For Bernie Sanders, radical views once extended to theories on what causes cancer

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Brian Blanco/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — For nearly 20 years as an up and coming politician, Bernie Sanders supported ideas on what causes cancer outside of the mainstream, such as sexual inactivity as a cause of breast cancer.

“The manner in which you bring up your daughter with regard to sexual attitudes may very well determine whether or not she will develop breast cancer, among other things,” Sanders wrote in an essay headlined “Cancer, Disease and Society” in 1969. “How much guilt, nervousness have you imbued in your daughter with regard to sex?”

The essay, published in The Vermont Freeman and previously reported, extensively and approvingly cites studies suggesting a relationship between “inhibited sexuality” and cancer risks. “In other words, did women who develop breast cancer have certain similar psychological traits which might lead one to see a connection between emotional health and cancer,” Sanders wrote.

It’s part of a vast written record of many of his views – some well outside the mainstream – that are coming under scrutiny again as he emerges as a front-runner in the 2020 race for president.

When the issue first arose in the 2016 presidential campaign, a Sanders aide dismissed the comments as dated. “These articles were written more than 40 years ago,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs told Mother Jones in 2015. “Like most people, Bernie’s views on many issues have changed over time.”

But his commentary on the subject of cancer and its causes suggest his beliefs about links between the disease and human sexual behavior continued well into the 1980s.

ABC News did not immediately receive a response from the Sanders campaign on this story and how in particular his views may have evolved.

In that early published essay, Sanders cited numerous medical studies that claimed to have found a relationship between cancer and human sexual behavior.

One study he cited in the 1969 piece found that women who achieve orgasm less frequently during intercourse were more likely to contract cervical cancer. Another found that women who achieve fewer orgasms were “biologically weakened” and are therefore “highly susceptible to cancer producing stimuli” more generally. The methods of one study included asking participants whether or not they viewed sex as “a distasteful, wifely duty. “

Asked about the relationship between sexual activity and cancer, Harold Burstein, a breast cancer specialist at the Dana-Farber Institute in Boston, said the research is clear: “There is absolutely no relationship between sexual activity, or lack of activity, and cancer.”

“Some cancers, like cervical cancer, are transmitted by human papilloma virus, which is a sexually transmitted infection,” Burstein explain, “but sexual activity itself has no relationship to cancer risk.”

In the same paper, Sanders wondered whether “radical change” in society– an idea indicative of the political revolution Sanders has been pursuing for decades– could itself cure diseases such as cancer. “Will society be changed so as you fit the needs of the human organism,” he warned in the essay, “or will the human organism continue to be adapted, molded, and crushed to fit into basically insane and disease provoking patterns?”

Sander’s views on cancer formed out of his research into the “psychiatric aspect of cancer” while studying at The University of Chicago, according to a profile on Sanders from 1985. It was there that Sander developed his central theory: that “disease, to a large degree, is caused by the way we live in society,” he said during another profile 1981. Among those who influenced his views, Sanders said, were Dr. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, and Dr. Wilhelm Reich, one of its proponents.

By the 1980s, decades after Sanders’ studies at school and his first public comments on cancer were documented, Sanders subtly continued to express a viewpoint on cancer and its origins that was less extreme, but still questionable.

“I have my own feelings about what causes cancer and the psychosomatic aspects of cancer,” Sanders said at a media event in Burlington in 1988.

He was talking about the death of a Nicaraguan Sandinista he knew whom he said had recently passed away from cancer. The woman, Sanders recalled, was a “very, very vibrant and wonderful woman,” yet she still succumbed to the disease. “One wonders if that war did not claim another victim of another person who couldn’t deal with her tremendous grief and suffering that’s going on in her own country,” Sanders stated, suggesting it was “grief and suffering” that contributed to her illness and ultimate death.

Burstein disputed this science behind this idea as well, explaining that “there are no psychosomatic aspects of cancer, nor can people’s feeling or emotions or psychological state ’cause’ cancer in anyway.”

In the 1969 paper, Sander’s highlighted the notion of a relationship between emotions and cancer. He cited a doctor who whom he said had pinpointed a “cancer personality,” in other words, someone who “represses hate, anger, dissatisfaction, and grudges, or on the other hand, is a very ‘good’ person, who is consumed with self-pity and suffers in stoic silence.”

Again, Burstein said the science on this point is clear. “There is no relationship between stress or emotions, and ‘getting’ cancer.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

For Bernie Sanders, radical views once extended to theories on what causes cancer

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Brian Blanco/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — For nearly 20 years as an up and coming politician, Bernie Sanders supported ideas on what causes cancer outside of the mainstream, such as sexual inactivity as a cause of breast cancer.

“The manner in which you bring up your daughter with regard to sexual attitudes may very well determine whether or not she will develop breast cancer, among other things,” Sanders wrote in an essay headlined “Cancer, Disease and Society” in 1969. “How much guilt, nervousness have you imbued in your daughter with regard to sex?”

The essay, published in The Vermont Freeman and previously reported, extensively and approvingly cites studies suggesting a relationship between “inhibited sexuality” and cancer risks. “In other words, did women who develop breast cancer have certain similar psychological traits which might lead one to see a connection between emotional health and cancer,” Sanders wrote.

It’s part of a vast written record of many of his views – some well outside the mainstream – that are coming under scrutiny again as he emerges as a front-runner in the 2020 race for president.

When the issue first arose in the 2016 presidential campaign, a Sanders aide dismissed the comments as dated. “These articles were written more than 40 years ago,” Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs told Mother Jones in 2015. “Like most people, Bernie’s views on many issues have changed over time.”

But his commentary on the subject of cancer and its causes suggest his beliefs about links between the disease and human sexual behavior continued well into the 1980s.

ABC News did not immediately receive a response from the Sanders campaign on this story and how in particular his views may have evolved.

In that early published essay, Sanders cited numerous medical studies that claimed to have found a relationship between cancer and human sexual behavior.

One study he cited in the 1969 piece found that women who achieve orgasm less frequently during intercourse were more likely to contract cervical cancer. Another found that women who achieve fewer orgasms were “biologically weakened” and are therefore “highly susceptible to cancer producing stimuli” more generally. The methods of one study included asking participants whether or not they viewed sex as “a distasteful, wifely duty. “

Asked about the relationship between sexual activity and cancer, Harold Burstein, a breast cancer specialist at the Dana-Farber Institute in Boston, said the research is clear: “There is absolutely no relationship between sexual activity, or lack of activity, and cancer.”

“Some cancers, like cervical cancer, are transmitted by human papilloma virus, which is a sexually transmitted infection,” Burstein explain, “but sexual activity itself has no relationship to cancer risk.”

In the same paper, Sanders wondered whether “radical change” in society– an idea indicative of the political revolution Sanders has been pursuing for decades– could itself cure diseases such as cancer. “Will society be changed so as you fit the needs of the human organism,” he warned in the essay, “or will the human organism continue to be adapted, molded, and crushed to fit into basically insane and disease provoking patterns?”

Sander’s views on cancer formed out of his research into the “psychiatric aspect of cancer” while studying at The University of Chicago, according to a profile on Sanders from 1985. It was there that Sander developed his central theory: that “disease, to a large degree, is caused by the way we live in society,” he said during another profile 1981. Among those who influenced his views, Sanders said, were Dr. Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, and Dr. Wilhelm Reich, one of its proponents.

By the 1980s, decades after Sanders’ studies at school and his first public comments on cancer were documented, Sanders subtly continued to express a viewpoint on cancer and its origins that was less extreme, but still questionable.

“I have my own feelings about what causes cancer and the psychosomatic aspects of cancer,” Sanders said at a media event in Burlington in 1988.

He was talking about the death of a Nicaraguan Sandinista he knew whom he said had recently passed away from cancer. The woman, Sanders recalled, was a “very, very vibrant and wonderful woman,” yet she still succumbed to the disease. “One wonders if that war did not claim another victim of another person who couldn’t deal with her tremendous grief and suffering that’s going on in her own country,” Sanders stated, suggesting it was “grief and suffering” that contributed to her illness and ultimate death.

Burstein disputed this science behind this idea as well, explaining that “there are no psychosomatic aspects of cancer, nor can people’s feeling or emotions or psychological state ’cause’ cancer in anyway.”

In the 1969 paper, Sander’s highlighted the notion of a relationship between emotions and cancer. He cited a doctor who whom he said had pinpointed a “cancer personality,” in other words, someone who “represses hate, anger, dissatisfaction, and grudges, or on the other hand, is a very ‘good’ person, who is consumed with self-pity and suffers in stoic silence.”

Again, Burstein said the science on this point is clear. “There is no relationship between stress or emotions, and ‘getting’ cancer.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sunny Hostin, Meghan McCain criticize Trump’s appointment of Pence to lead coronavirus response on ‘The View’

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Nicolette Cain/ABC(NEW YORK) — “The View” co-hosts questioned President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Vice President Michael Pence to lead the U.S. government response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump spoke during a news conference on Wednesday after days of mixed messages about the potential risk of coronavirus — real name COVID-19 — spreading throughout the U.S. Trump said Pence would be working with “the professionals, the doctors” and that the “team is brilliant.”

When Pence spoke, he said that “the threat to the American public remains low,” telling reporters that he’d coordinate the overall response and that additional personnel would be added at the White House.

“The View” co-hosts weighed in on Pence’s new role on Thursday.

“Mike Pence has a really bad record when it comes to health records,” McCain said referring to Pence’s handling of an HIV outbreak in Indiana while he was governor. “It really impacted HIV outbreaks in Indiana.”

“Someone with a medical and virus background should be in charge of a potentially deadly and lethal virus and medical outbreak in the United States of America,” McCain continued. “I’m not comfortable with him in charge.”

 Goldberg said she had a theory of her own as to why Trump assigned Pence to lead the response.

“I think [Trump] chose [Pence] because he knows this is more extreme than anybody wants to talk about,” Goldberg said. “We don’t need to panic, but whenever [Trump] wants to look like he’s doing something really good, he will do something and then put somebody else in charge of it when he knows there’s a cliff coming. I think he’s setting him up.”

Hostin agreed with Goldberg’s claim.

“One of the reasons I think [Trump] chose the vice president to do this is because it is so serious,” Hostin said. “Had he appointed someone with real medical background, that person would not necessarily cover his ineptitude.”

“We know that Mike Pence will cover for him because he is such a loyalist,” Hostin added. “I think Trump needed someone in that position just in case things go bad.”

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials announced Wednesday night that a person had been diagnosed with COVID-19 despite having no travel history or contact with someone who was infected.

“To have a healthy sense of fear right now, I’m not judging people, because I certainly do,” McCain said about concerns over COVID-19.

“I don’t know if you should have a healthy sense of fear,” Goldberg responded. “I think you should have a healthy sense of paying attention to what’s happening. Fear will stop you.”

“You have to pay attention,” Goldberg continued. “Be concerned. Be aware. But don’t let it stupefy you so much that you can’t move, because that’s not going to help either.”

Every episode of ABC’s award-winning talk show “The View” is now available as a podcast! Listen and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher or the ABC News app.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Sunny Hostin, Meghan McCain criticize Trump’s appointment of Pence to lead coronavirus response on ‘The View’

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Nicolette Cain/ABC(NEW YORK) — “The View” co-hosts questioned President Donald Trump’s decision to appoint Vice President Michael Pence to lead the U.S. government response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump spoke during a news conference on Wednesday after days of mixed messages about the potential risk of coronavirus — real name COVID-19 — spreading throughout the U.S. Trump said Pence would be working with “the professionals, the doctors” and that the “team is brilliant.”

When Pence spoke, he said that “the threat to the American public remains low,” telling reporters that he’d coordinate the overall response and that additional personnel would be added at the White House.

“The View” co-hosts weighed in on Pence’s new role on Thursday.

“Mike Pence has a really bad record when it comes to health records,” McCain said referring to Pence’s handling of an HIV outbreak in Indiana while he was governor. “It really impacted HIV outbreaks in Indiana.”

“Someone with a medical and virus background should be in charge of a potentially deadly and lethal virus and medical outbreak in the United States of America,” McCain continued. “I’m not comfortable with him in charge.”

 Goldberg said she had a theory of her own as to why Trump assigned Pence to lead the response.

“I think [Trump] chose [Pence] because he knows this is more extreme than anybody wants to talk about,” Goldberg said. “We don’t need to panic, but whenever [Trump] wants to look like he’s doing something really good, he will do something and then put somebody else in charge of it when he knows there’s a cliff coming. I think he’s setting him up.”

Hostin agreed with Goldberg’s claim.

“One of the reasons I think [Trump] chose the vice president to do this is because it is so serious,” Hostin said. “Had he appointed someone with real medical background, that person would not necessarily cover his ineptitude.”

“We know that Mike Pence will cover for him because he is such a loyalist,” Hostin added. “I think Trump needed someone in that position just in case things go bad.”

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials announced Wednesday night that a person had been diagnosed with COVID-19 despite having no travel history or contact with someone who was infected.

“To have a healthy sense of fear right now, I’m not judging people, because I certainly do,” McCain said about concerns over COVID-19.

“I don’t know if you should have a healthy sense of fear,” Goldberg responded. “I think you should have a healthy sense of paying attention to what’s happening. Fear will stop you.”

“You have to pay attention,” Goldberg continued. “Be concerned. Be aware. But don’t let it stupefy you so much that you can’t move, because that’s not going to help either.”

Every episode of ABC’s award-winning talk show “The View” is now available as a podcast! Listen and subscribe for free on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify, Stitcher or the ABC News app.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump, Pence try to manage coronavirus response amid new fears it could spread

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen(WASHINGTON) — A day after President Donald Trump declared Vice President Mike Pence the point person on the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus, the administration on Thursday continued to try to stem confusion over its handling of the outbreak.

Pence planned to lead an interagency task force meeting at the Department of Health and Human Services Thursday afternoon. The president formed the task force late last month and made Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar its chairman.

Azar said at a White House news conference Wednesday he would remain in that role, even though Trump said at that same press conference that he wanted Azar to “focus on” his regular duties.

The secretary did not learn of the decision to make Pence the lead until just before Trump announced it publicly, three sources told ABC News.

The vice president said Wednesday that he would “continue to bring that team together, to bring to the president the best options for action” and would reach out to state and local officials.

At the Wednesday press conference, Trump made a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, taking questions for the first time and trying to portray a sense of calm amid rising fears over the virus, called COVID-19.

But some of his comments did not clear up some of the public’s confusion.

While health officials standing alongside him said cases would increase, Trump at times questioned whether that was true and downplayed the threat.

A day earlier, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official had warned Americans of “significant disruption” coming because of the virus, hours after the president said the situation was “under control” and that it was a “problem that’s going to go away.”

On Wednesday evening, Trump told reporters that “there’s a chance that it won’t spread.” In the same press conference, he noted that in California a 15th case of the virus had been confirmed.

But he did not mention what the CDC announced soon after the news conference concluded: that the patient had no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected individual, making it possibly the first case of “community spread” on American soil.

The case raises questions about whether broader testing should be allowed. It appeared to indicate the virus had been circulating among the local community and infecting people, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected, according to the CDC.

The federal government has so far resisted wider testing, and Pence’s office on Thursday morning did not respond to a question about whether that position had changed considering the California case.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump, Pence try to manage coronavirus response amid new fears it could spread

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen(WASHINGTON) — A day after President Donald Trump declared Vice President Mike Pence the point person on the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus, the administration on Thursday continued to try to stem confusion over its handling of the outbreak.

Pence planned to lead an interagency task force meeting at the Department of Health and Human Services Thursday afternoon. The president formed the task force late last month and made Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar its chairman.

Azar said at a White House news conference Wednesday he would remain in that role, even though Trump said at that same press conference that he wanted Azar to “focus on” his regular duties.

The secretary did not learn of the decision to make Pence the lead until just before Trump announced it publicly, three sources told ABC News.

The vice president said Wednesday that he would “continue to bring that team together, to bring to the president the best options for action” and would reach out to state and local officials.

At the Wednesday press conference, Trump made a rare appearance in the White House briefing room, taking questions for the first time and trying to portray a sense of calm amid rising fears over the virus, called COVID-19.

But some of his comments did not clear up some of the public’s confusion.

While health officials standing alongside him said cases would increase, Trump at times questioned whether that was true and downplayed the threat.

A day earlier, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official had warned Americans of “significant disruption” coming because of the virus, hours after the president said the situation was “under control” and that it was a “problem that’s going to go away.”

On Wednesday evening, Trump told reporters that “there’s a chance that it won’t spread.” In the same press conference, he noted that in California a 15th case of the virus had been confirmed.

But he did not mention what the CDC announced soon after the news conference concluded: that the patient had no known exposure to the virus through travel or close contact with a known infected individual, making it possibly the first case of “community spread” on American soil.

The case raises questions about whether broader testing should be allowed. It appeared to indicate the virus had been circulating among the local community and infecting people, including some who are not sure how or where they became infected, according to the CDC.

The federal government has so far resisted wider testing, and Pence’s office on Thursday morning did not respond to a question about whether that position had changed considering the California case.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Inside the allegation that Bloomberg told a pregnant employee to ‘kill it’

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Mike Bloomberg had just finished taking a group photograph with a delegation of New York University students at Bloomberg LP headquarters when he struck up a conversation with Sekiko Sakai, one of the top-performing saleswomen of his namesake product, the Bloomberg Terminal.

“How’s married life? Still married?” Bloomberg asked as the two walked to the cafeteria’s coffee station and filled their cups. Sakai said it was great and that she was pregnant, according to notes gathered by Sakai’s lawyer as part of a 1995 complaint she later filed with state regulators against Bloomberg and his company.

“Kill it,” Bloomberg said in a “serious monotone voice,” Sakai alleged in the complaint.

“What? What did you just say?” Sakai said she asked. Bloomberg maintained eye contact and “repeated in a deliberate manner, ‘kill it,'” she alleged. In the intervening years, Bloomberg has repeatedly denied saying it.

Sakai said that Bloomberg finished filling his coffee. As he put the lid on his cup, he mumbled to himself, “great, number 16.” Sakai said she interpreted that to mean she was the 16th woman in the office to get pregnant. He walked away, she said in her complaint.

The alleged incident would have a resounding and residual effect on both parties in very different ways.

In the short term, Sakai said it damaged her. She claimed in her lawsuit that it was part of why she left the company — sacrificing a lucrative paycheck and a job she said she loved — and suffered serious psychological and physical health setbacks.

Now nearly 25 years on, it is Bloomberg who is feeling the impact of the alleged remark as he makes a run for the White House.
 
While his unusual campaign style — skipping early voting states and focusing his strategy on Super Tuesday — has commandeered attention in the race for the Democratic nomination, so too have anecdotes about his past comments to and treatment of some women who worked for him. Allegations of inappropriate workplace comments and claims that the former New York City mayor’s company became a hostile place for pregnant women, have both dogged the candidate on the campaign trail and onto the debate stage.

This week, rival Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren — his fiercest critic among the field of candidates — confronted him over the alleged “kill it” comment.

“At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘kill it,’ the way Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees,” Warren said at Tuesday’s debate in South Carolina.

Bloomberg’s response has been firm and unbending — he has denied ever saying “kill it.”

“I never said it. Period, end of story. Categorically, never said it,” Bloomberg said Tuesday. “When I was accused of doing it we couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.”

His denials could face a new test in the coming weeks.

Sources have confirmed to ABC News that Sakai is one of three former employees whom Bloomberg’s company has identified as having been restricted by a non-disclosure agreement from speaking about her claims of inappropriate comments by Bloomberg. But Bloomberg agreed to lift those restrictions in a recent turnabout.

Whether or not she speaks, transcripts of phone calls with co-workers made by Sakai and other materials used to craft her complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights cast doubt on Bloomberg’s denials. The documents, obtained by ABC News, indicate that Sakai tried desperately in the weeks that followed to sound the alarm on what her boss allegedly said.

Sakai said she alerted “ten people within the firm, five of whom were managers,” according to the complaint filed with the New York Division of Human Rights, which she filed before her lawsuit. She told friends about the alleged interaction and described her mental and physical deterioration as a result of stress.

“I haven’t slept at all, I got two hours of sleep and I’m not able to go to work. … I’ve lost ten pounds,” Sakai told a friend two weeks after the incident, according to Sakai’s transcript from the call.

In that complaint, Sakai said, as she was still pregnant, her doctor told her, “even if you are losing weight, if you are eating – which I am – as far as the baby is concerned, it should be getting nutrients it needs … she said it is not good because it is from a lot of stress.”

Sakai hired a lawyer shortly thereafter and filed the complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights in August of 1995. She later filed a lawsuit against Bloomberg and his company — which settled out of court — and even wrote to a U.S. Congresswoman, according to the documents obtained by ABC News.

“The words which were spoken to me by the CEO of my company on April 11, 1995 should never be heard by an expectant mother awaiting the birth of her first child,” Sakai wrote in an undated letter addressed to Rep. Sue Kelly, R-N.Y. “I understand you are a strong advocate of women’s issues and worker rights. I ask for your assistance to monitor my dispute in a timely and constructive manner.”

The materials gathered by Sakai’s attorney as part of their administrative complaint indicate Bloomberg dispatched senior aides at the company to call Sakai and feel her out. When all else failed, Bloomberg called her directly, she alleged. In notes that Sakai’s lawyer said Sakai took from a voicemail he left, Bloomberg allegedly said, “I apologize if there was something you heard but I didn’t say it, didn’t mean it, didn’t say it … and whatever.”

Regardless of whether Bloomberg told Sakai to “kill it,” the comment is in line with other remarks attributed to Bloomberg from the time, according to transcripts of phone calls gathered by Sakai in which some Bloomberg LP colleagues allegedly recounted their own stories about the man at the top.

“Well, I started crying when (Bloomberg) said ‘all it (a baby) does is eats and sh**s,'” a friend told her in late April 1995 of her own experience of telling Bloomberg she was pregnant.

Sakai replied, “That’s how I feel … (Bloomberg) said some really demeaning humiliating things to me, but that was me, not my unborn child.”

In many of those calls, according to the transcripts, Sakai encouraged others to come forward with their stories, but was repeatedly told the risks were too high.

“It’s just a lot more complicated than just right vs. wrong for me,” one colleague told her, according to the transcripts.

“I understand that it’s a big decision,” Sakai replied. “But ultimately he (Bloomberg) gets off scott free (sic) if people like you with important information don’t step forward.”

“I can’t commit to anything. I won’t commit to anything,” the person told her.

By coming forward with her complaint, Sakai said she sacrificed her career at Bloomberg LP. Prior to her departure from the firm, she said she was “a top performer in New York sales, and I was making a good six figure salary,” according to notes compiled as part of her complaint to the New York State Division of Human Rights.

In the transcribed notes from phone calls with friends and colleagues after Sakai claimed Bloomberg made the “kill it” remark, Sakai described her conflicted feelings about leaving the company.

“That’s what really infuriates me. You knew how I worked … I was totally devoted to that company,” Sakai told a senior manager at Bloomberg LP a year after the alleged “kill it” comment. “I enjoyed my job. I was good at it. I was getting great pay.”

Sakai eventually settled her 1997 lawsuit against Bloomberg and his company out of court and moved West. She was paid an undisclosed amount of money and signed a nondisclosure agreement.

Last week, the Bloomberg campaign announced it would release three women it identified as having complaints tied directly to comments Bloomberg himself allegedly made from their nondisclosure agreements. A senior campaign official confirmed to ABC News that Sakai is one of the three women.

As of Monday, according to Bloomberg’s campaign, Sakai had not reached out the company about dissolving her nondisclosure agreement.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Inside the allegation that Bloomberg told a pregnant employee to ‘kill it’

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

LOGAN CYRUS/AFP via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Mike Bloomberg had just finished taking a group photograph with a delegation of New York University students at Bloomberg LP headquarters when he struck up a conversation with Sekiko Sakai, one of the top-performing saleswomen of his namesake product, the Bloomberg Terminal.

“How’s married life? Still married?” Bloomberg asked as the two walked to the cafeteria’s coffee station and filled their cups. Sakai said it was great and that she was pregnant, according to notes gathered by Sakai’s lawyer as part of a 1995 complaint she later filed with state regulators against Bloomberg and his company.

“Kill it,” Bloomberg said in a “serious monotone voice,” Sakai alleged in the complaint.

“What? What did you just say?” Sakai said she asked. Bloomberg maintained eye contact and “repeated in a deliberate manner, ‘kill it,'” she alleged. In the intervening years, Bloomberg has repeatedly denied saying it.

Sakai said that Bloomberg finished filling his coffee. As he put the lid on his cup, he mumbled to himself, “great, number 16.” Sakai said she interpreted that to mean she was the 16th woman in the office to get pregnant. He walked away, she said in her complaint.

The alleged incident would have a resounding and residual effect on both parties in very different ways.

In the short term, Sakai said it damaged her. She claimed in her lawsuit that it was part of why she left the company — sacrificing a lucrative paycheck and a job she said she loved — and suffered serious psychological and physical health setbacks.

Now nearly 25 years on, it is Bloomberg who is feeling the impact of the alleged remark as he makes a run for the White House.
 
While his unusual campaign style — skipping early voting states and focusing his strategy on Super Tuesday — has commandeered attention in the race for the Democratic nomination, so too have anecdotes about his past comments to and treatment of some women who worked for him. Allegations of inappropriate workplace comments and claims that the former New York City mayor’s company became a hostile place for pregnant women, have both dogged the candidate on the campaign trail and onto the debate stage.

This week, rival Democratic candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren — his fiercest critic among the field of candidates — confronted him over the alleged “kill it” comment.

“At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘kill it,’ the way Mayor Bloomberg is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees,” Warren said at Tuesday’s debate in South Carolina.

Bloomberg’s response has been firm and unbending — he has denied ever saying “kill it.”

“I never said it. Period, end of story. Categorically, never said it,” Bloomberg said Tuesday. “When I was accused of doing it we couldn’t figure out what she was talking about.”

His denials could face a new test in the coming weeks.

Sources have confirmed to ABC News that Sakai is one of three former employees whom Bloomberg’s company has identified as having been restricted by a non-disclosure agreement from speaking about her claims of inappropriate comments by Bloomberg. But Bloomberg agreed to lift those restrictions in a recent turnabout.

Whether or not she speaks, transcripts of phone calls with co-workers made by Sakai and other materials used to craft her complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights cast doubt on Bloomberg’s denials. The documents, obtained by ABC News, indicate that Sakai tried desperately in the weeks that followed to sound the alarm on what her boss allegedly said.

Sakai said she alerted “ten people within the firm, five of whom were managers,” according to the complaint filed with the New York Division of Human Rights, which she filed before her lawsuit. She told friends about the alleged interaction and described her mental and physical deterioration as a result of stress.

“I haven’t slept at all, I got two hours of sleep and I’m not able to go to work. … I’ve lost ten pounds,” Sakai told a friend two weeks after the incident, according to Sakai’s transcript from the call.

In that complaint, Sakai said, as she was still pregnant, her doctor told her, “even if you are losing weight, if you are eating – which I am – as far as the baby is concerned, it should be getting nutrients it needs … she said it is not good because it is from a lot of stress.”

Sakai hired a lawyer shortly thereafter and filed the complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights in August of 1995. She later filed a lawsuit against Bloomberg and his company — which settled out of court — and even wrote to a U.S. Congresswoman, according to the documents obtained by ABC News.

“The words which were spoken to me by the CEO of my company on April 11, 1995 should never be heard by an expectant mother awaiting the birth of her first child,” Sakai wrote in an undated letter addressed to Rep. Sue Kelly, R-N.Y. “I understand you are a strong advocate of women’s issues and worker rights. I ask for your assistance to monitor my dispute in a timely and constructive manner.”

The materials gathered by Sakai’s attorney as part of their administrative complaint indicate Bloomberg dispatched senior aides at the company to call Sakai and feel her out. When all else failed, Bloomberg called her directly, she alleged. In notes that Sakai’s lawyer said Sakai took from a voicemail he left, Bloomberg allegedly said, “I apologize if there was something you heard but I didn’t say it, didn’t mean it, didn’t say it … and whatever.”

Regardless of whether Bloomberg told Sakai to “kill it,” the comment is in line with other remarks attributed to Bloomberg from the time, according to transcripts of phone calls gathered by Sakai in which some Bloomberg LP colleagues allegedly recounted their own stories about the man at the top.

“Well, I started crying when (Bloomberg) said ‘all it (a baby) does is eats and sh**s,'” a friend told her in late April 1995 of her own experience of telling Bloomberg she was pregnant.

Sakai replied, “That’s how I feel … (Bloomberg) said some really demeaning humiliating things to me, but that was me, not my unborn child.”

In many of those calls, according to the transcripts, Sakai encouraged others to come forward with their stories, but was repeatedly told the risks were too high.

“It’s just a lot more complicated than just right vs. wrong for me,” one colleague told her, according to the transcripts.

“I understand that it’s a big decision,” Sakai replied. “But ultimately he (Bloomberg) gets off scott free (sic) if people like you with important information don’t step forward.”

“I can’t commit to anything. I won’t commit to anything,” the person told her.

By coming forward with her complaint, Sakai said she sacrificed her career at Bloomberg LP. Prior to her departure from the firm, she said she was “a top performer in New York sales, and I was making a good six figure salary,” according to notes compiled as part of her complaint to the New York State Division of Human Rights.

In the transcribed notes from phone calls with friends and colleagues after Sakai claimed Bloomberg made the “kill it” remark, Sakai described her conflicted feelings about leaving the company.

“That’s what really infuriates me. You knew how I worked … I was totally devoted to that company,” Sakai told a senior manager at Bloomberg LP a year after the alleged “kill it” comment. “I enjoyed my job. I was good at it. I was getting great pay.”

Sakai eventually settled her 1997 lawsuit against Bloomberg and his company out of court and moved West. She was paid an undisclosed amount of money and signed a nondisclosure agreement.

Last week, the Bloomberg campaign announced it would release three women it identified as having complaints tied directly to comments Bloomberg himself allegedly made from their nondisclosure agreements. A senior campaign official confirmed to ABC News that Sakai is one of the three women.

As of Monday, according to Bloomberg’s campaign, Sakai had not reached out the company about dissolving her nondisclosure agreement.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Pence to lead US response to coronavirus as Trump urges Americans to prepare

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence would lead the U.S. government response to coronavirus, after days of mixed messages from his administration about the threat to Americans.

Trump told reporters at a news conference Wednesday evening he was not labeling Pence a “czar.”

“Mike will be working with the professionals, the doctors and everybody else that’s working,” Trump said. “The team is brilliant.”

The announcement came following days of sending mixed messages on the risk the coronavirus poses to the United States.

At a rare appearance in the White House’s briefing room, the president and his team sought to allay worries about the coronavirus, called COVID-19, repeatedly saying that the risk to Americans remains low but still urging people to prepare.

“I think every aspect of our society should be prepared,” including schools, he said, “just in case.” But, he added, “We don’t think we’ll be there.”

“This will end,” he said.

Trump noted that tens of thousands of people in the United States die every year from influenza, and that coronavirus — so far — had not nearly approached that level.

“You don’t want to see panic, because there’s no reason to be panicked about it,” Trump said.

“There’s a chance it won’t spread, too. And there’s a chance it will.”

The question, he said, was “at what level” it would.

Because of the steps the administration had already taken — including strict travel restrictions on travelers who have recently visited China, the center of the outbreak — Trump said, “The risk to the American people remains very low.”

“The number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people,” he said.

Trump said that it was “not the right time” to impose additional restrictions on entry to the United States — although he noted, “we may do that.”

China has imposed severe restrictions on large areas, like the city of Wuhan, and Trump told ABC News’ Karen Travers that the United States did have plans for quarantining cities “on a larger scale, if we need it.”

But, he added, “We don’t think we’re going to need it.”

Pence noted that “the threat to the American public remains low,” telling reporters that he would coordinate the overall response and that additional personnel would be added at the White House.

“My role will be to continue to bring that team together, to bring to the president the best options for action to see to the safety and well being and health of the American people. We’ll also be continuing to reach out to governors, state and local officials,” Pence said. “We will be working with them in renewed ways to make sure they have the resources to be able to respond.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who has been leading a coronavirus task force the president set up, said he was happy to have the support from Pence — who he said would focus on inter-agency coordination — and echoed Trump’s comments that what the U.S. government has already been doing has worked.

Azar warned, though, that the number of cases would go up.

“The degree of risk has the potential to change quickly,” Azar said. “And we can expect to see more cases in the United States. That is why we’ve been reminding the American public and our state, local and private sector partners that they should be aware of what a broader response would look like.”

The president and his team clearly tried to calm fears, a day after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official had warned Americans of “significant disruption” coming because of the virus.

That appeared to contrast with remarks the president made at a press conference in New Delhi, India earlier in the day, when he said the situation was “under control” and that it was a “problem that’s going to go away.”

“We have very few people with it,” Trump told reporters, adding that he was not totally caught up on the latest details because of his trip to India but that “the people are getting better, they’re all getting better,” referring to patients in the U.S.

“I think that whole situation will start working out. Lot of talent, lot of brain power is being put behind it,” he said.

Trump’s comments came on the heels of sharp criticism from Democrats in Congress on the response from the White House. The administration on Monday asked lawmakers for emergency funding to deal with crisis — $1.25 billion in new funding and another $1.25 billion shifted from existing funding previously allocated for other reasons, including some designated to deal with the Ebola virus.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday morning he’s preparing a detailed Democratic request for emergency coronavirus funding totaling $8.5 billion. It was expected to be finalized Wednesday and sent to appropriators.

Following Schumer’s announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning called the president’s $2.5 billion request to combat coronavirus “anemic.”

“What he’s doing is late — too late — anemic,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time, but it will have to have the professionals in place, the resources that are adequate and not be using scare tactics about people coming back to our country.”

She said the House will have a proposal “similar” to the plan put forth by the Senate.

At the Wednesday briefing at the White House, Trump said he would be open to more money from Congress.

CDC Director Anthony Fauci said that since a potential vaccine would take a year and a half to develop, in order to contain the virus in the short term, the focus had to remain on public health measures.

Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, encouraged people to prepare.

“We do expect more cases and this is a good time to prepare. As you heard, it’s the perfect time for businesses, health care systems, universities and schools, to look at their pandemic preparedness plans, dust them off and make sure they are ready and we have lots more information at the CDC’s website and in partnership on how to do that,” she said during Wednesday’s news conference.

She also suggested Americans cover their mouths when they cough, stay home when they’re sick and wash their hands.

Fears about the coronavirus’ global spread have rocked markets around the world, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging Monday and Tuesday, and dropping to a lesser degree on Wednesday.

Trump acknowledged coronavirus had played a role, but he also said investors’ fears of a Democrat winning the presidency this year had contributed, too.

He specifically pointed to concern over remarks by the Democratic presidential candidates at a debate Tuesday night, when they criticized Trump’s handling of the response to the virus. He said comments by the candidates, who he called “Democrat fools,” had made “a huge effect” on markets.

But the largest drops in the Dow Jones came before the debate — and the decrease on Wednesday, after the debate, was significantly smaller.

Trying to allay further economic woes, which could threaten his re-election in November, Trump promised the spread would not last forever — a claim not directly backed up by health officials.

“This is going to end,” Trump said. “Hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later.”

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have questioned Trump’s top advisers this week on whether the administration was doing enough almost two months into the global crisis, expressing deep skepticism of the president’s claims that the situation was “under control.”

“That is a remarkable level of containment here in the United States,” Azar told reporters at a press conference earlier Tuesday, later adding that “we are realistic” there would be more cases.

Azar, in a second day of testimony before the House Appropriations, called the community transmission of the virus in other nations “concerning.”

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said to Azar point-blank, “Provide me some security that someone knows what’s going on in this administration about the coronavirus.”

Azar responded, “The risk right now is very low to Americans.”

“We have always been clear that number one that could change rapidly, and from the outset I and the public health experts said we fully expect we will see more cases here in the United States,” he continued. “We have to be mentally prepared and also as a government prepared.”

Later, when Pocan asked about a Politico report that the White House is considering appointing a coronavirus czar, Azar, after first saying he wouldn’t comment, then said he didn’t expect one now or in the near future.

“I don’t anticipate one. This is working extremely well.” he said, referring to how he and HHS are leading the administration’s efforts. “If it doesn’t work or if there’s a need for change … then that would be for the president to decide.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Pence to lead US response to coronavirus as Trump urges Americans to prepare

Posted on: February 27th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that Vice President Mike Pence would lead the U.S. government response to coronavirus, after days of mixed messages from his administration about the threat to Americans.

Trump told reporters at a news conference Wednesday evening he was not labeling Pence a “czar.”

“Mike will be working with the professionals, the doctors and everybody else that’s working,” Trump said. “The team is brilliant.”

The announcement came following days of sending mixed messages on the risk the coronavirus poses to the United States.

At a rare appearance in the White House’s briefing room, the president and his team sought to allay worries about the coronavirus, called COVID-19, repeatedly saying that the risk to Americans remains low but still urging people to prepare.

“I think every aspect of our society should be prepared,” including schools, he said, “just in case.” But, he added, “We don’t think we’ll be there.”

“This will end,” he said.

Trump noted that tens of thousands of people in the United States die every year from influenza, and that coronavirus — so far — had not nearly approached that level.

“You don’t want to see panic, because there’s no reason to be panicked about it,” Trump said.

“There’s a chance it won’t spread, too. And there’s a chance it will.”

The question, he said, was “at what level” it would.

Because of the steps the administration had already taken — including strict travel restrictions on travelers who have recently visited China, the center of the outbreak — Trump said, “The risk to the American people remains very low.”

“The number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people,” he said.

Trump said that it was “not the right time” to impose additional restrictions on entry to the United States — although he noted, “we may do that.”

China has imposed severe restrictions on large areas, like the city of Wuhan, and Trump told ABC News’ Karen Travers that the United States did have plans for quarantining cities “on a larger scale, if we need it.”

But, he added, “We don’t think we’re going to need it.”

Pence noted that “the threat to the American public remains low,” telling reporters that he would coordinate the overall response and that additional personnel would be added at the White House.

“My role will be to continue to bring that team together, to bring to the president the best options for action to see to the safety and well being and health of the American people. We’ll also be continuing to reach out to governors, state and local officials,” Pence said. “We will be working with them in renewed ways to make sure they have the resources to be able to respond.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who has been leading a coronavirus task force the president set up, said he was happy to have the support from Pence — who he said would focus on inter-agency coordination — and echoed Trump’s comments that what the U.S. government has already been doing has worked.

Azar warned, though, that the number of cases would go up.

“The degree of risk has the potential to change quickly,” Azar said. “And we can expect to see more cases in the United States. That is why we’ve been reminding the American public and our state, local and private sector partners that they should be aware of what a broader response would look like.”

The president and his team clearly tried to calm fears, a day after a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official had warned Americans of “significant disruption” coming because of the virus.

That appeared to contrast with remarks the president made at a press conference in New Delhi, India earlier in the day, when he said the situation was “under control” and that it was a “problem that’s going to go away.”

“We have very few people with it,” Trump told reporters, adding that he was not totally caught up on the latest details because of his trip to India but that “the people are getting better, they’re all getting better,” referring to patients in the U.S.

“I think that whole situation will start working out. Lot of talent, lot of brain power is being put behind it,” he said.

Trump’s comments came on the heels of sharp criticism from Democrats in Congress on the response from the White House. The administration on Monday asked lawmakers for emergency funding to deal with crisis — $1.25 billion in new funding and another $1.25 billion shifted from existing funding previously allocated for other reasons, including some designated to deal with the Ebola virus.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday morning he’s preparing a detailed Democratic request for emergency coronavirus funding totaling $8.5 billion. It was expected to be finalized Wednesday and sent to appropriators.

Following Schumer’s announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning called the president’s $2.5 billion request to combat coronavirus “anemic.”

“What he’s doing is late — too late — anemic,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time, but it will have to have the professionals in place, the resources that are adequate and not be using scare tactics about people coming back to our country.”

She said the House will have a proposal “similar” to the plan put forth by the Senate.

At the Wednesday briefing at the White House, Trump said he would be open to more money from Congress.

CDC Director Anthony Fauci said that since a potential vaccine would take a year and a half to develop, in order to contain the virus in the short term, the focus had to remain on public health measures.

Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, encouraged people to prepare.

“We do expect more cases and this is a good time to prepare. As you heard, it’s the perfect time for businesses, health care systems, universities and schools, to look at their pandemic preparedness plans, dust them off and make sure they are ready and we have lots more information at the CDC’s website and in partnership on how to do that,” she said during Wednesday’s news conference.

She also suggested Americans cover their mouths when they cough, stay home when they’re sick and wash their hands.

Fears about the coronavirus’ global spread have rocked markets around the world, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunging Monday and Tuesday, and dropping to a lesser degree on Wednesday.

Trump acknowledged coronavirus had played a role, but he also said investors’ fears of a Democrat winning the presidency this year had contributed, too.

He specifically pointed to concern over remarks by the Democratic presidential candidates at a debate Tuesday night, when they criticized Trump’s handling of the response to the virus. He said comments by the candidates, who he called “Democrat fools,” had made “a huge effect” on markets.

But the largest drops in the Dow Jones came before the debate — and the decrease on Wednesday, after the debate, was significantly smaller.

Trying to allay further economic woes, which could threaten his re-election in November, Trump promised the spread would not last forever — a claim not directly backed up by health officials.

“This is going to end,” Trump said. “Hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later.”

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have questioned Trump’s top advisers this week on whether the administration was doing enough almost two months into the global crisis, expressing deep skepticism of the president’s claims that the situation was “under control.”

“That is a remarkable level of containment here in the United States,” Azar told reporters at a press conference earlier Tuesday, later adding that “we are realistic” there would be more cases.

Azar, in a second day of testimony before the House Appropriations, called the community transmission of the virus in other nations “concerning.”

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said to Azar point-blank, “Provide me some security that someone knows what’s going on in this administration about the coronavirus.”

Azar responded, “The risk right now is very low to Americans.”

“We have always been clear that number one that could change rapidly, and from the outset I and the public health experts said we fully expect we will see more cases here in the United States,” he continued. “We have to be mentally prepared and also as a government prepared.”

Later, when Pocan asked about a Politico report that the White House is considering appointing a coronavirus czar, Azar, after first saying he wouldn’t comment, then said he didn’t expect one now or in the near future.

“I don’t anticipate one. This is working extremely well.” he said, referring to how he and HHS are leading the administration’s efforts. “If it doesn’t work or if there’s a need for change … then that would be for the president to decide.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Pence to lead US response to coronavirus after days of mixed messages

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen(WASHINGTON) — Pence to lead US response to coronavirus after days of mixed messages
(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Mike Pence will lead the U.S. response to coronavirus.

“I’m going to be announcing exactly right now that I’m going to be putting our Vice President Mike Pence in charge,” President Donald Trump said at a news conference Wednesday evening. “And Mike will be working with the professionals, the doctors and everybody else that’s working. The team is brilliant.”

Pence “will report back to me,” Trump said.

The announcement came following days of sending mixed messages on the risk the coronavirus poses to the United States.

Because of the steps the administration had already taken, Trump said Wednesday evening. “The risk to the American people remains very low.”

“The number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people,” he added.

Following Trump’s comments, Pence spoke and also sought to allay any fears.

“The threat to the American public remains low,” he said.

“My role will be to continue to bring that team together, to bring to the president the best options for action to see to the safety and well being and health of the American people. We’ll also be continuing to reach out to governors, state and local officials,” Pence said. “We will be working with them in renewed ways to make sure they have the resources to be able to respond and as the president said, we’ll be adding additional personnel here at the White House to support our efforts on the president’s behalf.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar echoed Trump’s comments that what the U.S. government has already been doing has worked, but warned that the number of cases would go up.

“The degree of risk has the potential to change quickly,” Azar said. “And we can expect to see more cases in the United States. That is why we’ve been reminding the American public and our state, local, and private sector partners that they should be aware of what a broader response would look like.”

Centers for Disease Control Director Anthony Fauci said a potential vaccine would take a year and a half and in order to contain the coronavirus, the focus has to be on public health measures.

Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, encouraged people to prepare.

“We do expect more cases and this is a good time to prepare. As you heard, it’s the perfect time for businesses, health care systems, universities and schools, to look at their pandemic preparedness plans, dust them off and make sure they are ready and we have lots more information at the CDC’s website and in partnership on how to do that,” she said during Wednesday’s news conference.

She also suggested Americans cover their mouths when they cough, stay home when they’re sick and wash their hands.

Trump announced the news conference at the White House with Centers for Disease Control representatives Wednesday morning and blamed news organizations for making coronavius “look as bad as possible.”

“Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!” he tweeted.

Shortly after Trump returned to Washington on Wednesday morning from his two-day visit to India, Trump tweeted that the CDC and his administration were doing a “great job.”

In contrast to what the president and his aides have been saying about the situation being contained, CDC officials warned Americans of “significant disruption” coming because of the virus.

“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday at a news conference.

On Tuesday night, while traveling back to Washington on Air Force One, he tweeted in response to the Democratic candidates who blasted his handling of the coronavirus crisis during their debate in South Carolina.

Trump, speaking in New Delhi on Tuesday, played down concerns about the coronavirus in the U.S., saying the situation was “under control” and was a “problem that’s going to go away.”

“We have very few people with it,” Trump told reporters, adding that he was not totally caught up on the latest details because of his trip to India but that “the people are getting better, they’re all getting better,” referring to patients in the U.S.

“I think that whole situation will start working out. Lot of talent, lot of brain power is being put behind it,” he said.

Trump’s comments come on the heels of sharp criticism from Democrats in Congress on the response from the White House. The administration on Monday asked Congress for emergency funding to deal with crisis — $1.25 billion in new funding and another $1.25 billion shifted from existing funding previously allocated for other reasons, including some designated to deal with the Ebola virus.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday morning he’s preparing a detailed Democratic request for emergency coronavirus funding totaling $8.5 billion. It’s expected to be finalized Wednesday and sent to appropriators.

Following Schumer’s announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning called the president’s $2.5 billion request to combat coronavirus “anemic.”

“What he’s doing is late — too late — anemic,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time, but it will have to have the professionals in place, the resources that are adequate and not be using scare tactics about people coming back to our country.”

She said the House will have a proposal “similar” to the plan put forth by the Senate.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have questioned Trump”s top advisers this week on whether the administration was doing enough almost two months into the global crisis, expressing deep skepticism of the president”s claims that the situation was “under control.”

“That is a remarkable level of containment here in the United States,” Azar told reporters at a press conference Tuesday, later adding that “we are realistic” there would be more cases.

Azar, in a second day of testimony before the House Appropriations, called the community transmission of the virus in other nations “concerning.”

“We still have only 14 cases of the novel coronvirus detected in the United States involving travel to or close contacts with travelers,” Azar said in his opening statement Wednesday, doubling down on earlier comments. “The immediate risk to the American public remains low, but there is now community transmission in a number of countries including outside of Asia which is deeply concerning.”

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said to Azar point-blank, “Provide me some security that someone knows what’s going on in this administration about the coronavirus.”

Azar responded, “the risk right now is very low to Americans.”

“…we have always been clear that number one that could change rapidly, and from the outset I and the public health experts said we fully expect we will see more cases here in the United States,” he continued. “We have to be mentally prepared and also as a government prepared.”

Later, when Pocan asked about a Politico report that the White House is considering appointing a coronavirus czar, Azar, after first saying he wouldn’t comment, then said he doesn’t anticipate one now or in the near future.

After HHS Sec. Alex Azar says he doesn't currently anticipate a czar to be appointed to coordinate the government's coronavirus response, Rep. Mark Pocan says, "That's good. Jared Kushner will have more free time, then." https://t.co/c8NVaoA7h7 pic.twitter.com/8gvwtTq52U

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 26, 2020

“I don’t anticipate one. This is working extremely well.” he said, referring to how he and HHS are leading the administration effort. “If it doesn’t work or if there’s a need for change… then that would be for the president to decide,” Azar said.

As health officials warn the coronavirus likely will spread throughout communities in the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged Tuesday for the second straight day, tumbling 879 points.

The Dow fell more than 3% when trading closed, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also tumbling Tuesday, by more than 3% and by more than 2.7%, respectively. The Dow was up significantly Wednesday morning.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Pence to lead US response to coronavirus after days of mixed messages

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen(WASHINGTON) — Pence to lead US response to coronavirus after days of mixed messages
(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Mike Pence will lead the U.S. response to coronavirus.

“I’m going to be announcing exactly right now that I’m going to be putting our Vice President Mike Pence in charge,” President Donald Trump said at a news conference Wednesday evening. “And Mike will be working with the professionals, the doctors and everybody else that’s working. The team is brilliant.”

Pence “will report back to me,” Trump said.

The announcement came following days of sending mixed messages on the risk the coronavirus poses to the United States.

Because of the steps the administration had already taken, Trump said Wednesday evening. “The risk to the American people remains very low.”

“The number one priority from our standpoint is the health and safety of the American people,” he added.

Following Trump’s comments, Pence spoke and also sought to allay any fears.

“The threat to the American public remains low,” he said.

“My role will be to continue to bring that team together, to bring to the president the best options for action to see to the safety and well being and health of the American people. We’ll also be continuing to reach out to governors, state and local officials,” Pence said. “We will be working with them in renewed ways to make sure they have the resources to be able to respond and as the president said, we’ll be adding additional personnel here at the White House to support our efforts on the president’s behalf.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar echoed Trump’s comments that what the U.S. government has already been doing has worked, but warned that the number of cases would go up.

“The degree of risk has the potential to change quickly,” Azar said. “And we can expect to see more cases in the United States. That is why we’ve been reminding the American public and our state, local, and private sector partners that they should be aware of what a broader response would look like.”

Centers for Disease Control Director Anthony Fauci said a potential vaccine would take a year and a half and in order to contain the coronavirus, the focus has to be on public health measures.

Anne Schuchat, the CDC’s principal deputy director, encouraged people to prepare.

“We do expect more cases and this is a good time to prepare. As you heard, it’s the perfect time for businesses, health care systems, universities and schools, to look at their pandemic preparedness plans, dust them off and make sure they are ready and we have lots more information at the CDC’s website and in partnership on how to do that,” she said during Wednesday’s news conference.

She also suggested Americans cover their mouths when they cough, stay home when they’re sick and wash their hands.

Trump announced the news conference at the White House with Centers for Disease Control representatives Wednesday morning and blamed news organizations for making coronavius “look as bad as possible.”

“Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!” he tweeted.

Shortly after Trump returned to Washington on Wednesday morning from his two-day visit to India, Trump tweeted that the CDC and his administration were doing a “great job.”

In contrast to what the president and his aides have been saying about the situation being contained, CDC officials warned Americans of “significant disruption” coming because of the virus.

“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday at a news conference.

On Tuesday night, while traveling back to Washington on Air Force One, he tweeted in response to the Democratic candidates who blasted his handling of the coronavirus crisis during their debate in South Carolina.

Trump, speaking in New Delhi on Tuesday, played down concerns about the coronavirus in the U.S., saying the situation was “under control” and was a “problem that’s going to go away.”

“We have very few people with it,” Trump told reporters, adding that he was not totally caught up on the latest details because of his trip to India but that “the people are getting better, they’re all getting better,” referring to patients in the U.S.

“I think that whole situation will start working out. Lot of talent, lot of brain power is being put behind it,” he said.

Trump’s comments come on the heels of sharp criticism from Democrats in Congress on the response from the White House. The administration on Monday asked Congress for emergency funding to deal with crisis — $1.25 billion in new funding and another $1.25 billion shifted from existing funding previously allocated for other reasons, including some designated to deal with the Ebola virus.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday morning he’s preparing a detailed Democratic request for emergency coronavirus funding totaling $8.5 billion. It’s expected to be finalized Wednesday and sent to appropriators.

Following Schumer’s announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning called the president’s $2.5 billion request to combat coronavirus “anemic.”

“What he’s doing is late — too late — anemic,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully, we can make up for the loss of time, but it will have to have the professionals in place, the resources that are adequate and not be using scare tactics about people coming back to our country.”

She said the House will have a proposal “similar” to the plan put forth by the Senate.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have questioned Trump”s top advisers this week on whether the administration was doing enough almost two months into the global crisis, expressing deep skepticism of the president”s claims that the situation was “under control.”

“That is a remarkable level of containment here in the United States,” Azar told reporters at a press conference Tuesday, later adding that “we are realistic” there would be more cases.

Azar, in a second day of testimony before the House Appropriations, called the community transmission of the virus in other nations “concerning.”

“We still have only 14 cases of the novel coronvirus detected in the United States involving travel to or close contacts with travelers,” Azar said in his opening statement Wednesday, doubling down on earlier comments. “The immediate risk to the American public remains low, but there is now community transmission in a number of countries including outside of Asia which is deeply concerning.”

Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wis., said to Azar point-blank, “Provide me some security that someone knows what’s going on in this administration about the coronavirus.”

Azar responded, “the risk right now is very low to Americans.”

“…we have always been clear that number one that could change rapidly, and from the outset I and the public health experts said we fully expect we will see more cases here in the United States,” he continued. “We have to be mentally prepared and also as a government prepared.”

Later, when Pocan asked about a Politico report that the White House is considering appointing a coronavirus czar, Azar, after first saying he wouldn’t comment, then said he doesn’t anticipate one now or in the near future.

After HHS Sec. Alex Azar says he doesn't currently anticipate a czar to be appointed to coordinate the government's coronavirus response, Rep. Mark Pocan says, "That's good. Jared Kushner will have more free time, then." https://t.co/c8NVaoA7h7 pic.twitter.com/8gvwtTq52U

— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) February 26, 2020

“I don’t anticipate one. This is working extremely well.” he said, referring to how he and HHS are leading the administration effort. “If it doesn’t work or if there’s a need for change… then that would be for the president to decide,” Azar said.

As health officials warn the coronavirus likely will spread throughout communities in the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged Tuesday for the second straight day, tumbling 879 points.

The Dow fell more than 3% when trading closed, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also tumbling Tuesday, by more than 3% and by more than 2.7%, respectively. The Dow was up significantly Wednesday morning.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump campaign plans to open retail-style ‘community centers’ in latest effort to court black voters

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — The Trump campaign is ramping up its efforts to court black voters, with plans to open up retail style community centers in several predominantly black cities in battleground states — to pitch voters on the president’s record with the black community.

The community centers are a significant investment in the “Black Voices for Trump” initiative, an effort spearheaded by Katrina Pierson, a senior Trump campaign adviser, to attract black voters who have stood as the bedrock of the Democratic party, according to the campaign.

Staffers at the campaign centers will work to register voters, promote the president’s record and sell merchandise including hats, shirts and hoodies stamped with the word “woke,” according to the campaign.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told reporters in a briefing Wednesday regarding black support for the president that “at minimum, we’re double from where we were in 2016.”

In 2016, Trump carried just 8% of the black vote, but that’s not stopping the president’s team from making big investments toward boosting that number come November.

In 2004, former President George W. Bush carried slightly more black support than Trump with 11 percent. But in 2008, the Republican nominee — the late Arizona Sen. John McCain — received just 4% in a historic match up against former President Barack Obama, ending with the first black president getting elected.

“You’re never going to get the votes you don’t ask for,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told reporters Wednesday, calling the new initiative “more than a toe in the water. It’s a whole foot in the water.”

Kushner also mentioned the president’s 2016 pitch to black voters, saying, “Last time it was, ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’ Now you show them what they’ve gained from President Trump and what more they can gain if they get four more years of President Trump.”

According to a senior campaign official, the centers, which are set to begin to roll out in the next couple weeks, will be “more like opening a store.”

The campaign views the centers as an opportunity to pitch black voters on the president’s record in person, which they say they’ve found to be effective.

“We see the numbers coming up in the polls and the demand on the ground when we do these types of events,” Pierson said. “So it’s really important that we take this next step and really bring those voters into the party.”

According to mock up designs by the Trump campaign, the centers will have a modern layout featuring wall-to-wall pro-Trump messaging over the outside and inside of each center, promoting parts of the president’s record the campaign hopes will resonate with black voters including the First Step Act, school choice and funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Inside, the campaign will also display pamphlets on touting Trump’s record, according to the campaign.

One of the pamphlets will specifically mention the president commuting a life sentence for Alice Johnson, accused for trafficking cocaine in Memphis, saying that “people like Alice are getting a second chance” because of the president under a section titled “criminal justice reform.”

Johnson’s release from prison was the result of a presidential pardon following a number of high-profile celebrities raising awareness of her situation, and not connected to the president signing the bipartisan First Step Act, which became law following Johnson’s exit.

The community centers give the campaign another chance to double down on its efforts to reach black voters — a demographic where the president has had a historically low approval rating.

They will be launched in fifteen cities including Detroit; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Milwaukee; Cleveland; Jacksonville, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina and Charlotte, South Carolina, over the next couple of weeks.

But winning over black voters will be an uphill battle for the president’s re-election campaign.

“We don’t know what the ceiling is yet for what Trump’s black support can be in this election,” a senior official said. “Which is why, again, we are going to make these investments in the community like we do in all other communities that are more traditionally Republican.”

In 2016, Trump made a bold promise to attract the majority of black voters by the end of his term.

“At the end of four years, I guarantee you I will get over 95% of the African-American vote. I promise you,” Trump said to a largely white audience during a rally in Dimondale, Michigan in August 2016.

While the president is holding onto support from 94% of those who say they voted for him in 2016, according to a January ABC News/Washington Post poll. Still, his support among minorities is thin, especially when compared to his Democratic rivals.

In a head-to-head matchup with Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden has almost unanimous support from black Americans, 94-4%, and a nearly 2-to-1 lead among Hispanics, 61-31%, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

The Trump campaign said it plans to roll out similar community centers for other coalition efforts, including “Latinos for Trump,” later this year.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump campaign plans to open retail-style ‘community centers’ in latest effort to court black voters

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — The Trump campaign is ramping up its efforts to court black voters, with plans to open up retail style community centers in several predominantly black cities in battleground states — to pitch voters on the president’s record with the black community.

The community centers are a significant investment in the “Black Voices for Trump” initiative, an effort spearheaded by Katrina Pierson, a senior Trump campaign adviser, to attract black voters who have stood as the bedrock of the Democratic party, according to the campaign.

Staffers at the campaign centers will work to register voters, promote the president’s record and sell merchandise including hats, shirts and hoodies stamped with the word “woke,” according to the campaign.

Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale told reporters in a briefing Wednesday regarding black support for the president that “at minimum, we’re double from where we were in 2016.”

In 2016, Trump carried just 8% of the black vote, but that’s not stopping the president’s team from making big investments toward boosting that number come November.

In 2004, former President George W. Bush carried slightly more black support than Trump with 11 percent. But in 2008, the Republican nominee — the late Arizona Sen. John McCain — received just 4% in a historic match up against former President Barack Obama, ending with the first black president getting elected.

“You’re never going to get the votes you don’t ask for,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told reporters Wednesday, calling the new initiative “more than a toe in the water. It’s a whole foot in the water.”

Kushner also mentioned the president’s 2016 pitch to black voters, saying, “Last time it was, ‘What the hell do you have to lose?’ Now you show them what they’ve gained from President Trump and what more they can gain if they get four more years of President Trump.”

According to a senior campaign official, the centers, which are set to begin to roll out in the next couple weeks, will be “more like opening a store.”

The campaign views the centers as an opportunity to pitch black voters on the president’s record in person, which they say they’ve found to be effective.

“We see the numbers coming up in the polls and the demand on the ground when we do these types of events,” Pierson said. “So it’s really important that we take this next step and really bring those voters into the party.”

According to mock up designs by the Trump campaign, the centers will have a modern layout featuring wall-to-wall pro-Trump messaging over the outside and inside of each center, promoting parts of the president’s record the campaign hopes will resonate with black voters including the First Step Act, school choice and funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Inside, the campaign will also display pamphlets on touting Trump’s record, according to the campaign.

One of the pamphlets will specifically mention the president commuting a life sentence for Alice Johnson, accused for trafficking cocaine in Memphis, saying that “people like Alice are getting a second chance” because of the president under a section titled “criminal justice reform.”

Johnson’s release from prison was the result of a presidential pardon following a number of high-profile celebrities raising awareness of her situation, and not connected to the president signing the bipartisan First Step Act, which became law following Johnson’s exit.

The community centers give the campaign another chance to double down on its efforts to reach black voters — a demographic where the president has had a historically low approval rating.

They will be launched in fifteen cities including Detroit; Atlanta; Philadelphia; Milwaukee; Cleveland; Jacksonville, Florida; Raleigh, North Carolina and Charlotte, South Carolina, over the next couple of weeks.

But winning over black voters will be an uphill battle for the president’s re-election campaign.

“We don’t know what the ceiling is yet for what Trump’s black support can be in this election,” a senior official said. “Which is why, again, we are going to make these investments in the community like we do in all other communities that are more traditionally Republican.”

In 2016, Trump made a bold promise to attract the majority of black voters by the end of his term.

“At the end of four years, I guarantee you I will get over 95% of the African-American vote. I promise you,” Trump said to a largely white audience during a rally in Dimondale, Michigan in August 2016.

While the president is holding onto support from 94% of those who say they voted for him in 2016, according to a January ABC News/Washington Post poll. Still, his support among minorities is thin, especially when compared to his Democratic rivals.

In a head-to-head matchup with Trump, former Vice President Joe Biden has almost unanimous support from black Americans, 94-4%, and a nearly 2-to-1 lead among Hispanics, 61-31%, according to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll.

The Trump campaign said it plans to roll out similar community centers for other coalition efforts, including “Latinos for Trump,” later this year.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Bloomberg’s millions for Republicans drawing Democrats’ fire

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Jeff Neira/ABC(NEW YORK) — Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who’s made his major contributions to Democrats and liberal causes a central part of his pitch to Democratic primary voters, highlighted his efforts in Tuesday’s debate arguing that, unlike others on the stage, he’s achieved results.

“I have a 6-million-person organization around this country, Moms Demand Action, and Everytown,” he said to applause on the Charleston debate stage.

While he’s also touted the roughly $100 million he spent to support House Democratic candidates in 2018, his critics seized on the millions he spent earlier in his political career to boost Republicans for the House and Senate.

“I don’t care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said during Tuesday’s debate, citing Bloomberg’s contributions to several GOP senators and making the case that he’s out of step with primary voters.

“The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him. He has not earned their trust. I will. And the fact that he cannot earn the trust of the core of the Democratic Party means he is the riskiest candidate standing on this stage.”

Over past two decades, Bloomberg has funneled more than $160 million to various political candidates and groups across the political spectrum. While most of that money has gone to Democrats, it also includes at least $12 million to boost Republicans in Congress, according to an ABC News review of his campaign spending. The vast majority of his spending in both sides came from within the past three election cycles.

In 2016, Bloomberg spent $6 million through his Super PAC Independence USA to support pro-gun control Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who beat Democratic candidate Katie McGinty by fewer than 90,000 votes. Bloomberg’s pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety also endorsed Toomey in his re-election bid.

Bloomberg also has spent millions backing other House and Senate Republicans, supporting several as recently as 2018, including New York Rep. Dan Donovan. He’s argued that his experience leading the largest city in the country and his multi-billion-dollar financial data and communications company will make him an effective president who Democratic primary voters can trust.

Bloomberg’s super PAC spent nearly $3 million in support of another Republican, then-Illinois Rep. Bob Dold, between 2012 and 2014 as well as millions more in support of other Republicans running for both the House and Senate over the years.

Bloomberg gave $250,000 to a super PAC supporting South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s re-election bid in 2014 and in 2012 raised money for then-Sen. Scott Brown’s re-election bid against challenger Elizabeth Warren. Bloomberg also donated to a number of other Republicans in Congress over the years, including Sens. John McCain and Susan Collins.

Bloomberg also gave to former President George W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani.

He and his aides have repeatedly pointed to his spending on behalf of Democrats in the recent debates to defend his credentials.

“Mike understood that the president represented an existential threat to this country and that we needed to do everything we could to flip the House to make sure that we had accountability in Congress,” senior adviser Howard Wolfson said in the debate spin room Tuesday night. “Mike helped flip 21 [House seats], helped make Nancy Pelosi speaker, help make impeachment possible, help hold this president accountable,” he added. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the country who has done more to help Democrats to hold this president accountable than Mike Bloomberg.”

Bloomberg made the same point in the debate, arguing that he helped “put Nancy Pelosi in charge” and gave Democrats “the ability to control this president,” though Republicans seized on the end of his remarks, when he nearly appeared to say he “bought” the Democratic majority.

“Let’s just go on the record. They talk about 40 Democrats. 21 of those were people I spent $100 million dollars to help elect,” he said Tuesday. “All of the new Democrats that came in, who put Nancy Pelosi in charge, and gave the Congress the ability to control this president, I b– got them.”

It’s not clear that Democratic voters will take Bloomberg’s spending on behalf of Republicans into consideration when he first appears on primary ballots on Super Tuesday.

Seth Masket, director of the Center of American Politics at the University of Denver, says Bloomberg’s support for Republican candidates could be a potential liability in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, though it could be helpful for him in a general election as it can be seen as a sign of moderation.

“The voters and activists who participate in these generally look for signs that one is loyal to the party, and Bloomberg’s donations to Republican candidates compromise that, as does his past as a Republican officeholder,” Masket told ABC News. “To be sure, some who participate on the Democratic side are independents and aren’t so bothered by this, but many of those voters are more sympathetic to Bernie Sanders.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says Bloomberg’s past givings doesn’t help him, but he can easily couch it away with his hundreds of millions of dollars of spending in support of Democrats.

“All you have to do is pick a couple of bad guy Republicans like Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush — you can pick the ones that are really offensive to Democrats, but the bad effects will be overwhelmed by my hundreds of millions of dollars of completely positive ads,” Sabato told ABC News. “If you bring up Giuliani and Bush, Democrats won’t like it, but they’re much more concerned about Trump than they are anybody else. They know he’s spending a lot of money not just for his candidacy, but to go after Trump and that that gives him an entree.”

And Bloomberg is doing just that — just three months into launching his presidential campaign, he has spent more than half a billion dollars on ads introducing himself to voters and promoting his record of fighting for gun control and other liberal issues.

Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says how this will affect voters depends on how widely Bloomberg’s rivals’ messages reaches them and whether Bloomberg’s unprecedented level of spending can fend off attacks remains to be seen.

“His candidacy is kind of hard for me to get a handle on,” Kondik said. “I just I know that the level of spending is something we really haven’t seen before, but also this the strategy of getting in the race and skipping the initial kickoff contests, it’s not something we’ve really seen any great effect in the past.” concerns about Bloomberg’s money, which he has pledged to use to support the Democratic nominee and defeat Trump even if he doesn’t win the primary, could persist in the 2020 campaign: Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders, told reporters that the Vermont senator would not accept Bloomberg’s money if he wins the nomination.

“It’s a hard no,” he told reporters after Tuesday night’s debate. “Bernie has said he’s going to fund his presidential campaign with small-dollar contributions, and I think we can do that. I think we can raise over a billion dollars in small-dollar contributions.”

Because individuals are limited in what they can directly contribute to presidential candidates under campaign finance regulations, Bloomberg’s aides have signaled that any general election campaign would more likely be a sustained effort against Trump in key battleground states, should the former mayor not win the nomination.

“A lot of people recognize he may be one of the keys to victory in the fall if he’s not the nominee,” Sabato said. “If he really is going to follow up and give a billion dollars as he as he has said repeatedly, then he will be one of the keys to victory, because otherwise Democrats are going to be vastly outspent by Trump and related PACs.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Bloomberg’s millions for Republicans drawing Democrats’ fire

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Jeff Neira/ABC(NEW YORK) — Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who’s made his major contributions to Democrats and liberal causes a central part of his pitch to Democratic primary voters, highlighted his efforts in Tuesday’s debate arguing that, unlike others on the stage, he’s achieved results.

“I have a 6-million-person organization around this country, Moms Demand Action, and Everytown,” he said to applause on the Charleston debate stage.

While he’s also touted the roughly $100 million he spent to support House Democratic candidates in 2018, his critics seized on the millions he spent earlier in his political career to boost Republicans for the House and Senate.

“I don’t care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said during Tuesday’s debate, citing Bloomberg’s contributions to several GOP senators and making the case that he’s out of step with primary voters.

“The core of the Democratic Party will never trust him. He has not earned their trust. I will. And the fact that he cannot earn the trust of the core of the Democratic Party means he is the riskiest candidate standing on this stage.”

Over past two decades, Bloomberg has funneled more than $160 million to various political candidates and groups across the political spectrum. While most of that money has gone to Democrats, it also includes at least $12 million to boost Republicans in Congress, according to an ABC News review of his campaign spending. The vast majority of his spending in both sides came from within the past three election cycles.

In 2016, Bloomberg spent $6 million through his Super PAC Independence USA to support pro-gun control Republican Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, who beat Democratic candidate Katie McGinty by fewer than 90,000 votes. Bloomberg’s pro-gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety also endorsed Toomey in his re-election bid.

Bloomberg also has spent millions backing other House and Senate Republicans, supporting several as recently as 2018, including New York Rep. Dan Donovan. He’s argued that his experience leading the largest city in the country and his multi-billion-dollar financial data and communications company will make him an effective president who Democratic primary voters can trust.

Bloomberg’s super PAC spent nearly $3 million in support of another Republican, then-Illinois Rep. Bob Dold, between 2012 and 2014 as well as millions more in support of other Republicans running for both the House and Senate over the years.

Bloomberg gave $250,000 to a super PAC supporting South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham’s re-election bid in 2014 and in 2012 raised money for then-Sen. Scott Brown’s re-election bid against challenger Elizabeth Warren. Bloomberg also donated to a number of other Republicans in Congress over the years, including Sens. John McCain and Susan Collins.

Bloomberg also gave to former President George W. Bush and Rudy Giuliani.

He and his aides have repeatedly pointed to his spending on behalf of Democrats in the recent debates to defend his credentials.

“Mike understood that the president represented an existential threat to this country and that we needed to do everything we could to flip the House to make sure that we had accountability in Congress,” senior adviser Howard Wolfson said in the debate spin room Tuesday night. “Mike helped flip 21 [House seats], helped make Nancy Pelosi speaker, help make impeachment possible, help hold this president accountable,” he added. “I don’t think there’s anybody in the country who has done more to help Democrats to hold this president accountable than Mike Bloomberg.”

Bloomberg made the same point in the debate, arguing that he helped “put Nancy Pelosi in charge” and gave Democrats “the ability to control this president,” though Republicans seized on the end of his remarks, when he nearly appeared to say he “bought” the Democratic majority.

“Let’s just go on the record. They talk about 40 Democrats. 21 of those were people I spent $100 million dollars to help elect,” he said Tuesday. “All of the new Democrats that came in, who put Nancy Pelosi in charge, and gave the Congress the ability to control this president, I b– got them.”

It’s not clear that Democratic voters will take Bloomberg’s spending on behalf of Republicans into consideration when he first appears on primary ballots on Super Tuesday.

Seth Masket, director of the Center of American Politics at the University of Denver, says Bloomberg’s support for Republican candidates could be a potential liability in the Democratic primaries and caucuses, though it could be helpful for him in a general election as it can be seen as a sign of moderation.

“The voters and activists who participate in these generally look for signs that one is loyal to the party, and Bloomberg’s donations to Republican candidates compromise that, as does his past as a Republican officeholder,” Masket told ABC News. “To be sure, some who participate on the Democratic side are independents and aren’t so bothered by this, but many of those voters are more sympathetic to Bernie Sanders.”

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says Bloomberg’s past givings doesn’t help him, but he can easily couch it away with his hundreds of millions of dollars of spending in support of Democrats.

“All you have to do is pick a couple of bad guy Republicans like Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush — you can pick the ones that are really offensive to Democrats, but the bad effects will be overwhelmed by my hundreds of millions of dollars of completely positive ads,” Sabato told ABC News. “If you bring up Giuliani and Bush, Democrats won’t like it, but they’re much more concerned about Trump than they are anybody else. They know he’s spending a lot of money not just for his candidacy, but to go after Trump and that that gives him an entree.”

And Bloomberg is doing just that — just three months into launching his presidential campaign, he has spent more than half a billion dollars on ads introducing himself to voters and promoting his record of fighting for gun control and other liberal issues.

Kyle Kondik, an elections analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says how this will affect voters depends on how widely Bloomberg’s rivals’ messages reaches them and whether Bloomberg’s unprecedented level of spending can fend off attacks remains to be seen.

“His candidacy is kind of hard for me to get a handle on,” Kondik said. “I just I know that the level of spending is something we really haven’t seen before, but also this the strategy of getting in the race and skipping the initial kickoff contests, it’s not something we’ve really seen any great effect in the past.” concerns about Bloomberg’s money, which he has pledged to use to support the Democratic nominee and defeat Trump even if he doesn’t win the primary, could persist in the 2020 campaign: Jeff Weaver, a senior adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders, told reporters that the Vermont senator would not accept Bloomberg’s money if he wins the nomination.

“It’s a hard no,” he told reporters after Tuesday night’s debate. “Bernie has said he’s going to fund his presidential campaign with small-dollar contributions, and I think we can do that. I think we can raise over a billion dollars in small-dollar contributions.”

Because individuals are limited in what they can directly contribute to presidential candidates under campaign finance regulations, Bloomberg’s aides have signaled that any general election campaign would more likely be a sustained effort against Trump in key battleground states, should the former mayor not win the nomination.

“A lot of people recognize he may be one of the keys to victory in the fall if he’s not the nominee,” Sabato said. “If he really is going to follow up and give a billion dollars as he as he has said repeatedly, then he will be one of the keys to victory, because otherwise Democrats are going to be vastly outspent by Trump and related PACs.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Oregon lawmakers were supposed to vote on a climate change bill. Republicans walked out – again

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

4kodiak/iStock(SALEM, Ore.) — For the second year in a row, Oregon Republicans walked out of the statehouse Monday and delayed a vote on a major climate change bill.

The Oregon state Senate lacked the 20-member minimum to have a quorum after all of the Republican members failed to show up. The two sides have been debating a bill that would cap greenhouse emissions from major industries, including energy providers, industrial companies and fossil fuel companies, and require them to buy credits for each metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown chastised the Republicans for holding up the legislative session with only two weeks left on the calendar.

“If they don’t like a bill, then they need to show up and change it, or show up and vote no,” Brown, a Democrat, said at a news conference Monday.

Democratic and Republican state Senate leaders didn’t return messages from ABC News asking for comment.

The cap-and-trade bill aims to reduce emissions levels in the state to 45% below 1990 emissions levels by 2035, and to at least 80% below by 2050. Environmentalists say the money from the credits would pay for programs and initiatives that would improve Oregon’s environment, such as flood mitigation.

Opponents, however, contend that the gas companies would pass along the cost of the credits to the consumer, and drivers across the state would pay more at the pump.

When the bill was introduced last year, GOP lawmakers walked out of the statehouse and went into hiding before it was set for a vote. Brown sent the state police to search for the missing legislators, but in the end the bill was not brought up for a vote because there weren’t enough senators.

Brown said the bill was updated during this session to reflect the concerns of rural Oregonians and business owners. Rural drivers would now be exempt from gas price increases, and the state would allow utilities to recover the costs for alternative fuel-based vehicles.

“It provides real flexibility for local manufacturers,” Brown said.

Senate Republicans attempted to have the cap and trade bill put up as a ballot initiative, but that was struck down by a Senate committee.

Brown said she is currently not considering any action to bring the Republican senators back to the statehouse, but called on them again to perform their duties.

“This makes it very clear: the Republicans who walked out are not against climate policy; they are against the democratic process,” she said. “It is incredibly disappointing, and a sad moment for Oregon.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Oregon lawmakers were supposed to vote on a climate change bill. Republicans walked out – again

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

4kodiak/iStock(SALEM, Ore.) — For the second year in a row, Oregon Republicans walked out of the statehouse Monday and delayed a vote on a major climate change bill.

The Oregon state Senate lacked the 20-member minimum to have a quorum after all of the Republican members failed to show up. The two sides have been debating a bill that would cap greenhouse emissions from major industries, including energy providers, industrial companies and fossil fuel companies, and require them to buy credits for each metric ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown chastised the Republicans for holding up the legislative session with only two weeks left on the calendar.

“If they don’t like a bill, then they need to show up and change it, or show up and vote no,” Brown, a Democrat, said at a news conference Monday.

Democratic and Republican state Senate leaders didn’t return messages from ABC News asking for comment.

The cap-and-trade bill aims to reduce emissions levels in the state to 45% below 1990 emissions levels by 2035, and to at least 80% below by 2050. Environmentalists say the money from the credits would pay for programs and initiatives that would improve Oregon’s environment, such as flood mitigation.

Opponents, however, contend that the gas companies would pass along the cost of the credits to the consumer, and drivers across the state would pay more at the pump.

When the bill was introduced last year, GOP lawmakers walked out of the statehouse and went into hiding before it was set for a vote. Brown sent the state police to search for the missing legislators, but in the end the bill was not brought up for a vote because there weren’t enough senators.

Brown said the bill was updated during this session to reflect the concerns of rural Oregonians and business owners. Rural drivers would now be exempt from gas price increases, and the state would allow utilities to recover the costs for alternative fuel-based vehicles.

“It provides real flexibility for local manufacturers,” Brown said.

Senate Republicans attempted to have the cap and trade bill put up as a ballot initiative, but that was struck down by a Senate committee.

Brown said she is currently not considering any action to bring the Republican senators back to the statehouse, but called on them again to perform their duties.

“This makes it very clear: the Republicans who walked out are not against climate policy; they are against the democratic process,” she said. “It is incredibly disappointing, and a sad moment for Oregon.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Biden senior adviser says the former VP will get a ‘real bump’ out of South Carolina

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Anita Dunn, a senior adviser and strategist for former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign, told ABC News’ “Powerhouse Politics” podcast on Wednesday that she believes Biden will get a “real bump” out of his performance in the upcoming South Carolina primary.

“We feel very good about coming out of South Carolina with the kind of momentum that can really help us two days later,” Dunn told ABC News Political Director Rick Klein, stressing her confidence in Biden’s chances of walking away with the highest number of delegates from the Palmetto state and soon after, the 14 Super Tuesday states.

Dunn said the former vice president is feeling hopeful after his second-place finish in the Nevada caucuses last weekend, calling it a “comeback.”

She added that the campaign was prepared for the first two contests to be “very difficult,” attributing his fourth-place finish in Iowa and fifth-place finish in New Hampshire to voter demographics.

“He might not have expected them to have been as tough as they were,” she said. “But, you know, we always saw this as a grouping of four states — the first two and the second two. We knew that once we got to more favorable terrain and the second two, it would be in a more advantageous contest for us.”

In light of his slipping ranks and the momentum of his opponent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the current frontrunner for the Democratic ticket, Biden has leaned into his base of African-American voters. More than two-thirds of the Democratic electorate in South Carolina is African-American, and Dunn said this will give him “significant political support.”

“I think South Carolina has always been a special state for Joe Biden,” Dunn said when Klein asked about his connection to the state. “He has a lot of friends down here and a lot of relationships down here that pre-date his relationship with [former President] Barack Obama.”

Biden was one of seven candidates on a crowded Democratic debate stage in Charleston on Tuesday night, leveraging his previous work with foreign leaders and taking jabs at Sanders for his voting record on the Brady Bill — a law that mandates a federal background check for all gun owners.

After Klein questioned Dunn about Biden’s likelihood of defeating Sanders with so many candidates on the ballot, she likened the primary season to that of 1992 — when former President Bill Clinton lost 12 primaries before winning one.

“This is clearly going to be a contest that is going to go through the entire primary season as 2008 did, as 2016 did, as 1992 did,” she said. “I don’t see anybody wrapping this one up early.”

House Majority Whip and longtime South Carolina Congressman Jim Clayburn announced his endorsement of Biden Wednesday morning, a development Dunn says has the campaign feeling “very good.”

Just days before the New Hampshire primary in early February, Dunn was elevated to a senior adviser position on Biden’s campaign. Before then, she had been leading his debate preparation and occasionally travelling with him.

Dunn was also a senior adviser to Obama during his 2008 election campaign — and served as acting White House communications director from April through November 2009 under the Obama administration.

She is currently the managing director at SKDKnickerbocker, a progressive public affairs and consulting firm.

Powerhouse Politics podcast is a weekly program that posts every Wednesday, and includes headliner interviews and in-depth looks at the people and events shaping U.S. politics. Powerhouse Politics podcast is hosted by ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl and ABC News Political Director Rick Klein.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Emmett Till bill making lynching a federal crime passes House

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Olson/Getty Image(WASHINGTON) — A bill to make lynching a hate crime under federal law passed the House on Wednesday, making it the first attempt since 1900 poised to successfully make its way through Congress.

The legislature is titled the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, an ode to Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who was kidnapped, beaten and murdered in 1955 after he was accused of whistling at a white woman.

The vote was 410-4.

The members who voted against were Independent Rep. Justin Amash and Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert, Thomas Massie and Ted Yoho.

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who introduced the bill in January 2019, said it will finally outlaw “an American evil.”

Rush spoke about his decision to name the bill after Till, saying the boy was from his district in Chicago and that the now-iconic image of him in his casket “created an indelible imprint on my brain, on my spirit.”

“It made me conscious of the risk, the trepidation of being a black man in America,” Rush said at a press conference.

The bill describes lynching as an act willfully done by a collection of people who assemble with the intent to commit violence on another human and then cause that person’s death, according to a copy of the bill.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer classified lynching as “the premeditated, extrajudicial killing by a mob or group of people to instill fear.”

“Lyching is a blot on the history of America, but the even greater blot is the silence that for too long maintained in the context of what people knew was happening,” he said at the press conference, calling the bill “long overdue.”

Lynchings were used in the U.S., predominantly in the South, from the 1880s to 1960s to terrorize black Americans.

“This form of terrorism was used to kill black people and terrorize and terrify those into understanding they were not considered humans,” Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said at the press conference.

The bill had bipartisan support.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., saying “this will ensure that those who engage in mob violence are held accountable.”

Rush said it is expected to pass the Senate by the end of the week, before the end of Black History Month, and then makes its way to the Oval Office.

Asked if they believed Trump would sign the bill, Bass said, “How could he not?”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Emmett Till bill making lynching a federal crime passes House

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Olson/Getty Image(WASHINGTON) — A bill to make lynching a hate crime under federal law passed the House on Wednesday, making it the first attempt since 1900 poised to successfully make its way through Congress.

The legislature is titled the Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act, an ode to Till, a 14-year-old African American boy who was kidnapped, beaten and murdered in 1955 after he was accused of whistling at a white woman.

The vote was 410-4.

The members who voted against were Independent Rep. Justin Amash and Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert, Thomas Massie and Ted Yoho.

Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., who introduced the bill in January 2019, said it will finally outlaw “an American evil.”

Rush spoke about his decision to name the bill after Till, saying the boy was from his district in Chicago and that the now-iconic image of him in his casket “created an indelible imprint on my brain, on my spirit.”

“It made me conscious of the risk, the trepidation of being a black man in America,” Rush said at a press conference.

The bill describes lynching as an act willfully done by a collection of people who assemble with the intent to commit violence on another human and then cause that person’s death, according to a copy of the bill.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer classified lynching as “the premeditated, extrajudicial killing by a mob or group of people to instill fear.”

“Lyching is a blot on the history of America, but the even greater blot is the silence that for too long maintained in the context of what people knew was happening,” he said at the press conference, calling the bill “long overdue.”

Lynchings were used in the U.S., predominantly in the South, from the 1880s to 1960s to terrorize black Americans.

“This form of terrorism was used to kill black people and terrorize and terrify those into understanding they were not considered humans,” Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif., said at the press conference.

The bill had bipartisan support.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., saying “this will ensure that those who engage in mob violence are held accountable.”

Rush said it is expected to pass the Senate by the end of the week, before the end of Black History Month, and then makes its way to the Oval Office.

Asked if they believed Trump would sign the bill, Bass said, “How could he not?”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump announces news conference on coronavirus with CDC

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — Following days of sending mixed messages on the risk the coronavirus poses to the United States, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning he will hold a news conference at the White House with Centers for Disease Control and Preventionrepresentatives at 6 p.m. and blamed news organizations for making coronavius “look as bad as possible.”

“Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!” he tweeted. “I will be having a News Conference at the White House, on this subject, today at 6:00 P.M. CDC representatives, and others, will be there. Thank you!”

Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape! @CDCgov…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020

Just after he arrived back in Washington Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that the CDC and his administration were doing a “great job.”

Just landed. India was great, trip very successful. Heading to the White House. Meetings and calls scheduled today. @CDCgov, @SecAzar and all doing a great job with respect to Coronavirus! Briefing this afternoon.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020

In contrast to what the president and his aides have been saying about the situation being contained, CDC officials warned Americans of “significant disruption” coming because of the virus.

“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday at a news conference.

On Tuesday night, while traveling back from India on Air Force One, he tweeted back at the Democratic candidates who blasted his handling of the coronavirus crisis during their debate in South Carolina.

CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world. It was opposed by the Dems, “too soon”, but turned out to be the correct decision. No matter how well we do, however, the…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020

Trump, speaking in New Delhi on Tuesday, played down concerns about the coronavirus in the U.S., saying the situation was “under control” and was a “problem that’s going to go away.”

“We have very few people with it,” Trump told reporters at a news conference in New Delhi, adding that he was not totally caught up on the latest details because of his trip to India but that “the people are getting better, they’re all getting better,” referring to patients in the U.S.

“I think that whole situation will start working out. Lot of talent, lot of brain power is being put behind it,” he said.

Trump’s comments come on the heels of sharp criticism from Democrats on the response from the White House. The administration on Monday asked Congress for emergency funding to deal with crisis — $1.25 billion in new funding and another $1.25 billion shifted from existing funding previously allocated for other reasons, including some designated to deal with the Ebola virus.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday morning he’s preparing a detailed Senate Democratic request for emergency coronavirus funding totaling $8.5 billion. It’s expected to be finalized Wednesday and sent to appropriators.

Following Schumer’s announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning called the president’s $2.5 billion request to combat coronavirus “anemic.”

“What he’s doing is late, too late, anemic,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully we can make up for the loss of time, but it will have to have the professionals in place, the resources that are adequate and not be using scare tactics about people coming back to our country.”

She said the House will have a proposal “similar” to the plan put forth by the Senate.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have questioned Trump’s top advisers this week on whether the administration was doing enough almost two months into the global crisis, expressing deep skepticism of the president’s claims that the situation was “under control.”

“That is a remarkable level of containment here in the United States,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters at a press conference Tuesday, later adding that “we are realistic” there would be more cases.

Azar, in a second day of testimony before the House Appropriations, called the community transmission of the virus in other nations “concerning.”

“We still have only 14 cases of the novel coronvirus detected in the United States involving travel to or close contacts with travelers,” Azar said in his opening statement Wednesday, doubling down on earlier comments. “The immediate risk to the American public remains low, but there is now community transmission in a number of countries including outside of Asia which is deeply concerning.”

As health officials warn the coronavirus likely will spread throughout communities in the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged Tuesday for the second straight day, tumbling 879 points.

The Dow fell more than 3% when trading closed, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also tumbling Tuesday, by more than 3% and by more than 2.7%, respectively.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump announces news conference on coronavirus with CDC

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead(WASHINGTON) — Following days of sending mixed messages on the risk the coronavirus poses to the United States, President Donald Trump announced Wednesday morning he will hold a news conference at the White House with Centers for Disease Control and Preventionrepresentatives at 6 p.m. and blamed news organizations for making coronavius “look as bad as possible.”

“Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape!” he tweeted. “I will be having a News Conference at the White House, on this subject, today at 6:00 P.M. CDC representatives, and others, will be there. Thank you!”

Low Ratings Fake News MSDNC (Comcast) & @CNN are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible. Likewise their incompetent Do Nothing Democrat comrades are all talk, no action. USA in great shape! @CDCgov…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020

Just after he arrived back in Washington Wednesday morning, Trump tweeted that the CDC and his administration were doing a “great job.”

Just landed. India was great, trip very successful. Heading to the White House. Meetings and calls scheduled today. @CDCgov, @SecAzar and all doing a great job with respect to Coronavirus! Briefing this afternoon.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020

In contrast to what the president and his aides have been saying about the situation being contained, CDC officials warned Americans of “significant disruption” coming because of the virus.

“Ultimately, we expect we will see community spread in this country,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said Tuesday at a news conference.

On Tuesday night, while traveling back from India on Air Force One, he tweeted back at the Democratic candidates who blasted his handling of the coronavirus crisis during their debate in South Carolina.

CDC and my Administration are doing a GREAT job of handling Coronavirus, including the very early closing of our borders to certain areas of the world. It was opposed by the Dems, “too soon”, but turned out to be the correct decision. No matter how well we do, however, the…..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 26, 2020

Trump, speaking in New Delhi on Tuesday, played down concerns about the coronavirus in the U.S., saying the situation was “under control” and was a “problem that’s going to go away.”

“We have very few people with it,” Trump told reporters at a news conference in New Delhi, adding that he was not totally caught up on the latest details because of his trip to India but that “the people are getting better, they’re all getting better,” referring to patients in the U.S.

“I think that whole situation will start working out. Lot of talent, lot of brain power is being put behind it,” he said.

Trump’s comments come on the heels of sharp criticism from Democrats on the response from the White House. The administration on Monday asked Congress for emergency funding to deal with crisis — $1.25 billion in new funding and another $1.25 billion shifted from existing funding previously allocated for other reasons, including some designated to deal with the Ebola virus.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced Wednesday morning he’s preparing a detailed Senate Democratic request for emergency coronavirus funding totaling $8.5 billion. It’s expected to be finalized Wednesday and sent to appropriators.

Following Schumer’s announcement, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday morning called the president’s $2.5 billion request to combat coronavirus “anemic.”

“What he’s doing is late, too late, anemic,” Pelosi said. “Hopefully we can make up for the loss of time, but it will have to have the professionals in place, the resources that are adequate and not be using scare tactics about people coming back to our country.”

She said the House will have a proposal “similar” to the plan put forth by the Senate.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have questioned Trump’s top advisers this week on whether the administration was doing enough almost two months into the global crisis, expressing deep skepticism of the president’s claims that the situation was “under control.”

“That is a remarkable level of containment here in the United States,” Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters at a press conference Tuesday, later adding that “we are realistic” there would be more cases.

Azar, in a second day of testimony before the House Appropriations, called the community transmission of the virus in other nations “concerning.”

“We still have only 14 cases of the novel coronvirus detected in the United States involving travel to or close contacts with travelers,” Azar said in his opening statement Wednesday, doubling down on earlier comments. “The immediate risk to the American public remains low, but there is now community transmission in a number of countries including outside of Asia which is deeply concerning.”

As health officials warn the coronavirus likely will spread throughout communities in the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged Tuesday for the second straight day, tumbling 879 points.

The Dow fell more than 3% when trading closed, with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq also tumbling Tuesday, by more than 3% and by more than 2.7%, respectively.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Biden secures endorsement from influential South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Former Vice President Joe Biden scored a key endorsement from one of South Carolina’s most influential political figures, just days before the state’s crucial primary.

House Majority Whip and longtime South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn ended months of speculation on Wednesday, announcing at a press conference in North Charleston that he is backing Biden’s bid.

“I’ve been saying to the media. I’ve known for a long time who I’m going to vote for. But I had not decided whether or not to share it with the public,” Clyburn said. “But I want the public to know that I’m voting for Joe Biden, South Carolina should be voting for Joe Biden.”

Clyburn credited an elderly woman at a funeral asking him who he intended to vote for as the catalyst for his announcement.
 
“She said, ‘You don’t have to say it out loud. Would you just whisper into my ear. Who are you gonna vote for next Saturday? I’ve been waiting to hear from you. I need to hear from you. This community wants to hear from you.’ I decided then and there that I would not stay silent,” Clyburn said, recalling the recent conversation.

“I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us,” Clyburn said on Wednesday, announcing his endorsement at a pivotal time for Biden and his campaign, which had been dogged by disappointing results in the first two nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire — rebounding only slightly with a second place finish in last week’s Nevada caucuses.

When accepting Clyburn’s endorsement, Biden got emotional.

“It’s hard to know what to say, for real,” he said.

The former vice president also had kind words for the South Carolina lawmaker. During a National Action Network breakfast just before the press conference announcing the endorsement, Biden praised Clyburn’s character.

“A lot of folks talk the talk. Very few people walk the walk. And Jim Clyburn is a man of enormous integrity,” Biden said. “Jim, you’re one of the finest men I’ve ever met. Not just in public life, but period.”

At the endorsement, Biden credited Clyburn with always keeping the public’s interest at the center of his work, and took a thinly veiled jab at the current frontrunner in the race, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“[Clyburn] always reminds us — reminds everyone on both sides of the aisle — that it’s about you family and community. It’s about whether or not we can make a difference in people’s lives,” Biden said. “It’s just pretty simple, but all too often, all too often, people get to public office began to think about them.”

He added, “Today, people are talking about a revolution. What the country’s looking for are results, what they’re looking for is security, what they’re looking for, is being able to sustain and maintain their dignity.”

The endorsement also comes at a critical time in the Democratic primary, and just three days before the Palmetto State’s pivotal primary.

“I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina,” Biden said. “I will win South Carolina.”

Biden expanded even further in an interview following Tuesday’s debate in South Carolina, saying he thought even a one-point win would be enough to propel him into Super Tuesday contests. But, he predicted: “I think I’m going to win by a lot more than that.”

Despite the slow start — stumbling early on in the 2020 race following disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, coupled with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ early delegate lead — his team maintains they are well positioned for a long primary race.

“We believe it’s going to be a long race, ladies and gentlemen, and again on Super Tuesday about one third of the delegates needed in this race are up for grabs,” Symone Sanders, a Biden campaign adviser, told reporters on Tuesday.

“This is just getting started,” she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Biden secures endorsement from influential South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Former Vice President Joe Biden scored a key endorsement from one of South Carolina’s most influential political figures, just days before the state’s crucial primary.

House Majority Whip and longtime South Carolina Congressman Jim Clyburn ended months of speculation on Wednesday, announcing at a press conference in North Charleston that he is backing Biden’s bid.

“I’ve been saying to the media. I’ve known for a long time who I’m going to vote for. But I had not decided whether or not to share it with the public,” Clyburn said. “But I want the public to know that I’m voting for Joe Biden, South Carolina should be voting for Joe Biden.”

Clyburn credited an elderly woman at a funeral asking him who he intended to vote for as the catalyst for his announcement.
 
“She said, ‘You don’t have to say it out loud. Would you just whisper into my ear. Who are you gonna vote for next Saturday? I’ve been waiting to hear from you. I need to hear from you. This community wants to hear from you.’ I decided then and there that I would not stay silent,” Clyburn said, recalling the recent conversation.

“I know Joe. We know Joe. But most importantly, Joe knows us,” Clyburn said on Wednesday, announcing his endorsement at a pivotal time for Biden and his campaign, which had been dogged by disappointing results in the first two nominating contests in Iowa and New Hampshire — rebounding only slightly with a second place finish in last week’s Nevada caucuses.

When accepting Clyburn’s endorsement, Biden got emotional.

“It’s hard to know what to say, for real,” he said.

The former vice president also had kind words for the South Carolina lawmaker. During a National Action Network breakfast just before the press conference announcing the endorsement, Biden praised Clyburn’s character.

“A lot of folks talk the talk. Very few people walk the walk. And Jim Clyburn is a man of enormous integrity,” Biden said. “Jim, you’re one of the finest men I’ve ever met. Not just in public life, but period.”

At the endorsement, Biden credited Clyburn with always keeping the public’s interest at the center of his work, and took a thinly veiled jab at the current frontrunner in the race, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

“[Clyburn] always reminds us — reminds everyone on both sides of the aisle — that it’s about you family and community. It’s about whether or not we can make a difference in people’s lives,” Biden said. “It’s just pretty simple, but all too often, all too often, people get to public office began to think about them.”

He added, “Today, people are talking about a revolution. What the country’s looking for are results, what they’re looking for is security, what they’re looking for, is being able to sustain and maintain their dignity.”

The endorsement also comes at a critical time in the Democratic primary, and just three days before the Palmetto State’s pivotal primary.

“I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina,” Biden said. “I will win South Carolina.”

Biden expanded even further in an interview following Tuesday’s debate in South Carolina, saying he thought even a one-point win would be enough to propel him into Super Tuesday contests. But, he predicted: “I think I’m going to win by a lot more than that.”

Despite the slow start — stumbling early on in the 2020 race following disappointing finishes in Iowa and New Hampshire, coupled with Sen. Bernie Sanders’ early delegate lead — his team maintains they are well positioned for a long primary race.

“We believe it’s going to be a long race, ladies and gentlemen, and again on Super Tuesday about one third of the delegates needed in this race are up for grabs,” Symone Sanders, a Biden campaign adviser, told reporters on Tuesday.

“This is just getting started,” she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Five key takeaways from the South Carolina Democratic debate

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Paul Hennessy / Echoes WIre/Barcroft Media via Getty Images(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Seven Democratic candidates took the debate stage Tuesday in South Carolina to win over voters before the state’s primary on Saturday.

The debate was the 10th in the election cycle and the final major debate before next week’s Super Tuesday races.

Here are the key takeaways:

Sanders takes heat as front-runner

Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently leading in the delegate count following his showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. The six other candidates began the debate by questioning his viability in the general election and asserting why he wouldn’t be the best candidate.

“Do you want to have someone in charge of this ticket who wants to put forward 60 trillion dollars in spending? Three times the American economy. I don’t think we do,” said Sen. Amy Klobachar. “I think we can get all those bold, progressive things done without having someone that’s so alienating that we’re going to turn off the voters that we need to bring with us.”

“We are looking at a party that has decided that we’re either going to support someone who is a Democratic socialist or somebody who has a long history of being a Republican,” added Tom Steyer, also attacking former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “And I am scared if we cannot pull this party together, if we go to one of those extremes, we take a terrible risk of re-electing Donald Trump.”

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg brought up recent reports that found the Russian government is working to help Sanders’ campaign.

“I mean, look, if you think the last four years have been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump,” Buttigieg said. “Think about what that will be like for this country.”

Sanders took his response directly to Vladimir Putin.

“Hey, Mr. Putin, if I’m president of the United States, trust me, you’re not going to interfere in any more American elections,” he said.

Sanders also came under attack for his comments made on Sunday’s 60 Minutes where he complimented dictator Fidel Castro’s educational programs. The senator said he has opposed “authoritarianism all over the world.”

“Of course you have a dictatorship in Cuba,” he said.

Buttigieg expressed concern that Sanders’ views would hurt other Democrats in key elections across the nation.

“We’re not going to win these critical House and Senate races if people in those races have to explain why the nominee of the Democratic party is telling people to look at the bright side of the Castro regime,” he said.

Bloomberg parries attacks

In his second debate appearance, Bloomberg responded to criticism about his past policies both as mayor and business leader.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized Bloomberg’s past support of Republicans, including Sen. Lindsay Graham and her 2012 Senate opponent, Scott Brown.

“I don’t care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has,” she said. “The core of the Democratic party will never trust him. He has not earned their trust.”

But Bloomberg, who is focusing on the Super Tuesday states and isn’t competing in the South Carolina contest, brushed off her concerns by calling them “sideshows,” and touted his record in New York.

“When people hired me to run New York City three times in an overwhelmingly Democratic progressive city, they elected me again and again,” he said.

Warren once again brought up Bloomberg’s past allegations of sexism and harassment, including a claim in the 1990s that he told an employee who announced she was pregnant to “kill it.” Warren recalled her own experience where she was let go from a teaching job at 21 after she was pregnant with her first child.

“At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way that Mayor Bloomberg … is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees,” she said.

Bloomberg interrupted her, denying those claims, and issued another apology to any woman he may have hurt with his comments.

“What happened here is, we went back 40 years and we could only find three cases where women said they were uncomfortable,” he said.

Bloomberg’s use of the controversial stop and frisk police tactic and his recent apologies came up again in the debate as moderator Gayle King asked him how he would counter people’s skepticism about his reversal. The mayor touted his support from 100 black elected New York City officials, as well as the city’s drop in crime and its overall increase in quality of life.

“We’ve done the things that people need in New York City, for all ethnicities,” he said.

A forceful Biden emerges

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has underperformed in the caucuses and primary, is banking on a win in South Carolina to regain his momentum. The former vice president said he is working to gain the black vote, despite polls showing gains from Sanders, and cited his years of working with the African American community.

“The people know me,” he said. “My entire career has been wrapped up in dealing with civil rights and civil liberties. I don’t expect anything. I plan to earn the vote.”

Biden brought up his work in passing gun control legislation, noting that he helped pass the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban in the 1990s.

“I’m the only one that ever got it done nationally,” he said when asked about efforts to curb gun violence.

Biden also talked about his plans for foreign diplomacy, saying that he would not allow Chinese firms to build U.S. infrastructure, and that he would investigate Russia for its interference in U.S. elections. He also criticized President Trump’s negotiations with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

“You don’t negotiate with a dictator, give him legitimacy, without any notion whether he is going to do anything at all,” he said.

Biden brushed off the moderator’s question about his future after South Carolina, repeating that he was going to win the primary there.

“Folks, I intend to win South Carolina, and I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina,” he said.

Race appears throughout

With South Carolina looming as a big test of a diverse electorate, the debate covered a wide range of topics concerning race.

Moderator Bill Whitaker asked the candidates about their strategies to solve income inequality among black Americans, noting that black men earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and are about twice as likely to be unemployed.

Businessman Tom Steyer called for reparations to the black community.

“We should have a formal commission on race to retell the story of the last 400-plus years in America of African Americans,” he said.

Sanders pushed his plans to decriminalize marijuana and expunge the records of those who were arrested on possession charges.

“I’ll tell you what else we’re going to do, we’re going to provide help to the African American, Latino, Native American community to start businesses to sell legal marijuana, rather than let a few corporations control the legalized marijuana market,” he said.

Warren said that the country’s housing plan needed to address past policies that hurt minorities. She said her housing plan would deal with the effects of red lining in black communities.

“It is important to recognize the role that the federal government played for decades and decades in discriminating against African Americans having an opportunity to buy homes,” she said.

The mood is feisty, chaotic

With Super Tuesday only a week away, candidates pressed to make their best case in the time remaining. That led to numerous interruptions, several moments of shouting, and a few complaints against the moderators.

Following an argument about Sanders’ impact on the top of the ticket, especially for the members of the House who helped win a majority for the party, Biden appeared upset over the disruptive tone of the debate.

“I guess the only way to do this is jump in and speak twice as long as you should,” he said, before launching into an attack on Steyer over his investment firms and past investments in private prisons.

Steyer shot back at the former vice president, citing the crime bill that he said sent untold black and Latino Americans to prison.

“I have worked for racial justice completely, and that is an absolute unfair statement,” Steyer said.

Sen. Amy Klobachar warned the candidates that if they didn’t put aside their differences and work to have the party win all contests in November, there will be tough consequences.

“If we spend the next four months tearing our party apart, we’re going to watch Donald Trump spend the next four years tearing our country apart,” she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Five key takeaways from the South Carolina Democratic debate

Posted on: February 26th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Paul Hennessy / Echoes WIre/Barcroft Media via Getty Images(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — Seven Democratic candidates took the debate stage Tuesday in South Carolina to win over voters before the state’s primary on Saturday.

The debate was the 10th in the election cycle and the final major debate before next week’s Super Tuesday races.

Here are the key takeaways:

Sanders takes heat as front-runner

Sen. Bernie Sanders is currently leading in the delegate count following his showings in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada. The six other candidates began the debate by questioning his viability in the general election and asserting why he wouldn’t be the best candidate.

“Do you want to have someone in charge of this ticket who wants to put forward 60 trillion dollars in spending? Three times the American economy. I don’t think we do,” said Sen. Amy Klobachar. “I think we can get all those bold, progressive things done without having someone that’s so alienating that we’re going to turn off the voters that we need to bring with us.”

“We are looking at a party that has decided that we’re either going to support someone who is a Democratic socialist or somebody who has a long history of being a Republican,” added Tom Steyer, also attacking former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “And I am scared if we cannot pull this party together, if we go to one of those extremes, we take a terrible risk of re-electing Donald Trump.”

Former Mayor Pete Buttigieg brought up recent reports that found the Russian government is working to help Sanders’ campaign.

“I mean, look, if you think the last four years have been chaotic, divisive, toxic, exhausting, imagine spending the better part of 2020 with Bernie Sanders versus Donald Trump,” Buttigieg said. “Think about what that will be like for this country.”

Sanders took his response directly to Vladimir Putin.

“Hey, Mr. Putin, if I’m president of the United States, trust me, you’re not going to interfere in any more American elections,” he said.

Sanders also came under attack for his comments made on Sunday’s 60 Minutes where he complimented dictator Fidel Castro’s educational programs. The senator said he has opposed “authoritarianism all over the world.”

“Of course you have a dictatorship in Cuba,” he said.

Buttigieg expressed concern that Sanders’ views would hurt other Democrats in key elections across the nation.

“We’re not going to win these critical House and Senate races if people in those races have to explain why the nominee of the Democratic party is telling people to look at the bright side of the Castro regime,” he said.

Bloomberg parries attacks

In his second debate appearance, Bloomberg responded to criticism about his past policies both as mayor and business leader.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren criticized Bloomberg’s past support of Republicans, including Sen. Lindsay Graham and her 2012 Senate opponent, Scott Brown.

“I don’t care how much money Mayor Bloomberg has,” she said. “The core of the Democratic party will never trust him. He has not earned their trust.”

But Bloomberg, who is focusing on the Super Tuesday states and isn’t competing in the South Carolina contest, brushed off her concerns by calling them “sideshows,” and touted his record in New York.

“When people hired me to run New York City three times in an overwhelmingly Democratic progressive city, they elected me again and again,” he said.

Warren once again brought up Bloomberg’s past allegations of sexism and harassment, including a claim in the 1990s that he told an employee who announced she was pregnant to “kill it.” Warren recalled her own experience where she was let go from a teaching job at 21 after she was pregnant with her first child.

“At least I didn’t have a boss who said to me, ‘Kill it,’ the way that Mayor Bloomberg … is alleged to have said to one of his pregnant employees,” she said.

Bloomberg interrupted her, denying those claims, and issued another apology to any woman he may have hurt with his comments.

“What happened here is, we went back 40 years and we could only find three cases where women said they were uncomfortable,” he said.

Bloomberg’s use of the controversial stop and frisk police tactic and his recent apologies came up again in the debate as moderator Gayle King asked him how he would counter people’s skepticism about his reversal. The mayor touted his support from 100 black elected New York City officials, as well as the city’s drop in crime and its overall increase in quality of life.

“We’ve done the things that people need in New York City, for all ethnicities,” he said.

A forceful Biden emerges

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has underperformed in the caucuses and primary, is banking on a win in South Carolina to regain his momentum. The former vice president said he is working to gain the black vote, despite polls showing gains from Sanders, and cited his years of working with the African American community.

“The people know me,” he said. “My entire career has been wrapped up in dealing with civil rights and civil liberties. I don’t expect anything. I plan to earn the vote.”

Biden brought up his work in passing gun control legislation, noting that he helped pass the Brady Bill and the assault weapons ban in the 1990s.

“I’m the only one that ever got it done nationally,” he said when asked about efforts to curb gun violence.

Biden also talked about his plans for foreign diplomacy, saying that he would not allow Chinese firms to build U.S. infrastructure, and that he would investigate Russia for its interference in U.S. elections. He also criticized President Trump’s negotiations with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

“You don’t negotiate with a dictator, give him legitimacy, without any notion whether he is going to do anything at all,” he said.

Biden brushed off the moderator’s question about his future after South Carolina, repeating that he was going to win the primary there.

“Folks, I intend to win South Carolina, and I will win the African American vote here in South Carolina,” he said.

Race appears throughout

With South Carolina looming as a big test of a diverse electorate, the debate covered a wide range of topics concerning race.

Moderator Bill Whitaker asked the candidates about their strategies to solve income inequality among black Americans, noting that black men earn 73 cents for every dollar earned by white men, and are about twice as likely to be unemployed.

Businessman Tom Steyer called for reparations to the black community.

“We should have a formal commission on race to retell the story of the last 400-plus years in America of African Americans,” he said.

Sanders pushed his plans to decriminalize marijuana and expunge the records of those who were arrested on possession charges.

“I’ll tell you what else we’re going to do, we’re going to provide help to the African American, Latino, Native American community to start businesses to sell legal marijuana, rather than let a few corporations control the legalized marijuana market,” he said.

Warren said that the country’s housing plan needed to address past policies that hurt minorities. She said her housing plan would deal with the effects of red lining in black communities.

“It is important to recognize the role that the federal government played for decades and decades in discriminating against African Americans having an opportunity to buy homes,” she said.

The mood is feisty, chaotic

With Super Tuesday only a week away, candidates pressed to make their best case in the time remaining. That led to numerous interruptions, several moments of shouting, and a few complaints against the moderators.

Following an argument about Sanders’ impact on the top of the ticket, especially for the members of the House who helped win a majority for the party, Biden appeared upset over the disruptive tone of the debate.

“I guess the only way to do this is jump in and speak twice as long as you should,” he said, before launching into an attack on Steyer over his investment firms and past investments in private prisons.

Steyer shot back at the former vice president, citing the crime bill that he said sent untold black and Latino Americans to prison.

“I have worked for racial justice completely, and that is an absolute unfair statement,” Steyer said.

Sen. Amy Klobachar warned the candidates that if they didn’t put aside their differences and work to have the party win all contests in November, there will be tough consequences.

“If we spend the next four months tearing our party apart, we’re going to watch Donald Trump spend the next four years tearing our country apart,” she said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump maintains Russian interference in 2020 election is about Sanders, not his reelection

Posted on: February 25th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

discus63/iStock(WASHINGTON) — As questions about Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election continue to loom over both the president’s reelection campaign and the Democratic primary, President Donald Trump on Tuesday again denied that he’s receiving help from Russia, stressing he doesn’t want any assistance from any foreign powers.

“First of all, I want no help from any country, and I haven’t been given help from any country,” Trump told reporters Tuesday, despite his telling less than a year ago ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that he would accept damaging information against his 2020 rivals.

For the better part of a week, the White House has maintained that the president was not personally briefed on the intelligence community’s reported findings that Russia is again delivering a misinformation campaign aimed at helping Trump win reelection.

During a news conference in New Delhi, Trump again said “nobody ever told me” Russia is helping his campaign and again pointed at his national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, who joined Trump on his trip to India, to validate his denial.

On Sunday, on ABC’s “This Week,” O’Brien also denied that he or Trump have been briefed that Russia is meddling in the election to help the president.

“We have Ambassador O’Brien in the audience. He can tell you that this was never discussed with us,” Trump said. “So I think it’s terrible. They ought to stop the leaking from Intelligence Committee.”

At the news conference, Trump again accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of leaking classified information from a briefing the administration gave the committee earlier this month, where Shelby Pierson, a senior election security official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told lawmakers that Russia is spreading disinformation on social media aimed at helping Trump win another four years in office this fall.

“I think it was leaks from the Intelligence Committee, House version. And I think that they leaked it, I think probably Schiff leaked, and some people within there,” Trump said, repeating an unfounded allegation he first cast on Sunday as he departed the White House for the two-day trip abroad. “Schiff leaked it, in my opinion, and he shouldn’t be leaking things like that.”

While denying Russia is helping his own campaign, Trump has instead seized on reports that Russia is helping Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders win the party’s nomination.

He’s focused on reports that some Democrats are concerned about Sanders’ surging candidacy, charging that the Democratic establishment is working to keep the self-described democratic socialist from locking up nomination.

“He has a head of steam and they maybe don’t want him, for obvious reasons. So they don’t want him, so they put out a thing that Russia is backing him. This is what [Democrats] do,” Trump said following reports Russia is boosting Sanders in the Vermont senator’s quest for the Democratic nomination. “I have gone through it for a long time. I get it. I get the game better than anybody. And that’s the way it is.”

The conflicting accounts have created competing narratives about who Russia is helping, although it’s possible that Russia’s social media blitz is pumping up both Trump and Sanders.

After three top Senate Democrats urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to sanction Russia over its 2020 election interference, Pompeo condemned election interference, though he expressed doubt on whether Russia is actively interfering.

While he did not announce any new penalties against Russia, Pompeo said election meddling is “unacceptable” and the administration “will always work to protect the integrity of our elections, period, full stop.”

“Should Russia or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes, we will take action in response,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department Tuesday.

Pompeo has consistently downplayed Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, saying Moscow has interfered in U.S. presidential elections for decades or — as he did today — saying it’s not unique to America, with Russian agents “sowing division and distrust” among many countries’ citizens, “from Belarus to Zimbabwe.”

Pompeo said he warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov against Russian interference in U.S. elections when they met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 14.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Trump maintains Russian interference in 2020 election is about Sanders, not his reelection

Posted on: February 25th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

discus63/iStock(WASHINGTON) — As questions about Russian interference in the 2020 presidential election continue to loom over both the president’s reelection campaign and the Democratic primary, President Donald Trump on Tuesday again denied that he’s receiving help from Russia, stressing he doesn’t want any assistance from any foreign powers.

“First of all, I want no help from any country, and I haven’t been given help from any country,” Trump told reporters Tuesday, despite his telling less than a year ago ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos that he would accept damaging information against his 2020 rivals.

For the better part of a week, the White House has maintained that the president was not personally briefed on the intelligence community’s reported findings that Russia is again delivering a misinformation campaign aimed at helping Trump win reelection.

During a news conference in New Delhi, Trump again said “nobody ever told me” Russia is helping his campaign and again pointed at his national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, who joined Trump on his trip to India, to validate his denial.

On Sunday, on ABC’s “This Week,” O’Brien also denied that he or Trump have been briefed that Russia is meddling in the election to help the president.

“We have Ambassador O’Brien in the audience. He can tell you that this was never discussed with us,” Trump said. “So I think it’s terrible. They ought to stop the leaking from Intelligence Committee.”

At the news conference, Trump again accused House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of leaking classified information from a briefing the administration gave the committee earlier this month, where Shelby Pierson, a senior election security official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, told lawmakers that Russia is spreading disinformation on social media aimed at helping Trump win another four years in office this fall.

“I think it was leaks from the Intelligence Committee, House version. And I think that they leaked it, I think probably Schiff leaked, and some people within there,” Trump said, repeating an unfounded allegation he first cast on Sunday as he departed the White House for the two-day trip abroad. “Schiff leaked it, in my opinion, and he shouldn’t be leaking things like that.”

While denying Russia is helping his own campaign, Trump has instead seized on reports that Russia is helping Democratic presidential front-runner Sen. Bernie Sanders win the party’s nomination.

He’s focused on reports that some Democrats are concerned about Sanders’ surging candidacy, charging that the Democratic establishment is working to keep the self-described democratic socialist from locking up nomination.

“He has a head of steam and they maybe don’t want him, for obvious reasons. So they don’t want him, so they put out a thing that Russia is backing him. This is what [Democrats] do,” Trump said following reports Russia is boosting Sanders in the Vermont senator’s quest for the Democratic nomination. “I have gone through it for a long time. I get it. I get the game better than anybody. And that’s the way it is.”

The conflicting accounts have created competing narratives about who Russia is helping, although it’s possible that Russia’s social media blitz is pumping up both Trump and Sanders.

After three top Senate Democrats urged Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to sanction Russia over its 2020 election interference, Pompeo condemned election interference, though he expressed doubt on whether Russia is actively interfering.

While he did not announce any new penalties against Russia, Pompeo said election meddling is “unacceptable” and the administration “will always work to protect the integrity of our elections, period, full stop.”

“Should Russia or any foreign actor take steps to undermine our democratic processes, we will take action in response,” Pompeo told reporters at the State Department Tuesday.

Pompeo has consistently downplayed Russia’s interference in the 2016 election, saying Moscow has interfered in U.S. presidential elections for decades or — as he did today — saying it’s not unique to America, with Russian agents “sowing division and distrust” among many countries’ citizens, “from Belarus to Zimbabwe.”

Pompeo said he warned Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov against Russian interference in U.S. elections when they met on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 14.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Both GOP and Democratic lawmakers slam Trump admin as unprepared for coronavirus

Posted on: February 25th, 2020 by ABC News No Comments

Moussa81/iStock(WASHINGTON) — With an uptick in coronavirus cases in the U.S. expected to rise, lawmakers on Tuesday hammered President Donald Trump’s top advisers on whether the administration was doing enough almost two months into the global crisis and expressing deep skepticism of the president’s claims that the situation was “under control.”

“It looks like they’re getting it under control, more and more, they’re getting more and more under control,” Trump said Tuesday morning at a news conference in India. “So, I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away.”

Lawmakers were briefed on the crisis in the morning by the nation’s top health experts and administration officials, and later heard testimony from Health Secretary Alex Azar and Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf.

Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said they were told in what was originally designated a classified briefing, but later declassified after senators complained, that “there is a very strong chance of an extremely serious outbreak of coronavirus in the United States.”

And while several Republicans said they believed the administration had it under control, two GOP senators sharply questioned Trump Cabinet members on whether that was true and if the $2.5 billion spending plan was enough.

“You’re head of Homeland Security. Do we have enough respirators or not?” said Sen. John Kennedy, a Republican from Louisiana, in one testy exchange with Chad Wolf, acting head of the Department of Homeland Security. He deferred questions on the scope of the crisis and preparedness plans to the Health and Human Services Department.

“The American people deserve some straight answers on the coronavirus and I’m not getting them from you,” Kennedy said at one point.

At a separate hearing with Health Secretary Alex Azar, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby questioned whether the $2.5 billion spending plan was a “lowball” number and offered this stern warning.

“This is not the time to try to shortchange the American people… This is the time to step up,” Shelby said.

Trump’s top advisers pushed back, insisting they were moving aggressively to manage the health crisis but acknowledging a vaccine could be about a year away and there weren’t enough respirators for health care workers. Azar said the country needs about 300 million respirators, and has only some 30 million.

But he noted that putting cruise ship passengers exposed overseas in quarantine was the first such federal mandate in 50 years.

“We have enacted the most aggressive containment measures in the history of our country in terms of our borders,” Azar told a Senate panel.

He later added that while containment was still the goal, “at some point, if there is some sustained human-to-human transport, we hope to mitigate,” he said.

Democrats accused Trump of taking the threat seriously after a fall in the stock market.

“I’m just wondering why it took a dive in the stock market before the Trump administration decided this was an important issue, important enough to ask for this money,” Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois told reporters.

“We should have emergency preparedness, not that we have an emergency in America, but we have to prepare to make sure we don’t,” Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said. “And that’s what we’re not doing.”

In a floor speech, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer blasted the administration for what he called “towering and dangerous incompetence.”

Meanwhile, a top health official warned the spread of the virus was inevitable.

“It’s not a question of if this will happen but when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illnesses,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, a top health official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

During his news conference President Trump added that while the coronavirus is “pretty bad” and a “very serious thing,” he said that “it’s going to work out fine” and that the virus will “go away.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.