What Now?! – May 23, 2020

President Trump threatened to “override the governors” to allow churches to open “right now,” Axios reports.

Said Trump: “The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now. For this weekend. If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”

Of course, Trump doesn’t have the authority to do this, which might be why he left the news conference without taking questions.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was asked several timesby different reporters what authority the president has to “override the governors” to reopen churches and she avoided directly answering the question.

Finally, she admitted “that’s up to the governors.”

“Hospitals in Montgomery and Prattville have a total of one ICU bed remaining and are now being forced to send acute care patients to Birmingham for treatment,” the Montgomery Advertiser reports.

“Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said he called a news conference to reveal the sobering situation at the urging of overwhelmed area doctors, and with the Memorial Day weekend ahead.”

“It’s been more than six months since President Trump claimed to have started his annual physical at Walter Reed hospital but the White House is declining to explain why he has yet to complete the yearly doctor’s examination,” NBC News reports.

Trump made a surprise visit to the hospital last November that did not follow official protocol. It was only later that he claimed he was “starting” his annual physical.

“FBI Director Christopher Wray has ordered an internal review into possible misconduct in the investigation of former Trump administration national security adviser Michael Flynn,” the AP reports.

After the outgoing acting director of national intelligence declassified misleading “unmasking” requests to portray the Obama administration railroading Michael Flynn, House intelligence committee chairman Adam Schiff (D-CA) called for “any intelligence report or transcript” of Flynn’s calls with then-Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak, about which Flynn lied to the FBI, including intelligence reports that prompted the unmasking requests, the Daily Beast reports.

“Nevada’s unemployment rate skyrocketed to 28.2% in April, the worst-ever unemployment rate in state history and the highest mark in the country,” the Nevada Independent reports.

President Trump’s Memorial Day remarks at the White House, billed as honoring American veterans, quickly turned into a stream of insults about Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Trump again falsely claimed Pelosi was “dancing in the streets of Chinatown” as coronavirus started to spread across the country.

He added: “These are sick people.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Congress will very likely need to pass more stimulus legislation for the U.S. economy, as the nation struggles to recover from the coronavirus outbreak, Bloomberg reports.

Said Mnuchin: “I think there is a strong likelihood we will need another bill.”

Peggy Noonan: “All 50 states are to varying degree unlocking. How citizens do this will determine the size and severity of second and third waves. It’s almost all in our hands. A report this week from a scientist who helped discover SARS said that a lab experiment confirms what common sense always suggested: Wearing a mask can substantially reduce disease transmission and viral loads. If we all do that one small thing, chances are we’ll get through OK.”

“How could we not? Especially after we’ve just done something so big.”

“What we did—essentially shut down a great, complex, modern nation for two months out of concern that people would become sick—had never been tried before. It’s something new in history. We will look back on it, however it turns out, with a certain wonder.”

Jake Sherman: “Where has Wilbur Ross been? I’ve been watching a lot of cable TV since this whole thing started, and I cannot remember having seen him once. He was at Cabinet meeting Tuesday. But otherwise, I cannot think of a cabinet official that’s been quieter in this crisis than Wilbur Ross.”

After a more than two week hiatus from national TV interviews, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN he thinks the public will be “seeing more” of him and his public health colleagues moving forward and that he’s spoken with “the communications people.”

The Senate confirmed Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) as the director of national intelligence in a 49 to 44 party-line vote.

Washington Post: “The confirmation of Ratcliffe, a Texas congressman, caps an unusually protracted process that saw him withdraw his nomination last year in the face of bipartisan opposition only to have President Trump challenge members of his own party and nominate Ratcliffe again months later.”

Susan Glasser: “Of course Trump is trying to distract. The emerging politics of the pandemic are not good for him, nor are they likely to get better. They have recast the fall election as a referendum on Trump’s basic competence to lead the country through a once-in-a-century convergence of crises.”

“During the pre-pandemic impeachment era, Richard Nixon was the inescapable historical point of comparison for Trump’s corruption-ridden Presidency. Now it is Herbert Hoover. Running for reelection after the stock market crash of 1929 and three failed years of trying to stop the Great Depression, Hoover promised Americans that ‘Prosperity Is Just Around the Corner.’ Upbeat predictions amid bread lines didn’t cut it, and Hoover lost badly. The brutal political reality of running for another term while the country is experiencing mass unemployment is one that almost no President can overcome. In fact, the last time an American incumbent successfully won during a recession was in 1924.”

Then again, Hoover’s campaign slogan seems like a winner today compared with the clunker Trump has been trying out in recent days: ‘Transition to Greatness!’”

Andrew Sullivan: “It’s perfectly clear by now that the United States does not have a functioning president or administration. It also seems clear that this does not matter to a sizable chunk of the population. They just don’t care — even when it could lead them to lose their lives and their livelihoods. A year ago precisely, Trump’s approval rating was, in FiveThirtyEight’s poll of polls, 53.8% disapprove, 41.1% approve. This week, the spread was 53.1% disapprove and 43% approve. Almost identical. None of the events of the last year — impeachment, plague, economic collapse — have had anything but a trivial impact on public opinion.”

“Neither, it seems, does the plain evidence of Trump’s derangement… I know we’re used to it, but there is no rational or coherent explanation for any of this. There is no strategy, or political genius. There is just a delusional pathology in which he says whatever comes into his head at any moment, determined entirely by his mood, which is usually bad. His attention span is so tiny and his memory so occluded that he can say two contradictory things with equal conviction repeatedly, and have no idea there might be any inconsistency at all.”

Politico: “Georgia’s early move to start easing stay-at-home restrictions nearly a month ago has done little to stem the state’s flood of unemployment claims — illustrating how hard it is to bring jobs back while consumers are still afraid to go outside.”

“Weekly applications for jobless benefits have remained so elevated that Georgia now leads the country in terms of the proportion of its workforce applying for unemployment assistance. A staggering 40.3% of the state’s workers — two out of every five — has filed for unemployment insurance payments since the coronavirus pandemic led to widespread shutdowns in mid-March.”

“President Trump has decided to withdraw from another major arms control accord, and will inform Russia on Friday that the United States is pulling out of the Open Skies Treaty, negotiated three decades ago to allow nations to fly over each other’s territory with elaborate sensor equipment to assure they are not preparing for military action,” the New York Times reports.

“Mr. Trump’s decision will be viewed as more evidence that he also may be poised to exit the one major arms treaty remaining with Russia: New START, which limits the United States and Russia to 1,550 deployed nuclear missiles each. It expires weeks after the next presidential inauguration.”

“China’s Communist Party will impose a sweeping national security law in Hong Kong by fiat during the annual meeting of its top political body, officials said Thursday, criminalizing ‘foreign interference’ along with secessionist activities and subversion of state power,” the Washington Postreports.

“The move is the boldest yet from Beijing to undercut Hong Kong’s autonomy and bring the global financial hub under its full control.”

South China Morning Post: “A Beijing source said the new law would ban all seditious activities aimed at toppling the central government and external interference in Hong Kong’s affairs. It would also target terrorist acts in the city.”

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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