(CNN) — When the history of the pandemic is written, one of the great mysteries will be what President Donald Trump was doing in the last days of his presidency as the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the US soared to more than 3,000 each By day, the virus was spreading uncontrollably and Congress was hesitant on the details of an emergency aid package that could make the difference between people being able to eat and being forced to sleep on the streets this Christmas season.
Trump ran for president by pretending to be the consummate negotiator, the CEO who could make things happen with the snap of his fingers. He will go down in history as a president who worsened the pain and tragedy of the most momentous pandemic in 100 years by disregarding the masks and security precautions designed by his own administration – a man incapable of empathy, who chose to remain in it. cocoon of his White House bubble at a time when leadership would have mattered.
For weeks, Trump has spent most of his time planning how to overturn the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in November, as he has tricked his supporters into paying for a series of ill-conceived lawsuits that were dismissed by some of their own judicial appointees. When those efforts failed, he began to look to January 6, when a joint session of Congress meets to formally recount the results of the Electoral College, seeing another opportunity to try to thwart the democratic process.
In his comfort zone of the Twitter sphere, where he has posted countless false tweets claiming the election was “scammed,” Trump has kept quiet about the disturbing hacking campaign, suspected of being linked to Russia, which has endangers the national security of the United States. Despite being briefed on the massive data breach by top intelligence officials on Thursday, he has said nothing about the risks to the federal government or how he plans to address them.
LOOK: Trump is silent as the US suffers a cyber attack. Seriously?
Senator Mitt Romney, who has been a critic of the president, called the hack “the modern equivalent of the Russian quasi-bombers that allegedly fly undetected over the entire country,” speaking to SiriusXM on Thursday. “And in this scenario, not having the White House speaking out aggressively, protesting and taking punitive action is really extraordinary.”
Biden, without mentioning Trump or his administration, tried to draw the contrast. “Our adversaries must know that, as president, I will not stand idly by in the face of cyber attacks on our nation,” he said in a statement Thursday.
Perhaps the most puzzling thing about Trump’s disappearance is that it has been kept out of the public eye when it could have pulled off a victory lap after the historic U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance of the first. Covid-19 vaccine, despite its previous insistence that it should take full credit for vaccines due to its effort to pressure companies developing them faster than they ever have before.
But if he appeared to announce the vaccine, he would also have had to acknowledge the suffering afflicting America, both from the disease and from economic hardship, which he knows will reflect poorly on his legacy. The United States now has more than 17 million cases of Covid-19 and the daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States is approaching 250,000. Trump has also lost his main talking point about how the economy is coming back strong: Jobless claims released Thursday showed 885,000 Americans filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week.
Trump issued a cheery tweet ignoring that troubling news Thursday: “All-time high in the stock market. The vaccine and vaccine deployment are getting the best reviews. Moving really well. Get those ‘shots’ for everyone!’ That he tweeted, ignoring the fact that meager doses of vaccines are only being allocated to front-line healthcare workers, residents of long-term care facilities and some government officials. “Plus, the stimulus talks look great,” he added.
Stimulus talks with obstacles heading into a key deadline
But as Congress tries to structure a covid aid package that will have bipartisan support in both houses – with much-needed help for millions of unemployed Americans, as well as small businesses on the brink of collapse – the president has not used his supposed negotiating prowess to get the deal done.
As leaders say they are close to a deal, some progressives and conservatives have formed an unlikely alliance to advocate increasing the size of the $ 600 direct payments expected to go to cash-strapped Americans. Republican Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri said he planned to call a vote Friday on his bill that provides direct payments of $ 1,200 for individuals and $ 2,400 for families. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent, has also demanded larger out-of-pocket payments.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday night that the talks are “still ongoing and progressing” and told his members to be prepared to work through the weekend. Although these negotiations should have been completed months ago when unemployment and other benefits began to expire and worsening cases led to new covid shutdowns, McConnell blamed the delays on Democrats.
“Families across the country have waited too long for another significant dose of assistance,” McConnell said in a speech from the Senate on Thursday. “We must not slide into treating these talks as routine negotiations to be conducted at the routine pace of Congress. Therefore, we must complete this work and we must complete it immediately. ‘
Republican Senator John Thune, a member of the leadership, said the longer the negotiations drag on, the more difficult it becomes to keep congressmen in line, describing the process as “a bit of a mole game.”
“You hit here, and someone else shows up … there’s a lot of interaction between the moving parts of all this, and getting everything aligned at the same time has proven to be quite difficult,” said the South Dakota Republican. But I am still hopeful.
Congressmen may need to pass another stopgap measure to maintain government funding and avoid a shutdown that would begin at midnight Friday. But Thune said Friday’s midnight deadline had been helpful in moving discussions forward.
“We need the pressure to do this, and I hope the pressure will continue to build around midnight tomorrow night,” Thune said.
LEE: ANALYSIS | Flashes of Progress in Stimulus Negotiations As Trump’s Sideline Election Show Goes On
A great day for a second covid-19 vaccine
Doses of a second coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna may soon be on the way to Americans after a key advisory panel from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that the agency grant clearance for emergency use to Moderna on Thursday. FDA leaders signaled that a decision would be made quickly.
“Following the positive outcome of today’s advisory committee meeting regarding the Moderna covid-19 vaccine, the FDA has informed the sponsor that it will work expeditiously to finalize and issue an emergency use authorization,” said Dr. Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner, and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement Thursday night.
Hahn and Marks said the agency had also notified the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) so they could prepare for the next steps in the authorization process. Once the FDA approves, an advisory panel from the CDC will meet to make recommendations on who should get the Moderna vaccine first. And the CDC must approve that recommendation before Moderna’s vaccine injections can be put into the arms of Americans. FDA officials said they also notified Operation Warp Speed officials that they were approaching a decision “so they can execute their plans for the timely distribution of the vaccine.”
LOOK: If the FDA approves the use of Moderna’s vaccine, how and when would its distribution begin?
In a public display of confidence about the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence will publicly receive the vaccine on Friday along with Chief Health Officer Jerome Adams. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also said they will receive the vaccine in the coming days.
The president, who contracted the coronavirus in early October, will not receive the vaccine until it is recommended by the White House medical team, a White House official told CNN.
But as the nation plunges deeper into this critical fight against COVID, he continues to be missing in action, content to let the cogs of government run without him.
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