Michigan AG: Trump was 'incredibly disrespectful' to our state

New York (CNN Business)During his motorcade ride to a Ford Motor plant in Michigan on Thursday, President Trump ripped into his favorite network, Fox News, for having “garbage” people on the air.

Just hours later, he was having a friendly chat with Fox’s chief White House correspondent.
On Twitter the president trashed Fox’s liberal co-host of “The Five,” Juan Williams, as a “dummy,” and called out other hosts and guests for repeating “the worst of the Democrat speaking points.”

    “Many will disagree, but @FoxNews is doing nothing to help Republicans, and me, get re-elected on November 3rd,” he tweeted.
    A few hours later, before he flew home to Washington, he waited on an airport tarmac for Fox correspondent John Roberts, who arrived with the rest of the “press pool,” a rotation of reporters who take turns traveling with the president.

    Trump beckoned for Roberts to come over to him, and they spoke briefly. As soon as the press corps boarded Air Force One, chief of staff Mark Meadows brought Roberts from the press cabin up to the president’s quarters. Roberts stayed and chatted off the record for 30 to 45 minutes, according to three sources who spoke on condition of anonymity.
    After Air Force One landed, Roberts’ one-on-one time with the president stirred speculation among other reporters. What were they talking about? And why didn’t Roberts lobby to include other members of the “press pool” in the conversation?
    “Trump is generally just looking to B.S. in these off-the-records,” said a fellow correspondent. But the president’s interest in Roberts clashes with his twittery criticism of Roberts’ employer.
    For all the times Trump attacks Fox, mostly for allowing Democrats on the air, he praises the network and promotes video clips from its shows even more often. Most of all what he wants is attention and affection.
    While it’s possible that Trump used the meeting to go through his grievances, like he did on Twitter earlier in the day, Trump was said to be in a good mood. “It seemed very friendly,” one of the sources said.
    Trump also answered multiple questions from Roberts during the trip to the Ford plant, which has been repurposed to produce ventilators and PPE.
    The President can call whomever he wants, of course, and few journalists would turn down the invitation.
    But during the trip to Michigan Roberts — a highly distinguished reporter with decades of experience — was serving as a pool correspondent on behalf of all the major television networks. He did not send a pool report about his time with the president.
    Some members of the White House press corps said Roberts should have urged Trump to speak with the entire “press pool.”
    “The expectation is you work as a team, and everything you do as part of the pool,” one of the reporters said.
    These norms are taken seriously by Washington bureau chiefs and other newsroom leaders, since access to the president is so prized. Presidents including Trump sometimes hold off-the-record sessions on Air Force One, and occasionally allow certain quotes to be reported.
    Roberts returned to the press cabin before Air Force One landed back at Andrews Air Force Base. According to the pool report that is shared with news organizations, Trump waved to Roberts while he walked to Marine One for the helicopter flight to the White House.

    President Donald Trump speaks with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, left, and Fox News correspondent John Roberts before boarding Air Force One as he departs Detroit Metro Airport, Thursday, May 21, 2020, in Detroit. Trump visited a Ypsilanti, Mich., Ford plant that has been converted to making personal protection and medical equipment. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
    Through a spokesperson, Roberts said the wave might have been misconstrued. Roberts had asked the president to come over to a camera stakeout position and comment, for the entire pool, on the shooting at a US naval air base in Corpus Christi, Texas, which the FBI says was terrorism-related. Roberts waved him over to the camera, and Trump waved him off, and didn’t give a comment.
    On Friday morning, Trump posted two angry tweets about Fox. He said the network “should fire their Fake Pollster.” The network’s polling unit is actually well-regarded throughout the industry.

      Then he tweeted about former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes, who died in 2017, one year after being forced out in a sexual harassment scandal.
      “Hope Roger A is looking down,” Trump wrote, “and watching what has happened to this once beautiful creation!”
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      U.S. Consumer Sentiment Unexpectedly Rises Amid Relief Payments

      U.S. consumer sentiment posted a surprise increase in early May amid widespread virus-relief payments and discounts for big-ticket items, though pessimism deepened about the longer-term outlook for incomes and the economy.

      The University of Michigan’s preliminary sentiment index rose 1.9 points from an eight-year low to 73.7, according to data Friday. That compared with the median estimate for a decline to 68 in a Bloomberg survey of economists.

      The measure of current conditions rose 8.7 points to 83, while the expectations index fell 2.4 points to 67.7, the lowest level since 2013.

      “Confidence inched upward in early May as the CARES relief checks improved consumers’ finances and widespread price discounting boosted their buying attitudes,” Richard Curtin, director of the survey, said in a statement. “Despite these gains, personal financial prospects for the year ahead continued to weaken.”

      A separate report Friday showed retail sales plunged in April by the most on record.

      Deep Discounts

      The Michigan report said the improvement in buying conditions for durable goods reflected deep discounts, especially on autos, as well as low interest rates. That helped offset concerns about job and income prospects.

      A measure of sentiment on respondents’ current financial situations improved from the prior month due to income gains. But personal financial prospects for the year ahead were the lowest in almost six years.

      Although some items are being heavily discounted, prices have been rising for everyday essentials such as food. The Michigan report showed inflation expectations for the year ahead jumped to 3%, the highest since 2018.

      Asked about their top concerns related to the pandemic, 57% of respondents cited health, down slightly from 61% the prior month, while 17% said finances and 21% said social isolation. That indicates the “growing costs of social isolation and its potential to shift opinions about reopening the economy,” Curtin said.

      While a number of states are beginning to let businesses reopen, it’s unclear how much confidence will rise in the near term. Economists expect a significant pick-up in activity in the third quarter, but a return to normal is still nowhere in sight as tens of millions of Americans are now out of work and schools remain closed.

      The survey was conducted April 22 to May 13. During that period, the Labor Department reported that more than 20 million people lost their jobs, sending the unemployment rate to its highest since the Great Depression era.

      The Michigan report also showed a wide partisan gap in confidence persisting between Democrats and Republicans, though the difference has narrowed since the pandemic started.

      — With assistance by Kristy Scheuble

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      Lansing, Michigan protests should not surprise us — There are real risks from aggressive, prolonged lockdowns

      Michiganders protest coronavirus lockdown rules from their cars

      Some Michigan residents say the state stay-at-home order goes too far and are hitting the streets to protest from their cars. FOX Business’ Grady Trimble with more.

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      Wednesday’s protests in Michigan show that draconian state lockdown orders – if allowed to continue too long – threaten the voluntary law-abiding character of the American people.

      State governors, who truly control whether the economy stays open or shut, must better explain their reasons for their trade-offs between slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic versus throwing millions out of work and destroying billions in economic activity.


      If their people disagree, these leaders risk sparking civil disobedience that will undermine their political and legal systems.

      Michigan’s Conservative Coalition organized what was called “Operation Gridlock” Wednesday, in which members drove their cars throughout the state capital city, Lansing, to protest the lockdown ordered by governor Gretchen Whitmer.

      According to Fox News, “demonstrators blasted their horns, waved Americans flags and hoisted placards deriding Whitmer’s orders and demanding that she reopen the state’s economy.”

      Vehicles sit in gridlock during a protest in Lansing, Mich., Wednesday. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

      Whitmer has ordered one of the most aggressive lockdown orders in the nation by banning all gatherings regardless of size or family ties, and even individual visits between family or friends (unless they are providing care).


      Under our Constitution, only states possess the “police power,” which gives them the authority to regulate virtually everything within their boundaries.

      As the Supreme Court has long recognized, the most compelling use of state power is to protect public health and safety. Only the states may impose broad quarantines, close institutions and businesses, and limit movement and travel.

      We elect state officials to make terrible trade-offs for us but in a responsible and informed manner. If they do not explain how and why they arrived at their decision, they risk popular discontent. 

      But because state government sits closer to the people, voters can demand immediate transparency and accountability for these potentially devastating policies. They may impede the spread of the disease, but we cannot tell if it comes at an acceptable cost because governors like Whitmer, Gavin Newsom in California, or Andrew Cuomo in New York have not explained how they made the cost-benefit trade-off.

      Here is a quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation that demands an answer from these governors. The U.S. economy generates approximately $24 trillion a year in GDP, or $2 trillion a month. California is about 15 percent of that total, for about $300 billion per month.

      Suppose that the lockdown causes economic activity to drop by 75 percent in California (it may well be worse). Is it worth losses of $225 billion per month, in just one state, to reduce the spread of the coronavirus?


      Should the states spend several millions to save a single life?  Those are just immediate losses, and prolonged lockdowns raise the risk of a permanent reduction in the size of the American economy such as occurred during the Great Depression.

      Critics will say that opening up the economy will cost lives. But that choice, between lives and allowing economic activity and growth, lies at the heart of many public policy choices.  When the federal government raises the fuel efficiency standards for cars, that choice will lead to more deaths in traffic accidents due to lighter auto designs.

      The money lost from the lockdowns would otherwise allow millions of families – many of them living paycheck to paycheck – to earn a living.


      Did state officials consider less intrusive measures, such as quarantining the identified infected and safeguarding the elderly, who are most vulnerable to the illness, instead of imposing a shutdown of the state’s economy?

      Did they consider the harms of the mandatory stay at home order, including increases in depression and anxiety, drug use, domestic violence, and suicide?

      These are tough decisions. States like Michigan or California cannot spend unlimited amounts to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

      In the 2017-18 flu season, the CDC estimates that 61,000 Americans died of influenza; but we do not impose severe economic lockdowns to stop the flu.

      We elect state officials to make these terrible trade-offs for us but in a responsible and informed manner. If they do not explain how and why they arrived at their decision, they risk popular discontent.

      If the lockdown continues for weeks on end, and it appears that our leaders imposed statewide quarantines without sufficient proof that the numbers of lives saved would justify the heavy, widespread cost, they even risk civil disobedience where Americans will simply ignore the bans on social and economic activity.

      No state has enough manpower to control an unwilling American population and it may take years to rebuild the trust between the voters and their representatives necessary for effective government.


      John Yoo is the Heller Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute.  A former official in the Bush Justice Department, he is the author of the forthcoming Defender-in-Chief: Donald Trump’s Fight for Presidential Power (2020).

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      Virus Erupts in Poor U.S. Cities Whose People Have Few Defenses

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      The coronoavirus pandemic is burrowing into America’s battered industrial heartland and the South, bursting out in places like Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans that have legions of low-income residents with underlying medical conditions and few resources.

      Michigan is fast becoming the next U.S. hotspot for the virus, registering new cases at more than triple the national rate; it was declared a federal disaster area late Friday night. The state had 3,657 Covid-19 cases as of March 27 — versus zero just over two weeks ago – ranking fifth in the nation. Of that, impoverished Detroit and surrounding Wayne County made up half. At least 92 people have died.

      “I’m not astonished that we are seeing such an explosive curve,” said Teena Chopra, a doctor who is an infectious disease specialist at Detroit Medical Center and a professor at Wayne State University. “What is happening in the rest of the world we are seeing in Detroit. And we should be more worried than anybody else, because our population is very vulnerable.”

      Read More: What It’s Like on the Front Lines of America’s Battle With Coronavirus

      The coronavirus made its first appearance in America in places where international travel is common, and where significant swaths of the population are affluent and have access to medical care. Despite those advantages, medical defenses are buckling. The second wave of infection is striking cities far more vulnerable to begin with.

      “We have been aggressive in terms of closing schools, bars and other gathering places,” Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in an interview. “Yet we continue to see Covid-19 spreading quickly, especially through Detroit and southeast Michigan.”

      Detroit, which filed what was then the largest U.S. municipal bankruptcy in 2013, has almost 90,000 vacant parcels held by its municipal land bank. Despite a spruced-up and resurgent core, its 673,000 people are scattered over 139 square miles (360 square kilometers) after the former industrial giant lost more than half its population since the 1950s. It’s a landscape of vacant lots and vast tracts of boarded-up houses, many being reclaimed by nature.

      About 36% of the population lives in poverty. With diabetes and hypertension rampant, Detroiters are prey to the new virus, Chopra said. In a city built by and for the automobile, they often lack transportation to get to the hospital. Many ignore early signs of the disease.

      That’s set the coronavirus racing through the state. Suburban Oakland County, the second-most populous and the affluent seat of thousands of white-collar auto jobs, represents 23% of cases.

      Deep Need

      Other Midwestern cities are following the same trajectory. Cook County, Illinois, which encompasses Chicago, saw cases rise from 413 at the end of last week to more than 1,900 Friday, according to data compiled by the University of Chicago. The county now accounts for three-quarters of the state’s total.

      Outbreaks in Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennesee also accelerated recently. Cases in Nashville’s Davidson County quadrupled in a week, as did those in Orleans Parish, Louisiana. Such numbers may not reflect the precise case counts as shortages have made it difficult for sick people to get tested.

      New Orleans, like many Southern cities, has a deep well of need. Almost a quarter of its citizens fall below the federal poverty line.

      Want breeds disease, said Joseph Eisenberg, chair of the epidemiology department at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health in Ann Arbor.

      “People will go a lot longer since they don’t have access to health care,” he said. “That both means they’ve been in the community more and been transmitting more, and when they get to the hospital their prognosis is going to be a lot worse.”

      Whitmer’s Orders

      Michigan identified its first two Covid-19 cases on March 10, both linked to either international or domestic travel.

      Since then, Whitmer has issued a slew of executive orders to contain the virus: school closures, a ban on large assemblies, and last Monday evening a shelter-in-place order that shuttered businesses and triggered mass layoffs across the state.

      To her dismay, the number of cases is still growing rapidly. What’s worse, Whitmer said, is that the state may not know for weeks whether the health-care system and her containment methods are working. That means it could take even longer for carmakers, the state’s economic lifeblood, to get going again.

      Even though Detroit’s status as the world’s center of auto manufacturing has eroded, there are still multitudes of car companies and suppliers in the region. The headquarters of General Motors Co. is in Detroit, as is a Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV plant that makes Jeep Grand Cherokees. In all, about 175,000 auto workers are employed in factories and a roughly equal number of white-collar workers in the industry, according to federal statistics.

      Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler said this week they’re extending shutdowns of their North American plants to at least mid-April. At least four of Fiat’s U.S. factory workers have died from the virus.

      Hospitals in southeast Michigan are already stretched. Beaumont Health, the largest health-care system in the state, warned Tuesday that its eight hospitals are “nearing capacity” on staffing, personal protective equipment, and ventilators. Henry Ford Health System circulated an internal memo laying out guidelines for deciding which patients would get life-saving ventilators in the event of a shortage.

      Whitmer said her biggest concern now is fighting with other states and the federal government for masks and medical supplies. There is no central purchasing. Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota jointly buy some things, but for others she is competing and bidding against other governments.

      “One thing that I think is a source of frustration and a lack of sleep frankly is that we were told as states to procure these supplies,” Whitmer said. “Right now, I’m focused on triaging.”

      In Detroit, Mayor Mike Duggan was gearing up to start drive-through testing on Friday, grappling with an outbreak on the police force that has left 400 officers in quarantine — and managing the delivery of 40,000 free meals a week to out-of-school children who might not otherwise eat.

      Chopra of the Detroit Medical Center said it feels like a “tornado” or a “tsunami” has hit her hospital, and that the window to contain the virus has closed for residents of her city.

      “That population has low vaccination rates, low transportation rates, no access to clean water — the lack of resources and all the social determinants of health,” she said. “We need mobile hospitals, we need spaces, we need nurses, we need PPE. We need help.”

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