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Year of Vindication, Part 2: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

Commentary

President Donald Trump surprised everyone on March 15 by suddenly tweeting about a potential “full pardon” for his former national security adviser, retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn.

An immediate furor erupted over Trump’s tweet for a variety of reasons.

The country is currently in the midst of a serious national emergency caused by the CCP virus, so plenty of voices have been yelling that Trump needs to be focusing on that instead of on Flynn’s case. One such example was a tweet by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.).

The chief reason for the commotion is this, however: For more than three years, Flynn’s scalp hanging from the belt of Robert Mueller’s special counsel team has been considered a huge trophy in both the Democrats’ and the mainstream media’s war against the current president.

The sudden introduction of the idea that Flynn might not be “scalped” after all would be a most bitter pill for the “The Trump Resistance” to swallow.

But the “official story” of how Flynn’s scalp came to be taken has raised many serious questions since he entered his guilty plea in the courtroom of Judge Rudolph Contreras on Dec. 1, 2017. Very serious accusations of official misconduct by key Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI people involved in his case have been leveled, based on publicly available evidence.

We knew very little about Spygate on Dec. 1, 2017, the day Flynn entered that guilty plea in Contreras’s courtroom. That is no longer the case in March of 2020.

We’ve since learned much about the FBI’s use of media contacts to sow strategic leaks in the national news targeting Flynn as a key part of the Russiagate hoax. This forced the general’s resignation as Trump’s NSA.

These same strategic leaks were used to instigate a perjury investigation against Flynn, which culminated in the FBI handing off its case to Mueller’s special counsel’s office. The prosecutors moved so quickly to secure a plea bargain with Flynn’s former lawyers that no official indictment was ever made in this case.

The next development that is being awaited in this long-running fiasco of a case is for Judge Emmet Sullivan to decide if the general can withdraw his plea of guilty.

One of two things is going to happen:

  1. Sullivan doesn’t allow Flynn to withdraw his guilty plea and proceeds to sentence him, meaning Flynn will then be a convicted felon, instantly eligible for the full presidential pardon that Trump is considering.
  2. Or Sullivan allows Flynn to withdraw the plea, and then it would be up to lead prosecutor Brandon Van Grack to make a decision as to whether proceed.

But Van Grack is well aware of what happens if this case goes to trial: Flynn’s lead defense counsel, Sidney Powell, would make him put James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Stzrok, and Lisa Page on the witness stand.

And Powell wouldn’t stop there. She would also insist on calling to the stand the second agent who was present for the Jan. 24, 2017, interview with Flynn at the White House.

Van Grack would have to produce FBI Special Agent Joseph Pientka.

That would represent a massive problem for Van Grack, because the main players who built the perjury case against Flynn are currently themselves key targets in a federal criminal investigation being run out of the DOJ by U.S. Attorney John Durham.

Many of the same former FBI personnel weren’t just involved in the creation of the perjury case against Flynn, but also in the FISA Court abuses related to the Carter Page warrant and its renewals.

My current take is that if Sullivan allows the withdrawal of the guilty plea, Van Grack is going to immediately move to dismiss the case rather than to attempt to get a conviction.

That’s why the Mueller prosecutors are seeking to delay everything until after they see what Durham and his investigative team has found and collected during their investigation into Russiagate’s origins.

The more we find out about these dirty cops, the worse they look and the better Flynn looks. And it’s not just Flynn; it’s the same for all the other people targeted during this ever-growing Spygate scandal.

That’s not an accident or a lucky coincidence. It’s a very revealing trend.

Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and the author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter @drawandstrike.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.

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Trump Campaign Calls Biden’s Coronavirus Comments ‘Partisan Sniping From the Sidelines’

President Donald Trump’s campaign jabbed back at former Vice President Joe Biden over his Friday comments about how the White House is handling the U.S. coronavirus pandemic, calling Biden’s remarks “ineffective partisan sniping” in a Friday statement.

During a conference call with members of the media, Biden claimed the president was “promising results he has not delivered and announcing actions that he has not even ordered.”

“He’s all over the map,” Biden said. “In a crisis we need leadership that is straightforward, clear and reliable.”

Biden also took Trump to task for his directive to state governors to attempt purchasing medical equipment needed in the fight against coronavirus outside of the federal government’s established supply chain.

“Don’t tell the governors to fend for themselves,” Biden said. “Step up and do your job.”

Trump’s campaign fired back at Biden’s remarks in a statement released Friday.

“The only thing Joe Biden knows about handling a public health crisis is that the Obama White House had to apologize for his remarks that set off a panic during the swine flu outbreak in 2009,” Trump 2020 communications director Tim Murtaugh wrote. “And when President Trump took the critical step of restricting travel from China in response to the coronavirus, Biden called it ‘xenophobic.'”


Former Vice President Joe Biden’s comments about President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response elicited a response from Trump’s campaign Friday, which called Biden’s statements “partisan sniping.”
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty

“Most of what Biden says the government should do are things President Trump is already doing,” the statement continued. “The President is leading an unprecedented mobilization of Americans against the coronavirus and all Joe Biden can offer is ineffective partisan sniping from the sidelines.”

Newsweek reached out to Biden’s campaign for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

During the U.S. swine flu epidemic in 2009, Biden advised people not to travel in “confined places” such as airplanes to avoid exposure to the illness.

“I would tell members of my family—and I have—wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now,” Biden said on NBC’s Today program. “When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft.”

Obama’s press secretary Robert Biggs apologized for Biden’s remarks during a White House briefing saying, “If anybody was unduly alarmed for any reason, we would apologize for that.”

Trump has criticized the Obama administration’s overall reaction to the U.S. swine flu epidemic in 2009 which killed over 12,000 Americans.

“If you back and look at the swine flu, and what happened with the swine flu, you’ll see how many people died, and how actually nothing was done for such a long period of time, as people were dying all over the place,” Trump said in March. “We’re doing it the opposite. We’re very much ahead of everything.”

To that end, Trump has enacted the Defense Production Act (DPA) which would direct American manufacturers to begin building medical equipment. Democrats, including Biden, have called upon Trump to use the DPA to decrease the shortage of masks, ventilators and other personal protective equipment.

“We invoked it, I think, the day before,” Trump said at a Friday press conference. “We signed it the evening of the day before and invoked it yesterday. We have a lot of people working very hard to do ventilators and various other things.”

Some Democrats have claimed that Trump waited too long to invoke the DPA. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement Thursday asking the president to use the act “immediately.”

“There is not a day to lose,” Pelosi wrote. “We must put more testing, more protective equipment and more ventilators into the hands of our frontline workers immediately.”

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Reports that Republican U.S. senators dumped stock before coronavirus market crash spark calls to resign

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two Republican senators faced calls to resign on Friday over media reports they sold substantial amounts of stock before the global coronavirus-induced market meltdown after receiving private briefings on the outbreak.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) meet with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to wrap up work on coronavirus economic aid legislation to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Mary F. Calvert

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr sold between $628,000 and $1.7 million worth of stock on Feb. 13, in 33 separate transactions, after offering public assurances the government was ready to battle the virus, according to nonprofit investigative journalism group ProPublica.

Burr’s committee has been receiving daily updates on the outbreak.

Two weeks after the stock sale, the North Carolina Republican told a luncheon on Capitol Hill that the coronavirus was much more aggressive in its transmission “than anything that we have seen in recent history,” according to a recording obtained by National Public Radio.

The comments predated Wall Street’s massive sell-off.

Burr issued a statement Friday morning saying he relied only on public news reports to guide his decision on the Feb. 13 stock sale.

“Understanding the assumption many could make in hindsight however, I spoke this morning with the chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee and asked him to open a complete review of the matter with full transparency,” Burr said.

Republican Senator Kelly Loeffler sold $1.28 million to $3.1 million in stocks from Jan. 24 through mid-February in 29 transactions, two of which were purchases, according to The Daily Beast. The report said the sales began on the day her health committee hosted a private coronavirus briefing for senators.

Loeffler wrote overnight on Twitter that she was informed of the transactions three weeks after they occurred.

“This is a ridiculous and baseless attack. I do not make investment decisions for my portfolio. Investment decisions are made by multiple third-party advisers without my or my husband’s knowledge or involvement,” she said.

But by early Friday, critics on both ends of the political spectrum were calling on both lawmakers to consider resigning.

‘STOMACH-CHURNING’

Burr, who is in his third term, as a senator, has said he will not seek re-election in 2022. Loeffler – who was appointed to her seat by Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, after the resignation of Johnny Isakson – is running for re-election to complete the remaining two years of Isakson’s term.

“It is stomach-churning that the first thoughts these Senators had to a dire & classified #COVID briefing was how to profit off this crisis. They didn’t mobilize to help families, or prep response. They dumped stock,” Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

The “#COVID” hashtag referred to COVID-19, the respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus.

Tucker Carlson, a conservative Fox News commentator, told his viewers on Thursday night: “Maybe there is an honest explanation for what (Burr) did. If there is, he should share it with the rest of us immediately. Otherwise, he must resign from the Senate and face prosecution for insider trading.”

The controversy swirled as senators from both parties were due to meet with Trump administration officials to try to devise a rescue plan for an economy reeling from the coronavirus, after Republicans made a $1 trillion opening bid.

Slideshow (7 Images)

The massive Republican package unveiled on Thursday includes checks of up to $1,200 each for many Americans, and hundreds of billions of dollars in loans for small businesses and industries. It also would allow Americans a breather on filing their income taxes until July. They are normally due on April 15.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed the Senate would not adjourn until it had taken action, and sent a measure to the Democratic-led House of Representatives, but any vote was probably days away.

Democrats said they were ready to talk but were also wary, noting they had not been involved in drafting the plan.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu, Susan Cornwell, Richard Cowan, Susan Heavey, David Morgan and Patricia Zengerle; Writing by David Morgan and Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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Joe Biden to Trump on coronavirus: ‘Stop saying false things that will make you sound like a hero’

“He’s all over the map. In a crisis we need leadership that’s straightforward, clear and reliable,” the former vice president, who has been home in Wilmington, Delaware, said during a call with reporters. Biden has built a near-insurmountable lead over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic 2020 nomination.

Biden said Trump is “behind the curve” and “promising results he has not delivered and announcing actions that he has not even ordered,” pointing to Trump’s comments that don’t match reality on the availability of coronavirus tests and a vaccine.

He also criticized Trump for claiming to have invoked the Defense Production Act, allowing for a government-mandated increase in production of supplies like masks and ventilators — which Biden had urged him to do — while not using its authority to order American companies to scale up production.

“When these things don’t come through, you exacerbate their concern,” Biden said. “Stop saying false things that will make you sound like a hero.”

Biden has faulted Trump for failing to put experts on the ground in China as coronavirus spread.

The former vice president laid out a six-step plan for managing the health crisis, starting with making tests for coronavirus much more widely available.

He also said Trump should invoke the Defense Production Act to manufacture masks and ventilators; direct the military to help build hospitals; mobilize the volunteer Medical Reserve Corps to add health care workers to stretched hospitals; make $100 billion available to governors and mayors who need it; and deliver daily updates on the status of coronavirus treatments and vaccine development.

Biden told reporters on the conference call that he is prepared to play a much more active role in responding to Trump’s handling of the crisis. He said his campaign is working to set up the capability for Biden to broadcast live from Delaware on a regular basis starting as soon as Monday.

He said he wants to be in “daily or at least significant contact with the American people and communicate what I would be doing, what I think we should be doing, and how we should be doing it.”

Biden said he has been in contact with governors, mayors and House and Senate Democratic leaders. He singled out Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who on Friday ordered all non-essential workers in his state to stay home, is “doing one hell of a job.”

Biden’s public remarks have focused much more on the health-care-related elements of the coronavirus response than the economy.

But on Friday, he urged Congress and the White House to “surge dollars into the economy” to help workers and small businesses. He said big businesses that get federal government help need to meet “their obligations to the community” and cannot be allowed to use that money for stock buy-backs or benefits for executives.

Biden also called for a halt on evictions for those who miss rent or mortgage payments.

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Doctors and nurses desperate for protective gear are begging the public to donate it

With the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States growing exponentially, health care workers are sounding an alarm about shortages of personal protective equipment —known as PPE —like N95 face masks, surgical gowns, medical face shields and nitrile exam gloves. Over the past several weeks, as anxieties over the coronavirus spread, panicky members of the public bought up huge supplies of masks and other items, contrary to the advice of public health experts.

Now, desperate doctors and nurses around the country, who need this gear to stay safe on the job, are taking to social media with the hashtag #GetMePPE to plead with the public to donate those much-needed supplies back to the people on the front lines. 

“I’m lucky,” tweeted Dr. Chris Bennett, an emergency medicine resident at Harvard. “I got the last pair of googles in the ER for today. It’s 9AM.” 

“This is me in the 1 (one) N95 mask I have to see patients in our suburban LA pediatric office,” wrote Dr. Rebecca Mandel, a pediatrician in Los Angeles. “Sprayed it with Lysol tonight and hung it to dry to reuse in the morning.” 

Dr. Megan Ranney, an emergency room doctor at Brown/Rhode Island Hospital, tweeted: “This is what hospitals are currently doing to try to keep staff healthy: Stapling elastic bands on expired procedural masks. Horrified? Yep, so am I.” 

“We are running out of N95s so have to re use them, and for now covering them with surgical masks. but we will soon run out of them too,” wrote Dr. Kristen Collier at the University of Michigan.

“PPE under lock and key.  This is all our nurses get to protect themselves,” added a nurse named Amy Ruth Silverman. “These are single use surgical masks. We’re wearing them for days or weeks. We can’t save your life if we can’t protect our own.”

The hashtag #GetMePPE was started on March 17 by Dr. Esther Choo, an emergency physician and associate professor at the Oregon Health & Science University. She urged health care workers to tweet photos of themselves with the protective equipment they need to fight COVID-19 — and to tag Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the White House coronavirus task force, and members of Congress to encourage national action on the crisis.

The World Health Organization recommends doctors and nurses should wear a “medical mask” when entering a room where patients are confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19. They should wear an N95 respirator mask “when performing aerosol generating procedures such as tracheal intubation, noninvasive ventilation, tracheotomy, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, manual ventilation before intubation, and bronchoscopy.” 

However, with supplies of both N95s and ordinary surgical masks now running painfully low, health care systems and medical professionals are begging the public to help.

On Thursday, St. Charles Health System, the largest provider of medical care in Central Oregon, with four hospitals and more than 220 medical providers, put out a press release asking for members of the public to donate everything from N95 masks and gowns to rubbing alcohol and aloe vera gel. 

“Our supplies are running critically low and there doesn’t appear to be much relief in sight. Our vendors are unable to deliver on our orders and the state’s stockpile is depleted,” Iman Simmons, St. Charles’ chief operating officer, said. “We are taking advantage of every opportunity we have to safely conserve PPE. But there’s simply no getting around the fact that we need more supplies — and we need them soon.”

The statement said that while full boxes of supplies were obviously preferable, they would accept partial boxes as well, as long as the supplies were clean. Sites of the local schools’ free meals program would now double as medical supply drop-off locations.

While car manufacturers and alcohol distilleries scramble to repurpose their production lines to meet the need for these sorts of supplies, there is also some evidence that members of the public are heeding the call as well.

“I found two boxes on my doorstep this morning,” tweeted Dr. Niran Al-Agba on Thursday. “Thank you whoever you are. This independent doctor is forever grateful. #GetMePPE #ppeisnotoptional

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Trump: Federal student loan borrowers can suspend payments for 60 days

Trump said student borrowers won’t have to make loan payments “for at least the next 60 days and if we need more we’ll extend that period of time.”

To obtain the 60-day reprieve, borrowers who have federally held loans will have to make a request of their loan servicers, such as Navient, Nelnet, FedLoan Servicing or Great Lakes, over the phone or online.

But for borrowers who are already more than a month behind on their monthly loan payments, the Trump administration will automatically apply the 60-day suspension.

More than 3.2 million federally-held student loans are more than 31 days delinquent and another 7.7 million are in default, according to the Education Department’s most recent quarterly data.

“These are anxious times, particularly for students and families whose educations, careers, and lives have been disrupted,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “Right now, everyone should be focused on staying safe and healthy, not worrying about their student loan balance growing.”

The Trump administration’s announcement comes as Congress is also debating student debt relief as part of negotiations over the massive coronavirus stimulus package, S. 3548 (116).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s plan, released on Thursday evening, would allow the Education Department to suspend student loan payments for as long as six months.

But Senate Democrats have said that doesn’t go far enough. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has called for canceling student loan payments made by borrowers during the national emergency and wants to guarantee borrowers at least $10,000 each in total loan forgiveness.

Trump, speaking during a news conference at the White House on Friday, also teased additional announcements on student loans from his administration.

“We have more to come on student loans, more good news for the students but we’ll do that at a different time,” Trump said.

He also said the state testing waivers might be greeted by some K-12 students.

“Probably a lot of students will be extremely happy, some probably not,” Trump said. “The ones that work hard, maybe not, but it’s one of those things. Very unfortunate circumstances.”

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3 Corrupt Senators Who Voted To Acquit Trump Insider Traded Away Stocks Before Coronavirus Crash

Three Senate Republicans who voted to acquit Donald Trump in the impeachment trial used insider information to sell stocks and save money before the coronavirus crash.

Sens. Richard Burr, Kelly Loefflers and James Inhofe all voted to acquit Trump and dumped their stock to avoid the crash.

Via The New York Times:

The record of Mr. Burr’s stock transaction shows he and his wife sold 33 different stocks on Feb. 13 that were collectively worth $628,000 to $1.7 million, according to the disclosures filed with the secretary of the Senate.

….

Mr. Inhofe sold a large amount of stock — all on Jan. 27 — including holdings in PayPal, Apple and Brookfield Asset Management, a real estate company, with the overall value of the sales totaling as much as $400,000, a disclosure report shows.

Ms. Loeffler and her husband, Jeffrey C. Sprecher, who is the chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, reported 27 stock sales worth millions of dollars starting on Jan. 24. On that day, Ms. Loeffler tweeted about attending the Senate briefing on the coronavirus. The stocks the couple sold were in companies including Exxon Mobil, Ross Stores and AutoZone.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband also sold stock, but her assets are in a blind trust that she has nothing to do with, and the stock that was sold was losing money before the coronavirus market crash.

It appears that the three Republicans who dumped their stock did so based on insider information that they learned in Senate briefings. Using such information for personal gain is a violation of the STOCK Act.

The problem is that any prosecution of the Senators would be handled by the Department of Justice and Trump’s Attorney General William Barr.

Trump’s corruption is a symptom of larger systemic corrupt behavior within the Republican Party.

It isn’t a surprise that the same Republicans who turned a blind eye to Trump’s crimes are committing crimes of their own.

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When Stocking Grocery Shelves Turns Dangerous

They are a new class of emergency medical workers: the more than two million Americans reporting to work each day to sell food and other household staples to a country in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.

As shoppers swarm stores, snapping up everything from milk to toilet paper, cashiers are there to ring them out. Stockroom employees replenish shelves as soon as shipments arrive. Their presence is a source of calm, signifying that, even as demand has surged, supply chains remain intact and the essentials that people need remain available.

“Workers in food stores are the ones keeping this nation from going into civil unrest,” said John T. Niccollai, president of Local 464A of the United Food & Commercial Workers, which represents 16,000 food workers in New York and New Jersey, including those at ShopRite and Key Food. “Because if there is no one working in the stores, we are in trouble.”

But these same employees are tired and, because they constantly interact with customers, fearful of getting sick themselves. Workers at a number of retailers say they are being denied medical supplies like protective masks and gloves, because their employers insist the gear is unnecessary and could stoke fears among customers.

Amy Askelson, a grocery worker in Kalamazoo, Mich., said she uses hand sanitizer after each interaction with a customer. Ms. Askelson, 36, feels vulnerable. She has multiple sclerosis, meaning her immune system is impaired. And she worries about passing the virus to her 72-year-old mother, who has been helping take care of her children.

“I’m going to work every day with the general public and coming over to look at my kids, and I know I’m giving her those germs,” said Ms. Askelson, who declined to name her employer because she wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. “We’re supposed to be standing six feet away, but I work in the self-checkout where you have to be right next to the customer.”

Many grocery employees say they have been working 70 hours a week since the virus set off more than two straight weeks of panic buying across the country. The more people crowding into stores, the greater the chance that employees will be exposed to the virus.

These workers do not have the option of working from home. “I have to take two trains to work,” said Cornelia Rodriguez, 21, a cashier at Food Universe Marketplace in New York, who is mainly worried about her young child at home.

At some Trader Joe’s stores, managers have told employees not to wear gloves, according to a group of workers attempting to unionize at the chain.

“This isn’t the time for companies to get so dazzled by profits they forget to listen to the people who make them profitable,” the labor group wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Crew members are putting their lives at risk to serve our communities. We aren’t numbers in a spreadsheet.”

At grocery stores, the surge in buying has shown no signs of slowing and tensions have risen. Customers have also lashed out at grocery workers, angrily complaining about the bare shelves. At the WinCo store where he works in Southern California, Jonathan Wright, 28, said a customer threatened to kill one of his co-workers if she did not let him into the store.

“When they finally get in, and they see the shelves are empty at least with stuff that they want, that’s when they panic and that’s when the questions start coming,” Mr. Wright said.

Many workers say a big part of their job now is to project a sense of calm and order. At the Morton Williams Supermarket at Third Avenue and 63rd Street in Manhattan, the store manager, Yesenia Alvarado, is constantly sanitizing, cleaning, restocking and making sure employees are washing their hands. Cashiers are making an effort to greet shoppers with a smile.

“I’m not worried,” Ms. Alvarado said. “First of all, I’m a mom — of three boys — I know chaos. If I don’t panic, everything is good.”

State officials are starting to recognize the importance of grocery workers in the pandemic. Minnesota has designated the employees as essential workers, on par with nurses, doctors and police. That would allow them to travel freely in the event of road closures. In Vermont, grocery workers are now eligible for state-provided child care.

Retailers and food distributors are also trying to expand the pool of available cashiers, produce pickers and warehouse workers in an effort to spell exhausted employees and create backup in case of widespread illnesses.

Unions representing food store workers, such as the U.F.C.W., are actively recruiting workers laid off this week from department stores and clothing retailers that have shut down for the foreseeable future.

Walmart, the nation’s largest food retailer, said late Thursday that it was looking to hire 150,000 new employees in its stores and distribution centers through the end of May, which would represent a nearly 10 percent increase in its work force. The company is also providing hourly workers with cash bonuses of up to $300.

The parent company of Dollar Tree and Family Dollar discount stores is looking to add 25,000 new workers.

United Natural Food Inc, one of the nation’s largest food distributor to grocery stores, said on Thursday that it was providing most of its 21,000 workers a $2 an hour “state of emergency bonus” on top of their wages and overtime through the end of the month. U.N.F.I. warehouse workers earn roughly $14 to $28 an hour, depending on the state they work in.

Some retailers have reduced store hours in an attempt to slow down the shopping sprees, and give workers time to restock shelves and prevent burnout. For the second time in a week, Walmart said it was opening stores later and closing earlier, — a significant scaling back for a retailer that is relied on for 24-hour service and whose business is booming amid the crisis. On Thursday, Walmart’s shares were trading at near a five-year high.

For all the praise and raises being heaped on the workers, many food sellers have been reluctant to provide them with personal protective gear.

Walmart, which employs 1.5 million people in the United States, is not providing masks and gloves in its stores because, a company spokesman said, it was following guidelines from the Center for Disease Control, which do not explicitly recommend them for workers outside the medical profession.

A spokeswoman for Trader Joe’s, Kenya Friend-Daniel, said the chain’s employees “may choose to” wear gloves, though she noted that the C.D.C. guidelines do not call for them. At Stop & Stop, a grocery chain with hundreds of stores in the Northeast, employees are now being provided with gloves, but not masks.

Jennifer Brogan, a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop, said the company’s rationale is twofold: There is a more critical need for masks in hospitals and health care facilities, and they send the wrong message to already jittery shoppers that the worker is ill.

The chain is also “strongly advising” workers not to wear their own masks, she said. The union representative, Mr. Niccollai, called masks a “double-edged sword.” They could heighten fears, he said, which would make it more challenging for the workers to deal with customers.

Stop & Shop says it is taking other measures to protect workers, including breaks every 30 minutes or so for the employees to wash their hands. The company, Ms. Brogan noted, is also providing a one-time discount of 15 percent if employees want to personally stock up on food. (They typically receive a 5 percent discount.) “It’s a way to say thank you,” she said.

George Perez, 38, the manager at the two-year-old Food Universe Marketplace on Steinway Street in the New York City borough of Queens, has been in supermarkets all my life, really, ever since I was a kid stocking shelves with my dad.”

“On a personal level I’m worried about my health, too, but at the end of the day, what we’re doing is important to a lot of people so it’s a sacrifice we have to make,” Mr. Perez said. Nearly all of his employees, he added, have shown up for work every day.

His staff, said Mr. Perez, is like a second family, and he’s figuring out what to do for them when things go back to normal. “The most important people are the guys upstairs,” he said from his basement supply room. “Without them, who knows where this neighborhood would be?”

David Gelles contributed reporting.

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Democrats Push For More Unemployment Insurance, Added Support for Hospitals In Coronavirus Stimulus Package

As Congress and the Trump administration race to hammer out an agreement on a massive stimulus package to boost the economy in the wake of economic downturn from the novel coronavirus pandemic, Democrats have been given a seat at the negotiating table to lay out their desired changes.

Among them is the push for President Donald Trump to declare a Marshall Plan for medical facilities across the country to provide equipment and aid; stipulations for any large corporations who receive loans from the government; cancel all student loan debt—not suspend, as Trump did on Friday; and expand unemployment insurance and paid sick and family leave.

“There is nothing in [Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s] bill to help hospitals. Now, we’re told we may do it in a supplemental later. Later is no good,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said on the floor. “We need a Marshall Plan for hospitals right now, and we need local governments that are also on the front lines to get dollars in their pockets. Many of them will go broke.”

The more than $1 trillion stimulus has been outlined in 247 pages by Senate Republicans, who consulted with White House officials in recent days. Under that plan, which will be changed as talks play out on Friday, many Americans would receive a $1,200 tax rebate check.


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks to reporters before a meeting with a select group of Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, and Trump administration officials in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 20 in Washington, DC. The small group of lawmakers and officials are in negotiations about the phase 3 coronavirus stimulus bill, which leaders say they hope to have passed by Monday.
Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty

Now, the measure must be negotiated among White House officials and congressional leaders from both parties.