May 6, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump says coronavirus task force will continue "indefinitely" but focus on reopening

Dr. Anthony Fauci speaks as President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence listen. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump tweeted Wednesday that the White House's coronavirus task force will continue "indefinitely" but move to focus on "safety & opening up our country."

Why it matters: Trump noted that the administration may seek to "add or subtract people ... as appropriate" — adding to concerns that the White House could oust medical officials as it seeks to reframe the pandemic as an economic crisis.

The state of play: Vice President Pence told reporters that the White House was in "preliminary discussions" to wind the task force down on Tuesday.

  • A senior administration official told Axios that any change to the task force "does NOT mean doctors are being removed from the equation or being pushed out."
  • "Members of the Pence-led task force will continue providing input, though the group will not be meeting in person as regularly as the focus changes toward vaccines, therapeutics, testing, and ultimately reopening the economy," the official added.
  • White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany also tweeted: "Reporting on the task force is being misconstrued to suggest the White House is no longer involving medical experts. This is totally false."

What he's saying: "The White House CoronaVirus Task Force, headed by Vice President Mike Pence, has done a fantastic job of bringing together vast highly complex resources that have set a high standard for others to follow in the future," Trump wrote in a series of tweets.

  • "Because of this success, the Task Force will continue on indefinitely with its focus on SAFETY & OPENING UP OUR COUNTRY AGAIN. We may add or subtract people to it, as appropriate. The Task Force will also be very focused on Vaccines & Therapeutics," he added.

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Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

House Democrats pull FISA reauthorization bill

Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

House Democrats pulled legislation Thursday that would have renewed expired domestic surveillance laws and strengthened transparency and privacy protections amid broad opposition from President Trump, House GOP leadership and progressive Democrats.

Why it matters: The failure to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) comes as Trump continues to attack the intelligence community, which he claims abused the law to surveil his 2016 campaign and Trump administration officials.

U.S. GDP drop revised lower to 5% in the first quarter

Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. economy shrunk by an annualized 5% in the first quarter — worse than the initially estimated 4.8% contraction — according to revised figures released by the government on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the worst quarterly decline since 2008 and shows a huge hit as the economy was just beginning to shut down because of the coronavirus. Economists are bracing for the second quarter's figures to be the worst ever — with some projecting an annualized decline of around 40%.

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