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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 41)

Coronavirus Fears Reverberate Across Global Economy

Westlake Legal Group 28markets-live-sub-facebookJumbo Coronavirus Fears Reverberate Across Global Economy United States Economy Trump, Donald J Standard&Poor's 500-Stock Index Federal Reserve System Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

Get an informed guide to the global outbreak with our daily Coronavirus newsletter.

Investors, fearing that the spread of the coronavirus is tipping the global economy into a recession, handed the stock market its largest weekly loss since the 2008 financial crisis on Friday amid worries that one of the longest economic expansions in history may be coming to an end.

With the virus now detected in at least 56 countries, companies are readjusting their annual profit expectations, economists are lowering their forecasts for global growth and policymakers have signaled that they are ready, if needed, to act to stabilize the economy.

As the stock market dropped again on Friday, Jerome H. Powell, chair of the Federal Reserve, issued a short statement affirming that the central bank would use its tools and “act as appropriate to support the economy.” After the Fed’s statement, the S&P 500 pared some of its losses, closing the day down 0.8 percent, though the index remained down 11.5 percent for the week.

Still, there were stark signs that the economic fallout from the virus had started to take hold, as retailers and home builders reported delays in shipments from China, Amazon was running low on hand sanitizers sought by a jittery public and financial regulators began monitoring whether American businesses were starting to have difficulty borrowing money.

“This feels different than the other market crisis in that it involves disruptions to daily life,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “This isn’t financial. This is not some obtuse thing on a screen. Schools may close. I may not be able to get pasta or oatmeal.”

What began a few weeks ago as relatively tepid concerns on Wall Street about disruptions to global supply chains has mushroomed into deep worries about the possibility that millions of people around the world may have to cut back on shopping, travel and restaurants to avoid contracting the virus.

The uncertainty of such situations has made it difficult for experts to predict the damage to the economy. Some are offering probabilities that the American and global economies will slip into recession. Moody’s Analytics said this week that the odds of that happening had risen to four in 10. Capital Economics pegged it much lower, at one in 10.

On Friday, Morgan Stanley researchers outlined three possible situations in a note to clients. In the most benign, the American economy does not slow at all in 2020 from previous forecasts, as the virus remains largely confined to China and Chinese factory production ramps back up in the coming months.

In the most severe scenario, where the virus spreads more widely across countries and sectors of the economy, growth slows to a near halt in the United States for several quarters this year, leaving 2020 with a 0.5 percent growth rate over all. “The risks are clearly skewed to the downside until the outbreak is contained,” researchers at Goldman Sachs said in a note this week.

There was clear evidence in recent days of the economic fallout. Toll Brothers, the luxury home builder, said some home sales to Chinese buyers had been postponed and shipments of fixtures from China delayed. The shoemaker Steve Madden said some shipments would be delayed by three weeks as its Chinese factories struggle to operate with fewer workers.

  • Answers to your most common questions:

    Updated Feb. 26, 2020

    • What is a coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all nonessential travel to South Korea and China.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world was not ready for a major outbreak.

Perhaps even more troubling were signs that American consumers, who drive the economy, were becoming increasingly uneasy.

On Amazon, popular brands of hand sanitizers like Purell were largely unavailable. What was available was coming from third-party sellers at higher prices. On Friday morning, one pack of two 12-fluid-ounce bottles of Purell was being offered by a third-party seller for $49.99.

Even the parent company of Corona, the beer brand, has seen its shares drop more than the broader market, which some have attributed to its having the same name as the virus.

Such fears do not bode well for a modern economy and stock market that depend on optimism and a willingness to spend. As recently as nine days ago, that optimism helped drive up the stock market to a new high.

But in the last week, the rosy outlook that corporate profits would keep growing has been replaced by panic, said Richard Sylla, professor emeritus at New York University’s Stern School of Business, who has studied stock market shocks through history.

“There was complacency about the growth in stocks, and the virus was the trigger for a sell-off,” he said.

It was an awful week for markets around the globe. The Dow Jones plummeted 12 percent. In Europe, stocks in Britain dropped 11 percent, while Germany was down 12 percent. Asian markets also fell: 10 percent in Japan and 8 percent in South Korea.

Many researchers expect the Federal Reserve to quickly — and possibly deeply — cut interest rates in the face of worsening coronavirus news and market downturns. President Trump, who has downplayed the economic threat to the United States from the virus, said on Friday that he hoped the Fed would step in.

“I hope it gets involved soon,” Mr. Trump told reporters at the White House.

But unlike in previous financial shocks, those moves may not stem the damage.

Even as this week’s stock market meltdown was being compared to the losses of 2008, there were many ways that the coronavirus could prove more challenging for the Fed to tackle.

The Great Recession of 2008 and 2009 was largely a “demand shock,” as banks neared collapse, home prices plunged and trillions of dollars in household wealth were wiped out. People and businesses suddenly had less money to spend, tipping the economy into a deep recession.

The virus threat is a “supply shock” — one that stems from a sudden slowdown in economic activity as China, the world’s factory, struggles to get back to work and as crucial industries come under strain against a backdrop of travel restrictions, limited public gatherings and shuttered schools.

David Wessel, director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at the Brookings Institution, said the way to think about a supply shock was “suddenly every factory and office produces 10 percent less than it did last year.”

That’s a far harder thing to fix than a demand shock, Mr. Wessel said, since simply putting more money into peoples’ pockets won’t make up for the fact that stores are closed, factories aren’t operating and trips are canceled.

“There is nothing the Fed can do to offset the lost production if no one is taking trips and factories aren’t making parts,” he said.

So far, the response from the Trump administration to the outbreak has only seemed to intensify Wall Street’s worries.

Early on Friday, Larry Kudlow, Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, said markets were overreacting and suggested it was a good time to buy stocks — statements that some investors said were not helpful and perhaps even irresponsible.

“The administration runs the risk of damaging its credibility by continuing to prompt people to buy stocks if there is no clear bottom in sight,” Scott Minerd, chief investment officer of Guggenheim Investments, said in an interview.

Mr. Minerd said he received a call on Thursday from an official at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York asking whether he was seeing any signs of pressure or deterioration in some of the markets that are crucial to Wall Street’s functioning, namely those that provide short- and longer-term debt and other forms of funding to companies from banks and other lenders.

Mr. Minerd said he did not see funding problems as of yet, but he said the sell-off of precious metals was a sign that investors were feeling squeezed by increased margin calls.

Mr. Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who are on the president’s coronavirus task force, are also part of a group working on a package of tax cuts intended to serve as a centerpiece of his 2020 campaign. With Democrats controlling the House, there has been little expectation of major tax legislation before the November election, and the situation with the coronavirus has not appeared to change that.

On Friday, Mr. Trump sought to restore some optimism, pointing out that the number of confirmed cases of the virus in the United States was still low.

“Some countries are doing well, some countries are not doing well, you can see that for yourself,’’ he told reporters at the White House. “A lot of things are happening, we’re very well organized, we have great talent, great doctors, great everyone. There’s tremendous spirit, a lot of spirit.”

Reporting was contributed by Jim Tankersley, Alan Rappeport, Matt Phillips, Jeanna Smialek, Julie Creswell, Tiffany Hsu, Peter Eavis and Sapna Maheshwari.

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

House Democrats Inquire About Political Interference at the Justice Dept.

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-barr1-facebookJumbo House Democrats Inquire About Political Interference at the Justice Dept. United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Stone, Roger J Jr Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Justice Department House Committee on the Judiciary Barr, William P

WASHINGTON — House Democrats are scrutinizing whether President Trump has improperly interfered at the Justice Department for political reasons, a prominent committee chairman said Friday, requesting documents and interviews with more than a dozen U.S. attorneys related to the cases of three Trump associates and a review of the F.B.I.’s Russia inquiry.

The requests are the first major return to politically charged oversight matters by the House Judiciary Committee since it helped impeach Mr. Trump late last year. But with House leaders intent on shifting attention toward domestic policy legislation they believe will help preserve their majority in this fall’s election, it was not clear how far Democrats would be willing to escalate a likely fight.

Officials were careful on Friday not to characterize the requests as the beginning of a new investigation, instead framing them as routine oversight. They come as Mr. Trump has moved aggressively in the wake of his impeachment acquittal to insert himself into Justice Department business.

“These circumstances are deeply troubling,” Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York and the Judiciary Committee chairman, wrote in a letter to William P. Barr, the attorney general. “Although you serve at the president’s pleasure, you are also charged with the impartial administration of our laws. In turn, the House Judiciary Committee is charged with holding you to that responsibility.”

Mr. Nadler asked for materials related to a handful of criminal cases, including the sentencing of Roger J. Stone Jr., antitrust matters and a review by John H. Durham into the roots of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation into 2016 Russian election interference and the Trump campaign. Democrats believe Mr. Durham’s inquiry is designed to undermine Mr. Mueller’s findings.

In most of the cases under scrutiny, Mr. Trump has blurred the lines that traditionally separate the White House from criminal enforcement matters, offering running commentary or outright rooting for a result on Twitter and in public comments. Documentary records and interviews with prosecutors could definitively show whether the department acted based on Mr. Trump’s statements or if the White House at any point issued more direct orders in private.

In the case of Mr. Stone, the president’s remarks on Twitter blasting the judge and Justice Department lawyers for recommending too harsh a sentence for his longtime friend and campaign adviser went so far that Mr. Barr delivered an extraordinary public rebuke, but only after senior department officials intervened to reverse the recommendation of career prosecutors and suggest a shorter sentence.

The attorney general said earlier this month that he would not be “bullied” into any result and warned that the president’s tweets made it “impossible for me to do my job and to assure the courts and the prosecutors in the department that we’re doing our work with integrity.”

Though tensions have eased somewhat in recent weeks, Mr. Barr remains in a precarious position. Mr. Trump has largely defied his request, continuing to tweet about the Stone case and forcing Mr. Barr to contemplate what it would take for him to resign. The Judiciary Committee’s scrutiny could only make things more difficult for the attorney general, whose actions have drawn intense criticism inside and outside the Justice Department for politicizing the law enforcement system.

Mr. Nadler cited those tensions as he asked for the materials by mid-March so the committee could study the matter before a planned hearing with Mr. Barr on March 31.

If history is any guide, though, the exchange will not be an easy one. The department generally opposes handing over files related to ongoing matters, especially to lawmakers of another party, though it has made exceptions. And Mr. Nadler and Mr. Barr have particularly bad blood, stemming from the attorney general’s handling of the special counsel’s investigation. In a dispute over department files related to that case, the Judiciary Committee ultimately recommended holding Mr. Barr in contempt of Congress.

In addition to the Stone case and the Durham review, the committee requested information on the department’s handling of prosecution of Michael T. Flynn, Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, and the imprisonment of Paul Manafort, his one-time campaign chairman. Mr. Nadler also said he would review the Justice Department’s legal opinion that an anonymous whistle-blower complaint related to Ukraine that ultimately helped prompt the impeachment inquiry not be handed over to Congress.

Specifically, the committee asked for the department to brief lawmakers on each case, hand over any communications with or referencing Mr. Trump or the White House related to them, and allow more than a dozen department prosecutors to sit for interviews.

The prosecutors requested included Mr. Durham; four career prosecutors who resigned from the Stone case amid the sentencing dispute with politically appointed superiors; and Timothy Shea, the acting U.S. attorney who oversaw them.

Democrats also want to speak to two high-ranking prosecutors from the Southern District of New York and Jessie K. Liu, a former department prosecutor, who handled the case of Andrew G. McCabe, a former high-ranking F.B.I. official loathed by Mr. Trump.

Katie Benner contributed reporting.

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

Media Covering Coronavirus to ‘Bring Down the President,’ Mulvaney Claims

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-cpac-sub-facebookJumbo Media Covering Coronavirus to ‘Bring Down the President,’ Mulvaney Claims United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Trump, Barron (2006- ) News and News Media Mulvaney, Mick Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Conservative Political Action Conference

OXON HILL, Md. — Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on Friday blamed the media for exaggerating the seriousness of coronavirus because “they think this will bring down the president, that’s what this is all about.”

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering of conservative activists, Mr. Mulvaney played down concerns about the virus that is spreading around the globe and panicking investors.

Mr. Mulvaney said the administration took “extraordinary steps four or five weeks ago,” to prevent the spread of the virus when it declared a rare public health emergency and barred entry by most foreign nationals who had recently visited China.

“Why didn’t you hear about it?” Mr. Mulvaney said of travel restrictions that were widely covered in the news media. “What was still going on four or five weeks ago? Impeachment, that’s all the press wanted to talk about.”

The news media has been covering the global spread of coronavirus for months.

But Mr. Mulvaney claimed that the news media was too preoccupied covering impeachment, he said, “because they thought it would bring down the president.”

The media’s focus switched to the coronavirus for the same reason, he continued.

“The reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be the thing that brings down the president,” he added. “That’s what this is all about it.”

Following the president’s lead, Mr. Mulvaney also brushed off concerns over the virus; there have been 60 cases identified in the United States.

“The flu kills people,” he said. “This is not Ebola. It’s not SARS, it’s not MERS. It’s not a death sentence, it’s not the same as the Ebola crisis.”

Mr. Mulvaney also criticized the news media for generally not wanting to portray Mr. Trump in a positive light. But he chose a bizarre example, claiming it refuses to cover what he described as Mr. Trump’s loving relationship with his 13-year-old son, Barron.

He said Mr. Trump is in frequent contact with his youngest son, calling to check in on him and let him know of his whereabouts. But, Mr. Mulvaney said, “the press would never show you that because it doesn’t fit that image of him, the press wants him to be this terrible monster.”

Mr. Mulvaney’s decision to discuss Barron Trump was curious, especially when Melania Trump, the first lady, and senior White House officials have gone to great lengths to make sure he enjoys the privacy afforded to other children of presidents growing up in the uncomfortable spotlight of the White House. The White House press corps has generally agreed to grant Barron Trump the same privacy.

“He’s huge, but he’s still very young,” Mr. Mulvaney said of Barron, who is sometimes seen boarding Air Force One with his parents, but who often departs the plane after his father to avoid being photographed. “He was 10 or something like that when the president was elected.”

Mr. Mulvaney, who was interviewed onstage by Stephen Moore, whose expected nomination by the president to the Federal Reserve Board was withdrawn over concerns about his treatment of women, also asserted that Mr. Trump did not sleep on the overnight plane trip home from India or during the day before his news conference on coronavirus Wednesday night.

“He said, ‘I’ve only got eight years, I’m going to get as much out of it as I can,’” Mr. Mulvaney said.

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

Trump Administration Faces Economic Test as Coronavirus Shakes Markets

Westlake Legal Group 27DC-TRUMPECON-01-facebookJumbo Trump Administration Faces Economic Test as Coronavirus Shakes Markets United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Taxation International Trade and World Market Interest Rates Federal Reserve System Economic Conditions and Trends Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Banking and Financial Institutions

WASHINGTON — The global spread of the deadly coronavirus is posing a significant economic test for President Trump, whose three-year stretch of robust growth could be shaken by supply chain delays, a tourism slowdown and ruptures in other critical sectors of the American economy.

The outbreak of the virus in China has already disrupted global trade, sending American companies and retailers that rely on Chinese imports scrambling to repair a temporary break in their supply chains. Its spread to South Korea, Italy and beyond has hindered global travel. Economic forecasters say that the effects will hurt growth in the United States this year even if they do not intensify — and that if the virus becomes a global pandemic, it could knock the world economy into recession.

Stock markets have plunged this week on fears about the virus, with companies such as Apple and Microsoft among the most prominent businesses that have warned that supply chain disruptions could slow sales. Analysts said this week’s declines were on track to be the steepest since the 2008 financial crisis.

The market’s fall presents a challenge for Mr. Trump, whose presidential success has been deeply tied to the economy and a rising stock market that is now experiencing pronounced jitters. For now, Mr. Trump has publicly played down the potential economic fallout, saying woes at the aerospace giant Boeing, a strike last year at General Motors and the Federal Reserve’s reluctance to slash interest rates have done more to hurt the economy.

“We have been hurt by General Motors,” Mr. Trump said on Wednesday. “We’ve been hurt by Boeing. And we’ve been hurt by — we’ve been hurt, in my opinion, very badly, by our own Federal Reserve.”

Health officials expect a spike in coronavirus cases in the United States, though it remains unclear how soon and how severe an outbreak might occur. Officials have warned the nation to be prepared for the virus to spread.

If the infection gains a big foothold in the United States, it could disrupt the economy, which has been expanding steadily with an unemployment rate that has hovered near a 50-year low for more than a year. In an extreme scenario where the virus severely hits the United States, it could keep workers at home and grind production to a halt, hurting revenue streams and tanking even highly leveraged corporations as they fall behind on debt payments. In the least severe case, the current slowdown in China could cause a short-lived growth blip.

  • Answers to your most common questions:

    Updated Feb. 26, 2020

    • What is a coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all nonessential travel to South Korea and China.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world was not ready for a major outbreak.

Economists at Goldman Sachs already expect to shave 0.8 percentage points off the United States gross domestic product in the first three months of 2020 because of slumping tourism from China and trade slowdowns. But they expect a quick rebound in the second quarter that will help to make up for the downturn.

Other economists, including those at Moody’s Analytics, foresee more drastic fallout if widespread infections appear in other countries. A global recession “is likely” if the virus “becomes a pandemic, and the odds of that are uncomfortably high and rising with infections surging in Italy and Korea,” Mark Zandi, Moody’s chief economist, wrote on Wednesday.

Chang-Tai Hsieh, an economist at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business who tracks Chinese economic data, said in an interview Thursday that the effects on American growth will be “huge” even in a best-case scenario with the virus. Chinese business activity, he said, is running at about 20 percent of normal levels.

“The economic consequences are, everything is down” in China, he said. “Everything is down tremendously.”

As forecasts worsen, investor expectations of a Fed cut are quickly increasing. As of Thursday, investors were betting on a March rate cut, a move that seemed highly unlikely as recently as a week ago. Many now expect two cuts by June, market pricing suggests.

Democrats on the House Financial Services Committee sent a letter on Thursday to Jerome H. Powell, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, asking for more information about whether an outbreak of the virus in the United States could cause a recession and what tools the central bank had to combat a supply shock to the economy.

Central bank policymakers said on Thursday that they were closely monitoring viral developments, though they did not yet signal a coming cut.

“It really depends on: What are the medium-term implications for the U.S. economy?” Loretta Mester, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, said in an interview. “If people are temporarily staying home, not traveling, not interacting and purchasing things, that could be a short-term hit. Or it could develop into something broader — and that’s the kind of calculus you have to do when you’re thinking about monetary policy.”

But rate cuts may have a limited effect: They work by stimulating demand, which could help if consumers and investors get spooked and stop spending. But cuts will do little to restart factories and correct supply problems.

“We’d absolutely expect to see a response from the Federal Reserve, not least to shore up confidence,” said Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, a research consultancy. But he pointed out that monetary policy worked on the economy with a six- to nine-month lag, and “it doesn’t deal with the supply-side impact of, say, one-third of your work force catching this.”

The more critical response may come from Congress and the Trump administration, which have done little thus far to script a fiscal response.

Perhaps the most important thing the government can do to insulate the economy is to stem the outbreak, keeping Americans on the job and spending. If that fails, though, fiscal responses are an option; Hong Kong and China, both hit hard, have rolled out packages to help bolster growth. Tax and spending policies might also encourage demand more than fixing supply, but they can also work more quickly than monetary policy.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, on Thursday morning called for Congress and Mr. Trump to fashion a spending bill meant to “address the spread of the deadly coronavirus in a smart, strategic and serious way.” A response should include interest-free loans for “small businesses impacted by the outbreak.”

Such a program would represent targeted relief but not an effort to dramatically increase consumer demand in the economy.

But such a plan seems far-off, if not improbable. Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress have not opened talks with the White House or between the House and Senate over any possible package of tax cuts and spending increases that would be meant to stimulate the economy in the event of a virus-related downturn. Top Senate aides said on Thursday that it was too soon for such conversations, with Mr. Trump’s allies noting the persistence of low unemployment and continued economic growth.

Michael Zona, a spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee and its chairman, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, said on Thursday that “at this point, the coronavirus has not had a broad impact on the U.S. economy, and its effects have been limited.” But Mr. Zona said Mr. Grassley and the committee were “ready to consider appropriate tax relief responses if that becomes necessary and the extent of the problem can be determined.”

Mr. Trump’s economic advisers had already been working on a package of tax cuts intended to serve as a centerpiece of his 2020 campaign. That package, which is still in flux and probably months away, could include new tax cuts for the middle class and for start-up businesses, along with extensions of some expiring provisions of the 2017 tax cuts. Tax experts who have spoken with the administration do not see the effort as an immediate stimulus package, but more as an attempt to build on the 2017 law and offer voters a contrast between Mr. Trump and his Democratic opponent.

On Thursday, the White House added Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, to the president’s coronavirus task force. Both officials have been working on the tax plan. The Financial Banking and Information Infrastructure Committee, chartered under the president’s Working Group on Financial Markets and chaired by Treasury, is in regular communication and is also monitoring the economic fallout from the virus.

With Democrats controlling the House, there has been little expectation of major tax legislation before the November election. There was no sign on Thursday, from inside or outside the White House, that the coronavirus had changed that.

“The bipartisan consensus on Capitol Hill is that substantive tax policy is not happening before the lame duck” session after the election, said George Callas, the managing director at Steptoe & Johnson LLP, who was tax counsel to former House Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin. “I haven’t seen that change in thinking happen yet.”

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

Pence Will Control All Coronavirus Messaging From Health Officials

Westlake Legal Group 27dc-virus1-facebookJumbo Pence Will Control All Coronavirus Messaging From Health Officials United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Pence, Mike Health and Human Services Department Fauci, Anthony S Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Azar, Alex M II Appointments and Executive Changes

WASHINGTON — The White House moved on Thursday to tighten control of coronavirus messaging by government health officials and scientists, directing them to clear all statements and public appearance with the office of Vice President Mike Pence, according to several officials familiar with the new approach.

President Trump announced Wednesday evening that Mr. Pence would coordinate the government’s response to the public health threat even as he played down the immediate danger from the virus that is spreading rapidly across the globe. Mr. Pence was scheduled to lead a meeting of the government’s coronavirus task force on Thursday.

In turn, Mr. Pence said on Thursday that he had selected Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the director of the United States effort to combat H.I.V. and AIDS, to serve as the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House, enlisting an experienced scientist and physician to manage the response to the potential spread of the virus.

The announcements from the White House were intended to show that Mr. Trump and those around him are taking the potential threat to the health of Americans seriously. Aides said the president wanted governors and members of Congress to have a single point-person to communicate with, eliminating any jockeying for power in a decentralized situation.

But with Mr. Pence’s announcement, Dr. Birx becomes the third person to be designated as the administration’s primary coronavirus official.

Mr. Trump said that “Mike is going to be in charge, and Mike will report back to me.” Mr. Pence said it will be Dr. Birx. Meanwhile, Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, remains the chairman of the government’s coronavirus task force.

The vice president’s first move appeared to be aimed at preventing the kind of contradictory statements from White House officials and top government health officials that have plagued the administration’s response. Even during his news conference on Wednesday, Mr. Trump rejected the assessment from a top health official that it was inevitable that the coronavirus would spread more broadly inside the United States.

  • Answers to your most common questions:

    Updated Feb. 26, 2020

    • What is a coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crownlike spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all nonessential travel to South Korea and China.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world was not ready for a major outbreak.

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, one of the country’s leading experts on viruses and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, told associates that the White House had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance.

The new White House approach came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledged Thursday that a California woman with coronavirus was made to wait days before she was tested for the disease because of the agency’s restrictive criteria about who may get tested.

And despite Mr. Trump’s efforts to calm the nation’s jittery investors, stock markets plunged again Thursday morning, opening about 2 percent lower amid concerns about the potential affects of the virus on the global economy. Earlier, European and Japanese stocks fell as well, closing more than 2 percent lower.

The president’s decision to appoint Mr. Pence to lead the coronavirus response came after several days in which his aides grappled with whether to name a “coronavirus czar” to coordinate the alphabet soup of federal health and security agencies that have roles to play in protecting the country.

Mr. Trump said at his news conference that he was pleased with Mr. Azar’s performance, calling the team that he has led “totally brilliant.” But White House aides, led by Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, have been debating for days whether the administration needed a point person to be the face of the response.

The decision to put Mr. Pence in charge was made on Wednesday after the president told some people that the vice president didn’t “have anything else to do,” according to people familiar with the president’s comments.

Dr. Birx has spent more than three decades working on H.I.V./AIDS immunology, vaccine research, and global health, according to the White House, which said in a statement that she would “bring her infectious disease, immunologic, vaccine research and interagency coordinating capacity to this position.”

The president’s selection of Mr. Pence — and the decision to name Dr. Birx as the coordinator for the response — further erodes Mr. Azar’s traditional role as the nation’s top health official in charge of directing the government’s response to a medical crisis. Mr. Trump has told people that he considers Mr. Azar to be too “alarmist” about the virus.

Mr. Azar denied reports that he was not consulted about the decision or told before the announcement Wednesday evening. He told lawmakers during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on Thursday that when he was informed of Mr. Pence’s selection to head the coronavirus task force, “I said, quote, ‘that’s genius.’”

Aides to Mr. Pence are aware that there are political risks for the vice president if the response to the virus falters in the days and weeks ahead.

Critics of the vice president quickly pointed to Mr. Pence’s record on public health issues when he was governor of Indiana as evidence that he was not the right person to lead the government’s response to a health crisis. Democrats noted that Mr. Pence was blamed for aggravating a severe AIDS outbreak among intravenous drug users when he opposed calls for a clean needle exchange program on the grounds it would encourage more drug use.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters on Thursday morning that she had told Mr. Pence directly that she questioned his new role given that he had “slashed” the public health budget when he was governor of Indiana.

“I spoke with the vice president this morning, made some of these concerns known to him,” she said. “We have always had a very candid relationship and I expressed to him the concern that I had of his being in this position.”

Nikki Haley, the former U.N. ambassador who has kept herself in the news as a possible rival to Mr. Pence as the president’s running mate on the 2020 re-election ticket, was rallying Trump supporters at a gathering of conservative activists on Thursday.

“President Trump brought capitalism back,” Ms. Haley told the crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference as she kicked off the four-day meeting. Mr. Pence is also scheduled to speak at the gathering.

But Mr. Pence’s allies played down the political risks to the vice president and said it was a good idea to put him in charge.

“He’s been actively involved already,” Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina, said. “He, with Secretary Azar, have been really engaged for weeks. It’s good to have someone that ultimately can be an addition to the team, although he’s been a part of it. They have Azar and some on his team on the technical side of the virus, but making sure we have a proper response is key.”

Mr. Meadows minimized concerns that being the position put Mr. Pence in a precarious position. “I think the response will go well,” Mr. Meadows said. Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence, he said were “both committed to making sure they get a number of data points and communicate it efficiently.”

Annie Karni and Emily Cochrane contributed reporting.

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Trump Has a Problem as the Coronavirus Threatens the U.S.: His Credibility

Westlake Legal Group 26dc-assess1-facebookJumbo Trump Has a Problem as the Coronavirus Threatens the U.S.: His Credibility United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Sebelius, Kathleen Obama, Barack Hurricane Dorian (2019) Health and Human Services Department Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Azar, Alex M II

WASHINGTON — When Hurricane Dorian crashed into the Atlantic Coast in September, President Trump assumed a take-charge role in response. But he undermined his own effectiveness after it became apparent that before displaying a map in front of the television cameras in the Oval Office, he had altered it with a Sharpie pen to match his inaccurate forecast of where the storm was headed.

For years, experts have warned that Mr. Trump has been squandering the credibility he could need in a moment of national emergency, like a terrorist attack or a public health crisis.

Now, as the coronavirus races across the globe and has begun to threaten the United States, Mr. Trump could face a moment of reckoning. Maintaining a calm and orderly response during an epidemic, in which countless lives could be at stake, requires that the president be a reliable public messenger.

“I think the president has a unique opportunity to dispel fears and calm the situation — if people believe he is telling the truth,” said Kathleen Sebelius, who served as secretary of health and human services in the Obama administration. “And I think that’s really where a great disconnect occurs.”

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Trump delivered an almost casual account of the administration’s response to the coronavirus, leaving it to the experts appearing with him to relay the real information and assure a jittery public. Still, he kept trying to suggest the risk was low.

“We will see what happens,” the president said as he addressed the nation. “But we are very, very ready for this, for anything.”

Mr. Trump said that Johns Hopkins University rated the United States “No. 1 for being prepared,” holding up a chart printed on an 8 ½ by 11 sheet of paper.

“This will end,” he said, comparing the coronavirus to the everyday flu. “We really have done a very good job.”

During a crisis, presidents are looked to for direct and honest assessments of threats and for reassurance to the public about their impact.

During the swine flu outbreak of 1976, President Gerald R. Ford announced at a news conference that the government planned to vaccinate “every man, woman and child in the United States.” Mr. Ford himself was photographed receiving the vaccine in the White House as part of a public awareness campaign.

  • Answers to your most common questions:

    Updated Feb. 26, 2020

    • What is a Coronavirus?
      It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
    • How do I keep myself and others safe?
      Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
    • What if I’m traveling?
      The C.D.C. has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan, Italy and Iran. The agency also has advised against all non-essential travel to South Korea and China.
    • Where has the virus spread?
      The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has sickened more than 80,000 people in at least 33 countries, including Italy, Iran and South Korea.
    • How contagious is the virus?
      According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is probably transmitted through sneezes, coughs and contaminated surfaces. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
    • Who is working to contain the virus?
      The World Health Organization officials have been working with officials in China, where growth has slowed. But this week, as confirmed cases spiked on two continents, experts warned that the world is not ready for a major outbreak.

Responding to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014, President Barack Obama visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to announce that the administration would send as many as 3,000 people to the region.

Mr. Trump, in contrast, contradicted his own health experts in a news conference Wednesday evening, insisting that the spread of the virus was not inevitable, and excoriating two of his favorite foils, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer, the minority leader, for “trying to create a panic.”

For three and a half years, Mr. Trump has repeatedly proved an unreliable narrator on a range of subjects.

At times, he has exaggerated threats, like talking up the caravans of migrants he claimed were storming the southern border before the 2018 midterm elections. Other times, he has minimized potentially serious dangers that could be politically damaging, like the renewed nuclear threat posed by North Korea after the failure of his talks with its leader, Kim Jong-un, and now, the global spread of the coronavirus, which he has persistently tried to play down.

In his response to the coronavirus, Mr. Trump has made inaccurate or questionable claims, twice misstating the number of Americans infected with the virus and insisting that it “miraculously goes away” when warmer spring weather arrives — a prediction that health experts have said is premature.

He based that prediction on a comment made at one of his briefings, when an expert noted that temperatures can affect the spread of viruses. Mr. Trump has used that data point as evidence in saying in public and in private to guests at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., that the global outbreak will be behind him by April.

The president, as he often does, has also focused on coverage of his response, complaining that he is being treated unfairly and blaming the news media. “If the virus disappeared tomorrow, they would say we did a really poor, and even incompetent, job,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “Not fair, but it is what it is. So far, by the way, we have not had one death. Let’s keep it that way!”

Before he took office, Mr. Trump was an outspoken critic of the Obama administration’s handling of the Ebola outbreak, arguing that infected people should not be allowed back into the United States.

Current Trump allies said the fact that the president chose to address the growing public health crisis quickly after returning from a trip to India showed how seriously he was taking the outbreak.

But privately, they say he has been reluctant to give in to what he has called an “alarmist” view of the virus’s potential to cause damage as he warily watches the effect of the outbreak on the stock market. He has been rattled by the Wall Street reaction to the spread of the virus in places like Italy, lashing out at the news media in tweets and accusing journalists of intentionally trying to harm the stock market.

And polls show that Mr. Trump’s credibility with much of the United States is low after an impeachment inquiry in which a majority of voters said they did not believe that he was telling the truth about his actions involving Ukraine.

Federal health officials had been bracing for the arrival of the virus in the country with minimal intervention by the White House.

As Ebola presented both a health and political threat to his administration in 2014, Mr. Obama carefully hewed to proven science, which he repeatedly invoked in his carefully calibrated public messages.

“We have to be guided by the science. We have to remember the basic facts,” he said in an October 2014 radio message.

Mr. Trump, in contrast, has not been focused on scientific detail. The secretary of health and human services, Alex M. Azar II, has told officials they should give the notoriously impatient president simple, paint-by-numbers briefings on coronavirus.

But a larger fear among experts in the field has been that he would contradict scientific experts. “That’s where Trump is most pernicious, potentially,” said Ron Klain, who served as Mr. Obama’s “Ebola czar,” and now is an adviser to the presidential campaign of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. “When he contradicts those experts, when he suggests they have biases, or when he intimidates them not to be straight, that’s when the risk really grows.”

As Mr. Trump faces this emergency, his history of issuing false claims could make it harder to sell the public on any plans to address coronavirus.

“When you’re trying to build trust in the government’s response, people have to have trust,” said Leslie Dach, a senior counselor at health and human services during the Ebola outbreak.

“Making false promises and them turning out not to be true undermines people’s confidence,” Mr. Dach said. He pointed to Mr. Trump’s claim this month about the virus that, “We did shut it down, yes.”

As recently as this week, the president appeared to simply want to put the coronavirus response in his rearview mirror. “I think that’s a problem that’s going to go away,” he said in remarks on Tuesday to a group of business leaders in New Delhi.

On Wednesday, before Mr. Trump’s news conference, his allies on television and radio appeared to be speaking to the proverbial “audience of one” as they sought to give their unsolicited advice to the president.

Jason Miller, a top adviser to Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign who hosts a podcast that is currently focused on the coronavirus, tweeted that the president had to “make clear full Administration working around the clock on this, and explain in everyday, layman’s terms what we need to both do and avoid to remain safe.”

On Fox News, daytime hosts noted the news conference presented an “opportunity for him to act presidential.”

Mr. Trump, however, chose to conduct the news conference his own way.

“It is what it is,” he said of the potential for a virus with a higher fatality than the flu to spread through communities. “We’ve got the greatest people in the world.”

Noah Weiland contributed reporting from Washington, and Donald G. McNeil Jr. from New York.

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Trump Campaign Sues New York Times Over 2019 Opinion Article

Westlake Legal Group 26trumpsuit-facebookJumbo Trump Campaign Sues New York Times Over 2019 Opinion Article Trump, Donald J Suits and Litigation (Civil) Russian Interference in 2016 US Elections and Ties to Trump Associates Presidential Election of 2020 News and News Media New York Times Libel and Slander

President Trump’s re-election campaign sued The New York Times on Wednesday, alleging that an Op-Ed article published by the newspaper falsely asserted a “quid pro quo” between Russian officials and Mr. Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Mr. Trump often threatens to sue media organizations but rarely follows through. The lawsuit, filed in New York State court in Manhattan, is the first time his political operation has taken legal action against an American news outlet since he took office.

The lawsuit concerns an essay published by the Opinion section of The Times in March 2019. The article, headlined “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo,” was written by Max Frankel, who served as executive editor of The Times from 1986 to 1994. (The Opinion section of The Times operates separately from its newsroom.)

In the essay, Mr. Frankel wrote about communications between Mr. Trump’s inner circle and Russian emissaries in the lead-up to the 2016 election. He concluded that, rather than any “detailed electoral collusion,” the Trump campaign and Russian officials instead “had an overarching deal”: “the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy.”

The Trump lawsuit argues that this conclusion “is false” and that The Times published the essay “knowing it would misinform and mislead its own readers.” The suit also accuses The Times, without evidence, of harboring “extreme bias against and animosity toward” Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

The Times responded shortly after the suit was filed on Wednesday. “The Trump campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable,” Eileen Murphy, a spokeswoman for The Times, said in a statement.

“Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance,” Ms. Murphy added. “We look forward to vindicating that right in this case.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of the Trump campaign by Charles J. Harder, a lawyer with a reputation for waging aggressive legal battles against prominent news organizations.

Mr. Harder is best known for representing Terry G. Bollea, the former professional wrestler known as Hulk Hogan, in a lawsuit against Gawker Media that was secretly underwritten by the tech investor Peter Thiel. The suit, which concerned the publication of a sex video, resulted in a $140 million decision that led to Gawker Media’s bankruptcy and forced the site’s sale.

Mr. Harder also represented Melania Trump, Mr. Trump’s wife, when she sued The Daily Mail, a British tabloid, in 2016, over what she said were “false and defamatory statements,” including that a modeling agency she worked for in the 1990s was also an escort service. The Daily Mail ultimately apologized, retracted the article and paid damages in a settlement.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Nicole Hong and Alain Delaqueriere contributed reporting.

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Trump Hits Media on Coronavirus as He Prepares an Evening News Conference

Westlake Legal Group 26DC-virus-facebookJumbo Trump Hits Media on Coronavirus as He Prepares an Evening News Conference United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Health and Human Services Department Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

WASHINGTON — President Trump blamed the media on Wednesday for “doing everything possible” to make the coronavirus “look as bad as possible,” even as he said his administration was “doing a great job” with a virus that the Centers for Disease Control said would inevitably hit American shores.

Mr. Trump set a 6 p.m. White House news conference to discuss the virus with officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But his reassurances have not calmed global markets, which were down sharply overseas Wednesday morning. A day after its worst one-day slide in two years, the S&P 500 closed down 3 percent on Tuesday, a decline that put the index deeper in the red for 2020.

With cabinet secretaries fanning out on Capitol Hill, Wednesday promised more sharp questioning about the administration’s preparedness for a virus that has now infected more than 81,000 people globally and killed more than 2,700.

Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, told lawmakers on Wednesday morning that the C.D.C. has already exhausted the $105 million rapid response fund that the federal government had been using in its initial response efforts. He has proposed shifting $136 million from other health programs to the coronavirus to replenish the government’s efforts.

“It’s a very fast-moving process,” he said.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, the chairwoman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that handles health care, blasted the White House’s funding proposals as “unacceptable.”

“We want to be supportive,” she said.

The White House has requested $1.25 billion in new funds to prepare for coronavirus, but Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, proposed on Wednesday to increase that dramatically, to $8.5 billion in new emergency funds.

The politics of coronavirus shifted drastically on Tuesday when Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the C.D.C.’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters that “it’s not so much of a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more of a question of exactly when this will happen.”

  • How Is the U.S. Being Affected?

    Updated Feb. 25, 2020

    • An Omaha hospital that drew attention for treating Ebola patients is now playing a key role again.
    • The outbreak has left some Asian-Americans feeling an unsettling level of public scrutiny.
    • There was a race to contain the disease after one man’s cough became confirmation of America’s first case.
    • Most experts agree: To protect yourself wash your hands and avoid touching your face.
    • Affected by travel? Or do you know someone who is? Please contact us at coronavirus@nytimes.com if you are willing to be contacted by a reporter or have your comments used for a coming story.

She said that hospitals and schools should begin preparing for an outbreak, and that she had even spoken to her own family about “significant disruption of our lives.”

On Wednesday, Moody’s Analytics said it now sees a 40 percent chance that the virus will break containment in China and grow into a global pandemic that would push the United States and the world into a recession. Its chief economist, Mark Zandi, said in a research note that he expected the virus to reduce American economic growth by 0.2 percentage points this year — and that a “black swan” recession now looked uncomfortably possible.

“The economy was already fragile before the outbreak and vulnerable to anything that did not stick to script,” he wrote. “Covid-19 is way off script.”

Mr. Trump’s attempts to calm the American public have also occasionally been laced with a degree of alarm.

“There’s a very good chance you’re not going to die,” Mr. Trump said about the outbreak at a news conference in India on Tuesday.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, responding to Mr. Trump’s assurances that the virus was under control, told CNN, “I don’t think the president knows what he’s talking about — once again.”

Mr. Trump has in recent days been frustrated by the threat of the virus, expressing it to a number of advisers. He is looking for someone new to manage the administration’s response efforts, which have so far been overseen by a task force led by Alex M. Azar II, the health and human services secretary, according to a person familiar with the effort.

Lawmakers have expressed alarm that the Trump administration has yet to appoint a czar-like position at the White House, which President Barack Obama did in 2014 to handle the Ebola virus. That role, and a global health expert slot on the National Security Council, have been vacant for years.

“I’m not sure who’s on the task force,” Senator Mazie Hirono, a Hawaii Democrat, said on Tuesday as she left a briefing with federal health officials.

She added: “This is why we do need somebody that’s like a coronavirus czar as we had during the Ebola situation. And so far we don’t have such a person to work across the departments.”

Ronald Klain, who held the Ebola position in the Obama White House, said, “One cabinet secretary cannot run an interagency response. Azar has the biggest civilian job in the American government. Is he doing this in his spare time?”

On Tuesday, Mr. Azar told a Senate panel that medical supplies were badly needed for the nation’s emergency stockpile, including 300 million masks for health care workers alone, he said.

Mr. Azar was visiting the House on Wednesday, where he was met by bipartisan concern over the Trump administration’s response so far.

At a morning hearing on his department’s budget, lawmakers questioned him about public health-related cuts the Trump administration has proposed, in addition to his plans to fund the coronavirus response, for which the White House has sought billions of dollars from Congress.

A chart obtained by The New York Times on Tuesday shows that Mr. Azar is proposing shuffling money from key health programs to fund the administration’s response, including some that are central to Mr. Trump’s agenda, like H.I.V. and AIDS prevention, rural health and cancer research.

When he announced his coronavirus proposal Wednesday morning, Mr. Schumer pointed to the $6 billion Congress appropriated for a 2006 flu pandemic and the $7 billion it carved out for the H1N1 flu in 2009. His new plan includes $3 billion for a public health emergency fund, $1.5 billion for the C.D.C., $1 billion for vaccine development and $2 billion for reimbursing states and cities for efforts they have so far made to monitor and prepare for potential new cases of the virus.

Mr. Azar will most likely defend broader public health cuts separate from the White House’s plans to transfer money to handle coronavirus efforts. The president’s budget request for the fiscal year that begins in October would slash the C.D.C.’s budget by almost 16 percent, and the Health and Human Services Department’s by almost 10 percent. Tens of millions of dollars would come from the department’s Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response and its Hospital Preparedness Program, which helps hospitals handle surges of patients during disease outbreaks.

Maggie Haberman, Jim Tankersley and Eileen Sullivan contributed reporting.

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As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive

Westlake Legal Group 25DC-TRADE-01-facebookJumbo As Trump Visits India, a Trade Deal Remains Elusive United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Modi, Narendra milk International Trade and World Market India Customs (Tariff)

WASHINGTON — President Trump’s visit to India includes a state dinner, tens of thousands of cheering onlookers and even a marching band on camels — but a long-awaited trade deal between the United States and India is notably absent.

For the second time since September, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India visited the United States, the two countries have failed to reach even a limited “mini-deal” that would increase trade for focused groups of goods, like dairy products, medical devices and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Negotiators from both countries have been working since 2018 on a deal that would lower Indian barriers to some American products, and restore India’s access to a program that allows goods to enter the United States tariff-free.

But the breakdown in negotiations illustrates the steep challenge in reaching a trade deal between two countries headed by populist leaders who harbor suspicions of multilateral arrangements. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi want to protect jobs in their own countries by fending off foreign competitors — shared attributes that make it even more difficult to strike a comprehensive agreement that would roll back trade barriers more broadly.

“Both sides are attuned to their own political imperatives and not where the other side might have an area of accommodation,” said Nisha Biswal, president of the U.S. India Business Council, who served as assistant secretary of state for Central and South Asia during the Obama administration. “It is hard, then, to find where the common ground is where a deal could be struck.”

In appearances alongside Mr. Modi on Tuesday, Mr. Trump touted an agreement by India to purchase more than $3 billion of American military equipment, as well as other purchasing agreements related to commercial airlines and natural gas.

He said the two sides had made “tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement” and that he remained optimistic they could reach a deal.

But urgency toward a deal appears to have faded, with both leaders appearing content for trade barriers to continue. Mr. Trump has said he is focused on a larger agreement that could be reached at the end of this year, if the two sides can find common ground.

That may not be easy. During his visit, the president reiterated his previous complaints about India’s high tariffs on American products, including Harley Davidson motorcycles and other goods.

“We’re being charged large amounts of tariffs, and you can’t do that,” Mr. Trump said. “I just said that’s unfair, and we’re working it out.”

He added that “the money you’re talking about is major, but the United States has to be treated fairly. And India understands that.”

Since trade talks began, both the United States and India have escalated tensions by ratcheting up tariffs and trade barriers, rather than lowering them.

In March 2018, Mr. Trump included India in the list of countries that would be hit by his steel and aluminum tariffs. India responded with retaliatory tariffs on American almonds, apples and other goods. Last May, the Trump administration stripped India of a special status that exempted billions of dollars of its exports into the United States from tariffs.

The two sides were close to reaching a modest agreement in early January that would remove barriers for American farmers and medical device makers and strengthen India’s intellectual property protections, among other issues. But new demands — like a U.S. request for India to buy more walnuts and turkeys — kept popping up, delaying an agreement.

India then surprised the Trump administration in February by pledging to raise import duties on more than 100 items, including medical devices, furniture, electronics, cheese and shelled walnuts — a move that became a major stumbling block to the pact’s conclusion.

Mr. Trump’s trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, responded by reopening previously settled issues. Then he canceled a planned trip to work out everything in person with Mr. Modi’s commerce minister, Piyush Goyal.

An Indian official briefed on the talks said that India would not be bullied into making an agreement with the United States, especially if those concessions might ultimately hurt Indian interests.

For both India and the United States, the trading relationship is an important one. India was the United States’ ninth-largest trading partner in goods in 2018, while the United States edged ahead of China to become India’s largest trading partner last year.

Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the outcome showed the limitations of Mr. Trump’s truculent approach to trade, in which he tries to ratchet up pressure on trading partners to force them into making a bilateral deal.

With smaller countries that count the United States as a major market — South Korea, Japan, Canada and Mexico — Mr. Trump has signed a series of small or revised deals. But with bigger economies, Mr. Trump’s one-on-one approach “has really run into roadblocks,” Mr. Alden said.

With China, it resulted in a limited trade deal, but not one that addressed the biggest economic issues between the countries. Negotiations with the European Union have so far failed to progress. And with India, Mr. Trump’s pressure campaign may have backfired, he said.

Alyssa Ayres, also a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, said India had gradually been moving toward greater economic openness since experiencing a financial crisis in 1991. But in recent years, the Trump administration’s trade tactics may have pushed India in the opposite direction.

“Given that the Trump administration has brought tariffs back as a policy tool, we are setting the wrong example ourselves for these trade moves,” she said.

But Wendy Cutler, vice president of the Asia Society and a former trade negotiator, said the United States was hardly alone in its inability to get India to sign a trade deal.

India has yet to sign a deal with Europe despite years of talks and has fought efforts by the World Trade Organization to update its trade rules, Ms. Cutler said. Progress that the United States and India were making toward a deal “was overshadowed by new tariff and nontariff measures that India was erecting, seriously complicating the talks.”

The Trump administration’s biggest carrot is the restoration of India’s tariff-free status for industries under the Generalized System of Preferences. But that carrot, which waived $200 million a year in tariffs on Indian exports, hardly has the Indian side salivating.

Since Mr. Trump revoked that status, India’s exports of preferential goods like leather handbags, certain metal and plastic products and furniture have increased 5.5 percent, compared with a 1.9 percent increase in overall exports to the United States. That suggests Indian companies are facing little pain from the change in trade status.

“The U.S. needs the trade deal more than India does,” said Mukesh Aghi, the chief executive of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a business group whose members include PepsiCo, Cisco, Mastercard, Boeing and Disney.

The battle over milk and vegetarian cows has been another example of how the two sides can’t seem to find a middle ground.

India produces more milk than anyone else in the world, yet it’s still not enough to meet demand. But India is worried that cheap imported milk from the United States will wipe out many of its 80 million small farmers, who typically tend just a few cows each.

“If our farmers go out of business, there is no one to feed us,” said Ashwani Mahajan, a leader of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, a business group affiliated with India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Then there’s the matter of what those cows eat. In the United States, cattle are typically fed ground-up parts of other animals. That does not pass muster with Hindus, most of whom are vegetarian.

Some American farmers are willing to keep cows on a purely vegetarian diet for 90 days before their milk is sent to India, said Tom Vilsack, the chief executive of the U.S. Dairy Export Council and the U.S. agriculture secretary under President Obama.

However, “the Indian government is not willing to accept that,” Mr. Vilsack said. “I don’t see any path forward.”

Ana Swanson reported from Washington, and Vindu Goel from Mumbai, India.

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Trump Hails ‘Special’ Ties With Modi, but Complains of Tariffs

Westlake Legal Group 25prexy-1-facebookJumbo Trump Hails ‘Special’ Ties With Modi, but Complains of Tariffs Trump, Donald J New Delhi (India) Modi, Narendra International Trade and World Market India Exxon Mobil Corp

NEW DELHI — President Trump said on Tuesday that he and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India had made progress toward what he hopes will be a landmark trade agreement between the two economic giants. But there was no breakthrough to announce after formal talks on the second and final day of the president’s visit, as Mr. Trump complained about steep Indian tariffs.

A joint public appearance by the two leaders was long on florid language about the strength of their relationship and short on concrete results. While Mr. Trump had said before departing the United States that “we may make a tremendous deal there,” the two sides appeared far apart on major points of a trade pact.

“Our teams have made tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement, and I’m optimistic we can reach a deal that will be of great importance to both countries,” Mr. Trump told reporters, without elaborating.

Speaking at a news conference a few hours later, he diverged from the sunny rhetoric that had characterized his appearances with Mr. Modi over the past two days, saying that India maintained unfairly high tariffs on American goods, including Harley Davidson motorcycles.

“We’re being charged large amounts of tariffs, and they can’t do that,” Mr. Trump said. “I want reciprocal. The United States has to be treated fairly.”

Such complaints were absent earlier in the day when the two leaders appeared before reporters in the lush garden of Hyderabad House, the iconic building typically used to host foreign leaders, and spoke in front of a backdrop of flags, flowers and fountains.

Mr. Trump and Mr. Modi celebrated a series of modest agreements that were set before the visit, including a $3 billion arms purchase and a letter of cooperation between Exxon Mobil and India’s energy sector. They agreed to create a joint counternarcotics working group to reduce opioid abuse.

“We think we’re at a point where our relationship is so special with India, it has never been as good as it is now,” Mr. Trump said. “We feel very strongly about each other, and we have done something that is very unique.”

As the two leaders spoke to journalists, smoke was rising into the sky in a different part of New Delhi, where Hindu and Muslim mobs were battling each other in another day of violence over a new citizenship law, backed by Mr. Modi, which eases the way for migrants of all South Asian faiths other than Islam. The day before, at least seven people were killed in the fighting in the Maujpur district of Delhi, including a police officer.

The clashes are the latest example of sectarian tensions that have swelled in recent years as Mr. Modi pursues policies that his critics say are aimed at turning India’s secular democracy into a Hindu state, in which its 200 million Muslims are consigned to second-class status.

All of that went unmentioned as the two leaders made a show of Indian-American relations alongside each other. But when a reporter asked Mr. Trump later, at his solo news conference, about the citizenship law and resulting violence, the president glossed over the issue in rosy terms.

“We did talk about religious freedom, and I will say that the prime minister — it was incredible what he told me,” Mr. Trump said. “He wants people to have religious freedom, and very strongly.”

“They have really worked hard on religious freedom,” Mr. Trump said. “We talked about it for a long time, and I really believe that’s what he wants.”

The two leaders took no questions at their joint appearance before the news media. Although Mr. Modi has taken questions from reporters while overseas next to other world leaders, he is the first prime minister in recent memory to not have held any news conferences in India.

Mr. Modi treated Mr. Trump to a rally of 125,000 people at a giant cricket stadium in Ahmedabad on Monday, an event meant to appeal to the American president’s love of crowds and spectacle, and welcomed him to the presidential palace on Tuesday with the roar of guns and an honor guard of red-uniformed soldiers on horseback.

At his news conference, Mr. Trump was basking in the glow of that event. “Nobody else that came here got the kind of reception that I got,” Mr. Trump said in response to a question about American limits on H-1B visas for Indians.

“Someone said it was greatest greeting ever given to any head of state of any country,” Mr. Trump added, even though it was not even the largest crowd ever to welcome an American president to India.

He did gently urge Mr. Modi’s government to respect freedom on the internet, which the Indian government has shut down repeatedly. Talking about the need for secure 5G wireless, the president added that it should be “a tool for freedom, progress, prosperity, not to do anything where it could be even conceived as a conduit for suppression and censorship.”

A trade deal with India has been a priority for two years for Mr. Trump, who would like to have another economic agreement to take onto the campaign trail before the November election. But the two sides have been divided over farm products, medical devices, digital trade and new tariffs. Mr. Trump has complained that India treats the United States unfairly and called Mr. Modi a “tough negotiator.”

In his news conference, Mr. Trump also addressed growing alarm over the coronavirus and the return of 14 Americans infected with coronavirus to the country last week. He defended that action, even though he was privately furious about it.

“I felt we should bring them back,” he said. “They’re Americans — we should bring them back.”

During the 2014 ebola epidemic in Africa, Mr. Trump tweeted in outrage that Americans infected with that virus should not be allowed into the country. Asked whether his current view clashed with his prior one, he rejected the comparison.

“There’s a vast difference” between the two epidemics, Mr. Trump said, nothing that Ebola was nearly always fatal while the death rate among those infected with the new coronavirus has been relatively low. “At that time nobody had ever even heard of Ebola or had conceived of something where people would disintegrate.” (Ebola was widely known by 2014.)

Mr. Trump also vowed not to accept foreign assistance during his re-election campaign and rejected American intelligence assessments that Russia was already working to help him.

“I want no help from any country, and I haven’t been given help from any country,” he said.

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