Trump update live: Latest 2020 US election news as president's renomination vote to be held in private

Trump update live: Latest 2020 US election news as president’s renomination vote to be held in private

The White House coronavirus task force has warned that deaths will continue to spike within the next several weeks as the nation responds to a “new phase” of the pandemic that has gripped both rural and urban areas despite scrutiny from health experts that the administration failed to respond to the crisis at its onset.

Donald Trump has meanwhile issued a rare direct rebuke of the nation’s leading infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci, whom the president said is “wrong” to blame the surging public health crisis on the nation’s failure to shut down its economy.

A vote to secure the president’s nomination for his re-election will be held privately without members of the press later this month, for the first time in modern history. A spokesperson for the Republican National Convention (RNC) said the decision was due to “health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina”, where 336 delegates were scheduled to gather in Charlotte on 24 August to formally vote to make Mr Trump the party’s standard-bearer once again.


Such nominating conventions are traditionally designed to be in the media’s spotlight so political parties can draw attention to the events and spread their messages.

The news comes as Tropical Storm Isaias, which was downgraded from a hurricane, is set to brush the east coast of Florida as it heads northwest with top sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Centre has said the storm will move near or along the state’s east coast on Sunday. Florida’s central and northern east coast could be hit by a storm surge of as much as four feet (1.22m) as the storm pushes tidal levels above normal.



2020-08-02T14:20:43.226Z

After promising a healthcare overhaul in ‘two weeks,’ president comes up short

Donald Trump promised a “full and complete healthcare plan” within two weeks – two weeks ago – and reports suggest there is no evidence of such a plan.

While his administration attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act at the US Supreme Court, the president has not offered up a replacement healthcare measure to ensure millions of Americans currently insured through the federal law will continue their coverage. The administration has meanwhile undermined other crucial parts of the law, targeting women and LGBT+ people.

Here’s what he told Fox News two weeks ago:

The president is golfing for second consecutive day.

On Sunday, he touted his prescription drug executive orders that aim to lower the cost of drug prices.


2020-08-02T14:00:00.000Z

Coronavirus deaths up to 300,000 by the end of 2020? ‘Anything is possible,’ Birx says

Following Johns Hopkins University’s warning to the US that federal leadership must “reset” its response to the coronavirus pandemic as deaths surpass 150,000 and cases near 5 million, White House coronavirus task force member Dr Debrah Birx insisted the US had reset its response several weeks ago, during a June surge in cases in the south.

“What we’re starting to see … is these mitigation efforts are beginning to work,” she told CNN. “We hope decreasing deaths will follow.”

Asked whether it’s possible the number of US deaths could double by the end of the year, Dr Birx replied: “Anything is possible.”

“We need all of the public to help get control of this virus,” she said.


2020-08-02T13:50:00.000Z

Clyburn: Trump ‘is Mussolini, Putin is Hitler’

House Majority Whip ​James Clyburn warns that Donald Trump’s has “taken on strong-arm tactics” as he mounts a re-election campaign amid fears that he would refuse election results and reject a peaceful transfer of power, should he lose, as the president casts doubt against the legitimacy of absentee ballots and the election process overall.

The South Carolina Democrat compared the president to Italian fascist Benito Mussolini and Russian president Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.

“I feel very strongly that he is Mussolini, Putin is Hitler,” he said. “I don’t think he plans to leave the White House. He doesn’t plan to have fair and unfettered elections. I believe he plans to install himself in some emergency way to continue to hold on to office. That’s why the American people better wake up.”


2020-08-02T13:40:00.000Z

National mask mandate? Compliance is key, administration official says

Facing calls for a federal mandate for Americans to wear face coverings in public to help combat the spread of coronavirus, Admiral Brett Giroir told NBC that masks would have to be “voluntary by the American people” to truly work, amid debate that people would “rebel” against such orders.

“The public health message is: we’ve got to have mask wearing,” he said. “If we don’t do that … the virus will continue to run.”

But significantly cutting the infection rate would require “85 to 90 per cent” compliance with federal health guidelines to wear masks in public, despite no such orders implemented on a national level and instead relying instead of state and local officials to issue them.

“We are very concerned,” Admiral Giroir said. “Deaths will continue to increase for the next few weeks.”


2020-08-02T13:30:24.503Z

Birx: ‘We are in a new phase’ of coronavirus

Asked how the administration plans to address surges of coronavirus infections in “hot spots” across the US months after the onset of the outbreak in the country, White House coronavirus task force member Dr Deborah Birx claims that new infections are different from the case spikes in the spring.

“It is extraordinarily widespread, it’s into the rural as equal as urban areas, and yo everyone who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” she told CNN. “This epidemic right now is different.”

Dr Birx and the administration have faced intense scrutiny for failing to respond to the pandemic at its early onset, relying on a patchwork response from states without a national testing regimen or adequate containment and relief efforts to keep Americans safely at home.


2020-08-02T13:21:15.976Z

Congress has ‘not come to an agreement on’ coronavirus relief, Pelosi says

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says despite months of arguments to expand testing, Congress has reached a stalemate over the coronavirus response and expanded federal relief legislation as unemployment benefits expire and cases increase.

Donald Trump has “stood in the way” of the legislation, she said, following his claims on Twitter that Democrats – despite drafting legislation that has been blocked in the Republican-controlled Senate – are responsible for withholding that relief.

“We have been for the $600” in additional federal unemployment benefits, she said. “They have a $200 proposal which does not meet the needs of working families … The idea that they made a proposal is really not actually factual.”


2020-08-02T12:25:46.000Z

‘Never done before’: Trump doubles down on promise to lower drug prices

President Donald Trump has called for supporters to “forget” what drug companies who take “massive television ads against me” say, and insisted his administration will bring the price of prescription drugs in the US down.

It was unclear what drug companies he was referring to, but the president last week slammed “Big Pharma” television ads, calling them “nasty” and claiming he has reduced drug prices by 50 per cent “at least”.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump signed four executive orders aimed at cutting prescription drug prices in the US.

But pharmaceutical industry analysts have said the move would not have much effect.

Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in a statement: “This administration has decided to pursue a radical and dangerous policy to set prices based on rates paid in countries that he [President Trump] has labelled as socialist, which will harm patients today and into the future.”

But Mr Trump insists: “Favoured Nations Clause means USA will pay the lowest price of any nation in the World. Never done before. Watch!!!”


2020-08-02T12:05:14.963Z

‘Fake News doesn’t report’ on coronavirus outbreaks in ‘nations which were thought to have done a great job’, complains Trump

The US President is awake and tweeting about the “China Virus” this afternoon.

Retweeting news of the worsening coronavirus outbreak in Australia’s Victoria state, Mr Trump complained the media does not report on new outbreaks in nations “which were thought to have done a great job”.

This is despite numerous reports by publications all over the world following the outbreak in Australia. The state of Victoria declared a disaster after a surge in infections swept across Melbourne and other areas.

A new nightly curfew for Melbourne, from 8am to 5pm, will come into effect on Sunday night as part of movement restrictions to curb the spread. Since Saturday, 671 new coronavirus cases have been reported, with seven deaths.

Mr Trump added: “USA will be stronger than ever before, and soon!”

The US remains the country with the highest number of infections, with over 4.7 million Covid-19 cases so far.


2020-08-02T11:29:36.293Z

Trump clashes with Fauci on Twitter, says immunologist is ‘wrong’

Donald Trump has contradicted his administration’s leading infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, saying his explanation on why coronavirus cases in the US are rising is “wrong”.

Retweeting a video in which Dr Fauci outlines the difference between reactions to the pandemic in Europe versus the US’s less stringent approach, Mr Trump insisted the US has “more cases because we have tested far more than any other country”.

The president and his allies have repeatedly undermined Dr Fauci and clashed over how the country should respond and handle the coronavirus crisis.

Our reporter Clea Skopeliti has more on the story here:


2020-08-02T11:02:20.216Z

Microsoft in talks to buy US operations of TikTok ahead of Trump ban

(AFP)

Tech giant Microsoft is reportedly in advanced talks to buy the US operations of TikTok, which would be a major victory for the Chinese-owned video app at the centre of national security and censorship concerns.

President Donald Trump has had TikTok’s parent company Bytedance in his targets amid a bitter diplomatic row with China and said Friday he would take action as soon as Saturday to ban the app in the US.

He told reporters on Air Force One as he returned from Florida: “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.”

Claiming that he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the ban, Mr Trump insisted he has “that authority” and the ban would “be signed tomorrow [Saturday]”.

According to Associated Press, a person familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity said Microsoft, if successful, would become a major player in the social media sphere.

Microsoft has declined to comment and TikTok issued a statement on Friday saying: “While we do not comment on rumours or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”

TikTok is hugely popular in the US, where tens of millions of people use the app. It has hundreds of millions of users globally.


2020-08-02T10:27:32.490Z

Key Trump impeachment witness Alexander Vindman accused Trump of ‘bullying and intimidation’

Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman has said in a damning op-ed that coming forward in President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings helped “end his career” and accused the president of “bullying and intimidation”.

His testimony became key in the impeachment inquiry, but Lt Col Vindman said he experienced attacks from Mr Trump after testifying before Congress.

Danielle Zoellner has the full story here:


2020-08-02T09:57:22.683Z

Barron Trump’s private school to stay closed despite POTUS insisting schools reopen

President Donald Trump’s son, Barron, will remain home from school as his Maryland private school is among those under country orders to stay closed.

The President has pushed for schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that children are being harmed by being away from the classroom.

Barron Trump, son of U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump, walks beside his parents, (not pictured) from the Oval Office to Marine One at the South Lawn (Reuters)

But Montgomery County Health Officer Dr Travis Gayles said his order for schools in the county to stay closed for in-person instruction will be reevaluated before 1 October to determine if it should be extended, terminated or amended.

Currently, schools there are to conduct online classes only.

Gayles said increases in Covid-19 transmission rates in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia, particularly in younger age groups played into the decision.

“At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers,” he said on Friday.

Barron, 14, is due to enter ninth grade at St Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, in Montgomery County. The 2020-2021 school year is due to start on 8 September.

Reporting by AP


2020-08-02T09:45:47.830Z

Tropical Storm Isaias brings heavy rain onto Florida east coast

Storm clouds are seen over the city as Hurricane Isaias approaches the east coast of Florida (Getty)

Tropical Storm Isaias brought heavy rain on the east coast of Florida before dawn on Sunday as authorities stay on high alert for the approaching storm.

Although it was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm late Saturday afternoon, Isaias is still expected to dump heavy downpours and flooding as it makes its way towards Florida.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned residents during a news conference on Saturday: “Don’t be fooled by the downgrade.”

Authorities in the state closed beaches, parks and coronavirus testing sites. Ms DeSantis said power outages are anticipated and asked residents to prepare a week’s worth of water, food and medicine in case of emergencies.

Before it hits Florida, Isaias has already caused destruction in the Caribbean, uprooting trees and destroying crops in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, before knocking out power in the Bahamas yesterday.

The President approved an emergency declaration in Florida and ordered Federal assistance to supplement the state’s response efforts to the storm.

Mr Trump’s call authorised the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to co-ordinate all disaster relief efforts.


2020-08-02T09:29:51.383Z

Renomination of Trump for President to be held in private due to coronavirus

Then Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump smiles as he addresses delegates during the final day session of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in 2016
The Republican National Convention (RNC) will hold the renomination vote for Donald Trump in private later this month, without members of the press present.

The RNC is scheduled to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, on 24 August. 335 delegates are expected to gather and formally vote to make Mr Trump the Republican party’s standard-bearer once more.

This will be the first nominating convention in modern history to be closed to members of the media.

A spokesperson for the RNC said: “Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed press.

“We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events.” 


2020-08-02T09:05:03.830Z

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent‘s liveblog following the actions and words US President Donald Trump.



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