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May 13, 2020

Dr. Fauci to America: Slow Down Reopenings or Die

This Day in History | 1981

Near the start of his weekly general audience in Rome’s St. Peter’s Square, Pope John Paul II is shot and seriously wounded while passing through the square in an open car.

Good morning Middle Americans, 

We hope you are comfortable at home because if you listened yesterday to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is often described as ‘America’s top infectious disease expert’, you heard him paint a dreary picture about the summer and even the fall. A lot of big media pounced on the fact that Fauci seemed to indicate that schools wouldn’t be able to open next fall. But he walked those comments back somewhat, when he clarified that he was downplaying the prospect that there would be a vaccine for coronavirus by the fall. Still, no one who watched his testimony came away thinking that things are getting back to normal anytime soon. 

Also today former Trump National Security Director Michael Flynn remains in legal limbo. The Judge has pumped the brakes on Attorney General William Barr’s decision to drop the charges against Flynn. Flynn admitted to lying to the FBI during the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election. 

Finally, Jared Kushner is basically the shadow White House Chief of Staff. Being married to the President’s daughter seems to be the ultimate trump card when it comes to job security. He recently sat for an interview with Time Magazine. And he gave an eyebrow raising answer when he asked if the November presidential election will be delayed. 

Read all about it. 

-Fraser Dixon

Fauci Warns: More Death, Econ Damage if US Reopens too Fast

(AP) – The U.S. government’s top infectious disease expert issued a blunt warning Tuesday that cities and states could “turn back the clock” and see more COVID-19 deaths and economic damage alike if they lift coronavirus stay-at-home orders too fast — a sharp contrast as President Donald Trump pushes to right a free-falling economy.

“There is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control,” Dr. Anthony Fauci warned a Senate committee and the nation as more than two dozen states have begun to lift their lockdowns as a first step toward economic recovery.

The advice from Fauci and other key government officials — delivered by dramatic, sometimes awkward teleconference — was at odds with a president who urges on protests of state-ordered restraints and insists that “day after day, we’re making tremendous strides.” 

Trump, whose reelection depends to a substantial degree on the economy, talks up his administration’s record with the virus daily.

Underscoring the seriousness of the pandemic that has reached Congress and the White House, Fauci and other experts testified from their homes. Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander chaired the hearing from the study in his cabin in Tennessee, although several committee members attended in person in an eerily empty Capitol Hill chamber, masked and sitting 6 feet apart.

Read more here

Federal Judge Slams the Brakes on DOJ Attempt to Drop Michael Flynn Case

(The Hill) – A federal judge said Tuesday that he would allow interested parties to weigh in on Michael Flynn’s case, delaying the Department of Justice (DOJ) effort to drop the charges against the former national security adviser.

In an unusual move for a criminal prosecution, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the D.C. District Court said in a brief order that “at the appropriate time, the Court will enter a Scheduling Order governing the submission of any amicus curiae briefs.” 

Flynn’s lawyers moved to oppose the move Tuesday night, arguing that it would be inappropriate to allow third parties to weigh in on the prosecution. 

“It is no accident that amicus briefs are excluded in criminal cases,” Flynn’s lawyers wrote in a filing. “A criminal case is a dispute between the United States and a criminal defendant. There is no place for third parties to meddle in the dispute, and certainly not to usurp the role of the government’s counsel. For the Court to allow another to stand in the place of the government would be a violation of the separation of powers.”

The case was upended last week when the DOJ moved to dismiss its charge against Flynn for lying to the FBI about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. in 2016.

Find out more.

Jared Kushner on Election Day Delay: ‘I’m Not Sure I Can Commit one Way or the Other’

(Time Magazine) – The same day that the nation’s top infectious-disease expert warned that reopening the economy too quickly could bring serious consequences, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner acknowledged that there is inherent “risk” in President Trump pushing Americans to get back to work.

Speaking to TIME’s senior White House correspondent Brian Bennett as part of the TIME100 Talks series on Tuesday, Kushner said “there’s risk in anything, but the President carries the burden of the 30 million Americans who have lost their jobs due to this historic effort to save lives.”

Asked about Dr. Anthony Fauci’s warning to lawmakers Tuesday about reopening too soon, Kushner said Fauci is “incredibly knowledgeable,” but that his advice must be taken alongside other factors.

When asked if there was a chance the presidential election could be postponed past November 3 due to the pandemic, Kushner said that isn’t his decision. “I’m not sure I can commit one way or the other, but right now that’s the plan,” he said.

“Hopefully by the time we get to September, October, November, we’ve done enough work with testing and with all the different things we’re trying to do to prevent a future outbreak of the magnitude that would make us shut down again,” Kushner continued. “I really believe that once America opens up, it’ll be very hard for America to ever lock down again.”

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