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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

COVID Week

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.   


More than 60,000 people in the U.S. have now officially died from the coronavirus, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University shows.

The increasingly grim figure exceeds predictions President Donald Trump made just last week when he sought to frame a maximum of 50,000 to 60,000 total deaths as a win for America and a validation of his administration’s highly criticized pandemic response.

“We did the right thing because if we didn’t do it, you would have had a million people, a million and a half people, maybe 2 million people dead,” Trump said. “Now, we’re going toward 50, I’m hearing, or 60,000 people.”

“One is too many. I always say it: One is too many,” he continued. “But we’re going toward 50- or 60,000 people. That’s at the lower — as you know, the low number was supposed to be 100,000 people. We — we could end up at 50 to 60.”
At NYT, Peter Baker reports that Trump has replaced Chriti A. Grimm, the HHS principal deputy inspector general who reported on testing delays and supply shortages.
The nomination was the latest effort by Mr. Trump against watchdog offices around his administration that have defied him. In recent weeks, he fired an inspector general involved in the inquiry that led to the president’s impeachment, nominated a White House aide to another key inspector general post overseeing virus relief spending and moved to block still another inspector general from taking over as chairman of a pandemic spending oversight panel.

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Her report, released last month and based on extensive interviews with hospitals around the country, identified critical shortages of supplies, revealing that hundreds of medical centers were struggling to obtain test kits, protective gear for staff members and ventilators. Mr. Trump was embarrassed by the report at a time he was already under fire for playing down the threat of the virus and not acting quickly enough to ramp up testing and provide equipment to doctors and nurses.

“It’s just wrong,” the president said when asked about the report on April 6. “Did I hear the word ‘inspector general’? Really? It’s wrong. And they’ll talk to you about it. It’s wrong.” He then sought to find out who wrote the report. “Where did he come from, the inspector general? What’s his name? No, what’s his name? What’s his name?”

When the reporter did not know, Mr. Trump insisted. “Well, find me his name,” the president said. “Let me know.” He expressed no interest in the report’s findings except to categorically reject them sight unseen. 
Greg Miller and Ellen Nakashima at WP:
U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel coronavirus in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.

The repeated warnings were conveyed in issues of the President’s Daily Brief, a sensitive report that is produced before dawn each day and designed to call the president’s attention to the most significant global developments and security threats.

For weeks, the PDB — as the report is known — traced the virus’s spread around the globe, made clear that China was suppressing information about the contagion’s transmissibility and lethal toll, and raised the prospect of dire political and economic consequences.


But the alarms appear to have failed to register with the president, who routinely skips reading the PDB and has at times shown little patience for even the oral summary he takes two or three times per week, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.