Trump’s attacks on Biden risk blowing back on him
Of course, Trump himself has also defended China and lied about his achievements in the 1980s.
The new spots are part of a pattern by the Trump campaign of hitting Biden on issues where the president is also notably vulnerable, from China to his resume, from nepotism to allegations of sexual assault to verbal blunders.
In some cases, the strategy appears aimed at neutralizing weaknesses by muddying the waters. But it risks backfiring by drawing attention to Trump’s equal or larger vulnerabilities. As the coronavirus crisis reshapes the political landscape, the president’s campaign is throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks to his rival, who leads in recent national and battleground state polls.
A new Trump campaign ad says „Biden stands up for China,” playing footage of the former vice president last year downplaying China’s economic threat to the U.S. and saying „they’re not bad folks.” It’s designed to capitalize on public sentiment turning negative on China, where the virus is said to have originated.
But Trump repeatedly praised China, including offering plaudits for their response to the virus outbreak. On January 24, he tweeted, “China has been working very hard to contain the Coronavirus. The United States greatly appreciates their efforts and transparency. It will all work out well.” On February 23, he told reporters that „President Xi is working very, very hard” and „doing a very good job.”
Lies and mental fitness
The second new Trump ad plays footage of Biden in his 1988 presidential campaign telling voters he graduated in the top half of his class at law school, had three college degrees, and was named “outstanding political science student.” The ad then cut to TV reporters who said none of those claims were true.
A damning indictment — from an odd messenger.
Trump has been caught embellishing his own achievements dating back to the same era. A former reporter for Forbes 400 revealed that Trump, using the alter ego John Barron, lied about his wealth in the 1980s as part of an “elaborate farce” to make it on the magazine’s list of America’s richest people. A Washington Post investigation found that inflating his net worth would become a pattern.
As president, he has exaggerated his approval ratings and crowd sizes and made easily disprovable claims about his achievements. For example, he often says he enacted the “biggest tax cut in U.S. history” (it’s actually the fourth or eight largest since 1918, depending on the metric used) and recently took credit for “confirming 448 federal judges” (the real number is 193).
The Trump campaign has gone all-in on a portrayal of Biden, 77, as old and mentally deteriorating. Video clips shared online feature Biden mangling his words or losing his train of thought. Trump tweeted in March, „Sleepy Joe doesn’t know where he is, or what he’s doing. Honestly, I don’t think he even knows what office he’s running for!”
While age is a real vulnerability for Biden, Trump, who is not much younger at 73, would be better-positioned to capitalize if he didn’t have his own history of meandering remarks and verbal blunders, from calling Apple CEO Tim Cook „Tim Apple” to mixing up 9/11 and 7-Eleven to confusing FEMA with the world soccer governing body „FIFA.”
So far, the issue appears to be a wash. A recent Republican National Committee poll of 17 swing states found that voters were torn on which of the two candidates was more „weak or confused,” with 45 percent picking Biden and 44 percent seeing Trump that way, according to the Washington Post.
Nepotism, pandemics and sexual assault
A common Trump critique involves Hunter Biden, who his campaign describes as the beneficiary of nepotism by gaining a well-paying position on the board of a Ukrainian natural gas company while his father was vice president. “Biden and his son are stone-cold crooked,” Trump said last fall, declaring that the younger Biden “knows nothing” about the industry.
It is an awkward criticism from a president who has given senior White House positions to his daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, neither of whom had government experience, while entrusting the latter with a vast portfolio that includes making peace in the Middle East, solving the opioid epidemic and bolstering the medial supply chain during the coronavirus crisis.
The pushback led a Trump campaign aide to publish an op-ed headlined, „Dear Democrats: Hunter Biden Is No Ivanka Trump.”
More recently, Biden has landed in hot water after allegations of sexual assault from former Senate staffer Tara Reade in 1993, which the Democrat says “never, never happened.” Although Trump himself has refrained from attacking his rival over the accusations, his campaign has aggressively highlighted them to embarrass Biden and charge him with hypocrisy.
Those attempts have reactivated the relatively dormant national conversation about the many women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault. Before the 2016 election, a tape from 2005 was unearthed that featured him boasting about grabbing women’s genitalia.
In other cases, Trump’s attacks on Biden are an apparent attempt to deflect criticism of his handling of the COVID-19 crisis, taking a page from Republican strategist Karl Rove’s playbook of attacking an opponent’s strengths. Trump slammed Biden’s handling of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak in 2009, while falsely saying he was “in charge” of the Obama administration’s response.
Still, Trump may not want the 2020 election to become a referendum on pandemic management. Surveys show voters trust Biden over Trump to handle a crisis. The initial „rally around the flag” boost he enjoyed has dissipated and new polls by Reuters/Ipsos and the Economist/YouGov show that more Americans disapprove than approve of his handling of COVID-19.
Fact check: Convicted 1980s abortion clinic bomber attended anti-lockdown protests in Ohio
The claim: Convicted abortion clinic bomber was part of Ohio anti-lockdown protests
Capital Square in Columbus, Ohio, has been the scene of a number of protests over government-imposed shutdowns of schools, businesses and recreation facilities over the past few weeks.
But it was a photograph from one recent gathering that caught the eye of the Feminist News, which posted a picture on its Facebook page with this comment:
“At the Reopen Ohio rally, armed right-wingers appear with convicted abortion clinic bomber and terrorist, John Brockhoeft (white shirt). Brockhoeft was convicted of planning to bomb an abortion clinic in Florida but only went to prison for 26 months. Upon release, Brockhoeft firebombed a clinic in Cincinnati. This should scare us all.”
Brockhoeft was convicted of planning to bomb the Pensacola Ladies Center in 1988 and served 26 months in federal prison. But the post had the sequence of events wrong. Brockhoeft didn’t firebomb the Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati after he got out of prison; he did it in 1985, before he went in. He didn’t plead guilty to the crime until 1991 and was then sentenced to seven years in prison. He was released in 1995, according to Federal Bureau of Corrections records.
It does appear that Brockhoeft is the man in the photo. He posted pictures of himself at another statehouse protest on April 20, surrounded by a group of people armed with rifles, dressed in military combat-style camouflage clothing and making hand gestures often associated with right-wing hate groups.
“I was happy to stand with fellow Ohioans yesterday in a rowdy protest against the house arrest that the government has been using ‘covid-19’ as an excuse to subject us to. We scoffed at the stupid ‘no more than 10 people’ guideline with a thousand attendees and ignored the 6 feet rule. We shook hands and hugged – in some cases with people we had never met,” he wrote on Facebook.
He also chatted about other planned protests at the statehouse, offering to put them in touch with the organizing group.
Our rating: True
John Brockhoeft, who admitted to setting fire to a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Ohio in 1985 and was convicted of planning to bomb a Pensacola clinic in 1988, has been attending protests of stay-at-home orders and posing for photos alongside armed protesters.
By David Morgan and Susan Heavey
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House has started informal talks with Republicans and Democrats in Congress about next steps on coronavirus relief legislation, officials said on Sunday, but they stressed any new federal money would come with conditions.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox New Sunday he was having discussions with lawmakers from both parties to understand their concerns about state budgets. But he said the White House is in no hurry to pass another fiscal relief bill.
„Let’s take the next few weeks,” Mnuchin said.
Since early March, Congress has passed bills allocating $3 trillion to combat the coronavirus pandemic, including taxpayer money for individuals and companies to blunt an economic impact that includes an unemployment rate to 14.7% in April.
„We just want to make sure that before we jump back in and spend another few trillion of taxpayers’ money that we do it carefully,” Mnuchin said. „We’ve been very clear that we’re not going to do things just to bail out states that were poorly managed.”
President Donald Trump has previously threatened to withhold more coronavirus relief funds from states that limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, and advisers said last week that the White House would not consider new stimulus legislation in May.
Democrats, who control the House, are pushing for a vote as soon as this week on another massive relief bill that would include more money for state and local governments, coronavirus testing and the U.S. Postal Service.
„It’s not that we’re not talking. We are. It’s just informal at this stage,” White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told ABC’s „This Week” program on Sunday, referring to discussions between the White House and Congress.
„We’re collecting ideas for next steps, which will undoubtedly be data-driven,” he said.
Kudlow said he took part in a Friday conference call with House lawmakers from both parties, and that he planned to do the same on Monday with members of the Senate.
„If we go to a Phase 4 deal, I think that President Trump has signaled that, while he doesn’t want to bail out the states, he’s willing to help cover some of the unexpected COVID expenses that might have come their way,” White House senior economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on CNN’s „State of the Union.”
The White House is „absolutely” pushing for a payroll tax cut, Mnuchin said. Trump has been calling for a cut to the tax, which is paid by employers and workers and funds Social Security and Medicare. The idea has little support in Congress, however.
White House predictions on the economy, and how quickly a coronavirus vaccine could be rolled out were questioned on Sunday by both Democrats and Republicans.
The United States will need more tests before schools can reopen later in the year, said Senator Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
In an interview with NBC’s „Meet the Press,” he appeared to question the White House’s aim of having 100 million vaccines by the autumn and 300 million by the end of the year, calling it „an amazingly ambitious goal” and adding, „I have no idea if we can reach that.” There is currently no coronavirus vaccine.
The president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Neal Kashkari, told ABC’s „This Week” that he would love to see a robust recovery.
„But that would require a breakthrough in vaccines, a breakthrough in widespread testing, a breakthrough in therapies, to give all of us confidence that it’s safe to go back,” he said. „I don’t know when we’re going to have that confidence.”
Ultimately, Kashkari said, „the American people are going to decide how long the shutdown is.”
(Reporting by David Morgan, Susan Heavey and Heather Timmons; Writing by Heather Timmons; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Daniel Wallis)
Michael Gilday, the Navy’s top admiral, will self-quarantine this week despite testing negative for Covid-19 after coming in contact with a family member who tested positive, the Pentagon confirmed on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Gen. Joseph Lengyel, chief of the National Guard Bureau, tested positive for Covid-19 Saturday afternoon, but a subsequent test the same day was negative.
Lengyel will undergo a third test early Monday „to confirm his negative status,” according to a spokesperson.
Both Gilday and Lengyel were missing on Saturday when President Donald Trump met with top military leaders at the White House.
Bloomberg news reported that Lengyel tested positive at the White House before the meeting. Other top military members, including the Joint Chiefs chairman and the heads of the Army, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard, took part in the White House meeting.
The news that two members of the Joint Chiefs had Covid-19 scares this weekend comes just days after two White House staffers — one of Trump’s personal valets and Vice President Mike Pence’s press secretary — tested positive for the virus, raising fears about a possible outbreak in the president’s inner circle.
AP Photo/Paul Sancya
- Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide who accused Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriate physical contact, said in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media that he is still the „obvious choice” for president.
- „Did I want to end up with Joe Biden, two white males in the election? Not really,” she told the outlet. „However, Joe Biden is the obvious choice to beat [President Donald] Trump right now and therefore, I support him.”
- Lappos, along with seven other women, have alleged that Biden either touched them inappropriately or violated their personal space in a way that made them uncomfortable.
- Lappos said she received pushback for coming forward, but said she hopes her story reiterates a message about „bodily autonomy and survivorship.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Amy Lappos, a former congressional aide who accused Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden of inappropriate physical contact, said in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media that he is still the „obvious choice” for president.
Lappos, 44, accused Biden of touching her inappropriately at a political fundraiser in 2009.
„It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” Lappos said to The Hartford Courant last year of the interaction. „He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.” She did not file a complaint at the time.
Lappos stressed that his actions crossed a line and should not be considered „grandfatherly”, as some of his supporters have defended.
„There’s absolutely a line of decency,” Lappos said to The Courant. „There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.”
Shana Sureck/Hartford Courant/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
Speaking to Hearst Connecticut Media in an interview published Saturday, Lappos said that although the Democratic nominee is not as „progressive” as she would have hoped, she will still support Biden in November.
„Did I want to end up with Joe Biden, two white males in the election? Not really. I don’t see it being so progressive,” Lappos told the outlet.
„However, Joe Biden is the obvious choice to beat [President Donald] Trump right now and therefore, I support him,” she added.
Lappos, along with seven other women, have alleged that Biden either touched them inappropriately or violated their personal space. One former Biden staffer, Tara Reade, alleged that Biden sexually assaulted her in 1993, which Biden has denied.
Lappos told Hearst Connecticut Media that she „believes and supports” Reade, and said that she received criticism for coming forward with allegations against Biden.
„I wasn’t expecting the amount of push back that I got — push back, from primarily older male Democrats,” Lappos told the outlet.
She said she hopes her story reiterates a message about „bodily autonomy and survivorship.”
„I wanted to make sure that that story is preserved,” Lappos said. „And I don’t want to be weaponized. I support Joe Biden right now.”
Read the original article on Business Insider
Asia Today: China cases rise, students back, Disney reopens
Virus Outbreak China Disneyland
BANGKOK (AP) — China reported another rise in coronavirus cases on Monday, as the government reminded people to step up personal protection against the virus.
The warning from Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission, came as 17 new cases were reported, up from 14 the day before which had represented the first double-digit increase in 10 days.
Of the 17 new cases, seven were listed as imported, while five were in the city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the pandemic, where a strict lockdown was lifted last month.
Another five cases were spread across three northeastern provinces, including Jilin, where authorities suspended train service in and out of a county where a cluster originating with a 45-year-old woman was recently detected.
At a news conference Sunday, Mi renewed calls for people to avoid social gatherings and to “seek medical advice or testing in designated hospitals if they exhibit symptoms such as fever, cough or fatigue.”
Despite that, 82,000 third-year middle school students in Beijing returned to classes Monday to prepare for their high school entrance exams.
Also Monday, the National Health Commission said there had been no new deaths, extending that record for almost a month, and 141 people remained in hospital in treatment.
Another 783 people were under isolation and observation for being suspected cases or for having tested positive without showing any symptoms.
China has recorded a total of 4,633 deaths from the virus among 82,918 cases of COVID-19.
In other developments in the Asia-Pacific region:
— SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND REOPENS: Visitors wearing face masks streamed into Shanghai Disneyland as China’s most prominent theme park reopened in a new step toward rolling back anti-coronavirus controls. The park, which closed Jan. 25, will limit visitor numbers and is keeping some attractions closed in line with social distancing guidelines. Disney guests, many wearing Mickey Mouse ears, and children dressed as movie characters were checked for fevers at the gate, and decals were used to designate a safe distance between visitors.
— MORE SOUTH KOREAN CASES: South Korea reported 35 cases over the past 24 hours, the second day in a row that its daily jump has been above 30 for the first time in a month. The figures released Monday by the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took the country’s total to 10,909 with 256 deaths. Worries about a second wave of infections are growing after dozens of new cases were linked to newly reopened nightclubs. Authorities in the Seoul metropolitan area have ordered the temporary closing of clubs and other nightlife establishments.
Donald Trump continued to fume over the Russia investigation on Sunday, more than a year after special counsel Robert Mueller filed his report without recommending charges against the president but only three days after the justice department said it would drop its case against Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser.
“The biggest political crime in American history, by far!” the president wrote in a tweet accompanying a conservative talk show host’s claim that Barack Obama “used his last weeks in office to target incoming officials and sabotage the new administration”.
The tweet echoed previous messages retweeted by Trump, which earned rebukes for relaying conspiracy theories. On Sunday afternoon the president continued to send out a stream of tweets of memes and rightwing talking heads claiming an anti-Trump conspiracy. One tweet by Trump simply read: “OBAMAGATE!”
Related Video: Obama Comments on Importance of 2020 Election
Trump fired Flynn, a retired general, in early 2017, for lying to Vice-President Mike Pence about conversations with the Russian ambassador regarding sanctions levied by the Obama administration in retaliation for interference in the 2016 election.
The US intelligence community has long held that such efforts were meant to tip the election towards Trump and away from Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee.
Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI – which Trump has acknowledged – and co-operated with Mueller, who was appointed to take over the investigation of Russian interference after Trump fired FBI director James Comey.
Mueller did not establish a criminal conspiracy but did lay out extensive links between Trump and Moscow and instances of possible obstruction of justice by the president.
Flynn sought to change his plea while awaiting sentencing and the president championed his case, floating a possible pardon. On Thursday, in an act that stunned the US media, attorney general William Barr said the justice department would drop the case entirely.
Trump and his supporters have loudly trumpeted the decision and across Saturday and Sunday the president unleashed a storm of retweets of supporters and conservative commentators attacking targets including Obama, Mueller, Comey and House intelligence committee chair Adam Schiff.
The talkshow host retweeted by the president, Buck Sexton, is a former CIA analyst who now hosts a show which he says “speaks truth to power, and cuts through the liberal nonsense coming from the mainstream media”.
In another message retweeted by the president, Sexton called former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe – who Trump fired just short of retirement – “a dishonorable partisan scumbag who has done incalculable damage to the reputation of the FBI and should be sitting in a cell for lying under oath”.
In February, the US justice department said it would not charge McCabe over claims he lied to investigators about a media leak.
Like Comey, McCabe released a book in which he was highly critical of Trump, who he said acted like a mob boss. McCabe also wrote that Trump had unleashed a “strain of insanity” in American public life.
In his own tweets, Trump did not directly address comments by Obama himself which were reported by Yahoo News. The former president told associates the Flynn decision was “the kind of stuff where you begin to get worried that basic – not just institutional norms – but our basic understanding of rule of law is at risk”.
But Trump’s anger was evident.
“When are the Fake Journalists,” he wrote on Sunday, “who received unwarranted Pulitzer Prizes for Russia, Russia, Russia, and the Impeachment Scam, going to turn in their tarnished awards so they can be given to the real journalists who got it right. I’ll give you the names, there are plenty of them!”
The president did not immediately name anyone.
But in 2018 the Pulitzer committee did, awarding its prize for national reporting jointly to the Washington Post and the New York Times for “deeply sourced, relentlessly reported coverage in the public interest that dramatically furthered the nation’s understanding of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connections to the Trump campaign, the president-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration.”
Trump has further reason to resent the Pulitzer committee and question its choices.
In 2019, for example, a New York Times team won a Pulitzer for an “exhaustive 18-month investigation of President Donald Trump’s finances that debunked his claims of self-made wealth and revealed a business empire riddled with tax dodges”.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, was rewarded for “uncovering President Trump’s secret payoffs to two women during his campaign who claimed to have had affairs with him, and the web of supporters who facilitated the transactions, triggering criminal inquiries and calls for impeachment”.
Trump’s actual impeachment, which he survived at trial in the Senate in February, concerned his attempts to have Ukraine investigate his political rivals. No reporter or news outlet won a 2020 Pulitzer, announced this week, for its coverage of that affair.
Trump’s focus on Sunday remained largely on the Russia investigation despite continuing developments in the coronavirus outbreak, which has infected more than 1.3m Americans and killed nearly 80,000.
With cases confirmed among White House aides close to the president, top public health experts including Dr Anthony Fauci in quarantine and Trump reported by the New York Times to be “spooked”, the president claimed in a rare non-Russia-related tweet: “We are getting great marks for the handling of the CoronaVirus pandemic.”
He also attacked Obama and his vice-president, Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president this year, over their response to the “disaster known as H1N1 Swine Flu” in 2009.
Trump also marked a special day in the calendar, tweeting in trademark capitals: “HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!”
Packed United flight leaves passengers ‘scared,’ ‘shocked’ amid fears of the coronavirus
A photo of a crowded flight posted on Twitter by a cardiologist returning from the New York City area may hint at the difficulties of social distancing as air travel picks up again.
Dr. Ethan Weiss tweeted a photo Saturday showing what appears to be a full United Airlines flight from Newark, New Jersey, to San Francisco. Though passengers are wearing masks, he said the crowded cabin runs counter to United’s assurances that it would leave middle seats empty in order to promote social distancing to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
„I guess @united is relaxing their social distancing policy these days? Every seat full on this 737,” tweeted Weiss along with the photo. He is both a physician and a scientist at the University of California San Francisco who had been in New York working to aid with the coronavirus crisis.
In a separate tweet, Weiss included a statement from United’s chief customer officer, sent to all passengers, saying, „We’re automatically blocking middle seats to give you enough space on board.”
He said in a tweet he was among the medical workers who had been flown to New York for free by United to help care for the flood of patients due to the pandemic. He added that „people on this plane are scared/shocked.”
Weiss told USA TODAY he had no further comment beyond his tweets.
Reached for response, a United spokeswoman said the airline has taken steps to address the coronavirus.
“We’ve overhauled our cleaning and safety procedures and implemented a new boarding and deplaning process to promote social distancing,” spokeswoman Kimberly Gibbs said in an email. „Our flight to San Francisco had an additional 25 medical professionals on board who were flying for free to volunteer their time in New York. We’ve provided complimentary flights for more than 1,000 doctors and nurses in the past few weeks alone – and all passengers and employees were asked to wear face coverings, consistent with our new policy.”
United is among several airlines that have established policies of trying to keep middle seats open, though for some it appears more of a goal than a guarantee. Airline passenger traffic has plunged to levels not seen since the 1950s and recently domestic flights averaged 17 passengers, Nicholas Calio, CEO of the industry trade group Airlines for America, told a Senate Committee last week.
But as the nation starts to reopen, airline traffic is starting to pick up and there is more pressure to fill middle seats.
We are about to land & I just wanted to say a few things. 1) people on this plane are scared/ shocked. 2) I have no idea why most of them are traveling. 3)I am with a group of 25 nurses and doctors who have been working in NYC hospitals for the past 2-4 weeks. We are coming home
The Transportation Security Administration said it screened 215,444 people passing through checkpoints Friday as the usually busy Mother’s Day weekend began, the highest daily number since March 25 and more than double the low of 87,534 on April 14. Airline executives have repeatedly said this month that they believe travel demand bottomed in mid-April.
Friday’s figure is still down nearly 92% from the same Friday a year ago, however, when 2.6 million passengers, crew members and airport employees were screened at TSA checkpoints.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Coronavirus: Full United flight leaves passengers ‘scared,’ ‘shocked’