“President Trump threatened to use his executive power to force both chambers of Congress to adjourn if the Senate did not confirm his nominees for vacancies across the administration,” The Hill reports.
“The president, during a coronavirus briefing in the Rose Garden, offered a lengthy diatribe against what he described as congressional obstruction and argued confirming his nominees was more urgent than ever amid the pandemic.”
Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution grants Trump with the power to “on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper.”
Playbook: “One of the defining characteristics of the political persona that Donald Trump created was that he had a knack for relationships — building them and maintaining them. When relationships weren’t going his way, he had the unique gumption to step up to institutions or people, forcing them to cower to him and bend to his will.”
“But whether it’s with reporters, international institutions, multilateral alliances or governors, we now see that Trump can hardly seem to keep any relationship intact. His personal and professional alliances are in tatters. He tears down much more frequently than builds up…”
“[Cutting funding to the WHO] is only the most recent example of Trump’s self-isolation. The president’s allies in the media are limited to OANN and a dwindling number of Fox News personalities. Even his natural allies — like the Wall Street Journal editorial page — are drawing his fire of late.”
“And on and on. Trump has torn up the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal without replacing them. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is no longer. He lashes out at governors when they speak their mind, and tacitly threatens their federal funding if they don’t play by his rules. He has no relationship with Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who holds the purse strings for the federal government he runs.
McKay Coppins: “If you’ve tuned in to one of the daily coronavirus-task-force briefings, you’ve likely seen Trump himself make the case. ‘I knew it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,’ the president boasted last month. ‘I knew everything,’ he reiterated a couple of weeks later. Asked to assess his response to the virus, he responded emphatically, ‘I’d rate it at 10.’”
“Cable-news outlets have struggled with how to responsibly handle these briefings, which intersperse valuable updates from public-health officials with the president’s free-wheeling insult-comedy and medical misinformation. But the briefings command huge ratings…”
“This dynamic has effectively enabled the president to narrate America’s national trauma, while editing his own role in it. There are signs that his efforts are working: One Democratic strategist, who requested anonymity to describe private research, told me that when voters were shown 90 seconds of a recent Trump briefing, his performance in a general-election matchup against Joe Biden improved by more than two percentage points.”
“In the first meeting of President Trump’s task force to reopen the economy, banking and financial services executives said the administration needed to dramatically increase the availability of coronavirus testing before the public would be confident enough to return to work, eat at restaurants or shop in retail establishments,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
Politico: “The number of coronavirus tests analyzed each day by commercial labs in the U.S. plummeted by more than 30 percent over the past week, even though new infections are still surging in many states and officials are desperately trying to ramp up testing so the country can reopen.”
Politico: “Democratic leaders say they are talking with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin about how to break a stubborn impasse over the next congressional response to the coronavirus pandemic. But there’s just one problem: Senate Republicans may not go along.”
Annie Lowrey: “The Millennials entered the workforce during the worst downturn since the Great Depression. Saddled with debt, unable to accumulate wealth, and stuck in low-benefit, dead-end jobs, they never gained the financial security that their parents, grandparents, or even older siblings enjoyed. They are now entering their peak earning years in the midst of an economic cataclysm more severe than the Great Recession, near guaranteeing that they will be the first generation in modern American history to end up poorer than their parents.”
As Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told Politico this morning: “Millennials have been totally screwed. Millennials graduated and a recession hit just as we were starting our careers.”
A draft national strategy to reopen the country in phases, obtained by the Washington Post, emphasizes that even a cautious and phased approach “will entail a significant risk of resurgence of the virus.”
The internal document warns of a “large rebound curve” of novel coronavirus cases if mitigation efforts are relaxed too quickly before vaccines are developed and distributed or broad community immunity is achieved.
CDC director Robert Redfield told CBS News that his agency will continue to work with the World Health Organization to combat the global spread of the coronavirus — even after President Trump announced he was halting U.S. funding for the organization amid the pandemic.
Said Redfield: “You know, I’m just going to say the WHO has been a longstanding partner for CDC. We’ve worked together to fight health crises all around the world. We continue to do that.”
He added: “WHO has been a long-term and still is a great partner for us. We’re going to continue to do all we can together to try to limit this.”
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates criticized President Trump’s decision to suspend funding to the World Health Organization as “dangerous.”
Said Gates: “Halting funding for the World Health Organization during a world health crisis is as dangerous as it sounds. Their work is slowing the spread of COVID-19 and if that work is stopped no other organization can replace them. The world needs WHO now more than ever.”
“Retail sales plunged 8.7 percent in March, marking the largest monthly decline ever as the coronavirus pandemic guts consumer spending, yanks millions out of the workforce and forces people to stay home,” the Washington Post reports.
“The U.S. still can’t perform many of the public health measures we’d need in order to keep coronavirus infections tightly contained in a reopened economy,” Axios reports.
“Extreme social distancing has bought us some time, but much of the country still lacks some of the critical systems needed to handle waves of new infections once those restrictions begin to lift.”
“We would need to be testing people who aren’t exhibiting any symptoms — not limiting tests to the sickest patients… We would need thousands of health care workers across the country to track down, test and potentially isolate people who have interacted with confirmed coronavirus patients.”
The White House released a list of names of those advising President Trump of how to reopen the economy.
New York Times: “Mr. Trump was vague about whether those on his list had all agreed to serve on the task force his administration has been struggling to put together over the past week. Some business leaders have been hesitant to attach their names to it in the middle of intense discussions in the White House about who would serve on a formal council, and what its mandate would be.”
Associated Press: “In the six days after top Chinese officials secretly determined they likely were facing a pandemic from a new coronavirus, the city of Wuhan at the epicenter of the disease hosted a mass banquet for tens of thousands of people; millions began traveling through for Lunar New Year celebrations.”
“President Xi Jinping warned the public on the seventh day, Jan. 20. But by that time, more than 3,000 people had been infected during almost a week of public silence.”
Speaker Nancy Pelosi sent a letter to House Democrats slamming President Trump for his response to the pandemic.
Wrote Pelosi: “The truth is because of an incompetent reaction to this health crisis, the strong economy handed to Donald Trump is now a disaster, causing the suffering of countless Americans and endangering lives. The truth is a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others.”
Playbook says the letter had some of “the sharpest broadsides at Trump we’ve seen in some time.”
“The Treasury Department has ordered President Trump’s name be printed on stimulus checks the Internal Revenue Service is rushing to send to tens of millions of Americans, a process that is expected to slow their delivery by several days,” the Washington Post reports.
“The unprecedented decision, finalized late Monday, means that when recipients open the $1,200 paper checks the IRS is scheduled to begin sending to 70 million Americans in coming days, ‘President Donald J. Trump’ will appear on the left side of the payment.”
“Trump had privately suggested to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, to allow the president to formally sign the checks… But the president is not an authorized signer for legal disbursements by the U.S. Treasury.”
“President Trump said during a briefing on the coronavirus Tuesday that individual governors would decide when to reopen their respective state economies,” Axios reports.
Said Trump: “I will be speaking to all 50 governors very shortly. And I will then be authorizing each individual governor of each individual state to implement a reopening, very powerful reopening plan of their state in a time in a manner which is most appropriate.”
He added: “The governors will be very, very respectful of the presidency.”
“Trump appears to be walking back his Monday statement, when said he would force governors to reopen quickly during the coronavirus crisis because, as president, his ‘authority is total’ — sparking backlash from several governors.”
“In mid-March, a National Security Council team rushed to fix what they saw as a threat to the U.S. government’s ability to function amid the advancing pandemic: a lack of masks to protect enough staff on the White House complex,” the Washington Post reports.
“Alarmed by the small cache and the growing signs of an acute shortage of protective gear in the United States, a senior NSC official turned to a foreign government for help.”
“At the time, the U.S. government was discouraging the public from wearing masks, saying that healthy people didn’t need them and that the gear should be saved for front-line medical workers most at risk of infection.”
“A protest movement is taking hold targeting states that have extended social-distancing rules, closed schools and restricted access to large religious gatherings. And it’s being fed by loyalists and political allies of President Trump,” the Daily Beast reports.
“The tension has prompted Republican lawmakers and supporters of the president to publicly call for Americans to defy their local orders, claiming they infringe on constitutional rights.”
Detroit News: “Hundreds of demonstrators lined the streets around the Michigan Capitol Wednesday for a rally to protest Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, which aims to protect public health during the coronavirus pandemic.”
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN) told WIBC that Americans need to get back to work immediately, even if it means significantly increasing the spread of the coronavirus.
He acknowledged that ending social distancing could result in major public health harms and “loss of life,” but he said it was better than letting the economy fall apart.
Said Hollingsworth: “It is policymakers’ decision to put on our big boy and big girl pants and say it is the lesser of these two evils.”