Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell encouraged Americans to wear masks to limit the spread of coronavirus, as more than half of US states report increases in new cases.
“I think that’s what people ought to do,” the Kentucky Republican told an ABC News reporter. “That’s what we’re doing in the Senate, and that’s what I’m counseling other people to do.”
Some Republican lawmakers, including senators Mitt Romney and Marco Rubio, have similarly encouraged their constituents to cover their faces.
However, other congressional Republicans have taken a much more laissez-faire approach to encouraging mask usage.
At the end of a House freedom caucus press conference moments ago, caucus chairman Andy Biggs was asked whether his Arizona consitutents should wear masks. “It’s up to them,” Biggs said.
A photo of the press conference indicated only one of the Republican lawmakers was wearing a mask during the event.
House minority leader Kevin McCarthy dodged a question about Trump using a racist term to describe coronavirus.
“When we have seen a spike in coronavirus, you’re concerned about somebody and the way they name it,” McCarthy said on Capitol Hill. “That’s appalling to me.”
Trump received widespread criticism for referring to coronavirus as “Kung Flu” during his Saturday rally in Tulsa, as a number of states report increases in new cases of the virus.
Of course, McCarthy’s response to the question ignores the fact that Trump is simultaneosuly downplaying the surge in new cases, incorrectly insisting that the increase is due to expanded testing.
In reality, many public health experts have said the surge in new cases is more attributable to states reopening and Americans relaxing social distancing practices.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi ruled out the idea of impeaching attorney general William Barr, after one Democratic member of the House judiciary committee called for it.
Pelosi said during a Washington Post Live event, “131 days from now, we will have the solution to many problems, one of them being Barr.”
Pelosi’s comment comes a day after the judiciary committee held a hearing on the politicization of the justice department, during which several justice department veterans accused Barr of undermining the rule of law.
“Anyone who saw that testimony will know that Barr is a mess,” Pelosi said of the hearing. “He is a disgrace to the department of justice.”
Democratic congressman Steve Cohen said during yesterday’s hearing, “We should pursue impeachment of Bill Barr because he is reigning terror on the rule of law.”
But Pelosi indicated she would rely on the November election to oust Barr from his role.
Multiple Trump campaign staffers are reportedly now quarantining after attending the president’s Tulsa rally and interacting with several colleagues who later tested positive for coroanvirus.
After eight staffers tested positive, several of the campaign’s top officials decided to quarantine for the week instead of going into the office, two sources familiar with the situation told CNN. Staff had only recently returned to the office after months of working from home because of coronavirus restrictions.
As a precaution staff who were in Tulsa are working remotely and they will be tested before returning to the office, a campaign official said.
Trump received criticism for holding the indoor rally as a number of states, including Oklahoma, reported increases in new coronavirus cases.
Six campaign staffers tested positive for the virus shortly before the rally began, but Trump moved ahead with the event anyway. Two additional staffers who attended the rally have since tested positive as well.
Today so far
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Another 1.5 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. About 47 million Americans have now submitted unemployment claims since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The weekly number has leveled off in recent weeks, but the figure remains worrisomely high as many states report increases in new coronavirus cases.
- The treasury department sent $1.4 billion worth of stimulus payments to dead people. The direct payments, which were approved as part of the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill, were sent to more than 1 million Americans who had already died, the Government Accountability Office said in a new report.
- Trump reportedly asked for a toppled Confederate statue to be put back up. According to NBC News, the president personally requested that the DC statue of Confederate general Albert Pike, which was torn down by protesters last week, be put back up.
The blog will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
The governor of Texas is temporarily pausing all additional reopening, as the state grapples with a surge in new cases of coronavirus.
“As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families,” Republican governor Greg Abbott said in a statement.
“The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”
Abbott announced earlier today that all hospitals in Harris, Travis, Bexar and Dallas counties must also stop elective surgeries, as many hospitals report their intensive care units are nearing full capacity.
Texas officials reported yesterday that they had confirmed 5,551 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, setting a new single-day record.
Trump asks for toppled Confederate statue to be put back up – report
Trump has personally requested that a statue of a Confederate general be put back up after protesters in Washington tore the monument down, according to NBC News.
NBC Washington reports:
Trump called Interior Sec. David Bernhardt and asked the Park Service to restore a statue of Brigadier General Albert Pike, two sources told NBC News.
The White House did not provide a comment, NBC News reported.
But an Interior Department spokesman reiterated Bernhardt’s call for law and order.
‘The Secretary has made his position quite clear when it comes to lawlessness, violence against police, and destruction of public property,’ the spokesman said.
Protesters in Washington tore down the Pike statue last week. The statue has been a center of controversy for decades, with a number of local officials calling for its removal.
Trump has said he plans to sign an executive order this week on protecting federal monuments and punishing those who deface them, as Confederate statues have been targeted across the country. Activists have long denounced Confederate statues as monuments to white supremacy.
Trump is again tweeting away, as he makes his way to Joint Base Andrews to fly to Wisconsin for a tour of a shipbuilding facility.
The president first dismissed Carly Fiorina’s announcement that she will be voting for Joe Biden, saying, “She lost so badly to me, twice in one campaign, that she should be voting for Joe. No complaints!!!”
Fiorina, who ran against Trump for the 2016 Republican nomination, told the Atlantic she would be voting for Biden because Americans need “real leadership that can unify the country.”
The president also repeated his widely disputed claim that the country’s number of new coronavirus cases is increasing because of expanded testing.
“The number of ChinaVirus cases goes up, because of GREAT TESTING, while the number of deaths (mortality rate), goes way down,” Trump tweeted, once again trying to pin the blame for the pandemic on Beijing.
However, public health experts have said the rise in new cases is more attributable to states reopening and Americans relaxing their social distancing practices.
Testifying before the House energy and commerce committee this week, Dr Anthony Fauci noted the number of coronavirus deaths often lags behind the number of new cases, predicting the country could see a rising death toll in the weeks to come.
NYPD officer arrested after using chokehold
The New York officer who was caught on camera over the weekend using a banned chokehold on a black man has now been arrested, the NYPD said.
The department said in a statement that David Afanador, who was suspended after footage emerged of him using a chokehold on Ricky Bellevue, was arrested today on charges of strangulation and attempted strangulation.
The footage sparked outcry, particularly because it came only weeks after the police killing of George Floyd. A video showed a Minneapolis police officer keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
The NYPD has long banned chokeholds, but the practice has attracted more attention since the 2014 death of Eric Garner, who died after being put in a chokehold by New York police officers. Garner repeatedly told the officers, “I can’t breathe.”
New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation earlier this month criminalizing the use of police chokeholds.
Trump and the first lady visited the Korean War Memorial in Washington to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the war.
The president and his wife laid a wreath at the memorial and talked to some of the Korean War veterans present for the ceremony.
The president will go from the ceremony to Joint Base Andrews to travel to Wisconsin, where he will tour and deliver remarks at a shipbuilding facility later today.
Trump is once again complaining about Fox News, his favorite news network that has recently attracted more of the president’s criticism.
In this case, Trump lashed out against a Fox commentator who correctly noted most of the protesters forcibly removed from Lafayette Square earlier this month were peaceful.
“A @FoxNews commentator just ripped me with lies, with nobody defending,” Trump tweeted this morning.
The commentator also recounted how Trump held up a Bible upside down during his widely criticized photo op at St John’s Church. Trump denied doing so, but photos of the event clearly show otherwise.
Meanwhile, more than half of US states are reporting increases in their numbers of new coronavirus cases, and the country’s death toll from the virus is approaching 122,000.