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    Jan 6 hearings: Trump is ‘clear and present danger to American democracy’, conservative judge warns – as it happened

    J Michael Luttig, a former US appellate court judge who is considered one of the top conservative legal minds in the United States, has warned the January 6 committee that Donald Trump poses a continuing danger to the country’s democracy.“Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy,” Luttig said. “That’s not because of what happened on January 6. It’s because to this very day, the former president and his allies and supporters pledge that in presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.”“That’s what the former president and his allies are telling us,” Luttig said.The US politics live blog is ending its day following the third hearing of the January 6 committee, which revealed that the architect of Trump’s strategy to overturn the election sought a pardon from the president, and featured a warning from a noted conservative jurist that the former president jeopardizes American democracy. Meanwhile, Trump’s troubles in court continued.Here’s what else was in the news:
    President Joe Biden defended his economic record in an interview with the Associated Press, saying a recession was “not inevitable” despite troublingly high inflation and the Federal Reserve’s aggressive moves to lower it.
    John Hinckley, who shot president Ronald Reagan in 1981, was released from court oversight and celebrated on Twitter, as one does.
    Senators continued work on a bipartisan gun control compromise, with the main Republican negotiator saying an agreement needed to be reached today.
    The January 6 committee said it wants to talk to Ginni Thomas following a report from The Washington Post that the wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas corresponded with John Eastman, the Trump lawyer who plotted to overturn the election.
    Deborah Birx, the White House pandemic response coordinator under Trump, will testify before Congress next week for the first time .
    Biden campaigned on fighting climate change, but many of his proposals to do that have stalled in Congress. The Guardian’s Oliver Milman reports that whether or not Washington takes meaningful action to cut its emissions may determine if millions of people live or die:The rapidly shrinking window of opportunity for the US to pass significant climate legislation will have mortal, as well as political, stakes. Millions of lives around the world will be saved, or lost, depending on whether America manages to propel itself towards a future without planet-heating emissions.For the first time, researchers have calculated exactly how many people the US could save by acting on the climate crisis. A total of 7.4 million lives around the world will be saved over this century if the US manages to cut its emissions to net zero by 2050, according to the analysis.The financial savings would be enormous, too, with a net zero America able to save the world $3.7tn in costs to adapt to the rising heat. As the world’s second largest polluter of greenhouse gases, the US and its political vagaries will in large part decide how many people in faraway countries will be subjected to deadly heat, as well as endure punishing storms, floods, drought and other consequences of the climate emergency.How millions of lives can be saved if the US acts now on climateRead morePresident Joe Biden has defended his economic record in an interview with the Associated Press, downplaying the risk of a recession but acknowledging that many Americans are going through hard times.Biden doesn’t grant very many interviews, and this encounter comes after a slew of grim economic developments. These include worse-than-expected inflation numbers in May that show prices continuing to rise, gasoline at a record high and aggressive Federal Reserve action that’s raised fears the economy could be set for a prolonged contraction.All of these have been factors in his record-low approval ratings.Here’s the president’s perspective on the state of the world’s largest economy:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}He said a recession is not inevitable and bristled at claims by Republican lawmakers that last year’s COVID-19 aid plan was fully to blame for inflation reaching a 40-year high, calling that argument “bizarre.”
    As for the overall American mindset, Biden said, “People are really, really down.”
    “They’re really down,” he said. “The need for mental health in America, it has skyrocketed, because people have seen everything upset. Everything they’ve counted on upset. But most of it’s the consequence of what’s happened, what happened as a consequence of the COVID crisis.”
    Speaking to the AP in a 30-minute Oval Office interview, Biden addressed the warnings by economists that the United States could be headed for a recession.
    “First of all, it’s not inevitable,” he said. “Secondly, we’re in a stronger position than any nation in the world to overcome this inflation.”
    The president said he saw reason for optimism with the 3.6% unemployment rate and America’s relative strength in the world.
    “Be confident, because I am confident we’re better positioned than any country in the world to own the second quarter of the 21st century,” Biden said. “That’s not hyperbole, that’s a fact.”The January 6 committee has concluded for the day, but before they finished, they revealed a key piece of information about the conduct of John Eastman, the lawyer who crafted former president Donald Trump’s strategy to overturn the election in 2020.Eastman sought a pardon from Trump in the closing days of his presidency, writing to Rudy Giuliani, another lawyer for the president, “I’ve decided that I should be on the pardoned list, if that is still in the works.” The committee added that he did not receive one.Eastman’s actions were covered in detail at today’s hearing, particularly his efforts to convince Mike Pence that his position as vice-president gave him the authority to hand the election to Trump when Congress met to certify on January 6, 2021. Pence declined to do that.Trump lawyer knew plan to delay Biden certification was unlawful, emails showRead moreJ Michael Luttig, a former US appellate court judge who is considered one of the top conservative legal minds in the United States, has warned the January 6 committee that Donald Trump poses a continuing danger to the country’s democracy.“Donald Trump and his allies and supporters are a clear and present danger to American democracy,” Luttig said. “That’s not because of what happened on January 6. It’s because to this very day, the former president and his allies and supporters pledge that in presidential election of 2024, if the former president or his anointed successor as the Republican party presidential candidate were to lose that election, that they would attempt to overturn that 2024 election in the same way that they attempted to overturn the 2020 election but succeed in 2024 where they failed in 2020.”“That’s what the former president and his allies are telling us,” Luttig said.John Eastman himself has finally appeared, this time in a frosty videotaped deposition shown by the committee. “I assert my fifth amendment right against being compelled to be a witness against myself,” Eastman said in the compilation of clips from the encounter, which shows lawyers from the committee asking Eastman a series of questions about his actions around January 6.“Fifth,” he replies to each one.Before that aired, former White House attorney Eric Herschmann described a call from Eastman the day after the attack.“He started to ask me about something dealing with Georgia and preserving something potentially for appeal. And I said to him, are you out of your effing mind?” Herschmann recalls. “I only want to hear two words coming out of your mouth for now on: orderly transition,” he said he told Eastman. “I don’t want to hear any other effing words coming out of your mouth, no matter what.”“Eventually, he said ‘orderly transition.’ I said, good, John. Now I’m going to give you the best free legal advice you’re ever getting in your life. Get a great effing criminal defense lawyer, you’re going to need it. And then I hung up on him,” Herschmann said.Even after the Capitol had been stormed, Trump lawyer John Eastman continued to pressure Pence to try to overturn the election.“I implore you one last time, can the vice-president please do what we’ve been asking him to do these last two days: suspend the joint session, send it back to the states,” Pence’s counselor Greg Jacob recalls Eastman asking, citing alleged violations of the Electoral Count Act during the joint session of Congress disrupted by the insurrection.The committee is now dealing with the storming of the Capitol, showing Pence working in what looks like a loading dock after evacuating the Senate chamber as the rioters approached.“Make no mistake about the fact that the vice-president’s life was in danger,” Representative Pete Aguilar said, pointing to an FBI affidavit from an informant in the Proud Boys militia group.“They said that anyone they got their hands on they would have killed including Nancy Pelosi,” the informant told the FBI, adding that “members of the Proud Boys said that they would have killed Mike Pence if given a chance.”As for Trump, Jacob said the president never called Pence to check on him, which the vice-president reacted to “with frustration.”Pence started January 6 out with a prayer with his staff, followed by what witnesses described to the committee as a nasty phone call from Trump.“The conversation was pretty heated,” testified Ivanka Trump, who saw the president on the phone.“I remember hearing the word wimp,” Nicholas Luna, an assistant to Trump, testified. “I don’t remember, he said you are a wimp. You’ll be a wimp. Wimp is the word I remember.”Gen Keith Kellogg, Pence’s national security advisor at the time, said Trump told the vice-president he was “not tough enough to make the call.”The January 6 committee has resumed its hearing, after spending most of the past two hours detailing the pressure campaign in the days before the insurrection against vice-president Mike Pence.“Despite the fact that the vice-president consistently told the president that he did not have and would not want the power to decide the outcome of the presidential election, Donald Trump continued to pressure the vice-president, both publicly and privately,” California Democrat Pete Aguilar said as the hearing resumed.“You will hear things reached a boiling point on January 6, and the consequences were disastrous.” More

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    Retired judge to testify on Trump’s ‘well-developed plan’ to overturn election at any cost – live

    In his testimony before the January 6 committee today, former US appellate court judge J Michael Luttig will warn that the plot to overturn the 2020 election was well-coordinated and threatened the nation’s very existence, according to his opening remarks obtained by CNN.Luttig is one of two guests in Thursday’s third hearing of the committee, which will focus on Trump’s pressure campaign against vice-president Mike Pence to get him to go along with his plans to stop Joe Biden from taking office.“The war on democracy instigated by the former president and his political party allies on January 6 was the natural and foreseeable culmination of the war for America,” Luttig warns in his opening remarks. “It was the final fateful day for the execution of a well-developed plan by the former president to overturn the 2020 presidential election at any cost, so that he could cling to power that the American People had decided to confer upon his successor, the next president of the United States instead.”“Had the Vice President of the United States obeyed the President of the United States, America would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis,” Luttig says.Conspiracies like the effort to block the certification of Joe Biden’s election win could tear the United States apart, former vice-president Mike Pence’s lawyer Greg Jacob will tell the January 6 committee today.“The law is not a plaything for presidents or judges to use to remake the world in their preferred image,” Jacob said in his opening remarks, which do not mention Donald Trump by name but are sharply critical of the idea that Pence could unilaterally decide an election — an idea the former president promoted.“Our Constitution and our laws form the strong edifice within which our heartfelt policy disagreements are to be debated and decided. When our elected and appointed leaders break, twist, and fail to enforce our laws in order to achieve their partisan ends, or to accomplish frustrated policy objectives they consider existentially important, they are breaking America,” Jacob said.You can read the full remarks below:READ: The full statement from Pence counsel Greg Jacob to the select committee. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/2smpKVxDhk— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) June 16, 2022
    Page 2 of 3 pic.twitter.com/TfQKr7sdlm— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) June 16, 2022
    Page 3 of 3 pic.twitter.com/KzpxylqbUK— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) June 16, 2022
    Eric Berger reports on another factor that led to the United States’s disastrous experience with Covid-19: its lack of a universal health care system:The US could have saved more than 338,000 lives and more than $105bn in healthcare costs in the Covid-19 pandemic with a universal healthcare system, according to a study.More than 1 million people died in the US from Covid, in part because the country’s “fragmented and inefficient healthcare system” meant uninsured or underinsured people faced financial barriers that delayed diagnosis and exacerbated transmission, the report states.The US had the highest death rate from the virus among large wealthy countries and is also the only one among such countries without universal healthcare. It spends almost twice as much on healthcare per capita as the other wealthy countries, according to Kaiser Family Foundation data.US could have saved 338,000 lives from Covid with universal healthcare, study findsRead moreThe House subcommittee investigating the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic announced that Deborah Birx, the former president’s Covid-19 coordinator, will testify publicly next week.For the first time, former White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx will publicly testify about her role in the Trump Administration’s #COVID19 response.Tune in next week, June 23, at 10AM ET.https://t.co/aOsMX29Q1b— Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis (@COVIDOversight) June 16, 2022
    Birx was among the public health officials who became household names during the pandemic’s worst months, but later fell out of favor with Trump. Last October, the Democratic chair of the subcommittee Jame Clyburn said its interviews with Birx “confirm that President Trump’s prioritization of politics, contempt for science, and refusal to follow the advice of public health experts undermined the nation’s ability to respond effectively to the coronavirus crisis.”The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell explain why the January 6 committee has opted to make today’s hearing about the actions of Mike Pence, who played a major role in torpedoing Trump’s plan to stop Biden from taking office:The House select committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attack intends to outline at its third hearing on Thursday how Donald Trump corruptly pressured then vice-president Mike Pence to reject the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 presidential election and directly contributed to the insurrection.The panel will first examine the genesis of Trump’s pressure campaign on Pence to adopt an unconstitutional and unlawful plan to reject certified electors from certain states at the congressional certification in an attempt to give Trump a second presidential term.The select committee then intends to show how that theory – advanced by external Trump legal adviser John Eastman – was rejected by Pence, his lawyers and the White House counsel’s office, who universally told the former president that the entire scheme was unlawful.Third panel hearing will show Trump’s pressure on Pence to overturn electionRead moreIn his testimony before the January 6 committee today, former US appellate court judge J Michael Luttig will warn that the plot to overturn the 2020 election was well-coordinated and threatened the nation’s very existence, according to his opening remarks obtained by CNN.Luttig is one of two guests in Thursday’s third hearing of the committee, which will focus on Trump’s pressure campaign against vice-president Mike Pence to get him to go along with his plans to stop Joe Biden from taking office.“The war on democracy instigated by the former president and his political party allies on January 6 was the natural and foreseeable culmination of the war for America,” Luttig warns in his opening remarks. “It was the final fateful day for the execution of a well-developed plan by the former president to overturn the 2020 presidential election at any cost, so that he could cling to power that the American People had decided to confer upon his successor, the next president of the United States instead.”“Had the Vice President of the United States obeyed the President of the United States, America would immediately have been plunged into what would have been tantamount to a revolution within a paralyzing constitutional crisis,” Luttig says.The Washington Post report further detailing Ginni Thomas’s involvement in the effort to stop Joe Biden from taking office underscores just how much evidence the January 6 committee is accumulating in its effort to unravel what happened that day.It’s not clear if the lawmakers will opt to publicly explore what they’ve learned about conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas’s wife in the course of their investigation, but they must surely feel tempted. Thomas was the only one of the court’s nine members who dissented from a January ruling ordering the release of records from the Trump administration to the committee.The revelations about Ginni Thomas come as tensions around the court are as high as ever. Its conservative majority is widely believed to be poised to strike down the nationwide right to an abortion, and a draft opinion of the decision was leaked last month, sparking uproar. Other decisions expected in the coming days or weeks could expand the right to carry a concealed weapon, weaken the government’s ability to regulate and upend the Biden administration’s effort to end the “remain in Mexico” policy Trump implemented to stop border crossings.Trump is out of office but the court’s rightward swing is one of his legacies. Had he not won in 2016, it’s possible the institution’s ideological makeup may look quite different.Good morning, US politics blog readers! Today’s marquee event in Washington will be the third hearing of the January 6 committee, which is to center on the pressure campaign around Mike Pence, the vice-president to Donald Trump. The Washington Post is reporting that the committee is also considering what to do with new evidence that shows Ginni Thomas, wife of conservative supreme court justice Clarence Thomas, was talking to a lawyer for Trump, who played a major role in trying to stop Joe Biden from taking office.Here’s what else is happening today:
    Anthony Fauci is positive for Covid but that’s apparently not stopping him from testifying before the Senate health committee, though he will undoubtedly not be in the room.
    Biden will sign a bill to overhaul regulations on ocean shipping that he hopes will help lower the US’s high rate of inflation.
    Republicans are kicking off their “Road to Majority” conference hosted by the Faith & Freedom Coalition, which is accurately named: the party is viewed as having a good chance of taking back one or both houses of Congress in the November midterm elections.
    The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives may be closer to getting a director after the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on confirming Steven Dettelbach. More

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    White House resumes Covid briefings after six-week hiatus as cases rise

    White House resumes Covid briefings after six-week hiatus as cases riseNew head of Covid response calls on Congress for additional funding to pay for vaccines and treatments The White House resumed its coronavirus briefings on Wednesday after a six-week hiatus as Covid-19 cases rose across the nation, with the new head of Covid response calling on Congress for additional funding to pay for vaccines and treatments.“I want to make sure we have enough resources so that we can buy enough vaccines for every American. I think that is absolutely critical. We do not have the resources to do that right now,” said Ashish Jha, the White House’s new coronavirus response coordinator, who replaced Jeff Zients in March. “So without additional funding from Congress, we will not be able to buy enough vaccines for every American who wants one.”The last White House coronavirus briefing was held on 5 April. Since then, various mask mandates have been lifted across the country, including those on planes, trains and in automobiles.Jha explained that the administration has not stopped fighting the virus, however, noting that it has increased its rapid test kits allocated to each household from four to eight kits. “We know there are multigenerational households, we know that there are households with more than four people and we want to make sure that we make as many tests as we can possibly make available,” he said.Jha also revealed that the administration has seen a dramatic increase in the use of the Covid-19 pill Paxlovid, with demand increasing fourfold in just the previous month.“Our latest estimates are that about 20,000 prescriptions of Paxlovid are being given out every day. I think that is actually a really important reason why, despite the very substantial increase in infections, we have not seen a commensurate increase in deaths,” Jha said.Jha also renewed his pleas for Congress to authorize additional funding so the government could purchase more vaccines and Covid-19 treatments.“If we don’t get more resources from Congress, what we will find in the fall and winter is … a period of time where Americans can look around and see their friends in other countries in Europe and Canada with access to these treatments that Americans would not have.”The resumed briefing comes as the US marks a grim milestone, now that more than 1 million people have been officially counted dead since the pandemic began in March 2020, and the real number likely to be much higher.The US has one of the highest mortality rates in the world: 303 dead from Covid-19 out of every 100,000 residents, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.The huge toll has set the US apart from other wealthy nations, in a crisis exacerbated by the country’s deep-rooted inequality, broken healthcare system and fraught politics.“In terms of understanding why we had such a bad experience from the pandemic, we have to think about the systemic issues that already were in place when the pandemic arrived,” Steven Woolf, a social epidemiologist and population health researcher at Virginia Commonwealth University, told the Guardian. “And, on top of that, mishandling of the pandemic by the government and by the public, frankly.”According to data from the New York Times, for the first time since 20 February, the daily average of Covid-19 cases in the country surpassed 100,000, marking a 61% rise from two weeks ago.Although deaths have been declining, hospitalizations have been on the rise: up by 25% in the past two weeks.The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director, Rochelle Walensky, reaffirmed the importance of booster shots at the briefing.“Our vaccine effectiveness cohort studies have shown Covid-19 vaccines generally remain effective in preventing severe disease, including protecting against Omicron. However, we also know that protection from Covid-19 vaccines wanes, or becomes less protective over time, especially in the Omicron era,” she said.“This is one of the reasons vaccine boosters are so important.”TopicsBiden administrationCoronavirusInfectious diseasesUS politicsnewsReuse this content More

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    Senator Rand Paul single-handedly holds up $40bn US aid for Ukraine

    Senator Rand Paul single-handedly holds up $40bn US aid for UkraineDemocratic and Republican Senate leaders both supported package but Paul objected to scale of spending The top Democrat and Republican in the US Senate joined forces in a rare moment of unity on Thursday in an attempt to pass $40bn in aid for Ukraine, only to be stymied by a single Republican lawmaker: the Kentucky libertarian Rand Paul.Faced with the prospect of an extended delay for the package that passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and his Republican counterpart, Mitch McConnell, sought to move forward on the aid package only to be blocked by Paul, a fiscal hawk who objects to the amount of spending proposed.Putin could use nuclear weapon if he felt war being lost – US intelligence chiefRead moreThe stalemate delayed passage of the measure into next week.The Senate has scheduled an initial procedural vote on the bill for late Monday afternoon.It was unclear whether that vote would then speed passage of the Ukraine aid. Alternatively, passage could come around the middle of next week if any senator wants to force a series of legislative steps before a final vote.As the Ukraine aid bill became caught in the Senate’s procedural gears, Schumer pleaded for fast action: “The package is ready to go, the vast majority of senators on both sides of the aisle want it.”He added: “If Senator Paul persists in his reckless demands … all he will accomplish is to single-handedly delay desperately needed Ukraine aid.”But Paul was not moved.The delay into next week could cause problems for western countries trying to bolster Ukraine in its fight against Russia.The Biden administration has said that by 19 May it expects to run out of available funds to draw on under an authority that allows the president to authorize the transfer of weapons without congressional approval in response to an emergency.Paul is demanding that the legislation be altered to require an inspector general to oversee spending on Ukraine. Without his agreement, the Senate must follow a lengthy process stipulated by the chamber’s arcane rules.McConnell, Paul’s fellow senator from Kentucky, weighed in, saying: “Ukraine is not asking us to fight this war. They’re only asking for the resources they need to defend themselves against this deranged invasion. And they need this help right now.”The House passed the Ukraine spending bill by 368 to 57, with only Republicans voting against it.Joe Biden had asked Congress to approve an additional $33bn in aid for Ukraine. But lawmakers decided to increase the military and humanitarian funding.“This is the second spending bill for Ukraine in two months. And this bill is three times larger than the first,” Paul said before formally blocking the aid package. “Congress just wants to keep on spending, and spending.”The aid package had previously included more spending for dealing with Covid-19 in the US, but the two causes were decoupled after Republicans balked.Meanwhile, the White House Covid-19 coordinator, Ashish Jha, issued a dire warning that the US will be increasingly vulnerable to the coronavirus this fall and winter if Congress does not swiftly approve new funding for more vaccines and treatments.In an Associated Press interview, Jha said Americans’ immune protection from the virus was waning, the virus was adapting to be more contagious and booster doses for most people would be necessary, with the potential for enhanced protection from a new generation of shots.His warning came as the White House said there could be up to 100m infections from the virus later this year and as Biden somberly ordered flags to half-staff to mark the imminent milestone of 1 million US Covid deaths.TopicsUS SenateUS politicsUkraineCoronavirusnewsReuse this content More

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    Biden marks imminent ‘tragic milestone’ of 1m US Covid deaths in address to global summit – as it happened

    Joe Biden marked the imminent “tragic milestone” of 1m deaths in the US in his address to the second global Covid-19 summit this morning, and renewed his call to Congress to strike a deal on a coronavirus relief package.Biden highlighted the urgency of his $22.5bn request, which he says is crucial to fund vaccines, treatments and testing domestically, as well as boosting global efforts to end the emergency:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Today, we’re at a new stage in fighting this pandemic, facing an evolving set of challenges. We have to double down on our efforts to get shots in people’s arms, country by country, community by community, ensure we have reliable and predictable supplies of vaccines and boosters for everyone, everywhere, expand access globally to testing and treatments. And we have to prevent complacency.Biden’s demand of US lawmakers has stumbled, one of a number of growing headaches for the president amid crises over inflation and abortion rights. An on-again, off-again bipartisan Covid deal was scuppered by political wrangling over immigration specifically. Republicans agreed to a $10bn compromise “in principle”, without money for global initiatives, then backed out when the Biden administration insisted on pushing ahead with the termination of the Trump-era Title 42 policy that blocked refugees at the southern border because of coronavirus concerns. As long as COVID-19 is present in one country, it impacts all of us. This morning I join @USAmbUN at the Second Global COVID Summit to discuss our path forward. Tune in. https://t.co/BiSN2peafu— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) May 12, 2022
    Officially, the Covid-19 death toll in the US is not yet at 1m, Johns Hopkins reporting on Thursday a tally of 999,000. But the inevitable reaching of that grim figure in the coming few days fired Biden’s new call to action, at home and internationally:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}I continue to call on Congress to take urgent action to provide emergency Covid-19 funding that is vital to protect Americans, to make sure that we maintain our supplies and Covid-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, including next-generation vaccines that are being developed.
    The request also includes $5bn to keep up our global partnership in the fight against Covid-19 and sustain our efforts to get shots in people around the world, expand access to treatments and save lives everywhere.
    We can do this, we can control Covid-19, we can start to build a better, healthier and more secure future today if we all do our part, and if we step up together. He announced new global initiatives including sharing of US Covid-19 technologies, partnerships to expand access to rapid testing and antiviral treatments in harder to reach areas, and $450m seed funding for a pandemic preparedness and global health security fund to be established this summer:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}The US has provided more than $19bn to help countries fight Covid-19, life saving medicines, oxygen, tests, equipment, supplies, and partnered with countries to improve their capacity to manufacture vaccines.
    We’ve delivered more than 500m vaccines to 115 countries and we’re going to… deliver another 500m doses.
    But there’s still so much left to do. This pandemic isn’t over. We mark a tragic milestone here in the US, 1m empty chairs around the family dinner table, irreplaceable losses that each leave behind a family or community forever change because of this pandemic.Read the White House proclamation on 1m Covid-19 deaths here.Thanks for joining us for a whirlwind day in US politics! We’re closing this blog now, but you can keep on top of developments in the Ukraine-Russia conflict in our 24-hour live blog here.In a solemn start to the day, Joe Biden marked the imminent “tragic milestone” of 1m Covid-19 deaths in the US, and used the second global Covid-19 summit to renew his call for Congress to approve a deal on a relief package.“There’s still so much left to do. This pandemic isn’t over,” the president said.“We mark a tragic milestone. One million empty chairs around the family dinner table, irreplaceable losses that each leave behind a family or community forever changed because of this pandemic”. Biden ordered flags to fly at half-mast around the country until the end of the weekend.Here’s what else we followed today:
    Joe Biden is considering a visit to the Korean demilitarized zone, when he makes the first trip to Asia of his presidency, White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated.
    Senate leaders Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell urged senators from both parties to pass a $40bn Ukraine aid package, although objections in the chamber looked set to delay the vote.
    Federal prosecutors opened a grand jury investigation into Donald Trump’s handling of classified White House material.
    The House committee investigating the 6 January Capitol attack incited by Trump subpoenaed the Republican House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and four other congressmen.
    Nancy Pelosi explained why Democrats rejected legislation proposed by Republican senators that would codify abortion rights, claiming states would still have too much power in determining women’s right to choose.
    The nine US supreme court justices met for the first time since last week’s leak of the draft opinion that would overturn almost half a century of abortion protections.
    Joe Biden is considering a visit to the Korean demilitarized zone, when he makes the first trip to Asia of his presidency, White House press secretary Jen Psaki indicated moments ago.The US president plans a trip to South Korea and Japan later this month. It came up at the briefing at the White House today, which is still underway, that Biden may go to the narrow neutral zone between North and South Korea.The Biden administration also believes North Korea could be preparing for a new significant missile test, Psaki indicated.A reporter asked: Does [Biden] intend to visit the DMZ and what’s your current assessment of the threat of a North Korean nuclear test?Psaki responded:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Well, on the first question, we’re still finalizing details of the schedule for the trip and what it looks like. Obviously, that is a step that is taken by many who visit the region. But I expect we’ll have our national security adviser here in the briefing room next week with Karine [Jean-Pierre] to preview the trip.
    In terms of whether we expect a test. The United States assesses that [North Korea] could be ready to conduct a test there as early as this month.
    This would be its seventh such test. We’ve shared this information with allies and partners and are closely coordinating with them.
    As you noted, the president is traveling to the Republic of Korea and Japan next week, where he will continue strengthening these alliances and make clear our commitment to the security of the Republic of Korea. The trip to Asia is scheduled from May 20 to May 24.In 2019, then-president Donald Trump became the first incumbent US president to step into North Korea, after entering the DMZ, and he met North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.There was no tangible outcome from the meeting, in terms of North Korea pulling back on its nuclear weapons program or other issues.Joe Biden has spoken with retailers and manufacturers to address a chronic shortage of baby formula in stores nationwide, the White House has said.In her afternoon briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki said the president demanded that safe supplies be restored as soon as possible.Earlier today, leading manufacturer Abbott Laboratories warned it could take two months for its products to reach shelves after a nationwide recall.Psaki said Biden spoke with chief executives of Walmart and Target to focus on restocking shelves, and said the administration would be looking at improving supplies through more imports, as well as asking the the federal trade commission and state attorneys general to clamp down on price gouging:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}We’ve already seen an increase in supply over the past couple of weeks. What we are seeing, which is an enormous problem, is hoarding, people hoarding because they’re fearful, and people hoarding because they are trying to profit off fearful parents.
    We do not want parents, mothers, families out there to be stressed and worried about feeding their babies.
    Our message to parents is we hear you, we want to do everything we can, and we’re going to cut every element of red tape to help address this and make it better.Ahead of huge protests planned this weekend against the prospect of Roe v Wade being overturned, US attorney general Merrick Garland has announced ramped up security for the Supreme Court justices. “The Attorney General directed the U.S. Marshals Service to help ensure the Justices’ safety by providing additional support to the Marshal of the Supreme Court and Supreme Court Police,” the Department of Justice said in a press statement on Wednesday. The attorney general’s orders came after more than 100 protestors marched earlier this week to the home of Justice Samuel Alito. Alito wrote the 98-page draft opinion about Roe v Wade, leaked to Politico and published on May 2.The final court decision on whether to remove the constitutional right to seek an abortion in the US, afforded by the landmark 1973 Roe ruling, is expected next month.In addition to Alito, protestors also gathered outside the homes of Chief Justice John Roberts, even though he was not one of the five conservative justices from the nine-member bench, who signed onto the draft opinion.And there were also demonstrations outside the home of justice Brett Kavanaugh, who did sign on, in the draft opinion, to overturn Roe.According to federal statute Title 18, Section 1507 of the US code, it is illegal to picket or parade “in or near a building or residence occupied or used by such judge, juror, witness, or court officer” with the “intent of influencing any judge.” On Monday, senators swiftly passed the Supreme Court Police Parity Act which seeks to expand protection of the justices and their families. The bill is awaiting to be passed onto the House where if approved, will then be transferred to the president for his signature. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that protests “should never include violence, threats, or vandalism.”Workers took Donald Trump’s name off his hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC on Wednesday, after the completion of the $375m sale of the lease to investors from Florida. House Democrats estimate the former president, under legal and financial pressure on multiple fronts, will reportedly gain $100m from the sale, once a loan for the renovations is paid off.One ethics group called the hotel “a sinkhole of corruption”. During Trump’s four years in the White House, the hotel became a magnet for aides, supporters and foreign businesses seeking favour.Critics and ethics groups were particularly concerned about the situation as Trump did not formally divest himself from the Trump Organization. The presidential historian Michael Beschloss predicted that even after the sale “political ghosts will linger”.The hotel lost more than $70m in the four years of Trump’s presidency, including losses each year before pandemic shutdowns in 2020. Many hotel brokers, owners and consultants did not expect the 263-room hotel, located close to the White House, to fetch such a high price.The price of the lease, equivalent to more than $1.4m a room, has drawn scrutiny from Democrats in Congress. The New York Times reported that JLL, a real estate firm, put the average sales price for hotels in Washington in 2020 at $354,000 per room.CGI Merchant Group, the buyer, reportedly plans to turn the hotel into a branch of the Waldorf Astoria hotel chain. Earlier this month, the House oversight committee requested documents from CGI, listing all investors, which reportedly include the former New York Yankees slugger and confessed drugs cheat Alex Rodriguez.Read more:‘Sinkhole of corruption’: Trump Organization sells Washington hotelRead moreSenators were urged to pass a $40bn package of military, economic and humanitarian aid for Ukraine by the end of the day, despite last-minute obstacles placed by rogue Republicans.Democratic and Republican leaders tried clearing the way for its passage Thursday afternoon, the Associated Press reports. The measure passed the House 368-57 on Tuesday.Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell called on “both sides to help us pass this urgent funding bill today”. The Kentucky Republican’s pointed inclusion of his own colleagues came as the only apparent stumbling block seemed to be a demand from Rand Paul, the state’s other senator, for an inspector general to scrutinize the new spending.“I’m not allowing a speedy passage of the bill without having something fiscally responsible in the bill,” Paul told reporters.New York Democrat Chuck Schumer, the senate majority leader, backed McConnell’s call:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Republicans shouldn’t block this bill. There is no reason, no reason whatever, not to get Ukraine funding approved fast.Joe Biden has promised to quickly sign the bill, which he says is crucial to keep military aid, including howitzer artillery and other weaponry, flowing to Ukraine.McConnell said:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}Helping Ukraine is not an instance of mere philanthropy. It bears directly on America’s national security and vital interests that Russia’s naked aggression not succeed and carries significant costs. In probably the least surprising development of an already toxic Republican senate primary race in Pennsylvania, Donald Trump has weighed in to savage a rival – albeit a far-right one – challenging his favored candidate, the television personality Mehmet Oz.The recipient of Trump’s snark is the self-declared “America First” hopeful Kathy Barnette, a political commentator who has surged in popularity in recent weeks to a point where, according to Axios, Republicans are “panicking” she might actually win.Barnette, who claims she was the product of her mother’s rape at the age of 11, has a long history of controversial and extremist views. She is in the almost certainly unique position of being a Black Republican who has drawn criticism from all wings of the party, from Trump to Pat Toomey, the moderate senator whose retirement has opened up the Pennsylvania seat.“Kathy Barnette will never be able to win the General Election against the Radical Left Democrats,” Trump declares in his statement, littered as always with unorthodox grammar and punctuation, and random uppercase letters.“She has many things in her past which have not been properly explained or vetted, but if she is able to do so, she will have a wonderful future in the Republican Party – and I will be behind her all the way.“Dr Oz is the only one who will be able to easily defeat the Crazed, Lunatic Democrat in Pennsylvania. A vote for anyone else in the Primary is a vote against Victory in the Fall!”Oz has a narrow advantage in the polls for the 17 May primary over Barnette and David McCormick, an Army veteran and George W Bush administration official favored by many mainstream Republicans.But Maga voters, as the Guardian’s Ed Pilkington found at a Trump rally in Greensburg earlier this month, don’t quite know what to make of him.Exactly who is the “crazed lunatic” Trump refers to is anyone’s guess. There are four candidates for the Democratic nomination, including congressman Conor Lamb and Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor John Fetterman.It’s been a lively morning so far in US political news and there is more to come, so do stay tuned.Here’s where things stand:
    Federal prosecutors have opened a grand jury investigation into Trump’s handling of classified White House material, the NYT reports
    The House committee investigating the January 6, 2021 Capitol riots subpoenaed Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, along with other lawmakers on Thursday
    House speaker Nancy Pelosi has explained why Democrats rejected legislation proposed by Republican senators that would codify abortion rights, saying: “What’s in the Republican bill would enable states to do very destructive things when it comes to a woman’s right to choose”
    All nine US Supreme Court justices are meeting for the first time on Thursday since last week’s leak of the draft opinion that would overrule Roe v Wade
    Joe Biden has marked the “tragic milestone” of 1m Covid-19 deaths in the US by renewing his calls to Congress to strike a deal on a relief package
    Federal prosecutors have opened a grand jury investigation to try to establish whether Donald Trump mishandled classified White House materials that he had access to while he was the president and that have since been found at Mar-a-Lago, the residence he moved to after he lost the election to Joe Biden, the New York Times reports.The outlet speaks of an “intensifying inquiry” indicating that the Department of Justice is looking into how Trump and senior aides handled sensitive documents in the dying days of the Republican’s one-term presidency.It writes:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}In recent days, the Justice Department has taken a series of steps showing that its investigation has progressed beyond the preliminary stages. Prosecutors issued a subpoena to the National Archives and Records Administration to obtain the boxes of classified documents, according to the two people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
    The authorities have also made interview requests to people who worked in the White House in the final days of Mr. Trump’s presidency, according to one of the people.
    The investigation is focused on the discovery by the National Archives in January that at the end of Mr. Trump’s term he had taken to his home at the Mar-a-Lago resort 15 boxes from the White House that contained government documents, mementos, gifts and letters.
    After the boxes were returned to the National Archives, its archivists found documents containing “items marked as classified national security information,” the agency told Congress in February. In April, it was reported that federal authorities were in the preliminary stages of investigating the handling of the classified documents.The intensifying inquiry suggests that the Justice Department is examining the role of Mr. Trump and other officials in his White House in their handling of sensitive materials during the final stages of his administration. @maggieNYT @nytmike https://t.co/mEmD78IIvN— Adam Goldman (@adamgoldmanNYT) May 12, 2022
    The select committee empowered the panel’s chairman, congressman Bennie Thompson, to move ahead with subpoenas to House minority leader Kevin McCarthy and other Republicans including Jim Jordan, Scott Perry, and Andy Biggs and Mo Brooks, the sources said.Members on the select committee empowered Thompson to take the extraordinary step to subpoena Republican members of Congress after the five flatly refused to accept invitations to provide voluntary assistance to the investigation, the sources said.The select committee is seeking to compel some of the most sensitive information about Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in its subpoenas to the Republican members of Congress, the sources said.The Guardian reported earlier this week that the panel was moving closer to issuing subpoenas to Republican members of Congress, appalled at their refusal to assist the investigation in any way despite prima facie connections to the events of 6 January.What changed for members of the select committee, according to sources familiar with internal deliberations, was that they could no longer ignore what appeared to be deep involvement in Trump’s unlawful schemes to overturn the 2020 election results.The scope and targets of the subpoenas are not final until the orders are made public, and the sources cautioned that details could still change. But the subpoenas are expected to encompass the contents of the letters seeking voluntary cooperation, they said.That would indicate the select committee intends to ask McCarthy – the top Republican in the House – about what he knew of the former president’s involvement in, and response to, the Capitol riots, as well as why Trump believed he was at fault for the riot.It also suggests House investigators are interested in seeking more detail about meetings between Trump and Republican members of Congress at the White House before the Capitol attack where they strategized ways to stop Joe Biden’s certification on 6 January.Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the US House of Representatives, and other lawmakers on Thursday received subpoenas from the House committee investigating last year’s attack on the US Capitol by supporters of then-president Donald Trump, an escalation of the panel’s efforts to secure their testimony, Reuters reports.The January 6 House Select Committee had previously sent letters to Republican lawmakers, asking for their voluntary cooperation with the panel’s investigation. The panel had a renewed interest in McCarthy’s cooperation after new reporting last month showed he had told the Republican leadership days after January 6 that Trump admitted to him at least partial responsibility for the Capitol attack, sources said.The select committee is particularly focused on whether Trump might have indicated to McCarthy why he believed he was culpable for the Capitol attack, the sources said, and whether the former president knew he may have acted unlawfully on January 6.A huge, violent mob invaded the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the official certification by a joint session of Congress – ie the Senate and House – of Joe Biden’s victory over Trump in the November 2020 presidential election.Trump had earlier goaded crowds at a rally near the White House to make their way to Capitol, urging supporters that they needed to “fight like hell” to defend his presidency.The insurrection ultimately failed and Biden’s win was certified in the early hours of the next day, after lawmakers, media and staff had run for their lives from the deadly rioters.Nancy Pelosi has been explaining why Democrats rejected legislation proposed by Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski that would codify Roe v Wade abortion protections into federal law.At her weekly briefing, the House speaker spelled out why her party pushed the women’s health protection act, which failed in the US Senate yesterday, instead of backing the more restrictive but still protective reproductive rights act from the pro-choice Republicans, seen as more likely to have attracted bipartisan support..css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}It’s not enough just to pass a bill to have a compromise. It’s not a compromise, because what’s in the Republican bill would enable states to do very destructive things when it comes to a woman’s right to choose.Pelosi explained that while both bills would have enshrined into law the basics of Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling guaranteeing abortion protections, which the supreme court looks set to reverse, the Democrats’ act would go further.It would, she said, have added the protections given by the 1992 Planned Parenthood v Casey ruling, which dealt with other issues including the viability of a fetus and restrictions on how far states could go in tinkering with the provisions of Roe:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}This is not a public policy debate that is isolated from the personal impact that it has on the lives of women, whether it’s contraception, whether it’s invitro fertilization, whether it’s a post-miscarriage care, whether its size and timing of a family.
    It is personal between a woman, her doctor, her God [and] her family, not the supreme court, or the Congress of the United States. The US was today confirmed as the host of the 2031 men’s Rugby World Cup and the 2033 women’s event. This is not particularly political news, except Joe Biden formally supported the bid, as we reported here, and has been known to be very enthusiastic about the game, as we reported here. And here. We (OK, I) have also reported about how politicians from both sides of the aisle have played and loved the game, here, here and elsewhere.The Guardian is working on a follow-up piece about what the bid announcement might mean for American rugby, and in the course of harvesting statements has spoken both to the Congressional Rugby Caucus (co-chairs Eleanor Holmes Norton, Democrat of Washington DC and Alex Mooney, Republican of West Virginia). Statements are awaited. In the meantime Chris Murphy, the Democratic senator from Connecticut, has confirmed he was a college rugby player and said the following:.css-knbk2a{height:1em;width:1.5em;margin-right:3px;vertical-align:baseline;fill:#C70000;}“I was first introduced to rugby at Williams, and although I wasn’t very good, I loved the sport and made lifelong friends. I am excited that the U.S. will host the men’s and women’s Rugby World Cups and look forward to it introducing even more Americans to the game.For further reading, here’s the US Eagles men’s fly-half or full-back Will Hooley on What This All Means For The Game:We can build it, they will come: a USA Rugby World Cup will be a gamechanger | Will HooleyRead more More

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    Joe Biden calls inflation his ‘top domestic priority’ but blames Covid and Putin – live

    US politics liveUS politicsJoe Biden calls inflation his ‘top domestic priority’ but blames Covid and Putin – livePresident says he understands American’s frustration with Democrats, who control all three branches of government: ‘I don’t blame them’
    US immigration agency operates vast surveillance dragnet, study finds
    Divided States of America: Roe v Wade is ‘precursor to larger struggles’
    Sign up to receive First Thing – our daily briefing by emailLIVE Updated 48m agoLauren Gambino in WashingtonTue 10 May 2022 17.05 EDTFirst published on Tue 10 May 2022 09.15 EDT0Show key events onlyLive feedShow key events onlyFrom More

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    Rand Paul promises Covid review if Republicans retake Senate in midterms

    Rand Paul promises Covid review if Republicans retake Senate in midtermsKentucky senator who has clashed publicly with Dr Anthony Fauci champions lab leak theory in remarks at rally The Kentucky senator Rand Paul promised on Saturday to wage a vigorous review into the origins of the coronavirus if Republicans retake the Senate and he lands a committee chairmanship.This Will Not Pass review: Trump-Biden blockbuster is dire reading for DemocratsRead moreSpeaking to supporters at a campaign rally, the senator denounced what he sees as government overreach in response to Covid-19. He applauded a recent judge’s order that voided the federal mask mandate on planes and trains and in travel hubs.“Last week I was on an airplane for the first time in two years and didn’t have to wear a mask,” he said, drawing cheers. “And you know what I saw in the airport? I saw at least 97% of the other free individuals not wearing masks.”Paul has clashed repeatedly with Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, over government policies and the origins of the virus.Paul, who is seeking a third term, said he was in line to assume a committee chairmanship if the GOP wins Senate control. The Senate has a 50-50 split, with the vice-president, Kamala Harris, the tie-breaking vote.“When we take over in November, I will be chairman of a committee and I will have subpoena power,” Paul said. “And we will get to the bottom of where this virus came from.”The senator, an ophthalmologist before politics, continued to offer his theory about the origins of the virus.02:49“If you look at the evidence, overwhelmingly, not 100%, but overwhelmingly the evidence points to this virus being a leak from a lab,” Paul said.Many US conservatives have accused Chinese scientists of developing Covid-19 in a lab and allowing it to leak.US intelligence agencies remain divided on the origins of the coronavirus but believe China did not know about the virus before the start of the global pandemic, according a Biden-ordered review released last summer.The scientific consensus remains that the virus most likely migrated from animals. So-called “spillover events” occur in nature and there are at least two coronaviruses that evolved in bats and caused human epidemics, SARS1 and MERS.At the Kentucky rally, the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell, the state’s senior senator, also pointed to Paul’s opportunity to lead a committee. If that occurs, he said, Paul would become chairman of “one of the most important committees in the Senate – in charge of health, education, labor and pensions”.McConnell was upbeat about Republican prospects in November.“I’ve never seen a better environment for us than this year,” said McConnell, who is in line to again become majority leader.The rally featured other prominent Kentucky Republicans, including several considering running for governor in 2023, when Andy Beshear, a Democrat, will seek a second term.In his speech, Paul railed against socialism, saying it would encroach on individual liberties. The senator was first elected to the Senate in the Tea Party wave of 2010.02:21“When President Trump said he wanted to ‘Make America Great Again’, I said, ‘Amen,’” Paul said. “But let’s understand what made America great in the first place, and that’s freedom, constitutionally guaranteed liberty.”Charles Booker is by far the best known Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for Paul’s seat in the 17 May primary. Paul is being challenged by several little-known candidates. A general election campaign between Paul and Booker would be a battle between candidates with starkly different philosophies.Booker, a Black former state lawmaker, narrowly lost a bid for the Democratic nomination in 2020. He is a progressive who touts Medicare for all, anti-poverty programs, a clean-energy agenda and criminal justice changes.Paul, a former presidential candidate, has accumulated a massive fundraising advantage.Kentucky has not elected a Democrat to the US Senate since Wendell Ford in 1992.TopicsRepublicansRand PaulUS midterm elections 2022CoronavirusUS politicsDemocratsAnthony FaucinewsReuse this content More

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    Trump White House overrode Covid guidance for churches, emails show

    Trump White House overrode Covid guidance for churches, emails showCDC planned to suggest in 2020 that religious communities hold services online but key passages were struck out Donald Trump’s administration overrode Covid-19 guidance to religious organizations, according to newly released emails, which would have encouraged churches to consider virtual religious services rather than in-person worship.In May 2020, as coronavirus cases and deaths surged, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention sent the White House a draft of its planned guidance to faith-based communities, seeking approval for publication.At the time coronavirus cases were increasingly being reported in churches across the US. Cases would continue to soar in places of worship in the following months.In response, the CDC planned to suggest that religious groups restrict in-person attendance at services, and instead hold them online.When that guidance arrived at the White House, however, it prompted discussions which ended up with important passages being struck out. In an email exchange with Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to Trump, Paul Ray, the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, suggested a series of edits.“The new CDC draft includes a significant amount of new content, much of which seems to raise religious liberty concerns. In the attached, I have proposed several passages for deletion to address those concerns,” Ray wrote.“If these edits are acceptable to you all, we could tell CDC, as early in the morning as possible, that they are free to publish contingent on striking the offensive passages.”In her reply, Conway thanked Ray for “holding firm against the newest round of mission creep”.In another email chain, Trump officials expressed dissatisfaction with CDC recommendations – which had already been posted online – which suggested that faith communities should consider holding services online.May Davis, a legal adviser to Trump, wrote to Paul and other officials that “problematic guidance is still online”. Davis attached suggested edits to the CDC guidance, which she said “removes all of the tele-church suggestions”.Davis added: “Though personally I will say that if I was old and vulnerable (I do feel old and vulnerable), drive through services would sound welcome.”Representative James Clyburn, chairman of the select subcommittee on the coronavirus crisis, which released the emails, said in a statement that the Trump administration had “prioritized politics over public health”.“As today’s new evidence also makes clear, Trump White House officials worked under the direction of the former president to purposefully undercut public health officials’ recommendations and muzzle their ability to communicate clearly to the American public,” Clyburn wrote.On Friday Gene Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office, is due to testify before Congress about a GAO report which found staff at the CDC and other public health agencies witnessed “political interference” during the response to the pandemic.TopicsTrump administrationCoronavirusReligionUS politicsnewsReuse this content More