with Mariana Alfaro
As the novel coronavirus killed nearly 90,000 people in the United States and tens of millions lost their jobs, President Trump has fired or sidelined the chief watchdogs for the intelligence community, the Pentagon, and the Departments of Health, Transportation and State. This systemic effort to shield his administration from oversight and accountability has been aided and abetted by the relative silence of congressional Republicans after each move.
Of the 53 GOP senators, Mitt Romney is one of only three to publicly express concern about what he called Trump’s “unprecedented” purge of inspectors general. “Doing so without good cause chills the independence essential to their purpose,” the 2012 GOP presidential nominee lamented on Saturday night. “It is a threat to accountable democracy and a fissure in the constitutional balance of power.”
And that helps explain why only three have spoken up. Republican senators are privately petrified of the president using his bully pulpit against them. The president holds the Machiavellian view that it’s better to be feared than loved, and this approach has proved particularly potent with other leaders of the party he didn’t even join until 2009. “Real power is, I don’t even want to use the word, fear,” Trump told The Washington Post in 2016.
Romney, elected to the Senate from Utah in 2018, was the only Republican in the chamber who voted to convict the president for abuse of power after the Democratic-controlled House impeached him this winter, and he’s said that the administration’s record on coronavirus testing is not something to be proud of. The other two Republicans who have spoken up about the ouster of the IGs are Sens. Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Susan Collins (Maine), a moderate facing a tough reelection fight in a blue state.
Grassley has made protecting whistleblowers and watchdogs a hallmark of his congressional career, but his initial response was tepid over the weekend after Trump fired State Department Inspector General Steve Linick late Friday night and replaced him with Stephen Akard, a staunch loyalist to Vice President Pence.
In an open letter released Monday night, Grassley asked Trump for an explanation of his rationale for firing Linick. “Inspectors General help ensure transparency and accountability, both of which are critical for taxpayers to have confidence in their government,” Grassley wrote. “They should be free from partisan political interference, from either the Executive or Legislative branch.”
Grassley noted that he and other senators “still have received no official response” to their previous letter about the president’s firing of Michael Atkinson as the intelligence community’s inspector general. He asked for an explanation for Linick’s termination by June 1 and answers on Atkinson’s firing “as soon as possible.” But he outlined no consequences if Trump refuses to provide them. And no other senators signed on to his letter. “I want to work with you to ensure that the enemy here is wasteful government spending, not the government watchdogs charged with protecting the taxpayer,” Grassley said.
This letter followed a fiery floor speech earlier in the day by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who called out Grassley for not saying or doing more – as he did under previous presidents. “My friends on the other side, especially the senior senator from Iowa, have long defended and even sought to pass legislation to further empower inspectors general,” the Democrat from New York said. “What are my Republican colleagues going to do about it? Nothing, it seems. Nothing. They are so afraid of President Trump they ... cling, almost, to his ankles.”
Trump has sought to cajole GOP senators into pursuing investigations of his perceived political opponents. Remember that impeachment was the result of the president’s unsuccessful effort to get the Ukrainian government to announce an investigation of Joe and Hunter Biden.
Trump recently called on Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to compel former president Barack Obama to testify related to the origins of the federal government’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign. He’s also pushed Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pursue investigations of the people who investigated him and his 2016 campaign. Graham said he would not do that. And he probably could not if he tried. But the chairman is poised to get blanket permission to subpoena officials connected to the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“Graham intends to seek a Judiciary Committee vote on the matter on June 4. The proposal would allow Graham to obtain documents or testimony from any figures referenced in a report by the Justice Department Inspector General's review of the FBI's handling of a surveillance warrant connected to that investigation,” Politico reports. “The subpoena is unusually broad — committee subpoenas are usually specific to a smaller number of targets. But its approval, which will likely fall along party lines, would give Graham enormous, unilateral authority to conduct the probe.”
The motion being considered would let Graham summon frequent targets of Trump’s ire like Loretta Lynch, James Clapper, John Brennan, Jim Comey, Andy McCabe, Lisa Page and Peter Strzok during an election year.
Obama fired one inspector general, citing job performance issues, and President Ronald Reagan tried to remove several but reversed himself after aides told him that watchdogs are not political appointees in the traditional sense. “Trump’s moves have rattled the nonpartisan community of federal watchdogs, many of whom are longtime public servants,” Philip Rucker, Karen DeYoung, Lisa Rein and Hannah Knowles report. “‘Some people are scared. Others are outraged. We all recognize how bad this is for our country,’ one inspector general said in describing the reaction of Obama and Trump appointees alike. … For weeks, inspectors general said they have had urgent conversations among themselves about how to continue doing their jobs in the Trump administration without compromising their principles or going easy on the subjects of their probes. ‘Things are taking a very dark turn,’ said a second inspector general.”
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Monday, Trump said he did not know Linick and fired him at the request of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “I have the absolute right as president to terminate,” the president said.
“Many career officials viewed Linick as a dogged investigator of malfeasance who cultivated a reputation for diligence and relentlessness. But for the secretary’s handpicked advisers who found themselves on the wrong end of his investigations, the former prosecutor could be a source of frustration and embarrassment,” John Hudson and Carol Morello report. “Pompeo told The Washington Post that he advised Trump to fire Linick because he was not ‘performing a function’ that was ‘additive for the State Department.’ In a letter sent to Congress on Friday, Trump said Linick’s removal would be effective in ‘30 days,’ giving him time to wind down his investigations. But Linick has since been told that he is physically barred from returning to the State Department even to collect his belongings, complicating his ability to finish his work.
“Before he was fired, Linick was investigating an emergency declaration Trump made last year to approve an arms sale to Saudi Arabia, a decision Pompeo approved, said Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The arms transfer had been blocked by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who opposed the killing of Yemeni civilians at the hands of a Saudi-led coalition operating in that country. … But there are a variety of other potential triggers. Linick, for instance, had also been investigating allegations that a staffer for Pompeo was performing domestic errands and chores for him, such as handling dry cleaning, walking the family dog and making restaurant reservations … Pompeo told The Post he was not aware Linick had been investigating that issue. When asked whether the allegations were true, he declined to comment.”
At the White House, Trump said he would not mind if Pompeo used taxpayer resources to do house chores. “I'd rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn't there,” the president said, “or his kids aren't there, you know?”
Trump also defended his administration’s move to sell arms to Riyadh over congressional objections, despite the regime’s abysmal human rights record and the lack of justice for the killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi. “I think that when somebody pays us a fortune for arms,” the president said, “we should get the deal done.”
More on the rule of law
Attorney General Bill Barr installed a new top deputy at the federal prosecutor’s office in Washington. “The arrival of Associate Deputy Attorney General Michael R. Sherwin … has triggered new accusations that Justice Department leaders are bypassing career prosecutors in the office and intervening in cases favoring the president’s allies,” Spencer Hsu and Keith Alexander report. “Trump on Monday announced he intends to nominate Cleveland U.S. Attorney Justin Herdman to the office’s top slot and replace Timothy J. Shea, who has had a rocky three-month tenure. U.S. attorneys nationwide typically select their own top deputy … Several assistant U.S. attorneys in the office — each with experience prosecuting violent crimes or public corruption — said they felt ‘defanged,’ torn and staggered by the personnel moves coupled with the appearance of special treatment for the president’s friends.”
“This represents a politicization of the U.S. attorney’s office of the District of Columbia that is remarkable and unique and unprecedented,” said Stuart Gerson, a Republican and former Barr aide under George H.W. Bush who briefly served as acting attorney general. “It’s a political coup; there really can be no question about it.”
A retired federal judge appointed to oppose the Justice Department’s bid to dismiss former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s guilty plea to lying to the FBI requested a hearing for oral arguments after he briefs the court. “U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan last week paused the case to hear from outside groups and appointed former New York federal judge John Gleeson to argue against the Justice Department request to undo Flynn’s charges. Sullivan also asked Gleeson to examine whether the former three-star general may have committed perjury,” Spencer reports. “Gleeson on Monday proposed that the judge allow the government and outside groups to respond after he files his argument in three weeks. Also Monday, in one of the first publicly released draft filings to advise the court, more than 960 former Justice Department prosecutors accused Barr of appearing to serve the president’s personal political interests.”
Barr said he does not expect U.S. attorney John Durham, the prosecutor he handpicked to review the 2016 FBI probe of Trump’s campaign, to launch a criminal investigation of Obama or Joe Biden, despite the president’s public urging. “Our concern over potential criminality is focused on others,” the attorney general said at a Monday news conference. (Matt Zapotosky)
A House committee’s investigation of Trump “did not cease with the conclusion of the impeachment trial,” congressional lawyers say in a new brief to the Supreme Court. The new filing comes in response to the Trump administration’s request that the Supreme Court put aside the D.C. Circuit’s order that Congress receive secret grand jury evidence from former special counsel Bob Mueller’s investigation. House General Counsel Douglas Letter said the House Judiciary Committee needs the information now. “The withheld material remains central to the committee’s ongoing investigation into the president’s conduct,” Letter said, adding that it could even lead to new articles of impeachment. (Robert Barnes and Ann Marimow)
The federal response to the coronavirus
The president said he’s taking hydroxychloroquine.
“Trump announced Monday that he is taking the drug hydroxychloroquine as protection against the novel coronavirus, despite the lack of evidence that it prevents individuals from contracting the illness and warnings from physicians that it can have deadly side effects,” Anne Gearan, Laurie McGinley, Lenny Bernstein and Ariana Eunjung Cha report. “The president said he began taking the anti-malaria drug about 10 days ago after he told the White House physician he would like to start taking hydroxychloroquine. That timing would put the start of Trump’s drug regimen at roughly the same time as news broke that two White House staffers had tested positive for the virus, and the White House later released a letter from Trump’s in-house doctor that linked his drug regimen to one of those cases. … 'I’ve heard a lot of good stories. … I’m not going to get hurt by it,’ [Trump] told reporters at the White House, noting it has long been approved to treat malaria, rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. …
“Trump’s decision to take the drug is the latest example of him following his impulses rather than the advice of doctors and public health experts during the pandemic. He has eschewed the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to wear a face covering when social distancing is not possible. He also has questioned the benefits of widespread testing, which public health officials have called the key to mitigating the outbreak and allowing for the safe reopening of the economy. … Clinical trials, academic research and scientific analysis indicate that the danger of the drug is a significantly increased risk of death for certain patients, particularly those with heart problems."
This could trigger a cascade of negative effects. “Trump supporters will view the drug as a harmless way to potentially prevent a dangerous illness. Many, presumably, might then seek it out and take it — hopefully without negative side effects,” Philip Bump explains. “Trump’s past advocacy of the drug led to a shortage among patients who rely on it to treat other illnesses. What’s more, a legion of Americans taking the drug who believe erroneously that it protects them from contracting covid-19 can be relied upon to take risks in their behavior that increase the possibility the virus might spread to others.”
Trump attacked Rick Bright, the U.S. vaccine official who claims that the administration pressured him to make hydroxychloroquine widely available and forced him into a new job when he resisted, by questioning why Bright signed an emergency application to use the drug. But Trump left out the crux of Bright’s allegation — Bright said he was “directed” to sign the application, and he did so as a compromise with Trump appointees pushing to release the drug even more widely, per Post Fact Checker Sal Rizzo.
Quote of the day
“He’s our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists,” Nancy Pelosi said on CNN, adding that Trump should be especially careful given his “age group” and his “weight group,” which she described as “morbidly obese.”
Trump threatened to permanently cut off U.S. support for the World Health Organization.
“In a late-night tweet, Trump blamed the health agency for fumbling early responses to the outbreak and being too deferential to China, where the virus emerged and began spreading last year. Trump said he would make his temporary suspension of U.S. aid permanent if the WHO does not ‘commit to major substantive improvements in the next 30 days,’” Anne Gearan reports. “Trump did not specify the changes he wants, but in a letter to WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Trump said discussions between the United States and the WHO are underway. Still, he said he could not wait for the outcome to formally cite ‘repeated missteps by you and your organization in responding to the pandemic,’ which he said had been ‘extremely costly for the world.’” Under international pressure, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced support for the WHO-led review of the virus’s origins — but only once the pandemic is over.
- The administration signed a $354 million contract with Richmond-based Phlow Corp. to manufacture generic medicines and pharmaceutical ingredients needed to treat covid-19 that are currently made overseas. (NYT)
Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine showed encouraging early results.
“Moderna, the Massachusetts biotechnology company behind a leading effort to create a coronavirus vaccine, announced promising early results Monday from its first human safety tests,” Carolyn Johnson reports. “The eagerly awaited data provide a first look at one of the eight vaccines worldwide that have begun human testing. The data have not been published in a scientific journal and are only a preliminary step toward showing the experimental vaccine is safe and effective. The company’s stock, along with the Dow Jones industrial average, soared on the report that eight participants who received low and medium doses of Moderna’s vaccine had blood levels of virus-fighting antibodies that were similar or greater than those in recovered covid-19 patients. That suggests, but doesn’t prove, that it triggers some level of immunity.”
- Moderna said Moncef Slaoui, the former pharmaceutical executive who was tapped last week to be chief adviser for the administration’s Operation Warp Speed effort, will divest from the company. He previously resigned from the board of directors but had retained stock options. (Los Angeles Times)
- The CDC warned of a possible measles outbreak as vaccinations for children are falling during the pandemic. (CNBC)
Much of the stimulus package bailout money remains unspent.
“Trump on Monday intensified his push for businesses to reopen as quickly as possible, but companies and cities continued to wait for the disbursement of unspent bailout funds and remain unsure what to expect as rules and programs continue to shift,” Erica Werner reports. “The Congressional Oversight Commission, a new body, released a report on Monday finding that the Treasury Department had spent very little from a $500 billion fund created by the Cares Act in March to help businesses and local governments, even though many of these entities have asked for immediate help. Senators are expected to press Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell about this during a hearing [this] morning.”
- “Emergency payroll loans totaling $221 million have gone to at least 21 publicly traded energy companies, and a survey of those companies’ finances shows just how volatile and troubled that sector of the economy has been,” Will Englund reports.
- The Treasury Department will distribute stimulus payments to roughly 4 million debit cards. Until now, payments were either directly deposited in bank accounts or sent as paper checks. (CNN)
Marco Rubio will be acting chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Rubio (R-Fla.) will serve as the acting chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, replacing Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who stepped aside last week after FBI agents seized his cellphone, seeking evidence related to stock sales he made before the coronavirus pandemic crashed global markets,” Donna Cassata reports. “Under normal circumstances, Rubio would have to give up his gavel at the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, usually a sleepy panel with little profile that has been transformed into the leading overseer of the $650 billion [PPP] created in the wake of the pandemic. Because his appointment to run the Intelligence Committee is technically only temporary, Rubio may seek a waiver from GOP rules and ask to retain [that] chairmanship. Normally, the odds of such a waiver would be very slim, but the seniority ladder would put Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a libertarian, in line to replace Rubio at a critical point in the committee’s history. Some Republicans may be reluctant to put Paul in that position.”
Updates from the front lines
The underground market for face masks is riddled with fraud.
“Up and down the supply chain, from factories to hospitals, opportunists are benefiting from the chaotic market as prices have quintupled. Rampant price gouging and fraud has provoked dozens of lawsuits and hundreds of cease-and-desist orders, from major mask manufacturers as well as state attorneys general,” Desmond Butler, Juliet Eilperin and Tom Hamburger report. “Of all the potential mask buyers and sellers with whom she has come in contact, [Hong Kong-based trader Alexis] Wong estimates that less than 20 percent are real. Escrow provides some sanity: The buyer’s money goes into an account controlled by an independent agent and is only released when the transaction is confirmed. But before that happens, Wong says she has to identify what’s real and what isn’t. She regularly sees sophisticated forgery of financial documents and even videos of fake caches of masks. She provided examples to The Post that reflected forged financial statements from banks including Chase and PNC with balances ranging from hundreds of millions of dollars to $3 billion.”
Florida appears to be limiting access to data that could undercut the governor’s reopening narrative.
“Late last Friday, the architect and manager of Florida's COVID-19 dashboard — praised by White House officials for its accessibility — announced that she had been removed from her post, causing outcry from independent researchers now worried about government censorship,” Florida Today reports. “The dashboard has been a one-stop shop for researchers, the media and the public to access and download tables of COVID-19 cases, testing and death data to analyze freely. … But over the last few weeks it had ‘crashed’ and gone offline; data has gone missing without explanation and access to the underlying data sheets has become increasingly difficult. The site was created by a team of Florida Department of Health data scientists and public health officers headed by Rebekah Jones. She announced last week her removal. … She warned that she does not know what the new team's intentions are for data access, including ‘what data they are now restricting.’” Jennifer Larsen, a researcher at the University of Central Florida's LabX, said restricting the data is the equivalent of cutting off hurricane forecasts as a storm approached. “The virus doesn't really give a damn if you hide its numbers,” she told the paper.
- Miami-Dade County saw a spike of about 550 new coronavirus cases this weekend, which Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) attributed to a backlog of three-week-old tests. The jump was accompanied by a rise in hospitalizations throughout the county coinciding with the lifting of its emergency closure order. (Miami Herald)
- New York City released data showing death rates per Zip code, showing that neighborhoods with high concentrations of black and Latino residents, as well as low-income residents, suffered the highest death rates. (NYT)
In New York City, 145 kids have the rare Kawasaki-like disease linked to the virus.
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced the cases while noting the CDC confirmed the illness is linked to the virus, the New York Post reported. “Common symptoms … include persistent fever, irritability or sluggishness, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting, rash, red or pink eyes, enlarged lymph node gland on one side of the neck, red cracked lips or red tongue, and swollen hands and feet. ‘That’s a lot to be aware of,’ de Blasio said, adding, ‘Any of those symptoms you see in your child, call your health care provider.’”
- Cases have been confirmed in 19 states and D.C., including two children in South Florida, one in Indiana, two in Iowa and four in Los Angeles.
- A 5-year-old British girl who suffered — and recovered — from a mild bout of covid-19 is now in intensive care because of the inflammatory syndrome. Her stepfather said on “Good Morning Britain” that she was “fit and well” beforehand but now has been given a 20 percent chance of survival.
In Louisiana, the pandemic has become a “two-black-swan event.”
“Louisiana is heavily reliant on two of the industries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic: tourism and energy. With the economic fallout from stay-at-home orders and other restrictions mounting nationwide, this state is perhaps the most vulnerable,” David Montgomery and Richard Webster report.
- Struggling restaurants across the U.S. are beginning to tack on a “coronavirus surcharge” to the bill. Despite sparking controversy, the move is already being adopted by other industries as more businesses reopen, including dental offices and hair salons charging to cover the cost of PPE and sanitation. (Antonia Farzan)
- New polling data by SurveyMonkey shows that 49 out of 50 governors have significantly higher approval ratings for their pandemic responses than Trump does. The exception is Georgia’s Brian Kemp (R). (Aaron Blake)
- States could lose more than 40,000 National Guard members on June 24 who are currently helping them test residents for the virus and trace the spread of infections, when the Trump administration’s deployment order ends. That’s one day shy of the 90-day threshold for many members who could then become eligible for early retirement and education benefits under the Post-9/11 GI Bill. (Politico)
- The Oregon Supreme Court stayed a ruling by a judge nullifying Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) restrictions on church gatherings. (Oregonian)
- Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) will allow a partial reopening of northern Michigan starting Friday. Retail businesses, including bars and restaurants, will be allowed to reopen as long as they follow new guidelines. (Detroit Free Press)
- California’s $75 million relief fund for undocumented immigrants was overwhelmed by demand on its first day. (Fresno Bee)
The District is six days away from meeting reopening metrics, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.
“Bowser (D) said that if current trends hold, she could announce a date for reopening sectors of the city’s economy as soon as Thursday,” Erin Cox, Fenit Nirappil and Laura Vozzella report. “In Virginia, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced the first beaches in the state will be open for swimming and sunbathing on Friday, just in time for Memorial Day weekend and welcome news to the merchants who urged the governor to let them compete with newly reopened beachfront businesses in North Carolina and Maryland. The incremental step follows signs the pandemic’s toll might be slightly easing in the District, Maryland and Virginia. The three jurisdictions collectively counted 45 new deaths on Monday, the lowest number since mid-April. They also reported a downward trend in new infections: The seven-day rolling average of new cases, a statistical measurement of the trend, now has dropped to 1,906 a day, down from a peak of 2,100 daily cases in early May. … The District also has ramped up its contact tracing operation, with 130 new hires as of this week. That brings the city to the 200 contact tracers needed for the first phase of reopening; the city eventually wants to grow the force to 900.”
A South Korean soccer club apologized for using sex dolls to fill empty seats.
“Playing in empty stadiums, teams have resorted to placing banners and cutouts of fans over empty seats, making a better backdrop for television and photos,” Cindy Boren reports. “FC Seoul took it a step further by placing 30 mannequins around the stadium Sunday … They were, however, a product of Dalkom, a company that makes sex toys and other adult products. … The life-size dolls wore face masks and were posed in a number of positions, appearing to cheer the action on the pitch. Twenty-eight were female and two were male … and some wore items that advertised adult websites.”
- California, New York and Texas announced their support for pro sports returning to their states — as long as they’re played “safely, without fans,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said. The states are home to a combined two dozen franchises across the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB. None provided any certainty as to when or how the leagues will be able to resume operations. (Mark Maske)
- The owners of a gym opened its doors before Fox News cameras on Monday, ignoring New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) shutdown order. They were charged with disorderly conduct offenses a few hours later. (Brittany Shammas)
- Disney is taking steps toward a U.S. reopening, publishing new rules for anyone wanting to visit its admission-free Disney Springs area. The rules require face coverings, physical distancing and temperature screenings. (Hannah Sampson)
Public bathrooms are a stumbling block for reopening the nation.
“A Texas barbecue restaurant reopened only after hiring for a new job category: a bathroom monitor, who assures that people waiting their turn are spaced well apart. In Florida, malls are installing touch-free sinks and hand dryers in restrooms before opening their doors. McDonald’s is requiring franchisees to clean bathrooms every 30 minutes. Across the country, businesses are replacing blow dryers with paper towels, decommissioning urinals that now seem too close together, and removing restroom doors to create airport-style, no-touch entrances,” Marc Fisher reports. “Solutions to people’s anxieties might not be quite so simple. … The coronavirus has been found in human waste up to a month after a victim has recovered. And a study published last week concluded that droplets from human speaking can hang in the air for at least eight minutes.”
A new age of air travel is here. It involves temperature checks, thermal scans, face masks and asking passengers to raise their hands to use the toilet. Air France is no longer using priority boarding but allowing on passengers seated at the back first to limit traffic jams in the aisle. Some airlines are considering requiring passengers to sign health certifications or, eventually, “immunity passports” to prove that they have recovered from the virus. (WSJ)
More than 100 million people in China’s northeast region are back under lockdown.
“In an abrupt reversal of the re-opening taking place across the nation, cities in Jilin province have cut off trains and buses, shut schools and quarantined tens of thousands of people. The strict measures have dismayed many residents who had thought the worst of the nation’s epidemic was over,” Bloomberg News reports.
- Cape Town, South Africa, has 10 percent of the continent’s confirmed cases. Experts believe this may be because the city welcomed more tourists from hard-hit regions of the world than other spots. Major hot spots emerged in two supermarkets and a pharmaceutical factory that supercharged the spread. (Lesley Wroughton and Max Bearak)
- Eighty-one percent of coronavirus deaths in Canada have happened in long-term-care facilities. (Amanda Coletta)
- El Salvador’s high court suspended President Nayib Bukele’s unilateral emergency order to extend the nation’s coronavirus restrictions for another 30 days following accusations of authoritarianism. (Katie Shepherd)
Social media speed read
The White House released a doctor's note, but it doesn't explicitly say who prescribed the hydroxychloroquine that Trump says he's taking:
Explanation from the president’s doctor on hydroxychloroquine: pic.twitter.com/pQOi6YWCpV— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) May 19, 2020
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) admitted that he, too, has taken hydroxychloroquine:
I took hydroxychloroquine too. For malaria, 28 years ago. Because I am not a lunatic.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) May 18, 2020
Videos of the day
Seth Meyers broke down Obama’s weekend messages:
Stephen Colbert thinks Trump threw Pompeo under the bus: