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McCarthy embraces ex-rival Jordan as the top partisan fighter

“Donald Trump had a no more ferocious partisan defender than Jim Jordan throughout the impeachment proceedings in the House,” said Raskin, who also tangled publicly with Jordan recently over the issue of whether members should wear face masks during the coronavirus pandemic. “He’s a man of real talent but where does the Constitution fit in, where does the public interest fit in? It’s not clear to me.”

“You shouldn’t make a career out of defending people who abuse their power,” Raskin added.

But for many Republicans, Jordan is a battle-tested warrior who knows how to push an aggressive message. He played a starring role in the House’s impeachment battle last year as a temporary member of the Intelligence Committee — a move that was encouraged by Trump, but enabled by McCarthy.

Earlier this year, GOP lawmakers — with McCarthy’s blessing — elected Jordan to serve as ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee, hoping to put Trump’s fiercest defender on the front lines of combating Democratic oversight efforts.

Former Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), meanwhile, was tapped to be the ranking member on Oversight. When Meadows resigned from Congress to become Trump’s chief of staff in March, Jordan took back the reins on Oversight. And with the coronavirus pandemic keeping lawmakers away from the Capitol, there are no immediate plans to replace Jordan, leaving him as the top Republican on two key panels.

Jordan has earned leadership’s trust and is seen as a team player, a dramatic reversal from how he was seen just a short time ago. The Ohio Republican — first elected to Congress in 2006 — was a thorn in the side of GOP leadership when they were in the majority.

Jordan and Meadows used the hard-line conservative House Freedom Caucus to go after McCarthy and other party leaders, often wrecking top Republicans’ plans on spending bills or other measures. After Trump was elected, the pair would go over leadership’s head to pitch their plans directly to the president, playing to his most antagonistic instincts on high-profile issues. Jordan and Meadows helped push Trump to engage in the disastrous 2018 government shutdown, for instance, despite heavy opposition from McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

McCarthy’s newfound alliance with Jordan is sure to earn him plaudits with conservatives down the road, support the California Republican may need if the GOP doesn’t win back the House in November.

This is “all about internal Republican politics,” griped one GOP lawmaker. “Appease the hard right at all costs.”

Yet Republicans repeatedly described Jordan’s ability to help boost the profile of younger members as one reason he’s fostered fierce loyalty among his colleagues. Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida said Jordan has made a concerted effort to mentor junior lawmakers including himself, as well as Reps. Elise Stefanik of New York and Kelly Armstrong of New Dakota to become more effective in high profile hearings. Rep. Jamie Comer (R-Ky.) said Jordan allows less senior members to take starring roles in committee hearings that feature issues they care about and know well.

Another huge plus for Jordan is that his growing national profile as a Trump ally has turned him into a fundraising power house. Jordan has $2.6 million cash on hand and has fundraised for dozens of his GOP colleagues.

Multiple lawmakers also credited McCarthy with being willing to set aside his adversarial relationship with Jordan for the good of the Republican Conference.

“It says a lot about McCarthy too that he’s secure enough to use the guy who ran against him for speaker. They both get along great now,” Comer said. “They’re stronger working together than fighting each other.”

Comer recalled Jordan allying with McCarthy a few weeks ago to pass a bipartisan bill updating federal surveillance laws that had been panned by the Freedom Caucus. Comer said Jordan stood up against his longtime allies to help make the case for the bill.

“Jim is an excellent investigator and has an excellent team,” said Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), a conservative hard-liner who serves on the Judiciary panel and is the new chief of the Freedom Caucus. “He is dogged in his pursuit for truth, and so I think he’s a perfect choice.”

“Jim is our most talented member, and Jim is our hardest working member. Kevin is our most likable member. Together, they’ve made a great team,” added Gaetz.

“Both [McCarthy and Jordan] recognize their own strengths and weaknesses and both have realized that they work together as a team,” he said. “I don’t think that realization would have occurred in the norms of Washington absent the crucible of impeachment.”

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Flynn dismissal a surprise? AG Barr in sync with Trump – Boston Herald

By ERIC TUCKER and MICHAEL BALSAMO

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he didn’t know the Justice Department was planning to drop its case against his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

But it didn’t really matter.

The extraordinary action underscored the extent to which Trump and Attorney General William Barr have been in sync in their views on the federal Trump-Russia investigation — with or without communicating about it. Barr himself has openly challenged the decisions of predecessors and his own prosecutors. He’s launched internal probes to investigate the investigators.

Trump is emphatically welcoming the Flynn action. He has relentlessly railed against the special counsel’s inquiry into his 2016 campaign’s contacts with Russia — which the Flynn case grew out of — and was eager for news in his favor to shift voters’ focus away from his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the U.S. economy.

Beyond that, the decision to dismiss the Flynn case had the effect not only of undoing a key prosecution from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s winning campaign, but also of sparing the president from having to make a politically charged pardon decision in the current election year.

The sudden action on Flynn has produced familiar divisions in public opinion. Trump allies cheered the results, while Democrats and some current and former Justice Department officials expressed dismay.

“Bill Barr is a man of unbelievable credibility and courage,” Trump said during a Friday appearance on “Fox & Friends” where he devoted substantial time to the news. “And he’s going to go down in the history books.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed about going down in history but for a different reason. She said, “Attorney General Barr’s politicization of justice knows no bounds.”

Trump suggested Friday that more surprises could be afoot, saying “a lot of things are going to be told over the next couple of weeks.” He said the “jury’s still out with regard” to FBI Director Chris Wray.

If Trump was upset for political reasons about the case of Flynn, the Justice Department says Barr was troubled by legal issues. Those include what he believes were irregularities in the FBI’s 2017 interview of Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

The department points out the dismissal recommendation was made not by Barr but by Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney in St. Louis whom Barr appointed to review the handling of the case. Once the recommendation was made, senior leadership felt “duty-bound” to move to dismiss it. Jensen’s review continues.

However, the dismissal was just the most recent example of Barr challenging conclusions from the Russia investigations in ways that have stirred criticism. Mueller privately criticized him last year for not adequately capturing the severity of the special counsel’s findings in the Trump-Russia investigation in Barr’s four-page letter summarizing the probe’s conclusions. Barr has said he doesn’t believe there was sufficient evidence for the FBI to open a full investigation, and that the FBI launched “an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions.”

In February, he overruled prosecutors in the case of Trump ally Roger Stone, on grounds that they had recommended excessive prison time. He appointed one U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russia investigation — now a criminal investigation — and another to look into the Flynn case specifically.

The entire Stone trial team quit the case, and in a likely sign of dissent Thursday, Flynn prosecutor and Mueller team member Brandon Van Grack withdrew shortly before the filing was submitted.

The Flynn outcome was startling in multiple ways, not least because the Justice Department rarely undertakes internal reviews of its own prosecutions — let alone cases in which a defendant has pleaded guilty.

The Jan. 24, 2017, interview of Flynn came at a pivotal juncture, as the FBI scrambled to untangle potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Agents knew from a transcript of Flynn’s call with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Kislyak, but were distressed that White House officials were publicly insisting otherwise and scheduled an interview with him.

“The idea that it wasn’t appropriate to go do some interview of Flynn, and that the basis of the investigation was somehow untoward, is obviously remarkable and unbelievable at the same time,” said former Justice Department prosecutor Ryan Fayhee.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, would later be ousted from the White House, with officials saying he lied to them.

But the Justice Department now says there was no basis to question Flynn, especially since agents were prepared to close their investigation into him weeks earlier after finding nothing to suggest he had committed a crime.

The department also suggests the FBI erred by not advising Flynn that it was a crime to lie, even though the agency said less than two years ago it wasn’t required.

Some current and former officials say there are less extreme remedies for issues like the ones the department identified. The department, for instance, could have supported Flynn’s bid to withdraw his guilty plea.

But a senior Justice Department official said the department believes concerns about the FBI’s conduct — one of the agents who interviewed Flynn was later fired for derogatory text messages about Trump during the investigation — would have made it difficult to win at trial had a judge agreed to withdraw the plea. That official was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

One Justice Department prosecutor not involved in the case expressed bewilderment about the decision, especially since it involved walking away from a guilty plea and conviction.

The prosecutor, who also spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the persistent attacks on the FBI have given defense lawyers ammunition to attack federal investigators as corrupt, and have exposed political divisions inside Justice Department offices that are meant to be apolitical.

As for Flynn, he responded to the news by posting a video of his grandson holding an American flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Longtime friend Tom Heaney said Flynn felt vindicated and was relieved by the decision.

“He feels like a huge weight has been lifted off him,” Heaney said. “For all of us, we were never doubting the fact that he was innocent.”

____

Associated Press writer Michelle R. Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

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We’ve been hit the hardest

Boston’s black community has been hit hard by the coronavirus, with a staggering 39% of the known COVID-19 cases in the city traced back to African Americans, health statistics show.

“This is real people. We are dying,” said Priscilla Flint-Banks, a panelist on Friday’s Zoom press conference hosted by the Boston Black COVID-19 Coalition. She added that her 80-year-old mother just died from the virus.

The coalition brought together leaders in the black community to urge both Gov. Charlie Baker and Mayor Martin Walsh to help minorities beat back the virus — from supplying masks, economic opportunity and keep cleaning the MBTA.

The city’s latest statistics show 10,761 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Boston and 496 deaths. Statewide, more than 75,000 people have tested positive and 4,702 have died, according to the state Department of Public Health.

As the state plans on slowly reopening the economy on May 18, coalition members said the black community must play a key role.

“We can’t talk about recovery until we talk about response,” said coalition member Louis Elisa of Dorchester, a former regional director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Residents of Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester, he said, are looking for a “fair process” of being included in the hoped-for rebound — and that includes testing.

The Walsh administration announced late Friday the city is “committed to expanding COVID-19 testing over the coming weeks to reach at least 1,500 tests per day, on average.”

Coalition members spoke passionately about “essential workers” — still reporting to hard-hit nursing homes, group homes, grocery stores — who have been exposed to the virus and must ride the MBTA to get home to apartments where they could infect others.

“Everyone needs to wear masks. You can’t take that for granted,” Elisa added.

Segun Idowu, executive director of Black Economic Council of Massachusetts, cited estimates that 25% of Boston’s businesses will not survive the pandemic. “The black business community faces the most dire threat,” he adding, saying those owners were already struggling.

He called on the city and state to account for federal bailouts, show how much is being spent on minority businesses and support black and Latino entrepreneurs. He added any recovery will be boosted by black businesses hiring back workers.

Others called for more urgency to understand the “hurt” in the black community.

City COVID-19 statistics show 44% of Boston’s white population and 35% of the black population are seeing the most deaths — yet population estimates show Boston is 44.4% white, 22.4% black.

“There are still more hot spots out there than we know,” Elisa said.

“It’s a petri dish,” said another.

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Jimmy Kimmel’s non-apology for pushing FAKE NEWS about VP Pence shows partisanship rules MSM — RT USA News

By Nebojsa Malic, senior writer at RT

After even mainstream outlets objected to a deceptively edited video of VP Mike Pence, comedian Jimmy Kimmel issued a sarcastic apology suggesting that lying about the Trump administration is fine because they don’t “value truth.”

A 40-second segment seen by millions showed Kimmel mocking Pence for delivering empty boxes of personal protective equipment into a Virginia nursing home. Democrat activists online – as well as in mainstream media outlets – were quick to denounce the VP for a publicity stunt in the times of pandemic. 

There was just one tiny problem with the video: it was fake news. Even some mainstream media outlets overtly hostile to President Donald Trump’s administration – such as the Washington Post and BuzzFeed – felt compelled to point that out.

“Stop retweeting and sharing this as if it’s real. It has been deceptively edited,” tweeted the Post’s Peter Stevenson. “The [number] of journalists and political types retweeting a Kimmel comedy edit is embarrassing.”

“This isn’t true. The clip cuts out at a selective point,” complained BuzzFeed’s David Mack, prompting one conservative commentator to declare that “When media shares such fake news that Buzzfeed fact checks them, you know they REALLY screwed up.”

Twitter has since tagged the video as ‘Manipulated Media.’ Kimmel’s reaction? A snide non-apology, standing by the partisan point he sought to make in the first place.

“It would appear that [Pence] was joking about carrying empty boxes for a staged publicity stunt. The full video reveals that he was carrying full boxes for a staged publicity stunt. My apologies. I know how dearly this administration values truth,” he tweeted on Friday.

It is an article of faith among Democrats – and this includes late-night comedy hosts, with only a couple notable exceptions – that Trump and his entire administrations lie about everything. This is particularly ironic given the documentary evidence released Thursday that the entire Russiagate narrative they amplified for years was manufactured by the FBI – and worse, that Obama administration officials happily pushing it on air had testified to Congress under oath that they had no actual evidence of it whatsoever.

This makes Kimmel’s non-apology particularly notable, because it says in effect that it’s OK to lie for partisan purposes, that when it comes to the Good Guys (i.e. Kimmel and the Democrats) resisting the Bad Orange Man (i.e. Trump), the end justifies the means. If it were just one comedian that wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s almost all of them – and nearly the entire media class, too.

There is even a whole genre of lazy “reporting” that consists of nothing more than collecting the previous evening’s “jokes” about Trump by late-night hosts into a feature article. This kind of activist journalism and politicized comedy predates Trump, to be sure, but it became normalized after the 2016 election, in which 90 percent of US media and Hollywood were on Hillary Clinton’s side.

They’ve been making sure no one forgets that for a second ever since, turning every show, every article, every awards ceremony, into an opportunity to signal their virtue by bashing Trump – even when it meant bashing America and cratering their ratings, ticket sales and viewership.

Kimmel and the people retweeting him with glee get paid millions to “inform” and “entertain” but they do neither. Their stunts have not been funny for a long time. Now that they openly admit they think it’s OK to lie, they’re just sad.

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Trump campaign releases Spanish ad targeting Dems defending Biden over Tara Reade claims

The Trump campaign released a new ad in Spanish targeting Democrats for their response to the allegations Tara Reade made against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden.

The ad — shared on social media by “Equipo Trump,” or “Team Trump” in Spanish — shows several prominent Democrats, all who have strongly endorsed Biden in recent weeks, speaking out in defense of women accusers, many of them defending the accusers with past misconduct claims against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

The ad begins with what looks like a Biden campaign virtual chat between Biden — “El Despistado,” which translates as “the Clueless” — with Hillary Clinton — “La Corrupta” or “the Corrupt” — from her recent endorsement of his candidacy, with Spanish translations running on the lower part of the screen, which was juxtaposed with reporting from Spanish-language journalists about Reade’s allegations.

CNN IGNORES TARA READE’S CALL FOR JOE BIDEN TO DROP OUT OF PRESIDENTIAL RACE

The ad then shows remarks Clinton made in 2015 telling women “have the right to be believed” and that “we’re with you.”

Biden’s former 2020 rivals from the Senate — including Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker and Kamala Harris — all appear in the ad with remarks they said in defense of women accusers, including Christine Blasey Ford in 2018.

TARA READE’S TIMELINE: FROM 1990’s BIDEN STAFFER TO CENTER OF POLITICAL FIRESTORM

“Do we value women? Do we believe women?” Gillibrand is seen asking.

“We believe women,” Booker is heard saying in a fiery speech.

“She is putting herself out there knowing that they are going to try [to] excoriate her,” Harris, who has been on Biden’s VP shortlist, said about Blasey Ford. “And she has the courage to come forward? She has nothing to gain. What does she have to gain?”

Biden is also heard saying “women should be believed” and that “the woman should be given the benefit of the doubt.”

“We are launching this ad because Hispanics, like all Americans, are sick and tired of the hypocrisy of Democrats and the mainstream media giving Joe Biden a pass,” Trump campaign Deputy Communications Director Ali Pardo told Fox News. “There is contemporaneous corroborating evidence of Biden’s alleged wrongful actions that didn’t exist for Judge Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearing, where there was virtually no supporting evidence at all.”

Pardo added: “There’s no doubt that there is a double standard that exists. Any reporter throwing softballs at Biden and not confronting him with these allegations is exhibiting that double standard.”

Biden has repeatedly denied Reade’s assault claim.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

In a statement to Fox News on Thursday, the Biden campaign pointed to “inconsistencies” from Reade in various reports.

“Women must receive the benefit of the doubt. They must be able to come forward and share their stories without fear of retribution or harm — and we all have a responsibility to ensure that,” Biden Deputy Campaign Manager Kate Bedingfield said. “At the same time, we can never sacrifice the truth. And, the truth is that these allegations are false and that the material that has been presented to back them up, under scrutiny, keeps proving their falsity.”

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Flynn dismissal a surprise? AG Barr in sync with Trump – Twin Cities

By ERIC TUCKER and MICHAEL BALSAMO

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he didn’t know the Justice Department was planning to drop its case against his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.

But it didn’t really matter.

The extraordinary action underscored the extent to which Trump and Attorney General William Barr have been in sync in their views on the federal Trump-Russia investigation — with or without communicating about it. Barr himself has openly challenged the decisions of predecessors and his own prosecutors. He’s launched internal probes to investigate the investigators.

Trump is emphatically welcoming the Flynn action. He has relentlessly railed against the special counsel’s inquiry into his 2016 campaign’s contacts with Russia — which the Flynn case grew out of — and was eager for news in his favor to shift voters’ focus away from his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic that has crippled the U.S. economy.

Beyond that, the decision to dismiss the Flynn case had the effect not only of undoing a key prosecution from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s winning campaign, but also of sparing the president from having to make a politically charged pardon decision in the current election year.

The sudden action on Flynn has produced familiar divisions in public opinion. Trump allies cheered the results, while Democrats and some current and former Justice Department officials expressed dismay.

“Bill Barr is a man of unbelievable credibility and courage,” Trump said during a Friday appearance on “Fox & Friends” where he devoted substantial time to the news. “And he’s going to go down in the history books.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed about going down in history but for a different reason. She said, “Attorney General Barr’s politicization of justice knows no bounds.”

Trump suggested on Friday that more surprises could be afoot, saying “a lot of things are going to be told over the next couple of weeks.” He said the “jury’s still out with regard” to FBI Director Chris Wray.

If Trump was upset for political reasons about the case of Flynn, the Justice Department says Barr was troubled by legal issues. Those include what he believes were irregularities in the FBI’s 2017 interview of Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to agents about his conversations with the Russian ambassador.

The department points out the dismissal recommendation was made not by Barr but by Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney in St. Louis whom Barr appointed to review the handling of the case. Once the recommendation was made, senior leadership felt “duty-bound” to move to dismiss it. Jensen’s review continues.

However, the dismissal was just the most recent example of Barr challenging conclusions from the Russia investigations in ways that have stirred criticism. Mueller privately criticized him last year for not adequately capturing the severity of the special counsel’s findings in the Trump-Russia investigation in Barr’s four-page letter summarizing the probe’s conclusions. Barr has said he doesn’t believe there was sufficient evidence for the FBI to open a full investigation, and that the FBI launched “an intrusive investigation of a U.S. presidential campaign on the thinnest of suspicions.”

In February, he overruled prosecutors in the case of Trump ally Roger Stone, on grounds that they had recommended excessive prison time. He appointed one U.S. attorney to examine the origins of the Russia investigation — now a criminal investigation — and another to look into the Flynn case specifically.

The entire Stone trial team quit the case, and in a likely sign of dissent Thursday, Flynn prosecutor and Mueller team member Brandon Van Grack withdrew shortly before the filing was submitted.

The Flynn outcome was startling in multiple ways, not least because the Justice Department rarely undertakes internal reviews of its own prosecutions — let alone cases in which a defendant has pleaded guilty.

The Jan. 24, 2017, interview of Flynn had come at a pivotal juncture, as the FBI scrambled to untangle potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin. Agents knew from a transcript of Flynn’s call with Ambassador Sergey Kislyak that Flynn had discussed U.S. sanctions with Kislyak, but were distressed that White House officials were publicly insisting otherwise and scheduled an interview with him.

“The idea that it wasn’t appropriate to go do some interview of Flynn, and that the basis of the investigation was somehow untoward, is obviously remarkable and unbelievable at the same time,” said former Justice Department prosecutor Ryan Fayhee.

Flynn, a retired Army lieutenant general, would later be ousted from the White House, with officials saying he lied to them.

But the Justice Department now says there was no basis to question Flynn, especially since agents were prepared to close their investigation into him weeks earlier after finding nothing to suggest he had committed a crime.

The department also suggests the FBI erred by not advising Flynn that it was a crime to lie, even though the agency said less than two years ago it wasn’t required.

Current and former officials say there are less extreme remedies for issues like the ones the department identified. The department, for instance, could have supported Flynn’s bid to withdraw his guilty plea.

But a senior Justice Department official said the department believes concerns about the FBI’s conduct — one of the agents who interviewed Flynn was later fired for derogatory text messages about Trump during the investigation — would have made it difficult to win at trial had a judge agreed to withdraw the plea. That official was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

One career Justice Department prosecutor expressed bewilderment about the decision, especially since it involved walking away from a guilty plea and conviction.

The prosecutor, who also spoke only on condition of anonymity, said the persistent attacks on the FBI have given defense lawyers ammunition to attack federal investigators as corrupt, and have exposed political divisions inside Justice Department offices that are meant to be apolitical.

As for Flynn, he responded to the news by posting a video of his grandson holding an American flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Longtime friend Tom Heaney said Flynn felt vindicated and was relieved by the decision.

“He feels like a huge weight has been lifted off him,” Heaney said. “For all of us, we were never doubting the fact that he was innocent.”

____

Associated Press writer Michelle R. Smith in Providence, Rhode Island, contributed to this report.

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Biden’s Lead in Poll Tumbles as Trump Gains Support for Pandemic Response

A newly released Reuters/Ipsos poll evaluating President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in a head-to-head matchup shows troubling news for Biden.

According to the poll, a lead once enjoyed by Biden has completely “evaporated,” while Trump’s numbers continue to ascend.

Reuters/Ipsos said that “Joe Biden’s advantage over President Donald Trump in popular support has eroded in recent weeks as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee struggles for visibility with voters during the coronavirus pandemic.”

The poll, which was conducted online Monday and Tuesday, found that 43 percent of registered voters said they would support Biden in the general election, while 41 percent said they would vote for Trump in November.

Reuters noted the election is now “a toss-up, as the results are within the poll’s credibility interval” of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

TRENDING: Mainstream Media Pushes Masks, Ignores Possible Consequences

That might sound less than comforting to supporters of the president, but when you take into account lingering questions about the reliability of polling when it comes to Trump along with the trend of shrinking support for Biden, it’s a good sign for the president’s re-election chances.

The former vice president’s support has collapsed by 6 points since a week ago and 8 points since April 21, when a similar poll was conducted.

To put it simply, Biden is consistently losing support.

The poll also found that 45 percent of respondents had more confidence in Trump with regard to handling the economy and creating jobs.

Do you think President Tump will be re-elected in November?

A mere 32 percent of those polled felt Biden was the best candidate to get Americans back to work following the economic crisis created by the coronavirus.

Confidence in Trump’s ability to create jobs is increasing; he holds a 13-point advantage over Biden on the issue, more than double his 6-point jobs lead in the April 21 poll.

Biden, who held an edge over Trump in the April poll on the issue of handling the country’s response to the coronavirus, is now behind in that aspect, as Trump has gained the confidence of many voters.

Of those polled, 37 percent said they think Trump is more qualified to help the country claw its way back from the health crisis, while 35 percent said Biden was better suited for that job.

The April poll showed Biden at the time enjoyed a moderate edge over the president on the issue of handling the coronavirus.

RELATED: New Trump Ad Exposes Joe Biden’s Pro-China, Anti-Trump Campaign Strategy

No matter how you view the credibility of polling, as it was wildly inaccurate going into the 2016 election, this is good news for Trump, and it comes amid months of negative media about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and relentless attacks from Democrats.

The polling shows Trump’s standing in the nonweighted polling increased throughout a period of weeks as he has been highly visible throughout the country’s crisis.

Biden, meanwhile, has been relegated to holding digital briefings and media appearances from his Delaware home — while also facing a sexual assault allegation.

Reuters speculated that the allegation from former Senate staffer Tara Reade might be affecting Biden’s polling performance, but it could not conclusively link it to the Biden plunge.

Reade has alleged that Biden groped, kissed and digitally penetrated her during an unwanted advance in 1993.

Biden has denied the allegation.

“The political impact of the situation was not yet clear in the Reuters/Ipsos poll, which showed 53% of the American public said they were ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ familiar with Reade’s allegation,” Reuters reported.

A Monmouth University Poll released Wednesday, though, found that at least 86 percent of voters have at least heard of the allegation from Reade.

The poll found that respondents were generally split along party lines as to the credibility of the allegation, with Democrats being more dismissive of the allegation and Republicans being more apt to believe it.

Independents, who are likely to be the deciding factor in the general election, are more likely to believe there is credibility to the allegation than not.

“Independents are more likely to feel that the allegation is true (43%) rather than not true (22%), while 35% have no opinion either way,” Monmouth reported of the poll.

The fact that so many people are now aware of the allegation signals that it could become a major campaign issue, despite the fact that some of the national media essentially suppressed the story for weeks.

The Reuter/Ipsos poll received responses from 1,215 American adults, 1,015 of whom identified as registered voters.

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

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Pence’s press secretary tests positive for coronavirus, Trump says

Miller is now the second White House staff member known to have tested positive for the coronavirus this week, after one of Trump’s personal valets tested positive on Thursday.

“She’s a wonderful young woman, Katie, she tested very good for a long period of time and then all of a sudden today she tested positive,” Trump said during a meeting with Republican members of Congress at the White House.

The President said that Miller has not come into contact with him but noted that she has been in contact with Pence.

Miller was frequently in contact with members of the press, and the White House is now making more coronavirus testing available to journalists, a White House official told CNN’s Jim Acosta.

Katie Miller is married to Trump’s senior adviser, Stephen Miller.

The announcement came following an hour-long delay to Pence’s Friday morning flight to Iowa, when individuals were seen exiting Air Force Two before the plane lifted off of the tarmac at Joint Base Andrews just outside Washington.

A senior administration official told the press pool aboard Air Force Two that a Pence staffer, who they did not name at the time, tested negative for the coronavirus Thursday and positive Friday morning. Katie Miller, who was not on the plane, had possibly been in contact with six people scheduled to fly on the trip, and they were removed before takeoff, according to a senior administration official.

The pool was told later Friday afternoon that everyone who deplaned had been tested for the coronavirus and had tested negative.

Bloomberg News first reported the coronavirus case earlier Friday.

The vice president, who leads the White House coronavirus task force, traveled to Des Moines, Iowa, to participate in a discussion with faith leaders on responsible religious and spiritual gatherings, followed by a roundtable on securing the food supply.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, as well as Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst were also on Air Force Two with Pence for the trip.

About 10 members of Pence’s staff are tested daily, the senior administration official told the press pool, adding that “the vice president and the President have not had contact with this person recently.”

The official said Pence was last tested Friday morning.

Friday’s case marks the second time the White House has said a Pence staff member has tested positive for the coronavirus. The first tested positive in March.

On Thursday, CNN reported that a member of the US Navy who serves as one of Trump’s personal valets tested positive for the coronavirus.

The valets are members of an elite military unit dedicated to the White House who often work very close to the President and first family, assisting them with a variety of personal tasks. They are responsible for the President’s food and beverage not only in the West Wing but they also travel with him when he’s on the road or out of the country.

Trump was upset when he was informed Wednesday that the valet had tested positive, a source told CNN, and the President was subsequently tested again by the White House physician.

The President also said he’d had “very little personal contact” with the man.

Following the news of the valet’s illness, Trump said he would be tested for the coronavirus daily. Pence, White House staff and individuals who come in contact with the President will be tested daily, too.

Trump said before traveling aboard Air Force One earlier this week that he was not concerned about being in close quarters with other people since those around him are regularly tested.

But a negative test and lack of symptoms are not sure signs that someone can’t spread the virus.

Doctors say the incubation period for the coronavirus varies. The incubation period is the time that it takes from when you are exposed to the virus to developing symptoms. It ranges anywhere from 2-14 days. The average incubation period is estimated to be five days, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During a recent trip to the Mayo Clinic, Pence did not wear a face mask, despite being told about the clinic’s policy saying they’re required. Pence told reporters that he wasn’t wearing a mask because he’s often tested for coronavirus. But a few days later, Pence said he should have worn a mask.
Trump also declined to wear a mask this week during portions of his tour of a mask-making facility in Arizona.

CNN’s Jason Hoffman contributed to this report.

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Trump’s base escapes the worst of job losses

The coronavirus-driven economic downturn that last month pushed unemployment to its highest level since the Great Depression has been most brutal for groups that voted against Donald Trump in 2016 — a reality that may shape the political response.

A POLITICO analysis of demographic data released Friday by the Labor Department indicates that, so far, the people most likely to have lost their jobs to the Covid-19 pandemic are a very different group from those who became unemployed during the Great Recession of 2007-09 — many of whom were still struggling to regain their economic footing when they pulled the lever for Trump.

None of the groups slammed the hardest by coronavirus layoffs — women, low-wage workers, Latinos, blacks and the young — went for Trump in the 2016 election, and none give him high approval ratings now. If the downturn drags on, of course, such distinctions will diminish or disappear altogether as joblessness migrates up the income scale. Even now, the sheer magnitude of a nearly 15 percent unemployment rate, with no economic sector untouched, alarms Republicans and Democrats alike.

But congressional Republicans reluctant to spend more dollars on economic relief needn’t worry that the workers affected most by the downturn so far are part of the Republican base. They aren’t.

In February, before the coronavirus layoff wave hit, Labor Department data showed that women held 50 percent of all U.S. jobs. If the layoffs that began in March were gender-neutral, women would have accounted for 50 percent of those, too.

But they didn’t. In March and April, women accounted for about 55 percent of all layoffs. Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Century Foundation, calls the coronavirus downturn “more of a she-cession than a mancession.”

The opposite occurred during the Great Recession. Economists Kristie Engemann and Howard Wall, then of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, noted in 2010 that male household employment fell during the Great Recession at about two and a half times the rate of female household employment.

The current downturn differs starkly from the Great Recession in its relative impact on different economic sectors.

Friday’s Labor Department data show that, in March and April, leisure and hospitality sector employment dropped a staggering 48 percent as stay-at-home orders depleted restaurants, bars and hotels. The construction and manufacturing sectors dropped, too, but by a much less steep 12 percent.

The opposite occurred during the Great Recession. Employment in construction declined more than 25 percent, and kept on falling after the recession ended. Manufacturing, which even before the recession was losing jobs, shed more than 15 percent of its workers. Employment in leisure and hospitality, by contrast, fell only 4.5 percent, as did the service sector generally.

The concentration of Covid-19-related job losses in the service industry — rather than in blue-collar jobs — explains why the current downturn has been particularly hard for Latinos and African Americans. According to the Labor Department, employment fell more than 20 percent in March and April for Latinos and 17.5 percent for African Americans. During the Great Recession, employment fell less than 2 percent for Latinos and 6.6 percent for African Americans.

Job losses are also proportionally larger now for younger workers, who, like Latinos and African Americans, are heavily represented in low-wage service occupations. According to the Labor Department, employment fell nearly 30 percent in March and April for people aged 20 to 24. During the Great Recession, employment fell 9.4 percent for workers in this age group.

“Like the virus itself,” observes Rep. Jamie Raskin (D.-Md.), “Covid-19-related unemployment and poverty are attacking the entire nation but disproportionately ravaging minority communities…. The women, Hispanics, African Americans and younger workers who dominate in the hospitality, service and health sectors are losing jobs at an astonishing rate.”

The contrast with the Great Recession is very stark: then, construction and manufacturing suffered their worst percentage employment declines since World War II. Many of these blue-collar workers never recovered. According to a Reuters analysis last year of Commerce Department data, nearly half the counties that Trump carried in 2016 were at the time experiencing shrinking economic output, even as the economy as a whole was entering its eighth year of expansion.

John Doherty was working as a commercial painter in 2008 when the ax fell. “There was a lot of uncertainty in the markets,” he said, and small contractors like the one he worked for “were finishing the jobs they had” and then shutting down. Doherty was out of work more than nine months, moving in first with a friend and then, at age 33, with his parents.

“My age group is very skeptical of any establishment politicians,” says Doherty, who today works as communications director for the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades. Doherty says he didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, but he knows many who did. “He did resonate with a lot of people that were frustrated by what they saw as a changing America,” he says. Exit polls from 2016 bear that out, with 52 percent of men and 71 percent of white non-college-educated men voting for Trump. Union households, which are heavily blue collar, typically vote Democratic, and in 2016 they went for Hillary Clinton. But Clinton won this demographic by the smallest margin (51 percent to 48 percent) since Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory over Walter Mondale in 1984.

Janine Berkeland, a nurse in San Jose, Calif., was notified at the beginning of March that she’ll be laid off May 30 because the maternity ward she works in is closing down. The reasons for the shutdown have nothing to do with Covid-19, but the pandemic makes it extremely unlikely that she’ll get a new job anytime soon, even though the country needs health care workers to manage the pandemic. “It’s been a very stressful time,” she says. “Hospitals are on a hiring freeze because they’ve had a decrease in elective procedures.”

Berkeland, who worked at the hospital for 27 years, is about to apply for unemployment benefits for the first time in her life. She suffered no professional setbacks during the Great Recession, which largely bypassed the health care industry. The Great Recession was a problem, though, for her husband Rob, a general contractor. “People were not remodeling their houses,” she said. “They were not having additions put on.”

Berkeland declined to discuss her political leanings, but she praised her Democratic governor, Gavin Newsom, for “making it clear to California what is necessary to get through this pandemic.” And Trump? “I don’t think he’s taking it very seriously, and he doesn’t know the facts.” According to exit polls, only 41 percent of women voted in 2016 for Trump.

Congressional Republicans are expressing unease about passing another coronavirus stimulus, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R.-S.C.) said last week that a $600 emergency sweetener that Congress added in March to weekly unemployment benefits will be extended past July “over our dead bodies.” For now, such statements may not be politically costly even with unemployment nearing 15 percent, because the job losses haven’t engulfed — yet — an especially large proportion of Republican voters.

This analysis uses several demographic measures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Analysis’ Current Employment Statistics and Current Population Survey reports, whose April 2020 numbers were released on May 8.

Breakdowns of jobs lost in each economic sector rely on the CES dataset, which comes from a monthly survey of about 150,000 businesses and government agencies. Breakdowns of the race, gender, education level, age and occupation of those who are no longer employed rely on the CPS dataset, which is constructed based on a monthly survey of about 60,000 households across the country.

To aid in comparisons between months, this analysis used seasonally adjusted data whenever it was made available by BLS. In practice, only occupation-specific employment levels were unavailable in a seasonally-adjusted format.

While the Great Recession officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009, the time bounds used in this analysis were designed to fully capture the drop in employment due to the recession even after it had nominally ended. To do this, the authors subtracted employment measures taken in February 2010 (when employment was at the lowest levels of the crisis) from those taken in January 2008 (when employment was at its highest before or during the recession).

Measures for the current downturn were calculated by subtracting current employment levels from those in February 2020, the last data recorded before states began issuing orders to close nonessential businesses.

Assistance in developing this methodology was provided by Howard J. Wall, director of the Hammond Institute for Free Enterprise; Harry Holzer, a professor of economics and public policy at Georgetown University; Andrew Stettner, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation; and Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute.

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House Democrats Demand IG Investigation Into Barr

House Judiciary Democrats sent a letter demanding Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz investigate Barr’s dropping of the Mike Flynn case.

The Judiciary Democrats led by Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) wrote:

Like many Americans, we are deeply concerned by the Department’s decision to move to dismiss the criminal case against Michael Flynn, who briefly served as President Trump’s National Security Advisor. Under a generous plea deal with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Mr. Flynn was allowed to plead guilty to a single charge of making false statements to federal investigators and avoid prosecution for other serious alleged crimes.

In measuring the impact of the decision to dismiss these charges, it is important to observe the divide between Attorney General William Barr and the career staff at the Department of Justice. Hours before the government moved to dismiss the case, Brandon Van Grack—an experienced prosecutor who had worked the Flynn case from its inception—abruptly withdrew from the matter. On the merits, the government’s argument for dismissing the case appears to be inaccurate, politically biased, and inconsistent with the Department’s own guidelines. The government’s brief is signed only by Timothy Shea—the acting U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, promoted from the Attorney General’s personal staff to his current post earlier this year—and not by a single career prosecutor.

….

Of course, the Hatch Act prohibits Department of Justice employees from engaging in partisan political activities in the course of official business. The Department applies the most rigorous such restrictions to its senior leadership “to ensure that there is not an appearance that politics plays any part in the Department’s day-to-day operations.” Federal law also disqualifies any DOJ employee “from participation in a particular investigation or prosecution if such participation may result in a personal, financial, or political conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.” Simply put, the Attorney General is prohibited from putting his thumb on the scale in favor of the President, time and time again.

We write to request an investigation by your office into a pattern of conduct that includes improper political interference, ignoring standards for recusal, and abrogating Attorney General guidelines, among other improper considerations. We ask that your office review the events highlighted above, as well as any other related actions you find during the course of your investigation. The American people deserve to know the full extent of the politicization of the Department of Justice. They deserve a Department that is guided by the facts and the law, and not by the President’s political interests.

Trump is never going to fire William Barr, but an IG investigation would both expose the corruption and damage that Barr and Trump are doing to the Department of Justice while also laying the groundwork for a potential impeachment of the Attorney General.

It would not be necessary to impeach Barr if Democrats win the presidential election. Trump is never going to voluntarily get rid of William Barr, so in case, the President wins reelection, House Democrats are getting ready to act.

House Democrats aren’t going to let Barr’s actions go unchallenged, and are gearing up to investigate the Attorney General.

For more discussion about this story join our Rachel Maddow and MSNBC group.

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