Showing posts with label US Politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label US Politics. Show all posts

Aug 19, 2020

News | Politics | US: Biden crowned as Democratic challenger to Trump

7-9 minutes - Source: BBC

Joe Biden has been officially anointed the Democratic presidential candidate at the party's convention, helped over the line with some glowing testimonials from elder statesmen.
Two Democratic former presidents, Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican, endorsed Mr Biden.
Mr Clinton said President Donald Trump had brought "chaos" to the Oval Office.
Mr Trump trails Mr Biden in opinion polls ahead of November's election.
The convention is largely virtual, amid the coronavirus pandemic, and it is unclear whether a format of pre-recorded speeches and no live audience will generate the same levels of enthusiasm as the traditional party gatherings. Next week's Republican convention will also be mostly online.
Mr Biden, the former vice-president under President Barack Obama, became his party's nominee on Tuesday night in a pre-recorded roll call vote from delegates in all 50 states.
This is Mr Biden's third White House bid, having formerly run in 1988 and 2008. The 77-year-old's campaign appeared to be in danger of collapse back in February this year.
On the second night of the party convention on Tuesday, with the theme "leadership matters," Mr Clinton delivered the key address.

Media captionJoe Biden: Will it be third time lucky in 2020?
"Donald Trump says we're leading the world," Mr Clinton said in his five-minute message pre-recorded from his home in Chappaqua, New York. "Well, we are the only major industrial economy to have its unemployment rate triple.
"At a time like this, the Oval Office should be a command centre. Instead, it's a storm centre. There's only chaos."
Following addresses from former First Lady Michelle Obama and Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday, Tuesday's speeches aimed to persuade voters the Democratic party is the best suited to repair problems at home and abroad.
Mr Powell said Mr Biden shared "the values I learned growing up in the south Bronx and serving in uniform".

Media captionWhat happens at the US conventions?
The decorated four-star general said he supported him for president because "we need to restore those values to the White House".
In June, Mr Powell - who served under President George W Bush and has appeared at multiple Republican conventions in previous years - called President Trump a liar and endorsed Mr Biden.
He joins several Republicans who have endorsed Mr Biden, including former Ohio Governor John Kasich during the first night of the convention.
Cindy McCain, the widow of Republican Senator John McCain, also spoke about the friendship between her late husband and Mr Biden, though she stopped short of a formal endorsement.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry addressed the convention virtually to assail Mr Trump's leadership.
"When this president goes overseas, it isn't a goodwill mission, it's a blooper reel," he said.
"He breaks up with our allies and writes love letters to dictators. America deserves a president who is looked up to, not laughed at."


Media captionWhat do young Democrats think of Joe Biden?
The freshly minted Democratic nominee's wife, Jill Biden, potentially the next US first lady, delivered the night's headline address, standing in an empty classroom at the Delaware high school where she taught English in the 1990s.
Urging everyone to vote for her husband, who joined her, she said: "The burdens we carry are heavy, and we need someone with strong shoulders.
"I know that if we entrust this nation to Joe, he will do for your family what he did for ours: bring us together and make us whole."

Democrats' big tent

Jill Biden's speech wasn't as polished as Michelle Obama's, but it had a raw emotion of its own. She stood in an empty classroom and spoke of students in the autumn whose learning would be confined to boxes on a computer screen, not bustling schools.
She talked about the fears - economic and health-related - created by the coronavirus pandemic.
The evening began with a keynote address delivered by a rotating collection of up-and-coming Democratic politicians.
It was a format that only works in a virtual convention, but as a joint affair, it's unlikely to be the kind of launching pad enjoyed by past keynotes Mario Cuomo, Julian Castro and, most notably, Barack Obama.
As on Monday night, there was once again a concerted effort to reach out to disaffected Republicans by using members of their party - this time, former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Cindy McCain, wife of former Senator John McCain.
Meanwhile, younger Democrats often billed as rising stars within the party, such as former Georgia lawmaker Stacey Abrams, were given just a few moments in the spotlight on Tuesday.
New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used her 90 seconds to highlight the policies of the so-called progressive wing of the party, without mentioning Mr Biden.
She also used the procedural roll call to second the nomination of fellow left-winger Vermont Senator Sanders for president, although she later tweeted her "deepest congratulations" to Mr Biden, adding "let's go win in November".

Mr Trump is continuing to paint Mr Biden as a puppet of left-wing radicals. Earlier on Tuesday, the president was in Arizona, his latest stop on a week-long campaign tour of key battleground states.
Most polls show Mr Biden in the lead thus far, though Mr Trump has tightened the margin in recent weeks and the election is still months away.

Media captionDemocratic National Convention: What you missed on day one
The Democratic convention, originally planned for Milwaukee, Wisconsin, will continue on Wednesday and Thursday, with speeches from vice-presidential pick Senator Kamala Harris, the party's 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton and former President Obama.
The four nights will end with an acceptance speech from Mr Biden.
At next week's Republican convention, Mr Trump will give his acceptance speech from the White House, brushing aside accusations that in doing so he is politicising the presidential seat of power.

Jun 30, 2020

News | US Politics: Republicans once again face questions about why Trump isn’t tougher on Russia

By Seung Min Kim closeSeung Min KimWhite House reporter.



Trump and the White House repeatedly denied Monday that the president had been briefed on the efforts against coalition forces in Afghanistan, which are believed to have led to the deaths of several U.S. service members. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had not been told of the intelligence because it had not been verified and declined to say if the president had been briefed since news of the bounties became public.
But on Capitol Hill, Republican senators demanded more information from the administration and called for Russia to be punished if reports from the New York Times, The Washington Post and other media outlets were deemed accurate. The Republicans took a notably tougher public tone than Trump did, although they mostly avoided the question of whether the president should have been aware of the intelligence.
While the Trump administration has taken some aggressive measures against Russia, the president’s conciliatory tone toward Russian President Vladmir Putin continues to be a thorny political problem for Republicans who have advocated a more hawkish approach toward the authoritarian leader.
The latest reports that the Russian bounties may have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members only increase the potential problems for Republicans looking to take a tougher stance toward Moscow without appearing to be at odds with a president who has considerable sway with the party’s voters.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) called the reports “deeply troubling” and said he wanted the Senate to pass his legislation that would require the State Department to consider naming Russia a state sponsor of terrorism. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who like Gardner is in a tough reelection race this fall, similarly called for the U.S. government to treat Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“From propping up the murderous Assad regime (in Syria) and our enemies in Afghanistan, Putin’s Russia has made clear they are no friend to the United States,” Gardner wrote Monday on Twitter. “They’ve targeted our institutions and our troops — the US must respond.”
Sen. Todd C. Young (R-Ind.), a former intelligence officer in the Marines, said the Russia-financed bounty effort, if confirmed, “deserves a strong and immediate response from our government.”
Young, who also heads the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, called for hearings and for Trump to rescind any invitation for Russia to rejoin the Group of Seven, which is composed of the world’s major industrialized nations, as well as direct sanctions on Putin.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also called for an aggressive response if the information from U.S. intelligence agencies holds up.
“If true, what we’re talking about here is putting the target crosshairs on the backs of American servicemen and women in uniform, and I have heard from a lot of Nebraskan military families this weekend, and they’re livid. They have a right to be livid,” he said.
He said Congress needs to find out what Trump was or was not told.
“Who knew what, when, and did the commander in chief know? And if not, how the hell not? What is going on in that process?” he asked, adding: “What are we going to do to impose proportional cost in response? In a situation like this, that would mean Taliban and GRU body bags.” GRU is the abbreviation for the Russian military spy unit.
The reaction from congressional Republicans on Monday was markedly different than the comments from Trump, who dismissed the reports as “possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax” — his reference to the probe earlier in his presidency led by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III that examined potential collusion between Trump associates and Russia. The president has continued to dismiss the conclusion of U.S. intelligence officials that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election in his favor.
Left largely unaddressed in many GOP senators’ public comments, however, was Trump’s role in the matter and what he should do now, with few questions from Senate Republicans on Monday about the White House’s contention that the president was left in the dark about an intelligence issue that had prompted a restricted high-level White House meeting in late March. Russia and the Taliban have denied the existence of the program.
“Well, I think the president can’t single-handedly remember everything, I’m sure, that he’s briefed on, but the intelligence officials are familiar with it and briefed him,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.). “But again somebody’s leaking classified information and then trying to further a narrative that isn’t necessarily supported by the facts.”
McEnany repeatedly said at a White House briefing Monday that there was not a consensus among intelligence officials about the accuracy of the information on the bounties.
 “When our adversaries have directly targeted U.S. or coalition partners, the president has not hesitated to act,” McEnany said. “But this was not briefed up to the president because it was not, in fact, verified.”
Congressional Democrats raised alarm about the reports, published over the weekend, and both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called for briefings of their full chambers by intelligence officials.
A group of House Democrats, led by Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer, will be briefed on the issue at the White House at 8 a.m. Tuesday, according to an aide to the Maryland Democrat. Hoyer has asked that the following Democrats be included: Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot L. Engel (N.Y.), Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (Wash.), Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), Gregory W. Meeks (N.Y.), Brad Sherman (Calif.), William R. Keating (Mass.), Ruben Gallego (Ariz.), Abigail Spanberger (Va.) and Elissa Slotkin (Mich.).
But the briefing will not be an adequate substitute for an all-member briefing, said the aide, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a national security matter.
Schumer suggested that lawmakers should use the national defense authorization bill, the annual legislation detailing policy priorities for the Pentagon that senators are working on this week, to punish the Russian government.
“President Trump, you lose either way,” Schumer said Monday during a speech on the Senate floor. “If you weren’t briefed on this important report, how can you run an administration where something this important is not brought to your level?
“If you were told about the report and did nothing, that’s even worse.”
Some of the president’s closest allies in the House GOP ranks took a different stance after a briefing at the White House, with at least one emerging from the closed-door session and accusing journalists of damaging an ongoing intelligence investigation.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) lashed out at the New York Times, which first published the report, by accusing the newspaper of compromising a national security probe.
“The blood is on their hands,” Banks tweeted. “Having served in Afghanistan during the time the alleged bounties were placed, no one is angrier about this than me. Now it’s impossible to finish the investigation.”
But two Republicans who received the briefing — Reps. Michael McCaul (Tex.) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) — called for the administration to take “swift and serious action” against Putin should the intelligence bear out to be true.
Senior Senate Republican leaders and heads of key committees did not disclose how much, if at all, they were aware of the intelligence.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined to respond when asked whether he had been briefed on the matter. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, declined to comment on specifics but said that the “targeting of our troops by foreign adversaries via proxies is a well-established threat.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) signaled that he was unaware of the intelligence, saying Monday that he had “asked the administration to share what it knows” and that he expected to have more information in the coming days.
“We’ve known for a long time that Putin is a thug and a murderer, and if the allegations reported in the New York Times are true, I will work with President Trump on a strong response,” Inhofe said. “My number one priority is the safety of our troops.”

May 20, 2020

News | US | Politics: Trump threatens Michigan, Nevada over mail-in voting

Robert Schroeder

Michigan official replies voters getting applications, not absentee ballots


President Donald Trump

Getty Images
President Donald Trump on Wednesday threatened federal funding to Michigan and Nevada, as those two Democratic-led states pursue mail-in voting.
Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that Michigan is sending ballots, and not ballot applications, to its voters. On Tuesday, Michigan’s secretary of state said her office would send absentee ballot applications to voters for elections in August and November. Nevada is planning an all-mail election for its June 9 primary.   

May 18, 2020

News | US Politics: Inspector General’s Firing Puts Pompeo’s Use of Taxpayer Funds Under Scrutiny

By Edward Wong



Accusations of improperly using government resources have trailed the secretary of state, but President Trump’s move to fire the State Department inspector general has handed Democrats a new weapon.
Credit...Pool photo by Kevin Lamarque
WASHINGTON — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo swatted away questions about his use of government resources again and again last year.
In January, news reports cited unnamed diplomats complaining about his wife, Susan, traveling with him across the Middle East during a partial government shutdown.
In the summer, members of Congress began examining a whistle-blower complaint accusing Mr. Pompeo of asking diplomatic security agents to run errands like picking up restaurant takeout meals and retrieving the family dog, Sherman, from a groomer.
And in October, a Democratic senator called for a special counsel to investigate his use of State Department aircraft and funds for frequent visits to Kansas, where he was reported to be considering a Senate run.
In each case, Mr. Pompeo or other department officials denied wrongdoing, and the secretary moved on unscathed. But his record is now coming under fresh scrutiny after President Trump told Congress on Friday night that he was firing the State Department inspector general — at Mr. Pompeo’s private urging, a White House official said.
The inspector general, Steve A. Linick, who leads hundreds of employees in investigating fraud and waste at the State Department, had begun an inquiry into Mr. Pompeo’s possible misuse of a political appointee to perform personal tasks for him and his wife, according to Democratic aides. That included walking the dog, picking up dry-cleaning and making restaurant reservations, one said — an echo of the whistle-blower complaint from last year.
The details of Mr. Linick’s investigation are not clear, and it may be unrelated to the previous allegations. But Democrats and other critics of Mr. Pompeo say the cloud of accusations shows a pattern of abuse of taxpayer money — one that may mean lawmakers will be less willing to give the administration the benefit of the doubt as congressional Democrats begin an investigation into Mr. Linick’s dismissal.
The investigation is aimed at determining whether the act was one of illegal retaliation intended to shield Mr. Pompeo from accountability — which “would undermine the foundation of our democratic institutions,” Representative Eliot L. Engel of New York and Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, leading Democrats on foreign policy committees, said in a joint statement.
Mr. Engel stressed on Sunday that Mr. Pompeo must turn over all requested records, and said, “What I’ve learned about Inspector General Stephen Linick’s removal is deeply troubling.”
Image
Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Mr. Linick is the fourth inspector general to fall in a purge this spring by Mr. Trump of officials he has deemed insufficiently loyal, but the dismissal is the first to prompt a formal inquiry in Congress, and it has also drawn criticism from a few Republicans.
“The president has the right to fire any federal employee,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “But the fact is, if it looks like it is in retaliation for something that the I.G., the inspector general, is doing, that could be unlawful.”
She called the move “unsavory” — “when you take out someone who is there to stop waste, fraud, abuse or other violations of the law that they believe to be happening.”
Aides to Mr. Pompeo did not reply to repeated requests for comment. The White House did not respond to questions about whether it knew of Mr. Linick’s investigation into Mr. Pompeo when it moved to dismiss him.
Mr. Linick’s office has not commented on that inquiry or on Mr. Trump’s announcement, which started a 30-day clock on the inspector general’s departure. Employees under Mr. Linick generally view him as competent and nonpartisan. Mr. Linick began his current job in 2013, and he held senior posts in the Justice Department starting in the administration of President George W. Bush.
In May 2016, Mr. Linick issued a report sharply criticizing Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, for her use of a private email server, and last fall he played a minor role during the impeachment hearings against Mr. Trump.
A few Republican senators, notably Mitt Romney and Charles E. Grassley, have expressed varying degrees of disapproval of Mr. Trump’s move. But on Sunday, Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, said: “I understand it. I don’t disagree with it.”
He told CNN that he had spoken with White House and State Department officials about the matter. “I’m not crying big crocodile tears over this termination, let’s put it that way,” he said.
Since Mr. Pompeo took up his current post in April 2018, and for more than one year before that as the C.I.A. director, he has been peerless in his navigation of Mr. Trump’s inner world of loyal advisers and domestic politics around foreign policy. While sticking close to Mr. Trump, he has weathered the impeachment process involving Ukraine, questions over the decision to kill a top Iranian general and the fraught diplomacy between the president and Kim Jong-un, the unpredictable leader of North Korea.
But the maelstrom of questions that began over the weekend could present a formidable challenge to Mr. Pompeo’s political instincts and career ambitions. People close to him say he is thinking of running for president in 2024. And more immediately, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, has repeatedly urged him to run for an open Senate seat in Kansas — an important race given that the Republicans are at risk of losing control of the Senate in the November elections.
Mr. Pompeo knows the potential effect of a congressional investigation on a politician’s career: As a Republican congressman, he helped lead the charge against Mrs. Clinton, then the secretary of state, over the deaths of four Americans at a mission in Benghazi, Libya, an issue that hounded her during the 2016 presidential campaign.
For Mr. Pompeo, the spotlight now falls on much more personal matters, including the role of his wife. Other secretaries of state have occasionally traveled with spouses, but some officials in the State Department say Mrs. Pompeo, a former bank executive, has played an unusually active role in running meetings and accompanying her husband on official business.
“She has this quasi-official role, where my friends are called to meetings she is leading at the department,” said Brett Bruen, a former career diplomat and director of global engagement on President Barack Obama’s National Security Council. “They know that’s not supposed to happen, because she isn’t in their chain of command. But what can they do?”
Image
Credit...Pool photo by Andrew Caballero-Reynolds
Mrs. Pompeo has accompanied Mr. Pompeo on several long trips overseas. In January 2019, she went with him on an eight-day journey across the Middle East — which raised questions among some officials because most State Department employees, including those supporting the trip, were working without pay during a partial government shutdown. Mrs. Pompeo has also flown with her husband on multinight trips to Switzerland and Italy, which included a visit to the secretary’s ancestral home region of Abruzzo.
Mrs. Pompeo, who is not paid by the State Department, has met with embassy families and local figures on some of the trips, and Mr. Pompeo has called her a “force multiplier.”
Mrs. Pompeo also played an unusually prominent volunteer role at the C.I.A. when Mr. Pompeo was the director there; she traveled with her husband, used an office space in C.I.A. headquarters and asked employees to assist her — actions that an agency spokesman defended at the time. Their son used a C.I.A. shooting range recreationally, according to CNN.
Mr. Pompeo’s frequent trips to Kansas last year also drew intense scrutiny. He went four times, three on the auspices of official business and flying in and out on State Department aircraft. To many, the trips appeared to be part of a shadow Senate campaign for 2020 and had little to do with foreign policy, despite Mr. Pompeo’s denials and his refusal so far to agree to run for the seat.
On the last trip, in October, Mr. Pompeo took part in a student event with Ivanka Trump, Mr. Trump’s daughter. And he discussed the Senate race with Charles Koch, the billionaire who is a longtime supporter of Mr. Pompeo, and Dave Robertson, the president and chief operating officer of Koch Industries, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The Kansas City Star ran a blistering editorial denouncing Mr. Pompeo’s frequent trips to his adopted home state, telling him he should quit and run for Senate or “by all means focus on U.S. diplomacy — remember diplomacy? — and stop hanging out here every chance he gets.”
Four days later, Mr. Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sent a letter to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel asking it to investigate Mr. Pompeo for potential violations of the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from using their official positions to engage in partisan political activities.
Separately, Democratic lawmakers on a House committee last year began looking at a whistle-blower complaint that Mr. Pompeo, his wife and adult son were asking diplomatic security agents to run personal errands, including picking up Chinese food and the family dog from a groomer. The whistle-blower said agents had complained they were “UberEats with guns,” according to CNN, which first reported on the accusations.
Lon Fairchild, the agent in charge of the Diplomatic Security Service, told CNN that he had seen no wrongdoing. The Democratic lawmakers did not open a formal inquiry.
More broadly, Mr. Pompeo has wrestled with managing the State Department, though he was initially hailed by many employees as a welcome change from Rex W. Tillerson, Mr. Trump’s first secretary of state, who was perceived as aloof and dismissive.
Last fall, current and former State Department officials criticized Mr. Pompeo for not vocally defending diplomats who were testifying in the impeachment inquiry and coming under attack from Mr. Trump, and for his own role in the earlier ouster of Marie L. Yovanovitch, a respected career diplomat, from the ambassadorship to Ukraine.
Since the winter, Mr. Pompeo has also found himself on unsteady ground on policy amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Usually outspoken on policy matters, he seemed to play a more subdued role early in the crisis. Then he chose to pull back from diplomacy with China, where the outbreak began, and relentlessly criticized the Chinese Communist Party for its actions. He pushed spy agencies to look for evidence to support an unsubstantiated theory that the outbreak began in a virology laboratory in the city of Wuhan, and later said there was “enormous” and “significant” evidence behind the theory even when many scientists and intelligence analysts argued otherwise.
On Sunday, Mr. Pompeo warned China in a statement that he was aware “the Chinese government has threatened to interfere with the work of American journalists in Hong Kong,” which has semi-autonomy. He did not give details, but said that “these journalists are members of a free press, not propaganda cadres, and their valuable reporting informs Chinese citizens and the world.”
David E. Sanger and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

May 13, 2020

US Politics: Americans’ expectations for safe public gatherings slip to July at the earliest, Post-U. Md. poll finds

Dan Balz



As the coronavirus spreads across the country, Americans are curbing their expectations about when it will be safe for gatherings of 10 or more people, with about 2 in 3 adults now saying it will not be until July or later before those events can happen, according to a Washington Post-University of Maryland poll.
The findings provide more evidence that Americans remain worried about the threat of the virus and cautious about efforts to lift stay-at-home restrictions and to reopen businesses, even as many governors have begun to move in that direction. In the face of plans in many states to gradually ease those limitations, significant majorities of Americans continue to emphasize the need for social distancing and other safety measures.
Fully half of all Americans say in the poll that they think it will not be safe for gatherings of 10 or more until midsummer, including nearly one-quarter who say it will not be safe until 2021 or later. Just about 1 in 5 say they believe such gatherings are safe now or will be by the end of this month.
The timeline has shifted substantially in just the past few weeks, as the number of covid-19 cases and deaths continue to rise. In a similar poll in mid-April, 51 percent of all Americans said they thought gatherings of 10 or more people would be safe by the end of June. That has fallen to 32 percent in the latest survey, with 66 percent saying it will take longer for gatherings to be safe.
Democrats still envision a longer timetable before safe gatherings can occur than do Republicans, with 80 percent of Democrats and 54 percent of Republicans saying opening by the end of July or later now seems likely. But there has been a shift in perceptions across the political spectrum since mid-April. Among both Democrats and Republicans, the percentages who say gatherings won’t be safe until July or later have risen by 26 percentage points. Among independents, the increase is 14 points.
The findings about safe gatherings continue to be heavily shaped not just by partisanship, but also by persistent personal concerns about contracting the virus and becoming seriously ill as a result. Overall, 58 percent of Americans say they are very or somewhat worried about getting the infection and becoming seriously ill, down from 63 percent last week but similar to 57 percent three weeks ago. Among those Americans who worry about getting the virus, 80 percent say it will not be safe for gatherings of 10 or more people before July, with most of them saying it will be later this year or beyond. Among those not particularly worried, 51 percent say they think gatherings of that size will be safe by the end of June, and more than 1 in 3 say it will be safe by the end of this month.
Although Republicans and Republican-leaning independents are significantly less worried about becoming seriously ill — 44 percent compared with 68 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaners — those worries carve sharp divisions within partisan groups. Among Republicans who are less worried about becoming sick, more than 6 in 10 believe gatherings of 10 or more will be safe by the end of June. But among Republicans who are personally worried, more than 7 in 10 expect it to take until at least July.
Despite the visibility of angry protests over coronavirus closures, most Americans remain cautious about reopening their state economy. A 58 percent majority say current restrictions on restaurants, stores and other businesses in their state are appropriate, with 20 percent saying they are not restrictive enough and 21 percent saying they are too restrictive. In late April, 66 percent said such restrictions were appropriate, 16 percent said they were not restrictive enough and 17 percent called them too restrictive.
Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to say the limitations on restaurants, stores and other businesses are too restrictive, with 35 percent of self-identified Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying this compared with 9 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.
At the same time, those who fear becoming ill from the virus are more than twice as likely to say the limitations are not restrictive enough as those who are not worried, 27 percent compared with 12 percent.
With more than half the states moving to reopen their economies, and other data showing more Americans on the move even in the face of shelter-at-home orders, the poll finds widespread support for people in communities to practice social distancing, wear masks outside and follow other practices health officials have recommended to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
Eight in 10 say it is necessary for people in their communities to wear a mask when outside the home, and more than 8 in 10 say it is important for people to stay at least six feet apart from one another in public. Three in 4 say people in their communities should avoid gatherings with friends with whom they do not live, and more than 3 in 4 say people should stay at home as much as possible.
Clear majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents support such measures, although about a third or more of Republicans say wearing masks, avoiding gatherings with friends and staying home as much as possible are unnecessary. Just over 1 in 5 Republicans say keeping six feet apart is unnecessary.
“The widespread belief that people should wear masks and restrict their contact with people outside their homes is striking,” said Michael Hanmer, a professor of government and politics at the University of Maryland who co-directed the survey. “This stands in stark contrast to the handful of crowds in close spaces that have gained media attention.”
Overall, 55 percent of Americans currently say they think people in their communities are striking the right balance on practicing social distancing, but 33 percent say people are not taking those practices seriously enough. Democrats are more likely than Republicans or independents to say they do not think people in their communities are taking social distancing practices seriously enough, with concerns also peaking among people who are personally worried about becoming seriously ill.
The poll was conducted by The Washington Post and the University of Maryland’s Center for Democracy and Civic Engagement. Interviews were conducted May 5 to 10 among a random national sample of 1,007 adults, 70 percent of whom were reached on cellphones and 30 percent on landlines. Overall results have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Emily Guskin and Alauna Safarpour contributed to this report.

Apr 27, 2020

US Politics: Nancy Pelosi endorses Joe Biden for president in video remarks calling him the ‘personification of hope and courage’

Michael Scherer



House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed former vice president Joe Biden’s White House bid on Monday, citing the Democrat’s experience helping to pass the Affordable Care Act and implementing the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to argue that he is well positioned to lead the country amid a global pandemic.
“As we face coronavirus, Joe has been a voice of reason and resilience, with a clear path to lead us out of this crisis,” said Pelosi (Calif.).
With a prerecorded video, Pelosi gave the latest in a well-planned string of endorsements that Biden’s advisers have scheduled to drive attention to Biden’s campaign, which has a far more limited reach than President Trump’s operation.
“When our nation faced the Great Recession, it was Joe Biden who led the implementation — and the accountability — of the Recovery Act, helping create and save millions of jobs,” Pelosi said in the video. “When the Democratic Congress was passing the Affordable Care Act, Joe Biden was a partner for progress in the White House and also championed the Cancer Moonshot.”
Although Biden remains about 600 pledged delegates short of the 1,991 needed to win the Democratic nomination, all of his rivals in the party have suspended their campaigns or endorsed him, making his coronation this summer a near certainty.
As a result, Biden has been moving to take control of the Democratic Party. Jen O’Malley Dillon, his campaign manager, announced Friday that she had installed a new chief executive at the Democratic National Committee and the two organizations signed a joint fundraising agreement.
Pelosi stayed neutral during the Democratic primary, repeatedly cautioning the party to keep its eye on the ultimate prize of defeating Trump, despite several House members running for president and former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, one of the major financial backers of the 2018 Democratic House takeover, running as well.
The last time Pelosi endorsed a presidential nominee before the outcome of the primaries was clear came in during the 2004 cycle, when she backed the campaign of Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.).
Earlier this year, when many moderate Democrats in the House feared Sanders would win the nomination and jeopardize their seats, Pelosi asked for party unity, even as she made clear that the House would not necessarily run on Sanders’s policy platform.
“We have to win in certain particular areas,” she said at the time. “It is not unusual for a party platform or the candidates for president to have their own agenda that they would put forth, and it’s not unusual for the House of Representatives to have its agenda as well.”
Such concerns have faded with Biden’s apparent assurance of the nomination.
“I am proud to endorse Joe Biden for president: a leader who is the personification of hope and courage, values, authenticity and integrity,” Pelosi said in the video Monday. “With so much at stake, we need the enthusiasm, invigoration and participation of all Americans — up and down the ballot, and across the country.”

Apr 1, 2020

US Politics: Trump Confronts a New Reality Before an Expected Wave of Disease and Death

By Peter Baker


News Analysis
Under the best-case scenario presented on Tuesday, more Americans will die from the coronavirus in the weeks and months to come than died in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.
Credit...Erin Schaff/The New York Times
Peter Baker
WASHINGTON — Five weeks ago, when there were 60 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the United States, President Trump expressed little alarm. “This is a flu,” he said. “This is like a flu.” He was still likening it to an ordinary flu as late as Friday.
By Tuesday, however, with more than 187,000 recorded cases in the United States and more Americans having been killed by the virus than by the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the president’s assessment had rather drastically changed. “It’s not the flu,” he said. “It’s vicious.”
The grim-faced president who appeared in the White House briefing room for more than two hours on Tuesday evening beside charts showing death projections of hellacious proportions was coming to grips with a reality he had long refused to accept. At a minimum, the charts predicted that 100,000 to 240,000 Americans would die — and only if the nation abided by stringent social restrictions that would choke the economy and impoverish millions.
A crisis that Mr. Trump had repeatedly asserted was “under control” and hoped would “miraculously” disappear has come to consume his presidency, presenting him with a challenge that he seems only now to be seeing more clearly.
The numbers publicly outlined on Tuesday had forced him over the weekend to reverse his plan to reopen the country by Easter, but they were hardly new or surprising. Experts have been warning of a possibility like this for weeks. But more than ever before, Mr. Trump seemed to acknowledge them.
“I want every American to be prepared for the hard days that lie ahead,” the president said, the starkest such effort he has made to prepare the country for the expected wave of disease and death. “We’re going to go through a very tough two weeks.”
Afterward, he added: “We’re going to start seeing some real light at the end of the tunnel. But this is going to be a very painful — very, very painful — two weeks.”
Under the best-case scenario presented on Tuesday, Mr. Trump will see more Americans die from the coronavirus in the weeks and months to come than Presidents Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon saw die in the Korean and Vietnam Wars combined.
The lowest estimate would claim nearly as many Americans as World War I under President Woodrow Wilson and 14 times as many Americans as Iraq and Afghanistan together under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
That is a daunting realization for any president, one that left Mr. Trump now anticipating “the worst thing that the country has probably ever seen.”
A pandemic is not a war, of course. Mr. Trump did not choose to have a pandemic. But he will be judged on how he responded, and the reviews from many quarters have been scalding even as polls have shown rising public support. While he conceded the bleak picture more fully than before on Tuesday, he continued to rewrite the history of his handling of it.
Despite comparing it to the ordinary flu and saying for weeks that it would pass, the president insisted on Tuesday that he understood all along that it could be a killer of historic proportions. “I thought it could be,” he said. “I knew everything. I knew it could be horrible, and I knew it could be maybe good.”
Mr. Trump said he played down the seriousness of the threat because he chose to be positive. “I want to give people hope,” he said. “You know, I’m a cheerleader for the country.”
He said his friends in business were advising him not to react aggressively to the virus, presumably out of concern for what it could mean for the economy, which now faces certain recession.
“I’ve had many friends, businesspeople, people with great actually common sense — they said, ‘Why don’t we ride it out?’” Mr. Trump said without identifying them. “A lot of people have said, a lot of people have thought about it, ride it out, don’t do anything, just ride it out and think of it as the flu. But it’s not the flu. It’s vicious.”
The president said that whatever his critics say, he himself had not been riding it out, pointing again, as he often does, to his decision at the end of January to limit travel from China, where the first major outbreak occurred, a move that came as airlines were already cutting back flights on their own. Experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, have credited that decision with slowing the spread of the virus to the United States.
But Mr. Trump cites it as if it were the only action that was necessary when specialists said the benefit of the travel restrictions was limited because the United States did not use the time it bought to ramp up testing fast enough.
The president did not explain on Tuesday why testing was so slow, nor did he explain why he waited to recommend canceling large events, closing businesses and schools and limiting group gatherings until after governors began ordering it themselves. Nor did he explain why he publicly declared that the country could reopen as early as Easter, only to reverse himself days later, if he understood all along how bad the situation could get.
At the White House briefing on Tuesday, Dr. Fauci was asked whether the death toll could have been limited below the minimum 100,000 now forecast if social distancing guidelines had been put in place earlier. He said it depended on whether the virus had already arrived in the United States and spread further than was known early on.
“If there was virus there that we didn’t know about, then the answer to your question is probably yes,” he said. “Now, the only trouble with that is that whenever you come out and say something like that, it always becomes almost a sound bite that gets taken out of context.” Dr. Fauci added, “If there was virtually nothing there, then there’s nothing to mitigate.”
All of which is why public health experts have said that early widespread testing would have been so important. “In a perfect world, it would’ve been nice to know what was going on there,” Dr. Fauci told Jim Acosta of CNN, referring to the earliest outbreaks in Asia. “We didn’t, but I believe, Jim, that we acted very, very early in that.”
Mr. Trump asserted that had he not blocked many travelers from China, the United States would have most likely reached closer to the maximum projected death toll of up to 2.2 million. “When you look at it could have been 2.2 million people died and more if we did nothing, if we just did nothing,” he said, then he and the country “have done a great job.” In effect, he seemed to be setting up the argument that any death toll below that will be a validation of his handling of the crisis.
Whatever the eventual number will be, the pandemic of 2020 seems likely to rank with the deadliest of the past century. The worst came in 1918-20 and killed about 675,000 Americans, accounting for many of the deaths attributed to World War I. Another pandemic in 1957-58 killed about 116,000 in the United States, and one in 1968 killed about 100,000. The H1N1 virus in 2009, for which Mr. Trump has assailed Mr. Obama for his response, killed only 12,000.
Mr. Trump and his administration have stepped up efforts in recent weeks, expanding testing and seeking to work with governors to address shortages of ventilators, masks and other medical equipment. The president has dispatched medical ships and Army engineers to help, and after flirting with an early reopening, extended social distancing guidelines until the end of April.
For much of Tuesday’s marathon two-hour and 11-minute briefing, the longest single public appearance of his presidency, according to Factba.se, which monitors his activities, Mr. Trump took on a more somber manner as the scale of the fatalities seemed to sink in.
He jousted to some degree with Mr. Acosta and Yamiche Alcindor of “PBS NewsHour,” two of his favorite foils, but he was more restrained with them than usual and avoided some of the more incendiary language he often uses.
Yet he could not resist for long. By the time the briefing ended, he had lapsed back into complaints about the impeachment “hoax” and renewed attacks on critics like James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, and Mr. Comey’s onetime deputy, Andrew G. McCabe. “Did it divert my attention?” the president asked of the impeachment. “I think I’m getting A-pluses for the way I handled myself during a phony impeachment.”
Still, Mr. Trump, rarely a reflective person in public, mused about the human toll of the pandemic more than he had in the early weeks of the crisis because apparently it has hit his own circle. As he has in the past couple of days, he referred to an overwhelmed hospital in his childhood home of Queens and an unidentified friend he said had been hospitalized with the virus.
“When you send a friend to the hospital and you call up to find out how is he doing,” Mr. Trump said, “it happened to me where goes to the hospital, he says goodbye, sort of a tough guy, a little older, a little heavier than he’d like to be frankly and you call up the next day, how is he doing? And he’s in a coma. This is not the flu.”
  • Updated March 24, 2020
    • How does coronavirus spread?

      It seems to spread very easily from person to person, especially in homes, hospitals and other confined spaces. The pathogen can be carried on tiny respiratory droplets that fall as they are coughed or sneezed out. It may also be transmitted when we touch a contaminated surface and then touch our face.
    • What makes this outbreak so different?

      Unlike the flu, there is no known treatment or vaccine, and little is known about this particular virus so far. It seems to be more lethal than the flu, but the numbers are still uncertain. And it hits the elderly and those with underlying conditions — not just those with respiratory diseases — particularly hard.
    • What should I do if I feel sick?

      If you’ve been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
    • What if somebody in my family gets sick?

      If the family member doesn’t need hospitalization and can be cared for at home, you should help him or her with basic needs and monitor the symptoms, while also keeping as much distance as possible, according to guidelines issued by the C.D.C. If there’s space, the sick family member should stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom. If masks are available, both the sick person and the caregiver should wear them when the caregiver enters the room. Make sure not to share any dishes or other household items and to regularly clean surfaces like counters, doorknobs, toilets and tables. Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently.
    • Should I wear a mask?

      Experts are divided on how much protection a regular surgical mask, or even a scarf, can provide for people who aren’t yet sick. The W.H.O. and C.D.C. say that unless you’re already sick, or caring for someone who is, wearing a face mask isn’t necessary. And stockpiling high-grade N95 masks will make it harder for nurses and other workers to access the resources they need. But researchers are also finding that there are more cases of asymptomatic transmission than were known early on in the pandemic. And a few experts say that masks could offer some protection in crowded places where it is not possible to stay 6 feet away from other people. Masks don’t replace hand-washing and social distancing.
    • Should I stock up on groceries?

      Plan two weeks of meals if possible. But people should not hoard food or supplies. Despite the empty shelves, the supply chain remains strong. And remember to wipe the handle of the grocery cart with a disinfecting wipe and wash your hands as soon as you get home.
    • Should I pull my money from the markets?

      That’s not a good idea. Even if you’re retired, having a balanced portfolio of stocks and bonds so that your money keeps up with inflation, or even grows, makes sense. But retirees may want to think about having enough cash set aside for a year’s worth of living expenses and big payments needed over the next five years.

Mar 11, 2020

US Politics: Bernie Sanders wins the North Dakota Democratic caucus, NBC News projects

Yelena Dzhanova




GP: Bernie Sanders Missouri
Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders addresses a ‘Future to Believe In’ rally at the Family Areana on March 14, 2016 in St. Charles, Missouri.
Michael B. Thomas | AFP | Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., will win the North Dakota Democratic presidential caucus, NBC News projects.
North Dakota has 14 delegates at stake, the smallest prize offered on the March 10 Democratic contests.
Sanders’ victory comes after former Vice President Joe Biden, his chief Democratic rival in the 2020 election, earned a series of early wins Tuesday.
In the 2016 primary, the Vermont senator also won the state, sweeping Democratic rival Hillary Clinton with 64% of the vote to her 26%, according to NBC News.
Michigan, Idaho, Washington, Mississippi and Missouri were also among the states that voted Tuesday. Of those states, Michigan, which Biden won, boasts the largest pledged delegate count, with 125 on the line.
Biden also won Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho. Washington remains too close to call.
The latest round of primaries came a week after Super Tuesday, during which Biden won surprise victories and eked out a pledged delegate lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii remains in the race, but the contest for the Democratic nomination has fallen largely between Biden and Sanders.
In the last two weeks, Biden has received a slew of highly coveted endorsements from his former Democratic rivals who have since dropped their 2020 bids. Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, along with with Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, endorsed him, citing him as the candidate best positioned to beat Trump in November.

Mar 10, 2020

US Politics: Joe Biden tells factory worker 'you're full of s---' during a tense argument over guns

Kevin Breuninger



Leading Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden called a Detroit factory worker “full of s---” in a testy exchange on gun policy Tuesday as voters cast ballots in Michigan’s crucial primary.
Video shared by reporters on Biden’s tour of the Detroit auto plant shows the former vice president surrounded by workers as he argued face to face with a man in a hard hat and an orange high-visibility vest.
The worker accused Biden of “actively trying to end our Second Amendment right.”
Biden immediately responded: “You’re full of s---.”
Biden was visiting with members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers who are building a new Fiat Chrysler assembly plant.
“I support the Second Amendment,” Biden said in the clip. But “the Second Amendment — just like right now, if you yell ‘fire,’ that’s not free speech.”
“I have a shotgun, I have a 20-gauge, a 12-gauge,” Biden said. “You’re not allowed to own [just] any weapon. I’m not taking your gun away at all. You need 100 rounds?”
The worker then claimed Biden had said he was going to take guns away.
“I did not say that! I did not say that!” Biden fired back, raising his voice.
The worker said he had heard Biden make that claim in a viral video.
“It’s a viral video like the other ones that came out” that were “lies,” Biden said.
“Don’t be such a horse’s a--,” Biden added as the exchange grew more heated.
The National Rifle Association quickly shared the video on Twitter. “Joe: Gun owners see through your lies,” the NRA’s official account tweeted.
But Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates and other campaign figures retweeted numerous accounts praising Biden’s stance on gun reform.
“We will literally pay them to keep promoting it,” Bates tweeted, referring to the Trump campaign.
Asked for comment on Biden’s remarks, Bates referred CNBC to his tweet.
The clash with a worker came as Biden worked to win Michigan’s primary — and the bulk of its 125 pledged delegates — and put more distance between him and Sen. Bernie Sanders, who fell behind in polls and delegates after Super Tuesday.
Biden is now considered the clear front-runner to clinch the Democratic nomination and take on President Donald Trump in November.
This is not the first time Biden has locked horns on the campaign trail. After a man in Iowa made baseless accusations about Biden’s son Hunter, the former vice president called the man “a damn liar” and “fat.”
A spokeswoman claimed at the time that Biden had said, “Look, facts,” not “Look, fat,” referring to the man.

Mar 4, 2020

US Politics: Mike Bloomberg drops out of 2020 presidential race, endorses Joe Biden

Yelena Dzhanova, Brian Schwartz



Mike Bloomberg dropped out of the presidential race Wednesday after a poor performance in the Super Tuesday primaries, and immediately endorsed former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy.
“Three months ago, I entered the race for President to defeat Donald Trump,” Bloomberg said in a statement.
“Today, I am leaving the race for the same reason: to defeat Donald Trump – because it is clear to me that staying in would make achieving that goal more difficult,” said the former New York mayor and billionaire, who had spent more than $500 million on his candidacy.
“I’ve always believed that defeating Donald Trump starts with uniting behind the candidate with the best shot to do it. After yesterday’s vote, it is clear that candidate is my friend and a great American, Joe Biden,” Bloomberg said in the statement.
“I’ve known Joe for a very long time. I know his decency, his honesty, and his commitment to the issues that are so important to our country – including gun safety, health care, climate change, and good jobs.”
A campaign aide said the two candidates talked Wednesday morning, prior to the announcement of Bloomberg’s dropout, according to NBC News.
Biden accepted Bloomberg’s endorsement, saying in a tweet that the focus is on “defeating Donald Trump, and with your help, we’re gonna do it.”
Bloomberg’s endorsement of Biden is a major boost for the former vice president’s campaign. Biden’s efforts will get a lift from Bloomberg’s extensive field staff and advertisements that have already been booked in future primary states. Biden will see an assist from Bloomberg’s own technology company Hawkfish. The campaign previously told NBC News that they will keep their operation going, even if Bloomberg was forced to drop out of the race.
Trump gloated about Bloomberg’s departure from the contest.
“Mini Mike Bloomberg just ‘quit’ the race for President,” Trump tweeted. “I could have told him long ago that he didn’t have what it takes, and he would have saved himself a billion dollars, the real cost. Now he will pour money into Sleepy Joe’s campaign, hoping to save face. It won’t work!”
Bloomberg’s embarrassing finish Tuesday night marked the first time he was on the ballot. Had he continued in the race, his candidacy might have taken away votes from Biden, a fellow moderate who’s competing for the nomination with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. With his departure, there are now only four candidates in the race: Biden, Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii.
Despite his massive, unprecedented spending, Bloomberg managed to win only American Samoa on Tuesday night when that territory and 14 states were up for grabs.
Bloomberg jumped into the campaign for the Democratic nomination in November, following weeks of teasing a potential bid. Earlier in 2019, Bloomberg had completely ruled out the possibility of running for president.
His late entry forced him to bypass early voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada, to focus on delegate-rich Super Tuesday. The strategy didn’t pay off.
Bloomberg launched his bid with a $31 million TV ad blitz, breaking former President Barack Obama’s record campaign spending of $24 million on TV ads in one week. He ended up spending hundreds of millions of his own dollars on his campaign.
Progressive candidates Warren and Sanders, who have pushed for a wealth tax on millionaires and billionaires to fund programs like Medicare for All, accused the centrist of trying to buy the nomination.
Bloomberg’s net worth, according to Forbes, is about $60 billion.
Major ad spending helped him gained traction in national polls, putting him in third place in at one point, behind Sanders and Biden.
But he took a drubbing on the debate stage in February when he was attacked by Warren for his alleged sexist behavior in the workplace. Bloomberg had not qualified for prior debates because he did not accept donor contributions and so did not meet the required threshold. The Democratic National Committee changed the rules in late January, paving the way for his participation.
Trump also made a habit out of mocking Bloomberg’s 2020 bid, dubbing him “Mini Mike,” a moniker that he used to taunt his potential rival as Super Tuesday results rolled in.
“The biggest loser tonight, by far, is Mini Mike Bloomberg,” Trump tweeted Tuesday. “His ‘political’ consultants took him for a ride. $700 million washed down the drain, and he got nothing for it but the nickname Mini Mike, and the complete destruction of his reputation. Way to go Mike!”
Since leaving the mayor’s office in 2013, the one-time Republican and former Independent has doubled down on causes dear to the left. His anti-gun violence group Everytown for Gun Safety, battled the powerful National Rifle Association, helping numerous Democrats win elections at the national and state levels during the 2018 midterms and in more recent contests. He also launched Beyond Carbon, a coordinated campaign to fight climate change.
But he wasn’t able to translate those actions into votes. 

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