A new report from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform found that the Trump Administration repeatedly delayed an Obama-era order from the health-technology company Philips for 10,000 ventilators, wasting half-a-billion dollars for machines that won’t even arrive until September 2022.
According to the report, in 2014, the Obama Administration signed a contract with Philips to add 10,000 ventilators to the nation’s stockpile by June 2019. Though Philips delayed the fulfillment until November 2019, had they been held to that deadline, the nation would have had plenty of ventilators for when the coronavirus epidemic started in March 2020.
However, the Trump Administration granted Philips three extensions.
“On January 21, 2020, when the first coronavirus case was reported in the United States,” the report states, “Philips approached the Trump Administration about accelerating the delivery of ventilators under its existing contract. The Trump Administration ignored this opportunity, and for six weeks, it did not respond to Philips’ offer.”
When Peter Navarro — Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy — and other senior officials in the White House negotiated a new contract with Philips, they ended up scrapping the Obama-era terms and agreed to pay almost five-times the price set under those terms.
While Philips had sold ventilators to other purchasers for prices as low as $9,327 per unit, the Trump Administration ended up paying $50,000 per unit.
The ventilators may arrive after a vaccine for the illness does. In the meanwhile, the U.S. has surpassed over 156,000 coronavirus deaths.
This revelation comes just a day after Vanity Fair revealed that the Trump White House scrapped a national testing plan for the epidemic, thinking that coronavirus would mostly kill of blue states voters and the administration could then blame Democratic governors for it.
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Dr. Fauci Says Trump Is Holding “Super Spreader” Events as 9 Rally Attendees Get COVID-19
Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top U.S. virus expert, called Trump’s September 26 White House event introducing Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett a “superspreader event” since 34 Trump associates have since tested positive for COVID-19, the virus which has killed more than 213,000 Americans since June.
“The data speak for themselves,” Fauci told CBS News on Friday. “We had a superspreader event in the White House, and it was in a situation where people were crowded together and were not wearing masks.”
Fauci’s comment came on the same day as Minnesota health officials announced that nine attendees of Trump’s September 18 rally in Bemidji tested positive for COVID-19. Both yesterday and at the first presidential debate, Trump claimed that his largely maskless and non-socially distanced rallies are safe.
Yesterday, Minnesota state health officials said that two of the attendees were hospitalized, and one attendee was placed in an intensive care unit (ICU). The ICU is where patients with serious and potentially life-threatening symptoms are treated.
Trump’s rallies have largely flouted city ordinances requiring face masks and social distancing by being registered as “peaceful protests” rather than self-promoting political events.
News of the Minnesota infections came the same day as Trump pledged to host hundreds of people at a White House event on Saturday and mentioned his plans to hold a “very big” rally in Florida on Monday.
Trump is planning to host these public events even though he and his own doctors have refused to say when he last tested positive for COVID-19.
“Armed Militias to Intimidate Voters”: Donald Trump Jr.’s New Ad Recruits GOP “Army” to “Secure” Election
The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr., appears in a social media video ad asking people to join an “army” to stop the “radical left” and their plan to “steal” the election. Nevermind, that Trump Sr. has already refused to ensure a peaceful transfer of power if he loses and has also said he can only lose if the vote is rigged.
Here’s the ad itself:
Stark language in Don Jr.’s new “defend your ballot” ad: “We need every able-bodied man and woman to join Army for Trump’s election security operation…we need you to help us watch them” pic.twitter.com/qJwaQApptr
— Vera Bergengruen (@VeraMBergen) September 25, 2020
In the ad, Trump Jr. says:
“The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father, President Donald Trump. They are planting stories that President Trump will have a landslide lead on election night but will lose when they finish counting the mail-in ballots. Their plan is to add millions of fraudulent ballots that can cancel your vote and overturn the election. We cannot let that happen.”
“We need every able-bodied man and woman to join Army for Trump’s election security operation at defendyourballot.com. We need you to help us watch them, not just on Election Day but also during early voting and at the counting boards. President Trump is going to win. Don’t let them steal it. Go to defendyourballot.com and enlist today.”
These posts, by a president’s son, should rank among the most worrisome threats to American democracy in our history. Calling for an “army” to prevent the election from being stolen?!? This should be disowned by the GOP—but we know it won’t be. https://t.co/9dCqOc2eXB
— Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) September 25, 2020
While the actual website DefendYourBallot.com is just a Trump campaign get out the vote effort that doesn’t actually instruct supporters to monitor polling places or post offices, one tech culture website said the “ads incite armed militias to intimidate voters.” Keep in mind, Trump Sr. has already promised to deploy thousands of law enforcement officials to polling places on Election Day, a move that will discourage voting by people with a distrust of police.
Considering the numerous armed protesters at anti-lockdown rallies during the start of the COVID-19 epidemic and Trump Sr.’s repeated lie that Democrats want to abolish the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms, it’s easy to see how Donald Jr.’s appeal could inspire right-wing gun nuts to “monitor” polling places and post offices by scaring voters, poll workers, and postal delivery people by challenging anything that looks even remotely suspicious to them.
“Cutting corners everywhere”: Engineers say parts of Trump’s wall will fall months after it was built
A new engineering report set to be filed in federal court has said that Republican President Donald Trump’s privately constructed 3-mile border fence, built in 2020 by North Dakota-based Fisher Sand and Gravel, will fall down due to extensive erosion in a matter of months if it’s not fixed and maintained.
The wall was built by the nonprofit “We Build the Wall”, a group that’s currently under federal investigation for illegally spending most of the $25 million it raised to help President Donald Trump build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border.
Fisher Sand and Gravel company president Tommy Fisher, a regular Fox News guest, had called his company’s fence the “Lamborghini” of border walls. However, Alex Mayer, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso told the Texas Tribune. “It’s not a Lamborghini, it’s a $500 used car…. It seems like they are cutting corners everywhere.”
Mark Tompkins, an environmental engineer hired by the National Butterfly Center wildlife refuge to examine the wall for a lawsuit alleging that Trump’s wall is destroying the local ecology, said that heavy rains, flooding, and erosion common to the Rio Grande Valley — where the wall is located — will likely cause it to tumble in a matter of months.
“When extreme flow events, laden with sediment and debris, completely undermine the foundation of the fence and create a flow path under the fence or cause a segment of the fence to topple into the river, unpredictable and damaging hydraulics will occur,” Tompkins wrote in a court affidavit.
A second report by the Millennium Engineers Group found that “gaps up to three feet wide and waist-deep, concrete cracking, construction flaws” caused by “substandard construction material” will cause the wall to fall soon as well.
Fisher has said that the reports’ findings are normal post-construction issues. The Trump Administration has given Fisher’s firms $2 billion in federal contracts to build more border wall segments.
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