Some of President Trump’s closes allies would like him to stop talking now.
And they’re saying it publicly.
While the New York Times cited several unnamed sources in this new report on Trump’s coronavirus briefings, there were also a handful of familiar names who spoke on the record urging Trump to stop participating in the daily pressers. Several White House allies, campaign members and Republicans lawmakers told the Times that Trump’s appearance is hurting him more than helping him.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a close ally and golf partner of the President, told the Times that Trump “sometimes drowns out his own message” and said he has encouraged Trump to decrease his appearances to “a once-a-week show.” Other Republican senators were willing to openly cringe at the daily briefings on-the-record as well: Sen. Shelly Moore (WV) said they tend to go “off the rails a little bit” and Sen. Susan Brooks (IN) criticized the length.
But the TV President is unlikely to be swayed. Administration officials told the Times that he’s expressed to aides he enjoys the free air time, which is unsurprising for a president who tweets about the “ratings” of his pandemic mitigating press conferences as thousands of Americans die of the virus.
Trump is expected to participate in today’s briefing, which is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET, instead of the usual 5 p.m. We hypothesize the rationale for the time change is two-fold: Trump wants to cater to his evangelical base, who will join all Christians in recognizing Good Friday this evening and 5:00 p.m. on a Friday is not exactly the most popular TV viewing time slot.
Here’s more on that and other stories we’re following:
What The Investigations Team Is Watching
Matt Shuham is reporting on Ammon Bundy — a longtime TPM character and anti-government extremist who has recently resurfaced in the wake of government-ordered social distancing — and his efforts to hold a party to celebrate Easter this weekend. The move comes as an battle breaks out between Republican lawmakers and the governor of Kansas over the GOPers’ efforts to defy state orders and hold Easter services. Kate Riga is reporting on the latest development in the Kansas feud: the governor is now suing Republican lawmakers.
Josh Kovensky is continuing to dig into the seizures of medical supplies around the U.S., a move that was initially believed to be carried out by FEMA, but as Josh Marshall noted last night, FEMA has since denied that supplies being distributed domestically were not being seized by the disaster management arm of the federal government. As Josh Kovensky reports, FEMA issued a temporary rule Friday blocking the export of some types of PPE – including N95 masks and surgical masks.
What The Breaking News Team Is Watching
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) tried to make a case for reopening his state’s schools amid the COVID-19 pandemic by falsely claiming yesterday the virus “doesn’t seem to threaten kids.” That’s demonstrably false. The CDC reported today that there have been 2,572 confirmed cases among American children under the age of 18, and that three of them have died. It’s not the first time DeSantis, a close Trump ally, has tried to downplay the COVID-19 threat for the same of the economy. When most states were beginning to put social distancing orders in place, DeSantis kept Florida’s beaches openly for a dangerously long span of time to appease spring breakers flooding the state and funneling cash into the economy. We’ll continue monitoring this trend.
Defense Department Mark Esper said today that he’s open to reinstating ex-Navy Captain Brett Crozier as military leadership investigates now-former acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly’s decision to fire him. “We’ve taken nothing off the table,” Esper told CBS “This Morning” host Gayle King. Cozier was fired after a letter he sent to Navy leadership was leaked to the media, in which he begged officials to let his crew dock to save sailors’ lives as coronavirus spread on board the ship. We’ll keep you informed of any updates.
12:00 p.m. ET: Bishop Harry Jackson will deliver an Easter blessing in the Oval Office alongside President Trump.
1:00 p.m. ET: The White House will hold its coronavirus task force briefing
Yesterday’s Most Read Story
PPE And Ventilators Becomes Patronage In Trump’s Hands — Josh Marshall
What We Are Reading
With Holy Week Hushed By A Pandemic, The Pope Does Social Distancing His Own Way — Chico Harlan, Stefano Pitrelli and Sarah Pulliam Bailey