Where Things Stand: This Is Going To Backfire

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TOPSHOT - US Secretary of Defense James Mattis (L), US Vice President Mike Pence (2ndL), White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (2ndR) and Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers (R) listen as US President Donald Trump speaks... TOPSHOT - US Secretary of Defense James Mattis (L), US Vice President Mike Pence (2ndL), White House Chief of Staff John Kelly (2ndR) and Pence Chief of Staff Nick Ayers (R) listen as US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before a meeting in the Pentagon January 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged Macedonia on January 18 to keep up newfound momentum towards solving a 27-year-old dispute with Greece over its name, a key condition for joining the alliance. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images) MORE LESS
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May 8, 2020 12:15 p.m.
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Another member of the inner circle has tested positive for COVID-19.

MSNBC and CNN are both reporting that a member of Vice President Mike Pence’s staff has COVID-19. The staffer is reportedly not physically near him at the moment. Pence is on Air Force 2, currently en route to Iowa for an event.

Both Pence and President Trump were recently tested for COVID-19 after learning that one of Trump’s valets had tested positive for the virus. Both tests were negative, according to the White House. But this is an important development to monitor.

As the coronavirus creeps into his professional circle, Trump is not doing himself any favors. The President refuses to stop traveling around the U.S. and will not wear a mask. Pence had to be publicly shamed into wearing one after he visited a clinic and met with a COVID-19 patient all while not wearing a mask. Trump is hellbent on reopening the economy and has been actively rewarding those governors skirting CDC guidelines to reopen their states quickly with in-person White House visits.

As mask wearing increasingly becomes a political divider, the President is playing with fire, the kind that burns more than just the physical.

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

What The Investigations Team Is Watching

Tierney Sneed is writing about Trump’s interview with Fox News this morning in which he appeared to hint that alleged FBI Russia probe corruption will be a major flashpoint in his 2020 reelection campaign.

Kate Riga is reporting on the legal back-and-forth in Texas over the governor’s stay-at-home orders. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) decided retroactively to decriminalize the defiance of his order, just before the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Dallas salon owner should be let out of jail. The owner had been held in contempt of court and sentenced to a week in jail for defying the order.

What The Breaking News Team Is Watching

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is starting to hedge on his formerly confident claim that there was “enormous evidence” that COVID-19 originated from a lab in Wuhan, China, a conspiracy theory Trump and other members of his administration have floated. “There’s evidence that it came from somewhere in the vicinity of the lab, but that could be wrong,” Pompeo said during a radio interview yesterday. We’ll keep an eye on this shift in tone.

Dr. Deborah Birx broke with her employer again this week when she tried to clean up the Trump administration’s refusal to let the CDC publish its guide on reopening the economy, claiming that “no one has stopped those guidelines” and that the edits are “still being worked on.” Birx and Dr. Anthony Fauci, both members of the coronavirus task force, have been known to break with Trump regularly when his claims about COVID-19 don’t measure up to scientific fact. So far, Trump hasn’t retaliated against the officials, but we’ll continue monitoring.

On Friday morning, Trump claimed to have “learned a lot” from former President Richard Nixon, a … questionable remark given that both of them were handed similar impeachments charges.

If You Read Anything On COVID-19 Today, Read This

Josh Kovensky reports on a new “interim” ban on COVID-19 survivors joining the military. The news was part of a memo to military staffers on how to approach COVID while processing new recruits for possible enlistment.

Earlier reporting on COVID-19 and the military:

Today’s Rundown

11:30 a.m. ET: Trump and the first lady participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II Memorial on the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

12:30 p.m. ET: The White House press secretary will holding a briefing.

1:00 p.m. ET: Trump will meet with Republican lawmakers in the State Dining Room.

Yesterday’s Most Read Story

Darkest Of Days At DOJ — David Kurtz

What We Are Reading

Remembering Donald Paneth, Maverick Journalist — John Tarleton

12 Novels That Changed The Way We Live — Ron Charles

Trump Wanted a Softball Interview. ABC’s David Muir Obliged. — Lloyd Grove

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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