Posts tagged with "White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows"

Ex-Pence aide blasts Trump over COVID response, says she’ll vote for Biden

September 21, 2020

In a two-minute video spot released by the group Republican Voters Against Trump on September 17 and posted on YouTube— a former senior adviser and member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force lambasted President Donald Trump as a stonewalling, capricious leader with more concern for his reelection than the pandemic—and said she would be voting for his Democratic rival, Joe Biden, in November.

Olivia Troye, a lifelong Republican who worked as an adviser on counterterrorism and homeland security to Vice President Mike Pence before leaving the administration in August, appeared in an ad in which she shared damning anecdotes that portrayed Trump as a debilitating actor in the administration’s efforts to contain the virus, Politico reports. She said Trump was dismissive toward the task force’s efforts to prepare for the outbreak from early in the year, before the virus had made heavy inroads into the United States.

“It was shocking to see the president saying that the virus was a hoax, saying that everything’s OK when we know that it’s not,” Troye said. “He doesn’t actually care about anyone else but himself.”

Troye also asserted that Trump said during a meeting: “Maybe this COVID thing’s a good thing. I don’t like shaking hands with people. I don’t have to shake hands with these disgusting people.”

That remark, Troye said, encapsulated the president’s flippant attitude toward a pandemic that has since claimed nearly 200,000 American lives.

The Washington Post first reported Troye’s frustrations with her previous role.

The White House promptly rebuffed the allegations, using its frequent defense against personnel-turned-critics by saying that Troye was a disgruntled and vindictive ex-staffer. White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany tweeted Thursday night a letter by Troye after her departure from the White House. It praised the task force’s work combating the disease.

“I have witnessed firsthand how dedicated and committed all of you have been to doing the right thing,” the letter said.

But Troye’s criticisms were directed at the president specifically, not the administration. In the ad, she said working with the task force was the “opportunity and honor of a lifetime.”

“I put my heart and soul into this role every single day,” she said in the ad. “But at some points I would come home at night, I would look myself in the mirror and say, are you really making a difference? Because no matter how hard you work or what you do, the president is going to do something detrimental to keeping Americans safe.”

Her letter likewise praised her colleagues and her work with Pence, but did not mention Trump.

Speaking with reporters on Thursday evening before departing for a campaign rally in Wisconsin, Trump said that “I have no idea who she is.” He then said Troye was dismissed from her post and “then she wrote a beautiful letter.”

According to Politico, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows later told reporters aboard Air Force One: “It’s the swamp fighting back. It’s, generally speaking, disgruntled employees.”

Asked by a reporter what Troye was disgruntled about and whether she was fired, Meadows responded, “I can’t speak to personnel matters.”

As of Friday afternoon, September 18, the YouTube video already had garnered almost 640,000 views.

Research contact: @politico

Insufficient funds? Trump defends his campaign’s spending as cash advantage evaporates

September 9, 2020

Just like the nation and the electorate he serves, President Donald Trump is experiencing a cash crunch that can be traced to the Oval Office.

On Twitter on September 7, the president defended his campaign’s financial decision-making, after a report that surfaced in The New York Times provoked new scrutiny of his reelection team’s spending habits. Reportedly, Trump has squandered his cash advantage over Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

“My Campaign spent a lot of money up front in order to compensate for the false reporting and Fake News concerning our handling of the China Virus,” Trump tweeted on September 8. “Now they see the GREAT job we have done, and we have 3 times more than we had 4 years ago – & are up in polls. Lots of $’s & ENERGY!”

According to Politico, the president’s social media post came after the Times published a story detailing how the Trump campaign has already spent more than $800 million of the $1.1 billion it raised in coordination with the Republican National Committee from the beginning of 2019 through July.

The Times report raised questions about former campaign manager Brad Parscale’s financial stewardship of Trump’s war chest, which was once viewed as an historic asset ahead of the fall’s general election campaign. Among the campaign’s expenses were a car and driver for Parscale, who was replaced atop the campaign in July by Bill Stepien.

Biden, meanwhile, has seen his fundraising soar in the final weeks of the campaign. Last month, the former vice president and the Democratic National Committee raked in a record $365 million in contributions — doubling Trump’s $165 million record haul from July and also surpassing the $193 million raised by Barack Obama in September 2008, Politco notes.

Trump has yet to report his August fundraising numbers, and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told reporters on Tuesday that he did not know when that campaign announcement would come. “I don’t know. I have zero visibility into that decision,” he said.

Research contact: @politico

 

Pelosi to recall House for USPS vote, as Democrats press for Postmaster General DeJoy to testify

August 18, 2020

Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on August 16 that she would call members of the House back from their annual summer recess for a vote this week on legislation to block changes at the U.S. Postal Service, according to a report by The New York Times.

Changes drawing ire and fire from Pelosi include the recent, surreptitious removal of crucial mail sorting equipment nationwide—a move that, voting advocates warn, could disenfranchise Americans casting ballots by mail during the pandemic.

The removal of the sorting equipment was executed under orders from Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a Trump mega-donor appointed in May.

The announcement came after Chief of Staff  Mark Meadows signaled that the White House might be open to providing emergency funding for the USPS to handle a surge in mail-in ballots—if that financing accompanied a package of coronavirus stimulus measures desired by the Administration.

It also came, the Times said, as Democratic state attorneys general said that they were exploring legal action against cutbacks and changes at the Postal Service.

The moves underscored rising concern across the country over the integrity of the November election and how the Postal Service will handle as many as 80 million ballots cast by Americans worried about venturing to polling stations because of the coronavirus. President Trump has repeatedly derided mail voting as vulnerable to fraud, without evidence (and while he has publicly requested a mail-in ballot from Florida, himself), and the issue had become a prominent sticking point in negotiations over the next round of coronavirus relief.

The House was not scheduled to return for votes until September 14, but is now expected to consider a Postal Service bill as soon as Saturday, August 22, according to information received by the Times from a senior Democratic aide familiar with the plans. Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the majority leader, is expected to announce the final schedule on Monday.

“Lives, livelihoods and the life of our American democracy are under threat from the president,” Pelosi said in a letter to Democratic lawmakers. “That is why I am calling upon the House to return to session later this week.”

According to the Times, the abrupt return to Washington was announced just hours after Democrats called on top Postal Service officials to testify on Capitol Hill this month about recent policies that they warned pose “a grave threat to the integrity of the election.

“ It also demonstrates the growing alarm over changes the Postal Service is enforcing under its leader, Louis DeJoy … less than three months before a general election. Some of the changes, which Mr. DeJoy describes as cost-cutting measures, include ending overtime pay and the removal or transfer of some sorting machines.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader, demanded on Sunday that Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, bring senators back to Capitol Hill to take up the House measure that he said in a statement “will undo the extensive damage Mr. DeJoy has done at the Postal Service.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump threatens to withhold Michigan, Nevada funding over mail-in voting

May 21, 2020

Unlike President Harry Truman, when President Donald Trump says “The buck stops here,” he means that funding for those whom he dislikes or distrusts really stops at his desk, without going forward to those who need it.

On Wednesday, May 20, the president threatened to withhold federal funding to Michigan after its secretary of state, Jocelyn Benson (D), announced that all of the state’s registered voters would receive applications for absentee ballots in the mail this year, The Hill reports.

Trump charged that the step was done “illegally” and threatened to withhold funding if the state did not reverse course, suggesting the move would encourage voter fraud.

Trump later threatened to suspend federal funding to Nevada, which is holding a mail-in primary election, claiming the state was creating a “great Voter Fraud scenario” and allow people to “cheat in elections.”

“Breaking: Michigan sends absentee ballots to 7.7 million people ahead of Primaries and the General Election,” Trump tweeted. “This was done illegally and without authorization by a rogue Secretary of State. I will ask to hold up funding to Michigan if they want to go down this Voter Fraud path!”

Trump copied Acting Office of Management and Budget Director Russ Vought, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows , and the Treasury Department on his tweet about Michigan and also copied Vought and the Treasury Department on the post about Nevada.

Benson responded to Trump’s tweet, correcting him by saying that the state “sent applications, not ballots” and pointing out that Republican secretaries of state have done the same.

Trump has frequently voiced his opposition to expanding mail-in voting, the Hill notes—leveling unsubstantiated and exaggerated claims that mail-in ballots are riddled with fraud and are “corrupt.”

While voting experts say there are higher levels of voter fraud in mail-in voting than in-person voting, they agree that overall cases of voter fraud are rare, according to the news outlet.

“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to statewide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it,” Trump tweeted last month. “Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”

Trump can withhold federal funding from states, but would face legal hurdles in trying to do so, Elie Honig, a legal analyst and former federal prosecutor told The Hill.

“First, the federal funds must relate substantively to the state-level policy at issue,” said Honig. “Second, funding restrictions can only apply to new sources of funding. The federal government can’t interrupt or impose new conditions on money that already has been allocated or is already flowing.”

“Also there’s a question whether the president himself can withhold funds without congressional authorization,” Honig continued.

Democrats have supported mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic as a way to ensure that ballots can be cast safely in the 2020 elections without risking exposure to the virus.

The $2 trillion bipartisan relief package that Trump signed into law in late March provides $400 million for states to prepare for upcoming primaries and the November general election during the coronavirus outbreak.

Benson said in a statement on Tuesday that sending mail-in applications to Michigan’s 7.7 million registered voters would ensure their safety.

“By mailing applications, we have ensured that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote,” Benson said. “Voting by mail is easy, convenient, safe, and secure, and every voter in Michigan has the right to do it.”

Research contact: @thehill