The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Trump taking malaria drug; mayor eyes DC reopening

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Welcome to The Hill’s Morning Report. It is Tuesday. We get you up to speed on the most important developments in politics and policy, plus trends to watch. Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver are the daily co-creators, so find us @asimendinger and @alweaver22 on Twitter and recommend the Morning Report to your friends. CLICK HERE to subscribe!

Total U.S. coronavirus deaths reported each morning this week: Monday, 89,564. Tuesday, 90,369.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Trump's remaking of the judicial system Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit MORE is campaigning to persuade voters that his handling of the coronavirus is both trustworthy and effective. But on Monday, he triggered an avalanche of denouncements from some of the country’s leading medical specialists when he told  reporters that for a week and a half he’s been taking hydroxychloroquine, which can trigger serious cardiac side effects, as a COVID-19 preventative.


The Food and Drug Administration warned the public last month against the decision Trump stubbornly boasted he made. But a White House physician said in a written statement that after “numerous discussions,” he and Trump decided that the potential benefits of hydroxychloroquine, a powerful drug prescribed for lupus and malaria, outweigh risks. 


“I was just waiting to see your eyes light up when I said this. When I announced this,” the president told reporters. “Yeah, I've taken it for one and a half weeks now. And I'm still here. I'm still here.” (The Hill).


The Hill: Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiVoters want a strong economy and leadership, Democrats should listen On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus MORE (D-Calif.) says taking scientifically unproven hydroxychloroquine “not a good idea” for Trump in his “age group” and “morbidly obese...weight group.”


FiveThirtyEight: Trump, who will be 74 in a few weeks, is polling worse among older voters than he did in 2016.


Trump also needs support from female voters to win in November, but on Monday he said he’s glad Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoOvernight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit King of Jordan becomes first Arab leader to speak with President-elect Biden Central Asia is changing: the Biden administration should pay close attention MORE travels with his wife on business because Pompeo doesn’t have time to “wash dishes.”


His portrait of a Cabinet spouse on cleanup duty, rather than as a global “force multiplier,” which is how the secretary describes his wife, Susan, was not perceived as helpful to Trump or Pompeo, who is under fire for use of department staff for personal services, which the president suggested is acceptable.


"I'd rather have him on the phone with some world leader than have him wash dishes because maybe his wife isn't there," Trump said in an attempt to tamp down accusations that Pompeo’s wife, who has no government assignment, is traveling the world on taxpayer funds.


Trump knows that voters in recent surveys place him behind former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden team wants to understand Trump effort to 'hollow out government agencies' Overnight Defense: Trump transgender ban 'inflicts concrete harms,' study says | China objects to US admiral's Taiwan visit Protect our world: How the Biden administration can save lives and economies worldwide MORE when it comes to being “honest and trustworthy,” and more than 52 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.   


What, then, is Trump doing?


He’s trying to firm up his base while heeding his own political soundings. A majority of Americans may frown on Trump’s handling of the pandemic, but more than 82 percent of Republicans applaud the job he’s doing in commanding the public health crisis.


CNBC: Stock market soars after promising report about potential COVID-19 vaccine in early human clinical trial.


The president, with his base in mind, continues to challenge former President Obama as a force he alleges was behind “Obamagate,” a catch-all phrase Trump wields to tug his predecessor into the 2020 election debate, along with Biden.


NBC News: Trump’s risky new reelection strategy: Wage war with Obama.


Attorney General William BarrBill BarrMerrick Garland on list to be Biden's attorney general: report DOJ dropping charges against ex-Mexican defense minister DOJ watchdog finds Louisiana inmates with coronavirus were not isolated for a week MORE on Monday stole some of that thunder when he dismissed Trump’s attempts to paint the Russia investigation as a criminal plot engineered by Obama, saying he expected no charges against either the 44th president or Biden as a result of an investigation Barr ordered into how their administration handled Russia’s election interference.


The New York Times reported that Barr’s comments threw cold water on efforts by Trump and his allies during his reelection bid to reframe the Russia investigation as a plot to sabotage his presidency. Trump targets Obama with zeal and political muscle memory, and his attacks open doors for his campaign to skewer Biden in a barrage of expensive ads.  


Obama is a powerful draw among Democrats, younger voters, voters of color and many independents, and he is making it clear that for the next five and a half months until Election Day, he is all-in to try to help Biden defeat Trump, Amie Parnes reports.


Trump heads to Michigan and a Ford ventilator assembly plant on Thursday, making another stop in a battleground state he sorely wants to win, along with Florida. Biden, however, is ahead of the president in hypothetical head-to-head matchups in Michigan (+5.5 points), Florida (+3.3), Pennsylvania (+6.5), Arizona (+4.4) and Wisconsin (+2.7), according to the RealClearPolitics average.  


As Niall Stanage writes, Trump enthused on Twitter when Michigan crowds bellowed at a local TV news journalist last week as they demonstrated in favor of reopening the state. Trump has challenged the stay-at-home orders, now easing, issued by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a potential vice presidential candidate. The president has relished opportunities to widen fissures in American politics in an increasingly dangerous way, Stanage adds.


The Hill: Trump threatens permanent freeze on World Health Organization funding absent “major” reforms within 30 days.


More politics: Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDanielRonna Romney McDanielMichigan certifies Biden victory in another blow to Trump Sunday shows - Virus surge dominates ahead of fraught Thanksgiving holiday GOP chairwoman leans into election claims: Party will 'run down every single irregularity' MORE says the Republican National Convention scheduled Aug. 24-27 in Charlotte, N.C., will not be held in a virtual setting and that part of it, at least, will be held in person. 


“It’s quite a ways away, and there’s ample time for us to adjust, if necessary,” McDaniel said on Monday. “We will not be holding a virtual convention,” she added in response to a question about the Minnesota Republican Party holding an online convention (The Associated Press).





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STATE WATCH: The United States reports at least 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 this morning, out of more than 4.8 million around the world.


> Whitmer announced Michigan will begin a partial reopening of the northern parts of the state and the Upper Peninsula on Friday. The relaxing of restrictions will allow retail businesses and offices to reopen, along with bars and restaurants, which will be able to accommodate 50 percent of capacity (Detroit News). 


> Oregon: A circuit judge in Oregon on Monday tossed out statewide coronavirus restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, saying she didn’t seek the legislature’s approval to extend stay-at-home orders beyond a 28-day limit. Baker County Circuit Judge Matthew Shirtcliff ruled in a lawsuit filed this month by 10 churches that argued the state’s social-distancing directives were unconstitutional. In a seven-page opinion, Shirtcliff said the damage from the governor’s orders to Oregonians and their livelihoods was greater than the dangers presented by the coronavirus. The governor is seeking an emergency review by the Oregon Supreme Court and a hold on the ruling until the high court could take it up (The Associate Press).


> Texas, North Carolina and Arizona are among the states seeing rising numbers of coronavirus cases, intensifying concerns as they seek to reopen shuttered economies. Texas saw its largest one-day increase in cases on Saturday, adding more than 1,800 cases, while North Carolina also saw its largest single-day jump on Saturday with 853 new cases. As The Hill’s Peter Sullivan reports, it is unclear whether the rising case figures are directly related to the state reopenings or increased testing. 


> New York region: Western New York, including Buffalo, can open for business on Tuesday, Gov. Andrew CuomoAndrew CuomoCuomo calls a sheriff who won't enforce mask mandate a 'dictator' New York City to reopen field hospital as COVID-19 cases spike White House largely silent on health precautions for Thanksgiving MORE (D) said on Monday. Cuomo said he is encouraging sports teams to reopen, albeit without fans. “Yes, I do want to watch the [Buffalo] Bills,” he added. Meanwhile, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut are slowly easing restrictions this week. Retail stores in the Garden State can offer curbside pickup of goods, and in tony Connecticut, retail and businesses can emerge from hibernation on Wednesday (with space restrictions), while batting cages, golf driving ranges, horse riding and private tennis clubs can open, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) said on Monday. Golfers will be allowed to play in foursomes, after previously being restricted to playing in pairs (The New York Times).


The Hill: New Jersey phased reopening plan but no timeline.


> Virginia: If you live in or near the Commonwealth, this is a big headline: Virginia Beach will open Friday for recreation, with certain restrictions tied to social distancing, Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announced on Monday (WTOP). If the beach is mobbed or visitors violate bans on beach tents and umbrellas bunched together, the governor said he will reverse course and shut down the beach.


> Georgia: Air travel! Primarily from hubs in Atlanta and New York and between hubs, Delta will expand some of its major routes for domestic and international commercial flights beginning in June (Reuters).  


> Washington, D.C.: The spread of COVID-19 across Washington, D.C., has declined for eight days and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that officials will evaluate a scheduled reopening date. Bowser made the remarks during a budget presentation and indicated that she is still looking for a 14-day decline overall. Last week, the mayor extended the district’s stay-at-home order until June 8 (The Hill). 






CONGRESS: The Trump administration and Congress are eager to get the country back to work and return to normalcy despite the COVID-19 outbreak, but some lawmakers are worried that a boost to unemployment benefits in the CARES Act could disincentivize people from returning to work right away. 


As The Hill’s Naomi Jagoda writes, the $2.2 trillion package passed in March adds $600 per week to unemployment benefits through the end of July as lawmakers sought to give aid to those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic, with 36.5 million having filed unemployment claims as of May 9. 


However, with potential negotiations on hold on a CARES 2 package, Democrats are eager to extend those benefits to provide more relief to Americans, but Republicans are not and have started to air concerns that an extension could be detrimental to the economy. 


“Calls from Democrats to extend unemployment ‘bonuses’ will kill small businesses and make long-term unemployment much worse,” Sen. Ben SasseBen SasseWhoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' Hogan 'embarrassed that more people' in the GOP 'aren't speaking up' against Trump Democrats gear up for last oversight showdown with Trump MORE (R-Neb.) said in a statement. “Everyone wants to help workers who lost their jobs, but we shouldn’t make it impossible for small businesses to hire again by pitting them against a crummy government system that makes not working pay more than working.”


Elsewhere, lawmakers are also mulling changes to the small-business loan program that was set up to provide aid to businesses adversely affected by the virus. 


While Congress weighs another coronavirus relief package, senators are floating a myriad of potential “fixes” to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), according to Jordain Carney. Among those are expanding the length of the loan or nixing restrictions on how businesses spend the money. 


Companies and small businesses that received a PPP loan had until Monday to decide whether to keep the money and deal with all the restrictions that came attached (The Hill).


The Hill: House GOP lawmaker breaks with party to back proxy voting.


The Washington Post: As White House pushes firms to reopen, new report says much of bailout stimulus money remains unspent.


> Rubio rising: Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDemocrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks GOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results GOP lawmaker patience runs thin with Trump tactics MORE (R-Fla.) was tapped on Monday to take over atop the Senate Intelligence Committee until the federal investigation into stock sales by Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrNorth Carolina's Mark Walker expected to announce Senate bid Lara Trump mulling 2022 Senate run in North Carolina: report Cyber agency urges employees not to lose focus in wake of director's firing MORE’s (R-N.C.) is complete. 


Rubio was second in line for the position behind Sen. Jim RischJim Elroy RischGOP senator congratulates Biden, says Trump should accept results Barrasso to seek top spot on Energy and Natural Resources Committee Risch wins reelection in Idaho MORE (R-Idaho), who will instead remain the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFeinstein to step down as top Democrat on Judiciary Committee Voters want a strong economy and leadership, Democrats should listen On The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus MORE (R-Ky.) lauded the Florida Republican, saying he was the “natural choice” for the position and that his “proven leadership on pertinent issues only made the decision easier.”


Burr stepped aside temporarily from his perch atop the committee shortly after news emerged that the FBI seized his cellphone amid an investigation into his selloff of $1.72 million worth of stocks in early February. His decision to sell came after senators received closed-door briefings on the national threat posed by the coronavirus, before most Americans were warned about the potential economic fallout of the pandemic (The Hill).


> IGs: Lawmakers are under pressure to respond as the Trump administration continues to remove inspectors general from key departments over reports or investigations that have created problems for the president and administration officials. 


The president’s decision to dismiss Steve Linick, the State Department inspector general (IG), drew a swift rebuke from Democrats, saying that Linick was investigating Pompeo’s possible misuse of taxpayer funds. It also brought responses from Republicans who were skeptical that there was legitimate reason to make the move. 


In a letter to Trump, Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money: Biden to nominate Yellen for Treasury secretary | 'COVID cliff' looms | Democrats face pressure to back smaller stimulus Loeffler to continue to self-isolate after conflicting COVID-19 test results Loeffler isolating after possible COVID-19 infection MORE (R-Iowa) called for an explanation for Linick’s dismissal, which by law the president is required to detail. The most senior Senate Republican warned that inspectors general “should be free from partisan political interference, from either the Executive or Legislative branch,” and asked Trump to “provide a detailed reasoning” for the removal no later than June 1 (The Hill). Other GOP senators, including Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsWhoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' Democrats face increasing pressure to back smaller COVID-19 stimulus Team Trump offering 'fire hose' of conspiracy Kool-Aid for supporters MORE of Maine and Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyWhoopi Goldberg blasts Republicans not speaking against Trump: 'This is an attempted coup' GSA offers to brief Congress next week on presidential transition Democrats brush off calls for Biden to play hardball on Cabinet picks MORE of Utah, have expressed concerns about Trump’s actions via Twitter.


However, some Republicans gave more deference to the administration. Risch, the Foreign Relations Committee chairman, said in a statement that it is “the president's prerogative and within his authority” to make decisions of this kind (The Hill).


The Hill: Pompeo says he asked Trump to fire a department watchdog for “undermining” the State Department.


The Hill: Trump says investigation into Pompeo shows “screwed up” priorities.


INTERNATIONAL: Germany and France proposed a 500 billion-euro ($543 billion) fund on Monday in a push to boost recovery efforts of European nations that have been hit hard economically by COVID-19.


German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel MacronEmmanuel Jean-Michel MacronTrump addresses virtual G-20 summit, heads out before session on pandemic G-20 leaders stress importance of united response to coronavirus pandemic Czech president says Trump should quit after election loss and 'not be embarrassing' MORE said in a joint statement that the fund would be used to aid sectors that have been damaged by the pandemic. Under the proposal, according to Macron, EU nations would use their collective weight to borrow money on financial markets, but it remains to be seen if all 27 countries would sign on to create the fund (The Associated Press).


Reuters: Euro, Italian bonds cheer EU recovery fund plan.





> Spain: Spain hopes to reopen its borders toward the end of June as the government continues to roll back lockdown restrictions, according to the Spanish transportation minister. 


The bid to reopen travel comes as the daily death toll continues to fall, with newly-reported deaths registering under 100 for a second day in a row. Last week, Spain imposed a two-week quarantine for all those visiting the country, but the move is expected to be temporary, according to Transportation Minister José Luis Ábalos (Reuters).


> United Kingdom: Unemployment claims in Great Britain increased by 69 percent in April as the coronavirus outbreak took its toll on the nation’s economy. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) said on Tuesday that claims jumped by 856,000 to 2.1 million in April compared to the month before.


 “In March, employment held up well, as furloughed workers still count as employed, but hours worked fell sharply in late March, especially in sectors such as hospitality and construction,″ said Jonathan Athow, deputy national statistician for economic statistics at the ONS (The Associated Press). The new unemployment figure is the highest registered since July 1996 (Reuters).

The Morning Report is created by journalists Alexis Simendinger and Al Weaver. We want to hear from you! Email: asimendinger@thehill.com and aweaver@thehill.com. We invite you to share The Hill’s reporting and newsletters, and encourage others to SUBSCRIBE!


Adding to Dr. Fauci's diagnosis: The critical case for ending our shutdown, by Scott W. Atlas, opinion contributor, The Hill. https://bit.ly/3cV4qlS 


Signs of rebirth are everywhere. They are simultaneously scary and wonderful, by Henry Olsen, columnist, The Washington Post. https://wapo.st/3bDtWuE 


How Seth Cohen is using his personal 3D printer to help during COVID-19 


Seth Cohen was inspired to make FDA-authorized face shields to support healthcare workers. He used Facebook’s Community Help to connect with frontline healthcare workers and give the face shields to those who need them.

Request or offer help.


The House will meet in a pro forma session at 10:30 a.m.


The Senate will meet 10 a.m. and resume consideration of the nomination Scott Rash to be a judge with the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona


The president delivers remarks about farmers, ranchers and food supply chains. Trump will hold an afternoon Cabinet meeting.


The Geneva-based World Health Organization holds its second of two days of a virtual meeting of its decision-making body, the World Health Assembly today


Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinOn The Money: Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed | Trump administration proposal takes aim at bank pledges to avoid fossil fuel financing | JPMorgan: Economy will shrink in first quarter due to COVID-19 spike Democrats accuse Mnuchin of sabotaging economy in dispute with Fed The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Pence, Biden wage tug of war over pandemic plans MORE and Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell are scheduled to testify via remote hookup at 10 a.m. to the Senate Banking Committee about the implementation and impact of the CARES Act, a $2.2 trillion emergency stimulus enacted in March. A quarterly report to Congress is required by law.  


INVITATION to The Hill’s national virtual summit on Thursday at 11 a.m., “Advancing the American Economy,” with Mnuchin discussing his economic outlook with Editor in Chief Bob CusackRobert (Bob) CusackThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Election Day has arrived Law enforcement braces for unrest after Election Day The Hill's 12:30 Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association -Trump enters debate week after NYT obtains his tax returns MORE. The interview will be followed by an afternoon of discussions with leading CEOs and national health experts. Additional speakers will be announced. Register Now!   


INVITATION to The Hill’s Virtually Live event on Wednesday at 1 p.m., “The Vir[tech]ual World Ahead”: Explore lessons from a new digital reality, including increased reliance on telecommunication networks and an accelerated digitalization of industries. How should policymakers approach coverage, access, affordability and capacity? Rep. Suzan DelBeneSuzan Kay DelBeneHouse Democrats run late ads defending vulnerable DCCC chair House Democrats introduce bill to invest 0 billion in STEM research and education Democrats sense momentum for expanding child tax credit MORE (D-Wash.), a former software tech entrepreneur who spent a dozen years working at Microsoft; Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Michael O'Rielly and others will talk with The Hill’s Steve Clemons, editor-at-large. RSVP today


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Technology: Uber is laying off an additional 3,000 employees as use of the ride-sharing app has fallen due to the coronavirus outbreak. The company made the announcement on Monday after having already laid off 3,700 workers in customer support and recruiting positions, with 25 percent of its staff losing jobs since the start of May. Uber also announced that it is closing 40 offices worldwide and changing operations in other ways to cut costs (The Hill).


Siren: Ambulance companies are on the front line of the battle against the coronavirus, but many are struggling financially. They only get paid when they transport someone to the hospital, and increasingly those in need of medical care see the hospital as a sure way to get COVID-19 (The Hill).  


Education: The University of Notre Dame announced Monday that it will start its fall semester on Aug. 10, two weeks earlier than normal, and wrap up by Thanksgiving due to the coronavirus pandemic. The school also released testing, contact tracing, quarantine and isolation plans, along with social distancing and mask mandates (The Hill).


➔ Sports: Professional Bull Riders announced on Monday plans for an early July competition in South Dakota that could be the first sporting event to allow fans to be present. According to event organizers, face coverings would be provided to all fans and seats would be spaced 4 to 6 feet apart, while social distancing guidelines would be enforced upon entry and exit from the venue (The Associated Press). … Governors are warming to the idea of the return of pro sports (The Associated Press).


And finally … It’s tough in a nation with more than 90,000 COVID-19 fatalities to imagine it could be worse. Much, much worse. People in this country’s 30 largest cities are alive today because of strict stay-at-home orders issued by local and state governments, which put everything from commercial work to sports and entertainment events, schools and churches on prolonged pause, according to a new study. 


Researchers say nearly 250,000 people in the United States who might otherwise have contracted and potentially succumbed to the coronavirus have been spared as of mid-May.


The report, from Philadelphia’s Urban Health Collaborative at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, found the lockdown orders likely reduced the number of coronavirus deaths by 232,878 and prevented 2.1 million people from requiring hospitalization.


“What we really wanted to do was to say this matters. Doing nothing is in fact doing something," Jennifer Kolker, associate dean for public health practice at the Dornsife School, told The Hill’s Reid Wilson. “We really wanted to give city leaders the opportunity to say to their residents and their jurisdictions, 'Hey folks, look what you did, you saved lives, you kept people out of the hospital.’”


Even in hard-hit New York City, where tens of thousands of people have died, the death toll could have been higher. Under the city's stay-at-home order, issued by Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioBiden pledges to work with mayors Hundreds of bodies from New York virus surge still stored in freezer trucks Cuomo gets heated with reporters over NYC schools: 'What are you talking about? MORE (D) on March 23, the researchers found 24,062 lives were saved and nearly a quarter-million people who might have been hospitalized were not.


In Los Angeles County, where a stay-at-home order took effect March 19, almost 40,000 lives were saved compared to what was projected under worst-case scenarios. More than 8,800 lives have been saved in King County, Wash., the epicenter of one of the first big coronavirus outbreaks. Philadelphia's stay-at-home order saved 6,202 lives, the analysis found, and Chicago's order has saved 10,635 lives (The Hill).


A separate study conducted in France and released last month found that the country’s lockdown was a lifesaver. A report, produced by the French School of Public Health, estimated at least 60,000 people are alive who might have died from COVID-19 if not forced to remain home (The New York Daily News).