It’s Friday, October 2, 2020. Election Day is 32 days away. The vice presidential debate is 5 days away. Have questions, comments, or tips? Email me.
BREAKING NEWSTrump, first lady test positive for coronavirus
President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump have contracted the novel coronavirus, he announced in a tweet early this morning.
“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19,” the president said on Twitter just before 1 a.m. Eastern Time. “We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!”
Trump’s announcement came just hours after reports surfaced that Hope Hicks, one of his closest White House aides, had tested positive for the virus as well. Hicks traveled with the president on Air Force One to his debate with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Tuesday, as well as to a rally in Minnesota on Wednesday. She was seen on both days without a face mask; the Trump family also did not wear masks at the debate, despite an attempt to urge them to wear some by a doctor at the Cleveland Clinic, which co-hosted the event and required guests to be masked.
According to the Washington Post, the White House already knew Hicks was experiencing coronavirus symptoms when Trump flew to New Jersey and attended a fundraiser on Thursday. “Trump was in close contact with dozens of other people, including campaign supporters, at a roundtable event,” the Post reported. Just hours away from testing positive, he did not wear a mask.
Throughout the pandemic, Trump has repeatedly downplayed the coronavirus and wavered on whether Americans should wear face masks, which public health experts say are critical for mitigating the spread of the virus. As recently as Tuesday’s debate, the president mocked Biden for his mask usage. “I don’t wear masks like him,” Trump said. “Every time you see him, he’s got a mask. He could be speaking 200 feet away from them, and he shows up with the biggest mask I’ve ever seen.”
Trump also insisted in virtual remarks to the Al Smith Dinner on Thursday night that the “end of the pandemic is in sight,” echoing previous comments he has made over the past seven months. Now, he is self-quarantining at the White House, diagnosed with the same virus that has infected more than 7.2 million Americans and killed upwards of 207,000.
“The President and First Lady are both well at this time, and they plan to remain at home within the White House during their convalescence,” White House physician Sean Conley said in a memo released this morning, adding that he expects Trump “to continue carrying out his duties without disruption while recovering.”
About a half-hour after her husband’s tweet, the first lady shared news of their infections as well. “As too many Americans have done this year, @POTUS & I are quarantining at home after testing positive for COVID-19,” she wrote on Twitter. “We are feeling good & I have postponed all upcoming engagements. Please be sure you are staying safe & we will all get through this together.”
According to the New York Times, Trump’s aides are “discussing whether he should give an address to the nation on Friday from the White House or find some other way for him to reassure the public” — but the newspaper noted that many of his advisers “were still in a state of shock as they absorbed the news, and there was no immediate word on how far the infection may have spread among senior White House officials, who generally do not wear masks in deference to the president’s disdain for them.”
The dramatic turn of events — one more head-spinning twist in a turbulent campaign — comes just one month before Election Day, throwing the remainder of the presidential race into the air. It is unknown when the president will return to the campaign trail, or even if he will be able to participate in the next debate, which is scheduled for October 15 in Miami.
The Biden campaign has yet to respond to the president’s diagnosis; it is unknown if the Democratic nominee has been tested since sharing a stage with Trump, standing just a few feet away, earlier this week.
Trump’s positive test could also cause a domino effect that forces several other high-profile political figures into quarantine: for one thing, Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett has been at the White House this week and then met with several leading members of Congress at the Capitol. Trump has also been in close contact — unmasked — with Vice President Mike Pence and other Cabinet officials throughout the week.
A spokesman tweeted this morning that Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence both tested negative for COVID-19 this morning. “Vice President Pence remains in good health and wishes the Trumps well in their recovery,” he added.
Politico: “The House on Thursday night cleared a $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief measure in the Democrats’ latest bid to pressure Republicans into a massive bipartisan deal before the election.”
“The bill, which was approved without a single GOP vote, comes as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have spent all week trying to negotiate an agreement, leaving lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol increasingly anxious – and frustrated – at the prospect of heading back to their districts empty-handed.”
“Roughly 20 Democrats voted against the bill, many of whom have vocally urged Pelosi to seek a compromise with the GOP, even if it does not meet the party's full demands.”
“Before the vote, Pelosi had ruled out any chance of reaching an agreement with Mnuchin, the main GOP negotiator, on Thursday night but said the two continue to talk and exchange offers on paper. Friday would be the sixth straight day of talks between the pair. It is also the final day the House is slated to be in Washington before returning home to campaign before Nov. 3.”
NBC News: “President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, failed to disclose her participation in a 2006 newspaper ad calling for Roe v. Wade to be overturned and ending its ‘barbaric legacy’ when she submitted paperwork to the Senate Judiciary Committee.”
“Two Democratic committee aides confirmed to NBC News that the two-page ad published in the South Bend Tribune of Indiana, which included her name in a long list of those in support, was not disclosed in the Senate forms required of judicial nominees and maintained that it should have been. They said it should have been included in the response to a question in the forms asking for citations of ‘books, articles, reports, letters to the editor, editorial pieces or other published material you have written or edited.’ ”
. . . “A White House spokesman said that because Barrett did not write or edit the advertisement, it does not fall within the scope of the questionnaire.
All times Eastern.
President Donald Trump will host a phone call on COVID-19 with “vulnerable seniors” at 12:15 p.m as he self-quarantines at the White House.
Vice President Mike Pence has no public events scheduled.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will travel to Grand Rapids, Michigan, to deliver remarks on the economy at 1:20 p.m. and attend a “mobilization event” at 4:40 p.m. He will also attend a virtual fundraiser.
Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris will travel to Las Vegas, Nevada, to participate in a “voter mobilization drive-in event” at 6:30 p.m. She will also attend a virtual fundraiser.
The Senate is not in session.
The House will convene at 9 a.m. and vote on two non-binding resolutions: H.Res. 1153, “condemning unwanted, unnecessary medical procedures on individuals without their full, informed consent” (a reference to unwanted procedures on detained immigrants allegedly performed by ICE), and H.Res. 1154, “condemning QAnon and rejecting the conspiracy theories it promotes.”
- The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis will hold a hearing with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on the federal government’s response to the coronavirus at 9 a.m.
The Supreme Court is on its summer recess.
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