From me and Joan E Greve:
- Negotiations over the next coronavirus relief package fell apart. The White House and congressional Democratic leaders had an unproductive meeting this afternoon. The Democrats previously said the White House had rejected their offer to compromise on a $2tn topline for the relief package.
- During an impromptu Friday evening press conference at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, Trump said he was likely too pass executive orders in lieu of working out a deal with Democrats. His proposals: to defer payroll tax and enhance unemployment benefits until the end of the year, defer student loans and forgive interest and extend eviction moratoriums.
- Trump also said he was pursuing an executive order to protect patients from insurance hikes due to pre-existing conditions. But that protection is already part of the Affordable Care Act, which the Trump administration is seeking to have struck down.
- At the golf club, wealthy members who came to watch the president’s press conference did not practice social distancing. Many did not wear masks and were drinking. Their presence was also apparently in violation of New Jersey guidelines for golf clubs, which asks that patrons not eat or drink indoors and wear masks. Trump defended them by saying they were engaging in “peaceful protest” of the “fake news”.
- A senior US intelligence official said China is against Trump’s re-election while Russia is spreading disinformation about Joe Biden. National Counterintelligence and Security Center director William Evanina said in a new statement that China, Russia and Iran are all working to influence US public opinion in the final months before the presidential election.
- The new jobs report showed the US economy regained 1.8 million jobs in July. That figure, while promising, represents a steep drop-off from June, indicating the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic will be long and difficult. The US unemployment rate also remains alarmingly high, at 10.2%.
- New York governor Andrew Cuomo announced all schools would have the option to reopen for the new academic year. Every region in the state has successfully lowered its rate of coronavirus transmission, Cuomo said, so schools have the option to reopen for at least part of the week. But the ultimate decision of how and when to reopen will be made by local leaders and school officials.
Asked whether the press conference, which was attended by members of his golf club, some of whom were not wearing masks and who were not maintaining social distance, was violating New Jersey guidelines for golf clubs, Trump said no, “Because it’s a political activity they have exceptions.”
Their gathering and refusal to wear masks is “also a peaceful protest,” Trump said, because his wealthy golf club members “know the news is fake.”
The crowd cheered.
The president recently reversed his anti-mask stance and suggested that wearing face coverings to stop the spread of coronavirus is “patriotic” – but he seems to have changed his mind again.
Contradicting the intelligence community’s assessment, the president said, “The last person Russia wants to see in office is Donald Trump.”
Pressed on the matter, he said: “I don’t care what anybody says”
Asked if he’s worried about legal challenges to his proposed executive orders, Trump responded: “We’ll see, yeah. Probably we’ll get sued.”
Democrats have indicated that they will challenge executive orders that bypass negotiations.
The president has now turned to the topic of policing, and the protests against police brutality. The news conference has morphed into a campaign rally, with Trump stirring up fear about “left-wing violent extremism”.
My colleague Lois Beckett recently reported this illuminating piece, headlined “Anti-fascists linked to zero murders in the US in 25 years”. Have a read:
Trump said he is also seeking to sign an executive order to require health insurance companies to cover “all pre-existing conditions”.
“This has never been done before,” Trump said. But patients with pre-existing health conditions are currently protected by the Affordable Care Act – which the Trump administration is asking the Supreme Court to strike down. Twenty million Americans covered by the landmark healthcare law could lose coverage if Trump’s challenge is successful.
Moreover, Trump previously backed Republican efforts to remove protections for people with pre-existing conditions.
Fact check: Testing and cases
“We’re constantly showing cases, cases, cases, cases,” Trump said – and said that’s because the US is doing more testing than other cases. “We’re doing tremendous testing, and we’re especially doing big testing at nursing homes.”
Trump often makes the false claim that increased testing can explain the coronavirus surge. We can give him some credit here for hedging a bit saying that more testing is “one of the reasons” cases are up.
While testing is catching a greater proportion of positive cases, the main reason we’re seeing more cases is that – there are more cases. In many regions, hospitalizations and deaths are also increasing.
Trump said that if no coronavirus relief deal is reached, he will also defer the payroll tax until the end of the year, “and it’ll be retroactive to July 1,” and might extend it past the end of the year, defer student loan payments and extend an eviction moratorium.
The extent of Trump’s authority here is unclear. His executive orders would be vulnerable to legal challenges – as it’s Congress, not the executive, that is responsible for allocating funds.
Trump indicates he might extend unemployment benefits via executive order
Trump is boasting about the 1.8m jobs added in July and 9.3m jobs added since May. But when the pandemic struck, 22 million jobs were lost in March and April.
He said he will extend unemployment benefits through the end of the year via an executive order, though he doesn’t say how much the extra jobless benefit would be. Democrats want to extend the $600 per week benefit, but Republicans have been opposed – and suggested $200 per week.
Trump’s golf club press conference begins
Trump has begun by discussing the economy. Per usual, he is using a racist term to refer to the coronavirus.
Donald Trump is preparing for a press conference from his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. According to Politico’s Meridith McGraw, who is part of the press pool at the event, “dozens and dozens of club members, in golf gear and some holding wine glasses – have filed into the ballroom,” where the conference will take place.
“Only a handful of the dozens of club members were seen wearing masks, and their temperatures were being taken as they went into the ballroom. It’s unclear if the club members will be present for the news conference with the President,” McGraw said.
In New Jersey, the regulations for golf courses prohibit “the consumption of food or beverages and smoking in indoor areas” and require patrons to wear masks indoors.
Joe Biden is expected to announce his running mate very soon. Here’s a closer look at one of the top contenders, California congresswoman Karen Bass:
In Karen Bass’s home state, colleagues across the political spectrum sing her praises.
Most of America is just getting to know the 66-year-old congresswoman from Los Angeles who in recent weeks emerged as a top contender to be Joe Biden’s vice-presidential running mate. But in California, Bass has built a reputation as a progressive and a pragmatist – a community organizer who fought police brutality and addiction in Los Angeles and a practical politician who helped dig the state out of a historical fiscal crisis in 2008.
The congresswoman is “someone who can heal our country – not just from the pandemic, but also from the racial divisions, the economic divisions”, the legendary labor organizer Dolores Huerta told the Guardian.
Biden is expected to announce his running mate in the coming days. When the former vice-president earlier this year committed to choosing a woman to join his ticket, public speculation immediately coalesced around Kamala Harris, the California senator who ran against him in the Democratic presidential primaries. Buzz also circled Susan Rice, the Obama administration national security adviser, and Val Demings, the Florida congresswoman. But in recent weeks, Californians who worked with Bass – including Huerta – have openly campaigned for her as vice-president, propelling her to the top of Biden’s shortlist.
Donald Trump has said he will hold a press conference at 7pm Eastern Time, from his Bedminster, New Jersey golf club.
We’ll provide live coverage. In a tweet, Trump indicated that he will discuss the pandemic, and the economy, in light of jobs numbers released today. It is unclear whether he will also announce an executive order on coronavirus relief.
— to www.theguardian.com