Trump is jonesing for a substitute for his campaign rallies and likely will respond to Boris Johnson’s latest UK national stay-at-home order. He likely will attack Joe Biden, who had a counter-briefing today. AG Barr will be in attendance, perhaps to support his request for emergency powers.
The briefings have had a positive effect on his tracking polls, and the same RW YouTube live-streamer outlets for his rallies are now advertising today’s briefing. More than 100 people died today from COVID-19 (520 total in US).
According to sources, Trump is increasingly frustrated with Fauci and governors who advocated for shutting down large swathes of the economy to stop COVID-19’s out-of-control spread. According to four Republicans briefed on internal West Wing conversations, Trump is fuming privately that Fauci advised him that the only way to blunt the pandemic was to bring the economy to a halt. “Trump is furious,” a former West Wing official said. “He’s been calling business leaders asking if he should just reopen the economy,” a Republican briefed on the conversations told me. “He’s hearing that you have to get the economy going,” another former West Wing official said.
Sources say that Trump is leaning toward telling at least some Americans to return to work after the 15-day social-distancing period ends on March 31. This puts Trump on a potential collision course with Fauci that many fear will end with Fauci being fired or quitting. “Fauci is the best medical expert we have. We can’t lose him,” a former White House official said. Signs of tension between Trump and Fauci have been emerging. Over the weekend, Fauci gave a series of candid interviews. “I’ve been telling the president things he doesn’t want to hear,” Fauci told Maureen Dowd. “I have publicly had to say something different with what he states. It’s a risky business.” Fauci told Science magazine: “When you’re dealing with the White House, sometimes you have to say things one, two, three, four times, and then it happens. So, I’m going to keep pushing.”
Two sources close to the White House tell Gabriel Sherman that Trump increasingly feels that “he can ignore Fauci’s opinion” because Kushner has been telling him about experimental coronavirus treatments he’s been hearing about from Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
“Jared is bringing conspiracy theories to Trump about potential treatments,” one Republican who has been “briefed” on the conversations between Trump and Kushner explains.
“Trump is like an 11-year-old boy waiting for the fairy godmother to bring him a magic pill,” a former White House official tells Sherman.
Joe Biden delivered his first shadow briefing on the coronavirus Monday, faulting President Trump for giving false information about the pandemic, not taking it seriously enough and not moving faster.
“Trump keeps saying that he’s a wartime president. Well, start to act like one,” Biden said, drawing attention to his own coronavirus response plan. “To paraphrase a frustrated President Lincoln writing to an inactive General McClellan during the Civil War, ‘if you don't want to use the army, may I borrow it?’”
Biden brought up China in his remarks Monday by pointing out that he had warned Trump not to take the word of President Xi Jingping earlier this year when Trump was lauding the country’s response to the virus.
“My point is not simply that the president was wrong. My point is that the mindset, that was slow to recognize the problem in the first place to treat it with the seriousness it deserved, is still too much a part of how the president is addressing the problem,” Biden said.
“Let me be clear, Donald Trump is not to blame for the coronavirus, but he does bear responsibility for our response,” Biden said. “And I along with every American hope he steps up and starts to get this right.