Trump to give news conference on coronavirus outbreak today
The president has confirmed he will be giving a news conference today about the coronavirus outbreak. Along the way he couldn’t resist having a swipe at the media and the opposition.
As of Tuesday, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the number of cases in the United States has risen to 57.
Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, has said that “We expect we will see community spread in this country. It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness.”
Trump has faced criticism for the way the administration is handling the crisis, with Chuck Schumer being one of the most vocal.
Bernie Sanders was also scathing during the Democrat debate last night, saying: “In the White House today, we have a self-described ‘great genius’, and this ‘great genius’ has told us that this Coronavirus is going to end in two months. April is the magical day that this great scientist we have in the White House has determined.”
Joe Biden also criticised Trump, comparing his handling of coronavirus with the way the Obama administration tackled the threat of Ebola, and how the current president has dismantled that operation: “What we did with Ebola — I was part of making sure that pandemic did not get to the United States, saved millions of lives. We set upthat office in the presidency on diseases that are pandemic diseases. We increased the budget of the CDC. We increased the NIH budget. And our president today – he’s wiped all that out.”
CBS have published a full transcript of last night’s debate if you want to pick over the bones of it.
There’s also an interesting – if slightly unwieldy – set of fact checks from the New York Times on some of the claims made last night by the candidates.
Perhaps most damaging of these findings are the suggestion that Bernie Sanders mischaracterised studies of the costs of his health care plan, falsely stating that they all say it will save money.
Joe Biden was also found to be ‘mostly false’ when said that the Obama administration did not know about Russian involvement in subverting American elections until the end.
Joe Biden keeps on piling up support from the rest of the Democrat party, with the news this morning that former Gov. Pat Quinn and more than 80 other top Illinois Democrats are endorsing him for president.
The new endorsements include former Chicago Deputy Mayor Andrea Zopp, state Sen. and Assistant Majority Leader Iris Martinez and Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering.
One concern for Biden though – Illinois doesn’t vote until 17 March, by which time Bernie Sanders may have already nearly gained an unassailable lead in the delegate count.
We’ve got a couple of pieces looking at how the digital Democrat campaign is going.
First up is a piece co-published with The Markup looking at the effectiveness of candidate emails at actually reaching your inbox. They found that Pete Buttigieg is doing best, with Elizabeth Warren doing worst.
There’s two elements to the story though.
Firstly, of course, some of it is down to the way that the campaigns themselves are formatting and sending out email. But there’s another aspect.
We know that Facebook and Twitter customise and personalise your news feed to show you things it thinks you might be interested in – but we don’t often think about how this also happens with the email we see. It’s a fascinating look at the topic.
The second piece is from my colleague Julia Carrie Wong in San Francisco. She writes:
Mike Bloomberg’s campaign has spent the last month unapologetically performing the digital equivalent of dumping buckets of fresh garbage into the trash fire that is internet discourse in 2020, apparently with little or no concern for the toxic side effects.
She takes on the Bloomberg campaign’s decision in recent days to publish misleadingly edited video and deliberately fabricate quotes from his opponents.
One battle for the Trump administration over the next couple of weeks is their bid to reauthorise some of the expiring provisions under the USA Freedom Act. These include the highly controversial phone records programme known as Section 215
This is the process by which the National Security Agency (NSA) can record the metadata on all incoming or outgoing calls to a specific number. While it doesn’t give the agency access to the contents of the calls, many privacy advocates argue that it gives the state too much intrusive power. The existence of the programme was only made public after the Edward Snowden leaks of classified information.
Jordain Carney has a good look at this issue for The Hill this morning. Although the NSA stopped using the system in 2015, they are asking for it to continue to be available to them. There seems to be bipartisan dissent in Congress against the idea. The deadline for reauthorisation is 15 March.
Back to the fall-out from last night’s Democratic debate. With a crowded field it was the last TV opportunity for one of the candidates who isn’t Bernie Sanders to have a break-out moment that could propel them towards next week’s Super Tuesday.
That, according to Ryan Lizza in Politico, is not what happened.
By the end, it was clear that there was no Bernie slayer at the lecterns in Charleston, someone who alone had the time and skills to convince Democratic voters that the democratic socialist was a radical whose nomination would forfeit the party’s chance to defeat Trump.
Lizza has a detailed analysis on how Bloomberg, Biden, Warren and the others had different strategies to set themselves up in opposition to Sanders, all without much joy.
The court hearing in London into the US attempt to extradite WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is underway again. Journalist James Doleman is tweeting from the court.
My colleague Ben Quinn has also been following proceedings – here is his round-up of what took place yesterday.
The president is back home – and as expected straight on to the topic of the coronavirus outbreak.
He also gave his verdict on last night’s TV debate.
There’s been talk this week of Donald Trump conducting some kind of ‘deep state’ purge of people he feels are anti-Trump in the administration and the civil service, and even that people have been preparing secret hit-lists of staff to target.
My colleague Tom McCarthy in New York has more on one of the people who would be involved in the hirings and firings, with a profile of the so-called ‘Baby-faced assassin’ – 29 year old Johnny McEntee who was recently named White House director for presidential personnel.
The sudden conferral on the young McEntee of such broad power over thousands of civil service careers is highly unusual in the history of US government, according to public administration experts.
But as Trump winds up his re-election machinery, McEntee’s elevation is only one among dozens of such moves taking place across the executive branch to install Trump loyalists, purge Trump critics and protect the president’s political wellbeing, whatever the cost.
You can read Tom’s full profile of the young man who once went viral on social media for trick shots when he was a college football quarterback.
“I’m hearing my name mentioned a little bit tonight,” Sanders joked during the debate: “I wonder why.”
With a lead going into Saturday’s South Carolina primary, Sanders needed a good debate performance to keep his momentum going under the concentrated fire of the other challengers. Opinion – as you’d expect – is divided as to how he managed.
The Hill have a wrap of their winners and losers on the night, which puts Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders as the winners. Crucially for Biden their verdict was that he “kept his hopes alive” with one of his strongest debate performances as he faces “a moment of truth”.
Read it here – The Hill: Winners and losers from the South Carolina debate”
The Washington Post also had a winners and losers list, but they counted Sanders among the losers. They felt he didn’t cope well with the attacks ranged against – although suggest “the question is whether it’s too little, too late by his opponents.”
Everybody seems to agree though that the CBS moderators didn’t cover themselves with glory.
“You think the last four years has been chaotic divisive toxic exhausting. Imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump”
Pete Buttigieg seemed to be channelling the thoughts of what Bernie Sanders has dismissed as the ‘Democratic establishment’ with his attack on the Vermont senator at the debate last night.
In an apparent reference to Sanders’ comments about Cuba over the weekend, Buttigieg also said “I am not looking forward to a scenario where it comes down to Donald Trump with his nostalgia for the social order of the 1950s and Bernie Sanders with a nostalgia for the revolutionary politics of the 1960s.”
Like most of the challengers for the nomination, his attacks were focussed on Sanders.
Elizabeth Warren conceded that “Bernie and I agree on a lot of things,” before adding “But I think I would make a better president than Bernie.”
Mike Bloomberg suggested that Russia was interfering in the Democrats selection process in Sanders’ favour in order to engineer a Sanders-Trump election that would see Putin’s preferred candidate re-elected.
And Joe Biden attacked the Sanders record on gun ownership legislation.
You can watch some of the most pointed attacks in this highlights reel from last night.
Will last night’s Democratic debate have helped one of the centrist candidates pull ahead of the others to become the main opponent to Bernie Sanders for the nomination? At the moment this photo from the Charleston event seems to sum up the very definition of a “crowded field” – and it doesn’t even feature Joe Biden, who is polling in first place for Saturday’s primary.
There’s plenty of post-debate analysis to sink your teeth into. Here’s the verdict from our panel:
And here’s the wrap from my colleague Daniel Strauss, who says:
The debate often descended into cross-talk, and even occasional shouting. It was more common for candidates to go over their allotted time than stick to it, and moderators were criticised for their lack of control over proceedings.
You can read his full report here.
You can also re-watch the debate in full on the CBS News YouTube channel – it gets going about an hour into this video
Meanwhile Donald Trump will the early hours in transit from Germany back to the White House after his visit to India. That doesn’t usually stop him commenting on the day’s events, and after some stinging criticism from Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer yesterday, we can probably expect more robust defence from the president on the country’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.