What Now?! – June 24, 2020

“European Union countries rushing to revive their economies and reopen their borders after months of coronavirus restrictions are prepared to block Americans from entering because the United States has failed to control the scourge,” the New York Times reports.

“That prospect, which would lump American visitors in with Russians and Brazilians as unwelcome, is a stinging blow to American prestige in the world and a repudiation of President Trump’s handling of the virus in the United States, which has more than 2.3 million cases and upward of 120,000 deaths, more than any other country.”

President Trump contradicted his top aides telling CBS News he was serious on Saturday night when he claimed he had asked his administration to slow down coronavirus testing. Said Trump: “I don’t kid.” He also repeated — as he did on Twitter this morning — that testing is a double-edged sword.

“The Trump administration, eager to claim victory over the coronavirus, has been considering scaling back the national emergency declared earlier this year to control the pandemic,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“The prospect has stoked alarm among public health leaders, physicians, hospital officials and others who are trying to control the outbreak and fear that such a move would make it more difficult for state and local governments and health systems to keep the coronavirus in check.”

“Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of President Trump’s coronavirus task force, told the nation’s governors in a call Monday that it was vital that they ramp up testing to find asymptomatic individuals to prevent further community spread,” the Daily Beast reports.

“Her remarks stood in stark contrast to those by the president at his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma over the weekend—and the days since—in which he said he had asked his team to slow-walk testing initiatives so as not to inflate the country’s official case count.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci told House lawmakers that the nation is experiencing a “disturbing surge” of coronavirus infections as states reopen too quickly and without adequate plans for testing and tracing the contacts of those infected with the virus, the New York Times reports.

In a break with President Trump’s upbeat assessments, Dr. Fauci told lawmakers that while some states like New York, were “doing very well” in controlling spread of the virus, the surge in other states was “very troublesome to me.”

He added: “The next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states.”

Contrary to President Trump’s repeated claims that he inherited a Strategic National Stockpile with “empty” or “bare” cupboards, the federal government had more ventilators in stock than it ended up distributing amid the coronavirus pandemic, reports.

“I think everyone should be worried about how this is going to turn out in the end, because it’s a shock unlike anything we’ve ever seen.” — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett, quoted by the Washington Post, on the state of the economy.

Law professors and faculty from George Washington University Law School, Attorney General William Barr’s alma mater, said in a letter he has “failed to fulfill his oath of office to support and defend the Constitution of the United States,” CNN reports. I am a proud alumnus of The George Washington University today.

“Career prosecutor Aaron Zelinsky will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday that Justice Department leadership intervened in the sentencing of former Trump adviser Roger Stone for political purposes,” Axios reports.

From Zelinksy’s opening statement: “What I heard — repeatedly — was that Roger Stone was being treated differently from any other defendant because of his relationship to the president.”

Zelinsky will also say that a supervisor working on the case told him there were “political reasons” to shorten prosecutors’ initial sentencing guidelines and that the supervisor agreed that doing so “was unethical and wrong.”

Catherine Rampell: “Americans’ belief in American exceptionalism is declining — and that could be a good thing. National narcissism has rendered us complacent, even impotent, in the face of multiple crises.”

“On our biggest societal problems, the United States seems to have given up. Not because we can’t do better — but because many political leaders, particularly Republicans, apparently don’t think we need to. Their faith that America is already Living Its Best Life means there’s no need to learn from peer countries, or even gauge our relative performance.”

British prime minister Boris Johnson has all but ended his country’s lockdown after deciding coronavirus infection rates are now low enough to justify relaxing social distancing measures, the Times of London reports.

The British prime minister said people in England will no longer have to stay two meters apart—instead Johnson has introduced a new “one-meter plus” rule to help pubs take in more drinkers.

Said Johnson: “Our long national hibernation is coming to an end.” We will see.

Top Democratic senators told Mitch McConnell that the Republicans’ policing overhaul is “not salvageable” — the latest sign that Democrats will filibuster the GOP bill on Wednesday and that the Senate is headed for deadlock on the issue, Politico reports.

Washington Post: “The partisan standoff raises questions about whether Congress is capable of responding to the incidents of police brutality, the nationwide protests and the demands for change less than five months before the election.”

“In the last 14 days, Oregon has reported a 234.4% jump in infections, Oklahoma jumped by 202 percent, Florida’s number increased by 155%, and Arizona’s confirmed coronavirus cases climbed by 142%,” NBC News reports.

“Texas, Utah, Arkansas, Louisiana and more than a dozen other states — as well as Guam and the Virgin Islands — had increases in the numbers of reported cases in the last two weeks.”

Explained Johns Hopkins’s Erik Toner: “It’s basically the same reason for all these states: It was Memorial Day.”

“White House officials are putting a target on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, positioning the agency as a coronavirus scapegoat as cases surge in many states and the U.S. falls behind other nations that are taming the pandemic,” Politico reports.

President Trump accused his predecessor, Barack Obama, of treason, without offering any evidence or details to back up his claim, the Washington Post  reports.

The president has frequently accused others of “treason,” but Monday marked the first time that he has leveled that claim against the man who preceded him in the Oval Office.

Former national security adviser John Bolton elaborated on hypothetical scenarios that keep him up at night when he considers the implications if Trump wins re-election, Axios reports.

Said Bolton: “If Trump’s response to the pandemic has proven anything to anybody who’s contemplating acquiring a biological weapons capability, it’s that he’s not able to respond to it in a systematic fashion. Whatever the source of this pandemic, it’s a roadmap for the people who do control biological weapons, or aspire to biological weapons, what can happen.”

President Trump called his estranged former national security adviser John Bolton a “washed up Creepster” and “lowlife who should be in jail.”

“Another group of House Republicans is urging President Trump against drawing down the number of US troops in Germany, a request that comes one day after White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien penned an op-ed explaining the administration’s reasoning for the reduction of American forces in the country,” CNN reports.

“The latest group of Republican lawmakers — led by Rep. Michael McCaul, the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, an Air Force veteran — argue that reducing the number of US troops in Germany will negatively impact the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s ability to deter Russian aggression.”

President Trump claimed he instructed federal law enforcement to arrest anyone who targets a government-owned statue or monument and says those apprehended could face up to a decade in prison.

Said Trump: “I have authorized the Federal Government to arrest anyone who vandalizes or destroys any monument, statue or other such Federal property in the U.S. with up to 10 years in prison, per the Veteran’s Memorial Preservation Act, or such other laws that may be pertinent… This action is taken effective immediately, but may also be used retroactively for destruction or vandalism already caused. There will be no exceptions!”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told NBC News that he is “seriously considering” implementing a quarantine for out-state-visitors to New York.

Said Cuomo: “You have about half the states in this country you’re seeing the virus going up, New York we have the virus going down.”

He added: “I have people calling me all day long, they’re worried about where they are, they want to come to New York. And that’s great but we don’t want them bringing the virus here, so we’re seriously considering a quarantine just to make sure that people who come in from states with higher infections don’t inadvertently increase our infection rate.”

Steve Schmidt: “Donald Trump has been the worst president this country has ever had. And I don’t say that hyperbolically. He is. But he is a consequential president. And he has brought this country in three short years to a place of weakness that is simply unimaginable if you were pondering where we are today from the day where Barack Obama left office. And there were a lot of us on that day who were deeply skeptical and very worried about what a Trump presidency would be. But this is a moment of unparalleled national humiliation, of weakness.”

“When you listen to the President, these are the musings of an imbecile. An idiot. And I don’t use those words to name call. I use them because they are the precise words of the English language to describe his behavior. His comportment. His actions. We’ve never seen a level of incompetence, a level of ineptitude so staggering on a daily basis by anybody in the history of the country whose ever been charged with substantial responsibilities.”

“It’s just astonishing that this man is president of the United States. The man, the con man, from New York City. Many bankruptcies, failed businesses, a reality show, that branded him as something that he never was. A successful businessman. Well, he’s the President of the United States now, and the man who said he would make the country great again. And he’s brought death, suffering, and economic collapse on truly an epic scale. And let’s be clear. This isn’t happening in every country around the world. This place. Our place. Our home. Our country. The United States. We are the epicenter. We are the place where you’re the most likely to die from this disease. We’re the ones with the most shattered economy. And we are because of the fool that sits in the Oval Office behind the Resolute Desk.”

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

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