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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "Trump, Donald J" (Page 42)

Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden

Westlake Legal Group examining-tara-reades-sexual-assault-allegation-against-joe-biden Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden Trump, Donald J Sex Crimes Reade, Tara Presidential Election of 2020 Biden, Joseph R Jr #MeToo Movement
Westlake Legal Group 13biden-allegation-top-facebookJumbo Examining Tara Reade’s Sexual Assault Allegation Against Joe Biden Trump, Donald J Sex Crimes Reade, Tara Presidential Election of 2020 Biden, Joseph R Jr #MeToo Movement

WASHINGTON — A former Senate aide who last year accused Joseph R. Biden Jr. of inappropriate touching has made an allegation of sexual assault against the former vice president, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee this fall.

The former aide, Tara Reade, who briefly worked as a staff assistant in Mr. Biden’s Senate office, told The New York Times that in 1993, Mr. Biden pinned her to a wall in a Senate building, reached under her clothing and penetrated her with his fingers. A friend said that Ms. Reade told her the details of the allegation at the time. Another friend and a brother of Ms. Reade’s said she told them over the years about a traumatic sexual incident involving Mr. Biden.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Biden said the allegation was false. In interviews, several people who worked in the Senate office with Ms. Reade said they did not recall any talk of such an incident or similar behavior by Mr. Biden toward her or any women. Two office interns who worked directly with Ms. Reade said they were unaware of the allegation or any treatment that troubled her.

Last year, Ms. Reade and seven other women came forward to accuse Mr. Biden of kissing, hugging or touching them in ways that made them feel uncomfortable. Ms. Reade told The Times then that Mr. Biden had publicly stroked her neck, wrapped his fingers in her hair and touched her in ways that made her uncomfortable.

Soon after Ms. Reade made the new allegation, in a podcast interview released on March 25, The Times began reporting on her account and seeking corroboration through interviews, documents and other sources. The Times interviewed Ms. Reade on multiple days over hours, as well as those she told about Mr. Biden’s behavior and other friends. The Times has also interviewed lawyers who spoke to Ms. Reade about her allegation; nearly two dozen people who worked with Mr. Biden during the early 1990s, including many who worked with Ms. Reade; and the other seven women who criticized Mr. Biden last year, to discuss their experiences with him.

No other allegation about sexual assault surfaced in the course of reporting, nor did any former Biden staff members corroborate any details of Ms. Reade’s allegation. The Times found no pattern of sexual misconduct by Mr. Biden.

On Thursday, Ms. Reade filed a report with the Washington, D.C., police, saying she was the victim of a sexual assault in 1993; the public incident report, provided to The Times by Ms. Reade, does not mention Mr. Biden by name, but she said the complaint was about him. Ms. Reade said she filed the report to give herself an additional degree of safety from potential threats. Filing a false police report is a crime.

Ms. Reade, who worked as a staff assistant helping manage the office interns, said she also filed a complaint with the Senate in 1993 about Mr. Biden; she said she did not have a copy of it, and such paperwork has not been located. The Biden campaign said it did not have a complaint. The Times reviewed an official copy of her employment history from the Senate that she provided showing she was hired in December 1992 and paid by Mr. Biden’s office until August 1993.

The seven other women who had complained about Mr. Biden told the Times this month that they did not have any new information about their experiences to add, but several said they believed Ms. Reade’s account.

Last year, Mr. Biden, 77, acknowledged the women’s complaints about his conduct, saying his intentions were benign and promising to be “more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space.”

In response to Ms. Reade’s allegation, Kate Bedingfield, a deputy Biden campaign manager, said in a statement: “Vice President Biden has dedicated his public life to changing the culture and the laws around violence against women. He authored and fought for the passage and reauthorization of the landmark Violence Against Women Act. He firmly believes that women have a right to be heard — and heard respectfully. Such claims should also be diligently reviewed by an independent press. What is clear about this claim: It is untrue. This absolutely did not happen.”

Ms. Reade made her new allegation public as Mr. Biden was closing in on the Democratic presidential nomination after winning a string of primaries against his chief rival, Senator Bernie Sanders. Ms. Reade, who describes herself as a “third-generation Democrat,” said she originally favored Marianne Williamson and Senator Elizabeth Warren in the race but voted for Mr. Sanders in the California primary last month. She said her decision to come forward had nothing to do with politics or helping Mr. Sanders, and said neither his campaign nor the Trump campaign had encouraged her to make her allegation.

President Trump has been accused of sexual assault and misconduct by more than a dozen women, who have described a pattern of behavior that went far beyond the accusations against Mr. Biden. The president also directed illegal payments, including $130,000 to a pornographic film actress, Stormy Daniels, before the 2016 election to silence women about alleged affairs with Mr. Trump, according to federal prosecutors.

Mr. Trump has even boasted about his mistreatment of women; in a 2005 recording, he described pushing himself on women and said he would “grab them by the pussy,” bragging that he could get away with “anything” because of his celebrity.

Even so, Mr. Trump has at times attacked opponents over their treatment of women. The president has not mentioned Ms. Reade’s allegation, which has circulated on social media and in liberal and conservative news outlets.

Ms. Reade, 56, told The Times that the assault happened in the spring of 1993. She said she had tracked down Mr. Biden to deliver an athletic bag when he pushed her against a cold wall, started kissing her neck and hair and propositioned her. He slid his hand up her cream-colored blouse, she said, and used his knee to part her bare legs before reaching under her skirt.

“It happened at once. He’s talking to me and his hands are everywhere and everything is happening very quickly,” she recalled. “He was kissing me and he said, very low, ‘Do you want to go somewhere else?’”

Ms. Reade said she pulled away and Mr. Biden stopped.

“He looked at me kind of almost puzzled or shocked,” she said. “He said, ‘Come on, man, I heard you liked me.’”

At the time, Ms. Reade said she worried whether she had done something wrong to encourage his advances.

“He pointed his finger at me and he just goes: ‘You’re nothing to me. Nothing,’” she said. “Then, he took my shoulders and said, ‘You’re OK, you’re fine.’”

Mr. Biden walked down the hallway, Ms. Reade said, and she cleaned up in a restroom, made her way home and, sobbing, called her mother, who encouraged her to immediately file a police report.

Instead, Ms. Reade said, she complained to Marianne Baker, Mr. Biden’s executive assistant, as well as to two top aides, Dennis Toner and Ted Kaufman, about harassment by Mr. Biden — not mentioning the alleged assault.

The staff declined to take action, Ms. Reade said, after which she filed a written complaint with a Senate personnel office. She said office staff took away most of her duties, including supervising the interns; assigned her a windowless office; and made the work environment uncomfortable for her.

She said Mr. Kaufman later told her she was not a good fit in the office, giving her a month to look for a job. Ms. Reade never secured another position in Washington.

In an interview, Mr. Kaufman, a longtime friend of Mr. Biden’s who was his chief of staff at the time, said: “I did not know her. She did not come to me. If she had, I would have remembered her.”

Mr. Toner, who worked for Mr. Biden for over three decades, said the allegation was out of character for Mr. Biden. Other senators and office staffs had reputations for harassing women at work and partying after hours, according to those who worked in the office at the time. Mr. Biden was known for racing to catch the train to get home to Wilmington, Del., every night.

“It’s just so preposterous that Senator Biden would be faced with these allegations,” said Mr. Toner, who was deputy chief of staff when Ms. Reade worked in the office. “I don’t remember her. I don’t remember this conversation. And I would remember this conversation.”

The Biden campaign issued a statement from Ms. Baker, Mr. Biden’s executive assistant from 1982 to 2000.

“I never once witnessed, or heard of, or received, any reports of inappropriate conduct, period — not from Ms. Reade, not from anyone,” she said. “I have absolutely no knowledge or memory of Ms. Reade’s accounting of events, which would have left a searing impression on me as a woman professional, and as a manager.”

Melissa Lefko, a former staff assistant for Mr. Biden from 1992 to 1993, said she did not remember Ms. Reade. But she recalled that Mr. Biden’s office was a “very supportive environment for women” and said she had never experienced any kind of harassment there.

“When you work on the Hill, everyone knows who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, and Biden was a good guy,” she said.

Ms. Reade said that she could not remember the exact time, date or location of the assault but that it occurred in a “semiprivate” place in the Senate office complex.

A friend said that Ms. Reade told her about the alleged assault at the time, in 1993. A second friend recalled Ms. Reade telling her in 2008 that Mr. Biden had touched her inappropriately and that she’d had a traumatic experience while working in his office. Both friends agreed to speak to The Times on the condition of anonymity to protect the privacy of their families and their self-owned businesses.

Ms. Reade said she also told her brother, who has confirmed parts of her account publicly but who did not speak to The Times, and her mother, who has since died.

At the time of the alleged assault, Ms. Reade said she was responsible for coordinating the interns in the office. Two former interns who worked with her said they never heard her describe any inappropriate conduct by Mr. Biden or saw her directly interact with him in any capacity but recalled that she abruptly stopped supervising them in April, before the end of their internship. Others who worked in the office at the time said they remembered Ms. Reade but not any inappropriate behavior.

Friends and former co-workers describe Ms. Reade as friendly, caring, compassionate and trustworthy, though perhaps a bit naïve. A single mother, she changed her name for protection after leaving an abusive marriage in the late 1990s and put herself through law school in Seattle. After leaving Mr. Biden’s office, she eventually returned to the West Coast, where she worked for a state senator; as an advocate for domestic violence survivors, testifying as an expert witness in court; and for animal rescue organizations.

During her time in Mr. Biden’s office, he was working to pass the Violence Against Women Act, which Mr. Biden has described as his “proudest legislative accomplishment.” In 2017, Ms. Reade retweeted praise for Mr. Biden and his work combating sexual assault. In more recent months, her feed has featured support for Mr. Sanders and criticism of Mr. Biden.

Ms. Reade said she did not disclose the sexual assault allegation last year when she spoke out because she was scared. After her initial complaints were reported last year by a local California newspaper, Ms. Reade said she faced a wave of criticism and death threats, as well as accusations that she was a Russian agent because of Medium posts she had written praising President Vladimir Putin.

Ms. Reade said that she was not working for Russia and did not support Mr. Putin, and that her comments were pulled out of context from a novel she was writing at the time.

“It was trying to smear me and distract from what happened, but it won’t change the facts of what happened in 1993,” she said.

She called her praise for Mr. Putin “misguided.”

Ms. Reade tried to get legal and public relations support from Time’s Up, the group established by prominent women in Hollywood to fight sexual harassment. Her outreach to Time’s Up was first reported by The Intercept.

As it has for thousands of people who have contacted the group, Time’s Up, which does not represent clients, gave her a list of lawyers with expertise in such cases. She said she contacted every single one but none took her case. Two lawyers confirmed speaking to Ms. Reade but declined to comment on the record about her or the allegation.

SKDKnickerbocker, the political consulting firm where Mr. Biden’s chief strategist, Anita Dunn, works as a managing director, has a contract with the Time’s Up legal defense fund. Ms. Dunn has never worked with the fund and her firm was not told of Ms. Reade’s request, according to officials at the fund.

Ms. Reade also contacted at least one of the women who spoke out along with her last year about Mr. Biden’s penchant for physical contact.

Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman who accused Mr. Biden of making her uncomfortable by kissing and touching her during a 2014 campaign event, exchanged a few emails last year with Ms. Reade but said Ms. Reade did not share her full story.

“Biden is not just a hugger,” Ms. Flores said. “Biden very clearly was invading women’s spaces without their consent in a way that made them feel uncomfortable. Does he potentially have the capacity to go beyond that? That’s the answer everyone is trying to get at.”

Kate Conger and Rachel Shorey contributed reporting. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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The ‘Red Dawn’ Emails: 8 Key Exchanges on the Faltering Response to the Coronavirus

Westlake Legal Group the-red-dawn-emails-8-key-exchanges-on-the-faltering-response-to-the-coronavirus The ‘Red Dawn’ Emails: 8 Key Exchanges on the Faltering Response to the Coronavirus Veterans Affairs Department United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Shutdowns (Institutional) Quarantines Homeland Security Department Health and Human Services Department Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Bossert, Thomas P

WASHINGTON — As the coronavirus emerged and headed toward the United States, an extraordinary conversation was hatched among an elite group of infectious disease doctors and medical experts in the federal government and academic institutions around the nation.

Red Dawn — a nod to the 1984 film with Patrick Swayze and Charlie Sheen — was the nickname for the email chain they built. Different threads in the chain were named Red Dawn Breaking, Red Dawn Rising, Red Dawn Breaking Bad and, as the situation grew more dire, Red Dawn Raging. It was hosted by the chief medical officer at the Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Duane C. Caneva, starting in January with a small core of medical experts and friends that gradually grew to dozens.

The “Red Dawn String,” Dr. Caneva said, was intended “to provide thoughts, concerns, raise issues, share information across various colleagues responding to Covid-19,” including medical experts and doctors from the Health and Human Services Department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Homeland Security Department, the Veterans Affairs Department, the Pentagon and other federal agencies tracking the historic health emergency.

Here are key exchanges from the emails, with context and analysis, that show the experts’ rising sense of frustration and then anger as their advice seemingly failed to break through to the administration, raising the odds that more people would likely die.

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11dc-virus-reconstruct-articleLarge The ‘Red Dawn’ Emails: 8 Key Exchanges on the Faltering Response to the Coronavirus Veterans Affairs Department United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Shutdowns (Institutional) Quarantines Homeland Security Department Health and Human Services Department Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Bossert, Thomas P

One of the most active participants in the group was Dr. Carter E. Mecher, a senior medical adviser at the Veterans Affairs Department who helped write a key Bush-era pandemic plan. That document focused in particular on what to do if the government was unable to contain a contagious disease and there was no available vaccine, like with the coronavirus.

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The next step is called mitigation, and it relies on unsophisticated steps such as closing schools, businesses, shutting down sporting events or large public gatherings, to try to slow the spread by keeping people away from one another. As of late January, Dr. Mecher was already discussing the likelihood that the United States would soon need to turn to mitigation efforts, including perhaps to “close the colleges and universities.”

Dr. James Lawler, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Nebraska who served in the White House under President George W. Bush and as an adviser to President Barack Obama, was also a regular participant in the email chain. He stayed in regular communication with federal officials as the United States attempted to figure out how to respond to the virus. From the beginning he predicted this would be a major public health event.

Convincing governors and mayors to intentionally cause economic harm by ordering or promoting mitigation efforts — such as closing businesses — is always a difficult task. That is why it is so important, these medical experts said, for the federal government to take the lead, providing cover for the local officials to kick off the so-called Nonpharmaceutical Interventions, such as school and business closures. Again, this group of doctors and medical experts recognized from early on that this step was all but inevitable, even if the administration was slow to recognize the need.

Strong evidence was emerging as of mid-February — with the first cases of Covid-19 already in the United States — that the nation was about to be hit hard. These doctors and medical experts researched how quickly the virus spread on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined in the port of Yokohama, Japan, on Feb. 3 before hundreds of United States citizens on the ship returned home.

Dr. Eva Lee, a researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology who has frequently worked with the federal government to create infectious disease projections, helped the Red Dawn group do modeling, based on the virus spread on the cruise ship. (Dr. Lee is facing sentencing on federal charges that she improperly applied for a federal grant for unrelated research.)

The concern these medical experts had been raising in late January and early February turned to alarm by the third week in February. That was when they effectively concluded that the United States had already lost the fight to contain the virus, and that it needed to switch to mitigation. One critical element in that shift was the realization that many people in the country were likely already infected and capable of spreading the virus, but not showing any symptoms. Here Dr. Lee discusses this conclusion with Dr. Robert Kadlec, the head of the virus response effort at the Department of Health and Human Services and a key White House adviser.

Dr. Kadlec and other administration officials decided the next day to recommend to Mr. Trump that he publicly support the start of these mitigation efforts, such as school closings. But before they could discuss it with the president, who was returning from India, another official went public with a warning, sending the stock market down sharply and angering Mr. Trump. The meeting to brief him on the recommendation was canceled and it was three weeks before Mr. Trump would reluctantly come around to the need for mitigation.

This slow pace of action was confusing to the medical experts on the Red Dawn email chain, who were increasingly alarmed that cities and states that were getting hit hard by the virus needed to move faster to take aggressive steps.

When Mr. Trump gave a speech to the nation on March 11 in which he announced limits on flights from Europe to the United States — but still no move to curb gatherings in cities where the virus had spread — the experts on the email chain grew angry and fearful. Among those questioning Mr. Trump’s decision was Tom Bossert, who had previously served as Mr. Trump’s homeland security adviser.

The Red Dawn participants were even more upset when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in mid-March, questioned the value of closing schools, at least for short periods of time. Soon enough, governors ignored this advice, and most schools in the United States were shut. But it happened largely without federal leadership.

The New York Times has collected more than 80 pages of these emails, from January through March, based in part on Freedom of Information Act requests to local government officials. Here is a collection of many of these emails, which have been arranged by The Times in chronological order. This file includes a list of many of the medical experts on the email chains. It also contains related emails from certain state government medical experts who were reaching out to the federal government during the same time period.

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Five Takeaways on What Trump Knew as the Virus Spread

Westlake Legal Group five-takeaways-on-what-trump-knew-as-the-virus-spread Five Takeaways on What Trump Knew as the Virus Spread Veterans Affairs Department United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Schwarzman, Stephen A Pence, Mike O'Brien, Robert C (1952- ) Navarro, Peter National Security Council Mnuchin, Steven T Health and Human Services Department Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
ImageWestlake Legal Group 11dc-takeaway1-articleLarge-v2 Five Takeaways on What Trump Knew as the Virus Spread Veterans Affairs Department United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Schwarzman, Stephen A Pence, Mike O'Brien, Robert C (1952- ) Navarro, Peter National Security Council Mnuchin, Steven T Health and Human Services Department Epidemics Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — Top White House advisers as well as experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies all sounded alarms and urged aggressive action to counter the threat from the coronavirus, but President Trump remained slow to respond, a detailed examination of the government’s response found.

Mr. Trump’s views were colored by long-running disputes inside the administration over how to deal with China and his own suspicion of the motivations of officials inside what he viewed as the “Deep State.” And recommendations from public health officials often competed with economic and political considerations in internal debates, slowing the path toward belated decisions.

Interviews with dozens of current and former officials and a review of emails and other documents reveal the key turning points as the Trump administration struggled to get ahead of the virus, rather than just chase it, and the internal debates that presented Mr. Trump with stark choices along the way.

National Security Council officials received the warnings in early January about the potential dangers from a new virus in Wuhan, China.

The State Department’s epidemiologist warned early that the virus could develop into a pandemic, while the National Center for Medical Intelligence, a small outpost of the Defense Intelligence Agency, reached the same conclusion. Weeks later, biodefense experts in the National Security Council office responsible for tracking pandemics looked at what was happening in Wuhan and started urging officials to think about what would be entailed in quarantining cities the size of Chicago and telling people to work at home.

But some of the earliest warnings came from national security hawks eager to blame China, and they often ran into opposition from the president’s economic advisers, who were concerned about upsetting relations with China at a time when Mr. Trump was negotiating a trade deal with Beijing.

Peter Navarro, the president’s top trade adviser, wrote a searing memo at the end of January arguing that a pandemic caused by the virus could cost the United States dearly, producing as many as half a million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

The memo, in which Mr. Navarro argued in favor of limits on travel from China, says that in a worst-case scenario, 30 percent of the population in the United States would be infected with the virus, leading to the deaths ”on the order of a half a million American souls.”

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In recent days, Mr. Trump has denied that he saw the memo at the time. But The Times report reveals that aides raised it with him at the time and that he was unhappy that Mr. Navarro had put his ideas in writing.

By the third week in February, the administration’s top public health officials had concluded that it was time to begin shifting to a more aggressive strategy to mitigate the spread of the virus, including social distancing, stay-at-home orders and school closures.

But they never got the chance to present the plan to the president. An official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention went public with dire warnings too soon, sending stocks tumbling and angering Mr. Trump, who pushed aside his health and human services secretary and put Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the response.

It would be three more weeks before Mr. Trump finally recommended aggressive social distancing guidelines, a period when the virus spread largely unimpeded and the task force was trying to avoid alarmist messages like the one that had angered the president.

Throughout January and February, a group of academics, government physicians and infectious diseases doctors — including Trump administration officials — expressed alarm at the ferocity of the coronavirus in a lengthy email chain they called “Red Dawn,” an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion.

The officials repeatedly expressed concern about the lack of aggressive action to deal with the virus. They assailed the lack of testing and helped bring to the government’s attention concerns about the virus being spread by people without symptoms. They also tracked the global spread of the virus. At the end of February, a top Veterans Affairs Department doctor wrote, “So we have a relatively narrow window and we are flying blind. Looks like Italy missed it.”

The president was surrounded by divided factions in March even as it became clearer that avoiding more aggressive steps to stop the spread of the virus was not tenable.

As he prepared to give an Oval Office address on the evening of March 11, Mr. Trump continued to resist calls for social distancing, school closures and other steps that would imperil the economy. Seeking to understand the potential effects on the stock market and the economy, he reached out to prominent investors like Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone Group, a private equity firm.

During an Oval Office meeting, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stressed that the economy would be ravaged by such measures. Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser, who had been worried about the virus for weeks, sounded exasperated as he told Mr. Mnuchin that the economy would be destroyed regardless if officials did nothing.

Later, Mr. Trump reflected on that period of debate among his advisers, saying: “Everybody questioned it for a while, not everybody, but a good portion questioned it,” adding: “They said, let’s keep it open. Let’s ride it.”

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As Russia and Saudi Arabia Retreat, U.S. Oil Industry Avoids the Worst

Westlake Legal Group 11oil-2-facebookJumbo As Russia and Saudi Arabia Retreat, U.S. Oil Industry Avoids the Worst Trump, Donald J Prices (Fares, Fees and Rates) Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries Oil (Petroleum) and Gasoline Mohammed bin Salman (1985- ) Layoffs and Job Reductions Group of Twenty Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

HOUSTON — The American oil industry may have dodged a bullet.

Russia and Saudi Arabia — which only a month ago hoped to undercut American producers — have retreated from threats to pump more oil into the already-saturated market. Acknowledging that the gamble was hurting themselves as well, they instead announced this past week that they had tentatively agreed to cut production.

The change in course would give American companies room to gradually reduce production on their own terms, without government or regulatory mandates, as they invest far less in exploration and production.

“The American oil industry has avoided a worst-case scenario,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, an energy and Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations. “There still will be bankruptcies, but for the time being, the fears that there would be a wholesale destruction of the industry can now be put aside, because the worst of the price war has passed.”

What happened in recent days may support an industry that directly and indirectly employs nearly 10 million Americans. The surge in U.S. production in recent years has reduced dependence on foreign oil, and lowered prices at the gas pump for consumers.

Uncertainties remain for the industry. Virtual summits of oil-producing nations and Group of 20 energy ministers on Thursday and Friday ended with some ambiguity, when Mexico balked at an agreement fashioned by Russia and Saudi Arabia to collectively reduce production by 10 million barrels a day. But the two oil powers appeared ready to give Mexico a pass, after President Trump made a vague promise that the United States would make the cuts its southern neighbor refused to make.

Members of the Saudi-led Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had entered talks hoping that the United States, Canada and other western producers would agree to explicit cuts, adding up to another 4 million or 5 million barrels a day. Instead, American officials just made assurances that crude output would be reduced over time, on top of voluntary reductions that have already begun at some U.S. companies.

The global oil industry still has many problems. The collapse in economic activity caused by the coronavirus has reduced demand by an estimated 30 million to 35 million barrels a day, according to international energy agencies and oil consultants.

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Analysts expect oil prices, which soared above $100 a barrel only six years ago, to remain below $40 for the foreseeable future. The American oil benchmark price was just under $25 a barrel.

But a complete free-fall of oil prices into the single digits — something not seen in two decades — appears to have been avoided. President Trump’s recent public lobbying of Russia and Saudi Arabia to lower production helped raise prices several dollars a barrel, allowing many American companies to reduce their exposure to dropping prices by hedging. By fixing their sale prices at a higher level that was closer to break-even for shale wells, they were able to limit their losses.

American oil companies are already eliminating thousands of jobs, plugging old wells and decommissioning rigs and fracking equipment in preparation for the worst downturn in more than a generation. Oil-producing states like Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota are expecting deep losses in jobs and tax revenue.

Falling demand for oil around the world may cause American oil exports, which reached more than 3 million barrels a day last year, to dry up almost completely. Concerns about climate change will continue to dog the industry and scare away investors.

But industry executives predict consolidation, in which small, indebted companies are either bought by larger ones or merge. Drops in production will come as market conditions of supply and demand dictate. American oil production has already fallen several thousand barrels a day over the last two months and will probably decline another 2 million barrels a day through the end of the year, according to the Energy Department.

”There will be some companies that won’t survive,” said Trent Latshaw, president of Latshaw Drilling, an oil service company active in Texas and Oklahoma. “But the industry in general will survive and come out of this stronger. We will have to make hard decisions, innovate, and we’ll become smarter because of this.”

The scenario is similar to the last time Saudi Arabia and its OPEC allies flooded the market with oil in 2014 in an effort to undercut American shale producers who were taking market share away from them. Prices crashed and hundreds of American companies went out of business, and 170,000 jobs were lost. While American production briefly dropped, it quickly recovered and grew.

The coronavirus is a new and bigger challenge to the industry, and that challenge was briefly magnified when Russia last month refused to go along with Saudi Arabia in cutting supplies. Russian oil executives said they were tired of losing market share to American producers. Saudi Arabia retaliated by promising to pour more oil on the market, taking prices to roughly $20 a barrel for a time, less than half the level at the beginning of the year.

The decision by Saudi Arabia to put an additional 300,000 barrels a day on the market was a huge gamble that backfired, and it is possible oil prices will sink again in the coming days if traders are not satisfied with the cuts announced by Saudi Arabia, Russia and their alliance partners. In fact, on Thursday, the last day that oil prices traded, crude oil futures fell sharply even as the oil producers were close to a deal.

Behind all the blustery wheeling and dealing, Saudi Arabia did succeed in bringing Russia back into the fold of an alliance of producers called OPEC+. But caught off guard by the size of the price drop, both Saudi Arabia and Russia needed to reverse course and make supply cuts to prop up crude prices.

“There were miscalculations on both sides,” said Ben Cahill, a senior energy fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The Russians miscalculated how sharp the Saudi response would be and they might have been taken aback by how deep the price drop was.”

“Saudi Arabia will have big budget deficits, they’ll have to issue a lot more debt, they’ll need to run down their reserves, and the longer this cycle goes on, the more destructive it is,’’ Mr. Cahill added.

With the pandemic crushing economies around the world, few buyers were available in recent weeks to buy the cheap Saudi crude. The kingdom stored some oil in Egypt and was forced to let unsold crude sit in tankers along its coasts.

The mounting glut became a threat to Saudi government finances. At a projected average price of $34 a barrel this year, the Norwegian consultant Rystad Energy estimated, the kingdom’s revenues would be 50 percent lower than in 2019, a loss of $105 billion.

Saudi Arabia still has foreign reserves of $500 billion, but that has shrunk from $740 billion in 2013. Several years of depressed oil prices forced the kingdom to borrow money and reduce energy subsidies for its citizens. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is now counting on his reserves to help diversify the Saudi economy for the future.

Russia is in far better shape financially than Saudi Arabia, especially with a flexible exchange rate — as the ruble depreciates, the value of its exports rises. While it would also lose billions of dollars in revenues with the drop in oil prices, the government has a much lower fiscal deficit than Saudi Arabia and has $550 billion in foreign reserves.

But Russia has other liabilities. It has limited processing capacity and its refineries have insufficient storage facilities. It relies on long pipelines to take its oil to European and Asian buyers. But European demand has collapsed, and Russia’s storage tanks are quickly filling. China is still buying oil, at bargain prices, but its storage will be filled up in another month or so, leaving Russian crude stranded.

With thousands of Soviet-era oil and gas wells in western Siberia, Russia would be faced with the prospect of shutting down and later turning back on wells, an expensive proposition, and in the process might permanently limit the amount of oil recoverable in the future.

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He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus

Westlake Legal Group merlin_171168507_75291500-f04a-4831-8e85-2727f1e83db0-facebookJumbo He Could Have Seen What Was Coming: Behind Trump’s Failure on the Virus United States Politics and Government United States International Relations United States Economy Trump, Donald J Travel Warnings Shutdowns (Institutional) Redfield, Robert R Quarantines Presidential Election of 2020 Pottinger, Matthew Pence, Mike O'Brien, Robert C (1952- ) Navarro, Peter National Security Council National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases Mnuchin, Steven T Health and Human Services Department Fauci, Anthony S Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) China Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Birx, Deborah L Azar, Alex M II

WASHINGTON — “Any way you cut it, this is going to be bad,” a senior medical adviser at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. Carter Mecher, wrote on the night of Jan. 28, in an email to a group of public health experts scattered around the government and universities. “The projected size of the outbreak already seems hard to believe.”

A week after the first coronavirus case had been identified in the United States, and six long weeks before President Trump finally took aggressive action to confront the danger the nation was facing — a pandemic that is now forecast to take tens of thousands of American lives — Dr. Mecher was urging the upper ranks of the nation’s public health bureaucracy to wake up and prepare for the possibility of far more drastic action.

“You guys made fun of me screaming to close the schools,” he wrote to the group, which called itself “Red Dawn,” an inside joke based on the 1984 movie about a band of Americans trying to save the country after a foreign invasion. “Now I’m screaming, close the colleges and universities.”

His was hardly a lone voice. Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.

The president, though, was slow to absorb the scale of the risk and to act accordingly, focusing instead on controlling the message, protecting gains in the economy and batting away warnings from senior officials.

Even after Mr. Trump took his first concrete action at the end of January — limiting travel from China — public health often had to compete with economic and political considerations in internal debates, slowing the path toward belated decisions to seek more money from Congress, obtain necessary supplies, address shortfalls in testing and ultimately move to keep much of the nation at home.

Unfolding as it did in the wake of his impeachment by the House and in the midst of his Senate trial, Mr. Trump’s response was colored by his suspicion of and disdain for what he viewed as the “Deep State” — the very people in his government whose expertise and long experience might have guided him more quickly toward steps that would slow the virus, and likely save lives.

Decision-making was also complicated by a long-running dispute inside the administration over how to deal with China. The virus at first took a back seat to a desire not to upset Beijing during trade talks, but later the impulse to score points against Beijing left the world’s two leading powers further divided as they confronted one of the first truly global threats of the 21st century.

The shortcomings of Mr. Trump’s performance have played out with remarkable transparency as part of his daily effort to dominate television screens and the national conversation.

But dozens of interviews with current and former officials and a review of emails and other records revealed many previously unreported details and a fuller picture of the roots and extent of his halting response as the deadly virus spread:

  • The National Security Council office responsible for tracking pandemics received intelligence reports in early January predicting the spread of the virus to the United States, and within weeks was raising options like keeping Americans home from work and shutting down cities the size of Chicago. Mr. Trump would avoid such steps until March.

  • Despite Mr. Trump’s denial weeks later, he was told at the time about a Jan. 29 memo produced by his trade adviser, Peter Navarro, laying out in striking detail the potential risks of a coronavirus pandemic: as many as half a millions deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

  • The health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, directly warned Mr. Trump of the possibility of a pandemic during a call on Jan. 30, the second warning he delivered to the president about the virus in two weeks. The president, who was on Air Force One while traveling for appearances in the Midwest, responded that Mr. Azar was being alarmist.

  • Mr. Azar publicly announced in February that the government was establishing a “surveillance” system in five American cities to measure the spread of the virus and enable experts to project the next hot spots. It was delayed for weeks. The slow start of that plan, on top of the well-documented failures to develop the nation’s testing capacity, left administration officials with almost no insight into how rapidly the virus was spreading. “We were flying the plane with no instruments,” one official said.

  • By the third week in February, the administration’s top public health experts concluded they should recommend to Mr. Trump a new approach that would include warning the American people of the risks and urging steps like social distancing and staying home from work. But the White House focused instead on messaging and crucial additional weeks went by before their views were reluctantly accepted by the president — time when the virus spread largely unimpeded.

When Mr. Trump finally agreed in mid-March to recommend social distancing across the country, effectively bringing much of the economy to a halt, he seemed shellshocked and deflated to some of his closest associates. One described him as “subdued” and “baffled” by how the crisis had played out. An economy that he had wagered his re-election on was suddenly in shambles.

He only regained his swagger, the associate said, from conducting his daily White House briefings, at which he often seeks to rewrite the history of the past several months. He declared at one point that he “felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,” and insisted at another that he had to be a “cheerleader for the country,” as if that explained why he failed to prepare the public for what was coming.

Mr. Trump’s allies and some administration officials say the criticism has been unfair. The Chinese government misled other governments, they say. And they insist that the president was either not getting proper information, or the people around him weren’t conveying the urgency of the threat. In some cases, they argue, the specific officials he was hearing from had been discredited in his eyes, but once the right information got to him through other channels, he made the right calls.

“While the media and Democrats refused to seriously acknowledge this virus in January and February, President Trump took bold action to protect Americans and unleash the full power of the federal government to curb the spread of the virus, expand testing capacities and expedite vaccine development even when we had no true idea the level of transmission or asymptomatic spread,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman.

There were key turning points along the way, opportunities for Mr. Trump to get ahead of the virus rather than just chase it. There were internal debates that presented him with stark choices, and moments when he could have chosen to ask deeper questions and learn more. How he handled them may shape his re-election campaign. They will certainly shape his legacy.

By the last week of February, it was clear to the administration’s public health team that schools and businesses in hot spots would have to close. But in the turbulence of the Trump White House, it took three more weeks to persuade the president that failure to act quickly to control the spread of the virus would have dire consequences.

When Dr. Robert Kadlec, the top disaster response official at the Health and Human Services Department, convened the White House coronavirus task force on Feb. 21, his agenda was urgent. There were deep cracks in the administration’s strategy for keeping the virus out of the United States. They were going to have to lock down the country to prevent it from spreading. The question was: When?

There had already been an alarming spike in new cases around the world and the virus was spreading across the Middle East. It was becoming apparent that the administration had botched the rollout of testing to track the virus at home, and a smaller-scale surveillance program intended to piggyback on a federal flu tracking system had also been stillborn.

In Washington, the president was not worried, predicting that by April, “when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.” His White House had yet to ask Congress for additional funding to prepare for the potential cost of wide-scale infection across the country, and health care providers were growing increasingly nervous about the availability of masks, ventilators and other equipment.

What Mr. Trump decided to do next could dramatically shape the course of the pandemic — and how many people would get sick and die.

With that in mind, the task force had gathered for a tabletop exercise — a real-time version of a full-scale war gaming of a flu pandemic the administration had run the previous year. That earlier exercise, also conducted by Mr. Kadlec and called “Crimson Contagion,” predicted 110 million infections, 7.7 million hospitalizations and 586,000 deaths following a hypothetical outbreak that started in China.

Facing the likelihood of a real pandemic, the group needed to decide when to abandon “containment” — the effort to keep the virus outside the U.S. and to isolate anyone who gets infected — and embrace “mitigation” to thwart the spread of the virus inside the country until a vaccine becomes available.

Among the questions on the agenda, which was reviewed by The New York Times, was when the department’s secretary, Mr. Azar, should recommend that Mr. Trump take textbook mitigation measures “such as school dismissals and cancellations of mass gatherings,” which had been identified as the next appropriate step in a Bush-era pandemic plan.

The exercise was sobering. The group — including Dr. Anthony S. Fauci of the National Institutes of Health; Dr. Robert R. Redfield of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Mr. Azar, who at that stage was leading the White House Task Force — concluded they would soon need to move toward aggressive social distancing, even at the risk of severe disruption to the nation’s economy and the daily lives of millions of Americans.

If Dr. Kadlec had any doubts, they were erased two days later, when he stumbled upon an email from a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was among the group of academics, government physicians and infectious diseases doctors who had spent weeks tracking the outbreak in the Red Dawn email chain.

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A 20-year-old Chinese woman had infected five relatives with the virus even though she never displayed any symptoms herself. The implication was grave — apparently healthy people could be unknowingly spreading the virus — and supported the need to move quickly to mitigation.

“Is this true?!” Dr. Kadlec wrote back to the researcher. “If so we have a huge whole on our screening and quarantine effort,” including a typo where he meant hole. Her response was blunt: “People are carrying the virus everywhere.”

The following day, Dr. Kadlec and the others decided to present Mr. Trump with a plan titled “Four Steps to Mitigation,” telling the president that they needed to begin preparing Americans for a step rarely taken in United States history.

But over the next several days, a presidential blowup and internal turf fights would sidetrack such a move. The focus would shift to messaging and confident predictions of success rather than publicly calling for a shift to mitigation.

These final days of February, perhaps more than any other moment during his tenure in the White House, illustrated Mr. Trump’s inability or unwillingness to absorb warnings coming at him. He instead reverted to his traditional political playbook in the midst of a public health calamity, squandering vital time as the coronavirus spread silently across the country.

Dr. Kadlec’s group wanted to meet with the president right away, but Mr. Trump was on a trip to India, so they agreed to make the case to him in person as soon as he returned two days later. If they could convince him of the need to shift strategy, they could immediately begin a national education campaign aimed at preparing the public for the new reality.

A memo dated Feb. 14, prepared in coordination with the National Security Council and titled “U.S. Government Response to the 2019 Novel Coronavirus,” documented what more drastic measures would look like, including: “significantly limiting public gatherings and cancellation of almost all sporting events, performances, and public and private meetings that cannot be convened by phone. Consider school closures. Widespread ‘stay at home’ directives from public and private organizations with nearly 100% telework for some.”

The memo did not advocate an immediate national shutdown, but said the targeted use of “quarantine and isolation measures” could be used to slow the spread in places where “sustained human-to-human transmission” is evident.

Within 24 hours, before they got a chance to make their presentation to the president, the plan went awry.

Mr. Trump was walking up the steps of Air Force One to head home from India on Feb. 25 when Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, publicly issued the blunt warning they had all agreed was necessary.

But Dr. Messonnier had jumped the gun. They had not told the president yet, much less gotten his consent.

On the 18-hour plane ride home, Mr. Trump fumed as he watched the stock market crash after Dr. Messonnier’s comments. Furious, he called Mr. Azar when he landed at around 6 a.m. on Feb. 26, raging that Dr. Messonnier had scared people unnecessarily. Already on thin ice with the president over a variety of issues and having overseen the failure to quickly produce an effective and widely available test, Mr. Azar would soon find his authority reduced.

The meeting that evening with Mr. Trump to advocate social distancing was canceled, replaced by a news conference in which the president announced that the White House response would be put under the command of Vice President Mike Pence.

The push to convince Mr. Trump of the need for more assertive action stalled. With Mr. Pence and his staff in charge, the focus was clear: no more alarmist messages. Statements and media appearances by health officials like Dr. Fauci and Dr. Redfield would be coordinated through Mr. Pence’s office. It would be more than three weeks before Mr. Trump would announce serious social distancing efforts, a lost period during which the spread of the virus accelerated rapidly.

Over nearly three weeks from Feb. 26 to March 16, the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States grew from 15 to 4,226. Since then, nearly half a million Americans have tested positive for the virus and authorities say hundreds of thousands more are likely infected.

The earliest warnings about coronavirus got caught in the crosscurrents of the administration’s internal disputes over China. It was the China hawks who pushed earliest for a travel ban. But their animosity toward China also undercut hopes for a more cooperative approach by the world’s two leading powers to a global crisis.

It was early January, and the call with a Hong Kong epidemiologist left Matthew Pottinger rattled.

Mr. Pottinger, the deputy national security adviser and a hawk on China, took a blunt warning away from the call with the doctor, a longtime friend: A ferocious, new outbreak that on the surface appeared similar to the SARS epidemic of 2003 had emerged in China. It had spread far more quickly than the government was admitting to, and it wouldn’t be long before it reached other parts of the world.

Mr. Pottinger had worked as a Wall Street Journal correspondent in Hong Kong during the SARS epidemic, and was still scarred by his experience documenting the death spread by that highly contagious virus.

Now, seventeen years later, his friend had a blunt message: You need to be ready. The virus, he warned, which originated in the city of Wuhan, was being transmitted by people who were showing no symptoms — an insight that American health officials had not yet accepted. Mr. Pottinger declined through a spokesman to comment.

It was one of the earliest warnings to the White House, and it echoed the intelligence reports making their way to the National Security Council. While most of the early assessments from the C.I.A. had little more information than was available publicly, some of the more specialized corners of the intelligence world were producing sophisticated and chilling warnings.

In a report to the director of national intelligence, the State Department’s epidemiologist wrote in early January that the virus was likely to spread across the globe, and warned that the coronavirus could develop into a pandemic. Working independently, a small outpost of the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Center for Medical Intelligence, came to the same conclusion.

By mid-January there was growing evidence of the virus spreading outside China. Mr. Pottinger began convening daily meetings about the coronavirus. He alerted his boss, Robert C. O’Brien, the national security adviser.

The early alarms sounded by Mr. Pottinger and other China hawks were freighted with ideology — including a push to publicly blame China that critics in the administration say was a distraction as the coronavirus spread to Western Europe and eventually the United States.

And they ran into opposition from Mr. Trump’s economic advisers, who worried a tough approach toward China could scuttle a trade deal that was a pillar of Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign.

With his skeptical — some might even say conspiratorial — view of China’s ruling Communist Party, Mr. Pottinger initially suspected that President Xi Jinping’s government was keeping a dark secret: that the virus may have originated in one of the laboratories in Wuhan studying deadly pathogens. In his view, it might have even been a deadly accident unleashed on an unsuspecting Chinese population.

During meetings and telephone calls, Mr. Pottinger asked intelligence agencies — including officers at the C.I.A. working on Asia and on weapons of mass destruction — to search for evidence that might bolster his theory.

They didn’t have any evidence. Intelligence agencies did not detect any alarm inside the Chinese government that analysts presumed would accompany the accidental leak of a deadly virus from a government laboratory. But Mr. Pottinger continued to believe the coronavirus problem was far worse than the Chinese were acknowledging. Inside the West Wing, the director of the Domestic Policy Council, Joe Grogan, also tried to sound alarms that the threat from China was growing.

Mr. Pottinger, backed by Mr. O’Brien, became one of the driving forces of a campaign in the final weeks of January to convince Mr. Trump to impose limits on travel from China — the first substantive step taken to impede the spread of the virus and one that the president has repeatedly cited as evidence that he was on top of the problem.

In addition to the opposition from the economic team, Mr. Pottinger and his allies among the China hawks had to overcome initial skepticism from the administration’s public health experts.

Travel restrictions were usually counterproductive to managing biological outbreaks because they prevented doctors and other much-needed medical help from easily getting to the affected areas, the health officials said. And such bans often cause infected people to flee, spreading the disease further.

But on the morning of Jan. 30, Mr. Azar got a call from Dr. Fauci, Dr. Redfield and others saying they had changed their minds. The World Health Organization had declared a global public health emergency and American officials had discovered the first confirmed case of person-to-person transmission inside the United States.

The economic team, led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, continued to argue that there were big risks in taking a provocative step toward China and moving to curb global travel. After a debate, Mr. Trump came down on the side of the hawks and the public health team. The limits on travel from China were publicly announced on Jan. 31.

Still, Mr. Trump and other senior officials were wary of further upsetting Beijing. Besides the concerns about the impact on the trade deal, they knew that an escalating confrontation was risky because the United States relies heavily on China for pharmaceuticals and the kinds of protective equipment most needed to combat the coronavirus.

But the hawks kept pushing in February to take a critical stance toward China amid the growing crisis. Mr. Pottinger and others — including aides to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo — pressed for government statements to use the term “Wuhan Virus.”

Mr. Pompeo tried to hammer the anti-China message at every turn, eventually even urging leaders of the Group of 7 industrialized countries to use “Wuhan virus” in a joint statement.

Others, including aides to Mr. Pence, resisted taking a hard public line, believing that angering Beijing might lead the Chinese government to withhold medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and any scientific research that might ultimately lead to a vaccine.

Mr. Trump took a conciliatory approach through the middle of March, praising the job Mr. Xi was doing.

That changed abruptly, when aides informed Mr. Trump that a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman had publicly spun a new conspiracy about the origins of Covid-19: that it was brought to China by U.S. Army personnel who visited the country last October.

Mr. Trump was furious, and he took to his favorite platform to broadcast a new message. On March 16, he wrote on Twitter that “the United States will be powerfully supporting those industries, like Airlines and others, that are particularly affected by the Chinese Virus.”

Mr. Trump’s decision to escalate the war of words undercut any remaining possibility of broad cooperation between the governments to address a global threat. It remains to be seen whether that mutual suspicion will spill over into efforts to develop treatments or vaccines, both areas where the two nations are now competing.

One immediate result was a free-for-all across the United States, with state and local governments and hospitals bidding on the open market for scarce but essential Chinese-made products. When the state of Massachusetts managed to procure 1.2 million masks, it fell to the owner of the New England Patriots, Robert K. Kraft, a Trump ally, to cut through extensive red tape on both sides of the Pacific to send his own plane to pick them up.

The chaotic culture of the Trump White House contributed to the crisis. A lack of planning and a failure to execute, combined with the president’s focus on the news cycle and his preference for following his gut rather than the data cost time, and perhaps lives.

Inside the West Wing, Mr. Navarro, Mr. Trump’s trade adviser, was widely seen as quick-tempered, self-important, prone to butting in and obsessively anti-China.

So it elicited eye rolls when, after being prevented from joining the coronavirus task force, he circulated a memo on Jan. 29 urging Mr. Trump to limit travel from China, arguing that failing to confront the outbreak aggressively could be catastrophic, leading to hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses.

The uninvited message could not have conflicted more with the president’s approach at the time of playing down the severity of the threat. And when aides raised it with Mr. Trump, he responded that he was unhappy that Mr. Navarro had put his warning in writing.

From the time the virus was first identified as a concern, the administration’s response was plagued by the rivalries and factionalism that routinely swirl around Mr. Trump and, along with the president’s impulsiveness, undercut decision making and policy development.

Faced with the relentless march of a deadly pathogen, the disagreements and a lack of long-term planning had significant consequences. They slowed the president’s response and resulted in problems with execution and planning, including delays in seeking money from Capitol Hill and a failure to begin broad surveillance testing.

The efforts to shape Mr. Trump’s view of the virus began early in January, when his focus was elsewhere: the fallout from his decision to kill Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, Iran’s security mastermind; his push for an initial trade deal with China; and his Senate impeachment trial, which was about to begin.

Even after Mr. Azar first briefed him about the potential seriousness of the virus during a phone call on Jan. 18 while the president was at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, Mr. Trump projected confidence that it would be a passing problem.

“We have it totally under control,” he told an interviewer a few days later while attending the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. “It’s going to be just fine.”

Back in Washington, voices outside of the White House peppered Mr. Trump with competing assessments about what he should do and how quickly he should act.

The efforts to sort out policy behind closed doors were contentious and sometimes only loosely organized.

That was the case when the National Security Council convened a meeting on short notice on the afternoon of Jan. 27. The Situation Room was standing room only, packed with top White House advisers, low-level staffers, Mr. Trump’s social media guru, and several cabinet secretaries. There was no checklist about the preparations for a possible pandemic, which would require intensive testing, rapid acquisition of protective gear, and perhaps serious limitations on Americans’ movements.

Instead, after a 20-minute description by Mr. Azar of his department’s capabilities, the meeting was jolted when Stephen E. Biegun, the newly installed deputy secretary of state, announced plans to issue a “level four” travel warning, strongly discouraging Americans from traveling to China. The room erupted into bickering.

A few days later, on the evening of Jan. 30, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff at the time, and Mr. Azar called Air Force One as the president was making the final decision to go ahead with the restrictions on China travel. Mr. Azar was blunt, warning that the virus could develop into a pandemic and arguing that China should be criticized for failing to be transparent.

Mr. Trump rejected the idea of criticizing China, saying the country had enough to deal with. And if the president’s decision on the travel restrictions suggested that he fully grasped the seriousness of the situation, his response to Mr. Azar indicated otherwise.

Stop panicking, Mr. Trump told him.

That sentiment was present throughout February, as the president’s top aides reached for a consistent message but took few concrete steps to prepare for the possibility of a major public health crisis.

During a briefing on Capitol Hill on Feb. 5, senators urged administration officials to take the threat more seriously. Several asked if the administration needed additional money to help local and state health departments prepare.

Derek Kan, a senior official from the Office of Management and Budget, replied that the administration had all the money it needed, at least at that point, to stop the virus, two senators who attended the briefing said.

“Just left the Administration briefing on Coronavirus,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote in a tweet shortly after. “Bottom line: they aren’t taking this seriously enough.”

The administration also struggled to carry out plans it did agree on. In mid-February, with the effort to roll out widespread testing stalled, Mr. Azar announced a plan to repurpose a flu-surveillance system in five major cities to help track the virus among the general population. The effort all but collapsed even before it got started as Mr. Azar struggled to win approval for $100 million in funding and the C.D.C. failed to make reliable tests available.

The number of infections in the United States started to surge through February and early March, but the Trump administration did not move to place large-scale orders for masks and other protective equipment, or critical hospital equipment, such as ventilators. The Pentagon sat on standby, awaiting any orders to help provide temporary hospitals or other assistance.

As February gave way to March, the president continued to be surrounded by divided factions even as it became clearer that avoiding more aggressive steps was not tenable.

Mr. Trump had agreed to give an Oval Office address on the evening of March 11 announcing restrictions on travel from Europe, where the virus was ravaging Italy. But responding to the views of his business friends and others, he continued to resist calls for social distancing, school closures and other steps that would imperil the economy.

But the virus was already multiplying across the country — and hospitals were at risk of buckling under the looming wave of severely ill people, lacking masks and other protective equipment, ventilators and sufficient intensive care beds. The question loomed over the president and his aides after weeks of stalling and inaction: What were they going to do?

The approach that Mr. Azar and others had planned to bring to him weeks earlier moved to the top of the agenda. Even then, and even by Trump White House standards, the debate over whether to shut down much of the country to slow the spread was especially fierce.

Always attuned to anything that could trigger a stock market decline or an economic slowdown that could hamper his re-election effort, Mr. Trump also reached out to prominent investors like Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone Group, a private equity firm.

“Everybody questioned it for a while, not everybody, but a good portion questioned it,” Mr. Trump said earlier this month. “They said, let’s keep it open. Let’s ride it.”

In a tense Oval Office meeting, when Mr. Mnuchin again stressed that the economy would be ravaged, Mr. O’Brien, the national security adviser, who had been worried about the virus for weeks, sounded exasperated as he told Mr. Mnuchin that the economy would be destroyed regardless if officials did nothing.

Soon after the Oval Office address, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and a trusted sounding board inside the White House, visited Mr. Trump, partly at the urging of Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law. Dr. Gottlieb’s role was to impress upon the president how serious the crisis could become.

But in the end, aides said, it was Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the veteran AIDS researcher who had joined the task force, who helped to persuade Mr. Trump. Soft-spoken and fond of the kind of charts and graphs Mr. Trump prefers, Dr. Birx did not have the rough edges that could irritate the president. He often told people he thought she was elegant.

On Monday, March 16, Mr. Trump announced new social distancing guidelines, saying they would be in place for two weeks. The subsequent economic disruptions were so severe that the president repeatedly suggested that he wanted to lift even those temporary restrictions. He frequently asked aides why his administration was still being blamed in news coverage for the widespread failures involving testing, insisting the responsibility had shifted to the states.

During the last week in March, Kellyanne Conway, a senior White House adviser involved in task force meetings, gave voice to concerns other aides had. She warned Mr. Trump that his wished-for date of Easter to reopen the country likely couldn’t be accomplished. Among other things, she told him, he would end up being blamed by critics for every subsequent death caused by the virus.

Within days, he watched images on television of a calamitous situation at Elmhurst Hospital Center, miles from his childhood home in Queens, N.Y., where 13 people had died from the coronavirus in 24 hours.

He left the restrictions in place.

Mark Walker contributed reporting from Washington, and Mike Baker from Seattle. Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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Coronavirus Live Updates: As Health Experts Urge Caution, Trump Eyes the Calendar

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Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group 11virus-us-briefing-lead-articleLarge Coronavirus Live Updates: As Health Experts Urge Caution, Trump Eyes the Calendar Unemployment Trump, Donald J Newsom, Gavin Fauci, Anthony S Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Birx, Deborah L
Credit…Andrew Seng for The New York Times

Health and economic crises pull President Trump in opposite directions.

As he grapples simultaneously with the most devastating public health and economic crises of a lifetime, President Trump finds himself pulled in opposite directions. Bankers, corporate executives and industrialists are pleading with him to reopen the country as soon as possible, while medical experts beg for more time to curb the coronavirus.

Public health experts tell him that what he is doing is working, so he should not let up yet. Economic advisers and others in the White House tell him that what he has done has worked, so he should begin figuring out how to ease up. Tens of thousands more people could die. Millions more could lose their jobs.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision,” Mr. Trump said on Friday in his daily news briefing on a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 18,000 Americans and put more than 16 million out of work.

Yet the decision on when and how to reopen is not entirely Mr. Trump’s. The stay-at-home edicts that have kept most Americans indoors were issued by governors state by state.

The president did issue nonbinding guidelines urging a pause in daily life through the end of the month. And if he were to issue new guidance saying it was safe to reopen or outlining a path toward reopening, many states would probably follow or feel pressure from businesses and constituents to ease restrictions.

But the central question is how long it will be until the country is fully back up and running. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, the hardest-hit state, said any easing of restrictions would require widespread testing to cover millions of workers first, and Christopher Murray, the director of the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, which has created a model for Covid-19 deaths, told CNN that the latest data suggested caution was the right course.

He predicted that a premature lifting of social distancing restrictions — which Mr. Trump seems eager to approve, perhaps by May 1 — could cause infections and deaths to surge.

“If we were to stop at the national level May 1,” Dr. Murray said, “we’re seeing a return to almost where we are now sometime in July.”

The president’s economic advisers have been laying the groundwork for reopening the economy. Larry Kudlow, the chairman of the National Economic Council, told the Fox Business Network this week that he could envision returning to work on a rolling basis within the next four to eight weeks. Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, told CNBC that it could happen as soon as next month.

Trust in the president’s virus response is falling.

Americans are rapidly losing faith in President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak, according to national polls released over the past week. And some of that drop-off is among groups that Mr. Trump will need in his re-election campaign in the fall.

Older voters broke for Mr. Trump in 2016 and are seen as crucial in November’s election. But just 43 percent of people 65 and older said they thought Mr. Trump was doing all he could to confront the outbreak, according to a CNN poll released this week. Fifty-five percent said he could be doing more.

Americans aged 50 to 64 — who tend to see Mr. Trump more favorably over all — were more likely to say that he was doing what he could.

And while it is typical for registered voters to skew slightly more conservative than the overall population, that trend disappears in views of the coronavirus response.

Registered voters were considerably more likely than nonvoters to give the federal government’s handling of the crisis a bad review, according to the CNN poll. Fifty-seven percent of voters rated it poor, while 39 percent gave it positive marks.

“I think what recent polling has suggested is that while he’s kept his base satisfied, he has turned off a lot of people, especially elderly voters, who are frankly a little bit scared by what they’re hearing at the podium every night,” Jim Manley, a veteran Democratic strategist, said, referring to the president’s daily news conferences.

Prohibit Easter church services? Some governors offer guidance, not orders.

As governors across the United States faced a politically treacherous decision on whether to allow in-person church services on Easter Sunday, some have staked out conflicting positions.

Gov. Eric J. Holcomb of Indiana and Gov. Brian P. Kemp of Georgia are among those urging worshipers to attend online services to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. But while Mr. Holcomb has ordered that Indiana churches must stay closed, Mr. Kemp has left the decision about holding services in Georgia up to individual pastors.

In Kentucky, mass gatherings over Easter weekend are permitted, but anyone who participates must quarantine for 14 days. To enforce this, the state will record the license plates outside large gatherings, Gov. Andy Beshear said.

The governors of Florida and Texas have exempted religious services from stay-at-home orders.

In Kansas — where Republican lawmakers overturned an executive order blocking such gatherings by the state’s Democratic governor, Laura Kelly — worshipers are also free to go to church. Ms. Kelly called the decision to permit gatherings of more than 10 people “shockingly irresponsible,” according to The Wichita Eagle.

Can I travel during the pandemic?

Most people in the United States are under a form of stay-at-home order to try to squelch the coronavirus, yet some still have reasons for wanting to drive across parts of the country.

But are road trips advisable? Or even feasible?

The Constitution guarantees the right to enter one state and leave another, but jurisdictions can require quarantines or statements of purpose. Some states have sought out — and some residents have threatened — visitors from states with more serious outbreaks. And Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, has said the White House coronavirus task force continues to consider restricting some domestic travel.

With the situation in flux, people considering a long-distance drive should follow the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and research the situation in the places they plan to visit. To help, The Times has compiled a guide for closings, restrictions, food options and hotel reservations.

In California, nearly everything is closed, but one school is open.

With the United States responding to the coronavirus by closing schools and businesses and instructing people to avoid nonessential travel, California’s governor was the first to issue a stay-at-home order. Yet one public school in the state remains open.

In a rural San Joaquin Valley community where many adults work in citrus and walnut groves, students can still attend kindergarten through eighth grade at Outside Creek Elementary.

Derrick Bravo, the school’s principal, superintendent and eighth-grade teacher, said he had leaned on advice from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which suggested that some small schools outside dangerous areas could remain open. Gov. Gavin Newsom has not shut down the school, though it is within his power to do so.

Last week, 21 students — about a quarter the school’s normal attendance — showed up for classes.

“We thought about just our rural area and the resources available for our kids,” Mr. Bravo said.

There have been more than 500 virus-related deaths and more than 21,000 cases in California, and denser population areas appear to be much more susceptible to the virus’s spread. In San Francisco, the mayor said on Friday that 70 people had tested positive at the city’s largest homeless shelter.

San Francisco has tried to protect its homeless population by spacing out beds in shelters and lifting its ban on tent encampments. Many streets, largely empty of other residents, are now lined with camping tents that city workers ensure are kept at least six feet apart.

Coronavirus news from around the globe.

A tour of The Times: At Home.

What does “the weekend” mean when so many people will be right where they were all week? It might mean a chance to experience art and culture, or beauty or a new routine.

Our reporters and critics offer some options on a new page, At Home.

The pandemic has changed hospital chaplains’ work.

The Rev. Leah Klug isn’t a stickler on religious rituals. As a hospital chaplain in the Seattle area, she makes do with the supplies she can find. Recently, she performed an anointing of the sick with mouthwash because she had no oil on hand. She is accustomed to reading psalms above the steady beep of a heart monitor.

Last month, she visited the room of a Covid-19 patient where she performed commendation of the dying. A nurse stood just outside, holding a phone on speaker so the woman’s family could say goodbye.

Ms. Klug lowered a container of oil toward the patient’s head. She read out a gospel verse. Then she suddenly felt a grief so profound that it seemed to swallow up her words. “It’s not supposed to be like this,” Ms. Klug recalled having thought to herself. “Her family is supposed to be here.”

As emergency rooms are flooded by coronavirus patients and I.C.U.s exceed their capacities, hospital chaplains are finding their jobs changing. Certified in clinical pastoral work and tending to people of all faiths, chaplains are no strangers to daily tragedies.

They serve as vessels for the grief and fear of patients and their families. They grasp the hands of the dying. When called upon, they deliver blessings to hospital workers.

But now chaplains are carrying more of their own grief and fear. Many worry about contracting with the virus and bringing it home to their families. They struggle to keep pace with new regulations that change how they minister to patients dying alone at a frequency that few have seen before.

“We are walking in the valley of the shadow of death, along with our patients and their families,” said the Rev. Katherine GrayBuck, a chaplain at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. “My work usually brings me close to the end of life, and to death, but this is a whole new era.”

Reporting was contributed by Jason M. Bailey, Peter Baker, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, Heather Murphy, Alan Rappeport, Giovanni Russonello, Emma Goldberg, Karen Schwartz and Sam Sifton.

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Torn Over Reopening Economy, Trump Says He Faces ‘Biggest Decision I’ve Ever Had to Make’

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WASHINGTON — As he grapples simultaneously with the most devastating public health and economic crises of a lifetime, President Trump finds himself pulled in opposite directions on what to do next. The bankers, corporate executives and industrialists plead with him to reopen the country as soon as possible, while the medical experts beg for more time to curb the coronavirus.

The phone calls from his business friends compete against the television images of overwhelmed hospitals. The public health experts tell him what he is doing is working, so he should not let up yet. The economic advisers and others in his White House tell him what he has done has worked, so he should begin to figure out how to ease up. Tens of thousands more could die. Millions more could lose their jobs.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision,” Mr. Trump said on Friday during his daily news briefing on the fight against the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 18,000 Americans so far and put more than 16 million out of work. “But I would say without question it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.”

Seizing on new estimates of a lower-than-projected death toll, the president signaled that he wanted to start resuming business on some basis after his current stay-at-home guidelines expire on April 30, and he announced that he would name a task force next week to develop a plan. But he also promised to listen to public health officials cautioning against a premature move to relax limits.

In actuality, the decision on when and how to reopen is not entirely Mr. Trump’s to make because he never ordered it closed. The stay-at-home edicts that have kept the vast bulk of Americans indoors were issued by governors state by state. But the president did issue nonbinding guidelines urging a pause in daily life through the end of the month. And if he were to issue new guidance saying it was safe to reopen or outlining a path toward reopening, many states would most likely follow or feel pressure from their businesses and constituents to ease up on restrictions.

“We’re not doing anything until we know this country is going to be healthy,” Mr. Trump said. “We don’t want to go back and start doing it over again.” But he added that the nation’s current paralysis was not sustainable. “You know what? Staying at home leads to death also,” he said. “It’s very traumatic for the country.”

The number of deaths worldwide from the coronavirus topped 100,000 on Friday, as a surge of cases in Moscow pushed the Russian capital’s health care system to its limit. Lockdowns were extended across much of the globe heading into the Easter weekend, as countries desperately struggled to slow infections. The strain of people out of work and dependent on assistance was starting to show. A distribution of food turned into a bloody melee in a poor area of Nairobi, Kenya.

In the United States, the death toll has surpassed that of Spain, with only Italy reporting more. In Washington, lawmakers and administration officials made some progress in breaking a stalemate over a $250 billion federal infusion to replenish a fast-depleting loan program for distressed small businesses. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said that the Trump administration had agreed to bipartisan negotiations early next week.

But the central question dominating the conversation in Washington, New York and elsewhere was how long would it be until the country could begin to get back to normal. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, the hardest hit state, said any easing of restrictions would require widespread testing to cover millions of workers first, while Mr. Trump said that “you don’t need full testing” but instead concentrated screening in the most affected areas.

New government projections presented to officials this week concluded that stay-at-home orders, school closures and social distancing have greatly reduced infections, but added that lifting them after only 30 days, as the president is considering, could result in a rash of new illnesses and fatalities that would rival doing nothing to counter the pandemic.

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Without any of the mitigation policies now in place, the death toll from the coronavirus could have reached 300,000, according to the projections. But if the 30-day stay-at-home guideline is lifted, the death toll could reach 200,000, even if schools remain closed until summer, 25 percent of the country continues to work from home and some social distancing continues.

Using the demand for ventilators as a stand-in for serious coronavirus infection rates, the model foresees a modest bump immediately after stay-at-home orders are lifted and a major new increase in infections about 70 days after a shelter order is lifted, peaking after 120 days. The projections, dated Thursday, were prepared by the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services and obtained by The New York Times.

These numbers fueling the projections may already be out of date. Forecasts accepted by the White House that once estimated at least 100,000 deaths in the United States have now been revised to about 60,000 thanks to aggressive social distancing. But if the numbers are off, the direction and increases may be consistent.

The government models show a rise in demand for ventilators 120 days after lifting stay-at-home restrictions that would be more severe than if the United States had never issued such orders in the first place and instead relied simply on school closures, sending people home to telework and directing the public to socially distance.

At his briefing on Friday, Mr. Trump said he was not aware of those forecasts, but aides said he had interpreted the decreasing death projection to mean that his health advisers may have been overly pessimistic.

The president cited the 60,000 estimated death toll as evidence of progress. “I think we’ll be substantially under that number,” he said of the earlier 100,000 forecast. “Hard to believe that if you have 60,000, you can never be happy, but that’s a lot fewer than we were originally told.”

But his public health advisers took a more cautious approach. “As encouraging as they are, we have not reached the peak,” Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House pandemic coordinator, said of the latest figures. She noted that without universal testing, experts were seeing only the most serious cases. “Is this the tip of the iceberg, or is this half the iceberg or three-quarters of the iceberg that we’ve seen to date?” she said.

Five administration officials said it was highly unlikely that Mr. Trump would extend the guidelines beyond April 30, adding that he would be more likely to find a way to announce some lifting of quarantine measures, even if it might not be a full flip-the-lightswitch reopening of the country.

Mr. Trump has been having conversations, both formally and informally, in recent weeks with business leaders like Michael Corbat, the chief executive of Citigroup, and Brian Moynihan, the chief executive of Bank of America, about how to support the economy and when it might be able to reopen.

Many of those discussions have been facilitated by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who has fielded calls from executives like Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of Blackstone, looking for a road map to when a semblance of normalcy could return, although some people close to the discussions said that Mr. Schwarzman and Steven Roth, a real estate investor close to Mr. Trump, have not been aggressive as others.

Other business executives have gone through Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser. Paul Tudor Jones made an impassioned push to reopen the economy on a conference call organized by Mr. Kushner several weeks ago, these people said, and the investor Nelson Peltz was said to be influential in Mr. Trump’s since-aborted plan to begin reopening by Easter.

Lobbying groups have become more vocal about the need for the administration to create a plan for the reopening of the economy.

“The longer we stay shut down, the worse off people will be and the harder it will be getting the economy going again and getting people jobs so they can go back to work,” said David McIntosh, the president of the Club for Growth. “What we need now is a plan for when we reopen the government, because the plan curve has been flattened.”

Some business leaders have been particularly frustrated that the government is not being realistic about the economic consequences of the fight against the coronavirus. They note that there are many health risks and that not all of them warrant shutting down the economy.

Jacob Wintersteen, a real estate developer in Texas and the finance chairman for the Houston area for the state’s Republican Party, said businesses should have the right to operate if they see fit despite the risks. “People in front of my face are watching their businesses be destroyed by our choice of the cure,” he said.

The president’s economic advisers have been laying the groundwork for reopening the economy. Larry Kudlow, the chairman of the National Economic Council, said this week on the Fox Business Network that he could envision returning to work on a rolling basis within the next four to eight weeks. Mr. Mnuchin said on CNBC that it could happen as soon as May 1.

However, people close to Mr. Mnuchin have suggested that a more gradual timeline for reopening the economy could begin in May based on the availability of coronavirus testing and regional case numbers. Mr. Kushner and Peter Navarro, the president’s trade adviser, likewise have talked about opening in stages as quickly as possible, fearing that banks will start having real problems if the lockdown continues through May.

Economists say that lifting restrictions, particularly on nonessential businesses, will restore a limited amount of activity to an economy that is currently in a free fall.

But some of the president’s advisers like Marc Short, the chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, have argued that, ultimately, business leaders will not wait for health professionals or administration officials once new infections and deaths start to decrease and may simply reopen their firms.

Many experts caution that growth will be slow when it returns because people will be wary of resuming normal activities before the country has far more extensive testing.

Without widespread confidence in returning to work or other public activities, any economic recovery could be tepid. A survey of business leaders and market participants this week by S&P Global found that only 12 percent of respondents believed the economy would make a “quick complete recovery” soon.

A quick restart, though, could carry risks for the economy. If the government tells Americans to return to normal life and infections rise again, that could wipe out consumer optimism and lead to a longer, more damaging recession.

“It’s not clear to me that the pandemic’s direct effect on the economy will end in June” or anytime close to that, said Karl Smith, the vice president for federal policy at the Tax Foundation in Washington. “Even after official restrictions are lifted, lots of people may be uncertain about jumping back into ordinary life. Companies may be uncertain about putting their workers at risk.”

Reporting was contributed by Eileen Sullivan, Jim Tankersley and Annie Karni from Washington, and Kate Kelly and Andrew Ross Sorkin from New York.

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New Trump Attack Ad Falsely Suggests Former Washington Governor Is Chinese

Westlake Legal Group 10trump-ad-facebookJumbo New Trump Attack Ad Falsely Suggests Former Washington Governor Is Chinese Trump, Donald J Presidential Election of 2020 Political Advertising Locke, Gary Chinese-Americans Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — A new attack ad by President Trump’s re-election campaign portraying former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. as soft on China includes an image of an Asian-American former governor of Washington State that appears to falsely suggest he is Chinese.

The image, which appears briefly, was pulled from a 2013 event in Beijing, where Mr. Biden, now the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, shared a stage with Gary Locke, the former governor of Washington, who also served as President Barack Obama’s commerce secretary and ambassador to China. Mr. Locke is Chinese-American.

“During America’s crisis, Biden protected China’s feelings,” the online ad says, presenting a montage of clips of Mr. Biden complimenting and praising the Chinese, including the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, and of a news segment accusing Mr. Biden of helping his son Hunter profit off Chinese investments. The picture of Mr. Biden and Mr. Locke is spliced in among the clips.

Mr. Trump’s campaign released the ad on Thursday at a time of rising xenophobia and violence in the United States aimed at Chinese-Americans, as bigots blame them and other Asian-Americans for the outbreak of the coronavirus, which originated in China.

In recent weeks, Asian-Americans have been physically attacked, yelled at and spit upon; organizations have begun to track the incidents, though some have most likely gone unreported.

The Trump campaign defended using an image of an Asian-American to illustrate Mr. Biden’s ties to the Chinese, saying it was selected simply because “that’s the Hunter Biden trip.”

Hunter Biden accompanied his father on the 2013 trip to China. Mr. Trump has repeatedly accused him of using his father’s official visit to further his own business interests, claiming, without evidence, that Hunter Biden walked “out of China with $1.5 billion in a fund.”

“The shot with the flags specifically places Biden in Beijing in 2013,” Tim Murtaugh, a Trump campaign spokesman, wrote on Twitter, referring to the picture with Mr. Locke. “It’s for a reason. That’s the Hunter Biden trip. Memory Lane for ol’ Joe.”

Mr. Murtaugh did not address the fact that Mr. Locke is not Chinese, or that the ad presents the image with no context or explanation.

The campaign’s attack on Mr. Biden for being soft on China also appears at odds with the president’s own positioning toward its leader, Mr. Xi.

Even as Republicans have been seeking to blame China for the spread of the coronavirus — the ad says it has been hoarding masks during what it frames as “America’s crisis” — Mr. Trump has been complimenting Mr. Xi. As recently as last week, the president described the two of them as close allies and good friends.

“The relationship with China is a good one, and my relationship with him is really good,” Mr. Trump told reporters last week. The president added that he “will always assume the best” of China’s leaders.

Mr. Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have also stopped referring to the coronavirus as the “Chinese virus” or the “Wuhan virus” since his recent phone conversations with Mr. Xi.

A spokesman for the Biden campaign said Friday that it was “incredibly revealing that this ad comes from a president who spent weeks buying the Chinese government’s spin about containment of the outbreak, despite Joe Biden publicly warning him not to.”

The campaign noted Mr. Biden’s remarks on a CNN town-hall-style program on Feb. 26. “I would not be taking China’s word for it,” Mr. Biden said then. “I would insist that China allow our scientists in to make a hard determination of how it started, where it’s from, how far along it is. Because that is not happening now.”

Mr. Trump has pointed to his restrictions on foreign nationals’ travel from China to the United States, which went into effect Feb. 2, as evidence that he was taking the virus seriously at the time, though he also repeatedly played down the threat to Americans that month.

His campaign’s new advertisement drew immediate criticism online Thursday night.

Andrew Yang, the Taiwanese-American businessman who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, denounced the ad and called out the Trump campaign for including Mr. Locke in it.

“Gary Locke is as American as the day is long,” Mr. Yang wrote on Twitter in response to a tweet by Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic highlighting Mr. Locke’s inclusion in the ad. “Trump rewriting history as if he effectively responded to the virus is utter garbage.”

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Does Vote-by-Mail Favor Democrats? No. It’s a False Argument by Trump.

Westlake Legal Group 09votebymail-favortism-facebookJumbo-v2 Does Vote-by-Mail Favor Democrats? No. It’s a False Argument by Trump. Voting and Voters Voter Registration and Requirements Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Postal Service and Post Offices discrimination Democratic Party Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

President Trump said that if the United States switched to all-mail voting, “you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.”

The G.O.P. speaker of the House in Georgia said an all-mail election would be “extremely devastating to Republicans.”

Representative Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican, said universal mail voting would be “the end of our republic as we know it.”

Yet leading experts who have studied voting by mail say none of that is true.

As with false claims by Republicans about vote-by-mail fraud, there is no evidence to back up the argument from the right that all-mail elections favor Democrats. But Mr. Trump and some of his allies are warning that vote-by-mail poses an existential threat to their party, in hopes of galvanizing Republican opposition to a voting method that is widely seen as safer than in-person voting in the era of the coronavirus.

Five states — Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, Utah and Washington — now have all-mail elections, in which ballots are sent to every registered voter without their having to request one. Others, like Arizona and California, allow voters to add themselves to a permanent list of mail voters.

And there are also cases like Nebraska, which allows counties of less than 10,000 people to mail ballots to all voters (many of them Republicans) but forbids it in large urban areas (where many voters are Democrats). Texas allows no-excuse absentee voting for people 65 or older, another group that skews Republican.

None of these states have seen an appreciable shift favoring Democrats that officials and experts attribute to mail voting. Here are a few reasons.

Not much that hadn’t happened before.

The main argument by Mr. Trump and other Republicans is threefold: Voting by mail is easier than going to the polls; more people will vote if the process is easier; and when larger numbers of people vote, more will vote for Democrats.

But in the states and counties that have transitioned to all-mail voting, there has been little evidence of partisan advantage for either side because of mail voting, said Robert Stein, a Rice University professor who has helped put in place vote-by-mail systems.

Amelia Showalter, who was the data analytics director for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign, found in deeply reported studies of all-mail elections in Colorado in 2014 and Utah in 2016 that there were very slight partisan advantages in each race.

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The Colorado study found that Republicans outperformed their predicted turnout in 2014 by a slightly higher margin than did Democrats. The G.O.P.’s candidate for Senate, Cory Gardner, ousted the Democratic incumbent, Senator Mark Udall, and Republicans won three of the four other statewide races on the ballot.

Two years later, in Utah, Democrats gained an equally slight advantage in counties that had switched to all-mail voting.

Both states saw overall turnout increase — especially among those voters considered least likely to participate in the elections.

“That was a more noticeable effect among low-propensity voters,” Ms. Showalter said. “These are people who aren’t the die-hards who are going to vote in every election. They’re not going to vote in every partisan primary.”

Even before the coronavirus emerged as a global threat, Democrats had generally favored ways to expand access to voting by mail, while Republicans frequently argued in favor of tightening voter identification and registration requirements, claiming without evidence that easing restrictions invited voter fraud.

This wasn’t always the case. Republicans in Florida and Arizona, states with large populations of retirees, who tend to skew Republican, have pushed for years to expand vote-by-mail.

Thad Kousser, the chairman of the political science department at the University of California, San Diego, said that voting by mail in California was historically seen as especially helpful to older people and rural voters, who are more likely to be Republican. He called Mr. Trump’s statements a “gross exaggeration of any partisan effect we’re likely to see.”

“There are still Republicans elected in many of the areas that have voting by mail,” Dr. Kousser said. “Democrats and Republicans alike appreciate this option.”

Ms. Showalter’s studies of Colorado and Utah found that mailing ballots to all voters did tend to increase turnout. And Oregon and Washington, the states that pioneered all-mail elections, have long been among the highest-turnout states in presidential elections.

A 2013 study of voters in Washington by professors at Yale and the University of California, San Diego, found that voting by mail increased turnout by 2 to 4 percent, with low-participating voters more likely to be influenced than others.

But it was impossible to tell whether those voters were Republicans or Democrats, according to one of the study’s authors, Gregory Huber, a professor of political science at Yale.

“Whether the marginal nonvoter — the person induced to vote by the availability of vote-by-mail — is Democrat or Republican is less clear,” Dr. Huber said in an email, referring to voters who are ambivalent about the process and decide based on outside events.

Filling out a ballot at home also affords people more time to think about their vote. Research by Dr. Stein, the Rice University professor, found that voters spent about three and a half minutes when they went to a voting booth, but took about two days to complete a ballot they had received at home.

“Vote-by-mail has a way of affecting voter turnout in a way that we don’t always think about,” he said. “It increases turnout and attention for races that you would expect people would not vote for, like county judges and people you’ve never heard of.”

Charles Stewart III, a professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the evidence so far on which party benefits had been inconclusive, citing numbers from the 2016 North Carolina election showing that Republicans were more likely to vote by mail than Democrats.

Ms. Showalter found the biggest turnout difference in all-mail elections came among people who were the least likely to vote. These voters tend to pay the least attention to politics and are the most ideologically flexible.

In fact, all-mail voting makes some Democrats nervous. One reason is the finding in some studies that black and Latino voters — two key groups in the party’s base — are less likely to embrace mail voting than white voters.

Dr. Kousser pointed to a survey of California voters that revealed differences along racial and ethnic lines in voting by mail, with black and Latino voters about five percentage points less likely to favor it than white voters.

“Vote-by-mail is a little less popular as an option among Latino and African-Americans than whites and Asian-Americans,” Dr. Kousser said. “The N.A.A.C.P. has said they’re concerned about a shift to only vote-by-mail.”

As for the party’s younger voters, they tend to be more transient — less likely to have a current address on file with elections authorities.

“There is justified concern that Democratic-leaning voters may be disadvantaged through vote-by-mail systems,” said Brian Dunn, an Obama campaign alumnus who is a founder of Deliver My Vote, which encourages voters to sign up to receive mail ballots at home in states that allow it. “People like caregivers, gig-sector employees or those working multiple jobs may not update their address as they move, causing them to lose their ability to vote safely and easily.”

This concern emerged recently during deliberations by the Maryland Board of Elections over whether to conduct the state’s June 2 primary entirely by mail.

The board decided to keep a limited number of polling places open after Democratic legislative leaders, in a letter to Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, objected to an all-mail format, raising concerns about its potential impact on black voters.

“Most vote-by-mail states are overwhelmingly white,” the letter said, then cited a 2011 study sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts that found mandatory voting by mail reduced the chances that a person would vote, particularly among urban voters, who were 50 percent less likely to vote in an all-mail election.

Despite Mr. Trump’s opposition, there is ample Republican support for transitioning to mail elections.

In Ohio, the state’s top Republican officials, Gov. Mike DeWine and Frank LaRose, the secretary of state, recorded a video this week promoting the state’s first all-mail elections later this month.

“I reject this notion that I think comes from days gone by, when people say it’s not good for Republicans when there’s high turnout,” Mr. LaRose said in an interview on Thursday. “The highest turnout presidential election we ever had was 2016. The highest turnout gubernatorial election we ever had was 2018.”

Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington, pushed for mail elections as a local official. She said she didn’t believe that voting by mail helped either party in her state.

“There would be those who say, ‘You haven’t elected a Republican governor since 1980 in Washington,’ and our state certainly leans blue in terms of outcome,” Ms. Wyman said in an interview. “But I think if you do a deeper drive, we’re a purple state. I think a lot of those elections were won and lost with very small margins.”

“When you look at states that are vote by mail, you have a mix of blue and red and states,” she said. “Utah is pretty red.”

Michael Meyers, a Republican whose data firm, TargetPoint Consulting, has guided G.O.P. presidential campaigns since 2004, said Republican data and voter contact programs were superior to what Democrats had, meaning all-mail elections could be advantageous for conservatives.

“Every time we do something that scares Republicans, that makes voting easier to do, we tend to freak out about it and then figure out a way to level the playing field,” Mr. Meyers said. “In some respect I think there is some advantage to it. While I am concerned about voter fraud and security, on straight mechanics, it doesn’t scare me that much.”

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Trump Keeps Talking. Some Republicans Don’t Like What They’re Hearing.

Westlake Legal Group 09trump-reelect1-facebookJumbo Trump Keeps Talking. Some Republicans Don’t Like What They’re Hearing. Whitmer, Gretchen United States Politics and Government United States Economy Trump, Donald J Republican Party Presidential Election of 2020 Polls and Public Opinion Lindsey Graham Governors (US) Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Biden, Joseph R Jr

WASHINGTON — In his daily briefings on the coronavirus, President Trump has brandished all the familiar tools in his rhetorical arsenal: belittling Democratic governors, demonizing the media, trading in innuendo and bulldozing over the guidance of experts.

It’s the kind of performance the president relishes, but one that has his advisers and Republican allies worried.

As unemployment soars and the death toll skyrockets, and new polls show support for the president’s handling of the crisis sagging, White House allies and Republican lawmakers increasingly believe the briefings are hurting the president more than helping him. Many view the sessions as a kind of original sin from which all of his missteps flow, once he gets through his prepared script and turns to his preferred style of extemporaneous bluster and invective.

Mr. Trump “sometimes drowns out his own message,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has become one of the president’s informal counselors and told him “a once-a-week show” could be more effective. Representative Susan Brooks of Indiana said “they’re going on too long.” Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia said the briefings were “going off the rails a little bit” and suggested that he should “let the health professionals guide where we’re going to go.”

Even the conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board chastised the president for his behavior at the briefings. “Covid-19 isn’t shifty Schiff,” it wrote in an editorial on Thursday, using Mr. Trump’s nickname for Representative Adam Schiff. “It’s a once-a-century threat to American life and livelihood.”

With only intermittent attempts to adapt to a moment of crisis, Mr. Trump is effectively wagering that he can win re-election in the midst of a national emergency on a platform of polarization.

In interviews, Republican lawmakers, administration officials and members of his re-election campaign said they wanted Mr. Trump to limit his error-filled appearances at the West Wing briefings and move more aggressively to prepare for the looming recession. Some even suggested he summon a broader range of the country’s leaders, including former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, in an all-hands-on-deck moment to respond to the national emergency.

The consternation reflects a new sense of urgency over Mr. Trump’s re-election efforts as Joseph R. Biden Jr. emerges as his likely Democratic challenger. Three new polls this week show Mr. Biden leading the president, and the Trump campaign’s internal surveys show he has mostly lost the initial bump he received early in the crisis, according to three people briefed on the numbers. Public polls show he badly trails the nation’s governors and his own medical experts in terms of whom Americans trust most for guidance.

“I told him your opponent is no longer Joe Biden — it’s this virus,” Mr. Graham said.

One of Mr. Trump’s top political advisers, speaking on the condition of anonymity so as not to anger the president, was even blunter, arguing that the White House was handing Mr. Biden ammunition each night by sending the president out to the cameras.

Vice President Mike Pence, this adviser said, should be the M.C. because he projects more empathy than the president, rarely makes mistakes and, as a former governor and the chief of the coronavirus task force, has a better grasp on the details of the response.

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Yet the publicity-obsessed president is unlikely to relinquish his grip on the evening sessions: Mr. Trump has told aides he relishes the free television time and boffo ratings that come with his appearances, administration officials say.

He also views it as an opportunity to put forth his version of events and rebut the negative coverage he is receiving, as he showed in a tweet Thursday afternoon. On a day that New York State reported 799 deaths from the coronavirus in a 24-hour period, Mr. Trump’s focus was on himself, and his feuds.

There is some preliminary evidence that Mr. Trump is heeding the Republicans’ concerns. On Wednesday and Thursday, Mr. Trump made what were for him relatively brief appearances before leaving the room and turning the podium over to Mr. Pence and Drs. Anthony S. Fauci and Deborah Birx. Whether it lasts remains to be seen.

Deep divisions remain in the White House and the Republican Party over how quickly to ease social distancing orders and urge Americans to return to school and work. Some who have Mr. Trump’s ear, like Mr. Graham, are urging prudence. But a number of Republican lawmakers and Fox News personalities are lobbying the president to reopen the economy as quickly as possible.

Amid the conflicting advice, the president’s gut instincts and fondness for showmanship have won out, prompting him to frequently contradict or simply obscure the scientists who polls show are most trusted by voters.

And it’s not just an overwhelming majority of voters who believe the medical experts should be center stage: Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, personally urged Mr. Trump at the start of the crisis to let Drs. Fauci and Birx be the face of the response, according to a Republican official familiar with their conversation.

Judd Deere, a White House spokesman, said: “Any suggestion that President Trump is struggling on tone or message is completely false. During these difficult times, Americans are receiving comfort, hope and resources from their president, as well as their local officials, and Americans are responding in unprecedented ways.”

Some of Mr. Trump’s aides have quietly suggested to him that he ratchet back his public attacks on the governors who have emerged as leaders in the response to the virus. But they acknowledge their efforts can be something of a fool’s errand; the president has his style and he won’t change, they say.

His attacks on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan, a popular Democrat and potential vice-presidential pick for Mr. Biden — whom Mr. Trump called a “half-Whit” and “that woman” — were of particular concern to some aides and political advisers, who believe he risked alienating voters in a pivotal state.

Representative Paul Mitchell, a Michigan Republican, said he had contacted a senior White House official, as well as Ms. Whitmer herself, to express his unhappiness about their mutual sniping.

“It is not helpful to hurl names and talk about badly about people,” Mr. Mitchell said. “We need to focus on the problem.”

At Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign, staff members have closely monitored internal polling data showing an erosion of the gains Mr. Trump made immediately after he put social distancing guidelines in place. Advisers are torn between knowing that a less abrasive approach would help Mr. Trump and their awareness that he can’t tolerate criticism, regardless of the setting.

Mr. Trump’s limited gains in the polls are all the more striking when compared with those made by governors in both parties; many are enjoying double-digit gains in their approval ratings. And Mr. Trump’s penchant for ad hominem attacks, Republicans say, illustrates why he has little room for growth among the electorate.

“He can’t escape his instincts, his desire to put people down, like Mitt Romney, or to talk about his ratings,” said former Representative Carlos Curbelo, a Florida Republican. “That’s why he’s not getting the George W. Bush post-9/11 treatment. A leader in this sort of crisis should have a 75-to-80-percent approval rating.”

That would prove difficult for even a more conventional president at a time the country is so politically divided, but a number of prominent Republicans believe Mr. Trump has hurt himself by making only the most halting attempts at demonstrating an above-the-fray unity.

For example, aides to both Mr. Bush and Mr. Obama said that neither had been asked by the White House to do anything to aid the response to the crisis.

“The model of Obama asking Bush and Clinton to work on Haiti is a really good model,” said former Gov. Bill Haslam of Tennessee, recalling how Mr. Obama deployed Mr. Bush and former President Bill Clinton to lead the United States’ assistance to Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake there.

But Mr. Haslam and other Republicans believe Mr. Trump needs to go much further. Mr. Haslam called for creating a recovery team and installing “the economic equivalent of Dr. Fauci” as its leader. Asked whom he had in mind, Mr. Haslam suggested Mitch Daniels, who previously served as the governor of Indiana, the head of the Office of Management and Budget and as chief executive of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly.

A number of senators, including Mr. Graham, are also pushing for a sort of economic task force to complement the virus task force.

“The administration needs to be thinking through what does it look like to get back to business,” said Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, suggesting that it should “give a lot of thought to how we scale back up economically, because that’s going to be the next big challenge for us.”

The health of the economy may pose the biggest challenge to Mr. Trump’s re-election.

Mr. Toomey said he “won’t be surprised if we have 25 percent unemployment,” which would match the height of the Great Depression, by the start of the summer. But he said that if voters believed “the president has handled this well under the circumstances, and we’re on a good path, he has a shot.”

Other Republicans are more skeptical that Mr. Trump can win if he’s still saddled with double-digit unemployment in November. “I think that makes it really hard,” said Tony Fratto, a former Bush administration official.

And then there’s the matter of Mr. Trump and his conduct at the daily briefings.

Mr. Toomey has been outspoken about the need for Americans to wear masks when they leave home. Last week he had a 20-minute conversation with the president, whom he described as “thoughtful and engaged.”

By week’s end, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had issued guidelines: People should wear “cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” The agency’s decision was based in part on recent studies showing that people without symptoms can give the virus to others.

But in the same briefing where he announced the guidelines, Mr. Trump diminished the move as “a recommendation.”

“I just don’t want to wear one myself,” he said, explaining that he had no symptoms. “I am feeling good.”

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