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Trump’s surprise immigration ban expected to include major exemption – POLITICO

Whatever order Trump issues will have significant political ramifications. Cutting off all immigration would bolster Trumps standing with his hard-line conservative base, but anger the business community, which wants Trump to ease restrictions on temporary worker visas. Conversely, if Trump chooses to exempt any temporary workers from his immigration ban, hell bolster his standing with the business community but risk creating a backlash among his more conservative base.

Trump kicked off speculation about his intentions Monday with a late-night tweet proclaiming: In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens, I will be signing an Executive Order to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States!

The tweet did not indicate what specific action Trump would take: He could simply suspend entries for a period of time, or cancel a specific program for the year. The White House did not offer clarity when it issued its first official statement on the issue Tuesday morning.

President Trump is committed to protecting the health and economic well-being of American citizens as we face unprecedented times, said White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. As President Trump has said, Decades of record immigration have produced lower wages and higher unemployment for our citizens, especially for African-American and Latino workers. At a time when Americans are looking to get back to work, action is necessary.

When asked what prompted the decision, a top DHS official responded: 22 million unemployed Americans and counting due to Covid-19.

Since the pandemic began, international travel has come to a virtual standstill as countries across the globe have imposed travel restrictions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

In the U.S., the Trump administration has restricted foreign visitors from China, Europe, Canada and Mexico, and has paused processing for immigrants trying to come into the U.S. on nonworker visas because of office closures. Trump has boasted that such moves demonstrated his administrations serious and early response to the growing outbreak. Public health experts say the moves likely bought the U.S. some time but that the administration did not use that time to properly prepare for a domestic surge in cases.

Trump has faced calls from conservative groups to go further than the slate of travel restrictions. They have been urging the Trump administration to halt all foreign workers from entering the U.S., citing the millions of Americans who have been put out of work amid economic shutdowns intended to help slow the coronavirus outbreak.

But for weeks, his administration has allowed the foreign workers to enter.

Specifically, the U.S. eased requirements for immigrants to get certain jobs, such as farmworkers, landscapers and crab pickers, aware that certain industries, including those that fill grocery store shelves, could be hurt during the pandemic if they couldnt hire foreign employees. It has also begun easing the process for companies looking to hire foreign workers, altering some paperwork requirements, including allowing electronic signatures and waiving the physical inspection of documents.

In early April, under pressure from immigration activists, the administration did backtrack on a plan to pause the approval of 35,000 more seasonal worker visas, pending further review.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is running for a Senate seat in Alabama, pushed for a complete moratorium on immigration to the U.S. on Tucker Carlsons show on Fox News last week. Carlson has been in close contact with Trump during the course of this virus and was one of the primary outside allies pushing him to do the China travel ban back in early January.

Immediately after the presidents tweet on Monday night, hard-line immigration groups cheered the decision.

The president's comments reflect a sensitivity to a primary purpose of all immigration laws of every country, and that is to protect a nation's vulnerable workers, said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which supports restrictions. With tens of millions of Americans who want to work full time not able to, most immigration makes no sense today, and to allow it to continue at its current level at this time would show a callous disregard for those enduring deep economic suffering.

The excitement could change if the White House confirms exemptions for foreign worker visas in its upcoming order.

One question remains, said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which favors immigration restrictions. Are there any caveats like guest workers being excluded from the order? Well see.

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Trump's surprise immigration ban expected to include major exemption - POLITICO

Whats behind Trumps fresh push to wrest control of Voice of America – POLITICO

"VOA should be leading the charge in exposing the exact timeline of the lies of the CCP concerning human-to-human transmission and community spread. Instead, we get Amanda Bennett, Bannon told POLITICO. She is a classic 'useful idiot' who kowtows to Beijing's Party Line.

The vitriol from the right doesnt sit well with mainstream journalists, who fear that Trump, through Pack, could transform VOA into a vehicle for his own brand of politics. The National Press Club issued a statement strongly backing Bennett, and citing VOAs history of providing accurate and unbiased news to counter the lies of totalitarian regimes.

Michael Freedman, president of the National Press Club, said that VOA has produced exemplary reporting under Bennett. "Amanda is a respected journalist, he said. When you're providing accurate and fair information, somebody is going to be unhappy with it."

The independence of the federal governments broadcast media for foreign audiences has been an issue for decades, dating back to the Cold War. Conservative activists have long sought to remake the U.S. Agency for Global Media, formerly known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors with its annual budget of $750 million and a weekly audience of nearly 350 million people in a more confrontational mold. Trumps election renewed the issue, sparking speculation that he and Bannon would move quickly to turn Voice of America into full-throated, pro-Trump state TV.

But such changes have not come to pass, and as the White House looks again to advance its nominee, Democrats are pushing back against Pack, who served as president of the conservative Claremont Institute until 2017 and is the producer, most recently, of "Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words.

On Monday, Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) sent the White House a letter about Pack, saying his nomination remains tainted by unanswered questions about possible self-dealing during his time at Claremont and unresolved issues with the Internal Revenue Service over money from government grants to his non-profit that ended up being paid to his production company.

Mr. Pack has acknowledged that he made false statements to the IRS, yet he has indicated that he has no intention of correcting the record, Mendendez wrote to Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. Does the White House agree that there is no need for Mr. Pack to provide accurate information or required disclosures to the IRS? If so, how did the White House arrive at this conclusion and does the IRS agree? Does this position apply only to Mr. Pack, or does it apply more broadly to Trump Administration nominees and other U.S. taxpayers?

Pack did not respond to requests for comment. A person familiar with his nomination said he was following standard procedure for nominees by avoiding contact with the press.

In 2017, the White House settled on Pack as its pick to head the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which was renamed the U.S. Agency for Global Media the following year. In addition to VOA, the agency oversees the funding of Radio Free Europe and Radio Free Asia, which are privately incorporated but publicly funded and often take a more antagonistic stance than VOA does towards covering authoritarian regimes.

Pack, whom Bannon has described as his mentor in documentary filmmaking, has previously served on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Council on the Humanities, two other flashpoints for political fights over publicly funded cultural programming.

That culture war lens has had an enduring influence on his approach to media. "There's a lot of complaining sometimes on the right that there aren't documentaries like this, he said of his Clarence Thomas film during a recent radio appearance. But the left supports its documentary filmmakers and in that sense it deserves to own the culture because it shows up for it."

Trump formally put Pack forward in 2018, but his nomination languished in the Senate, in large part due to a lack of enthusiasm from Republicans on Capitol Hill. Former Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, who chaired the Foreign Relations Committee at the time and was one of few Senate Republicans to openly defy Trump, showed little interest in moving Packs nomination.

Corkers replacement as chairman, James Risch of Idaho, is a more reliable ally of Trumps, and support from conservative activists has rekindled Packs nomination in recent months. In September, Pack got a hearing, but since then, his nomination has again stalled as he has jousted with Menendez over questions related to his taxes and his tenure at Claremont.

In November, a group that included former Attorney General Ed Meese, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, former South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, and Justice Thomass wife, Ginni Thomas, signed an open letter in support of Pack.

Per Senate rules, Packs nomination was sent back to the White House in January, which re-submitted it on February 25. By the time Pack had sent in his paperwork in March, coronavirus had brought Senate proceedings to a halt.

It is expected Pack would fire Bennett if confirmed. For some Hill Republicans who remain lukewarm on Pack, the drawn-out nomination fight has already diminished his chances of successfully remaking VOA in a more hawkish image.

Trumpworld has known about [Bennett] since the transition but they didnt care because they didnt think VOA mattered, said a congressional Republican aide. Now they have a problem because she had four years to install her people at every level and shes going to absolutely steamroll Pack. From day one everything he sees and hears is going to be prebaked. He doesnt have a chance.

VOAs coverage of China under Bennett had been drawing fire from the right at least as early as 2018, when Stanford Universitys conservative Hoover Institution relayed complaints of a pattern of avoiding stories that could be perceived to be too tough on China in a lengthy report on Chinese influence in the U.S.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, the White House has seized again on VOAs China coverage and Packs nomination to oversee it.

Behind the scenes, White House Chief Digital Officer Ory Rinat who worked at the Heritage Foundation and is aligned with many of Packs movement conservative supporters has been active in pushing for change at the governments broadcasters.

On April 10, Rinats office blasted Voice of America in the White Houses 1600 Daily newsletter, writing, VOA too often speaks for Americas adversariesnot its citizens.

The day before, White House Social Media Director Dan Scavino had taken issue with VOAs coverage of a light show marking the end of the lockdown in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the coronavirus outbreak began. American taxpayerspaying for Chinas very own propaganda, via the U.S. Government funded Voice of America! DISGRACE!! Scavino tweeted.

Bennett issued a lengthy response, pointing to VOAs critical coverage of Chinas coronavirus response and saying, One of the big differences between publicly-funded independent media, like the Voice of America, and state-controlled media is that we are free to show all sides of an issue and are actually mandated to do so by law as stated in the VOA Charter signed by President Gerald Ford in 1976.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Hogan Gidley did not respond to a request for comment.

Bennett did not respond to requests for comment and VOAs press office declined to make her available for an interview.

Bennetts husband Don Graham, whose Graham Holdings sold the Washington Post to Jeff Bezos in 2013, has taken to defending her on his personal Facebook page, appealing to taxpayers.

You, through your tax payments, have built up a worldwide broadcasting organization with considerable worldwide credibility. And now we have a chance to throw it away, he wrote, in addition to authoring a lengthy post about Bennetts work as an editor at Bloomberg News in exposing the riches of Chinese President Xi Jinpings family.

She has been a truthful reporter and editor, he wrote, willing to stand up to the Chinese government (as the family of Xi Jinping will attest), at Bloomberg and at VOA.

Daniel Lippman contributed to this report.

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Whats behind Trumps fresh push to wrest control of Voice of America - POLITICO

Yes, Cindy Adams Is Still Besties With Donald Trump: What Did We Expect? – Vanity Fair

Donald Trump took a break from his scattershot coronavirus-pandemic management and his regular Twitter program to wish the New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams a happy birthday on Wednesday, writing, Happy Birthday to the great Cindy Adams of the New York Post. Cindy is 90, but looks 39 to me. She is going strong!

He also called her earlier in the week, according to Adamss column on Tuesday.

The column addressed the birthday celebration shed been planning before the crisis, which wouldve been held this coming Friday. Reached by phone on Wednesday, Adams said that with the party off, she had no plans. Im not gonna do anything, she said. She added that her housekeeper would like to make me goat curry. And I really dont think I want any goat curry for my birthday, instead of the 500 people I was going to give a huge five-course dinner to.

On the call with Trump, I remember saying, Dont worry about [Joe] Biden, he cant find his way to the urinal in the White House, Adams said. She was on speakerphone in the Oval Office, and the room erupted in laughter. I dont remember what other things we said or what Im gonna tell you about it, she said.

The cozy column and backatcha tweet caused some minor commotion on Twitter, coming as it did in the middle of a crisis that, by the confirmed numbers, has killed just under 50,000 people in the U.S., infected over 800,000 more, and generally thrown the country into varying degrees of distress. There was also Adamss waxing nostalgic about how the president used to try to date Miss Universe contestants while she was an official for the competition. In the column Adams wrote that she told Trump on the phone, If you could handle a locked skirt you can handle a locked-down country. The room broke out laughing. (At least 23 women have publicly made allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump. He has denied all the allegations.) Not that Adams was reading the comments, as it were. He tweeted whatever it was he tweeted today, she said on the phone on Wednesday.

Trump has long had a kind of codependent relationship with the New York City tabloids. If you worked for a newspaper in New York in the 1980s, you had to write about Trump, the former Post and Newsday editor and columnist Susan Mulcahy wrote for Politico a few months before Trumps election. At times, I would let several months go by without a single column mention of The Donald, she added. This doubtless upset him, as he loves Page Six and used to have it brought it to him the moment it arrived in his office.

Adams said that she and Trump have been friends for 50 years. Hes been to her home for dinner, as have many other politicians. Ive had mayors, governors, Ive had presidents here for dinner, Adams said. But they were nice, small little dinners. I never had 500 people at a dinner that I was arranging and I was paying for, and Im not ever doing it again.

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Yes, Cindy Adams Is Still Besties With Donald Trump: What Did We Expect? - Vanity Fair

No Other Leader Politicizes Pandemic Briefings Like Trump – The Intercept

To get a sense of just how much damage Donald Trump is doing each day, by making the daily White House briefings on the coronavirus pandemic mostly about himself, and distracting attention from vital updates on the public health emergency delivered by scientists, it helps to look at how very differently this is handled in other democracies.

In Greece, for example, the nation is briefed at 6 p.m. each evening by Dr. Sotirios Tsiodras, an unassuming professor of medicine who studied infectious diseases at Harvard and now leads the Greek governments coronavirus task force. Tsiodras, often reading from his notes, has been credited with helping to rally the nation to quickly accept a national lockdown that has, so far, been more successful than most, largely by presenting the science in a calm, rational voice of authority. On the rare occasions when his level-headed facade has cracked like a moment last month when he appealed to Greeks to protect their elderly relatives by staying at home the impact has been all the more powerful.

On Friday, Tsiodras announced that there were 56 new cases of Covid-19 in Greece, and four more deaths, bringing the total number of cases to 2,011, with 90 fatalities. He ended his opening remarks by calling for solidarity with the countrys Roma minority. There is no room for discrimination, for hatred, for fear, for division, for divisions in our society or in the rest of the worlds societies, Tsiodras said. What we need to overcome, what will help us overcome this pandemic, is above all unity and solidarity between us.

Greeces prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has used Twitter not to attack regional officials or complain about the lockdowns impact on the economy, but to share a video showing how successful the drive to empty the nations streets has been.

In other words, Greeks live in something like the parallel universe Americans could inhabit if Trump would refrain from commenting on subjects he knows nothing about and let Dr. Anthony Fauci deliver calm, fact-based updates on the fight against virus, and occasional empathetic comments on the health disparities it has revealed in American society.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron is nowhere to be seen when the daily update on the spread of Covid-19 is delivered on live television by Dr. Jrme Salomon, an epidemiologist who is the chief medical advisor to the nations department of health. Salomon also takes questions from the press, because, according to LObs, a French news magazine, Macron wanted the public to be informed by a trusted expert, not a politician.

Although Macron did spend Thursday in Marseille, meeting with Prof. Didier Raoult, a virologist researching the potential use of the drug hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 patients, the French president, unlike Trump, has declined to endorse the untested treatment as a miracle cure.

Germans also get their daily updates on the battle to slow the spread of the virus from a medical expert, Lothar Wieler, the head of the Robert Koch Institute, the federal agency responsible for disease control.

In Ireland, updates are delivered daily by Dr. Tony Holohan, the countrys chief medical officer, despite the fact that its current leader, Leo Varadkar, is also a doctor.

Holohan, like Tsiodras and Fauci, has become a local celebrity since the start of the pandemic because he is seen as a man of integrity who speaks in plain language.

Canadians get bilingual updates on the virus from news conferences led by an elected politician, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, but she largely defers to the medical experts, the chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, and her deputy, Dr. Howard Njoo.

Rather than attacking his political opponents or whining about criticism from the press, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has dedicated his media appearances to making the case to the public for the necessary measures recommended by the scientists.

At a provincial level in Canada, British Columbias daily briefings are led by Dr. Bonnie Henry, a public official modest enough to admit that part of the regions success so far has been down to luck.

In Spain, ministers deliver the updates, but alongside a medical expert, Dr. Fernando Simn, the director of Spains health emergency center, who was himself infected with the virus in March. The doctor, who has achieved a kind of cult status, recently rejoined the briefings by video link from quarantine.

Even in countries where politicians take the lead in providing updates, like Austria and Japan, officials have, unlike Trump, modeled good public behavior by observing social distancing and wearing masks.

The daily briefings in Britain, which are led by a senior politician, have been criticized by some observers as overly political even Trumpian defensive look-how-well-were-doing drivel. At one news conference before he became infected with Covid-19, Prime Minister Boris Johnson even shared the Trump-like boast that he had continued to shake hands, even while visiting a hospital treating coronavirus patients.

Yet at each briefing in London, the senior elected official leading it has been flanked by two medical experts who have been free to field questions from journalists after the politicians opening remarks.

Even two of the planets most Trump-like leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil, have allowed the experts to speak, mostly unimpeded.

Erdogan was criticized for initially downplaying the threat posed by the virus, but permits his health minister, Dr. Fahrettin Koca, to deliver science-based, daily updates on the effort to combat its spread.

Bolsonaro, who has denounced social distancing and threatened to fire his health minister, Dr. Luiz Henrique Mandetta for supporting it, still lets the doctor lead the daily updates for the public. On Thursday, Mandetta warned the public to beware of false prophets, promising cures, and mocked anti-vaxxers, claiming that as soon as a vaccine is developed for Covid-19, they will be the first to take it.

Bolsonaro shares Trumps fixation on the possibility that the antimalarial drug hydroxychloroquine could be a miracle cure for Covid-19, and his impatience with medical experts who want to see proof that it is safe and effective in randomized clinical trials before recommending it to patients. Last month, Facebook and Twitter deleted video of Bolsonaro saying that the drug was working everywhere to cure Covid-19, flagging it as a violation of their policies against spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.

As a result, Mandetta has reportedly resisted pressure from Brazils president to approve the use of hydroxychloroquine for Covid-19 patients at the first signs of illness. The health minister said earlier this week that doctors could prescribe the drug for outpatients, but they would have to take responsibility for the risks of possible side effects if they do. In the past two weeks, there have been 43 cases of heart trouble related to hydroxychloroquine treatment among coronavirus patients in France, according to that countrys drug safety agency.

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No Other Leader Politicizes Pandemic Briefings Like Trump - The Intercept

Trump says he’s ‘not determined’ to open the country in May as it happened – The Guardian

In Navarros second memo, dated 23 February, he urged for immediate funding to minimize economic and social disruption.

Any member of the Task Force who wants to be cautious about appropriating funds for a crisis that could inflict trillions of dollars in economic damage and take millions of lives has come to the wrong administration, Navarro wrote.

But at a press gaggle on 24 February, Navarro assured that coronavirus was nothing to worry about for the American people under Trumps leadership.

Since the day that President Trump pulled down the flights from China to the US, he has been actively leading the situation in terms of this crisis with the task force. Nothing to worry about for the American people.

This countrys done a beautiful job under [the] presidents leadership [sic] in terms of managing this situation. Hes working on a daily basis with the task force and were taking steps to anticipate where the pucks gonna be. Were skating there in defense of the American people and the American economy. So you can be sure youre that in great hands with the Trump administration.

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Trump says he's 'not determined' to open the country in May as it happened - The Guardian

Donald Trump Berates CNNs Jim Acosta Over Happy Talk Question: These Are The Saddest News Conferences That Ive Ever Had – Deadline

As President Donald Trumps coronavirus press briefing stretched to two hours, he took a question from CNNs chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, that clearly set him off.

We hear from a lot of people who see these briefings as sort of happy talk briefings, Acosta said. And some of the officials dont paint as rosy picture of what is happening around the country. If you look at some of these questions do we have enough masks? No. Do we have enough tests? No. Do we have enough PPE? No.

Trump then interrupted him. Why would you say that? The answer is yes. I think the answer is yes.

For the next five minutes, he sparred with Acosta over the notion that the U.S. does not have enough of the medical supplies. Trump said that there was now enough supply of ventilators, for instance, that other countries are asking the U.S. for them.

Related StoryAs TV News Ratings Surge, Historians Remind That Media Can Be Weaponized During Elections

But Acosta tried to cite news coverage of doctors and other medical officials who have appeared on the network complaining of scarcities.

Trump interjected,A lot of it is fake news.

As Acosta went on, Trump said, Well yeah, depending on your air they are always going to say that because otherwise you are not going to put them on.

Trump challenged Acostas characterization of the briefings as happy talk.

This is not happy talk. Maybe it is happy talk for you, Trump said. It is not happy talk for me. Were talking about the greatest economy in the world, one day I have to close it off. And we did the right thing because maybe it would have been two million people died.

He added, This is sad talk. These are the saddest news conferences that I have ever had. I dont like doing them. You know why? Because I am talking about death.

Earlier on Friday, Trump boasted about the TV audiences for the coronavirus news conferences, writing, Because the T.V. Ratings for the White House News Conferences are the highest, the Opposition Party (Lamestream Media), the Radical Left, Do Nothing Democrats &, of course, the few remaining RINOS, are doing everything in their power to disparage & end them. The Peoples Voice!

Trump also told Acosta of having to face the decision of whether to reopen the U.S. economy, perhaps after the current social distancing guidelines end on April 30, and having to weigh whether it is the right time to do so.

He later said that he faces what he called the biggest decision of my life because I have to say, OK, lets go. This is what were going to do.

By the end of the five minutes, he chided Acosta for even asking the question.

You shouldnt be asking that kind of question, he said. You should say, You know what, its been really incredible whats been happening.'

Trump has been aware not just the ratings for his briefings but the reaction to them.

The briefing was one of Trumps longest since the coronavirus crisis started. Less than 24 hours earlier, he appeared for only about 20 minutes at an evening briefing, as even some of his supporters and allies have suggested that they be truncated.

As Fridays session went past 90 minutes, Trump turned to the reporters gathered and asked them whether he should continue.

He decided to keep taking questions but told the reporters, Youre not going to criticize me that the conference was too long? You know yesterday I left short. [They say] It was too short. If I stay too long they say it was too long. Some day we are going to get it just right.

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Donald Trump Berates CNNs Jim Acosta Over Happy Talk Question: These Are The Saddest News Conferences That Ive Ever Had - Deadline

Trump says he’s not going to reopen economy ‘until we know this country is going to be healthy’ – CNBC

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a Coronavirus Task Force news conference at the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2020.

Kevin Dietsch | Bloomberg | Getty Images

President Donald Trump said on Friday that he will not reopen the economy "untilwe know this country is going to be healthy."

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reportedly projected that lifting stay-at-home orders, school closures and social distancing after just 30 days would lead to an infection spike this summer, according to documents first reported by The New York Times.

When asked whether Trump had seen federal projections that the coronavirus could resurge if the 30-day shelter-in-place orders were lifted, he said he had not seen the projections.

"We're looking at a date, we hope we'll be able to fulfill a certain date, but we're not doing anything until we know this country is going to be healthy," Trump said during a White House press briefing. "We don't want to go back and start doing it over again, even though it would be in a smaller scale."

Trump said he also plans to announce an "Opening our Country Council" on Tuesday comprised of business leaders and doctors and potentially governors that will help determine how to reopen the economy.

"I've gained great respect for governors, both Republican and Democrat. I've actually become friends with some of the Democrat governors that I wouldn't have really had the privilege of getting to know," Trump said.

He added that he wants the states' governors to ultimately decide whether to reopen parts of the country, but said he has "great authority" if he wanted to use it and said the question of when to ease social distancing restrictions will be "the biggest decision" he's ever made.

"I don't know that I've had a bigger decision, but I'm going to surround myself with the greatest minds, not only the greatest minds, but the greatest minds in numerous different businesses, including the business of politics andreason, and we're going to make a decision," Trump said, adding that, "Hopefully it's going to be the right decision."

Trump said that he would be open to reshuttering the U.S. economy if it were opened initially but another outbreak of COVID-19 cases followed.

"I want to get it open as soon as possible. This country was meant to be open and vibrant..." Trump said. "I would love to open it, I'm not determined to anything. The facts will determine what I do, but we do want to get the country open."

Dr. Anthony Fauci,White House health advisor, said that whenever governments begin to pull back restrictions, there could be a resurgence in new cases. The goal at that point would be to quickly identify new cases, isolate infected people and contact trace, or determine the origin of infection.

"When we decide at a proper time when we're going to be relaxing some of the restrictions, there's not doubt you're going to see cases, Fauci said. "I'd be surprised if we didn't see cases. The question is how do you respond to them."

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Trump says he's not going to reopen economy 'until we know this country is going to be healthy' - CNBC

Trump to announce council focused on reopening the US for business – The Guardian

Donald Trump will next week announce a council of business and medical leaders to help him with the biggest decision Ive ever had to make on when to reopen America for business in the midst of a global pandemic.

Facing criticism from traditional allies over his often combative daily coronavirus taskforce briefings, the president adopted a more emollient demeanour during Fridays marathon two-hour-plus session.

Trump and his public health experts pointed to hopeful signs that the spread of the coronavirus could be slowing and the final death toll lower than once projected. This had fuelled reports that Trump is set to shift focus and appoint an economic task force.

This is beyond economic, he told reporters. I call it the opening our country taskforce or opening our country council so we dont get it confused with Mikes [Pence] taskforce, which has done so great.

And were going to have the great business leaders, the great doctors, were going to have a group of people. Well probably do it by teleconference because we dont really travelling in for their own purposes. I dont think it would look good, also.

Trump added: I want to get it open as soon as possible. This country was meant to be open and vibrant and great... The facts are going to determine what I do. But we do want to get the country open.

He promised the council will be announced on Tuesday with names that you have a lot of respect for, a lot of great names, different businesses, different people I want their views on what they think.

Media reports suggest the council could include his daughter Ivanka Trump; the treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin; and the new White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows.

The current stop the spread federal guidelines finish on 30 April and pressure is building on Trump to reopen at least parts of the economy, which has gone into free fall and shed more jobs than in the 2008-09 Great Recession. But with infections approaching half a million, public health experts fear that pushing too soon could result in a second wave of cases.

America has tested less than 1% of its population, leaving it way behind other nations on testing per capita, yet Trump dismissed questions on this issue.

Dr Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, cautioned on Friday: Were starting to see the leveling off but its important to remember that this is not the time to feel that since we have made such an important advance in the sense of success of the mitigation that we need to be pulling back at all.

Dr Deborah Birx, the response coordinator, added that as encouraging as the signs are, we have not reached the peak, and so every day we need to continue to do what we did yesterday and the week before and the week before that, because thats what, in the end, is going to take us up across the peak and down the other side.

Trump promised to heed the experts. I listen to them about everything, he said. I think theyre actually surprised. I have great respect for these people Were not doing anything until we know that this country is going be healthy. We dont want to go back and start doing it over again.

He acknowledged: I dont know that Ive had a bigger decision. But Im going to surround myself with the greatest minds. Not only the greatest minds, but the greatest minds in numerous different businesses, including the business of politics and reason.

A reporter asked what metrics would be used to help Trump decide. He pointed to his head. Later he added: I have a big decision coming up, and I only hope to God thats its the right decision.

Trumps bombastic TV briefings have been compared to campaign rallies but normally supportive sources such as the South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham and the Wall Street Journal newspaper have warned that they are doing him more harm than good.

Perhaps stung, he reshuffled the order of speakers on Friday and adopted a more genial tone. OK, its Good Friday so lets be nice, Trump said as he invited questions.

But he could not resist sparring with CNNs Jim Acosta, an old foe, who asked: We hear from a lot of people who see these briefings as sort of happy talk briefings. And some of the officials paint as rosy a picture of what is happening around the country. If you look at some of these questions do we have enough masks? No. Do we have enough tests? No. Do we have enough PPE? No.

Trump snapped: A lot of it is fake news This is not happy talk. Maybe it is happy talk for you., It is not happy talk for me. Were talking about the greatest economy in the world, one day I have to close it off. And we did the right thing because maybe it would have been t2 million people died.

He added: This is sad talk These are the saddest news conferences that I have ever had. I dont like doing them. You know why? Because I am talking about death.

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Trump to announce council focused on reopening the US for business - The Guardian

Here’s the silver lining in the CNN poll for Donald Trump – CNN

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"},{"title":"Surgeon general defends comments some found offensive ","duration":"02:05","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/10/surgeon-general-jerome-adams-big-mama-abuela-comment-briefing-nr-bts-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/10/surgeon-general-jerome-adams-big-mama-abuela-comment-briefing-nr-bts-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200410153209-us-surgeon-general-jerome-adams-04102020-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/10/surgeon-general-jerome-adams-big-mama-abuela-comment-briefing-nr-bts-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"US Surgeon General Jerome Adams addressed communities of color, telling them to take precautions not jut for themselves but for their "abuela," "granddaddy," and "big mama." When asked about his comments Adams said he used language that is used in his family. ","descriptionText":"US Surgeon General Jerome Adams addressed communities of color, telling them to take precautions not jut for themselves but for their "abuela," "granddaddy," and "big mama." When asked about his comments Adams said he used language that is used in his family. "},{"title":"Avlon: How Trump has moved from denial to deflecting blame","duration":"03:11","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/10/john-avlon-trump-coronavirus-pandemic-blame-reality-check-newday-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/10/john-avlon-trump-coronavirus-pandemic-blame-reality-check-newday-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200409183814-01-coronavirus-briefing-0409-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/10/john-avlon-trump-coronavirus-pandemic-blame-reality-check-newday-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"CNN's John Avlon explains how President Trump has gone from denying the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, to blaming others for the crisis.","descriptionText":"CNN's John Avlon explains how President Trump has gone from denying the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic, to blaming others for the crisis."},{"title":"Trump and Democrats fight over mail-in voting","duration":"03:08","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/10/trump-mail-in-voting-abby-phillip-newday-pkg-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/10/trump-mail-in-voting-abby-phillip-newday-pkg-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200407162544-01-trump-small-business-relief-0407-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/10/trump-mail-in-voting-abby-phillip-newday-pkg-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"President Donald Trump spoke about voter fraud in US elections and falsely claimed that voting-by-mail is "corrupt" and "dangerous," even while states embrace it as a safe alternative during the pandemic.","descriptionText":"President Donald Trump spoke about voter fraud in US elections and falsely claimed that voting-by-mail is "corrupt" and "dangerous," even while states embrace it as a safe alternative during the pandemic."},{"title":"Hear what Barack Obama said in 2014 about pandemics","duration":"01:48","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/10/barack-obama-2014-pandemic-comments-sot-ctn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/10/barack-obama-2014-pandemic-comments-sot-ctn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200410024257-2014-barack-obama-file-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/10/barack-obama-2014-pandemic-comments-sot-ctn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"During a 2014 speech, then-President u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/2020/04/09/politics/obama-mayors-coronavirus/index.html" target="_blank">Barack Obama warnedu003c/a> about the need for the US to cast aside partisan differences to prepare for an upcoming pandemic.","descriptionText":"During a 2014 speech, then-President u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/2020/04/09/politics/obama-mayors-coronavirus/index.html" target="_blank">Barack Obama warnedu003c/a> about the need for the US to cast aside partisan differences to prepare for an upcoming pandemic."},{"title":"See difference between Trump and Pence's response to same question","duration":"04:20","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/09/us-testing-trump-coronavirus-task-force-sot-tsr-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/09/us-testing-trump-coronavirus-task-force-sot-tsr-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200409183814-01-coronavirus-briefing-0409-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/09/us-testing-trump-coronavirus-task-force-sot-tsr-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/jim-acosta-profile" target="_blank">Jim Acostau003c/a> pressed both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on implementing a testing system throughout the US before fully reopening the country. See the difference in their responses.","descriptionText":"CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/jim-acosta-profile" target="_blank">Jim Acostau003c/a> pressed both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence on implementing a testing system throughout the US before fully reopening the country. See the difference in their responses."},{"title":"Utah governor extends stay at home directive until end of April","duration":"02:44","sourceName":"KSTU","sourceLink":"https://www.fox13now.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/us/2020/04/10/utah-governor-herbert-adults-disclose-travel-plans-vpx.kstu/index.xml","videoId":"us/2020/04/10/utah-governor-herbert-adults-disclose-travel-plans-vpx.kstu","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191127011159-governor-of-utah-gary-herbert-0125-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/us/2020/04/10/utah-governor-herbert-adults-disclose-travel-plans-vpx.kstu/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"Utah Gov. Gary Herbert delivers a press conference to address theu003ca href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/09/politics/utah-coronavirus-travel-restriction/index.html" target="_blank"> steps Utah is taking to combat the spreadu003c/a> of the novel coronavirus, amid recent outbreaks across the nation. ","descriptionText":"Utah Gov. Gary Herbert delivers a press conference to address theu003ca href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/04/09/politics/utah-coronavirus-travel-restriction/index.html" target="_blank"> steps Utah is taking to combat the spreadu003c/a> of the novel coronavirus, amid recent outbreaks across the nation. "},{"title":"Doctor: Counting on seasonal reduction isn't a safe bet","duration":"02:48","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/09/scientific-committee-white-house-warmer-weather-coronavirus-harvey-fineberg-intv-ctn-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/09/scientific-committee-white-house-warmer-weather-coronavirus-harvey-fineberg-intv-ctn-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200409053620-scientific-committee-white-house-warmer-weather-coronavirus-harvey-fineberg-intv-ctn-vpx-00002622-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/09/scientific-committee-white-house-warmer-weather-coronavirus-harvey-fineberg-intv-ctn-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"Members of a National Academy of Sciences committee told the White House that it doesn't look like coronavirus will go away u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/2020/04/08/health/coronavirus-stays-warmer-weather/index.html" target="_blank">once the weather warms upu003c/a>. The prestigious scientific panel said data is mixed on whether coronavirus spreads as easily in warm weather as it does in cold weather. CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/don-lemon-profile" target="_blank">Don Lemonu003c/a> speaks with Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, the committee's chairman, about the findings.","descriptionText":"Members of a National Academy of Sciences committee told the White House that it doesn't look like coronavirus will go away u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/2020/04/08/health/coronavirus-stays-warmer-weather/index.html" target="_blank">once the weather warms upu003c/a>. The prestigious scientific panel said data is mixed on whether coronavirus spreads as easily in warm weather as it does in cold weather. CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/don-lemon-profile" target="_blank">Don Lemonu003c/a> speaks with Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg, the committee's chairman, about the findings."},{"title":"Axelrod: Sanders must make 'active case' for Biden","duration":"05:16","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/tv/2020/04/09/amanpour-david-axelrod-joe-biden-nomination.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"tv/2020/04/09/amanpour-david-axelrod-joe-biden-nomination.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200409162228-amanpour-biden-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/tv/2020/04/09/amanpour-david-axelrod-joe-biden-nomination.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"Christiane speaks with David Axelrod, former Senior Adviser to President Obama, about Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination.","descriptionText":"Christiane speaks with David Axelrod, former Senior Adviser to President Obama, about Bernie Sanders dropping out of the race for the Democratic nomination."},{"title":"US agencies started tracking coronavirus in November","duration":"01:11","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/us/2020/04/09/intelligence-agencies-started-tracking-coronavirus-november-collins-ebof-sot-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"us/2020/04/09/intelligence-agencies-started-tracking-coronavirus-november-collins-ebof-sot-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200408175542-01-coronavirus-briefing-0408-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/us/2020/04/09/intelligence-agencies-started-tracking-coronavirus-november-collins-ebof-sot-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"US spy agencies were tracking the rise of the novel coronavirus as early as November, weeks before that information was included in President Donald Trump's daily intelligence briefing, a former US military official told CNN. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.","descriptionText":"US spy agencies were tracking the rise of the novel coronavirus as early as November, weeks before that information was included in President Donald Trump's daily intelligence briefing, a former US military official told CNN. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports."},{"title":"CNN fact-checker says Trump is lying about voter fraud","duration":"02:02","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/09/trump-voter-fraud-claim-daniel-dale-fact-check-sot-ebof-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/09/trump-voter-fraud-claim-daniel-dale-fact-check-sot-ebof-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200409005522-donald-trump-april-8-2020-01-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/09/trump-voter-fraud-claim-daniel-dale-fact-check-sot-ebof-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"CNN's Daniel Dale says President Donald Trump is lying about the extent of voter fraud and efforts to combat it.","descriptionText":"CNN's Daniel Dale says President Donald Trump is lying about the extent of voter fraud and efforts to combat it."},{"title":"Ohio governor: Postponing primary wasn't an easy decision","duration":"02:30","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/09/ohio-governor-mike-dewine-primary-election-mail-in-voting-bts-cpt-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/09/ohio-governor-mike-dewine-primary-election-mail-in-voting-bts-cpt-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200409012540-ohio-governor-mike-dewine-primary-election-mail-in-voting-bts-cpt-vpx-00000128-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/09/ohio-governor-mike-dewine-primary-election-mail-in-voting-bts-cpt-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) explains to CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/chris-cuomo-profile" target="_blank">Chris Cuomou003c/a> how he came to the decision, at an early stage in the US coronavirus outbreak, to u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/2020/03/16/politics/state-primaries-postponed-coronavirus/index.html" target="_blank">postpone the state's primary electionu003c/a>.","descriptionText":"Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) explains to CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/chris-cuomo-profile" target="_blank">Chris Cuomou003c/a> how he came to the decision, at an early stage in the US coronavirus outbreak, to u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/2020/03/16/politics/state-primaries-postponed-coronavirus/index.html" target="_blank">postpone the state's primary electionu003c/a>."},{"title":"NY governor says he faces criticism for being 'too prepared'","duration":"02:47","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/09/andrew-cuomo-new-york-prepared-coronavirus-cpt-intv-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/09/andrew-cuomo-new-york-prepared-coronavirus-cpt-intv-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200409003928-andrew-chris-split-cuomo-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/09/andrew-cuomo-new-york-prepared-coronavirus-cpt-intv-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/chris-cuomo-profile" target="_blank">Chris Cuomou003c/a> pushed back at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo when he claimed that some might say New York was "too prepared" for the coronavirus pandemic. ","descriptionText":"CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/chris-cuomo-profile" target="_blank">Chris Cuomou003c/a> pushed back at New York Governor Andrew Cuomo when he claimed that some might say New York was "too prepared" for the coronavirus pandemic. "},{"title":"Chalian on 'dramatic' drop in poll: Can't remember anything like it ","duration":"01:25","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/04/08/cnn-poll-coronavirus-economy-chalian-lead-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/04/08/cnn-poll-coronavirus-economy-chalian-lead-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200408163531-cnn-poll-coronavirus-economy-chalian-lead-vpx-00002425-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/04/08/cnn-poll-coronavirus-economy-chalian-lead-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"A CNN poll found that only 39% of Americans saw the economy as doing well, but 67% remained optimistic that the economy will bounce back relatively quickly after the coronavirus pandemic. 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Bernie Sanders announced the end of his presidential campaign in a live stream to his supporters amid the coronavirus pandemic. "},{"title":"'Yikes!' 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See the original post:

Here's the silver lining in the CNN poll for Donald Trump - CNN

Trump tells faith leaders to let the country ‘get healed’ before holding in-person services – CNN

Trump was asked by a reporter during the White House press briefing what his message was to pastors refusing to follow federal social distancing guidelines by holding services in person. In some cases, these services are expected to take place despite outright bans of such congregations.

"I know there are some pastors and ministers and others that want to get together. And I have great respect for them. Two of them I know. But I would say first, heal -- I'm a Christian -- heal our country," Trump said. "Let's get healed before we do this and there's time to do that. We'll do it for, hopefully, the rest of our lives."

The President also said he would be watching Pastor Robert Jeffress' service online this Easter Sunday.

How much power Trump has to "reopen" the economy remains limited. The federal government only issued recommendations on social distancing and business closures, and it will be up to individual governors to reverse the mandatory orders.

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Read more from the original source:

Trump tells faith leaders to let the country 'get healed' before holding in-person services - CNN

Trump: Reopening the Country Too Early Could Kill People but So Could Staying at Home – Vanity Fair

Over the last few days, a few glimmers of hope have emerged amid our current national nightmare, the biggest one being: Thanks to extreme social distancing and other highly restrictive measures, health experts believe the estimate of 240,000 deaths in the U.S. from coronavirus might actually come out closer to 60,000. Rational adults likely took this news with cautious optimism, fully aware of the fact that (1) 60,000 people is still a lot, and (2) the new prediction does not mean that we should speed up the timeline for getting back to regular life, particularly in light of the fact that there may be a second and third wave of the virus. And then you have Donald Trump, whose brain seemingly stopped developing around the age of 11.

In his daily press conference on Friday, held shortly after the New York Times reported that government projections indicated lifting restrictions after only 30 days will lead to a dramatic infection spike this summer and death tolls that would rival doing nothing, government projections indicate, Trump offered his typical unscientific, from-the-gut, completely nonsense take. While acknowledging that opening up the country might lead to death, he added: Staying at home leads to death also. And its very traumatic for this country. Staying at home, if you look at numbers, that leads to a different kind of death, perhaps, but it leads to death also.

Its not clear what kind of different death Trump is talking about here. While mental health experts have expressed concern about the anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder some people will experience as a result of the pandemic, which, in some cases, could potentially lead to suicide, mass deaths nationwide would presumably also take a toll on peoples state of mind. Earlier this week, Trump supporters Diamond and Silk had their twitter account locked for spreading the ridiculous misinformation that quarantining people inside of their houses for extended periods of time will make them sick, and that the only way we can become immune to the environment is by being out in the environment.

Asked about the need for comprehensive testing, which experts believe is the only way to safely allow people to get back to work and regular life, Trump claimed theres no need for it in certain places, which of course is categorically false.

So, how will Trump make the call re: when its reasonable to lift the measures that have helped slow the deadly virus?

If you would like to receive the Levin Report in your inbox daily, click here to subscribe.

Read the original here:

Trump: Reopening the Country Too Early Could Kill People but So Could Staying at Home - Vanity Fair

Trump’s poll numbers dip over handling of coronavirus pandemic – The Guardian

Support for Donald Trumps handling of the coronavirus has plunged over the past week, polls show, as some of his advisers and Republican allies are said to be concerned over the US presidents daily briefings on the pandemic.

Trump experienced an upturn in public support as the virus hit the US, and his job approval rating surged to almost the highest rating since he was elected. As concerns over the governments response have grown, however, the number of people who believe the president is doing a good job appears to be settling back to pre-coronavirus levels.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll this week found approval of Trumps handling of Covid-19 had dipped to 42%, down from 48% the week before. Trumps overall approval rating was at 40%, close to where it has been for much of his presidency. According to a survey by CNN, 45% of Americans approve of Trumps coronavirus response.

Perhaps more worrying for Trump are his dwindling numbers in a match-up against Joe Biden. CNN found that Biden leads Trump 53% to 42% among registered voters nationwide.

A number of Trumps advisers and Republican allies are said to be among those unimpressed with his performance at his press briefings, which have become a daily ritual and often last several hours. Axios and the New York Times reported that a series of senior figures have become dismayed at the briefings, which Trump has used to propagate lies and disinformation about his response to the pandemic.

White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him, the Times reported.

Even the Trump loyalist Lindsey Graham is among those who wants Trump to rein in his briefings, which frequently run on for more than an hour and regularly feature an upset president lashing out at the press.

Graham told the New York Times that Trump sometimes drowns out his own message, and said he had counseled the president to limit the briefings to once a week. Axios reported that Republicans are worried the rambling performances, along with the White Houses wider response to the coronavirus, could harm Trumps re-election chances.

The next 4-8 weeks is really going to decide whether Trump gets re-elected, Stephen Moore, a former Trump nominee for Federal Reserve, told Axios.

The normally forgiving editorial board of the conservative Wall Street Journal has also come out against Trumps daily presentations.

The briefings began as a good idea to educate the public about the dangers of the virus, how Americans should change their behavior, and what the government is doing to combat it, the Journal wrote. But sometime in the last three weeks Mr Trump seems to have concluded that the briefings could be a showcase for him.

Despite the pleas, it seems unlikely that Trump, who is increasingly using the briefings to push out the kind of messaging usually reserved for his campaign rallies, will put a halt to them any time soon.

Any suggestion that President Trump is struggling on tone or message is completely false, the White House spokesman Judd Deere told the New York Times.

Go here to read the rest:

Trump's poll numbers dip over handling of coronavirus pandemic - The Guardian

‘Now is not the time’: WHO responds to Trump’s threat to cut funding – CNBCTV18

The WHO responded Wednesday to President Donald Trumps threat to cut its funding, saying the move would not be appropriate during the global coronavirus pandemic.

We are still in the acute phase of a pandemic so now is not the time to cut back on funding, Dr Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, told a virtual briefing, according to Reuters.

A day earlier, Trump threatened to withhold funding from the United Nations health agency, claiming it got every aspect of the coronavirus pandemic wrong.

With regard to us, theyre taking a lot of heat because they didnt want the borders closed, they called it wrong, Trump said at his daily briefing. They really called, I would say, every aspect of it wrong.

As of Wednesday, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.S. surpassed 400,000, according to figures provided by NBC, with 12,864 fatalities nationwide.

Its uncertain how the U.S. would withhold funding. Congress has already authorized $122 million for the WHO for this fiscal year, and while Trump has proposed only $58 million of funding in fiscal year 2021, Congress is unlikely to authorize such a drastic funding cut, especially in the the middle of the pandemic.

The president also criticized the WHOs initial response to the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan in China in late 2019, and the time it took to declare the outbreak a global pandemic, on March 11.

Take a look, go through step by step. They said theres no big deal, theres no big problem. Theres no nothing, and then ultimately when I closed it down, they said I made a mistake in closing it down and it turned out to be right, Trump said.

The WHO declared a global health emergency on Jan. 30, nearly a month before Trump tweeted that The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA.

Another official at the WHO rejected that criticism.

It was absolutely critical in the early part of this outbreak to have full access to everything possible, to get on the ground and work with the Chinese to understand this, Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior advisor to the WHO director-general, said at the virtual briefing Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Continued here:

'Now is not the time': WHO responds to Trump's threat to cut funding - CNBCTV18

Trump fails the test: Yet more evidence he has no idea what he’s doing – Salon

Donald Trump made it clearer than ever on Thursday evening that he doesn't understand the crucial role that widespread coronavirus testing plays in getting America back to work again safely.

So while he talks about reopening the country "very, very soon," what he's actually showing the world, every night, is that he has no idea what it will take to do that.

The overwhelming consensus among public-health experts is that it won't be safe for Americans to resume anything like their normal lives until the country has the ability to test magnitudes more people than it does now.

Social distancing appears to be reducing the uncontrolled spread of the virus. But if we can't figure out who still has the virusand keep them away from healthy people, then when we emerge from our homes, we'll just start the cycle over.

What's required, first and foremost, is massive testing not only vastly more diagnostic testing than we're doing now, but also what's called "surveillance" testing, so public-health officials can determine what communities are safeand can identify outbreaks when they are still small and isolate the people who are infected.

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Barack Obama weighed in on Thursday. He gets it:

A former Obama adviser put it a bit less delicately:

Indeed, there is no sign that Trump preoccupied as he is with a fantasy narrative in which he and his administration have done everything perfectly has a clue that testing needs to be ramped up.

CNN's Jim Acosta asked exactly the right questionat Thursday's news conference.

Acosta: Mr. President, how could the administration discuss the possibility of reopening the country when the administration does not have an adequate nationwide testing system for this virus? Don't you need a nationwide testing system for the virus before you reopen?

Trump said no.

Before you read Trump's entire reply, you need to know a few thingsto help you understand how meaningless it was:

Now here's what Trump said:

Trump: No. We have a great testing system right now, the best testing system in the world. But there are certain sections

Acosta: But people can't get the test right now

Trump: there are certain sections in the country that are in phenomenal shape already. Other sections are coming online [sic]. Other sections are going down. And we, in addition to that, are giving out millions of tests and every day we're doing it exponentially, we're picking up, and what we'll be doing in the very near future is going to certain areas of our country and do massive testing. It's not necessary, but it would be a good thing to have.

Acosta: Don't you have need, though, Mr. President, to make sure people are safe going back to work? You don't want to send people back to the workplace

Trump: We want to have it. And we're going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes. We're talking 325 million people. And that's not going to happen, as you can imagine. It would never happen with anyone else, either.

Trump's mention of "massive testing," but only in "certain areas of our country," was confusing at best andnonsensical at worst.

AtWednesday's news conference, Trump was asked another good question: "So what specifically has to happen for you to feel that it is safe to reopen the country?And what is your plan to do that?"

His answer was purely "aspirational" as he now calls his earlier,Easter Sunday deadlinefor reopening:

Well, I think we can say that we have to be on that down side of that slope and heading to a very strong direction that this thing is gone.We could do it in phases.We can go to some areas, which, you know, some areas are much less affected than others.

But it would be nice to be able to open with a big bang and open up our country or certainly most of our country.And I think we're going to do that soon.If you look at what's happening, I would say we're ahead of schedule.

Now, you hate to say it too loudly because, all of asudden, things don't happen.But I think we will be sooner rather than later.But we'll be sitting down with the professionals.We'll be sitting down with many different people and making a determination.And those meetings will start taking place fairly soon.

Asked about plans for "monitoring and testing," Trump lied about the current level of testing and almost certainly made up a story about how "other countries" are now "calling us" for advice.

Public-health experts are widely agreed on what needs to happen next, starting with a huge increase in testingbut also including a massive nationwide program of contact-tracing to find who may have been infected by the people who tested positive, and some way of isolating the infected.

Each of those measures involve controversial tradeoffs, and complex federal oversight and support.

That's what ought to be preoccupying Trump.

Specifically, scientists I trust have directed me to three policy roadmaps that provide exactly what the Trump administration is failing to provide: a detailed, point-by-point plan for how to reopen the country and end the crisis safely. They are also nearly identical in their broad strokes.

They are:

Reporters should hold Trump accountable to these roadmaps: Does he disagree with any of their conclusions or proposals? What if anything is he doing about them?

All three emphasize the danger of not having a serious, credible plan. As the CAP report states:

Without a coherent, evidence-based plan in place a path forward, clear benchmarks, and an end in sight the public and government officials may grow weary of physical distancing prematurely. The result would be repeated waves of exponential transmission followed by lockdowns, wreaking havoc on the economy and peoples' lives. It will be far more devastating to our economy and to public health to experience waves and waves of virus response rather than properly return to normal when it is truly safe. Americans are willing to make sacrifices and do their part to break transmission, but they need to have faith that there is a plan in place that will work.

The next step, as the AEI report explains, is:

To move from community-wide interventions that focus on large populations to case-based interventions that target and isolate individual people who are infected.

That's where widespread testing becomes essential. Butas the Duke report states:

Not one of the 50 U.S. states currently has surveillance capabilities sufficient to enable case-based interventions at the necessary scale. While these capacities are being scaled up in some places around the country, getting them to a level adequate to mitigate the risk of future outbreaks and epidemics will require a substantial expansion of our public health infrastructure and case-based management capabilities. With Federal support, surveillance mechanisms can be increased or implemented and better integrated with testing by providers.

None of this can happen just by flicking a switch, however. From the Duke report:

A reasonable first approach is to support rapid pilot program in some regions of the country that are already supporting existing surveillance capabilities. For example, Massachusetts recently announced a new program to hire and train 1,000 people to support contact tracing. Successful early models and best practices would provide the basis for CDC's guidance to expand these capabilities throughout the country.

Finding a balance between the personal and technological approaches to contact-tracing is essential, and presents a rare area of disagreement.

The CAP report, for instance, urges an approach like South Korea and Singapore, using mobile phones to notify individuals if they have been in close proximity to an individual who has tested positive but with data hosted by a trusted, nonprofit organization, "not private technology companies or the federal government."

The Duke report, by contrast, concludes that a reliance on phones raises "serious privacy, security, and logistical concerns," and instead recommends a substantial investment in strengthening the state and local public health workforce and a system for timely data-sharing.

The experts are agreed that affected individuals should be isolated, often outside of their houses. The AEI reportsays, "Comfortable, free facilities should be provided for cases and their contacts who prefer local isolation, quarantine, and treatment away from home."

Only the U.S. government can set up the necessary testing network. Only the CDC can lead an effective contact-tracing program.

And ideally, the White House could lead a constructive national debate about the appropriate role of cell phone data in contact tracing and the right approach to isolating the sick.

Despite Trump's belligerent ignorance, there are some signs that Vice President Pence and other members of the White House task force are at least a bit more aware of the variables involved but how much isn't clear.

Pence, after Trump left the room on Thursday, talked in very general terms about what needs to happen before places reopen. "First would be that we are at the end of the coronavirus for most major communities," he said. He said that "as we move into this summer and move into the fall, we'll have the testing we need" to do both diagnostic and surveillance testing.

But he also said reopening depends on having "therapeutics for Americans to take medicines if they contract the disease" which, unless you believe Trump's snake-oil pitches for hydroxychloroquine, isn't necessarily anytime soon.

On CNN, the mostly invisible CDC director, Robert Redfield, offered a little more insight on Thursday evening, acknowledging the need for contract tracing and "using the data that we have from surveillance to understand the most important places for us to reopen."

According toPolitico, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases expert, told lawmakers earlier this week "that administration officials are developing a framework for getting back to 'normality' and that he expects the White House to issue more guidance about eventually reopening society in the coming days."

On Wednesday, Brett P. Giroir, the assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, discussed movement toward antibody testing. "This allows for surveillance screening to understand if1 percent, 5 percent, 30 percent of Americans have been infected.But it also allows us to have very widespread tens and tens of millions of people screened with a finger prick on the spot."

He predicted that "if things work out the way we believe they will, we will have millions [of tests] on the market by May in a sophisticated way, in a prospective way that we get the surveillance we need.We can test people to see if they've been exposed, immune, and [can] go back to work.And a combination of that kind of test with the current kind of tests we have now is how America opens back up again."

Meanwhile, Trump continues to be obsessed with hisTV ratings, not testing. He continues to insist, vaguely, that everything will be better soon.

Emanuel, the lead author of the CAP report, recentlytold Deadline:

Everyone knows that the President knows nothing, and is just doing what he hopes, rather than what is realistic. What they want is what's realistic. It's, "Tell me what the plan is over that time."

I think I have a plan. There are other people who have slightly different plans, but we have to have a concerted discussion going forward.

The media's role here is essential.Every time Trump says things are "headed in the right direction," reporters should be demanding answers to specific questions about the plan forward and should make it clear to the public that he has no serious, concrete, plausibleor credible plan at all.

Reporters need to expose his ignorance, rather than continue to indulge him like the Washington Post'sMatt Zapotosky, Josh Dawsey, Jose A. Del Real and William Wandid Thursday night, in their story headlined "Trump administration pushing to reopen much of the U.S. next month."

Read all the way down and you learn that he can't do it (only the governors can); that health experts say itwould be completely crazy; and that no one in Trump's inner circle can answer the simplest questions about how this could possibly be safe.

But Trump and the zealots he listens to inside and outside the White House got the headline they wanted, nonetheless.

Go here to see the original:

Trump fails the test: Yet more evidence he has no idea what he's doing - Salon

Under Cover of Covid-19, Donald Trump Ramps Up His War on Truth-Tellers – The Intercept

Michael Atkinson, the then-inspector general for the intelligence community, departs a closed-door hearing before the House Intelligence Committee in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 4, 2019.

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times via Redux

Three years into his presidency, Donald Trumps corruption and blatant politicization have reached into every corner of the government. Now, in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that has killed thousands of Americans, its more clear than ever that the officials who stayed in public service to try to curb Trumps worst abuses are becoming his most numerous victims.

Hoping that the country is too distracted by Covid-19 to notice, Trump has over the last few days engaged in a Stalinist purge of truth-tellers, leaving the survivors frightened and intimidated even as the federal government is shown to be too weak to counter the rampaging coronavirus.

Last week, Trump fired the intelligence communitys inspector general, Michael Atkinson. Atkinsons sin was that he took seriously a whistleblower complaint about Trumps illegal scheme to get Ukraine to meddle in the 2020 presidential election on his behalf.

Last year, Atkinson concluded that the whistleblowers complaint was both credible and urgent, and should be shared with Congress, which ultimately led to Trumps impeachment by the House of Representatives. A mountain of evidence confirmed the whistleblowers complaint and vindicated Atkinsons decision to tell Congress about it.

It is hard not to think that the Presidents loss of confidence in me derives from my having faithfully discharged my legal obligations as an independent and impartial Inspector General, Atkinson wrote in a statement. He urged whistleblowers to continue to come forward: Please do not allow recent events to silence your voices.

Atkinsons firing is just the latest in a series of attempts by Trump to decapitate the intelligence community and place it under the control of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the clammy thug who has gained power over most of the national security apparatus by sucking up to Trump more compulsively than any of his rivals.

In the wake of Atkinsons firing, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff wrote a scathing letter to Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell, pointing out that every Senate-appointed official in the DNI has now been removed, making it impossible for the intelligence community to function. The only problem with Schiffs letter was that he had to address it to Grenell, an empty suit who is temporarily filling the job of director after replacing yet another acting national intelligence director in February. Replacing acting officials with more acting officials is part of Trumps ongoing strategy to fill the government with unqualified yes-men.

Trumps dysfunctional leadership style is to rant and rave in public over the slightest hint of criticism. That explains why the popular captain of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier was relieved of command last week after pleading for help as Covid-19 ravaged his crew.

Replacing acting officials with more acting officials is part of Trumps ongoing strategy to fill the government with unqualified yes-men.

The captain, Brett Crozier, had angered Trump by telling his superiors that the Navy wasnt doing enough to protect its sailors. Croziers letter was promptly leaked to the media, embarrassing Navy brass, so Crozier had to go. On Monday, Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly, yet another Trump minion, flew to Guam and gave a profanity-laced speech to the carriers crew, in which he said that if Crozier hadnt intended his letter to be leaked, the captain was too naive or too stupid to be the commanding officer of a ship like this. The audio of Modlys speech was itself promptly leaked to the press, and Modly was forced to resign. In trying a little too hard to be like Trump, he had actually embarrassed the president.

Trump began the week by ousting the chair of the federal panel created by Congress to oversee the management of the $2 trillion stimulus package designed to offset the economic impact of the pandemic. Trump removed Glenn Fine before he could even start his new job because he discovered that Fine had been the acting inspector general of the Pentagon and previously served as the longtime inspector general for the Justice Department. In other words, he was afraid that Fine had enough experience to actually know how to do his job and therefore, could conduct real oversight of the massive spending bill.

At around the same time, Trump publicly attacked the inspector general for Health and Human Services for issuing a report that showed that hospitals around the nation faced severe shortages of Covid-19 tests and related supplies.

Trump views anyone who tells the truth as an enemy who must be crushed. Since the onset of the pandemic, he has often assaulted the truth in the middle of White House press briefings. That the docile White House press corps has repeatedly let it happen with barely a murmur encourages Trump to keep it up.

In the middle of a press briefing on Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the governments top infectious disease expert, tried to answer a question about whether an anti-malaria drug, hydroxychloroquine, could be an effective treatment for Covid-19. Trump has continuously touted the drug in public despite the fact that there is no conclusive proof of its usefulness and plenty of evidence of its harmful side effects. His heedless quackery threatens to kill thousands.

The last thing Trump wanted was for Fauci to tell the truth while standing next to him in front of the press, so Trump blocked him from answering the question and attacked reporters for asking about it. You dont have to ask the question again, Trump told a reporter, while complaining that Fauci had already talked about the anti-malarial drug 15 times.

Fauci has tried hard over the last few weeks to avoid directly contradicting Trump, particularly in official press briefings. He has instead used alternative media interviews including a popular online chat with NBA star Stephen Curry to try to get the truth out.

Yet the fact that Fauci must stand by and let Trump spout dangerous misinformation shows how Trumps purges have intimidated the remaining professionals inside the government.

Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been almost completely sidelined from press briefings. Stat, a health and medicine news organization, noted that the CDC hasnt given its own press briefing since March 9, after Trump and the White House took control of public messaging about the pandemic. CDC experts, who held regular briefings to update the public about previous health threats such as the H1N1 flu pandemic and the Zika outbreak, have been silenced, Stat reported.

Instead, CDC Director Robert Redfield, a conservative Christian appointed to his position in 2018, has mainly been giving interviews to local radio stations, in which he stresses the value of social distancing while avoiding directly contradicting Trump.

Trump has lied and spouted propaganda and conspiracy theories ever since he took office. In the last few days, he has intensified his war against the truth and anyone who speaks it. With Covid-19, we are witnessing the results.

Read the original here:

Under Cover of Covid-19, Donald Trump Ramps Up His War on Truth-Tellers - The Intercept

This Is Trumps Fault – The Atlantic

Read: The four possible timelines for life returning to normal

If we were doing a bad job, we should also be criticized. But we have done an incredible job, Trump said on February 27. Were doing a great job with it, he told Republican senators on March 10. I always treated the Chinese Virus very seriously, and have done a very good job from the beginning, he tweeted on March 18.

For three-quarters of his presidency, Trump has taken credit for the economic expansion that began under President Barack Obama in 2010. That expansion accelerated in 2014, just in time to deliver real prosperity over the past three years. The harm done by Trumps own initiatives, and especially his trade wars, was masked by that continued growth. The economy Trump inherited became his all-purpose answer to his critics. Did he break laws, corrupt the Treasury, appoint cronies, and tell lies? So what? Unemployment was down, the stock market up.

Suddenly, in 2020, the rooster that had taken credit for the sunrise faced the reality of sunset. He could not bear it.

Underneath all the denial and self-congratulation, Trump seems to have glimpsed the truth. The clearest statement of that knowledge was expressed on February 28. That day, Trump spoke at a rally in South Carolinahis penultimate rally before the pandemic forced him to stop. This was the rally at which Trump accused the Democrats of politicizing the coronavirus as their new hoax. That line was so shocking, it has crowded out awareness of everything else Trump said that day. Yet those other statements are, if possible, even more relevant to understanding the trouble he brought upon the country.

Read: The two states where Trumps COVID-19 response could backfire

Trump does not speak clearly. His patterns of speech betray a man with guilty secrets to hide, and a beclouded mind. Yet we can discern, through the mental fog, that Trump had absorbed some crucial facts. By February 28, somebody in his orbit seemed to already be projecting 35,000 to 40,000 deaths from the coronavirus. Trump remembered the number, but refused to believe it. His remarks are worth revisiting at length:

Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus, you know that, right? Coronavirus, theyre politicizing it. We did one of the great jobs. You say, Hows President Trump doing? They go, Oh, not good, not good. They have no clue. They dont have any clue. They cant even count their votes in Iowa. They cant even count. No, they cant. They cant count their votes.

One of my people came up to me and said, Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia. That didnt work out too well. They couldnt do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. Theyd been doing it since you got in. Its all turning. They lost. Its all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.

But we did something thats been pretty amazing. We have 15 people [sick] in this massive country, and because of the fact that we went early. We went early; we could have had a lot more than that. Were doing great. Our country is doing so great. We are so unified. We are so unified. The Republican Party has never ever been unified like it is now. There has never been a movement in the history of our country like we have now. Never been a movement.

So a statistic that we want to talk aboutGo ahead: Say USA. Its okay; USA. So a number that nobody heard of, that I heard of recently and I was shocked to hear it: 35,000 people on average die each year from the flu. Did anyone know that? Thirty-five thousand, thats a lot of people. It could go to 100,000; it could be 27,000. They say usually a minimum of 27, goes up to 100,000 people a year die.

And so far, we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States. Nobody. And it doesnt mean we wont and we are totally prepared. It doesnt mean we wont, but think of it. You hear 35 and 40,000 people and weve lost nobody and you wonder, the press is in hysteria mode.

On February 28, very few Americans had heard of an estimated death toll of 35,000 to 40,000, but Trump had heard it. And his answer to that estimate was: So far, we have lost nobody. He conceded, It doesnt mean we wont. But he returned to his happy talk. We are totally prepared. And as always, it was the media's fault. You hear 35 and 40,000 people and weve lost nobody and you wonder, the press is in hysteria mode.

Read more from the original source:

This Is Trumps Fault - The Atlantic

Here’s the biggest thing Donald Trump doesn’t get about the media – CNN

"You should say congratulations, great job, instead of being so horrid in the way you ask a question," Trump scolded Fox's Kristin Fisher.

The "horrid" question that Fisher had the gall to ask? "When can hospitals expect to receive a quick turnaround on these [Covid-19] test results?"

Which, unless you have spent the last month or so on another planet, is a very relevant question. Testing for coronavirus was very slow to get started and there remains, in many hospitals, a delay in getting back results from the tests.

"More and more rapid tests are coming onto the market and private companies like Quest and LabCorp are now running thousands of tests a day. But as the virus has spread from state to state infecting hundreds of thousands of Americans, demand for testing has overwhelmed many labs and testing sites. Doctors and officials around the country say that lengthy delays in getting results have persisted and that continued uneven access to tests has prolonged rationing and hampered patient care. In addition, swabs and chemicals needed to run the tests are in short supply in many of the nation's hot zones."

There's no question, then, that Fisher was well within her rights to ask Trump about the continued testing delays. So, why did he react the way he did?

Simple; Trump has absolutely no real idea of (or care for) how a free and independent media actually works.

He's demonstrated this repeatedly -- on some of the biggest stages in the world.

So, yeah. Trump doesn't seem to grasp -- or, more worryingly, doesn't care -- about the difference between how the press should function in the US and how it is allowed to function in an authoritarian state. He likes how authoritarian rulers are "covered" by their media because it is so favorable. He seems to not connect the dots that the reason it is favorable is because a) reporters' work in these countries is heavily censored and b) there are real-life repercussions for journalists who are seen as insufficiently loyal to the political leadership of the country.

The job of journalists in a free and open society is to ask questions -- even uncomfortable ones. And to keep asking them until they get answered. Because in this country reporters never have to -- or should never have to -- worry that asking a hard question of the president might lead to negative consequences.

The media's job is not to ask "nice" or "good" questions, and it's certainly not to say "congratulations." The media's job is to ask questions that elicit critical information about issues affecting the American public. Like, say, when will the rapid-result tests for coronavirus be available to hospitals battling the virus around the country?

That the President of the United States doesn't grasp that basic fact about one of the institutions at the center of a healthy democracy speaks volumes.

Go here to see the original:

Here's the biggest thing Donald Trump doesn't get about the media - CNN

Dr. Lance Dodes on Trump: A "predator" who "would be in prison" if he hadn’t been born rich – Salon

Most people find Donald Trump bewildering. His lies, cruelty, corruption, greed, delusions of godlike powerand other unconscionable behavior seemunbelievable. If Trump werea character in a TV show, movie or comic book, the audience would laugh at his clumsy, obvious villainy. The whole story would be rejected as horrendously bad writing and a waste of time.

But Trump is not that in fact complicated or puzzling once his core motivations are understood and then accepted as basic facts: He appears to be a sociopath. As such, helacks human empathy and a capacityfor the norms of healthy human social relationships. In so many ways, Donald Trump is like a space alien who came to Earth and is (badly) impersonating a human being.

The coronavirus pandemic, and Trump's cruel and callous reactions to it, have only served toamplifyhis gross defects in personality, behaviorand values.

Writing at the Guardian, Lloyd Green summarizes Donald Trump's emotional and cognitive defects as magnified by the coronavirus crisis:

On Sunday, initially at least, there was no White House briefing on the president's public schedule. But the bad news kept coming. Coronavirus deaths continued to climb and reports of the heartland being unprepared for what may be on its horizon continued to ricochet around the media.

In the words of one administration insider, to the Guardian: "The Trump organism is simply collapsing. He's killing his own supporters."

Members of the national guard, emergency workers, rank-and-file Americans: all are exposed. Yet Trump appears incapable of emoting anything that comes close to heart-felt concern. Or just providing straight answers.

In a recent op-ed forthe New York Times, Frank Bruni speaks tothe human emptinessandlack of care, concern, empathy, and overall decency atthe center of Donald Trump:

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One more question: Do you remember the moment when President Trump's bearing and words made clear that he grasped not only the magnitude of this rapidly metastasizing pandemic but also our terror in the face of it?

It passed me by, maybe because it never happened.

In Trump's predecessors, for all their imperfections, I could sense the beat of a heart and see the glimmer of a soul. In him I can't, and that fills me with a sorrow and a rage that I quite frankly don't know what to do with.

And while I'm not looking to Trump for any panacea, is it too much to ask for some sign that the dying has made an impression on him, that the crying has penetrated his carapace and that he's thinking about something other than his ratings? I watch. I wait. I suspect I'll be doing that forever.

I recently spoke with Dr. Lance Dodes, a retiredassistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and now a training and supervising analyst emeritus at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. We discussedthe coronavirus pandemic and what this crisis hasrevealedabout Donald Trump's mental health and behavior.

Dodes wasa contributor to the bestselling volume "The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump: 37 Psychiatrists and Mental Health Experts Assess a President," and is a regular guest on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell".

In this conversation, Dodes explains how the coronavirus pandemic offers further evidence of Trump's predatory, sociopathic behaviorand his lack of care or concern for other human beings. Trump's programming and behavior, in fact makes him perhaps the worst person imaginable to lead the United States through the coronavirus crisis. Dodes also explains why too many people, especially in the news media, remain in a state of deep denial about Trump's behavior and the depths of his mental pathologies.

If Trump had not been born into money, Dodes told me, he would have wound up in prison by now. Instead he ispresident of the United States and vigorously protected by the Republican Party and its supporters.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Is Donald Trump the freest man alive? He has no internal restraints and increasingly no external restraints either.

I think he is the least free man. You and I have some degree of choice about how we're going to behave and react to the world around us; we are complex and we make complex decisions because we have a conscience and we care about the effects of our actions on others. Donald Trump, in contrast, is very simple. Everything he says or does is for himself, either to have power over others or to hurt them in revenge against their disagreeing or standing in his way. Because he has shown himself to be incapable of either conscience or empathy, he is basically a predator, lacking the most essential parts of our humanity.

Despite this, he has two techniques that have allowed him to be successful in business and politics: He is a bully, and he lies continuously. Repeating his lies over and over is like the "big lie" technique made famous by Hitler.It works because when a lie is endlessly repeated, even decent people assume there must be some truth in it.

Donald Trump has lied at least 16,000 times. Why are there journalists, reporters, politiciansand peopleamong the general publicwho keep giving him the benefit of the doubt despite the overwhelming evidence that he is a compulsive liar?

People want to trust others.I, too, would rather believe that the president of the United States was an honest, decent, thoughtful person. For some people, having an authority figure be trustworthy is so important that they will not accept the obvious facts about Trump. Like other predators, or other sociopaths, Trump takes advantage of this very human quality by pretending to be trustworthy through endless lying about his real motivations and even his real actions.

Donald Trump has said and done many unconscionable things during his time in the White House. But his recent suggestion that doctors and nurses are stealing ventilators from hospitals is, even by standards, one of his most despicable comments.Is that just his instinct to go to such an unbelievably dark place?

As my colleague Dr. John Gartner pointed out, if Trump were walking around wearing a tinfoil hat and talking about Martians controlling his mind, it would be easy for the public to recognize how severely ill he is. Trump is the most dangerous person we could have as a president precisely because his delusional core is not as obvious. When he makes these claims about ventilators and the coronavirus, they need to be understood as delusional beliefs that he summons from his imagination to protect himself, and which he is incapable of altering when presented with reality.

Donald Trump actually believes that he is a great president. I believe he is likely to win a second term. His entirepresidency stands as an indictment of the American people, the news media, the political classand the country's culture and values as a whole.

With respect to the political class, Donald Trump would have been removed from office already if the Republicans in Congress were not propping him up. If a Democrat were behaving like Trump, Republicans would certainly have impeached and convicted him already.Many decent Americans have been successfully conned by Trump, but there is no excuse for the Republicans in Congress.Trump's decisions about the coronavirus are killing Americans and he will continue doing it. The Congress should remove him from office immediately.

If Trump was not born into wealth, what do you think would have happened to him?

People with Donald Trump's very severe personality disorder are rare, which is good for civilization but helps explain why most people cannot understand his behavior. Sociopaths can be camouflaged by being successful in certain areas precisely because they get to the top by lying, cheating, bullying and manipulating, stepping on people who are in their way. Dictators, crime bosses and similar types of people are examples. But most sociopaths end up with criminal records. Donald Trump has committed multiple civil crimes that we know of.If he had not been born into money, it is likely that he would be in prison.

In terms of "metacognition,"is Donald Trump aware of what motivates and drives his behavior?

Donald Trump has made it clear that he processes reality in a different way than most human beings. When he says that if 100,000 people were to die from the coronavirus it would be a "victory" for him, he is revealing who he really is. He is showing that his perceived self-interest is the only thing that is ever on his mind.Insight into himself wouldn't make any sense to him.

Given your expertise in mental health, do you find Donald Trump to be an interesting person to study?

I find Donald Trump to be boring because he's so simple; it is always obvious what he's going to do. In any situation, its merits or complexity will have no bearing on his statements or actions; he will simply say or do whatever he thinks will benefit himself.Part of that calculus, of course, is to act as though he actually cares about others.But with fouryears of experience, everyone now ought to be able to see through that. When he was first elected, many reporters and commentators wrote that they hoped he would change and become "presidential." People with the diagnosis of antisocial personality disorderdo not change. This is just who Trump is.

What do you want the American people and the world to be prepared for, in terms of Donald Trump's behavior?

No matter what happens with the coronavirus, Donald Trump is going to claim victory. He will say that he did the best job possible and use the "big lie" strategy to double down on this falsehood. He will blame his critics for his failures with the virus. If there is a truly horrible outcome, Trump will blame the Democrats, the doctors, the governorsand anyone else he can imagine while, as he has already said, taking no responsibility himself.

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Dr. Lance Dodes on Trump: A "predator" who "would be in prison" if he hadn't been born rich - Salon

Treasury acted appropriately on Trump tax returns: watchdog – NBCNews.com

WASHINGTON A watchdog has found that the Treasury Department appropriately handled Congress' request for President Donald Trump's tax returns, which Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has refused to provide.

But the acting inspector general for Treasury, Rich Delmar, also said he had no opinion on whether the advice Mnuchin followed which came from Justice Department attorneys was itself well-founded. In refusing to hand over the returns, Mnuchin decided he was legally bound to comply with that advice, Delmar noted in a letter Wednesday to senior House lawmakers.

The Justice Department legal opinion backed Mnuchin's refusal, saying that Neal's request lacked a legitimate legislative purpose and was an unprecedented" use of congressional authority.

Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.

The argument is the same one Trump has used in refusing other demands from Democrats in Congress for financial records from banks and accountants that have had business with Trump and his family. Lawsuits over those records were filed in federal courts in Washington and New York.

Rep. Richard Neal, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, asked Delmar last fall to probe how Treasury received, assessed and responded to Neal's earlier request for six years of Trump's tax returns.

Delmar found that Treasury processed the request properly, sought legal guidance from the Justice Department, determined that it was bound by that guidance and, based on that advice, decided not to provide the tax information.

Hie letter went to Neal and Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the senior Republican on the tax-writing Ways and Means panel.

In the long-running legal battle over Trump's records, Neal cited a 1924 law that says the Treasury secretary shall furnish" tax returns to any of the three congressional officers empowered to obtain them, one of whom is the Ways and Means Committee chairman.

Neal has said the records are needed because the committee is looking into the effectiveness of IRS mandatory audits of all sitting presidents.

The fight between Democrats and Trump dates back to the 2016 election campaign, when Trump claimed that he couldn't release them because he was under IRS audit. The records hold the promise of information that Trump has carefully guarded from public view, including details of his business entanglements, relations with foreign creditors and governments, and the value of his assets.

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Treasury acted appropriately on Trump tax returns: watchdog - NBCNews.com

Trump orders U.S. government to help Italy in coronavirus fight – Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during the coronavirus response daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., April 10, 2020. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday ordered top U.S. administration officials to help Italy in fighting the novel coronavirus by providing medical supplies, humanitarian relief and other assistance.

In a memo to several Cabinet ministers, Trump ordered a variety of measures to help Italy, including making U.S. military personnel in the country available for telemedicine services, helping set up field hospitals, and transporting supplies.

The Italian Republic (Italy), one of our closest and oldest Allies, is being ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has already claimed more than 18,000 lives, brought much of the Italian healthcare system to the brink of collapse, and threatens to push Italys economy into a deep recession, Trump said in the memo.

Italy has recorded the biggest number of deaths from COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, followed by the United States.

Trump ordered his commerce secretary to encourage U.S. suppliers to sell products requested by Italian authorities and healthcare providers, except those required for the United States own response to the pandemic.

The memo said the secretary of state, the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development and the president of the U.S. Export-Import Bank may use available authorities to support the recovery of the Italian economy.

(This story corrects name in paragraph 6 to Agency for International Development, not Aid)

Reporting by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Daniel Wallis

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Trump orders U.S. government to help Italy in coronavirus fight - Reuters


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