By Robert A. Vella
Four government officials are testifying today before the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the Trump Administration’s failed response to the coronavirus pandemic including National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIA) director Anthony Fauci, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) director Robert Redfield, and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Stephan Hahn (see: 3 questions to watch for as Fauci, Redfield testify before House panel). Tomorrow, two active Department of Justice (DOJ) officials will testify before the House Judiciary Committee regarding Attorney General William Barr‘s unconstitutional politicization of the nation’s top law enforcement agency (see: Prosecutor who quit Roger Stone case to testify before Congress about ‘politicization’ of DOJ). Those officials are Aaron Zelinsky (one of the Roger Stone prosecutors who resigned from the case in protest), and John Elias (Antitrust Division acting Chief of Staff).
In today’s news coverage, we’ll examine the sidelining of President Trump on the world stage as foreign leaders consider his potential defeat in the November elections, a former MI6 agent (Christopher Steele) who has accused former U.K. prime minister Theresa May and current P.M. Boris Johnson of covering up intelligence reports of Trump’s collusion with Russia, a disturbing forecast of a second Great Depression in America, more Trump-related shenanigans, and coronavirus pandemic news.
For the time being, countries appear to be holding off on deals with the Trump administration, or sticking to their guns in case a Biden administration softens the American stance. South Korea, for example, is still resisting U.S. demands to pay far more to host the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed on the peninsula, while several European countries are vowing to move ahead with plans to tax tech companies despite a U.S. threat to retaliate with tariffs.
“A lot of countries in Europe and Asia will hide behind Covid-19 and hit the pause button, saying it is too difficult to do business as usual,” says John Chipman, director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a London-based think tank. With the pandemic unlikely to really wind down before October, that time scale dovetails with the U.S. election.
The Trump administration’s domestic response to the coronavirus and recent anti-racism protests may also see foreign capitals choose to wait.
Trump’s defense secretary and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff both issued statements this month committing to protecting the U.S. Constitution, thinly veiled rebukes to the president’s ideas of assuming federal control to impose order by force.
Evidence about Trump’s ties to Russia were covered up by the UK government, according to a former British spy.
Former MI6 agent Christopher Steele reportedly told a UK parliamentary investigation that former UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s government had thrown a “blanket” over the information he provided.
Steele said he had handed over a dossier on Trump’s links to Russia in 2016, but “no inquiries were made or actions taken thereafter.”
Boris Johnson suppressed the as-yet-unpublished report which had been due for publication before the last UK general election in December.
What will the recovery look like? At this fraught moment, no one knows enough about consumer sentiment and government ordinances and business failures and stimulus packages and the spread of the disease to make solid predictions about the future. The Trump administration and some bullish financial forecasters are arguing that we will end up with a strong, V-shaped rebound, with economic activity surging right back to where it was in no time. Others are betting on a longer, slower, U-shaped turnaround, with the pain extending for a year or three. Still others are sketching out a kind of flaccid check mark, its long tail sagging torpid into the future.
Excitement about reopening aside, that third and most miserable course is the one we appear to be on. The country will rebound, as things reopen. The bounce will seem remarkable, given how big the drop was: Retail sales rose 18 percent in May, and the economy added 2.5 million jobs. But absent dramatic policy action, a pandemic depression is possible: the Congressional Budget Office anticipates that the American economy will generate $8 trillion less in economic activity over the next decade than it projected just a few months ago, and that a full recovery might not take hold until the 2030s.
At least four major factors are terrifying economists and weighing on the recovery: the household fiscal cliff, the great business die-off, the state and local budget shortfall, and the lingering health crisis. Three months ago, the pandemic and ensuing shelter-in-place orders caused mass job loss unlike anything in recent American history. A virtual blizzard settled on top of the country and froze everyone in place. Nearly 40 percent of low-wage workers lost their jobs in March. More than 40 million people lost their jobs in March, April, or May.
Trump shenanigans and related stories:
Coronavirus pandemic news: