POLITICO Playbook PM: From an idea to a sarcastic quip
WE ALL USED OUR OWN EYES AND EARS Thursday to witness -- either in person, or on a screen -- President DONALD TRUMP suggest that disinfectants might be able to help cure the body of Covid-19.
WE WATCHED HIM MOTION TOWARD DEBORAH BIRX while he asked her to study this, along with whether ultraviolet lights might also cure the disease. WE WATCHED HIM call WaPo’s PHIL RUCKER “fake news” because he suggested people want to hear more than just rumors during the White House briefings -- the president said he was just there to deliver “ideas,” and people should still consult with doctors.
MANY OF US ALSO KNOW -- because we are functioning human beings on planet Earth who were not born yesterday -- that it’s not prudent to put such substances inside your body because they can make you really sick, or perhaps kill you.
BUT HERE’S WHAT HAPPENED since the president said that.
-- HE GOT BACKUP … W.H. PRESS SECRETARY KAYLEIGH MCENANY issued a statement razzing the media: “President Trump has repeatedly said that Americans should consult with medical doctors regarding coronavirus treatment, a point that he emphasized again during yesterday’s briefing. Leave it to the media to irresponsibly take President Trump out of context and run with negative headlines.”
-- MORE THAN 100 PEOPLE called Maryland’s emergency hotline asking about whether injecting or ingesting disinfectants could help cure Covid-19, according to Gov. LARRY HOGAN’S comms director MIKE RICCI. The state’s emergency management agency said: “This is a reminder that under no circumstances should any disinfectant product be administered into the body through injection, ingestion or any other route.”
-- THE MAKER OF LYSOL put out a public statement saying that “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion or any other route).”
-- SCOTT GOTTLIEB -- TRUMP’S former FDA director -- went on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” to say: “I think we need to speak very clearly. There’s no circumstance under which you should take a disinfectant or inject a disinfectant for the treatment of anything, and certainly not the treatment of coronavirus. There’s absolutely no circumstance in which that’s appropriate, and it can cause death and very adverse outcomes, so people should not be doing that if that was an impression that was left by any of the reporting around comments that have been made in the last 24 hours.”
THE PRESIDENT THEN SAID today in the Oval Office that he was “asking a question sarcastically to reporters like you just to see what would happen,” per the print pooler, Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade.
SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI ended her news conference this morning with this: “[The White House] told me, it came right from the president: No money for the post office. Instead inject Lysol into your lungs as we shut down the states.”
-- TRUMP, in the Oval Office, standing with Sens. JOHN CORNYN (R-Texas), ROY BLUNT (R-Mo.) and DAN SULLIVAN (R-Alaska), and Reps. LIZ CHENEY (R-Wyo.), STEVE SCALISE (R-La.) and KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-Calif.), also said the Postal Service is a “joke,” according to Reuters’ Jeff Mason.
ALSO … THE FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, which oversees medical treatments in the U.S., has now cautioned against the use of hydroxychloroquine outside of hospitals or clinical trials because of potential heart problems. The announcement
Happy Friday afternoon.
MORE FROM PELOSI’S news conference: “Speaking of Mitch [McConnell], what’s gotten into him? The president is asking people to inject Lysol into their lungs and Mitch is saying the states should go bankrupt.” … Republicans, PELOSI said, “reject science and reject governance.”
-- PELOSI ON WHETHER VOTE BY MAIL IS A RED LINE FOR HER in future negotiations: “I don’t know how many more bills we will have. But I don’t intend to negotiate them in this room.”
-- PELOSI: “There will not be a bill without state and local.”
RUDY GIULIANI suggested on Fox News that the government also contact trace for cancer, obesity and heart disease, which is, of course, impossible, since they are not contagious diseases. The clip
DISPATCH FROM A PARALLEL REALITY -- “Vanquish the Virus? Australia and New Zealand Aim to Show the Way,” by NYT’s Damien Cave in Sydney: “Both nations are now reporting just a handful of new infections each day, down from hundreds in March, and they are converging toward an extraordinary goal: completely eliminating the virus from their island nations.
“Whether they get to zero or not, what Australia and New Zealand have already accomplished is a remarkable cause for hope. Scott Morrison of Australia, a conservative Christian, and Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s darling of the left, are both succeeding with throwback democracy — in which partisanship recedes, experts lead, and quiet coordination matters more than firing up the base.” NYT
VP MIKE PENCE said today the administration is now encouraging states “to restart elective surgery wherever possible even on a county-by-county basis,” per Chris Johnson.
D.C. TO HEDGE FUNDS: BUZZ OFF! -- “Hedge funds, private equity firms barred from small business aid,” by Zach Warmbrodt and Victoria Guida
NEW: ANNA and JAKE will interview Michigan Gov. GRETCHEN WHITMER on Monday at 9:30 a.m. for a virtual Playbook Interview. Register to watch
WHAT’S ON THE PRESIDENT’S MIND -- @realDonaldTrump at 10:49 a.m.: “Great News! Randall Stephenson, the CEO of heavily indebted AT&T, which owns and presides over Fake News @CNN, is leaving, or was forced out. Anyone who lets a garbage ‘network’ do and say the things that CNN does, should leave ASAP. Hopefully replacement will be much better!”
-- STEPHENSON’S RETIREMENT was part of a long-planned transition. Veteran AT&T exec JOHN STANKEY will take the reins July 1. More from John Hendel
THE NEXT LIFELINE -- @marcorubio: “PPP should be relaunching Monday morning. It will will include not just the $310 billion @potus will sign today, but also an additional significant amount of money from #PPPloans being returned by several publicly traded large companies.”
FACT CHECK … DALLAS MORNING NEWS’ TODD GILLMAN: “No, Trump did not put a Labradoodle breeder in charge of COVID-19 response”
DRAIN THE SWAMP -- “Want a mask contract or some ventilators? A White House connection helps,” by NBC’s Jon Allen, Phil McCausland and Cyrus Farivar: “In early March, Mike Bowen, the executive vice president of the medical mask manufacturer Prestige Ameritech, found the perfect way to drum up some federal business: He went on Steve Bannon's podcast, which is highly popular at the White House. …
“A month later, at the explicit request of the White House, Prestige Ameritech had a $9.5 million contract with the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It then won another deal with the state of Texas and was given 50 National Guard members, deployed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, to work shifts at its suburban Fort Worth manufacturing facility. …
“Using the unilateral authority of the White House, Trump and his aides have consolidated power in a period of national crisis, picking winners and losers based in part on personal relationships, ideological affinity and partisan loyalty. Ultimately, that favoritism has created a two-track system of haves and have-nots in what Trump calls the ‘war’ against the coronavirus.” NBC
HOW TO GET GEAR -- “Frantic for Coronavirus Gear, Americans in Need Turn to China’s Elite,” by NYT’s Alexandra Stevenson, Nicholas Kulish and David Gelles in Hong Kong: “An ad hoc network of companies, wealthy individuals, academics and former diplomats has emerged to help the United States get the Chinese-made goods it needs to save patients and protect front-line workers — and, perhaps, help polish China’s dented image along the way. They are trying to navigate snarled supply chains, connect wary buyers and sellers and help overwhelmed local officials in desperate need of equipment.
“The group includes people like Jack Ma and Joseph Tsai, the co-founders of Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant; Marc Benioff, the co-founder of Salesforce, who struck a pact with Alibaba last year to sell its services in China; and Yichen Zhang, the chairman of Citic Capital, a major Chinese investment firm affiliated with a state-run conglomerate.” NYT
NOT SO FAST ON CONTACT TRACING: “Coronavirus: Actually, we don’t have an app for that,” by POLITICO Europe’s Janosch Delcker: “Taken on their own, contact tracing apps such as those currently being developed across Europe will have limited impact on the spread of coronavirus and could even give people a false sense of security, according to computer scientists and experts in artificial intelligence. …
“In an analysis released this week, the London-based Ada Lovelace Institute warned about what it described as a lack of evidence that apps help to curb the spread of the virus, urging the government to shelve plans for a U.K. contact tracing app.” The analysis
ON THE GROUND IN HONG KONG -- “One country, one system: The week that China shredded its promise on Hong Kong,” by WaPo’s Shibani Mahtani and Timothy McLaughlin in Hong Kong: “With the world distracted by the novel coronavirus pandemic, China has carried out a power grab in the former British colony, whose way of life it had pledged to preserve until 2047. In recent days, authorities have said for the first time that Beijing’s representative offices in the territory can “supervise” Hong Kong’s internal affairs — a step that legal experts say violates its constitutional firewall with the mainland.
“The Basic Law stipulates that the city should run its own affairs, including the police and immigration system, apart from defense and foreign relations. Beijing officials also called for Hong Kong to introduce a national security law — shelved when an earlier attempt at its introduction sparked massive protests in 2003 — and reached further into the city’s legislature with attacks on pro-democracy lawmakers.” WaPo
LINKING UP -- “Biden Will Fund-Raise With D.N.C. and His Appointee Will Lead the Committee,” by NYT’s Reid Epstein and Shane Goldmacher: “Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee have agreed to a joint fund-raising accord and installed the Biden campaign’s choice as the D.N.C.’s chief executive, the latest signs that the party’s presumptive presidential nominee has consolidated control over its broader functions.
“The new agreement, which party officials said would be made formal on Friday, will allow the former vice president to raise $360,800 from individual donors, with $5,600 going to the Biden campaign and the rest earmarked for the party committee. At the request of the Biden campaign, Mary Beth Cahill, a D.N.C. senior adviser who briefly served as its interim chief executive in 2018, will take over from Seema Nanda. Ms. Cahill, a longtime operative for the party, served as campaign manager for John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.” NYT
FOLLOW THE MONEY -- “Top Dem Operative David Brock Accused of Illegally Profiting From His Political Empire by Conservative Group,” by The Daily Beast’s Lachlan Markay and Lachlan Cartwright: “The complaints, which were filed by the Patriots Foundation, a right-leaning nonprofit, and reviewed by The Daily Beast, detail a series of transactions that, the group says, show the injection of money from a tax-exempt group Brock founded into a private, for-profit news business that he owns. …
“The nonprofit at issue is the American Bridge 21st Century Foundation, and it’s part of a constellation of entities that Brock has seeded over the years and which he tasked in early 2017 to, in his words, ‘kick Donald Trump’s ass.’ The foundation is the ‘dark money’ affiliate of AB PAC, a super PAC that is pouring millions of dollars into an effort to defeat Trump in November. Brock’s network also includes a for-profit news venture called the American Independent. That outlet is owned by a company he formed in late 2015 called True Blue Media LLC.” Daily Beast
THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION -- “Trump team moves to scrap protections for LGBTQ patients,” by Dan Diamond: “The health department is close to finalizing its long-developing rewrite of Obamacare’s Section 1557 provision, which barred health care discrimination based on sex and gender identity. The administration’s final rule on Thursday was circulated at the Justice Department, a step toward publicly releasing the regulation in the coming days.” POLITICO
IN MEMORIAM -- “Terry Lenzner, lawyer and investigator who served Nixon subpoenas, dies at 80,” by WaPo’s Harrison Smith: “Terry Lenzner, a Harvard-trained lawyer who served subpoenas on President Richard M. Nixon before becoming one of Washington’s most dogged and feared private investigators, telling his employees to ‘scorch the earth’ while digging up information for politicians and corporations, died April 23 at a hospital in the District.” WaPo