“President Trump on Friday night tried to cast the global outbreak of the coronavirus as a liberal conspiracy intended to undermine his first term, lumping it alongside impeachment and the Mueller investigation,” Politico reports.
Said Trump: “The Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus. They’re politicizing it. They don’t have any clue. They can’t even count their votes in Iowa. No, they can’t. They can’t count their votes. One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax.”
Then Trump called the coronavirus “their new hoax.”
The Los Angeles Times quotes Trump: “So far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States. We are totally prepared.”
The Trump administration has called off a major summit of Asian leaders next month in Las Vegas amid growing alarm over the coronavirus, two U.S. officials tell NBC News.
President Trump said on Friday that he intends to nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) as his permanent director of national intelligence, CNNreports.
Steve Vladeck: “Even if there’s no real chance that Ratcliffe will be confirmed by the Senate, the formal submission of his nomination will allow Richard Grenell to continue to serve as Acting DNI past March 11 — and for another 210 days after Ratcliffe’s rejection or withdrawal.”
“Former White House counsel Donald McGahn can defy a Congressional subpoena, a federal appeals court in Washington ruled Friday in a decision siding with President Trump, who had blocked top advisers from testifying as part of the impeachment proceedings,” the Washington Postreports.
“The 2-1 ruling by a three-judge panel, if it stands, means Trump’s former lawyer cannot be compelled to appear on Capitol Hill, and comes after Democrats lost their bid to call additional witnesses during Trump’s Senate trial.”
“The Trump campaign has shelled out more than $2 million in two years to a law firm known for suing media companies, a signal President Trump’s reelection strategy will be about going to war with the media as well as taking on his eventual Democratic rival,” CNN reports.
“Trump administration officials are holding preliminary conversations about economic responses to the coronavirus, as the stock market fell sharply again on Friday amid international fears about the outbreak,” the Washington Post reports.
“Among the options being considered are pursuing a targeted tax cut package… They have also discussed whether the White House should lean even harder on the Federal Reserve to cut interest rates, though the central bank on Friday afternoon said it would step in if necessary.”
Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said that President Trump wants to cut the corporate tax rate again, to 20% from the current 21%, Politico reports.
Mulvaney also said a proposal to index capital gains taxes for inflation is also on the table as the administration crafts its long-promised plan for a second round of tax cuts.
“A Wisconsin appeals court Friday struck down an Ozaukee County judge’s ruling that thousands of people had to be quickly removed from the state’s voter rolls because they are believed to have moved,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
“The appeals decision affects more than 200,000 voters who were targeted to be taken off the rolls in one of the most closely watched states for this year’s presidential election.”
Iranian sources tell the BBC that at least 210 people have died of coronavirus in the country. That suggests Iran’s government has been hiding nearly seven times the true scale of the virus. The current official death toll in Iran stands at 34.
Former Gov. Mike Huckabee told Fox & Friends that President Trump didn’t get enough credit for what he’s done to halt the spread of coronavirus.
Said Huckabee: “He could personally suck the virus out of every one of the 60,000 people in the world, suck it out of their lungs, swim to the bottom of the ocean and spit it out, and he would be accused of pollution for messing up the ocean.”
The comments sent the hashtag #SuckItTrump soaring on Twitter.
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney acknowledged that the coronavirus is likely to cause disruptions to everyday life, such as school closures and changes to public transportation, Bloomberg reports.
Said Mulvaney: “Are you going to see some schools shut down? Probably. Maybe see impacts on public transportation? Sure, but we do this. We know how to handle this.”
He added: “Really what I’d like to do today to calm the markets is tell people to turn their televisions off for 24 hours.”
Mulvaney also claimed that the media is only covering the virus because they believe doing so will “take down the president.”
Vice President Mike Pence was picked to lead the federal government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak because President Trump said he didn’t “have anything else to do,” The New York Times reports.
“In just a matter of weeks, top economists and investment bank analysts have gone from expecting the coronavirus outbreak to have minimal impact on the U.S. economy to warning that an outright recession may be on the horizon,” Axios reports.
“The outbreak threatens U.S. consumer-oriented businesses like restaurants, bars and travel, which have held up the economy as business investment has turned negative and the manufacturing sector has fallen into recession, largely as a result of the U.S.-China trade war.”
Washington Post: “Former federal officials and public-health experts argue that an effective response to a epidemiological crisis demands sustained planning and investment. While the administration’s response to coronavirus has been criticized in recent weeks as slow and disjointed, people in and outside the White House have warned for years that the nation is ill prepared for a dangerous pandemic.”