US government to give citizens emergency financial aid

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

US government to give citizens emergency financial aid

White House prepares to send direct payments to Americans as part of stimulus package

Donald Trump
 The cash handouts are part of a wider $850bn stimulus package the Trump administration is negotiating amid the threat of a global recession. Photograph: Kevin Dietsch/EPA

Donald Trump has dramatically stepped up the US government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak by announcing plans to send cheques directly to American citizens to give them emergency financial aid, while agreeing to purchase up to $1tn (£830bn) of corporate bonds.

The White House said it was preparing to send the payments to Americans within two weeks as part of a vast stimulus package to shore-up confidence in the world’s largest economy as the efforts to contain the disease threaten a global recession.

At a special briefing in Washington, the the US Treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin, said: “This is stuff that needs to be done now. The president has instructed me, this is no fault to American workers, for medical reasons we’re shutting down.”

Speaking after the Republican senator, Mitt Romney, proposed sending $1,000 cheques, Mnuchin said the value of the payments would be “bigger than what’s in the press”.

The handouts are part of a wider $850bn stimulus package the Trump administration is negotiating with Congress. The bank bailout package agreed at the time of the financial crisis – known as Tarp – was worth $700bn.

The US Federal Reserve will also invest $10bn to a special purpose vehicle to provide guarantees that the central bank would purchase up to $1tn of US corporate bonds if required, aiming to smooth the financial markets after weeks of turmoil.

Mnuchin also said the White House planned to allow individual taxpayers to defer payments of up to $1m and for companies of up to $10m, in steps that could cost the government as much as $300bn.

Speaking alongside Mnuchin at the press conference, Trump said: “We’re going big. We want to get it done and have a big infusion as opposed to going through little meetings every couple of days.

“We want to go big – we want to go solid. The country’s strong. With this invisible enemy, we don’t want airlines going out of business or people not having jobs and being able to live, when they were doing OK four weeks ago.”

“We have ways of getting out money in many ways, very quickly and very actively.”

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Trump’s travel ban sidesteps his own European resorts

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

CORONAVIRUS

Trump’s travel ban sidesteps his own European resorts

The president announced new travel restrictions on Europeans as the coronavirus pandemic escalated, but a few key spots on the continent were spared.

Donald Trump

President Donald Trump’s new European travel restrictions have a convenient side effect: They exempt nations where three Trump-owned golf resorts are located.

Trump is already under fire for visiting his properties in both countries as president, leading to U.S. taxpayer money being spent at his own firms. The president has been saddled with lawsuits and investigations throughout his term alleging that he’s violating the Constitution’s emoluments clause by accepting taxpayer money other than his salary.

The U.S. government proclamation initiating the ban targets 26 European countries that comprise a visa-free travel zone known as the Schengen Area.

The United Kingdom, which is home to Trump Turnberry and Trump International Golf Links, and Ireland, which is home to another Trump-branded hotel and golf course at Doonbeg, do not participate in the Schengen Area. Bulgaria, Croatia and Romania are also not part of the Schengen Area. All three of the resorts are struggling financially.

Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is scheduled to meet Trump at the White House on Thursday in one of the few events related to St. Patrick’s Day that has not been canceled due to coronavirus concerns.

The administration’s European travel proclamation notes that “the Schengen Area has exported 201 COVID-19 cases to 53 countries. Moreover, the free flow of people between the Schengen Area countries makes the task of managing the spread of the virus difficult.”

Trump’s European travel ban comes with several other loopholes.

There are now 460 confirmed coronavirus cases in the U.K., including Nadine Dorries, the British government’s own health minister in charge of patient safety. Wednesday saw the biggest rise in U.K. cases in a single day, and the country’s highest-level crisis committee — known as Cobra — will meet Thursday to consider additional moves to reduce the impact of the virus.

Though they are subject to border checks on arrival, residents of the 26 Schengen Area countries are also free to live and work in the United Kingdom, meaning they could fly to the United States from a British airport as long as they hadn’t spent time within the Schengen countries in the last 14 days.

EU leaders condemned Trump’s move on Thursday, and disputed the president’s criticism of Europe’s handling of the crisis.

“The Coronavirus is a global crisis, not limited to any continent and it requires cooperation rather than unilateral action,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel said in a joint statement.

“The European Union disapproves of the fact that the U.S. decision to impose a travel ban was taken unilaterally and without consultation,” they said, adding that the bloc was “taking strong action to limit the spread of the virus.”

Anita Kumar and Hans Joachim von der Burchard contributed to this report.

Coronavirus: Trump suspends travel from Europe to US

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BBC)

 

Coronavirus: Trump suspends travel from Europe to US

Media caption The US President made the announcement from the Oval Office at the White House

US President Donald Trump has announced sweeping new travel restrictions on Europe in a bid to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

In a televised address on Wednesday, he said all travel from Europe would be suspended for the next 30 days.

But he said the “strong but necessary” restrictions would not apply to the UK, where 460 cases of the virus have now been confirmed.

There are 1,135 confirmed cases of the virus across the US, with 38 deaths.

“To keep new cases from entering our shores, we will be suspending all travel from Europe to the United States,” Mr Trump said.

“The new rules will go into effect Friday at midnight,” he added.

Banner image reading 'more about coronavirus'
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Mr Trump also announced plans to provide billions of dollars in loans to small businesses, in an attempt to stymie the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on the US economy.

He also urged Congress to pass major tax relief measures as part of an “aggressive and comprehensive effort” to combat the virus.

“We are marshalling the full power of the federal government and the private sector to protect the American people,” he said.

What is the situation in the US?

Officials said the risk of infection was low for the general US public, but concern deepened after a number of new cases were confirmed earlier this month.

Containment efforts have begun in earnest. Troops have been deployed to New Rochelle, just north of New York City, where one outbreak is believed to have originated.

The National Guard will deliver food to some individuals who have been told to self-isolate there.

The governor of Washington state has banned large gatherings in several counties. The north-western state is the focal point of the outbreak in the US, accounting for 24 of at least 38 deaths across the country.

Dr Anthony Fauci, director the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told Congress that “it’s going to get worse”, and that depended on the ability to contain those infected.

High medical costs make the virus particularly problematic – many Americans avoid doctor’s visits because of unaffordable charges. A lack of paid sick leave is another concern, as are fears about the number of available tests.

But Vice-President Mike Pence, who is in charge of the task force co-ordinating the response to the crisis, has said that “any American can be tested, no restrictions, subject to doctor’s orders”, and that insurers had promised to offset the charges.

President Trump Is Unfit for This Crisis. Period.

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

President Trump Is Unfit for This Crisis. Period.

His narcissism is a grave danger to our health.

By 

Opinion Columnist

President Trump boarding Air Force One in Florida on Monday. Reports over the weekend said the White House overruled government health officials who wanted to advise older people against flying.
Credit…T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

The coronavirus is no longer just a slow-moving public health crisis that may soon turn into a rapid-moving one. It’s a crisis of transparency. It’s a crisis of government legitimacy. So it is in this spirit that we all have to say: enough.

Whose side is the Trump administration on? Based on every public appearance we’ve seen so far — whether it’s from a cabinet member or the director of the Centers for Disease Control or the president himself — the answer is clear: not the public’s. President Trump, hellbent on re-election, is focused on massaging numbers and silencing bearers of bad news. That’s what autocrats do. And it’s endangering lives.

On Saturday, The Associated Press reported that Trump overruled his own health officials, who wanted to warn older Americans and the fragile against flying on commercial airlines. Our storied C.D.C., now annexed by politicians, continues to insist that only the most floridly symptomatic patients be tested for the virus. Even that remains a challenge: Last week, it refused to test an ailing nurse in Northern California who’d treated a positive patient, prompting the head of National Nurses United to read her story aloud at a news conference.

At a Friday news conference at the C.D.C., Trump told reporters that tests for the coronavirus were now available to anyone who needed one. Yet just afterward, we heard from governor after governor and doctor after doctor that this is categorically untrue, with states in dire need of more tests. “We have no local testing available,” Dr. Walter Mills, president of the California Academy of Family Physicians, told The San Jose Mercury News.

And of course, it was at that same news conference that Trump infamously said, “I like the numbers being where they are,” in explaining why he was reluctant to let passengers, some of whom have tested positive for the virus, off the Grand Princess cruise ship floating off California (it has since been given permission to dock in Oakland).

That news conference was, to me, the most frightening moment of the Trump presidency. His preening narcissism, his compulsive lying, his vindictiveness, his terror of germs and his terrifying inability to grasp basic science — all of it eclipsed his primary responsibilities to us as Americans, which was to provide urgent care, namely in the form of leadership.

It’s preposterous for Trump to resist determining how widespread this epidemic is. Yet right now, the United States isn’t reporting how many people have been tested; the C.D.C. pulled the number from its website. Late last week, an extraordinarily detailed article by The Atlantic, counting state by state, put that number at only 1,895. In South Korea, the number was more than 140,000. (Which Trump dismissed as “sampling.” It was not. It was testing, straight and simple.)

Because we’re testing only the sickest of the sick, the American fatality rate from the coronavirus is roughly 4 percent. It’s a frightening and highly deceptive number, even higher than China’s. (Most experts predict it’s likely to wind up at 0.5 percent, which is five times more deadly than the typical flu, and it could be as high as 1 percent.) But Trump has made the dangerous calculation that he’d prefer to keep the number of cases low than convey the full magnitude of contagion.

When the coronavirus first appeared in China, some commentators reached for the Chernobyl comparison. Today the comparison looks increasingly apt for the United States as well. Maybe it’s hyperbolic — it’ll be months before we know firm numbers on cases and fatalities — but the commonalities are easy to spot: We’re reckoning with a silent, invisible and potentially devastating public health crisis, and the government is refusing to tell us the facts, or what next steps to take, because it’s too concerned with optics to own up to its initial mishandling of the situation. On Friday morning, Trump crowed, “I think we’re in great shape.”

The difference is that because we live in an age of social networks, the public is still getting information online. But as with all information online, some of it is terrible as well as good.

Reuters just reported that Democrats are twice as apt to view the coronavirus as an imminent threat to our country as Republicans, and the reason seems clear: The news outlets that do the president’s bidding are playing down the potential scope and severity of the problem. Meanwhile, more clear-eyed governors are declaring states of emergency and speaking directly to more mainstream news sources to voice their concerns, as are doctors and epidemiologists.

The gulf between their discourse and the talking points of the federal government can be measured in light years. The administration is still talking containment. Epidemiologists, in the main, are assuming it can no longer be contained, and that we should all be responsibly thinking about next steps so that hospitals don’t become overwhelmed. Many of them are worth following on Twitter. Epidemiologists are the new rock stars.

Everyone needs to step up. For now, the coronavirus is in mostly blue states, where cities are. But it’s only a matter of time. One week after Representative Matt Gaetz of Florida mocked concerns about Covid-19 by wearing a giant gas mask on the House floor, one of his constituents died of it. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Representative Paul Gosar of Arizona, both Republicans, have put themselves into quarantine, having interacted with an infected person at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference. There’s even discussion of Congress going into recess.

Fox News, Republican elected officials, the C.D.C. director Robert R. Redfield — they all need to stop with their fulsome tributes to Trump during news conferences and seize the microphone to help explain how to stem the disease’s spread.

Look at Italy. The government locked down an entire region of the country this weekend. Corriere Della Sera recently reported that the intensive care units in Lombardy were on the brink of collapse, with medical workers setting up beds in the hallways. If we aren’t careful, that could next be us.

Two days ago, the British medical journal The Lancet more or less implied that many countries won’t be able to have both a healthy public and a healthy economy at this moment. They’ll have to choose.

This observation jibes with the conversation I had with Nicholas Christakis, author of “Blueprint” and an epidemiologist at Yale, last Friday. His lab is using big data to develop tools that would forecast the course of the epidemic in real time. In his estimation, 35,000 Americans will die from the coronavirus this year, which would place an enormous additional burden on hospitals already overtaxed by the flu season. And his estimate is at the low end for predictions among the people in his field.

“I’m in the deeply ironic position at the moment of strongly discouraging social connection, despite the fact that it’s the central focus of my book — and my life’s work,” he says. “But it’s going to take us working together in this unnatural way — one that goes so against our evolutionary past — to confront this epidemic.”

What’s so frightening — so hideous — is that our president is least equipped to do just that. This crisis has unhelmed and unmasked him. He’s incapable of leading. When it comes to Trump, truth, decency and self-possession have been in quarantine from the start.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: [email protected].

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on FacebookTwitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

Jennifer Senior has been an Op-Ed columnist since September 2018. She had been a daily book critic for The Times; before that, she spent many years as a staff writer for New York magazine. Her best-selling book, “All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood,” has been translated into 12 languages. @JenSeniorNY

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Taking out his iPad, PM Modi made on the spot trade presentation to Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF INDIA)

 

Taking out his iPad, PM Modi made on the spot trade presentation to Trump

According to those present at Hyderabad House, PM Modi took upon himself to remove the misgivings of US President Donald Trump that India was treating his country unfairly with little effort being made to address an adverse trade deficit.

INDIA Updated: Feb 28, 2020 12:57 IST

Shishir Gupta
Shishir Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to US President Donald Trump during a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaks to US President Donald Trump during a meeting at Hyderabad House in New Delhi.(REUTERS)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi used his favorite gadget, an iPad to make an impromptu presentation to US President Donald Trump on Tuesday at Hyderabad House in an effort to dispel all misgivings on bilateral trade with India. He also used a time-window before lunch was served at Hyderabad House to explain both the Citizenship Amendment Act and the nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution to the satisfaction of the US president.

Trade is one of the big outstanding issues between the two countries, which couldn’t agree on a widely anticipated trade deal that was expected to be signed during this visit. However, both say they are working on a larger deal.

According to those present at Hyderabad House, PM Modi took upon himself to remove the misgivings of US President Donald Trump that India was treating his country unfairly with little effort being made to address an adverse trade deficit.

Watch what Donald Trump said on CAA debate, Pakistan terror, at Delhi briefing

It is learnt that PM Modi took out his iPad and showed President Trump what India had done during his tenure to reduce the trade deficit from $31 billion in 2014 to $24.2 billion in 2018—a decline a 22% over four years. PM Modi also showed that India’s hydrocarbon imports from the US went from zero in 2013 to $9 billion now and likely to reach $12 billion by the end of the year, with the US exporting oil, coal and liquefied natural gas to India.

He revealed that Indian students in US were contributing nearly $ 6 billion each year to the American treasury by spending dollars in education. PM Modi then pointed out to the growing military hardware imports to India during President Trump’s tenure with more multi-billion dollar defense deals in the pipeline. India is buying $3 billion worth of helicopters this year, for instance. President Trump indicated to PM Modi that his country is willing to supply any top-of-the-line defense equipment including armed drones and fighters to India and that New Delhi was free to buy from anyone provided that the equipment was better in comparison to American hardware. Both PM Modi and President Trump spoke about bilateral trade in comments to media at Hyderabad House.

On CAA, PM Modi explained to the US president that the proportion of those belonging to minority communities in Pakistan and other Muslim nations in India’s neighborhood, including Christians, has fallen and that the law is aimed only at providing security and dignity to those mistreated in the neighborhood. He explained that CAA was not aimed at depriving any one of citizenship rights, the people present during the meeting said.

On the issue of J&K, Modi explained how despite all his efforts, Pakistan was targeting India through terrorists, the people added.

Interestingly, even as Modi pointed out the security challenges that India faces from Pakistan, President Trump repeated his willingness to mediate between the two estranged neighbors, the people said. According to them, PM Modi heard out President Trump.

Mike Pence, Trump’s coronavirus czar, has a terrible public health record

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LOS ANGLES TIMES)

 

Mike Pence, Trump’s coronavirus czar, has a terrible public health record

Mike Pence and Donald Trump

President Trump speaks about his administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak as Vice President Mike Pence looks on at the White House on Wednesday.
(AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Seriously? How can Vice President Mike Pence oversee the Trump administration’s response to a human health crisis when he has a record on health and safety that is so abysmal?

This is a man who, as governor of Indiana, signed into law an abortion bill that is among the most restrictive in the country. He also permitted discrimination against the LGBTQ community in his state.

But wait, there’s more. He tried to block the resettlement of Syrian refugees in Indiana and cut off federal aid to existing refugees — and he believes in stripping judges of their discretion in drug-crime sentencing. His record as being anti-science is even more chilling.

Perhaps the only good that will come from this appointment and other missteps by the present administration is that President Trump is voted out of office in November.

Randy Farhi, Los Angeles

..

To the editor: On Wednesday, Trump put Pence in charge of the administration’s public health response to the coronavirus.

While governor of Indiana, Pence arranged to make Indiana rank 48th in per-capita public health spending in the United States. What qualifications justify his appointment?

Dr. Robert R. Young, Corona del Mar

..

To the editor: Maybe Trump will build a wall to keep the coronavirus out.

William Eaton, Banning

Trump Plans On Ending State Level Medical And Personal Marijuana Sales

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HILL NEWS)

 

President  Trump is once again threatening to derail medical cannabis access in the majority of U.S. states that regulate its access and use.

In his recently released 2021 federal budget proposal, the president has called for ending existing federal protections that limit the federal government from interfering in the state-sanctioned regulation of medical cannabis. Doing so would place thousands of medical cannabis providers and the millions of patients who rely on them at risk for criminal prosecution.

Some context: since 2014, Congress has repeatedly approved spending legislation forbidding the Justice Department from using federal funds for the explicit purpose of preventing states from “implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana.”

Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia regulate the production and dispensing of medical cannabis products to over three million patients. All of these programs, and the patients served by them, would be at risk if the president gets his way.

To those following this issue closely, the president ’s latest move hardly comes as a surprise. Despite Trump mentioning during his campaign that he supported medical marijuana and a general states-rights approach to cannabis policy, his presidency has consistently proven these words to ring hollow.

Most recently, Marc Lotter, the director of strategic communications for Trump’s 2020 campaign, stated in an interview that the administration is intent on keeping marijuana illegal under federal law. “I think what the president is looking at is looking at this from a standpoint of a parent of a young person to make sure that we keep our kids away from drugs,” he said. “They need to be kept illegal, that is the federal policy. I think the president has been pretty clear on his views on marijuana at the federal level, I know many states have taken a different path.”

Let’s be clear — the policy that the administration wants to keep in place is the same failed policy that has existed since 1970, which opines that the cannabis plant should remain classified in the same category as heroin and possesses no accepted medical value. This position doesn’t comport with either public opinion or scientific reality

The data speaks for itself. It is not an alternative fact that state-regulated medical marijuana has been proven to possess important benefits to millions of patients while not undermining public safety or health.

To date, these regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies has not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. Additionally, they have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue. That is why more and more states are enacting medical cannabis laws while existing states are continually expanding them. No state that has passed a medical cannabis access law has ever repealed it.

Americans almost universally know that patients are not criminals and that marijuana indisputably has medical value in the treatment of a wide range of ailments. A recent poll from Quinnipiac University found an eye-popping 94 percent of Americans support the legal use of medical cannabis.

It makes no political sense for the president to try and put this genie back in the bottle and it up to Congress to see that he does not.

Justin Strekal is the Political Director for NORML, where he serves as an advocate to end the federal prohibition of marijuana and to reform our nation’s laws to no longer discriminate against its consumers. 

 Trump’s war on truth takes a dangerous turn as he attacks the media’s coronavirus coverage

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

 Trump’s war on truth takes a dangerous turn as he attacks the media’s coronavirus coverage

New York (CNN Business)Since the dawn of the Trump presidency, countless experts have warned that the president’s lack of credibility would imperil the country in the event of an emergency.

With the worsening coronavirus outbreak, those fears may be coming true.
President Trump’s political allies have made overly optimistic statements only to be contradicted by the government’s top scientists and doctors. For example, Trump claimed on Monday that the coronavirus was “very much under control in the USA.” A day later, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus’ spread to the US was inevitable. He said the stock market is “starting to look very good” even as the Dow was nosediving amid coronavirus anxiety.
And the president has been blaming the media for this predicament, reverting to the same tactics that he has employed ever since taking office.
On Wednesday, in a widely-criticized tweet, he claimed that CNN and MSNBC “are doing everything possible to make the Caronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible.”
He misspelled coronavirus and the typo is still visible on his Twitter profile more than eight hours later.
But misspelling the name of the virus is the least of the government’s problems. President Trump has systematically undermined trust in the media and other institutions that play important roles in public health emergencies. He has explicitly said not to trust sources that he doesn’t personally approve.
He has engaged in what several columnists have called a “war on expertise.” Scientists have been among those adversely affected. Last December an investigation by The New York Times concluded that science is “under attack” by Trump appointees.
“Trump’s disdain for science and his cuts to science and public health programs have subverted preparedness for emergencies like the coronavirus,” said Michiko Kakutani, the famous literary critic and author of “The Death of Truth.”
Trump has also contradicted accurate information from government agencies, like the National Weather Service, as when he insisted that Alabama was threatened by a hurricane last year. The so-called Sharpiegate caused anger and consternation inside the federal agencies responsible for weather forecasting.
Now health agencies like the CDC are in the spotlight. High-minded warnings about breakdowns in trust and the death of truth have more impact when deaths from the coronavirus are being reported every day.
“When you learn you have a dangerous disease, you need to be able to trust your doctor. When entire populations face a dangerous public health crisis, they need to be able to trust their governments,” Dr. Leana S. Wen, a visiting professor at George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed last month.
That’s a problem in this environment, where trust is in short supply. Multiple polls have shown that only one in three Americans believe he is honest and trustworthy.
The President’s lies have given the public ample reason to distrust what he says — and this has negatively affected perceptions of his administration as a whole.
“This president has lied about everything from trade deficits to Russian interference in US elections. He has disparaged experts at almost every opportunity,” said Daniel W. Drezner, professor of international politics at Tuft University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and author of the forthcoming book “The Toddler in Chief.”
“At a time when people are looking to the federal government for reassurance,” Drezner said, “he will be hard-pressed to provide any.”
Ultimately, Kakutani said, Trump’s free-flowing falsehoods undermine the credibility of the government leaving the public unsure of who or what to trust.
“Truth and an informed public are essential to the functioning of a democracy — and essential, too, for a practical and reasoned response to an emergency,” she said.

Donald, Melania, Ivanka, and Jared Visited the Taj Mahal. Their Poses Spoke Volumes

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE DAILY BEAST)

 

Donald, Melania, Ivanka, and Jared Visited the Taj Mahal. Their Poses Spoke Volumes.

TOGETHER FOREVER

Donald, Melania, and Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner posed in front of the Taj Mahal, joining a long tradition of celebrities using the historic site to promote their own image.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty

Melania Trump stood in front of the Taj Mahal, built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan as a symbol of devotion to his wife, Mumtaz, and watched her open-mouthed husband bellow to photographers.

Her high-necked, ivory jumpsuit matched the exterior of the famed marble mausoleum (CNN’s Kate Bennett identified the one piece as made by Trump’s stylist, Hervé Pierre). It came with a moss green sash made of “vintage Indian textile” that slightly clashed with her husband’s canary yellow tie.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty

Still, the First Lady—known for looking absolutely miserable when out with her husband—appeared happy, or at least flashed a few more step-and-repeat smiles than normal. One tabloid described the pair as “loved-up,” which is as big of a stretch as the notion that burger-loving Trump enjoyed his meatless Monday in India. Still, the Trumps were able to hold hands for a while, and they stood close while watching a flock of birds fly away, like two characters from a gothic poem.

Ivanka, too, arrived with Jared Kushner in tow, though she kicked her husband out of her own picture. In a poppy-patterned turquoise dress, which matched the reflection pool she stood in front of, Ivanka mugged with her vacant-eyed but determined smile.

If you have any doubts about any future political aspirations for this “presidential adviser,” then (take a deep breath and) look at her Taj Mahal photo op. Despite all those “Unwanted Ivanka” detractors, just like the building itself, she endures. In Ivanka’s words, such resilience is “awe inspiring.” Others might call her seemingly ceaseless, free vacations (thinly) disguised as diplomacy, a horror scenario.

Ivanka Trump

@IvankaTrump

The grandeur and beauty of the Taj Mahal is awe inspiring! 🇺🇸 🇮🇳

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The Taj Mahal was completed after ten years of construction in 1653, outlasting threats from the Japanese Air Force in World War II and Pakistan’s bomber pilots in the late ’60s. But the historic site, frequently referenced as a Wonder of the World, has succumbed to one thing: the rich and powerful using it as a backdrop to make coded statements to the world.

The tradition began in earnest with the 1992 image of Princess Diana on a marble bench, her body a lithe strip in a cherry red blazer, nearly dwarfed compared to the gargantuan building behind her. She went to the site alone, without her husband Prince Charles, implying a fissure in their not-so-storybook romance.

But Diana was not the first celebrity photo op at the Taj Mahal. In 1962, Jackie Kennedy took a solo trip to India and Pakistan, at a time when First Ladies did not often dabble in foreign diplomacy. For her pilgrimage to the spot, she wore a preppy blue and green sheath, projecting the Camelot-era’s sunny confidence.

Four years later, George Harrison snapped a selfie in front of the site, looking very anti-Kennedy in his counterculture duds: an unbuttoned cotton shirt and dark sunglasses.

Since then, plenty of other young and famous men have come to the mausoleum in search of themselves, or at least a performative version of it.

In 2015, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said the Taj Mahal was an example of “what people can build—and what love can motivate us to build,” using the elegant language of a good copywriter to plug his company after paying respects. That same year, Leonardo DiCaprio visited too, while in the country working on a climate change documentary. It was a “secret trip;” DiCaprio asked tourists not to take pictures, because he was working.

In 1995, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton also sat on one of the Taj Mahal’s benches for photographers, sitting close and smiling, visual code for girl power. Five years after that, the first daughter would return with her father, Bill.

Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty

In wide-angle snapshots of Donald and Melania strolling in front of the Taj Mahal, the yuge building’s scope leaves the pair looking tiny, nearly as tall as the shrubs which line the monument’s grassy aisles. Trump, who’s got a thing for screaming about his own bigness, might not appreciate how tiny he looks.

But for a man who views the presidency as just another prize to show off that he’s won, the Taj Mahal visit was a success. The man whose legacy was once a knockoff-named casino now has got his photo in front of the real thing, joining the star-studded ranks of those who came before him. And as we’ve seen from this optics-obsessed administration so many times before, the facade is all that matters.

Author warns that Trump ‘will not exit quietly,’ even if defeated or impeached

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWS)

 

‘Anonymous’ author warns that Trump ‘will not exit quietly,’ even if defeated or impeached

USA TODAY

The anonymous official who has written a scathing account of the presidency of Donald Trump suggests the president might refuse to leave office even if convicted in impeachment hearings or defeated narrowly in the 2020 election – and says Trump is preparing his followers to see either outcome as a “coup” that could warrant resistance.

“He will not exit quietly – or easily,” the author, self-described as a senior administration official, writes in A Warning, a book that builds on an explosive op-ed by the same unnamed author last year. USA TODAY obtained an early copy of the book.

“It is why at many turns he suggests ‘coups’ are afoot and a ‘civil war’ is in the offing. He is already seeding the narrative for his followers – a narrative that could end tragically.”

From ‘Anonymous’:Read key excerpts from inside Trump White House on Putin, Pence, Hillary

As the House of Representatives prepares to open public impeachment hearings Wednesday, the book also says that Trump ordered aides more than a year ago to pursue a “deliberate and coordinated campaign” to obstruct an impeachment inquiry and other congressional investigations. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has said he is considering obstruction of Congress as a possible Article of Impeachment.

The book’s author is identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” and its forthcoming publication has created a firestorm over both its depiction of a dysfunctional president and the decision by the writer to remain anonymous.

Cover of "A Warning" by an anonymous senior Trump administration official.

“The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

Many of the disclosures echo news stories that have portrayed the president as impulsive, sometimes uninformed and regularly willing to defy established norms. There is already no shortage of books by Trump critics, including former FBI director James Comey and others who have served in his administration, that raise questions about the president’s fitness for office.

But The New York Times op-ed in 2018 and the new book, being published next Tuesday by Twelve, have commanded enormous attention because the author had an inside view, often participating in small White House meetings where crucial decisions were made.

The author portrays himself or herself as sharing some policy views with Trump and initially having a positive if wary view of the possibilities of his presidency.

The author says the intended audience for A Warning isn’t those who closely follow politics but rather those who don’t, particularly voters from across the country who were drawn in 2016 to Trump’s promise to shake up the establishment.

Dropping Pence from the ticket?

The book says that Trump “on more than one occasion” discussed with staffers the possibility of dropping Vice President Mike Pence before the 2020 election.

“Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley was under active consideration to step in as vice president, which she did not discourage at first,” the author writes, saying some advisers argued that putting Haley on the ticket would help the president bolster his support among female voters.

In an interview Friday with USA TODAY, Nikki Haley dismissed out of hand the suggestion that she might replace Pence. In her new book, With All Due Respect, Haley offers a generally positive portrait of Trump, and the president rewarded her with a friendly tweet urging his millions of followers to buy a copy.

Pathway of impeachment:How it works, where we are

“Anonymous” depicts Trump as impatient, immoral, cruel, even dangerous as he rejects the limits placed on presidents by Congress and the courts.

As the 2018 midterm elections approached, the book says, the White House counsel’s office began to develop a “contingency plan” to shield the administration if Democrats gained control of Congress, and with that the ability to launch investigations and issue subpoenas. New lawyers were hired and internal procedures revamped, the author writes.

“The goal wasn’t just to prepare for a barrage of legislative requests,” the book says. “It was a concerted attempt to fend off congressional oversight. When Democrats finally took the House, the unspoken administration policy toward Capitol Hill became: Give as little as possible, wait as long as possible. Even routine inquiries are now routed to the lawyers, who have found unique ways to say “We can’t right now,” “Give us a few months,” “We’re going to need to put you on hold,” “Probably not,” “No,” and “Not a chance in hell.”

Trump impeachment inquiry:Early findings and how Republicans are opposing them

The author says the administration’s refusal to comply with congressional requests and even subpoenas “go beyond standard practice and have turned into a full block-and-tackle exercise against congressional investigators across an array of Trump administration controversies.”

On the president’s actions with Ukraine, now the heart of the impeachment inquiry, the author writes that the idea Trump was trying to battle corruption abroad – rather than gain some partisan political advantage at home – was “barely believable to anyone around him.”

But the book provides no significant new information or insights into that episode.

‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards

The author’s agent, Matt Latimer, said the author didn’t take an advance payment for the book and plans to donate a substantial amount of the royalties to nonprofit organizations that encourage government accountability and an independent press.

Among other allegations, the book says:

  • Several top advisers and Cabinet-level officials last year discussed a mass resignation, “a midnight self-massacre,” intended to call attention to what they saw as Trump’s questionable and even corrupt behavior. “The idea was abandoned out of fear that it would make a bad situation worse.”
  • If a majority of the Cabinet called for Trump’s removal under the rules of the 25th Amendment, Pence would have been willing to go along with them. But the author provides no evidence to back up that assertion, and Pence in recent days has strongly denied it.
  • Trump told officials that, if they took illegal actions on his behalf, he would give them presidential pardons. “To Donald Trump, these are unlimited ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards on a Monopoly board.”
  • Trump was “particularly frustrated that the Justice Department hasn’t done more to harass the Clintons.” The president suggested to his first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, that he might “un-recuse” himself from the Mueller inquiry into Russian election interference, presumably so he would feel free to order a more aggressive inquiry into Trump’s 2016 opponent. “You’d be a hero,” the president told him.