The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Daily 202: Barr and Trump hint at coming moves after Flynn is let off

with Mariana Alfaro

Attorney General Bill Barr gave a television interview to defend his decision on Thursday to throw out the guilty plea of Michael Flynn for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russians. “People sometimes plead to things that turn out not to be crimes," said Barr, who argued that agents did not have a legitimate reason to question President Trump's then-national security adviser.

CBS News’s Catherine Herridge asked how he thinks history will remember such a stunning reversal, which has irked many career prosecutors inside the Justice Department.

“Well, history is written by the winner,” Barr replied. “So it largely depends on who's writing the history.”

The rest of the answer suggested that Barr intends to write it.

“I mean, it's not going to be the end of it,” the Trump appointee added, referring to letting Flynn off the hook. “We’re going to get to the bottom of what happened.”

Barr was referring to the ongoing probe by John Durham, the U.S. attorney in Connecticut, whom he appointed to reinvestigate the investigators in the Russia probe. “There probably will be a report as a byproduct of his work, but we also are seeing if there are people who violated the law and should be brought to justice, and that's what we have our eye on,” he said. “I don't want to get into particular individuals.”

Trump celebrated the Flynn news in the Oval Office on Thursday afternoon. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if you see a lot of things happen over the next number of weeks," he said. “This is just one piece of a very dishonest puzzle.”

Trump then accused “the Obama administration Justice Department” of committing “treason.” He also referred to the FBI investigators and Justice Department officials who worked on the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as “human scum,” as well as “dishonest, crooked people.”

“He was targeted in order to try and take down a president,” Trump said of Flynn. “I hope a big price is going to be paid. A big price should be paid. … It’s treason.”

Trump accusing law enforcement officials of “treason” as he seeks to settle old scores is another indication that his attention has shifted away from the novel coronavirus contagion, which is causing the greatest public health and economic crises in nearly a century.

Trump said he discussed the investigation earlier Thursday during a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin and raised the possibility that they could work together more closely now. “And that was a very nice call,” Trump said. “And remember this: The Russia hoax made it very hard for Russia and the United States to deal with each other. They’re a very important nation. We’re the most powerful nation; they’re a very powerful nation. Why would we not be dealing with each other? But the Russia hoax … made it very difficult for our nation and their nation to deal. And we discussed that. I said, ‘You know, it’s a very appropriate time.’ Because things are falling out now and coming in line … We are talking about arms control with Russia, and we will go forward with that. And we are talking about it very seriously.”

Quote of the day

“Russia will see this as a huge victory. A sign both of American weakness and of a corrupt judicial system, in which they can continue meddling in our affairs and get away with it,” said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA officer who oversaw operations in Europe and Russia at the time of the 2016 U.S. campaign. (Roz Helderman, Bob Costa and Shane Harris)

President Trump on May 7 praised the Justice Department for moving to drop the charges against his former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn. (Video: Reuters)
Donald Trump Jr. called for revenge against investigators in a stream of tweets. 

The president’s son arranged a June 2016 meeting with Russians at Trump Tower after being told in an email that they wanted to help his dad’s campaign. “It’s time for some transparency & bad actors should be punished accordingly, you know, [the] way they would have punished us!” he tweeted. “Now it’s time to go on the offense. I look forward to watching General Flynn take a flamethrower to these corrupted institutions.”

Flynn lawyer Sidney Powell said in a statement that this is just “the first step toward restoring the importance of truth and the rule of law.”

The president suggested Friday that the FBI director’s job is not safe. 

During a phone interview with Fox News on Friday morning, Trump claimed Chris Wray was “appointed by Rod Rosenstein,” the former deputy attorney general who oversaw former special counsel Bob Mueller’s probe after Jeff Sessions recused himself. In fact, Trump appointed Wray after he fired James Comey. The president added that “a lot of things are going to come out” and said on Fox: “Let's see what happens with him. The jury’s still out.”

Trump is unlikely to remove Wray before the election, even though he would love to replace him, Axios reported on Sunday, citing three sources who have discussed the matter with the president: “First, some of Trump's key advisers don't want to kick the hornet's nest so close to an election by firing a second FBI director. And, second, there isn't an obvious replacement who'd both pass muster on Capitol Hill and be the sort of loyalist Trump wants to run the FBI.”

Career federal prosecutors believe Barr is politicizing the DOJ in alarming ways.

“It is highly unusual for the Justice Department to seek to undo a guilty plea, and comes just months after [Barr] pressed prosecutors in another of Mueller’s cases to soften their sentencing recommendation for the president’s friend and former political adviser Roger Stone,” Spencer Hsu, Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky report. “Shortly before the Justice Department abandoned Flynn’s prosecution, the line prosecutor on the case, Brandon Van Grack, formally withdrew — just as the Stone prosecutors had. In the new filing, Timothy Shea, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, wrote that ‘continued prosecution of this case would not serve the interests of justice,’ but current and former law enforcement officials said the decision was a betrayal of long-standing Justice Department principles. Shea, who was tapped by Barr to lead the U.S. attorney’s office, was the only lawyer to sign the filing; no career attorneys affixed their names to it. …

"Thursday’s filing blames a handful of former senior FBI officials for what Shea declared was an unjustified pursuit of Flynn. … The filing asserts that the government could not prove Flynn lied, but more important, cannot show his statements were relevant to an ongoing investigation because the FBI was winding down its case against Flynn before suddenly deciding to interview him about his phone calls. Legal analysts and those involved in the case vigorously dispute both assertions.”

“Another pillar in the foundation of the Department of Justice and the rule of law has fallen,” said one federal prosecutor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “The justification for this move is not credible, and it may be used by criminals in the future to escape legitimate prosecution.”

Barr’s department has “intervened in a range of other ways, from seeking more comfortable prison accommodations last year for Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s former campaign chairman, to abruptly dropping charges in March against two Russian shell companies that were about to go to trial for financing schemes to interfere in the 2016 election using social media,” the New York Times notes. “I’ve been practicing for more time than I care to admit, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” Julie O’Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Georgetown University, said of the reversal in the Flynn case.

Comey had this message for the rank-and-file:

Trump seems determined to rehabilitate Flynn.

The president’s advisers are contemplating a possible visit to the White House by Flynn in the coming weeks and say he could become a campaign surrogate this fall. “I’m very happy for General Flynn,” he said on Thursday in the Oval Office. “He was a great warrior, and he still is a great warrior. Now, in my book, he’s an even greater warrior.”

Nine senior Trump administration officials, campaign staff, outside advisers and longtime associates of the president told the Daily Beast on Thursday that they want Flynn to have a public-facing role in helping the president. One of Trump’s campaign pollsters even compared Flynn to Nelson Mandela: “Years ago when Nelson Mandela came to America after years of political persecution, he was treated like a rock star by Americans,” John McLaughlin said. “Now after over three years of political persecution, General Flynn is our rock star. A big difference is that he was persecuted in America.”

Flynn posted a video of his grandson reciting the Pledge of Allegiance:

None of the new developments change the fact that Flynn didn’t tell the truth to the FBI.

“We know the FBI made some serious mistakes in the Russia investigation,” writes columnist David Ignatius. “But none of that addresses the fundamental question that got this story rolling in the first place: Why was the incoming national security adviser telling the Kremlin’s man in Washington not to worry about the expulsion of 35 of his spies? … That was the wrong message to be sending in December 2016. And with the accumulation of evidence since then about the scope of Russian subversion, it’s even more troubling.”

Ignatius poses several questions that remain unanswered: “If Flynn did nothing wrong when he called the Russian ambassador on Dec. 29, 2016, the day President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia for interfering in the presidential election, why did he conceal it? … Why was the Trump administration so eager to blunt the punishment Obama gave to Russia for what we now know was gross interference in our presidential election? … Was Flynn improperly tricked in his Jan. 24, 2017, interview with the FBI into misstating what he had told [Ambassador Sergey] Kislyak? If so, why did he resign and later plead guilty? In Flynn’s Feb. 13, 2017, resignation letter, he admitted that he had made misleading statements to Vice President Pence about the Kislyak call.”

There’s still a bear in the woods.

On April 20, the news was overshadowed by the coronavirus, but the GOP-controlled Senate Intelligence Committee unanimously endorsed the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia conducted a sweeping and unprecedented campaign to interfere in the 2016 election to boost Trump. The committee’s 158-page report vindicating the intelligence community was the result of a three-year investigation. Significantly, it also concludes that analysts felt no political pressure to shape findings and “that they were free to debate, object to content, and assess confidence levels, as is normal and proper for the analytic process.” Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said in a statement: “The committee found no reason to dispute the intelligence community’s conclusions.”

On Thursday, the House Intelligence Committee published thousands of pages of new transcripts from more than 50 closed-door interviews conducted as part of its GOP-led Russia investigation in 2017 and 2018. Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said the belated release of the documents was because the White House put a hold on their declassification. “Despite the many barriers put in our way by the then-Republican Majority, and attempts by some key witnesses to lie to us and obstruct our investigation, the transcripts that we are releasing today show precisely what [Mueller] also revealed: That the Trump campaign, and Donald Trump himself, invited illicit Russian help, made full use of that help, and then lied and obstructed the investigations in order to cover up this misconduct,” Schiff said in a statement. “While [Mueller] found insufficient evidence to prove the crime of criminal conspiracy beyond a reasonable doubt, he refused to draw any conclusion on the issue of collusion — contrary to false representations made by [Barr] and others. There is ample evidence of the corrupt interactions between the Trump campaign and Russia, both direct and circumstantial, in the record.”

Last night, Trump’s solicitor general also asked the Supreme Court to temporarily block a ruling that requires the Justice Department to give Congress certain secret grand jury material from Mueller’s investigation. “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in March cleared the way for Congress to access certain secret evidence from Mueller’s investigation in one of a set of separation-of-powers lawsuits between House Democrats and the Trump administration,” Ann Marimow and Robert Barnes report. “Noel Francisco told the Supreme Court on Thursday that if it does not put the order on hold, the government will have to disclose those materials Monday, ‘which would irrevocably lift their secrecy and possibly frustrate the government’s ability to seek further review.’ … A divided D.C. Circuit found that the House was legally engaged in a judicial process that exempts Congress from secrecy rules that typically shield grand jury materials from disclosure.”

The federal response to the coronavirus

The jobless rate soared to 14.7 percent in April, the highest level since the Great Depression.

“The jobless rate was pushed higher because 20.5 million people lost their jobs last month, the Labor Department said Friday, wiping out a decade of job gains in a single month,” Heather Long reports. “The staggering losses are roughly double what the nation experienced during the 2007-09 crisis … Job losses began in the hospitality sector, which shed 7.7 million jobs in April, but other industries were also heavily impacted. Retail lost 2.1 million jobs and manufacturing lost 1.3 million jobs. White-collar and government jobs that typically prove resilient during downturns were also slashed, with firms shedding 2.1 million jobs. and state and local governments losing nearly a million. More state and local government jobs could be slashed in the coming weeks as officials deal with severe budget shortfalls. There was even 1.4 million layoffs in health care last month, as patients have been putting off things beyond emergency care.

“Even though the April unemployment figure was horrific by most accounts, economists say the official government rate almost certainly underestimates the extent of the job losses. The Labor Department said the unemployment rate would have been about 20 percent if workers who said they were absent from work for ‘other reasons’ had been classified as unemployed or furloughed. What’s clear so far is that Hispanics, African-Americans and low-wage workers in restaurants and retail have been the hardest hit by the job crisis. Many of these workers were already living paycheck-to-paycheck and had the least cushion before the pandemic hit.”

The Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, a long-standing Small Business Administration program that’s separate from the new Paycheck Protection Program, “has been so overwhelmed by demand that it has significantly limited the size of loans it issues, while blocking nearly all new applications from small businesses,” Aaron Gregg and Erica Werner report. “By many accounts, it is failing spectacularly. After initially telling businesses that individual disaster loans could be as high as $2 million, SBA has now imposed a $150,000 limit without publicly announcing the change … Additionally, the agency has faced a backlog of millions of applications for the disaster loan program for the past several weeks, several SBA officials have said.”

Trump’s valet tested positive, sparking fears of spread in the West Wing. 

“The White House rapidly increased coronavirus testing for those around Trump and took other emergency measures Thursday after a staffer whose job potentially put him in close daily contact with the president had tested positive for the novel coronavirus,” Anne Gearan, Josh Dawsey and Carol Leonnig report. “In a statement, the White House acknowledged the positive test result for a member of the U.S. military who works on the White House campus and added that both Trump and Vice President Pence have since tested negative. The infected staffer is one of Trump’s personal valets, the military staff members who sometimes serve meals and look after personal needs of the president. That would mean the president, Secret Service personnel and senior members of the White House staff could have had close or prolonged contact with the aide before the illness was diagnosed. ‘I’ve had very little contact, personal contact, with this gentleman,’ Trump said when asked about the valet. … The president said testing of White House staff will now be done daily, rather than about once per workweek. … 

"Trump was frustrated when told of the positive test … A test now might not register positive even if the president or vice president had contracted the virus. Reasons include the limitations of the rapid test used and that if they were infected, they might not yet have a large quantity of virus in the nose or back of the throat where a swab is used to collect a sample. … One person familiar with those discussions said wider use of masks among staffers close to Trump is expected but will remain optional. Relatively few staffers who interact frequently with the president wear masks. One who did, deputy national security adviser Matthew Pottinger, drew snickers from his colleagues … Trump has never worn a face mask in public during the pandemic and has said that to do so while performing his official duties would be unseemly.”

Trump is tightly controlling information about the contagion so he can urge a return to normalcy.

“His administration has sidelined or replaced officials not seen as loyal, rebuffed congressional requests for testimony, dismissed jarring statistics and models, praised states for reopening without meeting White House guidelines and, briefly, pushed to disband a task force created to combat the virus and communicate about the public health crisis,” Toluse Olorunnipa reports. “One senior administration official said the public-health experts are scaring people, and their dire warnings have often been at odds with the president’s call to ‘open up our country.’ … The limits of Trump’s ability to shape the public’s understanding of his coronavirus response could be tested next week, as major congressional hearings featuring career government health officials are set to take place.” 

Several Republican governors are following Trump’s lead as part of a concerted effort to control the narrative by concealing bad facts from the public: “In Arizona, where Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is pushing businesses to reopen, the state health department abruptly halted the work of a team of experts who predicted the outbreak’s peak was still about two weeks away. The department reversed the decision amid an outcry after it became public. Governors in Georgia, Texas, Iowa and elsewhere have been praised by Trump as they ignored recommendations from doctors and health officials in their states to begin phased reopenings. States such as Florida have limited or redacted public information about their coronavirus deaths.”

If the message were to go out with complete objectivity, it would be disastrous for Trump,” said Max Skidmore, a political science professor at the University of Missouri at Kansas City who wrote a 2016 book on presidential responses to past pandemics. “It will work for some people, but he can’t get over the fact that many, many people are dying — and they’re dying on his watch. Too many people are dying, and that’s the fact that he can’t cover up however much he tries.”

A total of 75,254 coronavirus deaths have been confirmed in the United States, with at least 1.25 million infections.

The administration pushed the use of remdesivir, but an unequal rollout is angering doctors. 

“Demand for remdesivir exploded after the Food and Drug Administration … made an emergency use authorization for the experimental drug. The Trump administration has maintained control of distribution of the drug, which is in limited supply,” Christopher Rowland and Laurie McGinley report. “Doctors in several hospitals, including some that have seen surges in people with covid-19 … say they cannot get access to remdesivir for their patients — and that they don’t understand the process for obtaining the drug. In Boston, Massachusetts General Hospital said it is in line to receive the drug, but two other large teaching hospitals have been denied supplies without explanation … Doctors also complain that they have yet to see the full results of the National Institutes of Health clinical trial that cleared the way for the FDA’s emergency authorization of remdesivir — which means they still don’t know which patients stand to benefit the most from the drug.” 

The FDA has also approved a new diagnostic tool employing the revolutionary CRISPR gene-editing technology that could determine in just one hour if someone has the virus. The FDA’s emergency use authorization allows only “high-complexity” laboratories to use the test kit, developed by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the Ragon Institute and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and marketed by Sherlock Biosciences of Cambridge, Mass. The inventors and marketers of the test describe it as highly accurate and easy to use. (Joel Achenbach and Laurie McGinley)

The FDA pulled approval for use of masks from more than 60 manufacturers in China, after finding what they said were a large number of low-quality products from these companies. (WSJ)

Treating coronavirus patients with blood thinners could help boost their prospects for survival, according to preliminary findings from physicians at New York City’s largest hospital system who analyzed the charts of 2,733 patients for a paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Valentin Fuster, a physician in chief at Mount Sinai Hospital and one of the study’s authors, told Ariana Eunjung Cha that the observations are based only on a review of medical records and that more rigorous, randomized studies are needed to draw broader conclusions, but that the results are promising.

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine found no evidence that hydroxychloroquine lowered the risk of dying from the coronavirus or needing a breathing tube. This is the latest blow for the anti-malarial drug previously widely touted by Trump, who peddled unproven claims from the briefing room and on Twitter. (AP)

U.S. and Chinese economic officials struck a conciliatory tone during a Friday morning call.

They discussed the prospects of China fulfilling the terms of the “Phase 1” trade deal that Trump threatened to scrap last week. Although Chinese Vice Premier Liu He stopped short of guaranteeing that China will fulfill its promise to buy an additional $200 billion in U.S. products, both he and U.S. officials agreed to strengthen cooperation to create favorable conditions for expanding trade, Gerry Shih reports.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo walked back his claims the U.S. has “enormous evidence” a biomedical laboratory in Wuhan is responsible for the outbreak, ABC News reports. Pompeo first shared his unproven theory on Sunday, before shifting on Wednesday by saying there’s “significant” evidence, but the U.S. does not have “certainty” yet. Pompeo shifted again in interviews on Thursday, saying: “There's evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong.”

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany once called Trump's comments “racist” and “hateful.”

“Before becoming a prominent pro-Trump commentator during his first campaign, McEnany said it was ‘unfortunate’ and ‘inauthentic’ to call him a Republican. McEnany made the comments in a series of panels on CNN and Fox Business,” CNN reports. “In 2015, McEnany was particularly critical of statements Trump made while announcing his campaign, in which he said Mexico was sending immigrants to the US who were ‘rapists’ and bringing drugs and crime to the country… ‘To me, a racist statement is a racist statement. I don't like what Donald Trump said,’ she said in an exchange on CNN in late June 2015. … ‘Donald Trump has shown himself to be a showman, I don't think he is a serious candidate,’ she added. ‘I think it is a sideshow. It's not within the mainstream of the candidates.’”

Dispatches from the front lines

People across the country are dying at home because they’re afraid to get help.

“Julio Ayala first felt the ache in his bones during back-to-back shifts behind the wheel of a delivery truck and a janitor’s mop. By the time he returned to his East Boston apartment one evening last month, a fever had seized his large frame. The Salvadoran immigrant called in sick the next day. … As a cough began to rattle his broad chest, [his partner] Idalia begged him to get tested for the novel coronavirus. … Each time, however, he refused,” Michael Miller reports. “Across the country, thousands of people infected with the lethal virus are staying home even as their conditions deteriorate. … Many stay home not out of confusion or overconfidence, but fear. Fear that hospitalization will bring financial ruin. Fear that ICE agents will find them. Fear that they will die alone in an unfamiliar place, rather than in their own bed, surrounded by loved ones. Those anxieties run deepest in poor, minority and undocumented communities, which have been ravaged most by the pandemic. 

“For Julio, who had temporary protected status and permission to work in the United States, ICE posed a threat not to him but to his undocumented partner and her 15-year-old son. Mostly, he feared what a trip to the hospital would mean for a family already struggling to pay the rent. … On the evening of April 10, Julio’s cough became a painful wheeze, she said. This time, when she implored him to go the hospital, he agreed. ‘Mañana,’ he said. Tomorrow. He wouldn’t make it there. … An investigation by The Post found that many covid-19 deaths went uncounted in March and early April: There were nearly twice as many additional deaths in the United States as were publicly attributed to coronavirus at the time. Data from local governments suggests that many of those additional deaths were people dying at home of covid-19. … Though data remains scarce on those who die at home of covid-19, their ranks include the old and young; the frail and fit; the ill-prepared and health-care professionals.”

Marilee Shapiro Asher, a 107-year-old artist, beat the coronavirus. She also beat the 1918 flu.

“Marilee Shapiro Asher works in twos: two husbands, two children. And now, two pandemics. The autumn morning almost five years ago when I walked into Marilee’s D.C. studio, I knew I was meeting a force,” writes columnist Petula Dvorak. “Marilee — you get one-name status when your art’s in the Smithsonian permanent collection — turned 107 last year, and I was looking forward to going to another one of her shows in May, to see what she’s been up to since we last met. The coronavirus canceled that show. … Doctors called her daughter, Joan Shapiro, to tell her she should get to the hospital. They believed she had no more than 12 hours to live. ‘Well, he doesn’t know my mother, does he?’ Joan Shapiro told the Jerusalem Post.” 

  • Fewer Maryland and Virginia residents are seeking ER treatment. Officials are worried patients in need of urgent care don't go to the ER , fearing they might become infected by the virus. (Antonio Olivo, Rachel Chason and Rebecca Tan)
  • Hundreds of Maryland golfers celebrated the reopening of their courses as cases in the state reached 29,374, with 1,503 deaths. (Fredrick Kunkle)
  • Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) signed a public health order allowing the partial reopening of businesses, beginning today, in the state’s 22 remaining counties, including retail stores and enclosed shopping malls, as long as they operate at 50 percent capacity. In an unprecedented move, the state published an online form calling on businesses to report employees “who refuse to return to work without good reason or who quit their jobs as soon as possible.” (Holly Bailey)
  • A New Jersey nursing home was fined $220,000 for an outbreak that killed more than 50 residents. Health officials said the Andover Subacute and Rehabilitation Center II placed its residents in “immediate jeopardy.” (Teo Armus)
  • Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) asked everyone in the state to get tested for the virus, even if they don’t show symptoms. Kemp said the state’s testing capacity can meet the public’s demand, but some labs in the area continue struggling to keep up with demand. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
  • The Dallas hair salon owner who chose jail over closing her doors was released following intervention from the state’s Supreme Court and Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who suggested an earlier judge’s conviction was too restrictive. Abbott modified his executive orders in a way intended to free her early, arguing that “throwing Texans in jail who have had their business shut down through no fault of their own is nonsensical.” (Meagan Flynn and Hannah Knowles)
  • Facebook, YouTube and other companies are removing a viral “Plandemic” conspiracy video featuring an extended interview with a well-known anti-vaxxer. YouTube said it removed the video because it includes “medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice for covid-19,” while Facebook said the video was removed for “suggesting wearing a mask can make you sick.” (Travis Andrews)
  • Amtrak will require all passengers to wear face masks starting next week. The company has also reduced bookings by 50 percent to encourage social distancing. (New York Post)
In New York City, tensions are flaring in black and Hispanic neighborhoods over enforcement of social-distancing rules. 

Some local officials claim that the New York Police Department is engaging in a racist double standard. In Brooklyn, 35 out of 40 people arrested for social-distancing violations from March 17 to May 4 were black, four were Hispanic and one was white. Arrests of black and Hispanic residents occurred on the same balmy days as photographs circulated showing officers handing out masks to mostly white visitors sitting close together in parks across the city, the New York Times notes.

  • An Alabama woman was body-slammed and handcuffed by an off-duty officer for refusing to wear a mask at a Walmart. (Antonia Farzan)
  • Hotels across New York City will offer rooms to people with mild covid-19 cases so they can isolate without spreading the virus to their households. Patients will be provided with food, access to a pharmacy and laundry service, the chair of the city council’s Health Committee said. To be eligible for the program, patients have to be referred by health-care providers that have partnered with the health department in each of the five boroughs. (Drew Jones)
  • San Francisco’s health department gave methadone, alcohol, cannabis and other substances to some addicts and homeless people isolating from the virus in hotels in an effort to prevent them from going outside to get the substances themselves. (San Francisco Chronicle)
Blacks in Britain are four times as likely to die of the virus as whites. 

“This, however, is not a surprise to many in these communities, whose members are more vulnerable to the virus because of their health and economic disadvantages, and perhaps other reasons yet to be isolated. Britons of Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and mixed ethnicities also have statistically higher rates of coronavirus deaths than Caucasians,” Karla Adam and Miriam Berger report. “The trends are not unique to Britain. Parisian suburbs — where many residents are of North African or sub-Saharan African descent — have been hit harder than Paris itself. In one such suburb, Seine-Saint-Denis, the coronavirus death rate is unusually high.”

  • The virus could kill between 83,000 and 190,000 people in its first year in sub-Saharan Africa if it’s not contained, the World Health Organization warned. (Teo Armus)
  • In Guayaquil, the Ecuadoran city of 3 million that made headlines last month when videos surfaced showing dead bodies in the streets, doctors and civilians are reporting missing bodies of coronavirus victims, lost in a woefully unprepared health-care system that was quickly overwhelmed by an estimated 9,000 deaths. (CNN)

Other news that should be on your radar

Gregory McMichael and his son Travis were charged with the killing of Ahmaud Arbery on May 7, days after a video that appeared to show his death went viral. (Video: The Washington Post)
A father and son were charged in the killing of a black Georgia jogger. 

“A Georgia father and son were charged with murder and aggravated assault Thursday evening in the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery after a newly released video appearing to show the moments before his death intensified pressure on authorities to make the arrests,” Michael Brice-Saddler, Colby Itkowitz and Cleve R. Wootson Jr. report. “The charges against the men — Gregory McMichael, 64, and Travis McMichael, 34 — come more than two months after Arbery was killed. Two local district attorneys recused themselves from the case before the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was brought in. The agency made the arrests the day after its investigation began. The video shows two men approach a young black man jogging on the street. After a brief interaction, gunshots can be heard and the jogger stumbles to the ground. The footage ignited outrage across the political spectrum, with former vice president Joe Biden comparing it to a lynching and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) calling the shooting ‘absolutely horrific.’” 

Tara Reade called on Biden to drop out of the presidential race. 

Reade, the former aide who accused Biden of sexually assaulting her in 1993, called on him to withdraw from the race in an interview with former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, Matt Viser reports. “‘You and I were there, Joe Biden. Please, step forward and be held accountable,’ Reade said in a short clip that Kelly posted on her Twitter account. ‘You should not be running on character for the president of the United States.’ Asked if she wanted him to withdraw, Reade responded: ‘I wish he would. But he won’t.’ She said she did not want an apology from Biden, saying, ‘I think it’s a little late.’ … Reade said that she would ‘absolutely’ go under oath with her claims, and would submit to cross-examinations. When asked if she would take a polygraph, she said: ‘I’m not a criminal. Joe Biden should take the polygraph.’”

A 1996 court document shows that Reade told her ex-husband that she was sexually harassed while working for Biden in 1993. The declaration, obtained by the San Luis Obispo Tribune, “doesn’t say Biden committed the harassment nor does it mention Reade’s more recent allegations of sexual assault. Reade’s then-husband Theodore Dronen wrote the court declaration. … In it, he writes Reade told him about ‘a problem she was having at work regarding sexual harassment, in U.S. Senator Joe Biden’s office.’ … Dronen wrote that Reade told him she ‘eventually struck a deal with the chief of staff of the Senator’s office and left her position.’ ‘It was obvious that this event had a very traumatic effect on (Reade), and that she is still sensitive and effected (sic) by it today,’ Dronen wrote.”

Reade is being represented by a donor to Trump’s 2016 campaign. Attorney Douglas Wigdor told told the Associated Press that he is not being paid for his work for Reade, but his firm denied that there is any political motivation behind taking her on as a client. Reade’s other attorney, William Moran, previously wrote and edited for Sputnik, the Russian state-owned media company.

Social media speed read

Trump's campaign manager showed off his new “Keep America Great” face mask, which apparently doesn’t cover a user’s entire chin as recommended:

The Trump campaign continues making comparisons between Trump and … famed film villains. Brad Parscale yesterday likened the campaign he manages to a “Death Star," prompting this retort:

Videos of the day

Stephen Colbert joked that Trump has gone from being a “birther” to a “deather”:

Seth Meyers said the Trump administration is protecting itself, not the American people, from the virus:

Trevor Noah talked about what college is like in the time of coronavirus: