President Trump said Friday that he answered “sarcastically” during a White House task force briefing when he said that disinfectants may be used to treat coronavirus, Axios reports. Of course, the comments were on video, and as you can all see, he was not being sarcastic. He was being serious.
NBC News: “As Trump went off script to suggest people with the virus could be cured by UV rays or disinfectants ‘by injection inside,’ White House officials began texting one another to ask where he got that idea because they thought, as one adviser put it, ‘this was going to be bad.’”
“None of them seemed to know, as Trump did not consult with any task force members or administration officials before making his impromptu statement.”
CNN: “A Trump adviser working with the task force admitted to feeling an immediate visceral reaction to Trump’s comments suggesting people could inject themselves with sunlight and disinfectants as a cure for the virus.”Said the adviser: “I wanted to hide. It was a tough moment to watch.”
Jonathan Bernstein: “There’s a clip circulating of Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the coronavirus task force, reacting in resigned disbelief as Trump launches into this digression. It was astonishing in a sense. But also: par for the course. Birx is every trade expert when Trump talks tariffs, every health-policy expert when he talks health care, every defense expert when he talks about the military. He combines uncanny confidence with a total lack of knowledge on topic after topic.”
“To listen to him in his briefings and other appearances is to hear howler after howler if one has a reasonable grasp of politics and government. The U.S. military, he says, was out of ammunition when he became president. NATO allies owe us money because they’re behind on their dues. Trade deficits are simply unilateral transfers of money from one nation to another. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what ‘pre-existing conditions’ means, even though I’ve heard him discuss the topic dozens of times.”
“All presidents enter the White House with significant gaps in their knowledge of public policy. Every modern one has worked reasonably hard or very hard to catch up. Trump by all accounts (including his own) instead watches hours of cable news every day.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) suggestion that states could declare bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic “a really dumb idea,” CBS News reports.
Cuomo called the idea “the most un-American, un-charitable statement of all time” which would cause chaos in financial markets.
He also noted that New York gives the most money of any state to the “federal pot,” while Kentucky takes the third most out of the pot: “Just give me my money back, senator… I say pass a law allowing states to declare bankruptcy. I dare you.”
President Trump said he would not be approving an emergency loan for the U.S. Postal Service if it did not immediately raise its prices for package delivery, the Washington Post reports. Said Trump: “The Post Office is a joke. The Post Office should raise the price four times.” He added: “If they don’t raise the price, I’m not signing anything.”
The U.S. Navy’s top officials have recommended that Captain Brett Crozier, who was fired after his concerns about a coronavirus outbreak aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt were leaked, should be reinstated, the New York Times reports.
“As some states lurch toward restarting their economies after coronavirus closures, many big companies remain hesitant to open their doors,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Big chains say their phased reopening plans will rely on state and local guidelines, along with infection rates, their own market analysis and consumer surveys. Many large retail locations aren’t profitable if the number of shoppers who can safely enter is restricted to just a handful of people.”
“These conversations [about cutting back Trump’s participation in the briefings] were underway before Trump suggested that researchers investigate whether doctors could cure coronavirus by injecting people with disinfectant. But a source said it finally seems to have dawned on Trump, after this incident, that these briefings aren’t helping him. The CDC and other public health officials responded obliquely to the comment by telling people not to drink bleach.”
“President Trump arrives in the Oval Office these days as late as noon, when he is usually in a sour mood after his morning marathon of television,” the New York Times reports.
“He has been up in the White House master bedroom as early as 5 a.m. watching Fox News, then CNN, with a dollop of MSNBC thrown in for rage viewing. He makes calls with the TV on in the background, his routine since he first arrived at the White House. But now there are differences.”
“The president sees few allies no matter which channel he clicks. He is angry even with Fox, an old security blanket, for not portraying him as he would like to be seen… Confined to the White House, the president is isolated from the supporters, visitors, travel and golf that once entertained him.”
“Stephen Miller told White House supporters in a private call this week that the president’s new executive order curbing immigration will usher in the kind of broader long-term changes to American society he has advocated for years, even though the 60-day measures were publicly characterized as a ‘pause’ during the coronavirus pandemic,” the Washington Post reports.
“White House officials are hotly debating whether and how to propose a ‘liability shield’ that would prevent businesses from being sued by customers who contract the coronavirus, as the administration seeks to encourage businesses to reopen without fear of being hit by lawsuits,” the Washington Post reports.
“Attorneys in the White House Counsel’s Office are reviewing the matter, but some administration officials have raised objections to the idea, including whether it would expose the federal government to legal claims… Some White House advisers also have expressed concern that the plan might provoke a political firestorm.”
Bloomberg: “Policy makers in Congress, the Treasury Department and the central bank have taken a lesson from the last financial meltdown, 12 years ago, when ordinary Americans were left to fend for themselves and millions lost their homes. This time, they’ve included individuals and small businesses in their aid packages in a way they didn’t in 2008, when bank bailouts, even as they saved the system from collapse, sparked outcry over tilted playing fields for the rich and ignited a backlash that altered the political direction of the country.”
“But if one of the lessons of 2008 is to help Main Street as well as Wall Street, the lesson seems to be only partly learned. Americans live in two separate and unequal worlds, and the bailouts reflect this.”
“The Food and Drug Administration is warning patients and doctors that two malaria drugs touted by President Trump for use against the coronavirus are linked to cardiac dangers and should only be used in hospitalized patients or as part of clinical trials for the virus,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
“The two chemically similar drugs have been used for years against malaria and still may be used for that purpose.”
“However, the FDA said it was aware of ‘serious heart problems’ associated with the use of the drugs, hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, which are being evaluated in clinical studies as to whether they are useful against the coronavirus-caused disease, called Covid-19.”
“For President Trump, who adores the pomp and precision of military ceremonies, this was the year he would finally get one of the special perks of being president — delivering the commencement address at West Point, the only service academy where he has not spoken,” the New York Times reports.
“But the graduation was postponed because of the coronavirus, the cadets were sent home and officials at the school were not sure when it would be held or even whether it was a good idea to hold it.”
But Trump abruptly announced that he would, in fact, be speaking at West Point.
“That was news to everyone, including officials at West Point, according to three people involved with or briefed on the event. The academy had been looking at the option of a delayed presidential commencement in June, but had yet to complete any plans. With Mr. Trump’s pre-emptive statement, they are now summoning 1,000 cadets scattered across the county to return to campus in New York, the state that is the center of the outbreak.”
New York Times: “Mark Meadows, Mr. Trump’s new chief of staff, is still finding his footing and adjusting to the nocturnal habits of Mr. Trump, who recently placed a call to Mr. Meadows, a senior administration official said, at 3:19 a.m. Mr. Meadows works closely with another trusted insider: Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and de facto chief of staff.”
Politico: “A group of at least a dozen House Republicans pointedly didn’t wear masks during the House vote, even while hundreds of their colleagues — and all but seemingly one Democrat — were doing so.”
“Their excuses for abstaining were flimsy. ‘I didn’t want to take one from someone who needed it,’ or ‘I left mine in my office’ were offered, if they didn’t run away from the question posed by reporters.”
“The culture war happening throughout the United States over the coronavirus was also playing out on the House floor.”
Politico: “Donald Trump is warning ‘China will own the United States’ if Joe Biden is elected president. But Trump himself is tens of millions of dollars in debt to China: In 2012, his real estate partner refinanced one of Trump’s most prized New York buildings for almost $1 billion. The debt includes $211 million from the state-owned Bank of China — its first loan of this kind in the U.S. — which matures in the middle of what could be Trump’s second term, financial records show.”
“Steps away from Trump Tower in Manhattan, the 43-story 1290 Avenue of the Americas skyscraper spans an entire city block. Trump owns a 30 percent stake in the property valued at more than $1 billion, making it one of the priciest addresses in his portfolio, according to his financial disclosures. Trump’s ownership of the building received a smattering of attention before and after his 2016 campaign. But the arrangement with the Bank of China — and its impending due date in 2022 — has gone largely unnoticed.”
Financial Times: “Leo Varadkar, Ireland’s premier, was in Washington six weeks ago for a St Patrick’s day meeting with Donald Trump when he triggered the coronavirus lockdown back home in Dublin. Now Mr Trump’s Irish golf resort is seeking help from Mr Varadkar’s government to cover wages for its employees through a scheme to subsidise the pay of almost 300,000 workers hit by the Covid-19 crash.”