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So How Will Trump’s Kids Run His Empire’s ‘Blind Trust’ When They’ve Just Been Appointed to His Transition Team?

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‘Massive/Unprecedented Conflict’

Donald Trump has just named three of his adult children, along with his son-in-law, as members of his Presidential Transition Team. Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Eric Trump, and Jared Kushner, Ivanka’s husband, will help determine policy and make decisions on Cabinet nominees and top-level appointees. Incoming presidents usually hire about 4000 people.

Trump has refused to release his taxes and has offered only minimal information about his finances. He claims to be worth about $10 billion, and while that figure has been frequently questioned, it’s clear he is a man of great assets around the world.

There is great concern of how the leader of the free world can make the necessary decisions unencumbered by knowing the details of how those decisions will affect their personal finances. For this reason every president in modern times has placed their assets in a blind trust, which means they have no way of knowing what assets they hold, what is bought or sold, and how their governing decisions would affect their finances.

Trump, ignorant of what a blind trust actually means and does, promised he will place his assets in a “blind trust,” headed by his children, who will also manage the day-to-day affairs of his businesses.  

That is not a “blind trust,” not at all.

Worse, now, they will be a part of major policy and hiring decisions. That alone means they cannot possibly manage the so-called “blind trust.”

Trump clearly has zero care about not only perception of conflict of interest, but actual conflict of interest.

This is by definition what he falsely accused Secretary Clinton of doing: wheeling and dealing while in office.

This cannot stand.

Here’s how journalists are responding to this breaking news:

 

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News

Internal Emails Reveal High-Ranking Trump Administration Officials Were Warned About Lack of PPE Safety Gear Early On

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A high-ranking federal official in late February warned that the United States needed to plan for not having enough personal protective equipment for medical workers as they began to battle the novel coronavirus, according to internal emails obtained by Kaiser Health News.

The messages provide a sharp contrast to President Donald Trump’s statements at the time that the threat the coronavirus posed to the American public remained “very low.” In fact, concerns were already mounting, the emails show, that medical workers and first responders would not have enough masks, gloves, face shields and other supplies, known as PPE, to protect themselves against infection when treating COVID-19 patients.

The emails, part of a lengthy chain titled “Red Dawn Breaking Bad,” includes senior officials across the Department of Veterans Affairs, the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services, as well as outside academics and some state health officials. KHN obtained the correspondence through a public records request in King County, Washington, where officials struggled as the virus set upon a nursing home in the Seattle area, eventually killing 37 people. It was the scene of the first major outbreak in the nation.

“We should plan assuming we won’t have enough PPE — so need to change the battlefield and how we envision or even define the front lines,” Dr. Carter Mecher, a physician and senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, wrote on Feb. 25. It would be weeks before front-line health workers would take to social media with the hashtag #GetMePPE and before health systems would appeal to the public to donate protective gear.

In the email, Mecher said confirmed-positive patients should be categorized under two groups with different care models for each: those with mild symptoms should be encouraged to stay home under self-isolation, while more serious patients should go to hospital emergency rooms.

“The demand is rising and there is no guarantee that we can continue with the supply since the supply-chain has been disrupted,” Eva Lee, director of the Center for Operations Research in Medicine and HealthCare at Georgia Tech and a former health scientist at the Atlanta VA Medical Center, wrote that same day citing shortages of personal protective equipment and medical supplies. “I do not know if we have enough resources to protect all frontline providers.”

Reached on Saturday, Lee said she isn’t sure who saw the message trail but “what I want is that we take action because at the end of the day we need to save patients and health care workers.”

Mecher, also reached Saturday, said the emails were an “an informal group of us who have known each other for years exchanging information.” He said concerns aired at the time on medical protective gear were top of mind for most people in health care. More than 35 people were on the email chain, many of them high-ranking government officials.

The same day Mecher and others raised the concern in the messages, Trump made remarks to a business roundtable group in New Delhi, India.

“We think we’re in very good shape in the United States,” he said, noting that the U.S. closed the borders to some areas. “Let’s just say we’re fortunate so far.  And we think it’s going to remain that way.”

The White House declined to comment. In a statement, VA press secretary Christina Mandreucci said, “All VA facilities are equipped with essential items and supplies to handle additional coronavirus cases, and the department is continually monitoring the status of those items to ensure a robust supply chain.”

Doctors and other front-line medical workers in the weeks since have escalated concerns about shortages of medical gear, voicing alarm about the need to protect themselves, their families and patients against COVID-19, which as of Saturday evening had sickened more than 121,000 in the United States and killed at least 2,000.

As Mecher and others sent emails about growing PPE concerns, HHS Secretary Alex Azar testified to lawmakers that the U.S. had 30 million N95 respirator masks stockpiled but needed 300 million to combat the outbreak. Some senior U.S. government officials were also warning the public to not buy masks for themselves to conserve the supply for health care providers.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted on Feb. 29: “Seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS!  They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

Still, on Feb. 27, the FDA in a statement said that officials were not aware of widespread shortages of equipment.

“We are aware of reports from CDC and other U.S. partners of increased ordering of a range of human medical products through distributors as some healthcare facilities in the U.S. are preparing for potential needs if the outbreak becomes severe,” the agency said.

Simultaneously, Trump downplayed the risk of the novel coronavirus to the American public even though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was warning it was only a matter of time before it would spread across the country. On Feb. 29, the CDC also updated its strategies for health workers to optimize supplies of N95 masks.

An HHS spokesperson said Saturday the department has been in “an all-out effort to mobilize America’s capacity” for personal protective equipment and other supplies, including allowing the use of industrial N95 respirators in health care settings and awarding contracts to several private manufacturers to buy roughly 600 million masks over the next 18 months.

“Health care supply chains are private-sector-driven,” the spokesperson said. “The federal role is to support that work, coordinate information across the industry and with state or local agencies if needed during emergencies, and drive manufacturing demand as best we can.”

The emails from King County officials and others in Washington state also show growing concern about the exposure of health care workers to the virus, as well as a view into local officials’ attempts to get help from the CDC.

In one instance, local medical leaders were alarmed that paramedics and other emergency personnel were possibly exposed after encountering confirmed-positive patients at the Life Care Center of Kirkland, the Seattle-area nursing home where roughly three dozen people have died because of the virus.

“We are having a very serious challenge related to hospital exposures and impact on the health care system,” Dr. Jeff Duchin, the public health officer for Seattle and King County, wrote in a different email to CDC officials March 1. Duchin pleaded for a field team to test exposed health care workers and additional support.

Duchin’s email came hours after a physician at UW Medicine wrote about being “very concerned” about exposed workers at multiple hospitals and their attempts to isolate infected workers.

“I suspect that we will not be able to follow current CDC [recommendations] for exposed HCWs [health care workers] either,” wrote Dr. John Lynch, medical director of employee health for Harborview Medical Center and associate professor of Medicine and Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington. “As you migh [sic] imagine, I am very concerned about the hospitals at this point.”

Those concerns have been underscored with an unusual weekend statement from Dr. Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, which represents doctors, calling on Saturday for more coordination of needed medical supplies.

“At this critical moment, a unified effort is urgently needed to identify gaps in the supply of and lack of access to PPE necessary to fight COVID-19,” the statement says. “Physicians stand ready to provide urgent medical care on the front lines in a pandemic crisis. But their need for protective gear is equally urgent and necessary.”

Image via Shutterstock

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WHAM!

Trump Decimated for Trying to Start Up Infrastructure Week Again While the Nation Is Crippled by ‘His Incompetence’

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It’s going to be “Infrastructure Week,” again, apparently.

President Donald Trump on Tuesday tweeted that he wants to begin “Phase 4” (there was never an actual Phase 1, 2, or 3) of “our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill” – proving he has never accomplished this goal that he keeps trotting out, often as a distraction.

“With interest rates for the United States being at ZERO, this is the time to do our decades long awaited Infrastructure Bill,” Trump tweeted. “It should be VERY BIG & BOLD, Two Trillion Dollars, and be focused solely on jobs and rebuilding the once great infrastructure of our Country! Phase 4.”

The Washington Post’s JM Rieger notes this would be at least the eighth time Trump has tried this.

Economist David Rothschild says if Trump had actually done a trillion-dollar infrastructure bill when he first took office it would have been “popular” and “productive.”

Many on social media noted that construction workers, like many if not most Americans, are currently under stay-at-home directions, what the nation really needs right now is PPE, ventilators, and rent and mortgage checks, and food. Some called for a focus on creating a now very-proven necessary universal healthcare system. And some called for invoking the 25th Amendment.

Image: Official White House Photo by Benjamin Applebaum via Flickr

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Franklin Graham Is Behind NYC’s Central Park COVID-19 Field Hospital – Volunteers Asked to ‘Support’ Anti-LGBTQ Beliefs

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NY State Senator Warns Graham to Not Discriminate

North Carolina’s infamous anti-LGBTQ activist, Franklin Graham, a religious extremist who is closely tied to President Donald Trump, is behind the emergency COVID-19 field hospital in New York City’s Central Park. Graham founded and runs the evangelical ministry Samaritan’s Purse, whose mission is neither healthcare nor disaster relief, but “to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

It’s unclear how a far right wing anti-LGBTQ Christian evangelical organization was allowed to build a 68-bed field unit that will be managed by a top New York City hospital, Mount Sinai, which has Jewish roots and whose president is openly gay – both of which violate Graham’s mission.

Gothamist notes that Graham has “a track record of using humanitarian missions to proselytize an evangelical agenda.”

The New York Times once described Samaritan’s Purse as an “American evangelical relief group that is using private donations and United States government money to help victims of two earthquakes,” and reported it “has blurred the line between church and state as its volunteers preach, pray and seek converts among people desperate for help.”

Graham wants only Christian medical staff, including doctors, to work in his field hospital.

According to Samaritan’s Purse, volunteers are asked to support Graham’s extreme anti-LGBTQ beliefs.

“The primary mission of Samaritan’s Purse is to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we seek volunteers who have the same mindset. We ask that volunteers review our Statement of Faith and agree to support the ministry guidelines of Samaritan’s Purse.”

His Statement of Faith includes this belief:

“We believe God’s plan for human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage, that God created man and woman as unique biological persons made to complete each other. God instituted monogamous marriage between male and female as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one genetic male and one genetic female.”

New York State Senator Brad Hoylman on Monday warned Graham to not discriminate.

Graham has also sent his “mobile ministry center” to NYC.

 

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