarcastic. (Business Insider / Washington Post / CNBC / Independent)

poll/ 60% of Americans support mail-in voting for the 2020 presidential election, including 46% of Republicans and 73% of Democrats. (Associated Press)

Day 1191: "Just to see what would happen."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~2,790,000; Total deaths: ~196,000; Total recoveries: ~781,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~890,000; Total deaths: ~51,000; Total recoveries: ~97,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • Trump said social distancing guidelines “may” be extended into summer – or later – as states shift gears and plan the reopening of their economies. (CBS News)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian / CBS News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal

  • 👑 Portrait of a president.

  • Home alone at the White House: A sour president, with TV his constant companion. As his administration grapples with reopening the economy and responding to the coronavirus crisis, Trump worries about his re-election and how the news media is portraying him. (New York Times)

  • Fifty thousand Americans dead from the coronavirus, and a president who refuses to mourn them. To the extent that Trump discusses those who have died, he does so in self-justifying terms, framing the pandemic as an externally imposed catastrophe that would have been worse without him.(New Yorker)

  • “This guy hasn’t changed one iota”: Coronavirus or not, it’s the same old Trump. Crises change most presidents. Not this one. (Politico)


1/ The death toll from the coronavirus pandemic surpassed 50,000 in the U.S. – three months after the nation’s first confirmed case. 10 days ago, the number of recorded deaths stood at 25,000. Worldwide, confirmed coronavirus cases exceeded 2.78 million, with more than 195,000 dead. The U.S. accounts for nearly a third of the cases and more than a quarter of the deaths. Experts say a lack of widespread testing and differences in reporting standards could be masking the extent of the virus’s spread. Some states, meanwhile, began reopening and Trump signed stimulus legislation to boost small businesses, hospitals, and testing. (Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / Bloomberg)

  • The House approved a $484 billion coronavirus relief bill by a vote of 388-5-1. The bill is the fourth relief package aimed at addressing the economic impact of the virus. The money will go toward replenishing two small business relief programs, funding hospitals, and expanding testing. The bill now heads to Trump, who has said he will probably sign it into law. (New York Times / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / Reuters)

  • Trump said he would not approve an emergency loan for the U.S. Postal Service if it did not immediately raise its prices for package delivery. “The Post Office is a joke,” Trump told reporters. “The Post Office should raise the price [of package delivery] four times.” (Washington Post)

  • Trump’s commencement address at West Point will bring back 1,000 cadets who had scattered across the country. The June graduation was initially postponed because of the coronavirus and the cadets were sent home. The White House said Trump left it up to the school to decide whether it was safe to hold a graduation ceremony. Nothing had been decided until last Friday, April 17, when Trump was asked about Pence’s coming trip to the Air Force Academy. Trump told reporters that he would be speaking at the West Point graduation, noting that he hoped the “look” of the ceremony would be “nice and tight” because he did not like the look of a socially distanced graduation. (New York Times)

2/ Health officials, the makers of Lysol and Clorox, doctors, and lawmakers all warned against ingesting household disinfectants and cleaning products after Trump speculated that an “injection” of disinfectants could be a cure for the coronavirus. Trump proposed the idea at the White House briefing on Thursday after Bill Bryan, the head of science at the Department of Homeland Security, presented government research about how sunlight and disinfectants — including bleach and alcohol — can kill the coronavirus on surfaces. Trump then spoke about disinfectants, saying: “I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute. And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside or almost a cleaning? As you see, it gets in the lungs, it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.” Bryan also said that “The virus dies quickest in sunlight,” leaving Trump to wonder aloud whether you could “hit the body with a tremendous” light “inside the body,” because “the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s pretty powerful.” Trump, pointing to his head, continued: “I’m not a doctor. But I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.” He added: “So it’d be interesting to check that.” Meanwhile, the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, suggested that Trump’s comments were taken out of context. (NBC News / New York Times / CNN / Axios / Politico / BBC / USA Today / The Guardian / Bloomberg / New York Times)

  • Lysol maker warns against internal use of disinfectants after Trump comments. (NBC News / BuzzFeed News)

  • The EPA: “Never apply the product to yourself or others. Do not ingest disinfectant products.” (NBC News)

3/ Trump claimed he was being “very sarcastic” – “just to see what would happen” – when he proposed that disinfectants, like bleach, could be injected inside people to fight the coronavirus. Trump, during an Oval Office signing for the Paycheck Protection Program, claimed he “was asking a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside […] That was done in the form of a sarcastic question to the reporters.” (Washington Post / ABC News / NBC News / PBS / The Hill / Vox)

  • The leader of an organization called Genesis II Church of Health and Healing told Trump that chlorine dioxide – a lethal industrial bleach – “can rid the body of COVID-19” days before Trump promoted disinfectant as a treatment. In his letter, Mark Grenon, an “archbishop” of Genesis II, told Trump that chlorine dioxide is “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body.” Since the start of the pandemic, Genesis II has been marketing his “miracle mineral solution” as a cure to coronavirus, advising users, including children, to mix three to six drops of bleach in water and drink it. Last week, the Justice Department granted a temporary injunction to halt the sale of industrial bleach products by Genesis II, which was also marketing it as a cure for autism and AIDS. (The Guardian / Reuters)

4/ The FDA warned doctors against prescribing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of the coronavirus except in hospitals and research studies. The FDA said it was aware of “serious heart problems” associated with the use of the drugs and researchers recently cut a chloroquine study short after patients developed irregular heart beats and nearly two dozen died. Scientists cited a “primary outcome” of death and said the findings should “serve to curb the exuberant use” of the drug. Trump, however, has regularly touted the drugs as a potential “game changer,” saying at one point: “What do you have to lose? I really think they should try it.” (Wall Street Journal / Associated Press / CNBC / Bloomberg / CBS News /Washington Post)

  • The Energy and Commerce health subcommittee will hold hearings on Rick Bright’s dismissal as the head of an agency helping to develop a coronavirus vaccine. Bright said he was removed after he pressed for rigorous vetting of unproven drugs embraced by Trump. (New York Times)

5/ Trump is reportedly tens of millions of dollars in debt to China. In 2012, Trump’s real estate partner refinanced the Trump Tower in Manhattan for almost $1 billion. The debt includes $211 million from the state-owned Bank of China, which matures in 2022. Trump owns a 30% stake in the property. [Editor’s note: A correction was issued by Politico.] (Politico / The Guardian / Washington Post)

6/ A second U.S. Navy ship has been impacted by a coronavirus outbreak while at sea. The USS Kidd has been hit with an outbreak of at least 18 cases. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, meanwhile, has seen 840 sailors test positive for coronavirus. (CNN)

  • The Navy’s top officials recommended that Capt. Brett Crozier be restored to command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier. Capt. Crozier was removed from command after sending a letter pleading for help to fight the coronavirus on his aircraft carrier. (New York Times / CNN)

Day 1190: "The worst is yet to come."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~2,700,000; Total deaths: ~187,000; Total recoveries: ~731,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~856,000; Total deaths: ~47,000; Total recoveries: ~78,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉

  • New York antibody study estimates 13.9% of residents have had the coronavirus. (CNBC)

  • 💻 Live Blog: New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / The Guardian / ABC News / CBS News / CNBC / Wall Street Journal

  • 💡 Insights and Analysis.

  • Rare thing for WTFJHT to share analysis and opinion articles, but it’s also important to gain perspective by contextualizing the news through a variety of viewpoints. So, here you go.

  • The risk of a US double-dip depression is real. Reopening states to boost the economy despite the scientific evidence will do more damage than good. (Financial Times)

  • There’s a growing possibility of a W-shaped economic recovery — and it’s scary. A resurgence of the virus or a spike in defaults and bankruptcies could lead to another painful economic downturn. (Washington Post)

  • Opening up the economy won’t save the economy. There’s best available evidence casts doubt on the idea that enough customers will return to make it possible for small businesses to stay viable without additional government assistance. (Vox)

  • Coronavirus will change the world permanently. Here’s how: A crisis on this scale can reorder society in dramatic ways, for better or worse. (Politico)

  • “Sadness” and disbelief from a world missing American leadership. The coronavirus pandemic is shaking bedrock assumptions about U.S. exceptionalism. This is perhaps the first global crisis in more than a century where no one is even looking for Washington to lead. (New York Times)


1/ More than 26 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the last five weeks – wiping out all of the job gains since the Great Recession. More than 4.4 million people filed for unemployment last week – down from more than 5.2 million the week before – which marks the fifth straight week that job losses were measured in the millions. Roughly 22 million jobs were created after the 2008 financial crisis. Economists predict that by summer the unemployment rate will be within range of the 25% peak recorded in 1933 during the Great Depression and that the U.S. GDP will shrink by around 6% this year. (Washington Post / New York Times / Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / Politico / NBC News / CNBC / Reuters / The Guardian)

  • Battleground states that Trump won in 2016 are seeing higher-than-average layoffs amid the economic fallout from the coronavirus. (Politico)

2/ The House is prepared to pass a bipartisan $484 billion spending package to replenish two small business relief programs, fund hospitals, and expand testing. The measure is expected to be approved and sent to Trump for his signature tonight after the Senate cleared the legislation on Tuesday. [Editor’s note: The House is voting on the legislation as I type this. The blog will be updated upon final approval.] (Washignton Post / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / CNN)

  • The Small Business Administration issued new guidance to make it “unlikely” for publicly traded companies to access coronavirus relief funds. The update comes after large companies tapped the Paycheck Protection Program for hundreds of millions of dollars in loans while thousands of small businesses have yet to receive funding. (CNBC)

  • The $310 billion in small business loans is likely “already exhausted.” Banking groups say the volume of applications already sent to the Small Business Administration makes it likely that much, if not all, of the new money will go to those already in the queue. Any new applicants would likely miss out on this funding round. (CBS News)

3/ The House established a special committee to investigate the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and the multi-trillion-dollar government rescue effort. The committee is charged with examining the implementation of the coronavirus relief packages and scrutinizing “preparedness for and response to the coronavirus crisis.” It will have the power to subpoena documents and witnesses. No Republicans voted in favor of the new panel, which passed along party lines, 212 to 182. (New York Times / Washington Post)

4/ A day after praising the decision, Trump denounced Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s decision to allow businesses reopen, saying he “strongly” disagreed with the move. On Tuesday, Trump lauded Kemp’s decision to allow businesses like barbershops and nail salons to reopen and called him a “capable man who knows what he’s doing.” Trump, however, reversed course at his daily coronavirus press briefing on Wednesday, saying “it’s too soon” to reopen and that “I disagree strongly with his decision to open certain facilities.” Trump added that he wants Kemp “to do what he thinks is right. But I disagree with him on what he’s doing.” (NBC News / Washington Post / Politico / New York Times / CBS News / Atlantic Journal-Constitution)

  • Members of the coronavirus task force sent Dr. Deborah Birx to convince Trump to oppose Kemp’s decision to reopen businesses in his state. At a meeting before Wednesday’s briefing, task force members discussed Kemp’s move to open up many businesses, such as nail salons and bowling alleys. “I cannot defend this publicly,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said to others at the meeting. Dr. Birx then had a private meeting with Trump just prior to the news conference and to convince him to denounce Kemp’s decision. (CNN)

5/ CDC Director Robert Redfield said he was “accurately quoted” in a Washington Post article that the fall and winter would be “more difficult” because influenza and the coronavirus would be circulating at the same time. Trump, however, opened the coronavirus task force briefing by asking Redfield to explain how he was “totally misquoted,” calling the article “fake news,” and claiming that “if [the coronavirus] should come back, you have the flu and the embers of corona, but in my opinion from everything I’ve seen, it can never be like anything like we witnessed right now.” Trump also predicted that the coronavirus may not come back at all, and if it does it will be in “embers” or “pockets.” Dr. Deborah Birx did not directly support Trump’s assertion. Later in the briefing, Dr. Anthony Fauci contradicted Trump, telling reporters that he is “convinced” that “there will be coronavirus in the fall.” (New York Times / NBC News / Washington Post / The Hill/ ABC News)

  • 📌 Day 1188: The director of the CDC warned that a second wave of the coronavirus will likely be worse because it will probably coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean. We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.” (Washington Post)

6/ The Pentagon is planning a multicity tour of the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds to “champion national unity” amid the coronavirus pandemic. The demonstration squadrons for the Navy and Air Force will fly over some cities in the next several weeks “to thank first responders, essential personnel, and military service members as we collectively battle the spread of COVID-19.” A senior military official clarified that the flyovers would avoid areas where people can congregate. (Washington Post / Axios)

7/ Trump signed an executive order temporarily suspending the issuance of green cards for 60 days. The order effectively restricts entry to people outside the U.S. seeking lawful permanent residency, but includes numerous exemptions, like those for overseas spouses and young children of American citizens. The order does not change the status of immigrants already in the U.S. Trump claimed that the executive order would “protect our great American workers” and “ensure unemployed Americans of all backgrounds will be first in line for jobs as our economy reopens. Crucially it will also preserve our health care resources for American patients.” Trump also indicated that the order could be extended “at the appropriate time.” (New York Times / Bloomberg / NBC News / ABC News / Los Angeles Times)

  • 📌 Day 1188: Trump declared – via tweet – that he will sign an executive order suspending most immigration to the U.S. because of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the move will “protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens” from “the Invisible Enemy.” The announcement comes as Trump has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. is ready to re-open despite the continued spread of the coronavirus and a U.S. death toll in the tens of thousands. A senior administration official added that the move has been “under consideration for a while,” but provided no details about the plan. Trump previously restricted travel from China and Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and most immigration into the country has already been paused, as the government has temporarily stopped processing nonworker visas. The new policy will deny entry for people seeking most types of work visas for 60 days, but exempt people seeking jobs in “food production and directly helping to protect the supply chain,” which could apply to seasonal farmworker visas. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / CBS News)

8/ The Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Water Act requires the federal government to regulate some groundwater pollutants that reach oceans, rivers, and streams. The court rejected the Trump administration’s argument that the law did not apply to pollution that traveled through groundwater, saying it would create an “obvious loophole.” (CNBC / CNN / New York Times / Washington Post)

poll/ 70% of Americans believe the country’s top priority should be to “try to slow the spread of coronavirus by keeping people home and social distancing, even if the economy is hurt in the short term.” 30%, meanwhile, think the top national priority should instead be to “try to get the economy going by sending people back to work, even if it means more people might be exposed to coronavirus.” (CBS News / Politico)

poll/ 80% of Americans say strict shelter-in-place measures are worth it in order to protect people and limit the spread of coronavirus. 51% say “the worst is yet to come” when it comes to the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. (Kaiser Family Foundation)

poll/ 29% of voters under 30 say their lives are worse under Trump’s leadership, 39% say their lives are no different, and 15% say their lives are better. (NPR)

poll/ 23% of Americans say they have a high level of trust in the information Trump provides about the coronavirus. 60% of Americans say Trump isn’t listening to health experts enough. (Associated Press)

Day 1189: "Dangerous and provocative."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~2,623,000; Total deaths: ~183,000; Total recoveries: ~707,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~842,000; Total deaths: ~46,400; Total recoveries: ~77,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • 💻 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / Wall Street Journal / NBC News / CNBC / The Guardian / NPR / ABC News / CBS News / CNN

  • ✏️ Notables.

  • The World Health Organization warned that coronavirus remains “extremely dangerous” and “will be with us for a long time.” While social distancing measures put in place in numerous countries to slow the spread of the coronavirus have been successful, current data show “most of the world’s population remains susceptible,” meaning outbreaks can easily “reignite.” (CNBC)

  • Concerns are growing that any economic recovery this year could be short-lived because of a resurgence of the coronavirus and a spike in bankruptcies and defaults. White House officials have touted the possibility of a V-shaped recovery as soon as this summer, but some economists believe a W-shaped recovery is increasingly likely. (Washington Post)

  • Health chief’s early missteps set back coronavirus response: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar waited for weeks to brief Trump on the threat, oversold his agency’s progress in the early days, and didn’t coordinate effectively across the health care divisions under his purview. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services tapped a former dog breeder with minimal public health experience to lead the agency’s day-to-day response to COVID-19 in the pandemic’s early days. The aide, Brian Harrison, had joined the department after running a dog-breeding business for six years. Some officials in the White House called him “the dog breeder.” (Reuters)

  • Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 crisis left the U.S. looking like a “third world” country on course for a second Great Depression, one of the world’s leading economists warned. Joseph Stiglitz said millions of people were turning to food banks, turning up for work due to a lack of sick pay, and dying because of health inequalities. (The Guardian)

  • 👑 The Trump administration struggles to meet the moment: The federal response has been too small in scope and short on creative solutions to meet the greatest challenge since World War II. (Politico)


1/ The director of the federal agency responsible for developing a coronavirus vaccine was removed after pressing for rigorous vetting of chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, which Trump has repeatedly embraced. Dr. Rick Bright cited “clashes with political leadership” as a reason for his abrupt dismissal as the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, as well as his resistance to “efforts to fund potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections.” Dr. Bright said that science, not “politics and cronyism” must lead the way, adding that he believed he was removed from his post because he insisted that “the billions of dollars allocated by Congress to address the COVID-19 pandemic” be put toward “safe and scientifically vetted solutions, and not in drugs, vaccines and other technologies that lack scientific merit.” He was assigned a narrower job at the National Institutes of Health. (New York Times /New York Times / CNN / STAT News / CNBC / Axios)

  • READ: Statement from leader of federal vaccine agency about his reassignment

  • Trump brushed off questions about hydroxychloroquine after weeks of touting the anti-malarial drug as a potential “game changer” against the advice of his own public health officials. On Tuesday, a new government study suggested that the drug didn’t offer any benefit in fighting COVID-19 and that its use was correlated with more deaths. When asked about the study conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs, Trump responded: “I don’t know of the report. Obviously, there have been some very good reports, and perhaps this one is not a good report. But we’ll be looking at it.” (ABC News / Washington Post)

  • 📌 Day 1188: The malaria drug widely touted by Trump showed no benefit – and more deaths – in a U.S. veterans study. About 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too. (Associated Press)

  • 📌 Day 1188: The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends against using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 patients because of potential toxicities. Trump, however, has suggested the combination might be helpful. (NPR)

  • STUDY: Sean Hannity viewers were less likely to adhere to social distancing rules and had higher local rates of infection and death than Tucker Carlson viewers. [Editor’s note: Including this not for the easy dunk, but because it illustrates how your media habits – what and who you watch – affects your worldview and decision-making ability. My recommendation for upping your media literacy is to read broadly, think critically, and maintain a healthy dose of skepticism.] (Vox)

2/ State and local governments are warning of layoffs and pay cuts after getting left out of the latest federal coronavirus relief package. The $2.2 trillion CARES Act passed last month included $150 billion in direct help for state and local governments, but an additional $150 billion in aid did not make it into the latest package, which is expected to pass Congress this week. A Congressional Research Service report last week said that “early evidence suggests that the COVID-19 economic shock will have a notable impact on state and local budgets,” pointing to the “sizable share of economic output” that derives from state and local governments. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, promised a “major package” of aid for state and local government in the next stimulus legislation. Mitch McConnell, however, said Congress should “push the pause button” on future economic relief packages and consider the potential impact on federal debt. McConnell later said he “would certainly be in favor of allowing states to use the bankruptcy route” rather than giving them a federal bailout. Separately, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said “This is a war, and we need to win this war and we need to spend what it takes to win the war.” (NBC News / Bloomberg / Politico / CNBC / Wall Street Journal)

3/ The first U.S. death from the coronavirus happened in early February – nearly three weeks earlier than U.S. health authorities had previously known. Two newly reported deaths in California have challenged the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Until now, the earliest known fatalities from the virus were believed to have occurred on Feb. 26 near Seattle. But tissue samples taken from two people who died on Feb. 6 and Feb. 17 in Santa Clara County, CA tested positive for COVID-19. It’s still unclear how those two people contracted the virus, but local public health officials say the cases are believed to be community transmissions. (New York Times / Washington Post / Los Angeles Times / San Francisco Chronicle / Wall Street Journal)

  • Chinese intelligence operatives pushed fake text messages and Facebook posts in March claiming the Trump administration was planning to lock down the entire country in order to prevent looting and rioting related to the coronavirus. One of the messages warned that the Trump administration planned to announce the lockdown “as soon as they have troops in place to help prevent looters and rioters.” The fake messages cited a Department of Homeland Security source who said he “got the call last night” and was told to “pack and be prepared for the call today with his dispatch orders.” The messages became so widespread in mid-March that the White House National Security Council had to make an announcement to clarify that they were “FAKE.” The exact origin of the messages is unclear, but six U.S. officials said American intelligence agencies have assessed that Chinese operatives helped push the messages and texts across the country. (New York Times)

4/ The Trump administration blocked undocumented college students from receiving emergency federal aid assistance for expenses like food, child care, and housing. Congress allocated $6 billion in its economic rescue package to colleges to grant to students to cover expenses related to the coronavirus pandemic. The Education Department, however, issued guidance mandating that the money be given to students who qualify for federal financial aid, meaning U.S. citizens and some legal permanent residents. (Politico / The Hill)

5/ Trump threatened – via Twitter – to “shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats” that “harass” U.S. Navy ships at sea. The threat comes days after the Pentagon claimed 11 Iranian ships took “dangerous and provocative” actions near U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships while they were conducting training operations in international waters in the Persian Gulf. The Iranian ships reportedly came within 10 yards of the bow of a U.S. Coast Guard ship. Defense Department officials characterized it as more of a warning to Iran than a shift in policy. (CNBC / CBS News / NBC News)

6/ The White House director of social media was promoted to deputy chief of staff for communications. Dan Scavino’s appointment was one of several changes by the new chief of staff, Mark Meadows, the fourth person to hold the job under Trump. (New York Times)

poll/ 72% of Florida voters think social distancing rules should continue into May. 76% say that the state’s economy should only reopen when public health officials deem it safe, compared to 17% who say it should reopen even if public health officials warn against it. (Quinnipiac)

poll/ 61% of Americans support stay-at-home orders and other efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, saying the restrictions are “about right,” 26% say the restrictions don’t go far enough, and 12% say they go too far. 22% of Republicans say the restrictions go too far, while 5% of Democrats say the same. (Associated Press)

Day 1188: "A new way of living."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~2,547,000; Total deaths: ~177,000; Total recoveries: ~680,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~817,000; Total deaths: ~44,300; Total recoveries: ~75,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉

  • ✏️ 28,000 missing deaths: Tracking the true death toll of the coronavirus crisis. (New York Times)

  • ✏️ The malaria drug widely touted by Trump showed no benefit – and more deaths – in a U.S. veterans study. About 28% who were given hydroxychloroquine plus usual care died, versus 11% of those getting routine care alone. About 22% of those getting the drug plus azithromycin died too. (Associated Press)

  • ✏️ The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recommends against using a combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin for the treatment of COVID-19 patients because of potential toxicities. Trump, however, has suggested the combination might be helpful. (NPR)

  • ✏️ Trump faces his next coronavirus test: Trump’s advisers recognize his bumpy rollout of coronavirus testing represents a major vulnerability in an election year. (Politico)

  • ✏️ We are living in a failed state: The coronavirus didn’t break America. It revealed what was already broken. (The Atlantic)

  • 💻 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / CBS News / The Guardian


1/ The White House and congressional leaders reached agreement on a $484 billion coronavirus relief package to replenish the depleted small business loan program, and provide funds for hospitals and coronavirus testing. The legislation will increase funding for the Paycheck Protection Program by $310 billion, add $60 billion to a separate small business emergency grant and loan program, direct $75 billion to hospitals, and provide $25 billion for a new coronavirus testing program. The Senate approved the measure. The House, however, is not expected to take action until Thursday morning at the earliest (to allow lawmakers time to return to Washington for a recorded vote), because Republican leaders pushed back on an effort to change the House rules to allow members to vote remotely by proxy. Trump said he would sign it into law. (New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / CNBC / Wall Street Journal / Politico)

2/ Trump declared – via tweet – that he will sign an executive order suspending most immigration to the U.S. because of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming the move will “protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens” from “the Invisible Enemy.” The announcement comes as Trump has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. is ready to re-open despite the continued spread of the coronavirus and a U.S. death toll in the tens of thousands. A senior administration official added that the move has been “under consideration for a while,” but provided no details about the plan. Trump previously restricted travel from China and Europe to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and most immigration into the country has already been paused, as the government has temporarily stopped processing nonworker visas. The new policy will deny entry for people seeking most types of work visas for 60 days, but exempt people seeking jobs in “food production and directly helping to protect the supply chain,” which could apply to seasonal farmworker visas. (New York Times / Politico / Bloomberg / Washington Post / NBC News / Associated Press / Reuters / CNN / CBS News)

  • The Trump administration is planning to repeal or suspend federal regulations for small businesses and expand an existing program that requires agencies to revoke two regulations for every new one they issue. While the plan remains in flux, changes could affect environmental policy, labor policy, workplace safety and health care, among other areas. (Washington Post)

3/ The director of the CDC warned that a second wave of the coronavirus will likely be worse because it will probably coincide with the start of flu season. “There’s a possibility that the assault of the virus on our nation next winter will actually be even more difficult than the one we just went through,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said. “And when I’ve said this to others, they kind of put their head back, they don’t understand what I mean. We’re going to have the flu epidemic and the coronavirus epidemic at the same time.” (Washington Post)

  • The World Health Organization warned that we must “ready ourselves for a new way of living for the foreseeable future” as many countries lift lockdowns and other social distancing measures. (ABC News)

  • The FDA approved the first at-home coronavirus test. The nasal swab kit is expected to go on sale to consumers in most states, with a doctor’s order, within weeks. (CBS News / New York Times)

4/ Attorney General William Barr said the Justice Department will consider taking legal action against governors who continue to impose strict social distancing rules after coronavirus cases begin to subside. Barr called some current stay-at-home orders “burdens on civil liberties” and if lawsuits were brought, his department would side against the state. Barr’s comments come days after Trump called on states under stay-at home orders – specifically Michigan, Minnesota and Virginia – to be “liberated.” (Bloomberg / NPR / The Guardian)

  • Several Southern states took steps to reopen businesses despite health officials warning that reopening too early without expansive testing could lead to a surge in new infections. South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee all moved to relax social distancing and stay-at-home orders. (Wall Street Journal)

5/ The Trump Organization asked the Trump administration for rent relief on the Trump International Hotel because of the coronavirus pandemic. The hotel is in a federally owned building on Pennsylvania Avenue. The Trump Organization inquired with the General Services Administration about changing the nearly $268,000 per month lease payments on the 60-year lease the company signed in 2013. (New York Times)

6/ A bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report reaffirmed the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusions that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of putting Trump in the Oval Office. The report rejects Trump’s repeated claims that a “deep state” intelligence community was biased against him and that Kremlin assistance to his campaign was a “hoax,” perpetrated by Democrats. The committee found “specific intelligence reporting to support the assessment that Putin and the Russian Government demonstrated a preference for candidate Trump,” and that Putin “approved and directed” aspects of the interference. (Politico / Axios / NBC News / Wall Street Journal / New York Times / ABC News)

poll/ 58% of Americans favor vote-by-mail this November because of concerns that the coronavirus may still be a public health threat. 39% do not support vote-by-mail. (NBC News)

  • Health officials in Milwaukee identified at least seven new cases of coronavirus that appear to be linked to the April 7 election. Six of the cases are in voters and one is a poll worker. Advocates of vote-by-mail say Wisconsin’s experience should be a warning to other states, saying this could be “the tip of the iceberg.” (NBC News / ABC News / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

poll/ 54% of Americans rate Trump’s coronavirus response as poor or not so good. By contrast, 72% of Americans give positive ratings to the governors of their states for the way they have dealt with the crisis. (Washington Post)

Day 1187: "Complaining."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~2,463,000; Total deaths: ~170,000; Total recoveries: ~644,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~778,000; Total deaths: ~42,000; Total recoveries: ~72,000

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📉; S&P 500 📉; Nasdaq 📉

  • ✏️ The World Health Organization warned that “the worst is yet ahead of us” in the coronavirus outbreak, reviving the alarm just as many countries ease restrictive measures aimed at reducing its spread. (NBC News)

  • ✏️ Trump’s plans to reopen the country face major obstacles. The White House sees doors opening for the economy, but health experts see them, at best, ajar. (Politico)

  • ✏️ Coronavirus in America: The year ahead. (New York Times)

  • 👑 Trump, head of government, leans into antigovernment message. With his poll numbers fading after a rally-around-the-leader bump, the president is stoking protests against stay-at-home orders. (New York Times)

  • 💻 Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / CNBC / The Guardian / ABC News / CBS News / Wall Street Journal


1/ U.S. manufacturers shipped just over a billion face masks and more than 25 million protective suits to China in January and February with encouragement from the Trump administration. In those two months, the value of protective items exported from the U.S. to China grew more than 1,000% — from $1.4 million to about $17.6 million. (Washington Post)

  • The Trump administration doesn’t have a plan to cover coronavirus treatment for the uninsured two weeks after pledging to have a plan. (Politico)

2/ Trump blamed governors for not using coronavirus testing capacity available in their states, saying they’re “complaining” and that “they don’t want to use all of the capacity that we’ve created.” Several Democrat and Republican governors, however, said they face shortages of needed supplies to conduct the tests. Public health experts said widespread testing is a key requirement for safely reopening businesses and returning to something close to normal life, but state health officials and labs have said competition for supplies and questionable results are prolonging the crisis. Trump’s own health experts have also acknowledged shortfalls in testing around the country and state officials. (CNN / Wall Street Journal)

  • Contamination at CDC facilities used to produce the test kit for detecting the coronavirus exacerbated nationwide delays in testing. (Washington Post)

  • The federal official overseeing coronavirus testing efforts was forced out of a previous position developing vaccines at Texas A&M University. Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, an unofficial member of the White House’s coronavirus task force, worked on vaccine projects at the university for eight years and “was told in 2015 he had 30 minutes to resign or he would be fired” from his post at the school. Prior to being fired, Giroir said that his work was so vital that “the fate of 50 million people will rely on us getting this done.” Giroir annual performance evaluation said he was “more interested in promoting yourself” than the health science center where he worked. He also got low marks on being a “team player.” (Washington Post / CNN)

  • Antibody research indicates coronavirus may be far more widespread than known. Of 3,300 people in California, researchers found that 2.5 to 4.2% of those tested were positive for antibodies – suggesting a far higher past infection rate than the official count. (ABC News)

  • ✏️ Antibody test, seen as key to reopening country, does not yet deliver. The tests, many made in China without FDA approval, are often inaccurate. Some doctors are misusing them. The rollout is nowhere close to the demand. (New York Times)

3/ Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to compel an unnamed company to produce 20 million more coronavirus testing swabs every month. While Trump repeatedly referred to the swabs as “easy” to procure, labs and public health officials warned that swab shortages were hurting efforts to ramp up testing nationwide. (Politico)

4/ The World Health Organization transmitted real-time information about the coronavirus directly to the Trump administration before Trump froze all U.S. funding. The Department of Health and Human Services had 17 staff members from HHS working at the WHO in January, including 16 from the CDC, “working on a variety of programs, including COVID-19 and Ebola.” The reporting contrasts Trump’s accusations that the WHO spent late 2019 “severely mismanaging” the response to the virus and was “covering up” information regarding China’s efforts to contain COVID-19. (Washington Post / Vox / CNN / ProPublica)

5/ The federal government awarded national hotel and restaurant chains millions of dollars in grants before the $349 billion small business program ran out of money. Thousands of traditional small businesses were unable to get funding as a result (including WTF Just Happened Today – chip in here, if you can). In all, more than 70 publicly traded companies reported receiving money from the program. (Washington Post)

  • The Government Accountability Office plans to have at least 30 CARES Act reviews and audits underway by the end of April. The office is required, under the $2 trillion in coronavirus relief package, to brief Congress every month and issue a bimonthly public report on its findings. (Politico)

6/ Trump proposed reopening America’s gyms after a phone call with the head of the company that owns Equinox and SoulCycle, who also happens to be a Trump supporter. The “Guidelines for Opening Up America Again” included gyms among the businesses that would reopen to the general public during “phase one” of its plan, which struck public health experts as bizarre. (Daily Beast)

  • The White House ordered federal agencies to prepare for workers to return to their offices. Agencies were told to align their reopening plans with those of the states and municipalities where they’re located. (Bloomberg)

7/ Trump’s campaign is paying Eric Trump’s wife and Trump Jr.’s girlfriend $180,000 a year each through the campaign manager’s private company, Parscale Strategy. Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle have been surrogates on the stump and taken on broad advisory roles. (HuffPost / New York Times)

8/ Trump wouldn’t say whether or not he plans to pardon Paul Manafort or Roger Stone. Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud and admitted to foreign lobbying-related crimes. Stone was convicted of lying to the FBI about his conversations with members of Trump’s 2016 campaign. When asked whether he planned to pardon Stone or Manafort, Trump replied: “You will find out.” Trump also referred to the FBI investigators involved the Russia investigation that ultimately led to Manafort’s and Stone’s convictions as “human scum,” and said Stone was “treated unfairly.” (CNN / The Independent)

  • Rick Gates asked to serve his 45-day jail sentence from his home because of concerns about the coronavirus. Gates pleaded guilty in February 2018 to one count of conspiracy against the U.S. and one count of making false statements in a federal investigation. The former Trump campaign aide also testified against Manafort. (Politico)

poll/ 58% of American voters say they’re worried the U.S. will move too quickly to relax stay-at-home restrictions. 32% say they’re more concerned that the U.S. will move too slowly to re-open the U.S. economy. (NBC News / Wall Street Journal)

poll/ 60% of Americans oppose the protests encouraged by Trump to “reopen” the country, while 22% say they support the protesters. (Yahoo News)

Day 1184: "Never fear."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • 🌍 Global: Total confirmed cases ~2,215,000; Total deaths: ~151,000; Total recoveries: ~565,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • 🇺🇸 U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~684,000; Total deaths: ~35,000; Total recoveries: ~57,100

  • 💰 Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • ✏️ Reported U.S. coronavirus deaths reach record 4,591 in 24 hours – nearly double the prior record. (Wall Street Journal)

  • ✏️ The experimental coronavirus drug remdesivir has showed promise in a Chicago clinical trial. Patients in the trial have reportedly experienced rapid recoveries from fever and respiratory symptoms, with nearly all patients being discharged in less than a week. The University of Chicago Medicine recruited 125 people with COVID-19 into Gilead Sciences’ two Phase 3 clinical trials. Of those people, 113 had severe respiratory symptoms and fever. All the patients have been treated with daily infusions of remdesivir. (STAT News / CNN)

  • 💻 Live Blogs: Washington Post / New York Times / NBC News / CBS News / ABC News / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / The Guardian


1/ Trump issued broad guidelines for states to consider as they decide whether to relax social distancing measures, but left specific plans to governors days after insisting he had the “total authority” to unilaterally open the country. Trump said the guidance is based on “hard verifiable data” and that “benchmarks must be met at each phase.” The plan, however, is a vague set of recommendations for a three-phased reopening of businesses, schools, and other gathering places that satisfy broad criteria on symptoms, cases, and hospital loads. The guidelines also suggest that states resuming normal life should plan to “independently” secure protective gear and medical equipment. Businesses, meanwhile, are advised to come up with their own protocols for temperature checks, protective gear, sanitation, and testing. And, despite Trump’s goal for a May 1 reopening, the plan does not contain a date for implementation. “You’re going to call your own shots,” Trump told governors on a conference call Thursday before announcing his “Opening Up America Again” plan, which he described as “the next front in our war.” Trump predicted that there are 29 states were “in the ballgame” and would “be able to open relatively soon,” but didn’t name any. (Washington Post / NBC News / Bloomberg / Politico / Washington Post / New York Times / Axios)

  • Testing for the coronavirus would have to be at least doubled or tripled from its current levels to allow for even a partial reopening of America’s economy, public health experts say. Without testing on a massive scale, federal and state officials and businesses lack a clear picture of who has been infected, who can safely return to work, how the virus is spreading, and when stay-at-home orders can be eased. Trump, meanwhile, tweeted that “The States have to step up their TESTING!” after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked for more help from the federal government to produce tests on a larger scale. About 1% of the U.S. has been tested for COVID-19, which remains too small to consider going back to normal routines, Dr. Dan Hanfling said, who worked in the National Healthcare Preparedness Program during the Obama and Trump administrations. “I don’t think we’re near it. I don’t think we’re close.” (NBC News / New York Times)

  • Epidemiologists warned that an influential COVID-19 model is flawed and shouldn’t be relied on as the basis for government decision making, including on “re-opening America.” The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projections were used by the Trump administration in developing national guidelines to mitigate the outbreak and have influenced the White House’s thinking on how and when to “re-open” the country. (STAT News)

  • Texas Gov. Greg Abbott encouraged retailers to start operating next Friday as “retail to go.” State parks will reopen Monday, but visitors will be required to wear face coverings. Restrictions on non-coronavirus-related surgeries and procedures will also be loosened. Michigan, Wisconsin, Idaho and other states are also looking to ease restrictions, despite inadequate testing. (Washington Post / New York Times)

  • Dr. Phil downplayed coronavirus on Fox News by exaggerating statistics about car accidents and swimming pool deaths when comparing them to COVID-19 deaths. In the segment before, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country, urged a cautious approach for states to slowly reopen their economies, saying the coronavirus was like nothing the country had ever seen before. Dr. Phil immediately undercut Dr. Fauci, arguing that states should reopen their economies even if lives might be lost in order to prevent anxiety and depression. “People are dying from the coronavirus,” Dr. Phil said. “I get that.” (HuffPost / Salon / Washington Post)

2/ Trump tweeted support for protesters in Minnesota, Michigan, and Virginia to “LIBERATE” themselves by defying stay-at-home orders — all states where protesters have gathered in public this week to demonstrate against stay-at-home orders issued by Democratic governors. Less than 24 hours after unveiling a plan that deferred to governors to determine when they could safely reopen their states, Trump sent a series of tweets calling on people to “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!; LIBERATE MINNESOTA!; LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” Trump’s tweets were sent moments after a Fox News report about protests in Minnesota and elsewhere. (Bloomberg / Politico / USA Today / ABC News / New York Times)

3/ Trump’s reelection campaign still plans to hold rallies leading up to November’s election, despite public health experts warning that large gatherings should be put on hold until as late as next year. “We will get back to those rallies, “ Tim Murtaugh said, Trump’s campaign communications director. “Never fear, the president is certain that we’re going to be back out there speaking directly to the American people.” Trump campaign officials have discussed holding rallies in states that are deemed low risk and ways to implement social distancing precautions at future rallies, but it’s not clear what would characterize a state as “low risk.” (ABC News)

4/ Trump’s campaign committee hasn’t paid 14 city governments a combined $1.82 million for public safety costs stemming from his campaign rallies. The campaign said it’s not responsible for reimbursing cities for police and public safety costs associated with its rallies. (The Center for Public Integrity)

5/ Smugglers sawed into new sections of Trump’s border wall 18 times in one month in San Diego area between Sept. 27 and Oct. 27 last year, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection records. The records don’t indicate whether the one-month span is a representative sample of how frequently people are trying to breach Trump’s border barrier. (Washington Post)

  • The Army Corps of Engineers awarded a politically connected Montana firm $569 million to build “17.17 miles” of the border wall. (Daily Beast)

6/ Michael Cohen will be released from prison due to the coronavirus pandemic. The federal Bureau of Prisons notified Cohen’s attorney that he will be able to serve the remainder of his three-year sentence — which ends in November 2021 — under house arrest instead of in prison. Trump’s former personal attorney will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine in prison before he is released. (CNN / NBC News)

7/ A federal judge denied Roger stone’s request for a new trial, who was convicted last year of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his conversations with members of the Trump 2016 campaign. Stone alleged that the forewoman of the jury engaged in juror misconduct by lying on a questionnaire as the jury was being selected. Judge Amy Berman Jackson’s dismissal of Stone’s retrial request means Stone could begin serving his 40-month prison sentence as soon as two weeks from now. Judge Jackson also lifted the gag order placed on Stone, which prohibited him from discussing Robert Mueller’s cases or his own case on social media (CNBC / CNN / Washington Post / NBC News)

poll/ 65% of Americans say Trump waited too long to take to address the threat of the coronavirus in the U.S. 47% of Republicans say criticizing the Trump administration’s response to the virus is acceptable, while 85% of Democrats feel the same. (Pew Research Center / Axios)

poll/ 31% of Americans believe a return to normalcy will come by June 1 – down from 44% who said the same at the beginning of April. 18% think they’ll return to their regular daily routine by July 1, 26% by the end of summer, and 25% expect to resume their normal life by the end of the year or later. (ABC News)

Day 1183: "Call your own shots."

  • 🔥 Daily Damage Report.

  • Global: Total confirmed cases ~2,135,000; Total deaths: ~142,200; Total recoveries: ~541,000. (Johns Hopkins University)

  • U.S.: Total confirmed cases ~654,300; Total deaths: ~32,200; Total recoveries: ~53,700

  • Markets: Dow 📈; S&P 500 📈; Nasdaq 📈

  • More than 9,000 U.S. health care workers have been infected with the coronavirus.

  • COVID-19 is becoming one of America’s leading cause of death. COVID-19 killed more people from April 6 to April 12 than any other cause of death except heart disease typically does in a normal April week. (Washington Post)

  • Live Blogs: New York Times / Washington Post / NBC News / The Guardian / ABC News / CBS News / CNN


1/ Trump’s new federal guidelines for opening up the country will put the onus on governors to decide how and when to restart their economies. Trump told governors on a conference call that “You’re going to call your own shots. You’re going to be calling the shots. We’ll be standing right alongside of you and we’re going to get our country open and get it working.” He added that “You states with beautifully low numbers, let’s get your states open and get back to work” on May 1. The new guidelines, formally known as Opening Up America Again, are a reversal from three days ago when Trump insisted that “the president of the United States calls the shots” and that he had the “total” authority to decide how and when the country reopen. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times / Axios / Washington Post / NBC News / CNN / Bloomberg)

  • 📌 Day 1181: Trump falsely claimed “I have the ultimate authority” over states to reopen the country once the coronavirus pandemic shows signs of receding, despite governors forging ahead with their own plans. Trump added: “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that’s the way it’s got to be. … It’s total. The governors know that.” When asked by reporters what provisions of the Constitution gave him the power to override the states if they wanted to remain closed, Trump responded by saying: “Numerous provisions,” without naming any. “The president of the United States calls the shots. [States] can’t do anything without the approval of the president of the United States.” The Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, meanwhile, states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” (New York Times / Washington Post / ABC News)

  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo tapped McKinsey & Company to develop a science-based, “Trump-proof” economic plan to reopen the region with the goal of thwarting pressure from Trump to move faster. Meanwhile, New York and other East Coast states extended the shutdown of nonessential businesses to May 15.(Reuters / CNBC)

  • The governors of Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky will coordinate reopening the Midwest regional economy. The governors said they will focus on four factors when determining when best to reopen: sustained rate of new infections and hospitalizations, ability to test and trace, health care capacity to handle resurgence, and best practices for social distancing in the workplace. (CNN)

  • ✏️ The Trump administration invited a bipartisan group of lawmakers to participate in a task force to address when the country should return to normal. (Politico)

  • ✏️ Widespread testing a barrier for reopening country as White House seeks plan. White House aides scramble to ramp up testing in the U.S., but there’s no clear plan yet. (NBC News)


  • 🤦‍♂️ Dept. of People Are Very Dumb.

  • A protest movement is taking hold targeting states that have extended social-distancing rules, closed schools, and restricted access to large religious gatherings. Trumpists are urging people to leave their homes to own the libs. (Daily Beast)

  • Michiganders believe Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer latest stay-at-home order went too far, accusing her of stripping them of their constitutional rights. Online, they pledged to protest, signed petitions calling for her recall and joined Facebook groups dedicated to having the order curtailed. (NBC News)

  • Large crowds showed up in Michigan’s capital for what organizers are calling “Operation Gridlock.” People — in their cars, on sidewalks, lawns and on the Capitol steps — gathered to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order. Organizers of the rally want some of the restrictions eased, and the state economy re-started. Many demonstrators, some waving Trump campaign flags, ignored organizers‘ pleas to stay in their cars and flooded the streets of Lansing, the state capital, with some chanting, “Lock her up!” and “We will not comply!”(WWJ 950 / Politico / Washington Post)

  • Impatient protesters demanding Gov. Andy Beshear reopen Kentucky disrupted his televised pandemic update, chanting, blowing horns and shouting into a megaphone outside the window of the briefing room and nearly drowning out his comments to Kentuckians. (Courier-Journal)

2/ Trump administration officials warned against cutting funding to the World Health Organization, saying it would erode America’s global standing, threaten U.S. lives, and hurt global efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. The internal memo, written by U.S. officials and addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, cautioned that pausing funding to the organization would “impact over $50 million in U.S. assistance planned to help host governments address urgent needs and risks undermining the U.S. narrative of a long-standing health leader, ceding ground to the (People’s Republic of China).” The WHO, meanwhile, responded to Trump’s threat to cutoff U.S. funding and accusation that it was “severely mismanaging and covering up the spread of the coronavirus,” saying “We alerted the world on January the 5th. Systems around the world, including the U.S., began to activate their incident management systems on January the 6th. And […] we’ve produced multiple updates […] on the developing situation — and that is what it was, a developing situation.” (ProPublica / NPR / New York Times)

  • The White House installed former Trump campaign operative Michael Caputo in the top communications position at the Department of Health and Human Services. The move is seen as an attempt by Trump to assert more control over HHS Secretary Alex Azar, whom the White House believes is behind a series of recent reports that have been critical of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Caputo is a long-time friend of Roger Stone and a Trump loyalist who recently published a book called, “The Ukraine Hoax,” which claimed there was a conspiracy driving Trump’s impeachment. (Politico)

  • As the Trump administration discouraged mask use for the public, the National Security Council secured a personal stash of 3,600 masks for White House staff. A senior NSC appealed to Taiwan on March 14 for a donation of hundreds of thousands of surgical masks. At the time, the Trump administration was discouraging Americans from wearing masks, saying that healthy people didn’t need them and that the gear should be saved for medical workers. (Washington Post)

  • New Chinese export restrictions have stranded face masks, test kits, and other medical equipment for the U.S. in warehouses across China. The policies, instituted this month, have “disrupted established supply chains for medical products just as these products were most needed for the global response to Covid-19,” according to State Department memos. (Wall Street Journal)

  • The Trump administration awarded a $55 million contract for N95 masks to a bankrupt company with no employees or experience producing medical supplies. (Washington Post / Business Insider)

3/ More than 5.2 million Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance last week. In the past four weeks, more than 22 million Americans have filed for unemployment aid — wiping out nearly all the job gains since the Great Recession. The U.S. unemployment rate is now over 20% and is expected remain close to 10% through the end of the year. (NPR / Washington Post / CNBC / Associated Press)

  • Glitches” delay $1,200 stimulus checks from reaching millions of Americans – or the wrong amount was deposited. Several million people who filed their taxes via H&R Block, TurboTax and other services were unable to get paid because the IRS didn’t have their direct deposit information on file. (Washington Post)

  • The Small Business Administration stopped accepting