Pandemic and Trump/Political News (mid-March to mid-May 2020)
May 15: Trump revives "Obamagate" conspiracy theory, charging that agents for the former president had spied on Trump's campaign and demanding an investigation.
May 14: In past week, another 2.9 million workers apply for unemployment benefits, bringing total to 36 million.
May 14: Nearly every state is at least partially reopening, despite warnings from top medical experts that doing so too soon is likely to produce disastrous escalation of Covid-19 infections. Meanwhile, protesters, some of them armed, are demanding that the country reopen fully so people can go back to work and resume receiving paychecks.
May 12: Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell claims that Barack Obama failed to leave the incominig president a plan for dealing with a pandemic. CNN reports that he actually left a "69-page playbook." Later in week, McConnell admits his mistake.
May 12: Supreme Court hears case that could require the president to release his tax returns. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, cases are dealt with via phone and video, not in the courtroom in Washington.
May 7: Trump announces that the coronavirus task force is expected to disband soon, having been so effective at dealing with Phase 1 of the government's response to the pandemic. In an editorial, The New York Times described this reaction as a declaration of "mission accomplished," calling to mind President George W. Bush's comparable declaration regarding the Iraq War. Early in May, the U.S. Covid-19 death toll topped 70,000. Facing blowback from critics, Trump modified his statement, indicating that the task force would simply be refocused.
May 5: Writing for The New York Times, Charles Blow notes that flow of migrants, worldwide, has been shrinking considerably – including those crossing Mexico to reach the U.S. border.
May 1: Trump moves to remove Christi Grimm, Inspector General for the Department of Health and Human Services. In her capacity as an overseer, according to The New York Times, Grimm had issued a report "revealing the dire state of the nation's pandemic response." Grimm was not the first overseer of the administration to be removed from duty. Additional Inspectors General would soon face a similar fate.
April 20: Trump tweets his intent to issue Executive Orde to "temporarily suspend" all immigration to the U.S., citing the "invisible enemy" as the motivation for this decision.
April 19: Protests erupt around U.S., seeking to "reopen" the country quickly, halting shelter-in-place orders. Some protesters are armed. Critics chastise Trump for fomenting the protests, tweeting two-word exhortations to "Liberate" three states (Michigan, Minnesota, and Virginia) from restrictions on daily life, contradicting recommendations from medical experts.
April 14: Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker says he has "given up" on receiving assistance from the federal government to deal with the pandemic. "We have gotten very little help from the federal government," he added. The president has insisted that the states, not the federal government, are responsible for dealing with the Covid-19 virus. (CNN)
April 14: Trump announces that the U.S. will halt funding for the World Health Organization, pending an investigation into the global body's early responses to the Covid-19 crisis.
April 13: In what CNN calls a "grievance-fueled appearance," Trump "lashes out" at media, state governors, and others with a startling level of anger and venom, reacting to critics of his "handling" of the coronavirus crisis. "Trump erupts in Covid-19 briefing," the headline read, claiming that he, as president, has "total authority" to control re-opening of the country. His briefing included playing a video that CNN described as "propaganda-like." Scrutiny of his statements and actions in January-February, into early March has been growing.
"Everything we did was right," Mr. Trump insisted, adding that "the president's authority is total." Legal experts were quick to disagree, based mainly on actual wording in the Constitution.
April 12: The New York Times reports that "Trump was warned early and often" about the development of the coronavirus, before finally taking it seriously. According to the paper, the president "was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and focused on his message and the economy." A related article spelled out specific missteps in the administration's early responses.
CNN quoted Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top medical adviser to the president, admitting that "earlier mitigation efforts in U.S. would have saved lives."
April 9: In third week of shutdown, following Super Tuesday primary vote, another 6.6 million workers file for unemployment compensation, bringing the three-week total to a shocking 16 million.
April 7: During his daily press briefing, Trump revives the debunked claim of massive voter fraud, especially in California. Some recent op-ed pieces have brought out the prospect of Republicans acting to postpone, or cancel, the November election.
April 7: Senator Bernie Sanders suspends his presidential campaign, leaving former vice-president Joe Biden as the presumptive Democrat nominee.
April 6: Amid growing criticism of White House delay in taking Covid-19 virus seriously, Trump announces his hope to halt U.S. funding for the World Health Organization. The Washington Post claims that intelligence agencies formally warned Mr. Trump in early January, but adequate response did not emerge until 70 days had passed. Officials assert that as early as November 2019, the administration was warned about the prospect of a pandemic resulting from the virus emergence in China.
March 29: U.S. House Speaker criticizes Trump's response to the coronavirus crisis. As the president "fiddles," Nancy Pelosi said, "people are dying." (CNN)
March 25: CNN reporter Jake Tapper shows tape of Trump statement from February, asserting that the president gave Americans a "false sense of security" regarding the coronavirus. Critics have alleged that Trump continued to deny the dreadful prospects of the expanding virus through February, not taking it seriously until mid-March.
March 25: More than 200 people die from Covid-19 - the deadliest day yet- New York City has become the epicenter of the crisis, in terms cases and death. (CNN)
March 25: Trump states that he wants to see businesses open and people back at work, "raring to go," by Easter. Churches should be "packed" with people on Easter Sunday, he says, at least in some parts of the country. Nearly all public health experts reportedly warn that a forced return to normalcy, easing back on "social distancing" and other steps to try and keep the virus at bay, would be disastrous.
March 24: Following several days of tense negotiations in Senate, Trump signs bill for "stimulus" plan that will distribute $2 trillion to American workers as well as to business, in attempt to compensate for job losses and massive business downturn. Individuals and families should receive checks by early May (if mailed); or sooner, if direct deposit is used.
March 17: A string of proposals to deal with the virus and its economic repercussions emanates from the White House and government officials. The list includes the possibility of sending a check to every American, to help pay bills during the crisis as layoffs mount. Plans to "bail out" corporations that are suffering huge losses, including airlines and hotels, also emerge as the stock market sinks.
Later, when the program to send $1,200 checks is enacted, Trump insists that his signature be included on each paper check.
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