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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 4)

More Than Just a Tweet: Trump’s Campaign to Undercut Democracy

Westlake Legal Group 31dc-trump-democracy-facebookJumbo More Than Just a Tweet: Trump’s Campaign to Undercut Democracy Voter Fraud (Election Fraud) United States Politics and Government United States Trump, Donald J Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Presidential Election of 2020 Lincoln, Abraham elections Democracy (Theory and Philosophy) Constitution (US) Clinton, Hillary Rodham Biden, Joseph R Jr

Nothing in the Constitution gives President Trump the power to delay the November election, and even fellow Republicans dismissed it out of hand when he broached it on Thursday. But that was not the point. With a possible defeat looming, the point was to tell Americans that they should not trust their own democracy.

The idea of putting off the vote was the culmination of months of discrediting an election that polls suggest Mr. Trump is currently losing by a wide margin. He has repeatedly predicted “RIGGED ELECTIONS” and a “substantially fraudulent” vote and “the most corrupt election in the history of our country,” all based on false, unfounded or exaggerated claims.

It is the kind of language resonant of conspiracy theorists, cranks and defeated candidates, not an incumbent living in the White House. Never before has a sitting president of the United States sought to undermine public faith in the election system the way Mr. Trump has. He has refused to commit to respecting the results and, even after his election-delay trial balloon was panned by Republican allies, he raised the specter on Thursday evening of months of lawsuits challenging the outcome.

Mr. Trump has put on the line not merely the outcome of this fall’s contest but the credibility of the system as a whole, according to even scholars and operatives normally sympathetic to the president. Just floating the possibility of postponing a presidential election, an idea anathema in America and reminiscent of authoritarian countries without the rule of law, risks eroding the most important ingredient in a democracy — the belief by most Americans that, whatever its manifest flaws, the election result will be fundamentally fair.

“It undermines the faith of the public in our electoral process,” said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University law professor who testified on Mr. Trump’s side last year during the House impeachment hearings. “Any constitutional system is ultimately held together by a leap of faith. Citizens must trust the process if you want them to yield to it. What the president is doing is seeding distrust about the legitimacy of even the holding of the election.”

Michael J. Gerhardt, a constitutional scholar at the University of North Carolina who testified on the other side in those hearings, said Mr. Trump’s statements were part of a pattern of disdain for the norms that have defined the United States for generations.

“In the long term, I think there’s going to be a lot of institutional damage,” he said, “and the rule of law is going to be undermined to a very large extent.”

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Updated 2020-07-31T00:45:00.642Z

Even some of Mr. Trump’s own current and former advisers see his attacks on the election system as a reflection of fear that he may lose and as a transparent effort to create a narrative to explain that away. Sam Nunberg, an adviser on Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign, said the president was “trying to get ahead of a potential loss” by blaming it on external factors like the coronavirus.

“What President Trump does not seem to understand is that unlike past experiences where he was able to frame a defeat as a win, there is no spin for losing a re-election as an incumbent president and taking down the Republican Party with him,” Mr. Nunberg said. “Despite what he may believe, even the overwhelming majority of the president’s supporters are not interested in this claptrap.”

He added: “Republican voters and conservative media will ultimately feel that if you cannot beat Joe Biden, you do not deserve another term.”

As recently as April, a Republican National Committee official said former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. was “off his rocker” to suggest that Mr. Trump might seek to “kick back the election somehow.” But in fact, Mr. Trump has a long history of sowing doubt in election results that do not go the way he wants them to go.

When he appeared to be losing to Hillary Clinton in 2016, he repeatedly suggested that the election was being rigged and would not commit to accepting the results — until he won, that is. And even after winning the Electoral College, he insisted that he had actually won the popular vote, too, because three million illegal immigrants had supposedly voted for Mrs. Clinton, a claim seemingly made up out of thin air and one for which his own commission found no evidence.

In 2020 alone, Mr. Trump has already made public comments, posted Twitter messages or reposted others suggesting election fraud 91 times, according to data compiled for The New Yorker by Factba.se, a service that collects and analyzes data on his presidency. Going back to 2012, Factba.se counted 713 instances when Mr. Trump cited vote fraud, spiking especially in 2016 and 2018 before elections in which he had a stake.

Some of Mr. Trump’s allies have said that he has justifiable reasons to raise concerns about widespread mail-in voting being employed in light of the coronavirus pandemic, even though there is a long history of its use without evidence of widespread fraud. And they accuse the Democrats of being the ones unwilling to accept election results when they lose, pointing to the yearslong effort to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 campaign and any ties to Mr. Trump’s organization.

In an interview last year with CBS News, Mrs. Clinton made clear that she considered Mr. Trump’s election shady. “I believe he knows he’s an illegitimate president,” she said.

She is hardly the only defeated candidate to see injustice in her loss. Going back to the early days of the republic, questions have been raised about the legitimacy of presidential victories from those on the losing side.

Andrew Jackson, who won the popular vote and had the most Electoral College votes in 1824 but not a majority in a four-way race, ended up losing to John Quincy Adams when the House decided the matter. Jackson spent the next four years accusing Adams of a making a “corrupt bargain” to secure the support of the third-place candidate, Henry Clay, in exchange for appointment as secretary of state. Jackson got his revenge by beating Adams in an 1828 rematch.

Likewise, Democrats complained when Rutherford B. Hayes won in a disputed election in 1876, calling him Rutherfraud B. Hayes and His Fraudulency. Republicans suspected that John F. Kennedy beat Richard M. Nixon in 1960 thanks to vote fraud in Texas and Illinois, and many Democrats never accepted George W. Bush’s victory over Al Gore in 2000 after the Florida recount was halted by the Supreme Court.

But the complaints do not typically come from the Oval Office, especially before an election has even been held. And no sitting president has made a serious effort to delay his own re-election, not even Abraham Lincoln in 1864 during the Civil War or Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944 during World War II. Elections were held as scheduled during the pandemics of 1918 and 1968, as well.

Ronald C. White, a prominent Lincoln biographer, noted that the 16th president did not try to postpone the election even though he thought he was likely to lose. Instead, he made it possible for soldiers in the field to cast their ballots, recognizing that they might support their former general, George B. McClellan, who was his Democratic challenger.

“Even as the pandemic, economic collapse and racial protests have Trump calling himself a wartime president, the real wartime president, Lincoln, determined that the election of 1864 must go forward as a sign that the Union would go forward,” Mr. White said.

Jill Lepore, a Harvard University professor and the author of “These Truths: A History of the United States,” said presidents bear a responsibility to foster faith in democracy.

“Far from undermining public confidence in the democracy over which he presides, it is the obligation of every president to cultivate that confidence by guaranteeing voting rights, by condemning foreign interference in American political campaigns, by promoting free, safe and secure elections, and by abiding by their outcome,” she said.

Mr. Trump has for years been drawn to leaders of other countries who did not share that view, especially autocrats like Presidents Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Xi Jinping of China. He has expressed admiration for their leadership and envy that in their systems they can be decisive without bureaucratic or political impediments while avoiding criticism of their crackdowns on internal dissent.

For Americans who have made it their mission to encourage free and fair elections in countries like those and elsewhere, Mr. Trump’s suggestion to delay the November vote and his drumbeat of criticism leading up to it sounded like what they confront abroad, not at home

“I have never seen such an effort to sow distrust in our elections,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, the president of Freedom House, a nonpartisan organization that promotes democracy around the world. “We are used to seeing this kind of behavior from authoritarians around the globe, but it is particularly disturbing coming from the president of the United States.”

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

Trump Floats an Election Delay, and Republicans Shoot It Down

Westlake Legal Group trump-floats-an-election-delay-and-republicans-shoot-it-down Trump Floats an Election Delay, and Republicans Shoot It Down Voting and Voters Voter Fraud (Election Fraud) Trump, Donald J Rumors and Misinformation Rubio, Marco Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Cheney, Liz Biden, Joseph R Jr absentee voting

Facing disastrous economic news and rising coronavirus deaths, President Trump on Thursday floated delaying the Nov. 3 election, a suggestion that lacks legal authority and could undermine confidence in an election that polls show him on course to lose.

Republican leaders in Congress, who often claim not to have seen Mr. Trump’s outlandish statements and tweets and who infrequently challenge him in public, promptly and vocally condemned any notion that the election would be moved.

It was a moment of striking political isolation for the president, as Republicans felt no need to defend him, Democrats condemned him, and three former presidents gathered in a rare moment together, paying tribute at the funeral of Representative John Lewis of Georgia.

Mr. Trump is facing about as dire a run-up to a presidential election as any incumbent could imagine: the worst quarter in the economy on record, an unceasing health crisis, protests nationwide and a country paralyzed by the lack of a financial recovery plan with no solution in sight — all compounded by his own inability to curtail his behavior.

His remarks on Twitter about the election delay — which he linked to his baseless claims about the potential for mail-in voter fraud — were one of the few clear signs that the president now realizes how deep a hole he has dug for himself in his re-election effort. Aides have described him as pained by the widespread rejection he is seeing in public opinion polls, even as he continues with self-sabotaging behavior rather than taking steps that might help him, like getting involved in negotiations for a deal on Capitol Hill to lift the economy.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Mr. Trump wrote. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

Mr. Trump later pinned the tweet at the top of his Twitter feed, ensuring people would continue to see it. Hours later, despite warnings from his campaign officials that delays are likely in tabulating results on Nov. 3, Mr. Trump said in a separate tweet, “Must know Election results on the night of the Election, not days, months or even years later!”

That second statement reflects a concern that Democrats have given voice to — that Mr. Trump will try to focus on the same-day voting tallies to claim victory, even when the full results may be unknown for days.

At a late-afternoon briefing with reporters, Mr. Trump defended the initial tweet, saying that he feared delays in counting votes. But he declined to elaborate on whether he was seriously proposing moving the election.

Mr. Trump posted the first tweet shortly after the Commerce Department announced that the gross domestic product for the second quarter of the year had fallen precipitously by 9.5 percent, reflecting the widespread shutdown of businesses beginning in March to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

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Updated 2020-07-30T23:31:04.933Z

Mr. Trump, who often tests the boundaries of his authority, has increasingly used public comments to lay groundwork for arguing that the election results are illegitimate if he loses. Though he does not have the constitutional authority to unilaterally change the date of the election, his tweet prompted a now-familiar round of assertions about what his true intention was with his statement.

With Mr. Trump, that is frequently a guessing game. The president has often posted remarks on Twitter that are aimed at sparking a reaction from people. At other times, he posts in reaction to what he sees on cable news shows. And sometimes he tries to change what those shows are focusing on with his tweets, offering a diversion.

Whatever his motivation on Thursday, senior Republicans and an array of senators wanted no part of it, diverging from their standard practice of walking on eggshells after a Trump eruption.

“Never in the history of the federal elections have we not held an election, and we should go forward,” said Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the House minority leader and an enthusiastic supporter of Mr. Trump’s, adding that he understood “the president’s concern about mail-in voting.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_175125528_d9a5161a-4545-4d12-b133-08d3febe0a9d-articleLarge Trump Floats an Election Delay, and Republicans Shoot It Down Voting and Voters Voter Fraud (Election Fraud) Trump, Donald J Rumors and Misinformation Rubio, Marco Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 McConnell, Mitch Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Cheney, Liz Biden, Joseph R Jr absentee voting
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, echoed Mr. McCarthy, saying “we’ll find a way” to hold the election on Nov. 3.

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination who have since become staunch Trump supporters, both dismissed the idea that the date for the election could change. Senator Lindsey Graham, Mr. Trump’s foremost public defender in the Senate, said there would be a secure vote in November. And officials in key swing states showed little interest in engaging on the topic.

“We’re going to have an election, it’s going to be legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as it’s always been,” Mr. Rubio told reporters at the Capitol in Washington.

Mr. Cruz agreed. “I think election fraud is a serious problem,” he said. “But, no, we should not delay the election.”

People close to Mr. Trump said that the president has at times discussed with associates whether the election can be delayed, and has been told definitively that only an amendment to the Constitution could change the date. But his tweet was discomfiting to most of his aides, who tried to clean up his statement later by contending that he had been referring to the possibility that the outcome won’t be known until weeks after the election.

This is not the first time that Mr. Trump has raised the idea of thwarting rules or laws that he finds objectionable, and he often fails to follow through. He has repeatedly hurled threats, whether it is defunding universities or blocking federal aid to states, the substance of which he has no intent, or capacity, to fulfill.

The president, who did not serve in government before being elected to the highest office in the country, has never fully absorbed what powers he does and does not have, or how to wield his authority. What Mr. Trump has always been mindful of, dating to his time as a real estate developer, is the danger of being labeled a failure.

So in response to his weakened standing in the presidential race, Mr. Trump has been reaching for arguments to explain his difficulties this year, repeatedly noting how the virus undermined the booming economy for which he claims credit.

In this vein, any uncertainty about the balloting offers him an opening to raise questions about the legitimacy of his loss, regardless of whether he challenges the results.

Trump-weary Republicans may make that a more difficult task, however.

Representative Liz Cheney, Republican of Wyoming, a sometime critic of the president who is eyeing the top ranks of the House leadership, said: “We are not moving the date of the election. The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming.”

Scott Jennings, a Republican strategist and an adviser to Mr. McConnell, called Mr. Trump’s statement “unfocused,” and “insecure,” saying it “separates him from his own party and most of mainstream political thought at a time when he needs to be fully focused on coronavirus, the economy, and defining Biden as out of the mainstream.”

“Republicans,” Mr. Jennings added, “have reacted correctly by rejecting the notion of delay.”

To Mr. Jennings and other Republican strategists, Mr. Trump is playing with fire by suggesting to his supporters that mail voting can’t be trusted, given that it may be the best option for some people in an era in which almost every activity has been changed to combat the virus’s spread. Making Republican voters distrust mail voting could negatively affect not just Mr. Trump, but a host of down-ballot candidates.

”The reality is,” Mr. Jennings said, “he needs every Republican vote there is, and he needs them any way he can get them, no matter how they are cast.”

The president has repeatedly railed against mail voting, creating outlandish scenarios of ballot theft to undermine confidence in the practice.

Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

Even for Mr. Trump, suggesting a delay in the election was an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum that will increase the chances that he and his core supporters don’t accept the legitimacy of the election should he lose to former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. Mr. Trump’s comments about the election looked all the more discordant coming just hours before the funeral for Mr. Lewis, a Democrat who as a young man was beaten and jailed as he advocated voting rights.

Without mentioning his successor by name, former President Barack Obama used his eulogy of Mr. Lewis to rebuke Mr. Trump.

Speaking from the pulpit of Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church, where the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was reared and eventually preached, Mr. Obama lashed Mr. Trump for “even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

For all the eye-rolling dismissals among Republicans, Mr. Trump’s remarks irritated and embarrassed his allies — and represented the latest illustration of how he is not only complicating his own campaign but also compounding his party’s challenge this fall.

Already burdened with an administration that only briefly attempted a full-scale response to a public health crisis that has sickened millions of Americans and killed over 150,000 while ravaging the economy, Republicans on the ballot are increasingly being undermined by Mr. Trump’s response to his misfortune.

Just this week, after he finally bowed to pressure to urge people to take virus safety measures, the president lamented how unpopular he is compared with his high-profile medical advisers.

And then he publicized an online video promoting an unproven virus treatment from a doctor who has previously opined on alien DNA and the impact of having sex with demons in one’s dreams.

His growing desperation to close the gap with Mr. Biden has also caused headaches for Republicans because he has increasingly employed race-baiting language that few in the party care to defend.

“I am happy to inform all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood,” he tweeted on Wednesday.

Luke Broadwater, Emily Cochrane and Matt Stevens contributed reporting.

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Can Trump Postpone the 2020 Election? Your Questions Answered.

Westlake Legal Group 30election-explainer-facebookJumbo Can Trump Postpone the 2020 Election? Your Questions Answered. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Elections (US) Presidential Election of 2020 Law and Legislation elections absentee voting

President Trump, who is trailing badly in polling of the race for the White House, suggested on Thursday that the Nov. 3 general election be delayed “until people can properly, securely and safely vote.” Even for him, floating the idea of postponing the election was an extraordinary breach of presidential decorum.

But the president does not have the authority to move the date of a federal election. And Mr. Trump’s other claim on Thursday, that widespread mail-in voting would make the election “inaccurate and fraudulent,” is false.

Here are answers to some key questions about holding elections in a crisis.

No.

Article II of the Constitution empowers Congress to choose the timing of the general election. An 1845 federal law fixed the date as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

It would take a change in federal law to move that date. That would mean legislation enacted by Congress, signed by the president and subject to challenge in the courts.

Did we mention that the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats; the Senate, which is controlled by Republicans; and President Trump would all have to approve such legislation?

To call that unlikely would be an understatement.

Even if all of that happened, there would not be much flexibility in choosing an alternate election date: The Constitution mandates that the new Congress must be sworn in on Jan. 3, and that the new president’s term must begin on Jan. 20. Those dates cannot be changed just by the passage of normal legislation.

Marc Elias, the prominent Democratic election lawyer, on Thursday knocked down the idea that Mr. Trump could move the election on his own.

Yes: In response to the coronavirus pandemic, sixteen states and two territories either pushed back their presidential primaries or extended deadlines for voting by mail.

States have broad autonomy to define the timing and procedures for primary elections. The exact process for setting primary dates varies from state to state.

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Updated 2020-07-31T00:16:35.873Z

For example, in Louisiana, state law allows the governor to reschedule an election because of an emergency, so long as the secretary of state has certified that an emergency exists. In March, Gov. John Bel Edwards and Secretary of State R. Kyle Ardoin did just that. (In fact, they later postponed the primary election for a second time, buying more time for the state to prepare to hold its vote amid the pandemic.)

It was reported in 2004 that some Bush administration officials had discussed putting in place a method of postponing a federal election in the event of a terrorist attack. But that idea fizzled quickly, and Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, said that the United States had held “elections in this country when we were at war, even when we were in civil war. And we should have the elections on time.”

While the date of the presidential election is set by federal law, the procedures for voting are generally controlled at the state level.

That’s why the nation has such a complicated patchwork of voting regulations, with some states allowing early and absentee voting; some permitting voting by mail or same-day voter registration; others requiring certain kinds of identification for voters; and many states doing few or none of those things.

Democrats included $3.6 billion in their latest coronavirus aid package to help states administer their elections safely during the pandemic. Republicans did not include any such funding in the proposal they rolled out this week.

Several states have tried to make it easier for voters to use mail-in ballots this year, helping them to avoid going to polling places on Election Day. In Michigan, for example, the secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson, mailed absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters for the state’s August primary election and the November general election.

Even before this year, five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — regularly conducted their elections almost entirely by mail.

Other states have struggled to manage a flood of absentee ballots. In New York, where voters requested hundreds of thousands more absentee ballots than in a typical election, officials are still counting votes more than a month after Primary Day. Key races in the 12th and 15th Congressional Districts are still unresolved.

That may offer a preview of what could happen on election night in November: Unless one candidate wins in a landslide, there may be no clear and immediate winner in the presidential race. But that does not mean that the election would be fraudulent, only that it may take more time to determine the victor.

No.

Numerous studies have shown that all forms of voting fraud are very rare in the United States. A panel that Mr. Trump established to investigate election corruption was disbanded in 2018 after it found no real evidence of fraud.

Experts have said that voting by mail is less secure than voting in person, but it is still extremely rare to see broad cases of voter fraud.

In Washington, one of the states that votes almost entirely by mail, a study conducted by the Republican secretary of state found that 142 potential cases of improper voting in the 2018 election were referred to county sheriffs and prosecutors for legal action, out of more than 3.1 million ballots cast, which amounted to roughly 0.004 percent of the electorate.

One of the most prominent recent cases of fraud came in North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District, where a political operative was charged with fraudulently collecting and submitting absentee ballots in an effort to manipulate the election results in favor of the Republican candidate. But such broad schemes are likely to be detected, as this one was, experts say; the district held a do-over election.

And Mr. Trump himself voted by mail in the last election.

Reid J. Epstein and Linda Qiu contributed reporting.

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As Crises Abound, Trump Veers Into Dangerous Distraction

Westlake Legal Group 30TRUMP-ANALYSIS-facebookJumbo As Crises Abound, Trump Veers Into Dangerous Distraction Weld, William F United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sununu, Christopher T (1974- ) Presidential Election of 2020 Pelosi, Nancy McConnell, Mitch McCarthy, Kevin (1965- ) Constitution (US)

For several years, it has been the stuff of his opponents’ nightmares: that President Trump, facing the prospect of defeat in the 2020 election, would declare by presidential edict that the vote had been delayed or canceled.

Never mind that no president has that power, that the timing of federal elections has been fixed since the 19th century and that the Constitution sets an immovable expiration date on the president’s term. Given Mr. Trump’s contempt for the legal limits on his office and his oft-expressed admiration for foreign dictators, it hardly seemed far-fetched to imagine he would at least attempt the gambit.

But when the moment came on Thursday, with Mr. Trump suggesting for the first time that the election could be delayed, his proposal appeared as impotent as it was predictable — less a stunning assertion of his authority than yet another lament that his political prospects have dimmed amid a global public-health crisis. Indeed, his comments on Twitter came shortly after the Commerce Department reported that American economic output contracted last quarter at the fastest rate in recorded history, underscoring one of Mr. Trump’s most severe vulnerabilities as he pursues a second term.

Far from a strongman, Mr. Trump has lately become a heckler in his own government, promoting medical conspiracy theories on social media, playing no constructive role in either the management of the coronavirus pandemic or the negotiation of an economic rescue plan in Congress — and complaining endlessly about the unfairness of it all.

“It will be a great embarrassment to the USA,” Mr. Trump tweeted of the election, asserting without evidence that mail-in voting would lead to fraud. “Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

The most powerful leaders in Congress immediately shot down the idea of moving the election, including the top figures in Mr. Trump’s own party.

“Never in the history of the country, through wars, depressions, and the Civil War have we ever not had a federally scheduled election on time, and we’ll find a way to do that again this Nov. 3,” Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, said in an interview with WNKY television in Kentucky. “We’ll cope with whatever the situation is and have the election on Nov. 3 as already scheduled.”

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Updated 2020-07-30T19:49:06.277Z

Mr. Trump’s tweet about delaying the election put a self-pitying exclamation mark on a phase of his presidency defined not by the accumulation of executive power, but by an abdication of presidential leadership on a national emergency.

Faced with the kind of economic wreckage besieging millions of Americans, any other president would be shoulder-deep in the process of marshaling his top lieutenants and leaders in Congress to form a robust government response. Instead, Mr. Trump has been absent this week from economic-relief talks, even as a crucial unemployment benefit is poised to expire and the Federal Reserve chairman, Jerome H. Powell, warned publicly that the country’s recovery is lagging.

And any other president confronted with a virulent viral outbreak across huge regions of the country would be at least trying to deliver a clear and consistent message about public safety. Instead, Mr. Trump has continued to promote a drug of no proven efficacy, hydroxychloroquine, as a potential miracle cure, and to demand that schools and businesses reopen quickly — even as he has also claimed that it might be impossible to hold a safe election.

William F. Weld, the former governor of Massachusetts who mounted a largely symbolic challenge to Mr. Trump in the Republican primaries this year, said on Thursday that the president’s tweet was a sign that Mr. Trump was panicked and unmoored. Though Mr. Weld has argued for years that Mr. Trump had dictatorial impulses, he said Thursday that the election-delay idea was “not a legitimate threat.”

“So many dead and the economy in free fall — and what’s his reaction? Delay the election,” Mr. Weld said. “It’s a sign of a mind that’s having a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with reality.”

Mr. Trump has attacked the legitimacy of American elections before, including the one in 2016 that made him president. Even after winning the Electoral College that year, Mr. Trump cast doubt on the popular vote and postulated baselessly that Hillary Clinton’s substantial lead in that metric had been tainted by illegal voting.

With that as precedent, there has never been much doubt — certainly among his opponents — that Mr. Trump would attempt to undercut the election if it appeared likely he would lose it. While Mr. Trump does not have the power to shift the date of the election, there is ample concern among Democrats that his appointees in Washington or his allies in state governments could make a large-scale effort to snarl the process of voting.

Given the extreme nature of Mr. Trump’s suggestion, there was an odd familiarity to the response it garnered from political leaders in both parties. There was no immediate call to the barricades, or renewed push from Democrats for presidential impeachment. Opposition leaders expressed outrage, but most agreed, in public and private, that Mr. Trump’s outburst should be treated as a distress call rather than a real statement of his governing intentions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the most powerful Democrat in government, replied to Mr. Trump’s tweet simply by posting on Twitter the language from the Constitution stating that Congress, not the president, sets the date of national elections. Representative Zoe Lofgren of California, a Democrat who chairs the congressional committee that oversees elections, suggested in no uncertain terms that Mr. Trump’s tweet was another symptom of his inability to master the coronavirus.

“Only Congress can change the date of our elections,” Ms. Lofgren said, “and under no circumstances will we consider doing so to accommodate the President’s inept and haphazard response to the coronavirus pandemic, or give credence to the lies and misinformation he spreads regarding the manner in which Americans can safely and securely cast their ballots.”

Republicans, who typically answer the president with a combination of evasion or no comment, did not rush to become profiles in courage by thundering against an out-of-control presidency, and some ducked the issue entirely when confronted by reporters. But many others were blunt in their rejection of Mr. Trump’s position.

“Make no mistake: the election will happen in New Hampshire on November 3rd. End of story,” Gov. Chris Sununu of New Hampshire, a Republican who is up for re-election, said on Twitter.

Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said on Capitol Hill, “Since 1845, we’ve had an election on the first Tuesday after November first and we’re going to have one again this year.”

Representative Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader and one of Mr. Trump’s staunchest allies in Congress, echoed that position, saying “we should go forward.”

Others were more equivocal, following a well-worn Republican playbook for avoiding direct conflict with the president over his wilder pronouncements. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, asked in a Senate hearing whether he believed it was legal for a president to delay an election, said he was “not going to enter a legal judgment on that on the fly this morning.” That would be an assessment, he said, for the Justice Department.

Even Mr. Trump’s campaign declined to turn his tweet into a rallying cry, instead playing down the notion that it might have been a policy prescription. Hogan Gidley, a spokesman for the campaign, said Mr. Trump was “just raising a question about the chaos Democrats have created with their insistence on all mail-in voting” — an obviously false paraphrase of the president’s tweet, one that minimized the gravity of what Mr. Trump had said.

The timing of Mr. Trump’s tweet, as much as the content, highlighted the extent to which he has become a loud but isolated figure in government, and in the public life of the country. In addition to failing to devise a credible national response to the coronavirus pandemic, he has made no attempt to play the traditional presidential role of calming the country in moments of fear and soothing it in moments of grief.

Never was that more apparent than on Thursday, when Mr. Trump spent the morning posting a combination of incendiary and pedestrian tweets, while his three immediate predecessors — Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton — gathered in Atlanta for the funeral of John Lewis, the congressman and civil rights hero.

As mourners assembled at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, Mr. Trump had other matters on his mind, like hypothetical election fraud and, as it happened, Italian food.

“Support Patio Pizza and its wonderful owner, Guy Caligiuri, in St. James, Long Island (N.Y.).” the president tweeted, referring to a restaurateur who said he faced backlash for supporting Mr. Trump. “Great Pizza!!!”

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A Half-Century After Wallace, Trump Echoes the Politics of Division

WASHINGTON — The nation’s cities were in flames amid protests against racial injustice and the fiery presidential candidate vowed to use force. He would authorize the police to “knock somebody in the head” and “call out 30,000 troops and equip them with two-foot-long bayonets and station them every few feet apart.”

The moment was 1968 and the “law and order” candidate was George C. Wallace, the former governor of Alabama running on a third-party ticket. Fifty-two years later, in another moment of social unrest, the “law and order” candidate is already in the Oval Office and the politics of division and race ring through the generations as President Trump tries to do what Wallace could not.

Comparisons between the two men stretch back to 2015 when Mr. Trump ran for the White House denouncing Mexicans illegally crossing the border as rapists and pledging to bar all Muslims from entering the country. But the parallels have become even more pronounced in recent weeks after the killing of George Floyd as Mr. Trump has responded to demonstrations by sending federal forces into the streets. The Wallace-style tactics were on display again on Wednesday as Mr. Trump stirred racist fears about low-income housing moving into the suburbs.

“In the presidential campaign of 1968, my father, Governor George Wallace, understood the potential political power of downtrodden and disillusioned working class white voters who felt alienated from government,” his daughter, Peggy Wallace Kennedy, said by email the other day. “And Donald Trump is mining the same mother lode.”

Lumping in peaceful protesters with the smaller number of violent rioters, Mr. Trump has portrayed the nation’s cities as hotbeds of chaos and opened a new front in the culture war that has divided America since the days of Wallace. The president rails about the “anarchists and agitators” and accuses “the radical left” of running rampant through the streets of cities run by “liberal Democrats.”

It may seem incongruous to see Mr. Trump, a New Yorker born to wealth with no ties to the South beyond Trump-branded property in Florida, embracing the same themes as Wallace, who was proud to call himself a “redneck” segregationist from hardscrabble Alabama. Yet it speaks to the enduring power of us-against-them politics in America and the boiling pot of resentment that Mr. Trump, hoping to save his presidency, is trying to tap into a half-century after Wallace did, hoping to win the presidency.

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_173087607_cfab23e4-6565-4162-85af-67b7a320d33c-articleLarge A Half-Century After Wallace, Trump Echoes the Politics of Division Wallace, George C United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidents and Presidency (US) Presidential Election of 2020 Presidential Election of 1968 George Floyd Protests (2020) Demonstrations, Protests and Riots
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To go back and read or listen to Wallace’s speeches and interviews from that seminal 1968 campaign is to be struck by language and appeals that sound familiar again, even if the context and the limits of discourse have changed.

Like Mr. Trump, Wallace denounced “anarchists” in the streets, condemned liberals for trying to squelch the free speech of those they disagreed with and ran against the elites of Washington and the mainstream media. He vowed to “halt the giveaway of your American dollars and products” to other countries.

“One of the issues confronting the people is the breakdown of law and order,” Wallace said at his campaign kickoff in Washington in February 1968. “The average man on the street in this country knows that it comes about because of activists, militants, revolutionaries, anarchists and communists.”

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Updated 2020-07-30T13:41:18.835Z

Just last week, Mr. Trump framed the current campaign in similar terms. “So it’s a choice between the law and order and patriotism and prosperity, safety offered by our movement, and the anarchy and chaos and crime and socialism,” he told a tele-rally in North Carolina. In tweets this week, he promised “all of the people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream that you will no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.”

Like the pugnacious Mr. Trump, Wallace enjoyed a fight. Indeed, he relished taking on protesters who showed up at his events. “You know what you are?” he called out to one. “You’re a little punk, that’s all you are. You haven’t got any guts.” To another, he said, “I may not teach you any politics if you listen, but I’ll teach you some good manners.”

Recalling the time protesters blocked President Lyndon B. Johnson’s motorcade, Wallace insisted that he would never let that happen to him. “If you elect me the president and I go to California or I come to Arkansas and some of them lie down in front of my automobile,” he said, “it’ll be the last thing they’ll ever want to lie down in front of.”

Mr. Trump has made similar chest-beating threats. “When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” he wrote on Twitter after protests turned violent in Minneapolis following Mr. Floyd’s death under the knee of a white police officer. A few days later, the president said that protesters who tried to enter White House grounds would be greeted “with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons” and that Secret Service agents would “quickly come down on them, hard.”

Among those who saw an analogy between the two men from the start was John Lewis, the civil rights icon who was beaten on the Selma bridge in Wallace’s Alabama in 1965 and died this month. “It is a reasonable comparison,” Mr. Lewis said in an interview with The New York Times and CNBC in 2016. “See, I don’t think Wallace believed in all of the stuff he was preaching. I think Wallace said a lot of stuff just to get ahead. I don’t think Trump really believes in all this stuff, but he thinks this will be his ticket to the White House.”

More recently, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has said that Mr. Trump is “more George Wallace than George Washington.” Mr. Trump’s campaign fired back this week in a statement by Katrina Pierson, a senior campaign adviser to the president, who credited him with increasing funding for historically black schools and signing criminal justice reform.

“There’s only one candidate in this race who bragged about receiving an award from George Wallace, and that’s Joe Biden,” Ms. Pierson said. “Biden also said that Democrats needed a ‘liberal George Wallace, someone who’s not afraid to stand up and offend people.’”

Both quotes refer to articles in The Philadelphia Inquirer, one in 1975 about Mr. Biden’s opposition to busing and another in 1987 mentioning a campaign stop in Alabama during his first presidential campaign. The Biden campaign countered with other clips from the 1970s in which Mr. Biden criticized Wallace and vowed to vote Republican if he won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.

Wallace made his name as the most prominent segregationist of his time but he neither started nor ended that way. Unlike Mr. Trump, he was a small-town boy (Clio, Ala.) who grew up to jump into politics as a progressive, eager to help the disadvantaged with New Deal-style programs. As a judge and a Democratic candidate for governor in 1958, he made a point of promising equality for Black Alabamians. But when he lost that contest to a candidate who demagogued on segregation, Wallace told an aide that “I was out-niggered and I will never be out-niggered again.”

After winning the governor’s mansion with a hard-core racist appeal, he came to national attention in 1963 by promising in his inaugural address “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever” and months later by standing in the schoolhouse door in a failed effort to block the integration of the University of Alabama. Wallace that same year ordered the Confederate flag flown above the State Capitol, where it remained for 30 years before being taken down for good.

In “Settin’ the Woods on Fire,” an acclaimed 2000 documentary on his life, Wallace was quoted telling an associate who asked about his race-baiting that he wanted to talk about issues like roads and education but that he never got as much attention as when he thundered about race.

Wallace made his first faint stab at the White House in 1964, but when he ran for real in 1968 he bolted from the Democratic Party to lead the ticket of the American Independent Party. Trying to appeal to a national audience, he toned down the explicitly racist language and used code words instead, defending states’ rights, slamming court-ordered busing and promising law and order.

Credit…Associated Press

Like Mr. Trump, he denied trafficking in racism and turned the accusation around on his opponents. “I think the biggest racists in the world are those who call other folks racist,” Wallace said. “I think the biggest bigots in the world are those who call other folks bigots.”

In an interview on “Face the Nation” on CBS in Washington, he said his white critics called him a racist while fleeing to the suburbs so they did not have to send their children to schools with Black children. “This is a segregated city here because of the hypocrites who moved out,” he said. “This is the hypocrite capital of the world.”

Mr. Trump, who has come to the defense of the Confederate flag by mocking NASCAR for banning it, likewise tries to turn the racism charge against his critics. Last year, he asserted that four congresswomen of color were “a very Racist group of troublemakers,” referred to a Black congressman who angered him as “racist Elijah Cummings” and declared that the Rev. Al Sharpton “Hates Whites & Cops!”

After Mr. Biden last week called him “the first” racist president, Mr. Trump repeated his assertion that he had “done more for Black Americans than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln.” (These are both ahistoric statements, of course. Many presidents were racist and early on even slave owners, while Lincoln was hardly the only president to have done more for Black Americans than Mr. Trump.)

In that 1968 race, Richard M. Nixon beat Hubert H. Humphrey, but Wallace won five states in the Deep South — Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi — the last time an independent or third-party candidate captured any states in the Electoral College.

Wallace ran again in 1972, this time as a Democrat, but was felled by a would-be assassin’s bullets that left him paralyzed. He ran again in 1976 from a wheelchair, winning Democratic contests in three states but losing the nomination to a more moderate Southerner, Jimmy Carter.

By late in life, Wallace had a change of heart and repented his earlier racism, going so far as to call Mr. Lewis and others to personally apologize. He ran for governor one last time in 1982 by reaching out to Black voters and after winning installed many Black appointees in state government. At the 30th anniversary of Selma, he sang “We Shall Overcome” with Black Alabamians. When Wallace died in 1998, Mr. Lewis wrote an Op-Ed article in The Times forgiving him.

Mr. Trump, for his part, shows no signs of backing down. Wallace’s daughter said the president understood, as her father did, that “the two greatest motivators for disaffected voters” are “hate and fear.”

“Mr. Trump exudes the same willingness to fight rather than to seek rational solutions much like my father did in 1968,” Ms. Wallace Kennedy said. “Both promise to be a president with personality and bravado who is ready to fight first and worry about the consequences later.”

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Trump Did Not Ask Putin About Russia’s Bounties on U.S. Troops

Westlake Legal Group trump-did-not-ask-putin-about-russias-bounties-on-u-s-troops Trump Did Not Ask Putin About Russia's Bounties on U.S. Troops United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Taliban Russia Putin, Vladimir V National Security Agency Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency Axios Media Inc Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan
Westlake Legal Group 29dc-trump-facebookJumbo Trump Did Not Ask Putin About Russia's Bounties on U.S. Troops United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Defense and Military Forces Trump, Donald J Taliban Russia Putin, Vladimir V National Security Agency Espionage and Intelligence Services central intelligence agency Axios Media Inc Afghanistan War (2001- ) Afghanistan

WASHINGTON — President Trump said in an interview published Wednesday that he did not bring up intelligence that Russia had covertly offered bounties to kill American troops when he spoke with President Vladimir V. Putin last week — apparently his first opportunity to directly confront Mr. Putin about the C.I.A. assessment since its existence became public late last month.

“That was a phone call to discuss other things, and frankly, that’s an issue that many people said was fake news,” Mr. Trump said in an interview with “Axios on HBO.”

But Mr. Trump hinted for the first time at blaming subordinates for failing to bring the matter to his attention. “If it reached my desk, I would have done something about it,” he said. Officials have said the assessment was in his written intelligence brief in February, although he rarely reads it.

Mr. Trump’s mixed message renewed attention on the White House’s failure to authorize any response after the C.I.A. concluded that Russia had offered and paid bounties, which prompted a bipartisan uproar. His administration has downplayed the intelligence with the apparent expectation that the furor would blow over.

Despite public comments by top military officials in recent weeks suggesting that the Pentagon was hunting for more information, three senior U.S. military officials said that no single Pentagon agency or military command was conducting a dedicated investigation into the issue and that they were instead relying largely on the intelligence community.

A C.I.A. spokesman declined to comment. But intelligence officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential operations and assessments, said that the intelligence community had not created any special task force to investigate the issue. Rather, they described the agency as sharpening the focus in areas of regular collection and analysis in hopes of gleaning additional evidence.

After the existence of the assessment became public, White House officials defended their months of inaction by falsely suggesting that no one credited the intelligence or deemed the C.I.A. assessment worthy of sharing with Mr. Trump. Since the disclosure, no new National Security Council interagency meetings on the topic have been scheduled, one official said, adding that officials who were alarmed about the bounties intelligence — and the lack of response — have essentially given up because the White House’s narrative has made it politically impossible to reverse course and treat the intelligence as a serious matter.

Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut and a member of the Armed Services Committee, called on Wednesday for public disclosure of the intelligence supporting the C.I.A.’s conclusion. “Americans deserve & need to see the intelligence on Russians providing arms & money to the Taliban — for killing American troops in Afghanistan,” he wrote on Twitter.

“Declassify it right now,” Mr. Blumenthal added, saying the assessment would “disprove Trump’s denials.”

In the Axios interview, Mr. Trump claimed he was not told about the bounty suspicions because intelligence officials purportedly did not think the information was real — apparently an exaggerated reference to a dissent by National Security Agency analysts over the C.I.A.’s confidence level.

“It never reached my desk,” Mr. Trump told Axios. “You know why? Because they didn’t think — intelligence — they didn’t think it was real. They didn’t think — they didn’t think it was worthy of — I wouldn’t mind — if it reached my desk, I would have done something about it.”

Mr. Trump did not elaborate. But speaking to reporters on the White House lawn after Axios published the interview excerpt, Mr. Trump also said that “if it were true, I’d be very angry about it,” and “I would respond appropriately. Nobody has been tougher on Russia than I have.” Still, he said, “I don’t know why they’d be doing this.”

Mr. Trump is said to rarely look at his daily written briefings, though he insisted to Axios that he did. Administration officials have emphasized to lawmakers that none of the aides who discuss intelligence with the president had orally drawn his attention to the matter.

The president also said in the interview that he often received oral briefings, meandering into a discussion of violence along the border between India and China before reiterating, “I have so many briefings on so many different countries, but this one didn’t reach my desk.”

The New York Times first reported in late June that the C.I.A. had assessed months ago that Russia had covertly offered and paid bounties to a network of Afghan militants and criminals to incentivize more frequent attacks on American and coalition troops, citing officials familiar with the matter. Many other news organizations confirmed that reporting.

C.I.A. analysts placed medium confidence in that assessment, which they had reached based on analyzing evidence like the accounts of interrogated detainees in Afghanistan; money transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the G.R.U., to a Taliban-linked network; and travel patterns such as evidence that a middleman suspected of handing out the cash was now in Russia, officials have said.

National Security Agency analysts had lower confidence in the intelligence because they placed greater emphasis on surveillance and wanted to see intercepts picking up explicit discussions among people who did not know they were being eavesdropped on, officials have said.

Current and former national security officials have said that there was rarely courtroom-level certainty in the murky world of intelligence, that disputes over confidence levels were routine, and that medium-confidence intelligence of this magnitude would have been briefed to the president in previous administrations. Indeed, they said, it was put in Mr. Trump’s written daily briefing in late February and distributed more broadly within the intelligence community in early May.

In his Axios interview, Mr. Trump claimed that former Bush administration officials who disliked him had called the bounty suspicions a “fake issue.” In his later remarks at the White House, Mr. Trump named Colin Powell, President George Bush’s national security adviser and then secretary of state under George W. Bush.

But Mr. Powell, who has been out of office for more than a decade, did not say that the intelligence was fake or untrue. Rather, in an interview with MSNBC on July 9, he criticized news media coverage as overhyping a complex issue.

The G.R.U.’s apparent use of bounties to drive up attacks on American service members amid peace talks with the Taliban was seen as an escalation of longstanding Russian assistance to the Taliban, including covert provisions of small arms.

The National Security Council convened an interagency meeting about the problem in late March, and then officials developed a list of potential responses, ranging from protesting to the Kremlin to a more serious punishment like imposing new sanctions. But months passed, and the administration did not authorize any of them.

Now that the bounty suspicions are well-known, American intelligence officers are most likely sorting through many new leads, some legitimate but others from information peddlers eager to offer what they think the Americans want to hear, said Marc Polymeropoulos, a former C.I.A. field officer in Afghanistan who retired last year as the agency’s acting chief of operations in Europe and Eurasia.

Mr. Trump has long taken pains to avoid personally criticizing Mr. Putin and even seemed intent on downplaying evidence of broader Russian military and financial support for the Taliban.

Asked about claims to that effect by Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Mr. Trump dismissed the notion. “I didn’t ask Nicholson about that,” he said, before saying that the general “didn’t have great success” in his command, which ended in 2018.

Mr. Trump also suggested to Axios that Russia’s provision of arms to the Taliban was a kind of understandable payback for the United States backing fighters opposing the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan during the 1980s.

“We supplied weapons when they were fighting Russia, too,” Mr. Trump said.

Some senior congressional Democrats said they believed that top American officers who had spoken about the issue — like Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the head of the military’s Central Command, and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — were taking it seriously. But the lawmakers said they had much less faith in Mr. Trump and many of his top civilian national security aides.

“I do not have confidence that the national security team writ large within the Trump administration is committed to getting to the bottom of this and dealing with it,” said Representative Adam Smith, a Washington Democrat who heads the House Armed Services Committee.

Asked about the bounty reports by Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, at a July 22 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Stephen E. Biegun, the deputy secretary of state, cautioned that he had to avoid discussing classified information in public. But he insisted that administration officials would take action if there were even a suggestion that Russia was putting bounties on American service members.

“Any suggestion that the Russian Federation, or any part of the Russian government, is employed in providing resources to fighters from other countries to attack American soldiers will be met,” he said, with “the most severe consequences.”

Notably, Mr. Biegun added that any such “suggestion” would “be the subject of a conversation between very senior officials in both governments, in no uncertain terms.”

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin have stepped up their personal diplomacy since the conclusion in 2019 of the Russia investigation by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. At the same time, broader diplomatic relations between Washington and Moscow have remained adversarial, and intelligence officials accuse Russia of continued election interference and hacking plots.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin have spoken eight times this year, according to a Kremlin list of the Russian leader’s diplomatic activity — twice as many times as they spoke in all of 2019.

Several of those calls involved Mr. Trump’s efforts this spring to win Russian and Saudi support for higher global oil prices. But Mr. Trump has shown a keen interest in a new arms control treaty with Russia that would cap China’s nuclear arsenal. Mr. Trump said their recent call was “to discuss nuclear nonproliferation,” which he called “a much bigger issue than global warming.”

During a conversation on June 1, Mr. Trump extended an invitation to Mr. Putin to join a gathering of Group of 7 leaders that Mr. Trump hoped to convene in September. Russia was expelled from what was then the Group of 8 after its annexation of Crimea in 2014. Leaders from other nations in the group have said that Moscow has not yet earned the official readmittance that Mr. Trump proposes.

Helene Cooper and Thomas Gibbons-Neff contributed reporting.

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Trump Plays on Racist Fears of Terrorized Suburbs to Court White Voters

WASHINGTON — President Trump vowed on Wednesday to protect suburbanites from low-income housing being built in their neighborhoods, making an appeal to white suburban voters by trying to stir up racist fears about affordable housing and the people who live there.

In a tweet and later in remarks during a visit to Texas, Mr. Trump painted a false picture of the suburbs as under siege and ravaged by crime, using fear-mongering language that has become something of a rhetorical flourish in his general election campaign against the presumptive Democratic nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Mr. Trump said on Twitter that “people living their Suburban Lifestyle Dream” would “no longer be bothered or financially hurt by having low income housing built in your neighborhood.” The president was referring to the administration’s decision last week to roll back an Obama-era program intended to combat racial segregation in suburban housing. The program expanded provisions in the Fair Housing Act to encourage diversification and “foster inclusive communities.”

“Your housing prices will go up based on the market, and crime will go down,” he wrote, even though there was no evidence that the program led to an increase in crime.

The tweet, sent from aboard Air Force One as Mr. Trump traveled to Texas, was the latest example of the president stoking racial division as he seeks to win over voters in his bid for re-election. White suburban voters, particularly women, were key to his victory in 2016 but are slipping away from him.

The remarks also came just days after aides had convinced the president that his best re-election strategy was to demonstrate that he was focused on a comprehensive response to the surging coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks, as the president’s poll numbers have tumbled, some of his advisers have told Mr. Trump to try to convince a skeptical nation that he has been effective in managing the virus crisis and is taking it seriously.

Last week, Mr. Trump resuscitated the White House briefings focused on the pandemic, keeping them shorter and more focused than the ones he conducted in March, when he often rambled in his comments, sparred with the news media and engaged in fanciful speculation, including that injecting disinfectant into the human body could help fend off the virus.

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Updated 2020-07-30T00:35:28.896Z

He also changed his stance on face masks, calling it “patriotic” to wear one, and even appearing in public with one on. On Monday, Mr. Trump promoted what he claimed was quick progress on a vaccine during a trip to North Carolina to visit a plant working on one.

But since he took office, Mr. Trump’s presidency has unfolded along two tracks: the scripted one, which he sticks to for hours or sometimes days at a time, and the one guided by his own instincts, often revealed on Twitter. Mr. Trump has been more eager to talk about culture wars, and draw attention to images of unrest on the streets of cities led by Democratic politicians, than to stay focused on the virus.

And his Tweet on Wednesday was further evidence that he inevitably reverts to his instinct to play to his base when campaigning under pressure.

During his remarks in West Texas later on Wednesday, Mr. Trump bragged again that he had ended a government program that tries to reduce segregation in suburban areas.

“People fight all of their lives to get into the suburbs and have a beautiful home,” he said. “There will be no more low-income housing forced into the suburbs.”

“It’s been hell for suburbia,” he added, before telling the audience to “enjoy your life, ladies and gentlemen.”

Mr. Trump has also invoked the suburbs to try to increase apprehension about Mr. Biden. Last week he provocatively tweeted directly to “the Suburban Housewives of America,” warning, “Biden will destroy your neighborhood and your American Dream.”

Andrew Bates, a spokesman for Mr. Biden, the former vice president, accused Mr. Trump of trying to further divide the country.

“Instead of finally leading, Donald Trump is yet again attempting to distract from his catastrophic, failed response to the pandemic by trying to divide our nation,” Mr. Bates said. “Turning Americans against each other with total lies is unacceptable for a commander-in-chief at any time, but it’s especially heinous to do so in a moment of worsening crisis.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_175014891_031c0ef6-5da3-41ca-845d-62ba5908e504-articleLarge Trump Plays on Racist Fears of Terrorized Suburbs to Court White Voters United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Pence, Mike George Floyd Protests (2020) Black People Biden, Joseph R Jr
Credit…Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

The Biden campaign said that as president, Mr. Biden would reinstate the program expanding provisions in the Fair Housing Act.

Mr. Trump and his father, Fred Trump, were sued by the Justice Department in the 1970s for their company’s practice of discriminating against Black tenants.

Mr. Trump’s view of the makeup of the American suburbs also appears to be frozen in time. In 2018, support from suburban voters helped Democrats retake the House of Representatives. The following year, they helped Democrats win governorships in reliably red states like Kentucky and Louisiana.

Mr. Trump’s support among women and among independent voters has suffered as he has repeatedly made divisive entreaties based on race or retweeted inflammatory Twitter posts. His mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic has also contributed to his falloff in the polls.

Earlier this year, the Trump campaign poured tens of millions of dollars into television commercials highlighting the administration’s focus on criminal justice reform, which was as much an attempt to convince white suburban voters that the president was not racist as it was to expand Mr. Trump’s appeal among voters of color.

Since then, however, Mr. Trump’s own rhetoric and the actions of his administration appear to have undone any inroads those advertisements may have made. He has demonized protesters in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, in the custody of white police officers. Vice President Mike Pence has refused to say “Black Lives Matter,” insisting in an interview that “all life matters, born and unborn.”

Mr. Trump has said that Black Lives Matter is a “symbol of hate,” despite the fact that a majority of voters support the protests that have taken place nationally.

The president also has openly defended the Confederate flag, scolding NASCAR when it banned it from its races, and he has tried to conflate peaceful protesters with a smaller group who have more aggressively sought to tear down statues of Confederate generals.

Jef Pollock, a Democratic pollster, said that Mr. Trump is recycling a political playbook from an era that’s long gone.

“Trump is playing old New York politics from the 1990s,” Mr. Pollock said. “The reality is that more and more suburban voters have embraced diversity as a positive thing for their community. They support the Black Lives Matter movement, and from an aspirational perspective, they want their children to grow up in a more tolerant and less divided country. What’s scary to them is the constant division and intolerance that Trump is promulgating.”

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Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan

HOUSTON — Joseph R. Biden Jr. won over environmentalists and liberals when he announced a $2 trillion plan to promote electric vehicles, energy efficiency and other policies intended to address climate change.

But the plan released on July 14 has also earned a measure of support from an unexpected source: the oil and gas industry that is closely aligned with the Trump administration and is a big source of campaign contributions to the president.

That might seem odd considering that the plan aims for “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050, in part by discouraging the use of fossil fuels. Mr. Biden also wants to spend more on mass transit, expand solar and wind farms and build thousands of electric vehicle charging stations.

Yet the industry was relieved by what the plan did not include, chiefly a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the approach that has turbocharged domestic production of oil and gas over the past dozen years.

“There is a lot of room in there for oil and gas,” said Matt Gallagher, president of Parsley Energy, a West Texas oil producer, about the Biden plan.

Some executives were particularly enthusiastic that Mr. Biden wanted the federal government to invest in carbon capture and sequestration, which entails preventing emissions of greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere and thus allowing industry to continue burning fossil fuels for decades. In a sign of his all-inclusive, eclectic approach to energy, Mr. Biden is also proposing to use advanced nuclear reactors to produce electricity.

“There is some common ground,” said Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the industry in Washington and is close to the Trump administration. “We appreciate the fact that they recognize that there is going to be a role for natural gas and oil in our future. We share the broad goal of reducing emissions and addressing climate change.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_149933016_3c3e3a63-a732-4f12-9dbe-9bfc8f575aab-articleLarge Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan wind power United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Tellurian Incorporated Solar Energy Presidential Election of 2020 Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline natural gas Greenhouse Gas Emissions Edison International Edison Electric Institute Carbon Capture and Sequestration Biden, Joseph R Jr American Petroleum Institute
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Oil and gas executives noted that they had worked productively with Democratic administrations. During the Obama administration, oil companies enjoyed handsome profits even as federal regulators put in effect tougher environmental regulations.

Charif Souki, a Houston entrepreneur who pioneered the liquefied natural gas export industry, expressed enthusiasm about the Biden plan.

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Updated 2020-07-29T03:00:46.667Z

“At first blush, the plan is a masterpiece because he gives something to everybody,” said Mr. Souki, executive chairman of Tellurian, a gas producer that is planning a major export terminal in Louisiana. “Investment in infrastructure is great, $400 billion for research and development is phenomenal and way overdue.”

Like almost all the fossil fuel executives, however, Mr. Souki had some reservations. He described Mr. Biden’s goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 as “unrealistic and unachievable.” He said Mr. Biden ought to strive for “carbon neutrality,” in which emissions from power plants would be offset by planting trees and using new technologies to suck carbon out of the air.

Of course, most oil and gas executives would prefer President Trump be re-elected because he has spent the past three and a half years rolling back regulations.

Fossil fuel interests have donated seven times more to the Trump campaign than the Biden campaign through June, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group. Those numbers are skewed in part because Mr. Trump has been raising money since he took office in 2017.

The president’s most ardent supporters in the energy industry said Mr. Biden’s plan was craftily intended to appear moderate so he could compete with Mr. Trump in states that produce oil and gas.

“He wants to win Pennsylvania, so he toned down that rhetoric for obvious reasons,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance in Denver.

Coal executives are downright hostile toward Mr. Biden. “Their overall motive is to do away with coal miners and coal use in this country,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Credit…Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Yet energy executives have complaints with the Trump administration, too. Some natural gas executives privately grouse that the president’s trade war has cost them dearly because China, the world’s biggest gas importer, has bought only three cargoes of liquefied natural gas from the United States over the past 22 months.

Other executives say Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord needlessly hurt the country’s image abroad. And some think that the administration’s botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a big blow to the economy and demand for energy.

“Masks are good for the economy,” Mr. Gallagher of Parsley Energy said. “Masks need to be an economic thing, not a political thing.”

To shore up his base in oil country, Mr. Trump plans to attend a fund-raising lunch in Odessa, Texas, on Wednesday and tour an oil rig.

Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign’s policy director, said it was not surprising that some oil and gas executives were open to some of Mr. Biden’s ideas. “More and more energy companies are realizing the reality of climate change, the direction consumers are headed, the direction other businesses are headed and they are making changes as a result,” she said.

When asked about fracking, Ms. Feldman said Mr. Biden would end new leases for fracking on federal lands but that “he does not support a complete ban on fracking.”

Some executives said they were comfortable with Mr. Biden in part because the Obama administration did not block fracking and even approved drilling in Arctic waters in Alaska. They say Mr. Biden understands the importance of limiting reliance on foreign oil, and using energy exports to help allies like Japan and undercut rivals like Russia.

“The policy of a Biden administration or a Trump administration might not be so different in the sense of leveraging exports of gas and oil as a foreign policy tool,” said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, an industry group.

There is also growing recognition among some in the oil and gas business that climate change is a problem that the industry has to help address.

“Everyone I know knows we have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we used to and it’s common sense that it’s probably not a good thing and we have to do something about it,” said Lawrence B. Dale, chairman of Dale Operating Company, a Dallas-based company that has investments in 5,000 oil and gas wells.

Mr. Dale said he was pleased that Mr. Biden had put forward an energy plan that did not endorse the Green New Deal, a climate proposal embraced by many progressive lawmakers.

Support for Mr. Biden’s plan is clearly stronger among other parts of the energy industry, including electric utilities and renewable energy companies.

Credit…Zack Wittman for The New York Times

The Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, said its members were generally aligned with Mr. Biden’s plan for a clean electricity grid.

Pedro J. Pizarro, president and chief executive officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, said the Biden plan’s emphasis on clean energy jobs, energy efficiency and transportation was smart. If anything, he said, the proposals for more electric vehicle chargers would most likely need to be increased, as emissions from cars and trucks remain a major contributor to climate change.

“While the devil is in the details, we think the plan mostly gets it right,” Mr. Pizarro said.

The Biden plan would renew the federal government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency that the Trump administration has whittled away. The proposal also calls for extending tax credits for solar and wind power, which have become increasingly competitive against natural gas. Wind and solar groups also endorse Mr. Biden’s proposals to strengthen the electricity transmission network to help their technologies.

At least some in the renewable energy business accept that the Biden plan will keep fossil fuels in the energy mix.

“I don’t want to minimize in the near term that natural gas is an important partner,” said Tom Kiernan, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association. “What we’re seeing is all kinds of combinations.”

That oil and gas interests are OK with a potential Biden presidency might scare some liberals, said Robert Shrum, the director of the University of Southern California’s Center for the Political Future who has advised Al Gore, John Kerry and other Democrats. “There would be some people in the Democratic Party who would get upset that there are oil people who are supporting Biden, but they ought to back off,” Mr. Shrum said. “Don’t we want to win Texas?”

Clifford Krauss reported from Houston, and Ivan Penn from Los Angeles.

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

Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan

HOUSTON — Joseph R. Biden Jr. won over environmentalists and liberals when he announced a $2 trillion plan to promote electric vehicles, energy efficiency and other policies intended to address climate change.

But the plan released on July 14 has also earned a measure of support from an unexpected source: the oil and gas industry that is closely aligned with the Trump administration and is a big source of campaign contributions to the president.

That might seem odd considering that the plan aims for “net-zero” greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050, in part by discouraging the use of fossil fuels. Mr. Biden also wants to spend more on mass transit, expand solar and wind farms and build thousands of electric vehicle charging stations.

Yet the industry was relieved by what the plan did not include, chiefly a ban on hydraulic fracturing, the approach that has turbocharged domestic production of oil and gas over the past dozen years.

“There is a lot of room in there for oil and gas,” said Matt Gallagher, president of Parsley Energy, a West Texas oil producer, about the Biden plan.

Some executives were particularly enthusiastic that Mr. Biden wanted the federal government to invest in carbon capture and sequestration, which entails preventing emissions of greenhouse gases from reaching the atmosphere and thus allowing industry to continue burning fossil fuels for decades. In a sign of his all-inclusive, eclectic approach to energy, Mr. Biden is also proposing to use advanced nuclear reactors to produce electricity.

“There is some common ground,” said Mike Sommers, president of the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the industry in Washington and is close to the Trump administration. “We appreciate the fact that they recognize that there is going to be a role for natural gas and oil in our future. We share the broad goal of reducing emissions and addressing climate change.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_149933016_3c3e3a63-a732-4f12-9dbe-9bfc8f575aab-articleLarge Oil and Gas Groups See ‘Some Common Ground’ in Biden Energy Plan wind power United States Politics and Government United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Tellurian Incorporated Solar Energy Presidential Election of 2020 Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline natural gas Greenhouse Gas Emissions Edison International Edison Electric Institute Carbon Capture and Sequestration Biden, Joseph R Jr American Petroleum Institute
Credit…Tamir Kalifa for The New York Times

Oil and gas executives noted that they had worked productively with Democratic administrations. During the Obama administration, oil companies enjoyed handsome profits even as federal regulators put in effect tougher environmental regulations.

Charif Souki, a Houston entrepreneur who pioneered the liquefied natural gas export industry, expressed enthusiasm about the Biden plan.

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Updated 2020-07-29T03:00:46.667Z

“At first blush, the plan is a masterpiece because he gives something to everybody,” said Mr. Souki, executive chairman of Tellurian, a gas producer that is planning a major export terminal in Louisiana. “Investment in infrastructure is great, $400 billion for research and development is phenomenal and way overdue.”

Like almost all the fossil fuel executives, however, Mr. Souki had some reservations. He described Mr. Biden’s goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the electricity sector by 2035 as “unrealistic and unachievable.” He said Mr. Biden ought to strive for “carbon neutrality,” in which emissions from power plants would be offset by planting trees and using new technologies to suck carbon out of the air.

Of course, most oil and gas executives would prefer President Trump be re-elected because he has spent the past three and a half years rolling back regulations.

Fossil fuel interests have donated seven times more to the Trump campaign than the Biden campaign through June, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit research group. Those numbers are skewed in part because Mr. Trump has been raising money since he took office in 2017.

The president’s most ardent supporters in the energy industry said Mr. Biden’s plan was craftily intended to appear moderate so he could compete with Mr. Trump in states that produce oil and gas.

“He wants to win Pennsylvania, so he toned down that rhetoric for obvious reasons,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance in Denver.

Coal executives are downright hostile toward Mr. Biden. “Their overall motive is to do away with coal miners and coal use in this country,” said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal Association.

Credit…Maddie McGarvey for The New York Times

Yet energy executives have complaints with the Trump administration, too. Some natural gas executives privately grouse that the president’s trade war has cost them dearly because China, the world’s biggest gas importer, has bought only three cargoes of liquefied natural gas from the United States over the past 22 months.

Other executives say Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord needlessly hurt the country’s image abroad. And some think that the administration’s botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic has dealt a big blow to the economy and demand for energy.

“Masks are good for the economy,” Mr. Gallagher of Parsley Energy said. “Masks need to be an economic thing, not a political thing.”

To shore up his base in oil country, Mr. Trump plans to attend a fund-raising lunch in Odessa, Texas, on Wednesday and tour an oil rig.

Stef Feldman, the Biden campaign’s policy director, said it was not surprising that some oil and gas executives were open to some of Mr. Biden’s ideas. “More and more energy companies are realizing the reality of climate change, the direction consumers are headed, the direction other businesses are headed and they are making changes as a result,” she said.

When asked about fracking, Ms. Feldman said Mr. Biden would end new leases for fracking on federal lands but that “he does not support a complete ban on fracking.”

Some executives said they were comfortable with Mr. Biden in part because the Obama administration did not block fracking and even approved drilling in Arctic waters in Alaska. They say Mr. Biden understands the importance of limiting reliance on foreign oil, and using energy exports to help allies like Japan and undercut rivals like Russia.

“The policy of a Biden administration or a Trump administration might not be so different in the sense of leveraging exports of gas and oil as a foreign policy tool,” said Charlie Riedl, executive director of the Center for Liquefied Natural Gas, an industry group.

There is also growing recognition among some in the oil and gas business that climate change is a problem that the industry has to help address.

“Everyone I know knows we have more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than we used to and it’s common sense that it’s probably not a good thing and we have to do something about it,” said Lawrence B. Dale, chairman of Dale Operating Company, a Dallas-based company that has investments in 5,000 oil and gas wells.

Mr. Dale said he was pleased that Mr. Biden had put forward an energy plan that did not endorse the Green New Deal, a climate proposal embraced by many progressive lawmakers.

Support for Mr. Biden’s plan is clearly stronger among other parts of the energy industry, including electric utilities and renewable energy companies.

Credit…Zack Wittman for The New York Times

The Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, said its members were generally aligned with Mr. Biden’s plan for a clean electricity grid.

Pedro J. Pizarro, president and chief executive officer of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, said the Biden plan’s emphasis on clean energy jobs, energy efficiency and transportation was smart. If anything, he said, the proposals for more electric vehicle chargers would most likely need to be increased, as emissions from cars and trucks remain a major contributor to climate change.

“While the devil is in the details, we think the plan mostly gets it right,” Mr. Pizarro said.

The Biden plan would renew the federal government’s efforts to improve energy efficiency that the Trump administration has whittled away. The proposal also calls for extending tax credits for solar and wind power, which have become increasingly competitive against natural gas. Wind and solar groups also endorse Mr. Biden’s proposals to strengthen the electricity transmission network to help their technologies.

At least some in the renewable energy business accept that the Biden plan will keep fossil fuels in the energy mix.

“I don’t want to minimize in the near term that natural gas is an important partner,” said Tom Kiernan, chief executive of the American Wind Energy Association. “What we’re seeing is all kinds of combinations.”

That oil and gas interests are OK with a potential Biden presidency might scare some liberals, said Robert Shrum, the director of the University of Southern California’s Center for the Political Future who has advised Al Gore, John Kerry and other Democrats. “There would be some people in the Democratic Party who would get upset that there are oil people who are supporting Biden, but they ought to back off,” Mr. Shrum said. “Don’t we want to win Texas?”

Clifford Krauss reported from Houston, and Ivan Penn from Los Angeles.

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

A Viral Epidemic Splintering Into Deadly Pieces

Once again, the coronavirus is ascendant. As infections mount across the country, it is dawning on Americans that the epidemic is now unstoppable, and that no corner of the nation will be left untouched.

As of Tuesday, the pathogen had infected at least 4.3 million Americans, killing almost 150,000. Many experts fear the virus could kill 200,000 or even 300,000 by year’s end. Even President Trump has donned a mask, after resisting for months, and has canceled the Republican National Convention celebrations in Florida.

Each state, each city has its own crisis driven by its own risk factors: vacation crowds in one, bars reopened too soon in another, a revolt against masks in a third.

“We are in a worse place than we were in March,” when the virus coursed through New York, said Dr. Leana S. Wen, a former Baltimore health commissioner. “Back then we had one epicenter. Now we have lots.”

To assess where the country is heading now, The New York Times interviewed 20 public health experts — not just clinicians and epidemiologists, but also historians and sociologists, because the spread of the virus is now influenced as much by human behavior as it is by the pathogen itself.

Not only are American cities in the South and West facing deadly outbreaks like those that struck Northeastern cities in the spring, but rural areas are being hurt, too. In every region, people of color will continue to suffer disproportionately, experts said.

While there may be no appetite for a national lockdown, local restrictions must be tightened when required, the researchers said, and governors and mayors must have identical goals. Testing must become more targeted.

In most states, contact tracing is now moot — there are simply too many cases to track. And while progress has been made on vaccines, none is expected to arrive this winter in time to stave off what many fear will be a new wave of deaths.

Overall, the scientists conveyed a pervasive sense of sadness and exhaustion. Where once there was defiance, and then a growing sense of dread, now there seems to be sorrow and frustration, a feeling that so many funerals never had to happen and that nothing is going well. The United States is a wounded giant, while much of Europe, which was hit first, is recovering and reopeningalthough not to us.

“We’re all incredibly depressed and in shock at how out of control the virus is in the U.S.,” said Dr. Michele Barry, the director of the Center for Innovation in Global Health at Stanford University.

With so much wealth and medical talent, they asked, how could we have done so poorly? How did we fare not just worse than autocratic China and isolated New Zealand, but also worse than tiny, much poorer nations like Vietnam and Rwanda?

“National hubris and belief in American exceptionalism have served us badly,” said Martha L. Lincoln, a medical anthropologist and historian at San Francisco State University. “We were not prepared to see the risk of failure.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_174267405_2f8e4d59-b785-4231-aea5-476014cc6306-articleLarge A Viral Epidemic Splintering Into Deadly Pieces Ventilators (Medical) Vaccination and Immunization United States Trump, Donald J States (US) Shutdowns (Institutional) Polls and Public Opinion Minorities Medicine and Health Masks Influenza hospitals Health Insurance and Managed Care Gerberding, Julie L Epidemics Deaths (Fatalities) Coronavirus Reopenings Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Allen, Danielle S
Credit…Ryan Christopher Jones for The New York Times

The infection may start in the lungs, but it is very different from influenza, a respiratory virus. In severely ill patients, the coronavirus may attach to receptors inside the veins and arteries, and move on to attack the kidneys, the heart, the gut and even the brain, choking off these organs with hundreds of tiny blood clots.

Most of the virus’s victims are elderly, but it has not spared young adults, especially those with obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes. Adults aged 18 to 49 now account for more hospitalized cases than people aged 50 to 64 or those 65 and older.

Children are usually not harmed by the virus, although clinicians were dismayed to discover a few who were struck by a rare but dangerous inflammatory version. Young children appear to transmit the virus less often than teenagers, which may affect how schools can be opened.

Among adults, a very different picture has emerged. Growing evidence suggests that perhaps 10 percent of the infected account for 80 percent of new transmissions. Unpredictable superspreading events in nursing homes, meatpacking plants, churches, prisons and bars are major drivers of the epidemic.

Thus far, none of the medicines for which hopes were once high — repurposed malaria drugs, AIDS drugs and antivirals — have proved to be rapid cures. One antiviral, remdesivir, has been shown to shorten hospital stays, while a common steroid, dexamethasone, has helped save some severely ill patients.

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Updated 2020-07-29T10:06:27.761Z

One or even several vaccines may be available by year’s end, which would be a spectacular achievement. But by then the virus may have in its grip virtually every village and city on the globe.

Credit…Scott McIntyre for The New York Times

Some experts, like Michael T. Osterholm, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy, argue that only a nationwide lockdown can completely contain the virus now. Other researchers think that is politically impossible, but emphasize that localities must be free to act quickly and enforce strong measures with support from their state capitols.

Danielle Allen, the director of Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, which has issued pandemic response plans, said that finding less than one case per 100,000 people means a community should continue testing, contact tracing and isolating cases — with financial support for those who need it.

Up to 25 cases per 100,000 requires greater restrictions, like closing bars and limiting gatherings. Above that number, authorities should issue stay-at-home orders, she said.

Testing must be focused, not just offered at convenient parking lots, experts said, and it should be most intense in institutions like nursing homes, prisons, factories or other places at risk of superspreading events.

Testing must be free in places where people are poor or uninsured, such as public housing projects, Native American reservations and churches and grocery stores in impoverished neighborhoods.

None of this will be possible unless the nation’s capacity for testing, a continuing disaster, is greatly expanded. By the end of summer, the administration hopes to start using “pooling,” in which tests are combined in batches to speed up the process.

But the method only works in communities with lower infection rates, where large numbers of pooled tests turn up relatively few positive results. It fails where the virus has spread everywhere, because too many batches turn up positive results that require retesting.

At the moment, the United States tests roughly 800,000 people per day, about 38 percent of the number some experts think is needed.

Above all, researchers said, mask use should be universal indoors — including airplanes, subway cars and every other enclosed space — and outdoors anywhere people are less than six feet apart.

Dr. Emily Landon, an infection control specialist at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, said it was “sad that something as simple as a mask got politicized.”

“It’s not a statement, it’s a piece of clothing,” she added. “You get used to it the way you got used to wearing pants.”

Arguments that masks infringe on personal rights must be countered both by legal orders and by persuasion. “We need more credible messengers endorsing masks,” Dr. Wen said — just before the president himself became a messenger.

“They could include C.E.O.s or celebrities or religious leaders. Different people are influencers to different demographics.”

Although this feels like a new debate, it is actually an old one. Masks were common in some Western cities during the 1918 flu pandemic and mandatory in San Francisco. There was even a jingle: “Obey the laws, wear the gauze. Protect your jaws from septic paws.”

“A libertarian movement, the Anti-Mask League, emerged,” Dr. Lincoln of San Francisco State said. “There were fistfights with police officers over it.” Ultimately, city officials “waffled” and compliance faded.

“I wonder what this issue would be like today,” she mused, “if that hadn’t happened.”

Images of Americans disregarding social distancing requirements have become a daily news staple. But the pictures are deceptive: Americans are more accepting of social distancing than the media sometimes portrays, said Beth Redbird, a Northwestern University sociologist who since March has conducted regular surveys of 8,000 adults about the impact of the virus.

“About 70 percent of Americans report using all forms of it,” she said. “And when we give them adjective choices, they describe people who won’t distance as mean, selfish or unintelligent, not as generous, open-minded or patriotic.”

The key predictor, she said in early July, was whether or not the poll respondent trusted Mr. Trump. Those who trusted him were less likely to practice social distancing. That was true of Republicans and independents, “and there’s no such thing as a Democrat who trusts Donald Trump,” she added.

Whether or not people support coercive measures like stay-at-home orders or bar closures depended on how scared the respondent was.

“When rising case numbers make people more afraid, they have more taste for liberty-constraining actions,” Dr. Redbird said. And no economic recovery will occur, she added, “until people aren’t afraid. If they are, they won’t go out and spend money even if they’re allowed to.”

Credit…Erin Trieb for The New York Times

As of Tuesday, new infections were still rising in 28 states, according to a database maintained by The Times.

Weeks ago, experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, were advising states where the virus was surging to pull back from reopening by closing down bars, forbidding large gatherings and requiring mask usage.

Many of those states are finally taking that advice, but it is not yet clear whether this national change of heart has happened in time to stop the newest wave of deaths from ultimately exceeding the 2,750-a-day peak of mid-April. Through Tuesday, the seven-day average was 1,078 virus deaths nationwide.

Deaths may surge even higher, experts warned, when cold weather, rain and snow force Americans to meet indoors, eat indoors and crowd into public transit.

Oddly, states that are now hard-hit might become safer, some experts suggested. In the South and Southwest, summers are so hot that diners seek air-conditioning indoors, but eating outdoors in December can be pleasant.

Several studies have confirmed transmission in air-conditioned rooms. In one well-known case cluster in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China, researchers concluded that air-conditioners blew around a viral cloud, infecting patrons as far as 10 feet from a sick diner.

Rural areas face another risk. Almost 80 percent of the country’s counties lack even one infectious disease specialist, according to a study led by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the chief of infectious diseases at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

At the moment, the crisis is most acute in Southern and Southwestern states. But websites that track transmission rates show that hot spots can turn up anywhere. For three weeks, for example, Alaska’s small outbreak has been one of the country’s fastest-spreading, while transmission in Texas and Arizona has dramatically slowed.

Deaths now may rise more slowly than they did in spring, because hospitalized patients are, on average, younger this time. But overwhelmed hospitals can lead to excess deaths from many causes all over a community, as ambulances are delayed and people having health crises avoid hospitals out of fear.

The experts were divided as to what role influenza will play in the fall. A harsh flu season could flood hospitals with pneumonia patients needing ventilators. But some said the flu season could be mild or almost nonexistent this year.

Normally, the flu virus migrates from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere in the spring — presumably in air travelers — and then returns in the fall, with new mutations that may make it a poor match for the annual vaccine.

But this year, the national lockdown abruptly ended flu transmission in late April, according to weekly Fluview reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. International air travel has been sharply curtailed, and there has been almost no flu activity in the whole southern hemisphere this year.

Assuming there is still little air travel to the United States this fall, there may be little “reseeding” of the flu virus here. But in case that prediction turns out be wrong, all the researchers advised getting flu shots anyway.

“There’s no reason to be caught unprepared for two respiratory viruses,” said Tara C. Smith, an epidemiologist at Kent State University’s School of Public Health.

Credit…Misha Friedman for The New York Times

Experts familiar with vaccine and drug manufacturing were disappointed that, thus far, only dexamethasone and remdesivir have proved to be effective treatments, and then only partially.

Most felt that monoclonal antibodies — cloned human proteins that can be grown in cell culture — represented the best hope until vaccines arrive. Regeneron, Eli Lilly and other drugmakers are working on candidates.

“They’re promising both for treatment and for prophylaxis, and there are companies with track records and manufacturing platforms,” said Dr. Luciana Borio, a former director of medical and biodefense preparedness at the National Security Council. “But manufacturing capacity is limited.”

According to a database compiled by The Times, researchers worldwide are developing more than 165 vaccine candidates, and 27 are in human trials.

New announcements are pouring in, and the pressure to hurry is intense: The Trump administration just awarded nearly $2 billion to a Pfizer-led consortium that promised 100 million doses by December, assuming trials succeed.

Because the virus is still spreading rapidly, most experts said “challenge trials,” in which a small number of volunteers are vaccinated and then deliberately infected, would probably not be needed.

Absent a known cure, “challenges” can be ethically fraught, and some doctors oppose doing them for this virus. “They don’t tell you anything about safety,” Dr. Borio said.

And when a virus is circulating unchecked, a typical placebo-controlled trial with up to 30,000 participants can be done efficiently, she added. Moderna and Pfizer have already begun such trials.

The Food and Drug Administration has said a vaccine will pass muster even if it is only 50 percent effective. Experts said they could accept that, at least initially, because the first vaccine approved could save lives while testing continued on better alternatives.

“A vaccine doesn’t have to work perfectly to be useful,” Dr. Walensky said. “Even with measles vaccine, you can sometimes still get measles — but it’s mild, and you aren’t infectious.”

“We don’t know if a vaccine will work in older folks. We don’t know exactly what level of herd immunity we’ll need to stop the epidemic. But anything safe and fairly effective should help.”

Still, haste is risky, experts warned, especially when opponents of vaccines are spreading fear. If a vaccine is rushed to market without thorough safety testing and recipients are hurt by it, all vaccines could be set back for years.

Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

No matter what state the virus reaches, one risk remains constant. Even in states with few Black and Hispanic residents, they are usually hit hardest, experts said.

People of color are more likely to have jobs that require physical presence and sometimes close contact, such as construction work, store clerking and nursing. They are more likely to rely on public transit and to live in neighborhoods where grocery stores are scarce and crowded.

They are more likely to live in crowded housing and multigenerational homes, some with only one bathroom, making safe home isolation impossible when sickness strikes. They have higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma.

Federal data gathered through May 28 shows that Black and Hispanic Americans were three times as likely to get infected as their white neighbors, and twice as likely to die, even if they lived in remote rural counties with few Black or Hispanic residents.

“By the time that minority patient sets foot in a hospital, he is already on an unequal footing,” said Elaine Hernandez, a sociologist at Indiana University.

The differences persist even though Black and Hispanic adults drastically altered their behavior. One study found that through the beginning of May, the average Black American practiced more social distancing than the average white American.

Officials in Chicago, Baltimore and other communities faced another threat: rumors flying about social media that Black people were somehow immune.

The top factor making people adopt self-protective behavior is personally knowing someone who fell ill, said Dr. Redbird. By the end of spring, Black and Hispanic Americans were 50 percent more likely than white Americans to know someone who had been ill, her surveys found.

Dr. Hernandez, whose parents live in Arizona, said their neighbors who had not been scared in June had since changed their attitudes.

Her father, a physician, had set an example. Early on, he wore a mask with a silly mustache when he and his wife took walks, and they would decline friends’ invitations, saying, “No, we’re staying in our bubble.”

Now, she said, their neighbors are wearing masks, “and people are telling my father, ‘You were right,’” Dr. Hernandez said.

Credit…Dustin Chambers for The New York Times

There was no widespread agreement among experts about what is likely to happen in the years after the pandemic. Some scientists expected a quick economic recovery; others thought the damage could persist for years.

Working at home will become more common, some predicted, while crowded, open-plan offices may be changed. The just-in-time supply chains on which many businesses depend will need fixing because the processes failed to deliver adequate protective gear, ventilators and test materials.

A disease-modeling system like that used by the National Weather Service to predict storms is needed, said Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Right now, the country has surveillance for seasonal flu but no national map tracking all disease outbreaks. As Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, a former C.D.C. director, recently pointed out, states are not even required to track the same data.

Several experts said they assumed that millions of Americans who have been left without health insurance or forced to line up at food banks would vote for politicians favoring universal health care, paid sick leave, greater income equality and other changes.

But given the country’s deep political divisions, no researcher was certain what the outcome of the coming election would be.

Dr. Redbird said her polling of Americans showed “little faith in institutions across the board — we’re not seeing an increase in trust in science or an appetite for universal health care or workers equity.”

The Trump administration did little to earn trust. More than six months into the worst health crisis in a century, Mr. Trump only last week urged Americans to wear masks and canceled the Republican convention in Florida, the kind of high-risk indoor event that states have been banning since mid-March.

“It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better,” Mr. Trump said at the first of the resurrected coronavirus task force briefings earlier this month, which included no scientists or health officials. The briefings were discontinued in April amid his rosy predications that the epidemic would soon be over.

Mr. Trump has ignored, contradicted or disparaged his scientific advisers, repeatedly saying that the virus simply would go away, touting unproven drugs like hydroxychloroquine even after they were shown to be ineffective and sometimes dangerous, and suggesting that disinfectants or lethal ultraviolet light might be used inside the body.

Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their health insurance, and are in danger of losing their homes, even as they find themselves in the path of a lethal disease. The Trump presidency “is the symptom of the denigration of science and the gutting of the public contract about what we owe each other as citizens,” said Dr. Joia S. Mukherjee, the chief medical officer of Partners in Health in Boston.

One lesson that will surely be learned is that the country needs to be better prepared for microbial assaults, said Dr. Julie Gerberding, a former director of the C.D.C.

“This is not a once-in-a-century event. It’s a harbinger of things to come.”

Credit…Brittainy Newman/The New York Times

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