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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 30)

Trump Says He’s ‘Torn’ on China Deal as Advisers Signal Harmony on Trade

WASHINGTON — President Trump criticized China for failing to hold up its end of the trade deal on Friday and said he was “very torn” about the fate of the agreement signed in January, even as his closest economic advisers released a statement reassuring the world that the truce was intact.

“Look, I’m having a very hard time with China,” Mr. Trump said in an interview on Fox & Friends, lamenting how recent economic disruptions tied to the coronavirus had overridden “a great trade deal.”

When asked whether the deal might be falling apart, Mr. Trump was noncommittal.

“I have not decided yet, if you want to know the truth,” he said.

Mr. Trump’s comments came just hours after top trade and financial officials held talks via conference call, their first since the coronavirus pandemic ballooned in late January. In separate statements, the two countries signaled that their agreement was on track.

“Both sides agreed that good progress is being made on creating the governmental infrastructures necessary to make the agreement a success,” the Office of the United States Trade Representative said. “They also agreed that in spite of the current global health emergency, both countries fully expect to meet their obligations under the agreement in a timely manner.”

The future of the trade deal, which brought an end to tariff escalations and set the two countries toward a more cordial relationship, has been called into question in recent days by Mr. Trump, who has expressed anger over China’s response to the coronavirus and has suggested the United States could retaliate for its failure to contain the disease.

Those comments had rattled stock markets, and the joint statement released on Friday morning seemed aimed at reassuring businesses and investors that the world’s largest economies were not on the cusp of restarting the trade war.

Yet deep uncertainty surrounding the U.S.-China relationship remains. As the nations spar over the pandemic, misinformation campaigns, Beijing’s policies toward Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South China Sea and over trade, relations have reached a level of hostility not seen even in the depths of the trade war last year.

They could fray even more in the coming months. Mr. Trump and many of his advisers continue to see the trade agreement signed with China last year as a signature achievement. But they have been worried and angered by recent data showing that China is falling behind on its promises to buy $200 billion of additional American exports by 2021.

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Chinese negotiators face nationalists at home who favor a more antagonistic relationship. And Mr. Trump’s campaign team and Republican lawmakers see taking a hard stance on China as a way to bolster their prospects ahead of the November elections.

Two-thirds of Americans now view China unfavorably, according to a poll from the Pew Research Center, a proportion that has climbed sharply in the last few years. Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have painted each other as weak on China in recent campaign ads.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172141347_0dbb628f-2f17-4876-9d2e-cbf6b7e2b696-articleLarge Trump Says He’s ‘Torn’ on China Deal as Advisers Signal Harmony on Trade Xi Jinping United States International Relations United States Economy United States Trump, Donald J International Trade and World Market International Relations Economic Conditions and Trends Customs (Tariff) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China
Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

As he has throughout his presidency, Mr. Trump has continued to alternate between praise and criticism of China. But his optimism about his trade deal appears to have slowly evaporated in recent weeks.

In early April, Mr. Trump said he believed the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, would “honor the deal” he made with the United States “because I know President Xi, who I like and respect,” Mr. Trump said.

The Phase 1 agreement keeps 25 percent tariffs in place on a wide range of imports from China that the Trump administration considers to have strategic or economic value, like cars or nuclear reactor components. It requires China to strengthen intellectual property protection and open its markets to foreign financial services companies.

The agreement also calls for China to increase its imports from the United States by $200 billion this year and next year, compared with levels in 2017, before the trade war began.

The chapter on extra purchases, one of seven chapters in the agreement, mandates specific increases in four categories of China’s imports from the United States: food, manufactured goods, energy and services.

China has increased its imports of American food since the pact was signed. But its overall imports of other American goods have fallen short of the administration’s initial hopes.

China’s total imports from the United States fell 5.6 percent in the first four months of this year compared with the same period last year, according to China’s trade data. According to an analysis by Panjiva, China’s imports in March of the goods it promised to buy in the trade deal were just 44 percent of their target level, and Chinese trade data suggested April might be worse.

Given the economic catastrophe caused by coronavirus, that is no surprise, analysts said.

China is still struggling to recover from its efforts to stamp out the coronavirus, which included shutting vast parts of its industrial machine; its economy shrank for the first time in nearly half a century. The United States is still debating when to end its own lockdowns, which have contributed to the loss of millions of jobs.

“There’s no chance whatsoever that the purchasing targets will be met,” said Scott Kennedy, a China expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Credit…Bryan Woolston/Reuters

Economists said plummeting consumer demand in China would likely translate to fewer purchases of American cars and Boeing aircraft, making it hard for China to meet the target for buying manufactured goods.

Shutdowns in American slaughterhouses could limit the amount of pork, beef and other American agricultural products available for purchase. And the price of oil and gas has collapsed, meaning China would have to buy many more barrels to meet a $50 billion target by the end of the next year.

Brad Setser, an economist at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the energy target from the trade deal “assumes a different world.”

Experts in China said Beijing would live up to its commitments, despite a pandemic that negotiators could not have anticipated when the truce was reached in mid-January.

“China sticks to the Phase 1 agreement,” said He Weiwen, a prominent Chinese trade expert and former Commerce Ministry official.

But Mr. He acknowledged that a nose-dive in world oil prices, together with falling Chinese energy usage as the country’s economy slows, would make it hard for China to meet the targets in the Phase 1 accord for energy imports from the United States.

“There is a phenomenal decrease in the demand,” Mr. He said.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump said during a White House briefing that by the end of next week he would review whether China was complying with the Phase 1 trade pact. But when asked about putting tariffs on China, he responded, “I don’t want to talk about this.”

Current and former trade officials on both sides of the Pacific have evinced little enthusiasm for a revival of the trade war and predicted that the agreement would survive.

“The Phase 1 agreement will set the rules of engagement even after the pandemic has receded,” said Jamieson Greer, who was chief of staff for Robert Lighthizer, the United States trade representative, until a month ago and is now a partner at King and Spalding, a Washington law firm.

The pact signed in January contains a clause saying the two countries may resume talks if “a natural disaster or other unforeseeable event” prevents them from keeping the terms of the deal. But China has insisted it isn’t exercising that provision.

Against that backdrop, the statements released by both governments after the call — which included Mr. Lighthizer, Vice Premier Liu He and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin — were noticeably upbeat.

“The two sides stated that they should strengthen macroeconomic and public health cooperation, strive to create a favorable atmosphere and conditions for the implementation of the first phase of the Sino-U.S. economic and trade agreement, and promote positive results,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said.

Credit…Mario Tama/Getty Images

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‘Never Seen Anything Like This’: Experts Question Dropping of Flynn Prosecution

Westlake Legal Group merlin_172047546_5e0998f9-d4e5-4f56-aa19-86334789d66e-facebookJumbo ‘Never Seen Anything Like This’: Experts Question Dropping of Flynn Prosecution Trump, Donald J Special Prosecutors (Independent Counsel) Shea, Timothy J (1960- ) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 2016 Justice Department Flynn, Michael T Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department’s decision to drop the criminal case against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, even though he had twice pleaded guilty to lying to investigators, was extraordinary and had no obvious precedent, a range of criminal law specialists said on Thursday.

“I’ve been practicing for more time than I care to admit and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Julie O’Sullivan, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Georgetown University.

The move is the latest in a series that the department, under Attorney General William P. Barr, has taken to undermine and dismantle the work of the investigators and prosecutors who scrutinized Russia’s 2016 election interference operation and its links to people associated with the Trump campaign.

The case against Mr. Flynn for lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations with the Russian ambassador was brought by the office of the former special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. It had become a political cause for Mr. Trump and his supporters, and the president had signaled that he was considering a pardon once Mr. Flynn was sentenced. But Mr. Barr instead abruptly short-circuited the case.

On Thursday, Timothy Shea, the interim U.S. attorney in the District of Columbia, told the judge overseeing the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, that prosecutors were withdrawing the case. They were doing so, he said, because the department could not prove to a jury that Mr. Flynn’s admitted lies to the F.B.I. about his conversations with the ambassador were “material” ones.

The move essentially erases Mr. Flynn’s guilty pleas. Because he was never sentenced and the government is unwilling to pursue the matter further, the prosecution is virtually certain to end, although the judge must still decide whether to grant the department’s request to dismiss it “with prejudice,” meaning it could not be refiled in the future.

A range of former prosecutors struggled to point to any previous instance in which the Justice Department had abandoned its own case after obtaining a guilty plea. They portrayed the justification Mr. Shea pointed to — that it would be difficult to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the lies were material — as dubious.

“A pardon would have been a lot more honest,” said Samuel Buell, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches criminal law at Duke University.

The law regarding what counts as “material” is extremely forgiving to the government, Mr. Buell added. The idea is that law enforcement is permitted to pursue possible theories of criminality and to interview people without having firmly established that there was a crime first.

James G. McGovern, a defense lawyer at Hogan Lovells and a former federal prosecutor, said juries rarely bought a defendant’s argument that a lie did not involve a material fact.

“If you are arguing ‘materiality,’ you usually lose, because there is a tacit admission that what you said was untrue, so you lose the jury,” he said.

No career prosecutors signed the motion. Mr. Shea is a former close aide to Mr. Barr. In January, Mr. Barr installed him as the top prosecutor in the district that encompasses the nation’s capital after maneuvering out the Senate-confirmed former top prosecutor in that office, Jessie K. Liu.

Soon after, in an extraordinary move, four prosecutors in the office abruptly quit the case against Mr. Trump’s longtime friend Roger J. Stone Jr. They did so after senior Justice Department officials intervened to recommend a more lenient prison term than standard sentencing guidelines called for in the crimes Mr. Stone was convicted of committing — including witness intimidation and perjury — to conceal Trump campaign interactions with WikiLeaks.

It soon emerged that Mr. Barr had also appointed an outside prosecutor, Jeff Jensen, the U.S. attorney in St. Louis, to review the Flynn case files. The department then began turning over F.B.I. documents showing internal deliberations about questioning Mr. Flynn, like what warnings to give — even though such files are usually not provided to the defense.

Mr. Flynn’s defense team has mined such files for ammunition to portray the F.B.I. as running amok in its decision to question Mr. Flynn in the first place. The questioning focused on his conversations during the transition after the 2016 election with the Russian ambassador about the Obama administration’s imposition of sanctions on Russia for its interference in the American election.

The F.B.I. had already concluded that there was no evidence that Mr. Flynn, a former Trump campaign adviser, had personally conspired with Russia about the election, and it had decided to close out the counterintelligence investigation into him. Then questions arose about whether and why Mr. Flynn had lied to administration colleagues like Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the ambassador.

Because the counterintelligence investigation was still open, the bureau used it as a basis to question Mr. Flynn about the conversations and decided not to warn him at its onset that it would be a crime to lie. Notes from Bill Priestap, then the head of the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence division, show that he wrote at one point about the planned interview: “What’s our goal? Truth/admission or to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired?”

Mr. Barr has let it be known that he does not think the F.B.I. ever had an adequate legal basis to open its Russia investigation in the first place, contrary to the judgment of the Justice Department’s inspector general.

In an interview on CBS News on Thursday, Mr. Barr defended the dropping of the charges against Mr. Flynn on the grounds that the F.B.I. “did not have a basis for a counterintelligence investigation against Flynn at that stage.”

Anne Milgram, a former federal prosecutor and former New Jersey attorney general who teaches criminal law at New York University, defended the F.B.I.’s decision to question Mr. Flynn in January 2017. She said that much was still a mystery about the Russian election interference operation at the time and that Mr. Flynn’s lying to the vice president about his postelection interactions with a high-ranking Russian raised new questions.

But, she argued, the more important frame for assessing the dropping of the case was to recognize how it fit into the larger pattern of the Barr-era department “undercutting the law enforcement officials and prosecutors who investigated the 2016 election and its aftermath,” which she likened to “eating the Justice Department from the inside out.”

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Trump Blocks C.D.C.’s Coronavirus Reopening Guidelines

Westlake Legal Group trump-blocks-c-d-c-s-coronavirus-reopening-guidelines Trump Blocks C.D.C.'s Coronavirus Reopening Guidelines United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Shutdowns (Institutional) Severino, Roger restaurants Redfield, Robert R Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Civil Rights and Liberties Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Birx, Deborah L

WASHINGTON — As President Trump rushes to reopen the economy, a battle has erupted between the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention over the agency’s detailed guidelines to help schools, restaurants, churches and other establishments safely reopen.

A copy of the C.D.C. guidance obtained by The New York Times includes sections for child care programs, schools and day camps, churches and other “communities of faith,” employers with vulnerable workers, restaurants and bars, and mass transit administrators. The recommendations include using disposable dishes and utensils at restaurants, closing every other row of seats in buses and subways while restricting transit routes among areas experiencing different levels of coronavirus infection, and separating children at school and camps into groups that should not mix throughout the day.

But White House and other administration officials rejected the recommendations over concerns that they were overly prescriptive, infringed on religious rights and risked further damaging an economy that Mr. Trump was banking on to recover quickly. One senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services with deep ties to religious conservatives objected to any controls on church services.

“Governments have a duty to instruct the public on how to stay safe during this crisis and can absolutely do so without dictating to people how they should worship God,” said Roger Severino, the director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights, who once oversaw the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at the Heritage Foundation.

A spokesman for the C.D.C. said the guidance was still under discussion with the White House and a revised version could be published soon.

“Over the last week, C.D.C. has been working on additional recommendations and guidance for reopening communities, returning to public events, and I expect, even today, that we’re going to receive a presentation on that,” Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday on a radio show broadcast in Pittsburgh. “And C.D.C. will be doing, as they often do, is publishing health care guidance at CDC.gov in the very near future.”

The C.D.C.’s director, Dr. Robert R. Redfield, and other leaders of the agency have had almost no public platform during the pandemic, with Dr. Deborah L. Birx, an infectious diseases expert coordinating the White House’s coronavirus response, and Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, another member of the coronavirus task force who is the longtime director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, handling most of the public speaking on the federal public health response, usually at briefings dominated by Mr. Trump. After the C.D.C. recommended the public wear masks, Mr. Trump said he probably would not do so, even as he announced the guidelines.

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The rejection of the C.D.C.’s guidelines for reopening is the latest confusing signal as the Trump administration struggles to balance the president’s desire to quickly reopen the country against the advice of public health experts, who have counseled reopening methodically through a series of steps tied to reduced rates of infection and expanded efforts to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The mixed signals extend to reopening guidelines: On April 16, Mr. Trump’s coronavirus task force released broad guidance for states to reopen in three phases, based on case levels and hospital capacity. But some members of the task force and other aides saw the more detailed C.D.C. guidance as a document that could slow down the reopening effort, according to several people with knowledge of the deliberations inside the West Wing.

To date, 24 states, mostly in the South, Great Plains and Interior West, have begun allowing certain businesses to reopen, sometimes only in certain counties. Many more have businesses that are set to reopen or stay-at-home orders that could lift in the next week or two.

In a senior staff meeting last week at the White House, Mark Meadows, the chief of staff, expressed concern that the guidelines were too uniform and rigid for places with minimal numbers of cases, according to a person familiar with the discussion.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_171532191_669a99ae-bf8d-4f68-9c97-87ece96ce2c7-articleLarge Trump Blocks C.D.C.'s Coronavirus Reopening Guidelines United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Shutdowns (Institutional) Severino, Roger restaurants Redfield, Robert R Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Civil Rights and Liberties Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Birx, Deborah L
Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

Particularly contentious were the C.D.C.’s recommendations for churches and other houses of worship. Mr. Severino vocally opposed them.

“Protections against religious discrimination aren’t suspended during an emergency,” he said in a statement on Thursday. “This means the federal government cannot single out religious conduct as somehow being more dangerous or worthy of scrutiny than comparable secular behavior.”

The recommendations for churches include encouraging all congregants to wear cloth face coverings when inside the building, offering video streaming or drive-in options for services and considering “suspending use of a choir or musical ensemble” during services. It also urges churches to consider “temporarily limiting the sharing of frequently touched objects,” like hymnals, prayer books and passed collection baskets.

A senior Trump administration official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about internal discussions, said that Dr. Birx also expressed skepticism about the C.D.C. guidelines in task force meetings. The official said that Dr. Birx said she was mistrustful of the data the agency had provided, although the official did not specify what exactly the doctor was concerned about.

The guidance, which the C.D.C. submitted to Dr. Birx in draft form on April 23 and to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget last week, was to help states, local governments and businesses adopt specific precautions to help keep the coronavirus from spreading once they reopened. But several federal agencies that reviewed the draft, including the Labor Department and the Office for Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services, protested, saying it would be harmful to businesses and the economy and too burdensome for houses of worship.

A federal official who supports the guidance said that Dr. Birx was in favor of publishing them, and that Joe Grogan, the director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council, even tried to broker a compromise — but that others in the White House pushed back, especially on the worship section. Dr. Birx was not available for comment.

Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

In one version of the draft guidance, the section titled “Interim Guidance for Communities of Faith” was left blank, with a note in capital letters referring to multiple federal agencies that has to come to agreement. But another version included the guidance for faith communities with the caveat that it “is not intended to infringe on First Amendment rights as provided in the U.S. Constitution.”

“The federal government may not prescribe standards for interactions of faith communities in houses of worship,” the second version states. “C.D.C. offers these suggestions that faith communities may consider and accept or reject.”

Abby Goodnough reported from Washington, and Maggie Haberman from New York. Michael D. Shear and Noah Weiland contributed reporting from Washington.

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Justice Dept. Drops Case Against Michael Flynn

Westlake Legal Group justice-dept-drops-case-against-michael-flynn Justice Dept. Drops Case Against Michael Flynn United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Justice Department Flynn, Michael T Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P
Westlake Legal Group 07dc-flynn-sub-facebookJumbo Justice Dept. Drops Case Against Michael Flynn United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Justice Department Flynn, Michael T Federal Bureau of Investigation Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department dropped its criminal case on Thursday against Michael T. Flynn, President Trump’s first national security adviser, who had previously pleaded guilty to lying to F.B.I. agents about his conversations with a Russian diplomat.

The extraordinary move comes amid a sustained attack by Mr. Flynn’s lawyers on prosecutors and the F.B.I., accusing them of egregious conduct. In recent days, Mr. Flynn’s lawyers said the Justice Department had uncovered new documents that pointed to misconduct, particularly in investigators’ interview of Mr. Flynn in January 2017 as part of its inquiry into whether Trump advisers conspired with Russia’s election interference.

Law enforcement officials cited that interview in moving to drop the charges, saying in a court filing that the some of newfound documents showed that the questioning “was untethered to, and unjustified by, the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn” and that the case did not meet the legal standard that Mr. Flynn’s lies be “materially” relevant to the matter under investigation.

In a possible sign of disagreement with the Justice Department decision, Brandon L. Van Grack, the department lawyer who led the prosecution of Mr. Flynn, abruptly withdrew from the case on Thursday. Mr. Flynn’s lawyers have repeatedly attacked Mr. Van Grack by name in court filings, citing his “incredible malfeasance.”

Responding to the news, Mr. Trump told reporters that Mr. Flynn was “an innocent man,” and said he now views him as an “even greater warrior.”

Mr. Flynn first pleaded guilty in late 2017 to lying to investigators and cooperated extensively before moving to withdraw his plea and fight the case in court. He had also entered a guilty plea a second time in 2018 at an aborted sentencing hearing.

And in a highly unusual step, Attorney General William P. Barr assigned an outside prosecutor to review the Justice Department’s case. As part of that review, prosecutors turned over documents starting last month that Mr. Flynn’s lawyers said proved the former general had been framed by the F.B.I.

Mr. Flynn’s case grew out of an investigation by law enforcement officials who had reason to suspect that he constituted a national security threat. They learned that he had lied in January 2017 to other White House officials about conversations during the presidential transition with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and they warned the White House that Russia could have blackmailed Mr. Flynn, then the Trump administration’s highest-ranking national security official.

The White House was prepared for the possibility of Mr. Trump pardoning Mr. Flynn last week, according to two people familiar with the discussions. But some advisers urged him to hold off and let the case play out, either with the Justice Department or with the judge in the case, according to the people familiar with the discussions.

So Mr. Trump agreed, and he held off. If he was briefed by Mr. Barr long before the decision, he did not let on to advisers, according to those familiar with the discussions.

After more than a year of cooperating with investigators, Mr. Flynn adopted a more combative stance last year when he hired new lawyers who have accused Mr. Van Grack and other prosecutors in a blizzard of court filings of “bad faith,” pressuring their client to cooperate and withholding exculpatory evidence.

But the federal judge in Washington overseeing the case, Emmet G. Sullivan, forcefully rejected most of the defense’s claims in a 92-page ruling in December.

Mr. Flynn, a decorated lieutenant general and former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, was an early supporter of Mr. Trump’s campaign, joining the crowd in a “lock her up” chant about Hillary Clinton at the Republican National Convention in 2016.

Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the F.B.I. about his conversations during the presidential transition with the Russian ambassador to the United States at the time, Sergey I. Kislyak.

The F.B.I. had interviewed Mr. Flynn four days after Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Less than a month later, Mr. Flynn was forced to resign as national security adviser. According to the White House at the time, the reason Mr. Flynn was forced to resign was because he was not forthcoming with Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with Mr. Kislyak.

Mr. Flynn eventually admitted that those discussions were part of a coordinated effort by the president’s aides to make foreign policy before they were in power, which undermined the policy of President Barack Obama.

Mr. Flynn also lied in federal filings about his lobbying work for the Turkish government, court papers show. Two of his former business associates were charged with conspiring to violate federal lobbying rules in cases related to the special counsel inquiry.

Mr. Trump raised concerns about the F.B.I.’s scrutiny of Mr. Flynn during the early days of his presidency, asking the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, to end any investigation into Mr. Flynn. Details about the president’s request became public a few months later after Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey and helped prompt Mr. Mueller’s appointment as special counsel.

After firing Mr. Flynn, the president thought he had put an end to the Russia inquiry that had been dogging him for months.

“Flynn met with the Russians. That was the problem. I fired Flynn. It’s over,” Mr. Trump said, according to a book published by former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, an ally of the president’s.

The special counsel’s prosecutors considered Mr. Flynn a key early cooperator as “one of the few people with long-term and firsthand insight” into their inquiry into whether any Trump associates criminally conspired with Russia’s 2016 election interference.

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting from New York.

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Knock, Knock, Who’s There? No Political Canvassers, for the First Time Maybe Ever

Joseph R. Biden Jr. went door-to-door in his first Senate race in 1972, and had volunteers hand-deliver mailers. In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez walked across her district until rainwater seeped through the soles of her sneakers. This past winter, Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign mobilized an army of supporters to hit more than 800,000 doors ahead of the Iowa caucuses.

But in the fall of 2020, volunteers might have to knock on a door and then sprint 10 feet away, making a pitch from a safe social distance. That is one tactic some strategists have floated as they consider a pandemic-safe update to a fundamental political tool: the humble door knock.

For decades, showing up on a voter’s doorstep has been one of the most reliable ways to get people to the polls. Now political parties and candidates that put tens of millions of dollars into training and deploying door knockers are grappling with costly, consequential and imminent decisions about whether they should even invest in traditional brick-and-mortar infrastructure that powers such operations.

Campaigns face a dilemma, even as they put on a happy face about their seamless transitions to a forced all-digital reality: Don’t invest and risk falling behind on a field operation (if door knocking does become realistic). Or spend money now on offices, computers, clipboards that could sit idle in October, and waste time training traditional canvassers.

For now, nearly every campaign at every level is rushing to fill the breach with virtual programs that no one has ever depended on like this — or tested at such a scale.

“Campaigns don’t need a new ‘Plan B’ for field. They need a new ‘Plan A’ because door-to-door canvassing is not going to happen at scale in the 2020 election,” said Becky Bond, a Democratic strategist who worked on Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 Senate campaign and specializes in developing field programs that use technology.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_168344637_b1aeca97-a5cc-4bef-8dc7-75a47a0778a2-articleLarge Knock, Knock, Who’s There? No Political Canvassers, for the First Time Maybe Ever Volunteers and Community Service Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Democratic Party democratic national committee Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Computers and the Internet Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Hilary Swift for The New York Times

Or, as Ari Rabin-Havt, deputy campaign manager for Mr. Sanders’s 2020 campaign, put it, “Even if there are official pronouncements of the country opening back up again, are people going to open the door for strangers at their houses?”

What physical campaigning will look like this fall is especially important for Mr. Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, who has a far less robust digital presence than President Trump. Mr. Trump enters the race with other advantages of incumbency, including a vast financial edge, a unique ability to command attention and a supporter base that has proved particularly enthusiastic and durable. Mr. Biden won the primary in spite of a field operation that had a more limited presence on the ground than his leading rivals almost everywhere.

“They really didn’t have much of an operation as far as I could tell,” said Claire Sandberg, the national organizing director for Mr. Sanders. “They were way behind.”

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Contacting voters by the millions does not happen overnight, and late spring is often when hiring ramps up. Campaigns typically must rent field offices, train organizers and recruit volunteers. That first wave of volunteers recruits the next wave and so on, ideally a gradual build that grows exponentially.

“It’s not something where you can flick a light switch. It is more like a ship you have to launch early,” said David Bergstein, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, who said the party had shifted to an all-digital field program.

That cycle — at least the in-person portion — has been halted for the foreseeable future as volunteer recruitment and organizing have migrated fully online. But Ms. Bond warned Democrats against any disinvestment in “human-to-human interactions” — even if done virtually. “We’ve already seen Trump beat a Democrat that failed to run a big enough voter-contact campaign in enough states to win the Electoral College,” she said.

Up and down the ballot, campaigns in battleground states are assessing the effectiveness of texting efforts, Zoom calls for volunteers and remote organizing.

In Minnesota, the chairman of the state Democratic Party said it had put on hold plans for 30 additional offices in a state that President Trump has vowed to contest. “There’s no reason to incur the expense,” said the chairman, Ken Martin, who leads the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and is vice-chair of the national Democratic National Committee, citing the uncertainty of the fall.

In Florida, the executive director of the state Democratic Party, Juan Peñalosa, said the party already had nearly two dozen offices but was adding new skills and social-media account information to its job listings. “We need to get used to the new abnormal,” he said. More than 100 campaign staff members have shifted to all-virtual organizing.

In Wisconsin, Ben Wikler, the state Democratic chairman, called an April election held during the pandemic a “dress rehearsal” for November. He said that election fundamentally “changed the role of volunteers from being a reminder service to a tech-support team,” helping voters request vote-by-mail ballots.

“We’ve converted one of the country’s most intensive door-knocking operations into one of the country’s most intensive screen-pinging operations,” he said, adding that the focus now was on new hires’ having laptops and high-speed internet, rather than on opening new offices.

Credit…Emily Elconin/Reuters

The Republican National Committee said that the party had more than 800 field organizers spread across battleground states already, but that it had started moving away from organizing in physical offices after 2016. “That traditional brick-and-mortar just didn’t make sense anymore,” said Rick Gorka, a spokesman for the committee, adding that volunteers had made 20 million voter contacts by phone since mid-March.

Groups that specialize in door-to-door campaigning must figure out how to make up for lost time.

Matt Morrison, executive director of Working America, a political organizing arm linked to the A.F.L.-C.I.O., said his group, with a $70 million budget goal, suspended canvassing operations in mid-March and projected that delaying restarting until June with the same level of investment would mean only 700,000 conversations by Election Day instead of two million.

He is worried about what that means for Democrats. “Trying to beat Trump at the earned media game hasn’t really worked out so great,” Mr. Morrison said. “If anything, having face-to-face and relationship-based interactions becomes disproportionately valuable.”

Door knocking is not just some romanticized notion of how campaigns should work. Strategists point to political science research showing that in-depth and in-person conversations are particularly effective tools at moving votes.

“We definitely know that door-to-door canvassing can meaningfully impact voter turnout,” said David Broockman, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley.

Because of that, “if there is any way to do it safely and responsibly, we will door knock in the fall,” said Jessica Post, the president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which is devoted to winning seats in state legislatures.

Similarly, campaigns have turned to what is known as relational organizing, asking supporters to plumb their own contact lists to make calls instead of phone-banking strangers.

In March, Mr. Biden installed a new campaign manager, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, who had overseen the 2012 field operations of President Barack Obama’s re-election. People who have worked with Ms. Dillon describe her as a particularly field-focused tactician.

The Biden campaign has tried to swiftly shift its outreach to be fully digital in recent weeks, empowering volunteers to create their own pro-Biden content via Slack channels, organizing remote phone-banking and starting to form like-minded communities of supporters online.

“Obviously this is one of the odder times people have ever lived through,” said Molly Ritner, Mr. Biden’s states director, adding that the campaign was planning for a range of possibilities this fall. “I think that connecting with people on a one-on-one level will be incredibly important in this campaign.”

Making those connections can be complicated. The Biden campaign still has not begun using some of the more modern dialing technology on the market, which automates the calling process and helps connect volunteers immediately to real supporters.

Instead, the campaign is using a system that multiple operatives described as slow, cumbersome and clunky.

Credit…Travis Dove for The New York Times

One big decision for the Biden campaign, Ms. Dillon and the Democratic National Committee: what to do about an unusual group called Organizing Together. The organization formed this year with the explicit mission to build an enormous field program in six key battleground states — Arizona, Florida, Michigan, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — and then disband after handing its staff and office leases over to the Democratic nominee.

“We’ll stop operating as soon as their field operations are set up,” said Jane Slusser, the group’s national director.

The effort was an outgrowth of frustrations from Hillary Clinton in 2016 that she inherited so little from the D.N.C. and of fears that a prolonged 2020 primary would hobble whoever emerged as the nominee.

But now it is not clear, given the current conditions, if the joint Biden-and-D.N.C. operation — which entered April with $187 million less in cash on hand than Mr. Trump and the Republican National Committee — will even want to absorb the cost of these field organizers. The D.N.C. is understandably partial to its own field program, according to people familiar with the matter. Ms. Slusser said in late April that Organizing Together had already hired more than 230 organizers with plans to roughly double that figure by the end of May.

The Biden campaign and D.N.C. declined to comment on any plans for the Organizing Together corps. Other organizers competing for jobs include alumni of the Michael R. Bloomberg campaign; Mr. Bloomberg gifted $18 million in leftover funds to the D.N.C.

Ms. Slusser said her group had fully transitioned to online organizing but acknowledged the challenge ahead. “There is an electricity that exists in a field office that you just can’t deny,” she said. “How do you recreate that energy and excitement in an online space?”

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Betsy DeVos Completes Sexual Assault Rules

Westlake Legal Group 00dc-titleix-facebookJumbo Betsy DeVos Completes Sexual Assault Rules Trump, Donald J Title IX (Gender Discrimination Legislation) sexual harassment Sex Crimes School Discipline (Students) Education Department (US) DeVos, Elizabeth (1958- ) Colleges and Universities

WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday issued final regulations on sexual misconduct in education, delivering colleges and schools firm new rules on how they must deal with one of the biggest issues that have roiled their campuses for decades.

The rules fulfill one of the Trump administration’s major policy goals for Title IX, the 48-year-old federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in programs that receive federal funding, bolstering due-process protections for accused students while relieving schools of some legal liabilities. But Ms. DeVos extended the reach of the law in other ways, establishing dating violence as a sexual misconduct category that must be addressed and mandating supportive measures for alleged victims of assault.

But enforcement of the law has also grown contentious, especially since the Obama administration issued guidance documents in 2011 and 2014 that advised schools to ramp up investigations of misconduct and warned that their failure to do so could bring serious consequences. Critics said schools felt pressured to side with accusers without extending sufficient rights to the accused. And dozens of students have won court cases against their colleges for violating their rights under the Obama-era rules.

When Ms. DeVos announced in 2017 that she was rescinding the Obama-era guidance, she said she would give schools, from kindergarten to college, regulations with the force of law that balanced those rights. Her final rules, which she called a “historic” break from the “kangaroo courts” of the past, take effect Aug. 14.

“Today we release a final rule that recognizes we can continue to combat sexual misconduct without abandoning our core values of fairness, presumption of innocence and due process,” Ms. DeVos said on a call with reporters.

Victims’ rights groups promised they would challenge the new rules in court.

“We refuse to go back to the days when rape and harassment in schools were ignored and swept under the rug,” said Fatima Goss Graves, the president of the National Women’s Law Center.

The new regulations adopt the Supreme Court’s definition of sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct that is so severe, pervasive and objectively offensive,” and they require colleges to hold live hearings during which accusers and accused can be cross-examined to challenge their credibility. The rules also limit the complaints that schools are obligated to investigate to only those filed through a formal process and brought to the attention of officials with the authority to take corrective action, not other authority figures like residential advisers.

Schools will also be responsible for investigating only episodes said to have occurred within their programs and activities, not, for instance, apartments not affiliated with a university. And they will have the flexibility to choose which evidentiary standard to use to find students responsible for misconduct — “preponderance of evidence” or “clear and convincing evidence.”

To find a school legally culpable for mishandling accusations, it would have to be proved “deliberately indifferent” in carrying out mandates to provide support to victims and investigate complaints fairly. The 2,000-page document emphasizes “equitable” treatment and the presumption of innocence.

The rules are the most concrete and wide-reaching policy measure of Ms. DeVos’s tenure and were pushed by President Trump. Groups that have long fought the Obama-era rules claimed victory on Wednesday.

“The department’s new regulations require schools to provide students with a fundamentally fair process before imposing these life-altering consequences,” said Samantha Harris, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a higher-education group.

The Obama administration’s “Dear Colleague” letter of 2011 and supplementary policy clarification in 2014 defined sexual harassment broadly and held schools liable for episodes they knew about or “reasonably should” have known about. They asked schools to adopt a “preponderance of evidence” standard in adjudicating cases and discouraged cross-examination and mediation between accusers and accused.

Victims’ rights groups said that approach shepherded in a new era of accountability at colleges, putting schools on notice that Title IX did not only address equal access to sports teams. The Obama administration found a pattern of cover-ups and rampant mishandling of Title IX proceedings in both higher education and elementary and secondary schools, and it initiated high-profile investigations at schools that carried the threat of losing federal funding.

Arne Duncan and John B. King Jr., President Barack Obama’s secretaries of education, said in a joint statement that the rules were “part of an egregiously troubling pattern to continue to rollback civil rights for students, especially those most underserved.”

“We believe, as noted in the 2011 Obama administration guidance, that institutions should hold those who violate Title IX accountable for their actions and protect victims’ rights,” the former secretaries said. “To do otherwise is simply unacceptable.”

Ms. DeVos’s initial proposals, released in November 2018, elicited more than 120,000 public comments and prompted hundreds of meetings between Education Department officials and advocacy groups.

The final rules were changed to address at least some concerns. The department amended provisions that would have allowed schools to ignore virtually all accusations of misconduct that occurred off campus, and officials changed proceedings that critics argued would have re-traumatized victims.

For instance, the department did extend responsibility beyond campus, saying that schools would be obliged to investigate accusations of misconduct that occur in “a building owned or controlled by a student organization that is officially recognized by a postsecondary institution,” like a fraternity or sorority.

Jurisdiction also extends to “locations, events or circumstances” over which the school exercised “substantial control” over students and activities, like field trips or academic conferences. However, the rules exclude actions that happen to students studying abroad.

It also softens initial proposals for cross-examination. It prohibits students from questioning each other in personal confrontations, leaving that to advisers and lawyers. A hearing officer must first decide if the questions are relevant, and questions about a person’s sexual history are generally not.

Lawyers for accused students pressed for cross-examination, which they believed a crucial tool for rooting out the truth and frivolous complaints.

Justin Dillon, a lawyer at KaiserDillon, which has represented more than 100 accused students at more than 100 schools, said the rules were a “huge victory for basic fairness and long overdue.”

“It was a process that resembles almost nothing that the administration has done — it was honest, it was thorough,” he said. “If the Trump administration had put half the thought into the coronavirus as they did into the Title IX regulations, we’d all be going back to work now.”

The final regulations also make exceptions for primary, secondary and other specialized schools amid concerns that the draft regulations would have subjected small children to the same treatment as young adults. Those schools are not required to hold a hearing or cross-examinations, though parties must be able to submit written questions. And students in primary and secondary schools can report their claims to any staff member, unlike colleges, where reports must be made to a high-ranking official.

The department maintained that the Supreme Court’s strict definition of harassment was so severe and pervasive that it effectively denies a person access to a school’s education program or activity. But the final rule added that conduct could be harassment if “a reasonable person” would say it was. The department also clarified that sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence and stalking are also sexual harassment, and those accusations would not have to meet a severe and pervasive standard.

The rules still mandate that schools dismiss complaints that do not meet the sexual harassment definition, even if the accusations are proved true.

The rules bolster the role and visibility of the Title IX coordinator, the main point person for facilitating the complaint process, and allow schools to appoint several staff members to the position. Those staff members are now required to provide “supportive measures” to accusers even if they choose not to go through with a formal complaint. The department added an extensive section to combat retaliation against people who bring forward complaints of sexual misconduct.

Meredith Smith, the assistant provost for Title IX and Clery compliance at Tulane University, said she worried how her students would respond to the rules, including those accused of misconduct.

“They’re going to see this incredibly legalistic way of responding to the harms that they’ve experienced, including being accused of horrible things, and instead of thinking of us as people who can help, we’re now here to litigate,” she said. “I thought I was working in civil rights and ensuring access to education, but instead I’m going to be running a courtroom.”

The rules require that accused students be given written assurance that they are presumed innocent. Schools would not be able to impose any disciplinary actions on students accused of misconduct until the end of the case, though they retain the ability to remove students from campus if they are found to pose a risk. Cases involving students can be resolved through mediation, but those involving both staff and students cannot.

The rules could be reversed in Congress, should Democrats win back the Senate and keep the House in November.

“Democrats will not stand silently as the Trump administration attacks the civil rights of students and will fight to ensure that every college campus is free from the fear and threat of discrimination, harassment or violence,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement.

Republicans praised the rules as fair.

“Under the previous administration, a single official at the U.S. Department of Education was issuing edicts, without the proper public input,” said Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, the chairman of the Senate Education Committee.

College and public school leaders urged Ms. DeVos to hold off on issuing the regulations during the coronavirus pandemic, and with most of their schools closed, they have called on her to at least postpone their effective date.

​“The Department of Education is not living in the real world,” said Ted Mitchell, the president of the American Council on Education, which represents college presidents and administrators. “Choosing this moment to impose the most complex and challenging regulations the agency has ever issued reflects appallingly poor judgment.”

Ms. DeVos defended her decision, saying schools have known the rules were coming and have ample time to prepare.

“The reality is civil rights really can’t wait,” she said.

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Trump’s New Message: Time to Move On to the Recovery

WASHINGTON — Confronted with America’s worst public health crisis in generations, President Trump declared himself a wartime president. Now he has begun doing what past commanders have done when a war goes badly: Declare victory and go home.

The war, however, does not seem over. Outside New York, the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is still growing, not receding. The latest death toll estimates have more than doubled from what Mr. Trump predicted just weeks ago. And polls show the public is not ready to restore normal life.

But Mr. Trump’s cure-can’t-be-worse-than-the-disease logic is clear: As bad as the virus may be, the cost of the virtual national lockdown has grown too high. With more than 30 million people out of work and businesses collapsing by the day, keeping the country at home seems unsustainable. With the virus still spreading and no vaccine available until next year at the earliest, though, the president has decided that for life to resume for many, some may have to die.

“Hopefully that won’t be the case,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday when asked if deaths would rise as a result of reopening, but added, “It could very well be the case.”

“But we have to get our country open again,” he continued. “People want to go back, and you’re going to have a problem if you don’t do it.”

For a president who had staked his legacy on an economic record that was shredded by the crisis, moving on may seem like the best way to salvage his chances for re-election this fall. He tried to signal that this week by saying that his coronavirus task force would soon begin winding down.

By his own admission, Mr. Trump was surprised to discover that many others thought it was too soon to do that. By Wednesday he reversed course, vowing to keep the task force going “indefinitely” and promising that health experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx would remain part of the group even as he added other members.

Even then, the president tried to pivot by redefining the task force’s mission to figuring out how to reopen the country safely and soon.

“I thought we could wind it down sooner,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he hosted nurses in the Oval Office to sign a proclamation honoring National Nurses Day. “But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday. When I started talking about winding it down, I got calls from very respected people saying, ‘I think it would be better to keep it going.’”

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That partial retreat did not mean that Mr. Trump had changed his mind about the broader direction. At a news briefing later in the afternoon, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, described the task force’s battle with the virus as if it were largely past.

“They’ve gotten our country through this,” she said. “There were supposed to be 2.2 million deaths, and we’re at a point where we’re far lower than that thanks to the great work of the task force and the leadership of President Trump.”

The death toll on Wednesday passed 72,000, or roughly the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Evanston, Ill.; Canton, Ohio; or Wilmington, Del., and far beyond the low estimate of 50,000 advanced by Mr. Trump just a couple of weeks ago. The widely cited model of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington now predicts 134,475 deaths by Aug. 4, twice its previous estimate and about the population of Charleston, S.C.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_171945267_537dd6b4-6ac4-4bec-8a3e-fa25ec02f30e-articleLarge Trump’s New Message: Time to Move On to the Recovery United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Epidemics Deaths (Fatalities) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…John Moore/Getty Images

Mr. Trump acknowledged the toll but characterized it as low compared with what it could have been. “It’s a big number, but it’s also a number that’s the lower scale,” he said in a separate appearance with Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa.

The president has made little effort to reconcile his increasing pressure to reopen with the increasing death toll, instead boasting that the government is now in better shape to deal with new cases with more ventilators, masks and other equipment.

“I think he has given up on the hard stuff and as a consequence is writing off people’s lives,” said Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama and now a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

“Not, unfortunately, in exchange for a better economic outcome,” he added. “The economy — hiring, consumer spending, buying cars, getting on airplanes, signing leases — isn’t going to happen. It’s not going to happen until we have demonstrated we can navigate this global health crisis.”

Most Americans do not have confidence in that yet, preferring that the president and their states take a slower course in the name of public health. By a ratio of 2 to 1, those surveyed by Monmouth University in a poll released this week were more concerned about lifting restrictions too quickly rather than too slowly. And 56 percent said the more important factor should be making sure as few people get sick as possible, while 33 percent said it was more important to prevent the economy from sinking into a profound downturn.

About half the states have begun to reopen their economies and public life in some meaningful way, and in some of them the risk may be low because they have seen only limited infections to date. But others are lifting restrictions on business and travel even though they do not meet the standards set by Mr. Trump’s administration calling for 14 days of declining cases before the earliest steps.

In New York, the epicenter of the outbreak until now, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo acknowledged the difficult choices and has resisted moving quickly. “The fundamental question which we’re not articulating is how much is a human life worth?” he asked at a briefing on Tuesday. “There’s a cost of staying closed, no doubt — economic cost, personal cost. There’s also a cost of reopening quickly. Either option has a cost.”

Reopening while the virus remains unchecked could exacerbate the already disproportionate effects, experts said, particularly on lower-income families where breadwinners cannot work from home and have less access to quality health care.

“Doing so will result in many, many more deaths, with those deaths, of course, concentrated among less affluent Americans,” said Jacob S. Hacker, the director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. “And not just more deaths, but also a rationale for denying additional unemployment benefits and other vital assistance to those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.”

Credit…Joseph Rushmore for The New York Times

Mr. Trump argued that the country was better prepared to handle new cases even as doors reopened and that precautions would make a difference. As an example, he said Americans over the age of 60 and especially those with diabetes or heart problems should remain cautious about returning to work or public spaces.

“This virus is going to disappear,” he said. “It’s a question of when. Will it come back in a small way? Will it come back in a fairly large way? But we know how to deal with it now much better.”

Remaining closed, he added, is not an option. “We can’t have our whole country out. We can’t do it. The country won’t take it. It won’t stand it. It’s not sustainable.”

In addition to the damage to the country, Mr. Trump has long viewed the pandemic through the lens of his political prospects.

He openly admitted in March that he did not want to let infected patients from a cruise ship disembark because it would increase the number of cases counted in the United States. He essentially made the same calculation on Wednesday by saying that more testing only reveals more infections and therefore increases the numbers. “In a way, by doing all this testing we make ourselves look bad,” he said.

Mr. Trump returned to his military analogy at one point on Wednesday, calling Americans “warriors” in the battle and comparing the virus outbreak, which he blamed on China, to sneak attacks by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941, and Al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001.

“This is worse than Pearl Harbor,” he said. “This is worse than the World Trade Center. There has never been an attack like this.”

As it happens, the death toll is now about 24 times that of the Sept. 11 attack and 30 times that of the Pearl Harbor bombing, and still climbing. But Mr. Trump had no interest in extending the analogy to a long global war against tyranny or terrorists.

Instead, he said, for today’s Americans, the front lines will be at their workplaces, schools, places of worship, street corners and shopping malls. “We have to be warriors,” he said. “We can’t keep our country closed down for years.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump’s New Message: Time to Move On to the Recovery

WASHINGTON — Confronted with America’s worst public health crisis in generations, President Trump declared himself a wartime president. Now he has begun doing what past commanders have done when a war goes badly: Declare victory and go home.

The war, however, does not seem over. Outside New York, the coronavirus pandemic in the United States is still growing, not receding. The latest death toll estimates have more than doubled from what Mr. Trump predicted just weeks ago. And polls show the public is not ready to restore normal life.

But Mr. Trump’s cure-can’t-be-worse-than-the-disease logic is clear: As bad as the virus may be, the cost of the virtual national lockdown has grown too high. With more than 30 million people out of work and businesses collapsing by the day, keeping the country at home seems unsustainable. With the virus still spreading and no vaccine available until next year at the earliest, though, the president has decided that for life to resume for many, some may have to die.

“Hopefully that won’t be the case,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday when asked if deaths would rise as a result of reopening, but added, “It could very well be the case.”

“But we have to get our country open again,” he continued. “People want to go back, and you’re going to have a problem if you don’t do it.”

For a president who had staked his legacy on an economic record that was shredded by the crisis, moving on may seem like the best way to salvage his chances for re-election this fall. He tried to signal that this week by saying that his coronavirus task force would soon begin winding down.

By his own admission, Mr. Trump was surprised to discover that many others thought it was too soon to do that. By Wednesday he reversed course, vowing to keep the task force going “indefinitely” and promising that health experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci and Dr. Deborah L. Birx would remain part of the group even as he added other members.

Even then, the president tried to pivot by redefining the task force’s mission to figuring out how to reopen the country safely and soon.

“I thought we could wind it down sooner,” Mr. Trump told reporters as he hosted nurses in the Oval Office to sign a proclamation honoring National Nurses Day. “But I had no idea how popular the task force is until actually yesterday. When I started talking about winding it down, I got calls from very respected people saying, ‘I think it would be better to keep it going.’”

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That partial retreat did not mean that Mr. Trump had changed his mind about the broader direction. At a news briefing later in the afternoon, Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, described the task force’s battle with the virus as if it were largely past.

“They’ve gotten our country through this,” she said. “There were supposed to be 2.2 million deaths, and we’re at a point where we’re far lower than that thanks to the great work of the task force and the leadership of President Trump.”

The death toll on Wednesday passed 72,000, or roughly the equivalent of every man, woman and child in Evanston, Ill.; Canton, Ohio; or Wilmington, Del., and far beyond the low estimate of 50,000 advanced by Mr. Trump just a couple of weeks ago. The widely cited model of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington now predicts 134,475 deaths by Aug. 4, twice its previous estimate and about the population of Charleston, S.C.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_171945267_537dd6b4-6ac4-4bec-8a3e-fa25ec02f30e-articleLarge Trump’s New Message: Time to Move On to the Recovery United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Epidemics Deaths (Fatalities) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…John Moore/Getty Images

Mr. Trump acknowledged the toll but characterized it as low compared with what it could have been. “It’s a big number, but it’s also a number that’s the lower scale,” he said in a separate appearance with Gov. Kim Reynolds of Iowa.

The president has made little effort to reconcile his increasing pressure to reopen with the increasing death toll, instead boasting that the government is now in better shape to deal with new cases with more ventilators, masks and other equipment.

“I think he has given up on the hard stuff and as a consequence is writing off people’s lives,” said Andy Slavitt, the acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Barack Obama and now a senior adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.

“Not, unfortunately, in exchange for a better economic outcome,” he added. “The economy — hiring, consumer spending, buying cars, getting on airplanes, signing leases — isn’t going to happen. It’s not going to happen until we have demonstrated we can navigate this global health crisis.”

Most Americans do not have confidence in that yet, preferring that the president and their states take a slower course in the name of public health. By a ratio of 2 to 1, those surveyed by Monmouth University in a poll released this week were more concerned about lifting restrictions too quickly rather than too slowly. And 56 percent said the more important factor should be making sure as few people get sick as possible, while 33 percent said it was more important to prevent the economy from sinking into a profound downturn.

About half the states have begun to reopen their economies and public life in some meaningful way, and in some of them the risk may be low because they have seen only limited infections to date. But others are lifting restrictions on business and travel even though they do not meet the standards set by Mr. Trump’s administration calling for 14 days of declining cases before the earliest steps.

In New York, the epicenter of the outbreak until now, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo acknowledged the difficult choices and has resisted moving quickly. “The fundamental question which we’re not articulating is how much is a human life worth?” he asked at a briefing on Tuesday. “There’s a cost of staying closed, no doubt — economic cost, personal cost. There’s also a cost of reopening quickly. Either option has a cost.”

Reopening while the virus remains unchecked could exacerbate the already disproportionate effects, experts said, particularly on lower-income families where breadwinners cannot work from home and have less access to quality health care.

“Doing so will result in many, many more deaths, with those deaths, of course, concentrated among less affluent Americans,” said Jacob S. Hacker, the director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. “And not just more deaths, but also a rationale for denying additional unemployment benefits and other vital assistance to those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.”

Credit…Joseph Rushmore for The New York Times

Mr. Trump argued that the country was better prepared to handle new cases even as doors reopened and that precautions would make a difference. As an example, he said Americans over the age of 60 and especially those with diabetes or heart problems should remain cautious about returning to work or public spaces.

“This virus is going to disappear,” he said. “It’s a question of when. Will it come back in a small way? Will it come back in a fairly large way? But we know how to deal with it now much better.”

Remaining closed, he added, is not an option. “We can’t have our whole country out. We can’t do it. The country won’t take it. It won’t stand it. It’s not sustainable.”

In addition to the damage to the country, Mr. Trump has long viewed the pandemic through the lens of his political prospects.

He openly admitted in March that he did not want to let infected patients from a cruise ship disembark because it would increase the number of cases counted in the United States. He essentially made the same calculation on Wednesday by saying that more testing only reveals more infections and therefore increases the numbers. “In a way, by doing all this testing we make ourselves look bad,” he said.

Mr. Trump returned to his military analogy at one point on Wednesday, calling Americans “warriors” in the battle and comparing the virus outbreak, which he blamed on China, to sneak attacks by Japan on Dec. 7, 1941, and Al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001.

“This is worse than Pearl Harbor,” he said. “This is worse than the World Trade Center. There has never been an attack like this.”

As it happens, the death toll is now about 24 times that of the Sept. 11 attack and 30 times that of the Pearl Harbor bombing, and still climbing. But Mr. Trump had no interest in extending the analogy to a long global war against tyranny or terrorists.

Instead, he said, for today’s Americans, the front lines will be at their workplaces, schools, places of worship, street corners and shopping malls. “We have to be warriors,” he said. “We can’t keep our country closed down for years.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Coronavirus Masks and Testing Kits: Firm Set Up by G.O.P. Operatives Under Scrutiny

WASHINGTON — A company created just six weeks ago by a pair of Republican operatives received hundreds of millions of dollars in payments from desperate state and local governments for coronavirus supplies, but is now facing a federal criminal investigation and a rising chorus of complaints from customers who say their orders never arrived.

The company, Blue Flame Medical, had boasted that it could quickly obtain coveted test kits, N95 masks and other personal protective equipment through a Chinese government-owned company with which it had partnered, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.

Blue Flame was started by a pair of Republican political consultants, Mike Gula and John Thomas, who did not have much experience in the medical supply field. Mr. Gula’s fund-raising firm has been paid more than $36 million since 2008 by a range of top Republican politicians and political committees, while Mr. Thomas has served as a general consultant to a number of campaigns.

Mr. Thomas had said in an interview in late March that the pair had developed “very, very large networks” through their work in politics that would enable them to secure supplies from manufacturers, and connect to customers, such as government offices, large medical systems and law enforcement agencies around the world, including in the Middle East.

The company’s pitch — which was accompanied by an endorsement from a well-connected Chinese businessman who is an associate of Mr. Thomas’s — struck a chord with government agencies scrambling to obtain lifesaving supplies as the severity of the pandemic was becoming apparent.

Orders came in from state governments, local police departments and airports in California, Florida and Maryland, according to interviews and documents.

But things have not gone as planned.

The State of California quickly clawed back a $457 million payment for 100 million masks, as first reported by CalMatters. Other state and local agencies that paid Blue Flame say that the supplies never arrived, or that orders were only partially filled.

The Justice Department is pursuing a criminal investigation into the company, according to people familiar with the investigation, which was first reported by The Washington Post.

Some of the company’s clients are requesting refunds or threatening their own investigations.

Blue Flame’s lawyer, Ethan Bearman, did not respond to questions about the complaints, the demands for refunds or the federal investigation.

“We have spent close to $5,000 on unfilled items, and we need to have it all refunded,” wrote Daniel Lynch, a commander with the Melbourne Police Department in Florida, in an email to Blue Flame officials this month after spending weeks waiting for masks, face shields and surgical gowns.

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“At this point, if you do not refund the City of Melbourne this money, I will consider it theft/fraud, and move this to a different direction,” Commander Lynch wrote in the email, which was obtained under open records laws.

Representatives for the Maryland State Police also said they had not received supplies ordered from the company in late March. And separately, the Maryland Department of General Services moved to cancel a $12.5 million contract for masks and ventilators, and asked state law enforcement officials to investigate, as first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The willingness to pay huge sums to an unproven company reflects a desperate clamor to obtain vital equipment at a time of relatively limited supply. And Blue Flame’s inability to quickly make good on its promises underscores the logistical challenges and uncertainty surrounding a private production chain largely influenced by an unpredictable Chinese government and shrouded in concerns about profiteering.

New York State paid a Silicon Valley electrical engineer $69.1 million for more than 1,000 ventilators on the recommendation of the Trump administration, which passed along the proposal after it had been highlighted by a supply-chain task force assembled by President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

But the engineer had not been vetted, and did not deliver a single ventilator. New York is now seeking to recover the money.

State and local agencies “were in a very difficult position, trying to vet companies that were nontraditional suppliers or third parties,” while at the same time “scrambling and quite frankly competing with each other to get access to either stockpiles or a reliable supply chain,” said Louis Grever, the executive director of the Association of State Criminal Investigative Agencies.

“There was some real fear here about whether or not these third-party vendors and suppliers were legitimate, whether or not they truly had access,” Mr. Grever said.

He circulated an inventory list from Blue Flame to state law enforcement agencies across the country after the company was recommended to him by a law enforcement consultant named Laura S. Milford and her husband, James Milford, a former deputy administrator at the Drug Enforcement Administration.

In an email sent to Mr. Grever, Ms. Milford wrote that Blue Flame had “teamed with” the Miami-based intelligence and security firm V2 Global. The company indicated in promotional materials that its coronavirus response team included her husband, as well as other former officials, including Kevin K. McAleenan, Mr. Trump’s former acting homeland security secretary. (A person close to Mr. McAleenan said he is not involved with Blue Flame, and only agreed to provide crisis management consulting to V2 on a case-by-case basis two months ago.)

While Blue Flame had incorporated just two days before Ms. Milford had sent the email, she called the company “a prominent aggregator” of “masks, travel kits, Covid-19 test kits and personal protective equipment important to the coronavirus response.”

After circulating the inventory list, Mr. Grever said, he almost immediately received inquiries from local and state law enforcement agencies in Arkansas and Florida interested in doing business with Blue Flame, and referred them to Ms. Milford, who served as a liaison to Blue Flame.

“I’m going to be honest with you, I felt like I was misled about what the nature of the company was,” said Mr. Grever, a former F.B.I. official. He said it appeared to him that Blue Flame officials overpromised because they “thought they could rely on associates from the past” but in the end failed to deliver.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_172189692_95aeac34-b67a-4fc0-8369-28881f1ab7e9-articleLarge Coronavirus Masks and Testing Kits: Firm Set Up by G.O.P. Operatives Under Scrutiny Trump, Donald J Protective Clothing and Gear Politics and Government Internal Revenue Service Federal Bureau of Investigation Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Desiree Rios for The New York Times

In an email, Ms. Milford suggested Blue Flame misled her about its capabilities. The company, she said, “purported to being able to provide personal protection equipment (P.P.E.) at a time of high demand and crucial need when suppliers were extremely hard to find, if at all.”

She said she is not in business with Blue Flame and “was merely generating awareness of a potential P.P.E. supplier to agencies who would perform their own due diligence.”

In a pitch deck for potential customers obtained by The Times, Blue Flame said it had partnered with a Chinese company called Great Health Companion to procure protective equipment directly from Chinese manufacturers in a way that complied with all Chinese laws and export rules.

Great Health is a subsidiary of a Chinese state-owned firm called Hakim Unique Internet Company, which includes nearly 200 companies around the world, according to the deck. The deck included a letter from Henry Huang, who is listed as Hakim’s “C.E.O. of health care” and the founder and chairman of Great Health Companion Group.

Mr. Huang, a dual American-Chinese citizen who is a longtime associate of Mr. Thomas’s, said in an email that Hakim and Great Health contracted with Blue Flame “to assist their Covid-19 procurement efforts in China.”

Blue Flame promised customers it could deliver “volume orders” within “seven to 12 days after the initial order is placed,” according to the pitch deck.

After Maryland state officials complained about the delay in their $12.5 million order for 1.55 million N95 masks and 110 ventilators, Blue Flame blamed Chinese officials for preventing the shipment arranged by Great Health Companion Group, according to a person familiar with the situation.

Mr. Bearman, Blue Flame’s lawyer, had issued a statement to The Times earlier in the week saying the company “fully intends to honor” the Maryland contract, and “is devoted to getting masks and ventilators to the people in Maryland who so desperately need them.”

China made half the world’s masks before the coronavirus emerged there, and it has expanded production nearly 12-fold since then, but it has limited exports.

In an April 22 email intended to allay concerns of Melbourne police contracting officials, Marc T. Serrio, Blue Flame’s chief financial officer, wrote, “As you may have seen in the news, there have been significant disruptions in the supply chain coming out of China, and unfortunately we are not immune.”

He apologized for the delay and explained that the company would refund the department for some purchases.

Nearly two weeks later, the department was still seeking a refund of some funds, according to its spokesman, Marcus Claycomb, who said in an email that the department “will absolutely consider” referring the matter for investigation or potential charges against Blue Flame.

“Clearly this hindered our ability to get necessary personal protective equipment to our personnel in a timely manner,” Mr. Claycomb said.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

As Hunger Swells, Food Stamps Become a Partisan Flash Point

WASHINGTON — As a padlocked economy leaves millions of Americans without paychecks, lines outside food banks have stretched for miles, prompting some of the overwhelmed charities to seek help from the National Guard.

New research shows a rise in food insecurity without modern precedent. Among mothers with young children, nearly one-fifth say their children are not getting enough to eat, according to a survey by the Brookings Institution, a rate three times as high as in 2008, during the worst of the Great Recession.

The reality of so many Americans running out of food is an alarming reminder of the economic hardship the pandemic has inflicted. But despite their support for spending trillions on other programs to mitigate those hardships, Republicans have balked at a long-term expansion of food stamps — a core feature of the safety net that once enjoyed broad support but is now a source of a highly partisan divide.

Democrats want to raise food stamp benefits by 15 percent for the duration of the economic crisis, arguing that a similar move during the Great Recession reduced hunger and helped the economy. But Republicans have fought for years to shrink the program, saying that the earlier liberalization led to enduring caseload growth and a backdoor expansion of the welfare state.

For President Trump, a personal rivalry may also be in play: In his State of the Union address in February, he boasted that falling caseloads showed him besting his predecessor, Barack Obama, whom Newt Gingrich, the former Republican House speaker, had derided as “the food stamp president.” Even as the pandemic unfolded, the Trump administration tried to push forward with new work rules projected to remove more people from aid.

Mr. Trump and his congressional allies have agreed to only a short-term increase in food stamp benefits that omits the poorest recipients, including five million children. Those calling for a broader increase say Congress has spent an unprecedented amount on programs invented on the fly while rejecting a proven way to keep hungry people fed.

“This program is the single most powerful anti-hunger tool that we have and one of the most important economic development tools,” said Kate Maehr, the head of the Chicago food bank. “Not to use it when we have so many people who are in such great need is heartbreaking. This is not a war that charity can win.”

The debate in Congress is about the size of benefits, not the numbers on the rolls. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, as food stamps are also known, expands automatically to accommodate need.

“SNAP is working, SNAP will increase,” said Representative K. Michael Conaway of Texas, the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, which oversees the program. “Anyone who qualifies is going to get those benefits. We do not need new legislation.”

Mr. Conaway noted that Republicans have supported huge spending on other programs to temper the economic distress, and increased benefits for some SNAP recipients (for the duration of the health emergency, not the economic downturn). Democrats, he said, want to leverage the pandemic into a permanent food stamp expansion.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_152728413_afb3d017-d2e1-4c91-a329-009651e53e7c-articleLarge As Hunger Swells, Food Stamps Become a Partisan Flash Point Welfare (US) United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Republican Party Poverty House of Representatives food stamps Food Diet and Nutrition Democratic Party Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Children and Childhood
Credit…Erin Schaff/The New York Times

“I’m a little bit jaded,” he said. “The last time we did this, those changes were sold as being temporary — when unemployment improved, the rolls would revert back. That didn’t happen.”

Rejecting what he called the Democrats’ narrative of “hardhearted Republicans,” he warned against tempting people to become dependent on government aid. “I don’t want to create a moral hazard for people to be on welfare.”

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Food stamp supporters say the program is well suited for the crisis because it targets the poor and benefits can be easily adjusted since recipients get them on a debit card. The money gets quickly spent and supplies a basic need.

During the Great Recession, Congress increased maximum benefits by about 14 percent and let states suspend work rules. Caseloads soared. By the time the rolls peaked in 2013, nearly 20 million people had joined the program, an increase of nearly 70 percent, and one in seven Americans received food stamps, including millions with no other income.

The Growth of a Core Safety Net Program

The number of people receiving food stamps, also known as SNAP, soared during the Great Recession and has never fully returned to its previous level.




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Westlake Legal Group 0506-nat-web-DC-VIRUS-FOODSTAMPS-Recipients-Artboard_2 As Hunger Swells, Food Stamps Become a Partisan Flash Point Welfare (US) United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Republican Party Poverty House of Representatives food stamps Food Diet and Nutrition Democratic Party Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Children and Childhood

AVERAGE NUMBER OF SNAP RECIPIENTS*

AVERAGE MONTHLY BENEFIT PER PERSON

million recipients

Adjusted for inflation

GREAT RECESSION

FISCAL YEARS

FISCAL YEARS

Westlake Legal Group 0506-nat-web-DC-VIRUS-FOODSTAMPS-Recipients-Artboard_3 As Hunger Swells, Food Stamps Become a Partisan Flash Point Welfare (US) United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Republican Party Poverty House of Representatives food stamps Food Diet and Nutrition Democratic Party Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Children and Childhood

AVERAGE NUMBER OF SNAP RECIPIENTS*

million recipients

GREAT RECESSION

FISCAL YEARS

AVERAGE MONTHLY BENEFIT PER PERSON

Adjusted for inflation

FISCAL YEARS


*The 2019 data excludes January and February, which were artificially affected by the government shutdown in January.

By The New York Times | Source: United States Department of Agriculture

Supporters saw a model response. The share of families suffering “very low food security” — essentially, hunger — fell after the benefit expanded (and rose once the increase expired). Analysts at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, Arloc Sherman and Danilo Trisi, found that in 2012 the program lifted 10 million people out of poverty.

“This is what you want a safety net to do — expand in times of crisis,” said Diane Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern University.

But a backlash quickly followed, as a weak recovery and efforts to increase participation kept the rolls much higher than they had been before the recession.

Republican governors reinstated work rules for childless adults, and one of them, Sam Brownback of Kansas, succeeded in pushing three-quarters of that population from the rolls. A new conservative think tank, the Foundation for Government Accountability, said the policy “freed” the poor and urged others to follow. By the time Mr. Trump introduced his brand of conservative populism, skepticism of food stamps was part of the movement’s genome.

In a history that spans more than a half-century, the program has alternately been celebrated as “nutritional aid” and attacked as “welfare.”

Its current form dates to a 1977 compromise between two Senate lions, the liberal George McGovern and the conservative Bob Dole. But almost simultaneously Ronald Reagan added to a stream of racialized attacks on the program, invoking the image of a “strapping young buck” who used food stamps to buy steaks. As president, Reagan went on to enact large cuts.

Credit…Juan Arredondo for The New York Times

After President Bill Clinton pledged to “end welfare” in the 1990s by restricting cash aid, conservatives sought to include big cuts in food stamps, which he resisted. The law he signed subjected cash aid to time limits and work requirements but allowed similar constraints on just one group of food stamp recipients — adults without minor children, roughly 10 percent of the caseload. (Other provisions disqualified many immigrants.)

His Republican successor, George W. Bush, called himself a “compassionate conservative” and promoted food stamps — partly to help people leaving cash welfare to work — and the caseloads grew by nearly two-thirds.

“I don’t see it as a welfare program,” said Eric M. Bost, Mr. Bush’s first food stamp administrator. “I see it as a nutritional assistance program. You can only use it to buy food.”

Food stamps remain central to the American safety net — costing much more ($60 billion) than cash aid and covering many more people (38 million). To qualify, a household must have an income of 130 percent of the poverty line or less, about $28,000 for three people. Before the pandemic, the average household had a total income of just over $10,000 and received a benefit of about $239 a month.

But Mr. Trump has done all he can to shrink the program. He sought budget cuts of 30 percent. He tried to replace part of the benefit with “Harvest Boxes” of cheaper commodities. He tried to reduce eligibility and expand work rules to a much larger share of the caseload. When Congress balked, he pursued his goals through regulations. His chief of staff, Mark Meadows, called last year for using erroneous food stamp payments to fund the border wall.

“Under the last administration, more than 10 million people were added to the food stamp rolls,” Mr. Trump said in his State of Union speech (understating the growth). “Under my administration, seven million Americans have come off food stamps.”

In December, Mr. Trump issued a rule that made it harder for states to waive work mandates in areas of high unemployment. Conservatives say liberal states have abused waivers to gut the work rules — only six of California’s 58 counties, for example, enforced the requirement at the start of the year.

“Millions of able-bodied, working-age adults continue to collect food stamps without working or even looking for work,” Mr. Trump said.

But opponents of the Trump work rule, which applies to able-bodied adults, say it will punish indigents willing to work but unable to find jobs. Before the pandemic, the administration predicted nearly 700,000 people would lose benefits. They have average cash incomes of about $367 a month.

Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

“This rule would take a group of people who are already incredibly poor, and make them worse off,” said Stacy Dean, vice president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which favors broad access to benefits.

Even as the pandemic unfolded in mid-March, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue vowed to implement the work rule on April 1 as scheduled. A federal judge halted the move, and Congress deferred the rule until the pandemic ends.

A second target of administration ire is a policy that lets states expand eligibility by waiving certain limits on income and assets. About 40 states do so, although the budget center found more than 99 percent of benefits go to households with net incomes below the poverty line ($21,700 for a family of three).

Critics of the policy — “broad-based categorical eligibility” — say it encourages abuse by allowing people with significant savings to collect benefits. The Trump administration is seeking to eliminate it and has and predicted that 3.1 million people would lose benefits, 8 percent of the caseload.

The Republican distrust of food stamps has now collided with a monumental crisis. Cars outside food banks have lined up for miles in places as different as San Antonio, Pittsburgh and Miami Beach.

Among those seeking food bank help for the first time was Andrew Schuster, 22, a long-distance trucker who contracted Covid-19 and returned home to recover outside Cleveland.

Unable to get unemployment benefits as the state’s website crashed, he exhausted his $1,200 stimulus check on rent and watched his food shelves empty. He was down to ramen noodles when he learned the Second Harvest Food Bank of North Central Ohio was distributing food at his high school.

“I felt kind of embarrassed, really, because of the stigma of it,” Mr. Schuster said. But a box of milk, corn and pork loin “lifted a weight off my shoulders — I was almost in tears.”

Mr. Schuster, who voted for Mr. Trump, said that he used to think people abused food stamps, but that he may need to apply. “I never thought I would need it.”

While Mr. Schuster’s income fell, others have seen expenses rise. Jami Clinkscale of Columbus, Ohio, who lives on a disability check of $580 a month, has gone from feeding two people to six after taking in grandchildren when their mother was evicted. She feeds them on $170 of food stamps and frequents food pantries. “I’ve eaten a lot less just to make sure they get what they need,” she said.

Food Insecurity During the Pandemic

The share of Americans who say they cannot always afford enough food has hit the highest level on record and has increased most rapidly among families with young children.





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Westlake Legal Group 0506-nat-web-DC-VIRUS-FOODSTAMPS-Insecurity-Artboard_2 As Hunger Swells, Food Stamps Become a Partisan Flash Point Welfare (US) United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Republican Party Poverty House of Representatives food stamps Food Diet and Nutrition Democratic Party Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Children and Childhood

Share who answered “often” or “sometimes” to the statement:

“The food that we bought just didn’t last, and we didn’t have money to get more.”

Mothers with children 12 and under

GREAT RECESSION

U.S. households with children under 18

All U.S. households

April ’20

Westlake Legal Group 0506-nat-web-DC-VIRUS-FOODSTAMPS-Insecurity-Artboard_3 As Hunger Swells, Food Stamps Become a Partisan Flash Point Welfare (US) United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Republican Party Poverty House of Representatives food stamps Food Diet and Nutrition Democratic Party Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Children and Childhood

Share who answered “often” or

“sometimes” to the statement:

“The food that we bought just didn’t last,

and we didn’t have money to get more.”

Mothers with children

12 and under

GREAT RECESSION

U.S. households with

children under 18

All U.S. households

April

’20


By The New York Times | Source: Brookings Institution

The new research by the Brookings Institution underscores the rising need. Analyzing data from the Covid Impact Survey, a nationally representative sample, Lauren Bauer, a Brookings fellow in economic studies, found that nearly 23 percent of households said they lacked money to get enough food, compared with about 16 percent during the worst of the Great Recession. Among households with children, the share without enough food was nearly 35 percent, up from about 21 percent in the previous downturn.

When food runs short, parents often skip meals to keep children fed. But Ms. Bauer’s own survey of households with children 12 and younger found that more than 17.4 percent reported the children themselves not eating enough, compared with 5.7 percent in the Great Recession. (Her survey is called the Survey of Mothers With Young Children.) Inadequate nutrition can leave young children with permanent developmental damage.

Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

“This is alarming,” she said. “These are households cutting back on portion sizes, having kids skip meals. The numbers are much higher than I expected.”

Ms. Bauer said disruptions in school meal programs may be part of the problem, with some families unable to reach distribution sites and older siblings at home competing for limited food.

Republicans say the government is spending trillions to meet such needs. In addition to the stimulus checks, Congress has added $600 a week to jobless benefits through July and raised food stamp benefits during the pandemic for about 60 percent of the caseload, at a cost of nearly $2 billion a month. They note that Democrats have not only pushed a longer benefit increase but proposed to permanently block Mr. Trump’s work rules and asset limitations.

“This is a backdoor way to get permanent changes,” Mr. Conaway said.

Democrats say the emergency help will end before the economy recovers and mostly bypasses the neediest families, few of whom qualify for jobless benefits. About 40 percent of food stamp households — the poorest — were left out of the benefit expansion. (The increase gives all households the maximum benefit, $509 for a family of three, though the poorest 40 percent already received it.)

Prospects for a congressional deal remain unclear and may depend on horse-trading in a larger coronavirus bill. But Speaker Nancy Pelosi is adamant that it should contain a broader food stamp expansion.

“First of all, it’s a moral thing to do,” she said in an interview with MSNBC. “Second of all, the people need it. And third of all, it’s a stimulus to the economy.”

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