Wake Up To Politics - May 1, 2020
I’m Gabe Fleisher, reporting live from WUTP world headquarters in my bedroom. It’s Friday, May 1, 2020. 186 days until Election Day. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
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Biden denies sexual assault allegation
Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, denied an allegation of sexual assault by a former aide this morning, his first public response to the accusation.
Tara Reade, who worked in Biden's Senate office in the 1990s, accused Biden in a March podcast interview of forcibly kissing her, reaching under her skirt, and penetrating her with his fingers in a Capitol hallway in 1993. As associates came forward to corroborate that Reade had told them about the alleged assault in the mid-1990s, Biden remained silent — only issuing a rote denial by a spokeswoman.
But, pressure mounting from fellow Democrats and women's rights activists, Biden addressed Reade's allegations for the first time this morning. "They aren't true," he said in a statement. "This never happened."
The presidential candidate also urged news organizations to "examine and evaluate the full and growing record of inconsistencies in her story, which has changed repeatedly in both small and big ways." (Reade, along with other women, originally accused Biden in 2019 of making her uncomfortable by touching her shoulders.)
Reade has also said that she filed a Senate personnel complaint accusing Biden of harassment; in his statement, the former vice president announcing he was asking the National Archives "to identify any record of the complaint she alleges she filed and make available to the press any such document." Biden declined to open up his Senate archives at the University of Delaware, as some have urged, saying that they "do not contain personnel files."
"If there was ever any such complaint, the record will be [at the National Archives," Biden said.
The allegation from Reade had roiled Biden's presidential campaign in recent days, as prominent Democrats were repeatedly questioned about whether they believed him or her. (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, California Sen. Kamala Harris, and other top backers all sided with Biden in various interviews.)
Biden also appeared on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" earlier today, once again seeking to put the matter to rest. "I assure you it did not happen," he told the show's co-host Mika Brzezinski. "Period."
Pandemic could last two years, report says: "The coronavirus pandemic is likely to last as long as two years and won’t be controlled until about two-thirds of the world’s population is immune, a group of experts said in a report."
"Because of its ability to spread from people who don’t appear to be ill, the virus may be harder to control than influenza, the cause of most pandemics in recent history, according to the report from the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. People may actually be at their most infectious before symptoms appear, according to the report."
"After locking down billions of people around the world to minimize its spread through countries, governments are now cautiously allowing businesses and public places to reopen. Yet the coronavirus pandemic is likely to continue in waves that could last beyond 2022, the authors said." (Bloomberg News)
U.S. officials crafting retaliatory actions against China: "Senior U.S. officials are beginning to explore proposals for punishing or demanding financial compensation from China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to four senior administration officials with knowledge of internal planning."
"The move could splinter already strained relations between the two superpowers at a perilous moment for the global economy."
. . . "President Trump has fumed to aides and others in recent days about China, blaming the country for withholding information about the virus, and has discussed enacting dramatic measures that would probably lead to retaliation by Beijing, these people said." (Washington Post)
Trump says he would consider re-hiring Michael Flynn: "President Trump said Thursday that he would consider bringing former national security adviser Michael Flynn back into the administration in a different role."
"'I think he’s a fine man. I think it’s terrible what [the FBI] did to him,' Trump responded when asked by a reporter if he would consider bringing Flynn back. 'I would certainly consider it.'"
"Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI in the course of the Russia investigation but documents released late Wednesday in his criminal case have fueled conservative claims that he was entrapped by the bureau." (The Hill)
*All times Eastern
President Donald Trump will receive his intelligence briefing at 11:30 a.m., have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence at 12:30 p.m., participate in a ceremony to honor "hard work, heroism, and hope" at 4:15 p.m., and then depart for Camp David, where he will spend the weekend.
Vice President Mike Pence will lead a White House Coronaivrus Task Force meeting at 3 p.m., in addition to joining President Trump for 12:30 p.m. lunch and the 4:15 p.m. ceremony.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany will hold a press briefing at 2 p.m., her debut at the podium. It will be the first briefing held by a White House spokesperson since Sarah Huckabee Sanders' final Q&A with reporters on March 11, 2019; McEnany's direct predecessor, Stephanie Grisham, never held a briefing during her nine-month tenure in the post.
The Senate is not in session.
The House will meet for a pro forma session at 12 p.m.
The Supreme Court will meet for its weekly conference.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden will participate in a virtual fundraiser.
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