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 attacks whistleblower Bright as ‘disgruntled employee’

President Trump on Thursday criticized health official Rick Bright and said he should “no longer” be working for the federal government shortly before the whistleblower was slated to testify before a House panel about the Trump administration’s response to the novel coronavirus.

Trump tweeted that he had never met nor heard of Bright and claimed that the former federal vaccine doctor was “not liked or respected” by people whom the president has consulted, labeling him a “disgruntled employee.”

“I don’t know the so-called Whistleblower Rick Bright, never met him or even heard of him, but to me he is a disgruntled employee, not liked or respected by people I spoke to and who, with his attitude, should no longer be working for our government!” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.

Bright is expected to deliver critical testimony to a House committee later Thursday saying that the Trump administration was unprepared for the coronavirus pandemic. He plans to warn that without a coordinated national response, this year will be “the darkest winter in modern history,” according to a leaked copy of his prepared remarks.

Bright served at the helm of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority from 2016 until last month, when he was reassigned to a narrower position based at the National Institutes of Health.

Bright filed a whistleblower complaint following his reassignment alleging that his early warnings about the virus were met with indifference at the Department of Health and Human Services and that his efforts to push back on the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat the coronavirus, something Trump touted, contributed to his removal from the high-level post.

Bright is seeking to be reinstated in his former position and asked for a full investigation into the decision to reassign him.

Bright, who first came forward with his claims in late April, is slated to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health at 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

Trump has repeatedly said he didn’t know Bright, while dismissing him as a seemingly “disgruntled employee.”

“I don’t know who he is. I did not hear good things about him at all,” Trump told reporters at the White House on May 6. “And to me he seems like a disgruntled employee that’s trying to help the Democrats win an election.” 

[The Hill]

Trump demands Obama be made to testify in the Senate

For the past few days, President Trump has been talking nonstop about something he has termed “OBAMAGATE” — a largely incoherent conspiracy theory that positions former President Obama as the mastermind behind a conspiracy to use federal law enforcement to undermine Trump’s campaign and presidency.

It is, in effect, the new birtherism: an unfounded campaign against the legitimacy of America’s first black president that Trump is trying to exploit to rally the political faithful.

This morning, Trump seriously escalated his campaign against Obama, tweeting at one of his most reliable supporters in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, to force Obama to testify before Congress about this allegedly dastardly plot.

The specific wording of the tweet — “Do it… just do it” — is striking; the request sounds like a childish dare, as if Trump were daring Graham to shave his head during a late-night Zoom call. But the absurdity of the language shouldn’t distract from the nefariousness of the request.

The president of the United States is labeling a fringe right-wing conspiracy theory “the biggest political crime and scandal in the history of the USA, by FAR.” He’s also more or less ordering a particularly compliant senator — who happens to chair the Judiciary Committee — to use the powers of the Senate to treat one of his predecessors as a potential criminal suspect or witness on the basis of this conspiracy theory.

Throughout Trump’s presidency, he has consistently treated the investigatory and law enforcement powers of the US government as tools to be deployed for purely political reasons. During the coronavirus crisis, when his presidency is once again in mortal danger, he has stepped on the gas on this kind of abuse of power — the Justice Department has dropped charges against Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had pleaded guilty,and Trump now seems to be trying to get them to treat Obama like a criminal.

In democracies, presidents are not supposed to use law enforcement agencies as shields for their crooked political allies and swords against their political enemies. The threat that Trump poses to the rule of law, and the basic principles of a free society, has never been clearer.

[Vox]

Update

Graham denied Trump’s request.

Trump blasts Fox News, says he wants an “alternative” network

President Trump tore into Fox News in a series of tweets on Sunday night, claiming that he has “no respect” for the network’s leadership and that it “keeps on plugging to try and become politically correct.”

Why it matters: It’s the latest chapter in Trump’s love-hate relationship with the network. While he continues to praise and live-tweet several of his favorite Fox News shows, the president has taken a more critical overall tone toward the outlet in recent months.

What he’s tweeting:

“@FoxNews just doesn’t get what’s happening! They are being fed Democrat talking points, and they play them without hesitation or research. They forgot that Fake News @CNN & MSDNC wouldn’t let @FoxNews participate, even a little bit, in the poor ratings Democrat Debates.

Even the Radical Left Do Nothing Democrats laughed at the Fox suggestion. No respect for the people running @FoxNews. But Fox keeps on plugging to try and become politically correct. They put RINO Paul Ryan on their Board. They hire ‘debate questions to Crooked Hillary’ fraud @donnabrazile (and others who are even worse).

Chris Wallace is nastier to Republicans than even Deface the Nation or Sleepy Eyes. The people who are watching @FoxNews, in record numbers (thank you President Trump), are angry. They want an alternative now. So do I!”

Between the lines: Trump has evidently found the “alternative” he’s calling for in One America News Network. He has repeatedly praised the network’s coverage of his administration and has offered favorable treatment to its reporters.

  • Trump tweeted earlier this month: “Watching @FoxNews on weekend afternoons is a total waste of time. We now have some great alternatives, like @OANN.”

[Axios]

Trump rips media, says ‘I work from early in the morning until late at night’

President Trump ripped into the media Sunday in response to a report about his work schedule, saying that he toils from morning until night in a series of tweets.

“The people that know me and know the history of our Country say that I am the hardest working President in history. I don’t know about that, but I am a hard worker and have probably gotten more done in the first 3 1/2 years than any President in history. The Fake News hates it!” the president said in the first of a string of Twitter messages.

“I work from early in the morning until late at night, haven’t left the White House in many months (except to launch Hospital Ship Comfort) in order to take care of Trade Deals, Military Rebuilding etc., and then I read a phony story in the failing @nytimes about my work schedule and eating habits, written by a third rate reporter who knows nothing about me,” he continued.

“I will often be in the Oval Office late into the night & read & see that I am angrily eating a hamburger & Diet Coke in my bedroom. People with me are always stunned. Anything to demean!” Trump said.

His ire appeared to be directed at a New York Times report published last Thursday that claimed the president has been isolated in the White House during the coronavirus pandemic and described him as a “sour president.”

Trump on Sunday also blasted “‘reporters’ who have received Noble Prizes for their work on Russia, Russia, Russia, only to have been proven totally wrong (and, in fact, it was the other side who committed the crimes),” possibly referring to the Pulitzer awards.

“I can give the Committee a very comprehensive list. When will the Noble Committee DEMAND the Prizes back, especially since they were gotten under fraud? The reporters and Lamestream Media knew the truth all along,” he said.

“Lawsuits should be brought against all, including the Fake News Organizations, to rectify this terrible injustice. For all of the great lawyers out there, do we have any takers? When will the Noble Committee Act? Better be fast!”

[New York Post]

Trump melts down demanding reporters return ‘Noble’ prizes he says they won for investigating him

President Donald Trump claimed on Sunday that members of the news media are getting “Noble Prizes” for investigating his administration.

The president made the assertion in an afternoon rant on Twitter.

Commenters quickly pointed out that Trump not only spelled “Nobel” incorrectly, but he also was mostly likely referring to Pulitzer Prizes that were awarded to reporters at The New York Times and Washington Post for their investigations into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

[Raw Story]

White House Tried To Move CNN Reporter To Back Of Briefing Room Before Trump Walked Out

President Donald Trump is not a fan of CNN.

He clashes almost daily with reporters from the liberal cable network, and he once had a White House pass pulled from a reporter, Jim Acosta.

Trump got into another battle with the network last week — and lost.

A White House official on Friday ordered a CNN reporter to swap her front-row seat with another reporter at the back of the briefing just before Trump appeared for his daily press conference with the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

The reporter, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins, refused to swap seats, as did the other reporter. The official then said the Secret Service would get involved.

The seating chart in the briefing room is set by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), currently headed up by ABC’s Jonathan Karl, another reporter Trump doesn’t like.

Chris Johnson, a reporter with the Washington Blade, sent out a print pool report to other reporters detailing what happened.

“Earlier today before the briefing, a White House official instructed the print pooler to take CNN’s seat in the briefing room because the seating would be swapped for the briefing. Given the seating assignment is under the jurisdiction of the White House Correspondents’ Association, not the White House, pooler refused to move. The White House official then informed the print pooler swapping wasn’t an option and the Secret Service was involved. Again, pooler refused to move, citing guidance from the WHCA. The briefing proceeded with both CNN and print pooler sitting in their respective assigned seats,” Johnson wrote.

Friday’s briefing marked the first time Trump had held the briefing and then left without taking questions.

Other reporters applauded the pair for fighting back.

“We just got word the briefing will begin in one minute. Reporters were not moved. Shout out to @chrisjohnson82 @kaitlancollins and the @whca for standing their ground,” wrote Hunter Walker, White House correspondent with Yahoo News.

Trump had clashed with Collins just the day before. In his briefing Thursday, Trump dismissed a question from a reporter about North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s health, saying it arose from an “incorrect” report from CNN. Collins tried to ask a follow-up question, but Trump interrupted her.

“No, that’s enough,” he said. “The problem is, you don’t write the truth.” Collins tried to ask again, but Trump said, “No, not CNN. I told you, CNN is fake news. Don’t talk to me.”

Acosta’s press pass was revoked in November 2018 after a press conference held by Trump. The White House rebuked Acosta for “placing his hands on a young woman” after he refused to give up the microphone, pushing a White House intern’s hand away as she tried to take back the microphone.

“As a result of today’s incident, the White House is suspending the hard pass of the reporter involved until further notice,” Press Secretary Sarah Sanders wrote on Twitter, adding a video when she said, “We stand by our decision.”

Acosta sued and got his pass back.

[Daily Wire]

Trump Berates CBS News’ Weijia Jiang for Calling Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright Gifted

President Donald Trump insisted he didn’t know anything about whistleblowing vaccine expert Dr. Rick Bright, but then berated CBS News White House correspondent Weijia Jiang for asking about Bright’s “gifts” in his field of expertise.

On Wednesday, Dr. Bright released a blockbuster statement in which he said he’d been demoted from his position leading the agency tasked with vaccine development because he had pushed back against funding unproven coronavirus treatments that Trump has relentlessly promoted — and suggested that political connections and cronyism were behind Trump’s promotion of them.

Despite the implications of Bright’s accusations, it wasn’t until nearly an hour into the briefing that a reporter asked about it.

“Mr. President, I wanted to ask you about Rick Bright,” ABC News’ Jonathan Karl said. “He’s the head of the federal agency in charge of getting a vaccine out to — to Americans once it’s ready. He says he has been pushed out of his job because he raised questions about hydroxychloroquine and some of your directives on that. Was he pushed out of that job?”

“I’ve never heard of him. You just mentioned the name. I never heard of him,” Trump claimed, then asked “When did this happen?”

“This happened today,” Karl said, to which Trump said “Well, I’ve never heard of him. If the guy says he was pushed out of a job, maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. I — you’d have to hear the other side. I don’t know who he is.”

Karl tried to ask a follow-up, but Trump brushed him off to call on another reporter.

Despite the fact that Trump simultaneously claimed not to know the head of the agency tasked with finding a vaccine during a global pandemic and casually acknowledged the man may well have been pushed out of his job, only one other reporter asked about Dr. Bright for the remainder of the briefing.

“Mr. President, yes, I just had a follow — a question for Dr. Fauci, if you don’t mind,” Weijia Jiang said, adding “And I’m happy to ask you one after.”

She never got the chance to question Trump, but Jiang asked Dr. Fauci “So this concern or an accusation he’s raised that he was removed from his job because he protested widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, are you familiar with the situation? And do you feel like public health experts feel they are able to speak publicly or to speak out in opposition to the things?”

Fauci shook his head and said “Here I am,” indicating that he is an example of an expert speaking publicly. Dr. Fauci has urged caution about the drugs Trump has promoted, but has not spoken in opposition the way Dr. Bright did.

“So you don’t feel like there’s any concern among people at the NIH right now or in the public health community?” Jiang asked.

“At the NIH, absolutely not,” Fauci replied.

“Dr. Fauci, knowing Dr. Bright and knowing what his gifts are as one of the country’s leading experts on vaccines, are those gifts best suited at NIH rather than BARDA? What’s he going to be doing with you?” Jiang asked, and added “are his gifts best suited to work with you rather than BARDA?”

“I don’t really think I can comment on somebody’s relative gifts,” Fauci said, then described Dr. Bright’s new duties.

“I mean, he’s — he’s going to be at the NIH, and he’s going to be responsible, from what I hear — again, this is what I’ve heard — that he’s going to be responsible for the development of diagnostics, which is very, very important,” Fauci said.

As Fauci wrapped up his answer, Jiang began to ask “Are you concerned at all that he –”

But Trump stepped up to the podium and interrupted by saying “And why did you say that he has great gifts or gifts? What, do you know him?”

“Well, that’s his expertise. I mean, I’m just looking at his résumé,” Jiang said. Dr. Bright is an award-winning vaccine expert.

Trump  interrupted “No, no, but have you reviewed him? Have you — have you studied him? Have you reported on him? You said, ‘his gifts.’ His gifts. I mean…”

“He’s worked his entire career developing vaccines, including the –” Jiang said, as Trump interrupted again.

“Well, that doesn’t mean you have gifts. I know a lot of people, they play baseball, but they can’t hit 150 in the Major Leagues,” Trump said.

“Well, he helped develop the flu vaccine last year,” Jiang said.

“No, no, but you talk about his great gifts,” Trump said, then rolled on to the next reporter.

Neither Jiang nor Karl had the chance to ask Trump about the substance of Dr. Bright’s accusations, and not a single other reporter bothered to try.

[Mediaite]

U.S. Citizens Married To Immigrants Are Blocked From Getting Stimulus Checks

The coronavirus stimulus package was meant to put emergency spending money into the economy, issuing a $1,200 check to most Americans that they can use to pay their bills in this time of hardship, and help stimulate businesses in the process. Now, though, we’re learning about all the strings that are coming attached to that hastily passed package — including the fact that U.S. citizens aren’t eligible to receive the money if they’re married and filed taxes jointly with an immigrant who doesn’t have a social security number.

The LA Times reports that there are more than a million Americans in this position across the country. This is just one more way the Trump administration has found to attack immigrants, no matter how they arrived in this country.

According to the Times, the stimulus bill doesn’t just pass over immigrants who don’t pay taxes. Any immigrant without a social security number — even if they have a tax ID and pay U.S. taxes — can render their entire family ineligible to receive any money.

This isn’t about documented versus undocumented immigration, either. Immigrants to the U.S. receive a social security number only when they receive a work permit, which means there are a whole host of visas immigrants can use to come to the country perfectly legally (student or fiancé visas, for example) that won’t get them a work permit or a social security card. For people on non-work visas, it’s impossible to obtain a social security number until obtaining permanent resident status, which is a whole other process that takes a ton of paperwork, a ton of money, and months or even years of waiting, depending on how backed up the system was at the time they applied. The LA Times interviewed a number of people who are in the middle of the months-long process of applying for a legal green card, whose families won’t receive stimulus checks because of it.

For the Trump administration (and, let’s be real, Republican lawmakers) to deny families much-needed stimulus money for this reason is nothing but another baseless attack on people who come to live in the U.S., no matter how they do it.

For all their spouting that they have no problem with immigration as long as it’s done “the right way,” this stimulus check provision is proof that that’s not what Trump and GOP lawmakers think at all. They just hate immigrants, and now, by default, American citizens who associate with them.

In response to this, California has announced its own stimulus plan, offering grants of up to $500 for individuals and $1,000 for families, meant to help immigrants without legal status get through this crisis. But immigrants who do have legal status, but aren’t able to work in the U.S.? The government is leaving those people (and their families) out of help, and it’s heartbreaking.

[Yahoo]

Trump attacks a Republican governor for following his coronavirus testing advice

Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) followed President Donald Trump’s advice and took coronavirus testing into his own hands. Trump attacked him anyway.

Trump began Monday’s White House coronavirus briefing by criticizing Hogan — chair of the National Governors Association — for turning to foreign source to buy coronavirus tests.

“The governor of Maryland didn’t really understand,” Trump said, describing a call that Vice President Mike Pence had with governors earlier in the day to encourage them to do more to increase coronavirus testing on their own. “He didn’t really understand what was going on.”

Trump was upset because Hogan and his wife — Yumi Hogan, a Korean immigrant — not only announced earlier Monday that they purchased 500,000 test kits from suppliers in South Korea, but also because Hogan indirectly criticized him during an interview with the New York Times.

“The No. 1 problem facing us is lack of testing,” Hogan told the Times. “We can’t open up our states without ramping up testing.”

“It should not have been this difficult,” he added.

CNN reported that Hogan’s wife, Yumi Hogan, “not only used her native language to help secure the tests but also helped negotiate the deal.”

“The administration made it clear over and over again they want the states to take the lead, and we have to go out and do it ourselves, and that’s exactly what we did,” Hogan said during a news conference on Monday.

Trump talks a big game about testing

Experts say the US needs to triple its testing capacity before it will be safe for businesses to reopen, but the number of tests completed daily has remained largely flat for the past month. Trump doesn’t seem to have an answer to this puzzle other than to turn the tables on governors.

For instance, on Monday Trump trolled governors by flipping through a packet of papers that he said contained information about how they can better utilize lab capacity in their states.

But during an interview on CNN that coincided with the briefing, Hogan dismissed the value of the information Trump is sharing with governors, saying, “most of the governors already knew where the lab facilities were in their states.”

Trump, however, refuses to acknowledge there’s more he could do. Later during Monday’s briefing, the president suggested that governors like Hogan who have urged him to ramp up national testing efforts are part of a political conspiracy to bring him down.

Trump’s line in recent days has been to claim without evidence that other countries are reaching out to the US for help because testing here is going so great. Hogan’s announcement suggested that talk is a bunch of nonsense — and Trump wasn’t pleased.

At another point during Monday’s briefing, CNN’s Kaitlin Collins asked White House officials why Hogan would need to turn to South Korea for testing kits if it’s true, as Trump claims, that states already have enough testing capacity to begin the process of reopening business and schools. Nobody had a good answer.

Later, Trump returned to the podium and said that Hogan should’ve just called Mike Pence.

“The governor of Maryland could’ve called Mike Pence and saved a lot of money,” Trump said. “I think he needed to get a little knowledge.”

But if it’s true that states have much more testing capacity than they’re currently utilizing, that hasn’t yet showed up in the daily testing numbers. And until it does, governors who don’t have connections in South Korea will likely find Trump’s bluster to be cold comfort.

[Vox]

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