By Robert A. Vella
President Trump was reportedly “lava level mad” over one of his personal
slaves servants (a.k.a. “valets”) testing positive for COVID-19 (see: Trump reportedly got ‘lava level mad’ over potential exposure to coronavirus). He immediately ordered White House staff to wear face masks and to get daily tests because he obviously doesn’t want to become infected with this highly contagious virus. Hypocritically, and in the face of increasing Republican anxiety, he continues to deny the nationwide shortage of diagnostic tests while continuing to obstruct efforts to procure and distribute the medical supplies necessary for widespread testing. And today, a staffer to Vice President Mike Pence also tested positive for coronavirus. Obviously, Trump’s hubris and narcissism (i.e. megalomania) knows no bounds.
Meanwhile, Trump gloated with Vladimir Putin on the phone yesterday after his Attorney General henchman – William Barr – forced the Department of Justice to drop its case against former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn who had twice pleaded guilty (and was awaiting sentencing) to lying to the FBI about a secret discussion he had with the Russian ambassador to lift U.S. sanctions on that country (plus other crimes). The top federal prosecutor in the case (Brandon Van Grack) resigned in protest before the DOJ’s notice to the presiding judge (Emmet Sullivan) which was atypically signed by only one official (Timothy Shea) who was also involved in the resignation of four federal prosecutors in the Roger Stone case in which Barr sought to reduce the Trump ally’s prison sentence. In a media interview in which he was asked how history would remember his politically motivated assaults on the rule of law, Barr candidly answered that “history is written by the victors.” His admission confirms what critics of the Trump administration have asserted from the beginning, that absolutely nothing takes precedence over their ideological and political goals, and that no price is too high to pay for winning their culture war against fellow Americans. Unless the judge decides to challenge the DOJ’s controversial move, it will achieve what Trump wanted without having to issue a politically problematic presidential pardon for Mr. Flynn.
In other news, Trump is promoting a new conspiracy theory asserting that the pandemic death toll has been artificially inflated by hospitals to get more federal funding and to discredit him personally (see: Trump officials reportedly dispute the US COVID-19 death toll, floating a far-fetched theory that hospitals may be inflating cases to get more funding). Arizona governor Doug Ducey has apparently reversed course (after media exposure) on halting a coronavirus research study by the state’s major universities (see: U-turn: University scientists are back in. But will Gov. Doug Ducey listen to them?). Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts announced that he won’t release the numbers of COVID-19 infections in meat processing plants, prisons, and nursing homes which are being hit hard by the pandemic (see: Gov. Ricketts: Nebraska won’t release specific COVID-19 numbers at meatpacking plants). The nation’s unemployment rate rose to nearly 15% last month in a dramatic jump from the low of 3.5% reached early this year. Two white men were finally arrested for murdering a black jogger in Georgia after a video of the crime caused a public outcry.
Here we go:
The U.S. unemployment rate jumped to 14.7 percent in April, the highest level since the Great Depression, as most businesses shut down or severely curtailed operations to fight the deadly coronavirus.
Over 20 million people lost their jobs in April, the Labor Department said Friday, wiping out a decade of job gains in a single month. The staggering losses are roughly double what the nation experienced during the 2007-09 crisis, which used to be described as the harshest economic situation most people ever confronted. Now that has been quickly dwarfed by the fallout from the global pandemic.
Americans, by a large 30-point margin, are resistant to re-opening the country now, believing the risk to human life of opening the country outweighs the economic toll of remaining under restrictive lockdowns — a concern that starkly divides along partisan lines, according to a new ABC News/Ipsos released Friday.
In the new poll, conducted by Ipsos in partnership with ABC News using Ipsos’ Knowledge Panel, nearly two-thirds of Americans said they more closely align with the view that opening the county now is not advantageous since it will result in a higher death toll, while slightly more than one-third agree with the belief that an immediate reopening is beneficial to minimize the negative impact on the economy.
President Donald Trump likes to boast about how well testing for Covid-19 is going in the United States, saying just this week: “We have the greatest testing in the world.”
“We have so much testing,” Trump told reporters on the south lawn of the White House. “I don’t think you need that kind of testing or that much testing, but some people disagree with me and some people agree with me.”
On Capitol Hill, many Republicans don’t agree.
A wide range of GOP senators on Thursday had a far different message: Much more needs to be done to ramp up testing before the country can safely reopen.
“We ought to step it up,” Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby, a Republican of Alabama, told CNN. “We ought to make the test as quickly as we can, accelerate it and do it. I think it’s key to getting people back to give them confidence and also ascertaining who is carrying the virus.”
The rollout of the first and only treatment for covid-19 is being criticized by doctors across the country as confusing, unfair and marred by incomplete medical information, just a week after its manufacturer, Gilead Sciences, and the Trump administration raised hopes by announcing that the drug shortened hospital stays of some patients.
Demand for remdesivir exploded after the Food and Drug Administration, citing the results, made an emergency use authorization for the experimental drug. The Trump administration has maintained control of distribution of the drug, which is in limited supply.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, even though he had twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, was extraordinary and had no obvious precedent, a range of criminal law specialists said on Thursday.
The move is the latest in a series that the department, under Attorney General William P. Barr, has taken to undermine and dismantle the work of the investigators and prosecutors who scrutinized Russia’s 2016 election interference operation and its links to people associated with the Trump campaign.
On Thursday, Timothy Shea, the interim U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, told the judge overseeing the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, that prosecutors were withdrawing the case. They were doing so, he said, because the department could not prove to a jury that Mr. Flynn’s admitted lies to the F.B.I. about his conversations with the ambassador were “material” ones.
The move essentially erases Mr. Flynn’s guilty pleas. Because he was never sentenced and the government is unwilling to pursue the matter further, the prosecution is virtually certain to end, although the judge must still decide whether to grant the department’s request to dismiss it “with prejudice,” meaning it could not be refiled in the future.
No career prosecutors signed the motion. Mr. Shea is a former close aide to Mr. Barr. In January, Mr. Barr installed him as the top prosecutor in the district that encompasses the nation’s capital after maneuvering out the Senate-confirmed former top prosecutor in that office, Jessie K. Liu.
Soon after, in an extraordinary move, four prosecutors in the office abruptly quit the case against Mr. Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. They did so after senior Justice Department officials intervened to recommend a more lenient prison term than standard sentencing guidelines called for in the crimes Mr. Stone was convicted of committing — including witness intimidation and perjury — to conceal Trump campaign interactions with WikiLeaks.
The father and son who are accused of killing an unarmed black man in Georgia in February have been arrested after video of the incident sparked widespread outrage.
Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34, were arrested for the death of Ahmaud Arbery, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation announced. Both men were taken into custody and face charges of aggravated assault and murder.
Arbery, 25, was shot to death in Brunswick, a coastal city about midway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida, on Feb. 23 as he was running through the Satilla Shores neighborhood. His family says he was out jogging, while the McMichaels claimed they thought he was a burglar.