Donald Trump was up late on Tuesday to pour scorn on ex-2020 contender Elizabeth Warren for seemingly splitting her party’s progressive vote, saying she “totally destroyed the campaign of Bernie Sanders” after the self-styled democratic socialist lost more key primaries to front-runner and moderate Joe Biden.
As Twitter users took turns to express concern about the president’s priorities during the coronavirus outbreak, Biden picked up wins in Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi and Missouri, another hammer blow to his last serious rival’s challenge for the party nomination.
The president and his deputy Mike Pence have meanwhile also attracted criticism for continuing to shake the hands of supporters, despite advice to the contrary from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the interests of containing the spread of the contagion as the total number of US cases passes the 1,000 mark.
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Ahead of Donald Trump’s televised address, the White House announced a memo from the Department of Health and Human Services to make respirators available as hospitals and healthcare workers brace for shortages as they treat coronavirus patients.
The memo invokes the Public Health Service Act, and says: “We must ensure that our healthcare providers have full access to the products they need.”
The president is expected to announce economic and public health-related initiatives as he looks to improve his response to the coronavirus outbreak in the US.
His white nationalist anti-immigration architect Stephen Miller helped draft tonight’s speech, according to reports, along with his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Among possible actions: strict immigration and travel restrictions, helping businesses access disaster relief funds, and a series of executive orders on payroll taxes, paid sick leave and extended tax filing deadlines.
During a White House coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Donald Trump dismissed Jim Acosta’s question as “fake news” and waved him off as the briefing ended.
The question? “What do you say to Americans who are concerned you’re not taking this seriously enough and some of your statements don’t match what your health experts are saying.”
In January 2019, the president used his first televised address to urge his supporters to call Congress and demand they fund border wall construction on the US-Mexico border.
His 10-minute address lambasted Democrats for “refusing to acknowledge the crisis” at the border.
In their response, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi accused the president of “holding the American people hostage” and “manufacturing a crisis” while the federal government was shut down over the stalled budget.
In February, Donald Trump said during a White House briefing that the US had only “15 people” with coronavirus, “and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
Two weeks later, he is set to make a televised address from the Oval Office as the number of cases in the US climbs to nearly 1,300, including the deaths of 37 people.
It’s his second such address from the Oval Office. In January 2019, he lambasted Congress in a false claim-filled, nine-minute speech appealing to Americans about the “humanitarian crisis” at the US-Mexico border in his attempt to free up billions of dollars to pay for a wall.
He said: “How much more American blood must we shed before Congress does its job?”
Ahead of his address to the US, Donald Trump appears to imply “The Media” is hindering the response to coronavirus.
The president will address the nation at 9pm EST, as Democrats urge him to declare a national emergency, which would prompt FEMA to make more than $40bn in disaster relief funds available to state and local governments to response to the outbreak.
After passing the Senate in a rare show of bipartisan support, the House of Representatives now has signed off on a war powers resolution to rein in Donald Trump’s presidential authority over his military actions in Iran.
It now heads to the president’s desk, where he’s expected to veto it.
Last month, he warned on Twitter that “it is very important for our Country’s SECURITY that the United States Senate not vote for the Iran War Powers Resolution. We are doing very well with Iran and this is not the time to show weakness.”
The resolution followed Trump’s airstrike that killed Iranian General Qassam Soleimani, outraging members of Congress who were not satisfied with intelligence briefs that led to the attack that has violently provoked tensions in the Middle East.
A Politico report claims that Donald Trump won’t activate an emergency declaration on coronavirus without Jared Kushner coming to a conclusion himself, or risk sullying his own message that everything is “fine.”
By declaring an emergency, the US can activate the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, which could potentially mobilise public health and other efforts.
According to Politico, “Trump’s concern at this point is that going further could hamper his narrative that the coronavirus is similar to the seasonal flu, said the three people familiar with the discussions.”
A Republican close to the president said Trump “isn’t persuaded because [an emergency declaration] contradicts his message that this is the flu.”
Brazil’s foreign press minister is reportedly being checked for coronavirus.
He was spotted at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday.
The president and the White House press secretary have said that Trump has not been nor does he need to be tested.
He told reporters: “I don’t think it’s a big deal. I would do it … There’s no symptoms, no anything.”
Giuliani posts strange video targeting Joe Biden
Rudy Giuliani, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, has posted a new video targeting Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden.
It involves an actual MAGA train and Biden riding a handcar.
On Tuesday, the former vice president won sweeping victories in Democratic primaries, all but cementing his path to become the nominee.
Trump to make statement on coronavirus
The president said his statement would probably come “at 8 o’clock”.
Pentagon says transparency is key to controlling coronavirus, as White House orders meetings classified
Top officials in the Trump administration are publicly and frequently contradicting the president’s own advice and handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
Today it was the Pentagon’s turn. The military’s top doctor, Brigadier General Paul Friedrichs, stressed in a press conference that transparency was key in fighting an outbreak like the coronavirus.
“The way that you control public health outbreak is not to hide data, it’s to be transparent to the public and to your partners going forward so that we have a clear understanding of the risk and then we can take appropriate measures to mitigate,” he said.
His comments come just hours after Reuters reported that the White House has ordered federal health officials to keep top-level coronavirus meetings secret.
The story cites four administration officials who said that “dozens of classified discussions about such topics as the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions have been held since mid-January in a high-security meeting room at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), a key player in the fight against the coronavirus.”
Also today, reporters were blocked from attending a meeting between vice president Mike Pence and hospital executives regarding the outbreak, after having been told they would be allowed to attend.
Wall Street losses continue amid coronavirus fears
Despite a rally on Tuesday, stocks are sinking again on Wall Street as investors wait for details on an economic stimulus plan from the Trump administration to counter the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, the Associated Press reports.
Stocks fell by 3.7 percent for the S&P 500 at opening, and got worse throughout the day. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by more than 1,000 points.
“The government probably should have been thinking about stimulus last month,” said Kristina Hooper, Invesco’s chief global market strategist. “Every day that passes makes the economic impact of coronavirus that much worse.”
The White House’s infectious disease official has said that “many, many millions” of Americans could contract the coronavirus if the US does not respond aggressively enough to the outbreak.
Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned the House Oversight and Reform Committee that the government could not be complacent.
“It is going to be totally dependent on how we respond to it. I can’t give you a realistic number” at this point, Mr Fauci said when commenting on the possible number who might contract the virus.
His remarks stand in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s latest comments on the worsening outbreak.
“It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away… It’s really working out. And a lot of good things are going to happen,” the president said on Tuesday afternoon.
John T. Bennett reports.
The Republican House minority leader has been called on to apologise after joining Fox in referring to the epidemic as the “Chinese coronavirus”.
New York Democrat Grace Meng was among the first to call him out and say she was “embarassed to be his colleague” and was joined by former presidential candiate Kamala Harris, among many others.
McCarthy though has hit back rather than apologise, assembling headlines from the “MSM” to argue that he’s done nothing wrong.
Roger Lynch of Conde Nast has this response to the president’s vicious attack on his “third rate Fake reporters” earlier.
Since Trump is hitting out at the media once again and questioning the accuracy of its reporting on his government, it’s worth pointing out that it is the one-year anniversary of his administration’s last “daily press briefing”.
Dust continues to gather on the White House podium.
US Treasury officials are talking over the possibility of pushing back the date on which American citizens must file their income tax returns by as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc with everyday routines, according to The Wall Street Journal.
No decision has yet been made on when the new date would be but Steve Mnuchin and his minions are reportedly working through the logistics.
Americans are typically required to their pay taxes by 15 April or face penalties and interest charges but the Internal Revenue Service also grants taxpayers the option to file for a six-month extension.
Such a delay would force the Treasury to borrow money to cover the considerable bureaucratic costs, although precisely how much is also unknown. The department collected some $333bn (£258bn) in April 2019.
Despite his own administration advising people to avoid events with large crowds to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Trump has announced he’ll hold a campaign event in Wisconsin.
Trump will attend a “Catholics for Trump” event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 19 March. The event is apparently not a typical campaign rally, so the number of expected attendees is not yet known. Just an hour before, the White House held a briefing from the coronavirus task force which included a recommendation that people “avoid crowding.”
Trump announced these rallies just hours after Senator Bernie Sanders and vice president Joe Biden cancelled duelling campaign rallies in Cleveland, Ohio. Three cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and governor Mike DeWine declares a state of emergency on Monday.
Graig Graziosi reports.
For Indy Voices, Holly Baxter calls time on the Vermont senator’s race.