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Does Trump see a coronavirus doctors' plot?

Trump administration health officials Drs. Robert Redfield, Anthony

Trump administration health officials Drs. Robert Redfield, Anthony Fauci and Stephen Hahn at a House hearing in June. Credit: Pool / AFP via Getty Images / Kevin Dietsch

'Everyone is lying'

As the pandemic rages, so does President Donald Trump, who is watching his reelection prospects dim along with the public's trust that he knows what he's doing. The president seems to suspect he is the victim of conspiratorial connections, as evidenced by his retweet Monday of former TV game show personality Chuck Woolery, who once hosted "Love Connection."

"The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19," wrote Woolery, who now has a right-wing podcast. "Everyone is lying. The CDC, Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust. I think it's all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I'm sick of it."

It's a fresh example of Trump not only rejecting the expertise but also questioning the motives of top public health professionals who still warn against a rush to reopen. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the purpose of the Woolery retweet "was to point out the fact that when we use science, we have to use it in a way that is not political."

That's not what the tweet that Trump amplified to his 83 million Twitter followers said. It said, "Everyone is lying," including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and "most" doctors. McEnany's spin: Trump was expressing "displeasure with the CDC, some rogue individuals leaking guidelines prematurely." Trump has attacked the CDC's guidance for reopening schools as too stringent and expensive.

Over the weekend, the Trump White House stepped up attacks on Dr. Anthony Fauci, who sounded new alarms Monday about setbacks in trying to get the pandemic under control in the U.S. “This is a really serious problem. It is truly historic. We haven’t even begun to see the end of it yet. It’s still globally threatening,” Fauci said in a Stanford School of Medicine webinar.

Trump is making it harder to cope with the coronavirus, according to Dr. Ben Sommers, who teaches at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “When the president is calling the guidance wrong and endorsing the view that these public health experts are lying, it makes it incredibly difficult for the public to know what to do,” Sommers told The Washington Post.

The president also is handing ammo to his political foes. "The hard truth is it didn't have to be this bad. But Donald Trump has squandered every chance he's had to contain the spread of this virus," tweeted Joe Biden. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted: "When the biggest liar who ever occupied the Oval Office is saying everyone is a liar, you know he is afraid of the truth."

Reducing our jeopardy

Ken Jennings, the winningest "Jeopardy" contestant ever, reached for the buzzer after Trump made Woolery's post go viral.

"I’m better at game shows than Chuck Woolery, wear a mask," Jennings tweeted.

What fear has to do with it

Trump on Monday was asked what he would tell concerned parents who saw news that a teacher in Arizona — a virus hot spot — recently died of COVID-19 after teaching a summer school online from a classroom she shared with two colleagues, who also fell ill with the disease.

"Yeah, the schools should be opened,” Trump responded. “Schools should be opened. Kids want to go to school. You're losing a lot of lives by keeping things closed.”

America's biggest school systems across the country are rejecting the president's demand, Politico reported. California’s two largest public school districts — Los Angeles and San Diego — said on Monday that instruction would be online-only in the fall.

What New York State does depends on regional conditions, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced. Schools in a region that has reached Phase 4 can open if the 14-day average infection rate is 5% or lower by the first week in August, but they will remain closed if the seven-day level rises to 9% or greater before the first day of school, he said.

“We are not going to use our children as guinea pigs,” Cuomo said. See Newsday's story by Bart Jones and John Hildebrand

Janison: Hanging in the air

Newsday's Dan Janison has 10 good and simple questions that Trump and his White House should answer. Janison is not holding his breath. Some examples: 

If advice from Fauci isn't to be trusted, should the administration defer to Woolery or trade adviser Peter Navarro on pandemic issues? (Navarro suggested without evidence that China sent us the virus on purpose.)

Beyond "just do it," please give a palpable and coherent presentation of the exact steps local districts, states and towns across America should take to resolve the real-life complications of reopening schools.

During what you call a terribly unfair, endless audit of your taxes, what issues has the IRS indicated it may have with your filings? What evidence do you offer to show that an audit process even exists? 

Mulvaney: Testing is failing

In late February, when he was still acting White House chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney said the media was fanning coronavirus fears as a "hoax of the day" and "we know how to handle this.” He isn't so confident anymore, especially when it comes to Trump's boasts about testing

"I know it isn’t popular to talk about in some Republican circles, but we still have a testing problem in this country," Mulvaney wrote in an op-ed for CNBC's website.

"My son was tested recently; we had to wait 5 to 7 days for results. My daughter wanted to get tested before visiting her grandparents, but was told she didn’t qualify. That is simply inexcusable at this point in the pandemic," he said.

Mulvaney called on Congress to address testing in its next stimulus package, saying economic recovery depends in large part on people needing to feel safe. He left the White House on March 31 to become U.S. special envoy for Northern Ireland.

The unprotected

Pandemic-caused job losses stripped an estimated 5.4 million Americans of their health insurance between February and May — more than have ever lost coverage in a single year — according to a new analysis by the nonpartisan consumer advocacy group Families U.S.A., The New York Times reported.

The study comes in the thick of the campaign season, when health care — and in particular Obamacare — is expected to be a major issue, the Times noted. Biden and Democrats want to expand the Affordable Care Act; Trump has pushed a legal fight to repeal it.

The analysis found that in the 37 states that expanded Medicaid under the ACA, 23% of laid-off workers became uninsured. The percentage was nearly double that — 43% — in the 13 states that did not expand Medicaid, which include Texas, Florida and North Carolina.

Filling the bookshelves

One of Robert Mueller's top prosecutors, Andrew Weissmann, is working on a book due out in September about the former special counsel's investigation of links between Trump and Russia, The Guardian reported. A statement from Weissmann: “This is the story of our investigation into how our democracy was attacked by Russia and how those who condoned and ignored that assault undermined our ability to uncover the truth."

A New York State Supreme Court judge in Dutchess County on Monday lifted the temporary restraining order that had prevented the president's niece Mary L. Trump from publicly discussing her tell-all book coming out Tuesday. She draws on family history and her training as a psychologist to portray Trump as a dangerous sociopath.

Quoting a court ruling that thwarted last month's effort to stop former national security adviser John Bolton's Trump-trashing book, Judge Hal Greenwald wrote: "By the looks of it the horse is not just out of the barn, it is out of the country."

The outlook for another would-be literary entry due in September is uncertain, with Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen back in prison. Cohen's lawyers said his coronavirus furlough was revoked after he hesitated to agree to conditions that seemed aimed at thwarting, or at least delaying, his book.

More coronavirus news

See a roundup of the latest pandemic developments from Long Island and beyond by Newsday's reporting staff, written by Lisa L. Colangelo. For a full list of Newsday's coronavirus stories, click here.

What else is happening:

  • How does Trump feel about the Washington Redskins' announcement Monday that the team's name will be changed? He "believes that the Native American community would be very angry at this,” McEnany said. In reality, Native American advocates and experts have long criticized the name as a "dictionary-defined racial slur," The Associated Press writes.
  • A federal judge on Monday demanded more information about Trump’s decision to commute the sentence of his confidant Roger Stone. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson wanted a copy of the executive order and sought clarity on whether it covered the just prison term or also the two-year supervised release that was to follow. The Justice Department later sent over the order, which covers both.
  • A lobbyist, Michael B. Williams, failed for two years to end a ban on the sales of gun silencers to private foreign buyers, which the State Department adopted to protect American troops. So the lobbyist got a job as a White House lawyer and pushed from the inside, successfully, to lift the prohibition, The New York Times reports. It's but one of many examples of special-interest allies getting to make Trump administration policy.
  • When Trump went golfing on Sunday, he drove the golf cart himself. The passenger seat was empty. But there was another rider — his caddie, who can be seen in photos precariously hanging on to the back of the cart, the Daily Mail reports.
  • Trump tweeted Monday that the media will suffer if Biden is elected. "Is this what you want for your President??? With no ratings, media will go down along with our great USA!" the tweet said.
  • Trump passed the 20,000 mark in The Washington Post fact-checkers' tally of false and misleading claims he has made as president. It took him 827 days for the first 10,000, but just 400 days for the second 10,000.

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