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Trump news: White House celebrates ‘big win’ in Supreme Court birth control ruling as US hits 3m coronavirus cases

Administration pushes for schools to reopen in fall despite surging infection rates 

Lincoln Project tells Trump his inner circle are "whispering" about him

White House officials boasted a "big win" in the US Supreme Court's birth control ruling, which stated employers were not required to provide employees with contraceptives in their health coverage if it went against their religious beliefs.

The administration – which rolled back an Affordable Care Act policy that aimed to expand women's healthcare – marks a significant blow to the landmark Obama-era legislation as Donald Trump seeks the court's ruling to overturn the entire law.

Meanwhile, the president has threatened to cut school funding for areas that refuse to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, adding he disagrees with the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “very tough” and “expensive” guidelines.

The White House coronavirus task force – without Dr Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert – announced that the agency would release revised guidelines following the president's threats.

Total coronavirus infections in the US have surged past 3 million, with 1 million cases identified within the last month alone.

Hospitals in states like Florida and Texas are reporting limited capacity in their hospital intensive care units, and rising infection rates have signalled to health officials that the virus is spreading. In Arizona, as many as one in four tests are returning positive.

Meanwhile, key impeachment witness Alexander Vindman has announced his retirement from the army by citing “intimidation” led by Mr Trump.

”The president of the United States attempted to force Lieutenant Colonel Vindman to choose: Between adhering to the law or pleasing a president,” said Lt Col Vindman’s lawayer, accusing the president of a "campaign of bullying, intimidation and retaliation".

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

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 09:30
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Trump was emotionally abused by his father, niece claims in scathing new book

Donald Trump is a traumatised narcissist who was psychologically bullied by his late father, his niece Mary Trump, a clinical psychologist, has alleged in her new book Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man.

The 211-page account of skeletons in the Trump family closet is published by Simon & Schuster next week but let's have a flick through its choicest passages in advance.

First up, here's Richard Hall on how Fred Trump's emotional neglect caused the young Donald to act out in search of love, behaviour that Mary Trump argues left him "scarred for life" and unfit for office.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 09:45
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Second term would mean 'end of American democracy', warns Mary Trump

"Honest work was never demanded of him, and no matter how badly he failed, he was rewarded in ways that are almost unfathomable. He continues to be protected from his own disasters in the White House," the author writes in her prologue.

"But now the stakes are far higher than they've ever been before; they are literally life and death. Unlike any previous time in his life, Donald's failings cannot be hidden or ignored because they threaten us all."

Here's Richard Hall again.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 10:00
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President 'paid another student to take university entrance exam'

In her portrait of the “toxic” family atmosphere Donald grew up in, the president’s soon-to-be-very-estranged niece says his youth in Queens, New York, taught him “cheating as a way of life” and recounts tales of persuading his sister Maryanne - now a retired federal judge - to do his school homework for him and paying another, brighter student to sit a university entrance exam for him, among other unflattering revelations about the self-proclaimed "strong and very stable genius".

Maryanne now says of her brother: "He has no principles. None!"

Oliver O’Connell has this one.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 10:15
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Trump leered at niece when he saw her in bikini, she alleges

Mary Trump also has a fresh incident to add to the ever-growing charge sheet concerning this president’s long history of deplorable behaviour towards women.

When she was 29, Mary writes, she visited The Donald’s Florida villa Mar-a-Lago, where he saw her in a bikini for the first time.

“Holy s***, Mary. You’re stacked!” he is alleged to have reacted.

John T Bennet has this one, his report containing several other revelations including a none-too-kind anecdote about Trump's indifference towards his son Eric's wife Lara.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 10:30
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Conway and McEnany defend president against psychologist's claims: 'He's not her patient'

The White House has wasted little time in hitting back against the author’s allegations, with the president’s top aide Kellyanne Conway going to bat for him and press secretary Kayleigh McEnany branding the book’s content “ridiculous” and “absurd”.

“Family matters are family matters,” Conway says, a line presumably intended to resonate menacingly in the ears of her own husband George.

Here’s Griffin Connolly with the latest.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 10:45
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Art of the Deal ghostwriter says Mary Trump book is ‘one more nail in the coffin’

One man who is enjoying all of this immensely is Tony Schwartz, who ghostwrote Trump’s laughable 1987 business manual. 

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Another is our own Andrew Feinberg, who offers his take for Indy Voices having speed-read the book in record time.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 11:05
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California coronavirus cases hit 10,000 in a day as Trump backs therapy drugs over vaccine

As entertaining as all this is, let’s not forget that the real issue at the moment remains the coronavirus.

California reported more than 10,000 new cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, a record rise for a single day that also surpassed the number of contact tracers recently trained by the state to detect and prevent potential outbreaks.

California is one of several states that have reported surging numbers of new infections over the past week, raising pointed questions about how Trump has handled the crisis and impeding state plans to lift lockdowns.

The 10,201 new cases reported on Tuesday took the total number of cases in the state since the start of the pandemic to nearly 284,00. In June, California infections more than doubled with over 117,000 new cases.

The daily increase exceeds the 10,000 contact tracers governor Gavin Newsom announced in mid-May, when case numbers were waning, as part of plans to reopen the state.

Newsom said then that more than 500 people had already been trained to work as "disease detectives", using state databases to trace and advise people who had been in contact with confirmed cases.

However, instead of further reopening the state economy, Newsom last week rolled back those efforts, banning indoor restaurant dining in much of the state, closing bars and stepping up enforcement of social distancing. Indoor activities at restaurants, movie theaters, museums and other facilities were banned in 19 counties where 70 per cent of the population lives for at least three weeks.

Only three other states have reported more than 10,000 cases in a day. Florida reported 11,458 new cases on 4 July and Texas reported 10,028 on Tuesday.

New York recorded 12,847 new infections on 10 April, three weeks after the state implemented a strict lockdown that closed most businesses. Once the epicentre of the US leg of the global epidemic, New York saw cases rise by about 6 per cent in June - the lowest rate in the entire country.

As for Trump, he insisted yesterday during an event on reopening US schools that coronavirus therapy drugs are his priority, not developing a vaccine, as Dr Anthony Fauci again warned against “false complacency” with president continuing to claim the levelling out of the US mortality rate as a victory.

John T Bennett has the full story.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 11:25
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President says he’s prepared to pressure state governors to reopen schools and calls Harvard ‘ridiculous’ for teaching online

Trump launched an all-out effort to press state and local officials to reopen schools this autumn, arguing that some are keeping classrooms closed for political reasons and hiding behind the pandemic.

"They think it's going to be good for them politically, so they keep the schools closed," Trump said on Tuesday during his White House discussion on the subject. "No way. We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everybody else to open the schools."

The White House's round-table gathered health and education leaders from across the nation who said schools and colleges are ready to open this fall and can do so safely. They argued that the risks of keeping students at home outweigh any risks tied to the coronavirus, saying students need access to meal programmes and mental and behavioural health services.

"We want to reopen the schools," Trump said. "Everybody wants it. The moms want it, the dads want it, the kids want it. It's time to do it."

But that bright outlook was met with scepticism by some beyond the White House. The president of the nation's largest education union said Trump is more interested in scoring points for the November election than in keeping students safe.

"Trump has proven to be incapable of grasping that people are dying - that more than 130,000 Americans have already died," said Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association. "Educators want nothing more than to be back in classrooms and on college campuses with our students, but we must do it in a way that keeps students, educators and communities safe."

Trump offered no evidence for his allegation about schools having political motives, which has been criticised by health experts who say politicising the issue will make it harder to work toward reopening schools. Jennifer Nuzzo, of Johns Hopkins University's Covid-19 Testing Insights Initiative, said she was "deeply troubled" by the claim.

"When you make it about politics and just people trying to score points and get elected, I mean, I really think it's a disservice to how incredibly important this issue is," Nuzzo said in an interview. "And it really distracts from what I think we need, which is real solutions and a plan in order to make this happen."

Undaunted Trump attacked Harvard University for its decision to hold instruction online for the autumn term (in between fawning overtures from his acolytes).

"I think it's ridiculous, I think it's an easy way out and I think they ought to be ashamed of themselves, if you want to know the truth," Trump said on Tuesday.

Here's John T Bennett on that one.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 11:45
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Trump claims Confederate flag is ‘freedom of speech’ after Nascar ban it

The president yesterday pitched himself as a free speech absolutist as part of his bid to keep the "culture war" at the centre of the national debate - an issue he regards as a winning one with his base - rather than the coronavirus.

James Crump has this one his comments.

Joe Sommerlad8 July 2020 12:05

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