Several Senators unloaded stock holdings after receiving an early briefing on the potential severity of the pandemic, but before the markets tanked. Some of them have valid explanations but at least two remain extremely suspect. Richard Burr offloaded up to (we don’t have exact numbers, only ranges) $1.7 million on Feb. 13 while Kelly Loeffler also sold off millions of shares. Loeffler has claimed she has no knowledge or input into her stock portfolio, but not only were these the first sales she made in 2020, she also bought stock in a company involved in telecommuting which has INCREASED in value as the rest of the market has plummeted. Both senators have agreed to an ethics investigation.
The president was instituting a change that would remove food stamp access from 700,000 families. The White House said they would be proceeding with this change in April regardless of the coronavirus outbreak. A judge has blocked this from going into effect.
I don’t want to summarize this Washington Post article on the administration’s response to the outbreak. You should read the entire thing here.
After massive customs delays at international terminals in US airports, the governor of Illinois took to Twitter to shame the federal government into providing more agents to handle the influx, which was exacerbated by the botched rollout of the European travel ban. The governor heard from the White House, but it wasn’t to work on they problem. They yelled at him over the phone for criticizing them publicly.
In the middle of the outbreak, President Trump took to Twitter today to attack “fake news” (twice), post a story about Hillary Clinton’s emails, attack Chuck Schumer, attack the FBI while floating a pardon for Michael Flynn, shift the blame for the coronavirus mistakes to the states, and call the debate “boring.” In particular, he attacked the media for their accurate story covering his lie about the website being worked on by a Google sister company. He said no one called Google about it. Dozens of reporters did. He lied.
When Trump announced that flights from Europe were being suspended (which wasn’t true), not only did we fail to inform any European countries, but we also didn’t tell our own diplomatic staff. The embassies were scrambling to find out what was happening for hours with no guidance from the State Department.
The president said that a canceled fundraiser for Cory Gardner would be moved to the White House. This is illegal. The Gardner campaign had to clarify that the event was not a fundraiser.
In both a tweet and during today’s press conference, Trump blamed Obama for the slow testing rollout. This is a lie he’s repeated several times.
Matt Schlapp, who runs the CPAC conference where several congressman came into contact with someone infected with the coronavirus, said that 2,000 screenings were done on attendees at the hotel. According to the hotel and the health department, he is lying and the actual number is zero. Schlapp’s only response to the story is to call it “fake news.”
During today’s press conference, Trump announced Google was building a nationwide website for screening the coronavirus with 1700 engineers working on it. He said it would be available soon. He lied. The website will be for Bay Area residents only and doesn’t have nearly that many staff working on it. Google (or rather the Google sister company working on it) was not informed he would be making this announcement and almost immediately corrected the president.
The White House sent signed copies of today’s DOW performance to several conservative members of the media to highlight the market rising during today’s press conference. They scheduled everything so the CEOs he invited would be speaking until the markets closed. Trump started taking questions after his answers could no longer affect the market.
During that press conference, Trump said he closed the border with Europe “a while ago.” It hasn’t taken effect yet. When a reporter, Yamiche Alcindor, asked him about closing down the pandemic task force which should be overseeing our actions right now, Trump said it was a “nasty question” then said he didn’t know anything about it and didn’t think he’d done it. He has taken credit for it in the past.