Trump Administration, Week 174: Friday, 15 May – Thursday, 21 May 2020 (Days 1,211-1,217)


Passages in bold in the body of the texts below are usually my emphasis, though not always. This is an ongoing project, and I update the site frequently during the day. Because I try to stay focused on what has actually happened, I usually let the news ‘settle’ for a day or so before posting. I hope readers will peruse the articles in full for a better understanding of the issues and their context; our democracy and our future depend on citizens who can distinguish between facts and falsehoods and who are engaged in the political process.


For independent global news, visit Democracy Now!


Friday, 15 May 2020, Day 1,211:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 15 May 2020: U.S. and China Trade Coronavirus Accusations, Sparking Fears of a New Cold War, The New York Times, Friday, 15 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 15 May 2020: House Passes $3 Trillion Relief Bill Seen as Democrats’ Opening Bid, The New York Times, Friday, 15 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 15 May 2020: Some Northeast Beaches Set to Open Next Week, but Not in N.Y.C., The New York Times, Friday, 15 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Continue reading Week 174, Friday, 15 May – Thursday, 21 May 2020 (Days 1,211-1,217)

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Friday, 15 May 2020: J.C. Penney Files for Bankruptcy Protection, The New York Times, Friday, 15 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Friday, 15 May 2020: House passes $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill as deaths in U.S. pass 86,000, The Washington Post, Kim Bellware, Mark Berman, Miriam Berger, John Wagner, Brittany Shammas, Candace Buckner, Keith McMillan, Colby Itkowitz, and Hannah Knowles, Friday, 15 May 2020: “House Democrats passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill on Friday. The legislation, which would boost funding for state and local governments as well as the U.S. Postal Service, faces roadblocks in the Senate, and Trump has threatened a veto. Earlier in the evening, the House approved a change in its rules during pandemic, allowing remote voting for the first time. As the confirmed U.S. death toll surpassed 86,000, the scattershot reopening of America continued. Beaches will reopen in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Delaware for the Memorial Day holiday weekend, allowing people to come back under restricted circumstances.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Trump Ousts State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, Politico, Meridith McGraw and Nahal Toosi, Friday, 15 May 2020: “President Donald Trump has removed State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and replaced him with an ally of Vice President Mike Pence — the latest in a series of moves against independent government watchdogs in recent months. Trump informed Congress of his intent to oust Linick, a Justice Department veteran appointed to the role in 2013 by then President Barack Obama, in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday night. The president said he ‘no longer’ had the ‘fullest confidence’ in Linick and promised to send the Senate a nominee ‘who has my confidence and who meets the appropriate qualifications.’ The executive branch is required to notify Congress 30 days ahead of time if it intends to remove an inspector general. Trump’s move infuriated Democrats who say he’s trying to circumvent oversight of his administration, undermining the ability of other branches to hold him accountable. The move follows Trump’s anger at being impeached, but it also comes as the White House struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic just months before the presidential election. ‘The president’s late-night, weekend firing of the State Department inspector general has accelerated his dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people,’ Pelosi said in an statement. ‘Inspector General Linick was punished for honorably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath.’ Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called Linick’s dismissal an ‘outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the secretary of State, from accountability.’ Engel claimed: ‘I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.'” See also, Trump Removes State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman, published on Saturday, 16 May 2020: “President Trump continued his purge of inspectors general late Friday, moving to oust Steve A. Linick, who had served in that post at the State Department since 2013, and replacing him with an ambassador with close ties to Vice President Mike Pence. Mr. Linick, who was named by President Barack Obama to lead the office of the inspector general at the State Department, will be replaced by Ambassador Stephen J. Akard, the director of the Office of Foreign Missions, the State Department said in a statement on Friday night.” See also, Trump Ousted State Department Watchdog Steve Linick at Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Urging; Democrats Open Inquiry, The New York Times, Catie Edmondson and Michael D. Shear, published on Saturday, 16 May 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged President Trump to fire the official responsible for fighting waste and fraud in his department, a White House official said Saturday, a recommendation certain to come under scrutiny after congressional Democrats opened an investigation into what they said ‘may be an act of illegal retaliation.'” See also, Trump ramps up retaliatory purge with firing of State Department inspector general Steve Linick, The Washington Post, Philip Rucker, Karen DeYoung, Lisa Rein, and Hannah Knowles, published on Saturday, 16 May 2020: “President Trump accelerated his retaliatory purge of public servants by firing the State Department’s inspector general, who had played a minor role in the president’s impeachment proceedings and was said to have begun investigating alleged misconduct by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.” See also, Top Democrats launch investigation into late-night firing of State Department inspector general Steve Linick, The Washington Post, Hannah Knowles, published on Saturday, 16 May 2020: “Two top Democrats have told the Trump administration to preserve all records related to the Friday removal of the State Department’s inspector general, a late-night move that led House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to warn of an acceleration in a ‘dangerous pattern of retaliation’ against federal watchdogs.” See also, Ousted State Department inspector general Steve Linick was investigating if Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made staffer walk his dog and run other personal errands, CNN Politics, Zachary Cohen, published on Sunday, 17 May 2020.

Lancet editorial blasts Trump’s ‘inconsistent and incoherent’ coronavirus response, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins and John Wagner, Friday, 15 May 2020: “One of the world’s oldest and best-known medical journals Friday slammed President Trump’s ‘inconsistent and incoherent national response’ to the novel coronavirus pandemic and accused the administration of relegating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to a ‘nominal’ role. The unsigned editorial from the Lancet concluded that Trump should be replaced. ‘Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics,’ said the journal, which was founded in Britain in 1823. The strongly worded critique highlights mounting frustration with the administration’s response among some of the world’s top medical researchers. Medical journals sometimes run signed editorials that take political stances, but rarely do publications with the Lancet’s influence use the full weight of their editorial boards to call for a president to be voted out of office.” See also, The Lancet, a Leading Medical Journal, Urges Americans to Replace Trump and to Elect a Leader Who Will Support Public Health Experts, NPR, Bill Chappell, Friday, 15 May 2020: “Americans should oust President Trump from the White House and elect a leader who will support – rather than undermine – public health experts who are battling the COVID-19 pandemic, British medical journal The Lancet says in a newly published editorial. The unsigned editorial sharply criticizes the Trump administration, saying it has marginalized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to a degree that is dangerous for both the U.S. and the world.”

Trump Vows Vaccine by End of Year, and Mobilizes Military to Help, The New York Times, David E. Sanger, Maggie Haberman, and Noah Weiland, Friday, 15 May 2020: “President Trump doubled down on Friday on his promise to have a coronavirus vaccine available by the end of this year, betting that he can rally the pharmaceutical industry and the government to have one available to nearly all Americans at a speed never before accomplished. He made his pledge after the government’s senior medical leadership warned repeatedly this week that there was no assurance a safe vaccine would be available as fast as promised by the president, or even for years. And the president’s credibility on the issue has been clouded by months of overpromising, exaggerating and misleading about other elements of his response to the pandemic, including the availability of testing and the potential of unproven treatments.” See also, Unveiling vaccine effort, Trump says country will be back with or without one, CNN Politics, Kevin Liptak, Friday, 15 May 2020: “President Donald Trump unveiled a crash effort on Friday aimed at developing a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year but said the country would return to normal with or without one. ‘I just want to make something clear, it’s very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back’ Trump said during a midday event in the Rose Garden. ‘And we’re starting a process.'”

Trump praises rapid coronavirus test despite warning from the Food and Drug Administration, Politico, Quint Forgey, Friday, 15 May 2020: “President Donald Trump on Friday expressed confidence in the rapid coronavirus test used to screen White House staff and visitors, despite the results of a new study suggesting it may miss up to half of infections detected by other tests on the market. ‘It’s a great test,’ Trump told reporters during a news conference in the Rose Garden focused on vaccine development, referring to the 15-minute test produced by Abbott Laboratories. ‘It’s a very quick test, and it can always be very rapidly double-checked if you’re testing positive or negative,’ he said. ‘It can always be double-checked, but it’s a very good test. Very portable. Very quick.’ The president’s remarks came after researchers at New York University found earlier this week that Abbott’s test, run on a machine called ID NOW, did not identify many infections caught by Cepheid’s Xpert Xpress PCR test, which can return results in less than 45 minutes. The preliminary research, which has not been peer-reviewed, also found that Abbott’s test missed one-third of infections when sample swabs were stored in chemicals meant to preserve samples, and more than 48 percent when sample swabs were kept dry.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos Funnels Coronavirus Relief Funds to Favored Private and Religious Schools. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, using discretion written into the coronavirus stabilization law, is using millions of dollars to pursue long-sought policy goals that Congress has blocked. The New York Times, Erica L. Green, Friday, 15 May 2020: “Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is using the $2 trillion coronavirus stabilization law to throw a lifeline to education sectors she has long championed, directing millions of federal dollars intended primarily for public schools and colleges to private and religious schools. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, signed in late March, included $30 billion for education institutions turned upside down by the pandemic shutdowns, about $14 billion for higher education, $13.5 billion to elementary and secondary schools, and the rest for state governments. Ms. DeVos has used $180 million of those dollars to encourage states to create ‘microgrants’ that parents of elementary and secondary school students can use to pay for educational services, including private school tuition. She has directed school districts to share millions of dollars designated for low-income students with wealthy private schools.”

Hydroxychloroquine, a drug promoted by Trump as coronavirus ‘game changer,’ is increasingly linked to deaths, The Washington Post, Toluse Olorunnipa, Ariana Eunjung Cha, and Laurie McGinley, Friday, 15 May 2020: “For two months, President Trump repeatedly pitched hydroxychloroquine as a safe and effective treatment for coronavirus, asking would-be patients ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’ Growing evidence shows that, for many, the answer is their lives. Clinical trials, academic research and scientific analysis indicate that the danger of the Trump-backed drug is a significantly increased risk of death for certain patients. Evidence showing the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine in treating covid-19 has been scant. Those two developments pushed the Food and Drug Administration to warn against the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of a hospital setting last month, just weeks after it approved an emergency use authorization for the drug.”

House changes its rules during the pandemic, allowing remote voting for the first time in its 231-year history, The Washington Post, Mike DeBonis, Friday, 15 May 2020: “The House on Friday approved the most radical change to its rules in generations, allowing its members to cast committee and floor votes from afar — the culmination of a months-long struggle to adapt the 231-year-old institution to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite bipartisan frustrations with the virus’s effect on the legislative process, the changes, which include temporarily authorizing remote committee work and proxy voting on the House floor, were adopted along party lines. The vote was 217 to 189. Democratic leaders pushed forward with the changes this week after failing to come to terms in two weeks of negotiations with Republicans, who firmly opposed several key measures in the proposal.”

The Justice Department’s Attempt to Drop the Michael Flynn Case, Explained, The New York Times, Charlie Savage and Sharon LaFraniere, Friday, 15 May 2020: “Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is presiding over the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn, has appointed a former mafia prosecutor and retired federal judge, John Gleeson, to argue against Attorney General William P. Barr’s attempt to drop the case. The case against Mr. Flynn was developed by the F.B.I. agents working on the Trump-Russia investigation, brought by the office of the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and is now being attacked by Mr. Barr as illegitimate. It has raised a complex stew of issues for Judge Sullivan to sort through.”


Saturday, 16 May 2020, Day 1,212:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 16 May 2020: Brazil’s Halting Coronavirus Response Has Made It a Hotspot, The New York Times, Saturday, 16 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 16 May 2020:  U.S. Lacks Leadership on Virus, Obama Tells Graduates, The New York Times, Saturday, 16 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Saturday, 16 May 2020: Horse Racing Tracks Can Open in New York in June, Cuomo Says, The New York Times, Saturday, 16 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant updates for the coronavirus pandemic on Saturday, 16 May 2020: Federal judge rules that North Carolina governor’s coronavirus restrictions violate religious expression, The Washington Post, Katie Mettler, Meryl Kornfield, Miriam Berger, Candace Buckner, Samantha Pell, and Hannah Knowles, Saturday, 16 May 2020: “Houses of worship in North Carolina can temporarily hold indoor services after Judge James C. Dever III issued a provisional restraining order on Saturday allowing religious groups to assemble for services inside for the next 14 days. The ruling comes as state and local leaders try to strike a balance between allowing businesses and organizations to reopen, and protecting the public from the spread of the novel coronavirus, which has resulted in more than 87,000 confirmed deaths in the United States. Meanwhile, former president Barack Obama spoke at two virtual commencement ceremonies on Saturday and said the nation’s leaders bungled their handling of the pandemic, accusing them of not ‘even pretending’ to be in charge. In both addresses — one aimed at historically black colleges and universities and the other at high school graduates — Obama said the current economic and health crises had revealed much about the country.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Two Coasts. One Virus. How New York Suffered Nearly 10 Times the Number of Deaths as California. California’s governor and San Francisco’s mayor worked together to act early in confronting the COVID threat. For Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, it was a different story, and 27,000 New Yorkers have died so far. ProPublica, Joe Sexton and Joaquin Sapien, Saturday, 16 May 2020: “As of May 15, there were nearly 350,000 COVID-19 cases in New York and more than 27,500 deaths, nearly a third of the nation’s total. The corresponding numbers in California: just under 75,000 cases and slightly more than 3,000 deaths. In New York City, the country’s most populous and densest, there had been just under 20,000 deaths; in San Francisco, the country’s second densest and 13th most populous, there had been 35.”

Federal Investigators Suspect Vast Fraud Network Is Targeting U.S. Unemployment Systems, The New York Times, Mike Baker, Saturday, 16 May 2020: “A group of international fraudsters appears to have mounted an immense, sophisticated attack on U.S. unemployment systems, creating a network that has already siphoned millions of dollars in payments that were intended to avert an economic collapse, according to federal authorities. The attackers have used detailed information about U.S. citizens, such as social security numbers that may have been obtained from cyber hacks of years past, to file claims on behalf of people who have not been laid off, officials said. The attack has exploited state unemployment systems at a time when they are straining to process a crush of claims from an employment crisis unmatched since the Great Depression.”

Why Bombs Made in America Have Been Killing Civilians in Yemen, The New York Times, Michael LaForgia and Walt Bogdanich, Saturday, 16 May 2020: “Year after year, the bombs fell — on wedding tents, funeral halls, fishing boats and a school bus, killing thousands of civilians and helping turn Yemen into the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. Weapons supplied by American companies, approved by American officials, allowed Saudi Arabia to pursue the reckless campaign. But in June 2017, an influential Republican senator decided to cut them off, by withholding approval for new sales. It was a moment that might have stopped the slaughter. Not under President Trump. With billions at stake, one of the president’s favored aides, the combative trade adviser Peter Navarro, made it his mission to reverse the senator. Mr. Navarro, after consulting with American arms makers, wrote a memo to Jared Kushner and other top White House officials calling for an intervention, possibly by Mr. Trump himself. He titled it ‘Trump Mideast arms sales deal in extreme jeopardy, job losses imminent.’ Within weeks, the Saudis were once again free to buy American weapons. The intervention, which has not been previously reported, underscores a fundamental change in American foreign policy under Mr. Trump that often elevates economic considerations over other ones. Where foreign arms sales in the past were mostly offered and withheld to achieve diplomatic goals, the Trump administration pursues them mainly for the profits they generate and the jobs they create, with little regard for how the weapons are used.” See also, 5 Takeaways on U.S. Involvement in the World’s Worst Humanitarian Crisis, The New York Times, Michael LaForgia and Walt Bogdanich, Saturday, 16 May 2020: “Thousands of civilians have died in Yemen, and American-made bombs sold to the Saudis have played a key role as the White House has sought to boost the arms industry.”

Donald Trump Jr. Smears Biden With Baseless Instagram Post. Signaling the increasingly dark tactics of the Trump campaign, the president’s oldest son falsely accused Mr. Biden of preying on children. The New York Times, Jonathan Martin, Saturday, 16 May 2020: “President Trump’s eldest son on Saturday posted a social media message suggesting Joseph R. Biden Jr. was a pedophile, an incendiary and baseless charge that illustrates the tactics the president is turning to as he attempts to erase Mr. Biden’s early advantage in key state polls. Donald Trump Jr., who is one of his father’s most prominent campaign surrogates, put on Instagram a picture of Mr. Biden saying: ‘See you later, alligator’ alongside an image of an alligator saying: ‘In a while, pedophile.’ When a reporter shared the Instagram post online, the younger Mr. Trump, echoing one of his father’s tactics, wrote on Twitter that he was only ‘joking around’ and noted that he had included emojis of a laughing face. Yet in the same Twitter post, he also reprised his original insinuation. He accused the former vice president of ‘unwanted touching’ alongside a collage of photographs of Mr. Biden showing affection for children. The misleading images were mostly taken from public swearing-in ceremonies at the Capitol, where the former vice president warmly greeted lawmakers and their families.”


Sunday, 17 May 2020, Day 1,213:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 17 May 2020: Nigerian Coronavirus Outbreak Highlights Emerging Threat in Africa, The New York Times, Sunday, 17 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 17 May 2020: Illinois Threatens to Fine Defiant Businesses as Reopening Tensions Rise Nationally, The New York Times, Sunday, 17 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Sunday, 17 May 2020: New York Governor Mario Cuomo Urges More New Yorkers to Get Tested for Coronavirus, The New York Times, Sunday, 17 May 2020:

Some significant updates in the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday, 17 May 2020: Top Trump administration official Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, says it is safe to reopen the U.S. as governors stress social distancing and wearing masks, The Washington Post, Katie Mettler, Meryl Kornfield, Siobhán O’Grady, Steven Goff, Kareem Copeland, and Hannah Knowles, Sunday, 17 May 2020: “Governors are stressing the importance of social distancing and mask wearing as their states reopen, though enforcing those protocols has been difficult and even led to violent confrontations. Officials have been forced to largely rely on people to self-regulate, including in New York City, where residents have been asked to possibly report rule-breakers to 311. At the same time some governors have expressed dismay at those choosing to ignore safety guidelines, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said on Sunday he is unconcerned and that it is safe to reopen the country because half of U.S. counties reporting cases of the novel coronavirus ‘haven’t had a single death.’

Here are some significant developments:

  • Peter Navarro, one of President Trump’s top economic advisers, said Sunday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ‘let the country down’ on the testing front during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Nursing homes operated by Life Care Centers of America violated federal standards meant to stop the spread of infections even after the start of the covid-19 outbreak, inspection reports show.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called on Congress to pass another coronavirus relief bill.
  • A Canadian Air Force jet crashed Sunday during a performance intended to lift spirits during the coronavirus pandemic, leaving one member dead and another with serious injuries.
  • Eric Trump claimed in a Fox News interview that the virus will ‘magically’ vanish after the November election when it is no longer politically expedient — an assertion that has no basis in science and is contradicted by health experts worldwide.

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell Says Economic Recovery May ‘Stretch’ Through the End of 2021, The New York Times, Jeanna Smialek, Sunday, 17 May 2020: “Jerome H. Powell, the Federal Reserve chair, said that the United States would have a slow recovery from what he called the ‘biggest shock that the economy’s had in living memory,’ suggesting that a full rebound from virus-induced lockdowns could take until the end of 2021. In an interview on ’60 Minutes,’ the CBS program, Mr. Powell reiterated that both Congress and the central bank may need to do more to help workers and businesses make it through the sudden and sharp slump caused by efforts to contain the coronavirus.”

The Firing of Inspector General Steve Linick Puts Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Use of Taxpayer Funds Under Scrutiny. Accusations of improperly using government resources have trailed the secretary of state, but President Trump’s move to fire the State Department inspector general has handed Democrats a new weapon. The New York Times, Edward Wong, Sunday, 17 May 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swatted away questions about his use of government resources again and again last year. In January, news reports cited unnamed diplomats complaining about his wife, Susan, traveling with him across the Middle East during a partial government shutdown. In the summer, members of Congress began examining a whistle-blower complaint accusing Mr. Pompeo of asking diplomatic security agents to run errands like picking up restaurant takeout meals and retrieving the family dog, Sherman, from a groomer. And in October, a Democratic senator called for a special counsel to investigate his use of State Department aircraft and funds for frequent visits to Kansas, where he was reported to be considering a Senate run. In each case, Mr. Pompeo or other department officials denied wrongdoing, and the secretary moved on unscathed. But his record is now coming under fresh scrutiny after President Trump told Congress on Friday night that he was firing the State Department inspector general — at Mr. Pompeo’s private urging, a White House official said. The inspector general, Steve A. Linick, who leads hundreds of employees in investigating fraud and waste at the State Department, had begun an inquiry into Mr. Pompeo’s possible misuse of a political appointee to perform personal tasks for him and his wife, according to Democratic aides. That included walking the dog, picking up dry-cleaning and making restaurant reservations, one said — an echo of the whistle-blower complaint from last year.”

In next phase of pandemic, Trump appears poised to let others take the lead, The Washington Post, Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, Sunday, 17 May 2020: “President Trump has proclaimed the latest phase of pandemic response the ‘transition to greatness.’ But Trump appears poised to preside over the eventual transition more as a salesman and marketer than a decider. Many consequential actions are being done by others. The nation’s governors are overseeing their states’ plans to reopen their economies. Business leaders are making their own choices about how their employees can safely and responsibly return to work. Treasury officials are negotiating with Congress the details of financial stimulus packages. And scientists and public health officials are leading the race for a vaccine. The United States under Trump has also retreated from its historic position of global leadership, declining, for instance, to participate in a coronavirus summit with other nations earlier this month. Amid a once-in-a-century deadly pandemic, Trump has inserted his ego squarely into the U.S. response while simultaneously minimizing his own role — deferring critical decisions to others, undermining his credibility with confusion and misinformation, and shirking responsibility….”

White House tensions with the Centers for Disease Control spill into public view as top Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro criticizes the agency response, The Washington Post, Felicia Sonmez and Darryl Fears, Sunday, 17 May 2020: “Tensions between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention spilled out into public view on Sunday as a top adviser to President Trump criticized the public health agency’s response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. The comments by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro are the latest signal of how the Trump administration has sought to sideline the CDC. The agency typically plays the lead role in public health crises, but in recent weeks it’s had its draft guidance for reopening held up by the White House, leaving states and localities to largely fend for themselves.”

Eric Trump claims coronavirus is Democratic hoax and will ‘magically’ vanish after the 2020 election, The Washington Post, Derek Hawkins, Sunday, 17 May 2020: “Eric Trump claimed Saturday that the coronavirus will ‘magically’ vanish after the November election and allow the country to fully reopen — an assertion that has no basis in science and is contradicted by health experts worldwide. In an interview with Fox News’s Jeanine Pirro, Trump suggested the president’s critics were using the pandemic to undermine his father’s rallies, calling it a ‘cognizant strategy’ that would cease once it was no longer politically expedient. ‘You watch, they’ll milk it every single day between now and November 3,’ the younger Trump said. ‘And guess what, after November 3, coronavirus will magically, all of a sudden, go away and disappear and everybody will be able to reopen.'”


Monday, 18 May 2020, Day 1,214:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 18 March 2020: Germany and France Propose $545 Billion Coronavirus Fund for Europe. The U.S. sharply criticized the World Health Organization, while China pledged $2 billion to fight the pandemic. President Trump said he has been taking hydroxychloroquine, an unproven drug against Covid-19. The New York Times, Monday, 18 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 18 May 2020: Trump Threatens to Leave the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) and Permanently End Funding, The New York Times, Monday, 18 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Monday, 18 May 2020: Brooklyn ZIP Code Has New York City’s Highest Death Rate, The New York Times, Monday, 18 May 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for 18 January 2020: Stocks Surge as Oil Prices Rally, The New York Times, Monday, 18 May 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Monday, 18 May 2020: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticizes Trump for taking hydroxychloroquine, ‘something that has not been approved by the scientists,’ The Washington Post, Brittany Shammas, Katie Mettler, Kim Bellware, John Wagner, Adam Taylor, Meryl Kornfield, Steven Goff, Kareem Copeland, and Felicia Sonmez, Monday, 18 May 2020: “President Trump told reporters on Monday that he has been taking hydroxychloroquine for about a week and a half and that the White House physician knows he is taking the anti-malaria drug despite the fact he continues to test negative for the coronavirus. Clinical trials, academic research, and scientific analysis indicate that the danger of the drug is a significantly increased risk of death for certain patients, particularly those with heart problems. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) criticized the president’s decision to take ‘something that has not been approved by the scientists,’ saying that he needs to be especially careful given his age (73) and weight group, which she categorized as ‘morbidly obese.’

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Moderna Coronavirus Vaccine Trial Shows Promising Early Results, The New York Times, Denise Grady, Monday, 18 May 2020: “The first coronavirus vaccine to be tested in people appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response against the infection, the manufacturer, Moderna, announced on Monday, offering a glint of hope to a world desperate for ways to stop the pandemic. The preliminary findings, in the first eight people who each received two doses of the experimental vaccine, must now be repeated in far larger tests in hundreds and then thousands of people, to find out if the vaccine can work in the real world. Moderna’s technology, involving genetic material from the virus called mRNA, is relatively new and has yet to produce any approved vaccine. The promising early news sent Moderna’s stock soaring by more than 25 percent on Monday afternoon and helped drive Wall Street to its best day in six weeks. Stocks were also lifted by statements from the Federal Reserve chair, Jerome H. Powell, that the central bank would continue to support the economy and markets.” See also, Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine shows encouraging early results, The Washington Post, Carolyn Y. Johnson, published on Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “Moderna, the Massachusetts biotechnology company behind a leading effort to create a coronavirus vaccine, announced promising early results Monday from its first human safety tests. The eagerly awaited data provide a first look at one of the eight vaccines worldwide that have begun human testing. The data have not been published in a scientific journal and are only a preliminary step toward showing the experimental vaccine is safe and effective.” See also, Moderna Says Initial Covid-19 Vaccine Results Are Positive, The Wall Street Journal, Peter Loftus, Monday, 18 May 2020: “Drugmaker Moderna Inc. reported early results Monday from the first human study of its experimental coronavirus vaccine that gave a positive signal about the shot’s ability to protect people, raising hopes that a weapon to slow or halt the pandemic could be on the horizon. The company said the vaccine induced immune responses in some of the healthy volunteers who were vaccinated, and the shots were generally safe and well-tolerated.”

Trump says he’s taking hydroxychloroquine, despite scientists’ concerns. The anti-malarial drug has not been shown to be effective in treating Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Politico, Caitlin Oprysko, Monday, 18 May 2020: “President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he’d been taking hydroxychloroquine, the latest twist in a weekslong effort by the president to signal there is an effective treatment in the battle against the coronavirus. The only problem: Most scientists disagree. ‘A couple of weeks ago, I started taking it,’ Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday, adding that he’d consulted with his presidential physician about the drug.” See also, Trump Says He’s Taking Hydroxychloroquine, Prompting Warning From Health Experts, The New York Times, Annie Karni and Katie Thomas, Monday, 18 May 2020: “President Trump said on Monday that he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug the Food and Drug Administration warned could cause serious heart problems for coronavirus patients. He said he was taking the drug as a preventive measure and continued to test negative for the coronavirus. ‘All I can tell you is so far I seem to be OK,’ Mr. Trump said, adding that he had been taking the drug for about a week and a half, with the approval of the White House physician. ‘I get a lot of tremendously positive news on the hydroxy,’ Mr. Trump continued, explaining that his decision to try the drug was based on one of his favorite refrains: ‘What do you have to lose?’ But Mr. Trump’s announcement surprised many of his aides and drew immediate criticism from a range of medical experts, who warned not just of the dangers it posed for the president’s health but also of the example it set. ‘My concern would be that the public not hear comments about the use of hydroxychloroquine and believe that taking this drug to prevent Covid-19 infection is without hazards. In fact, there are serious hazards,’ said Dr. Steven E. Nissen, the chief academic officer of the Miller Family Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute at the Cleveland Clinic.” See also, Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine to protect against coronavirus, dismissing safety concerns, The Washington Post, Anne Gearan, Laurie McGinley, Lenny Bernstein, and Ariana Eunjung Cha, Monday, 18 May 2020: “President Trump announced Monday that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine as protection against the novel coronavirus, despite the lack of evidence that it prevents individuals from contracting the illness and warnings from physicians that it can have deadly side effects…. In announcing his decision to take the controversial drug, Trump offered only anecdotal testimonials as evidence that it works in any form as a treatment or preventive for the virus that has killed nearly 90,000 Americans and devastated the economy. ‘I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right. I’m not going to get hurt by it,’ he told reporters at the White House, noting it has long been approved to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. ‘It’s been around for 40 years.'” See also, Trump says he is taking hydroxychloroquine though health experts question its effectiveness, CNN Politics, Nikki Carvajal and Kevin Liptak, published on Tuesday, 19 May 2020.

Trump, in response to 60 Minutes interview, claims whistleblowers like Rick Bright are ‘causing great injustice and harm,’ The Washington Post, Timothy Bella, Monday, 18 May 2020: “After former top vaccine official Rick Bright maintained Sunday that the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic has been slow and chaotic, President Trump responded in a late-night tweetstorm, saying that whistleblowers like Bright are ‘causing great injustice and harm’ to the nation. In an interview with ‘60 Minutes,’ Bright, the former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, criticized the government for failing to have a clear plan in place to address the totality of the American outbreak. He reiterated claims that he was reassigned to a less respected role within the Department of Health and Human Services last month after raising concerns regarding the drug hydroxychloroquine, pushed by Trump as a possible cure for the novel coronavirus, and trying to ‘prioritize science and safety over political expediency.'”

Steve Linick, State Department Inspector General Fired by Trump on Friday, Had Examined Weapons Sales to Saudis and Emiratis, The New York Times, Edward Wong and David E. Sanger, Monday, 18 May 2020: “The State Department inspector general fired by President Trump on Friday was in the final stages of an investigation into whether the administration had unlawfully declared an ’emergency’ last year to allow the resumption of weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for their air war in Yemen. Employees from the office of the inspector general, Steve A. Linick, presented preliminary findings to senior State Department officials in early March, before the coronavirus forced lockdowns across the United States. But it was not clear whether that investigation, or others that Mr. Linick had underway, led to his dismissal. Mr. Trump, speaking about the latest in his series of firings of inspectors general around the government, said on Monday of Mr. Linick: ‘I don’t know him. Never heard of him. But I was asked by the State Department, by Mike’ to terminate Mr. Linick. He apparently was referring to a recommendation he received from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.” See also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s moves against inspector general Steve Linick leave a trail of questions and a department divided, The Washington Post, John Hudson and Carol Morello, Monday, 18 May 2020.

As Trump pushes businesses to reopen, a report from the Congressional Oversight Commission says much of the bailout stimulus money remains unspent, The Washington Post, Erica Werner, Monday, 18 May 2020: “President Trump on Monday intensified his push for businesses to reopen as quickly as possible, but companies and cities continued to wait for the disbursement of unspent bailout funds and remain unsure what to expect as rules and programs continue to shift…. [W]hile the Treasury Department has rushed to implement some stimulus programs, such as sending $1,200 checks to 140 million households and mobilizing a small-business lending program, other congressionally approved assistance funds are off to a much slower start. The Congressional Oversight Commission, a new body, released a report on Monday finding that the Treasury Department had spent very little from a $500 billion fund created by the Cares Act in March to help businesses and local governments, even though many of these entities have asked for immediate help.”

Attorney General William Barr Dismisses Trump’s Claim That the Russia Inquiry Was an Obama Plot. The attorney general said that an investigation into the Russia inquiry was focusing on others, not the former president. The New York Times, Katie Benner and Adam Goldman, Monday, 18 May 2020: “Attorney General William P. Barr dismissed President Trump’s attempts to rebrand the Russia investigation as a criminal plot engineered by former President Barack Obama, saying on Monday that he expected no charges against either Mr. Obama or former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as a result of an investigation into how their administration handled Russian election interference.” See also, Attorney General William Barr doesn’t expect review of the Russia investigation will ‘lead to a criminal investigation’ of Obama and Biden, CNN Politics, Katelyn Polantz and Devan Cole, Monday, 18 May 2020. See also, Attorney General William Barr says he does not expect Obama or Biden will be investigated by prosecutor reviewing 2016 Russia investigation, The Washington Post, Matt Zapotosky, Monday, 18 May 2020.

House tells Supreme Court that Mueller grand jury material is needed now, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Monday, 18 May 2020: “A House committee’s investigation of President Trump ‘did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial,’ congressional lawyers told the Supreme Court on Monday, and it would be stymied if the Justice Department continues to withhold grand jury material. The new filing comes in response to the department’s request that the Supreme Court put aside court orders that Congress receive secret grand jury evidence from Robert S. Mueller III’s special-counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit in March upheld a lower-court finding that Congress can obtain grand jury materials in connection with impeachment proceedings — an exception to secrecy rules that typically prevent release of such evidence.”


Tuesday, 19 May 2020, Day 1,215:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 19 May 2020: Virus Forces Cambridge to Hold Most Classes Online Next Year, The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 19 May 2020: All 50 States Have Eased Coronavirus Restrictions. More changes took effect on Wednesday, but vast discrepancies remain as states forge ahead after shutdowns. The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, 19 May 2020: New York To Let Visits Resume at Some Hospitals, The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates on Tuesday, 19 May 2020: Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin Give Lawmakers Stark Economic Outlook, The New York Times, Tuesday, 19 May 2020:

Other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday, 19 May 2020: All 50 U.S. states have taken steps toward reopening in time for Memorial Day weekend, The Washington Post, Marisa Iati, Miriam Berger, Siobhán O’Grady, Felicia Sonmez, Meryl Kornfield, Samantha Pell, Candace Buckner, Antonia Noori Farzan, Kim Bellware, and John Wagner, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “The coronavirus’s U.S. death toll surpassed 90,000 on Tuesday, as states moved forward to reopen as Memorial Day weekend approaches. By Wednesday, all 50 states will have begun lifting restrictions put in place to combat the coronavirus outbreak. Many public health officials and politicians, however, continued to raise concerns that increased activity would put Americans at greater risk of a new surge of infections.

Here are some significant developments:
  • U.S. stocks plunged in the last hour of trading Tuesday to halt a three-day winning streak and dampen the euphoria from Monday’s monstrous gains. The Dow Jones industrial average slid 390 points, or 1.6 percent.
  • Asian American health-care workers have reported a rise in bigoted incidents. The hostility has left Asian Americans, who represent 6 percent of the U.S. population but 18 percent of the country’s physicians and 10 percent of its nurse practitioners, in a painful position on the front lines.
  • President Trump has privately expressed opposition to extending unemployment benefits for laid-off workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Trump administration announced an indefinite extension of travel restrictions at the U.S. land borders, and indefinitely extended the emergency enforcement rules that have allowed U.S. Customs and Border Protection to rapidly ‘expel’ more than 20,000 unauthorized border crossers since late March.
  • Most elderly covid-19 patients put on ventilators at two New York hospitals did not survive, according to a sweeping study published Tuesday that captured the brutal nature of this new disease and the many ways it attacks the body.
  • The architect and manager of Florida’s coronavirus dashboard said she was removed from her position because she refused to censor data and ‘manually change data to drum up support for the plan to reopen.’

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s elite taxpayer-funded dinners raise new concerns,  NBC News, Josh Lederman, Laura Strickler, and Dan De Luce, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “As federal workers file out of the State Department at the end of a Washington workday, an elite group is often just arriving in the marbled, flag-lined lobby: Billionaire CEOs, Supreme Court justices, political heavyweights and ambassadors arrive in evening attire as they’re escorted by private elevator to dinner with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Until the coronavirus shut them down in March, the gatherings were known as ‘Madison Dinners’ — elaborate, unpublicized affairs that Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, began in 2018 and held regularly in the historic Diplomatic Reception Rooms on the government’s dime. State Department officials involved in the dinners said they had raised concerns internally that the events were essentially using federal resources to cultivate a donor and supporter base for Pompeo’s political ambitions — complete with extensive contact information that gets sent back to Susan Pompeo’s personal email address. The officials and others who attended discussed the dinners on condition of anonymity. An NBC News investigation found that Pompeo held about two dozen Madison Dinners since he took over in 2018. NBC News obtained a master guest list for every dinner through the end of 2019, as well as internal State Department calendars from before the pandemic emerged, showing that future dinners were on the books through at least October. The master list includes the names of nearly 500 invitees and specifies who accepted, although it is possible some people RSVP’d but didn’t show up in Foggy Bottom for dinner.” See also, Susan Pompeo, the Wife of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Draws Scrutiny in Inquiry Over Dry Cleaning and Dog Walking, The New York Times, Lara Jakes, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “Mrs. Pompeo is now under scrutiny after the firing of the State Department’s inspector general at her husband’s behest…. A whistle-blower tipped off Democrats in Congress that Mrs. Pompeo had her own security guards, and that agents with the Diplomatic Security Service had been tasked with running errands for the family like picking up takeout food and collecting the family dog from a groomer…. Before he was fired Friday, the State Department’s inspector general, Steve A. Linick, was examining, among other issues, the potential misuse of an aide to do personal errands for both Pompeos, according to congressional Democrats.” See also, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Declined Interview Request From Inspector General Steve Linick About Saudi Arms Sales, The New York Times, Edward Wong and David E. Sanger, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declined an interview request for the State Department inspector general’s inquiry into whether the Trump administration acted illegally in declaring an ’emergency’ to bypass a congressional freeze on arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, according to three people with knowledge of his actions. Mr. Pompeo chose instead to answer written questions from investigators working for the inspector general, Steve A. Linick, who was fired by President Trump on Friday. That indicates that the secretary of state was aware of Mr. Linick’s investigation and the specific lines of questioning about Mr. Pompeo’s decision last year to resume the sales of bombs and other weapons, which had been stalled since 2017. Saudi Arabia has led Persian Gulf nations in an air war in Yemen that has resulted in large numbers of civilian deaths.”

Leaked Pentagon memo warns of ‘real possibility’ of COVID-19 resurgence and vaccine not coming until the summer of 2021, Task & Purpose, Haley Britzky, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “The Defense Department should prepare to operate in a ‘globally-persistent’ novel coronavirus (COVID-19) environment without an effective vaccine until ‘at least the summer of 2021,’ according to a draft Pentagon memo obtained by Task & Purpose. ‘We have a long path ahead, with the real possibility of a resurgence of COVID-19,’ reads the memo, authored for Secretary of Defense Mark Esper but not yet bearing his signature.”

Trump Threatens to Permanently Cut Funding to the World Health Organization. The threat comes after China pledged $2 billion to fight the coronavirus. The Wall Street Journal, Andrew Restuccia, Gordon Lubold, and Drew Hinshaw, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “President Trump threatened to permanently cut off funding to the World Health Organization and revoke U.S. membership if the group doesn’t make changes meant to curb what he called its pro-China bias.” See also, Trump Says Funding Cuts Will Be Permanent if the World Health Organization Doesn’t Commit to ‘Major’ Changes, NPR, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “President Trump is giving the World Health Organization 30 days to commit to substantial changes in how it operates — or he will make his hold on U.S. funding permanent. The threat came in a letter that sharply criticizes the WHO response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its relationship with China.” See also, World Health Organization Members Reject Trump’s Demands but Agree to Study Its Virus Response, The New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Andrew Jacobs, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “President Trump’s angry demands for punitive action against the World Health Organization were rebuffed on Tuesday by the organization’s other member nations, which decided instead to conduct an ‘impartial, independent’ examination of the W.H.O.’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. In a four-page letter late Monday, Mr. Trump had threatened to permanently cut off United States funding of the W.H.O. unless it committed to ‘major, substantive improvements’ within 30 days. It was a major escalation of his repeated attempts to blame the W.H.O. and China for the spread of the virus and deflect responsibility for his handling of a worldwide public health crisis that has killed more than 90,000 people in the United States. But representatives of the organization’s member nations rallied around the W.H.O. at its annual meeting in Geneva, largely ignoring Mr. Trump’s demand for an overhaul and calling for a global show of support in the face of a deadly pandemic. The outcome left the United States isolated as officials from China, Russia and the European Union chided Mr. Trump over his heated threats even as they acknowledged the need for a review of how the W.H.O. performed as the virus spread from China to the rest of the world.”

The Lancet, a leading British medical journal, blasts Trump for factual error in letter threatening World Health Organization cutoff, Politico, Caitlin Oprysko, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “One of the top peer-reviewed medical journals in the world on Tuesday rebuked President Donald Trump after the president incorrectly cited research it published on the coronavirus outbreak in a letter threatening to permanently yank U.S. funding to the World Health Organization. The Lancet, a leading British medical journal that has been critical of the president’s ongoing WHO aid freeze, refuted Trump’s claim that the global health body ‘consistently ignored credible reports of the virus spreading in Wuhan in early December 2019 or even earlier, including reports from the Lancet medical journal. This statement is factually incorrect,’ the Lancet said, noting it published ‘no report in December, 2019, referring to a virus or outbreak in Wuhan or anywhere else in China.’ The first such reports published by the journal, the statement continued, were on Jan. 24, where two studies described the first 41 coronavirus patients from Wuhan, the inland Chinese city where the outbreak began, and detailed the first scientific evidence confirming person-to-person transmission of the new virus.”

The deployments of more than 40,000 National Guard coronavirus workers will end on 24 June, just one day before thousands would qualify for education and retirement benefits, Politico, Alice Miranda Ollstein, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “More than 40,000 National Guard members currently helping states test residents for the coronavirus and trace the spread of infections will face a ‘hard stop’ on their deployments on June 24 — just one day shy of many members becoming eligible for key federal benefits, according to a senior FEMA official. The official outlined the Trump administration’s plans on an interagency call on May 12, an audio version of which was obtained by POLITICO. The official also acknowledged during the call that the June 24 deadline means that thousands of members who first deployed in late March will find themselves with only 89 days of duty credit, one short of the 90-day threshold for qualifying for early retirement and education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI bill.”

Fisher Sand and Gravel of North Dakota, Trump’s preferred construction firm, lands a $1.3 billion border wall contract, the biggest so far, The Washington Post, Nick Miroff, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “A North Dakota construction firm that has received backing from President Trump has now secured the largest border wall contract ever awarded, a $1.3 billion deal to build 42 miles of black-painted fencing through the rugged mountains of southern Arizona. The company that won the contract, Fisher Sand and Gravel, has been repeatedly lauded by the president in White House meetings with border officials and military commanders, the result of a long and personalized marketing pitch to Trump and ardent supporters of his barrier project.”

Democrats open investigation into Trump’s replacement of acting Transportation Department inspector general, The Washington Post, Ian Duncan and Michael Laris, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “Three leading House Democrats said Tuesday that they plan to open an investigation into the replacement of the Transportation Department’s acting inspector general, concerned that the move was tied to an ongoing investigation of Secretary Elaine Chao’s dealings with the state of Kentucky. Chao is married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and has faced questions about whether her department has given preferential treatment to projects in the state. On Friday, President Trump named Howard “Skip” Elliott, the head of a pipeline safety agency, as acting DOT inspector general. Mitch Behm, the department’s deputy, had been filling that role. In a letter to Chao and Elliott, leaders of the House Oversight and Transportation committees tied Elliott’s appointment to what they called a broad assault by the Trump administration on inspectors general, who serve as internal government watchdogs.”

A complicated life and conflicting accounts muddle efforts to understand Tara Reade’s allegation against Joe Biden, CNN, MJ Lee and Ellie Kaufman, Tuesday, 19 May 2020: “Tara Reade, 56, has become a prominent figure in the 2020 presidential race after accusing Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, of sexually harassing and assaulting her when she worked in his office. The range of statements Reade, her friends and acquaintances, and former Biden aides have made — both in public and in private — about Biden and Reade’s experiences while working for him, has complicated efforts to understand her most serious allegation of sexual assault. Biden himself has vehemently denied Reade’s allegations, and no ex-Biden staffer has come forward to say they ever witnessed or heard about any kind of sexual misconduct in his Senate office…. Reade has said that she changed her name to Alexandra McCabe and fled from her ex-husband. Some details of Reade’s personal life are hazier after that. Reade told CNN that she received a bachelor of arts degree from Antioch University in Seattle under the auspices of a ‘protected program,’ personally working with the former president of the school to ensure her identity was protected while she obtained credits for her degree. She also said that she was a visiting professor at the school, on and off for five years. Presented with this, Karen Hamilton, an Antioch University spokesperson, told CNN that ‘Alexandra McCabe attended but did not graduate from Antioch University. She was never a faculty member. She did provide several hours of administrative work.’ An Antioch University official told CNN that such a ‘protected program’ does not exist and never has.”


Wednesday, 20 May 2020, Day 1,216:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 20 May 2020: Xi Jinping Uses Pandemic to Strengthen His Rule in China, The New York Times, Wednesday, 20 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Wednesday, 20 May 2020: Models Find Lockdown Delays Led to at Least 36,000 More Deaths, The New York Times, Wednesday, 20 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates on Wednesday, 20 May 2020: Connecticut Reopens, and Some Worship Is to Resume in New York, The New York Times, Wednesday, 20 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates on Wednesday, 20 May 2020: Federal Reserve Minutes Show Concern About Long-Term Economic Damage, The New York Times, Wednesday, 20 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday, 20 May 2020: Experts warn of second coronavirus wave in Dallas, Houston, Alabama, and parts of Florida, The Washington Post, Mark Berman, Miriam Berger, Marisa Iati, Samantha Pell, Meryl Kornfield, Michael Brice-Saddler, Colby Itkowitz, Felicia Sonmez, John Wagner, and Antonia Noori Farzan, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed said Wednesday that his Alabama city is out of intensive care beds. ‘Right now, if you’re from Montgomery, and you need an ICU bed, you’re in trouble,’ Reed said at a news conference. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) allowed restaurants, bars, retail businesses, churches, gyms and salons to reopen this month, and is expected to outline further steps this week. Dallas, Houston, Southeast Florida’s Gold Coast, the entire state of Alabama and several other places in the South that have rapidly reopened are in danger of a second wave over the next four weeks, a research team says.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Black Americans are dying of Covid-19 at almost three times the rate of white people, The Guardian, Ed Pilkington, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “The racial wound at the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the US continues to fester, with latest data showing that African Americans have died from the disease at almost three times the rate of white people. New figures compiled by the non-partisan APM Research Lab and released on Wednesday under the title Color of Coronavirus provide further evidence of the staggering divide in the Covid-19 death rate between black Americans and the rest of the nation. Across the country, African Americans have died at a rate of 50.3 per 100,000 people, compared with 20.7 for whites, 22.9 for Latinos and 22.7 for Asian Americans. More than 20,000 African Americans – about one in 2,000 of the entire black population in the US – have died from the disease. At the level of individual states, the statistics are all the more shocking. Bottom of the league table in terms of racial disparities is Kansas, where black residents are dying at seven times the rate of whites.”

Lockdown Delays Cost at Least 36,000 Lives, Data Show, The New York Times, James Glanz and Campbell Robertson, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “If the United States had begun imposing social distancing measures one week earlier than it did in March, about 36,000 fewer people would have died in the coronavirus outbreak, according to new estimates from Columbia University disease modelers. And if the country had begun locking down cities and limiting social contact on March 1, two weeks earlier than most people started staying home, the vast majority of the nation’s deaths — about 83 percent — would have been avoided, the researchers estimated.” See also, New study from Columbia University epidemiologists says social distancing a week earlier could have saved 36,000 American lives, The Washington Post, Teo Armus, published on Thursday, 21 May 2020: “On March 8, it was mostly business as usual in the United States. As the Lakers faced the Clippers in a much-anticipated Los Angeles basketball matchup, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) rallied before a packed crowd in Michigan. In Miami, thousands squeezed onto the beach for a massive dance party. With 500 coronavirus infections reported nationwide at the time, the outbreak seemed like a distant threat to many Americans. But by the following Sunday, the nation had entered a different universe: 2,000 confirmed cases, dozens of deaths, and shutdown orders in Illinois, Ohio and New York City, among other parts of the country. What if those sweeping measures imposed by March 15 — a federal warning against large gatherings, health screenings at airports, states of emergency declared by governors and mayors — had been announced a week earlier? New research from Columbia University epidemiologists offered one possible answer on Wednesday. If the same kind of social distancing had been in place seven days earlier, their study found, the United States could have prevented 36,000 deaths through early May — about 40 percent of fatalities reported to date.”

World Health Organization reports most coronavirus cases in one day as total nears 5 million, NBC News, Henry Austin and Will Clark, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “More than 100,000 coronavirus cases were reported to the World Health Organization in the previous 24 hours, ‘the most in a single day since the outbreak began,’ Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Wednesday. ‘We still have a long way to go in this pandemic,’ he said at a news conference in Geneva.”

Trump escalates campaign to discredit mail balloting, threatening federal funds to two battleground states, Michigan and Nevada, The Washington Post, Amy Gardner, Josh Dawsey, Jeff Stein, and John Wagner, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “President Trump on Wednesday escalated his campaign to discredit the integrity of mail balloting, threatening to ‘hold up’ federal funding to Michigan and Nevada in response to the states’ plans to increase voting by mail to reduce the public’s exposure to the coronavirus. Without evidence, Trump called the two states’ plans ‘illegal,’ and he incorrectly claimed that Michigan’s ‘rogue’ secretary of state is planning to mail ballots to all voters. The state is planning to send applications for mail-in ballots to all voters — not ballots themselves.” See also, Trump Steps Up Attacks on Mail Vote, Making False Claims About Fraud, The New York Times, Reid J. Epstein, Nick Corasaniti, and Annie Karni, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “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 Michigan of sending mail ballots to its residents, as his aides later acknowledged, and he offered no basis for his claims of illegal actions by either Michigan or Nevada. The Michigan secretary of state has sent ballot applications — not the ballots themselves — to registered voters, a growing practice among election officials, including in states led by Republicans. In Nevada, where the Republican secretary of state declared the primary a nearly all-mail election, ballots are being sent to registered voters. As most states largely abandon in-person voting because of health concerns over the coronavirus, Mr. Trump and 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.” See also, Can Michigan Mail Absentee Forms? Yes. Can Trump Withhold Funds? Unlikely. The New York Times, Linda Qiu and Nick Corasaniti, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “President Trump on Wednesday made false accusations about mail-in voting in Michigan and Nevada, continuing his unfounded attacks on absentee balloting. He initially mischaracterized the Michigan secretary of state’s actions to expand voting by mail during the coronavirus pandemic, falsely claimed such actions were illegal, and repeated his false assertion that there is rampant fraud in mail balloting. He also threatened to withhold money from the states — which itself may be unconstitutional or illegal.” See also, Trump mischaracterizes Michigan mail-in ballot policy and threatens federal funding to the state, Politico, Zach Montellaro and Quint Forgey, Wednesday, 20 May 2020.

‘We’ve been muzzled’: Centers for Disease Control sources say the White House is putting politics ahead of science, CNN Politics, Robert Kuznia, Curt Devine, and Nick Valencia, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “In the early weeks of the US coronavirus outbreak, staff members in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had tracked a growing number of transmissions in Europe and elsewhere, and proposed a global advisory that would alert flyers to the dangers of air travel. But about a week passed before the alert was issued publicly — crucial time lost when about 66,000 European travelers were streaming into American airports every day. The delay, detailed in documents obtained by CNN, is the latest example to emerge of a growing sense of disconnect between the CDC and the White House. In interviews with CNN, CDC officials say their agency’s efforts to mount a coordinated response to the Covid-19 pandemic have been hamstrung by a White House whose decisions are driven by politics rather than science. The result has worsened the effects of the crisis, sources inside the CDC say, relegating the 73-year-old agency that has traditionally led the nation’s response to infectious disease to a supporting role.”

Since the Coronavirus Broke Out, the Trump administration Has Deported Hundreds of Migrant Children Alone, In Some Cases Without Notifying Their Families, The New York Times, Caitlin Dickerson, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “Hundreds of migrant children and teenagers have been swiftly deported by American authorities amid the coronavirus pandemic without the opportunity to speak to a social worker or plea for asylum from the violence in their home countries — a reversal of years of established practice for dealing with young foreigners who arrive in the United States. The deportations represent an extraordinary shift in policy that has been unfolding in recent weeks on the southwestern border, under which safeguards that have for decades been granted to migrant children by both Democratic and Republican administrations appear to have been abandoned. Historically, young migrants who showed up at the border without adult guardians were provided with shelter, education, medical care and a lengthy administrative process that allowed them to make a case for staying in the United States. Those who were eventually deported were sent home only after arrangements had been made to assure they had a safe place to return to. That process appears to have been abruptly thrown out under President Trump’s latest border decrees. Some young migrants have been deported within hours of setting foot on American soil. Others have been rousted from their beds in the middle of the night in U.S. government shelters and put on planes out of the country without any notification to their families.”

Michael Flynn’s name was never masked in FBI document on his communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak, The Washington Post, Ellen Nakashima, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “A Republican effort to determine who may have leaked the name of Michael Flynn in connection to his 2016 contact with the Russian ambassador has centered on the question of which Obama administration officials requested his identity be ‘unmasked’ in intelligence documents. But in the FBI report about the communications between the two men, Flynn’s name was never redacted, former U.S. officials said. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) announced this week that he wants to subpoena witnesses over the unmasking of Flynn, as part of a larger effort to unearth information about the FBI’s investigation of Trump campaign officials.”

Supreme Court Grants Trump Request to Block Disclosure of Mueller Materials, The Wall Street Journal, Brent Kendall, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “The Supreme Court blocked Congress from receiving grand-jury materials from Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, likely extending the issue past November’s election. The court, in a written order Wednesday, granted an emergency request by the Trump administration to keep the materials secret while it mounts a full high court appeal against their release. The high court’s action increases the likelihood that the information will remain shielded through Election Day, unless the court decides to make special accommodations to speed up the case this summer or backtracks from Wednesday’s order and decides not to give the case a full review. The justices didn’t explain their reasoning in the short announcement.” See also, Supreme Court stops House Democrats from seeing secret grand jury material from the Mueller investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, The Washington Post, Robert Barnes and Ann E. Marimow, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday stopped House Democrats for now from seeing secret grand jury material from Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether President Trump obstructed the special counsel’s work. The court, without noted dissent, agreed to a request from the Justice Department to put on hold a lower court’s decision granting the House Judiciary Committee some previously undisclosed material from Mueller’s probe.” See also, Supreme Court Blocks Release of Full Mueller Report for Now. The court put the case on a fast track, calling for the Justice Department to file a petition seeking review by June 1. The New York Times, Adam Liptak, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday temporarily blocked the release of parts of the report prepared by Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel who investigated Russian interference in the 2016 election. The court’s order, concerning a request by the House Judiciary Committee for grand jury materials that the Justice Department had blacked out from the report provided to Congress, could mean that the full report would not be made available before the 2020 election.”

Republican political operatives are recruiting ‘extremely pro-Trump’ doctors to go on television to prescribe reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible, Associated Press, Michael Biesecker and Jason Dearen, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “Republican political operatives are recruiting ‘extremely pro-Trump’ doctors to go on television to prescribe reviving the U.S. economy as quickly as possible, without waiting to meet safety benchmarks proposed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to slow the spread of the new coronavirus. The plan was discussed in a May 11 conference call with a senior staffer for the Trump reelection campaign organized by CNP Action, an affiliate of the GOP-aligned Council for National Policy. A leaked recording of the hourlong call was provided to The Associated Press by the Center for Media and Democracy, a progressive watchdog group.”

Senate Panel, Urged On by Trump, Subpoenas Biden-Related Material. Republicans are using their Senate majority to try to uncover evidence of wrongdoing that President Trump believes is pivotal to his re-election chances in November. The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos, Wednesday, 20 May 2020: “Senate Republicans moved on Wednesday to resurrect unsubstantiated claims that Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s son helped a Ukrainian energy firm curry favor with the Obama administration when his father was vice president, voting over Democratic opposition to subpoena documents for an investigation that President Trump hopes to weaponize for his re-election campaign. The party-line vote by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was part of an emerging push by Republicans to use their Senate majority in ways intended to help Mr. Trump as he tries to rewrite the narrative of the Russia investigation to implicate his political rivals and divert attention from the coronavirus crisis.” See also, Republican-led Senate panel authorizes subpoena in Hunter Biden investigation, Politico, Andrew Desiderio, Wednesday, 20 May 2020.

Republican Voters Back QAnon Conspiracy Promoter for U.S. Senate, The New York Times, Mike Baker, Wednesday, 21 May 2020: “Republicans in Oregon have selected a Senate candidate who promotes the QAnon conspiracy theory, the latest sign that conservatives are increasingly willing to embrace a movement built on a baseless series of plotlines about President Trump battling a shadowy globalist cabal. Jo Rae Perkins was carrying about 50 percent of the vote in Oregon’s primary as of Wednesday afternoon, vanquishing three other Republican candidates to become the party’s nominee for the seat currently held by Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat. While the incumbent is considered a strong favorite, and Ms. Perkins’s embrace of fringe ideas could alienate mainstream voters, she has the backing of party leaders for a seat Republicans held as recently as 2009.”


Thursday, 21 May 2020, Day 1,217:


Some Global Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 21 May 2020: Reported Coronavirus Cases Top 5 Million Worldwide, The New York Times, Thursday, 21 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some U.S. Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 21 May 2020: ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Fraud in Unemployment Funds Is Reported as Jobless Claims Reach 38.6 Million. Trump, visiting a Michigan factory, again refused to wear a mask in public. The New York Times, Thursday, 21 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some New York Region Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 21 May 2020: Nearly 1 in 4 New Yorkers Needs Food as Pandemic Persists. With about two million city residents thought to have inadequate food amid the coronavirus outbreak, the city will soon distribute 1.5 million meals a day. The New York Times, Thursday, 21 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some Business Coronavirus Updates for Thursday, 21 May 2020: Many Facebook Employees to Work From Home Permanently, The New York Times, Thursday, 14 May 2020:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

Some significant developments in the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, 21 May 2020: Dr. Anthony Fauci says he hopes the White House restores his coronavirus updates to the public, The Washington Post, John Wagner, Mark Berman, Marisa Iati, Adam Taylor, Steven Goff, Michael Brice-Saddler, Kareem Copeland, Felicia Sonmez, Colby Itkowitz, and Antonia Noori Farzan, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “Anthony S. Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, said he’s hopeful that Americans will begin hearing directly from him and Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, on a more regular basis. Since Trump ended his daily briefings, the public hasn’t heard nearly as frequently from Fauci or Birx. ‘I think you’re probably going to be seeing a little bit more of me & my colleagues,’ Fauci told CNN. ‘They realize we need to get some of this information out … Hopefully you’ll be seeing more of us.’ More than 93,000 people have died in the U.S. from covid-19, according to state health departments and tracking by The Washington Post. There have been more than 5 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, including more than 1.5 million in the United States.

Here are some significant developments:

Many other significant developments are included in this article.

The Striking Racial Divide in How Covid-19 Has Hit Nursing Homes, The New York Times. This article is a collaboration, with reporting by: Robert Gebeloff, Danielle Ivory, Matt Richtel, Mitch Smith and Karen Yourish of The New York Times; Scott Dance of The Baltimore Sun; Jackie Fortiér and Elly Yu of KPCC/LAist; and Molly Parker of The Southern Illinoisan. Thursday, 21 May 2020. “The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the nation’s nursing homes, sickening staff members, ravaging residents and contributing to at least 20 percent of the nation’s Covid-19 death toll. The impact has been felt in cities and suburbs, in large facilities and small, in poorly rated homes and in those with stellar marks. But Covid-19 has been particularly virulent toward African-Americans and Latinos: Nursing homes where those groups make up a significant portion of the residents — no matter their location, no matter their size, no matter their government rating — have been twice as likely to get hit by the coronavirus as those where the population is overwhelmingly white.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Is Conflating Viral and Antibody Tests, Compromising a Few Crucial Metrics That Governors Depend on to Reopen Their Economies, The Atlantic, Alexis C. Madrigal and Robinson Meyer, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is conflating the results of two different types of coronavirus tests, distorting several important metrics and providing the country with an inaccurate picture of the state of the pandemic. We’ve learned that the CDC is making, at best, a debilitating mistake: combining test results that diagnose current coronavirus infections with test results that measure whether someone has ever had the virus. The upshot is that the government’s disease-fighting agency is overstating the country’s ability to test people who are sick with COVID-19. The agency confirmed to The Atlantic on Wednesday that it is mixing the results of viral and antibody tests, even though the two tests reveal different information and are used for different reasons. This is not merely a technical error. States have set quantitative guidelines for reopening their economies based on these flawed data points. Several states—including Pennsylvania, the site of one of the country’s largest outbreaks, as well as Texas, Georgia, and Vermont—are blending the data in the same way. Virginia likewise mixed viral and antibody test results until last week, but it reversed course and the governor apologized for the practice after it was covered by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Atlantic. Maine similarly separated its data on Wednesday; Vermont authorities claimed they didn’t even know they were doing this. The widespread use of the practice means that it remains difficult to know exactly how much the country’s ability to test people who are actively sick with COVID-19 has improved.” See also, C.D.C. Test Counting Error Leaves Epidemiologists ‘Really Baffled’ and Stunned, The New York Times, Sheryl Gay Stolberg, Sheila Kaplan, and Sarah Mervosh, Friday, 22 May 2020: “As it tracks the coronavirus’s spread, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is combining tests that detect active infection with those that detect recovery from Covid-19 — a system that muddies the picture of the pandemic but raises the percentage of Americans tested as President Trump boasts about testing. Now that serology tests, which look for antibodies in the blood of people who have recovered, are more widespread, C.D.C. officials said Friday they would work to separate them from the results of diagnostic tests, which detect active infection. One of the agency’s data tracker websites has been lumping them together. Stunned epidemiologists say data from antibody tests and active virus tests should never be mixed because diagnostic testing seeks to quantify the amount of active disease in the population. Serological testing can also be unreliable. And patients who have had both diagnostic and serology tests would be counted twice in the totals.”

2.4 million Americans filed jobless claims last week, bringing nine-week total to 38.6 million, The Washington Post, Tony Romm, Jeff Stein, and Erica Werner, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “The Trump administration, top Republicans and powerful corporate lobbyists mounted fresh opposition Thursday to extending enhanced unemployment benefits to the growing number of Americans who are out of work, raising the prospect of significant cuts to their weekly checks unless lawmakers act by the end of July. The latest round of threats came hours after the U.S. government released dour new jobless figures showing an additional 2.4 million Americans sought unemployment aid just last week, further compounding an economic crisis that already rivals the Great Depression in its severity. Over the span of nine weeks, more than 38 million Americans have filed unemployment claims across the country because of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.” See also, Workers File 2.4 Million Unemployment Claims, The Wall Street Journal, Sarah Chaney and Kate King, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “Workers filed another 2.4 million unemployment claims last week, a slight drop-off in the wave of historically high weekly filings since the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic began. Weekly claims continued to log in at high levels, though they are down since an initial surge in layoffs drove claims to a peak of nearly 7 million at the end of March, according to Thursday’s Labor Department report.”

Trump’s False Claims on Hydroxychloroquine, The New York Times, Linda Qiu, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “Trump falsely described scientific research around the malaria drug, falsely denied the existence of a federal warning against it and argued, with no evidence, that large numbers of health care workers were taking it.”

Michigan attorney general says Trump has ‘legal’ and ‘moral responsibility’ to wear mask on Ford plant tour, The Washington Post, Allyson Chiu and John Wagner, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “Ahead of President Trump’s planned trip Thursday to a Ford manufacturing plant in Michigan, the state’s attorney general implored him to wear a face mask on his tour, citing a ‘legal responsibility’ — and said he would be asked not to return if he does not do so. In an open letter addressed to Trump, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) asked the president, who has consistently appeared barefaced in public and at the White House, to adhere to executive orders issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) and Ford’s policy mandating masks to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. Trump is scheduled to visit a factory southwest of Detroit that has been repurposed to manufacture ventilators. ‘While my Department will not act to prevent you from touring Ford’s plant, I ask that while you are on tour you respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford — and across this State — by wearing a facial covering,’ Nessel wrote. ‘It is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the Governor’s Executive Orders. It is currently the law of this State.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Quietly Visits Conservative Donors and Political Figures on State Department Trips. The meetings, often kept off his public schedule, have taken place as Mike Pompeo nurtures plans for a presidential bid in 2024 and as he considered a run for the Senate from Kansas. The New York Times, Edward Wong and Lara Jakes, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made a secretive trip in January to a Florida retirement enclave populated by prominent Republican donors while on the tail end of a diplomatic trip to Latin America. He held the same kind of quiet meeting in December with Republican donors over a hotel dinner on a State Department trip to London. And last October, he huddled with Charles G. Koch, the Republican billionaire and a longtime supporter of his, while on an official visit to Kansas aboard a government aircraft. In each of those instances, Mr. Pompeo did not put the visits on his public schedule. He and his aides avoided telling the reporters traveling with them about the meetings, though some news organizations reported them afterward. And they took place as Mr. Pompeo was considering a run for the Senate from his adopted home state of Kansas and as he nurtures plans for a presidential bid in 2024.”

Senate confirms Representative John Ratcliffe as next director of national intelligence in sharply divided vote, The Washington Post, Shane Harris, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “The Senate confirmed Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Tex.) as the next director of national intelligence on Thursday, capping an unusually protracted process in which the congressman withdrew his nomination last year in the face of bipartisan opposition only to have President Trump challenge members of his own party and nominate Ratcliffe again seven months later. The Senate voted 49-to-44 to confirm Ratcliffe along party lines. He received more votes against his confirmation than any DNI in the 15-year history of the office.” See also, Senate confirms Representative John Ratcliffe as Trump’s director of national intelligence, Politico, Martin Matishak, Thursday, 21 May 2020. See also, Senate Approves John Ratcliffe for Top Intelligence Job in Sharply Split Vote, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Nicholas Fandos, Thursday, 21 May 2020.

For Spy Agencies, Briefing Trump Is a Test of Holding His Attention, The New York Times, Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “President Trump has blamed many others for his administration’s flawed response to the coronavirus: Chinagovernorsthe Obama administrationthe World Health Organization. In recent weeks, he has also faulted the information he received from an obscure analyst who delivers his intelligence briefings. Mr. Trump has insisted that the intelligence agencies gave him inadequate warnings about the threat of the virus, describing it as ‘not a big deal.’ Intelligence officials have publicly backed him, acknowledging that Beth Sanner, the analyst who regularly briefs the president, underplayed the dangers when she first mentioned the virus to him on Jan. 23. But in blaming Ms. Sanner, a C.I.A. analyst with three decades of experience, Mr. Trump ignored a host of warnings he received around that time from higher-ranking officials, epidemiologists, scientists, biodefense officials, other national security aides and the news media about the virus’s growing threat. Mr. Trump’s own health secretary had alerted him five days earlier to the potential seriousness of the virus.”

As Trump Rails Against Voting by Mail, States Open the Door for It, The New York Times, Michael Wines, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “By threatening on Wednesday to withhold federal grants to Michigan and Nevada if those states send absentee ballots or applications to voters, President Trump has taken his latest stand against what is increasingly viewed as a necessary option for voting amid a pandemic. What he has not done is stop anyone from getting an absentee ballot. In the face of a pandemic, what was already limited opposition to letting voters mail in their ballots has withered. Eleven of the 16 states that limit who can vote absentee have eased their election rules this spring to let anyone cast an absentee ballot in upcoming primary elections — and in some cases, in November as well. Another state, Texas, is fighting a court order to do so. Four of those 11 states are mailing ballot applications to registered voters, just as Michigan and Nevada are doing. And that does not count 34 other states and the District of Columbia that already allow anyone to cast an absentee ballot, including five states in which voting by mail is the preferred method by law.”

Tara Reade Is Dropped as Client by Leading #MeToo Lawyer Douglas Wigdor, The New York Times, Lisa Lerer, Jim Rutenberg, and Stephanie Saul, Thursday, 21 May 2020: “The lawyer for Tara Reade, the former Senate aide who has accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. of sexual assault, said Friday that he was no longer representing her, just two weeks after taking her on as a client. The lawyer, Douglas H. Wigdor, has been a leading plaintiff’s attorney of the #MeToo era. His firm is best known for bringing discrimination cases against Fox News — and its former star host Bill O’Reilly — and Harvey Weinstein, and his presence at Ms. Reade’s side gave her claims added legal heft. His announced departure came a day after defense lawyers in California said they were reviewing criminal cases in which Ms. Reade served as an expert witness on domestic violence, concerned that she had misrepresented her educational credentials in court.”