Posts tagged with "Politico"

Engel subpoenas State Department for ‘smear documents’ on Biden already given to Senate Republicans

August 3, 2020

Representative Eliot Engel (D-New York)—who is serving out his 16th term in Congress after losing his seat in the June primary to progressive challenger Jamaal Bowman—intends to go out fighting, both for his constituents and against the GOP.

Engel, who is chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee , subpoenaed the State Department on Friday, July 31— demanding copies of documents that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo already has provided to Senate Republicans investigating Joe Biden, Politico reported.

According to a press release issued by the committee, the subpoena demands all records purportedly dealing with the Bidens and Ukrainian energy company Burisma Holdings the department has produced to Republican-led Senate committees. Despite delivering Republican Senate chairmen thousands of pages of records, the Department of State has refused Chairman Engel’s request to provide duplicates to the Committee on Foreign Affairs. In addition, Chairman Engel’s subpoena seeks internal State Department correspondence about responding to Congress.

“After trying to stonewall virtually every oversight effort by the Foreign Affairs Committee in the last two years, Mr. Pompeo is more than happy to help Senate Republicans advance their conspiracy theories about the Bidens,” Engel said in a statement. “I want to see the full record of what the department has sent to the Senate and I want the American people to see it too.”

Engel also stated that, “Just days after the conclusion of President Trump’s impeachment trial, in which Secretary Pompeo refused to comply with a duly authorized subpoena for documents and attempted to block testimony of key witnesses, the State Department producing documents to Senate Republicans to help advance a political smear of Vice President Biden.

The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Politico.

Engel has threatened to subpoena for the documents since May, when the probe of Burisma by Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) began ramping up. Johnson has denied that his investigation is meant as a political cudgel or is being influenced by foreign interests seeking to hurt Biden, Politico says.

The House impeached President Donald Trump last year for pushing Ukraine’s leaders to investigate Biden and other Democrats, and withholding security assistance to the country—amid its war with Russia—to exert pressure.

Now, Republicans clearly are trying to change the plot line. Indeed, Trump allies responded by leveling discredited allegations that Biden pressured Ukraine to fire a prosecutor who was investigating Burisma, an energy company where his son Hunter served on the board.

Conversely, State Department leaders testified during impeachment proceedings that Biden’s work in Ukraine was done in accordance with department policy, and that efforts to remove the prosecutor were part of an international push to root out corruption.

More recently, top Democrats have cited intelligence suggesting that at least some of the anti-Biden efforts are being fueled by Kremlin-aligned Ukrainians seeking to interfere in the 2020 election.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have demanded an all-Congress FBI briefing about intelligence they say shows a specific foreign plot to influence congressional action, Politico reports..

After attending a general election security briefing, Pelosi on Friday morning, July 31, blasted the administration for “withholding” evidence of foreign interference.

The subpoena, directed to Secretary Pompeo, requires that the records be turned over by August 7.

Research contact: @politico

GOP Rep. Louis Gohmert tests positive for COVID-19; may have exposed Barr outside hearing room

July 30, 2020

Representative Louis Gohmert, a Texas Republican, has tested positive for the coronavirus after refusing to wear a mask on the House floor and around the Capitol, Politico first reported Wednesday.

What’s more, Gohmert may have exposed Attorney General Bill Barr to the virus, while the AG was on the Hill to testify before the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, July 28, reporter Olivia Beavers tweeted.

Gohmert defended not wearing a mask, even when he’s not able to social distance, in an interview with CNN last month— saying he’d only wear a face covering regularly if he contracted the virus.

“I don’t have the coronavirus, turns out as of yesterday I’ve never had it,” he said at the time. “But if I get it, you’ll never see me without a mask.”

The conservative, age 66, attended Attorney General William Barr’s House hearing on Tuesday and  spoke with Barr within six feet without wearing a mask.

Indeed, Beavers, a national security reporter for The Hill, tweeted, “Rep. Gohmert, who was without a mask, stood outside the men’s bathroom where Barr went before he walked into the “hearing” room. Once out, Gohmert approached the AG and exchanged a comment or two. Would say from memory, they were within arms length.”

She noted that Barr, who had arrived with a mask, removed it while he talked to Gohmert.

The next day, Jake Sherman, a Politico reporter, broke the news that Gohmert had just tested positive for COVID-19.

According to The Hill, Gohmert is now the tenth member of Congress with a presumed or confirmed case of COVID-19. Representatives. Joe Cunningham (D-South Carolina.), Ben McAdams (D-Utah), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-Florida), Neal Dunn (R-Florida), Mike Kelly (R-Pennsylvania), Tom Rice (R-South Carolina) and Morgan Griffith (R-Virginia;s well as Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), have also tested positive for the disease.

A spokesperson for Barr said Wednesday that the attorney general would be tested for the coronavirus following the exposure to Gohmert.

Representative Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican, may want to take a test, too. Word is, he used the same microphone as Gohmert at the Tuesday hearing.

Research contact: @thehill

Trump attacks Lindsey Graham after SCOTUS rulings

July 13, 2020

President Donald Trump took a swing—and not the type he uses on the golf course—at his good buddy Senator Lindsey Graham  (R-South Carolina) on Thursday , July 9, in the aftermath of two Supreme Court decisions involving his closely held financial record,—lamenting that the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman was not doing enough to target the president’s political foes.

In other words, Graham—who is facing a tough re-election battle at home—was not demonstrating the loyalty that the president demands.

Trump’s tweets came after a 7-2 decision by the Supreme Court upheld a Manhattan grand jury subpoena seeking his tax returns and other financial documents as part of a criminal investigation into the practices of the Trump Organization. Politico reported.

In response, Trump complained that former President Barack Obama was not receiving enough scrutiny over his administration’s decision to open up a counterintelligence investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and the Russian government in 2016.

Just after the news broke, at 11:35 a.m. (EDT)  Trump tweeted: “We have a totally corrupt previous Administration, including a President and Vice President who spied on my campaign, AND GOT CAUGHT…and nothing happens to them. This crime was taking place even before my election, everyone knows it, and yet all are frozen stiff with fear.”

He specifically called out Graham’s committee, writing: “No Republican Senate Judiciary response.”

According to Politico, in his fury, the president disregarded the deeds Graham already has done for him –among them,  running a wide-ranging investigation into the origins of the Russia investigation and using broad subpoena power to compel testimony from several former senior Obama administration officials.

Graham did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s jab.

Earlier this year, Trump pushed Graham to issue a subpoena to Obama himself, demanding that he be put under oath. But Graham has swiftly rejected those calls, arguing it would set a dangerous precedent. Trump has continued to push for such an action.

While Thursday’s Supreme Court rulings handed Trump a loss in the Manhattan case, the justices punted on a separate case involving congressional subpoenas for similar financial records, all but ensuring that the documents will not reach Congress or the public until after Election Day.

Research contact: @politico

Trump Administration: Reopen college campuses or lose your international students

July 8, 2020

From the University of Florida to Northern Arizona University to Cal State, many institutions of higher learning have not so much chosen to go digital this fall—as have been forced to, by health concerns for staff and students during the spread of COVID-29. Even Harvard University will deliver lectures online to all classes but those for incoming freshmen.

However, in another invective against immigration, the Trump Administration has prohibited international students from taking their classes fully online. The new guidance could force colleges and universities to offer in-person classes during the pandemic to keep their international students enrolled, Politico reports.

The risky policy was introduced as “a temporary final rule” by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on Monday, July 6.

According to Politico, the changes apply to the Student and Exchange Visitor Program for non-immigrant students on F-1 and M-1 visas for academic and vocational coursework. The State Department won’t issue visas to students in online-only programs and Customs and Border Protection will not allow these students to enter the country, according to the press release.

If their school shifts online, international students in the United States will have to leave the country or transfer to a school with some in-person learning.

While colleges and universities wanted more clarity on how to keep their international students enrolled, the new guidance will “sow confusion and ncertainty,” Brad Farnsworth, vice president of the American Council on Education (ACE), told the news outlet. “There’s going to be a scramble for interpretation and colleges will be craving that certainty and they’ll be asking the U.S. government to help clarify to get additional details on interpretation.”

In concert with the press release, Politico noted, President Donald Trump and FLOTUS Melania Trump planned to participate in a “National Dialogue on Safely Reopening America’s Schools” at 3 p.m. in the East Room at the White House on Tuesday, July 7. On Monday, Trump tweeted: “SCHOOLS MUST OPEN IN THE FALL!!!”

The president later followed up with a jab at former Vice President Joe Biden and Democrats, tweeting that they “don’t want to open schools in the Fall for political reasons, not for health reasons! They think it will help them in November. Wrong, the people get it!”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos also hopped on Twitter, and agreed with Trump, adding: “Learning must continue for all students. American education must be fully open and fully operational this fall!”

Research contact: @politico

Trump has an Achilles heel—and Democratic advertisers finally know how to use it to advantage

July 3, 2020

After more than a year of polling, focus groups, and message testing against the president, there’s a growing consensus about what damages Trump —and what doesn’t, David Siders of Politico reports.

Indeed, President Donald Trump wasn’t even halfway through his May 20 speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when Democratic advertisers in Washington, D.C. and New York knew they had struck gold: They didn’t focus on the president’s rants about descending a ramp at West Point. or drinking a small glass of water with two hands—or even on his use of the term, Kung Flu, to describe the pandemic.

Instead, Politico notes, they ads zeroed in on Trump’s admission that he urged officials to “slow the [coronavirus] testing down.”

It’s a reflection of a growing consensus among Democrats about what kind of hits on Trump are most likely to persuade swing voters — and which ones won’t. As in 2016, ad makers are focusing on Trump’s character. But unlike four years ago, they are no longer focusing on his character in isolation. Rather, they are pouring tens of millions of dollars into ads yoking his behavior to substantive policy issues surrounding the coronavirus, the economy, and the civil unrest since the death of George Floyd.

“You can’t chase the Trump clown car,” said Bradley Beychok, president of the progressive group American Bridge 21st Century PAC, which claims to be “the largest opposition research, video tracking, and rapid response organization in Democratic politics.”

“Him drinking water and throwing a glass is goofy and may make for a good meme, but it doesn’t matter in the scheme of things … What people care about is this outbreak.”

How does he know? In their preparations for 2020, outside Democratic groups spent more than a year surveying voters in swing states by phone and online. They convened in-person focus groups and enlisted voters in swing states to keep diaries of their media consumption.

Multiple outside groups said they began to test their ads more rigorously than in 2016, using online panels to determine how likely an ad was to either change a viewer’s impression of Trump or to change how he or she planned to vote. Priorities USA, a major Democratic super PAC, alone expects to test more than 500 ads this cycle. Priorities, American Bridge, and other outside groups, including organized labor, have been meeting regularly to share internal research and media plans.

“One thing we saw in polling a lot before the coronavirus outbreak is that people didn’t think he was a strong leader or a good leader, they complained about his Twitter,” Nick Ahamed, analytics director at Priorities USA, told Politico. “But they had a hard time connecting those character flaws they saw in him with their day-to-day experience.”

Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and recent protests, he said, “really made concrete for people the ways in which his leadership has direct consequences on them and their loved ones … It’s easier to make ads that talk about his leadership than before the outbreak.”

The advertising elements that appear to work, according to Politico’s interviews with more than a dozen Democrats involved in message research, vary from ad to ad. Using Trump’s own words against him often tests well, as do charts and other graphics, which serve to highlight Trump’s distaste for science. Voters who swung from President Barack Obama to Trump in 2016—and who regret it—are good messengers.

And so is Joe Biden, whose voice is widely considered preferable to that of a professional narrator. Not only does he convey empathy, according to Democrats inside and outside Biden’s campaign, but using Biden’s voice “helps people think about him as president,” said Patrick Bonsignore, Biden’s director of paid media.

But the ad makers’ overarching takeaway from their research was this: While Trump may not be vulnerable on issues of character alone, as he demonstrated in 2016, he is vulnerable when character is tied to his policy record on the economy and health care.

 “What we’ve learned form a lot of previous experience … is that quite honestly, people who work in politics can be bad prognosticators in terms of which ad will work,” said Patrick McHugh, Priorities’ executive director. “You see a lot of times the videos that go viral on Twitter … you test those ads, and more often than not they backlash … they can move voters toward Trump.”

For the negative ad industry, the coronavirus has been a bonanza because it inextricably linked both the economy and health care. On the evening of his Tulsa rally, American Bridge, which had already been working on an ad pummeling Trump for his response to the coronavirus, bookended its material with Trump’s acknowledgment that he urged officials to “slow the testing down.”

Biden’s campaign rushed a video onto social media skewering Trump for the admission. And Priorities USA, the Biden campaign’s preferred big-money vehicle, was on TV within days with Trump’s testing remarks in the swing states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan.

And the ads hit their target.

 “On the campaign they’ll say such horrible things about me. It’s a very unfair business,” Trump said on Fox News. “But the ad [Democrats] did this morning, it’s a great ad for them.”

Research contact: @politico

Mutiny on the bounties: Trump balks at briefing House members on Russian perfidy

June 30, 2020

Speaker Nancy Pelosi is calling for the Trump Administration to brief all House members immediately about allegations that surfaced on June 27–detailing that Russians have been paying Afghan militants to assassinate U.S. soldiers, Politico reports.

Most recently, President Donald Trump has claimed that he knows nothing about the disclosures—and that he and Vice President Mike Pence never have been briefed on the matter by U.S. intelligence agencies. He has not said that he intends to follow up on the accusations against Russia and, by extension, against President Vladimir Putin—which he does not believe to be credible.

However, The New York Times has countered that story, saying that senior White House and intelligence officials knew about the bounty allegations since at least March but took no action.

Indeed, the Times has reported that Trump was briefed on the matter and that it was included in his Presidential Daily Brief, but Trump denied ever learning of the intelligence and late Sunday said his leaders in the intelligence community told him it wasn’t credible.

“The questions that arise are: Was the President briefed, and if not, why not, and why was Congress not briefed? Congress and the country need answers now,” Pelosi wrote in her letter to Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe and CIA Director Gina Haspel. “I therefore request an interagency brief for all House Members immediately. Congress needs to know what the intelligence community knows about this significant threat to American troops and our allies and what options are available to hold Russia accountable.”

Since the news reports emerged, Politico reports, Democrats and some Republicans have been demanding details from the Administration. Early Monday, congressional aides indicated no briefing had been set up for the House intelligence, armed services or foreign affairs committee. It’s unclear if the Gang of Eight—the leaders of the House and Senate, as well as the intelligence committee—will be briefed, but as of Monday morning there was no meeting scheduled, per a congressional source.

The new allegations —which The New York Times and The Washington Post reported may have led to the deaths of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan—have once again brought Trump’s relationship with Russia under scrutiny.

Senior House Democrats were furious with the reports, which first surfaced Saturday. Pelosi told ABC ‘s ‘This Week” on Sunday: “This is as bad as it gets.”

“If reports are true that Russia offered a bounty on U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Trump wasn’t briefed, that’s a problem,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California) tweeted Sunday. “What will it take to get Trump to abandon the fiction that Putin is our friend?”

“Intel just reported to me that they did not find this info credible, and therefore did not report it to me or @VP,” Trump said. “Possibly another fabricated Russia Hoax, maybe by the Fake News @nytimesbooks, wanting to make Republicans look bad!!!”

Democrats, however, hammered the president over the bounties.

“It’s sickening that American soldiers have been killed as a result of Russian bounties on their heads, and the Commander in Chief didn’t do a thing to stop it,” Representatuve Max Rose (D-N.Y.), a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, told Politico.

Research contact: @politico

Trump Administration cuts off funding to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites in five states

June 25, 2020

The Trump Administration is doing its level best to close—or at the very least, slow down—coronavirus testing nationwide by cutting off support to 13 drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites on June 30; and leaving operation and funding of those sites to the states—even as cases spike in several parts of the country, Politico reports.

This is not the first time that the Administration has tried to offload control of the drive-thru sites to the states—but the last effort was suspended in April when governors in the states affected objected strongly.

The 13 sites—in Illinois, Colorado, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Texas—are the last federally run sites out of 41 originally established across the country. Seven sites are in hard-hit Texas, where cases are climbing.

Taking the offensive on Thursday, June 24, Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir told Roll Call that the sites were always meant to be a temporary solution as the country worked to ramp up testing capacity in traditional health care settings.

What he didn’t mention was that, with a looming election challenge, Trump has seen the pandemic as a drag on the economy that he simply wants to go away.

Indeed, in early March, the president transferred responsibility for flattening the line on the coronavirus pandemic to the states—and, specifically, to the governors. He will neither wear a mask nor recommend one; and he has been unwilling to release nearly $14B in Congressional funding for testing and tracing efforts to combat COVID-19. However, he continues to brag that his pandemic effort is the best ever executed.

Already protesters are piling on: Scott Becker, CEO of the Association of Public Health Laboratories, tells Politico that it’s not the right time to shift responsibility for the sites to the states—especially those near emerging hot spots in Texas

“The federally supported testing sites remain critically needed, and in some place like Houston and Harris County, TX and in other hotspots, are needed now more than ever,” Becker said in an email. “This is not the time for the federal government to walk back prior commitments on testing.”

Even Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) is critical of the plan, noting,. “It’s pretty clear to me, and I think it’s clear to all of us, that with the uptick of cases, now is not the time to retreat from our vigilance in testing,” he said. “I believe that they need to extend that federal support in Texas, at least until we get this most recent uptick in cases addressed.”

So what will be the outcome? HHS says there is no going back: Gigroir recommends that the state governors can use CARES Act funding to maintain operations at the current federally supported testing sites.

Research contact: @politico

North Carolina throws threat back at Trump; requests public health plan for GOP convention

May 28, 2020

President Donald Trump needs to “feel the love” at the GOP convention, August 24-27 in Charlotte, North Carolina. That means he wants 50,000 Trump MAGA  acolytes in the arena, standing shoulder-to-shoulder, to cheer his nomination on—and to provide testament to his popularity.

Indeed, according to a report by Politico, the president threatened on Monday, May 25, to pull the Republican National Convention out of North Carolina if state officials don’t roll out the red carpet soon.

But on Tuesday, North Carolina pushed back. Officials there said they would put the onus on national Republicans to show they can pull off a 50,000-person event safely, the news outlet said.

In a letter to Marcia Kelly, the president and CEO of the convention, North Carolina Secretary of Health and Human Services Mandy Cohen acknowledged the president’s warning and requested a public health plan for the event.

“The status of Covid-19 infections in our state and in the Charlotte area continues to rapidly evolve [so] it will be important to have several scenarios planned that can be deployed depending on the public health situation,” she wrote. “[M]easured and careful planning efforts are important not only to convention-goers, but also to the North Carolinians who rely on us to protect the public’s health.”

The missive came as Republicans held conference calls Tuesday to decide how to proceed with plans for the convention. People familiar with the discussions said an array of options were considered, including holding the event in a different state. The three most frequently mentioned states include Florida, Texas and Georgia, all of which have Republican governors. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp have said they would welcome the convention.

Trump has implied that North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is motivated purely by politics—and not by concern for his electorate during the pandemic.

“We have a governor who doesn’t want to open up the state,” Trump said. “He’s been acting very very slowly and very suspiciously.”

But Republicans involved in convention planning say there remains strong interest in holding the event in North Carolina, a critical swing state. They also acknowledge privately that

Fueling the GOP’s angst is a perception that Cooper is unlikely to lift restrictions to accommodate them. With cases rising in the Charlotte area, Republicans say they’re skeptical that the Democratic governor will allow a mass gathering.

Charlotte City Council member Malcolm Graham, who represents the city’s business district, called Republicans’ plans to host a fully attended convention “literally insane,” citing the number of attendees, vendors and volunteers it would require.

“Obviously, that’s not going to happen in Charlotte, nor would it happen in any other city that they’re going to move it to,” Graham, a Democrat, said in an interview.

Research contact: @politico

NASA’s human spaceflight leader mysteriously resigns before SpaceX Crew Dragon launch

May 21, 2020

The head of NASA’s Human Spaceflight program, Douglas Loverro, has resigned after spending about seven months at the agency.

The unexpected exit has set off alarms in Congress about the flight, itself—as well as how this disruption could affect the historic mission.

Indeed, in a letter to NASA employees, Loverro said that he is leaving the program “with a very, very heavy heart” after making a “mistake” during his tenure, according to a letter obtained by Politico,

The resignation comes little more than a week before NASA and SpaceX—the latter, a private American aerospace manufacturer—are slated to launch two astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station for the first time, Fast Company reports.

Meanwhile, Ars Technica reports that Loverro was set to give the final okay for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will carry astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

That job now will fall to Ken Bowersox, the acting associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations.

Loverro wrote that he was leaving the agency due to an undisclosed “mistake,” according to the letter obtained by Politico. Throughout my long government career of over four and a half decades I have always found it to be true that we are sometimes, as leaders, called on to take risks,” Loverro reportedly wrote. “I took such a risk earlier in the year because I judged it necessary to fulfill our mission. Now, over the balance of time, it is clear that I made a mistake in that choice for which I alone must bear the consequences.”

The question is, why?

Top lawmakers demanded answers late Tuesday, May 19, about Loverro’s departure, especially since it occurred just eight days before the maiden voyage set for May 27 of two astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

“I am deeply concerned over this sudden resignation, especially given its timing,” Representative Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma), the chairperson of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s space subcommittee, said in a statement. “Under this administration, we’ve seen a pattern of abrupt departures that have disrupted our nation’s efforts at human space flight.”

The bottom line is that, as the committee that overseas NASA, we need answers,” she concluded.

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who chairs the science panel, was “shocked” by the development; but said in a statement. “I trust that NASA Administrator [Jim] Bridenstine will ensure that the right decision is made as to whether or not to delay the launch attempt.”

“Beyond that, Mr. Loverro’s resignation is another troubling indication that the Artemis Moon-Mars initiative is still not on stable footing.  I look forward to clarification from NASA as to the reasons for this latest personnel action.”

Reached by Fast Company, a NASA spokesperson sent over a boilerplate statement confirming Loverro’s departure and said that the agency is “unable to discuss personnel matters” beyond it.

Research contact: @FastCompany

Governors call Trump’s testing claims ‘delusional’ and ‘absolutely false’

April 21, 2020

Although President Donald Trump is pushing to “reopen” parts of the country by May 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) and California Governor Gavin Newsom (D), along with the leaders of six other states and the District of Columbia, already have extended their COVID-19 lockdowns through May 15.

What’s more, several governors are not mincing words about their opinion of the president’s decision, The Huffington Post reports.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D)—who has extended the lockdown for his state’s residents to June 10 and has instructed non-essential business to remain closed at least through May 8—on Sunday told CNN’s Jake Tapper it was “delusional” for President Donald Trump to claim the U.S. currently has the testing capacity needed for states to relax social distancing measures amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Maryland’s Republican leader, Governor Larry Hogan, told Tapper that Trump’s claim “is just absolutely false.” “It’s not accurate to say there’s plenty of testing out there and the governors should just get it done,” Hogan said. “That’s just not being straightforward … Every governor in America has been pushing and fighting and clawing to get more tests.”

Hogan added, “Look, we have increased our testing in Maryland by 5,000% over the past month, but it’s nowhere near where it needs to be.”

And they are not alone: Multiple health officials in the Trump administration have cautioned against setting May 1 as a target date to loosen social distancing guidelines, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, said last week that the U.S. has not yet developed the testing and tracing procedures needed to begin reopening the economy.

But that hasn’t stopped the president. On Saturday, echoing comments Vice President Mike Pence made a day prior, Trump claimed “experts” had said that “America’s testing capability and capacity is fully sufficient to begin opening up the country totally.”

Indeed, The Huffington Post reports, Trump has taken an adversarial stance toward a number of governors as states struggle to overcome nationwide test shortages. The Trump Administration has tried to cobble together a belated response to the pandemic and has faced criticism after initially calling concerns about the coronavirus a “hoax” and downplaying its impact.

In recent weeks, Trump has used language that appears aimed at shifting responsibility for the economic recovery from the administration to individual states.

“People’s initial reaction is always to look to the president, but as time goes on and it becomes clear other states are doing other things, that blame and credit will shift to the governors, considering they are the ones making the calls,” one Trump political adviser told Politico.

Research contact: @HuffPost