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Trump doesn’t wear coronavirus mask in public at Ford plant – CNBC

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President Donald Trump on Thursday did not wear a mask for coronavirus protection during the public part of touring a Ford Motor Co. plant in Michigan, despite a state law and company policy requiring facial coverings there.

Trump, who has consistently refused to wear a mask in public, was visiting Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, which has a policy of requiring masks there. The plant is currently making ventilators in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the United States.

Video showed Trump on the factory floor talking to Ford executives who were wearing masks.

“Not necessary,” Trump said, when a reporter asked why he was not wearing a facial covering.

“Everybody’s been tested and I’ve been tested.”

Trump also claimed “I had one [a mask] on before,” in an area that was not visible to reporters, but added, “I didn’t want to give the press the pleasure of seeing it.”

“I was given a choice, and I had one on in an area where they preferred it,” Trump said, referring to Ford executives.

When Ford’s executive chairman, William Ford Jr., was asked “can you confirm the president was told it is OK not to wear a mask in this area,” Ford shrugged and said, “It’s up to him!”

President Donald Trump holds a mask as he speaks during a tour of the Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan on May 21, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

Both William Ford and CEO Bill Hackett each were wearing masks when they accompanied Trump for the visit to the factory floor.

The Ford company later issued a statement saying: Bill Ford encouraged President Trump to wear a mask when he arrived.  He wore a mask during a private viewing of three Ford GTs from over the years. The President later removed the mask for the remainder of the visit.”

When William Ford introduced Trump for a speech to factory workers after the tour, the company chairman wore a mask as he spoke.

Trump did not.

United Automobile Workers, the union representing factory workers, released a statement which said: 

“Despite some in the President’s entourage not following health and safety protocols in the plant today, we want to make it clear that the CDC guidelines have not changed and it is vitally important that our members continue to follow the protocols that have been put in place to safeguard them, their families and their communities.

“This deadly virus has taken the lives of 25 of our UAW members already and thousands of Americans. These protocols are literally a matter of life and death, and that is why the UAW has been working tirelessly with the companies to ensure that everything that can be done to keep our members and our communities safe.”

The president’s tour occurred despite an executive order signed earlier this week by Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that prohibits nonessential visits to manufacturing facilities in the state to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Wednesday said that while she would not seek to block Trump’s visit, he had a “legal responsibility” under state law to wear a mask when he visited the plant.

“I ask that while you are on tour you respect the great efforts of the men and women at Ford — and across this state — by wearing a facial covering,” Nessel wrote in an open letter to the president.

On Tuesday, Ford Motor told media outlets that it had a policy of requiring masks there and that the company had informed the White House about that policy.

But the company also said that day “The White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination” about whether Trump and his party will wear masks during the visit.

Ford twice this week briefly shuttered plants elsewhere after three workers tested positive for the coronavirus.

When Trump was asked at the White House earlier Thursday if he would wear a mask when he visited the Ford factory, he had said, “I don’t know, we’re going to look at it”

Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Hackett (L) speaks with US President Donald Trump as they toursthe Ford Rawsonville Plant in Ypsilanti, Michigan on May 21, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

But Nessel, in her letter to Trump, wrote that the mask requirement “is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the Governor’s Executive Orders. It is currently the law of this State.”

She also wrote, “Anyone who has potentially been recently exposed, including the President of the United States, has not only a legal responsibility, but also a social and moral responsibility, to take reasonable precautions to prevent further spread of the virus.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during an interview Wednesday on MSNBC’s “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” criticized Trump for not wearing a mask while in public.

“I also am concerned the example that is not being set for the rest of the country, and I’m concerned about those lives because while the president and the vice president may consider it not in their interest to wear a mask, they have doctors around them all the time who can tend to their needs at any given moment,” Pelosi said.

“But most of the American people who might follow their lead do not have that same opportunity.”

Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat whose Michigan district includes the factory that Ford visited, said Thursday during an interview on MSNBC, “Mr. President, I just hope you’ll wear that mask so people know that it’s important, and your wearing that mask can save lives.”

Trump has refused to wear a mask during the coronavirus outbreak, even after two White House staffers, including his personal valet, tested positive for Covid-19.

In April, federal health officials issued guidance encouraging all Americans to wear a facial covering when in public and when unable to maintain a six-foot distance from other people.

White House staffers last week were told that they must wear masks or facial coverings when entering the West Wing of that building.

Earlier this month, Trump did not wear a mask during a visit to a Honeywell factory in Phoenix that is making masks for the federal government. A sign at that factory says that masks are required for people there.

Vice President Mike Pence in April did not wear a mask while touring the Mayo Clinic health facility in Minnesota, despite a policy there requiring everyone to do so.

Days later, Pence wore a mask when visiting a General Motors ventilator factory in Indiana, which likewise requires facial coverings.

Clarification: The headline and story were updated to to reflect that Trump did wear a mask in private at the Ford plant.

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Coronavirus latest: US death toll tops 100000 – Financial Times

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A cross-border view on trade

Journalists in 50+ countries explore developments in global commerce from every perspective.
For Premium subscribers, we offer our dedicated ‘FT Free Trade’ newsletter every Tuesday and Thursday.

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White House doesn’t detail Trump’s rationale for removing watchdogs to top GOP senator – CNN

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The letter, which Grassley swiftly blasted as having “failed to address” the congressional requirement that there “ought to be a good reason” for such dismissals, comes in response to the Iowa senator’s request that Trump explain why he had ousted State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

“President Trump expects that inspectors general, like all other executive officers, will fulfill their proper role as defined by Congress and ultimately as constrained by the Constitution,” the White House letter said. “When the President loses confidence in an inspector general, he will exercise his constitutional right and duty to remove that officer.”

READ: White House letter to Chuck Grassley says Trump acted within his authority in ouster of IGs

Grassley responded in a statement Tuesday night, saying in part, “I don’t dispute the president’s authority under the Constitution, but without sufficient explanation, it’s fair to question the president’s rationale for removing an inspector general. If the president has a good reason to remove an inspector general, just tell Congress what it is.”

“Otherwise, the American people will be left speculating whether political or self-interests are to blame. That’s not good for the presidency or government accountability.”

Grassley, the chamber’s most senior Republican, has been a longtime defender of whistleblowers and government oversight and has broken with Trump on the topic several times during his presidency.

The President had announced his intent to remove Linick earlier this month — a move that drew immediate condemnation from top Democrats, who accused Trump of engaging in a pattern of retaliation against public servants charged with oversight of his administration.
And Linick’s removal came after Trump’s April ouster of Atkinson, who had told Congress about the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment.

“Government Accountability isn’t only a Republican issue or a Democrat issue,” Grassley said Tuesday. “Inspectors general shouldn’t be politically motivated or politically targeted. And those of us in Congress have a duty to promote accountability, regardless of who is in office.”

“Oversight’s been important in past administrations and it will continue to be in the future. I hope the new-found appreciation for inspectors general by some of my colleagues and those in the media doesn’t sunset at the end of this administration,” he continued.

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Schumer, Democrats claim outside Trump advisor helps rig the judicial nomination process – CNBC

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Schumer, Democrats claim outside Trump advisor helps rig the judicial nomination process – CNBC_5ecef97b17a3a.jpeg

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and several of his fellow Democratic lawmakers are scrutinizing one of President Donald Trump’s outside advisors and his multimillion-dollar “dark money” network for its work on the president’s judicial nominations.

Schumer, D-N.Y., along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee, and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., published a report on Wednesday that said that Leonard Leo, a conservative activist, and his influential network have rigged the judicial nominating and approval process. 

The report said it is the first of what will be several attempts by congressional Democrats to highlight what they argue are examples of “corruption and conflicts of interests now spreading around the Trump judiciary.” The future efforts will include proposed legislation, although the report didn’t expand upon what those proposed laws will look like. 

Whitehouse told CNBC after publication that one of their goals with future legislation is to focus on revealing anonymous donors that fuel outside groups on both sides of the political spectrum.

“They all have to go, they all have to disclose,” he said. “This is not just for Republican leaning groups that have to disclose,” he explained. 

The move comes as the campaign to take control of the Senate heats up. The GOP has a 53-47 majority, but it is defending more seats than the Democratic Party in this fall’s elections. The Senate approves nominees to the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court. Four Republican-held Senate seats — in Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Maine — have been deemed toss-ups by political analysts at the Cook Political Report.

The report also comes after Schumer and Whitehouse, along with other senators, co-signed a letter blasting Leo and his aligned group. 

Since Trump became president in 2016, he has turned to Leo to help guide his selections for judicial appointments, including to the Supreme Court. Leo supported Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch during the buildup to their confirmations to the high court. Leo’s guidance has led to close to 200 Trump judicial nominations being confirmed by the Senate. 

The Democrats’ report said Leo and the nonprofit conservative Federalist Society are a key part of an all-out effort to swing the courts toward nominees that are often supported by Senate Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Leo was the executive vice president of the group before he created a new group, CRC Advisors, which is dedicated to promoting Trump’s court appointees going into his reelection fight with Joe Biden.

Leo is still co-chairman of the Federalist Society, which focuses on conservative and libertarian legal theories. Democrats argue, however, that it has become a tool for Republicans and is directly aligned with Trump. 

“While the Federalist Society develops and promotes pro-corporate, pro-Republican donor legal theories, it has also become the linchpin of Republican efforts to select and confirm judges,” the report said. 

Leo responded to Schumer and the Democrats’ claims in a text message to CNBC late Tuesday, suggesting that they should be more focused on responding to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“You know what they say, if you don’t succeed at first, try and try again. Glad to see Senate Democrats are focused on Covid recovery, particularly those from New York,” he said. 

Citing news reports, including one from 2018 by CNBC, the Democrats’ study breaks down how the Federalist Society is funded by organizations linked to the Koch family and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. It goes on to show a web of nonprofits and outside groups linked to Leo that have attempted to have an impact on the nomination process either through public relations campaigns or various forms of lobbying. These judicial groups are mainly funded by anonymous donors. 

The report also highlights the political operatives behind the large-scale judicial campaigns, such as the Judicial Crisis Network, and their ties to Leo. 

“JCN spent $7 million opposing President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. It then spent $10 million more to support the confirmation of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch (targeting ‘vulnerable Democrat Senators’), and pledged another $10 million in advertising campaigns to support Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination,” the report said. 

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