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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Coronavirus aside, Trump keeps venting about the usual controversies

President Donald Trump with MyPillow founder Mike Lindell

President Donald Trump with MyPillow founder Mike Lindell at the White House briefing Monday. Credit: AP / Alex Brandon

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While facing a national death toll from coronavirus above that of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Trump administration also pursues the usual business, including policies that continue to be deeply controversial across the U.S.

The White House prepared to advance its plans to weaken federal rules on fuel efficiency. Critics say, as before, that the move will increase air pollution and boost gasoline consumption.

The administration also is moving ahead with the border wall, which involves siphoning $790 million, earlier allocated to National Guard units, to construct the barrier.

Eight state attorneys general are suing in an effort to avert the budget maneuver. "It's particularly misguided now, when we need to be marshaling our resources to fight the coronavirus," said Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul.

Meanwhile, health professionals in Arizona are warning that wall workers along the Mexico border living in close quarters could spread the virus when they return to their families. Construction continues even after Gov. Doug Ducey issued a statewide coronavirus lockdown order.

“This administration’s priority is to get the wall done. The rest of us might as well be damned,” said Maria Singleton, 57, a resident of Ajo, Arizona, who has been quoted widely on Facebook.

Even Trump's coronavirus briefings have had the motif of business as usual. On Monday, Trump invited MyPillow founder Mike Lindell, who announced he was retooling production at his company to make needed face masks and who Trump called his friend.

“God gave us grace on November 8, 2016, to change the course we were on," Lindell said at the Rose Garden rostrum, implying a political endorsement of Trump's election from the Almighty. “God had been taken out of our schools and lives … Our president gave us so much hope.”

Displaying "partnership" with big business was a Trump staple well before the virus crisis.

Also continuing unabated is the president's practice of tossing out contrived allegations and calling for someone other than his office to investigate them.

For instance, he spent time in the spotlight promoting what seems to be a hoax involving mask supplies.

"Something is going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door?" he said.

This happens to sound like the "perfect conversation" with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that helped get Trump impeached, with Trump prodding people outside government to agree to a probe based on no solid information.

Another Trump tale of recent days — devoid of names, places or time frames — raises suspicions due to his history of fibs.

"I had a friend who went to a hospital the other day. He's a little older, and he's heavy, but he's a tough person," Trump said the other day.

"He went to the hospital. A day later, he's in a coma. I said how is he doing? 'Sir, he's in a coma, he's unconscious. He's not doing well.' The speed and the viciousness, especially if it gets the right person, it's horrible. It's really horrible."

Trump's "sir" stories tend to be of suspicious provenance to the news media who follow him.

At least this one is relatable.


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