As it happenedended1582900932

Trump news: Democratic leaders admit they may act to stop Bernie Sanders as president faces criticism over coronavirus response

Steven Colbert jokes about Trump administration's response to Coronavirus

A new report has found “overwhelming opposition” among Democratic leaders to Bernie Sanders winning the party’s nomination against Donald Trump, as the president faced increasing criticism over his administration's response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

Though a new poll put him ahead of Democratic front-runner Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator blasted Mr Trump as “incompetent and inadequate” while ridiculing his appointing Mike Pence to oversee the crisis. Meanwhile, the New York Times said Democratic delegates were unlikely to hand the nomination to Mr Sanders if he failed to garner a majority.

Mr Trump followed a press conference on the global epidemic on Wednesday night in which he said Americans faced only a “very low” risk from the virus by tweeting about the FBI spying on his campaign team in 2016, a gesture giving credence to the Vermont senator’s rebuke.

At a White House news conference, Mr Trump sought to minimise fears as he insisted the US is “very, very ready” for whatever the COVID-19 outbreak brings.

Under fire about the government’s response, he put Mr Pence in charge of coordinating the efforts.

“This will end,” Mr Trump said of the outbreak. “You don’t want to see panic because there’s no reason to be panicked.”

But standing next to him, the very health officials Mr Trump praised for fighting the new coronavirus stressed that schools, businesses and individuals need to get ready.

“We do expect more cases,” said Dr Anne Schuchat of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the CDC confirms that the latest US case doesn’t involve travel or contact with an infected person, it would be a first in this country and a sign that efforts to contain the virus’ spread haven’t been enough.

Additional reporting by AP. Please allow a moment for our liveblog to load

1582796700

Hello and welcome to The Independent's rolling coverage of the Donald Trump administration.

1582797600

Trump downplays coronavirus threat and tasks Mike Pence with oversight

Donald Trump again sought to downplay the threat posed by the coronavirus at a White House press conference on Wednesday night, insisting the global epidemic presented a “very low” public health risk and appointing vice president Mike Pence to oversee his administration’s response.

"This ends. This is going to end," the president said. "Hopefully sooner rather than later."

He sharply broke with what top US health officials said on Tuesday when they said it is a matter of when the virus arrives in the United States.

"No, I dont think it's inevitable. It probably will, It possibly will," he said. "This will end... Nothing's inevitable."

Trump described his administration as "very, very ready" to deal with the virus, touting a Johns Hopkins University study of countries best prepared to deal with a pandemic. The United States was ranked first, Trump noted, and noted none of the 15 known American cases have pushed those victims towards death. He said all 15 have "fully recovered" or are expected to do so.

In amongst the president's blithe optimism was the usual lashing out at his enemies, singling out The New York Times for criticism (a paper he is suing for libel) and accusing House speaker Nancy Pelosi of scaremongering and "trying to create panic".

Pelosi had earlier in the day called his response "shameful" and said she doesn't think the president "knows what he’s talking about" on the issue after visitng San Francisco's Chinatown district to reassure locals after the California city declared a state of emergency.

“I think Speaker Pelosi’s incompetent,” Trump griped. “I think she’s not thinking about the country... She should be saying we have to work together.”

John T Bennett was looking on.

1582798500

Bernie Sanders attacks 'incompetent and inadequate' response

The Democratic 2020 front-runner was quick to brand the president’s address “incompetent and inadequate”.

Pelosi was equally dismissive of the president - pledging that the Democrat-led House of Representatives would push for an extensive emergency funding programme to combat the disease and quell its spread.

The criticism Bernie raised of Trump health secretary Alex Azar, who refused to commit to keeping any forthcoming coronavirus vaccine affordable to the American people yesterday before Congress, was also made by rival progressive Elizabeth Warren:

Here's Phil Thomas's report.

1582799400

President immediately back to tweeting FBI critiques as pandemic looms

On Twitter last night, Trump was quick to get back to posting about such pressing matters as the FBI spying on his election campaign team in 2016, a gesture that only gave further credence to Senator Sander’s argument.

He also continued his never-ending vendetta against Pelosi, saying her district was "hardly even recognizable" under her leadership in a retweet from the speaker's GOP challenger DeAnne Lorraine, who describes herself as a "Sicilian spitfire" and warned "Old Nan" that her "day of reckoning is coming for your crimes against Americans", a deeply inflammatory and troubling choice of words on the day of yet another mass shooting.

1582800600

Asian shares slump in response to Trump

Shares fell in Asia on Thursday morning after the president announced the US was stepping up its efforts to combat the virus outbreak that began in China, as the number of cases surpassed 81,000.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index lost 2.1 per cent to 21,948.23, while in Australia, the S&P ASX/200 dropped 0.8 per cent to 6,657.90. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8 per cent to 26,491.52.

In South Korea, where 334 new cases of the virus were reported, the Kospi dropped 1 per cent to 2,056.76.

The central bank downgraded its growth estimate for 2020 to 2.1 per cent from 2.3 per cent and said the virus outbreak would have a short-term impact on business activity, after growth fell to its slowest in a decade last year.

The Bank of Korea kept its key policy rate unchanged, at its current record low 1.25 per cent.

The Shanghai Composite index rose 0.2 per cent to 2,993.15, while shares fell in Taiwan and most of south east Asia. Thailand's benchmark rose 0.4 per cent after tumbling 5.1 per cent on Wednesday following reports of newly discovered virus cases.

Shortly after Trump spoke yesterday, the government announced that another person in the US was infected - someone in California who appears not to have the usual risk factors of having travelled abroad or being exposed to another patient.

Major US stock indexes gave up early gains, closing mostly lower on Wednesday and extending the market's heavy losses for the week.

"Previous crisis playbooks have all revolved around buying the dip in equities, so I wonder just how much further the fire sale will go before the market at least starts to scale in again," Stephen Innes of AxiCorp said in a report. "But based on last night's price action, it does appear that any bounce in stocks is likely to be short-lived. And eventually, the markets could fall deeper as investors start to think what's the point of trying to pick the bottom in the short term."

Here's Vincent Wood with the latest global perspective on the coronavirus.

1582801800

Pence pick to lead coronavirus fightback sparks concern

The choice of Mike Pence to oversee the the effort to rein in the epidemic created an awkward moment for Alex Azar yesterday, who had to insist he was still chairman of the government task force tackling the virus and "could not be delighted" to have the vice president on board.

"I do not in the least feel like I'm being replaced. When this was mentioned I was delighted," he added later, unconvincingly.

 

Commentators were quick to express concern about the Pence appointment ("He's got a certain talent for this," said Trump) given that the veep once called global warming “a myth”, has refuted the evidence that smoking is harmful and, as Indiana governor, led his home state into an HIV crisis by cutting funding for Planned Parenthood clinics and opposing needle exchange programmes.

Here's a little more background on Pence from Andrew Naughtie.

1582803000

Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah poke fun at deadly virus

Here's Jacob Stolworthy on how the late night hosts have been handling the administration's response to the coronavirus.

"Mike Pence has been quarantining himself from women all his life,” joked Trevor Noah on The Daily Show.

1582804200

Top health official warns ‘vaccine at least a year away’

Before we move away from the coronavirus for the moment, here's Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, telling John Berman on CNN's New Day yesterday that "it's going to be at least a year to a year and a half at best" before a deployable version of a vaccine is ready for public consumption.

Even then it may not be affordable, according to Alex Azar.

My colleague Clark Mindock has meanwhile been speaking to election soothsayer Allan Lichtman on what this could mean for the 2020 race.

1582805400

Ex-labour secretary calls on William Barr to step down 'for sake of democracy'

Robert Reich, a former Bill Clinton cabinet member turned avid Trump opponent, has released a new video attacking the president's attorney general and chief enabler and calling on him to step down for the greater good.

In the short clip for Inequality Media, Reich accuses Barr's Justice Department of “working hand in hand with Donald Trump to bend federal law enforcement to the president’s will”.

You can watch it in full below.

1582806600

Lynching finally made federal crime 65 years after Emmett Till’s murder

In other DC news, Congress has made lynching a federal crime in a law named after Emmett Till a mere 65 years after the teenager was murdered in Mississippi.

The bill, sponsored by representative Bobby Rush of Illinois, was approved in the House of Representatives on Wednesday in an overwhelming majority 410-to-four vote that labels lynching as a hate crime under federal law. It designates the crime as punishable by up to life in prison, a fine, or both.

Since the passing of the bill in the House, it will now move to the White House for Trump to sign. The Senate unanimously passed the bill last year. 

Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old child from Chicago, was tortured and murdered in 1955 after a white woman accused the teen of grabbing her outside a Mississippi grocery store. The alleged incident encouraged the woman's husband and brother to attack four days later. The two men were charged with murder but later acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. Both men confessed to the crime later. 

Here's Danielle Zoellner with more.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in