March 07, 2020

Week 173

Experts in authoritarianism advise to keep a list of things
subtly changing around you, so you’ll remember.

This week the coronavirus spread in the U.S. from 22 to 387 cases in 28 states, with at least 19 people dead. The number of cases is likely well under-reported due to the lack of available testing kits — one of many signs that the Trump regime is ill-equipped to tackle what is likely to become a global pandemic. The lack of verified information, combined with the constant disinformation put forward by Trump and his regime, led to a general sense of panic, as travel, conferences, and other events were canceled.

The economy showed signs of cracks, with a highly volatile stock market, and interest rates hitting historic lows as investors sought safety. Trump tried one day to urge people to go to work even if sick, then reversed himself, and all along used his own “hunch” about death rates and spread of Covid-19, parting from scientists and the World Health Organization. Amid the public crisis, Friday evening, Trump fired Mick Mulvaney and installed loyalist Rep. Mark Meadows as his fourth White House chief of staff in just 38 months.

As Joe Biden emerged on top of the 2020 Democratic pack, Trump and his allies in Congress sought to launch investigations into Hunter Biden and Burisma. A federal judge appointed by George H.W. Bush sharply criticized Attorney General William Barr’s handling of the Mueller report, saying that he put forward a “distorted” and “misleading” account of its findings to protect Trump, and his “lack of candor” had harmed not only his reputation, but also that of the Justice Department. The judge demanded to see a full version of the report to determine if redactions were appropriate.

  1. On Saturday, Trump delivered a 90-minute speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Trump gave the speech shortly after an impromptu news conference after the first coronavirus death in the U.S.
  2. Nonetheless, Trump congratulated himself for his response to the virus, saying he “has been now given very good grades, like an A +++,” and promised a nonpartisan response, even as he attacked Democrats.
  3. Trump also seemed to blame immigrants for the virus, saying, “The extreme fringes called us racists,” adding, “They wanted to let infected people pour into our country.” This is a false and racist claim.
  4. Trump also mocked his 2020 rivals: crouching under the microphone to imitate Michael Bloomberg’s height, questioning Joe Biden’s mental acuity, and saying he expected to face off against Bernie Sanders.
  5. Trump also lied that the 2017 tax cut was the “largest” in history, that he would protect pre-existing conditions, and that Mexico would pay for his wall, saying, “I can get elected twice over the wall, can you believe this.”
  6. On Saturday, WAPO reported before Trump convened a news conference last week to reassure the country about coronavirus, he was told the Centers for Disease Control had identified the first case of the illness not tied to foreign travel.
  7. Trump did not mention the case, instead suggesting the virus might soon be done, saying, “when you have 15 people —  and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero — that’s a pretty good job.”
  8. By the time Trump had returned from his trip to India, he was furious about what he felt was an alarmist response. The regime struggled to gain control of a cohesive response, amid infighting, confusion, and misinformation.
  9. Trump decided against naming a “czar” as past administrations had done, worrying that bringing in an outsider may make his regime look like a failure and that an outsider may not be completely loyal to him.
  10. Many Health and Human Services officials worried that Trump’s response was being driven by his obsession with the stock market, rather than public health concerns.
  11. On Sunday, on “State of the Union,” Vice President Pence was asked about Donald Jr. accusing Democrats of hoping millions would die of the coronavirus. Pence refused to disagree and called the response “understandable.”
  12. Pence also acknowledged the U.S. lagged behind other countries in the manufacture and distribution of testing kits, admitting several governors asked about it, saying, “We’re addressing it; we’re leaning into it.”
  13. On Sunday, Twitter announced it would suspend all “non-critical business travel events,” including CEO Jack Dorsey’s scheduled appearance at a major technology conference in Texas, due to the coronavirus.
  14. On Sunday, Trump attacked the media, tweeting, “People are disgusted and embarrassed by the Fake News Media, as headed by the @nytimes, @washingtonpost, @comcast & MSDNC, @ABC, @CBSNews and more.”
  15. Trump added, “They no longer believe what they see and read, and for good reason,” repeating a phrase he has used frequently in the past: “Fake News is, indeed, THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE!”
  16. On Sunday, CNN reported the CDC has not shared detailed clinical information about patients who had the coronavirus and recovered with physicians to show which treatments were given and what worked.
  17. The CDC typically distributes such information to advise doctors on how to diagnose, evaluate, and treat diseases. Infectious disease doctors said they could not understand why information had not been shared.
  18. On Sunday, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said in a statement that the CDC mistakenly released a quarantined patient from the Texas Center for Infectious Disease, who later tested positive for the coronavirus.
  19. On Sunday, health officials in Washington state confirmed the second death from the coronavirus. The patient was a man in his 70s who was hospitalized at EvergreenHealth in King County.
  20. Hours after the second death, Trump retweeted an animated video of him bragging about his accomplishments, laughing at his political opponents and critics, and smiling at a Mount Rushmore reshaped with only his face.
  21. On Sunday, Axios reported a CDC lab for coronavirus test kits in Atlanta may have been contaminated. The Trump regime ordered an investigation of the lab, and moved manufacturing of the test kits to another location.
  22. On Monday, the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread, with 90,000 cases worldwide, and more than 3,000 deaths. In the U.S. there were 100 cases and six deaths.
  23. The six deaths were in Washington, with four at Life Care Center nursing home in Kirkland, outside of Seattle, where the virus was feared to have been spreading for weeks undetected.
  24. While in China the government reported the spread was slowing and in control with 125 infections and 31 deaths on Monday, in South Korea cases rose to 4,800 on Monday, doubling the caseload on Friday.
  25. On Monday, Dr. Matt McCarthy of the NY Presbyterian Hospital told CNBC that hospitals around the country are unprepared to test and treat the coronavirus. He said his hospital still does not have testing kits.
  26. McCarthy added, “We are not testing at full capacity and that is a national scandal,” and added, “We’re being told that things are ok … That’s just not the way we’re talking about it in medical circles.”
  27. On Monday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer spoke on the senate floor, saying Trump is downplaying the coronavirus to a “dangerous degree,” and needs to issue “coherent guidance.”
  28. Schumer added, “being as self-interested as he is, only cares about himself and his image,” adding, “instead of solving the problem,” Trump blames “everyone else,” and said emergency funding must go towards the virus.
  29. On Monday, a mother and son at the Sarasota Military Academy were under quarantine after coming into contact with a patient with Covid-19. Pence shook hands with SMA students Friday, but not the one impacted.
  30. On Monday, the CDC abruptly postponed an afternoon press briefing on the coronavirus, without providing an explanation of why or when it would be rescheduled.
  31. Later Monday, Trump convened a coronavirus roundtable with Pence and his task force and the CEOs of several pharmaceutical companies to discuss the possibility of a vaccine in front of the media.
  32. Trump asked one CEO, “This would be a combination of a vaccine and also it will — put it in a different way — make you better, quicker?” adding, “I mean, I like the sound of a couple months better, if I must be honest.”
  33. Trump repeatedly asked variations of “How fast can you get it done?” asking one CEO, “So you’re talking over the next few months?” He also asked if the flu vaccine could be used for the coronavirus.
  34. At one point, Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, interjected, saying, “Yeah. You won’t have a vaccine. You’ll have a vaccine to go into testing.”
  35. Trump then asked, “And how long would that take?” The CEO said it would take months and then head into phase three. “All right. So you’re talking within a year.” Fauci explained, “A year to a year and a half.”
  36. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also asked, “But when you say June phase one initiation, though — right? — in June, it’s not a completed vaccine.” Fauci gave a timetable to the task force last Thursday.
  37. Shortly after, speaking to reporters, Azar said a potential vaccine had been developed by scientists “within three days,” and that on Monday the FDA authorized the “entry of that vaccine into Phase 1 clinical trials.”
  38. Fauci then corrected Azar, telling reporters he wanted to “caution everybody” that what Azar described is only the first phase, adding, “The whole process is going to take a year, a year and a half, at least.”
  39. On Monday, the White House sent out a press release of tweets praising Trump’s response to coronavirus. The tweets included praise from allies like Reps. Mark Meadows and Matt Gaetz.
  40. On Monday, Warner Brothers canceled the New York premiere of “Superman: Red Son” over the coronavirus. As of Monday there was one confirmed case in Manhattan: a woman who had traveled to Iran.
  41. Later Monday, at a White House briefing, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn told reporters that U.S. labs will have enough materials on hand to perform “close to one million” coronavirus tests by the end of the week.
  42. Politico reported according to figures by the Association of Public Health Laboratories, the country’s health labs could run up to 10,000 tests per day by the end of the week, under ideal conditions.
  43. Later Monday, Pence spoke to reporters, assuring them that “the risk remains low,” several times. He also said treatments for the virus could be available in the next two months.
  44. Pence added, “This is a time to use common sense, a good time to wash your hands,” and promised, “Within the next 12 hours there will be 100% screening on all direct flights across all airports in Italy and South Korea.”
  45. On Sunday, a federal judge ruled that Ken Cuccinelli was appointed unlawfully by Trump to lead the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in June 2019.
  46. The 55-page ruling found the regime violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act in appointing Cuccinelli, and invalidated several directives issued by him to tighten asylum rules, saying they must be “set aside.”
  47. On Monday, North Korea test-fired two missiles off its east coast, the regime’s first weapon launch of the year. In Week 172, the U.S. and South Korea suspended joint military exercises because of the coronavirus.
  48. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard arguments over the rights of asylum seekers to challenge their expedited removal in federal court. The Trump regime sought to overturn a 9th Circuit ruling that would open the court.
  49. On Monday, the Supreme Court said it will take up the challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate in its new term that begins in October. The ruling will likely come by June 2021.
  50. The Trump regime had quietly pushed to have the case not be decided in June 2020, as the presidential campaign heats up. Healthcare was a top issue in the 2018 midterms, with voters largely siding with Democrats.
  51. On Monday, Trump withdrew the nomination of Elaine McCusker to be the Pentagon comptroller. McCusker was the acting comptroller when she raised concerns about withholding aide to Ukraine.
  52. The move comes as Trump and his allies seek to oust employees viewed as disloyal in the wake of his impeachment acquittal. McCusker’s redacted emails were released to Just Security under a FOIA request.
  53. Sen. Jack Reed, ranking member on the Armed Services Committee, said in a statement McCusker was “another casualty” of the regime’s “efforts to purge public servants who put country before fealty to the president.”
  54. On Monday, NYT reported Indur Goklany, an Interior Department official who was promoted by Trump in 2017 and responsible for reviewing the agency’s climate policies, embedded climate denial in scientific research.
  55. Goklany has inserted misleading language about climate change into scientific reports, including debunked claims that increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is beneficial.
  56. The misleading language, nicknamed “Goks uncertainty language,” was inserted into at least nine reports, including one that may be used to justify diverting water to farmers in California at the expense of conservation.
  57. On Monday, Politico reported Trump ally Senate Homeland Security Committee Chair Ron Johnson threatened to subpoena for records relating to Joe Biden’s son Hunter, and his work at Burisma.
  58. Records would be sought from Blue Star, a Democratic public affairs firm. On Saturday Biden won the South Carolina primary, and gained endorsements from former rivals, positioning him as a front-runner.
  59. On Tuesday, Politico reported Trump named trusted loyalist Michael Ellis to the position of senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council as of Monday.
  60. Ellis was a deputy to White House lawyer John Eisenberg. Previously, he also served as counsel to the House Intelligence Committee when Rep. Devin Nunes was its chair.
  61. On Friday, Politico reported the White House hired another college senior: Anthony Labruna will start Monday as deputy White House liaison at the Department of Commerce. He will graduate Iowa State University in May.
  62. On Monday, in a rare joint statement, the DOJ, State Department, FBI, and other intelligence agencies warned Americans that “foreign actors continue to try to influence public sentiment and shape voter perceptions.”
  63. The statement came the day before Super Tuesday when 14 states held Democratic primaries, and warned countries or other foreign actors that might try to interfere to stay out or face “sharp consequences.”
  64. On Tuesday, a day when 14 states vote in the Democratic primary, a Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll found 59% believe there is evidence that Russia is trying to interfere in the election, 41% disagree.
  65. On Monday, when asked by reporters if it was appropriate to hold big rallies as the coronavirus continued to spread, Trump said, “Well, these were set up a long time ago. And others are.”
  66. Trump added, “I mean, you could ask that to the Democrats because they’re having a lot of rallies. They’re all having rallies. That’s what they’re doing. They’re campaigning.”
  67. On Monday, before departing for a campaign rally in Charlotte, North Carolina, Trump told reporters, “It’s rigged against Bernie,” after 2020 Democrats Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg endorsed Joe Biden.
  68. Trump accused Klobuchar and Buttigieg of a “quid pro quo,” saying they stepped aside to get on Biden’s good side if he wins in November, saying, “That’s called a quid pro quo, right?”
  69. Shortly after, at his rally, Trump said they should be impeached, saying they “both supported Sleepy Joe. You know why? They made a deal! You know why? Quid pro quo. Impeach them. They should be impeached!”
  70. Trump also continued his claim that the primary was “rigged” against Sanders, saying, “Crazy Bernie’s going to be more crazy when he finds out what they’re doing,” adding if Biden wins, “they’re going to put him into a home.”
  71. Trump bragged about the stock market trading up on Monday, with the Dow Jones up nearly 1,300 points, saying, “Do you think our opponents were thrilled when they saw the stock market today?”
  72. On Covid-19, Trump said, “Washington Democrats are trying to politicize the coronavirus,” adding, “The political attacks from some of the Democrats really must stop. We’ve got to work together on this one.”
  73. Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham also attended the rally, calling Trump “the best commander-in-chief since Ronald Reagan,” and adding, “Mr. President, you’re going to kick their ass in November.”
  74. Trump continued to hold rallies to counter-program the Democratic primaries despite concern over the coronavirus spreading. Some in the crowd shared buckets of chicken fingers and vats of popcorn.
  75. On Tuesday, CNN reported the publication of John Bolton’s book had been delayed from March until May due to the White House review of the manuscript. The manuscript was originally submitted on December 30.
  76. The publisher Simon & Schuster adjusted the online pre-order pages, adding May 12 as the new release date. A spokesperson noted, “The new date reflects the fact that the government review of the work is ongoing.”
  77. On Tuesday, in an interview with Variety, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of Trump, “We have the most dangerous person in the history of our country sitting in the White House.”
  78. Pelosi added, “I have real problems with this president because he doesn’t tell the truth, he doesn’t honor the Constitution and he’s harming children,” adding, “Anybody who hurts children, I’m a lioness. Watch out.”
  79. On Tuesday, Trump’s campaign sued WAPO for millions of dollars, citing two opinion pieces about the campaign benefiting from Russian assistance, calling them “100 percent false and defamatory.”
  80. The two were published in June 2019, and titled: “Trump just invited another Russian attack. Mitch McConnell is making one more likely,” and “Trump: I can win reelection with just my base.”
  81. On Tuesday, a Public Policy Polling survey found 72% of voters say they are concerned about the impact the coronavirus will have on the economy, with 36% saying they are “very concerned.”
  82. On Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, 39% say it made them less likely to vote for him in November, 19% more likely, and 39% said it did not make a difference.
  83. Also, 37% agree that Trump is doing a “great job” as he said, 53% disagree. When asked if they agree with his statement that Covid-19 is a “hoax,” 8% agreed, while 82% believe the coronavirus is real.
  84. On Tuesday, the CDC said the number of coronavirus cases jumped by 17 to at least 108, with six deaths. Of the infected, at least 48 are people who were evacuated from Wuhan, China.
  85. On Tuesday, WSJ reported the Trump regime is considering using a national disaster program to pay hospitals and doctors to treat uninsured coronavirus patients. The program would pay 110% of Medicare rates.
  86. On Tuesday, the Federal Reserve announced its first unscheduled, emergency rate cut since the financial crisis, cutting rates by 50 basis points in hopes of bolstering the economy.
  87. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell cited the continued spread of the coronavirus as a risk to the U.S. economic outlook. Stocks initially rallied on the news, but the Dow Jones closed down 879 points on outbreak fears.
  88. Shortly after, Trump demanded more rate cuts, tweeting, “The Federal Reserve is cutting but must further ease and, most importantly, come into line with other countries/competitors.”
  89. Trump added, “We are not playing on a level field. Not fair to USA. It is finally time for the Federal Reserve to LEAD.” After the Fed’s cut, the 10-year treasury yield dropped below 1% for the first time in history.
  90. On Tuesday, Dr. Anne Schuchat, principal deputy director of the CDC, told a senate committee that the coronavirus will likely be deemed a global pandemic by the World Health Organization.
  91. Schuchat said, “It is a new virus, and it is capable of person-to-person spread,” adding, “If sustained person-to-person spread in the community takes hold outside China,” the WHO will likely classify it a pandemic.
  92. On Tuesday, Trump and Pence met with airline CEOs. Trump asked the airlines to discuss their cleaning procedures. Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus response coordinator, said she was assured of the answers.
  93. Trump said, “I think people are going to be very impressed with what the airlines do,” but said government support has not been discussed. Trump added, “I haven’t touched my face in weeks,” and “I miss it.”
  94. The airline industry was hard hit by the outbreak — perhaps without precedent. NYT reported according to a trade group, the coronavirus effects could wipe out up to $113 billion in worldwide revenues this year.
  95. On Tuesday, the White House faced widespread criticism after Pence conducted a press briefing on the coronavirus outbreak, but members of the media were not allowed to record it on audio or video.
  96. CNN correspondent Jim Acosta said he asked Pence about it, and was told he “believes the briefing will be back on cam tomorrow,” and that Pence said, “Trump was on camera a bunch today.”
  97. On Tuesday, Google canceled its annual developer I/O conference, which draws thousands of global attendees for immersive, tactile demonstrations, due to the coronavirus. The company also canceled global employee travel.
  98. On Tuesday, former AG Jeff Sessions, who refused to recuse himself in the Russia probe, finished well short of the majority in the Alabama Senate primary, and will face a run-off.
  99. Trump tweeted, “This is what happens to someone who loyally gets appointed” but “doesn’t have the wisdom or courage to stare down & end the phony Russia Witch Hunt. Recuses himself on FIRST DAY in office.”
  100. On Wednesday, the chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled in an opinion that the FBI officials involved with wiretapping Carter Page will be banned from seeking surveillance wiretaps.
  101. On Wednesday, NBC News reported a white customer at an Olive Garden restaurant in Evansville, Indiana loudly demanded a non-black server. The manager, who complied, was later fired.
  102. On Wednesday, at a rally outside the Supreme Court as the court heard a challenge to abortion rights, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer delivered a message to Trump’s two court appointees.
  103. Schumer said, “I want to tell you, Gorsuch; I want to tell you, Kavanaugh: You have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price,” adding, “You won’t know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions.”
  104. Chief Justice John Roberts took the rare step of rebuking Schumer, saying in a statement, “Statements of this sort from the highest levels of government are not only inappropriate, they are dangerous.”
  105. Roberts added, “All members of the Court will continue to do their job, without fear or favor, from whatever quarter.” Notably, Roberts did not comment when Trump disparaged Justices Sotomayor and Ginsburg in Week 172.
  106. On Thursday, Schumer said on the Senate floor he misspoke and his anger reflected that of “women across America,” adding, “I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn’t have used the words I did.”
  107. On Wednesday, Italy’s government announced that all schools and universities will be closed for two weeks. There are more than 2,500 cases in Italy so far, and 79 have died as of Tuesday.
  108. On Wednesday, the World Health Organization said while the death rate from flu is 0.1–0.2%, for Covid-19 it was 3.4% globally; although the flu spreads more easily.
  109. On Wednesday, Gov. Cuomo confirmed the family and a neighbor of an infected Westchester man had also contracted coronavirus, bringing the total to six in New York. Yeshiva University, where one son attended, canceled classes.
  110. On Wednesday, Los Angeles County announced six new cases of coronavirus and declared a local state of emergency. Each was linked to travel or exposure to someone who did.
  111. On Wednesday, the Columbus Dispatch editorial board wrote, “We can’t trust Trump on pandemic,” calling the regime “dysfunctional,” and noting Pence disputes the theory of evolution and his mishandling of the HIV outbreak.
  112. The board also noted the regime has a “mile long track record of contempt for science and for experts,” along with Trump’s “steady stream of false statements on every imaginable subject,” allowing zero confidence.
  113. On Wednesday, an employee at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center who attended a mixer for doctors and Dartmouth College students was confirmed as New Hampshire’s first case three days after.
  114. The man, who had recently returned from Italy and showed flu-like symptoms last week, had been told to avoid contact with others. A “close contact” at the mixer also tested positive, the state’s second case.
  115. Later Wednesday, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a cruise ship with 2,500 passengers bound for San Francisco from Hawaii had 11 passengers and 10 crew with symptoms of Covid-19, and was being held off the coast.
  116. Newsom added, “That number may be significantly understated.” The ship has two people who have tested positive, and one who died — one of the 11 dead so far, the only person not from Washington state.
  117. Newsom also said he was declaring a state of emergency to mobilize a response. The number of confirmed cases in California shot up to 54 on Wednesday, the highest in the country.
  118. The Department of Homeland Security said a person who conducted medical screenings at Los Angeles International Airport tested positive. The person last worked on Feb. 21, eight days before showing symptoms.
  119. On Wednesday, a Facebook contractor in the company’s Seattle office tested positive. An Amazon employee outside Seattle also tested positive on Tuesday, and that employee remains under quarantine.
  120. On Wednesday, WAPO reported a surge in the coronavirus hit Iran’s leadership, infecting two dozen members of parliament and at least 15 other top figures. One epidemiologist estimated 28,000 cases in Iran.
  121. On Wednesday, Trump called in to Fox New host Sean Hannity’s show for an expansive interview in which he advanced his own theories, while disagreeing with public health officials and the WHO.
  122. Trump said of the WHO’s estimate on global mortality, “I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number,” adding, “this is just my hunch, and — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this.”
  123. Trump added of the coronavirus, “a lot people will have this and it’s very mild. They’ll get better very rapidly. They don’t even see a doctor. They don’t even call a doctor,” adding, “You never hear about those people.”
  124. Trump added, “we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work,” adding, “some of them go to work but they get better.”
  125. Trump added, “When you do have a death — like you had in the state of Washington, like you had one in California, believe you had one in New York.” There have been no deaths in NY.
  126. Trump added, “they don’t know about the easy cases because the easy cases don’t go to the hospital,” saying the WHO estimate “is very high,” and, without evidence, “I would say the number is way under 1 percent.”
  127. On Thursday, Trump reversed from his Fox News remarks, tweeting, “I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work.” Trump also blamed the media, calling it “more Fake News and disinformation.”
  128. Trump said the fake news was “put out by the Democrats, in particular MSDNC,” and that “Comcast covers the CoronaVirus situation horribly” and are trying to harm his “incredible & successful effort being made.”
  129. On Thursday, Pelosi criticized Facebook for an ad by the Trump campaign which said: ‘Fill this out, this is a Census form.’ Pelosi called it “A lie that is consistent with the misrepresentation policy of Facebook.”
  130. The ad says, “President Trump needs you to take the Official 2020 Congressional District Census today.” Clicking on a red button saying “Take the Survey” directs users to a website that asks about party affiliation and whether they support Trump. Similar mailings have been sent around the country.
  131. Pelosi said of Facebook, “now they’re messing with who we are as Americans,” adding, “I know the profit motive is their business model, but it should not come at the cost of counting who is in our country.”
  132. Shortly after, Facebook dropped the Trump ad, saying in a statement, “There are policies in place to prevent confusion around the official U.S. Census and this is an example of those being enforced.”
  133. On Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren dropped out of the 2020 race. Trump tweeted, “Elizabeth ‘Pocahontas’ Warren, who was going nowhere except into Mini Mike’s head.” Bloomberg dropped out Wednesday.
  134. On Thursday, WAPO reported with Joe Biden surging in the polls, Trump and his allies are ramping up the attacks on Biden’s son Hunter, reviving attacks that led to Trump’s impeachment.
  135. Trump said he planned to make Burisma a “major issue” in the general election, as his allies in Congress tried to revive an investigation into Burisma and open new probes to help Trump.
  136. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy criticized Democrats for not opening a probe, telling reporters the American people want to ask, “What did they do while he was vice president? What happened to Burisma?”
  137. In the Senate, Chair Johnson is scheduling a vote for the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on March 11 on whether to subpoena for testimony from former Ukrainian diplomat Andrii Telizhenko of Blue Star Strategies, who has ties to Burisma.
  138. On Thursday, Sen. Mitt Romney, who sits on Johnson’s Committee, said he may vote against the subpoena, telling reporters, “I think people are tired of these kind of political investigations.”
  139. On Thursday, NYT reported that Jared Kushner is selling his stake in Cadre, a New York-based real estate start-up which profited off a special tax break included in Trump’s 2017 tax cut.
  140. As of 2018, Cadre had moved into at least four cities to take advantage of opportunity zones, created by the Treasury Department in 2018 as part of the 2017 tax cut to encourage investment in low-income neighborhoods.
  141. In selling his stake, Kushner also took advantage of a special federal program which allowed him to defer paying income taxes. His stake was valued in 2017 at $5–25 million, and he sold it for $25–50 million.
  142. On Friday, Romney reversed, saying he would vote for subpoenaing Telizhenko, but added he advised Johnson, “any interview of the witness would occur in a closed setting without a hearing or public spectacle.”
  143. On Thursday, at a rally in Arizona for Bernie Sanders, who is a Jewish American, a man in the stands unfurled a Nazi flag and stood holding it until he was removed from the event.
  144. On Monday, BuzzFeed reported on the sixth installment of Mueller probe interview memos released by the DOJ and FBI under the FOIA. As with past releases, much of the information was redacted.
  145. The release included a heavily redacted 33-page April 2018 interview of Kushner explaining back-channel meetings with then–Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who said, “we like what your candidate is saying.”
  146. Kushner said he wanted to make sure he was speaking with people “who can make decisions.” Kislyak told Avi Berkowitz that Kushner “should meet with someone else who was a better channel through” to Putin.
  147. J.D. Gordon, a Trump campaign adviser during the 2016 election who was a Navy veteran and former Pentagon spokesperson, told the FBI that Hope Hicks had lied about contacts between the campaign and Russians.
  148. At the end of the interview a summary noted “Trump was involved in inappropriate activity” and “Gordon made this statement based on 3500 lawsuits Trump is involved in, business deals with Russia, not paying his policy office.”
  149. The interviews also revealed that Roger Stone met with Henry Oknyansky, also known as Henry Greenberg, a Russian national who in 2016 offered to sell him dirt on Hillary Clinton for $2 million.
  150. Also revealed was Trump campaign adviser Sam Clovis said he ordered George Papadopoulos to “shut up” and not engage with Russia during the campaign, saying, “Russia can be very sneaky and will try to distract you.”
  151. Rick Gates said that Michael Flynn came up with the “lock her up” chant about Hillary Clinton. He said that Rudy Giuliani was in line to be named attorney general, but he “overplayed his hand.”
  152. Fox News host Sean Hannity was mentioned more than a dozen times in the interviews. During the campaign, Hannity tailored his shows to the agenda Paul Manafort suggested, calling himself a “pundit,” not “a journalist.”
  153. On Tuesday, Papadopoulos lost in his bid for the run-off for California’s 25th district, garnering just under 2% of the vote.
  154. On Thursday, federal judge Reggie Walton sharply criticized AG William Barr for his handling of the Mueller report, saying he put forward a “distorted” and “misleading” account of the report’s findings.
  155. The judge said Barr could not be trusted, citing “inconsistencies” between Barr’s public statement while the report was secret, and the content of the report which was more damaging to Trump.
  156. The judge said Barr’s “lack of candor” called into question his “credibility and, in turn, the department’s,” and ordered the DOJ to privately show him the parts of the report that were redacted.
  157. The judge said he wanted to independently verify the justification for the DOJ’s redactions. His ruling came from a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking a full version of the report.
  158. It is highly unusual for a federal judge to publicly question the attorney general’s integrity. EPIC and BuzzFeed, who were behind the FOIA request, said the decision was what they had hoped for.
  159. On Thursday, amid widespread confusion and lack of test kits, Pence told reporters, “We don’t have enough tests today to meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”
  160. Pence also said the government would be able to provide testing “for those that we believe have been exposed, for those who are showing symptoms.” There has been a spike in demand as the coronavirus spread to 17 states.
  161. On Thursday, CNBC editor Rick Santelli suggested on-air, “maybe we’d just be better off if we gave it [coronavirus] to everybody and then in a month it would be over,” noting, “we’re wreaking havoc on global and domestic economies.”
  162. On Thursday, Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo warned on Fox News that her sources tell her to expect “hundreds of thousands” of cases of the coronavirus in the next six to twelve months.
  163. On Thursday, the LA Times reported police were called to a Costco in Chino Hills after customers became unruly when water, paper towels, and toilet paper were out of stock because of coronavirus-inspired buying.
  164. On Thursday, in a CNN town hall, Dr. Anthony Fauci admitted testing “got off to a slow start,” adding, “there were some missteps with regard to the CDC’s test. They had a problem, they fixed the problem.”
  165. Fauci added, “What you’re going to see in the reasonable future is a dramatic escalation in the number of tests that are going to be available,” by partnering with the private sector.
  166. On Thursday, Trump held a town hall on Fox News. CNN fact-checkers found 14 false claims. Trump falsely claimed that Joe Biden’s son Hunter “didn’t have a job” when he was appointed to the board of Burisma.
  167. Trump said of the coronavirus, “We got hit with the virus really three weeks ago.” The first confirmed case was January 21. Trump also lied that he reversed an Obama-era decision that had somehow impeded testing.
  168. Trump again falsely claimed that “pre-existing conditions, 100%, we take care of,” and lied that “China is paying us billions and billions of dollars because of what I did to them with tariffs.”
  169. Trump said of the coronavirus, “I have to say, people are now staying in the United States, spending their money in the U.S., and I like that.” So far, 12 people have died from Covid-19.
  170. Trump said he would cut the national debt. He was asked about cutting entitlements, with the host alluding to safety programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Trump said, “Oh, we’ll be cutting.”
  171. On Friday, Trump reversed comments from the town hall, tweeting, “I will protect your Social Security and Medicare, just as I have for the past 3 years,” adding, “Sleepy Joe Biden will destroy both in very short order.”
  172. On Friday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway lied about Trump’s remarks, telling Fox News, “He didn’t say that,” and adding, “You’re misquoting him, respectfully.”
  173. Fox News host Ed Henry then replayed the town hall clip from the night before, but Conway continued lying, saying, “But that wasn’t what he was talking about, he wasn’t talking about cutting entitlements.”
  174. Shortly after, Conway told CBS News that the coronavirus “is being contained,” adding, “Do you not think it’s being contained?” Host Paul Reid shot back, “The virus is spreading throughout the country.”
  175. On Friday, according to Johns Hopkins University, global cases grew to over 100,000 with 3,338 deaths. In the U.S., JHU said there were at least 233 cases. The CDC said at least 14 were dead in the U.S.
  176. More than 60 countries have reported cases of the coronavirus since the outbreak in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Of the more than 100,000 cases, roughly 80% are in China.
  177. On Friday, Trump abruptly canceled a scheduled trip to the CDC in Atlanta, after Pence said Thursday the President was planning to sign an $8.3 billion emergency spending bill there.
  178. A spokesperson cited, “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.”
  179. Instead, Trump signed the bill at the White House before heading to Nashville, Tennessee. Sec. Azar said he would go in Trump’s stead. Trump put forward a $2.5 billion proposal, but Congress allocated $8.3 billion.
  180. Speaking to reporters as he signed, Trump said of the effect on the economy, “A lot of people are staying here. They’re going to be doing their business here. They’re going to be traveling here.”
  181. Trump added, “They’ll be going to resorts here. And, you know, we have a great place,” seeming to refer to his own properties. Trump also added, “we’re going to have Americans staying home.”
  182. Trump also attacked the Fed’s response, saying, “the Fed should cut and the Fed should stimulate,” adding, “they should do that because other countries are doing it, and it puts us at a competitive disadvantage.”
  183. Trump said of people stuck on a cruise ship, he spoke to Newsom and “had a good conversation. We’re both working on the ship together. It’s close to 5,000 people,” and a “big ship,” and “we’re doing testing on those people.”
  184. Sec. Azar claimed “we have provided all the tests to the State of Washington and the State of California that they’ve asked for,” and that “the tests that are available to test up to 75,000 people.”
  185. Trump said his canceled CDC visit was “because of the one person at a high level….they didn’t want me going. But I would prefer going. And now that the person — the test came out negative, we’re going to try and go.”
  186. When asked how to keep people from panicking, Trump said, “Our numbers are lower than just about anybody,” adding, “And in terms of deaths…Is it 11? Eleven people? And in terms of cases, it’s very, very few.”
  187. Asked if sexism felled Sen. Warren, Trump said, “people don’t like her. She’s a very mean person, and people don’t like her. People don’t want that. They like a person like me, that’s not mean.”
  188. Shortly after, National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow told CNBC that “America should stay at work,” saying, “I don’t want to downplay anything…But I’m just saying, let’s not overreact.”
  189. On Friday, the LA Times reported chaos at California hospitals due to the shortage of coronavirus tests needed to help stem the spread in the state, which has 60 cases and growing.
  190. While federal officials had promised 1 million test kits by the end of the week, just 7,400 were expected to be available in the state over the weekend, according to the California Department of Public Health.
  191. On Friday, the Atlantic could verify only 1,895 Americans have been tested for the coronavirus of which about 10% have tested positive — contradicting the tens of thousands estimate by the White House.
  192. On Friday, McDonald’s Corp. is canceled its biennial convention for franchisees, citing the coronavirus. The company will hold a virtual meeting in place of the four-day gathering next month.
  193. Later Friday, Trump visited the CDC headquarters in Atlanta. He told reporters of the coronavirus, “it will end,” and said, “people have to remain calm,” and emphasized the size of the U.S. outbreak was small.
  194. Trump toured the laboratories, and cautioned about dramatic changes like canceling travel, conventions, and other events, saying “I wouldn’t be generally inclined to do it. I really wouldn’t be.”
  195. Trump said he preferred that the people on the cruise ship off California not get off, citing it would raise the number of U.S. cases, “because I like the numbers being where they are.”
  196. Trump added, “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault. And it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either. OK?” adding, “I would rather have them stay on, personally.”
  197. Trump said he would have thrived in the medical profession, “I like this stuff. I really get it,” citing a “great, super-genius uncle” who taught at MIT, and saying being a medical expert must run in his family genes.
  198. Trump added, “People are really surprised I understand this stuff,” and “Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?’ Maybe I have a natural ability.”
  199. Wearing his signature red “Keep America Great” baseball hat, Trump called the coronavirus testing kits “beautiful” and “all perfect,” adding, “Like the letter was perfect. The transcript was perfect.”
  200. CDC officials told Trump that 700,000 testing kits have already been shipped, and 4 million would be shipped by next week. Trump told reporters, “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.”
  201. CDC director Robert Redfield lavished Trump with praise, saying, “I want to thank you for your decisive leadership in helping us put public health first. … That’s the most important thing I want to say, sir.”
  202. Trump also lashed out at Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who Pence was meeting with in Washington state later that day, saying, “I told Mike not to be complimentary of that governor because that governor is a snake.”
  203. Trump added, “we have a lot of problems with the governor,” adding “Mike may be happy with him, but I’m not.” Trump stopped in Tennessee to see the devastation from deadly tornadoes.
  204. In Tennessee, Trump tried to end his visit on a positive note, recalling a story of a boy whose house had been ripped from the ground and landed a couple of blocks away, relatively unharmed.
  205. Trump asked officials, “And how did his parents do?” They replied, “They were found deceased. He was the only surviving member of the household. Lost his sibling as well.” Trump then went to Mar-a-Lago.
  206. Later Friday, Pence said that 21 people aboard the cruise ship off of California have tested positive, 19 of whom are crew members. He added the ship will be brought to a non-commercial port and everyone tested.
  207. On Friday, two British Airways staff who handled baggage, tested positive for Covid-19 and were quarantined. The total number of cases of the coronavirus in the U.K. reached 163, with the first death on Thursday.
  208. On Friday, both the South by Southwest festival in Austin and the Calle Ocho Music Festival in Miami were cancelled, as the number of cases in the U.S. reached 300 in 24 states.
  209. The cancellation of South by Southwest was expected to cost the economy of Austin, Texas more than $350 million. Airline flights in and out of the city will also be canceled.
  210. On Friday, Politico reported the number of civilian vacancies at the Pentagon has hit an all-time high, with more than a third of Senate-confirmed civilian positions left vacant or filled by temporary officials.
  211. Out of 60 position, 21 lack permanent appointees, and 13 have no nominee identified. Lawmakers have raised concerns about the department’s readiness to tackle the nation’s national security problems.
  212. On Friday, stocks fell 1.7% despite a strong jobs report, but finished slightly higher for the week after much volatility. The 10-year U.S. Treasury note sank briefly below 0.7 percent for the first time in history.
  213. On Friday, oil prices plunged more than 10%, the biggest drop in more than five years, after Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’s allies rejected additional production cuts proposed by OPEC on Thursday.
  214. Later Friday, in the midst of the health crisis, Trump fired his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in a tweet, and replaced with him with his staunch ally Rep. Mark Meadows, 60, who planned to retire from the House.
  215. Trump sent the tweet from Mar-a-Lago after 8 p.m., after most of the country had tuned out the news for the weekend, to announce this major change. The move was seen as a way for Trump to reinvigorate his staff.
  216. Meadows will be Trump’s fourth chief of staff in 38 months, the most any president has had in such a short period of time. During Mulvaney’s tenure the economy remained strong and Trump’s approval improved.
  217. Meadows is also known as a birther, having said to a crowd ahead of the 2012 election, “2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is.”
  218. Later Friday, NYT reported New York City officials pleaded with the federal government to send more test kits. The city has ordered 2,773 people to self-quarantine, but fewer than 100 have been tested.
  219. Reportedly sick patients are being denied testing, such as a 35 year-old man who returned last week from Japan and quickly fell ill with a fever and violent cough. An emergency room in Brooklyn deemed him ineligible.
  220. Late Friday, Florida health officials said two people in the state who had tested positive for Covid-19 died, bringing the total to 17. Both patients were in their 70s and had traveled overseas. There were over 300 cases.
  221. Late Friday, NYT reported the Trump regime is intensifying its enforcement in sanctuary cities. ICE has begun round-the-clock surveillance of homes and workplaces of undocumented immigrants.
  222. ICE planned to deploy additional officers in unmarked cars to areas to increase arrests in areas where local law enforcement does not cooperate. ICE leadership has requested at least 500 officers to “flood the streets.”
  223. On Friday, NBC News reported U.S. intelligence has gathered persuasive intelligence that the Taliban does not intend to abide by the terms of the peace deal they signed with Trump last week.
  224. On Saturday, NYT reported Erik Prince recruited former American and British spies to conduct secretive intelligence-gathering operations on Democratic congressional campaigns, labor, and other groups.
  225. The operation targeted groups considered hostile to Trump’s agenda. Former spies targeted the Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers in 2017, and the congressional campaign of Abigail Spanberger.
  226. Both operations were run by Project Veritas. Both PV and Prince have ties to Trump’s aides and family. Prince became interested in training PV operatives in espionage tactics during the 2016 campaign.
  227. Randi Weingarten, head of the AFT said, “Project Veritas used a fake intern to lie her way into our Michigan office, to steal documents and to spy…We’re just trying to hold them accountable for this industrial espionage.”
  228. On Saturday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency as the number of known cases of coronavirus jumped to 76, with the highest concentration of 57 in Westchester County.
  229. On Saturday, Amtrak canceled its Acela nonstop service between Washington, D.C. and New York, starting Tuesday for the two weeks from March 10 to March 26.

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Copyright Amy Siskind, March 7, 2020

Local Target store in the D.C area depleted of cleaning and sanitizing supplies and left with empty shelves as fear grow of COVID-19 (the coronavirus) reports increasing on March 7, 2020 in Springfield, Virginia.