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January 1, Protecting the President from Coronavirus



This Day in History | 1876

Alexander Graham Bell patents the telephone. 

Good morning Middle Americans, 

Everyone is trying to figure out what’s going on with the coronavirus, including the White House. According to the New York Post, the White House is meeting daily to talk about how to prevent the president from catching the disease. Yesterday the president traveled to the CDC and held a press conference in which he did little to calm the fears of the country. 

The Dow Jone industrial average closed down again yesterday. Perhaps more telling – the S&P 500 index has dropped 12 percent since Feb. 19, the sharpest dive in nine years. The plunge has obliterated roughly $3 trillion in wealth.  When the financial markets are reacting like this, there’s only so much the president can do to calm things down. So far, what the White House is doing is not working. 

Also, coronavirus related, the annual SXSW festival has been canceled.  Sporting events and other concerts are also in jeopardy, as is the domestic air travel.  Is the financial carnage and panic more dangerous than the coronavirus itself. 

Republican Senator Mitt Romney says he might block any attempt by his colleagues in the senate to investigate Hunter Biden because it would appear too political. 

Also, President Trump has picked Rep. Mark Meadows to be his chief of staff, replacing acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney. 

Read all about it!

– Fraser Dixon

How the White House Protects Trump and His Staff from Coronavirus

(New York Post) – The White House is holding meetings on how to reduce the threat of coronavirus infecting President Trump and his staff after quietly tightening visitor rules last month, The Post has learned.

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the White House has mandated that guests disclose all countries visited in the past 30 days. And further steps are under review by a group led by Tony Ornato, White House deputy chief of staff for operations.

The group was described to The Post by one senior administration official as a “task force” that convenes when necessary to address emerging threat situations.

The biggest visible change in the West Wing has been installation of hand sanitizer stations. But the senior official said temperature checks and ending public tours are possible if the crisis worsens — though neither is imminent.

Find out more here

SXSW Canceled Due to Coronavirus after Austin Declares ‘Local Disaster’

(CNBC) – South by Southwest, the annual tech, film and music conference held in Austin, Texas, has been canceled due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. 

Local government officials announced the update at a news conference Friday afternoon discussing the status of the outbreak and events in the city. Austin Mayor Steve Adler said he had declared a local disaster in the city and issued an order canceling the conference. 

In a statement on its website, SXSW said it would “faithfully follow the City’s directions.” 

“We are devastated to share this news with you,” organizers wrote on the SXSW website. ”‘The show must go on’ is in our DNA, and this is the first time in 34 years that the March event will not take place. We are now working through the ramifications of this unprecedented situation.” 

Austin officials said there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Travis County, where Austin is located. But confirmed cases around the world passed 100,000 Friday

Learn more here

Mitt Romney: There’s ‘No Question’ Hunter Biden Probe Appears Political

(Huffington Post) -Romney, a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, could block an upcoming subpoena planned by committee head Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).

Romney said he’d meet with Johnson to “see what information he has” before deciding whether to back a subpoena. “I would hope if there’s something of significance that needs to be evaluated, it be done by the FBI or some other agency that’s not as political as perhaps a committee of our body,” the senator said.

Johnson initiated a probe of Ukrainian energy company Burisma and Hunter Biden, who joined Burisma’s board when his father was U.S. vice president. President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani has accused the Bidens of illegal actions linked to Burisma without offering any details, substantiation or evidence.

Find out more here

Mick Mulvaney Out as Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows to Replace Him

(CBS News) – Mick Mulvaney is out as acting White House chief of staff, and top Trump ally Mark Meadows is in, President Trump announced on Twitter Friday night. Mulvaney will become the U.S. Special Envoy for Northern Ireland.

Mulvaney’s departure is not entirely unexpected, and the possibility of his departure had been speculated as the impeachment chapter of Mr. Trump’s presidency drew to a close. Mr. Trump announced his decision while in Florida. Meadows has been one of the president’s staunchest allies in Congress, particularly through the impeachment probe, and had already said this would be his final term in the House.

“I am pleased to announce that Congressman Mark Meadows will become White House Chief of Staff,” Mr. Trump tweeted. “I have long known and worked with Mark, and the relationship is a very good one…I want to thank Acting Chief Mick Mulvaney for having served the Administration so well. He will become the United States Special Envoy for Northern Ireland. Thank you!”

Read more here

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