Where Things Stand: How Trump Fixes A Leaky Faucet

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WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: (L-R) U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a press conference as Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Preve... WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 09: (L-R) U.S. President Donald Trump arrives for a press conference as Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams look on in the press briefing room of the White House March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. President Trump said he will hold a press conference on Tuesday concerning COVID-19 and other topics. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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April 16, 2020 11:41 a.m.
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He brings one of his favorite TV defenders to the White House.

According to a new Politico report, former Trump campaign adviser, TV surrogate and author Michael Caputo has been hired as the chief Health and Human Services’ communications officer.

Officials told Politico that the staunch Trump defender was brought to the White House to keep HHS Secretary Alex Azar in check. Trump reportedly suspects that Azar has been leaking to the media, and may have been behind a recent New York Times report that was critical of Trump’s response to the pandemic.

The recent report portrays Azar in a shining light — as an administration official who tried to warn Trump and other officials about the pending pandemic back in January. Trump refuted the allegations via Twitter this week.

Even if Azar isn’t the source of the critical press coverage, placing one of his top TV surrogates as the mouthpiece to Azar’s department is a predictable move. Trump’s been unhappy with Azar since he first started sounding the alarm about the coronavirus in the U.S.

Here’s more on that and other stories we’re following:

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Matt Shuham is continuing his coverage of the high coronavirus-related death rate in nursing homes in New York and New Jersey.

Kate Riga is looking into the Pennsylvania Senate’s efforts to overturn a stay-at-home order.

Josh Kovensky is reporting on the findings of a new study that show the coronavirus pandemic is decreasing the availability of health care for non-COVID-19 related ailments for all Americans.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

While publicly reminding Americans to stay home and practice social distancing via social media, White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump has not been practicing what she preaches. To celebrate the Passover, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and the couple’s three children traveled to President Trump’s golf resort in New Jersey. The White House has defended the family decision, arguing that the shut-down resort functions as a “family home” for the Trumps. We’ll keep an eye on any additional backlash the first daughter receives for the move.

As we knew he would, Trump lashed out against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) over remarks she made in a recent letter to colleagues. Pelosi criticized Trump’s response to the pandemic and said his sluggish reaction to the coronavirus caused “unnecessary death and disaster.” Trump, in turn, called Pelosi a “weak person.” We’ll update you if this back-and-forth continues.

Today’s Rundown

8:30 a.m. ET: Trump did a video teleconference with members of the G-7 to discuss COVID-19 responses.

10:00 a.m. ET: Trump held a phone call with member of the House, followed by a call with senators at 11 a.m. ET.

1:30 p.m. ET: Trump will deliver remarks on the South Lawn celebrating truckers.

3:00 p.m. ET: There will be a teleconference between Trump and governors in the Situation Room.

5:00 p.m. ET: The White House coronavirus task force will hold its daily briefing.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Conway Mistakes ‘19’ In COVID-19 For Strain Of Virus While Accusing WHO Of Not Knowing Facts — Cristina Cabrera

What We Are Reading

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
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