President Donald Trump addressed the nation in a rare Oval Office speech, in an attempt that immediately failed to calm the American people and the markets. Trump not only did not assuage fears, he expanded them by not sharing the full truth of the coronavirus pandemic, by framing the virus as a “foreign” attack, and by telegraphing falsehoods further damaging his and his administration’s credibility.
Here’s what happened.
The President chose to spend Wednesday with the top executives of the nation’s biggest banks on Wednesday. They “played to the president’s ego – told him the fundamentals of the economy are strong and that he made it that way – but that the psychology of the public needs to change,” according to The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman.
That was part of what helped move the president toward giving a public address. Those executives share his view – held by others at the White House – that the media is overstating the severity of the virus.
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 11, 2020
That’s why Trump delivered his disastrous prime time Oval Office speech Wednesday night, which did anything but what he had hoped to accomplish.
The markets were actually poised to open Thursday morning up hundreds of points, a small improvement over weeks of near-daily triple and quadruple point drops.
And as Trump began speaking to the American people, the markets heard what he was saying – and not saying – and futures tanked.
DOW futures dropped over 1000 points within minutes of Trump finishing his short speech.
And just minutes into Thursday’s open, the DOW dropped so far it triggered an automatic “circuit breaker,” pausing trading for 15 minutes. As of this writing the DOW is down over 1800 points, on top of Wednesday’s 1400 point drop.
What President Trump was saying – and not saying – was the result of his decision to turn to the two people he often turns to in a crisis: His 39-year old son-in-law who he made Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner, and his 34-year old senior advisor for policy, the white nationalist Stephen Miller.
Calling it “vintage Trump,” The New York Times reports the President “blamed European and Chinese people for bringing the outbreak to the United States, describing it ominously as a ‘foreign virus,’ language that reflected the isolationist views of his chief speechwriter, Stephen Miller, who alongside Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, helped draft the address.”
Trump also “repeated another theme — that he viewed the virus as something that was inflicted upon him from a foreign country. He wanted to discuss ‘our nation’s unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak that started in China and is now spreading throughout the world,’ he said.”
It’s no wonder, given the people Trump turned to to write his speech, that it was riddled with errors – important error that have injected fear – more fear – into the hearts of Americans.
For example, Trump said his ban on all travel into the U.S. from Europe, with an exemption to the U.K., where he owns several golf resorts, applied to almost all.
“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States for the next 30 days,” Trump told the American people Wednesday night. “There will be exemptions for Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings, and these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo, but various other things as we get approval. Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing. ”
That panicked countless Americans overseas, as this New York Times investigative reporter explains:
Bedlam at U.S.-bound airlines at CDG in Paris early this a.m., as Americans pay as much as $20,000 for last-minute flights. pic.twitter.com/kkbOAEFn4Y
— Mike McIntire (@mmcintire) March 12, 2020
2/ I know because I’m one of them. Was awakened at 2:15 am Paris time by a concerned relative in America saying “Trump just banned all travel from Europe!” Turning on TV, I saw that indeed appeared to be so.
— Mike McIntire (@mmcintire) March 12, 2020
Those weren’t the only falsehoods Trump told America in his prime time address.
Pres Trump tonight:
– Wrongly told the world trade with Europe was suspended
-apparently wrongly said health insurers are waiving out of pocket for treatment
-exempted UK from travel ban (UK has 460 cases to date) unclear why
-detailed no new domestic public health measures
— Todd Zwillich (@toddzwillich) March 12, 2020
Here’s another example:
Let this sink in.
During a worldwide pandemic creating ongoing economic shock Trump ACCIDENTALLY ANNOUNCED A BAN OF CARGO SHIPMENTS FROM EUROPE
This is an absolute circus.https://t.co/syU1XhJHYf
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 12, 2020
Trump’s claim tonight that health insurers “have agreed to waive all copayments for coronavirus treatments” seems to be news to them.
“For testing. Not for treatment.” a spokesperson for the major insurance lobby AHIP says.
— Sarah Owermohle (@owermohle) March 12, 2020
And this: A Fox News reporter posted this tweet, which Trump retweeted.
It’s false, as several have pointed out:
The SBA doesn’t make loans, though. pic.twitter.com/WzGvQzKooS
— Rob Nelson (@rnelson0) March 12, 2020
Meanwhile, back to Jared.
“According to Politico, President Trump is delaying his decision on whether or not to declare a national emergency to combat the spread of coronavirus on the expert public-health opinion of fellow real-estate developer and fortunate son Jared Kushner,” New York Magazine’s Matt Stieb writes. “Trump is holding off on a national emergency decision until Kushner ‘finishes his research and comes to a conclusion himself.'”
As the government continues to botch testing and fail to flatten the outbreak curve, one imagines Kushner’s preparation this time around: working from home in Kalorama, watching Contagion, and Googling “Ken Burns Spanish Flu.”
Image via Wikimedia
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Jared Kushner Convinced Trump the Media Was Overhyping Coronavirus Threat: Report
President Donald Trump is reportedly furious at son-in-law Jared Kushner’s handling of the coronavirus response, and now he’s being blamed for the president’s response.
Kushner repeatedly told the president that the media was overhyping the threat from the coronavirus outbreak, which Trump then repeated publicly — undercutting dire warnings from doctors and scientists, reported the New York Times.
Trump spent the first weeks of the outbreak downplaying the threat, which he called a “hoax,” and accused the media and Democrats of trying to “inflame” the situation in another attempt to remove him from office.
The Times reported that Kushner, who is both Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, was the source of those claims.
Kushner has also reportedly tried to take on more responsibility for the crisis management despite his lack of qualifications, and urged the president to implement a hastily constructed European travel ban and declaration of a national emergency.
The president’s early denials have apparently destroyed public trust in his handling of the crisis, with 60 percent of Americans saying they have little or no trust in what he says about the global pandemic.
Trump, according to Vanity Fair, is furious at his daughter Ivanka Trump’s husband.
“I have never heard so many people inside the White House openly discussed how pissed Trump is at Jared,” one former West Wing official said.
Trump Installs Homophobic Racist Tea Party Birther Who Promised to Send Obama ‘Home to Kenya’ as New Chief of Staff
Congressman Meadows is an anti-gay, homophobic, racist birther who repeatedly promised GOP voters he would send then-President Barack Obama “back to Kenya.” He is also the co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus, the most far-right group in Congress.
Here’s Meadows, a far right Tea Party Republican during his first run for Congress in 2011, telling supporters, ” so what we’re gonna do is take back our country – 2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is.”
Here’s Mark Meadows, who just sidetracked the entire House Oversight Committee to assure him he’s not racist, saying that “2012 is the time we are going to send Mr. Obama home to Kenya or wherever it is” pic.twitter.com/90L1xnWf6v
— Steve Morris (@stevemorris__) February 27, 2019
Three days later Meadows made similar remarks at another Tea Party event.
Congressman Meadows is not just anti-gay, but homophobic and an anti-LGBTQ extremist. Last August Meadows signed on to an amicus brief telling the U.S. Supreme Court that LGBTQ people do not exist, but rather are choosing “actions, behaviors, or inclinations.” That is false.
The brief says the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not – and should not be interpreted to – protect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Meadows is also among the 38 House Republicans who signed a 2017 letter urging President Trump to remove protections for LGBTQ workers from his new USMCA trade pact.
In 2013 Meadows said same-sex couples legally being allowed to marry would create “a constitutional crisis.” He is also one of the anti-LGBTQ extremists credited as a major force behind President Donald Trump‘s out-of-the blue, July 26, 2017 tweetstorm announcing he was banning all transgender people from the U.S. Armed Forces.
And as head of the Freedom Caucus, Meadows urged President Trump, even before he was sworn into office, to roll back or rescind a variety of President Barack Obama’s LGBT protections, including guidelines to help protect the rights of transgender students. The administration, via Secretary Betsy DeVos and then-Attorney General Jeff Session, complied.
There are other concerns about Meadows as well:
Mark Meadows has even less managerial experience than the incompetent Mulvaney. Is anyone at all focused on managing this public health crisis?
— Neera Tanden (@neeratanden) March 7, 2020
Mark Meadows has the second most visits to Trump properties of anyone in the House of Representatives https://t.co/6tVDHb9DeB
— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) March 7, 2020
Same Mark Meadows who stormed a SCIF:https://t.co/v9r1j8Um8r
— Katie Phang (@KatiePhang) March 7, 2020
Remember this one?https://t.co/31UJ9MCOUU
— Katie Phang (@KatiePhang) March 7, 2020
Not exactly ideal timing to change the person running the White House. I realize that @MarkMeadows had been lobbying for this job, and Mulvaney may have wanted to leave. I guess it doesn’t matter, since this is just another lackey. The pandemic, though. https://t.co/ev6iVxwEUy
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) March 7, 2020
— Katie Phang (@KatiePhang) March 7, 2020
Back in 2018, Rep. Mark Meadows was under investigation by the House Committee on Ethics for paying his chief of staff, Kenny West, after he was let go for harassment.
Meadows was just named Trump’s newest chief of staff. https://t.co/5Jp3T2R1sG
— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 7, 2020
Trump ‘Honors’ Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. By Visiting His DC Memorial – for 30 Seconds
President Donald Trump decided to “honor” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. late Monday afternoon by dragging his vice president to Washington, D.C.’s MLK Memorial. The two top executives spent all of 30 seconds there, on Martin Luther King Day, without saying a word. They then left. Both were back in the White House ten minutes later.
CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins documented the curious event:
President Trump and Vice President Pence just made an unannounced trip to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington. They stood in front of it for approximately 30 seconds with their heads bowed before turning and leaving without making remarks.
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) January 20, 2020
Reuters’ Steve Holland posted this photo of Trump and Pence:
President Trump and Vice President Pence at the MLK Memorial pic.twitter.com/lH4vzsKTOg
— Steve Holland (@steveholland1) January 20, 2020
The Hill posted video of Trump and Pence getting booed and cheered.
— The Hill (@thehill) January 20, 2020
By any standard Monday’s visit was astonishingly short. Last year Trump and Pence made the same visit – and stayed just 94 seconds.
Trump and Pence spent a whopping 94 seconds at the MLK memorial on MLK day in 2019 — and never uttered his name pic.twitter.com/GqOVbqcIHn
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) January 20, 2020
Earlier Monday Trump “honored” the civil rights icon by posting a tweet making the holiday all about himself. Trump suggested his own inauguration was a more important event than the celebration of Dr. King’s life, while Kellyanne Conway claimed his impeachment was akin to the battles Dr. King fought.
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