“A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Department of Justice to hand over to him a copy of the unredacted Mueller report and accused Attorney General William Barr of misrepresenting its findings in the days before it was submitted to Congress last year,” The Hill reports.
New York Times: “The judge ordered the Justice Department to privately show him the portions of the report that were censored in the public version so he could independently verify the justifications.”
Wrote Judge Reggie: “It would be disingenuous for the court to conclude that the redactions of the Mueller Report pursuant to the FOIA are not tainted by Attorney General Barr’s actions and representations.”
The Trump administration won’t meet its promised timeline of having a million coronavirus tests available by the end of the week. Lawmakers said the government is “in the process” of sending test kits out and that people will then need to be trained on how to use them, saying that the process could take days or weeks.
Earlier this week, the FDA said the U.S. would have the “capacity” to perform up to 1 million tests by the end of this week, which was backed up by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar. Mike Pence also said that 1.5 million tests would be going out.
The Senate, meanwhile, passed an $8.3 billion emergency funding bill to fight the coronavirus. The package will be sent to the White House for Trump’s signature after passing the House yesterday. (Sources: Bloomberg / Politico / CNBC / CNN)
Patients in 18 states have tested positive or are presumptively positive for coronavirus. Officials in Nevada, New Jersey, Tennessee and Texas said they had identified new cases in the last 24 hours. At least 162 people nationwide have been infected. (The Hill / The Nevada Independent)
COVID-19 cases in New York doubled overnight to 22 state-wide. At least eight of the new cases are connected to a lawyer from Westchester. Two of the new cases are in New York City and one is in Long Island. (CNBC)
The Dow closed down 3.5%, the S&P 500 dropped 3.3%, and the Nasdaq fell 3.1% on fears that the coronavirus will disrupt the global economy. (Bloomberg / Wall Street Journal / CNBC / New York Times / Washington Post)
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) said that he misspoke when he said that two justices appointed by President Trump to the Supreme Court would “pay the price” for a vote against abortion rights, the Washington Post reports.
Said Schumer: “I should not have used the words I used yesterday. They didn’t come out the way I intended them to. I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat.”
“Michael Bloomberg has decided to form a new independent expenditure campaign that will absorb hundreds of his presidential campaign staff in six swing states to work to elect the Democratic nominee this fall,” the Washington Post reports.
“The new group, with a name that is still undisclosed because its trademark application is in process, would also be a vehicle for Bloomberg to spend money on advertising to attack President Trump and support the Democratic nominee.”
“Facebook removed Trump campaign ads that referred to a census, saying they violated a company policy aimed at preventing disinformation and other interference with the nationwide 2020 census, which goes online next week,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Hillary Clinton reflected on Elizabeth Warren’s campaign in a Vanity Fair interview admitting that “she has been an incredible candidate” — who, like Amy Klobuchar and Kamala Harris, was subjected to the realities of misogyny in politics.
Said Clinton: “I think we made some progress, but there still was a lot of the unconscious bias and the gendered language that has been used around the women candidates. I think it affected all of the women that ran.”
“With all votes counted, Israel’s election results indicate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud is the largest party – but the right-wing bloc has failed to secure a 61-seat majority to form a government. Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party trails behind the Likud by several seats,” Haaretz reports.
The result marks no end in sight for political deadlock.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reports Netanyahu suffered another blow “when Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman endorsed Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s efforts to pass a law that would prevent an indicted MK from forming a government.”
Trump – on Fox News – contradicted the World Health Organization estimate that the global mortality rate for coronavirus is 3.4%, calling it “a false number.” While the WHO’s estimate is likely to change as more is learned about the virus, Trump said his “hunch” is that the real figure “way under 1%.” The 3.4% figure was reached using the latest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths. Trump also speculated that “thousands or hundreds of thousands” of people might have recovered “by, you know, sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work but they get better.” (Politico / Business Insider)
Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) said that a GOP investigation into Hunter Biden and Ukrainian gas company Burisma “appears political,” The Hill reports.
Said Romney: “There’s no question but that the appearance of looking into Burisma and Hunter Biden appears political, and I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations.”
Washington Post: “The coronavirus outbreak sweeping through Iran has delivered a jarring blow to the senior ranks of its government, infecting about two dozen members of parliament and at least 15 other current or former top figures.”
“Among those sickened have been a vice president, a deputy health minister and an adviser to the head of the judiciary, and the virus has struck at the pinnacle of power, killing an adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.”
“The Italian government has closed all schools and universities in the country until mid-March as the coronavirus death toll reached 107 and Italy’s rate of new daily cases overtook China,” the Times of London reports.
The British Parliament may be suspended for five months to prevent MPs from spreading coronavirus across the country, the Times of London reports.
“Britain edged closer to an epidemic yesterday with the biggest daily jump in cases leaving 87 people confirmed as infected. Three of the 36 new cases were intensive care patients who had not travelled recently, suggesting that the virus is already spreading more widely than thought in this country.”
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard: “We may now be an even more dangerous monetary world. The Fed is closer to policy exhaustion without having achieved anything. It has just two or three cuts left before it hits the floor, given that negative rates in the US are ruled out by the structure of the money market industry.”
“In fairness, the Powell Fed was damned if it did, and damned if it didn’t. The coronavirus amounts to an economic ‘sudden stop’ across the northern hemisphere, likely to hit regions making up 70% of global GDP by mid-March.”
“It is an exogenous shock akin to the outbreak of world war — a ‘once in 100 years catastrophic event’ in the words of Ray Dalio from the giant hedge fund Bridgewater — and it is colliding with global debt ratios at an all-time high of 322pc of GDP, and doing so at a vulnerable point in the business cycle.”
President Trump was asked at a Fox News town hall meeting if he’ll address entitlement spending to deal with the country’s burgeoning debt.
His response: “Oh, we’ll be cutting.”