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6 months on, Trump hasn’t completed his physical. The White House won’t say why. – NBC News

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6 months on, Trump hasn’t completed his physical. The White House won’t say why. – NBC News_5ec85e6a57d81.jpeg

WASHINGTON — It’s been more than six months since President Donald Trump claimed to have started his annual physical at Walter Reed hospital but the White House is declining to explain why he has yet to complete the yearly doctor’s examination.

Senior administration officials did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment about the delay — despite Trump announcing this week he was taking an unproven and potentially dangerous drug after being exposed to an aide who tested positive for coronavirus.

Asked in early March about when he would complete his physical, the president told reporters, “I’m going probably over the next 90 days. I’m so busy, I can’t do it.”

A month later, as the coronavirus pandemic hospitalized UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Trump said he would finish the exam “at the appropriate time” adding, “but I feel very good.”

A president’s annual physical typically occurs at the beginning of a new year. Trump’s 2019 exam was conducted in February, and his 2018 physical was conducted in January. It is uncommon for a president to complete a routine physical exam months apart and in multiple stages.

“As a part of granting a president as much power as we do, he has the obligation to demonstrate that he is well or, if he is not, to let us know exactly what is amiss,” said presidential historian Michael Beschloss.

“From the time in the 1950s when Dwight Eisenhower released unprecedented information about the heart attack, ileitis and stroke he suffered in office, most presidents have fulfilled that demand, including releasing the results of regular physicals,” Beschloss said. “Too often in history have presidents concealed secret illnesses and medicine routines that had the potential to undermine their leadership, and the wellbeing of all of us.”

In November 2019 — six months ago this week — Trump began what the White House described as “portions” of his third physical during a two-hour examination at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

That visit to Walter Reed was unannounced and remained shrouded in secrecy for two days as the president remained out of public view and as the White House declined to answer questions about it.

The president’s physician, Dr. Sean Conley, later wrote in a memo released by the White House that Trump’s “interim checkup” had been “routine.” Conley at the time said a “more comprehensive” examination would occur this year and that the president’s labs and exam results would be released in a corresponding report.

At 73, Trump is the oldest person to be sworn in for his first term as president.

Questions about Trump’s health are newly relevant, given his announcement this week that he is taking hydroxychloroquine to ward against contracting the coronavirus. The president described it as a “two-week regimen,” which ends today. Trump has repeatedly promoted the anti-malarial drug as a coronavirus treatment despite multiple warnings about its dangers.

The Lancet medical journal on Friday published the results of a large observational study, which found that hydroxychloroquine use is linked to increased rates of mortality and heart arrhythmias among hospital patients with COVID-19.

Trump — in a previous physical conducted in 2018 — had been diagnosed with a form of heart disease common among men in his age group.

The president — whom the White House says is tested daily for the virus — said Conley “didn’t recommend” hydroxychloroquine but offered it to him.

Conley replaced Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, who left the job in a failed nomination to serve as secretary of Veteran Affairs.

Two sources with direct knowledge tell NBC News that Jackson handpicked Conley as his successor and that Conley is viewed by many within the White House Medical Unit as having been unfairly promoted to the job of physician to the president without proper vetting.

White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere disputed that characterization, telling NBC News in a statement: “This type of reporting is grossly irresponsible because Dr. Conley is an imminently [sic] qualified talented physician with a wealth of experience well-suited to serve President Trump and ensure he remains very healthy to continue his work on behalf of the American people.”

When pressed on the findings of The Lancet study during a Friday White House press briefing, the administration’s coronavirus task force response coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, dodged a specific question on what the new review may mean for the president’s health.

Birx cited ongoing, controlled trials for the drug, but made clear those results are “still pending” and urged Americans to focus on the comorbidities which would make hydroxychloroquine more dangerous, such as heart disease and obsesity.

“You can see dramatically the increased risk for that,” she said, without referencing Trump.

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Coronavirus latest: US death toll tops 100000 – Financial Times

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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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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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