POLITICO Playbook: The coronavirus show against reality


President Donald Trump is pictured. | Getty Images

A scolding letter that President Donald Trump sent to senatorial minority leader Chuck Schumer appears to be nothing more than a Republican public relations letter. | Win McNamee / Getty Images

MORE THAN 6,000 people have died of the new coronavirus in the United States. And our country is locked up, crazy at home, trying to make sense of an endless quarantine as winter approaches spring.

OUR POLITICAL LEADERS? Seemingly crazy also, engaged in quarrels that seem absurd, hatched arguments that are detached from reality and involved in kayfabe hijinks that assume that we are a bunch of dope.

– THE SHOW: President DONALD TRUMP sent head of the minority Senate CHUCK SCHUMER a letter Thursday, berating him for being partisan, calling him a bad senator and stating that a note the New Yorker had sent him was a “Democratic public relations letter.” REALITY: The letter the president sent to Schumer appears to be nothing more than a Republican public relations letter, because SCHUMER and ASSET had been on the phone twice that day, said Schumer’s office. President warned SCHUMER he was sending the letter “very mean”, but would try to stop him and apologize if he couldn’t. Marianne LeVine in both directions“New York hospitals ration fans, modernize equipment amid coronavirus crash”

THE SHOW: USNS Comfort – a hospital ship – sailed the Hudson River this week to help relieve New York hospitals overwhelmed by the coronavirus crisis. Images of the white ship with a red cross in front of the Statue of Liberty flooded Twitter. People took this as a sign of hope that the United States government would help its most iconic city in its working time. REALITY: The NYT reports this morning that the ship has only taken 20 patients and that “the 1,000 beds are largely unused, its 1,200-member crew is mostly inactive.” The head of New York’s largest hospital system told The Times, “If I’m being frank, it’s a joke. ” NYT history

THE SHOW: JARED KUSHNER, Thursday in the briefing room of the White House, explaining the national strategic stock: “The notion of federal stock was supposed to be our stock. These are not meant to be the state stocks they use next. So we encourage states to make sure they assess the needs, they get the data for their local situation and then try to fill it with the supplies we have provided. ” REALITY: The National Strategic Stockpile website: “When state, local, tribal and territorial responders request federal assistance to support their response efforts, the stock ensures that the right drugs and supplies get to those who need them most. emergency. “

THE SHOW: The Trump administration has sometimes touted the provision of the second phase coronavirus bill that would allow generous paid leave. REALITY: The NYT reports this morning that the Labor Department has curbed policy through rule-making, and now “75 percent of American workers work in companies that qualify for exemptions from the law. ” NYT

Happy Friday.

TODAY IS DAY – we will get the new unemployment figures. BUT… WSJ: “The unprecedented unemployment insurance claims triggered by the coronavirus pandemic in the past two weeks are unlikely to materialize in the March unemployment report.

“It’s because the government uses different timelines and methods to collect data for separate reports. The Department of Labor releases a national compilation of unemployment insurance claims for the previous week every Thursday, giving a fairly quick read of the rapid changes in the US labor market.

“The monthly unemployment report, a separate business, provides a more complete view of the labor market, but the timing of surveys for this data preceded the widespread impact of the virus on the economy. A household survey that determines the unemployment rate asked Americans if they reported working during the week of March 8-14. Many stops related to the coronavirus occurred the following week. “

NYT, A14: “Kushner gets in the middle of the chaotic White House coronavirus response” by Peter Baker, Maggie Haberman, Zolan Kanno-Youngs and Noah Weiland: “At one of the most perilous moments in modern American history, Mr. Kushner tries in a rambling White House to bring government forces together for war that his father-the brother-in-law says he’s leading. A real estate developer with neither the medical expertise of a public health official nor the experience of mobilizing a general, Mr. Kushner has nonetheless become a key player in the response to the pandemic. …

“Some officials have said that Mr. Kushner mainly added another layer of confusion with this answer, while taking into account the changes already underway and not achieving the promised improvements. He promoted a national testing website and an extensive network of driving test sites. Neither has materialized.

“He claimed to have helped narrow the gap between his stepfather and General Motors in a presidential blast on ventilator production, an administration official said, but the White House is still struggling to get enough ventilators and other medical equipment. “

– MAGGIE SEVERNS: “Kushner should benefit from a freeze on federal mortgage payments”: “Jared Kushner’s family business could be the primary beneficiary of a provision in the federal clawback bill that allows building owners to freeze federal mortgage payments on low and moderate income properties.

“Kushner Companies, the real estate company started in 1985 by Kushner’s father, Charles, controls thousands of low and moderate housing across the country, some of which is funded by a $ 800-million federal-backed loan the company received in 2019.

“The option for homeowners to temporarily freeze mortgage payments on low- and moderate-income housing developments, in exchange for a promise not to evict tenants who can’t pay their rent, was one of the economic arrangements approved by Congress and promulgated by President Donald Trump this week last. It is seen as a way to keep apartment dwellers on low-income homes, but has also shifted the housing burden from their owners to the federal government and taxpayers.

“Because Kushner companies, like many real estate companies, establishes buildings as a network of individual LLCs, it may be possible for him to obtain federal assistance for certain buildings even if he has enough money to cover mortgage payments, said Shekar Narasimhan, real estate finance expert and managing partner of the firm. Beekman advisers. ”

FT: “The White House tried to force 3M to send masks from Singapore to the United States”, by James Politi, Demetri Sevastopulo and Lauren Fedor, and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York: “The White House tried to force 3M to export masks to the United States from its hub in Singapore while tensions with the Minnesota-based manufacturer was spreading widely. in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

“3M this week resisted requests from White House officials to send about 10m of N95 respiratory masks being produced in Singapore for Asian markets in the United States, according to a person with first-hand knowledge of the matter. The company was reluctant to accept the White House’s request on legal and humanitarian grounds, as medical workers in the area would be deprived of protection, the person said. “

LAT: “The Trump administration has ended the pandemic early warning program to detect coronaviruses”, by Emily Baumgaertner and James Rainey: “Two months before the new coronavirus begins its deadly advance in Wuhan, China, the Trump administration has ended a $ 200 million pandemic early warning program aimed at train scientists in China and other countries to detect and respond to such a threat.

“The project, launched by the United States Agency for International Development in 2009, has identified 1,200 different viruses that can trigger pandemics, including more than 160 new coronaviruses. The initiative, called PREDICT, also trained and supported staff in 60 foreign laboratories – including the Wuhan laboratory that identified SARS-CoV-2, the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19. “

PHIL RUCKER OF WAPO and BOB COSTA: “Commander of the confusion: Trump is sowing uncertainty and trying to blame the coronavirus crisis”: “While Trump has sought to revive his public image of that of a skeptic of the danger of the pandemic for a disaster rescuing and protecting hundreds of thousands of people from a vicious contagion, he has also distorted the truth, doing changes and creating illusions in many turns.

“Trump’s machinations have a tenacious showman quality, using its ubiquity at daily White House press conferences – which sometimes span two hours or more and are broadcast to millions of people – to try to erase memories of its two months of minimizing the crisis . He sometimes berates journalists who question his version of events. »WaPo

MORE UNCERTAINTY ON THE MARKET – “World stocks are falling after soaring oil prices” by Chong Koh Ping and Anna Hirtenstein of WSJ: “The stock markets around the world fell on Friday, as investors weighed the first indications of the effects of the coronavirus on the American labor market and the prospects for a sustained recovery in prices petrol. Futures contracts in the United States edged down as securities linked to the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.8%. In Europe, the pan-continental Stoxx Europe 600 slipped 0.2%.

“Crude Brent, the global gauge of oil prices, Continuing its rebound on Friday, advancing 5.5% to $ 31.57 a barrel. On Thursday, it jumped 21%, marking its biggest percentage gain on a day ever recorded, based on data dating back to 1988. “WSJ

THE VIRTUAL HALLWAY PLAYBOOK – REPRESENTATIVE. ERIC SWALWELL, a Californian Democrat representing East Bay sends along these thoughts from the post-coronavirus world:

– 1) “We need to fund and mass-distribute a test that can determine if anyone has ever had Covid19, that is, an antibody-based test. This will allow us to know the depth and extent of the spread, but also to allow these people to return to the economy (or hospitals to help those who need it). “

– 2) “Make sure every small business knows they can keep their people. And every bank should know that they can finance this with SBA funds on their way. Too many people are being fired needlessly because it is not known. Most small businesses are unaware that the paycheck protection program offers a repayable loan for 2.5 months of pay if the money goes directly to wages / benefits. Can also use 25% to pay rent / mortgage and utilities. “

– 3) “Pay attention to our students. It disturbed them in a formative part of their life. They are the future and will need a way back to campus. Too many of them have shared with me that they just wouldn’t come back, at least in the short term. “

NO. 3 – readjusting middle school students – is a very interesting point.

ALEX ISENSTADT: “The deadly legal battle in progress that could decide the elections”: “President Donald Trump’s political operation is launching a multi-million dollar legal campaign to prevent Democrats from drastically changing the voting rules in response to the coronavirus epidemic.

“In recent weeks, the re-election campaign and the National Republican Committee helped oversee the maneuvers in a handful of battlefield states to stop some democratic efforts to change voting laws and strengthen Trump. The mobilization is closely coordinated with the Republicans at the state and local levels.

“The Trump campaign and RNC are actively engaged in disputes in Wisconsin, where the parties disagree on a range of issues, including voter identification, and in New Mexico, where the battle involves voting by mail. The skirmish also spread to key states like Pennsylvania and Georgia, where Trump’s well-organized apparatus fought for changes that could affect the outcome of the election.

“The business – which includes more than two dozen GOP officials, including lawyers fully dedicated to litigation, show how the pandemic has shaken up the 2020 elections. Although disputes over voting issues are not uncommon, the coronavirus – and the likely obstacles that it will create for the vote in November – placed the issue at the forefront of the campaign. »POLITICO

– “Biden ready for the Wisconsin eruption,” by Natasha Korecki and Marc Caputo


  • CBS

    “Facing the nation”: Scott Gottlieb… Michael Dowling… Luana Marques.

  • FOX

    “Fox News Sunday”: Bill Gates… the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer. Sign: Jason Chaffetz, Jane Harman and Guy Benson.

  • Gray television

    “Complete judicial press with Greta Van Susteren”: VP Mike Pence.

  • Sinclair TV

    “America this week with Eric Bolling”: Deborah Birx… Mark Cuban… Thomas Keller… Dave Campbell… Dena Grayson. Sign: Sebastian Gorka and Ameshia Cross.

  • CNN

    “Inside Politics”: Megan Ranney, Ashish Jha, Mark Zandi, Christine Romans, Maggie Haberman, David Gergen and Craig Fugate.

  • NBC

    “Meet the press”: Panel: Helene Cooper, Kasie Hunt and Pat McCrory.

FRIDAY TRUMP – The President will participate in a round table with energy leaders at 3:00 p.m. in the oval office.

– THE CORONAVIRUS WORKING GROUP will hold an information meeting at 5:00 p.m.

THE WFH TO READ … One more of the great BILL NACK in Sports Illustrated, this time on Rick Pitino (this one is for JMart): SI, February 26, 1996: “Full judicial pressure”

NYT: “C.I.A. Hunt authentic virus totals in China, rejecting government accounts ”, by Julian Barnes: “The CIA has warned the White House since at least early February that China has largely underestimated its coronavirus infections and that its number could not be invoked while the United States compiles predictive models to fight against the virus, according to current and former intelligence officials.

“The information sessions of the past few weeks, based at least in part on information from C.I.A. assets in China, played an important role in President Trump’s negotiations on Thursday on an apparent detente with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Since then, the two countries have intensified their mutual criticism. “

INSIDE THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL … DANIEL LIPPMAN and MERIDITH MCGRAW: “Two and a half weeks ago, [deputy national security adviser Matt] Pottinger moved from his old office in the west wing to an isolated part of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building … [and] took half of the NSC support staff with him.

“Although Pottinger makes frequent phone calls with [national security adviser Robert] O’Brien, he doesn’t interact much with him in person in case one of them gets infected. And Pottinger, as an MP, is ready to intervene temporarily if O’Brien catches the virus and is unable to fulfill his duties … When Pottinger and O’Brien meet in person, they both wear masks. … Pottinger even wore a mask in front of Trump, for fear of being able to transmit the virus to the president or another senior official even if he was asymptomatic. Trump found the mask for the NSC deputy “very amusing,” the administration official said. »POLITICO

PLAYBOOK METRO SECTION – “The federal government gave D.C. a fraction of what it wanted to fight the coronavirus”, Antonio Olivo, Jenna Portnoy and Fenit Nirappil of WaPo: “Washington area leaders criticized the Trump administration on Thursday for large shortages in the number of hospital ventilators, respiratory masks, gloves and gloves. ‘other supplies delivered from a national stock to help combat the rapid spread. new coronavirus.

“Virginia, Maryland and the district received only a fraction of the equipment they requested from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the district receiving no hospital ventilators and Maryland none of the nasal swabs used for testing, according to documents released Thursday by the House oversight committee. »WaPo

BEYOND THE BELT – “” It’s a sandwich … “: Republicans are raging as Florida becomes a nightmare for Trump,” by Gary Fineout and Marc Caputo in Tallahassee: “The staggering unemployment which explodes on President Donald Trump’s watch would worry any outgoing re-election candidate, but the problems in Florida inject an additional dose of fear into a nervous GOP.

“Already worried about Trump’s chances In the nation’s largest swing state, Republicans are now dealing with thousands of unemployed people unable to navigate the Florida system to ask for help. And the flashback is directed directly to Trump’s best allies in the state, Governor Ron DeSantis and Senator Rick Scott.

“In private, Republicans admit that the $ 77.9 million system Florida workers are doing exactly what Scott plans to do now – reducing the number of state-run jobless claims after the Great Recession. “It’s a sandwich, and it was designed this way by Scott,” said a DeSantis consultant. “It was not about saving money. It was to make it more difficult for people to get benefits or keep benefits so that the unemployment rate was low to give the governor something to brag about. »» POLITICO Florida

ON THE HUNT – “The Hunter Biden probe goes ahead after the senators clashed in a classified briefing”, by Andrew Desiderio and Betsy Woodruff Swan: “A key Senate committee is committed to continuing its investigation into the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, Hunter, despite the logistical challenges posed by the global coronavirus pandemic.

“The probe, which the Democrats vigorously oppose, has fueled tensions in the Senate ranks, even leading to a rare and unreported verbal altercation between senators during a confidential briefing.

“The Senate Committee on Homeland Security The Republican-led investigation entered a critical phase last month when senators abandoned all non-essential work to focus on providing economic and medical aid as the coronavirus reached a crisis point in the United States. The Senate is not expected to return to Washington until April 20 at the earliest. »POLITICO


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