- President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 late Thursday and was admitted into the hospital later the next morning; however, on Saturday, his doctors seemed to indicate that they had known Trump was positive for the virus since Wednesday.
- If true, Trump held two events while knowingly positive.
- His doctors walked back that statement on Saturday, saying they misspoke. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has also said that Trump first tested positive following a fundraiser on Thursday.
- Despite this, it has been confirmed that Trump knowingly attended that event after finding out that his senior counselor, Hope Hicks — who he had been exposed to — had tested positive.
Thursday: Trump Diagnosed
President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 late Thursday night. By Monday, he announced that he was set to be discharged from the hospital he had checked into on Friday.
Just after midnight Eastern time on Friday, the president announced that he and First Lady Melania Trump had tested positive. That announcement came just several hours after confirmation that Trump’s senior counselor, Hope Hicks, had tested positive.
Later into the morning, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters that Trump had “mild symptoms.” Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Trump had announced his coronavirus test result within an hour of receiving it.
That afternoon, the White House announced that Trump had since received a dose of Regeneron, an experimental drug cocktail that’s shown promising results in improving COVID-19 symptoms.
“I want to thank everybody for the tremendous support,” Trump said Friday evening. “I’m going to Walter Reed Hospital. I think I’m doing very well, but we’re going to make sure that things work out. The first lady is doing very well, so thank you very much. I appreciate it. I will never forget it. Thank you.”
Saturday: When Did Trump First Learn He Had COVID?
Trump’s doctors held a press conference Saturday morning where they said Trump had experienced a fever Thursday into Friday morning; however, by this point, they said Trump had been fever-free for 24 hours.
“Just 72 hours into the diagnosis now, the first week of Covid, and in particular days 7 to 10, are the most critical in determining the course of this illness,” White House physician Sean P. Conley said outside Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. “At this time, the team and I are extremely happy with the progress the president has made. Thursday, he had a mild cough with some nasal congestion, fatigue, all of which are now resolving and improving.”
Additionally, Dr. Brian Garibaldi said Trump received “a special antibody therapy” (AKA, Regeneron) 48 hours before the press conference.
Both of those statements are critically important because, if true, that would shift the timeline from when Trump said he was diagnosed.
Conley said, on Saturday, Trump was “72 hours into the diagnosis,” which would mean that Trump actually tested positive on Wednesday morning. The same is true with Garibaldi’s statement. If Trump received Regeneron 48 hours before this press conference, that would put it somewhere around midday Thursday.
In fact, this timeline would be rather damning for Trump. That’s because on Wednesday night, he held an outdoor rally in Minnesota. On Thursday, he then flew to New Jersey for a fundraiser — which included both indoor and outdoor events.
Notably, on Friday, Meadows himself said that Trump and his team knew Hicks had tested positive and that he had been exposed to her before the event. Despite this, Trump still decided to go to the fundraiser, even though others she had contact with were pulled from the trip.
Thus, many reporters were quick to ask Conley about this discrepancy, and at Saturday’s press conference, they asked him to clarify when Trump first got a positive diagnosis.
Conley largely refused to answer the question directly and would not reveal when Trump’s last negative test was. Instead, he affirmed that he had done “repeated testing” on Trump Thursday afternoon and that late that night, the results confirmed Trump was positive.
Reporters also asked about whether Trump had been put on supplemental oxygen at any point, as had been reported while he was on his way to the hospital. At first, Conley dodged this question, saying Trump wasn’t currently on oxygen. After repeated questions, Conley finally said that Trump had not yet received any oxygen at all.
A few hours after the press conference, the White House walked back the timeline given by Trump’s doctors, saying that Trump was diagnosed on Thursday night. Conley also backed that up in a revised statement, saying he misspoke and meant “Day 3” instead of “72 hours.”
But the conflicting reports don’t stop there. That same day, reporters quoted Meadows as saying, “The president’s vitals over the last 24 hours were very concerning and the next 48 hours will be critical in terms of his care. We’re still not on a clear path to a full recovery.”
Notably, that’s a lot different than the much more rosy picture Trump’s doctors presented.
As far as Trump himself goes, on Saturday, he tweeted that he felt well. In that same tweet, he referred to COVID-19 as a “PLAGUE.”
“I came here, wasn’t feeling so well,” Trump later said in a video tweet recorded at Walter Reed. “I feel much better now.”
“But this is something that’s happened and it’s happened to millions of people all over the world, and I’m fighting for them. Not just in the U.S. I’m fighting for them all over the world. We’re going to beat this coronavirus or whatever you want to call it, and we’re going to beat it soundly.”
However, with this video, many have also pointed out that just after the one minute mark — after saying the word “therapeutics” — a moment where Trump appears to cough seems to have been edited out.
Sunday: Conley Admits Trump Was Put on Oxygen
At a subsequent press conference on Sunday, Conley said that Trump’s conditions have continued to improve.
Despite this, he announced that Trump had been placed on dexamethasone, a drug that’s being used to reduce lung inflammation in COVID-19 patients who require supplemental oxygen. That statement again raised red flags, leading reporters to once again ask whether the president has been administered supplemental oxygen.
This time, Conley flat out admitted Trump had received oxygen on Friday for about an hour while still at the White House — even though on Saturday, he had explicitly denied that Trump had been put on oxygen.
“I didn’t want to give any information that might steer the course of illness in another direction,” Conley said to that point. “In doing so it came off that we were trying to hide something, which wasn’t necessarily true. The fact of the matter is he is doing really well.”
Conley also noted that Trump’s oxygen levels had dipped below normal on Saturday but said he didn’t know if Trump had been put on oxygen for that. On Monday, Conley confirmed that Trump had been given a second round of oxygen.
Sunday: Trump’s Motorcade
Trump again provided another video update on Sunday, where this time, he said: “I also think we’re going to pay a little surprise to some of the great patriots we have out on the street, and they’ve been out there for a long time, and they’ve got Trump flags, and they love our country, so I’m not telling anybody but you, but I’m about to make a little surprise visit.”
Shortly after that, Trump waved to supporters on the street while in a motorcade.
“God bless our president,” one supporter can be heard shouting as Trump’s vehicle drives away. “I will die for him. I will die for that man happily. I will die for him. Anybody wanna mess with him, you mess with me first. He is a hero, that man.
While this motorcade was mostly likely about optics — especially since the elections are now less than a month away — it also involved a fair amount of risk since Trump needed a driver.
White House spokesperson Judd Deere has said that Trump’s trip “was cleared by the medical team as safe to do.” He also added that precautions like personal protective equipment were taken to protect Trump, White House officials, and secret service agents.
Still, that hasn’t quelled criticism. In fact, James Phillips, an attending physician at Walter Reed, condemned the move.
“Every single person in the vehicle during that completely unnecessary Presidential ‘drive-by’ just now has to be quarantined for 14 days,” he said on Twitter. “They might get sick. They may die. For political theater. Commanded by Trump to put their lives at risk for theater. This is insanity.”
Other medical experts have now also offered similar criticisms.
According to the CDC’s own guidelines, transport of COVID-19 patients is supposed to be limited only “to medically essential purposes.”
Sunday: Trump Did Not Disclose First Positive
The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Trump had first received a positive result early Thursday evening; however, after receiving this first test result, he said on Fox News that he was still awaiting his results.
He only later disclosed his diagnosis after a second, more accurate test result came back positive, which was announced in his original tweet early Friday morning.
Reportedly, Trump at one point even told an advisor not to disclose their own positive test result.
Following this news, reporters pressed McEnany to confirm on Sunday whether Trump had been tested before last Tuesday’s debate or before the New Jersey fundraiser on Thursday. To those questions, McEany would not say, though she did say that Trump’s first positive test came after that fundraiser.
Others Test Positive
On Monday, McEnany herself announced that she had tested positive for the virus. Shortly after that, it was confirmed that two of her aides have also tested positive.
That news follows a slew of other high-profile Republicans (and others) who had been around the president in the last week testing positive. This includes:
- RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel
- Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R)
- Former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway
- Sen. Mike Lee (R-Ut.)
- Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC.)
- Trump campaign manager Bill Stepien
- Assistant to the President Nicholas Luna
- Three unnamed journalists
See what others are saying: (CNN) (USA Today) (Associated Press)
Biden Policy Pushes for Electric Cars To Make Up Half of U.S. Auto Sales by 2030
While the country’s largest automakers have signed onto the plan, experts say the goal will be difficult to achieve.
Biden’s Car Emissions Plan
President Joe Biden unveiled a new multi-pronged policy Thursday aimed at reducing vehicle emissions that has been described as one of his administration’s most significant efforts to combat climate change so far.
The first part of the plan directs relevant agencies to restore and strengthen mileage standards that were implemented by former President Barack Obama but rolled back under former President Donald Trump.
The Trump administration estimated that its own standard would lead cars produced during the term of the rule to emit nearly a billion more tons of carbon dioxide and consume around 80 billion more gallons of gas over their lifetime.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses in the U.S., composing around 29% of the country’s total emissions.
As a result, the second part of Biden’s new plan aims to address a more long-term goal through an executive order that sets a new target to make electric cars half of all new vehicles sold by 2030.
A White House factsheet published Thursday morning outlined a series of proposals for the president to achieve his goal, which included:
- Installing a national network of electric vehicle charging stations.
- Implementing consumer incentives to encourage manufacturing and union jobs.
- Funding changes and expansions to domestic manufacturing supply chains.
- Developing new clean technologies.
The 2030 target is voluntary, but America’s “Big Three” automakers — Ford, GM, and Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler) — issued a joint statement announcing “their shared aspiration to achieve sales of 40-50% of annual U.S. volumes of electric vehicles by 2030.”
The United Auto Workers union has also backed the plan, though it said it was more focused on ensuring its members maintained jobs than it was on setting specific goals and deadlines.
While the plan has the backing of major auto industry players, there are still many hurdles. Experts say it is impossible for electric vehicles to become half of all cars without making electric charging stations as common as gas stations.
But the bipartisan infrastructure plan that Congress and Biden have painstakingly negotiated for months only includes $7.5 billion for vehicle chargers — just half the price tag the president initially called for to build 500,000 recharging spots.
Given the stalemate in Congress, as well as the significant lobbying power of Big Oil, it is unclear how much can be achieved legislatively.
Even key members of Biden’s own party have expressed hesitancy.
For example, a budget plan recently proposed by Democrats includes provisions that would provide new tax breaks and subsidies for buying electric vehicles. Democratic leaders have said they want to pass the budget through reconciliation, meaning they only need a simple majority and thus will not require any Republican votes.
However, in order to do so, the party needs all 50 senators to agree to the package. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who recently said he has “grave concerns” about Biden’s desired speed to adopt electric vehicles, has already signaled that he will not support increased subsidies for the cars.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (NPR)
Biden Calls on Congress To Extend Eviction Moratorium
The move comes just two days before the federal ban is set to expire.
Eviction Freeze Set To Expire
President Joe Biden asked Congress on Thursday to extend the federal eviction moratorium for another month just two days before the ban was set to expire.
The request follows a Supreme Court decision last month, where the justices ruled the evictions freeze could stay in place until it expired on July 31. That decision was made after a group of landlords sued, arguing that the moratorium was illegal under the public health law the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had relied on to implement it.
While the court did not provide reasons for its ruling, Justice Brett Kavanaugh issued a short concurring opinion explaining that although he thought the CDC “exceeded its existing statutory authority,” he voted not to end the program because it was already set to expire in a month.
In a statement Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki cited the Supreme Court decision, as well as the recent surge in COVID cases, as reasons for the decision to call on Congress.
“Given the recent spread of the delta variant, including among those Americans both most likely to face evictions and lacking vaccinations, President Biden would have strongly supported a decision by the CDC to further extend this eviction moratorium to protect renters at this moment of heightened vulnerability,” she said.
“Unfortunately, the Supreme Court has made clear that this option is no longer available.”
Delays in Relief Distribution
The move comes as the administration has struggled to distribute the nearly $47 billion in rental relief funds approved as part of two coronavirus relief packages passed in December and March, respectively.
Nearly seven months after the first round of funding was approved, the Treasury Department has only allocated $3 billion of the reserves, and just 600,000 tenants have been helped under the program.
A total of 7.4 million households are behind on rent according to the most recent data from the Census Bureau. An estimated 3.6 million of those households could face eviction in the next two months if the moratorium expires.
The distribution problems largely stem from the fact that many states and cities tasked with allocating the fund had no infrastructure to do so, causing the aid to be held up by delays, confusion, and red tape.
Some states opened portals that were immediately overwhelmed, prompting them to close off applications, while others have faced technical glitches.
According to The Washington Post, just 36 out of more than 400 states, counties, and cities that reported data to the Treasury Department were able to spend even half of the money allotted them by the end of June. Another 49 — including New York — had not spent any funds at all.
Slim Chances in Congress
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) urged her colleagues to approve an extension for the freeze Thursday night, calling it “a moral imperative” and arguing that “families must not pay the price” for the slow distribution of aid.
However, Biden’s last-minute call for Congress to act before members leave for their August recess is all but ensured to fail.
While the House Rules Committee took up a measure Thursday night that would extend the moratorium until the end of this year, the only way it could pass in the Senate would be through a procedure called unanimous consent, which can be blocked by a single dissenting vote.
Some Senate Republicans have already rejected the idea.
“There’s no way I’m going to support this. It was a bad idea in the first place,” Senator Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) told reporters. “Owners have the right to action. They need to have recourse for the nonpayment of rent.”
With the hands of the CDC tied and Congressional action seemingly impossible, the U.S. could be facing an unprecedented evictions crisis Saturday, even though millions of Americans who will now risk losing their homes should have already received rental assistance to avert this exact situation.
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The New York Times) (The Associated Press)
Mississippi Asks Supreme Court To Overturn Roe v. Wade
The Supreme Court’s decision to consider Mississippi’s restrictive abortion ban already has sweeping implications for the precedents set under the landmark reproductive rights ruling, but now the state is asking the high court to go even further.
Mississippi’s Abortion Case
Mississippi filed a brief Thursday asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade when it hears the state’s 15-week abortion ban this fall.
After months of deliberation, the high court agreed in May to hear what will be the first abortion case the 6-to-3 conservative majority will decide.
Both a district judge and a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit had ruled that Mississippi could not enforce the 2018 law that banned nearly all abortions at 15 weeks with exceptions for only “severe fetal abnormality,” but not rape and incest.
If the Supreme Court upholds the Mississippi law, it would undo decades of precedent set under Roe in 1973 and upheld under Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992, where the court respectively ruled and reaffirmed that states could not ban abortion before the fetus is “viable” and can live outside the womb, which is generally around 24 to 28 weeks.
When the justices decided to hear the case, they said they would specifically examine the question of whether “all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional.”
Depending on the scope of their decision on the Mississippi law, the court’s ruling could allow other states to pass much more restrictive abortion bans without the risk of lower courts striking down those laws.
As a result, legal experts have said the case will represent the most significant ruling on reproductive rights since Casey nearly three decades ago, and the Thursday brief raises the stakes even more.
When Mississippi asked the justices to take up its case last June, the state’s attorney general, Lynn Fitch (R), explicitly stated that the petition’s questions “do not require the Court to overturn Roe or Casey.”
But that was before the court’s conservatives solidified their supermajority with the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett — who personally opposes abortion — following the death of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
New Filing Takes Aim at Roe
With the new filing, it appears that Fitch views the high court’s altered makeup as an opportunity to undermine the constitutional framework that has been in place for the better part of the last century.
“The Constitution’s text says nothing about abortion,” Fitch wrote in the brief, arguing that American society has changed so much that the previous rulings need to be reheard.
“Today, adoption is accessible and on a wide scale women attain both professional success and a rich family life, contraceptives are more available and effective, and scientific advances show that an unborn child has taken on the human form and features months before viability,” she added, claiming the power should be left to state lawmakers.
“Roe and Casey shackle states to a view of the facts that is decades out of date,” she continued. “The national fever on abortion can break only when this Court returns abortion policy to the states.”
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents Mississippi’s sole abortion provider in the suit against the state’s law, painted Fitch’s effort as one that will have a chilling effect on abortion rights nationwide.
“Mississippi has stunningly asked the Supreme Court to overturn Roe and every other abortion rights decision in the last five decades,” Nancy Northup, the president and CEO of the group said in a statement Thursday. “Today’s brief reveals the extreme and regressive strategy, not just of this law, but of the avalanche of abortion bans and restrictions that are being passed across the country.”
The Supreme Court has not yet said exactly when during its fall term it will hear oral arguments on the Mississippi case, but a decision is expected to come down by next June or July, as is standard.
An anticipated ruling just months before the 2022 midterms will almost certainly position abortion as a top issue at the ballot box.