HHS and CDC officials testify before Senate subcommittee
Senior health officials, including CDC Director Robert Redfield, are currently testifying before the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on coronavirus response.
Admiral Brett Giroir, an assistant secretary of health at HHS who has coordinated the country’s coronavirus testing, celebrated the declining rates of community spread in recent weeks.
But Giroir added, “These gains could be fleeting, or even reversed, if we do not continue to follow the national plan and exercise personal responsibility, especially wearing masks and avoiding crowds.”
That comment was noteworthy, given the president was raising doubts about the effectiveness of masks last night, during his ABC News town hall with voters.
Redfield similarly urged Americans to wear masks, maintain social distancing and regularly wash their hands.
The CDC director also noted the country must embrace one of its most powerful tools against coronavirus: the flu vaccine.
“These simple actions combined could help this nation avert a very difficult fall, lessening the burden on our health care system and saving lives,” Redfield said.
Trump urges Republicans to 'go for the much higher numbers' in relief bill negotiations
Trump urged Republicans to push for a larger coronavirus relief package, after Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell’s “skinny” relief bill was voted down last week.
“Democrats are ‘heartless’. They don’t want to give STIMULUS PAYMENTS to people who desperately need the money, and whose fault it was NOT that the plague came in from China,” Trump said in a new tweet. “Go for the much higher numbers, Republicans, it all comes back to the USA anyway (one way or another!).”
House speaker Nancy Pelosi will likely be thrilled with the president’s comments. The Democratic speaker and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer have called for a $2.2 trillion relief package, but Republicans have dismissed that top-line cost as a non-starter.
Democrats may have momentum now that Trump has similarly endorsed a more sweeping bill. It’s also worth noting that the “skinny” bill backed by Republicans did not include the direct payments Trump referenced in his tweet.
A Republican senator took issue with Trump’s comments on masks last night, during his ABC News town hall with voters.
During the town hall, the president said, “A lot of people don’t want to wear masks. There are a lot of people think that masks are not good. ... The concept of a mask is good, but it also does...you’re constantly touching it.”
As a reminder, health experts have strenuously urged Americans to wear face masks to limit the spread of coronavirus.
Asked about the president’s comments this morning, Republican senator John Barrasso told CNN, “I think masks do help reduce the spread.”
Barrasso, who is also a physician, then showed off his own mask, which he had briefly taken off for the CNN interview.
“We know how important it is. We need to do all that we know that we can do to lower the risk of spread,” Barrasso said.
A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows Joe Biden with a narrow advantage in the key swing state of Wisconsin.
According to the poll, Biden is leading Trump by 6 points among Wisconsin’s likely voters, 52%-46%. Among all registered voters, Biden’s lead narrows further to four points, 50%-46%, which is a virtual tie given the poll’s 4.5-point margin of error.
Trump won Wisconsin by less than 1 point in 2016, and the state could be the tipping point in November’s presidential election.
The new poll also surveyed voters in Minnesota, a state that Trump narrowly lost in 2016 and is hoping to flip in November.
But the Post-ABC poll doesn’t provide Trump much hope on that front. The survey found Biden has a 16-point lead among Minnesota’s likely voters, 57%-41%.
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Martin Belam.
Trump is receiving criticism for the “fire hose of lying” he unleashed during his ABC News town hall with voters last night.
At one point, Trump seemed to blame Democratic nominee Joe Biden for not implementing a nationwide mask mandate, even though Biden is not currently the president, as he himself pointed out in a tweet last night.
Biden’s campaign said in a statement that the president’s comments underscored his failure to responsibly address the coronavirus pandemic, as the country’s death toll nears 200,000.
“The American people are crying out for real leadership on this pandemic,” said Biden’s deputy campaign manager, Kate Bedingfield.
“But Trump just confirmed tonight, yet again, that even after 8 months of letting the worst public health crisis in 100 years spiral out of control that not only does he not have a plan -- he doesn’t have a clue.”
Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks later today on the development of a coronavirus vaccine, during which he may address Trump’s town hall. The Democrat also has his own town hall with CNN set for tomorrow night.
With the way that the system is set-up, while in theory everybody gets to vote to choose the president, in practice it is going to be the results in a handful of key swing states that make the difference between Donald Trump or Joe Biden racking up enough electoral college votes to hand them the White House.
It is no coincidence that the ad spend from both campaigns in concentrated in those battlegrounds – as is our freshly launched poll tracker. Based on rolling 14-day averages, at the moment we have six key states (Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Arizona and Wisconsin) falling for Biden, and two (Iowa and Ohio) sticking with Trump. We’ve picked those because:
In order to track how the race is developing in the areas that could decide the election, six of the eight states we focused on were those that flipped to Trump in 2016 after backing Barack Obama in 2012. Arizona and North Carolina were also added due to what they might tell us about a shifting electoral landscape – they could emerge as vital new swing states this year.
But there is a caveat, as my colleagues write:
We must caution that the polls – particularly some swing state polls – severely undercounted Trump supporters in 2016. We are not certain, despite assurances, that they they have corrected this.
You can check it out here: US election poll tracker: who is leading in the swing states?
And that is me signing off for the day, Joan Greve will be here shortly, and I will see you tomorrow…
Federal government outlines plan to make Covid-19 vaccines available free to all Americans
Pompeo criticises Iran over execution of Navid Afkari, continued detention of Siamak Namazi
Trump shares manipulated video of Joe Biden to imply he played NWA anti-police protest song at campaign event
Overnight Donald Trump has shared a manipulated video of Joe Biden which makes it appear that Biden was playing NWA’s Fuck tha Police at a campaign event. Posting the clip Trump asked “What is this all about?”
The original and correct video footage is from Biden’s appearance yesterday in Florida, where he started by stating “I have just one thing to say … hang on here” and then played Luis Fonsi’s international Latino smash hit Despacito from his cellphone.
Biden’s actions had already prompted social media users to make many memes and jokes about it.
It is unclear from Trump’s tweet whether he was aware that the video had been manipulated. However, the Trump campaign have repeatedly attempted to link Joe Biden with calls to defund the police, a policy which he has stated he does not support. NWA’s protest song about police brutality first appeared on their 1988 album Straight Outta Compton.
Twitter has subsequently labelled the video as ‘Manipulated media’. The social media network has had to labeled videos shared by Trump and his campaign as “manipulated” on several occasions, and sometimes removed content after the president has retweeted it.
Yesterday the president retweeted a message that labelled his opponent in November’s election as #PedoBiden.
US to announce charges and arrests related to Chinese government 'computer intrusion campaigns'
Republican associated with QAnon wins primary race in Delaware
There were primaries in Delaware yesterday, and Lauren Witzke has chalked up another Republican victory for the new wave of younger activists sweeping into the party.
Randall Chase for Associated Press reports that she has tried to distance herself from accusations that she supports the far-right anti-semitic QAnon conspiracy theory. She beat the party’s endorsed candidate James DeMartino. Witzke’s policy centerpiece is a 10-year moratorium on all immigration.
Witzke told the Associated Press in January that she had stopped promoting QAnon months earlier, dismissing it as mainstream psy-ops to get people to trust the plan and not do anything. QAnon followers often encourage each other to trust the plan. “I certainly think its more hype than substance”, she said.
But Witzke has been photographed wearing a QAnon t-shirt, and as recently as August was using the QAnon associated #SaveTheChildren hashtag in her Twitter postings.
Her former campaign manager, Michael Sisco, was fired last year from his job as a field director for a Republican congressional candidate in Iowa after inviting far-right activist Nicholas Fuentes to speak at an immigration forum. Fuentes has been accused of being a white nationalist and anti-Semite.
Witzke joins the ranks of other recent QAnon-associated insurgents into the party. Colorado restaurant owner and gun rights advocate Lauren Boebert, who upset a five-term congressman in her primary is a heavy favorite against her Democratic opponent in November. In Georgia, businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has expressed support for QAnon in the past, is virtually guaranteed a US House seat after she won the Republican primary and her Democratic opponent dropped out of the race for personal reasons.
In November, Witzke will challenge incumbent Sen. Chris Coons, who, despite a push from progressive candidate Jessica Scarane, won the Democratic primary.
Hurricane Sally has made landfall as a Category 2 storm
Hurricane Sally has finally made landfall this morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm, pushing a surge of ocean water onto the coast and dumping torrential rain that forecasters said would cause dangerous flooding from the Florida Panhandle to Mississippi and well inland in the days ahead.
The storm has been moving at an agonizingly slow 3 mph, report the Associated Press, and finally came ashore at 4:45 a.m. local time, with top winds of 105 mph (165 kmh).
Sally’s northern eyewall had raked the Gulf Coast with hurricane-force winds and rain from Pensacola Beach, Florida, westward to Dauphin Island, Alabama, for hours before its center finally hit land.
Nearly 400,000 homes and businesses are without power, according to the utility tracker poweroutage.us, as the winds and rain down power lines and flood streets and homes.