Photo of Trump remarks shows ‘corona’ crossed out and replaced with ‘Chinese’ virus

President Donald Trump on Thursday was photographed reading from notes at the daily coronavirus task force press conference where the word “corona” was crossed out and replaced with “Chinese” to described COVID-19.

The photograph, taken by a Washington Post photographer, showed the word crossed out in what appeared to be Sharpie and in the president’s own handwriting.

The image comes as Trump has ramped up his description of the coronavirus as a “Chinese virus” as he’s been questioned about whether he considers the label to be racist.

“It’s not racist at all,” Trump told reporters Wednesday. “It comes from China, that’s why.”

There has been significant public criticism of the term, which critics say will inflame anti-Asian sentiment aimed at Asian Americans and Asian American-owned businesses here in the U.S.

John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC, told NBC Asian America that Trump’s use of the term could have a dangerous impact.

“I absolutely think that words used by him matter,” he said. “Certainly use of this term by him and others even in the last couple of weeks have led to a noticeable incline in hate incidents that we are seeing. I do think that there is a correlation.”

Administration officials have defended the term by pointing out that the Chinese government has in recent weeks attempted to blame the U.S. for the virus, which originated in the Wuhan region of China.

Since 2015, the World Health Organization has warned against giving outbreaks geographic or national labels in order “to minimize unnecessary negative effects on nations, economies and people.” Some prominent geographic or national labels from pandemics past, like Spanish Flu, have even been misnomers.

Amid increased criticism for his administration’s slow response to the outbreak, Trump has repeatedly highlighted his travel restrictions on China, which were instituted early on in the crisis.

“If people would have known about it, could have been stopped in place, it could have been stopped where it came from, China,” Trump told reporters Thursday in defending his administration’s efforts.

Congressional allies have risen to Trump’s defense amid the backlash. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas., told reporters Wednesday that “China is to blame” because the Chinese culture is “where people eat bats and snakes and dog and things like that.”

Cornyn’s comments, which were also met with backlash, referred to reports that the virus was likely to have originated in a Chinese “wet market.”

[NBC News]

CBS Reporter: WH Official Called Coronavirus ‘Kung Flu’ to My Face Today

A CBS News White House correspondent revealed Tuesday that an unnamed White House official referred to the deadly coronavirus as the “Kung-Flu” directly to her face. “Makes me wonder what they’re calling it behind my back,” Weijia Jiang wrote on Twitter.

Erick Erickson, a conservative evangelical radio host and pro-Trumper, wrote in response to Jiang’s tweet: “I don’t care that you are offended by ‘Kung Flu,’ ‘Wuhan virus,’ or ‘Chinese virus,’” adding, “I’m sorry you’re that sensitive and eager to embrace Chinese communist propaganda, but I don’t care.” President Trump and several of his Republican allies have repeatedly used terms such as the “Chinese Virus” and the “Wuhan Virus,” which have been condemned as xenophobic and racist. The World Health Organization renamed the virus “COVID-19” so that it is not associated with a group of people or a geographical location, which can lead to stigmatization. On Tuesday morning, the president said on Twitter that some states “are being hit hard by the Chinese Virus, some are not being hit practically at all.” 

[The Daily Beast]

Trump calls coronavirus a ‘foreign virus’ in Oval Office address

President Donald Trump referred to the novel coronavirus as a “foreign virus” in his Oval Office address on Wednesday night.

The characterization of the global pandemic as a foreign virus aligns with how some Trump allies have described the coronavirus in recent days, which critics have called xenophobic.

“This is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a foreign virus in modern history,” the President said.

“I am confident that by counting and continuing to take these tough measures we will significantly reduce the threat to our citizens and we will ultimately and expeditiously defeat this virus.”

The rare Oval Office address to the nation by Trump came as his administration has faced harsh criticism for his response to the pandemic. The President said he was “marshaling the full power of the federal government” to confront the growing public health crisis, including a monthlong halt in travel from Europe to the United States.

The address came the same day the World Health Organization declared the virus a pandemic, with more than 1,200 cases in the US.

The outbreak has not just sparked fear and anxiety in countries like the US and the UK — it has also seen a rise in xenophobic and racist assaults against people of East Asian, and particularly Chinese, descent. And panic over the virus continues to pummel the Chinese business sector in cities like New York, where fear of the disease has driven people away from east Asian neighborhoods.

The President’s reference to the virus as “foreign” echoes a tweet he shared earlier this week promoting a US southern-border wall as a way to protect Americans from the “China Virus.”

Trump, adding his own comment to the tweet, said, “Going up fast. We need the Wall more than ever!”
The post was met with fierce pushback from critics, including Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden, who tweeted, “A wall won’t stop a virus. Racism won’t stop a virus.

“Do your job.”

[CNN]

Reality

Donald Trump referred to the novel coronavirus as a “foreign virus” in his Oval Office address on Wednesday night, echoing Fox News and Republicans who have sought to frame the Chinese people as “bat eaters” from an “uncivilized world.”

The White House had to issue a correction after Trump was unable to read directly from a teleprompter and announced he is banning goods trade from Europe although he is not banning goods trade from Europe.

“And these prohibitions will not only apply to the tremendous amount of trade and cargo but various other things as we get approval,” Trump said. “Anything coming from Europe to the United States is what we are discussing.”

The White House quickly noted that the restrictions were focused on people, not boxes, and Trump later appeared to clarify his remarks in a tweet.

Media

Trump complains he can’t execute drug dealers after ‘quick trials’ like they do in China

President Donald Trump on Tuesday complained that he can’t oversee the quick execution of drug dealers — and suggested that the United States should start taking its cues from China.

During a talk at the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference, Trump said that authoritarian dictatorships do a better job of stopping illicit drug use in their countries because defendants don’t have all the constitutional protections that they’re entitled to in the United States.

“You go into China, you say, ‘How’s your drug problem,’ they don’t even know, President Xi doesn’t even know what you’re talking about!” the president said. “They have quick trials, and I won’t even tell you what the punishment is, but let me just say it’s very swift.”

The president then said he didn’t believe American citizens were ready to be “tough” on drug dealers like China was.

“I just don’t know whether or not this country is ready for that, but the only countries that don’t have drug problems are countries where the retribution is unbelievably tough,” the president said.

[Raw Story]

Trump praises China’s execution of drug dealers

President Donald Trump is campaigning on criminal justice reform efforts that reduce sentences for nonviolent offenders, while suggesting he’d like the American justice system to work more like ones in authoritarian countries where drug dealers are executed after “fair but quick” trials.

If those two things sound hard to square with each other, that’s because they are. But the contrast serves as an especially stark illustration of the incoherency at the core of Trumpism.

Just days after his Super Bowl ad and State of the Union speech highlighted his support for legislation that makes a modest effort to reduce prison sentences at the federal level, Trump on Monday said the best way to further reduce the quantity of fentanyl in the US is to follow China’s lead.

“States with a very powerful death penalty on drug dealers don’t have a drug problem,” Trump said during a White House event with governors. “I don’t know that our country is ready for that, but if you look throughout the world, the countries with a powerful death penalty — death penalty — with a fair but quick trial, they have very little if any drug problem. That includes China.”

(Trump made a number of other eyebrow-raising comments during the event, including saying of the coronavirus that “a lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat” and claiming the European Union “was really formed so they could treat us badly.”)

It should be noted that Trump’s claim about China and other authoritarian countries having “very little if any drug problem” is false. Records from the Chinese government indicate that there are more than 2.5 million officially registered drug users in the country, and that the total has increased significantly in recent years. (The real numbers are likely much higher since not all drug users have registered with the state.)

Drugs are prevalent in China in spite of the harsh punishments Trump alluded to. The Guardian reported in late 2017 that China “executes more people every year than the rest of the world combined, although the exact figure is not published and considered a state secret.” And the Chinese government executes people for nonviolent crimes, including, as Trump mentioned, drug dealing — and in some cases carries out executions in public. (Draconian measures taken by President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines have similarly failed to stamp out drug use there.)

But for those who watched Trump’s Super Bowl ad, seeing him laud countries that are remarkably harsh with drug offenders might seem off-key. That’s because the Super Bowl ad highlighted Trump’s June 2018 decision to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, who at the time was serving a life sentence in prison after she was convicted of conspiracy to possess cocaine and attempted possession of cocaine. Fast-forward eight days, and now Trump seems to be suggesting people like Johnson should be executed.

But Monday wasn’t the first time Trump has commended the Chinese government for its tough approach to drugs. Speaking to mayors at the White House late last month, the president sounded the same note:

And they’ve put in very strong penalties, and their penalties are really strong. You want to talk about penalties? Those are strict. (Laughter.) And their court cases go slightly quicker than ours. (Laughter.) Like — like one day. One day. They call them “quick trials.” They go quick. (Laughter.) They go so quick, you don’t know what happened. (Laughter.) Ours take 15 years; theirs takes one day. But he was — he’s been terrific on that. And we’re seeing a tremendous — a tremendous difference in the fentanyl.

Notably, in both instances Trump portrayed the suppression of individual rights and due process that’s part of the Chinese system as if not an improvement over the American system, then at least not significantly worse than what we have here. And Trump has also congratulated the Philippines’ Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem,” even though his violent crackdown has resulted in thousands of deaths.

Even Pompeo’s State Department acknowledges that China’s justice system is nothing to emulate

Beyond the specifics of what Trump thinks about how drug dealers should be dealt with, it’s bizarre to see the president of the United States praise the criminal justice system of a country where a million people are locked away in internment camps.

Trump doesn’t have to take it from me. His own State Department’s website notes that “[t]he Chinese legal system can be opaque and the interpretation and enforcement of local laws arbitrary. The judiciary does not enjoy independence from political influence.”

And with regard to drugs in particular, State notes that “[p]olice regularly conduct unannounced drug tests on people suspected of drug use and have been known to enter a bar or nightclub and subject all patrons to immediate drug testing.”

A politicized judiciary selectively enforcing laws and executing people for nonviolent crimes might sound bad to Americans who are mostly unaccustomed to such things. Trump, however, hasn’t tried to hide his affinity for authoritarian rulers or for the death penalty — not just for drug crimes but for other ones as well.

The jarring thing in this instance, however, is that as part of his efforts to win support from more than 6 percent of black voters in 2020, Trump is simultaneously pushing contradictory notions — that leniency for nonviolent offenders is good, and that nonviolent offenders should in some instances be put to death. In that way Trump’s comments about criminal justice echo a dynamic that has also manifested itself with regard to entitlement programs, which Trump is proposing to cut while at the same time telling people he will never cut them.

[Vox]

Trump publicly urges China to investigate Bidens amid impeachment inquiry

 President Donald Trump urged another foreign government to probe Joe Biden and his son Thursday, saying the Chinese government should investigate the former vice president and son Hunter Biden over the latter’s involvement with an investment fund that raised money in the country.

“China should start an investigation into the Bidens because what happened in China is just about as bad as what happened with Ukraine,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

While Trump said he hasn’t requested Chinese President Xi Jinping investigate the Bidens, the public call mirrors the private behavior on which Democrats are partially basing their impeachment inquiry — using the office of the presidency to press a foreign leader to investigate a political rival.

It is “certainly something we can start thinking about, because I’m sure that President Xi does not like being on that kind of scrutiny, where billions of dollars is taken out of his country by a guy that just got kicked out of the Navy,” Trump said Thursday of asking China to probe the Bidens. “He got kicked out of the Navy, all of the sudden he’s getting billions of dollars. You know what they call that? They call that a payoff.”

The U.S. in the midst of a tense trade war with China. The president, discussing progress on negotiations with Beijing on a possible trade agreement just moments prior to his remarks about the Bidens, told reporters that “if they don’t do what we want, we have tremendous power.”

Chinese officials will be in Washington next week in another attempt to revive talks, Trump said.

Trump, seeking to expand his corruption accusations against the Bidens beyond Ukraine, has in recent days repeatedly accused Hunter Biden of using a 2013 trip on Air Force Two with his father, then the vice president, to procure $1.5 billion from China for a private equity fund he had started.

Prior to Thursday, Trump had not called for an investigation of the matter. The White House declined to comment on Trump’s remarks.

Despite Trump’s accusations, there has been no evidence of corruption on the part of the former vice president or his son. In a statement, Biden’s deputy campaign manager and communications director, Kate Bedingfield, said the president “is flailing and melting down on national television, desperately clutching for conspiracy theories that have been debunked and dismissed by independent, credible news organizations.”

“As Joe Biden forcefully said last night, the defining characteristic of Donald Trump’s presidency is the ongoing abuse of power. What Donald Trump just said on the South Lawn of the White House was this election’s equivalent of his infamous ‘Russia, if you’re listening’ moment from 2016 — a grotesque choice of lies over truth and self over the country,” Bedingfield said.

Trump, during a 2016 campaign rally, encouraged the country to meddle in the 2016 election by trying to access Hillary Clinton’s emails, saying, “Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation found that within hours of Trump‘s invitation, Russian military intelligence initiated a hack against Clinton’s office. Trump and his allies have said he wasn’t serious when he made the comment.

In pushing back on Trump, Biden’s campaign previously pointed to a fact-check from The Washington Post that found Trump’s claims false while tracing the origins of the $1.5 billion figure to a 2018 book published by conservative author Peter Schweizer.

In addition, Hunter Biden’s spokesman, George Mesires, told NBC News previously that Hunter Biden wasn’t initially an “owner” of the company and has never gotten paid for serving on the board. He said Hunter Biden didn’t acquire an equity interest in the fund until 2017, after his father had left office.

And when he did, he put in only about $420,000 — a 10 percent interest. That puts the total capitalization of the fund at the time at about $4.2 million — a far cry from the $1.5 billion that Trump has alleged.

Trump also said Thursday that he still wants Ukraine to conduct “a major investigation” into Joe and Hunter Biden.

[NBC News]

Reality

Lawfare: Former federal prosecutor and current professor at the University of Alabama School of Law Joyce White Vance concisely yet methodically explained why Trump’s statements constituted a crime.

“Trump just committed a felony violation of law by soliciting something of value in connection with a US election from a foreign government on national TV. 52 U.S. Code § 30121. Violating the law isn’t necessary for Impeachment but it certainly warrants it,” Vance wrote (including a citation to a statute).

She then explained how previously documented accounts of similar behavior render Trump’s conduct here even more culpable than in earlier instances of his requests for foreign assistance.

“The statute requires knowledge your conduct is a crime. After the Mueller investigation, there’s no way Trump was unaware this violates the law. Ukraine/China can you hear me is even worse than Russia, if that’s possible, because it comes from a sitting president,” she wrote.

Trump slammed for congratulating China on 70 years of Communist rule

President Trump faced a backlash online and from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle Tuesday for congratulating China on the 70th anniversary of Communist rule.

“Congratulations to President Xi and the Chinese people on the 70th Anniversary of the People’s Republic of China!” the president said in a tweet that was slammed for ignoring decades of human rights abuses in the country.

Trump has generally spoken favorably about Xi, though relations between the two nations have deteriorated since he took office and has launched a trade war with Beijing.

His shoutout came amid violent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, where an 18-year-old was hit in the chest by a live round fired by police in the Chinese territory.

House Republican Conference chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming released a statement pointing to China’s oppressive governing tactics, according to the Washington Post.

“This is not a day for celebration,” she said in a joint statement with Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.).

The US will use the occasion to “rededicate ourselves to ensuring that the Chinese Communist Party is left on the ash heap of history,” they added.

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also issued a statement that contrasted sharply with the president’s message.

“Today Chinese tyrants celebrated 70 years of communist oppression with their typically brutal symbolism: by sending a police officer to shoot a pro-democracy protester at point-blank range,” Sasse said.

“The freedom-seekers in Hong Kong mourn this anniversary, and the American people stand with them against those who deny their God-given dignity.”

In a statement, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) said: “From the Great Leap Forward to the Cultural Revolution to the camps in Xinjiang today, it has been a ghoulish 70 years of Chinese Communist Party control.”

And Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), a Trump ally, tweeted a terse “I will pass” in response to the president’s wishes.

On Twitter, Trump’s followers also didn’t hold back in calling him out.

“Don’t forget to send timely salutations to the other loves of your life, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Rodrigo Duterte, and Jair Bolsonaro!” Karen Walz wrote.

User Michael Lebowitz wrote: “Are you kidding me. Congratulations to a nation that has killed more people than Hitler and Stalin in the effort to uphold communism. They are morally corrupt and certainly not deserving of congratulations.”

“Mr. President, I regret to point out you are literally congratulating your greatest enemy, the biggest threat to the US: you are congratulating the CCP,” @WBYeats1865 tweeted.

“Today the CCP just showed off their missiles capable of striking Taiwan, Japan, Guam, and USA soil, and they said it PROUDLY!” he added, referring to the Chinese display of military might on Tuesday.

And another user, Jim Clarke, said: “Never thought I see the day a US President celebrates the anniversary of communism!”

[New York Post]

Beijing denies Trump’s claim that China called US officials to restart talks

President Donald Trump said U.S. and Chinese officials spoke Sunday and he is optimistic China wants to make a deal after the trade war between the two countries escalated in recent days.

“They want to make a deal,” Trump told reporters Monday during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Group of Seven Summit. “That’s a great thing.”

The conversations Sunday between the U.S. and Chinese officials were the first since the two countries lobbed a new round of tariffs at each other last week. Neither side formally broke off talks and White House officials had said they expected negotiations to continue despite the new tariffs. But investors had feared China could walk away from the negotiating table.

Speaking to reporters, Trump heaped praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping, calling him a “great leader” and said China wants “to do something very, very badly.” He said the calls were at the “highest levels.”

“We are probably in a much better position now than any time in the negotiations,” Trump said in a meeting Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

When asked about the phone calls, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, “I haven’t heard about this.” News of Trump’s comments was breaking as he was addressing reporters.

Hours earlier, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said China sought “calm” negotiations and opposed an escalation.

“We are willing to solve the problem through consultation and cooperation with a calm attitude,” he said, according to Chinese newspaper Caixin. “We firmly oppose the escalation of the trade war,” he said, adding that it “is not conducive to China, the U.S. and the interests of people all over the world.”

Liu, China’s top trade negotiator, was speaking at a tech conference in Chongqing in southwest China, the Chongqing Morning Post reported.

The stock market fell sharply Friday after China announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, and Trump hit back saying he would increase existing tariffs on $250 billion in imports to 30 percent from 25 percent Oct. 1.

He also said that a planned 10 percent tariff on a further $300 billion in Chinese goods would now be taxed at 15 percent starting next month.

But the continued talks and optimism from Trump eased financial market jitters. U.S. stock futures pointed to a recovery Monday morning, with Dow futures jumping more than 200 points.

Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Sunday afternoon that he was anticipating a call from the Chinese this week and for Chinese officials to still come to Washington as planned.

“You’ve got both sides playing their game, we get that,” Kudlow told reporters. “As long as they are talking, I’m good.”

Trump also signaled a hint of optimism on Iran.

He said he didn’t feel disrespected by the surprise arrival of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the seaside town where the meeting of world leaders is taking place. Trump said French President Emmanuel Macron let him know Zarif was coming on the day of his arrival.

“I don’t consider that disrespectful at all, especially when he asked for my approval,” Trump said of Macron.

But White House aides said they felt blindsided by the unanticipated visitor, and some were upset at the French over the move, U.S. officials said shortly after Zarif’s arrival.

A spokesman for Zarif announced that he had arrived in Biarritz at the invitation of the French foreign minister “to continue talks” between the Iranian and French governments.

Trump said it would have been too soon to meet with the Iranians, and he declined to comment when asked if he sent any message to Zarif. There is no indication Zarif would have been willing to meet with the U.S. officials.

Trump said he isn’t looking for regime change in Iran, but that he wants to see the country abandon its nuclear program and stop its terrorism funding before lifting financial restrictions that have crippled its economy.

“We are looking to make Iran rich again,” Trump told reporters Monday. “Let them be rich.”

[NBC News]

Reality

Beijing has no idea what Trump is talking about.

Trump says he’s ordering American companies to immediately start looking for an alternative to China

President Donald Trump on Friday said he was ordering U.S. companies to “immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA.”

Trump also said he was ordering all U.S. postal carriers, including FedEx, Amazon, UPS and United States Post Office, “to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!).”

And Trump said he will respond this afternoon to China’s newest round of tariffs on U.S. goods.

The White House did not immediately respond when asked if the announcement, delivered in a four-part Twitter thread Friday morning, constituted an official order from the president.

It was not immediately clear how, or under what authority, the president could implement these declared orders, or whether he had already done so.

Stocks sank to session lows shortly after Trump’s tweets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell more than 435 points, or 1.6%, while the S&P 500 slid 1.7% and the Nasdaq Composite dove 2%.

In a statement, UPS said that it “follows all applicable laws and administrative orders of the governments in the countries where we do business. We work closely with regulatory authorities to monitor for prohibited substances.”

FedEx also responded: “FedEx already has extensive security measures in place to prevent the use of our networks for illegal purposes. We follow the laws and regulations everywhere we do business and have a long history of close cooperation with authorities.”

Amazon and the Postal Service were not immediately available for comment.

Trump’s tweets followed another missive against Federal Reserve Chairman Jay Powell, who had just pledged to “act as appropriate” to sustain the U.S. economy amid the “deteriorating” global economic outlook.

In an apparent response, Trump tweeted: “Who is our bigger enemy,” Powell or Chinese President Xi Jinping?

Earlier Friday, China had announced it would slap retaliatory tariffs of 5% and 10% on roughly $75 billion in U.S. imports. The new import taxes represent the latest escalation in the increasingly fraught U.S.-China trade war, as well as a direct response to Trump’s plan to impose duties on $300 billion worth of China’s goods by mid-December.

Top trade advisors Robert Lighthizer and Peter Navarro were reportedly near the Oval Office just before the president sent his latest tweets. A source later told CNBC that Trump was meeting with his trade team Friday.

[CNBC]

Trump on Economy: ‘I Am the Chosen One’

President Donald Trump claimed “I am the chosen one” in attempting to tell reporters he will resolve an ongoing trade war with China that could potentially lead to a recession.

“The fake news of which many of you are members is trying to convince the public to have a recession. “Let’s have a recession!” the United States is doing phenomenally well. One thing I have to do is economically take on China. Because China has been ripping us off for many years,” Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday.

“This isn’t my trade war, this is a trade war that should have taken place a long time ago, by a lot of other presidents. Over the last five or six years, China has made $500 billion. $500 billion. Ripped it out of the United States. Not only that — if you take a look, intellectual property theft. Add that to it. And at a lot of other things to it. Excuse me. Somebody had to do it. I am the chosen one. Somebody had to do it.”

“I’m taking on China on trade,” Trump said. “We are winning. We are the piggy bank. We are the ones the European Union wants to rob and take advantage of. The European Union, $200 billion. China, more than $500 billion. Sorry, I was put here by people to do a great job. And that’s what I’m doing. Nobody has done a job like I’ve done.”

[Mediaite]

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