Trump threatens to move GOP convention over North Carolina’s coronavirus restrictions

President Trump warned Monday that the Republican Party could seek to move its 2020 convention if North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) cannot guarantee that coronavirus restrictions will be lifted, allowing the full use of Charlotte’s Spectrum Center this summer.

“I love the Great State of North Carolina, so much so that I insisted on having the Republican National Convention in Charlotte at the end of August. Unfortunately, Democrat Governor, @RoyCooperNC is still in Shutdown mood & unable to guarantee that by August we will be allowed full attendance in the Arena,” Trump said in a series of tweets. “In other words, we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space.”

“Plans are being made by many thousands of enthusiastic Republicans, and others, to head to beautiful North Carolina in August. They must be immediately given an answer by the Governor as to whether or not the space will be allowed to be fully occupied,” he continued. “If not, we will be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site. This is not something I want to do. Thank you, and I LOVE the people of North Carolina!”

Vice President Pence later backed up Trump during an appearance on “Fox & Friends” on Monday morning, warning that the GOP could decide to move the August convention to a different location “that is farther along on reopening and can say with confidence that, that we can gather there.”

The Republican National Committee did not immediately respond to The Hill’s request for comment. Cooper responded in a statement later Monday morning, explaining that discussions with the Republican National Committee (RNC) were ongoing.

Trump has encouraged governors for weeks to begin accelerating their plans to reopen their economies and lift social distancing measures, even as some states have seen their numbers of confirmed coronavirus cases continue to rise.

North Carolina entered phase two of its reopening plan last week, allowing restaurants to open at 50 percent capacity but still prohibiting large gatherings.

The Democratic National Committee has already pushed back its own convention by a month, and the presumptive presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, has floated the option of the Milwaukee event going digital. 

Trump, however, has rejected suggestions of altering the GOP convention in the face of the pandemic.

[The Hill]

Trump says Sessions wasn’t ‘mentally qualified’ to be attorney general

President Trump said in a new interview that Jeff Sessions wasn’t “mentally qualified” to be attorney general and was a “disaster” while in office. 

The president told Sharyl Attkisson that Sessions “should have never” held the position.

“Jeff Sessions was a disaster as attorney general,” Trump said during the “Full Measure” interview, which aired on Sunday morning. “He’s not mentally qualified to be attorney general. He was the biggest problem.”

Trump’s remarks escalated an ongoing feud between the president and Sessions, a former Republican senator from Alabama who as attorney general recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election. 

On Saturday, the president formally endorsed college football coach Tommy Tuberville, who is challenging Sessions’s bid to return to the Senate, citing the recusal.

Sessions responded on Twitter, saying, “I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did.”

“It protected the rule of law & resulted in your exoneration,” he posted. “Your personal feelings don’t dictate who Alabama picks as their senator, the people of Alabama do.”

Sessions and Tuberville will compete in a July 14 runoff after a close Republican primary election in March. The Republicans seek to unseat Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.), who took over Sessions’s seat in a 2017 special election.

Trump fired Sessions in November 2018 and told NBC News’s “Meet the Press” last year that Sessions would be his only “do-over” as president.

[The Hill]

Trump administration discussed conducting first U.S. nuclear test in decades

The Trump administration has discussed whether to conduct the first U.S. nuclear test explosion since 1992 in a move that would have far-reaching consequences for relations with other nuclear powers and reverse a decades-long moratorium on such actions, said a senior administration official and two former officials familiar with the deliberations.

The matter came up at a meeting of senior officials representing the top national security agencies May 15, following accusations from administration officials that Russia and China are conducting low-yield nuclear tests — an assertion that has not been substantiated by publicly available evidence and that both countries have denied.

A senior administration official, who like others spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the sensitive nuclear discussions, said that demonstrating to Moscow and Beijing that the United States could “rapid test” could prove useful from a negotiating standpoint as Washington seeks a trilateral deal to regulate the arsenals of the biggest nuclear powers.

The meeting did not conclude with any agreement to conduct a test, but a senior administration official said the proposal is “very much an ongoing conversation.” Another person familiar with the meeting, however, said a decision was ultimately made to take other measures in response to threats posed by Russia and China and avoid a resumption of testing.

The National Security Council declined to comment.

During the meeting, serious disagreements emerged over the idea, in particular from the National Nuclear Security Administration, according to two people familiar with the discussions. The NNSA, an agency that ensures the safety of the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The United States has not conducted a nuclear test explosion since September 1992, and nuclear nonproliferation advocates warned that doing so now could have destabilizing consequences.

“It would be an invitation for other nuclear-armed countries to follow suit,” said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association. “It would be the starting gun to an unprecedented nuclear arms race. You would also disrupt the negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who may no longer feel compelled to honor his moratorium on nuclear testing.”

The United States remains the only country to have deployed a nuclear weapon during wartime, but since 1945 at least eight countries have collectively conducted about 2,000 nuclear tests, of which more than 1,000 were carried out by the United States.

The environmental and health-related consequences of nuclear testing moved the process underground, eventually leading to a near-global moratorium on testing in this century with the exception of North Korea. Concerns about the dangers of testing prompted more than 184 nations to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, an agreement that will not enter into force until ratified by eight key states, including the United States.

President Barack Obama supported the ratification of the CTBT in 2009 but never realized his goal. The Trump administration said it would not seek ratification in its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review.

Still, the major nuclear powers abide by its core prohibition on testing. But the United States in recent months has alleged that Russia and China have violated the “zero yield” standard with extremely low-yield or underground tests, not the type of many-kiloton yield tests with mushroom clouds associated with the Cold War. Russia and China deny the allegation.

Since establishing a moratorium on testing in the early 1990s, the United States has ensured that its nuclear weapons are ready to be deployed by conducting what are known as subcritical tests — blasts that do not produce a nuclear chain reaction but can test components of a weapon.

[The Washington Post]


Trump says it’s ‘badge of HONOR’ for US to lead world in Covid-19 cases

President Donald Trump says that it is a “badge of honour” that the the US has more cases of the coronavirus than any other country.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting this afternoon, the president put the high figure down to the volume of Covid-19tests being carried out.

“When we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing — I look at that in a certain respect as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better. … So I view it as a badge of honour, really,” he said.

Mr Trump added that this was “a great tribute to the testing and all of the work that a lot of professionals have done.”

The US has conducted 11.28 million tests for the coronavirus, according to figures updated on Monday by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

A total of 1.59 million cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed — approximately 14 per cent of those tested.

More than 91,000 American deaths have been officially recorded as directly caused by the virus.

The president brought up the topic of testing in his response to a question about whether he was considering a travel ban on Latin America, specifically Brazil which now has the third highest number of cases in the world after the US and Russia.

Initially responding that the administration was considering a travel ban, Mr Trump continued: “We hope that we’re not going to have a problem. The governor of Florida is doing very, very well testing — in particular Florida, because a big majority come in to Florida. Brazil has gone more or less herd, and they’re having problems.”

“I worry about everything, I don’t want people coming in here and infecting our people,” he continued. “I don’t want people over there sick either.”

[The Independent]


Trump Steps Up Attacks on Mail Vote, Making False Claims About Fraud

President Trump on Wednesday escalated his assault against mail voting, falsely claiming that Michigan and Nevada were engaged in voter fraud and had acted illegally, and threatening to withhold federal funds to those states if they proceed in expanding vote-by-mail efforts.

The president inaccurately accused the two states of sending mail ballots to its residents. In fact, the secretaries of state in Michigan and Nevada sent applications for mail ballots, as election officials have done in other states, including those led by Republicans.

The Twitter posts were the latest in a series of broadsides the president has aimed at a process that has become the primary vehicle for casting ballots in an electoral system transformed by the coronavirus pandemic.

As most states largely abandon in-person voting because of health concerns, Mr. Trump, along with many of his Republican allies, have launched a series of false attacks to demonize mail voting as fraught with fraud and delivering an inherent advantage to Democratic candidates — despite there being scant evidence for either claim.

“Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” the president tweeted Wednesday morning. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

An hour later he made a similar threat against Nevada, saying the state had created “a great Voter Fraud scenario” and adding “If they do, ‘I think’ I can hold up funds to the State.”

Mr. Trump’s outbursts come as the White House and his re-election campaign are confronting polls showing the president trailing his Democratic rival, Joseph R. Biden Jr., both nationally and in key swing states.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment or elaboration.Mr. Trump has often made threats about cutting off funding to states but has not always followed through. He has threatened in the past to withhold federal funds to sanctuary cities. Last month, he said he wanted Democratic states to give him “sanctuary-city adjustments” in exchange for federal financial relief. He has not yet followed through on the threat.

Michigan’s secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, quickly clarified on Wednesday that the state is not mailing ballots to all Michigan voters. On Wednesday she began mailing ballot applications to all registered voters.

“I was notified about the tweet this morning and it caught me off guard because it of course was inaccurate,” Ms. Benson, a Democrat, said in an interview. “It is nothing different from my Republican colleagues in other states are doing. It boggles my mind, that this, which is completely within my authority, would in any way be seen as controversial.”

Ms. Benson said she has already spent $4.5 million in federal CARES Act funding to mail voters ballot applications, which are also available online. She had previously sent absentee ballot applications to all voters for the state’s local elections on May 5.

Michigan voters who apply for absentee ballots for the August statewide primary for House and Senate races may also opt in to receive ballots for the November general election.

The president’s attack on Nevada is particularly confounding, given that the state’s effort to switch to a nearly-all-mail election was made by Secretary of State Barbara K. Cegavske, a Republican. Democrats have sued Ms. Cegavske to block her effort to close nearly all of the state’s in-person polling places for the June 9 primary and mail ballots to all registered voters.

“If it has not become apparent yet, Donald Trump makes stuff up,” said Marc Elias, the Democratic elections lawyer who is suing Ms. Cegavske to require more in-person polling places to remain open. “So I don’t think he has a particular objection other than someone has told him that he is losing in Michigan and in Nevada so today he decided to tweet about Michigan and Nevada.”

Ms. Cegavske’s office did not respond to requests for comment.

The president is scheduled to visit a Ford Motor plant that is manufacturing ventilators in Ypsilanti, Mich., on Thursday. This is his first trip to the state since January, and comes at a time when his campaign advisers are increasingly concerned about his chances there. Mr. Trump’s tweets a day ahead of the trip were seen as unhelpful to boosting his political standing in a critical state, and his political opponents immediately pounced on it.

Georgia’s Republican secretary of state and municipal officials in Milwaukee have also said they will send vote-by-mail applications to registered voters in hopes of easing stress on in-person voting locations. In Wisconsin, the state’s bipartisan election commission is meeting Wednesday to decide whether to mail ballot application forms to all registered voters and more than 200,000 people who are eligible to vote but not registered.

Some state Republican parties have been actively encouraging their supporters to vote by mail. In Pennsylvania, another state that recently passed a law to move to no-excuse vote by mail, the state Republican Party has set up an online portal that helps voters understand the new law.

Many states, including Michigan and Wisconsin, also allow voters to make online requests to have absentee ballots mailed to them.

The president himself, along with the first lady, Melania Trump, voted by mail in Florida’s presidential primary in March.

Mr. Trump has long falsely asserted that absentee voting and vote by mail is rife with fraud, applying that argument into his constant complaints of “rigged elections” when he or his supported candidates are losing.

He has been casting doubts on mail voting since his first run for the presidency in 2016. During a rally in Colorado — one of the five states in the country that votes completely by mail — Mr. Trump implied without evidence that it was easy to vote twice.

Recently, Mr. Trump has been lashing out at both vote by mail and absentee voting, at first raising his allegations in April in a tweet and later decrying a decision in California to mail ballots to every voter for November as a “scam.” But the president has also been inconsistent on the issue: on the same day that he criticized the decision in California, he encouraged voters to mail in their ballots for a local congressional race.

Election experts noted that the process Mr. Trump criticized was actually a protective measure against voter fraud.

“A ballot application is returned to state officials who ensure that the information on it is accurate and the person applying for a ballot is entitled to get it,” said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at University of California, Irvine, who specializes in election law. “So it’s a safeguard.”

Mr. Hasen said that the broadsides from Mr. Trump follow a pattern of lashing out against expanding access to voting, even as there remains no evidence to support his claims.

“Trump seems to think that anything that makes it easier for people to vote is going to hurt him,” Mr. Hasen said, “and he’s consistently expressed the view that anything that makes it easier to vote leads to voter fraud when there is absolutely no evidence to support that claim.”

Though Mr. Trump did not specify which funds he was threatening to withhold from states during a pandemic, election officials and Democrats in Congress have been clamoring for more money to help hold the November elections safely.

But the money that has already been appropriated through the Help America Vote Act and the CARES Act is already “out the door” and on the way to states, according to election officials; there is no way for Mr. Trump or his administration to hold up those funds.

Mr. Elias, the elections lawyer, said Mr. Trump could seek to withhold other funds but predicted such a move would be invalidated by the courts.

“The president does not have authority to withhold funding to a state based on the idea that people in the state may vote,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s attacks on mail voting have come largely in states with little history of large numbers of people casting absentee ballots, like Wisconsin. But he has not addressed mail voting in states where it has long been popular, such as Florida and Arizona, and often used to great success by Republican campaigns. Nor has Mr. Trump denigrated mail voting in the five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — that conduct elections entirely by mail.

[The New York Times]

Trump Blasts ‘Anti-Trump People’ at Fox After Cavuto Hydroxychloroquine Pushback: ‘Looking for a New Outlet!’

After President Donald Trump announced he was taking hydroxychloroquine, Fox News’ Neil Cavuto was incredibly stunned and took a few minutes to warn viewers about the side effects.

Those who took it, in a vulnerable population, including those with respiratory or other conditions, they died. I want to stress again — they died. If you are in a risky population here and you are taking this as a preventative treatment to ward off the virus or, in a worst-case scenario, you are dealing with the virus, and you are in this vulnerable population, it will kill you. I cannot stress that enough. This will kill you,” he said.

Based on his retweeting tonight, it’s clear the president wasn’t exactly happy to hear what the Fox News anchor had to say:

[Mediaite]

Despite FDA Caution, Trump Says He Is Taking Hydroxychloroquine As A Preventive

President Trump on Monday revealed to reporters that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine and zinc to protect against the coronavirus.

“I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this,” the president told reporters, volunteering the information at the end of a roundtable with restaurant owners.

Trump said he asked his doctor about taking it after hearing from people who had done so. “Here’s my evidence — I get a lot of positive calls about it,” he said.

“I’ve taken it for about a week and a half now. And I’m still here,” he said.

The president said that he had asked the White House physician about it and that he did not start taking it in response to a specific exposure.

Trump has been promoting the drug, used to treat malaria and lupus, in briefings and on Twitter. The drug’s impact on the virus is being studied, but there is no definitive evidence yet from clinical trials — and there have been some warnings about side effects, including from the Food and Drug Administration.

Medical experts have urged caution around the drug, and last month the FDA strongly warned against using hydroxychloroquine without medical supervision, such as in a hospital or as part of a clinical trial.

Although researchers have been skeptical of hydroxychloroquine’s role in treating COVID-19, there is more enthusiasm about its potential to prevent infection. That’s because multiple studies have shown that the drug can prevent coronavirus replication.

Two such studies are currently underway.

One is being conducted by scientists and physicians at the University of Minnesota and will involve 1,500 volunteers at high risk for contracting COVID-19, either because they are health care workers or live with someone who has the disease. The study is actively recruiting high-risk health care workers and first responders from around the United States.

That study began clinical trials on April 6 to determine whether hydroxychloroquine is effective at preventing infection from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.

The other is a multicenter study led by Duke University that is also aimed primarily at health care workers. It aims to enroll 15,000 volunteers.

Neither study has released any results.

Dr. David R. Boulware, a medical professor who launched the University of Minnesota study, said there is no data showing that using hydroxychloroquine as a preexposure prophylaxis is effective.

“It may be. It may not be. We do not know,” he told NPR.

“The only way I would recommend taking hydroxychloroquine is within a clinical trial,” he said.

[NPR]

Trump tears into ’60 Minutes’ after segment with whistleblower Bright

President Trump took aim at CBS News and its flagship news magazine program, “60 Minutes,” on Sunday after the program interviewed whistleblower Rick Bright, former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA).

In a tweet, the president excoriated CBS and its “third place anchor, @NorahODonnell,” whom he accused of “doing everything in their power to demean our Country, much to the benefit of the Radical Left Democrats.”

“Tonight they put on yet another Fake “Whistleblower”, a disgruntled employee who supports Dems, fabricates stories & spews lies. @60Minutes report was incorrect, which they couldn’t care less about. Fake News!” he tweeted.

“This whole Whistleblower racket needs to be looked at very closely, it is causing great injustice & harm. I hope you are listening [Sen. Susan Collins.] I also hope that Shari Redstone will take a look at her poorly performing gang. She knows how to make things right!” Trump added. Redstone is the chairwoman of ViacomCBS.

Bright, who last week slammed the Trump administration’s response to the COVID-19 crisis during testimony before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, told CBS News that he was not “disgruntled,” as Trump has described him, but instead was frustrated with the administration’s response to the virus threat.

“Remember, the entire leadership was focused on containment. There was a belief that we could contain this virus and keep it out of the United States,” he said. “Containment doesn’t work. Containment does buy time. It could slow. It very well could slow the spread. But while you’re slowing the spread, you better be doing something in parallel to be prepared for when that virus breaks out. That was my job.”
“I am not disgruntled,” Bright added. “I am frustrated at a lack of leadership. I am frustrated at a lack of urgency to get a head start on developing lifesaving tools for Americans. I’m frustrated at our inability to be heard as scientists. Those things frustrate me.”

Bright told the House committee last week that “unprecedented illness and fatalities” would occur if the U.S. coronavirus response does not improve in upcoming months, and cast doubt on predictions that the U.S. would see a COVID-19 vaccine developed in the next year and a half.

[The Hill]

Trump interrupts PGA to blame Obama for the COVID-19 crisis

Former President Barack Obama may have been out of office for three years, but the 2019 coronavirus was somehow made worse by him, according to President Donald Trump. 

Interrupting the PGA on Sunday, NBC interviewed Trump over the phone, where he name-dropped golfers claiming that he knew them. Then he quickly turned from hoping to bring back sports to blaming Obama for the crisis.

According to Trump, he was left woefully unprepared due to Obama, who left office in 2017. Trump has not yet revealed what he spent the subsequent three years doing if there was such a lack of resources. During Trump’s first two years in office, the Republican Party ran the House, Senate, and White House.

COVID-19 is so named because it stands for coronavirus found in 2019. Obama had been out of office for just under three years during the discovery of the coronavirus. No tests could be invented for coronavirus three years before the virus existed, though Trump seems confused by the timeline about when he took over the White House and when the COVID-19 crisis began.

[Raw Story]

Media

The President Says He “Can’t Get Enough” of His Supporters Harassing the Press

On Thursday, Kevin Vesey, a TV reporter for News12 Long Island, visited a local protest against the remaining restrictions put in place by New York to stem the spread of the coronavirus, filing a studiously restrained segment for broadcast.

But on Twitter, he decided to share a small piece of raw footage showing how he was harassed by the demonstrators as he went about his job of capturing their demands and relaying them to a wider audience. The footage circulated widely among journalists on Thursday and Friday, often accompanied by laments about the protesters’ targeting of Vesey. In under a minute, the video captures him being called “traitor,” “hack,” “disgusting,””the enemy of the people,” and, inevitably, “fake news.” All are, of course, phrases President Donald Trump has deployed against journalists who cover his administration.

On Friday night, the President himself retweeted the video, mimicking a chant the protestors had shouted: “Fake news is nonessential.” On Saturday morning, he retweeted it again, endorsing his supporters’ harassment by calling them “great people” and claiming that “people can’t get enough of this.” 

Vesey shared the footage with his Twitter followers because it made him alarmed. Trump shared the footage with his Twitter followers because it made him proud. 

[Mother Jones]


1 2 3 235