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Trumpocalypse Now
Trump also got very honest about why keeping voters safe during a pandemic is "crazy."

Quote:Trump openly admitting if we made voting easier in America, Republicans wouldn't win elections

Trump: "The things they had in there were crazy. They had levels of voting, that if you ever agreed to it you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

Video at the link.
Christ, we should all be so lucky. And talk about saying the quiet part loud: but I guess they know that they can get away with it, so why not show us all their They Live faces?

For anyone thinking Republicans are planning another phase of stimulus, that doesn't seem to be the case:

Quote:Democratic aides pushing need for more $ for Medicaid, food stamps, state aid -- but they  may find themselves jammed. 

The odds of Republicans supporting that for now at least “are zero. No more spending. We did all the spending,” one WH economic adviser says
This is an especially weird time for Republicans. They're used to looking at reality and being able to say, "... Nah.", saying whatever they want to be the case instead, and getting away with it.

All of a sudden, reality keeps slapping them in the faces. It's new and scary!
Gamertag: Tweakee
Republicans think the solution to every complicated problem is to just ignore it, diminish it or blame someone else for it. They'll continue to implement these tactics until the heat death of the universe.

A+ leadership!
Hahaha fucking my pillow guy is talking at the daily presser right now

It's also a windy day, which is always worth a lol.
Tempted to throw away my My Pillows. I'm certainly never buying any more of them.

If Billy Mays was still around I bet he'd be front and center at these briefings. In a position created specially for him, like "sanitization specialist" or something, where he could show everyone that Oxiclean is the ideal product to clean the novel coronavirus off surfaces (goes without saying he would outrank Dr Fauci).
Billy Mays wasn't nearly sleazy enough for this administration. They can always get the ShamWow guy, he's got a domestic abuse record which is basically a resume enhancer with these creeps.
A few days old, but well worth the read:

Quote:A week after that, the Wall Street Journal published an opinion article by two former top health policy officials within the Trump administration under the headline Act Now to Prevent an American Epidemic. Luciana Borio and Scott Gottlieb laid out a menu of what had to be done instantly to avert a massive health disaster.

Top of their to-do list: work with private industry to develop an “easy-to-use, rapid diagnostic test” – in other words, just what South Korea was doing.

It was not until 29 February, more than a month after the Journal article and almost six weeks after the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the country that the Trump administration put that advice into practice. Laboratories and hospitals would finally be allowed to conduct their own Covid-19 tests to speed up the process.

Those missing four to six weeks are likely to go down in the definitive history as a cautionary tale of the potentially devastating consequences of failed political leadership. Today, 86,012 cases have been confirmed across the US, pushing the nation to the top of the world’s coronavirus league table – above even China.

More than a quarter of those cases are in New York City, now a global center of the coronavirus pandemic, with New Orleans also raising alarm. Nationally, 1,301 people have died.

Most worryingly, the curve of cases continues to rise precipitously, with no sign of the plateau that has spared South Korea.

“The US response will be studied for generations as a textbook example of a disastrous, failed effort,” Ron Klain, who spearheaded the fight against Ebola in 2014, told a Georgetown university panel recently. “What’s happened in Washington has been a fiasco of incredible proportions.”

Jeremy Konyndyk, who led the US government’s response to international disasters at USAid from 2013 to 2017, frames the past six weeks in strikingly similar terms. He told the Guardian: “We are witnessing in the United States one of the greatest failures of basic governance and basic leadership in modern times.”

In Konyndyk’s analysis, the White House had all the information it needed by the end of January to act decisively. Instead, Trump repeatedly played down the severity of the threat, blaming China for what he called the “Chinese virus” and insisting falsely that his partial travel bans on China and Europe were all it would take to contain the crisis.

If Trump’s travel ban did nothing else, it staved off to some degree the advent of the virus in the US, buying a little time. Which makes the lack of decisive action all the more curious.

“We didn’t use that time optimally, especially in the case of testing,” said William Schaffner, an infectious diseases specialist at Vanderbilt University medical center. “We have been playing reluctant catch-up throughout.”

As Schaffner sees it, the stuttering provision of mass testing “put us behind the eight-ball” right at the start. “It did not permit us, and still doesn’t permit us, to define the extent of the virus in this country.”
CBS News obtained audio of a call Monday between Trump and rural state governors about coronavirus. After Montana Gov. Steve Bullock discussed the difficulty getting testing equipment, Trump said, "I haven't heard anything about testing being a problem"

Quote:Several rural-state governors alerted President Trump on Monday that they are struggling to obtain urgently needed medical supplies and testing equipment, warning that despite the worsening coronavirus situation in New York and other urban areas, more sparsely populated parts of the country need help, too. 

In response to requests for more testing kits, Mr. Trump said, "I haven't heard about testing in weeks," according to an audio recording of the call between the president and governors obtained by CBS News. 

During the call, which lasted a little over an hour, Democratic and Republican governors detailed how they are struggling to obtain the protective equipment doctors and nurses will need to treat the sick and the test kits needed to determine whether sick residents are suffering from COVID-19.

"We understand the challenges in New York. I have family in New York," Wyoming Republican Governor Mark Gordon told the president. But, he told Mr. Trump, "I think a little bit of supply going our way could get us better prepared going forward."

"Good point," Mr. Trump replied. "Thank you very much, Mark. If you have a problem, call me. I'll get you what you need."

CBS News obtained a recording of the call from a participant shortly after it concluded. Others familiar with the call confirmed some of the details.

Mr. Trump was joined on the call by Vice President Pence, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of allergy and infectious diseases, and Dr. Deborah Birx, who is leading the White House Coronavirus Task Force.
Just a quick reminder that the people in power who don't give a shit whether you live or die aren't missing a damn beat:

States Quietly Pass Laws Criminalizing Fossil Fuel Protests Amid Coronavirus Chaos
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
Tim Miller is a conservative, for the record:

He doesn't seem upset that campaign aids are viewing this pandemic in those terms, he seems upset that it got out.
Poets have tried to describe Ankh-Morpork. They have failed. Perhaps it's the sheer zestful vitality of the place, or maybe it's just that a city with a million inhabitants and no sewers is rather robust for poets, who prefer daffodils and no wonder. - Terry Pratchett, Mort
Mike Francesa - a popular sports radio host in New York City - breaking with Trump isn't something that's going reverberate throughout the heartland or anything like that, but it's proof that reality can, in fact, sink in during a pandemic:

Quote:Mike Francesa, affectionately known as the ‘Sports Pope’ for his domination of New York sports radio in recent decades, and someone who has supported Donald Trump as a candidate and now president, decisively broke with him over his response to the coronavirus crisis, thundering that “they’re bringing people out of the hospital in Queens in body bags, five minutes from where he grew up.”

Francesa, who gushed over then-candidate Trump in 2016, called the Mueller hearings “a complete waste of time” last year.

But those days appear to be over. Francesa on Monday began by mentioning how Trump accused hospitals of padding the numbers of masks they need because they were trying to “sell them out the back door,” adding that Trump told the media “to go investigate that.”

“You go investigate that!” Francesa yelled. “You have your military, your FEMA investigate that, that’s your job,” he said, pronouncing FEMA like the leg bone in his trademark Long Island accent. But then Francesa went on an epic rant, invoking the same blue collar men that Trump prides himself on having the support of.

“We’re watching one thing happen in our city on the 11 o’clock news every night, we’re watching people die, and now we know people who died. And we’re not seeing one or two people die now in our neighborhood, we’re seeing them die by the tens, and twenties, by the day. They’re bringing people out of the hospital in Queens in body bags, five minutes from where he grew up. We here know this isn’t right. You get the guys in the metropolitan area and ask the cops in New York if it’s right right now, ask the firemen in New York answering those ambulance calls if it’s right right now. Ask the nurses and the doctors in that hospital if it’s right right now, they know it’s not. They don’t have the supplies they need. So don’t give me the My Pillow guy doing a song and dance up here on a Monday afternoon when people are dying in Queens. Get the stuff made, get the stuff where it needs to go, and get the boots on the ground. Treat this like the crisis it is.”
Nice work if you can get it:

Quote:Washington, even when shut down by coronavirus, is still Washington. And K Street, even remotely, is open for business, selling help to firms seeking stimulus money or approval for products related to the pandemic.

Unsurprisingly, this means that some of the characters in the president’s orbit are gaining business.

Take Brian Ballard, arguably the most successful of a slew of DC lobbyists who have cashed in on connections to the mercurial president, who has allowed his time and properties to become keys to a sprawling influence industry, despite his pledge to “drain the swamp.” Ballard is a Republican National Committee fundraiser, who, prior to 2016, lobbied for the Trump Organization in Florida. Following Trump’s election, Ballard expanded his formerly Florida-based lobbying practice into a DC powerhouse, signing major companies including General Motors, American Airlines, MGM Resorts, and foreign states such as Qatar and Turkey, as well as Albania’s ruling party. I wrote last year about how Ballard lobbied one of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, as part of an effort to get the Justice Department to hold off on prosecuting a Turkish state bank accused of violating US sanctions on Iran. Ballard’s firm employs several officials connected to Trump, including former White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah and Pam Bondi, who left the firm to assist Trump’s impeachment team before rejoining Ballard there this month.  

Ballard is now representing at least one company, Nanopure LLC, that is seeking approval for a coronavirus cleaning product. The New York Times first reported the connection on Saturday. (Ballard also registered on March 25 to lobby for Millennium Physician Group LLC, which includes 500 health care providers in Florida. The group is expanding its virtual offerings to respond to COVID-19, but the nature of Ballard’s work for the company is not clear; the group did not respond to inquiries Monday.)

Nanopure told Mother Jones on Friday that in hiring Ballard, along with his associate Sylvester Lukis, a former Health and Human Services Department lawyer, it hopes it can get quick EPA approval to sell an aerosol mist spray it says can kill the coronavirus, as well as germs, bacteria, and other viruses in hospital rooms, hotels, and other enclosed spaces. “They’re able to put out the information,” Steve Gareleck, the CEO of the South Carolina-based firm, said. “I need help politically to get this thing to the right people.”

Gareleck said that NanoPure’s “system and solution will be able to save a lot of lives,” but because it is an aerosol mist, it needs EPA approval. The EPA has established a process to expedite such requests, Gareleck said, but epxlained that the trick for his small firm, which currently has around just eight employees, is ensuring it can quickly get studies showing the product is safe in front of decision makers. 

In an email, an EPA spokeswoman told Mother Jones that said the agency “treats all submissions equally” and referenced a March 9 press release announcing an expedited process for reviewing disinfectants that want to claim on their labels that they can kill the coronavirus. Neither Ballard nor Lukis responded to inquiries from Mother Jones.

With Ballard on board, Gareleck said he hopes approval for his product will come within weeks. “We’re getting close,” he said, “and we’re talking to right people now.”
The ramifications of this bullshit are fucking endless:

Quote:The Trump administration has decided against reopening Obamacare enrollment to uninsured Americans during the coronavirus pandemic, defying calls from health insurers and Democrats to create a special sign-up window amid the health crisis.

President Donald Trump and administration officials recently said they were considering relaunching, the federal enrollment site, and insurers said they privately received assurances from health officials overseeing the law's marketplace. However, a White House official on Tuesday evening told POLITICO the administration will not reopen the site for a special enrollment period, and that the administration is "exploring other options."

The annual enrollment period for closed months ago, and a special enrollment period for the coronavirus could have extended the opportunity for millions of uninsured Americans to newly seek out coverage. Still, the law already allows a special enrollment for people who have lost their workplace health plans, so the health care law may still serve as a safety net after a record surge in unemployment stemming from the pandemic.

Numerous Democratic-leaning states that run their own insurance markets have already reopened enrollment in recent weeks as the coronavirus threat grew. The Trump administration oversees enrollment for about two-thirds of states.

Insurers said they had expected Trump to announce a special enrollment period last Friday based on conversations they had with officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs enrollment. It wasn’t immediately clear why the Trump administration decided against the special enrollment period. CMS deferred comment to the White House.

Trump confirmed last week he was seriously considering a special enrollment period, but he also doubled down on his support of a lawsuit by Republican states that could destroy the entire Affordable Care Act, along with coverage for the 20 million people insured through the law.

People losing their workplace coverage have some insurance options outside of the law's marketplaces. They can extend their employer plan for up to 18 months through COBRA, but that's an especially pricey option. Medicaid is also an option for low-income adults in about two-thirds of states that have adopted Obamacare's expansion of the program.

Short-term health insurance alternatives promoted by Trump, which allow enrollment year-round, is also an option many who entered the crisis without coverage. Those plans offer skimpier coverage and typically exclude insurance protections for preexisting conditions, and some blue states like California and have banned them or severely restricted them. The quality of the plans vary significantly and, depending on the contract, insurers can change coverage terms on the fly and leave patients with exorbitant medical bills.
I wouldn't put it past some in the DJT/GOP admin, if DJT loses overwhelmingly in the upcoming election, to try and actually burn down the WH in an act of spite...

"fuck you America....if the GOP can't have the WH and control the country, no one will...."
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
Frustrations are getting high as certain states are getting more supplies than they asked for, while others get fractions of what they asked for.

Also, one White House official admitted right out in the open about prioritizing Florida for electoral reasons:

Quote:As states across the country have pleaded for critical medical equipment from a key national stockpile, Florida has promptly received 100 percent of its first two requests — with President Trump and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis both touting their close relationship.

States including Oklahoma and Kentucky have received more of some equipment than they requested, while others such as Illinois, Massachusetts and Maine have secured only a fraction of their requests.

It’s a disparity that has caused frustration and confusion in governors’ offices across the country, with some officials wondering whether politics is playing a role in the response.

Governors are making increasingly frantic requests to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for materials. State and congressional leaders are flooding FEMA with letters and calls seeking clarity about how it is allocating suddenly in-demand resources such as masks, ventilators and medical gowns.

“Frustration level is high,” Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) said of the struggle to find ventilators for patients infected by the novel coronavirus. “We’re hoping we’ll be able to get them. The federal government needs to help us with that. There’s no question.”

Governors and state officials have become increasingly frustrated by what they describe as a byzantine and unsteady process for distributing medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile. As they try to combat a worsening pandemic, several have complained about chaos and disarray within the system and a lack of guidance about how they can secure lifesaving supplies, according to interviews and documents from officials in more than a dozen states.

Evers told FEMA on Friday that Wisconsin still needs 190,000 nonsurgical masks, adding that he thought some of the supplies were stuck in a bureaucratic queue. Oklahoma received 120,000 face shields despite requesting only 16,000, according to the state’s health department. North Carolina, by contrast, requested 500,000 medical coveralls and received 306, state records show.

There’s no direct evidence that Republican states are receiving more favorable treatment overall, and some GOP-led states such as Georgia have had trouble filling their requests. But Trump has contributed to the sense that politics could be a factor by publicly attacking Democratic governors who criticize his handling of the public health crisis.

Trump said last week that he is inclined not to speak with anyone who is insufficiently appreciative of his administration’s efforts. He has touted his personal relationships with several governors while also declaring that the federal government won’t be “a shipping clerk” for local officials who seek help in obtaining masks, ventilators and other critical supplies. States should buy the materials themselves, he said.

“All I want them to do — very simple — I want them to be appreciative,” Trump told reporters Friday. “I don’t want them to say things that aren’t true. I want them to be appreciative. We’ve done a great job. And I’m not talking about me. I’m talking about Mike Pence, the task force; I’m talking about FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers.”

Aides to governors in some states say they are wary of angering the president or making comments even slightly critical of his administration, fearful that he will lash out at them as they seek help.

But the chaotic system has made it difficult for some governors to bite their tongues.

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) had harsh words for the process Tuesday, comparing a lack of federal coordination to“being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator.”

New York has the nation’s worst outbreak, and Cuomo has said he needs 30,000 ventilators. In addition to providing only 4,400 from the stockpile, FEMA has been outbidding states on the private market, Cuomo said.

“What sense does this make?” he told reporters. “The federal government, FEMA, should have been the purchasing agent. Buy everything, and then allocate it by need to the states.”

Still, some Democrats have given the Trump administration plaudits for being accessible and for responding to their requests. Even after verbally attacking Democrats such as Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Trump has approved federal support for their states.

A senior Democratic gubernatorial aide involved in the response effort said White House and FEMA officials usually return calls promptly and they always agree to consider requests.

This aide said officials in his state haven’t been threatened directly if they don’t praise Trump. And the president has generally been receptive to requests on the phone, he said.

“But we watch the news, we see what he says about people who criticize him,” said the aide, who, like some others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.


Quote:One White House official said Trump is attuned to the electoral importance of Florida in November, giving added weight to the arguments DeSantis has made to the administration that his state’s economy should reopen as soon as possible.

“The president knows Florida is so important for his reelection, so when DeSantis says that, it means a lot,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to be frank. “He pays close attention to what Florida wants.”

DeSantis’s office did not respond to requests for comment.
The Pentagon is still waiting on federal agencies to tell them where to send their ventilators and if their labs will be used to process COVID-19 tests:

Quote:Despite having committed to transferring 2,000 ventilators in military stocks to the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the Pentagon has not shipped any of them because the agencies have not asked for them or provided a shipping location, the Pentagon's top logistics official said Tuesday.

In order to ship the badly needed equipment, the Defense Department has to be given a location to send them by civilian authorities who have to decide where the items are most needed.

"There was discussion with HHS on where to send them. And then they said hey wait, we're trying to take a look at the demand that's required, and so we were asked to just wait while there was just some sorting through on that. And I won't speak on behalf of them, but we were in a position to provide 2,000," said Lt. General Giovanni Tuck.

Tuck said he had no details on the HHS decisions, but added that "we haven't provided any, because as of last night, we were asked to just hold on the ones that we have, and then we will push them when they're ready for them."

He emphasized there are 1,000 ventilators fully ready to be shipped as soon as the Pentagon gets a destination of where to send them. The other 1,000 can also be assembled and shipped within days of getting the order he indicated.
The coronavirus testing-site website Trump promised on March 13 was built not by Google, but by a team of engineers at Oscar Health, where Jared Kushner’s younger brother is co-founder and investor.

The website has been suddenly and mysteriously scrapped.

Quote:On March 13, President Donald Trump promised Americans they would soon be able to access a new website that would ask them about their symptoms and direct them to nearby coronavirus testing sites. He said Google was helping.

That wasn’t true. But in the following days, Oscar Health—a health-insurance company closely connected to Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner—developed a government website with the features the president had described. A team of Oscar engineers, project managers, and executives spent about five days building a stand-alone website at the government’s request, an Oscar spokesperson told The Atlantic. The company even dispatched two employees from New York to meet in person with federal officials in Washington, D.C., the spokesperson said. Then the website was suddenly and mysteriously scrapped.

The site would not have helped many Americans even if it had launched. Today, more than two weeks after the president promised a national network of drive-through test sites, only a handful of such sites have opened, and fewer than 1 million Americans have been tested.

The full extent of Oscar’s work on the project has not been previously reported. The partnership between the administration and the firm suggests that Kushner may have mingled his family’s business interests with his political interests and his role in the administration’s coronavirus response. Kushner’s younger brother Joshua is a co-founder and major investor in Oscar, and Jared Kushner partially owned or controlled Oscar before he joined the White House. The company’s work on the coronavirus website could violate federal ethics laws, several experts said.

Not knowing what's going on in your own government seems bad:

Quote:Last week, a Trump administration official working to secure much-needed protective gear for doctors and nurses in the United States had a startling encounter with counterparts in Thailand.

The official asked the Thais for help—only to be informed by the puzzled voices on the other side of the line that a U.S. shipment of the same supplies, the second of two so far, was already on its way to Bangkok.

Trump aides were alarmed when they learned of the exchange, and immediately put the shipment on hold while they ordered a review of U.S. aid procedures. Crossed wires would only confuse our allies, they worried, or worse—offend them. And Americans confronting a surging death toll and shortages of medical equipment back home would likely be outraged.

Vice President Mike Pence soon realized another step was needed: After a phone call asking a foreign leader’s help with key supplies, he ordered his staff to make sure the review process wasn’t holding up coronavirus-related aid to countries that were assisting the United States.

The incidents have spurred the Pence-led coronavirus task force to scrutinize all of USAID’s deliveries to countries requesting personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to fight the outbreak, according to people directly involved in the discussions, causing tensions between aid officials and task-force members.

The administration has also placed a moratorium on overseas shipments of USAID’s stockpiles of protective gear and is asking that the equipment be sent to the U.S. instead, other officials said.
I can only imagine what's in store:

Quote:Breaking: Sources tell me at least 7 oil and gas CEOs to attend meeting at White House on Friday.  IN PERSON.  

CEOs include from Exxon, Chevron, Occidental, Devon, Enterprise Transfer, Phillips66 and former Continental CEO Harold Hamm.
"We want to drill for oil in Teddy Roosevelt's head!"
"I'd rather wake up in the middle of nowhere than in any city on Earth."--Steve McQueen
Why does Trump keep mentioning 'Phase 4'?

It's a fun 70s film, but royally a product of its time...the alternative ending was weird...
...don't do it
It's the best of the 70's 'nature attacks' films.
If I could change to liquid, I'd fill the cracks and bend the rocks.
National Parks and wildlife reserves are now open for business. We're going to drill and frack this economy back into shape.
(04-01-2020, 03:37 PM)graham Wrote: Why does Trump keep mentioning 'Phase 4'?

It's a fun 70s film, but royally a product of its time...the alternative ending was weird...

(04-01-2020, 03:43 PM)turingmachine75 Wrote: It's the best of the 70's 'nature attacks' films.

These comments make me so fucking happy.

A Hawaiian shirt is like a cash gift - always appropriate
(04-01-2020, 02:36 PM)Iron Maiden Wrote: I can only imagine what's in store:

Allow me to venture a guess: they sit around a table and, one at a time, tell the president what a good job he's doing as cameras whir. Then they go out to the rose garden for a photo op while Trump slouches at the podium and rambles about all the Obama-era red tape they are cutting through to get some very tremendous things done.
continuing off-tangent...

Now that we have awesome CGI available to use, I've always thought that a proper remake of 'Phase IV' (notice the proper spelling of the title!) would be a no-brainer.
Given the right director, of course.
I used to be with "it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary to me.   -Grandpa Simpson
The CEOs are coming to demand Trump get Americans out of their homes and back on the highways, burning gasoline. Winter's over and home heating oil sales aren't going to keep the money rolling in.
The Pentagon drafted a report in January 2017 warning of the dangers of "a novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel influenza disease," and predicted the precise medical goods shortages we're experiencing right now:

Quote:Despite President Trump’s repeated assertions that the Covid-19 epidemic was “unforeseen” and “came out of nowhere,” the Pentagon was well aware of not just the threat of a novel influenza, but even anticipated the consequent scarcity of ventilators, face masks, and hospital beds, according to a 2017 Pentagon plan obtained by The Nation.

“The most likely and significant threat [enemy] is a novel respiratory disease, particularly a novel influenza disease,” the military plan states. Covid-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the novel (meaning new to humans) coronavirus. The document specifically references coronavirus on several occasions, in one instant saying, “Coronavirus infections [are] common around the world.”

The plan represents an update to an earlier Department of Defense pandemic influenza response plan, noting that it “incorporates insights from several recent outbreaks including…2012 Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus.”

Titled “USNORTHCOM Branch Plan 3560: Pandemic Influenza and Infectious Disease Response,” the draft plan is marked for official use only and dated January 6, 2017. The plan was provided to The Nation by a Pentagon official who requested anonymity to avoid professional reprisal.
This article is a must-read, but I particularly recommend paragraphs three and seven.

The article is also a reminder that Stephanie Grisham is the press secretary, although, it seems that the White House can barely care to remember that.

Quote:The national debate set off by Donald Trump’s announcement that he wanted churches packed on Easter was, like so many Trump crises, a self-inflicted one. In the days after Trump tweeted that “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” his medical advisers, led by Dr. Anthony Fauci, implored Trump not to relax the government’s social distancing guidelines. Trump dug in. “His view was: I need to show people that there is light at the end of the tunnel,” a former West Wing official told me. Under pressure, members of the coronavirus task force discussed privately how parts of the country might be opened in April, but cautioned Trump not to get locked into a specific timetable given the deteriorating conditions in New York hospitals and ominous upticks in cases in New Orleans, Detroit, and elsewhere. “They discussed it internally, but they never intended Trump to announce it,” a Republican working with the task force told me.

Trump’s impulsive decision—and its messy aftermath—consumed the West Wing during the critical week that governors were pleading with the White House to deliver medical supplies before hospital systems began to collapse. “It was totally crazy,” the Republican told me. Dr. Fauci, Senator Lindsey Graham, and others raced to convince Trump that an Easter opening would be a cataclysmic error that could cost millions of lives. “This is a very, very stressful situation for everybody, including me,” Fauci told me in a phone interview on Monday. By last weekend Fauci’s arguments broke through: Trump agreed to extend the social distancing guidelines until the end of April.

Trump’s latest tonal and tactical shift (and almost certainly not the last) was driven by several factors, both personal and political. Trump learned that his close friend, 78-year-old New York real estate mogul Stan Chera, had contracted COVID-19 and fallen into a coma at NewYork-Presbyterian. “Boy, did that hit home. Stan is like one of his best friends,” said prominent New York Trump donor Bill White. Trump also grew concerned as the virus spread to Trump country. “The polling sucked. The campaign panicked about the numbers in red states. They don’t expect to win states that are getting blown to pieces with coronavirus,” a former West Wing official told me. From the beginning of the crisis, Trump had struggled to see it as anything other than a political problem, subject to his usual arsenal of tweets and attacks and bombast. But he ultimately realized that as bad as the stock market was, getting coronavirus wrong would end his presidency. “The campaign doesn’t matter anymore,” he recently told a friend, “what I do now will determine if I get reelected.”

For an ordinary West Wing dealing with a crisis of this magnitude, the chief of staff would be a central player, mediating, delegating, making the trains on time. But Trump has only very intermittently been able to tolerate another person with power in his White House. Mick Mulvaney had essentially been a lame duck for months, and since he was pushed out in early March, there’s been no chief of staff at all—Mark Meadows, whom Trump appointed weeks ago, only resigned his congressional seat on Monday to fill the post. “How can you not have a chief of staff during one of the biggest crises in American history?” a former West Wing official said.

Jared Kushner, who’s often been in competition with Trump’s chiefs of staff, continues to be the central West Wing player, leading a shadow coronavirus task force that is more powerful than the official group led by Vice President Mike Pence. In conversations Kushner has blamed HHS Secretary Alex Azar for the criticism Trump has received, according to a person in frequent touch with the West Wing. “This was a total mess,” Kushner told people when he got involved last month. “I know how to make this government run now,” he said, according to a source.

The White House downplayed tensions between Kushner and the task force. “The vice president and Jared work so well together because they both view their roles through the lens of what’s best for the American people and how do we best serve the president,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said. “The task force has orchestrated a massive historic partnership between the public and private sector, coordinated the federal government’s urgent response, and has unleashed a whole-of-America approach that will save lives.”

In recent days Kushner has advocated for his usual, iconoclastic public-private approach, drawing on business contacts. Last week he called Wall Street executives and asked for advice on how to help New York, people briefed on the conversation said. Kushner encouraged Trump to push back against New York governor Andrew Cuomo after Cuomo gave an emotional press conference during which he said New York was short 30,000 ventilators. In a White House meeting around this time, Kushner told people that Cuomo was being an alarmist. “I have all this data about ICU capacity. I’m doing my own projections, and I’ve gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators,” Kushner said, according to a person present. During an interview on Hannity on March 26, Trump said: “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators.”

Kushner declined to comment. But the White House press shop sent a statement from Fauci: “The interactions between Jared Kushner and Vice President Pence have added real value to the discussions at the coronavirus task force. They complement each other very well by providing information and opinions derived from shared and sometimes different perspectives. The bottom line and goal of both of them is to always get the facts straight and to act on and make decisions based on the best available evidence.”

Meanwhile, Trump is also consulting his longtime confidante Hope Hicks, whom Trump hired back in February (Hicks had been serving as chief communications officer for Fox Corp., the parent company of Fox News). Officially, Hicks reports to Kushner, but according to sources, Hicks is constantly with Trump. “Hope is in charge of Trump’s calendar, which means Jared is in charge of Trump’s schedule,” a Republican who deals with the White House said. Sources said Hicks prepares Trump for his daily task force briefings and advises him to act presidential. “She’s been trying to play to his better angles,” a former West Wing official said. (Given Trump’s recent blowups at reporters Yamiche Alcindor and Jim Acosta, Hicks’s influence has its limits.)

Hicks declined to comment. But Gidley, who is often in meetings with her and Trump, said: “No one has to give President Trump advice about being presidential—he is just a natural-born leader—and in this time of crisis, the country clearly sees the president is focused on the safety and security of the American people and always has their backs.”

In many ways Hicks fills the role she unofficially occupied during her first West Wing tour: Trump whisperer. She is shaping the White House’s messaging, which puts the current communications director, Stephanie Grisham, out of the loop. For weeks, according to sources, Kushner has been looking to sideline Grisham but has been unable to displace her because Grisham remains close to Melania Trump, whom Grisham did communications for when she worked in the East Wing. “Jared doesn’t tell Grisham what he’s working on. At this point Stephanie has just given up,” a person close to Grisham said. (Grisham declined to comment.)

Trump’s press conferences for the last few weeks had mostly been rally substitutes—boastful, contentious, featuring Trump as pitchman, selling the great job the administration was doing and the beautiful future after the novel coronavirus had magically flowed through, while compulsively blame-shifting to China, the media, governors, anyone but his own administration. But on Tuesday the event turned somber, with Trump trying to put the best possible face on a terrifying set of metrics—100,000 to 200,000 dead Americans, even if, as Dr. Deborah Birx said, safety measures continued—that he’d been trying to push away and wish away for weeks. Whatever his tone, it will be a very hard future to sell.

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