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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

President Trump's exaggerated claims about a Google-developed website to triage coronavirus diagnosis and treatment nationwide are the latest instance of a longstanding presidential pattern of tech-related misrepresentations and hype.

Why it matters: At a moment when the public needs solid trustworthy information from leaders, institutions and news sources, the president is spreading confusion and doubt.

Driving the news: Trump has several times since Friday insisted that Google is working with the government to build a nationwide website to help manage coronavirus diagnosis and treatment.

  • That claim blindsided Google when Trump first made it Friday.
  • Verily, the health-tech unit of Google parent Alphabet, is now ramping up a pilot project in two San Francisco Bay Area counties that resembles a smaller version of what Trump suggested, while Google scrambles to launch an entirely new, less personalized nationwide information portal about the virus.

The big picture: It's not the first time that Trump has made a big promise or distorted claim on behalf of a tech company that later has to be pulled back to reality.

  • He said in 2017 that Apple would be building three "big, big, big" new plants in the U.S. That hasn't happened.
  • He said he "opened a major Apple Manufacturing plant in Texas" in November. In fact, he was taking a tour of an existing Austin facility where an Apple contractor has made Mac Pros since 2013.
  • He heavily touted a deal that he negotiated alongside then-Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker awarding Taiwanese electronics company Foxconn billions in tax incentives to build a major plant. That's been mired in years of delays and uncertainty, with none of the manufacturing jobs promised yet materializing.
  • He said wireless providers were "very happy doing what they were doing" but are now planning to build 5G networks "at my request." Companies have spent years aggressively racing to develop the technology, infrastructure and airwaves needed for 5G wireless service.

Be smart: Tech companies have learned not to contradict the president, even when they know he is wrong, to stay on his good side.

  • The industry has fared well in the Trump years, saving billions in tax cuts, benefiting from the administration's aversion to regulation, and winning government backing in international disputes.
  • But Trump's administration is pursuing multiple antitrust investigations, and the president has regularly complained that Facebook, Google and Twitter are biased against him and his supporters.

The other side: Trump has feuded with Amazon CEO (and Washington Post owner) Jeff Bezos.

  • Trump long insisted Amazon is ripping off the U.S. Postal Service and launched a task force to look into the issue.
  • More recently, Microsoft landed a $10 billion Pentagon contract months after Trump spoke out against it going to Amazon, long the heavy favorite to win it. (The contract is now held up in litigation.)

Go deeper

22 mins ago - Health

FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Dave Lawler, author of World
23 mins ago - World

Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”

Exclusive: Law enforcement organizations back Biden pick for assistant AG

Vanita Gupta Photo: Demetrius Freeman/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Local and federal law enforcement officials are backing Vanita Gupta, President Biden’s nominee for associate attorney general, according to letters sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The Major County Sheriffs of America noted Gupta “emphasized that she does not support efforts to ‘defund the police'” and highlighted her desire to improve criminal justice through methods that include increased training for law enforcement officials.

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