Trump enters the stage

Discussion of the recent unfolding of history.

Re: Trump enters the stage. - Unraveling alliances

Postby Meno_ » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:31 am

POLITICO

Trump camp finds no appeasement at Munich

The security gathering shows the U.S. and Europe have very different views on health of transatlantic relations.





02/16/2020 05:59 PM EST


MUNICH — For decades, the Munich Security Conference served as a powerful symbol of the strength of the Western alliance. The 2020 installment offered a testament to its accelerating decline.

If the three-day event, which drew to a close on Sunday, illustrated anything, it was that the divergence between the U.S. and the dominant European powers — Germany and France (the U.K. was MIA) — is greater than ever. Those who thought last year’s tense gathering represented a low point in the relationship left Munich this year chastened.



The two sides aren’t just far apart on the big questions facing the West (threats from Russia, Iran, China), they’re in parallel universes.

Most alarming: The biggest disconnect concerns the U.S. commitment to Europe, the very essence of the transatlantic alliance itself.

In speech after speech, whether in public or private, European leaders lamented what they perceive as the U.S.’s disengagement from both the region and the world at large.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier opened the conference — one of the largest annual gatherings of political leaders, military chiefs and top diplomats from around the world — by accusing the Trump administration of “rejecting the idea of the international community.”



“Every country should fend for itself and put its own interests over all others … ‘Great again’ — even at the expense of neighbors and partners,” Steinmeier said, offering a précis of how he views U.S. foreign policy.

French President Emmanuel Macron, speaking at the forum for the first time, echoed Steinmeier the next day, noting that “what Europe wants is not quite the same as the U.S.”

U.S. officials were dumbfounded.

“Let’s be straight up: The U.S. is out there fighting for sovereignty and our friends."

- Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

“I’m here to tell you the facts,” an agitated U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the assembly on Saturday after quoting Steinmeier and similar comments other Western leaders have made in the recent past. “Those statements do not reflect reality.”



Pompeo, who served as an Army soldier protecting West Germany in the 1980s, offered a detailed rebuttal, noting the U.S. was devoting more resources to defend Europe, both in terms of personnel and money, than at any time since the end of the Cold War. He reminded the audience that he had been to Germany three times in the past four months alone.

“Is this an America that rejects responsibility?” he asked. “Let’s be straight up: The U.S. is out there fighting for sovereignty and our friends.”

Aside from representatives from Poland and the Baltics, who consider the U.S. the guarantor of their sovereignty, few of the Europeans in the room seemed open to being convinced. After the speech, a consensus formed among the Germans and French that Pompeo’s audience wasn’t the Europeans in the room, but Donald Trump. Pompeo’s insistence that the “West is winning, we’re collectively winning,” was registered by many attendees as “the U.S. is winning.”

The reaction to Pompeo reflects the toll Trump’s aggressive, often abusive, rhetoric toward European allies has taken on the relationship. Even when confronted with facts that disprove the narrative of American disengagement, European officials simply don’t believe it. In private, U.S. representatives tell their European counterparts to “ignore the tweets,” but that’s proved to be a tall order.

Confronted with that disconnect between how they see the U.S. role and how the Europeans see it, many in the American delegation, which included one of the largest Congressional contingents in the conference’s history, were nonplussed.

Republicans were particularly offended by the title the organizers gave the event — “Westlessness” — which they viewed as a taunt intended to reinforce the suggestion that the U.S. has abandoned its traditional role.

“I was a little taken aback by the tone,” said Mike Turner, a Republican congressman from Ohio and a member of the House Armed Services Committee. Turner, who has been attending the conference for a decade, said he was surprised the U.S. should have to defend its commitment to Europe in Munich even as it was spending billions more to do just that.

Europeans “should focus on what we’re doing here,” he said.



Turner said he was particularly frustrated by Germany, which despite repeated prodding by Trump and other American officials remains far from fulfilling its pledge to increase defense spending to 2 percent of its GDP. Berlin has said it won’t meet that target until 2031.

“John F. Kennedy made a commitment to go to the moon in half the time,” Turner quipped.

Even avowed American critics of Trump in Munich were dismayed by some of the signals coming from Europe’s leaders on other fronts.

Nicholas Burns, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO and longtime diplomat who is now a professor at the Harvard Kennedy School, said he was concerned by Macron’s overtures toward Russia. Onstage, the French president repeated his call for Europe to pursue a rapprochement with Moscow.

Burns lamented a lack of strong condemnation of Russian bombing of the Syrian province of Idlib. Macron mentioned that crisis only briefly, saying Paris disagrees with Moscow on “what is happening in Idlib, which is unacceptable.”

Burns described the bombings as “barbaric” and noted that “they have produced 800,000 refugees, the greatest number in the Syrian civil war.”

“There’s almost a silence here in Europe about that and that’s tragic,” he said.



Global Translations







In fact, neither Macron, who received an enthusiastic response from the Munich audience, nor Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who also spoke, faced any tough questions on Syria.



The other major issue that divided Munich was China. Neither Pompeo nor U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who also spoke, left any doubt that Washington considers China to be a nefarious force in the world. That’s a view not shared by many countries in the EU.

The recent focus has been on whether the West should risk installing next-generation telecommunications hardware from China’s Huawei, a step the U.S. argues would expose countries to espionage and sabotage. But the underlying question of what posture the Western alliance should take toward China is a more fundamental one with far-reaching consequences. While there’s a bipartisan consensus in Washington that China represents a significant long-term threat — a view articulated in Munich by both Esper and Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives — Europe is deeply worried about the consequences that spurning Beijing would have on trade.

“You need to figure out when you need to cooperate with [China] and when do you need to compete,” said Burns. “The Europeans have not succeeded in any way shape or form in forming such a strategy.”



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Re: Trump enters the stage - Bloomberg best bet Scaramucci

Postby Meno_ » Mon Feb 17, 2020 5:14 pm

POLITICS

Mike Bloomberg could ‘handily beat’ Trump in 2020, says Scaramucci

PUBLISHED TUE, FEB 11 20202:25 AM ESTUPDATED TUE, FEB 11 20202:50 AM EST


U.S. President Donald Trump is going to lose the 2020 election and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is the “best of the available” candidates to beat Trump, according to Anthony Scaramucci.

“The consensus of the elites is that President Trump is going to get re-elected and so that’s why I actually think he’s going to lose,” he said. “Elites are typically wrong about this stuff.”



Bloomberg would be the ‘best of the available candidates’ to beat Trump

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci predicted that U.S. President Donald Trump is going to lose the 2020 election and former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg is the “best of the available” candidates to win.

Scaramucci publicly fell out with his former boss in 2019. He has since been a frequent, vocal critic of the president.

“The consensus of the elites is that President Trump is going to get re-elected, and so that’s why I actually think he’s going to lose,” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble on Tuesday at the Milken Institute Middle East and Africa Summit.

“Elites are typically wrong about this stuff,” Scaramucci added. “They said there was no chance he can get the nomination, there was no chance that Hillary Clinton could be beaten (in 2016).”

He also argued that Trump’s chances have been hurt because he has not expanded his base since he was first elected.

“Most great presidents, in their first term, figure out a way to expand their base,” he said. “He’s hammered down consistently on the same level of people and, despite the economic data, he’s missile-locked at about 42%.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the interview, which took place in early morning hours Washington time.

Scaramucci, who is founder and managing partner at investing firm SkyBridge, said: “We need to, as investors, prepare for his electoral defeat in November.”

Likes Bloomberg ‘the best’

Based on the data analytics and money that’s been deployed, Scaramucci said he gives Bloomberg a 60% to 65% chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

Bloomberg is self-funding his presidential campaign and has spent more than $250 million on TV and radio ads and $45 million to $50 million on digital.

“He has the money, he has the personal dexterity, he knows how to handle the Trump onslaught of all the bullying nonsense,” Scaramucci said. “I like him the best. He’s the most experienced, he’s a clear-eyed, technical leader.”

“Mike Bloomberg would be the best of the available candidates to beat President Trump.”



Bloomberg unveils plans for Social Security and retirement savings


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Re: Trump enters the stage - Barr must go!

Postby Meno_ » Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:14 pm

IDEAS

Bill Barr Must Resign

The attorney general is working to destroy the integrity and independence of the Justice Department, in order to make Donald Trump a president who can operate above the law.

DONALD AYER6:00 AM ET

ERIN SCHAFF / THE NEW YORK TIMES​ / REDUX

When donald trump chose Bill Barr to serve as attorney general in December 2018, even some moderates and liberals greeted the choice with optimism. One exuberant Democrat described him as “an excellent choice,” who could be counted on to “stand up for the department’s institutional prerogatives and … push back on any improper attempt to inject politics into its work.”

At the end of his first year of service, Barr’s conduct has shown that such expectations were misplaced. Beginning in March with his public whitewashing of Robert Mueller’s report, which included powerful evidence of repeated obstruction of justice by the president, Barr has appeared to function much more as the president’s personal advocate than as an attorney general serving the people and government of the United States. Among the most widely reported and disturbing events have been Barr’s statements that a judicially authorized FBI investigation amounted to “spying” on the Trump campaign, and his public rejection in December of the inspector general’s considered conclusion that the Russia probe was properly initiated and overseen in an unbiased manner. Also quite unsettling was Trump’s explicit mention of Barr and Rudy Giuliani in the same breath in his July 25 phone call with Volodymyr Zelensky, as individuals the Ukrainian president should speak with regarding the phony investigation that Ukraine was expected to publicly announce.

Still more troubling has been Barr’s intrusion, apparently for political reasons, into the area of Justice Department action that most demands scrupulous integrity and strict separation from politics and other bias—invocation of the criminal sanction. When Barr initiated a second, largely redundant investigation of the FBI Russia probe in May, denominated it criminal, and made clear that he is personally involved in carrying it out, many eyebrows were raised.

MORE BY DONALD AYER







Why Bill Barr Is So Dangerous

DONALD AYER

But worst of all have been the events of the past week. The evenhanded conduct of the prosecutions of Roger Stone and Michael Flynn by experienced Department of Justice attorneys have been disrupted at the 11th hour by the attorney general’s efforts to soften the consequences for the president’s associates. More generally, it appears that Barr has recently identified a group of lawyers whom he trusts and put them in place to oversee and second-guess the work of the department’s career attorneys on a broader range of cases. And there is no comfort from any of this in Barr’s recent protests about the president’s tweeting. He in no way suggested he was changing course, only that it is hard to appear independent when the president is publicly calling for him to follow the path he is on.

Bad as they are, these examples are more symptoms than causes of Barr’s unfitness for office. The fundamental problem is that he does not believe in the central tenet of our system of government—that no person is above the law. In chilling terms, Barr’s own words make clear his long-held belief in the need for a virtually autocratic executive who is not constrained by countervailing powers within our government under the constitutional system of checks and balances.  

Indeed, given our national faith and trust in a rule of law no one can subvert, it is not too strong to say that Bill Barr is un-American. And now, from his perch as attorney general, he is in the midst of a root-and-branch attack on the core principles that have guided our justice system, and especially our Department of Justice, since the 1970s.

The system that Barr is working to tear down was built up in the aftermath of the Watergate scandals, during which the Justice Department’s leadership was compromised by its support of a president who sought to use the machinery of government to advance his personal interests and prospects for reelection. As Richard Nixon later told David Frost, he believed that “when the President does it, that means it is not illegal.” But the system held, and after two attorneys general and numerous other government officials were convicted for their conduct in these scandals, the Ford administration turned to the task of restoring public trust in government.

President Gerald Ford chose as his attorney general Edward Levi, a distinguished legal scholar and professor who was then president of the University of Chicago. “Levi took restoring faith in the legitimacy of government and adherence to the rule of law as his very highest priority,” his special assistant at the time, Jack Fuller, later recalled. Levi said at his swearing-in that the central goal of the Justice Department must be to sustain “a government of laws and not men,” which he knew would take “dedicated men and women to accomplish this through their zeal and determination, and also their concern for fairness and impartiality.”

Given the Department of Justice’s extraordinary powers to affect lives, and often to do so long before any case goes to court, Levi characterized its proper actions as having a “judicial nature” that demanded, in many instances, a substantial insulation from political influence. And he saw the pursuit of fair, accurate, and equal justice as a shared endeavor, with decisions best made through a sort of “government by discussion,” so that the soundness and integrity of any actions could be tested by the review and consideration of others.

In two short years, Levi enshrined these ideas at the Department of Justice, turning them into articles of faith for its employees. He created new mechanisms of accountability to ensure their endurance, such as the Office of Professional Responsibility, an ethics watchdog for the department. His reforms substantially restored public trust in our justice system. For the past 45 years, the vision he articulated has also inspired thousands of Justice Department lawyers. This was the department that I served, as an assistant U.S. attorney, United States attorney, principal deputy solicitor general, and deputy attorney general in the Carter, Reagan, and first Bush administrations.

Barr’s frontal attack on this system begins with an assault on Levi’s central premise, that ours must be a “government of laws and not men,” in which no person is above the law. Far from emphasizing thorough, transparent, and evenhanded processes—like the investigations presided over by former Special Counsel Mueller and Inspector General of the Department of Justice Michael Horowitz—Barr has done whatever he can to suppress findings adverse to the president, and to endorse conclusions more favorable to Donald Trump.

Even more emphatically, though, Barr has brought with him to the department an extraordinary belief in the need for an all-powerful president that is flatly irreconcilable with Levi’s vision, which restored the Department of Justice to honor and integrity in the mid-’70s. Perhaps most disturbingly, Barr contends that it is virtually impossible for a corrupt president to be held to account by the Department of Justice, or by any independent counsel that it or Congress might appoint.

His views on that point were set forth with breathtaking clarity in June 2018, in an unsolicited 19-page memorandum that Barr sent to then–Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, arguing that Mueller’s investigation of the president for obstruction of justice was fundamentally misconceived. The president “alone is the Executive Branch,” he wrote, and “the Constitution vests [in him personally] all Federal law enforcement power, and hence prosecutorial discretion.” (The emphasis is his.) Thus, as a matter of constitutional law, Barr concluded that Congress is without any power to bar the president from “[exercising] supervisory authority over cases in which his own conduct might be at issue.” It followed, according to Barr, that the whole idea of a prosecutor within the executive branch operating beyond the president’s direct oversight—even a special counsel like Mueller—was a constitutional nonstarter. So the president’s recent statement that he has a “legal right” to interfere in criminal investigations just repeats what Bill Barr has told him.

Barr would make real Nixon’s vision that if the president does it, it may not be challenged by the Department of Justice, or from any other agency of the executive branch. But Barr’s efforts to place the president above the law go far beyond foreclosing interference through checks that might arise within his own branch. His department has been very active, and he has personally been quite vocal, in working to cripple the traditional checks and balances on presidential prerogatives that arise from the distinct, co-equal roles of Congress and the courts.

Take, for example, Trump’s categorical stonewalling of Congress’s power to exercise its traditional oversight role by subpoenaing documents and calling witnesses from the executive branch. During his prior term of government service, in the 1980s and ’90s, Barr opposed what he regarded as congressional interference with executive prerogatives. He wrote several opinions on the subject when he served as head of the Office of Legal Counsel. So it should come as no surprise that, as attorney general, he has returned to this familiar theme.

Last May, Barr’s Office of Legal Counsel issued an opinion advising that former White House Counsel Don McGahn was not subject to Congress’s subpoena power, asserting that senior officials have “absolute immunity from congressional compulsion to testify about matters that occur during the course of discharging official duties.” Trump’s government has held to that position, which has provided the analytical core for the sweeping assertion of a right to not even appear at the House’s impeachment hearings, thus exceeding the long-recognized right to raise executive privilege or other specific objections to particular questions when grounds for doing so arguably exist.

In June, OLC issued another opinion, this one advising that the Treasury Department should not provide the House Ways and Means Committee with Trump’s tax returns, despite a statute that requires Treasury to do so. For the critical reasoning, it quoted from one of Barr’s own OLC opinions, which said that Congress must articulate why it needs the particular materials before the executive branch will even consider what, if any, information it will provide.

And in September, OLC said that the whistle-blower report—the one that first brought to light the Ukraine telephone call that became the basis for an article of impeachment—was not a matter of “urgent concern” and thus need not, under the relevant statute, be transmitted to congressional intelligence committees. That opinion provoked a letter from 68 inspectors general throughout the federal government, protesting that such a conclusion was indefensible and would grossly undermine the effectiveness of whistle-blower protections as a check on executive power.

The Justice Department has also been at the forefront of the president’s defiance of Congress’s traditional power of the purse as a check on executive-branch adventurism. On February 15, 2019, the day after Barr was confirmed, the president issued an emergency declaration to divert funds from other appropriations for use in building a border wall. Congress had several times considered and refused to appropriate the requested funds for this purpose, and the president had himself conceded that there was no actual emergency. But Barr’s DOJ has vigorously litigated the cases challenging this action, and thus has worked to undermine Congress’s express constitutional power to control the appropriation of funds.

All of this conduct—including Barr’s personal interventions to influence or negate independent investigations or the pursuit of criminal cases, and his use of the department’s resources to frustrate the checks and balances provided by other branches—is incompatible with the rule of law as we know it, and especially as it has functioned since Levi’s Watergate reforms. Far from recognizing the sensitive “judicial nature” of the department’s work and the need to avoid even the appearance of improper influence and to show that no person is above the law, under Barr, the Department of Justice is actively engaged on many fronts in helping realize Trump’s stated goal of being able to do whatever he wants, free from interference from any branch of government.

Barr’s agenda was confirmed by his November speech to the Federalist Society on“the Constitution’s approach to executive power.” He argues that “over the past several decades, we have seen a steady encroachment on presidential authority by other branches of government,” and that those “encroachments” must end. He purports to justify his position by offering a selective version of American history, discussing the Founders’ intentions with regard to presidential power, characterizing the role the presidency has supposedly played over time, and arguing that, in recent decades, the Founders’ vision has been undermined by actions of Congress and the courts.

Perhaps even more disturbing than Barr’s manifesto for radical change—for the creation of a president with nearly autocratic powers—is the revisionist account of American history on which it is based, and his dogmatic insistence on it in the face of ample evidence to the contrary. Whereas Levi recognized a commitment to intellectual integrity and accountability as the keys to building public trust and defending the rule of law, Barr simply presents as gospel a conveniently distorted vision of the past.

At the beginning of his speech, Barr derides “the grammar-school civics-class version” of our history—the one that generations of students have internalized. It is that the Founders, sensitive from experience to the danger that one part of government might develop tyrannical powers, adopted a complex structure of checks and balances. In that government, power was shared among the three branches through sometimes-countervailing delegations of authority, which made each branch dependent on the others. The numerous checks that the Constitution created to limit the president’s authority—the impeachment power, the House appropriation power, Congress’s power to override vetoes, the need for a congressional declaration of war, and the Senate power to advise and consent, for example—show that presidential tyranny was prominent among their concerns.

According to Barr, the Founders actually were not much concerned about an out-of-control president, as this “civics-class version” suggests. He reasons that history shows a rise in the relative power of Parliament against the King during the mid-18th century, and that by the time of our own Revolution, the evil perceived by the patriots was more “an overweening Parliament” than “monarchical tyranny.” Further, chaotic governance during the Revolution and under the Articles of Confederation pointed out the need for a single executive officer, and after some debate, such a president was included in the Constitution. Of course, none of this negates the specific provisions that the Founders adopted to curb presidential overreach, or suggests that it was not a matter of great concern. Nor does it remotely suggest that the later development of institutions such as judicial review and congressional oversight was out of step with what the Founders had in mind.

Barr’s next piece of history—his account of how things have allegedly proceeded during the intervening 230 years—is the real stunner. He would have us believe that this vision of an all-powerful president that he wants to restore has in fact been a reality for most of our history. Indeed, he says, “more than any other branch, the [American presidency] has fulfilled the expectations of the Framers.” At least, that is, until recently.

But what about the widespread consensus of historians that, throughout the 1800s and until the 1930s, Congress was the dominant branch of government, and that over the course of the 20th century, the balance of power shifted dramatically toward the president? With the exception of the founding generation and a few others, including Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and Woodrow Wilson, most of our presidents prior to Franklin D. Roosevelt were extremely weak. And without doubt, the greatest expansion of executive power came not early in our history, but during the 20th- and 21st-century era of the imperial president.

According to Barr, all of this is mistaken. Strong and omnicompetent presidents have led our government from the beginning, “protecting the liberties of the American people.” Lately, though:

the deck has become stacked against the executive. Since the mid-’60s, there has been a steady grinding down of the executive branch’s authority, that accelerated after Watergate. More and more, the president’s ability to act in areas in which he has discretion has become smothered by the encroachments of the other branches.

What does he say happened, and what is the nature of these encroachments? He first targets “two aspects of contemporary thought that tend to operate to disadvantage the executive.” The first is the idea that “the greatest danger of government becoming oppressive arises from the prospect of executive excess.” No doubt Levi’s Watergate reforms had something to do with this, and Barr seems quite unhappy with them and their consequences.

The second is the “notion that the Constitution does not sharply allocate powers among the three branches, but rather the branches, especially the political branches, ‘share’ powers.” Barr seems to be obsessed with the notion of shared powers, and is quite keen on eradicating the whole idea: “Whenever I see a court opinion that uses the word share, I want to run in the other direction.”

The last half of Barr’s speech purports to address the ways that, “in recent years, both the legislative and judicial branches have been responsible for encroaching on the presidency’s constitutional authority.”

First, he says, Trump’s congressional opponents inaugurated “the resistance” and used “every tool and maneuver available to sabotage the functioning of his administration.” Then he alleges that the Senate has engaged in “unprecedented abuse of the advise-and-consent process to draw out the approval process for nominees.” Never mind that Republicans were at all times in the majority and have had unprecedented success in confirming their judicial nominees.

Finally, he claims that Congress has engaged in “constant harassment” by trying to “drown the executive branch with ‘oversight demands’ for testimony and documents.” He does not mention the administration’s repeated assertion of a categorical, prophylactic executive privilege against even having to appear, respond, or assert any specific privilege based on the facts. Nor does he note that this outrageous denial of Congress’s established power has been largely successful, or that it has even been raised in the impeachment context, where Congress’s constitutional power to inquire is at its apex.

But perhaps the most outrageous and alarming ideas that Barr advances come in his attacks on the judiciary, which occupy fully a third of his speech. In his mind, it seems, the courts are the principal culprit in constraining the extraordinarily broad powers that the president is constitutionally entitled to exercise. His discussion ignores a pillar of our legal system since almost the very beginning—Chief Justice John Marshall’s magisterial pronouncement in the early days of our republic that “it is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is.”

Barr complains that the judiciary “has appointed itself the ultimate arbiter of separation-of-powers disputes between Congress and the executive,” saying that the Framers did not envision that it would play such a role. Barr yearns for a day when the president can bully everyone else in government, and leave them no ability to seek relief in court.

Barr complains specifically that the role of courts to determine the law has only recently invaded areas of decision making that the Founders intended to leave to the president, and has thus impeded the president’s exercise of discretion in ways that he says would never have happened a few decades ago. President Harry Truman, who 70 years ago was barred by the Supreme Court from seizing steel plants by executive order in the name of national defense, might be surprised to hear that.

And Barr is quite clear about what he wants the courts to keep their noses out of. They have no proper role in “constitutional disputes between the other two branches,” because “the political branches can work out their constitutional differences without resort[ing] to the courts.” More generally, he claims that courts have no business second-guessing decisions of the executive in areas that “cannot be reduced to tidy evidentiary standards and specific quantums of proof,” or that involve an exercise of “prudential judgment.” Nor should they be permitted to inquire into the “motivation behind government action.” Three cheers for a toothless rule of law that lets the president do anything he desires for any reason.

After citing several specific instances in which judicial scrutiny of Trump’s actions allegedly went off the rails, Barr closes with a lengthy discussion of what he apparently views as the worst such usurpation to date—the Supreme Court’s 2008 Boumediene decision. In that case, a majority that included three Republican appointees ruled that the traditional and well-recognized habeas corpus jurisdiction of the federal courts applied not only on American soil, but also in the anomalous precincts of the Guantánamo Bay enclave, where the United States exercises de facto sovereignty. For that reason, the Court said, the political branches could not categorically suspend the constitutional writ of habeas corpus there. But for Barr, “the idea that the judiciary acts as a neutral check on the political branches to protect foreign enemies from our government is insane.”

Barr’s Federalist Society speech suggests that he is ready to say nearly anything in pursuit of his lifelong goal of a presidency with unchecked powers. As Napoleon is reputed to have said, the man who will say anything will do anything. That Barr has also repeatedly used his authority as attorney general to tailor the position of the United States, in court and in legal opinions, to empower such an unworthy incumbent as Donald Trump to do whatever he wants suggests that this is correct.

The benefit of the doubt that many were ready to extend to Barr a year ago—as among the best of a bad lot of nominees who had previously served in high office without disgrace—has now run out. He has told us in great detail who he is, what he believes, and where he would like to take us. For whatever twisted reasons, he believes that the president should be above the law, and he has as his foil in pursuit of that goal a president who, uniquely in our history, actually aspires to that status. And Barr has acted repeatedly on those beliefs in ways that are more damaging at every turn. Presently he is moving forward with active misuse of the criminal sanction, as one more tool of the president’s personal interests.

Bill Barr’s America is not a place that anyone, including Trump voters, should want to go. It is a banana republic where all are subject to the whims of a dictatorial president and his henchmen. To prevent that, we need a public uprising demanding that Bill Barr resign immediately, or failing that, be impeached.


Copyright © 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved



{ But wouldn't such move play into the contradictory mixed hand of the president?}
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Re: Trump enters the stage - commuting criminals

Postby Meno_ » Wed Feb 19, 2020 5:03 am

Daily Comment

The Trouble with Donald Trump’s Pardons



February 18, 2020



The former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, whose fourteen-year prison sentence the President commuted on Tuesday, was a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice.”



Authoritarianism is usually associated with a punitive spirit—a leader who prosecutes and incarcerates his enemies. But there is another side to this leadership style. Authoritarians also dispense largesse, but they do it by their own whims, rather than pursuant to any system or legal rule. The point of authoritarianism is to concentrate power in the ruler, so the world knows that all actions, good and bad, harsh and generous, come from a single source. That’s the real lesson—a story of creeping authoritarianism—of today’s commutations and pardons by President Trump.

Trump commuted the sentence of Rod Blagojevich, the former governor of Illinois, who was eight years into a sentence of fourteen years, for various forms of corruption in office. The President pardoned several other white-collar criminals: Michael Milken, the junk-bond king, who pleaded guilty, in 1990, to securities violations; Bernard Kerik, the former New York City police commissioner, who, in 2009, pleaded guilty to charges of tax fraud and lying to the government; and Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr., a former owner of the San Francisco 49ers, who, in 1998, pleaded guilty to concealing an extortion attempt.(Milken and Kerik served time in prison; DeBartolo was fined a million dollars and suspended for a year by the N.F.L.)

The common link among this group is that all have some personal connection to the President. Blagojevich was a contestant on “Celebrity Apprentice,” and he was prosecuted by Patrick Fitzgerald, a close friend of and lawyer for James Comey, the former F.B.I. director who is a Trump enemy. Explaining his action today, Trump said of the case against Blagojevich, “It was a prosecution by the same people—Comey, Fitzpatrick—the same group.” Milken’s annual financial conferences are a favorite meeting place for, among others, Trump’s moneyed friends. (Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner spoke at last year’s gathering.) Milken is also an active philanthropist, as Trump observed: “We have Mike Milken, who’s gone around and done an incredible job for the world, with all of his research on cancer, and he’s done this and he suffered greatly. He paid a big price, paid a very tough price.” Trump’s explanation for the Kerik pardon is probably the most revealing. The President said that Kerik is “a man who had many recommendations from a lot of good people. You know, oftentimes—pretty much all the time—I really rely on the recommendations of people that know them.” Kerik was appointed police commissioner by Rudolph Giuliani, who was then the mayor of New York and is now Trump’s personal lawyer. It’s safe to assume that Giuliani played a role in Trump’s decision to pardon him. And DeBartolo’s cause was championed by a large group of former professional football players, whose favor Trump has often sought.

In short, then, the pardons were entirely personal in origin, and so the granting of them was exclusively an exercise of Trump’s own power. That was their point. A benevolent leader dispensed favors. The world will not change much because of these actions; of the four, only Blagojevich was still incarcerated. Some of the others may receive a few minor benefits, such as a restored right to purchase guns legally. The only cost is the further degradation of the government, moving our system closer to a cult of personality. In this era of mass incarceration, many people deserve pardons and commutations, but this is not the way to go about it. All Trump has done is to prove that he can reward his friends and his friends’ friends. The chilling corollary is that he knows he can punish his enemies, too.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Roger Stone fiasco

Postby Meno_ » Thu Feb 20, 2020 7:57 pm

POLITICS

Roger Stone sentenced to over 3 years in prison as judge slams him for 'covering up for' Trump



President Donald Trump's friend Roger Stone was sentenced to more than three years in prison for crimes related to lying to Congress and tampering with a witness.

Trump has criticized the case against Stone, who lied to a House committee about his contacts with Trump's campaign related to WikiLeaks.

Stone's sentence by Judge Amy Berman Jackson will be suspended until she rules on his motion seeking a new trial based on alleged juror misconduct.

Attorney General William Barr has been criticized for demanding a new sentencing recommendation for Stone that was sharply less than what trial prosecutors first requested.



Roger Stone, former adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, center, and his wife Nydia Stone arrive at federal court in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020.



A federal judge sentenced President Donald Trump's friend, the longtime Republican operative Roger Stone, to more than 3 years in prison on Thursday for lying to Congress and tampering with a witness in an effort to protect Trump.

"He was not prosecuted, as some have complained, for standing up for the president, he was prosecuted for covering up for the president," said Judge Amy Berman Jackson about Stone, who showed no visible emotion when he was sentenced in U.S District Court in Washington, D.C.

"The truth still exists, the truth still matters. Roger Stone's insistence that it doesn't ... are a threat to our most fundamental institutions," Jackson said in a blistering denunciation of Stone, who he lied about his efforts to obtain damaging emails related to Hillary Clinton's 2016 Democratic presidential campaign that were stolen by Russian agents.

The judge repeatedly mentioned the "dismay and disgust" that his crimes caused, as she ordered him to serve 40 months in prison, pay a $20,000 fine, spend two years of supervised release and perform 250 hours of community service.

But Stone, 67, will not have to serve that sentence just yet — and possibly not ever.

The judge suspended imposition of all of the punishments pending her ruling on a request by Stone for a new trial on the grounds of alleged misconduct by a juror for his trial last fall. 

If Jackson approves that request — which was spurred by revelations that the jury forewoman had posted messages critical of Trump on Twitter — the sentence that the judge announced Thursday will be void.

Stone, whose lawyers requested a sentence of probation, also could be granted a pardon by Trump.

The president has criticized the case against his former advisor, and tweeted about it, yet again, during the sentencing hearing.

If Stone is pardoned, his conviction would be voided, and he would not face any criminal sentence.

Thursday's hearing capped more than a week of controversy over Stone's case, and accusations that Attorney General William Barr and Trump improperly interfered in the prosecution due to political considerations and because of Trump's long relationship with Stone. 

Barr forced the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, whose office handled the case, to recommend a more lenient prison term than the seven-to-nine years that trial prosecutors in the case originally proposed early last week

The four trial prosecutors quit the case in protest as the U.S. Attorney filed a new  sentencing memo a day after their own recommendation was filed.

That new memo called for "far less" time in prison, but did not specify exactly how long he should be incarcerated.

The 40-month prison term sentence Jackson announced was markedly less than not only the original suggestion by prosecutors, but also less than the minimum term of nearly six years suggested by federal sentencing guidelines as calculated during Thursday's hearing.

"I'm doing OK," Stone told a reporter as he left the courtroom dressed in a black pinstripe suit, blue shirt and blue tie.

Protestors heckled Stone with chants of "lock him up!" as he entered a car outside the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse and was driven away.

Stone did not respond when CNBC repeatedly asked him if he believes Trump will pardon him.

Stone did not make a statement on his own behalf at the sentencing, a decision that could reflect his plans to appeal his conviction, and a wish to avoid harming his defense at a second trial.

Jackson at the hearing dismissed arguments by Trump and other defenders of Stone that the the prosecution against him was politically motivated.

The judge also called Trump's tweets about Stone "inappropriate," but also said she would not hold them against Stone.

She said that Stone, who reveled in cultivating a "dirty trickster" image, "characteristically injected himself" in the issue of a hack of Democratic emails by Russian agents by claiming he had access to Julian Assange, co-founder of the document disclosure group WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks ended up releasing those emails during the 2016 presidential election.

Stone then lied to Congress a year later about his efforts to get access to those emails, the judge noted.

Jackson said that Stone lied  because he knew that public disclosures that he was in touch with WikiLeaks would "reflect badly" on Trump.

"The problem is nothing about this case was a joke. It wasn't funny. It wasn't a stunt and it wasn't a prank," Jackson said.

Jackson early in the hearing ruled against most arguments by Stone's attorneys related to the calculation of federal sentencing guidelines, which provide judges with possible framework on which to base their punishment of a defendant.

Jackson said Stone should be penalized in that calculation for threatening violence against a witness in the case and that witness's dog, and for obstructing a House committee's work in investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

John Crabbe, the new prosecutor in the case, apologized to Jackson for what he called "confusion" over the sentencing recommendation.

Crabbe also said that the first recommendation "was done in good faith," and also said that "this prosecution is righteous."

But Crabbe also told the judge that he was not free to discuss who wrote the second sentencing memo that had recommended a less steep term in prison for Stone. Crabbe had signed that memo.

The new prosecutor also did not object to Jackson including a set of "enhancements" to Stone's sentencing guidelines which called for a prison term as high as 87 months.

Stone was convicted at trial in November of charges related to false statements he gave a House committee in 2017.

The statements were related to his contacts with Trump's campaign during the 2016 presidential election, as Stone sought to get information about emails stolen by Russian agents from Clinton's campaign manager and the Democratic National Committee.

Those emails, which were seen as embarrassing to the Democratic nominee Clinton, were made public by WikiLeaks.

Stone also was convicted of witness tampering for threatening an associate, the comedian Randy Credico, in an effort to get him to corroborate his lies to Congress. Stone had falsely claimed that Credico was his conduit to WikiLeaks.

Prosecutors said at Stone's trial that he kept Trump's camp aware of what he had learned about WikiLeaks' plans for releasing the emails. But Stone had told the House committee he had no such conversations with the Trump campaign about WikiLeaks.

The case was lodged in early 2019 by then special counsel Robert Mueller's office.

Mueller previously obtained convictions of Stone's former business partner, Paul Manafort, who headed Trump's 2016 campaign for several months.

Manafort, who is serving a 7-1/2-year prison sentence, was convicted of financial crimes related to his work for a pro-Russia political party in Ukraine. That work occurred before his tenure on the Trump campaign.

Another former business partner of Manafort's, ex-Trump campaign official Rick Gates, testified at Stone's trial that Trump talked to Stone about WikiLeaks during the 2016 campaign, and that Gates himself had spoken with Stone about information expected to be released by WikiLeaks.

A year earlier, in November 2018, Trump in written answers to Mueller, said, "I do not recall discussing WikiLeaks with" Stone, "nor do I recall Mr. Stone having discussed WikiLeaks with my campaign."

Gates was sentenced by Jackson in December to 45 days in jail for conspiracy and for making a false statement. Those crimes related to his work in Ukraine with Manafort.

Stone's former associate Credico, in a letter to Jackson last month, said that sending Stone to prison would be "cruelty."

Credico urged the judge to give Stone a sentence of probation for the five counts of false statements, and one count each of obstruction of proceedings and witness tampering.

More than 2,000 former Justice Department employees have publicly called on Barr to resign for his reversal of the career prosecutors' sentencing recommendation in the case.

"Each of us strongly condemns President Trump's and Attorney General Barr's interference in the fair administration of justice," the letter said, specifically citing the Stone case.








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Re: Trump enters the stage - Russian 2020 election interfer

Postby Meno_ » Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:12 am

The New York Times



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Bernie Sanders at a rally in Nevada on Friday.
Show caption
US elections 2020
Donald Trump pounces on reports Russia is seeking to help Bernie Sanders
President claims Democrats are rigging process
Trump calls Russian meddling on his behalf ‘a rumor’
Nevada: Democrats prepare to vote in most diverse state yet
Martin Pengelly in New York
@MartinPengelly
Sat 22 Feb 2020 12.47 EST
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As Democrats in Nevada went to the polls on Saturday, Donald Trump gleefully stirred the pot over reports that US intelligence believes Russia is trying to aid Bernie Sanders, the frontrunner for the nomination to face the president in November.

Bernie Sanders has invested big in Nevada. Will it pay off?
In a tweet, Trump said: “Democrats in the Great State of Nevada (Which, because of the Economy, Jobs, the Military & Vets, I will win …) be careful of Russia, Russia, Russia.

“According to Corrupt politician Adam ‘Shifty’ Schiff, they are pushing for Crazy Bernie Sanders to win. Vote!”


US intelligence has determined that Russian interference in the 2016 US elections not only supported Trump but included efforts to boost Sanders in his bitter primary against the eventual Democratic nominee, Hillary Clinton.

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the House intelligence committee had been briefed that Russia was once again trying to interfere in favour of Trump.

Schiff is the Democratic chairman of that committee and as a leading figure in Trump’s impeachment over his approaches to Ukraine has become a regular target for presidential vitriol.

Reports about the briefing described a furious reaction from Trump which led to the departure of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, and his replacement by a Trump loyalist, the ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell.

Then, on Friday, the Post reported that Sanders, Trump and “lawmakers on Capitol Hill” had been briefed about “Russian assistance to the Vermont senator” this year, but said it was not clear what the effort involved.

In a statement, Sanders said: “I don’t care, frankly, who [Russian president Vladimir] Putin wants to be president. My message to Putin is clear: Stay out of American elections, and as president I will make sure that you do.

“In 2016, Russia used internet propaganda to sow division in our country, and my understanding is that they are doing it again in 2020. Some of the ugly stuff on the internet attributed to our campaign may well not be coming from real supporters.”

In Nevada, “ugly stuff” attributed to Sanders supporters has included abuse aimed at female leaders of the Culinary Workers Union, an influential presence in the state which opposes the Vermont senator’s plan for Medicare for All healthcare reform.

Nonetheless, Sanders seems set to win. On Saturday morning the realclearpolitics.com polling average for Nevada put the progressive star 16.5 points up on two moderates, Pete Buttigieg and Joe Biden.

Nationally, Sanders leads the same site’s average by 11.4 points, over Biden and the former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is not competing in Nevada.

Some suggest Trump wants to face Sanders at the polls, rather than Biden or Bloomberg.

Rick Wilson, a former Republican consultant turned author and ardent Trump critic, recently told the Guardian Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist who sits in the Senate as an independent, would be “the easiest person in the world to turn into the comic opera villain Republicans love to hate, the Castro sympathiser, the socialist, the Marxist, the guy who wants to put the aristos in the tumbril as they cart them off to the guillotine”.

The special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election did not establish a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Moscow but did lay out extensive contacts and numerous instances in which the president seemed to seek to obstruct the course of justice.

Trump has claimed vindication but the investigation remains a running sore and at a campaign rally in Las Vegas on Friday, he duly took aim at his political opponents.

“I see these phoneys, the do-nothing Democrats,” Trump said. “They said today that Putin wants to be sure that Trump gets elected. Here we go again. Here we go again. Did you see it? ... Now I just see it again. I was told that was happening, I was told a week ago. They said you know they’re trying to start a rumor. It’s disinformation.”

In tweets and retweets after the event, the president loosed off shots at another favourite target, the media.

Referring to MSNBC as “MSDNC (Comcast Slime)”, he said that network and CNN “and others of the Fake Media, have now added Crazy Bernie to the list of Russian Sympathizers, along with Tulsi Gabbard [and] Jill Stein (of the Green Party), both agents of Russia, they say.”

Trump reportedly calls John Bolton a 'traitor' and wants to block his book
Gabbard, a Hawaii congresswoman still in the running for the Democratic nomination but not registering significantly in the polls, has sued Hillary Clinton for allegedly calling her a “Russian asset”.

Stein was the Green nominee for president in 2016, taking nearly 1.5m votes nationally (while the Libertarian Gary Johnson took more than 4m) in a contest Clinton won by nearly 3m. Trump took the White House in the electoral college.

Clinton beat Trump by two points in Nevada, a key swing state again this year.

On Twitter, Trump claimed the reason for media reports that “President Putin wants Bernie (or me) to win … is that the Do Nothing Democrats, using disinformation Hoax number 7, don’t want Bernie Sanders to get the Democrat Nomination, and they figure this would be very bad for his chances.

“It’s all rigged, again, against Crazy Bernie Sanders!”

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Bernie SandersDonald TrumpRussiaUS politicsNevadanews
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© 2020 Guardian News & Media

Lawmakers Are Warned That Russia Is Meddling to Re-elect Trump

A classified briefing to House members is said to have angered the president, who complained that Democrats would “weaponize” the disclosure.



American intelligence agencies concluded that Russia, on the orders of President Vladimir V. Putin, interfered in the 2016 election











Feb. 20, 2020Updated 10:44 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — Intelligence officials warned House lawmakers last week that Russia was interfering in the 2020 campaign to try to get President Trump re-elected, five people familiar with the matter said, a disclosure to Congress that angered Mr. Trump, who complained that Democrats would use it against him.

The day after the Feb. 13 briefing to lawmakers, the president berated Joseph Maguire, the outgoing acting director of national intelligence, for allowing it to take place, people familiar with the exchange said. Mr. Trump cited the presence in the briefing of Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, who led the impeachment proceedings against him, as a particular irritant.

During the briefing to the House Intelligence Committee, Mr. Trump’s allies challenged the conclusions, arguing that he had been tough on Russia and strengthened European security. Some intelligence officials viewed the briefing as a tactical error, saying that had the official who delivered the conclusion spoken less pointedly or left it out, they would have avoided angering the Republicans.

Though intelligence officials have previously told lawmakers that Russia’s interference campaign was continuing, last week’s briefing did contain what appeared to be new information, including that Russia intended to interfere with the 2020 Democratic primaries as well as the general election.



The intelligence official who delivered the briefing, Shelby Pierson, is an aide to Mr. Maguire who has a reputation of delivering intelligence in somewhat blunt terms. The president announced on Wednesday that he was replacing Mr. Maguire with Richard Grenell, the ambassador to Germany and long an aggressively vocal Trump supporter.

Though some current and former officials speculated that the briefing might have played a role in the removal of Mr. Maguire, who had told people in recent days that he believed he would remain in the job, two administration officials said the timing was coincidental. Mr. Grenell had been in discussions with the administration about taking on new roles, they said, and Mr. Trump had never felt a kinship with Mr. Maguire.

Spokeswomen for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and its election security office declined to comment. A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

A Democratic House Intelligence Committee official called the Feb. 13 briefing an important update about “the integrity of our upcoming elections” and said that members of both parties attended, including Representative Devin Nunes of California, the top Republican on the committee.



In a tweet on Thursday evening, Mr. Schiff said that it appeared that Mr. Trump was “again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling” by objecting to Congress being informed of interference attempts.





Mr. Trump has long accused the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia’s 2016 interference as the work of a “deep state” conspiracy intent on undermining the validity of his election. Intelligence officials feel burned by their experience after the last election, where their work became subject of intense political debate and is now a focus of a Justice Department investigation.

Part of the president’s anger over the intelligence briefing stemmed from the administration’s reluctance to provide delicate information to Mr. Schiff. He has been a leading critic of Mr. Trump since 2016, doggedly investigating Russian election interference and later leading the impeachment inquiry into the president’s dealings with Ukraine.



After asking about the briefing that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and other agencies gave to the House, Mr. Trump complained that Mr. Schiff would “weaponize” the intelligence about Russia’s support for him, according to a person familiar with the briefing. And he was angry that no one had told him sooner about the briefing, the person said.

Mr. Trump has fixated on Mr. Schiff since the impeachment saga began, pummeling him publicly with insults and unfounded accusations of corruption. At one point in October, Mr. Trump refused to invite lawmakers from the congressional intelligence committees to a White House briefing on Syria because he did not want Mr. Schiff there, according to three people briefed on the matter.

The president did not erupt at Mr. Maguire, and instead just asked pointed questions, according to the person. But the message was unmistakable: He was displeased by what took place.

Ms. Pierson, officials said, was delivering the conclusion of multiple intelligence agencies, not her own opinion. The Washington Post first reported the Oval Office confrontation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Maguire, but not the substance of the disagreement.



The intelligence community issued an assessment in early 2017 that President Vladimir V. Putin personally ordered an influence campaign in the previous year’s election and developed “a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” But Republicans have long argued that Moscow’s campaign was intended to sow chaos, not aid Mr. Trump specifically.

And some Republicans have accused the intelligence agencies of opposing Mr. Trump, but intelligence officials reject those accusations. They fiercely guard their work as nonpartisan, saying it is the only way to ensure its validity.

At the House briefing, Representative Chris Stewart, Republican of Utah, who has been considered for the director’s post, was among the Republicans who challenged the conclusion about Russia’s support for Mr. Trump. Mr. Stewart insisted that the president had aggressively confronted Moscow, providing anti-tank weapons to Ukraine for its war against Russia-backed separatists and strengthening the NATO alliance with new resources, according to two people briefed on the meeting.



Mr. Stewart declined to discuss the briefing but said that Moscow had no reason to support Mr. Trump. He pointed to the president’s work to confront Iran, a Russian ally, and encourage European energy independence from Moscow. “I’d challenge anyone to give me a real-world argument where Putin would rather have President Trump and not Bernie Sanders,” Mr. Stewart said in an interview, referring to the nominal Democratic primary race front-runner.



Mr. Trump believes that Russian efforts to get him elected in 2016 have cast doubts about the legitimacy of his campaign victory. 

Under Mr. Putin, Russian intelligence has long sought broadly to stir turmoil among adversaries around the world. The United States and key allies on Thursday accused Russian military intelligence, the group responsible for much of the 2016 election interference in the United States, of a cyberattack on neighboring Georgia that took out websites and television broadcasts.

The Russians have been preparing — and experimenting — for the 2020 election, undeterred by American efforts to thwart them but aware that they needed a new playbook of as-yet-undetectable methods, United States officials said.

They have made more creative use of Facebook and other social media. Rather than impersonating Americans as they did in 2016, Russian operatives are working to get Americans to repeat disinformation to get around social media companies’ rules that prohibit “inauthentic speech,” the officials said.



And the Russians are working from servers in the United States, rather than abroad, knowing that American intelligence agencies are prohibited from operating inside the country. (The F.B.I. and the Department of Homeland Security can, with aid from the intelligence agencies.)

Russian hackers have also infiltrated Iran’s cyberwarfare unit, perhaps with the intent of launching attacks that would look like they were coming from Tehran, the National Security Agency has warned.

Some officials believe that foreign powers, possibly including Russia, could use ransomware attacks, like those that have debilitated some local governments, to damage or interfere with voting systems or registration databases.

Still, much of the Russian aim is similar to its 2016 interference, officials said: search for issues that stir controversy in the United States and use various methods to stoke division.



One of Moscow’s main goals is undermining confidence in American election systems, intelligence officials have told lawmakers, seeking to sow doubts over close elections and recounts. Confronting those Russian efforts is difficult, officials have said, because they want to maintain American confidence in voting systems.

Both Republicans and Democrats asked the intelligence agencies to hand over the underlying material that prompted their conclusion that Russia again is favoring Mr. Trump’s election.

Although the intelligence conclusion that Russia is trying to interfere in the 2020 Democratic primaries is new, in the 2019 report of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, there is a reference to Russian desires to help Mr. Sanders in his presidential primary campaign against Hillary Clinton in 2016. The report quoted internal documents from the Internet Research Agency, a troll factory sponsored by Russian intelligence, in an order to its operatives: “Use any opportunity to criticize Hillary and the rest except for Sanders and Trump — we support them.”

How soon the House committee might get that information is not clear. Since the impeachment inquiry, tensions have risen between the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the committee. As officials navigate the disputes, the intelligence agencies have slowed the amount of material they provide to the House, officials said. The agencies are required by law to regularly brief Congress on threats.



While Republicans have long been critical of the Obama administration for not doing enough to track and deter Russian interference in 2016, current and former intelligence officials said the party is at risk of making a similar mistake now. Mr. Trump has been reluctant to even hear about election interference, and Republicans dislike discussing it publicly.

The aftermath of last week’s briefing prompted some intelligence officials to voice concerns that the White House will dismantle a key election security effort by Dan Coats, the former director of national intelligence: the establishment of an election interference czar. Ms. Pierson has held the post since last summer.

And some current and former intelligence officials expressed fears that Mr. Grenell may have been put in place explicitly to slow the pace of information on election interference to Congress. The revelations about Mr. Trump’s confrontation with Mr. Maguire raised new concerns about Mr. Grenell’s appointment, said the Democratic House committee official, who added that the upcoming election could be more vulnerable to foreign interference.

Mr. Trump, former officials have said, is typically uninterested in election interference briefings, and Mr. Grenell might see it as unwise to emphasize such intelligence with the president.



“The biggest concern I would have is if the intelligence community was not forthcoming and not providing the analysis in the run-up to the next election,” said Andrea Kendall-Taylor, a former intelligence official now with the Center for a New American Security. “It is really concerning that this is happening in the run-up to an election.”

Mr. Grenell’s unbridled loyalty is clearly important to Mr. Trump but may not be ideally suited for an intelligence chief making difficult decisions about what to brief to the president and Congress, Ms. Kendall-Taylor said.

“Trump is trying to whitewash or rewrite the narrative about Russia’s involvement in the election,” she said. “Grenell’s appointment suggests he is really serious about that.”

The acting deputy to Mr. Maguire, Andrew P. Hallman, will step down on Friday, officials said, paving the way for Mr. Grenell to put in place his own management team. Mr. Hallman was the intelligence office’s principal executive, but since the resignation in August of the previous deputy, Sue Gordon, he has been performing the duties of that post.

Mr. Maguire is planning to leave government, according to an American official.



Adam Goldman reports on the F.B.I. from Washington and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. 

Julian E. Barnes is a national security reporter based in Washington, covering the intelligence agencies. Before joining The Times in 2018, he wrote about security matters for The Wall Street Journal. 











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Re: Trump enters the stage - the beef with the justice syste

Postby Meno_ » Tue Feb 25, 2020 4:49 pm

The New York Times

Trump Demands 2 Liberal Justices Recuse Themselves From His Cases

The president ratcheted up a fight with a judicial system he sees as biased against him.



Feb. 25, 2020Updated 9:57 a.m. ET

NEW DELHI — President Trump lashed out at two liberal Supreme Court justices on Tuesday, escalating his battle with the judicial system to new heights despite entreaties by his attorney general to refrain from Twitter blasts that complicate the administration’s legal fights.

Weighing in on a domestic matter on a day of ceremony and meetings in India, Mr. Trump seized on an opinion by Justice Sonia Sotomayor and a years-old comment by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to demand that the two Democratic-appointed jurists recuse themselves from any cases involving him.

“‘Sotomayor accuses GOP appointed Justices of being biased in favor of Trump,’” he wrote on Twitter, citing Laura Ingraham of Fox News. “This is a terrible thing to say. Trying to ‘shame’ some into voting her way? She never criticized Justice Ginsberg when she called me a ‘faker’. Both should recuse themselves on all Trump, or Trump related, matters!”

“While ‘elections have consequences,’” he added, “I only ask for fairness, especially when it comes to decisions made by the United States Supreme Court!”



He later expanded on it during a news conference. “Her statement was so inappropriate,” Mr. Trump said of Justice Sotomayor. “When you’re a justice of the Supreme Court — it’s almost what she’s trying is take the people who do feel a different way and get them to vote the way that she would like them to vote. I just thought it was so inappropriate, such a terrible statement for a Supreme Court statement.”

Mr. Trump presumably was referring to a dissent issued last week by Justice Sotomayor against an order by the court allowing the Trump administration to proceed with a plan to deny green cards to immigrants who are deemed likely to become “public charges” reliant on government aid programs.

In her seven-page opinion, Justice Sotomayor wrote that the Trump administration had become too quick to run to the Supreme Court after interim losses in the lower courts.

“Claiming one emergency after another, the government has recently sought stays in an unprecedented number of cases, demanding immediate attention and consuming limited court resources in each,” she wrote. “And with each successive application, of course, its cries of urgency ring increasingly hollow.”



Justice Sotomayor did not overtly accuse Republican-appointed justices of being biased in favor of Mr. Trump, as the president asserted, but complained that the court “is partly to blame for the breakdown in the appellate process,” because it “has been all too quick to grant the government’s” reflexive requests.

She added: “Perhaps most troublingly, the court’s recent behavior on stay applications has benefited one litigant over all others,” a reference to the Trump administration.

The five justices who voted in the majority in the case were all appointed by Republicans, but Justice Sotomayor did not frame her disagreement in partisan terms, and her dissent was written in much the same way as others by justices who lose divided rulings.

Mr. Trump did not seem familiar with what Justice Sotomayor actually wrote but instead seemed to be reacting to a headline that characterized her statement in a far balder, more political way than she had. Asked by a reporter what exactly he found inappropriate, Mr. Trump demurred, saying “you know what the statement was.” When the reporter accurately summarized part of the justice’s dissent, the president said, “No, I don’t think that was it.”



In adding Justice Ginsburg to his attacks on Twitter and at the news conference, Mr. Trump resumed a four-year-old feud with the longest-serving liberal on the court. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Justice Ginsburg called Mr. Trump a “faker” and said she could not imagine him as president.

He responded at the time that she should resign. She did not, but expressed regret, saying her remarks were “ill advised” for a Supreme Court justice and promised that “in the future I will be more circumspect.”

The justices are highly unlikely to comply with Mr. Trump’s latest demand that they recuse themselves from the many cases involving him that come before their court. But the president’s attack raised the temperature of his continuing assault on the law enforcement and justice systems, which he has tried to bend to his will in increasingly bold ways.

In recent days, he has repeatedly attacked Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who is overseeing the case of his friend Roger J. Stone Jr., who was sentenced to more than three years in prison for lying to Congress and intimidating a witness. He targeted her again on Tuesday, reposting a Twitter message from a Fox News host that said: “Roger Stone judge’s bias may have jeopardized entire trial.”


Attorney General William P. Barr went on television to ask Mr. Trump to stop weighing in on legal cases involving his friends, because it was making it “impossible” for him to do his work. A group of federal judges convened an emergency conference call because of the attacks on Judge Jackson.

Mr. Trump has often assailed lower courts over rulings against various policies of his, particularly the Ninth United States Circuit Court of Appeals based in California. But he has only occasionally taken aim at the Supreme Court itself, perhaps wary of offending its conservative majority and Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.

An institutionalist, Chief Justice Roberts has bristled at some of the president’s past attacks on judges. When Mr. Trump assailed “an Obama judge” for a ruling in 2018, the chief justice issued a statement defending the independence of the judiciary. “We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges,” he wrote.





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Re: Trump enters the stage - Trump sues media

Postby Meno_ » Thu Feb 27, 2020 4:44 am

{Trump sues New York Times and cancels subscription to it and the Washington Post.}>>>>>>>>
>>>>The New York Times

 

Trump Campaign Sues New York Times Over 2019 Opinion Article

The lawsuit concerns an essay published a year ago and headlined “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.”


It’s the first time President Trump’s political operation has sued an American outlet since he took office.Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times


By Michael M. Grynbaum and Marc Tracy

Feb. 26, 2020Updated 7:19 p.m. ET

President Trump’s re-election campaign sued The New York Times for libel on Wednesday, alleging that an Op-Ed article published by the newspaper falsely asserted a “quid pro quo” between Russian officials and Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Mr. Trump often threatens to sue media organizations but rarely follows through. The lawsuit, filed in New York State court in Manhattan, is the first time his political operation has taken legal action against an American news outlet since he took office.

The lawsuit concerns an essay published by the Opinion section of The Times in March 2019. The article, headlined “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” was written by Max Frankel, who served as executive editor of The Times from 1986 to 1994. (The Opinion section of The Times operates separately from its newsroom.)

In the essay, Mr. Frankel wrote about communications between Mr. Trump’s inner circle and Russian emissaries in the lead-up to the 2016 election. He concluded that, rather than any “detailed electoral collusion,” the Trump campaign and Russian officials “had an overarching deal”: “the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy.”



The Trump lawsuit argues that this conclusion “is false” and that The Times published the essay “knowing it would misinform and mislead its own readers.” The suit also accuses The Times, without evidence, of harboring “extreme bias against and animosity toward” Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

The Times responded on Wednesday that it would fight the suit.

“The Trump campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable,” Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said in a statement.

“Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance,” Ms. Murphy added. “We look forward to vindicating that right in this case.”

Mr. Trump, whose vilification of the news media has little precedent among past presidents, has ratcheted up his attacks on the press over the past year. He has accused The Times of “treason,” tweeted the term “fake news” hundreds of times and threatened to pull broadcast licenses.



Asked about the lawsuit at a news conference at the White House on Wednesday night, Mr. Trump doubled down on his criticism of The Times. “It’s beyond an opinion,” he said of Mr. Frankel’s Op-Ed article. “That’s not an opinion. That’s something much more than an opinion.”

“They did a bad thing,” the president added, “and there’ll be more coming.”

Earlier Wednesday, several media law experts reacted with skepticism about the Trump campaign’s chances of succeeding in the suit.

“A publisher cannot be held liable for commentary based on public facts,” said Brian Hauss, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union.

Frederick Schauer, a law professor at the University of Virginia, said public figures who sue for libel must show that a publisher either “knew it was false before publishing, or had actual suspicion of falsity and went ahead anyway.” Proving that in court, he said, “is virtually impossible.”



The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Trump campaign by Charles J. Harder, a lawyer with a reputation for waging aggressive legal battles against prominent news organizations.

Mr. Harder is best known for representing Terry G. Bollea, the former professional wrestler known as Hulk Hogan, in a lawsuit against Gawker Media that was secretly underwritten by the tech investor Peter Thiel. The suit, which concerned the publication of a sex video, resulted in a $140 million decision that led to Gawker Media’s bankruptcy and forced the site’s sale.

Mr. Harder also represented Melania Trump, Mr. Trump’s wife, when she sued The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, in 2016 over what she said were “false and defamatory statements,” including that a modeling agency she worked for in the 1990s was also an escort service. The Daily Mail ultimately apologized, retracted the article and paid damages in a settlement.

This is not Mr. Trump’s first time going to court against a journalist. In 2006, he sued Timothy L. O’Brien for libel after the publication of Mr. O’Brien’s biography, “TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald.” The case was dismissed three years later. (Mr. O’Brien, who previously worked as a reporter and editor at The Times, is a senior adviser to Michael R. Bloomberg’s presidential campaign.)

The Times is also defending itself in a defamation suit brought by Sarah Palin, the former Republican vice-presidential nominee, over an editorial published in the Opinion pages that incorrectly linked her to a 2011 mass shooting that severely wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona. Ms. Palin’s case was dismissed by a Federal District Court, but an appellate court reinstated the suit last year.








Trump Threatens to Retaliate Against Reporters Who Don’t Show ‘Respect’






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Re: Trump enters the stage - Coronavirus & politics

Postby Meno_ » Thu Feb 27, 2020 7:00 am

{ The Trump election commenter may be more concerned about the political implications of the coming pandemic, then concern for a possible human toll, some allegations assert. The economy may be hard hit, and the economy sits well as a cornerstone of achievement}>>>>>>>
>>>>>>>>>>: POLITICO

WHITE HOUSE

Coronavirus gets a Trumpian response

He cracked wise, told a story with a stand-up comedian’s patter, waved around colorful graphs and listed facts he had just learned.



President Donald Trump holds a news conference with members of his coronavirus task force. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images



02/26/2020 09:55 PM EST





President Donald Trump tried to ease Americans’ fears about the potential spread of coronavirus on Wednesday night by putting himself at the center of it all.

He cracked wise about his germaphobia, recounted a run-in with a sick friend using a stand-up comedian’s patter, waved around colorful graphs showing America’s superiority on virus containment and listed facts he had just learned about the flu.



It was a performance that had kept White House staffers on edge all day, ever since the president unexpectedly tweeted his plans for a news conference after deplaning at sunrise from Air Force One. Just hours before his appearance was expected to begin, communications staffers were uncertain about how — or where — the news conference would take place, and whether the president or just the coronavirus task force would take questions.

But in the end, the news conference was a strategic effort by the White House to dampen fears about the coronavirus — by making Trump the face of it.

Trump discussed the low number of cases of coronavirus in the U.S., blamed the recent volatility in the stock market on both coronavirus fears and Americans’ reaction to the Democratic candidates for president. And while he said the administration was preparing for worst-case scenarios, “I don’t think we will ever be anywhere near that.”

“The threat to the American public remains low,” Trump said from the podium, less than a day after a top health official said it was only a matter of time before the outbreak would hit the U.S. and just minutes before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it had identified in California the first coronavirus case that had not been contracted from travel abroad.

The coronavirus has now spread from China to Japan, South Korea, Italy, Iran and elsewhere, causing global panic and sending the stock market tumbling. In Washington, aides are fearful that a slowing economy could hurt one of Trump’s key messages during his reelection bid.



So Trump decided to signal he was taking control.

His plans for the news conference in the infrequently used briefing room became apparent when Secret Service officials were spotted walking around the crowded press room area, indicating a presidential visit might be forthcoming. Moments later, an updated schedule from the White House announced that the president, vice president and members of the coronavirus task force would be holding the presser in the White House’s nearly mothballed James S. Brady Press BriefingRroom.

The news set off a flurry of activity as photographers and videographers scrambled to get their equipment and cameras in place.



It was a rare sight to have the president at the podium. He has appeared only once before — in 2019, the same day Nancy Pelosi was named speaker of the House, to steal the spotlight for a moment and congratulate her, and to advocate construction of the border wall. He also poked his head in the briefing room once to excitedly tease a “major announcement” from Korean officials in 2018 that ended up being his plans to meet with Kim Jong Un.

Before the news conference began, the president was receiving a briefing from members of the coronavirus task force who then crowded behind him on the small briefing room stage.

Then Trump began, relatively low-key to start, but picking up steam as he went along.

At one point, the president, whose staff always keeps hand sanitizer nearby, pantomimed washing his hands for the cameras, saying that people should treat the virus like they would a flu.

“I had a man come up to me a week ago. Hadn’t seen him in a long time. I said, ‘How are you doing?’ He said, ‘Fine, fine.’ He hugs me. I said, ‘Are you well?’ He said, ‘No,’” Trump said to laughter at his re-enactment.

“He said, ‘I have the fever and the worst flu.’ He’s hugging and kissing me. I said, ‘Excuse me,’ and started washing my hands,” Trump said. “You have to do this. I think you want to treat this like the flu, right? You know, it's going to be OK.”

He even joked about his own reputation as a germaphobe, saying that, in the case of the coronavirus, his penchant for frequently washing his hands seemed like a good plan.

At another point, Trump held up color printouts from Johns Hopkins University, listing what the school had determined were the best-prepared countries to handle a disease outbreak. The United States, of course, was No. 1.



He also digressed into a rundown of how deadly the seasonal flu has been. Since 2010, the CDC estimates that from 12,000 to 61,000 people have died annually from the flu. Trump said the number ranged from 25,000 to 69,000 annually. Thus far, coronavirus has killed at least 3,000 people.

The major news out of the news conference was Trump’s appointment of Vice President Mike Pence to run the administration’s response to coronavirus. Trump insisted Pence was not taking a czarlike position, nor was he displacing Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar from leading the internal task force. Azar stood behind Trump during the news conference, smiling broadly after a day of testifying on Capitol Hill and fielding tough questions.

Azar’s job is not is not thought to be in jeopardy, three people close to the White House said, even though the decision to elevate Pence came as a surprise to many within the health department.

The White House may still opt to bring in someone from outside the administration to manage the response if the coronavirus outbreak worsens, said one person who recently supplied the administration with the names of a handful of candidates.

Pence’s appointment is seen as a compromise for now — giving officials time to assess their needs and see whether the crisis escalates, while allowing Azar to save face after less than a month as the effort's leader.



© 2020 POLITICO LLC


>>>>>>><<<<<<<>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<>>>:




The New York Times

Opinion

When a Pandemic Meets a Personality Cult

The Trump team confirms all of our worst fears.



By Paul Krugman

Opinion Columnist

Feb. 27, 2020



President Trump on Wednesday addressed the evils associated with the coronavirus. Among them: the reporters asking questions.






So, here’s the response of the Trump team and its allies to the coronavirus, at least so far: It’s actually good for America. Also, it’s a hoax perpetrated by the news media and the Democrats. Besides, it’s no big deal, and people should buy stocks. Anyway, we’ll get it all under control under the leadership of a man who doesn’t believe in science.

From the day Donald Trump was elected, some of us worried how his administration would deal with a crisis not of its own making. Remarkably, we’ve gone three years without finding out: Until now, every serious problem facing the Trump administration, from trade wars to confrontation with Iran, has been self-created. But the coronavirus is looking as if it might be the test we’ve been fearing.

And the results aren’t looking good.

The story of the Trump pandemic response actually began several years ago. Almost as soon as he took office, Trump began cutting funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading in turn to an 80 percent cut in the resources the agency devotes to global disease outbreaks. Trump also shut down the entire global-health-security unit of the National Security Council.

Experts warned that these moves were exposing America to severe risks. “We’ll leave the field open to microbes,” declared Tom Frieden, a much-admired former head of the C.D.C., more than two years ago. But the Trump administration has a preconceived notion about where national security threats come from — basically, scary brown people — and is hostile to science in general. So we entered the current crisis in an already weakened condition.



And the microbes came.

The first reaction of the Trumpers was to see the coronavirus as a Chinese problem — and to see whatever is bad for China as being good for us. Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, cheered it on as a development that would “accelerate the return of jobs to North America.”

The story changed once it became clear that the virus was spreading well beyond China. At that point it became a hoax perpetrated by the news media. Rush Limbaugh weighed in: “It looks like the coronavirus is being weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump. Now, I want to tell you the truth about the coronavirus. … The coronavirus is the common cold, folks.”

Limbaugh was, you may not be surprised to hear, projecting. Back in 2014 right-wing politicians and media did indeed try to politically weaponize a disease outbreak, the Ebola virus, with Trump himself responsible for more than 100 tweets denouncing the Obama administration’s response (which was actually competent and effective).

And in case you’re wondering, no, the coronavirus isn’t like the common cold. In fact, early indications are that the virus may be as lethal as the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed as many as 50 million people.



Financial markets evidently don’t agree that the virus is a hoax; by Thursday afternoon the Dow was off more than 3,000 points since last week. Falling markets appear to worry the administration more than the prospect of, you know, people dying. So Larry Kudlow, the administration’s top economist, made a point of declaring that the virus was “contained” — contradicting the C.D.C. — and suggested that Americans buy stocks. The market continued to drop.



G


At that point the administration appears to have finally realized that it might need to do something beyond insisting that things were great. But according to The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent and Paul Waldman, it initially proposed paying for a virus response by cutting aid to the poor — specifically, low-income heating subsidies. Cruelty in all things.

On Wednesday Trump held a news conference on the virus, much of it devoted to incoherent jabs at Democrats and the media. He did, however, announce the leader of the government response to the threat. Instead of putting a health care professional in charge, however, he handed the job to Vice President Mike Pence, who has an interesting relationship with both health policy and science.



Early in his political career, Pence staked out a distinctive position on public health, declaring that smoking doesn’t kill people. He has also repeatedly insisted that evolution is just a theory. As governor of Indiana, he blocked a needle exchange program that could have prevented a significant H.I.V. outbreak, calling for prayer instead.

And now, according to The Times, government scientists will need to get Pence’s approval before making public statements about the coronavirus.

So the Trumpian response to crisis is completely self-centered, entirely focused on making Trump look good rather than protecting America. If the facts don’t make Trump look good, he and his allies attack the messengers, blaming the news media and the Democrats — while trying to prevent scientists from keeping us informed. And in choosing people to deal with a real crisis, Trump prizes loyalty rather than competence.

Maybe Trump — and America — will be lucky, and this won’t be as bad as it might be. But anyone feeling confident right now isn’t paying attention.









How Bad Will the Coronavirus Outbreak Get?

Feb. 27, 2020





Only Doctors Can Save the Markets From the Coronavirus

Feb. 28, 2020

Paul Krugman has been an Opinion columnist since 2000 and is also a Distinguished Professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He won the 2008 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on international trade and economic geography. @PaulKrugman












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Re: Trump enters the stage - germ phobia project

Postby Meno_ » Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:51 pm

The New York Times

Opinion

Trump Makes Us Ill

Going viral is not a good thing this time.







Feb. 29, 2020, 2:30 p.m. ET










Donald Trump was right.

Germs are scary.

For three decades, I talked to Trump about his fear of germs. When I interviewed him at the Trump Tower restaurant during the 2016 race, the famous germophobe had a big hospital-strength bottle of hand sanitizer on the table, next to my salad, ready to squirt.

He told me about the nightmarish feeling he had when a man emerged from the bathroom in a restaurant with wet hands and shook his hand. He couldn’t eat afterward.

Today, in a stunning twist of fate, germs are infecting his presidency and threatening a bad prognosis for his re-election prospects.

Trump is the first president to use the stock market as a near-daily measure of his success — and his virility — and now the market is slumping. If you want to own it on the way up, you have to own it on the way down.



Investors, who worried when Trump began to rise in politics, soon realized that he had their backs. He was just a corporate vessel pretending to be a populist; the stock market was his sugar high.

Now Trump is learning the hard way what my fatalistic Irish mother taught me: The thing you love most is the first to go. As Mike Bloomberg points out, investors have factored in Trump’s incompetence, and that is contributing to the market cratering.

The president urged the Fed to do something soon to mitigate the stock market losses. Socialism for the rich!

The scaremonger in chief has been downplaying the possibility of a coronavirus pandemic and joining Fox News hosts in accusing the “anti-Trump” media and “Do Nothing Democrats” of scaremongering about the virus.



At the CPAC convention, Mick Mulvaney told a cheering crowd that impeachment was the “hoax of the day” and now the press thinks the coronavirus “is going to be what brings down the president.” The media, he said, should spend more time on positive stories, like the president’s “caring” relationship with his teenage son, Barron, even though White Houses usually frown on stories about young presidential offspring.

Mike Huckabee went on the attack, asserting that Trump “could personally suck the virus out of every one of the 60,000 people in the world, suck it out of their lungs, swim to the bottom of the ocean and spit it out, and he would be accused of pollution for messing up the ocean.”

On Fox, Don Jr. said the Democrats “seemingly hope” the virus kills millions to stop Trump’s winning streak. Rush Limbaugh chimed in that the media “would love for the coronavirus to be this deadly strain that wipes everybody out so they could blame Trump for it.”

There are 2,800 dead worldwide and disturbing stories showing how federal criteria delayed the diagnosis of a California woman and how federal health employees interacted with Americans who had possibly been exposed to the virus in China without proper training or gear.



Yet Trump seems more consumed with how the Democrats might blame him for a coronavirus recession than with the virus itself.

Trump had tweet-shrieked at President Barack Obama about how he should handle Ebola. (“Obama should apologize to the American people & resign!”)

Yet he was so relaxed about the coronavirus threat that he spent 45 minutes Thursday chatting in the Oval with the authors of a little play called “FBI Lovebirds: Undercovers,” inspired by the texts of Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. The play’s leads, Dean Cain of “Superman” fame and the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” actress Kristy Swanson, were also in the meeting. Trump joked that he’d be willing to be Cain’s understudy, the actor said. The president got together the same day with a group that included his social media boosters Diamond and Silk.

At the White House press conference, Trump preened: “Because of all we’ve done, the risk to the American people remains very low.” He later said that one day, like a miracle, the virus “will disappear.”



His top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, pushed the crisis as an opportunity: “Stocks look pretty cheap to me.”

Trump won’t be able to deflect and project and create a daft alternative narrative. The virus won’t respond to conspiracy theories from Rush Limbaugh or nasty diatribes from Sean Hannity or nicknames from Donald Trump.

This will be a deus ex machina test of Trump’s authoritarian behavior. Epidemics are not well suited to authoritarian regimes and propaganda, as we saw this week when Beijing’s use of propaganda tactics to suppress information about the outbreak failed spectacularly and when Iran tamped down news about the virus for political reasons even as it ravaged top officials.

The reality of the coronavirus spreading will reflect poorly on Trump — his cavalier dismantling of vital government teams for health response and his disdain for experts and science.


Trump tried to make federal agencies complicit on his fabulist hogwash about the size of his inaugural crowd and the path of Hurricane Dorian. It is unlikely that he will be able to keep his insatiable and insecure ego in check long enough to give the nation the facts, reassurance and guidance it needs about the infection.

Trump is already doing his orange clown pufferfish routine, acting as though he knows more about viruses than anyone, just as he has bragged that he knows more about the military, taxes, trade, infrastructure, ISIS, renewables, visas, banking, debt and “the horror of nuclear.”

He appointed Mike Pence to be point man, even though, as the famously homophobic governor of Indiana, Pence helped make the H.I.V. epidemic there worse by substituting moral pronouncements for scientific knowledge. Coronavirus Czar Pence spent Friday at a $25,000-a-plate dinner in sunny Sarasota raising money to try to win back the House, The Tampa Bay Times reported.

Trump’s history in business — he makes people feel good for a while and then it ends badly — could presage a stock market crash before he exits.



And it’s conceivable that a crash — along with hospitals being overwhelmed by the uninsured — could lead to the election of a real populist promising Medicare for All.

And that would be a very Trumpian arc indeed.





When a Pandemic Meets a Personality Cult

Feb. 27, 2020

Opinion | Elisabeth Rosenthal

We Don’t Really Know How Many People Have Coronavirus

Feb. 28, 2020

Opinion | Ross Douthat

The Coronavirus Is More Than a Disease. It’s a Test

Maureen Dowd, winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary and author of three New York Times best sellers, became an Op-Ed columnist in 1995. @MaureenDowd • Faceboo



-------- -------- -'------ --'----- --'--

New Fox Poll


{Is this real or has a swampy motivation for pro Trim Fox News to publish this}?



Fox





New FOX poll shows any Democratic candidate would beat President Trump

Published 1 day ago



Every day there seems to be a new poll gauging where voters stand on the presidential candidates.   

Friday, one of the latest showed how voters would cast their ballots if the election were held today.

The poll from FOX News and Polling USA shows in a head to head race for the White House, all Democratic candidates beating President Donald Trump.

When Trump goes up against Democratic front runner Bernie Sanders, Sanders has a seven-point edge at 49 percent compared to Trump's 42.


Against former vice president Joe Biden, the poll shows Biden would have an eight-point edge over Trump, 49 percent to 41 percent.

Newcomer Mike Bloomberg who's spending billions on tv ads, but hasn't even been on a ballot yet, beats Trump 48 percent to 40 percent in the poll. 

The numbers are a little tighter with Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren would take 46 percent to Trump's 43.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg would also a three-point edge at 45 percent to 42 percent over President Trump, and Senator Amy Klobuchar would run neck and neck with Trump with a one-point edge, 44 percent to 43 percent.  

President Trump didn't like the results of that poll and tweeted Friday morning "worst polls just like 2016 when they were so far off the mark. Why doesn't Fox finally get a competent polling company

. ©2019 FOX Television Stations



?!?!?! ?!?! ?!!??!!??!!? ?!!??!!??!!? ?!!??!!??!!? ?!!??! ?!!??!!?


Coronavirus outbreak

Coronavirus: Pence defends Trump Jr claim Democrats want ‘millions’ to die

Vice-President is leading White House taskforce on outbreak

Republicans are only ‘pushing back’, Pence claims

Robert Reich: Trump’s cuts have made the danger far worse



Sun 1 Mar 2020 09.36 EST

When Donald Trump Jr said Democrats hope coronavirus “kills millions of people” in the US because they want to bring his father down, he was merely “pushing back” at politicisation of the viral outbreak by Trump opponents, Mike Pence claimed in an interview broadcast on Sunday.

Coronavirus: Trump's mixed messages 'undermines public trust', experts say

“It’s time for the other side to turn down the volume,” the vice-president told NBC’s Meet the Press.

At a White House press conference on Saturday, Trump was forced to defend his use of the word “hoax” in reference to the outbreak. Harshly criticised by contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, the president said he had been referring to politicisation of coronavirus, not the outbreak itself.

In the interview broadcast on Sunday, NBC host Chuck Todd played Pence clips of Trump allies discussing the outbreak which on Saturday claimed its first US death, a man in Washington state.

Rush Limbaugh, the conservative shock jock to whom Trump gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom, said: “The coronavirus is being weaponized, as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.”

 You see voices on our side pushing back on outrageous and irresponsible rhetoric on the other side

Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel said: “Democrats are using this for their political gain to try and stoke fear in the American people, which is shameful, wrong, and I think un-American.”

And Donald Trump Jr, appearing on Fox News, said: “For them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump’s streak of winning is a new level of sickness.”

On CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, host Jake Tapper twice asked Pence if he agreed with Trump Jr’s claim that Democrats want coronavirus to “kill millions of people”.

Pence avoided the question, instead saying people need to set politics aside in the response to the outbreak and insisting Trump, who at his Friday rally claimed “the Democrat policy of open borders is a direct threat to the health and wellbeing of all Americans”, was directing all sides to take politics out of the equation.

Pence is in charge of White House efforts in response to the outbreak. Saying he was leading “decisive action to protect the American people”, he told NBC: “And when you see voices on our side pushing back on outrageous and irresponsible rhetoric on the other side, I think that’s important, and I think it’s justified.”

Todd said: “It seems like people are taking nervousness and turning it into a political wedge issue.”

“Well,” Pence replied, “that’s why my friends that you just played clips of are pushing back as hard as they’re pushing. It is time for the other side to turn down the volume.”

Asked to cite instances of politicisation of the outbreak by Democrats or the media, Pence said: “There was a column in the New York Times by a prominent liberal journalist that said, ‘We should rename it the Trump virus.’”

“I mean, to have someone advocate that you rename the coronavirus the Trump virus is reckless and irresponsible.”

The column in question, by Gail Collins, ran on Wednesday under the headline “Let’s call it Trumpvirus” and with a standfirst which read: “If you’re feeling awful, you know who to blame.”

A critical take on Trump’s response to the virus, its first line read: “So, our Coronavirus Czar is going to be … Mike Pence. Feeling more secure?”

Pence has faced criticism for his record on public health while governor of Indiana, and for his view of science-based policy as a strict Christian.

On Saturday night, the Washington Post published a deeply reported account of what it called “the administration’s slapdash and often misleading attempts to contain not just the virus, but also potential political damage from the outbreak – which has tanked financial markets, slowed global commerce and killed some 3,000 people worldwide”.

On NBC, Pence was asked if the president was nervous that the outbreak was going to affect the US economy in an election year.

“The president’s concern is the health and safety of the American people,” Pence said. “I mean, the fundamentals of this economy are strong … and as the president said yesterday, we’re going to focus on the health of the American people and this economy and particularly the stock market that saw some downturns this week, it will come back.

“But our focus is going to remain on the health and well-being of the American people.”

Inequalities of US health system put coronavirus fight at risk, experts say

A man in his 50s in Washington state is the first person known to have died from coronavirus in the US, but officials said on Saturday they did not know how he contracted the virus.

Twenty-two Americans have coronavirus that is either travel-related or was spread from another person, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Of the Americans repatriated from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and Wuhan, China, 47 have tested positive for coronavirus.

According to the latest World Health Organization (WHO) situation report, there have been reports of 83,652 cases of coronavirus and nearly 2,800 deaths worldwide.

The majority of cases are in China but severe outbreaks have been reported in Iran, South Korea and Italy. On Saturday, Pence announced measures including new travel restrictions on Iran and screening of passengers coming to the US from other countries.



© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - political virology .

Postby Meno_ » Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:54 am

POLITICO

WHITE HOUSE

‘This is the equivalent of war’: Pence faces the toughest test of the Trump era
Trump assigned his right-hand man to a role that could shape the president’s fate in an election year. His style is much different than Trump’s.



By GABBY ORR

03/02/2020 08:07 PM EST



Behind Vice President Mike Pence’s steady demeanor and steely look since taking charge of the U.S. government response to coronavirus is a cruel truth: He will emerge either as the architect of a successful containment strategy — boosting his own resumé and President Donald Trump’s reelection odds — or deal a potentially fatal blow to his political aspirations.

In the days since Trump tapped his right-hand man to lead the administration’s coronavirus task force, people in Pence’s orbit have been warning him of the gravity of this moment. Some have offered encouragement and advice from afar. Others have used Twitter and TV appearances to tamp down concerns about public health risks and economic disruptions.



Yet few have tried to downplay the pressure Pence faces as the point person for a new viral epidemic — one that has thrust global markets into violent swings and threatens to knock the U.S. economy into recession — under a famously mercurial president.

“This is the equivalent of war. This is a big deal and people are going to die, and so you can’t afford to make mistakes,” said former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Gingrich sent a note to Pence on Sunday praising the “discipline” he showed during a tough Sunday show interview about the virus, and he insists the vice president’s primary focus is on public safety. But Gingrich also conceded the tremendous political risks for Pence, whose own presidential ambitions are widely known.

“If he does this well, he comes out of this as a very big national figure. If he does this badly, he comes out as a dramatically diminished figure. He knows that. His team knows that,” Gingrich said.



Following an influx of cases on both coasts over the weekend, Pence took steps Monday to underscore the government's response and continue coordinating with state and local officials. The vice president led a Situation Room teleconference with governors in the afternoon, convened a meeting of the administration’s coronavirus task force and cancelled plans to join Trump at a campaign rally in North Carolina.

“This is the equivalent of war. This is a big deal and people are going to die, and so you can’t afford to make mistakes."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

Instead, Pence stayed behind to hold a nationally televised press conference to try reassuring Americans. His appearance came just hours after it was revealed that four more Americans had died from coronavirus, raising the overall total of deaths in the country to six at the time.

“Despite today's sad news, let's be clear: The risk to the American people of the coronavirus remains low, according to all of the experts that we're working with across the government,” Pence said. “This president has said we're ready for anything. But this is an all-hands-on-deck effort.

And on Tuesday, Pence will make a rare bipartisan trip to Capitol Hill to brief both Republican and Democratic senators at their weekly lunches.



“Everybody needs to go into this knowing there are definitely things that will be beyond the government’s or Mike Pence’s control, but as long as they’re being transparent with the public, with Congress and with fellow governors, I think there’s much less political risk,” said a former White House official.

Transparency has already become an issue since Pence took the reins of the administration’s coronavirus reponse, according to critics who have accused the vice president of muzzling public health officials by requiring that they coordinate with his office prior to issuing their own statements. The New York Times reported Thursday that Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, had told others “the White House had instructed him not to say anything else [about the coronavirus outbreak] without clearance.” (Fauci later said at a press conference that he’s “never been muzzled” and claimed the story contained “a real misrepresentation of what happened.”)

In some ways, Pence has borrowed a page from his gubernatorial playbook by attempting to control government messaging as it relates to coronavirus. As of now, Pence spokeswoman Katie Miller has been tasked with fielding internal queries related to coronavirus and approving public statements.

But back before Pence had the weight of the vice presidency behind him, as governor of Indiana he attempted to create a state-run news outlet that would have featured an editorial board comprised of his own communications staff. The proposed news site, which Pence unveiled at the height of Indiana’s HIV outbreak in 2015, was compared to the Soviet Union’s Pravda and never came to fruition.

Two people familiar with the administration’s plans said the vice president’s office is expected to expand its communications staff in the coming days with loaned-out staffers from several agencies who can then streamline coronavirus messaging with their regular departments. The move would build on Pence’s efforts to consolidate messaging after Trump spent much of last week directly contradicting top U.S. officials who warned of potentially severe disruptions as more Americans contract coronavirus.

The criticism Pence has already faced for his tightened grip on the administration’s messaging is a sign of the treacherous waters he’s likely to spend the next several months navigating, where every misstep is critiqued in real time and then filed away as potential ammunition if he chooses to seek higher office down the road.

In fact, Pence’s handling of the Indiana HIV outbreak — which critics have cited in recent days amid questions over his ability to handle the coronavirus crisis — illustrates how politicians can incur reputational damage if they mishandle a public health emergency. Though Trump cited the “Indiana model” as a positive reference point during a press conference last week, others have cast Pence’s approach as disastrous.






Back in 2015, then-Gov. Pence waited several months before declaring a public health emergency and authorizing a needle exchange program after local officials reported an explosive increase in HIV cases in Scott County, Ind. A 2018 study by researchers at Yale University concluded that the outbreak could have impacted fewer residents if Pence had acted more swiftly as governor. Pence said he eventually changed his mind about the needle exchange program — which he initially opposed due to his belief that it contributed to drug abuse — after praying about it and soliciting expert opinions.



It’s the same attitude Pence has adopted as he works to tackle coronavirus, according to people close to him, who said he’s eager to punch through bureaucracy. Pence has been in constant contact with governors whose states have seen one or more cases of coronavirus, describing the administration’s working relationships with the states as “seamless” during his press conference.

“Having been a governor and been through these public health crises, he’s learned a lot about it and a key lesson is the importance local and state officials play,” Gingrich said, adding that he’s confident Pence “prays about this every morning” as he tackles the worsening coronavirus outbreak.

One former White House official said Pence was likely chosen to lead the administration’s coronavirus task force not because of his own experience managing a public health crisis, but because he’s one of the only officials inside Trump’s Cabinet whom the president trusts to be “an honest broker among department heads.”

The official said Pence proved to Trump that he can settle disagreements and assuage skeptics after he helped shepherd the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement through Congress earlier this year. The same goes for Pence’s handling of the U.S. Space Force, said Gingrich, noting that the vice president took Trump’s vision for the sixth armed forces branch and quickly actualized it.

"You can feel the speed and the impetus that Pence has brought to the space program on behalf of the president and so I think Trump looks at him and says, ‘Here’s a guy who gets stuff done,'" Gingrich said.

Still, success in the Trump administration doesn’t always translate to job security. Last April, for example, the president went on a firing spree at the Department of Homeland Security following a string of negative news stories about his administration’s efforts to curb illegal immigration — even as officials inside the agency insisted they were doing as much as they could without breaking the law. Even Pence, whose loyalty has never wavered during the countless controversies of Trump’s own making, was left to fend off speculation last fall that the president was preparing to dump him from his 2020 ticket after Trump began asking friends what they thought of his genteel sidekick.

These realities will hang over Pence as he enters his greatest challenge yet: rescuing the Trump presidency — and the president’s shot at a second term — from a viral outbreak of growing proportions. If things go south, the vice president could become a fall guy, jeopardizing not only Trump’s shot at reelection but his own shot at being crowned his successor. But as the U.S. death toll rose on Monday, those close to Pence insisted politics were the last thing on the vice president’s mind.

“The most important thing to Pence is the health and safety of the American people,” said the former White House official. “He wants to do right by the president and he’s not thinking about 2024.”

© 2020 POLITICO LLC




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TheHill



MEDIA

March 02, 2020 - 04:54 PM EST

CNN's Begala: Trump will 'dump Pence' for Haley on day of Democratic nominee's acceptance speech



Longtime CNN political analyst Paul Begala predicted on Monday that President Trump is "gonna dump [Vice President] Mike Pence in favor of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley" on July 16 when the Democratic nominee is slated to give his or her acceptance speech.

The former "Crossfire" co-host "guaranteed" Trump will throw Pence "under the bus" because of his handling of the coronavirus, which the president tapped Pence to lead a task force on last week.

"This is not a prediction. It's a certainty. On Thursday, July 16 - that's the date the Democrat gives his or her acceptance address - on that day, to interrupt that narrative, Donald Trump will call a press conference at Mar-a-Lago. He's going to dump Mike Pence and put Nikki Haley on the ticket to try to get those suburban moms," Begala predicted during a panel discussion at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C.

"You watch. Guaranteed," Begala said. "Trump put Pence in charge of coronavirus to throw him under the bus."

In December, Begala predicted that Trump would be impeached again.

"This is not the last impeachment we will cover of Donald J. Trump," he said during a panel discussion on "Anderson Cooper 360."

Haley, who was nominated by Trump to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and was confirmed with a 96-4 vote in January 2017, has staunchly denied speculation she could replace Pence on the GOP ticket.

"The vice president and the president are a great ticket together," Haley told "Fox & Friends" in November. "They're solid. Solid enough that they're going to win together. There is no truth whatsoever that I would ever in any way look to get that position. I think Mike is great for that job and I think that he's the right partner for the president."

"Mike Pence is a great vice president," Trump said in November, while noting Haley would "absolutely" be involved in his 2020 campaign.

"She is a friend of mine, she endorsed me with the most beautiful endorsement you've ever heard. She did a great job at the U.N.," Trump added of Haley.



Political virility-viralpolitics???? Whhhhhaaaaaat?




TheHill



MEDIA

March 02, 2020 - 04:54 PM EST

CNN's Begala: Trump will 'dump Pence' for Haley on day of Democratic nominee's acceptance speech



Longtime CNN political analyst Paul Begala predicted on Monday that President Trump is "gonna dump [Vice President] Mike Pence in favor of former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley" on July 16 when the Democratic nominee is slated to give his or her acceptance speech.

The former "Crossfire" co-host "guaranteed" Trump will throw Pence "under the bus" because of his handling of the coronavirus, which the president tapped Pence to lead a task force on last week.

"This is not a prediction. It's a certainty. On Thursday, July 16 - that's the date the Democrat gives his or her acceptance address - on that day, to interrupt that narrative, Donald Trump will call a press conference at Mar-a-Lago. He's going to dump Mike Pence and put Nikki Haley on the ticket to try to get those suburban moms," Begala predicted during a panel discussion at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's (AIPAC) conference in Washington, D.C.

"You watch. Guaranteed," Begala said. "Trump put Pence in charge of coronavirus to throw him under the bus."

In December, Begala predicted that Trump would be impeached again.

"This is not the last impeachment we will cover of Donald J. Trump," he said during a panel discussion on "Anderson Cooper 360."

Haley, who was nominated by Trump to serve as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and was confirmed with a 96-4 vote in January 2017, has staunchly denied speculation she could replace Pence on the GOP ticket.

"The vice president and the president are a great ticket together," Haley told "Fox & Friends" in November. "They're solid. Solid enough that they're going to win together. There is no truth whatsoever that I would ever in any way look to get that position. I think Mike is great for that job and I think that he's the right partner for the president."

"Mike Pence is a great vice president," Trump said in November, while noting Haley would "absolutely" be involved in his 2020 campaign.

"She is a friend of mine, she endorsed me with the most beautiful endorsement you've ever heard. She did a great job at the U.N.," Trump added of Haley.



Zzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzz( sleeps ) zzz zzz ( wakes)


Political virulence?:



The Guardian - Back to home











Super Tuesday: voting under way as Sanders bids to extend lead amid Biden surge – live

Fourteen states vote in Democratic primaries





Joanna Walters in New York (now) and Martin Belam (earlier)

 














Here's where things stand

My colleague on the west coast, Maanvi Singh, will take on the blog now as Super Tuesday voting - and related drama - continues. Later, Joan Greve in Washington, DC, will helm the blog as the polls begin to close and the results trickle in tonight.

Here’s what’s happened so far today:

Former FBI director James Comey just endorsed Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination.

Kamala Harris: will she or won’t she? Endorse Biden and, if so, when? Rumors and reports abound.

On the second most important voting day of the 2020 election (after election day itself in November), it’s a fierce battle between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, with major efforts at disruption of what could become a two-horse race by Elizabeth Warren and Mike Bloomberg.

The Federal Reserve cut interest rates in a rare emergency move, to try to mitigate the economic effects of coronavirus. But it wasn’t enough to satisfy Donald Trump.





US weighs paying for treatment of uninsured coronavirus sufferers - report

The Trump administration is considering using a national disaster program to pay hospitals and doctors for their care of uninsured people infected with the coronavirus.

As concerns rise over costs of treating some of the 27 million Americans without health coverage, the government is looking for news ways to step in, a person familiar with the conversations told the Wall Street Journal. This would certainly be unexpected.

The WSJ reports that:

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has been in discussions about using that program to pay providers who treat uninsured patients with coronavirus, the person said.

Dr. Robert Kadlec, who is the assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services, also said Tuesday at a congressional hearing that discussions are being held about using the National Disaster Medical System reimbursement program.

About 2% of people infected with coronavirus have died and about 5% have developed serious infections that may require oxygen therapy or ventilators, based on research on cases in China.

In the U.S., there are more than 100 coronavirus cases, Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said at the congressional hearing Tuesday that “we are seeing community transmission in a few places.”

The administration is focusing on the costs of caring for uninsured people because individuals otherwise would have coverage through Medicaid, employers, or through private insurance purchased on the individual market, according to the person familiar with the conversations. No final decision has been made.

Meanwhile, the Guardian reports on the unpreparedness of the US health system.

Coronavirus: health experts concerned US hospitals are not prepared




Comey endorses Biden

Just what Joe was looking for, obviously. Kamala? No Comey, James Comey. The former FBI director just endorsed Joe Biden.

Comey was fired by Trump in 2017 when, effectively, the FBI director refused to pledge loyalty to the president and extricate him from the Trump-Russia investigation that Comey was in charge of. The move triggered the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller to take over the inquiry.

Comey has been very outspoken against Trump ever since, but has flaws of his own, having misjudged in the later stages of the 2016 election the situation where the FBI kept secret the fact that they were investigating Trump in what was undoubtedly a huge international scandal - while disclosing a last-minute probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer (the disgraced ex-congressman then married to Hillary Clinton’s right-hand aide Huma Abedin).

The emails turned out to be harmless, in the sense of whether they were a threat to national security, but the very disclosure of the probe at that sensitive time was a serious blow to Clinton.

Comey also admitted in December “real sloppiness” over the handling of surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser.





California governor votes on Super Tuesday

Gavin Newsom’s a fan of Kamala Harris and since the California senator dropped out of the presidential race in early December, it’s been and remains unclear who the governor is backing for the Democratic nomination.

Apparently we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out.

Looks like the guv is keeping his vote between him and the booth. https://t.co/Jzh0SYIGEZ







Regardless of what the next few hours bring in the “will she, won’t she” endorse Biden cliffhanger, surely no-one will think of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris today without their minds flicking immediately back to that pivotal moment in the second Democratic debate last June, in Miami, when Harris scored a bullseye against Biden and her campaign took off like a rocket (until she fell to Earth in December).



My politics colleague Lauren Gambino wrote at the time:

It was the most dramatic moment of the evening and came in response to a question about race and policing, when Harris interjected, saying that she had a right to respond as the only black candidate on stage. The California senator and former prosecutor then directed her comments to Biden, denouncing his record on race.

“I do not believe you are a racist,” Harris said, looking directly at the former vice-president. “But,” she continued, “it is personal. And it was actually hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country.”

She accused Biden of supporting policies that would have prevented young minority students like herself from attending school in majority-white districts. She said when he opposed bussing, there was a little black girl in Oakland, California, who was being bussed to a better school.

“There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bussed to school every day,” she said. “And that little girl was me.”

Growing visibly upset, Biden looked away. “That is a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true,” he said.

Harris attacks Biden's record on race in Democratic debate's key moment




Harris to endorse Biden - reports

California Senator Kamala Harris, who dropped out of the presidential race in early December, may be ready to endorse Joe Biden....

That would be a huge fillip for Biden, not least in California, where he is extremely keen to spoil a Sanders primary landslide. But it will be a big bonus nationwide as Super Tuesday voters stream to the polls, a terrific last-minute boost for the former VP in his dramatic comeback.

Breaking: what we suspected last night appears to be so: #KamalaHarris will join #JoeBiden at this morning’s rally in Jack London Square and endorse him for the Democratic nomination for president. Still working to confirm this independently https://t.co/uWeJybTnty













All of the Democrats running for president have pitched substantial climate plans - responding to voters’ increasing concerns about rising temperatures and their widespread effects.

Two in three registered voters (66%) are worried about global warming, according to Yale’s climate change communication program. That includes 84% of liberal Democrats, 72% of moderate/conservative Democrats, and about half of liberal/moderate Republicans, but only a quarter of conservative Republicans.

In one Super Tuesday state, Texas, two-thirds of voters want to develop more renewable energy.

But presidential contenders, particularly the more moderate ones, are cautiously navigating climate politics.

Both Joe Biden and Mike Bloomberg have refused to commit to banning fracking, which will likely give them an edge in oil and gas states.

Oil and gas firms 'have had far worse climate impact than thought'

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren would ban the method of extracting oil and gas, which would drastically reduce drilling in the US. Banning fracking, however, would require action from Congress, which seems politically untenable.

Supporters of Biden and Bloomberg say they are focused on the actions they can achieve with executive authority.

Republicans are making noises on climate action. Some say it's just greenwashing

The candidates also split over nuclear power - which provides more than half of zero-carbon electricity in the US. Many experts argue that climate plans that don’t include nuclear aren’t serious.

Sanders would prohibit the construction of new nuclear plants and stop renewing licenses for existing ones.

Warren said she opposed new nuclear plants and would phase out existing ones, but she has since backtracked. California has already shut down its nuclear plants.

We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN





It was a scene that was hard to imagine just one week ago. Joe Biden, 77, and until Sunday his rival for the Democratic presidential nomination Pete Buttigieg, 38, appeared together before a tiny crowd in the Chicken Scratch restaurant in Dallas, Texas, where Buttigieg endorsed the former vice president, Reuters writes.

Fighting back tears, Biden compared the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to his late son Beau, saying it was the highest compliment he could offer any person.

Having ditched his own bid for the nomination, Buttigieg, who had spent months calling for generational change, said Biden would “bring back dignity to the White House.”

Buttigieg’s endorsement was the most eye-catching among over 100 that flooded in for Biden from mostly moderate Democrats after his dominant South Carolina win on Saturday, narrowly preceded by Amy Klobuchar’s endorsement and followed by former candidate Beto O’Rourke’s last night.

Biden’s comeback in South Carolina, after poor showings in other early voting states, was exactly the kind of a victory that Democratic Party officials, alarmed that front-runner Bernie Sanders is far too liberal to beat Trump, had been craving, according to more than two dozen people who either gave their endorsements or were involved behind the scenes.

“I hadn’t planned on endorsing anybody, but then I started getting worried that Bernie Sanders would become the nominee,” said former Senator Barbara Boxer of California, a longtime Senate colleague of both Biden and Sanders.

On the eve of the South Carolina primary, she called longtime Biden aide Steve Ricchetti, telling him she would endorse Biden if he won the race.

People both inside and outside the Biden campaign said that while the effort to garner endorsements involved calls from Biden aides asking for help, most decided on their own.

“People woke up and got a sense of urgency,” said one person close to Biden.

Buttigieg’s endorsement, in particular, surprised Biden.

Biden did not ask Buttigieg for his endorsement nor did the former mayor say he was going to announce support, Biden said at the Texas chicken restaurant event.

The event, which lasted only a few minutes and involved a small crowd of press, campaign supporters and people who just happened to be at the restaurant, was hastily arranged to accommodate a quick, last-minute announcement, said one person familiar with the matter.

Pete Buttigieg endorses Joe Biden during an event at the Chicken Scratch restaurant in Dallas last night. Photograph: Juan Figueroa/AP



Virginia is the fourth-largest prize on Super Tuesday, awarding 99 pledged delegates, ranking behind California (415), Texas (228) and North Carolina (110), the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports.

It’s a huge day in this increasingly-blue swing state and will be a useful early indicator of how things are going for the leading candidates Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Mike Bloomberg and Elizabeth Warren when polls close at 7pm ET. Meanwhile, WDBJ7, the CBS-affiliated television station licensed to Roanoke, Va, reports:

Virginia Tech Professor and WDBJ7 Political Analyst, Bob Denton, said Virginia’s primary will likely come down to a three-way race among Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Mike Bloomberg.

Elizabeth Warren remains in the race, but in the last 48 hours, Tom Steyer, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar have ended their campaigns.

Biden, Denton said, has picked up momentum following a decisive win in South Carolina.

“In a matter of one month he’s gone from a distant third to first in the most recent poll, by three or four points,” Denton said, “so it makes him extremely viable.”

Denton said Sanders has an opportunity to make a statement.

“And if he has a very strong night,” Denton said, “that will certainly send an interesting message indeed for the Democrats.”

And Bloomberg must prove himself in Virginia, after focusing his attention and millions in campaign spending on Super Tuesday, WDBJ7 reports from Blacksburg, Va, the home of Virginia Tech university.

Sanders hopes to ride 'blue wave' to victory in Virginia on Super Tuesday

Virginia congresswoman and moderate Democrat Abigail Spanberger, part of the Blue Wave in the 2018 midterms, who flipped her red district in her first ever run for office, mourns the departure of Klobuchar and urges her fellow Virginians to get out and vote in this key primary today.









Rocky in the Rockies?

Will Joe Biden pull back from way behind in Colorado primary voting today and, if making significant progress, how many delegates will he pull in?

Two Colorado polls last week gave Sanders leads of 12 and 14 percentage points over the rest of the field in the purple state, the Denver Post reports.

Those were pre-Biden South Carolina primary landslide, obviously, but the indications had been that Elizabeth Warren could come in second behind Sanders. So will the Biden phoenix-like rise of late make a difference tonight?

State watchers expect a strong voter turn-out in Colorado today and a lot of undecided voters making late decisions - perhaps wise in light of the developments of the last 48 hours.

It’s definitely Bernie’s to lose.

Some voters are dropping their ballots at the Denver Election Center in downtown Denver, Colorado, in a kind of speedy pedal-by today. Photograph: Bob Pearson/EPA


Bernie just voted

He’s in his home state of Vermont today and will be there tonight as the results come rolling in. It could be a long night, especially waiting for a result in California, where the polls don’t close until 8pm local time. Will Bernie Sanders follow his strong performances in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada voting with a good show east and west? Will it be enough to hold off Joe Biden?




If he beats Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts tonight it could be a harbinger for where Warren’s campaign is going to end up. But will it mean the start of a sweep for Sanders, or will Biden capitalize strongly on his South Carolina win - leaving California as a late-night cliffhanger?

The Boston Globe has a handy “everything you need to know on Super Tuesday in Massachusetts” piece, here. The Globe has endorsed Warren for the Democratic nomination.



Biden to finish Super Tuesday night in California

And my senior politics reporter colleague Lauren Gambino will be on the spot when Joe Biden rounds off a hectic day of campaigning in some key Super Tuesday states, with an event in Los Angeles.

Here she shares her thoughts on what to expect from Super Tuesday with the Guardian’s award-winning news podcast Today in Focus. At 29 minutes long it’s the perfect commuter-listen.

Super Tuesday and the arrival of the billionaire Mike Bloomberg – podcast


Fed cut not enough for Trump

Ah, so the president perhaps thinks the Federal Reserve’s emergency rate cut over coronavirus concerns is kinda cute, but Not Enough for Potus’s liking.

The Federal Reserve is cuting but must further ease and, most importantly, come into line with other countries/competitors. We are not playing on a level field. Not fair to USA. It is finally time for the Federal Reserve to LEAD. More easing and cutting!


Follow all the business details on our dedicated live blog out of London.

Federal Reserve makes emergency US rate cut to fight coronavirus risks - business live




© 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.




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Dr. Fauci :





POLITICO

HEALTH CARE

'You don't want to go to war with a president'

How Dr. Anthony Fauci is navigating the coronavirus outbreak in the Trump era.








Anthony Fauci might be the one person everyone in Washington trusts right now.

But at 79, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is in the thick of one of the biggest battles of 35 years in the role: The race to contain coronavirus when the nation is deeply polarized and misinformation can spread with one tweet — sometimes, from the president himself.



“You should never destroy your own credibility. And you don't want to go to war with a president,” Fauci, who has been the country’s top infectious diseases expert through a dozen outbreaks and six presidents, told POLITICO in an interview Friday. “But you got to walk the fine balance of making sure you continue to tell the truth.”

And the truth about coronavirus? “I don't think that we are going to get out of this completely unscathed,” he said. “I think that this is going to be one of those things we look back on and say boy, that was bad.”

The plainspoken scientist with a heavy Brooklyn accent has navigated outbreaks from HIV to Ebola, Zika and the anthrax scare with an ability to talk frankly yet reassuringly about threats, to explain science, public health and risk to the public in a way few can match.

But in this outbreak, he’s not always the comforting public face amid crisis.

As the Trump administration scrambles to contain the fast-spreading infection and consolidate control under Vice President Mike Pence, Fauci's visibility has been subject to the vagaries of a president who wants to declare the outbreak under control. Over the weekend, Pence and HHS Secretary Alex Azar made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows, not government doctors or scientists.



Fauci sat down with POLITICO in his office Friday, amid dozens of photos of himself with presidents, politicians and celebrities from Magic Johnson to Barbra Streisand. It was just hours after reports that the White House had ordered Fauci off the airwaves sparked a firestorm of protest from senators, former government officials and public health experts.

Fauci denied being muzzled. He did say that Pence’s office wanted him to run interviews past it for re-clearance once Pence was named the White House’s point person on the virus.

But public health experts and Democrats have slammed President Donald Trump’s repeated reassurances about the disease, which has raced across six continents, created economic disruption — and taken 3,000 lives and counting.

Republicans have countered that the left is overstating the risk, spreading panic and trying to take Trump down.

Fauci has openly tempered expectations for a quick coronavirus vaccine — and an end to the epidemic — on the press conference stage with Trump, even as the president promised everything was under control and a vaccine would be ready soon.

Now even some Republicans are concerned that the president is underselling what some health officials have said is an inevitable worsening U.S. outbreak. And Fauci is who they want to hear from.

HEALTH CARE

The coronavirus: Live updates on the response to the epidemic

BY POLITICO STAFF

"If I'm buying real estate in New York, I'll listen to the president of the United States. If I'm asking about infectious diseases, I'm going to listen to Tony Fauci,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said recently.

Giving a president advice can be a heady experience. Fauci has done it dozens of times, for four Republicans and two Democrats. “There's a temptation that you have to fight to tell the president what you think he wants to hear. I’ve seen really good people do that,” says Fauci, who took over the agency in 1984, just a few years after switching his professional focus to a fast-emerging and then-mysterious new illness, HIV/AIDS.

Grappling with the AIDS epidemic and the Reagan administration’s initial slow-go approach that divided Washington, Fauci became the public face of the response at a time when Ronald Reagan did not even broach the issue until his second term. Fauci often brings that up as a White House failure.

But these days are different. Trump fires off tweets about coronavirus, promising a vaccine will arrive “soon” (Fauci says in a best-case scenario it will be a year — and that might be optimistic), or says in press conferences that “we are totally prepared” (Fauci and other health officials warn the risk could change in a moment’s notice). The president also referred to a coronavirus “hoax” in a campaign rally — the night before the first death from the virus was reported in the U.S.

And then there is Congress. Fauci likes to say that he has testified before Congress more than anyone in the nation’s history. Over more than three decades he has been called to the Hill a dozen times a year to explain the threat of Ebola, Zika, anthrax or a pandemic flu.


He remembers the days of lawmakers hurling barbs across party lines about the AIDS response. But today, “the degree of divisiveness is one of almost an emotional dislike of the other person,” he said.

Republicans reportedly stormed out of a recent closed-door briefing on the infection after Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) ripped into the administration’s coronavirus response. Democrats have called for the White House to replace Pence as point person on the virus, arguing he has no public health experience.

The truth, Fauci says, is that Democrats and Republicans alike may not appreciate the range of what could happen now.

“It could be really, really bad. I don't think it's gonna be, because I think we'd be able to do the kind of mitigation. It could be mild. I don't think it's going to be that mild either. It's really going to depend on how we mobilize.”

Critics say the administration has already stumbled with a slow rollout of diagnostic tests and narrow guidelines for who uses them, meaning that some patients waited days to find out if they are infected and the virus began spreading. Fauci said that restricted guidance — specifically the idea that someone would not get tested if they had not been in known contact with infected people — was unwise. He predicted more cases would emerge in the coming days — and they have.

POLITICO Pulse







There have already been scapegoats for the response. CDC Director Robert Redfield took the blame Saturday when Trump misidentified the gender of the first U.S. death. Sources also pointed to CDC on Sunday over concerns about the cleanliness of labs making diagnostic tests, even as some current and former administration officials blamed Azar for the bungled response. CDC’s respiratory disease lead Nancy Messonnier also took heat from administration officials a week earlier after her statement that a U.S. outbreak was inevitable helped send the stock market tumbling.

“It's really, really tough because you have to be honest with the American public and you don't want to scare the hell out of them,” Fauci said. “And then other times, in attempts to calm people down, [leaders] have had people be complacent about it. This is particularly problematic in a ‘gotcha” town like Washington.”

And yet, Fauci has not only survived the town for decades but managed to make his priorities those of the presidents, above all HIV. Along with Redfield and HHS Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir, Fauci helped engineer getting the president include a pledge to ending HIV transmission in his State of the Union address last year.



But many challenges are still ahead, including sometimes contradicting the president he doesn’t want to “go to war” with. Fauci says it will be OK: he knows that “even if it’s uncomfortable” his years of truth-telling have earned him a backlog of respect.

The 79-year-old also has no plans of retiring anytime soon — not least because one of his top goals, developing an HIV vaccine, remains elusive.

“I feel like I'm 45. And I act like I'm 35,” Fauci said. “When I start to feel like I don't have the energy to do the job, whatever my age, I’ll walk away and write my book.”

,

 






Fed slashes rates in emergency response to coronavirus


© 2020 POLITICO LLC




Ecenomic disaster coming?




Dow Jones Could Crash 40% Over Coronavirus Pandemic: Dr. Doom

Economist Nouriel Roubini reckons the stock market could tank 40% due to coronavirus concerns. He may be right.



 



 





Nouriel Roubini, who predicted the 2008 crash correctly, claims global equities could take a 40% hit because of the coronavirus outbreak.

Dow Jones jumped over 5% on Monday, but such volatility is indicative of a bear market rally.

Roubini’s prediction may prove correct as rate cuts will fail to work as a measure to stimulate spending. Investors losing faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability can lead to a brutal stock market crash.

Famed economist Nouriel Roubini is known for making gloomy predictions that often come true. He was warning the markets of an impending recession in 2006, and it came true shortly thereafter in the form of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Labeled Dr. Doom for his melancholy predictions, Roubini is now claiming global equities could plummet 40% due to coronavirus. If his prediction comes true, the Dow Jones could crash to sub-18,000 levels.

Coronavirus Fears Grips The World

Google search trends show coronavirus is the most significant cause of concern around the world. So far, coronavirus has managed to leave all other modern outbreaks behind.



COVID-19 continues to spread fear among the masses.|

The death toll from coronavirus is still less than that of SARS and Ebola, but the infectious nature of the disease has forced governments to take extreme measures to contain the outbreak.

Coronavirus is still spreading rapidly across the globe. The disease has already reached over 70 countries with no signs of stopping. So it’s likely to impact stock markets further.

Dow Jones Rally Is A Plea To The Fed

The Dow and the S&P 500 came roaring back on Monday after experiencing one of the fastest crashes in recorded history.

A swift crash preceded Monday’s rally in the stock market.| Source: Twitter

Monday’s rally was a relief for the bulls, but investors need to remember that rallies this intense are usually indicative of a bear market. Bull market rallies are calmer and consistent.

So it’s possible that Monday’s stock surge could turn out to be a head fake.



One of the most important factors behind the Dow Jones’ rally was the expectation of a rate cut from the Federal Reserve. However, it’s likely that central bank interventions will be useless in this scenario.

Since coronavirus is a biological problem and not a liquidity problem, injecting more money into the financial system is not going to help. Central banks worldwide are adamant on trying it nonetheless.

Over the years, investors have put a lot of faith in the Federal Reserve’s ability to pump the stock market. Coronavirus has rendered the Fed’s powers useless as global trade plummets and consumers think twice about travelling.

Markets will eventually realize that money printing is not going to solve the problem. The psychological change arising from such a situation could lead to a devastating crash that validates Dr. Doom’s forecast.



 

© 2020 CCN.com
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Re: Trump enters the stage-slapstick-Barbara Streisand and M

Postby Meno_ » Wed Mar 04, 2020 4:40 pm

Barbra Streisand calls Trump 'one-man weapon of mass destruction' in scathing column










Barbra Streisand isn't holding back her thoughts on President Donald Trump.

In a column published Tuesday by Variety, the actress and singer, 77, addressed "Mr. Trump" before outlining the reasons she believes he should not be re-elected.

"America was great – before you were elected," she began. "Since 2016, we’ve been dragged down into the mud of Trump’s swamp. He has demolished our standing in the world with his laughable boasts and breathtaking ignorance. He has put the security of this country, and our planet, in a precarious position by abandoning the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal. He’s a one-man weapon of mass destruction … so reckless that he almost started a war."

She continued, referencing recent headlines, including the coronavirus, which has since taken thousands of lives. 

"Now we’re facing another kind of war, against the coronavirus. Trump got rid of our pandemic specialist two years ago and has defunded the Centers for Disease Control because he continues to ignore science," she said. "We can’t go on like this. It’s too dangerous."

She goes on to describe "Trump's world" as a "place of paranoia, hypocrisy and lies, so many lies..."

"Trump thinks the rules don’t apply to him," she added. "Trump is a man who has never once taken responsibility for his own actions, preferring to blame others when he’s at fault."

Then, in a final plea, Streisand urges voters to "bring back dignity and grace" in the upcoming election.

"We must care about the facts, the planet, each other and the least fortunate among us," she writes. "We need a new America, without pollution, without obscenities, without insults, without revenge. We need to restore the nobility of truth... and only then will America be great again."

This isn't the first time Streisand has been vocal about her dislike toward Trump.

During an August performance at Madison Square Garden, she warned Republicans in the audience to cover their ears before launching into a remixed version of "Send in the Clowns" that took jabs at Trump.

"Maybe he's poor, till he reveals his returns who can be sure, who is this clown," she sang as the audience erupted in applause. "Something's amiss, I don't approve, now that's he's running the free world where can we move, maybe a town, who is this clown?"

After the song, a photo of the White House – with circus tent on top of it – appeared on the screen, followed by Trump in clown makeup. An altered version of his Time magazine 2016 Person of the Year cover showed him with a red nose under the words "clown of the year."



Related: Barbra Streisand comes for President Trump in new song 'Don't Lie to Me'

More: Barbra Streisand mulls a move to Canada after midterm elections if Republicans roll

&&&&&&&_ &&_& &&&_&&_&(&( &?


BREAKING NEWS

Donald Trump Takes Coronavirus Swipe At “Dirty” Mike Bloomberg As Ex-NYC Mayor Finally Wins Some Delegates



March 3, 2020 5:22PM PST




This Super Tuesday may be dominated so far by the intense fight for Democratic delegates between Sen, Bernie Sanders and former Vice-President Joe Biden, but never forget the constant bubonic sideshow of Donald Trump and Michael Bloomberg.

As the ex-New York City mayor captured his first delegates this election season with a win in American Samoa, the former Celebrity Apprentice and Tweeter-in-chief stepped away today for overseeing Mike Pence overseeing the federal government’s management of the ever-expanding coronavirus to take a swipe at the ninth richest man in the world.

Bloomberg took a more traditional stance online:



Super Tuesday Sees Joe Biden Feeling 'Optimistic' As Ex-VP Takes North Carolina Primary

Of course, the greater context is that Bloomberg has been trolling the master troller with a flood of ads and social media posts in the past week excoriating Trump’s handling, or lack there of, the virus that has taken nine American lives so far.

As the Democrats’ race seems to be sharpened down to Biden and Sanders this evening, there is increasing pressure on party fathers and mothers for Bloomberg to step back so the ex-VP can grab the nomination. At the same time, the uncontested Trump is certainly trying to look like he has a grasp on the coronavirus as many worry this is the calm before the storm, politically and health-wise.

On the other hand, as much as Trump and Bloomberg have worked to get under each other’s skin, POTUS’ tweet was basically ignored on cable newsers are results were coming in fast and furiously – and that must really drive the current occupant of the White House crazy. Or, to use some math, Trump has sent out 34 tweets about the coronavirus in the past few week and 44 about “mini Mike.” Hard to tell if today’s tweet counts both, or not.

BTW – The Daily Show had a very different take on how $61 billion dollar man Bloomberg scored that Pacific Island win:

© 2020 PMC. All rights reserved.


© Copyright Gannett 2020
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby promethean75 » Wed Mar 04, 2020 8:57 pm

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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Meno_ » Thu Mar 05, 2020 12:50 am




Well, at least in the case of Babs, we don't have to wait until the fat lady can sing. For she is neither fat, and cam sing and dance . That , let's be honest, may not be true for Trump, he IS fat, can't sing, and has never been in a blockbuster like the Star is Born

Sure , Donald was in The Apprentice, but his one liner, ' You're fired' did not muster up even an Emmy. In fact, it earned him many enemies , and few admirerers , mostly bible thumping folks down South.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - unredacted Mueller report and B

Postby Meno_ » Fri Mar 06, 2020 3:43 am

{New ruling: is there a change of perspective within the Justice Dept?}


TheHill

COURT BATTLES

March 05, 2020 - 05:13 PM EST
Judge demands unredacted Mueller report, questions Barr's 'credibility'




A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Department of Justice (DOJ) 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.

Judge Reggie B. Walton, a federal district court judge in Washington, said that he could not reconcile Barr's public comments in April 2019 about the report with the actual findings that former special counsel Robert Mueller outlined.

"The inconsistencies between Attorney General Barr's statements, made at a time when the public did not have access to the redacted version of the Mueller Report to assess the veracity of his statements, and portions of the redacted version of the Mueller Report that conflict with those statements cause the Court to seriously question whether Attorney General Barr made a calculated attempt to influence public discourse about the Mueller Report in favor of President Trump despite certain findings in the redacted version of the Mueller Report to the contrary," Walton wrote in his decision.

"These circumstances generally, and Attorney General Barr's lack of candor specifically, call into question Attorney General Barr's credibility" as well as the DOJ's arguments in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit, Walton added.



A DOJ spokeswoman did not respond when asked for comment.

The judge, who was appointed to the court by former President George W. Bush, said he would review the full report to determine whether the redactions made by the DOJ are subject to a FOIA request. The unredacted version will not be released to the public in the meantime.

After Mueller submitted his long-awaited report on his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, the DOJ waited nearly a month before releasing to the public a redacted version in April. During that time, Barr summarized the findings publicly as clearing Trump of any wrongdoing and concluding that neither he nor his campaign had colluded with Russia for assistance during the presidential race.



Mueller criticized Barr's framing of his report, writing in a letter to the DOJ last year that it "did not fully capture the context, nature, and substance of this Office's work and conclusions."

The report said that while the investigation had not been able to establish proof that the campaign had conspired with Russia, it found "multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government."

Walton is presiding over a pair of consolidated FOIA lawsuits brought by Buzzfeed journalist Jason Leopold and the nonprofit Electronic Privacy Information Center.



The judge said that Barr's public statements about the report has caused him to doubt the DOJ's arguments that the redactions should remain in place.

"The Court has grave concerns about the objectivity of the process that preceded the public release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report and its impacts on the Department's subsequent justifications that its redactions of the Mueller Report are authorized by the FOIA," Walton wrote.

He ordered the DOJ to hand over the unredacted report by March 30.


The Hill 1625 K Street,



Trump , Bart on the warpath of a pleasant and rational offensive:



An official website of the United States government





ATTORNEY GENERAL BARR, ACTING HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY WOLF AND INTERNATIONAL PARTNERS ANNOUNCE NEW INITIATIVE IN PROTECTING CHILDREN FROM SEXUAL EXPLOITATION


March 5, 2020

U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and partners from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom launch a new initiative to combat online child sexual exploitation and abuse.



Attorney General William P. Barr Announces the Launch of Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse

Department of Justice, Homeland Security and International Partners Announce Launch of Voluntary Principles to Counter Online Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse



U.S. Department of Justice

950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001
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Re: Trump enters the stage - viral politics

Postby Meno_ » Fri Mar 06, 2020 8:37 pm

{What's up?} --- viral scares plague' s biopolitocal agenda, or is there more than FDR's epitath at stake here( there is nothing to fear but fear it'self ?)




Donald Trump's dangerous freelancing on coronavirus

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

Updated 11:31 AM EST, Fri March 06, 2020

 



(CNN)On Friday morning, amid questions of why President Donald Trump had canceled a planned trip to Atlanta to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House released this statement:

"The President is no longer traveling to Atlanta today. The CDC has been proactive and prepared since the very beginning and the President does not want to interfere with the CDC's mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency

OK! Makes some sense, since a presidential visit requires a massive amount of logistics and security that, theoretically, could take away from the important work the CDC is doing in identifying and containing the novel coronavirus.

Except that, when asked later Friday morning why he had canceled the CDC trip, Trump said this:

"We may go. They thought there was a problem at CDC, somebody that had the virus. They've tested the person very fully and it was a negative test," Trump said. "I may be going they're going to see if they can turn it around with Secret Service."

Uh.

So, which is it? Did the White House cancel because they didn't want to be a distraction to the CDC? Or because there were concerns that by going Trump could expose himself (and his staff) to the virus? Because that's a BIG difference.

Adding even more confusion, the trip is now back on as of Friday midday, according to White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham. "What the President said is true," she offered by way of explanation. Er, OK?

That we are getting different messages from the White House's official channels and the President isn't, frankly, new. On an almost weekly basis, Trump says something in public that either directly contradicts or undermines a message his own White House has put out. Which, of course, raises the question of who to believe.

While those dual -- and dueling -- messages are never a good thing, they are particularly problematic in a situation like dealing with the coronavirus. What the public needs are facts. One set of facts. From a trusted source.

Trump's longstanding issues with telling the truth -- 16,000+ misleading or false claims in his first three years in office! -- already make this difficult. But it's even more complicated when the White House is saying one thing and the President is saying something else.

Trump seems to show little concern with the gaps between what he says and what his White House is saying. Or even what he says and what the medical community says.

Consider:

* The President has repeatedly suggested that we are close to coming up with a vaccine for coronavirus, when experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly made clear that a vaccine is at least 12-18 months away.

* Trump rejected the warning from medical exerts that the spread of coronavirus in the US was inevitable, adding: "It probably will, it possibly will. It could be at a very small level, or it could be at a larger level."

* After the head of the World Health Organization pegged the global mortality rate from COVID-19 at over 3%,Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity this:

"Well, I think the 3.4% is really a false number. Now, this is just my hunch, and -- but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this, and it's very mild."

* On Friday morning, amid a steady increase of cases in the United States, Trump said this of the virus: "This came unexpectedly, it came out of China, we closed it down, we stopped it, it was a very early shut down."

The point here is that in a moment when we desperately need clear communication of facts from a credible source, the President is giving us anything but that.


© 2020 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.



Now this from CDC - a Grand performance, most of it off cue




!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!#!!!???!!!!!!!!!!!#######??

Trump calls Inslee a 'snake' over criticism of coronavirus rhetoric

The president went off on Inslee for saying that he wanted Trump to stick to the science when discussing the coronavirus outbreak.



Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee addresses the press Thursday during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to discuss concerns over the coronavirus. | Karen Ducey/Getty Images



President Donald Trump on Friday called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a snake” for criticizing his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking in Atlanta at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump went off on Inslee for saying that he wanted Trump to stick to the science when discussing the outbreak. Trump has repeatedly tried to downplay the gravity of the outbreak and floated his own hunches on matters of science.


“I told Mike not to be complimentary of that governor because that governor is a snake,” Trump said, referring to Vice President Mike Pence. “So Mike may be happy with him but I'm not, OK?”

Pence is Trump’s appointed head of the administration’s coronavirus efforts and has been reaching out to state and local officials to coordinate containment plans.

Inslee tweeted last month that he had been contacted by Pence but said he wanted the Trump administration to stick to the facts about the outbreak.

“I just received a call from @VP Mike Pence, thanking Washington state for our efforts to combat the coronavirus,” Inslee tweeted. “I told him our work would be more successful if the Trump administration stuck to the science and told the truth.”


Washington state was the location of the first U.S. death from coronavirus, and the number of deaths has since grown in the state.

Trump has repeatedly complained that he isn’t getting enough credit for attempting to prevent the outbreak.

“If we came up with a cure today, and tomorrow everything is gone, and you went up to this governor — who is, you know, not a good governor, by the way — if you went up to this governor, and you said to him, ‘How did Trump do?’ He would say, ‘He did a terrible job.’ It makes no difference,” Trump said Friday.



 




© 2020 POLITICO LLC

{ another retributive payback}




Trump calls Inslee a 'snake' over criticism of coronavirus rhetoric

The president went off on Inslee for saying that he wanted Trump to stick to the science when discussing the coronavirus outbreak.



Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee addresses the press Thursday during a visit by Vice President Mike Pence to discuss concerns over the coronavirus. | Karen Ducey/Getty Images



President Donald Trump on Friday called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a snake” for criticizing his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking in Atlanta at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump went off on Inslee for saying that he wanted Trump to stick to the science when discussing the outbreak. Trump has repeatedly tried to downplay the gravity of the outbreak and floated his own hunches on matters of science.


“I told Mike not to be complimentary of that governor because that governor is a snake,” Trump said, referring to Vice President Mike Pence. “So Mike may be happy with him but I'm not, OK?”

Pence is Trump’s appointed head of the administration’s coronavirus efforts and has been reaching out to state and local officials to coordinate containment plans.

Inslee tweeted last month that he had been contacted by Pence but said he wanted the Trump administration to stick to the facts about the outbreak.

“I just received a call from @VP Mike Pence, thanking Washington state for our efforts to combat the coronavirus,” Inslee tweeted. “I told him our work would be more successful if the Trump administration stuck to the science and told the truth.”


Washington state was the location of the first U.S. death from coronavirus, and the number of deaths has since grown in the state.

Trump has repeatedly complained that he isn’t getting enough credit for attempting to prevent the outbreak.

“If we came up with a cure today, and tomorrow everything is gone, and you went up to this governor — who is, you know, not a good governor, by the way — if you went up to this governor, and you said to him, ‘How did Trump do?’ He would say, ‘He did a terrible job.’ It makes no difference,” Trump said Friday.



 




© 2020 POLITICO LLC
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Give to Caesar & give to God

Postby Meno_ » Mon Mar 09, 2020 3:29 pm

Stocks plunge, coronavirus spreads and Trump tweets image of himself playing a fiddle


Published: Mar 8, 2020 11:50 pm ET



President Donald Trump

Is President Donald Trump fiddling while the world burns?

In another era, Roman emperor Nero, according to ancient tradition, climbed to the top of his city walls and, in a familiar phrase, fiddled as Rome burned. While there are all sorts of questions surrounding what actually went down, the adage that rose from the legend is typically used to criticize someone for doing something trivial in the midst of some sort of crisis.

So Trump’s retweet of his social-media manager’s tweet showing him playing a fiddle couldn’t be more timely, considering the continued spread of the coronavirus and the fact that the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA-5.18% is poised for a nasty selloff on Monday.

Here’s the retweet, in which Trump acknowledges that he is not sure exactly what Dan Scavino meant by “nothing can stop what’s coming”:

Trump supporters cheered the meme, of course, but his critics keyed into the ominous tone in light of current events and made “Nero” a trending topic on Twitter TWTR-0.48%  . The fact that Trump was golfing over the weekend only fueled the fire.

Here are just some of the highlights:





ECONOMY AND POLITICS

Stocks plunge, coronavirus spreads and Trump tweets image of himself playing a fiddle



MARKETS

Dow plunges 7.2% and S&P 500’s plunge triggers 15 minute halt at lows as oil prices deliver a punishing blow to Wall Street



NEWS & COMMENTARY

These nine companies are working on coronavirus treatments or vaccines — here’s where things stand



NEWS & COMMENTARY

Should I cancel my flight? Will recirculated air on a plane spread coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know before traveling

Copyright ©2020 MarketWatch, Inc. All rights reserved.




>>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>
<
<<
<<<<



Opinion

You Can’t Gaslight a Virus

President Trump’s usual political tricks won’t work now.



By Charles M. Blow





In the Donald Trump era, Democrats and Republicans generally live with two completely different concepts of reality. Their views of Trump, his competence and character, could hardly be more different.

The Pew Research Center last week released the results of a poll that found that an overwhelming majority of Republicans and independents who lean Republican viewed Trump as intelligent. After all, he describes himself as “a very stable genius.” Maybe they believe him. Maybe they see his business dealings and political maneuvering — no matter how shady — and his ability to avoid major punishment as markers of brilliance.

But, they are largely alone on that island. Only 19 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents view Trump as intelligent.

Furthermore, 71 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaners believe that Trump is honest, even though he has single-handedly provided a jolt of energy and a shield of job security to fact-checkers.



As The Washington Post wrote in January:

“Three years after taking the oath of office, President Trump has made more than 16,200 false or misleading claims — a milestone that would have been unthinkable when we first created the Fact Checker’s database that analyzes, categorizes and tracks every suspect statement he has uttered.”

Trump is a lying machine. It is pathological. It is compulsive. It is unrepentant.

Democrats and their leaners see this, as only 7 percent view Trump as honest.

Sixty-two percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents see Trump as morally upstanding. This is a thrice married man whom multiple women have accused of sexual misconduct, and at least one has accused of rape. This is a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women, who was outed for paying off women who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with him, and who has appeared (clothed, thankfully) in at least three soft-core pornographic films.

Again, precious few Democrats and their leaners agreed with this assessment of Trump’s morality.

But perhaps most telling to me was that 87 percent of Republicans and their leaners say that Trump fights for what they believe in, while at the same time 35 percent say that he is prejudiced. There is clearly some overlap here. Allow that to sink it.



Some people don’t like him in spite of his prejudices but because of them, because they share them.

But, there were a couple of areas of general agreement among Democrats and Republicans, one of which was that overwhelming majorities of both groups viewed Trump as self-centered.

That self-centered sensibility has been on full display since the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Trump sees this budding pandemic through the lens of how it will affect him and his re-election prospects. The fact that the people infected and those fearful of becoming so are real people who desperately need the steady hand of a steady leader is lost on him.

Instead of being the president that the country needs in a time of crisis, he has chosen to employ his worn political strategy: lying. Rather than addressing the issue straightforwardly, he has told lie after lie, and in some cases contradicted the scientists trying to manage this issue.

This has real-world consequences for people’s health and the management of the virus’s spread. As a Reuters/Ipsos poll last week found, “Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the coronavirus poses an imminent threat to the United States,” and “More Democrats than Republicans say they are taking steps to be prepared, including washing their hands more often or limiting their travel plans.”



Furthermore, when asked last week if he would consider canceling some of his large political rallies to avoid the risk of spreading the virus, Trump responded, “It doesn’t bother me and it doesn’t bother them at all.”

Trump could be making his most ardent supporters a petri dish of disease.

But in his mind, it’s not really about them, and certainly not about the rest of us. This is about him, only, always.

Whereas his supporters can be lied to and gaslighted, a virus cannot. A virus is going to do what a virus does. Viruses are not thinking and aware. Technically, they’re not even living things. They are like an army of androids, multiplying as they attack and infect living things.

So none of the tricks that Trump has learned and deployed will work against this virus. Only science, honesty, prudence and genuine concern for public safety will work now.



And precisely for those reasons, this virus exposes Trump’s enormous weaknesses as the chief executive officer of this country.

The public needs to be assured that we have a real leader at the helm, but we are being shown that just the opposite is true. The fact that he wants to spin media coverage of the virus as politically motivated, the fact that he keeps lowballing the number of people infected, and the fact that he has said that the virus may miraculously disappear, all show that Trump is as much a public health threat as the virus itself.





© 2020 The New York Times Company
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Say what?

Postby Meno_ » Mon Mar 09, 2020 7:55 pm

The New York Times

Opinion

The Coronavirus Is Coming for Trump’s Presidency

Will a nationalist president be undone by his underreaction to a foreign threat?



By Ross Douthat



March 7, 2020



On Jan. 31, over a month ago, the Trump administration made an excellent decision: In an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus, it forbade most foreign nationals from entering the United States if they had recently traveled to China.

This move was immediately attacked in the language of cosmopolitan sophistication, which assumes that because travel bans and quarantines are associated with things liberals consider bad — nationalism, hardened borders, migration restrictions — they necessarily must not work as well.

But this supposed sophistication is really just a superstition. It’s certainly true that the travel ban could not, and did not, prevent the coronavirus from reaching the United States. But as with local quarantines and closings — all of which emphatically do work, whether you’re looking at the history of the Spanish flu or Hong Kong’s success combating the coronavirus today — you don’t need 100 percent effectiveness for travel restrictions to be wise and helpful. What they buy you, above all, is a slower rate of spread, and with it precious time for preparation.

So Trump made the right call, and in so doing he briefly vindicated a case that his supporters have always made for him: He acted like the guy who would make common-sensical choices in the national interest, even when they went against the nostrums of globalization and the supposed wisdom of the do-gooders.



And then his administration took the month that his decision bought the country and completely wasted it.

[Listen to “The Argument” podcast every Thursday morning, with Ross Douthat, Michelle Goldberg and David Leonhardt.]

Obviously the White House isn’t to blame for everything that’s gone wrong with the coronavirus response. Our inability to roll out testing rapidly, even when thousands of cases are probably in circulation, owes a lot to the inherent problems of medical bureaucracy and the regulatory state, and to the decadence that afflicts American institutions at almost every level.

But the president can still be reasonably held responsible for the urgency with which the bureaucracy attacks the problem, the speed at which rules get suspended and workarounds enacted, the pressure brought to bear on state and local authorities to take a possible pandemic seriously, and the use of presidential rhetoric to encourage private citizens to do the same.



And on all counts the White House has been failing. There should have been a public face of the anti-coronavirus effort long before Mike Pence was finally elevated, with the power to respond quickly to bureaucratic bottlenecks. Weeks ago, private laboratories like Quest Diagnostics should have been encouraged to run their own tests for the virus. Weeks ago, the government should have promised to cover the cost of testing, instead of leaving it to the tangle of insurance. Weeks ago, the White House should have begun working with states and cities to devise a uniform response to outbreaks, and with Congress to ready aid packages for regions that need to go into lockdown — and perhaps to prepare a general stimulus as well. Even a specific issue like the production of surgical masks, outsourced like so many things to China, could have been the focus of a Trump-directed mobilization.

Above all, the president’s rhetoric could have been deployed from early February onward to encourage people to take this disease seriously, to focus a political and social response, to prepare the country for the kind of steps that have contained the coronavirus elsewhere.

Instead, Trump fell into the same trap as the cosmopolitan sophisticates — acting as though the specter of panic is worse than the disease itself, focusing on the more reassuring estimates of the virus’s fatality rates instead of recognizing the wide spread of possible scenarios — while mixing in his own short-termist fixation on the stock market. And then when, at last, even the cosmopolitans became alarmed, he took their anxiety as a partisan insult, and lapsed into “hoax” accusations, pulling a certain percentage of his co-partisans into irresponsibility along with him.

Now the time his travel ban bought us has expired, and the next few weeks will be decisive. There is still a chance that state and local efforts to contain the virus can succeed, and there are still ways in which the White House could exert strong leadership to help that happen. But right now we are headed for a scenario of rising death rates and overwhelmed hospitals, shuttered schools and empty stadiums and cancellations everywhere.

Combine this scenario’s inevitable economic consequences with the optics of the president’s blundering and solipsistic response, and the coronavirus seems very likely to doom Trump’s re-election effort, no matter where he casts the blame.

And how ironic that would be. In 2016 we elected a China hawk who promised a “complete shutdown” in response to foreign threats, a germaphobic critic of globalization who promised to privilege the national interest above all.

Now he is in danger of losing his presidency because when the great test came, in the form of a virus carried by global trade routes from Communist China, he didn’t take the danger seriously enough.









© 2020 The New York Times Company
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Aware-ness » Mon Mar 09, 2020 9:30 pm

You Can’t Gaslight a Virus

You can if you are the best gaslighter in the history of gaslighters.
God forgives. Nature doesn't.
"Praying to an otherworldly God is like kissing thru glass." - Paul West
There's a serpent in every paradise.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Coronavirus in Congress

Postby Meno_ » Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:06 am

5 congressmen -- including Trump's future chief of staff and lawmaker who shook President's hand -- to self-quarantine after CPAC

By Haley Byrd, Paul LeBlanc, Lauren Fox and Kaitlan Collins, CNN

Updated 8:49 PM EDT, Mon March 09, 2020

 



(CNN)Three more members of Congress, including President Donald Trump's future chief of staff, have announced that they would self-quarantine after coming into contact with an individual who has been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus at the recent Conservative Political Action Conference.

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows, who was named as the incoming White House chief of staff on Friday night, announced Monday evening that he has been tested for coronavirus and that test came back negative. However, he's staying in self-quarantine until Wednesday, said Ben Williamson, Meadows' chief of staff. Meadows has not yet taken his new job and was not scheduled to start this week, an official told CNN.

"Rep. Meadows was advised this weekend that he may have come in contact with the CPAC attendee who tested positive for COVID-19, now 12 days ago. Out of an abundance of caution, Meadows received testing which came back negative," Williamson said in a statement. "While he's experiencing zero symptoms, under doctors' standard precautionary recommendations, he'll remain at home until the 14 day period expires this Wednesday."

Two other Republican lawmakers announced earlier in the day that they too would be in self-quarantine out of an abundance of caution after being in contact with the individual who tested positive for coronavirus at CPAC.

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, and Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida became the third and fourth members of Congress to take the step, following the same announcements from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona on Sunday.

Collins shook Trump's hand when the President went to Georgia on Friday to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Gaetz rode with Trump in the presidential limousine and took Air Force One back to Washington with him on Monday.

A fifth Republican member -- Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas -- was told by officials over the weekend that he had been in proximity to the individual, but he is not planning to self-quarantine, a Gohmert aide tells CNN, details the congressman himself confirmed on Twitter on Monday evening.

"After CDC physician called me Sunday evening, and we discussed all the specific circumstances of which he was aware along with my circumstances, including that I was and am asymptomatic, he said that all things considered, I was cleared to return to Washington," Gohmert said in a series of tweets.

Trump ignored questions shouted at him from a White House briefing on whether he'd been tested. Vice President Mike Pence said he himself had not been tested and he did not know if Trump had been, but promised to get an answer to the question shortly.

"I have not been tested for the coronavirus," Pence said during a briefing on the virus with reporters, which Trump attending the beginning of.



Trump pushes payroll tax cut and assistance for hourly workers in coronavirus economic response

In a separate development, Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley of California also announced that she was closing her Washington office for the week and would be "self-monitoring and maintaining social distancing practices" as will her Washington staff, after interacting with an individual with the coronavirus last week. CNN has reached out to her office for additional details about her plans.

Collins shook hands with Trump when the President visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta last week. Gaetz rode on Air Force Once with the President on Monday.

Collins announced the decision in a statement Monday afternoon, saying he was notified by the organizers of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference Monday afternoon that they had found a photograph of Collins with the individual who tested positive for coronavirus.

"While I feel completely healthy and I am not experiencing any symptoms, I have decided to self-quarantine at my home for the remainder of the 14-day period out of an abundance of caution," Collins wrote.

Two aides to Collins will also self-quarantine, according to an aide familiar with the situation. The aides in question also interacted with the infected person at CPAC at the end of February, and are not experiencing any symptoms.

Gaetz announced his own self-quarantine in a string of tweets later Monday, stating, "While the Congressman is not experiencing symptoms, he received testing today and expects results soon."

"Under doctor's usual precautionary recommendations, he'll remain self-quarantined until the 14-day period expires this week," the tweet said.

The Florida Republican, who spent the weekend at Trump's Mar-a-Lago property, had donned a gas mask on the House floor just last week while he voted on a bill that would dedicate billions of dollars to combating coronavirus.



Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a number of other administration officials also attended the conference, but the American Conservative Union, which runs the event every year, said the infected attendee did not come into contact with the President or Pence.

Speaking to Fox News on Monday, Gosar stressed the need to stay calm about the virus.

"I am in interviews all the way across the board putting out the hysteria," he said.

Still, the spread of the virus has prompted House and Senate authorities to prepare for how to keep Congress functioning if the disease threatens Hill operations.

A number of House and Senate offices have begun practicing how they would operate if a chunk of aides were forced into quarantine and had to work from home, congressional sources say.

US Capitol Police are working to ensure that secure communications can continue off-site. The leaders of key congressional committees, along with law enforcement authorities and the Capitol physician's office, have informed each lawmaker's office to prepare contingency plans in case of an outbreak.

And lawmakers say it's possible that more extreme measures could have to be taken -- such as limiting tourists in the Capitol or moving legislative business off-site -- though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters Monday the virus should not shut down the Capitol.

"No. No, no no, no. Do you understand no?" Pelosi said as she entered her office.

"At this time, there is no reason to do so. But it's not my decision. It's a security and health decision, and we'll be depending on experts."

This story has been updated with Rep. Mark Meadows also self-quarantining.




© 2020 Cable News Network. Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. All Rights Reserved.





President Trump Is Unfit for This Crisis. Period.

His narcissism is a grave danger to our health.






March 9, 2020






President Trump boarding Air Force One in Florida on Monday. Over the weekend, reports say, the White House overruled government health officials who wanted to advise older people against flying.Credit...T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The coronavirus is no longer just a slow-moving public health crisis that may soon turn into a rapid-moving one. It’s a crisis of transparency. It’s a crisis of government legitimacy. So it is in this spirit that we all have to say: enough.

Whose side is the Trump administration on? Based on every public appearance we’ve seen so far — whether it’s from a cabinet member or the director of the Centers for Disease Control or the president himself — the answer is clear: not the public’s. President Trump, hellbent on re-election, is focused on massaging numbers and silencing bearers of bad news. That’s what autocrats do. And it’s endangering lives.

On Saturday, The Associated Press reported that Trump overruled his own health officials, who wanted to warn older Americans and the fragile against flying on commercial airlines. Our storied C.D.C., now annexed by politicians, continues to insist that only the most floridly symptomatic patients be tested for the virus. Even that remains a challenge: Last week, it refused to test an ailing nurse in Northern California who’d treated a positive patient, prompting the head of National Nurses United to read her story aloud at a news conference.

At a Friday news conference at the C.D.C., Trump told reporters that tests for the coronavirus were now available to anyone who needed one. Yet just afterward, we heard from governor after governor and doctor after doctor that this is categorically untrue, with states in dire need of more tests. “We have no local testing available,” Dr. Walter Mills, president of the California Academy of Family Physicians, told The San Jose Mercury News.





And of course, it was at that same news conference that Trump infamously said, “I like the numbers being where they are,” in explaining why he was reluctant to let passengers, some of whom have tested positive for the virus, off the Grand Princess cruise ship floating off California (it has since been given permission to dock in Oakland).

That news conference was, to me, the most frightening moment of the Trump presidency. His preening narcissism, his compulsive lying, his vindictiveness, his terror of germs and his terrifying inability to grasp basic science — all of it eclipsed his primary responsibilities to us as Americans, which was to provide urgent care, namely in the form of leadership.

It’s preposterous for Trump to resist determining how widespread this epidemic is. Yet right now, the United States isn’t reporting how many people have been tested; the C.D.C. pulled the number from its website. Late last week, an extraordinarily detailed article by The Atlantic, counting state by state, put that number at only 1,895. In South Korea, the number was more than 140,000. (Which Trump dismissed as “sampling.” It was not. It was testing, straight and simple.)

Because we’re testing only the sickest of the sick, the American fatality rate from the coronavirus is roughly 4 percent. It’s a frightening and highly deceptive number, even higher than China’s. (Most experts predict it’s likely to wind up at 0.5 percent, which is five times more deadly than the typical flu, and it could be as high as 1 percent.) But Trump has made the dangerous calculation that he’d prefer to keep the number of cases low than convey the full magnitude of contagion.





When the coronavirus first appeared in China, some commentators reached for the Chernobyl comparison. Today the comparison looks increasingly apt for the United States as well. Maybe it’s hyperbolic — it’ll be months before we know firm numbers on cases and fatalities — but the commonalities are easy to spot: We’re reckoning with a silent, invisible and potentially devastating public health crisis, and the government is refusing to tell us the facts, or what next steps to take, because it’s too concerned with optics to own up to its initial mishandling of the situation. On Friday morning, Trump crowed, “I think we’re in great shape.”

The difference is that because we live in an age of social networks, the public is still getting information online. But as with all information online, some of it is terrible as well as good.

Reuters just reported that Democrats are twice as apt to view the coronavirus as an imminent threat to our country as Republicans, and the reason seems clear: The news outlets that do the president’s bidding are playing down the potential scope and severity of the problem. Meanwhile, more clear-eyed governors are declaring states of emergency and speaking directly to more mainstream news sources to voice their concerns, as are doctors and epidemiologists.

The gulf between their discourse and the talking points of the federal government can be measured in light years. The administration is still talking containment. Epidemiologists, in the main, are assuming it can no longer be contained, and that we should all be responsibly thinking about next steps so that hospitals don’t become overwhelmed. Many of them are worth following on Twitter. Epidemiologists are the new rock stars.





Everyone needs to step up. For now, the coronavirus is in mostly blue states, where cities are. But it’s only a matter of time. One week after Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida mocked concerns about Covid-19 by wearing a giant gas mask on the House floor, one of his constituents died of it. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, both Republicans, have put themselves into quarantine, having interacted with an infected person at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. There’s even discussion of Congress going into recess.

Fox News, Republican elected officials, the C.D.C. director Robert R. Redfield — they all need to stop with their fulsome tributes to Trump during news conferences and seize the microphone to help explain how to stem the disease’s spread.

Look at Italy. The government locked down an entire region of the country this weekend. Corriere Della Sera recently reported that the intensive care units in Lombardy were on the brink of collapse, with medical workers setting up beds in the hallways. If we aren’t careful, that could next be us.

Two days ago, the British medical journal The Lancet more or less implied that many countries won’t be able to have both a healthy public and a healthy economy at this moment. They’ll have to choose.




This observation jibes with the conversation I had with Nicholas Christakis, author of “Blueprint” and an epidemiologist at Yale, last Friday. His lab is using big data to develop tools that would forecast the course of the epidemic in real time. In his estimation, 35,000 Americans will die from the coronavirus this year, which would place an enormous additional burden on hospitals already overtaxed by the flu season. And his estimate is at the low end for predictions among the people in his field.

“I’m in the deeply ironic position at the moment of strongly discouraging social connection, despite the fact that it’s the central focus of my book — and my life’s work,” he says. “But it’s going to take us working together in this unnatural way — one that goes so against our evolutionary past — to confront this epidemic.”

What’s so frightening — so hideous — is that our president is least equipped to do just that. This crisis has unhelmed and unmasked him. He’s incapable of leading. When it comes to Trump, truth, decency and self-possession have been in quarantine from the start.



The New York Times











Awere-ness said:

"You can if you are the best gaslighter in the history of gaslighters."


{Yeah, but only a delusive character could wield that kind of suggestion.}
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Re: Trump enters the stage

Postby Aware-ness » Tue Mar 10, 2020 3:52 am

Preet Bharara

@PreetBharara
Replying to @PreetBharara

I am angry and worried right now. As are tens of millions of Americans. I don’t know what will happen next but what I do know is this:

Donald Trump is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on America
65.2K
8:44 PM - Mar 8, 2020
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Re: Trump enters the stage - time travel to past ?

Postby Meno_ » Tue Mar 10, 2020 4:07 pm

{ Can we conserve enough , so that the inflationary de-facto pressures : which are the building blocks of capital appreciation : made to not collide with it's nemesis?
That is the overt attraction in holding that very collusive source, the political
stagmire reflect it'self?
Is not that basic psych , holding to the mirror stage, or before that, so that a reflection can mask a transparency?

The reflected collusive antimony of translation, from induction to the misunderstood regressive , refractive dual -as singular, cam only be a matter of using optics as illusions.

Further then that, it is unavoidable that illusions are allowed to free fall into reified delusions , and that is where REAL trouble started.
The children are the only ones who cam see through the nakedness of authority , as vested on a succeeding schema of gradual undress, so by the time of complete nakedness, moral judgements will be suddenly the cause celebre that stifles the underaged-innocent}

He’s Definitely Melting Down Over This”: Trump, Germaphobe in Chief, Struggles to Control the Covid-19 Story





Ever since the coronavirus exploded outside of China at the end of January, Donald Trump has treated the public health crisis as a media war that he could win with the right messaging. But with cases now documented in 34 states and markets plunging, Republicans close to Trump fear his rosy assessments are fundamentally detached from reality in ways that will make the epidemic worse. “He is trying to control the narrative and he can’t,” a former West Wing official told me.

The problem is that the crisis fits into his preexisting and deeply held worldview—that the media is always searching for a story to bring him down. Covid-19 is merely the latest instance, and he’s reacting in familiar ways. “So much FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted this morning. “He wants Justice to open investigations of the media for market manipulation,” a source close to the White House told me. Trump is also frustrated with his West Wing for not getting a handle on the news cycle. “He’s very frustrated he doesn’t have a good team around him,” a former White House official said. On Friday he forced out acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and replaced him with former House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows. Trump thought the virus was “getting beyond Mick,” a person briefed on the internal discussions said. Trump has also complained that economic adviser Larry Kudlow is not doing enough to calm jittery markets. Last week Kudlow refused Trump’s request that Kudlow hold an on-camera press briefing, sources said. “Larry didn’t want to have to take questions about coronavirus,” a person close to Kudlow told me. “Larry’s not a doctor. How can he answer questions about something he doesn’t know?”

Trump found a willing surrogate in Kellyanne Conway, but Conway’s dubious claim on Friday that the virus “is being contained” only made the P.R. situation worse.

Trump’s efforts to take control of the story himself have so far failed. A source said Trump was pleased with ratings for the Fox News town hall last Thursday, but he was furious with how he looked on television. “Trump said afterwards that the lighting was bad,” a source briefed on the conversation said. “He said, ‘We need Bill Shine back in here. Bill would never allow this.’”

Trump’s press conference on Friday at the CDC was a Trumpian classic, heavy on braggadocio and almost entirely lacking a sense of the seriousness of the crisis. “I like this stuff. I really get it,” Trump told reporters, his face partly hidden under a red “Keep America Great” hat. “People are surprised that I understand it. Every one of these doctors say, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability. Maybe I should’ve done that instead of running for president.” At another point Trump compared the situation to the Ukraine shakedown. “The [coronavirus] tests are all perfect. Like the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect,” he said.

By now many of the president’s advisers are numb to this kind of performance. “There’s very little that fazes anyone now,” a former official said. But one person who spoke to the president over the weekend saw the press conference as an ominous sign. “He’s just now waking up to the fact that this is bad, and he doesn’t know how to respond.”

As Trump pushes a nothing-to-see-here message in public, sources said he’s privately terrified about getting the virus. “Donald is a famous germaphobe. He hates it if someone is eating nachos and dips a chip back in after taking a bite. He calls them ‘double dippers,’” a prominent Republican said. Former Trump aide Sam Nunberg recalled Trump’s response to the last major outbreak in 2014. “When I worked for Trump, he was obsessed with Ebola,” Nunberg told me. (One Mar-a-Lago guest disputed this and said Trump was handshaking with gusto this past weekend. “He was acting like the opposite of a germaphobe,” the source said.)

Stories about Trump’s coronavirus fears have spread through the White House. Last week Trump told aides he’s afraid journalists will try to purposefully contract coronavirus to give it to him on Air Force One, a person close to the administration told me. The source also said Trump has asked the Secret Service to set up a screening program and bar anyone who has a cough from the White House grounds. “He’s definitely melting down over this,” the source said.

From the Archive: The Waiting Plague

But thus far Trump’s private concerns haven’t affected his public response. Pressure from the public health community is mounting on Trump to cancel his mass rallies, but Trump is pushing back. “He is going to resist until the very last minute,” a former West Wing official said. “He may take suggestions to stop shaking hands, but in terms of shutting stuff down, his position is: ‘No, I’m not going to do it.’”

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.


— How coronavirus is creating a fake-news nightmarescape

— A Nassim Taleb protégé has tips on how to prepare for the coming market crash
— Health officials and scientists are now banned from speaking about coronavirus




Stock Markets Crash as Trump Insists Coronavirus Fears Are “Fake News”





© Condé Nast



Grand Delusion


The New York Times

Opinion

Trump Can’t Handle the Truth

And neither can the rest of America’s right.



By Paul Krugman



March 9, 2020










Over the weekend Donald Trump once again declared that the coronavirus is perfectly under control, that any impressions to the contrary are due to the “Fake News Media” out to get him. Question: Does anyone have a count of how many times he’s done this, comparable to the running tallies fact checkers are keeping of his lies?

In any case, we’ve pretty clearly reached the point where Trump’s assurances that everything is fine actually worsen the panic, because they demonstrate the depths of his delusions. Even as he was tweeting out praise for himself, global markets were in free-fall.

Never mind cratering stock prices. The best indicator of collapsing confidence is what is happening to interest rates, which have plunged almost as far and as fast as they did during the 2008 financial crisis. Markets are implicitly predicting not just a recession, but multiple years of economic weakness.

And at first I was tempted to say that our current situation is even worse than it was in 2008, because at least then we had leadership that recognized the seriousness of the crisis rather than dismissing it all as a liberal conspiracy.



When you look back at the record, however, you discover that as the financial crisis developed right-wingers were also deeply in denial, inclined to dismiss bad news or attribute it to liberal and/or media conspiracies. It was only in the final stages of financial collapse that top officials got real, and right-wing pundits never did.

PAUL KRUGMAN’S NEWSLETTER

Get a better understanding of the economy — and an even deeper look at what’s on Paul’s mind. Sign up here.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane.

The 2008 financial crisis was brought on by the collapse of an immense housing bubble. But many on the right denied that there was anything amiss. Larry Kudlow, now Trump’s chief economist, ridiculed “bubbleheads” who suggested that housing prices were out of line.

And I can tell you from personal experience that when I began writing about the housing bubble I was relentlessly accused of playing politics: “You only say there’s a bubble because you hate President Bush.”



When the economy began to slide, mainstream Republicans remained deeply in denial. Phil Gramm, John McCain’s senior economic adviser during the 2008 presidential campaign, declared that America was only suffering a “mental recession” and had become a “nation of whiners.”

Even the failure of Lehman Brothers, which sent the economy into a full meltdown, initially didn’t put a dent in conservative denial. Kudlow hailed the failure as good news, because it signaled an end to bailouts, and predicted housing and financial recovery in “months, not years.”

Wait, there’s more. After the economic crisis helped Barack Obama win the 2008 election, right-wing pundits declared that it was all a left-wing conspiracy. Karl Rove and Bill O’Reilly accused the news media of hyping bad news to enable Obama’s socialist agenda, while Rush Limbaugh asserted that Senator Chuck Schumer personally caused the crisis (don’t ask).

The point is that Trump’s luridly delusional response to the coronavirus and his conspiracy theorizing about Democrats and the news media aren’t really that different from the way the right dealt with the financial crisis a dozen years ago. True, last time the crazy talk wasn’t coming directly from the president of the United States. But that’s not the important distinction between then and now.



No, what’s different now is that denial and the resulting delay are likely to have deadly consequences.

It’s not clear, even in retrospect, how much better things would have been if right-wingers had recognized economic reality in 2008. Years of deregulation and lax enforcement had already weakened the financial system, and it was probably too late to head off the coming crisis.

Virus denial, by contrast, squandered crucial time — time that could have been used to slow the coronavirus’s spread. For the clear and present danger now isn’t so much that large numbers of Americans will get sick — that was probably going to happen anyway — but that the epidemic will move so fast that it overloads our hospitals.

By not instituting widespread testing from the start, the U.S. has ensured that there are now cases all over the country — we have no idea how many — and that the virus will spread rapidly. And even now there is no hint that the administration is ready for the kinds of public health measures that might limit the pace of that spread.



Oh, and when it comes to the economic response, it’s worth noting that basically everyone on the Trump economic team was totally wrong about the 2008 crisis. It seems to be a job requirement.

The bottom line is that like so much of what is happening in America right now, the coronavirus crisis isn’t just about Trump. His intellectual and emotional inadequacy, his combination of megalomania and insecurity, are certainly contributing to the problem; has there ever been a president so obviously not up to the job? But in refusing to face uncomfortable facts, in attributing all bad news to sinister conspiracies, he’s actually just being a normal man of his faction.

In 2020 we’re relearning the lessons of 2008 —



March 10, 2020





© 2020 The New York Times Company
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Coronapolitics

Postby Meno_ » Tue Mar 10, 2020 4:10 pm

Aware-ness wrote:Preet Bharara

@PreetBharara
Replying to @PreetBharara

I am angry and worried right now. As are tens of millions of Americans. I don’t know what will happen next but what I do know is this:

Donald Trump is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on America
65.2K
8:44 PM - Mar 8, 2020



Maybe not merely tens of millions, more like hundreds , or even billions.

Billions of disillusioned people, to say the least, are a very strong force to reckon with, in case of an appearance of lack of credible judgement.
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Re: Trump enters the stage - mounting problems

Postby Meno_ » Thu Mar 12, 2020 6:26 am

The Worst Outcome

If somebody other than Donald Trump were in the White House, the coronavirus crisis would not be unfolding this way.

DAVID FRUMMARCH 11, 2020



At every turn, President Trump’s policy to coronavirus has unfolded as if guided by one rule: How can I make this crisis worse?

Presidents are not all-powerful, especially not in the case of pandemic disease. There are limits to what they can do, for good or ill. But within those limits, at every juncture, Trump’s actions have ensured the worst possible outcomes. The worst outcome for public health. The worst outcome for the American economy. The worst outcome for American global leadership.

Read: Trump’s dangerously effective coronavirus propaganda

Trump’s Oval Office speech of March 11 was the worst action yet in a string of bad actions.

Here are the things the president did not do in that speech.

He offered no guidance or policy on how to prevent the spread of the disease inside the United States. Should your town cancel its St. Patrick’s Day parade? What about theaters and sporting events? Schools and colleges? Nothing.

He offered no explanation of what went wrong with the U.S. testing system, nor any assurance of when testing would become more widely available. His own previous promises of testing for anyone who needs it have been exploded as false. So what is true? Nothing.

Layoffs are coming, probably on a very large scale, as travel collapses and people hunker at home. Any word for those about to lose their jobs? Only the vaguest indication that something might be announced sometime soon.

It’s good to hear that there will be no copays on the tests nobody seems able to get. What about other health-care coverage? Any word on that? Nothing.

The financial markets have plunged into a 2008-style crash, auguring a recession, perhaps a severe one. The Trump administration has had almost two months to think about this crisis. It has trial-ballooned some ideas. But, of course, fiscal policy would require assent from the House of Representatives. Trump is still pouting at Speaker Pelosi. So—aside from some preposterously unconvincing happy talk about the economy—again: Nothing.





The Best Thing Bernie Sanders Can Do Is Drop Out





Trump Is Counting on the Supreme Court to Save Him











DAVID FRUM

Thomas Levenson: Conservatives try to rebrand the coronavirus

There was one something in the speech: a ban on travel from Europe, but not the United Kingdom. It’s a classic Trump formulation. It seeks to protect America by erecting a wall against the world, without thinking very hard how or whether the wall can work. The disease is already here. The numbers only look low because of our prior failure to provide adequate testing. They will not look low even four days from now. And those infected with the virus can travel from other countries and on other routes. Trump himself has already met some.

The travel ban is an act of panic. Financial futures began crashing even as Trump was talking, perhaps shocked by his lack of an economic plan, perhaps aghast at Trump’s latest attack on world trade. (Trump’s speech seemed to suggest an embargo on European-sourced cargo as well, but that looks more like a mental lapse of Trump’s than a real policy announcement. The ban on cargo was retracted by a post-speech tweet, although the ban remains in the posted transcript of the speech.) Among other things, the ban represents one more refutation by Trump of any idea of collective security against collective threats. While China offers medical assistance to Italy, he wants to sever ties to former friends—isolating America and abandoning the world.

This crisis is not of Trump’s making. What he is responsible for is his failure to respond promptly, and then his perverse and counter-productive choice of how to respond when action could be avoided no longer. Trump, in his speech, pleaded for an end to finger-pointing. It’s a strange thing for this president of all presidents to say. No American president, and precious few American politicians, have ever pointed so many fingers or hurled so much abuse as Donald Trump. What he means, of course, is: Don’t hold me to account for the things I did.

But he did do them, and he owns responsibility for those things. He cannot escape it, and he will not escape it.

More people will get sick because of his presidency than if somebody else were in charge. More people will suffer the financial hardship of sickness because of his presidency than if somebody else were in charge. The medical crisis will arrive faster and last longer than if somebody else were in charge. So, too, the economic crisis. More people will lose jobs than if somebody else were in charge. More businesses will be pushed into bankruptcy than if somebody else were in charge. More savers will lose more savings than if somebody else were in charge. The damage to America’s global leadership will be greater than if somebody else were in charge.

There is always something malign in Trump’s incompetence. He has no care or concern for others; he cannot absorb the trouble and suffering of others as real. He monotones his way through words of love and compassion, but those words plainly have no content or meaning for him. The only thing that is real is his squalid vanity. This virus threatens to pierce that vanity, so he denied it as long as he could. What he refuses to acknowledge cannot be real, can it?

And even now that he has acknowledged, he still cannot act, because he does not know what to do. His only goal now is to shove blame onto others. Americans have to face that in the grip of this epidemic, the Oval Office is for all practical purposes as empty as the glazed eyes of the man who spoke from that office tonight.

DAVID FRUM is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of Trumpocalypse

Copyright © 2020 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.



BBC News



Coronavirus: Trump suspends travel from Europe to US

 12 March 2020

 

US & Canada



Video captionThe US President made the announcement from the Oval Office at the White House

US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping new travel restrictions on Europe in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised address, he said travel from 26 European countries would be suspended for the next 30 days.

But he said the "strong but necessary" restrictions would not apply to the UK, where 460 cases of the virus have now been confirmed.

There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths.

"To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe," Mr Trump said from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening.

"The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight," he added. The travel order does not apply to US citizens.



LIVE UPDATES: Follow the latest developments

EASY STEPS: How to keep safe

A SIMPLE GUIDE: What are the symptoms?

GETTING READY: How prepared is the UK?

TRAVEL PLANS: What are your rights?

Mr Trump said the European Union had "failed to take the same precautions" as the US in fighting the virus.

A Presidential Proclamation, published shortly after Mr Trump's speech, specified that the ban applies to anyone who has been in the EU's Schengen border-free area within 14 days prior to their arrival in the US.

This implies that Ireland is excluded from the ban as it is not one of the 26 Schengen countries. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also EU members without being part of the Schengen area.



Mr Trump spoke just hours after Italy - the worst affected country outside China - announced tough new restrictions on its citizens . It will close all shops except food stores and pharmacies as part of its nationwide lockdown.

He said the travel suspension would also "apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo" coming from Europe into the US. But he later tweeted to say that "trade will in no way be affected" by the new measures.

Mr Trump also announced plans to provide billions of dollars in loans to small businesses, and urged Congress to pass major tax relief measures in an attempt to stymie the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy.

"We are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people," he said.

What's the situation in the US?

Officials had said the risk of infection was low for the general US public, but concern deepened after a number of new cases were confirmed earlier this month.

Containment efforts have begun in earnest. Troops have been deployed to New Rochelle, just north of New York City, where one outbreak is believed to have originated.

The National Guard will deliver food to some individuals who have been told to self-isolate there.

The governor of Washington state has also banned large gatherings in several counties. The north-western state is the focal point of the outbreak in the US, accounting for 24 of at least 38 deaths across the country.

Could the US do what Italy has done?

Who Trump supporters blame for virus 'hysteria'

How worried should the US be over coronavirus?

What's the risk on public transport?

And in an unprecedented move, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced that it would suspend the season after Wednesday night's games. The decision came after one player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus.



Shortly after the NBA announcement, the Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife had contracted the virus in Australia .

Dr Anthony Fauci, director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress that the outbreak is "going to get worse", and that depended on the ability to contain those infected.

High medical costs make the virus particularly problematic - many Americans avoid doctor's visits because of unaffordable charges. A lack of paid sick leave is another concern, as are fears about the number of available tests.

But Vice-President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the task force co-ordinating the response to the crisis, has said that "any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor's orders", and that insurers had promised to offset the charges.

What about the rest of the world?

Earlier on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the outbreak was a pandemic. This is defined as a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold in two weeks. He said he was "deeply concerned" by the "alarming levels of inaction".

Video captionCoronavirus outbreak has officially become pandemic says WHO

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte then announced an escalation in the country's ongoing lockdown.

He said the majority of shops as well as bars, hairdressers, restaurants and cafes that could not guarantee a metre's distance between customers would close until 25 March.

Italy has more than 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827. Nearly 900 people with the virus in Italy were in intensive care, the WHO said.

Elsewhere, Denmark - which has 514 confirmed cases, up 10-fold since Monday - is to close all schools and universities from Friday. The government also urged the cancellation of events with more than 100 people attending.

India suspended most visas for foreigners until 15 April and Guatemala banned European citizens from entering from Thursday.

Meanwhile, the UK is expected to switch to tactics aimed at delaying the spread of the virus rather than containing it.

More on this story



Coronavirus: What is the incubation period, and other questions

12 March 2020



Coronavirus symptoms: What are they and how do I protect myself?

11 March 2020

Coronavirus: Coachella music festival postponed

11 March 2020

Coronavirus: Up to 70% of Germany could become infected - Merkel

11 March 2020

India suspends most visas to halt coronavirus spread

12 March 2020

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.






Trump talks to the nation:



BBC News



Coronavirus: Trump suspends travel from Europe to US

 12 March 2020

 

US & Canada




US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping new travel restrictions on Europe in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised address, he said travel from 26 European countries would be suspended for the next 30 days.

But he said the "strong but necessary" restrictions would not apply to the UK, where 460 cases of the virus have now been confirmed.

There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths.

"To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe," Mr Trump said from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening.

"The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight," he added. The travel order does not apply to US citizens.





Mr Trump said the European Union had "failed to take the same precautions" as the US in fighting the virus.

A Presidential Proclamation, published shortly after Mr Trump's speech, specified that the ban applies to anyone who has been in the EU's Schengen border-free area within 14 days prior to their arrival in the US.

This implies that Ireland is excluded from the ban as it is not one of the 26 Schengen countries. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also EU members without being part of the Schengen area.

Mr Trump spoke just hours after Italy - the worst affected country outside China - announced tough new restrictions on its citizens . It will close all shops except food stores and pharmacies as part of its nationwide lockdown.

He said the travel suspension would also "apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo" coming from Europe into the US. But he later tweeted to say that "trade will in no way be affected" by the new measures.

Mr Trump also announced plans to provide billions of dollars in loans to small businesses, and urged Congress to pass major tax relief measures in an attempt to stymie the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on the economy.

"We are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people," he said.

What's the situation in the US?

Officials had said the risk of infection was low for the general US public, but concern deepened after a number of new cases were confirmed earlier this month.

Containment efforts have begun in earnest. Troops have been deployed to New Rochelle, just north of New York City, where one outbreak is believed to have originated.

The National Guard will deliver food to some individuals who have been told to self-isolate there.

The governor of Washington state has also banned large gatherings in several counties. The north-western state is the focal point of the outbreak in the US, accounting for 24 of at least 38 deaths across the country.


And in an unprecedented move, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced that it would suspend the season after Wednesday night's games. The decision came after one player for the Utah Jazz tested positive for the virus.



Shortly after the NBA announcement, the Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks announced that he and his wife had contracted the virus in Australia .

Dr Anthony Fauci, director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress that the outbreak is "going to get worse", and that depended on the ability to contain those infected.

High medical costs make the virus particularly problematic - many Americans avoid doctor's visits because of unaffordable charges. A lack of paid sick leave is another concern, as are fears about the number of available tests.

But Vice-President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the task force co-ordinating the response to the crisis, has said that "any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor's orders", and that insurers had promised to offset the charges.

What about the rest of the world?

Earlier on Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said the outbreak was a pandemic. This is defined as a disease that is spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the number of cases outside China had increased 13-fold in two weeks. He said he was "deeply concerned" by the "alarming levels of inaction".

Video captionCoronavirus outbreak has officially become pandemic says WHO

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte then announced an escalation in the country's ongoing lockdown.

He said the majority of shops as well as bars, hairdressers, restaurants and cafes that could not guarantee a metre's distance between customers would close until 25 March.

Italy has more than 12,000 confirmed cases and a death toll of 827. Nearly 900 people with the virus in Italy were in intensive care, the WHO said.

Elsewhere, Denmark - which has 514 confirmed cases, up 10-fold since Monday - is to close all schools and universities from Friday. The government also urged the cancellation of events with more than 100 people attending.

India suspended most visas for foreigners until 15 April and Guatemala banned European citizens from entering from Thursday.

Meanwhile, the UK is expected to switch to tactics aimed at delaying the spread of the virus rather than containing it.
















Coronavirus: Up to 70% of Germany could become infected - Merkel

11 March 2020

India suspends most visas to halt coronavirus spread

12 March 2020

Copyright © 2020 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.




EMOULMENT CLAUSE again!:




POLITICO

CORONAVIRUS

Trump’s travel ban sidesteps his own European resorts

The president announced new travel restrictions on Europeans as the coronavirus pandemic escalated, but a few key spots on the continent were spared.

President Donald Trump’s new European travel restrictions have a convenient side effect: They exempt nations where three Trump-owned golf resorts are located.

Trump is already under fire for visiting his properties in both countries as president, leading to U.S. taxpayer money being spent at his own firms. The president has been saddled with lawsuits and investigations throughout his term alleging that he’s violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting taxpayer money other than his salary.


The U.S. government proclamation initiating the ban targets 26 European countries that comprise a visa-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area.

The United Kingdom, which is home to Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links, and Ireland, which is home to another Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg, do not participate in the Schengen Area. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area. All three of the resorts are struggling financially.

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is scheduled to meet Trump at the White House on Thursday in one of the few events related to St. Patrick’s Day that has not been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

The administration’s European travel proclamation notes that “the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

Trump’s European travel ban comes with several other loopholes.

There are now 460 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.K., including Nadine Dorries, the British government’s own health minister in charge of patient safety. Wednesday saw the biggest rise in U.K. cases in a single day, and the country’s highest-level crisis committee — known as Cobra — will meet Thursday to consider additional moves to reduce the impact of the virus.

Though they are subject to border checks on arrival, residents of the 26 Schengen Area countries are also free to live and work in the United Kingdom, meaning they could fly to the United States from a British airport as long as they hadn't spent time within the Schengen countries in the last 14 days.

EU leaders condemned Trump's move on Thursday, and disputed the president's criticism of Europe's handling of the crisis.

“The Coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said in a joint statement.

“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” they said, adding that the bloc was “taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”



© 2020 POLITICO LLC
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Re: Trump enters the stage - Trump at risk for virus?

Postby Meno_ » Fri Mar 13, 2020 5:37 am

BREAKING|68,149 views|Mar 12, 2020,04:22pm EST

Trump Will Not Get Tested After Meeting Brazilian Official With Coronavirus



Topline: President Donald Trump met and dined with an individual who has now tested positive for the coronavirus—but the White House said the president will not get tested for the disease.


Fabio Wajngarten, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s press secretary, has tested positive for Covid-19, according to local media, after returning to Brazil from the U.S. this week.
Wajngarten was in close contact with both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence four days ago at Mar-a-Lago, posting an Instagram photo of himself standing next to Trump.
Trump said he “isn’t concerned” about the situation, according to the Washington Post, and White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, “Both the President and Vice President had almost no interactions with the individual who tested positive and do not require being tested at this time.”
Senators Rick Scott and Lindsey Graham said they will self-quarantine after attending the same event as Wajngarten at Mar-a-Lago. Trump has not made a similar announcement.


Key background: Trump has also been in contact with two U.S. GOP Congressmen—Reps. Matt Gaetz and Doug Collins—who are currently in self-quarantine after being exposed to an individual who tested positive at the Conservative Political Action Conference in late February. Gaetz has since tested negative (Collins has said he does not feel symptomatic).

News peg: Trump has been criticized for downplaying the severity of the virus. He has continued shaking hands, the Associated Press reported, flouting the CDC’s recommendations. And two days ago he equated the disease to the common flu, even as a top health official said coronavirus is 10 times more deadly.




© 2020 Forbes Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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