Like All Else, Trump’s Inspector General Turnover Is about Pandemic

Update: I’m republishing this and bumping it, because Trump just replaced Glenn Fine as Acting Inspector General — whom Michael Horowitz had named to head the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee — with the IG for EPA. This makes him ineligible to head PRAC. Fine will remain Principle Deputy IG. 

Late last night, President Trump fired the Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson, the Inspector General who alerted Congress of the whistleblower complaint that led to Trump’s impeachment. Trump effectively put Atkinson on administrative leave for 30 days in a move that skirts the legal requirement that an inspector general be fired for cause and Congress be notified of it.

Trump has been accused of firing Atkinson late at night on a Friday under cover of the pandemic to retaliate for the role Atkinson had — which consisted of nothing more than doing his job as carefully laid out by law — in Trump’s impeachment. It no doubt is.

But it’s also likely about the pandemic and Trump’s proactive attempts to avoid any accountability for his failures in both the pandemic response and the reconstruction from it.

There were a lot of pandemic warnings Trump ignored that he wants to avoid becoming public

I say that, first of all, because of the likelihood that Trump will need to cover up what intelligence he received, alerting him to the severity of the coming pandemic. Trump’s administration was warned by the intelligence community no later than January 3, and a month later, that’s what a majority of Trump’s intelligence briefings consisted of. But Trump didn’t want to talk about it, in part because he didn’t believe the intelligence he was getting.

At a White House briefing Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said officials had been alerted to the initial reports of the virus by discussions that the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had with Chinese colleagues on Jan. 3.

The warnings from U.S. intelligence agencies increased in volume toward the end of January and into early February, said officials familiar with the reports. By then, a majority of the intelligence reporting included in daily briefing papers and digests from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA was about covid-19, said officials who have read the reports.


Inside the White House, Trump’s advisers struggled to get him to take the virus seriously, according to multiple officials with knowledge of meetings among those advisers and with the president.

Azar couldn’t get through to Trump to speak with him about the virus until Jan. 18, according to two senior administration officials. When he reached Trump by phone, the president interjected to ask about vaping and when flavored vaping products would be back on the market, the senior administration officials said.

On Jan. 27, White House aides huddled with then-acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney in his office, trying to get senior officials to pay more attention to the virus, according to people briefed on the meeting. Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, argued that the administration needed to take the virus seriously or it could cost the president his reelection, and that dealing with the virus was likely to dominate life in the United States for many months.

Mulvaney then began convening more regular meetings. In early briefings, however, officials said Trump was dismissive because he did not believe that the virus had spread widely throughout the United States.

In that same period, Trump was demanding Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar treat coronavirus briefings as classified.

The officials said that dozens of classified discussions about such topics as the scope of infections, quarantines and travel restrictions have been held since mid-January in a high-security meeting room at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), a key player in the fight against the coronavirus.

Staffers without security clearances, including government experts, were excluded from the interagency meetings, which included video conference calls, the sources said.

“We had some very critical people who did not have security clearances who could not go,” one official said. “These should not be classified meetings. It was unnecessary.”

The sources said the National Security Council (NSC), which advises the president on security issues, ordered the classification.”This came directly from the White House,” one official said.

Now, it could be that this information was legitimately classified. But if so, it means Trump had even more — and higher quality — warning of the impending pandemic than we know. If not, then it was an abuse of the classification process in an attempt to avoid having to deal with it. Either one of those possibilities further condemns Trump’s response.

Also in this same period, then Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire was asking not to hold a public Worldwide Threats hearing because doing so would amount to publicly reporting on facts that the President was in denial about.

The U.S. intelligence community is trying to persuade House and Senate lawmakers to drop the public portion of an annual briefing on the globe’s greatest security threats — a move compelled by last year’s session that provoked an angry outburst from President Donald Trump, multiple sources told POLITICO.

Officials from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, on behalf of the larger clandestine community, don’t want agency chiefs to be seen on-camera as disagreeing with the president on big issues such as Iran, Russia or North Korea, according to three people familiar with preliminary negotiations over what’s known as the Worldwide Threats hearing.

The request, which is unlikely to be approved, has been made through initial, informal conversations at the staff level between Capitol Hill and the clandestine community, the people said.

Not only did that hearing never happened, but neither has a report been released.

Among the things then Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats warned of in last year’s hearing was the threat of a pandemic.

We assess that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase calls on the United States for support. Although the international community has made tenuous improvements to global health security, these gains may be inadequate to address the challenge of what we anticipate will be more frequent outbreaks of infectious diseases because of rapid unplanned urbanization, prolonged humanitarian crises, human incursion into previously unsettled land, expansion of international travel and trade, and regional climate change.

So to some degree, Trump has to make sure there’s no accountability in the intelligence community because if there is, his failure to prepare for the pandemic will become all the more obvious.

Richard Burr is incapable of defending the Intelligence Community right now

But it’s also the case that the pandemic — and the treatment of early warnings about it — may have created an opportunity to retaliate against Atkinson when he might not have otherwise been able to. Even beyond offering cover under the distraction of thousands of preventable deaths, the pandemic, and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr’s success at profiting off it, means that the only Republican who might have pushed back against this action is stymied.

On Sunday, multiple outlets reported that DOJ is investigating a series of stock trades before most people understood how bad the pandemic would be. Burr is represented by former Criminal Division head Alice Fisher — certainly the kind of lawyer whose connections and past white collar work would come in handy for someone trying to get away with corruption.

The Justice Department has started to probe a series of stock transactions made by lawmakers ahead of the sharp market downturn stemming from the spread of coronavirus, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The inquiry, which is still in its early stages and being done in coordination with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has so far included outreach from the FBI to at least one lawmaker, Sen. Richard Burr, seeking information about the trades, according to one of the sources.


Burr, the North Carolina Republican who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee, has previously said that he relied only on public news reports as he decided to sell between $628,000 and $1.7 million in stocks on February 13. Earlier this month, he asked the Senate Ethics Committee to review the trades given “the assumption many could make in hindsight,” he said at the time.

There’s no indication that any of the sales, including Burr’s, broke any laws or ran afoul of Senate rules. But the sales have come under fire after senators received closed-door briefings about the virus over the past several weeks — before the market began trending downward. It is routine for the FBI and SEC to review stock trades when there is public question about their propriety.

In a statement Sunday to CNN, Alice Fisher, a lawyer for Burr, said that the senator “welcomes a thorough review of the facts in this matter, which will establish that his actions were appropriate.”

“The law is clear that any American — including a Senator — may participate in the stock market based on public information, as Senator Burr did. When this issue arose, Senator Burr immediately asked the Senate Ethics Committee to conduct a complete review, and he will cooperate with that review as well as any other appropriate inquiry,” said Fisher, who led the Justice Department’s criminal division under former President George W. Bush.

In spite of Fisher’s bravado, Burr is by far the most legally vulnerable of the senators who dumped a lot of stock in the period. That’s partly because he had access to two streams of non-public reporting on the crisis, the most classified on SSCI (which Senator Feinstein also would have had), but also on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions committee. And unlike the other senators, Burr admitted that he made these trades himself.

Again, in spite of Fisher’s claims, Burr will be forced to affirmatively show that he didn’t rely on this non-public information when dumping an inordinate amount of stock.

All of which is to say that Burr may be hoping that Fisher can talk him out of any legal exposure, which will require placating the thoroughly corrupt Bill Barr.

I had already thought that Trump might use this leverage to influence the findings or timing of the remaining parts of SSCI’s Russian investigation. That’s all the more true of Atkinson’s firing. Thus far, Burr has remained silent on what is obviously a legally inappropriate firing.

Even as he fired Atkinson, Trump undermined any oversight of his pandemic recovery efforts

A week before firing Atkinson, Trump made it clear he had no intention of being bound by Inspectors General in his signing statement for the “CARES Act” recovery bill. In addition to stating that Steve Mnuchin could reallocate spending without prior notice to Congress (as required by the bill and the Constitution), Trump also undercut both oversight mechanisms in the law. He did so by suggesting that the Chairperson of Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency (who is DOJ’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz) should not be required to consult with Congress about who he should make Director and Deputy Director of the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee.

Section 15010(c)(3)(B) of Division B of the Act purports to require the Chairperson of the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency to consult with members of the Congress regarding the selection of the Executive Director and Deputy Executive Director for the newly formed Pandemic Response Accountability Committee. The Committee is an executive branch entity charged with conducting and coordinating oversight of the Federal Government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak. I anticipate that the Chairperson will be able to consult with members of the Congress with respect to these hiring decisions and will welcome their input. But a requirement to consult with the Congress regarding executive decision-making, including with respect to the President’s Article II authority to oversee executive branch operations, violates the separation of powers by intruding upon the President’s power and duty to supervise the staffing of the executive branch under Article II, section 1 (vesting the President with the “executive Power”) and Article II, section 3 (instructing the President to “take Care” that the laws are faithfully executed). Accordingly, my Administration will treat this provision as hortatory but not mandatory.

On Monday, Horowitz named DOD Acting Inspector General Glenn Fine Director of PRAC.

In appointing Mr. Fine to Chair the PRAC, Mr. Horowitz stated, “Mr. Fine is uniquely qualified to lead the Pandemic Response Accountability Committee, given his more than 15 years of experience as an Inspector General overseeing large organizations — 11 years as the Department of Justice Inspector General and the last 4 years performing the duties of the Department of Defense Inspector General. The Inspector General Community recognizes the need for transparency surrounding, and strong and effective independent oversight of, the federal government’s spending in response to this public health crisis. Through our individual offices, as well as through CIGIE and the Committee led by Mr. Fine, the Inspectors General will carry out this critical mission on behalf of American taxpayers, families, businesses, patients, and health care providers.”

Last night, however, after years of leaving DOD’s IG position vacant, Trump nominated someone who has never managed the an office like DOD’s Inspector General, which oversees a budget larger than that of many nation-states, and who is currently at the hyper-politicized Customs and Border Patrol.

Jason Abend of Virginia, to be Inspector General, Department of Defense.

Mr. Abend currently serves as Senior Policy Advisor, United States Customs and Border Protection.

Prior to his current role, Mr. Abend served in the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Office of Inspector General as a Special Agent. Before that, he served as a Special Agent in the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General, where he led a team investigating complex Federal Housing Administration mortgage and reverse mortgage fraud, civil fraud, public housing assistance fraud, and internal agency personnel cases.

Mr. Abend was also the Founder and CEO of the Public Safety Media Group, LLC, a professional services firm that provided strategic and operational human resources consulting, training, and advertising to Federal, State, and local public safety agencies, the United States Military, and Intelligence agencies.

Earlier in his career, Mr. Abend worked as a Special Agent at the United States Secret Service and as an Intelligence Research Specialist at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Mr. Abend received his bachelor’s degree from American University and has received master’s degrees from both American University and George Washington University.

Abend seems totally unqualified for the DOD job alone, but if he is confirmed, he would also make Fine ineligible to head PRAC.

Horowitz issued a statement on Atkinson’s firing today that emphasized that Atkinson had acted appropriately with the Ukraine investigation, as well as his intent to conduct rigorous oversight, including — perhaps especially — PRAC.

Inspector General Atkinson is known throughout the Inspector General community for his integrity, professionalism, and commitment to the rule of law and independent oversight. That includes his actions in handling the Ukraine whistleblower complaint, which the then Acting Director of National Intelligence stated in congressional testimony was done “by the book” and consistent with the law. The Inspector General Community will continue to conduct aggressive, independent oversight of the agencies that we oversee. This includes CIGIE’s Pandemic Response Accountability Committee and its efforts on behalf of American taxpayers, families, businesses, patients, and health care providers to ensure that over $2 trillion dollars in emergency federal spending is being used consistently with the law’s mandate.

Also in last week’s signing statement, Trump said he would not permit an Inspector General appointed to oversee the financial side of the recovery to report to Congress when Treasury refuses to share information.

Section 4018 of Division A of the Act establishes a new Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) within the Department of the Treasury to manage audits and investigations of loans and investments made by the Secretary of the Treasury under the Act. Section 4018(e)(4)(B) of the Act authorizes the SIGPR to request information from other government agencies and requires the SIGPR to report to the Congress “without delay” any refusal of such a request that “in the judgment of the Special Inspector General” is unreasonable. I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause, Article II, section 3.

That may not matter now, because Trump just nominated one of the lawyers who just helped him navigate impeachment for that SIGPR role.

Brian D. Miller of Virginia, to be Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery, Department of the Treasury.

Mr. Miller currently serves as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Associate Counsel in the Office of White House Counsel. Prior to his current role, Mr. Miller served as an independent corporate monitor and an expert witness. He also practiced law in the areas of ethics and compliance, government contracts, internal investigations, white collar, and suspension and debarment. Mr. Miller has successfully represented clients in government investigations and audits, suspension and debarment proceedings, False Claims Act, and criminal cases.

Mr. Miller served as the Senate-confirmed Inspector General for the General Services Administration for nearly a decade, where he led more than 300 auditors, special agents, attorneys, and support staff in conducting nationwide audits and investigations. As Inspector General, Mr. Miller reported on fraud, waste, and abuse, most notably with respect to excesses at a GSA conference in Las Vegas.

Mr. Miller also served in high-level positions within the Department of Justice, including as Senior Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General and as Special Counsel on Healthcare Fraud. He also served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he handled civil fraud, False Claims Act, criminal, and appellate cases.

Mr. Miller received his bachelor’s degree from Temple University, his juris doctorate from the University of Texas, and his Master of Arts from Westminster Theological Seminary.

To be fair, unlike Abend, Miller is absolutely qualified for the SIGPR position (which means he’ll be harder to block in the Senate). But by picking someone who has already demonstrated his willingness to put loyalty ahead of the Constitution, Trump has provided Mnuchin one more assurance that he can loot the bailout with almost no oversight.

163 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    When you don’t understand and can’t remember anything in your intelligence briefings, it’s best not to believe them.

    That works when you’re not subject to cross-examination, which would reveal your fatal ignorance. Trump and Barr, his resident cover-up expert, know that’s not sufficient. You have to destroy the credibility of both the information and those who gave it to you. Doing that is throwing Trump in his briar patch: he is good at it and he loves doing it. As you elegantly point out, it’s also good if you can keep embarrassing information from coming out in the first place. That goes for the entire Republican party, too.

    The House, and hopefully the Senate come this January, have their work cut out for them. Any suggestions about what members are most likely to take up that cudgel?

  2. gmoke says:

    Firing the inspector general of the intelligence community is also part of the general dismantling of the USA’s counter-intelligence and intelligence operations that Trmp has pursued since day one of his installation in office.

    • Bardi says:

      “Firing the inspector general of the intelligence community is also part of the general dismantling of the USA’s counter-intelligence and intelligence operations that Trmp has pursued since day one of his installation in office.”

      It sounds so much like what I think Putin would want.

  3. Wry6read says:

    I am always relieved to come across gifted individuals who can come up with sharp points that are not just on the end of pitchforks. But I’m not giving my pitchfork away just yet.

  4. vvv says:

    “Abend seems totally unqualified for the DOD job alone, but if he is confirmed, he would also make Fine ineligible to head PRAC.”

    I can’t figure this out – are you saying that Abend would take action to make Fine ineligible? Or does his confirmation do that as a result of, say, some conflict? Sorry for my obtusenessosity.

    As an aside, I still can’t evaluate Horowitz as a force for good, evil, or just himself.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I think the answer is that the Director or PRAC must be a sitting IG. Fine is one now, he’s the Acting Inspector General for the DoD. If Abend is confirmed as DoD’s IG, a post Trump left vacant since his inauguration, Fine would ceases to be an IG, which eliminates him from being eligible.

      Trump won’t appoint him to another IG post. Apart from reviving his eligibility to run PRAC, Fine is too good at his job, which is auditing and exposing the kind of financial chicanery Trump built his career on. Trump hates IGs about as much as he hates prosecutors, IRS auditors, and real estate zoning commissioners he can’t bribe.

  5. Ken Muldrew says:

    Now, it could be that this information was legitimately classified. But if so, it means Trump had even more — and higher quality — warning of the impending pandemic than we know. If not, then it was an abuse of the classification process in an attempt to avoid having to deal with it. Either one of those possibility further condemns Trump’s response.

    It may be worth noting the other possibility for abusing classification, even if you're not yet ready to entertain it seriously: that Trump was ignoring information to actively exacerbate the spread of the pandemic (for profit, for retribution, for payment of a debt…who knows? Anything is possible with this creature) and using classification to hide his efforts to prevent a response.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, but if the possibility is kept in mind, then as evidence mounts to support it, one can incorporate that evidence sensibly. Otherwise, people are likely to embrace "single bullet theories" because the alternative explanation is just too psychically jarring.

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      Sorry. I meant to blockquote the first paragraph (taken from the article) and reply to it below, but the html didn’t work.

    • Justlp says:

      I’ve been wondering what stake (most likely not a straightforward one) Trump has in the drug he keeps hyping – hydroxychloroquine – now saying the government has stockpiled 29 million doses of. He spends an inordinate amount of time talking about it even though it is NOT an approved treatment & testing has been limited. It is unbelievable that he is allowed to essentially provide a medical opinion to a huge audience with absolutely NO knowledge or experience of what he is talking about. What’s in it for him? We know he does nothing unless it benefits him.

      My sister has a serious case of Rheumatoid Arthritis & was just informed by her doctor that the drug she gets a monthly infusion of (actemra) is in short supply because it is being tested as a Covid-19 treatment. They aren’t sure yet if her upcoming treatment will be impacted or not. This is worrisome.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    “Abend seems totally unqualified for the DOD job alone.” An understatement of English proportions.

    Abend has very little management experience and he never seems to stay long enough at a job to acquire it. He had entry-level jobs in the FBI and Secret Service, then started a business to sell media services to local, state, and federal public safety agencies.

    That must not have worked out, because he returned to the USG at the agent level for the IGs for both HUD and FHA. Most recently, he moved to the amorphous job of “special policy adviser” at the deeply troubled Customs and Border Protection, which seems to having nothing to do with housing, urban development or home loans. Since he received that appointment under Trump, it was presumably to help manage CBP’s PR, not to manage or reform it.

    Abend’s history of job changes and relatively low-level jobs, and his focus on managing PR, indicate he’s been nominated as a placeholder. At the best of times, being the DoD’s IG is a monumental task requiring deep experience, knowledge of government, and relationship skills. Flag officers, a plethora of government contractors working on billion dollar projects, and congressional patrons dislike having job performance, contracting, and accounting skills questioned. They have nothing to fear from Abend: he is as likely to be as good at his job as Trump is at his.

    • Peterr says:

      Abend won’t be there alone. The current senior leadership at DODIG is:

      DoD OIG Senior Leadership

      Steven A. Stebbins, Chief of Staff
      Jacqueline L. Wicecarver, Deputy Inspector General for Audit
      Dermot F. O’Reilly, Deputy Inspector General for Investigations
      Michael S. Child, Sr., Deputy Inspector General Overseas Contingency Operations
      Marguerite C. Garrison, Deputy Inspector General Administrative Investigations
      Michael J. Roark, Deputy Inspector General for Evaluations
      Paul Hadjiyane, General Counsel to the Inspector General
      Patrick W. Gookin, Director, DoD Hotline

      I’m really curious about what folks know about these people. In a situation where the boss is in over his head, the role of the staff takes on greater importance. If Abend is aware of his limitations here, he’ll lean on the staff more heavily to make up for it. OTOH, if Abend is unaware, then their lives will become miserable as they try to pick up the slack, deal with most stuff to keep it off his desk, and clean up the messes that will result. Abend may retain his chief of staff, to get up to speed, or he may quickly replace him to complete the housecleaning.

      Personally, I’d expect to see a new chief of staff, appointed by the WH as was done at DOJ under Sessions.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Abend’s past does not indicate he would be talented or confident enough to listen to his staff, or know what to do if he did. If, as it looks, he is at the DoD primarily to do the WH’s bidness rather than the DoD IG’s, he will quickly end up fighting them rather than relying on them.

    • Rapier says:

      The well of people eager to fulfill the wishes of the leader is huge. They are everywhere. Through every layer of government, business, the military, the police, and the biggest of big money ‘investors’. The .1%

      Every time you hear of an Abend you might think like I used to that such absurd believers were rare. No, they are common.

      Well we are in the beginning of a monetary event wherein all the political economy is chaotic. Trump is all of a part of that. It’s good to think of this story that way now. History will. People are not recognizing that the entire monetary/banking system is in collapse. How could it play out. Nobody the fuck knows.

      • Sonso says:

        On the latter, you are 100% correct. We are about to, if not already are, experiencing what happens when people reach a code event in a hospital: multiple system breakdowns. The ‘after’ of the current event mass will be, I am truly sorry to say, quite dystopic. An analog of a wave is instructive: when you ride the back of a wave to the top, you don’t see the break, so you are vulnerable to being swamped when it does. This is where the global economy is right now. …and really nobody dealing with it.

  7. foggycoast says:

    this is all important work by all the EW folks. the actions of this administration have more than just political consequences. people are dying. i wonder what justice for all this will look like should the Democrats take the the executive and legislative branch in November (assuming there is actually a legitimate election.) is it too much to hope for a tribunal?

  8. Peterr says:

    Mulvaney then began convening more regular meetings. In early briefings, however, officials said Trump was dismissive because he did not believe that the virus had spread widely throughout the United States.

    Donald Trump, NIMBY in Chief.

  9. ernesto1581 says:

    The other day, Glenn Kirschner (JAG, 24+ years federal prosecutor/Assistant U.S. Attorney, DC office including much time doing homicide prosecution) laid out what seemed to me perfectly cogent reasons Trump could face prosecutions for involuntary manslaughter once he finally leaves office, for actions related to his conduct over the course of the pandemic. The podcast is here:
    I would be interested to hear what some of the legal minds on the site might have to say.

    OT but not really: my youngest, who is doctoring at a poor peoples’ clinic in Rochester NY, reports not only acute shortages of masks, protective garb and so on, but that what little they have may well be requisitioned for downstate use in the near future, especially the ventilators. Hard to tell, though, because decisions and actions are accompanied by an utter lack of administrative transparency.
    Elective procedures have been suspended, as with many other hospitals & clinics, and with them their associated billable codes. His clinic is therefore unable to make any money on COVID-19-related patients so preceptors — doctors who supervise residents — are being laid off. This seems to be happening among more and more small clinics and practices. It’s hard to see how many of them will survive.

    • P J Evans says:

      I keep wondering about “depraved indifference” or whatever it’s called when you do things that will kill other people.

    • Frank Probst says:

      They’re firing the PRECEPTORS (aka, the attending physicians) and keeping the RESIDENTS? Unless the preceptors have jobs at other places (and they might–at one point, I was credentialed to see patients at 6 different hospitals), they’re going to pack up and leave Rochester. And they’re unlikely to come back when all of this is over.

      • ernesto1581 says:

        Yes, this does seem to be the case. I don’t see how doing so doesn’t eliminate the residents perforce. Isn’t the oversight by attending docs somehow required, at least for 1st and 2nd year residents?? Admittedly, this is one little clinic and not Strongs or Highland…
        again, no clear guidance from admin, so kind of hard to know what’s shaking down.

        • Frank Probst says:

          My best guess is that there’s an attending who’s “supervising” far more residents than usual. One of the few nice things about not being able to bill is that you don’t have to put a bunch of extraneous crap into the medical documentation. Either that, or they’re letting residents with licenses (which you typically only need one year of post-grad training to qualify for) work on their own, even though they’re not credentialed (which means the facility hasn’t jumped through all of the hoops for that doc to bill for services).

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Sounds like garden variety predatory capitalism, one of the USA’s major exports. Elon Musk did it when he fired his “expensive” automotive and industrial engineers and made lower-level staff figure out how to design and manufacture a novel automobile.

        Load, aim at foot, fire seems to be the usual process, the cost of which is usually passed onto customers. But, hey, short-term costs went down, so it’s all good.

    • greengiant says:

      The cancellation of elective procedures has thrown an enormous wrench into the US medical industry. Practices with orthopedics, eye care and surgery, colonoscopies, and other medicare and insurance paid procedures seem to be shut down. It is not just the preceptors affected. The illusion that this is a 2 to 6 week thing is slow to break down. The IHME model predicts deaths at higher rates in early May than the US is seeing now. The pandemic legislation seems to offer forgivable loans to make payrolls which seems a bone tossed to those who make more than the unemployment benefits. Now I wonder if contractors are not covered by the employers’ forgivable loan benefits.

      • P J Evans says:

        little things like medical ports for chemo – it isn’t strictly necessary, but it makes chemo a lot easier if you don’t have to have a needle in your arm for hours every time. (Better for your veins, too.) It’s fairly minor surgery, but it does need people and supplies, both going in and coming out. (Going in, for me, was in radiology – they use ultrasound to make locate the vein.)

      • Rugger9 says:

        Keep in mind that the IMHE model is flawed as noted in a prior thread (it doesn’t account for how long ventilators are being used among other deficiencies) so consider it the most optimistic for timelines. Models are only as good as the assumptions contained within them and those assumptions need to be tested.

        Apparently DJT was back on the “try it” bandwagon for chloroquinone in its various forms (hydroxy- or otherwise) and we have reports about entities engaged in PPE piracy including the US Government. SO, exactly what is Jared doing here? It would appear that the hoarding is being done to drive up the per-unit price for masks so whoever is hoarding them makes a killing.

        OT, sort of: the recent cashiering of CAPT Crozier looks more like someone leaked his email for him that was sent to some 20 persons on a non-secure server. I noted before and note again that the sentiments are spot on, and that as CO of a ship he owns everything that happens to it even if his standing orders are disobeyed (see Evans vs Melbourne). With that said the issues in Seventh Fleet will become a problem, remember that the commander of 7th Fleet was also cashiered along with the captains of the Fitzgerald and John S McCain after their collisions revealed fleet-level problems with the ships being given the time and resources to be able to handle the tasks assigned. Also observe that the center of 7th Fleet’s operations are in the tropics where all sorts of bugs live and infect people (Subic was famous for that). Don’t think for a moment that the People’s Liberation Army – Navy (PLAN) isn’t taking notes about how ready we are with Trump, Jared and Esper in charge and thinking Taiwan would make a lovely naval base for them. This assumes DJT doesn’t sell Taiwan to the PRC first for cash.

        Crozier is right that unless we are at war with another nation, there is no reason to sacrifice service members in this way, and I would think he would demand a GCM to clear his record here. The pattern established by the Pentagon, however is not really new (in spite of what I’ve read recently) where legitimate concerns of the officers and sailors are ignored to cover their own butts. Plenty of examples here illustrate the point, including the Mark 14 torpedo in WW2 with defective detonators, the USS Iowa turret explosion, “aquaflage” for items large and small in a very short list. The British phrase talks about “lions led by donkeys” first applied to Sir Douglas Haig, but I guess there is a book out now with that title.

      • posaune says:

        My SIL, a PT in Bend, Oregon was just furloughed, b/c all PT services cancelled. My other SIL, in Iowa City, also a PT, said that the whole PT staff has been redeployed to nursing assistants, triage, etc.

  10. Frank Probst says:

    Okay, before I make this comment, I want to stress that the COVID-19 virus is clearly NOT a bioweapon, and that assessment can be made from numerous different scientific sources within the US alone. It’s obviously a naturally-occurring virus. Again, IT IS NOT A BIOWEAPON.

    That being said, the initial reports–and pretty much all of the scientific data–were all coming out of China and needed to be verified. And this looked a lot like the super-flu right out of Stephen King’s The Stand. So initially, the possibility of this being a bioweapon had to be high on the list of considerations. That would justify keeping the initial briefings classified. Our defensive capabilities against a possible bioweapon are probably closely held secrets, and our HUMINT very likely includes many foreign scientists, some of whom may have disappeared or died just by chance here, since that was clearly happening to a number of Chinese doctors and scientists.

    Initially, this would have been compared to the 1979 Sverdlovsk anthrax leak as well as to the 1918 flu outbreak. It would have taken us a few weeks, with good leadership, to figure out exactly what we were dealing with. We don’t have good leadership. But enough sources from outside the government (mostly in academia) have amassed enough evidence that no one in the scientific community seriously thinks that this is a possible bioweapon.

    At this point, I think it would be ridiculous to keep the meetings classified. The only thing I can think of that might justify it is if we have some sort of covert network that’s tasked with tracking the spread of a bioweapon, and it’s being used here. Since we aren’t even capable of OVERTLY tracking the spread of the COVID-19 virus, I don’t think that’s an issue here. (Hopefully, we’ll be able to do widespread testing by next Friday.)

    • Peterr says:

      The other way in which classification might legitimately come into this is if the intelligence community was “reading the mail” between various people and offices in China. It’s kind of hard to have a public meeting where you say “We know there’s a nasty very contagious disease running rampant in China, so we have to get ready for it to break out into the rest of the world.” The first question will be “how do you know that?” and there’s no way to answer that without screwing your tech, your human sources, or both.

      My WAG is that the initial IC briefings were very much like this, and later on the “national security” issue was used as a fig leaf to hide what TrumpCo had not done to prepare.

      • Rugger9 says:

        The first classification exercise was to cover up bungling by the aviators (not sure if it was USAF or USAAF at the time) where some bombers crashed and it seemed there was a fundamental flaw being downplayed which needed to be hidden from the families.

    • Nehoa says:

      Very unlikely it was not a bio weapon. The genetic evidence points against that. I lived in Wuhan near that market (2 years ago), and if you have spent time at those kinds of markets you totally get how things can cross over.
      In terms of spreading the virus, many many people going in and out of the city in crowded trains, planes and buses. Around Chinese New Year to top it off.

      • P J Evans says:

        I thought that New Year was in February this year – the celebrations in California got cancelled, because crowds. (Gung hay fat choy, all!)

        • Rayne says:

          Lunar New Year was January 25. Observations in China would have begun that day with intense travel just before that.

          PRC canceled the holiday on January 23. Very tight notice but the decision wasn’t a light one and probably made with great difficulty since it is the largest annual human migration on earth with an expected 3 billion trips to/from home across Asia.

        • paulpfixion says:

          Exactly. Everyone was already off and back in their provinces when the lockdowns started and the holiday “canceled.” My community of expats thought the timing odd when it happened–knowing what we do now…

  11. Savage Librarian says:

    Life Inside a Can

    We all know a man
    who isn’t really there,
    He lives his life inside a can
    spinning stories out of air.

    I think he has to flush them
    ten or fifteen times,
    He doesn’t want to rush them
    to conceal his many crimes.

    I hear they call him POTUS,
    But he’s not in the lead,
    He thinks that he can float us
    any dirty deed.

    Even if we notice
    his motive still is greed,
    We can count on POTUS
    to glory in the bleed.

    They say this man called POTUS
    loves to spill his seed,
    Does he aim to bloat us
    with more of his breed?

    Where is POTUS?
    We don’t have to meet
    to tell him that he owed us
    more than prostitutes that peed.

    He remembers that he wrote us
    a noxious sinister feed,
    To first become the POTUS
    and fulfill his selfish need.

    Does he want to goad us
    into thinking he can read,
    As he tries to load us
    with another twisted screed?

    We should know his modus
    operandi is his creed,
    After all, he’s always showed us
    how is juice is guaranteed.

    But even as he rowed us
    thick into the weed,
    He hasn’t undertowed us
    if we’re up to speed.

    He’d love to say he smote us
    when someone disagreed,
    But he won’t if we can vote us
    in November and succeed!

    We all know a man
    who isn’t really there,
    He lives his life inside a can
    spinning stories out of air.

    I think he has to flush them
    ten or fifteen times,
    He doesn’t want to rush them
    to conceal his many crimes.

  12. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The MSM continues its downward spiral. The Guardian’s front page says this: “US president accuses states of asking for unneeded supplies and media of spreading fake news.” That suggests fraudulent, indeed, criminal behavior. But when you click to the article, it’s below a new/old headline: “Trump tells Americans to take unproven malaria drug to prevent Covid-19.” That’s an unsupported claim no better than selling snake oil during a typhoid epidemic. Both of those are as of 22.30 hours on Saturday.

    Both statements by Trump are demonstrably false, but the average, headline-skimming reader would not know it unless they got to about paragraph 11. Nor does either headline put Trump’s false claims in context. The paper could use the recommended truth sandwich for egregious false claims by politicians: truth – false claim – truth. Or it could simply try, “Trump cllaims without evidence…” or “…despite the evidence….” I guess that’s too much for Katharine Viner’s editors to get right.

    • Peterr says:

      Reuters puts Trump at the center of the push to get the CDC to offer emergency approval for the use of the unproven malaria drugs:

      In a series of conversations last month, President Trump personally instructed top officials at the Centers for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institutes of Health to focus on the two drugs as potential therapies, said two sources familiar with the president’s efforts.

      In seeking a medical breakthrough to the global crisis, Trump had contacted Dr. Stephen Hahn, the FDA administrator, and other top health officials, questioning whether they were moving rapidly enough to make the drugs more widely available, one source said. “He was not happy because of the bureaucracy.”

      Trump did not raise his voice or express anger, but did emphasize the “urgency” of fast-tracking access to the drugs, the other source said. A cascade of federal action soon followed to make the drugs more available, including the federal government’s grant of emergency authorization to supply them nationwide.

      An NIH spokeswoman said the agency was “not the source of the content” of the CDC-compiled document. The CDC said it presented the guidance to doctors at the request of a coronavirus task force, which urged prompt action.

      An FDA spokesperson declined to discuss any push by the president or address the CDC-issued guidance. The agency, in a statement to Reuters, said it acted appropriately when, later in March, it issued an emergency order allowing the drugs to be prescribed and distributed.

      “It was determined, based on the scientific evidence available, that it is reasonable to believe that the specific drugs may be effective in treating COVID-19, and that, given there are no adequate, approved, or available alternative treatments, the known and potential benefits to treat this serious or life-threatening virus outweigh the known and potential risks,” the FDA statement said.

      Gotta love that passive voice: “It was determined . . .”

      Sorry, FDA: I want a name. Who, exactly, evaluated the scientific evidence? Who, exactly, too that evaluation and determined that it is reasonable to believe that these drugs may be effective against COVID-19?

      Who, that is, other than Donald J. Trump, non-MD, non-PhD, non-expert-at-anything-medical?

      • harpie says:

        I think the use of the article “a” in this sentence is interesting:

        The CDC said it presented the guidance to doctors at the request of a coronavirus task force, which urged prompt action.

        Made me think of KUSHNER.

      • harpie says:

        The following is a few paragraphs after Peter’s quoted passage:

        The [CDC] document describes possible prescription information for coronavirus patients, while at the same time proposing hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as an option in coronavirus treatment. It was the first time the federal government’s disease control agency had officially floated the idea.

        “Although optimal dosing and duration of hydroxychloroquine for treatment of COVID-19 are unknown,” the document says, “some U.S. clinicians have reported anecdotally” about different hydroxychloroquine doses.

        The document does not
        1] name the clinicians,
        2] say whether their treatment was successful or
        3] explain the paper’s sourcing. […] [bullet points added]

        That made me think of this:
        Touting Virus Cure, ‘Simple Country Doctor’ Becomes a Right-Wing Star
        April 2, 2020

        Added: that’s about Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a family doctor in NY, who became a “right-wing celebrity” after his unproven Covid-19 treatment went viral.

        […] “I’m seeing tremendous positive results,” he said in a March 21 video, which was addressed to President Trump and eventually posted to YouTube and Facebook.

        • harpie says:

          […] Sean Hannity, the Fox News host, quickly promoted Dr. Zelenko’s claims on his TV and radio shows.
          Mark Meadows, the incoming White House chief of staff, called Dr. Zelenko to ask about his treatment plan.
          And Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, praised him in a podcast interview this week for “thinking of solutions, just like the president.” […]

        • harpie says:

          Rudy texts with Zelenko “several times a day” and interviewed him on his podcast last week:

          4:19 PM · Apr 5, 2020

          Giuliani is extensively promoting experimental coronavirus treatments, talking to the president several times in recent weeks about them. He has criticism for Fauci and others skeptical of the drugs. Latest w/⁦ @PostRoz & ⁦@jonswaine⁩: […] [link]

          Links to:
          Giuliani, a familiar voice in Trump’s ear, promotes experimental coronavirus treatments
          April 5, 2020 at 4:01 p.m

        • P J Evans says:

          Rudy isn’t a medical expert, and he certainly isn’t an epidemiologist like Dr Fauci.

        • harpie says:

          […] He said his team had seen about 900 patients with possible coronavirus symptoms, treating about 350 with his regimen. None had died as of Thursday [4/2/20], he said, though six were hospitalized and two were on ventilators. […]

        • Ken Muldrew says:

          For those unfamiliar with medical terminology, when people refer to “anecdotal reports” or “anecdotal evidence”, they are usually referring to case studies that are not part of a controlled study but are generally published in a journal (or are in a preprint of an article that has been submitted to a journal). The above usage sounds more like a rumour or bit of gossip. It is absolutely correct to demand a citation for anything attributed to an “anecdotal” report.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          As I understand it, those drugs are needed to treat other diseases, against which they have been proven effective.

          Promoting their experimental use – when a correct dosage is “unknown” and when their supply and the entire medical community are stretched so thin – seems to violate the Hippocratic oath.

        • harpie says:

          Another one of the ““U.S. clinicians”: Dr. Oz:

          8:38 PM · Apr 5, 2020

          NEW: Trump is telling his aides to listen to accused ‘quack’ Dr. Mehmet Oz for coronavirus advice. Oz is one of the loudest voices pushing the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment — the same drug Trump keeps hyping. [The Daily Beast link]

  13. Max404 says:

    Trump vs Fauci: like a game of Pong.

    Fauci takes the podium: perservere in social distancing. Trump must immediately retort: we must “open up” the country. This cycle repeated multiple times in the presser yesterday.

    Trump’s word choice is signicant. What needs to be “opened” are hotels and restaurants and golf clubs. ( He is certainly not referring to borders. ) The Trump Organization is careening towards bankruptcy and Deutsche Bank has Trump’s personal property as collateral.

    See for details:

    New York Magazine: The Trump Organization Is Looking for a Coronavirus Bailout: Report

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Failing at the best of times, the Trump Organization will have to replace the grift it’s making from Trump in the White House.

    • P J Evans says:

      Trmp isn’t supposed to be involved with those. He told us his sons are running the business. (Yes, i know he lies about everything.)
      It doesn’t say much for his sons’ business management, either.

  14. Jenny says:

    Remember when the occupant of the WH said,
    “Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”

  15. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump promoting “miracle cures” is among his least appropriate and most dangerous behavior. He is not qualified to recommend these “cures,” he provides no valid support for them beyond, “Someone told me…,” and it is a distraction from his administration’s total lack of planning for, and its incompetent and malicious responses to this health crisis.

    In part, Trump is doing what any CEO does: define his job so that it does not include what he can’t or won’t do. In part, Trump is deeply ignorant, and there are no limits to what he would do to gain temporary respite from responsibility.

    In part, Trump is appealing to a base that zealously promotes the Second Coming. For them, the return of Christ means rapture; for everyone else, it means the end. Doing anything to stop that is to work against His will. Trump does not believe that or much else. He does believe that appealing to those who do will help him stay in office. If what we want is a rational, aggressive, successful response to a global disaster, these are not the people who will provide it.

  16. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rumor has it that Ginny Thomas – the harder, more fundamentalist, other half of Clarence – and others are promoting inside the White House the idea that federal Inspectors General are part of the deep state and anathema to Trump’s agenda. That would also put them at odds with neoliberals, in general, and corporate lobbyists, in particular.

    Federal IGs need, in their view, to be dismissed or replaced across the board with the Abends and Kavanaughs of the world, FedSoc acolytes and gurus who will, in effect, shut down the IG function in service to an all-powerful executive branch. Trump, of course, hates accountability of any kind, so the argument falls on desperate, receptive ears.

    Their argument fits hand-in-glove with the politics of the hard rightwing FedSoc nominees McConnell has devoted his career to putting on the federal bench. They expect to do a lot between now and this November, so that they have four more years to reinvent America in their image.

    • Rayne says:

      This is really disturbing. It tells me that someone has access to either purchasing orders or shipping orders — a level of surveillance which is absolutely beyond the pale when the federal government isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do and is instead interfering with emergencies.

      If I were manufacturers and states, I would move to sales on FOB shipping dock basis, establish ad hoc ‘flexible’* shipping networks using NGOs, and then watch for federal interdiction. This would tell more about the point at which the orders are being surveilled.

      It’s difficult for bureaucracies to work like skunkworks but they must if they’re going to get around the Trump administration’s Russian mafia-like operations.

      EDIT: * If I were doing this, I would insist that orders were bundled for handling by the pickup load and not 40-foot or 20-foot dry vans. Orders should only be released upon presentation of a unique passcode, one bundle per pickup truck. Send out 5-10 pickups in different directions for arrival at the same destination. State police should be enlisted to provide security — harass anybody, including feds OR whomever looks like feds, who show up to interdict any bundle, until bundle(s) have been delivered.

      If an NBA player with contacts in China and an NFL team can manage to evade the feds to deliver PPE and vents, let’s do this.

      • P J Evans says:

        It fits with the GOP- PR guy who shut down and restarted as a medical-equipment supplier. (The guy who said he knows a lot of people.)

      • drouse says:

        Note that Josh said the assumption that the supplies were seized on behalf off FEMA. He left dangling the idea that they were seized and diverted into the grey market on behalf of someone.

        • Rayne says:

          Oh I noted that. Which is why I made a remark referring to this as “Russian mafia-like operations.”

          This is what it would look like where there’s a little skimming on everything, where everything is transactional.

      • ernesto1581 says:

        I’ll tell you one small, cheering story, though. I know these two thirty-something guys working in Montpelier on the VT COVID Task Force, sourcing stuff for the state. One guy got a decent line on some PPE’s, masks or whatever, then picked up the phone and called in to some federal point person, per his directive. Whatever the federale said, or however he said it, VT guy hung up the phone, turned to his partner and said, “There’s no way in hell I’m going to tell that sonofabitch anything about this delivery.”
        (His mom told me this story this earlier today.)

        • Rayne says:

          Good news. People are figuring it out. I hate that we have to sink so low and begin to enter their corrupt headspace, but if we don’t do it people will literally die. Get in and get out, get the mission done for the people saving lives.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I can think of no rational reason for Trump to seize shipments to states and hospitals, unless he is immediately reshipping them to similar customers who are in greater need.

        There’s no evidence of that, and no apparent process for doing it fairly and for compensating states and private parties for their losses (or accounting for any of it). Moreover, the character of it would be unlike Trump, who’s on a power binge just now. Nor do I see a reason for him to seize the goods in order to let them sit in a mounting pile in some Indiana Jones-like gubmint stockpile.

        It would be like Trump, however – con man and scam artist that he is – to seize those goods in order to give them to his private sector BFFs. They, in turn, would resell them at a price gouging mark-up to those same customers. Trump would expect those BFFs to give him a piece of the action, by way of political, lobbying, and campaign support, bidness at his properties, buying his crap buildings, lending him money, what have you. That would also fit with the secretive, private sector-only character of Jared Kushner’s shadow Covid-19 Response committee.

        If anything like that is true, and there’s as yet little evidence either way, it sounds felonious, and it begins to look like a crime against humanity.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Given Trumps propensity to blame others for the things he himself is doing, this makes me think back to the presser he did last week when he called on someone to investigate “where all of the [PPE/ventilators] are going” He was accusing the Drs/Hospitals of ordering more equipment than they needed in order to have it ‘fall off the back of a truck” in the Queens, NY parlance, so that they could sell it on the black market.

          That struck many as an odd thing to say at the time, but it sounded to me like when he was asking the Russians to look for Hillary’s emails.

        • Vicks says:

          I can’t shake the organization’s creepy comments about who owns and controls the surplus, Trump’s thinly veiled threat to governors that weren’t “nice” and how Republicans supported withholding aid to Ukraine until their new leader did Trump “a favor.”
          This pos is up for re-election and shame on us if we can’t force our imaginations to get to the place needed to foresee how low his army will go to keep him In office.
          Stop thinking federal government with its checks and balances, we took them for granted and held out for the courts to prove us right while instead they have been destroyed while we sat on our hands.
          This is organized crime, the only thing missing (so far) is the violence
          Pirating emergency supplies for leverage or profit is a no-brainer.

        • harpie says:

          Absolutely sounds like something I would say/have said…so, yes, “words of a nut”!
          But, we are not alone!
          It’s time for the lunatics to take over the asylum.

        • vicks says:

          So what’s the plan?
          We have waited for the rule of law and congress to save us and now Trump is working down his list and shredding the inspector general program while the pussies in congress only want an oversight committee that only looks “forward”
          For the first two years of his presidency I was convinced there was a tipping point; decent people would come around and do the right thing.
          It’s only now I am realizing I got it all wrong, it was the Trump organization looking for the tipping point.
          We are now at a place where Trump’s organization can, in just a couple of moves, bring this country to it’s knees.
          In one generation this country can become as sick, poor and uneducated as the countries run by the world’s cruelest dictators.
          People are divided and the hate we have created for the opposite side is all that fuels too many of us. It’s the worst kind of drug.
          Our country is sick.

        • Rayne says:

          Our country is literally sick. That will persuade a larger percentage than anything else. Can’t explain away dead family and friends.

          The rest comes down to focusing on senate races — we MUST do everything to take back the Senate. And we MUST do everything to get out the vote, even at risk of our health. There’s nothing left otherwise because the Trump administration has proven it is willing to kill us to retain power.

          You’re at war now. So fight like it’s war.

    • drouse says:

      I might add, they could have prefaced that last paragraph with an unfortunately or something.

  17. posaune says:

    Wondering if anyone can comment on this from the St. L Fed:
    Scroll to the bottom: increase of 10% over last week.

    Domestic Holdings: Includes CUSIP-level data and SOMA Historical Data Export Builder. Data are updated Thursdays with previous day’s holdings.

    US Treasury Bills (T-Bills) 326,044,000.0
    US Treasury Notes and Bonds 2,776,041,522.7
    US Treasury Floating Rate Notes (FRN) 15,817,998.3
    US Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS)* 191,725,411.7
    Federal Agency Debt Securities** 2,347,000.0
    Agency Mortgage-Backed Securities*** 1,456,262,773.4
    Total SOMA Holdings 4,768,238,706.1
    Change From Prior Week 432,227,323.1

    • Peterr says:

      For the last three weeks, the Fed has been buying a lot of Treasury Notes and Bonds, in large part to calm down the financial markets. They’ve also upped their buying of other stuff, but the Notes & Bonds are the big mover here (data from your NY Fed link):

      April 2: $2,776,041,522.7
      March 25: $2,440,306,871.2
      March 18: $2,138,677,871.2
      March 11: $2,027,663,871.2

      The three week change = $748,377,651.2 or up 36.9%

      On March 12, Bloomberg said this:

      The New York Fed, which conducts market operations on behalf of the U.S. central bank, said in a statement that it is aiming trillions of dollars in temporary loans at the banking system in coming weeks to relieve strains as investors sell government bonds to raise cash. It will also purchase a broader range of government securities than just short-term Treasury bills to make sure the liquidity gets into the cracks appearing.

      The dramatic expansion comes amid widespread financial-market turmoil, which led to a seizing-up of the Treasury market Wednesday. The steps were taken at the direction of Fed Chair Jerome Powell, in consultation with his colleagues on the central bank’s rate-setting Federal Open Market Committee, to stem what it called “temporary disruptions.”

      The moves were reminiscent of the Fed’s quantitative easing program, known as QE, during the financial crisis of 2008.


      The turmoil in recent days has led to widespread unwinds of trading positions. Government bonds, due to their liquidity and the market’s sheer size relative to others — like that for corporate bonds — are the easiest thing to sell in turbulent times when investors need to raise cash.

      That kind of selling led to an accumulation of inventories on the balance sheets of broker-dealers, who needed to turn to money markets to finance them, according to Gwinn, a former New York Fed trader himself. The heightened strain forced the central bank to intervene.

      “The change here was really about addressing that concern — finding a way to give an outlet for some of these securities, trying to take some of that paper off dealers’ hands — to improve market functioning,” Gwinn said.

      Per Reuters, on March 23:

      Liquidity in Treasuries has thinned in recent weeks, leading to sharp price movements. The Fed began stepping in with a rate cut in early March, followed by increasingly drastic measures to bolster market conditions.

      On Monday, it announced programs that represent a never-before-seen intervention by the central bank into the heart of the “real” American economy. For the first time, the Fed will back purchases of corporate bonds, backstop direct loans to companies and “soon” will roll out a program to get credit to small and medium-sized business.

      The Fed will also purchase Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities in the amounts needed to support the smooth functioning of the U.S. debt market. It previously announced it would buy at least $500 billion of Treasury securities and at least $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities.

      “This creates a buyer of last resort for a lot of the securities and takes a lot of pressure off dealers’ balance sheets, which already have been full,” said Gennadiy Goldberg, senior rates strategist, at TD Securities in New York.

  18. Molly Pitcher says:

    Several media outlets are reporting that a tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for Covid 19

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    At his daily campaign briefing a little while ago, Trump claimed he’s “ordered” 29 million hydroxychloroquine pills. “What have you got to lose?” says a guy who raced into bankruptcy six times and admits he’s “not a doctor” and “knows nothing.” Truer words.

  20. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Apologies to the twtr author who first corrected the Surgeon General’s exculpatory analogy, but Covid-19 is not our Pearl Harbor, it is our Chernobyl.

    This crisis was not a surprise; it was predictable and predicted. Its death and injury toll will be many thousands higher than they needed to be, because Trump and his followers denied the problem for months, threw out resources that were put away for just such a rainy day, and mishandled their response – either through incompetence or malfeasance.

    Democrats must demand that there be a Truth Commission investigation to determine which of those two things it was. We will need several more Vietnam Memorials on the Mall to count the lives lost, and it will be necessary for all of us to know why.

    • P J Evans says:

      I’m pissed that Clyburn thinks we don’t need to look back and find out how the emergency stockpiles got effed up and why the CDC can’t do its mandated job. That’s how we can prevent this mess from happening again. Dems who think we should only look forward need to lead, follow or GTF out of the way.

    • VoltOwner says:

      Testing failure is reminiscent of the early radiation level “data” from Chenobyl. Since the meters in the reactor were all pegged at the highest possible reading for that meter, that was the number reported up the chain.
      It wasn’t until a meter that read high enough was brought in that the true amount of radiation was known.
      We need tests, tests and tests, then more tests…

  21. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Faux Noise, like Trump, says the quiet parts out loud. “Either survive or die,” but get off the ventilators.

    What that voice does not say is that the line sells well to an administration that has criminally botched the sourcing of ventilators – months into a catastrophe. How much better to say, “You shouldn’t be on one,” than, “We fucked up and it’s killing you. Sorry, now watch this swing.”

  22. paulpfixion says:

    Apologies if this has been discussed prior, but who the hell is benefiting from hydroxychloroquine sales? Has anyone followed the money yet and I just missed it?

  23. paulpfixion says:

    Amneal (AMRX) Jan 1–4.82; 4/6–2.94 (American Company)

    Mylan (MYL) 1/1–20.10; 4/6–13.85 (Dutch)

    Teva (TEVA) 1/1–11.53; 4/6–8.37 (Israeli/American)

    Novartis (NVS) 1/1–83.96; 4/6–83.30 (Swiss)

    4/6 prices are projected based on after hours trading.

    I just don’t understand why Trump is playing Jude Law here unless there is a real play for him.

      • paulpfixion says:

        That may be right, sometimes the simple answer is the best answer–after all, what does *he* have to lose.

      • John K says:

        Absolutely right. He sees his reelection chances slipping away with the state of the economy and the amount of criticism he’s getting about the pathetic federal response. He’s swinging for the fences, hoping that he connects on the hydroxychloroquine. It’s his one chance to really look like a genius- by contradicting all those experts.
        Of course, the average Trump voter has no idea how complicated the science of drug development can be, so when this particular wish doesn’t come true, the fault will lie with the deep state. The existence of anecdotal evidence is all they ever need to continue supporting him.

    • ducktree says:

      Verrry interesting . . Teva is the manufacturer of the cortico-steroid inhaler (Qvar) I regularly use. My pharmacy today notified me that the Rx refill I requested last week is now on back order – until 6/01/2020. They must be distracted by the dollars falling from the sky.

      • Rayne says:

        Something’s weird about Teva. They had to sell their IV products subsidiary, which seems strange given how badly its major competitor Baxter was affected by Hurricane Maria. You may recall there was a serious shortage of IV lines and bags after the hurricane in 2017 going into 2018.

  24. Rugger9 says:

    As with many things in the administration one needs to follow the money, so why is hydroxychloroquinone being plugged so much?

    Maybe it’s because he’s working on cornering the market. It’s important to remember as posted earlier by the blog that the supplies are being given to commercial middlemen for distribution, not being distributed directly by the government.

    • Rugger9 says:

      The Newsweek article looking at HCQ is interesting, and the DK article also points to the war with the economic side during the task force meetings.

      Only in a GOP administration is the economics allowed to trump public health in a cynical evaluation of the costs of human lives. We saw it with Bush administration between 9/11 and Katrina (ignoring warnings and prior wargaming on both) and with the current WH on Maria and COVID-19.

      When DJT decided to shut Fauci up (“I answered that question 15 times already”) I see the time of Fauci is coming to a close. Duck and cover, everyone.

  25. orionATL says:

    i don’t know if trump’s hahavior was motivated by vindictiveness re impeachment and a desire to send a warning to other officials, or a desire to control potential criticism to the effect that he had received ample warning about the possibility and the severity of an epidemic early in his adminisrtration – as well as a full planning game forcsuchvan event shortly before he took his solemn oath of office

    i am confident that trump understands that putting loyalists in the key intelligence positions, or failing that, merely churning the top leadership, will make it much easier for him to get lots more assistance from the russian government of putin in the coming election season. especially help that drives voters away from democratic candidates. it is that assistance that i suspect he is most assiduously protecting. we should expect extensive, blatant russian interferance this time around.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump is motivated by feelings, ignorance, and paranoia, in particular, his intense fear of accountability. (Deep down, Trump knows he’s a fuck-up.) Those who report to him, though, will have some kind of rudimentary strategery involving these changes and all of your possible reasons for them.

      Other reasons would include satisfying the shrill demands from those like Ginny Thomas. She leads the chorus crying out to dismantle or geld the IG system generally, because it “unlawfully” restrict the president’s power. Translated from FedSocese, that means it holds the executive branch of a representative government to account – as the Constitution anticipates – and restrains corporate profit-taking from government expenditures.

      IG Fine, like Atkinson, is too experienced – he knows where to look – and too good at his job – he finds what he’s looking for. Keeping him as the DoD’s deputy IG means he’ll still do most of the work there. An IG for the EPA, a relatively small agency, will be way in over their head at the gargantuan DoD. But they can set priorities based on White House demands and spike the politically unpalatable results from Fine’s work. An added benefit is that that framework would drive most civil servants away, which would accelerate the neoliberals’ plans.

      Of course, Fine’s demotion disqualifies him from heading the new oversight panel for pandemic expenditures. The hundreds of billions to be spent there will make BushCheney’s Iraq war expenditures look like the tip Trump leaves at his own restaurants (nada). As a percentage of monies spent, the graft, corruption, and self-dealing will be astounding.

  26. Molly Pitcher says:

    I am re-posting this from the middle of last night on another comment (still trying to get a delivery from Amazon Prime for Food, apparently they do not release new times in the middle of the night, no matter what people say)

    I have to believe that the revolving door if IGs has something to do with the grift endemic to this administration. Grift such as that below.

    From The Daily Beast “Trump Has ‘Financial Interest’ in Hydroxychloroquine Manufacturer: NYT”:

    President Donald Trump has a “small financial interest” in the maker of an anti-malarial drug that he has been touting as a “game changer” in treating coronavirus, according to The New York Times. Over the past two weeks, Trump and his Fox News allies have aggressively promoted hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure, despite top infectious-disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and others urging caution and noting that there was not enough evidence of the drug’s efficacy.

    The Times reports the president’s family trusts all have investments in a mutual fund whose largest holding is Sanofi, the manufacturer of Plaquenil, the brand-name version of hydroxychloroquine. Associates of the president, including Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, have also run funds that hold investments in the pharmaceutical firm.

    • bmaz says:

      That man is Glen Fine, and he is well known to me and Marcy, and commenters who have been around a long time. He is very competent. There was no way Trump could let him in that job.

  27. earlofhuntingdon says:

    This is not simply a culture war. FedSoc, the Ginny Thomases, Mitch McConnells, and Billy Barrs are engaged in combat with existential threats to the existence and meaning of their America. They want outcomes such as the election stealing going on today in Wisconsin. They want a corrupt Supreme Court and a Senate that will do a Republican president’s bidding and refuse to hold him accountable (the very idea is wrongheaded).

    They reject democracy and want to rule, not govern, because only they are legitimate and can “save” America from the wrongheaded course it has taken since the days of FDR. As with earlier conquistadors, what they do is necessary and just: not doing it would be cowardice in the face of the enemy. That their actions exclusively enrich and empower them returns the universe to its natural order. Admitting the prerequisites for democracy – sharing, negotiation, and compromise – would only empower the devil.

    As with Covid-19, there will be no status quo ante to return to, only a new normal to be created out of whole cloth.

    • drouse says:

      Even before Covid-19 there was no going back given the stresses our system has taken. Now we are really into uncharted territory. Here be monsters might truly be apt.

  28. Molly Pitcher says:

    From the Washington Post

    Top Navy official resigns after insulting warship captain who expressed alarm about service’s handling of covid-19 outbreak on ship
    Acting Navy secretary Thomas Modly resigned one day after he prompted a firestorm by traveling to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier docked in Guam on which crew members are afflicted with the novel coronavirus, and assailed the character of the ship’s former captain.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      As a former Navy helicopter pilot, he knew the business and culture on a carrier. His comments were informed and intentional character assassination, which is a strong indicator he did it in response to a Trump demand, not, as he explicitly claimed, to forestall one.

      Modly acted against the recommendation of the Navy brass, including the CNO. Ordinarily, that would indicate poor judgment. Here, I think it indicates his willingness to go the extra mile to please his real client – Trump. PWC probably appreciates that and will bring him back aboard with open arms.

      • Rugger9 says:

        As ass-chewings go, Modly’s comments were fairly routine but that is something he should be doing in private. What made Modly’s resignation necessary was the public twist of the knife over the intercom, to everyone.

        Modly should have known enough to thank CAPT Crozier for his input and left it there. There was nothing to be gained (except for brown-nosing DJT) by flaying CAPT Crozier as he did, especially since I am quite certain the CNO, et al, told him to play nice(r).

        • bmaz says:

          No, not just that, but that Modly flew to Guam and back, I’ll guess 16 hours of flight time, to spend less than 30 minutes on the TR performing the Trumpian bitchout of not just their former commander, but the entire enlisted crew. What a piece of blithe and useless piece of shit.

  29. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The Don wants an extra $250 billion for his slush fund, to pay company payrolls. Even assuming the money companies receive goes there, a big if, the money would still be better spent in paying people directly. But that would be socialism.

    The Don is reading his script with his trademarked slow, low-energy, monotonous reading. Usually, that indicates he doesn’t believe what he’s saying and that he’s passive-aggressively resisting saying it. Here, he looks puffier and more tired than his normal orange self. Maybe his meds need another adjustment.

    His delivery of his claim that we’re going through “far fewer deaths” than otherwise – because he’s done such a spectacular job – is flawed by the facts and his muffing every other line. And he must be the only politician who thinks he has to tell his viewers what the WHO is. Someone must have reminded him shortly before the curtain opened.

    “The captain of a ship shouldn’t be writing letters….”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Trump, looking for more scapegoats now that he’s had to backtrack over Capt. Crozier, is attacking the WHO. “The blew it.” So, he’s suspending US payments to it (“I do deny them my essence”) – in the middle of a global health crisis. Evil, violence, and chaos are his briar patch: he feels lonely and spent without them.

      Asked about Navarro’s accurate but withheld predictions that a pandemic could cost the US trillions of dollars and millions, Trump says, in effect, “I don’t know about millions of lives, but it’s costing plenty of money.” The only resource he cares about.

      • Tom says:

        What other reason could Navarro have had for writing those two memos but to bring the approaching pandemic crisis to the attention of the President? And yet Trump says he still hasn’t read them. Willful ignorance.

        • P J Evans says:

          Mixed with functional illiteracy. He can barely read at the 5th-grade level, if that high.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Dr. Trump is telling Americans once again to try his hydroxychloroquine pills. “It’s a great thing to try.” “I’m not a doctor…you have to get it from a doctor….” “It’s a miracle…keeps it outta your system,” everything’ll be fine.

      Baffles bullshit about replacing IG Glenn Fine as Acting IG at DoD. Never met him, heard his name, put up seven names to replace him, yadda, yadda. Sure, Trump doesn’t know the guy whose communication with Congress started the impeachment ball rolling. Uh, huh.

  30. Molly Pitcher says:

    According to “Gothamist” Staggering Surge Of NYers Dying In Their Homes Suggests City Is Undercounting Coronavirus Fatalities

    If you die at home from the coronavirus, there’s a good chance you won’t be included in the official death toll, because of a discrepancy in New York City’s reporting process.The problem means the city’s official death count is likely far lower than the real toll taken by the virus, according to public health officials.

    It also means that victims without access to testing are not being counted, and even epidemiologists are left without a full understanding of the pandemic.

    As of Monday afternoon, 2,738 New York City residents have died from ‘confirmed’ cases of COVID-19, according to the city Department of Health. That’s an average of 245 a day since the previous Monday.

    But another 200 city residents are now dying at home each day, compared to 20 to 25 such deaths before the pandemic, said Aja Worthy-Davis, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office. And an untold number of them are unconfirmed.

    [FYI, URL edited to remove tracking. /~Rayne ]

    • Rugger9 says:

      And the homeless as well. 50% of them here in the SF Bay Area weren’t even aware of COVID-19, and when these people pass it’s quite likely they will not have many witnesses and it will be blamed on something else.

      However, Gothamist is on the right track, similar to the true count for Maria’s toll in Puerto Rico.

  31. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Trump thinks mail-in voting stinks, and early voting is bad. He will use mail-in voting because he’ll be out of state. But the same arrangement should not be available to keep voters alive or out of the sick bay. LOL.

    Baffles more bullshit about how and why the USG is interfering in the PPE supply chain.

  32. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The scandal that was the election-stealing debacle Tuesday in Wisconsin was not a result of “hyperpartisanship.” That’s an expression of false bothsiderism. It was a result mandated by the GOP-controlled Wisconsin state legislature, the GOP-controlled Wisconsin state supreme court, and the GOP-controlled US Supreme Court. It was a result of the hyperpartisan, cheat-to-win Republican Party.

  33. ernesto1581 says:

    very interesting article from TPM re: treatment at acute phase of the disease. Hypoxia vs Pneumonia, therefore low- rather than high-pressure ventilation indicated?? NYC emerg/critical care doc, based on his observations/fatalities last few weeks, echoing suggestions of Italian and some anecdotal evidence.
    article here:

    Medscape article here:

  34. BobCon says:

    The NY Times has this classic bit of idiot opinion posing as analysis by a politics desk reporter:

    The basic premise — that most of all possible damage was done by 2016 and nothing serious can be done to fix anything — is Timesthink at its most maddening.

    If they seriously think that the GOP won’t double down if they win in 2020 and make the past four years look like a walk in the park, well, they would have to be the NY Times.

    Posing this as a question is classic Times BS — we’re not really saying anything, we’re just asking questions, you see. They need to spare us.

    I don’t know if Matt Flegenheimer came up with this moronic idea for an “analysis” himself or if some hack editor like Patrick Healy made the assignment. But it’s an astoundingly gassy emission by the Times. The politics desk at its heart, at its core, hates real analysis.

  35. Rugger9 says:

    Seven IGs are on their way out, signaled by DJT at yesterday’s COVID-19 rally (“seven names I’m putting in”).

    The intensity and timing of this effort to remove oversight makes me wonder just how financially desperate the Trump Org is. Either that or he’s daring Congress to stop him, so maybe impeachment is the answer again.

    • Areader2019 says:

      Trump really, really wants some of that bailout cash for his own hotels. He can’t resist.

      So, like any bank robber the first thing he does is disable the alarm.

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