Pandemic and Trump/Political News (mid-March through mid-June 2020)

June 14: Protests continue in cities across the country. Some events are promoted, with evident irony, as marking Donald Trump's 74th birthday. Through the past week, massive "Black Lives Matter" demonstrations have been taking place not only in U.S., but in France, England, Japan, and other nations.
Please Click Here for brief report on Chicago protest.

June 12: Police shooting of black man in Atlanta sparks intense protest, destroying the Wendy's drive-through restaurant where the incident occurred.

June 12: After strong blowback from critics, Trump reschedules rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma for Saturday, June 20. Initially, the event was set for a day earlier; but June 19, dubbed "Juneteenth," celebrates the end of U.S. slavery. In 1921, a white mob killed hundreds of black residents of an affluent neighborhood, known as "Black Wall Street." Trump wants the venue to be packed, stating that social distancing would not look good. Face masks will be available, but not required.

June 11: General Mark A. Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, apologizes for joining in Trump's photo-op in front of a Washington D.C. church, after federal officers had used force to clear the path of peaceful protesters. Not only did Gen. Milley walk with the president, he wore a battle uniform.

June 9: Trump tweets baseless allegation that Martin Gugino, a 75-year-old protester who was hospitalized with serious injury after being pushed to the ground by two Buffalo, NY police officers, might be an "antifa" provocateur. The president also suggested that the assault may have been faked. According to friends, Mr. Gugino was a gentle, longtime activist with ties to such peace-seeking non-profit organizations as the Catholic Worker Movement. Except for Mitt Romney, no Republican Senator called out the president for what critics are condemning as a shockingly irresponsible assertion. (The New York Times)

June 8: National Bureau of Economic Research announces that the U.S. has been in recession since February, following the longest economic expansion in the nation's history. (CNN) June 8: Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah), walking with protesters honoring George Floyd, stresses the importance of understanding that "Black Lives Matter."

June 7: Retired general Colin Powell, former secretary of state under George W. Bush, declares that Trump has not been an effective president, as reported by CNN. Powell also charges that the president lies "all the time." He did not support Trump in 2016, and will vote for Democrat Joe Biden in November. Several days earlier, legendary conservative columnist George Will joined the small but growing group of noted Republicans who will not support Trump's re-election.

June 6: The Washington Post says protests over death of George Floyd are not only "broadest in U.S. history," but "are spreading to white, small-town America."

June 6: Nationwide protests for racial justice continue into second weekend, along with a memorial service in George Floyd's North Carolina birthplace. Recent protests have been accompanied by far less looting and violence, but critics continue to decry chaos in Washington D.C. when federal officers used tear gas and flash grenades to drive peaceful protesters away from area where Trump would be walking. Because of massive crowds and lack of social distancing, health experts advise protesters to be tested for Covid-19.

June 5: Retired general John Kelly, Trump's former chief of staff, warns that voters must consider each presidential candidate's character and ethics, making sure that they "represent all of their constituents, not just the base."

June 4: Trump uses Twitter to share letter written by his former lawyer John Dowd, which refers to protesters at the White House as "terrorists." Citing no evidence, Dowd claimed that "the phony protesters ... were not peaceful and are not real." They use "idle hate-filled students to burn and destroy." (CNN)

June 4: In cities across the country, protesters gather to honor George Floyd, 10 days after the 46-year-old was killed by a police officer's knee pushing down on his neck. The Rev. Al Sharpton delivers a eulogy at a memorial service in Minneapolis, asserting that racism has effectively "kept your knee on our neck." Most recent protests for social justice have been peaceful, avoiding the violent actions that marred a number of events in the days – and especially, nights – following Mr. Floyd's death.

June 3: Retired Gen. James Mattis, previously Trump's secretary of defense, issues harsh denunciation of the president's call for using force against protesters, and for proposing use of active-duty military to deal with demonstrations.

June 1: White House security forces attack peaceful protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets, and what are dubbed "flash bangs," clearing the area so Trump can walk to a photo-op at a nearby Episcopal Church, where he is pictured holding up a Bible. (CNN)

June 1: During conference call with state governors, Trump declares that many of them are "weak," demanding that they escalate use of force in order to "dominate" protesters. If they don't, he warned, they would look like "jerks." CNN reports that Trump has deemed himself the "law and order president."

May 30: In a tweet, Trump threatens protesters at White House with the prospect of "the most vicious dogs, and ominous weapons, I have ever seen." He also denied knowing that his earlier comments about "looting" and "shooting" had a racist origin. In an early response to protests that began in Minneapolis, following the brutal death of George Floyd, the president referred to protesters as "THUGS" (his capitalization). (CNN)

May 29: As Trump's feud with Twitter continues, the president turns to Facebook and Instagram to deliver threatening message to Minneapolis protesters: "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." CNN, whose crew members had been arrested, describes Trump's words praising the Minneapolis police as "glorifying violence."

May 28: Following death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man held to the ground by a Minneapolis police officer, protests break out and turn violent, soon expanding into several additional cities. As the officer's knee pressed on his neck, Mr. Floyd repeatedly cried out, "I can't breathe," and was heard calling for his deceased mother.

May 27: Twitter places "fact-check" label on two of the president's tweets. In response, Trump threatens to "strongly regulate," if not "shut down," social media platforms. (CNN)

May 25: On Memorial Day, for the 266th time in his presidency, Trump plays a round at one of his golf courses - his first such outing since March. During his 2016 campaign, he often attacked former president Obama for playing golf rather than working at the White House.

May 21: Trump tours Ford plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan, where all visitors are required to wear a face mask. Though he'd brought a dark blue mask along (evidently featuring the presidential seal), he refused to wear it when any cameras were present. According to CNN, company chairman Bill Ford said wearing a mask is "up to him." Dana Nessel, Michigan's Attorney General, called Trump's failure to be masked "incredibly disrespectful" to the state, warning that in the future, he would no longer be welcome.

May 20: Latest predictive model determines that if lockdown had taken place a week (perhaps two weeks) sooner, some 36,000 lives might have been saved. Trump quickly responded, insisting that he was among the first to grasp the seriousness of the coronavirus pandemic and take action. By action, he referred to his order to bar Chinese persons from entering the U.S.

May 20: All 50 states have partially reopened, or plan to do so by Memorial Day. State rules vary, but such businesses as restaurants and gyms may be permitted to operate, albeit with certain requirements about such protective measures as face-mask usage, social distancing, and limited occupancy in a facility. Critics continue to insist that reopening too soon will permit the number of infections to increase, paving the way for a "second wave" later in 2020.

May 16: Trump fires Stephen Linick, Inspector General for the State Department, claiming that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told him to do so. This was the fourth firing of an IG in recent weeks.

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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