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Trump’s wild claims of voter fraud blow back on campaign aide – POLITICO

President Donald Trump | Getty Images

By MATT DIXON and MARC CAPUTO

04/09/2020 03:04 PM EDT

Updated 04/09/2020 06:43 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE Days before President Donald Trump deceptively called vote-by-mail corrupt and damaging to Republicans, his campaign hired an operative tied to a 2012 absentee ballot scheme that sent a Florida Democratic operative to jail.

The plot involving Giancarlo Sopo who has never been charged with wrongdoing was highlighted in a report on election fraud that Trumps campaign blasted out Wednesday to support his wild vote-by-mail attacks. Sopo joined the Trump campaign April 1.

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The national news media routinely and condescendingly dismiss any concerns about voter fraud, including state vote-by-mail provisions, the campaign wrote in an email highlighting the Heritage Foundation report, a document that was used by the presidents voter fraud task force, which failed to turn up proof of widespread voter fraud.

The email, in addition to exposing an uncomfortable incident in a staffers past, highlights the exaggerated nature of the presidents attacks on voting by mail. The absentee ballot scheme involving Sopo wasnt technically voter fraud, it was caught by authorities, and it never would have resulted in illegally cast ballots even if it hadnt been stopped.

The case tied to Sopo, Trumps new director of rapid response for Spanish-language media, was listed in the Heritage report along with hundreds of others throughout the country over the span of three decades a tiny fraction of the total elections held during that period.

The 2012 ploy involved 1,800 phony absentee ballot requests that were made for voters without their knowledge, an activity that is illegal in Florida. The plan was to use the requests to target infrequent voters to cast ballots for Joe Garcia, a candidate in a four-way Democratic primary for Congress, the Miami Herald reported at the time.

The scheme was directed by Jeffrey Garcia, a former top aide to former Rep. Joe Garcia. The two are not related.

Sopo, a Garcia campaign volunteer who later became the congressmans spokesperson, said Jeffrey Garcia tricked him, a cousin, and other staffers into thinking the phony requests were legitimate.

After Joe Garcia won the election, investigators raided the Miami-Dade home of Sopos cousin. Sopo resigned as the congressmans communications director and testified against Jeffrey Garcia.

Breaking his silence in the case, Jeffrey Garcia on Thursday accused Sopo of being duplicitous about his involvement in the crime.

He literally begged to be part of this scheme, Jeffrey Garcia told POLITICO in an interview. He knew it was wrong. He did this with eyes wide open.

Sopo denied Jeffrey Garcias accusations and shared a 2013 email in which Jeffrey Garcia resigned as Joe Garcia's chief of staff.

This was brought on by my own doing and personal failures and I am solely responsible, Garcia wrote at the time.

Garcia, who was charged with two misdemeanors and a felony, said no one committed voter fraud. He was found guilty of the misdemeanors and sentenced to 90 days in jail.

This was a not-well-thought-out attempt to get more voters to participate in vote by mail, he said. Obviously it didnt work.

Trump campaign spokesperson Matt Wolking called Garcia a twice-convicted fraudster who is just trying to retaliate against Sopo.

Despite his admission that he alone orchestrated the fraud, some Democrats continue to hire him, Wolking told POLITICO. The irony is that Democrats routinely deny the existence of voter fraud, but here they are using Democrat Jeff Garcias illegal ballot scheme to try to smear President Trumps campaign.

Sopo told POLITICO he was a young volunteer at the time and had no direct role in the scheme.

I was asked to help with what was described as a data-entry project that had been approved by the campaign's legal counsel, Sopo said in an email. At the time, I was going to school and working full time, so I referred others for the project.

I cooperated fully with the inquiry, I never requested any ballots, never touched any ballots, and never was accused of wrongdoing, he said.

Jeffrey Garcia said he regrets taking responsibility for the crime.

Giancarlo remains ungrateful for my successful attempts to keep him out of jail," Garcia said. Sopo, he said, is lying about and has "finally found his home on the Trump campaign because Democrats would no longer hire him.

Sopos political bent has shifted over the years. He began writing for a conservative publication in 2018 and joined the Trump campaign as the president began demonizing voting by mail.

The presidents assault on absentee voting comes less than a month after he and the first lady mailed in their own ballots for the March 17 presidential primary in Florida, their newly adopted home state.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also voted by absentee ballot in Florida, and a host of Trump appointees and associates also cast mail-in ballots.

Election officials and operatives in both political parties say Trumps claims of widespread voter fraud are bogus.

According to the best empirical data Ive seen, there were fewer than 500 prosecutions for crimes related to absentee ballots over a 12-year period, out of billions of ballots cast, said Rick Hasen, an election law expert and author of the book Election Meltdown: Dirty Tricks, Distrust, and the Threat to American Democracy.

That, and the success of five states, including Colorado and Washington, in running all-mail elections has convinced most people that the convenience of voting by mail is worth the small risk, Hasen said in an email.

Now, of course, the calculation has changed because the benefits of voting by mail are much greater: Without it, millions of voters face potential disenfranchisement, he said.

Democrats accuse Republicans of using voter fraud as an excuse to pass measures designed to suppress the vote. And in Florida they were quick to point out the irony of Trump hiring someone connected to an election fraud incident highlighted by his campaign.

The Miami case underscores a fundamental weaknesses of claiming widespread fraud related to mail-in ballots.

In that case, the fraud was limited to requesting absentee ballots for registered voters without their knowledge. The requests were flagged as suspicious by the Miami-Dade elections office and reported to state investigators. The ballots were never used to cast votes.

Trump has taken a particular interest in elections-related crimes tied to the Miami-to-Key-West congressional district where Sopo was ensnared in the Garcia scheme.

In addition to the absentee ballot plot, Jeffrey Garcia was involved in secretly and illegally funding a phony tea party candidate who ran to siphon votes from the Republican in the race, state Rep. David Rivera. Rivera went on to defeat Joe Garcia in 2010.

In an apparent act of revenge, Riveras associates then secretly and illegally funded a Democratic candidate, Justin Sternad, to siphon votes from Garcia in a 2012 rematch. Sternad and Riveras girlfriend and adviser were jailed. Federal prosecutors named Rivera as a suspect but the Republican was never charged. Rivera lost the election to Garcia.

The scandal had particular salience for Trump, because Rivera was a close friend of Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a Trump opponent in the Republican presidential primary. The Trump campaign ran TV ads that highlighted what it called Riveras corruption.

Before the 2016 Florida Republican primary, Trump, again without evidence, raised the specter of dishonest voting and said he would ask law enforcement to investigate. Law enforcement officials told POLITICO at the time that the candidate never made the request and they saw no evidence of fraud.

Trump dropped his rhetoric after he defeated Rubio.

Since then, Trump has painted vote-by-mail as an anti-Republican hotbed of chicanery even as both major political parties spend huge sums to boost their vote-by-mail capabilities.

In Florida, the nations largest swing state and a key for Trumps re-election, 2.6 million people voted by mail in 2018, more than one-third of all votes cast. That year, like most, Republicans returned more mailed ballots than Democrats.

Florida, like other states, has gone to great lengths to prevent ballots from being cast illegally.

To manipulate a mailed-in ballot, a fraudster would have to find the voters signature which is not public record in Florida then fraudulently copy it to the absentee ballot envelope sent back to the election supervisors office.

The forged signature would have to be good enough to fool the staff who compare the one on file with the one on the envelope. Staff members train with a signature-verification expert, said Miami-Dade election supervisor Christina White. And absentee ballots in Florida are sent only to voters who request them.

Its a safe and secure voting method, White said. We have multiple levels of security measures. And they work.

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Trump's wild claims of voter fraud blow back on campaign aide - POLITICO

Donald Trump urges Democrats to drop demands for extra spending with ‘paycheck protection’ fund – Washington Times

President Trump called on congressional Democrats Friday to drop their demands for extra spending in an administration proposal to replenish a fund to help small businesses keep their employees on the payroll during the coronavirus crisis.

Democrats are blocking a 251 Billion Dollar funding boost for Small Businesses which will help them keep their employees. It should be for only that reason, with no additions, Mr. Trump tweeted.

Senate Democrats on Thursday objected to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnells bid to add the money to the Paycheck Protection Program, which offers small businesses up to $10 million in grants and loans if they keep employees paid for two months during the coronavirus shutdown. Republicans say the demand is so high that the current $350 billion fund will run dry in a few days.

Democrats said there should be hundreds of billions added for food stamps, low-income communities, states and hospitals.

The president said there will be more economic relief provided when Congress and the administration tackle a phase four bill in the coming weeks to boost a recovery.

We should have a big Infrastructure Phase Four with Payroll Tax Cuts & more. Big Economic Bounceback! Mr. Trump said on Twitter.

The president also urged lawmakers to go back to DEDUCTIBILITY by businesses if Restaurants, Clubs & Entertaiment is expected to flourish (like never before)!

The 2017 tax cuts revoked a provision allowing corporations to deduct entertainment expenses annually, and limited deductions for meals.

IRS guidance in 2018 allowed corporations to deduct 50 percent of the cost of meals not considered lavish or extravagant.

Prior to the law, businesses also could deduct up to 50% of expenses such as sports tickets, golf outings and casinos.

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Donald Trump urges Democrats to drop demands for extra spending with 'paycheck protection' fund - Washington Times

FBI used Russian disinformation to launch investigation into Donald Trump: Audit – Washington Times

The Steele Dossier key evidence the FBI used to justify spying on a Trump campaign figure in 2016 was based in part on Russian disinformation, two top senators revealed Friday, citing newly declassified footnotes from an inspector generals report.

Sens. Charles E. Grassley and Ron Johnson, both committee chairs and top investigators, said given the Steele Dossier was funded by the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, that means they were actively responsible for spreading Russian disinformation, which plunged the country into political turmoil for much of the last three years.

While the work of former British spy Christopher Steele had long been suspected of being tainted by Russian disinformation, the new revelation is the first official confirmation, and it comes from the Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitzs authoritative report on the FBIs bunglings.

The information was contained in several footnotes in the report, which had been redacted from the public release, but which were made public Friday.

These footnotes confirm that there was a direct Russian disinformation campaign in 2016, and there were ties between Russian intelligence and a presidential campaign the Clinton campaign, not Trumps, Mr. Grassley and Mr. Johnson said.

Footnote 350 says Mr. Steeles reporting about the activities of former Trump personal lawyer Michael Cohen were part of a Russian disinformation campaign to denigrate U.S. foreign relations.

The footnote also says information on Mr. Trumps 2013 trip to Moscow were falsified by Russian intelligence, then injected into the American political conversation.

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.

The FBI relied on the Steele Dossier as key evidence in its application for a secret warrant under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to spy on Carter Page, a Trump campaign advisor.

Mr. Steele was working for Fusion GPS, which was being paid by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to gather dirt on Mr. Trump.

The FBI learned that one of Mr. Steeles sources for the dossier was linked with Russian intelligence, but the FBI failed to inform the secret court that oversees FISA when it asked permission to spy on Mr. Page.

Mr. Trump, enraged by the FBI investigation, would fire then-Director James Comey in the spring of 2017, spurring the Justice Department to name a special counsel to investigate. The special counsel found no conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russia, but did ding Mr. Trump for trying to interfere with the investigation.

Mr. Johnson and Mr. Grassley said the FBI knew it had contradictory and exculpatory evidence, but engaged in blind pursuit of the president.

Had FBI leadership heeded the numerous warnings of Russian disinformation, paid attention to the glaring contradictions in the pool of evidence and followed long-standing procedures to ensure accuracy, everyone would have been better off. Carter Pages civil liberties wouldnt have been shredded, taxpayer dollars wouldnt have been wasted, the country wouldnt be as divided and the FBIs reputation wouldnt be in shambles, the senators said.

Attorney General William P. Barr last year tapped U.S. Attorney John Durham to review the origins of the Russia probe and whether any crimes were committed

Mr. Barr said Thursday the investigation has uncovered troubling evidence of possible abuses, hinting that criminal prosecutions could be coming.

My own view is that the evidence shows that were not dealing with just the mistakes or sloppiness, he said in an interview with Fox News. There was something far more troubling here. Were going to get to the bottom of it. And if people broke the law and we can establish that with the evidence, they will be prosecuted.

An FBI lawyer involved in the Page warrant applications is said to be under criminal investigation for altering an email related to the warrant renewal application.

Kevin Clinesmith had changed a document submitted to the FISA Court to make it appear as if Mr. Page was not working with the CIA, when in fact he was.

Last month, Mr. Horowitz released a broader review of the FBIs FISA applications, uncovering even more flaws. Mr. Horowitz discovered an average of 20 errors in the 29 applications he scrutinized.

Missteps included the lack of documentation for accusations lodged in the warrant request, he said

The Justice Department also disclosed that an internal review turned up two FISA applications with material errors or omissions, according to court filing unsealed Friday.

However, the department maintains the errors did not change the probable cause needed to request a warrant.

The FBIs missteps have drawn repeated rebukes from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Typically tight-lipped, the court has ripped the FBI twice for failing to follow proper FISA procedures.

Judge James E. Boasberg said last week Mr. Horowitzs two reports undermine their confidence in the FBIs accuracy.

The OIG Memorandum provides further reason for systemic concern, Judge Boasberg wrote. It thereby reinforces the need for the court to monitor the ongoing efforts of the FBI and DOJ to ensure that, going forward, FBI applications present accurate and complete facts.

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FBI used Russian disinformation to launch investigation into Donald Trump: Audit - Washington Times

People Made Trump Instantly Regret His All Caps Tweet Commemorating Good Friday With a Religion Lesson for the Ages – Second Nexus

In the Christian tradition, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, whom Christians believe died in order to atone for their sins. It's a day of gratitude and celebration. It's a happy occasion.

But while Easter Sunday is jovial, Good Fridaydespite what its name might implyis not.

Good Friday mourns Christ's crucifixion and the sins that made it necessary. It's a somber occasion, especially in the Catholic tradition.

Christians around the world commemorate the brutal execution by fasting, refraining from speaking, praying the rosary, and attending stations of the cross.

So a tweet from President Donald Trump wishing a "happy" Good Fridaycomplete with all caps and an explanation pointstruck a sour note.

When he's not bragging about sexual assault, blatantly lying, or bullying people on Twitter, the President often touts his Christianity while speaking to evangelical Christians, who also happen to make up a large amount of his voting base.

Like many of his actions, the tweet struck numerous people as insensitive and contradictory to the values he claims to champion.

People pointed out that Good Friday does not, in fact, mean the same thing as TGIF.

Trump has previously said that, though he's Christian, he bristles at the idea of asking for forgiveness. He also referred to the Bible chapter, II Corinthians (second Corinthians), as "Two Corinthians," which is understandable because he can't name a Bible verse either, despite claiming it's his favorite book.

This was just the latest instance of Trump tipping his hand.

Jesus wept.

For a deeper look into the relationship between the evangelical community and leaders like Trump, check out The Immoral Majority, available here.

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People Made Trump Instantly Regret His All Caps Tweet Commemorating Good Friday With a Religion Lesson for the Ages - Second Nexus

Trump Broke the Agencies That Were Supposed To Stop the Covid-19 Epidemic – POLITICO

Yet Trump has churned through officials overseeing the very intelligence that might have helped understand the looming crisis. At Liberty Crossing, the headquarters of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the government will have been without a Senate-confirmed director for eight months as of next week; last summer, Trump accepted the resignation of Dan Coats and forced out the career principal deputy of national intelligence, Sue Gordon. Coats temporary stand-in, career intelligence official Joseph Maguire, then served so long that he was coming close to timing out of his rolefederal law usually lets officials serve only 210 days before relinquishing the acting postwhen Trump ousted him too, as well as the acting career principal deputy. In their place, at the end of Februaryweeks after the U.S. already recorded its first Covid-19 caseTrump installed U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell as his latest acting director, the role that by law is meant to be the presidents top intelligence adviser. Grenell has the least intelligence experience of any official ever to occupy directors suite.

This Friday, the role of Homeland Security secretary will have been vacant for an entire year, ever since Kirstjen Nielsen was forced out over Trumps belief she wasnt tough enough on border security. DHS has numerous critical roles in any domestic crisis, but its acting secretary, Chad Wolf, has fumbled through the epidemic; in February, Wolf couldnt answer seemingly straightforward questions on Capitol Hill from Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana about the nations preparednesswhat models were predicting about the outbreak, how many respirators the government had stockpiled, even how Covid-19 was transmitted. Youre supposed to keep us safe. And you need to know the answers to these questions, Kennedy finally snapped at Wolf. Wolf has been notably absent ever since from the White House podium during briefings about the nations epidemic response.

Actings often struggle to be successful precisely because theyre temporarytheir word carries less weight with their own workforce, with other government agencies or on Capitol Hilland they rarely have the opportunity to set and drive their own agenda, push for broad organizational change or even learn the ropes of how to be successful in the job given the usually brief period of their tenure. Anyone who has ever changed jobs or companies knows how long it can take to feel like you understand a new organization, a new culture or shape a new role.

And yet up and down the org chart at DHS, there are people still learning the ropes. DHS is riddled with critical vacancies; according to the Washington Posts appointment tracker, just 35 percent of its top roles are filled. Its chief of staff, executive secretary and general counsel are all acting officials, and theres no Senate-confirmed deputy secretary, no undersecretary for management, no chief financial officer, no chief information officer, no undersecretary for science and technology, nor a deputy undersecretary for science and technology.

Even as we face a global crisis with complex travel restrictions and health guidelines, there are no Senate-confirmed leaders of any of DHS three border and immigration agenciesCustoms and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Nor is there a deputy administrator at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), as the airline industry faces an existential cutback to global travel.

Matthew Albence, acting head of ICE, which faces a growing Covid-19 problem in its national network of detention facilities, has been acting for so long that hes surpassed the 220 day-statutory limit for the role and instead is now technically the senior official performing the duties of the director, a legal term of art thats become all too common around the federal government as vacancies linger in the Trump era. Ken Cuccinelli, the similarly titled senior official performing the duties of the USCIS director, who is simultaneously also DHS temporary No. 2, the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary, is currently appealing a court ruling that hes not even legally serving at DHS.

When Trump turned to DHS Federal Emergency Management Agency last month to oversee the federal governments coronavirus response, the agency lacked Senate-confirmed officials in either of its deputy rolesincluding its deputy overseeing preparedness and continuity of government planning, a function that may become all-too-important in the days ahead if the virus sickens government leaders, as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has already been hospitalized.

And the assistant secretary for countering Weapons of Mass Destructionthe person who oversees DHS chief medical officer, the doctor designated to advise the DHS secretary and the head of FEMA? That job is vacant, too. Meanwhile, in addition to its role serving the nation, DHS itself faces a growing number of Covid-19 infections in its own workforceup to 600 cases as of Mondays numbers, including 270 TSA employees and 160 CBP employees.

The effect of these vacancies ripple further than most people realize. Since vacant roles awaiting either an official appointment or a Senate-confirmed nominee are always filled by acting officials pulled from other parts of the organization or broader government, even more offices are understaffed as people do double-duty and as their own positions are filled with other actings behind them. Grenell, even as he fills in as director of National Intelligence, continues technically to be the U.S. ambassador to Germany, meaning that amid the huge economic uncertainty around Covid-19 epidemic the U.S. is without a high-level envoy to the largest economy in Europe. For the 14 months he was acting White House chief of staff, up until March 31another horse Trump changed midstream in the epidemicMick Mulvaney was still technically serving as the director of Office of Management and Budget, a normally critical role itself overseeing the nations spending. In Mulvaneys absence, Russell Vought, OMBs deputy, filled in as the acting directorleaving his own job, normally its own full-time role, to be filled in by others, and so on.

In government agencies, deputies are not like the vice presidenta spare role kept around, if needed. Often, the deputy role is the most important figure in the day-to-day operations of the department or agencythe person who runs the bureaucracy and organization while the principal (the secretary or director) attends to the policy and the politics. Robbing an agency or department of a principal and forcing the deputy to fill in means the organization will be running at reduced effectiveness, with less guidance, direction and oversight.

The vacancies at DHS and ODNI are hardly the whole story of how Trump has hampered the very jobs meant to protect the nation in crisis. While much attention has been focused on Trumps decision to shutter the National Security Councils pandemic unit, less attention has focused on an even more critical change in the NSCs structure. Another key post-9/11 reform was the creation of a White House homeland security adviser, a domestic equal to the national security adviser, a post created just days after 9/11 by President George W. Bush and filled at first by Tom Ridge, who would go on to be the first Homeland Security secretary. Presidents Bush and Obama for years had at their beck and call senior, sober homeland security advisers like Fran Townsend, Ken Wainstein, John Brennan and Lisa Monaco; Monaco helped oversee the nations response to Ebola and led the incoming Trump administration through a pandemic response exercise in the days before the inauguration to highlight how critical such an incident could be.

Over the course of his administration, Trump effectively has done away with the role of homeland security adviser; when John Bolton took over as national security adviser, one of his first acts was to fire Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert and downgrade the role in rank. Ever since, the Trump NSC has sidelined the officials who filled the role. In February, as Covid-19 loomed domestically, Trump actually even shuffled the Coast Guard official then filling the post out to a new job, overseeing Puerto Ricos disaster recovery.

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Trump Broke the Agencies That Were Supposed To Stop the Covid-19 Epidemic - POLITICO

Donald Trump the Narcissist Is Running the Coronavirus Crisis – The New York Times

So Im the latest columnist to be joining the rotation of colonists over it opinion and its obviously a really peculiar time to join. OK And I used to be a daily book critic. I appear. Now, every Monday. Ive written. I wrote a column today because its my day. Even though we lose track in quarantine and I wrote one last Monday to when I was here. And Im going to be here to discuss them both. Thank you, everybody, for putting up for what was a really unbearable clumsily low tech snafu on my part. This is my second time using Periscope, and Im at age appropriately dreadful at it anyway. So again, my name is Jennifer Senior let me. Lets get right into it because I wrote two columns today that Im eager to write two columns. This past week that Im eager to discuss the first. So the one that came out, it, I ended up getting a lot of responses to it. And I have a lot to say in response to those responses. But lets start with this. I am absolutely 100% preoccupied with the idea that Donald J Trump fits perfectly like heat maps perfectly onto the personality traits of someone with narcissistic personality disorder. And it would be one thing if it were a margin call or if from the menu of 10 things that one could choose to look at. You know he fed only three of the four. Im sorry hes not. Im sorry seven of the 10 or 5 of the 10. He hits all of them and psychologists have been talking about this for a while. It was a controversial opinion initially to even come out and say, this because psychiatrist I have a rule that you shouldnt actually diagnose someone that you havent personally evaluated. The trouble with that is that people who have narcissistic personality when youre face to face with them. Its not that they present all that differently. They dont have any capacity herself. You know reflection or introspection. So my theory is that in a, if you saw Trump in a one on one clinical setting youre just going to get more Trump. Hes basically just a Patricia doll of nesting hollow Trump sees the same person. And I think over the years, this taboo has kind of gone away. I think more and more psychiatrists are perfectly willing to say that he every personality trait he has is sort of consistent with narcissistic Melissa also been writing it for a while most notably George Conway Kellyanne Conways husband. He is a never Trumper her and a lawyer and he writes for The Atlantic and he was sort of the definitive decisive piece last October talking about the fact, it looks this is what this man has. Lets call it what it is. And you. Lets if it walks like a duck lets do the definitive whats it walks like a duck piece. And he did. So what I wrote about today was all right. Well, weve sent somebody with a narcissistic personality to the White House and now hes running a crisis. So what does that look like. Anas is this camp capable really of actually managing a crisis. And here are the obstacles, I think I mean, there. And by the way, just as an aside, this is something that didnt make it into my column. But I wish Id had space for it celebrities already are as you might imagine inclined toward narcissism. They tend to be more narcissistic just as a rule. It makes sense. They think that attention functions as a narcotic so many of them. It is also people who crave attention obviously enjoy being famous. But there was a study done in 2006 that showed that the kinds of celebrities who were the most narcissistic were not surprisingly reality TV celebrities make sense. So OK, here we have like a perfect storm. Weve got Donald Trump. He was a reality television star. And he has been sent to the White House and narcissists are not very well equipped to handle crises. This is, in fact, the problem right. So here is, I think, a few of the reasons why. First of all, they are highly delusional about their own capabilities and what that means is that they are very threatened by expertise. Theyre not theyre highly disinclined to trust anyone who may indeed know more about the problem at hand. The crisis that theyre facing. So what it means is that if you think about it, right now, Donald Trump could assemble the finest minds in America, the most imaginative minds in America were facing an enormous economic crisis. Its looming its already upon us. 6.6 million unemployment claims just filed right. This is going to be formidable formidable and scary. He could enlist anyone he had to call Larry Summers or Bob Rubin who ran the Treasury Department during two previous recessions. Right they have a lot of experience. Does he do this. No disaster preparedness. You could speak to virtually anyone whos handled any kind of natural disaster before in the past. And who does he farm out most of the disaster preparedness responsibilities too. Jared Kushner I mean Jared Kushner doesnt hold any portfolio for anything. So I think my point is that he hands it. He is doling out responsibility to people who dont threaten him. What tends to happen to narcissists is they surround themselves with a gallery of sycophants thats they surround themselves with people who wouldnt dare contradict them. And this is dangerous when what you need right now are the smartest people in the room not the people who are afraid and who are there to mollify a president. So what you have is this very awkward situation where you have a few experts who are kind of youve got Dr. g youve that Dr. Burke. Yes, I know. I need to brush my hair just to all the trolls out there. I just want to say, you know what a lot of us are going to emerge without or without perfect hair without perfect highlights anyway. And he is a narcissist and a sadist combined. Yes unfortunately, I think that there is a great deal. And there is an element of sadism in what he does anyhow. And I wouldnt focus on peoples looks. Its a bad look, whoever you are, you know, this is not a time to care. Ignore trolls. Yes Always true. One should anyhow. I might give myself, my own haircut. And dye my hair pink because why not. Whos going to see my kid can do it. That would be lovely. Right you get probably gratified about to cut my hair anyway. So I think the point is what you really want is lock them and their sex. Love the love. Im getting back you. Theyre all women of course, were saying. Who cares about your hair. So I think lets go back to whats important, which is that right now, Trump needs to be listening to experts. They are the most important people to be listening to. Hes got two on hand. We know incontrovertibly that Anthony she knows a lot. Thank you for loving my hair. It looks nice usually. Anyway thank you. Anthony she is exactly who you want in this crisis and its interesting about him. This is fascinating. He knows that youre doing great. Please keep going. Thank you so Anthony 4G as he is. Its an interesting exercise in minefield walking right when you were managing a narcissist. The paradox here that all of us are all reckoning with all of us are reckoning with is that Trumps advisors are trying to and all the governors right who are managing this crisis they are all trying to create a safe space for the president when he needs to create a safe nation for all of us. Right So youve got somebody like Anthony valjean who knows very well, what the data looks like and he actually understand something about infectious diseases and contagion right. Hes an infectious disease expert and he understands the way that you know kind of the vectors and paths that all of these things take. So have any power to be president. I mean, at this moment why. Why ever not. You know I mean, certainly he should be answering the questions at the press conferences. I think that is definitely true. And I always choke a little when he starts to speak. And then President Trump cuts him off because the productive thinking and the only useful information we can really get from the epidemiologists and the doctors. So whats interesting about Fortunes approach to Trump in my view, is that the way that he actually still manages to disseminate informal information, which is critical. We all need to hear it is not by humiliating Trump because thats the best strategy you never want to humiliate a narcissist because narcissists secretly dont actually have skyscraper only high self-esteem the way we think of it narcissists secretly are. They live in fear of being exposed. They are very anxious about people realizing what they dont know. Their egos are kind of frail as foam. Theyre very easy to burst. So what do they do. They Yeah, no, I vote Democrat. Its true. I absolutely. What are the chances the chances are good. It is absolutely true. However, I would never say any of this. I would point out about George w bush who was conscientious after September 11 in the immediate aftermath I didnt think he should we should I I dont understand the Iraq war is another story. But I do believe that his public handling of September 11 was actually quite conscientious and responsible. Giuliani was extremely responsible in the aftermath of September 11. There are all sorts of Republican governors right now who are stepping up in beautiful and marvelous ways and Republican local officials. This is not a partisan point of view. This is all about how you manage giving truthful information. So to go back to the Fantasy what I think is fascinating about him is rather than correct Donald Trump, which he wouldnt respond well to what fat he does is he says the fact. Thats it. Thats it. And in sticking with this just the facts, maam kind of approach every time Trump says something, and its exaggerated. He exaggerates the potential for new therapies. He says that there are more tests available than in fact, are. What that does is he jumps in and he starts to speak. And he just he doesnt say, no, youre wrong. He just says, well, heres what we know so far about these therapies. Theyre still untested. Were looking were waiting. We hope he comes out and says, well, the tests theyre enroute we cant do them in bulk in the way that wed like. But theyre another positive development. Whenever Trump says that he thinks that the fact that the coronavirus will kind of evaporate that therell be some kind of seasonal cure that he jumps in and says, I wish that were the case too. But I dont think so. So I think that he is providing a national model for how you handle misinformation and wishful thinking coming from the Oval Office right. Because thats what were getting right now is a lot of wishful thinking and misinformation can narcissist feel empathy. The short answer is no. The whole world is a reflecting pool. Thats the problem with narcissists. Right And it makes it hard because of what your job is to be is in part to disseminate information that is in part to kind of shore up that to mollify the nerves of an anxious public. Theoretically Cuomo is very good at this right, Andrew Cuomo does a very good job of kind of coming out and saying, look, I suffer too. My brother is suffering. Hes covered positive lots leaders net you know all over the globe. Were very good at doing this. The queen did a marvelous job of this yesterday. Angela Merkel did a marvelous job of it yesterday. Why is it wrong to hope that these drugs are working when other countries other countries are not necessarily having great success. Theres a lot. We have to wait for a real body of data to know whether these drugs are working. Actually, thats not true yet the efficacy of these drugs is not yet proven. Its anecdotal and thats whats upsetting. So what you dont want is people touting these drugs and giving everyone false hope. You dont want people hoarding them. And lets see what personality types are these leaders. So thank you. It is my second time in Periscope. Im being told welcome by people young. Its probably obvious that Im a newbie anyway. So I think that what we have to just be careful about when youve got somebody because heres the other thing narcissists are quite prone to exaggeration. Right So theyre going to be speaking with great invalidity and great enthusiasm about the things that theyve done and the things that await without actually restraining themselves and hewing strictly to the facts. And that, of course, is everything. It matters a huge a great deal. So these are some things that I think that we ought to be highly mindful of anyway. OK So if youre just joining us, Im Jennifer Senior. I am one of the newest I am I think the newest kind of columnist at The New York Times to be thrown into the rotation at an awfully peculiar time I appear on Mondays also now just sort of look at some of the lost my comments. Im going to look at some people had some wonderful kind of responses and some heartbreaking responses to the last column that I did not. This Monday. But the previous one that talked about something thats very near and dear to my heart called moral injury. I just want to speak to something somebody is saying this. And I know that theyre being kind of troll ish but I think this is actually a matter of public importance saying that the media is trying to sow panic. Were not. I think you should listen to the doctors on this. I think the doctors are the ones who have the real answers and we are listening to the doctors. And we took what Deborah parks are following the data the projections is right now is that if we behave ourselves as a nation 100,000 people in the United States will die, which rivals you know cancer rates and cancer fatality rates. And its not good. It will make coronavirus one of the leading killers in the United States. Thats if we behave ourselves and lots of states were not behaving themselves. They were behaving poorly. And whats happening in New York is a harbinger. Its not an exception. This is going to for better or for worse sweep across the country. And its going to happen at different rates at different times. Hopefully we will be prepared or medical professionals will be prepared. Well have more masks. Well have more ventilators because this is happening in kind of you know in this syncopated way. Its not happening. Its happening kind of in waves and a sine curve across the country. But I dont think to accuse us of spreading this information. I think is itself. Its grotesquely irresponsible. And I wish that people would stop. I wish they would desist to call this a hoax. I mean, I think that in the aftermath when historians are watching Fox newsreels of people saying that this is now worse than the flu, its a nothing doctor, you know, Trump saying that this is just going to go away. Theres going to be a real archival theres going to be a real of people saying things that are just so kind of flat flawed Lee incorrect. So I dont think that any of us are sowing panic and we are trying to report how many are recovered instead of only deaths. The problem is that the deaths are actually still imminent and the recovery rates right now are deeply unimpressive. You know the coronavirus actually lingers for a while. And also, if we have better data out there. If we had had more aggressive testing and more tests in place wed have a much better sense of whos had the virus and for how long, and how many have recovered. But we were very, very far behind on this question. So unfortunately, its hard to know were rates. Its hard to even know penetration rates. We cant actually know how how widespread coronavirus is at the moment. So we are actually doing the best. I think reporting on the data thats available to us and believe it or not, the doctors are in the same position they are as hungry for data, especially about the United States as we are. If you want to hear more damage about the. We want to hear more about the damage that a narcissistic leader can cause. Well, I think that the tools are many. Misinformation is a big one. I think turning the conversation toward himself is another one when really the car everybody wants to hear that the world is going to return to normal and be OK. What he does is talk about how hes number one on Facebook and isnt that fantastic. And he gives himself a 10 out of 10 for handling this crisis. And isnt that wonderful. And those are, I think the last thing that people want to hear during a crisis. I think people are sort of alarmed when they hear leaders talk about themselves and not about the citizenry in general life. Thats their job. So anyway now I just want to go back and talk about the column that I did last week, which Im very invested in. And thats about the mental health of our health care professionals. Theyre already in a lot of physical danger. Thank you. Who is ever giving me the shout out of love. Oh my goodness. Thank you. And how can reporters address his mental health in the context of a Presser. Thats a great question. All right. Ill go back and answer that. The answer is we shouldnt carry them live narcissists arent inclined to give the truth. Theyre inclined to exaggerate theyre inclined to give falsehoods they are inclined to speak in temporarily and to pick fights they sow division. He picks fights with the press corps and he picks fights with governors. So one of the things that we can do strategically is just robbed him of his oxygen supply, which is attention. Theres definitely one way to do this. And then you send people into the room to cover it. But they come away and they just summarize what the main news points are which will be given by foul be given by Burkes be given possibly by the Veterans Affairs director or the head of the Department of Veterans Affairs. I mean, there are people who can actually give you materially useful goods. You just dont need to carry it live because what youre essentially getting is an infomercial thats filled with spotty information anyway. And I dont know where the times broadcast them lives. Its a great question. I dont know. Thats the newsrooms. Its a call from the newsroom. And Im befuddled diet myself, I understand why c-span doesnt because theyve got kind of a historical and archival obligation. I dont know why the networks doesnt do it. I dont know why the networks do it. And Im not sure why we do. Going back to. So again, Jennifer Senior net latest columnist I just got to tell you the story that I did that. Im invested in, which is the health care the mental health of our health care professionals. Lets start with the fact that they are inhaling a greater viral load. So doctors are going to get sicker at a faster rate than the rest of us because it turns out there is a direct relationship to how much of this disease, you are exposed to and how sick you get. And a lot of these doctors and EMTs a nurses a lot of first responders are on are overwhelmed by virus in spite of even if theyve got the best PPE in the world. If youre intimidating someone they are just obviously coughing up a huge amount of virus. So I fear no one for their physical safety. I fear it. So much. And theyre short on supply. So they are often wearing the same goggles. The same face shields the same N95 masks all day long. They are already marching into a battle without sufficient ammunition. So the equivalent of dropping our show soldiers on Utah Beach without bullets. I mean, its really frightening stuff. Whats going on right now. And so here is you know what I fear next. Its not just their physical health. I mean, in Italy. Weve already got some data about how like this. You know doctors are something like 14% of the infected. What Im nervous about next is our mental health because if indeed, we do face this ventilator shortage, which everyone is anticipating the New England Journal of Medicine just had a piece talking about this, that its inevitable basically by their estimate. Best case scenario, we have 1.4 ventilators per person who needs them. Worst case scenario, we have 31 people per one ventilator. So sorry. Sorry we have 1.4 people per ventilator. Worst case scenario. 31 people per ventilator. Those are numbers that I just theyre goose pimples only awful. They are terrible numbers. And they were I think trying to work out in this particular piece, which I found so transfixing they were trying to figure out a protocol. OK So who gets them. Right if youve got to be in the position of rationing ventilators and then what do you do. Wait Im sorry. Somebody just had a very interesting was a retired firefighter, you spoke to. Tell me about that. Oh, and that the firefighters arent going to get any PPE. Thats such an amazing point because theyre being called to all of these. See youre right. And I think that a lot of people. I mean bus drivers are getting them. I mean, they should have more protection. Theyre performing a valuable service. And theyre utterly exposed. Its terrifying. Anyway, so there was this very moving kind of testimony from a bus driver that Im sure you saw that went viral in Detroit who you know got sick anyway. And then subsequently passed away. So its true. There are shortages everywhere. Its very complicated. We dont have. And because Donald Trump has been very reluctant to make full, robust use of the Defense Production Act. Were not getting it out to the people who really want it. Im sorry to the people who really require it. Were not making it at the speed that we need it. You know I mean, Trump could be much more bullish about insisting that private companies manufacture this stuff. And hes not hes not being insistent about them making ventilators. I mean, its. And you know not enough are making masks. Its very, very complicated. And its not being distributed through kind of rational distribution trains. Anyway Im going to go back to what I wrote about last week. All of our first responders are already putting themselves in harms way. They are already feeling theyre already getting sicker. But my next fear for them is that theyre going to have to make really tough rationing decisions. And these are decisions that state with you forever in the military. There is a term was coined actually by a psychiatrist who was looking at Vietnam soldiers and he called this moral injury. It is when you do something that you never ever would consider right. It violates your every impulse your every instinct your religious training your religious beliefs your everything. And I think that doctors and nurses when they are asked to form triage committees when they are asked to be disconnecting ventilators even from patients with whom they have made even the weakest most tenuous connections. But theyve met their families theyve interacted with their families. This is going to be heartbreaking stuff. And in ordinary circumstances. These are people who they could have saved because in normal times, you can keep people on ventilators in perpetuity. There are enough of them to go around. But thats not whats going on at this moment. And I think that the kind of trauma that comes from having to make this decision about who gets a ventilator and who doesnt get a ventilator is going to live with all of us all of our mental health. Im sorry. All of our health professionals for a long time to come. Its the kind of choice that they shouldnt ever have to make. Its a devils kit of options. Theres no good options here. And so I think that Im just very deeply moved by that. And I was going to read some of the comments that I got in response to that from people who just said some beautiful things about oh in fact, here. Let me just find. There is one who is married. Here we are. This was a beautiful comment I got in response to this years ago, I opened the door to a stockroom in the hospital. I worked in and I found a weeping nurse. Her patients bone marrow transplant had failed and the woman was going to die. Never underestimate how much these people care they may hide their tears in closets because they dont want patients to see their fear and their distress, but most choose this work because lives matter. Peoples lives matter to them. And they know death. But every preventable death is a knife to the heart. I mean, I can barely read that without wanting to cry. I mean, I think this is the point. Under ordinary circumstances. These are preventable deaths. Right and right now these men and women are facing a plague of what would have been preventable deaths and what awaits them. I fear our decisions about who gets to live. I mean, who on earth should have to make that choice. And there are all sorts of extremely delicate ethical questions that go that go into this ethical calculations. So heres another beautiful sign a beautiful note that I got. I think my son needs to go. This is clarinets life with a zoom group. Im going to read one more thing. And then Im going to sign off because my son needs to use the computer. Here is just this is it. This gave me the chills but this was a response to something that I got in response to my Jennifer Senior from the New York Times. Im the latest columnist to join. Thank you. And for those who are accusing me of it. Its very interesting the dedicated army out there and people who want to see them spreading fake tears. I hope thats right. I hope Im wrong about everything. Let me just say that I hope everything I say today is 100% wrong. I hope the dad is wrong. I hope the doctors are wrong. I hope the epidemiologists are wrong. I hope every bit of health data Ive been looking at is dead is wrong. Thats all I can say. From your mouth to Gods ears may I be wrong. May I be spreading falsehoods in saying that I think too many are going to die needlessly anyway. So here is the note that I got. I live alone. And I have a big sign posted on my door. Do not call an ambulance. No ventilator no code blue to not resuscitate. Just let me die. I have an advance directive. I am sorry. I have an advanced care directive a will and a notebook with instructions. My doctor is now six. So I dont know who I will end up being my doctor anyway, if I am found and still alive. I want to make sure that I do not get into a situation of being trapped in a hospital alone and unable to make my wishes known. Let someone else who needs and wants a ventilator to have it. Ive lived a long enough life. And Im willing to let go. Of course, Id rather not die right now. But if I get sick. I dont want the medical care when other people want it and need it more, especially when the doctors and nurses would be putting their own lives at risk. I love this person. He just goes by initials s.f. to a happy day on our website. I want to leave it at that. Anyway thanks so much. Be safe stay home be responsible. My thanks to all of you whove been sending me these really beautiful notes of support that are what Ill ever do about my hair. Here and Im going to let my kid use the computer now tell everyone. Its nice to meet.

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Donald Trump the Narcissist Is Running the Coronavirus Crisis - The New York Times

Trump says he’s suspending travel from Europe to US, though citizens and others are exempt – CNN

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Read the rest here:

Trump says he's suspending travel from Europe to US, though citizens and others are exempt - CNN

Donald Trump and the White House have too much power. That’s ruining democracy. – NBC News

The president has always been the central actor in American politics. But over the last several decades, the spotlight on 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. has shined ever brighter. And for good reason. For decades, the presidency has become ever more powerful as an overwhelmed and gridlocked Congress has left more and more to the executive branch. Some of Congress' self-imposed decline has come through specific delegations of authority, some by rolling over and letting the president dictate the legislative agenda, and some through sheer inaction and neglect.

Taken together, the decadeslong metastasizing of presidential power has corresponded to two other major, detrimental trends in American politics: partisan polarization and nationalized politics. Essentially, President Donald Trump and those who preceded him have too much power, and that's ruining our electoral process which is the heart of democracy.

Our current setup means that no matter what happens in November, too many people will feel like they are completely left out.

The core problem with the central focus in the presidency is that it has consumed our ability to evaluate individual candidates for Congress and state and local office independent of the presidency. Every choice, from bottom to top of the November ballot, is a referendum on the presidency.

This phenomenon discourages individual representatives and state and local officials from carving out an independent record. And it collapses our two parties into two highly disciplined, hyperpartisan teams, competing for a narrow and elusive majority control. This makes for a fully binary partisan alignment fundamentally at odds with our constitutional structure of separated powers, which themselves demand broad compromise-oriented policymaking.

As the two parties have separated into discrete non-overlapping coalitions, the zero-sum emotional stakes of every election continue to escalate so that each one is the most important in a lifetime. Local issues and personal characteristics matter less than which party controls the White House and the Congress.

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And if individual representatives' fortunes depend on the president's popularity, all energy naturally flows to boosting or disqualifying the current White House resident (depending on their party). Consider the recent impeachment proceedings as Exhibit A.

Consider, too, how much frustration and hand-wringing the Democratic primary has generated. The overwhelming centrality of the presidency is to blame: If everything in politics and political power revolves around winning the presidency, of course we'll obsess over the endless nomination process.

The problems are many. The process seems arbitrary, and unfair to some constituencies and states, but too solicitous of others. It relies too much on voters' whims and last-minute choices, or perhaps it doesn't trust voters enough. The debates are a mess. And, there are too many candidates; with all that media spotlight, why not run for president? Even if you lose, more people will know your name.

But while a run might help a politician individually, collectively it's a disaster. A crowded field is a divided field. And so now comes the challenge for Joe Biden, at this point essentially the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee: somehow unify the fractured field.

The obvious way to unify a party is to unify around the common enemy. In 2016, Republicans voted to defeat Hillary Clinton, and Democrats voted to defeat Donald Trump. The 2020 campaign will almost certainly be even more negative, if that's possible.

In the end, skeptical Democrats will mostly vote for their nominee because the threat of four more years of Trump is terrifying. And wavering Republicans will likely grin and bear Trump because of ... Hunter Biden? The Supreme Court? Whatever the rationales given, by November, both sides will fear and hate each other just a little more. And somehow, the winner will still have to be the president of all the people. At least in theory.

And yet, for all the expanded powers of the presidency, that power is still limited. Almost all of the major proposals Democrats have been arguing over "Medicare for All," free college, major gun control legislation are unlikely to survive the legislative gauntlet in a starkly divided Congress.

These limits haven't stopped potential presidents from over-promising what they can accomplish. After all, bold promises are exciting and attention-grabbing. But since sky-high expectations are bound to disappoint, it's no wonder so many feel frustrated by the process.

Ironically, this frustration boosts support for outsider candidates, who can make even bigger, bolder promises of more aggressive executive action that can't be fulfilled. And as resentment turns to anger, all that anger has to go somewhere. Partisan leaders have a strong incentive to channel it against the other party.

The obvious alternative to our endlessly disappointing president-as-messiah ordeal is a stronger Congress. The national legislature is the only institution capable of reflecting and negotiating the diverse pluralism of a large country such as ours and hashing out broad compromises. But Congress hasn't lived up to that mission. Instead, it has become a hyperpartisan, money-driven, top-down institution.

Reversing 40 years of institutional decline is no easy task. But it at least starts with Congress investing much more in its own capacity to make policy, and taking its cues more from bipartisan committee work than from the executive branch.

The obvious alternative to our endlessly disappointing president-as-messiah ordeal is a stronger Congress.

All of which is difficult to imagine happening without major structural change, such as fundamental electoral reform that scrambles the two-party system. Change is unlikely because we're stuck in a feedback loop. A weaker, more polarized Congress leads to a stronger, more partisan presidency which leads to a weaker, more polarized Congress which ... Breaking that doom loop is a book-length topic.

But our current setup means that no matter what happens in November, too many people will feel like they are completely left out. So we need to find a way to elevate Congress the only institution capable of representing the different constituencies of the country and working out compromises among them. Instead of searching for a single savior, we need to understand that no person alone can represent a country as big and diverse as America.

Go here to read the rest:

Donald Trump and the White House have too much power. That's ruining democracy. - NBC News

What Trumps Twitter Feed Tells Him About the Coronavirus – POLITICO

President @realDonaldTrump acted early and decisively... His every move has been aimed at keeping Americans safe, while Joe Biden has sought to capitalize politically and stoke citizens fears, tweeted Kayleigh McEnany, the Trump campaigns national press secretary, quoting the campaign's communications director.

When @JoeBiden was faced with a public health crisis on H1N1, he pushed the panic button and the White House had to cover it, read a message retweeted by Donald Jr.

Other tweets in the presidents news feed framed recent comments from Biden opposing xenophobia as opposition to Trumps temporary ban on travel from China.

If Biden had been in charge, more Americans would have contracted the virus faster, a Trump campaign account tweeted.

And in response to a Biden speech in which the former vice president criticized the president for labeling COVID-19 a foreign virus, Laura Ingraham tweeted: Yeah, Joe! Lets throw open our borders, our airports, our ports to anyone and everyonethat will really stem the infection rate!

Critique of Trumps handling of the coronavirus crisis is largely absent from his Twitter feed. Instead, his allies have heaped praise on the administrations response.

Deeply impressive extraordinary partnership of Americas best and brightest business & government gathered at White House under leadership of @realDonaldTrump & @VP, tweeted Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera after Fridays national emergency declaration. They and we are going to kick #Coronas ass.

This is a very good call, conservative political commentator Eric Bolling tweeted on Friday in response to reports that Trump was planning to declare a national emergency.

This is the leadership @realDonaldTrump was elected to provide, tweeted Trumps campaign manager, Brad Parscale, after the presidents Oval Office address on Wednesday night. Acting early & decisively he put the U.S. on much better footing than other nations in handling the coronavirus.

President Trump is exactly right: smart action today will prevent the spread of the virus tomorrow, tweeted Congressman Jim Jordan, an Ohio Republican close to the White House. The Presidents actions are proactive and decisive. This is exactly what we need to keep Americans safe and healthy.

And a tweet from Eric Trump shared simply the headline of an adulatory New York Post column: Trump passes coronavirus test with flying colors.

The presidents eldest son, Donald Jr., has led the Trump Twitterverses charge against the mainstream presss coverage of the coronavirus pandemic. In his posts and retweets, hes accused news outlets of stoking panic and helping China spread propaganda.

That the US media is trying to run with the Chinese propaganda that China bought us time is a new low even for them, Donald Jr. tweeted in response to a New York Times op-ed. F-you!

The media has thrown everything at [Trump] and none of it has stuck, said YouTube personality Dave Rubin in a tweet shared by Donald Jr. So now they have a vested interest in spreading panic, rejoicing over market drops and sewing general chaos.

This Chinese propaganda about the origin of the coronavirus is being directly amplified and aided by the U.S. media, which is censoring anyone who notes the Wuhan origin of the coronavirus, said Mike Cernovich, a right-wing activist and conspiracy theorist, in a post retweeted by Donald Jr.

CNN is literally taking its talking points from the Chinese government, read another Cernovich tweet shared by the presidents son.

Other accounts followed by the president sounded a similar tone.

Erring on the side of maximum transparency is a good thing for the White House given the mass hysteria being stoked by the partisans in media and politics with [the] goal of affecting the election, tweeted Laura Ingraham.

I just want to stress to politicians and the media to stop using [coronavirus] as a tool to politicize things and to scare people, White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a tweet shared by McDaniel. It's not responsible. This is not the time for this.

During a March 4 phone call with Sean Hannity, Trump falsely implied the coronavirus outbreak was not as bad as the seasonal fluan idea he may have picked up from his Twitter followers, who have downplayed the virus threat.

They say the mortality rate for Coronavirus is higher than the flu, tweeted Fox News host Jeanine Pirro. Consider though that we have a flu vaccine and yet in 2019, 16,000 Americans died from the flu. Imagine if we did not have that vaccine. The flu would be a pandemic.

The word pandemic is scary, but as @drsanjaygupta points out, it doesnt speak to mortality rates, only to global scope of infection, Ingraham tweeted in late February. As @CDCgov notes, actual mortality rates or coronavirus is very low.

On Friday morning, Ingraham tweeted a link to an article headlined: Coronavirus: Facts vs. Panic, which stated most people who get coronavirus have mild or no symptoms and most around the world diagnosed from January-March 1 have already recovered.

Great time to fly if not in at-risk population! Ingraham wrote Friday from the aisle seat of a Chicago-bound United flight.

See the original post here:

What Trumps Twitter Feed Tells Him About the Coronavirus - POLITICO

The Worst Outcome – The Atlantic

Layoffs are coming, probably on a very large scale, as travel collapses and people hunker down at home. Any word for those about to lose their jobs? Only the vaguest indication that something might be announced sometime soon.

Its good to hear that there will be no co-pays on the tests nobody seems able to get. What about other health-care coverage? Any word on that? Nothing.

The financial markets have plunged into a 2008-style crash, auguring a recession, perhaps a severe one. The Trump administration has had almost two months to think about this crisis. It has trial-ballooned some ideas. But, of course, fiscal policy would require assent from the House of Representatives. Trump is still pouting at Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Soaside from some preposterously unconvincing happy talk about the economyagain: nothing.

Conor Friedersdorf: You will adjust to the new normal

There was one something in the speech: a ban on travel from Europe, but not the United Kingdom. Its a classic Trump formulation. It seeks to protect America by erecting a wall against the world, without thinking very hard how or whether the wall can work. The disease is already here. The numbers only look low because of our prior failure to provide adequate testing. They will not look low even four days from now. And those infected with the virus can travel from other countries and on other routes. Trump himself has already met some.

The travel ban is an act of panic. Financial futures began crashing even as Trump was talking, perhaps shocked by his lack of an economic plan, perhaps aghast at his latest attack on world trade. (The speech seemed to suggest an embargo on European-sourced cargo as well, but that looks more like a mental lapse of Trumps than a real policy announcement. The ban on cargo was retracted by a post-speech tweet, although the ban remains in the posted transcript of the speech.) Among other things, the ban represents one more refutation by Trump of any idea of collective security against collective threats. While China offers medical assistance to Italy, he wants to sever ties to former friendsisolating America and abandoning the world.

This crisis is not of Trumps making. What he is responsible for is his failure to respond promptly, and then his perverse and counterproductive choice of how to respond when action could be avoided no longer. Trump, in his speech, pleaded for an end to finger-pointing. Its a strange thing for this president of all presidents to say. No American president, and precious few American politicians, have ever pointed so many fingers or hurled so much abuse as Donald Trump. What he means, of course, is: Dont hold me to account for the things I did.

But he did do them, and he owns responsibility for those things. He cannot escape it, and he will not escape it.

Here is the original post:

The Worst Outcome - The Atlantic

Fact check: Donald Trump made 115 false claims in the last two weeks of February – CNN

Trump made 67 false claims from February 17 through February 23; that was the 11th-highest total of the 34 weeks we've fact checked at CNN. He added 48 false claims from February 24 through March 1; that week ranked 25th out of 34. As usual, many of the false claims were ones he has uttered before.

Trump made 55 of the 115 total false claims at the four rallies: 19 in Las Vegas, 17 in Phoenix, 10 in Colorado Springs and nine in North Charleston, South Carolina. He added 13 false claims in his speech to CPAC, nine in his press conference in New Delhi and six apiece at three events -- one of which was a press conference on the coronavirus.

As concerns about the possible economic impact of the virus mounted, Trump made 27 false claims about the economy. He made 16 about health care, 15 about trade, 14 about China.

Trump is now up to 1,990 false claims since July 8, when we started our counting at CNN. He is averaging about 59 false claims per week.

The most egregious false claim: "Russia, if you're listening"

Trump was at a press conference at his Doral resort in Florida in 2016 when he made his "Russia, if you're listening" request for help obtaining Hillary Clinton emails. The journalists in the room were silent as he spoke.

The most revealing false claim: The flu mortality rate

It is not. Trump, though, has preferred during the coronavirus crisis to own the spotlight himself, while frequently providing inaccurate or incomplete information, rather than cede airtime to experts who could convey accurate information.

The most absurd false claim: Ronald Reagan's crowds

Here is the full list of 115 false claims, starting with the ones we haven't included in one of these roundups before:

Viruses

Awareness of Ebola in 2014

Ebola mortality

On two occasions, Trump contrasted the fatality rate for the coronavirus with the fatality rate for the Ebola outbreak of 2014 to 2016, saying "in the other case (Ebola), it was a virtual hundred percent" and that "with Ebola -- we were talking about it before -- you disintegrated. If you got Ebola, that was it."

"It was never 100%. That is just patently untrue," Fischer said.

The flu death rate

Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent, told Trump at a press conference, "Mr. President, you talked about the flu and then in comparison to the coronavirus. The flu has a fatality ratio of about 0.1%." Trump said, "Correct." But Trump later disputed the figure, saying, "And the flu is higher than that. The flu is much higher than that." -- February 26 coronavirus press conference

Apple and China

"When you look at the parts that are done in China, we have reopened factories, so the factories were able to work through the conditions to reopen. They're reopening. They're also in ramp, and so I think of this as sort of the third phase of getting back to normal. And we're in phase three of the ramp mode," Cook said.

Immigration

Who is paying for the border wall

Bernie Sanders and deportations

Facts First: Sanders has not said he will "never do a deportation." He is calling for a temporary deportation freeze, not a permanent ban. While he is also proposing a permanent end to deportations of undocumented immigrants who have been in the US for five or more years, this is just one portion of the undocumented population.

Crowds and rallies

The time of Trump's Las Vegas rally

Trump's 2015 rally in Phoenix

President Ronald Reagan's crowds in Las Vegas

"There's never been this. You know, Ronald Reagan was great. I thought he was a great guy, great president, didn't like his policy on trade, that's OK ... but if he came to Las Vegas, you know, they'd have a ballroom. They'd have 500, maybe a thousand people." -- February 21 campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada

Russia, the Russia investigation and criminal justice

"Russia, if you're listening" and the media

"Remember this thing, 'Russia, if you're listening'? Remember, it was a big thing -- in front of 25,000 people. 'Russia if you're ...' It was all said in a joke. They cut it off right at the end so that you don't then see the laughter, the joke. And they said, 'He asked. He asked for help.' Right? 'Russia, if you're listening ...' A very famous -- they cut that thing so quick at the end because they didn't want to hear the laughter in the place and me laughing. It was just 'boom.'" -- February 29 speech at Conservative Political Action Conference

Facts First: Trump's story was comprehensively inaccurate. Trump did not make his famous 2016 "Russia, if you're listening" request -- for help obtaining deleted Hillary Clinton emails -- at an event with "25,000 people," nor did he laugh after he said it; he made the comment at a July 2016 news conference, with a straight face, and there was no audible laughter in the room. News outlets did not deceptively edit the footage.

Roger Stone and the Trump campaign

The jury foreperson in the Roger Stone trial

Trump accused the foreperson of the jury in Roger Stone's trial of bias. He added, "And you know how they caught her? When he was convicted and then a statement was made, she started jumping up and down screaming, 'Yes, yes.'" -- February 21 campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada

Navy sailor Kristian Saucier

The FBI and "go get him"

Democrats

Bloomberg's endorsers and campaign finance law

"And there are a lot of campaign finance violations there. There's no way you can do what he's doing. You know, you go into a town, you give somebody a contribution, two days later the guy comes, 'I'd like to support Mini Mike Bloomberg.' There's something strange with that whole deal." -- February 29 speech at Conservative Political Action Conference

"So long as we are talking about campaign contributions within statutory limits made without an explicit promise to do or not do something, there is nothing illegal going on," said Richard Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine and an expert on elections law.

Chuck Schumer and Trump's deal with China

Trump claimed on three occasions that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer had falsely claimed Trump's "phase one" trade deal with China involved Trump taking off tariffs.

After Trump made a previous version of this accusation on January 15, Schumer responded the same day: "I know what's in the deal. I'm not sure the president does. If he knows what's in the deal -- he should throw it away and take China back to the negotiating table. I will cheer him on if he does."

Biden's debate claim about guns

Hunter Biden

Trump claimed Hunter Biden, the son of Biden, "didn't have a job until his father became vice president." -- February 21 campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada

At the time Hunter Biden was appointed to the board of Ukrainian natural gas company Burisma Holdings in 2014, he was a lawyer at the firm Boies Schiller Flexner, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University's foreign service program, chairman of the board of World Food Program USA, and chief executive officer and chairman of Rosemont Seneca Advisors, an investment advisory firm. He also served on other boards.

Tom Steyer's performance in New Hampshire

Mark Kelly

Trump said of Mark Kelly, a Democratic Senate candidate in Arizona: "He wants to raise your taxes, open your borders, give away free health care to illegal immigrants, and he wants to obliterate your Second Amendment." -- February 19 campaign rally in Phoenix, Arizona

Facts First: Trump was misrepresenting Kelly's immigration positions.

Media coverage of Trump donating his salary

California water rules

When Qasem Soleimani was killed

"So we took out Al-Baghdadi, and then, we just took out two weeks ago, the world's top terrorist Qasem Soleimani of Iran and his evil reign of terror forever." -- February 21 campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada

A labor dispute in 2016

"Last time I had a strike in my building during the election. The only reason -- we would've won this state. Like brilliantly -- to save three cents. I could have settled the strike before the election. I wanted to save two dollars. Total. That was a brilliant move ... But we almost won the state despite I had a big strike." -- February 21 campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada

Facts First: There was a dispute between Trump and labor unions in Las Vegas during the 2016 election, and workers did picket his hotel, but there was not a strike; workers did not walk off the job, and Trump's company had not recognized the union in the first place.

Waivers for military athletes

The Muslim population of India

Trump's 200 million figure for the present Muslim population is about right.

The ratings of 'The Apprentice'

Trump claimed that "The Apprentice," his reality television show, steadily climbed in ratings all the way to the very top: "And then the show goes -- started at 10, went to eight, went to seven, went to five, went to four, went to two, it went to one. I had the number one show in all of television. Number one." -- February 21 campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada

There are various ways to slice and dice television ratings, so Trump might be able to point to some specific night, time slot, show category or viewer group in which "The Apprentice" was number one. But it certainly wasn't the top-rated show in all of TV, as he has long suggested.

Repeats

Here are the repeat false claims we have previously included in one of these roundups:

Economy

The estate tax

Trump claimed four times that he had eliminated the estate tax.

Apple and factories

The steel industry

Energy production

Wage growth

Median usual weekly warnings went from $330 per week in the second quarter of 2014 to $349 per week in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The Dow's starting point under Trump

Facts First: The Dow didn't start the Trump era at 16,000 points -- whether you're looking at its level on Trump's first day in office or whether you go back to the day after his election, as he sometimes argues we should. The Dow opened and closed above 19,700 points on Trump's inauguration day in January 2017; the Dow opened above 18,300 the day after Trump's election in November 2016.

Women's unemployment

Trump claimed three times that the women's unemployment rate is the lowest in "71 years."

The unemployment rate

Trump claimed three times that the unemployment rate is at its lowest level in "over 51 years."

Ivanka Trump and jobs

Trump claimed twice that Ivanka Trump is responsible for "15 million jobs" or more through the Pledge to America's Workers initiative.

The Waters of the United States and puddles

Venezuela's wealth

Facts First: Venezuela was not the wealthiest country in Latin America or South America either 15 or 20 years ago.

"Venezuela was one of the richest countries in the world 60 years ago. The richest in Latin America 40 years ago. But not 20 years ago," Ricardo Hausmann, a former Venezuelan planning minister and central bank board member, said in response to a previous version of this Trump claim. Hausmann, now a Harvard University professor, was chief economist of the Inter-American Development Bank from 1994 to 2000.

Venezuela's per capita gross domestic product in 2005 ($5,420) was lower than that of Mexico ($8,189) and Chile ($7,600), according to International Monetary Fund figures from 2019. Venezuela's per capita gross domestic product in 2000 ($4,824) was lower than that of Argentina ($8,387), Mexico ($7,016), Uruguay ($6,817) and Chile ($5,072).

Trade and China

Who is paying for Trump's tariffs on China

Trump claimed three times that the revenue from his tariffs on Chinese imports "came from China."

The trade deficit with China

On two separate occasions, Trump claimed that the US used to have a trade deficit with China of $500 billion or "more than $500 billion."

Facts First: The US has never had a $500 billion trade deficit with China.

China's peak agricultural spending

Trump said three times that China had never spent more than $16 billion on US agricultural products in a year.

Facts First: China spent $25.9 billion in 2012, according to figures from the Department of Agriculture.

The size of Trump's trade agreement with China

Trump claimed that his trade agreement with China was the "biggest trade deal ever made."

The US record at the World Trade Organization

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Fact check: Donald Trump made 115 false claims in the last two weeks of February - CNN

Mike Pence and the Farce of Trusting Donald Trump on the Coronavirus – The New Yorker

The weakness of Donald Trumps response to the COVID-19 crisisthe weakness of Trumps characterwas captured in a response that Vice-President Mike Pence gave, on Thursday, to CNNs Alisyn Camerota. She noted that, within hours of Trumps address to the nation the previous night, the Administration had to issue clarifications: that the travel ban he had announced, which he said would apply to Europe except for the United Kingdom, cover a tremendous amount of trade and cargo, and have exemptions only for Americans who had undergone screening, would, in fact, not apply to cargo, cover only countries in the Schengen zone (a subset of European countries with limited border checks between them), and would also have exemptions for permanent residents and citizens immediate family members. Those are big clarifications. It was bad enough that Trumps actions were entirely inadequatehe didnt address problems with testing, for example. But it was stunning that he seemingly could not accurately explain his bad ideas. International financial markets began dropping as he spoke, and the inadequacy of his words and his Presidency became manifest. And so, Camerota asked Pence, Why the confusion?

I dont think there was confusion, Pence replied, blankly, loyally, absurdly. The President took another historic step, just like he did in January with China, to suspend all travel from Europe, Alisyn, for the next thirty days. Instead of explaining the Presidents confused remarks, Pence echoed them, adding to the muddle. Pence, it should be remembered, is not only the Vice-President but the nations dedicated coronavirus point manhis function is to cordinate and clarify and at least give the illusion of leadership. And yet it took another few sentences before he mentioned that there would be Americans coming homeso not a suspension of all travelafter being screened, followed by a reference to every returning American and legal resident, with a note that they would be asked to self-quarantine for fourteen days. But, a couple of minutes later, Pence again referred to suspending all travel for thirty days from Europe. Who coming from where is allowed or required to do what? The main thing to remember is that the President did something historic.

The incompetence and the sycophancy are connected. Pence delivers what Trump demands, even when Trump demands the pretense that COVID-19 will simply go away if people stop worrying about it. It wont. It is not just that Trump doesnt always have the very best people around him; he has too many people who seem to care only whether he is happy. Even people with great expertise spend too much time, at almost every public briefing, ritually noting his leadership. Such words are not confidence-inspiring. There have been reports that Pence at various points suggested that Trump take some practical actionsfor example, in managing the plight of a cruise shipand that Trump said no. Other officials have reportedly had similar experiences. But, as long as they do not publicly confront their boss or pressure him to take real action on a growing crisis, that only means so much. And Pence, for one, is not doing so; instead, he kept telling Camerota that what looked like haphazard moves were all part of the Presidents strategy, extolling him as a leader who took action. But someone very prominent in the Administration or the Republican leadership has to get angry, in a way that is demonstrative, dramatic, and even, for whoever it is, out of character.

Instead, Pence is not alone. He is behaving in a way that Republicans have come to regard as normal. They must engage in the increasingly farcical exercise of praise for Trump. Sometimes, as when they join him onstage at a rally, the main immediate damage may be to their self-respect. At others, as in the impeachment hearings, when Republican after Republican claimed that the President was an innocent victim of the deep state, the damage was to their duty to the Constitution. During a pandemic, the harm is not only to public health but to the countrys structure, as fissures in the health and social-welfare systems widen, exposing just how vulnerable many Americans arethe hundred thousand homeless children in New York Citys public schools, for exampleand a larger order breaks apart. (The damage may even be to their own health: Senators Lindsey Graham and Rick Scott are under self-quarantine, after mingling at a Mar-a-Lago event that included a Brazilian official who has now been confirmed as having COVID-19; Trump was also present but has so far neither been tested nor quarantined himself.) On Thursday, Senator Mitch McConnell, who has praised what he decided to call Trumps early, bold action on COVID-19, reportedly had to be pressured to delay a Senate recess until a COVID-19 relief bill was passed. And among Fox News commentators, as Dylan Byers notes, there is still outrage that some virus has the nerve to undermine Trump. Pence, speaking to Camerota, tried to pin the blame on Europe, which he said was the site of most new cases. What will he say when America wins that title?

One of the most mangled sections of Pences interview had to do with testing. He suggested that anyone who needed a test could get one just by going to a doctor, who would arrange oneor maybe that would happen soon, if not yet. When Camerota showed him figures suggesting that the number of tests completed was still just in the thousands, he said he thought that the information was wrong. But he refused to even estimate the right number. The mismanagement of testing, particularly as coronavirus was just reaching the United States, appears to have triggered a disaster. It remains shockingly hard for people to get testedtest kits and the chemical reagents needed for them are a scarce resourceeven when they have symptoms and known contact with COVID-19 patients. According to the COVID Tracking Project, in which The Atlantic is a partner, the tally of tests completed was nearing sixteen thousand five hundred on Friday; South Korea has conducted more than ten times as many. It is a failing. Lets admit it, Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, of the U.S.s testing system, at a hearing of the House Oversight Committee. Trump will never admit it.

The testing situation is such a shambles that even some Republicans have begun to acknowledge it. Senator Lamar Alexander called it a serious deficiency, according to Politico, and Senator James Lankford said that the idea that people could simply go and get testedwhich Trump has pushedwas just wrong. Senator Mitt Romney (who might actually be good at managing this sort of thing) said that the situation is frustrating. The question is whether that consciousness of failure will lead to a breaking point in the Republicans system of obedience to Trump. This is not a matter of using the coronavirus crisis to bring him down; its a question of the Presidents party really pushing him to do what he can to stop the virus from bringing the country down. And if he wont, they can start voting with Democrats in Congress, and give support to governors and other local officialsand, most fundamentally, they can be honest with the public. Perhaps Republicans could even nominate someone else at the convention this August (if, given the fears of COVID-19, its still held). That seems far-fetched, but so, a month ago, did trading being halted on the New York Stock Exchange, campuses closing, Broadway shutting down, major-league seasons getting suspended, and parts of the city of New Rochelle being cordoned off. Unimaginable scenes at overwhelmed hospitals may be ahead.

Read the original post:

Mike Pence and the Farce of Trusting Donald Trump on the Coronavirus - The New Yorker

Donald Trump’s Latest Reality Show: The 2020 Election – The Nation

President Donald Trump at a press conference in September 2018. (Evan El-Amin / Shutterstock.com)

EDITORS NOTE: This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.

Donald Trump filed his paperwork to run for reelection only hours after his inauguration in January 2017, setting a presidential record, the first of his many dubious achievements. For a man who relished the adulation and bombast of campaigning, it should have surprised no one that he charged out of the starting gate so quickly for 2020 as well. After all, hed already spent much of the December before his inauguration on a thank you tour of the swing states that had unexpectedly supported him on Election DayOhio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsinand visited Florida for a rally only a couple of weeks after he took the oath of office. In much the same way that Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky once embraced permanent revolution, Donald Trump embarked on a permanent campaign.1

But The Donald was fixated on 2020 even before he pulled off the upset of the century on November 8, 2016. After all, no one seems to have been more surprised by his victory that day than Trump himself.2

According to Michael Wolffs Fire and Fury and his personal attorney Michael Cohen, even on election night 2016, the billionaire tycoon didnt think hed win his first presidential bid. His wife, Melania, assured by her husband that hed lose, reportedly wept as the news came in that she would indeed be heading for the White House. Before his surprise victory, Trump described the election many times as rigged and seemed poised to declare the vote illegitimate as soon as the final returns rolled in. The attacks hed launched on Hillary Clinton during the campaignon her health, her integrity, her email accountwere not only designed to savage an opponent but also to undermine in advance the person that everyone expected to be the next president.3

In other words, Trump was already gearing up to go after her in 2020. And this wasnt even a commitment to run again for president. Although he reveled in all the media attention during the 2016 campaign, he was far more focused on the economic benefits to his cohort, his businesses, his family, and above all himself. He understood that attacking Clinton had real potential to become a post-election profession.4

Before Election Day, for instance, Trump was already exploring the possibility of establishing his own TV network to cater to the anti-Clinton base hed mobilized. The relentless stigmatizing of the Democratic standard bearerthe threats of legal action, the lock her up chants, the hints at dark conspiraciescould easily have morphed into a new birther movement led by Trump himself. With Clinton in the White House, he could have continued in quasi-campaign mode as a kind of shadow president, without all the onerous tasks of an actual commander-in-chief.5

Thanks to 77,744 voters in three key states on November 8, 2016, the Electoral College not only catapulted a bemused Trump into the White House but eliminated his chief electoral rival. Hillary Clintons political career was effectively over and Donald Trump suddenly found himself alone in the boxing ring, his very identity as a boxer at risk.6

As president, however, he soon discovered that a ruthless and amoral executive could wield almost unlimited power in the Oval Office. Ever since, hes used that power to harvest a bumper crop of carrots: windfall profits at his hotels, international contracts for his son-in-law Jared Kushners family business, not to speak of fat consulting gigs and other goodies for his cronies. Trump is a carrot-lover from way back. But ever vengeful, he loves sticks even more. Hes used those sticks to punish his enemies, real or imagined, in the media, in business, and most saliently in politics. His tenuous sense of self requires such enemies.7

Even as president, Trump thrives as an underdog, beset on all sides. Over the last three years, he turned the world of politics into a target-rich environment. Hes attacked one international leader after anotherthough not the autocratsfor failing to show sufficient fealty. At home, hes blasted the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives with a special focus on Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Hes lashed out against deep state opponents within the government, particularly those with the temerity to speak honestly during the impeachment hearings. He typically took time at a rally in Mississippi to besmirch the reputation of Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused Supreme Court aspirant Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault. Hes even regularly gone after members of his inner circle, from former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and former attorney general Jeff Sessions to former Pentagon chief Jim Mattis, blaming them for his own policy failures.8

Those relentless attacks constitute the ambient noise of the Trump era. But a clear signal has emerged from this background chatter. Since committing to run for a second term, hes mounted one campaign of political assassination after another against any would-be successor to Hillary Clinton. Just as he ran a unique campaign in 2016 and has governed in an unprecedented manner, Donald Trump is launching what will be a one-of-a-kind reelection effort. This is no normal primary season to be followed by run-of-the-mill party conventions and a general election like every other.9

Trump isnt just determined to destroy politics as usual with his incendiary rhetoric, his Twitter end runs around the media, or his authoritarian governing style. He wants to destroy politics itself, full stop.10

Over the course of 40 seasons, the American reality show Survivor has been filmed at many different locations and in a variety of formats. Still, the basic rules have remained the same. Contestants are divided into different tribes that must survive in adverse conditions and face extraordinary challenges. A series of votes in Tribal Councils then determine who can stay on the island. Sometimes, tribes or individuals win temporary immunity from expulsion. As the numbers dwindle, the tribes merge and individuals begin to compete more directly against one another. A Final Tribal Council determines the winner among the two or three remaining contestants.11

What makes Survivor different from typical game showsand arguably explains its enduring successis that contestants dont win simply by besting their adversaries in head-to-head battles as in Jeopardy or American Idol. Instead, they have to avoid getting voted off the island by fellow contestants. You win, in other words, through persuasion, negotiation, and manipulation.12

The first seasons victor, Richard Hatch, was not the most physically able of the contestants, psychologist Vivian Zayas once explained. In fact, out of the twelve individual Challenges, he only won one. Richard was also not the most liked. He was perceived as arrogant and overly confident, and even picked by some to be one of the first to get voted off the island. Ultimately, what made Hatch successful was his ability to form alliances.13

To put it in Trumpian terms, you win Survivor by being best at the art of the deal. At times, this requires ruthlessness, wheedling, and outright lies. It makes perfect sense that Trump would revive his stagnant career by translating Survivor into the business world in his show, The Apprentice. Less predictable perhaps was his application of this strategy to electoral politics.14

The 2020 election resembles nothing less than a political version of the Survivor franchise. Donald Trump fully intends to be the last man standing. To do so, however, he must contrive to get everyone else voted off the island. The first to go was the tribe of Republican rivals he defeated in the 2016 primary and who no longer pose a political threat. Next to exit, in the general election, was the leader of the rival tribe of Democrats, Hillary Clinton.15

In 2020, having won the equivalent of Survivors immunity prize, Trump has earned a pass to the final round in November. He faces no significant challenge within the Republican Party. In fact, nine statesAlaska, Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Kansas, Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina and Wisconsinhave scrapped their primaries altogether and pledged their delegates to him. In the remaining primaries, hes racking up the kinds of results that only totalitarian leaders typically enjoy like the 97 percent of caucus delegates he captured in Iowa, the 97 percent of primary voters in Arkansas, and his 86 percent margin of victory in New Hampshire.16

As befits a political survivor, Trump has excelled at forging alliances. An irreligious and profane man, he still managed to win over the evangelical community. Despite his previously liberal record on social issues, he successfully courted the anti-abortion vote. A draft dodger, hes effectively pandered to veterans and active-duty soldiers. And though hes a billionaire given to grossly conspicuous consumption, he even managed to woo the disenfranchised in the Rust Belt and elsewhere. After capturing the Republican Party in this way, he then purged it of just about anyone without the requisite level of sycophancy to the commander-in-chief. In 2016, he also fashioned informal alliances with disgruntled Democrats and independent voters. Since then, hes tried to make further inroads in the Democratic Party by persuading a few politicians like New Jersey Congressman Jeff Van Drew to switch parties. His pardon of corrupt Democratic pol Rod Blagojevich might even win him some additional crossover votes in Illinois.17

Trump hopes, of course, that the 2016 alliances he forged among Democratic and independent voters in key swing states will produce the same results in 2020. Indeed, those voters may well pull the lever for him again, even if they supported Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections. Its not just his politically incorrect personality that has won them over. During his presidency, hes used the power of the state to direct significant resources toward such constituencies.18

To compensate, for instance, for losses incurred in his trade war with China, hes provided $28 billion in farm subsidies over the last two years. Even with the first part of a Sino-American trade deal in place, the president has promised critical rural voters yet more handouts in this election year. Although his tax cuts have certainly put plenty of extra money in the pockets of his wealthy supporters and affluent suburbanites, theres evidence that those cuts have also advantaged red states over blue ones, just as job growth has favored such states, in part because of the help his administration has given to specific economic sectors like the oil, coal, and chemical industries.19

All of this, however, could mean little if Donald Trump faces a popular Democrat in November. So the president has gone into overdrive to ensure that those he considers his strongest potential rivals are voted off the island before the ultimate contest begins.20

Joe Biden formally threw his hat into the presidential ring on April 25, 2019. But Donald Trumps anxiety about running against him had begun much earlier. In July 2018, according to campaign advisers, the president was already fretting Biden might win back some white, working-class voters in swing states like Pennsylvania. However, the president promptly began to insist that Biden would be a dream candidate, resorting to his common and often effective strategy of saying the opposite of what he really thought.21

That summer, Trump was well aware that, in election 2020 polls, he was seven points behind his possible future Democratic opponent. So he began to go after sleepy Joe (as he nicknamed him) on Twitter. He insulted Bidens age, intelligence, and political record, but a true hatchet job required a sharper hatchet.22

Trump had long sought a lawyer who could do some of his hatchet work for him, a figure akin to Roy Cohn, the anti-Communist huckster who assisted Senator Joe McCarthy and later served as The Donalds mentor. Several people aspired to play that very role, including Michael Cohen, who became the presidents personal lawyer. But like Jeff Sessions, in the end, he proved insufficiently loyal in the presidents eyes.23

Rudy Giuliani has emerged as the latest in this line of fixers. He endorsed Trump in 2016 and then entered his administration as an adviser on cybersecurity. In April 2018, after the FBI raided Michael Cohens office, Giuliani joined Trumps legal team. He immediately went to work exploiting his past connections in Ukraine as part of an effort to shift blame to that country for Russias interference in the US elections. At some point in the fall of 2018, hooking up with two shady operators, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, he began to investigate Biden, his son Hunter, and the latters links to the Ukrainian energy company Burisma. When Volodymyr Zelensky became that countrys president in April 2019, Trump felt emboldened, thanks to Giuliani, to press the new leader to relaunch an investigation into the Biden family even though the previous effort had produced nothing.24

It was an extraordinarily risky move, coming just after Special Counsel Robert Mueller, in his long-awaited report, had described Russian interference in the 2016 election and the Trump administrations attempts to cover up its Kremlin connections. But thats how much Trump worried about the man he then expected to be his foremost political rival in 2020. For reelection, Giuliani and Trump knew that nothing illicit actually had to be nailed down when it came to Hunter Bidens Ukrainian activities. They simply had to damage his fathers reputation through insinuation.25

Trump was furious at the impeachment inquiry that followed his perfect phone call with Zelensky on July 25, 2019. In the end, however, even though the House investigation exonerated Biden and implicated Trump, it was the Democrats reputation that suffered the greater hit.26

As Peter Beinart wrote in The Atlantic:27

By keeping Hunter Bidens business dealings in Ukraine in the news, they have turned them into a rough analogue to Hillary Clintons missing emails in 2016a pseudo-scandal that undermines a leading Democratic candidates reputation for honesty. The Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee last fall launched a $10 million advertising blitz aimed at convincing Americans that Joe Bidens behavior toward Ukraine was corrupt.28

Bidens national poll numbers didnt actually suffer much during the impeachment investigation, but his leads in the early state primaries did. Beginning with an ad campaign in Iowa, the president seemed determined to kneecap Biden in those very primaries. True, the Democratic candidate did himself no favors with lackluster debate performances and his usual verbal gaffes. Trumps strategy, however, helped ensure that the residents of Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada nearly voted the competing tribes leading candidate off the island before the big Tribal Council on Super Tuesday. Only a resounding victory in South Carolina kept Biden in the race, propelling him to a surprising comeback on Super Tuesday.29

Trump deployed his traditional strategy of attack to minimize the other Democratic candidates for 2020 as well. He ridiculed Elizabeth Warren as Pocahontas, made fun of Mike Bloombergs height, and intentionally garbled Pete Buttigiegs last name. But the candidate Trump seemed most worried about replacing Biden as the partys nominee was Bernie Sanders.30

After all, Sanders has some of the very strengths that made Trump such an attractive candidate in 2016. The Vermont independent is a political outsider who can credibly distance himself from the failings of both major parties. He has an authentically populist agenda that targets the very corporate fat cats who are Trumps closest friends, allies, and supporters. He can potentially appeal to voters who didnt go to the polls in 2016, those who voted for Trump but havent been able to stomach his performance in the White House, and young people who otherwise might not bother to turn out at all.31

This profile has, for instance, attracted the endorsement of popular libertarian podcaster Joe Rogan. Former Republican representative Joe Walsh, who voted for Trump in 2016 before challenging the president for the partys nomination this year, has already pledged to vote for Sanders if he becomes the nominee. Even far-right pundit Ann Coulter, once an ardent Trump supporter, declared last year that shed consider voting for Sanders if he took a harder stance on immigration. I dont care about the rest of the socialist stuff, she told PBS. Just: can we do something for ordinary Americans?32

Trump himself has expressed concerns about taking on Sanders. Frankly, I would rather run against Bloomberg than Bernie Sanders, Trump told reporters last month. Because Sanders has real followers, whether you like them or not, whether you agree with them or notI happen to think its terrible what he saysbut he has followers.33

A significant number of those followers in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania switched parties to vote for Trump in 2016. If they were to go back to Sanders in 2020and if the Democrats who voted for Clinton generally maintained their party loyaltythe Vermont independent could win those three states and probably the election in November.34

Of course, in his worrying about Sanders, Trump could well be using his simplistic version of reverse psychology. The president could be pretending to be scared of Sanders when he really wants to run against a self-proclaimed democratic socialist next fall. Citing Republican Party sources, for instance, The New York Times concluded in January that President Trumps advisers see Senator Bernie Sanders as their ideal Democratic opponent in November and have been doing what they can to elevate his profile and bolster his chances of winning the Iowa caucuses. These advisers are well aware that, according to a November poll by NPR/PBS and an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last March, only 2025 percent of Americans are enthusiastic about a socialist candidate. For these reasons, Trump urged South Carolina Republicans to cross the aisle to back Sanders in the Democratic primary in order to shut down Biden once and for all.35

To play it safe, however, the president has also begun to focus a portion of his considerable ire on Sanders. Hes already mounted vigorous attacks on his approach to health care reform, his opposition to the assassination of the head of Irans Revolutionary Guards, his supposed hypocrisy as a wealthy, fossil fuel-guzzling millionaire, and above all that socialism of his. Its just a taste of whats to come. According to someone who saw the opposition research the Republicans compiled on Sanders in 2016, it was so massive it had to be transported on a cart.36

And thats before Trump blows all this material out of proportion through outright lies and misrepresentation.37

At the end of August, Donald Trump heads into the Republican Partys nominating convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, with some advantages he didnt have four years ago.38

In 2016, Hillary Clinton had raised nearly twice as much money as he did. This time, the president has already collected more than $100 million. (Barack Obama had $82 million at this point in 2012.) A war chest like that supports a large ground operation eager to flip some blue states like Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, and even New Mexico. Trump has the authority of incumbency, plus a reputation for invincibility thats been enhanced by his surviving both the Mueller investigation and impeachment by the House. As long as a coronavirus pandemic doesnt truly shut down the global economy, he will continue to claim, misleadingly, that low unemployment figures and modest growth are his personal achievements.39

In a normal political contest, Trump would have to deal with a raft of negatives, including his relative unpopularity, his many policy failures, his embarrassments on the global stage, and of course, the cuts his administration has made in funds to prepare for a possible pandemic. Election 2020, however, is anything but a normal political contest. Trump has been busy gaming the system, focusing virtually all his efforts on Electoral College swing states, while Republicans do their damnedest to purge voter rolls, suppress turnout, and ignore warnings from the US intelligence community of coming Russian election interference.40

Donald Trump has also been hard at work stripping politics of its content, a longer-term trend for which hes anything but the sole culprit. Still, more than any other candidate in memory, hes boiled elections down to pissing contests and personality clashes. In addition, his nonstop barrage of lies has thoroughly confused voters about what his administration has and hasnt done. In the process, hes delegitimized the mainstream media, placed himself above the law, and reduced American politics to a litmus test of loyalty.41

Its not yet possible to predict the winner of the 2020 election, but the loser is already clear: the American public. Trump has sabotaged in a significant way the normal give-and-take, compromise, and negotiation once at the heart of everyday politics. He believes only in power, the more naked the better. He long ago gave up on elite opinion. Now, he doesnt want to take any chances on the vagaries of popular choice either.42

Trump believes that he already owns the island, that hes now the survivor in chief. To maintain that illusion, hell do anything in his power to ensure that hes never voted off the island, certainly not by something beyond his control like actual democracy.43

See the original post here:

Donald Trump's Latest Reality Show: The 2020 Election - The Nation

Donald Trump is the very worst person to handle the coronavirus crisis – The Guardian

Coronavirus is the first major crisis Donald Trump has faced that is not of his own making. People who know what it is like to be in charge when disaster strikes have warned us this moment would come eventually and we can now see why they were so terrified.

Trump in a time of coronavirus is a lethal combination. Everything about the president his reliance on his gut instincts in place of expertise, his overwhelming selfishness, and his unfailing tendency to lash out at others when things go wrong make him the worst person imaginable to hold the worlds most powerful job in the face of pandemic.

Confronting the threat requires global cooperation, perhaps more than at any time since the second world war. But Trump and his junior imitators around the world have taken a sledgehammer to the very notion of international solidarity.

Americas closest allies were given no notice of his decision on Wednesday night to suspend flights from Europe. The EU mission in Washington only found out about it when journalists started calling.

The president has dealt with coronavirus the same way he approached every other challenge in his administration, first trying denial and when that failed, blaming outsiders. The disease has slid from a Democratic hoax to the foreign virus. It came as little surprise that his speech had been written by Stephen Miller, the author of the administrations cruellest anti-immigration policies.

The declaration of a European travel ban was only the second time Trump has addressed the nation from behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office. The first time was to announce the building of a wall on the Mexican border. The administration has made xenophobia its defining ethos.

It can stir up passions and corral votes, but railing against foreigners is useless against a virus that is indifferent to ethnicity and nationality.

Slamming the gates shut is also pointless in the face of a disease that already has taken hold within. Its incidence appears lower in the US than in much of Europe so far but almost certainly because US has barely started testing.

And the US is only shutting some of its gates. The exclusion of the UK and non-Schengen countries like Ireland from the ban makes no sense if stopping the spread of disease is really the aim. Contrary to Trumps claim, the UK is not doing a great job in containing coronavirus compared with most of its European neighbours.

It may or may not be a coincidence that Trump has golf resorts in the UK and Ireland. Given Trumps preoccupation with his investments throughout his time in office, it is as plausible an explanation as any for an otherwise pointless decision.

On the one strategy known to be effective in curbing the pandemic screening for the virus and organised social distancing the US is far behind most of the countries it has now cut off.

The production and distribution of diagnostic tests has been a fiasco. The initial test distributed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was flawed and had to be recalled. Production of new tests has been held back by a global shortage of a key component, reagents used to extract RNA from samples. Largely because of complacency at the top, the US was last in line putting its order in.

The same complacency has allowed the institutions that the US now most needs to wither and die. Trumps third national security adviser, John Bolton, axed the office in the national security council to coordinate a US response to pandemics, which was established after the Ebola outbreak.

Bolton, like Trump, did not see it as a real national security issue, like China or Iran.

Who would have thought we would even be having the subject? Trump wondered aloud, in explanation of why the administration had been taken by surprise.

With an eye fixed on the money markets, the president has sought to cover up the real lack of resilience in the system, insisting: Were testing everybody that we need to test.

But the truth has quickly become felt around the country, as people with symptoms and risk factors have been denied testing.

The CDC director, Robert Redfield, an evangelical conservative with no previous experience in managing a large state agency, revealed how out of touch the administration was with the reality on the ground on Wednesday.

When asked by the House oversight committee why the US was not providing drive-through tests, as have been introduced elsewhere he replied: Were trying to maintain the relationship between individuals and their healthcare providers.

Jim Cooper, a Tennessee Democrat pointed out to him that most Americans do not have a regular doctor, and certainly do not see a physician often enough to have a relationship. When they get seriously ill, most head for the emergency room of the countrys overstrained hospitals.

The lack of tests means that the country is stumbling blindfolded into the worst health crisis in decades. Despite warnings from his own experts, the president reportedly clings to the relatively low number of confirmed cases as a sign that the US might be spared the worst.

When the country is struck by the inevitable wave of sickness and deaths, sweeping aside Trumps reassurances, it is hard to predict how he will react.

We do know he will see it through the prism of his prospects for re-election, and we can be fairly certain he will look for someone to blame along with a distraction, most likely some form of conflict at home or abroad.

The scale of the debacle will require a major distraction. Awful as the coronavirus pandemic looks now, Trumps backlash could be even worse.

Here is the original post:

Donald Trump is the very worst person to handle the coronavirus crisis - The Guardian

What history says about crises, approval ratings and a President running for reelection – CNN

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","descriptionText":"Former White House health policy adviser Zeke Emanuel and Former Director of USAID's Emerging Threats Division Dennis Carroll analyze President Trump's coronavirus claims amid a rising number of infections. 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"},{"title":"Lawmaker gets CDC chief to promise free coronavirus tests","duration":"04:37","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/03/12/katie-porter-robert-redfield-cdc-coronavirus-free-testing-sot-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/03/12/katie-porter-robert-redfield-cdc-coronavirus-free-testing-sot-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200312151845-katie-porter-robert-redfield-cdc-coronavirus-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/03/12/katie-porter-robert-redfield-cdc-coronavirus-free-testing-sot-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"After an intense round of questioning during a House Oversight Committee hearing, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) convinced Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield to say "yes" to free coronavirus testing regardless of insurance. ","descriptionText":"After an intense round of questioning during a House Oversight Committee hearing, Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) convinced Centers for Disease Control Director Robert Redfield to say "yes" to free coronavirus testing regardless of insurance. "},{"title":"Biden lambasts Trump over coronavirus response","duration":"00:32","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/?refresh=1","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/03/12/biden-response-trump-coronavirus-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/03/12/biden-response-trump-coronavirus-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200312133019-01-joe-biden-coronavirus-0312-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/03/12/biden-response-trump-coronavirus-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"Former Vice President Joe Biden in a speech lambasted President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. ","descriptionText":"Former Vice President Joe Biden in a speech lambasted President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. "},{"title":"Coronavirus expert says US is 'failing' on testing","duration":"03:05","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/03/12/anthony-fauci-trump-testing-failing-saad-omer-sot-nr-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/03/12/anthony-fauci-trump-testing-failing-saad-omer-sot-nr-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200311172329-panorama-fauci-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/03/12/anthony-fauci-trump-testing-failing-saad-omer-sot-nr-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci tells Congress that the US is "failing" when it comes to coronavirus testing.","descriptionText":"Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci tells Congress that the US is "failing" when it comes to coronavirus testing."},{"title":"Sanders calls for Trump to declare national emergency","duration":"01:50","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"https://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/03/12/bernie-sanders-coronavirus-trump-national-emergency-nr-sot-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/03/12/bernie-sanders-coronavirus-trump-national-emergency-nr-sot-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200312153034-bernie-sanders-03122020-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/03/12/bernie-sanders-coronavirus-trump-national-emergency-nr-sot-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calls on President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. ","descriptionText":"Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) calls on President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic. "},{"title":"Jake Tapper: Trump continues to lie about testing","duration":"01:33","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/03/12/coronavirus-testing-trump-jake-tapper-lead-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/03/12/coronavirus-testing-trump-jake-tapper-lead-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200312162111-coronavirus-testing-trump-jake-tapper-lead-vpx-00000000-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/03/12/coronavirus-testing-trump-jake-tapper-lead-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"CNN's Jake Tapper debunks President Trump's claim about novel coronavirus testing.","descriptionText":"CNN's Jake Tapper debunks President Trump's claim about novel coronavirus testing."},{"title":"Trump says coronavirus testing isn't a problem for US ","duration":"01:26","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"cnn.com","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/03/12/trump-says-testing-is-not-a-problem-ip-bts-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/03/12/trump-says-testing-is-not-a-problem-ip-bts-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200312022551-donald-trump-oval-office-march-11-2020-02-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/03/12/trump-says-testing-is-not-a-problem-ip-bts-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"During a White House briefing, President Trump reported that testing for the coronavirus was going smoothly, despite health officials saying otherwise. 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","descriptionText":"CNN's u003ca href="https://www.cnn.com/profiles/john-avlon-profie" target="_blank">John Avlonu003c/a> analyzes President Donald Trump's address about the novel coronavirus saying there were "two major areas" the president didn't address where he has contributed to confusion surrounding the illness. "},{"title":"De Blasio: I agree with Trump's travel restrictions","duration":"00:54","sourceName":"CNN","sourceLink":"http://www.cnn.com/","videoCMSUrl":"/video/data/3.0/video/politics/2020/03/12/bill-de-blasio-coronavirus-travel-restrictions-newday-sot-vpx.cnn/index.xml","videoId":"politics/2020/03/12/bill-de-blasio-coronavirus-travel-restrictions-newday-sot-vpx.cnn","videoImage":"//cdn.cnn.com/cnnnext/dam/assets/200312080759-bill-de-blasio-03122020-large-169.jpg","videoUrl":"/videos/politics/2020/03/12/bill-de-blasio-coronavirus-travel-restrictions-newday-sot-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/this-week-in-politics/","description":"New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he agrees that travel restrictions enacted by the Trump administration are merited due to the coronavirus concerns. ","descriptionText":"New York Mayor Bill de Blasio says he agrees that travel restrictions enacted by the Trump administration are merited due to the coronavirus concerns. 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Andrew Cuomo warned that u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/2020/03/03/health/us-coronavirus-cases-state-by-state/index.html" target="_blank">the US is way behind on testingu003c/a> for novel coronavirus cases.","descriptionText":"During an interview with CNN's u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/profiles/chris-cuomo-profile" target="_blank">Chris Cuomou003c/a>, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that u003ca href="http://www.cnn.com/2020/03/03/health/us-coronavirus-cases-state-by-state/index.html" target="_blank">the US is way behind on testingu003c/a> for novel coronavirus cases."}],'js-video_headline-featured-tk58hz','',"js-video_source-featured-tk58hz",true,true,'this-week-in-politics');if (typeof configObj.context !== 'string' || configObj.context.length

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What history says about crises, approval ratings and a President running for reelection - CNN

Coronavirus: The delayed reaction by Donald Trump and Tom Cotton’s change of tone – Arkansas Times

The past is past, but with Donald Trump tweeting this morning on good practices to hold down the spread of coronavirus, its important to remember how dismissive he was of the crisis for weeks, time when the government could have been acting. An excellent rundown by the New York Times David Leonhardt.

And get a load of Sen. Tom Cotton, worrying more about working folks than monetary policy.

Some of his devoted admirers are continuing Trumps early messaging that virus alarm was a hoax generated by Democrats and media to harm Trump politically. The facts never supported that view and Trumps actions in the intervening weeks placed his political wellbeing over public health. (A problem with U.S. policy in general.)

As Leonhardt recounts, Jan. 22 Trump said everything was under control.

In the weeks that followed, Trump faced a series of choices. He could have taken aggressive measures to slow the spread of the virus. He could have insisted that the United States ramp up efforts to produce test kits. He could have emphasized the risks that the virus presented and urged Americans to take precautions if they had reason to believe they were sick. He could have used the powers of the presidency to reduce the number of people who would ultimately get sick.

He did none of those things.

Ive reviewed all of his public statements and actions on coronavirus over the last two months, and they show a president who put almost no priority on public health. Trumps priorities were different: Making the virus sound like a minor nuisance. Exaggerating his administrations response. Blaming foreigners and, anachronistically, the Obama administration. Claiming incorrectly that the situation was improving. Trying to cheer up stock market investors. (It was fitting that his first public comments were from Davos and on CNBC.)

Now that the severity of the virus is undeniable, Trump is already trying to present an alternate history of the last two months.

Never forget.

Speaking of tune changes, check Sen. Tom Cottons Twitter feed. Yes, he continues his not-so-subtle practice of injecting race into the issue by repeatedly defining the global epidemic as Chinese. But I credit him for common sense rather than his normal hysterical fear-mongering. For example:

Hes even said this morning that the House aid bill crafted by Democrats doesnt go far enough. And he also tweeted:

OK then. Empathy from Tom Cotton. And he even acknowledged a Federal Reserve interest rate cut isnt much of a virus fighter or even an economic boon in such times.

Read more here:

Coronavirus: The delayed reaction by Donald Trump and Tom Cotton's change of tone - Arkansas Times

Trump asks Walmart, Target and other retail giants to help tackle the coronavirus crisis – CNBC

Two days after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global pandemic, President Donald Trump brought in leaders of some of the country's biggest companies to showcase a plan to tackle the outbreak.

Trump spoke Friday flanked by the CEOs of Target, Walmart, Walgreens and others as he updated the country on the government's response to the virus. As he handed the mike and podium over to them the message was clear: we're in good hands.

The market reacted well to the message, with theDow Jones Industrial Averageclosing1,985 points higherFriday.

Trump lauded the CEOs as "celebrities in their own right" and praised their companies as the greatest in the world. The executives, like Walmart chief Doug McMillon, said they will help America ramp up its testing by offering space in their parking lots.

The administration's ability to quickly roll out tests has been marred by missteps and an underfunded system. In recent days, though, it has approved new tests, such as one fromSwiss diagnostics-maker Roche, giving the government the capacity to make more.

"Today I trust that people in America are looking on at this extraordinary public and private partnership to address the issue of testing with particular inspiration," said White House Vice President Mike Pence.

"After you tapped me to lead the White House coronavirus task force, Mr. President, you said, 'this is all hands on deck'. You directed us to immediately reach out to the American business sector ... to meet what we knew then would be the need [for] testing across the spectrum."

"And today with this historic private-public partnership we have laid the foundation to meet that need."

The Friday press conference topped two weeks of meetings with business leaders in banking, technology, pharmaceutical and other industries.

Some have been described as "brainstorming sessions," as was Trump's meeting with technology leaders earlier this week. Others offered words of reassurance. Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat said during the banks' meeting with the White House "this is not a financial crisis."

Announcements have followed suit. Trump also announced Friday that Google will launch a website to help people out to determine whether they should get a test for coronavirus.

Still, many of the details around these private-public partnerships remain scarce, including those announced Friday.

Google's communications team said the tool Trump referred to, which is being developed by Verily, the life sciences sister company to Google, remains in its early stages.Both Google and Verily areAlphabetcompanies.

"We are developing a tool to help triage individuals for Covid-19 testing," it said in a statement. "Verily is in the early stages of development, and planning to roll testing out in the Bay Area, with the hope of expanding more broadly over time," the statement said.

The retailers, meantime, had limited details to share around which locations will be rolling out tests, and how many of them they will have.

For the retailers, the move is a natural expansion of efforts to utilize their vast footprint to provide medical care. CVS Health bought insurer Aetna for roughly $69 billion two years ago, and has since expanded health-care services in its stores.

Walmart has long been a pioneer in health care, including with its own employees.Ninety percent of the U.S. population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart, giving it unique reach to Americans, particularly those in rural areas. The retailer has explored other partnerships with the government, like an experiment in telehealth with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

The retailer has also taken an increasing interest in dipping its toe into public policy. The retailer's decision to dramatically step back from ammunition sales after "horrific" shootings let other major retailers to follow suit.

CEO Doug McMillon leads the Business Roundtable, a group representing the CEOs of nearly 200 companies. The Business Roundtable last year made a splash as it embraced stakeholder capitalismas its new purpose. With that statement, the companies said their focus is on serving not only its shareholders but all stakeholders, including customers and communities.

None of the companies disclosed what financial impact, if any, the moves would have on their financials.

"These are extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures," saidRichard Ashworth, Walgreens president.

"Collaboration with health officials, the government, and across our industry and other sectors is critical at this time. Walgreens has a long history of being there when our customers and communities needs us most."

CNBC's Melissa Repko contributed to this story.

See the article here:

Trump asks Walmart, Target and other retail giants to help tackle the coronavirus crisis - CNBC

Trump Is Dooming His Presidency and Other Weekend Reads – Foreign Policy

U.S. President Donald Trumps inability to effectively combat the coronavirus could ultimately doom his bid for reelection.

Meanwhile, a new round of constitutional changes implemented in Russia could see President Vladimir Putin remain at the helm for almost two more decades.

And Japan and South Korea are reeling due to the effects of the coronavirus, but they still find time to point fingers at each other.

Here are Foreign Policys top weekend reads.

As the coronavirus takes hold in the United States and the economy faces recession, Trumps credibility is further eroded, Foreign Policys Michael Hirsh writes.

As the coronavirus spreads, a dangerous trend has followed: Government leaders and other officials are intentionally obfuscating data, suppressing information, and misinforming citizens about the outbreak, Suzanne Nossel writes.

Russias political future became a little bit clearer when a series of choreographed moves in the countrys parliament set the stage for Putin to stay in his role for another 16 years, Foreign Policys Reid Standish writes.

Japan and South Korea have both been hit hard by the coronavirus, but they have shown that when times get tough, they will still prioritize the most important thing: blaming each other, William Sposato writes.

The ideas and practices that guided Christians through countless plagues across millennia still have relevance today, Lyman Stone writes.

See original here:

Trump Is Dooming His Presidency and Other Weekend Reads - Foreign Policy

Obama-Appointed Judge Blocks Donald Trump’s Plan to Kick Nearly One Million Americans Off of Food Stamps – The Root

President Donald Trump eating with members of the military in a dining facility during a surprise Thanksgiving Day visit, Thursday, Nov. 28, 2019, at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.Photo: Alex Brandon (Associated Press)

The Meglomaniac-In-Chief s continuous war on the poor has hit a snag.

In his quest to Make American Hate Again, President Donald Trump and his administration were planning to make life even worse for food-insecure families when the sought to proceed with measures to remove nearly three-quarters of a million people from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits program.

But a judge appointed by Forever President Barack Hussein Obama pumped the brakes.

One of the good things to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic was Chief U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell ruling that the planned strict work requirements were unlawful and blocked the administration from proceeding with them.

Especially now, as a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential, Howell wrote in her 84-page ruling.

The decision resulted from a lawsuit brought by 19 states, including Washington D.C. and The Big Apple on Friday, NPR reported.

In December, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it was adopting the rule change requiring able-bodied adults without children to work at least 20 hours a week in order to qualify for SNAP benefits, also known as food stamps, past three months.

To go one step further with their skullduggery, it wouldve also limited individual states usual ability to waive those requirements depending on economic conditions.

Her honors preliminary injunction will preserve that flexibility.

Howell is the top judge on the Washington, D.C. federal district court and she seems not to mind setting the record straight.

Just last month, the 63-year-old Fort Benning, Georgia native said that the courts sentencing of Trump consigliere Roger Stone would not be swayed by public criticism or pressure.

On Feb. 20, the GOP operative was sentenced to more than three years in prison after a jury found guilty on seven felony counts including lying to authorities, obstructing a congressional investigation and witness intimidation, Politico reported.

Trump has called Stones treatment a miscarriage of justice, raising questions about whether he will grant clemency to his longtime political confidant.

Read more:

Obama-Appointed Judge Blocks Donald Trump's Plan to Kick Nearly One Million Americans Off of Food Stamps - The Root

Trump launches an urgent fight to save his ticket to reelection – POLITICO

And theyre watching a flood of announcements from multinational U.S. companies signaling trouble that could strangle the American economy for months to come.

The frenzied push to boost the economy is colliding with Republican orthodoxy opposing short-term stimulus during the last recession. But its a reflection of what some Republicans recognize as an existential threat to Trumps reelection: a potential downturn in the economy and financial markets in the run-up to a close and heated presidential election.

I dont think its good policy, one senior administration official said. The whole litany of temporary measures to stimulate the economy ... I dont think it works.

During a meeting with lawmakers last week, Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana suggested to Trump the idea of a temporary payroll tax cut to give employed consumers additional cash an idea that Daines said Trump liked enough to then champion on Twitter.

Meanwhile, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is pushing the idea of a one-time tax credit for companies that bring manufacturing back to the U.S. from China.

And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said his agency would talk to independent bank regulators about easing rules for lenders. Mnuchin also said Treasury had set up a subtask force to examine how coronavirus is hitting small businesses.

The flurry of discussion comes as the White House struggles to settle on the best public health and economic response to the fast-traveling coronavirus of which there are now 77 cases in the U.S. throughout 14 states and cities and nine deaths.

The spread of the virus inside Italy, Iran, South Korea and the U.S. last week spooked investors and triggered the stock markets worst weekly decline since 2008. Now it threatens to disrupt a wide range of U.S. businesses such as manufacturers, airlines, automakers and the hospitality industry that either rely on China for materials or labor, or that are dependent on consumer confidence to maintain a robust bottom line.

The White House plans to meet with airline executives on Wednesday amid growing concerns about international air travel.

The widening worries across the U.S. are already spurring flight cancellations, school closures and unusual moves to corporate headquarters to encourage employees to work from home.

If we have rational behavior, we dont need a stimulus, said one Republican close to the administration. If you cant leave your house, or if kids cant go to school and the parents cant go to work, what good is a payroll tax cut? Its not like you can go out and buy stuff.

Trump himself told reporters on Tuesday that he would go along with a payroll tax cut as well as middle-class tax cuts, if Democrats would approve them. I think it would be a good time, he said.

Amid the frenzied backdrop, the Fed voted Tuesday to slash interest rates by half a percentage point, an emergency move intended to protect the U.S. economy from damage. The rate cut marked the first time the central bank has lowered interest rates outside of a regularly scheduled meeting since the 2008 global financial crisis.

The former chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, is advising the White House on economic stimulus measures, said a second Republican close to the administration, while the National Economic Council held a meeting on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the coronavirus.

A second senior administration official stressed the White House has not made any decisions yet on a potential package, saying aides were still looking over the data to see if they needed to act.

When asked about a potential stimulus package on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Mnuchin said, I dont really think thats the right question. This is an evolving situation where were meeting daily on this. Were looking at things.

If the coronavirus keeps up its path throughout the U.S., sectors like airlines, cruise ships and large conferences and events are likely to see business plunge and seek federal bailouts, similar to the billions of dollars farmers received last year to offset the aftermath of the trade war, Bruce Mehlman, a longtime Republican lobbyist said in his quarterly analysis on Washington politics.

Additional billions for emergency response and recovery costs are likely, if needed (as with natural disasters, regional costs are often borne by federal taxpayers), Mehlman wrote, calling a $7 billion to $8 billion emergency package imminent.

Some people are saying we should treat this like any other disaster, like after Hurricane Katrina. That will depend on how much it spreads and what it does to the economy, said former Republican Sen. Trent Lott, who now represents automakers and airlines as part of his practice at the firm Squire Patton Boggs. I dont think we are there yet. Congress is just trying to pass emergency funding now to benefit the CDC.

Claudia Sahm, director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth, said the administration should first target stimulus measures toward individuals who are most economically vulnerable to the virus.

The individuals who become ill, who are quarantined, who are not able to go to work theres a nontrivial number of workers that if they do not show up to work for two weeks, they lose their job, said Sahm, a former Fed economist. She pointed out that a payroll tax cut wouldnt benefit those people.

Ideally, she said, the government would target discrete areas where the outbreak is concentrated, as the government does in a disaster declaration, and direct money toward those households, for example, to help them make their mortgage and auto payments.

It could get much worse for the economy as a whole, she added. Then, only then, do I think the conversation should shift to broad-based fiscal stimulus, like sending out checks.

The White House faces the unenviable challenge now of appearing calm in the face of a spreading virus, while also seeming responsive to volatile markets and an economy under pressure.

Several White House officials have expressed skepticism about the effectiveness of short-term stimulus measures even as outside allies and lawmakers push their own specific ideas.

I would say this is no different than any other severe situation. This is going to have an impact in the short term on the economy, Mnuchin told the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday.

Its very different than the financial crisis, he added. The good news here is there will be an end in sight. This will have an impact on the economy, but I have confidence in our health professionals that they will develop both viral medical treatments and vaccines, so this will have a time period."

Sarah Ferris, Marianne Levine, Theo Meyer, Zachary Warmbrodt and Caitlin Oprysko contributed to this report.

View original post here:

Trump launches an urgent fight to save his ticket to reelection - POLITICO


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