with Mariana Alfaro

With Mariana Alfaro

DETROIT – At the end of a roundtable discussion about the novel coronavirus that Sen. Bernie Sanders convened here on Monday afternoon with five public health experts, a reporter asked the Democratic presidential candidate whether he plans to scale back the size of his events to reduce the risk of community spread. “You obviously are holding rallies with more than 10,000 people,” the reporter said.

Sanders corrected him. 

“15,000,” he said, boastfully.

Appearing to realize he sounded flip, Sanders praised the “very good question” but added that his campaign’s challenge is no different than ones faced by basketball teams or theater companies. “We do not go forward without consultation with local health officials,” he added.

It was vintage Sanders. Falling behind Joe Biden in the polls, including here in Michigan ahead of today’s primary, the independent senator from Vermont has seized on the outbreak to make the case for Medicare-for-all. Health care has been the top concern of voters all election cycle. This new crisis only makes the issue more salient. And Sanders’s decades-long crusade to upend the system is more popular than not among the Democratic rank-and-file. On the other hand, Sanders lacks executive experience beyond serving three decades ago as the mayor of Burlington, Vt., which has a population of about 40,000.

Biden could benefit politically if the outbreak increases the desire among voters for a calm, steady and experienced hand who has a record of managing crises. On the other hand, the former vice president often sticks to generalities and almost never comes across as deeply versed in the nuances of public policy. He’s a back-slapping pol who prefers yakking it up in call time and can sometimes seem confused. In contrast to Sanders, Biden has not outlined any plan or vision for how he’d respond to the coronavirus beyond deferring to the wisdom of experts, which has been his go-to line. He didn’t bring up the fast-spreading virus during a visit to a community health center in Grand Rapids on Monday morning or during an evening rally in Detroit. Instead, he stuck closely to his script.

Both Sanders and Biden benefit from being perceived by Democrats as straight shooters who tell it like it is, even if people don’t agree with them. A Quinnipiac University survey released Monday found that 62 percent of registered voters nationally say Sanders is honest and 51 percent say Biden is honest, compared to 33 percent who say the same about President Trump. While 52 percent say Biden has good leadership skills, 45 percent say Sanders does and 42 percent say Trump does. On empathy, 64 percent say Sanders cares about average Americans, compared to 59 percent for Biden and 43 percent for Trump. Asked who would do a better job of handling a crisis, Biden led Trump 56 percent to 40 percent while Sanders also led Trump by a narrower margin of 50 percent to 44 percent. 

Frank McKenney, 71, a retired systems analyst and Vietnam veteran who considers himself politically independent, said the coronavirus puts in stark relief why he’s supporting Biden. “He’s an honest man, from all the years I’ve seen him, and we’ve had such a rough time on that with Trump,” McKenney said as he waited to see Biden here. “I’m real concerned this is being mismanaged at the White House. People want to be told the truth. We can handle the truth. What we can’t handle is everything being put through a political lens.”

On the coronavirus specifically, 43 percent of Americans approve of the president’s response so far, which is on par with his 41 percent overall approval rating in the same poll. Tribalism is a factor: 87 percent of Republicans approve and 83 percent of Democrats disapprove, while 50 percent of independents disapprove of Trump’s coronavirus response. Overall, 54 percent of respondents say they are either very or somewhat concerned that they or someone they know will be infected with the coronavirus, and 58 percent say they are either very or somewhat concerned the coronavirus will disrupt their daily lives, regardless of whether they know someone who is infected.

While Sanders’s roundtable was somber and serious, Biden’s rally at a Detroit public high school a few hours later was raucous. Two volunteers squirted bottles of Purell sanitizer onto the hands of everyone entering the gymnasium to watch him speak. A marching band warmed up the crowd. Almost as soon as Biden started speaking, protesters began interrupting him. First, someone tried to draw attention to his vote for the North American Free Trade Agreement. As a Biden supporter tried to rip the sign away (“NAFTA killed our jobs”), the candidate urged everyone to keep it cool. “The Bernie Bros are here,” Biden said. “Let him go.” Then several activists heckled Biden for not endorsing the Green New Deal, and some tussles appeared to break out in the crowd as police escorted them out a back entrance. A few minutes later, Biden finally got back on track. 

Biden never mentioned the coronavirus, but parts of his stump speech made it sound like it was on his mind. “At this moment, when there’s so much fear in this country, we need honest, trustworthy, truthful, reassuring leadership. I promise you that will be what I provide,” he said. “We choose hope over fear … and we choose truth over lies.”

Asked about the coronavirus during an interview with NBC earlier in the afternoon, Biden said Trump should “just be quiet.” “I think there's no confidence in the president and anything he says or does,” Biden said. “He turns everything into what he thinks is a political benefit for himself, and he's actually imploding in the process. But there's a lot of innocent bystanders that are being badly hurt. I wish he would just be quiet. I really mean it. Just let the experts speak and acknowledge whatever they suggest to him is what we should be doing.” He added that he will “follow the recommendations” of experts: “And if they conclude that there shouldn't be big indoor rallies, then we'll stop indoor, big indoor rallies. We're going to do whatever they say.”

More than 700 people in the United States have tested positive for the virus and 26 have died. Michigan, though, has no confirmed cases. At Biden’s rally last night, a handful of attendees I interviewed at Biden’s rally last night told me, with no evidence, that they think the virus is just a hoax that’s been invented to help Trump get reelected. I assured them it was not.

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Health care has been the top issue for Democratic voters in every state that’s had exit polls this primary season. On Super Tuesday, across the states that voted, 47 percent of voters identified it as their No. 1 concern, followed by race relations and income inequality, which tied for second at 18 percent. Across those states, per the exits, 51 percent of voters said they supported replacing all private health insurance with a single government plan for everyone, while 43 percent opposed that.

Sanders cited the outbreak to offer a broader critique not just of the health-care system but of the failure to provide for the neediest in “the richest country on Earth.” He noted that water has been cut off to thousands of homes in Detroit because people couldn’t pay their bills. While praising the city for stopping these water shutoffs earlier in the day in preparation for a possible coronavirus outbreak, Sanders said they’re nonetheless emblematic of something rotten in the American system. “Can you believe in the year 2020, in a major American city, people have no water because they cannot afford to pay their water bills? Now we’re told wash our hands,” he said. “It’s a little hard to wash your hands and keep clean if you don’t have water!”

The self-described democratic socialist has made clear that he embraces the old political adage that you should never let a crisis go to waste. Reading from notes but not a script, he balanced attacks on Trump’s handling of the outbreak with calls for paid sick leave. In a meeting room in the bowels of a Westin hotel inside the Detroit airport, which was eerily quiet because so many people have stopped traveling, the audience for Sanders’s roundtable included about 50 journalists, including local TV news crews. There was no one to applaud, only the clicks of shutters, during an event that lasted almost an hour.

Sanders can be short with you when he doesn’t like a question. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged people over the age of 60 who have underlying health conditions to take special precautions to avoid covid-19, including staying home as much as possible, avoiding non-essential air travel and limiting close contact with other people. The 78-year-old Sanders had a heart attack in October while campaigning in Nevada and has declined to release his full medical records, despite promising to do so

Asked what specific precautions he’s taking in light of the CDC advisory, Sanders brushed off the question: “Well, I’m surrounded by medical personnel,” he said, pointing to the five doctors who spoke during the roundtable organized by his campaign. “I’m running for president of the United States, and that requires a whole lot of work.” He left it at that and moved onto the next question.

Asked if he’s spoken with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) since Thursday about seeking her endorsement, Sanders declined to answer: “We’re here to discuss a major health-care crisis.”

When a third journalist asked Sanders how he would pay for his plan to make any coronavirus-related vaccine available free of charge, he bristled. “Do I approve of spending a few cents for a vaccine rather than see people die? Yeah,” he said. “This is a no-brainer. That you would ask a question like that almost talks about the nature of the problems facing this country. Does anybody in their right mind believe that, if you’re rich, you should be able to afford a vaccine that will save your life? But, if you’re poor, you’re going to die? Is that really where we’re at in the United States of America? 

“I, of course, would take that proposition a lot further,” Sanders continued. “There are people rationing insulin right now. … I will tell the pharmaceutical industry that if you don’t lower your prices, we will make generic drugs that are affordable for all people.”

Sanders also praised New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for ordering the state to produce generic hand sanitizer to respond to “price gouging." “That’s exactly the right thing,” he said.

Contingency planning is underway among all the leading campaigns if the outbreak gets worse. Biden’s digital staff has envisioned options for virtual campaigning if sweeping changes were necessary, and Sanders’s campaign already has an elaborate streaming operation, which it said it could tap in the event that rallies are curtailed. “Trump’s reelection campaign said it was ‘proceeding as normal,’ denying that a ‘Women for Trump’ bus tour had been postponed because of the coronavirus, pointing instead to a ‘scheduling conflict,’” Isaac Stanley-Becker and Elise Viebeck report. “The Spanish flu of 1918 was active during that year’s midterm campaign and election season. Local news reports from the weeks before and after that election suggested that the virus did impact planning, with some officials ordering voters to wear masks or advising against congregating publicly to hear election results.”

With Teleprompters set up during his Detroit rally, and wearing a full suit, Biden tried to exude an aura of inevitability ahead of Super Tuesday II, when six states vote. He touted his role in the bailout of the auto industry a decade ago and investments the Obama administration made to clean up the Great Lakes. Much of his pitch, though, was about the need for decency and dignity. Biden even made a case against being angry. “We cannot become like him,” he said. “I refuse to accept the notion that we’re in a perpetual state of war with the other party.” And he cited a story in The Washington Post last month about how kids emulate Trump’s language to bully classmates. “Our children are listening,” he said. “What do we expect to happen?”

Now that he’s the front-runner again, Biden has started giving shorter speeches. This reduces the odds he will say something politically problematic. Cleve Wootson, our reporter assigned to follow Biden, noticed this weekend that he spoke for just seven minutes in St. Louis, 12 minutes in Kansas City and 14 minutes and change in Jackson, Miss. It is a seismic shift for someone who has never had a reputation for breviloquence, Cleve writes: “Mostly gone are the not-so-brief diversions into Biden family lore, wonky dispositions on complex policy points and anecdotes about the history of the phrase ‘rule of thumb.’”

At a fundraiser at the Detroit Athletic Club before the rally, Biden didn’t refer to Sanders by name but took a dig at Medicare-for-all. He told the 350 donors that he will “be able to get health care for everyone,” adding: “We can do it without spending $35 trillion.”

At the bigger rally later in the evening, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who backed Biden last week and delivered the Democratic response to the State of the Union last month, introduced Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who endorsed Biden earlier in the day. He then brought Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) onstage. Booker and Harris, who both dropped out before the Iowa caucuses, are the only two Democratic senators who are African American, and they were both well received in the heart of a city that is 82 percent black. “We are sparing nothing to make sure that Joe Biden wins in the state of Michigan,” said Booker.

“I believe there has been a conscious attempt to try to disillusion us, trying to have us believe that the system cannot and will not work for us,” added Harris. “Donald Trump, he does not see people. The only people who he sees [is the person] he sees when he looks in the mirror. We need a president who sees us, who understands us.”

All three warm-up speakers have been mentioned as potential picks as Biden’s running mate. “I view myself as a bridge, not as anything else,” said Biden, 77, motioning toward the trio. “There’s an entire generation of leaders you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.”

Biden shook a few hands on his way out of the gym but did not linger on the rope line. The campaign said it mitigates risk when reasonable. “At the same time,” Biden’s press team said in a statement, “we will continue to run an aggressive, national campaign to win the Democratic nomination and defeat Donald Trump.”

The latest on the coronavirus

U.S. markets staged a comeback at the open. 

After their worst day of trading since the 2008 financial crisis, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged roughly 800 points this morning as investors cheered potential stimulus measures from the White House. “The move came a day after U.S. markets cratered more than 7 percent on the dual threat of the coronavirus’s spread in the United States and the oil price war that erupted between Russia and Saudi Arabia over production targets,” Taylor Telford and Thomas Heath report.

Trump’s proposals were brushed aside by Democrats, who are working on their own plan. 

“Trump said he will ask Congress to cut payroll taxes and provide relief to hourly workers suffering from the economic fallout of the coronavirus. He also said he was seeking to provide assistance to the airline, hotel and cruise industries, which are all suffering as Americans rapidly cancel travel plans,” Jeff Stein, Seung Min Kim, Erica Werner and Mike DeBonis report. “It was unclear, based on Trump’s comments, whether he would ask Congress to help these industries or if he thought he could do it on his own. … Reducing the payroll tax by a single percentage point would cut between $55 billion and $75 billion in revenue … House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) expressed skepticism about the idea. … Later in the day, [Pelosi] and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) went into more detail about the Democrats’ planned proposal. They said they would pursue legislation that provided free coronavirus testing for all Americans, paid leave for those affected by the epidemic, expanded food subsidies and an expansion of the federal unemployment insurance program. Still, other senior Democrats said it was inevitable that Washington will have to step in with measures to stimulate the economy.”

The president's proposals are aimed at calming the markets.

“Trump confronted one of the most perilous days of his presidency Monday by first erupting in a barrage of commentary that failed to calm the cratering financial markets, struggling to inspire confidence that his administration could stop the spread of the novel coronavirus. But by the time the sun set in Washington, Trump sounded momentarily chastened by the turbulence and previewed a raft of emergency measures to shore up the economy,” Philip Rucker, Robert Costa, Ashley Parker and Josh Dawsey report. “Inside the White House, some officials privately acknowledged Monday that Trump has exacerbated the problem with his misleading and false statements, as well as his callous comments — such as saying last Friday that he hoped infected cruise passengers would stay aboard the Grand Princess at sea because he didn’t want domestic coronavirus case numbers to rise. … Members of Trump’s coronavirus task force have also discussed declaring a national emergency … 

“People who interacted with Trump over the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., or the nearby Trump International Golf Club, said the president was in gleeful spirits. … Doug Deason, a Trump donor in attendance, said the president shook almost every hand in sight. … Even as Trump continued to glad-hand constituents, two Republican congressmen who interacted with him in recent days, Reps. Douglas A. Collins (Ga.) and Matt Gaetz (Fla.), said Monday that they were quarantining themselves because of contact with a confirmed carrier of the coronavirus at a conservative conference. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), named Friday as Trump’s new chief of staff, also announced Monday that he was isolating himself after coming in contact with same unidentified person.” 

“A seventh lawmaker, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tex.), said he possibly had been exposed to the carrier at CPAC, but after discussing his situation with a CDC physician, he decided to return to work," Mike DeBonis reports. In a letter to Democrats, Nancy Pelosi said her caucus will hear today from several health officials for an update on protocols, but she said that, “at the present time, there is no reason for us not to continue” with work. There have been private discussions about whether the coming recess could be extended indefinitely, House aides said. Congress must act by March 15 to extend some critical foreign surveillance authorities but has no other pressing deadlines until May 22.

Italy is now under a nationwide lockdown. 

“Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Monday that Italy would restrict freedom of movement on a scale unprecedented in a democracy, locking down the entire country — 60 million people — in an attempt to contain the accelerating coronavirus,” Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli report. “If Italy succeeds, a version of its tactics could be used in other countries where cases are multiplying, including across Europe, where cross-border movement is a cherished right for many citizens.” Here are other international developments:

  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping made a surprise visit to Wuhan, the city where the outbreak emerged, as he asserts China’s domestic triumph in its “war” against the epidemic. (Anna Fifield)
  • Japan will punish the reselling of face masks for profit, with up to one year in jail. (Simon Denyer)
  • South Korea touted the benefits of mass testing, as new virus cases slowed down. (Adam Taylor)
  • The United Arab Emirates announced 15 new cases of the coronavirus on Monday, raising the national total to 74, as it closed its ports to cruise ships. (Paul Schemm)
  • Pence urged Israel not to target the U.S. with a coronavirus quarantine. (Axios)

Quote of the day

Pope Francis, giving Catholic mass in the Vatican on Tuesday as Italy began its lockdown, said he hopes priests have the courage to “get out” and meet the sick. “May priests have the courage to get out, going to the sick to bring them the comfort of God [and] to bring them the Eucharist,” the pope said, according to the Catholic news site Crux.

The number of people stricken with the virus in the D.C. area rose overnight.

Three new cases were reported in the District, one in Prince George’s County and two in Virginia. The number of known cases in the DMV is now 16. (Fenit Nirappil and Rebecca Tan)

  • Los Angeles County announced its first case of community spread, with the total number of coronavirus cases rising to 19. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Live audiences were banished from “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy!” tapings, as a precaution for both audience members and show employees. “Jeopardy!” is hosted by Alex Trebek, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy. (Katie Shepherd)

The Securities and Exchange Commission asked employees at its D.C. headquarters to stay away from the office because of a potential coronavirus case, becoming the first major federal employer to turn to telework to avoid the spreading virus. “The agency‘s notice, which was emailed shortly after 8 p.m., required employees working on the ninth floor of its office to stay home and encouraged all others to do the same,” Renae Merle reports. “The email to SEC employees said an employee was treated for respiratory symptoms earlier Monday and was informed by a physician that the person could have the coronavirus. The worker had not been in the office since Thursday.”

School closures are raising concerns about disruption.

“More than 380 schools, including three in the District, have closed their doors because of the outbreak, moves that have affected nearly 260,000 students, according to a count by the education publication EdWeek. Many of those closures were for just a day or two so workers could deep-clean schools where officials worried about exposure to the virus,” Moriah Balingit and Laura Meckler report. “Many others, heeding the advice of the Education Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, were preparing for potential for long-term closures. Some systems closed schools to train teachers and prepare lessons in case students have to learn remotely…. U.S. school officials in many places are grappling with how to proceed, weighing the potential benefits of closures in slowing the spread of the disease against the severe disruption it could cause, particularly for students who rely on schools for meals, or who have parents who would struggle to find child care. There are also questions of how effective school closures are in slowing down the spread of disease, especially if people congregate elsewhere and pass the illness on to one another outside of the schools.” 

Universities are also scrambling. “In recent days, many universities have upended academic traditions in an effort to protect health on campus in the face of an uncertain threat. Classes at Princeton University will be held online and students are being encouraged to consider staying home after spring break, the school’s president announced Monday,” Susan Svrluga and Nick Anderson report. “Some colleges closed temporarily to disinfect buildings and some moved rapidly to virtual instruction."

Millions of Americans lack sick pay. Many of their employers campaign against it.

“Major U.S. companies and business groups have put out hand sanitizer and discussed precautions they are taking to keep sick workers away from customers,” Abha Bhattarai and Peter Whoriskey report. “Although most Americans say businesses should offer sick pay, at least a dozen states, including Florida and much of the Southeast, have passed legislation since 2011 to block efforts to require medical leave.”

Texans are “mad and scared” as the state braces for more cruise evacuees.

“On Monday, as the Grand Princess cruise ship prepared to offload more sick and exposed passengers in Oakland, Calif., San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg was bracing for a third set of evacuees — and losing patience with a chaotic federal evacuation and quarantine process that he fears is endangering residents. ‘It’s disconcerting,’ said Nirenberg (D). ‘Throughout the course of this, what I’ve seen is that the lack of coordination at the highest levels of this president’s administration is simply stunning,’” Arelis Hernández and Neena Satija. “Texas is one of three states that so far have accepted hundreds of evacuees … In nearly every location, local officials say they have been blindsided by the sudden requests, alarmed by the lack of information and exasperated by haphazard protocols.”

More on 2020

Bernie Sanders won Michigan in 2016 but heads into Tuesday’s primary as the underdog. In Detroit, volunteers are making one last push to get out the vote. (The Washington Post)
Biden is chipping away at Sanders's 2016 edge with white working-class voters.

“The duel will play out largely in Michigan and Missouri,” Annie Gowen reports. “Exit polls from last week's Super Tuesday contests, in which Biden surged to take a national delegate lead, showed that he beat Sanders among non-college-educated whites by four points. … In Missouri this weekend, Biden touted his working-class roots. … [He] held a campaign rally Saturday at the National World War I Memorial and Museum in Kansas City, with workers from firefighters and electrical unions carefully arrayed behind him in the setting sun. … Biden’s wife, Jill, appeared at events in St. Louis, Columbia and Kansas City on Monday … Union workers will be knocking on doors throughout the Midwest for Biden, and surrogates such as Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) joined picketing Teamsters in Michigan over the weekend.”

A second survey on Monday showed Biden opening a wide lead over Sanders in Michigan. The Monmouth University Poll released Monday afternoon showed Biden leading Sanders 51 percent to 36 percent among likely primary voters, though it should be noted that the polls were way off when Sanders won an upset here against Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Getting by can be a juggling act in Michigan, where 12 counties flipped from Obama to Trump in 2016.

Employment at the General Motors engine plant in Bay City, Mich., is now a fraction of what it once was. During last fall’s United Auto Workers strike, it wasn’t “far from anyone’s mind was the fact that Bay County flipped to Republican in 2016, against the wishes of the U.A.W.,” the Times's Rebecca Blumenstein reports from her hometown. “Workers were infuriated that [Trump] did not offer support for the strikers."

More coverage from the six states voting today
  • Turnout could hit a record in Washington state's primary, where more than 1 million mail-in ballots were received by Monday. (Seattle Times)
  • Biden took a Southern victory lap in Mississippi on Sunday, where he’s received the endorsement of some of the state’s most prominent black politicians and is expected to win big today. (Mississippi Today)
  • Idaho was last year’s fastest-growing state, and today’s election might provide clues as to whether those new residents are turning the state a little bluer. (AP)
  • Participation in North Dakota’s presidential caucuses is expected to rise dramatically from four years ago, and state Democrats saying they don’t expect coronavirus fears to dampen turnout. A procedural change in the state’s caucuses make them function more like a traditional election, with citizens given the ability to drop in at a caucus site, cast their ballot and leave. (Bismarck Tribune)
  • Sanders jabbed Biden for voting for the Iraq War during a Monday rally in St. Louis. (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Sterling Heights, Mich., Mayor Michael Taylor, a life-long Republican who voted for Trump in 2016, endorsed Biden, saying he's the candidate who can “appeal to moderates and Republicans like me who don’t want to see four more years of President Trump.” (Newsweek)
The Trump campaign has sent paychecks to Eric's and Don Jr.’s significant others. 

Parscale Strategy, the firm run by the president’s campaign manager Brad Parscale, has been used to make payments out of public view to Lara Trump, the wife of the president’s son Eric, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr., who have been surrogates and taken on advisory roles. (NYT)

Tech experts don’t think social media companies are doing enough to safeguard their platforms.

The Technology 202’s Cat Zakrzewski asked more than 100 experts if social media companies have done enough to prevent manipulation of voters on their platforms. The resounding answer: No. The Technology 202 Network, from Cat and researcher Tonya Riley, launches today. It's an invitation-only panel of experts from across government, industry and the consumer advocacy community who will vote in regular surveys on the most pressing issues in the field. (Check it out here.)

The new world order

Two Americans were killed in Iraq.

“Two members of a Marine Special Operations team were killed in Iraq during an operation targeting a mountain cave complex that Islamic State militants were using as a hideout, marking the first U.S. combat deaths in the country since last summer,” Dan Lamothe and Louisa Loveluck report. “The operation Sunday required the coalition to dispatch reinforcement forces to recover the remains of the Americans who were killed from the caves … It took nearly six hours to do so … The service members’ identities were being withheld as family members were notified."

The Trump Organization reported a drop in profits from foreign governments. 

“Trump’s company said it donated $105,465 to the U.S. Treasury last month, an amount that it said reflects its profits from foreign-government bookings at its hotels last year. The number is down sharply from its 2019 donation of about $191,000, showing a drop in spending by foreign governments at Trump hotels,” Jonathan O’Connell and David Fahrenthold report

A jury failed to reach a verdict in the case that the CIA called the “biggest leak” in agency history.

“A jury in New York failed to reach a verdict Monday on whether a former CIA employee gave government hacking tools to WikiLeaks,” Shayna Jacobs and Shane Harris report. “Jurors, who had begun their deliberations last week, told Judge Paul Crotty that they were ‘extremely deadlocked’ on many of the charges. Joshua Schulte, 31, had been accused of disclosing the hacking tools and disclosing information to a reporter at The Post while in jail awaiting trial. The jury did find Schulte guilty on two counts of making false statements to investigators and contempt of court. But the failure to reach a unanimous agreement on the most serious charges of disclosing classified information was a significant blow to the government’s case.” 

Ethiopian investigators blamed design flaws for the Boeing 737 Max crash a year ago. 

“The interim findings came as families of the victims from around the world gathered in Ethiopia for events commemorating the crash anniversary,” Lori Aratani, Ian Duncan and Michael Laris report. “According to the report, the ‘differences’ training provided to the airline’s pilots — meant to instruct them on how the Max would behave differently than an earlier version of the 737 — was found to be ‘inadequate.’”

Netanyahu’s self-declared victory is looking less certain in Israel. 

“In an effort to break the country’s year-long political deadlock, [Benny] Gantz reached out publicly to some unlikely coalition partners, betting that their shared goal of ousting [Benjamin] Netanyahu could bring them together,” Ruth Eglash reports. “Success would require Gantz winning — and accepting — support from the Joint List, a slate of four Arab-majority parties representing Israel’s roughly 1.8 million Arab citizens. If he does manage to secure their backing, his allies in Israel’s 120-seat parliament, or Knesset, would outnumber those of Netanyahu’s bloc of right-wing and religious parties, affording Gantz the chance to scrape together a narrow coalition government. While it would not include the Arab party members directly, this coalition would rely on them to pass essential legislation.”

Social media speed read

Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), who went into self-quarantine after being exposed to the virus, mused about death. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) replied:

The virus isn’t stopping Trump, a known germaphobe, from shaking hands with supporters:

Nancy Pelosi didn’t hold back after being asked about Trump not being tested for the virus: 

Ted Cruz is handling his quarantine – and an old conspiracy theory about his past -- with humor:

Videos of the day

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock’s daughter celebrated her dad’s decision to run for Senate with a TikTok:

Stephen Colbert said he’s “not testing positive, just staying positive”: 

Seth Meyers doesn’t think the New York governor’s coronavirus advice to subway commuters was helpful: