May 10, 2019

Former FBI Director James Comey didn't have very many complimentary things to say about President Trump, Attorney General William Barr, and outgoing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein during a CNN town hall Thursday.

Barr and Rosenstein have both ruined their reputations, he said, due to their inability to push back against Trump. Looking at the way Barr handled the delivery and rollout of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible obstruction of justice, Comey felt he "acted in a way that's less than honorable." Barr "continues to talk as if he's the president's lawyer," he added, while Rosenstein is "very bright, but not strong enough. I think people like that, like Rod Rosenstein, who are people of accomplishment but not real sterling character, strong character, find themselves trapped."

Trump fired Comey in May 2017, an event that led to Mueller's appointment. Comey has read the public, redacted version of the Mueller report, and he was asked about 10 incidents of potential obstruction by Trump described in the document. It "sure looks like" Trump had criminal intent to commit obstruction of justice, he said, with one "flaming example" being Trump ordering former White House Counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller in June 2017.

"The president is not above the law, and I don't accept the notion that because the president is the head of the executive branch he can't ever obstruct justice in connection with executive branch activities," Comey said. "That's just crazy and a recipe for lawlessness." He said he believes that during a future administration, the Justice Department "will have to take a serious look at" charging Trump once he is out of office. Read more about Comey's reaction to the Mueller report, and how the former Republican is trying to help Democrats win in 2020, at CNN. Catherine Garcia

10:36 a.m.

Actress Ali Wentworth, ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos' wife, has tested positive for COVID-19.

Wentworth revealed her diagnosis on Instagram Wednesday, saying she has "never been sicker" and that "this is pure misery." She appeared in a video message on Good Morning America on Thursday, describing having felt "very winded" before she tested positive and experiencing tightness in her chest, as well as a fever.

"It feels like a really, really horrible flu," she explained, saying some of the things that have helped have been Tylenol, chicken soup, and hot baths.

Stephanopoulos on GMA said Wentworth was "doing ok" early this morning and that her fever was slightly down last night, although the symptoms have been going "in cycles" for her, he said. Stephanopoulos also said he personally doesn't have symptoms and is "definitely being careful" while taking care of Wentworth, although he speculated about the potential that he, and many other New Yorkers, could have already contracted the coronavirus.

"At this point, it's just so hard to know," Stephanopoulos said. "So many of us in New York City are already presumed to have had it. Right now, I have no symptoms. ... But, you know, I wonder myself whether I already had maybe a mild version and just didn't even know it. There's no way to know right now." Brendan Morrow

10:34 a.m.

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the police and military to "shoot dead" any "troublemakers" who cause disturbances during the coronavirus quarantine in the Philippines, The Philippine Star reports. The move comes after protestors staged demonstrations over the lack of food and financial aid they've received from the government since the lockdown began in the country on March 17.

"I will not hesitate [to tell] my soldiers to shoot you. I will not hesitate to order the police to arrest and detain you," said Duterte in his address, adding: "Instead of causing trouble, I'll send you to the grave." The president is infamous for his violations of human rights, having previously drawn the fury of the international community over his order for vigilante hit squads to murder suspected drug dealers without due process.

Amnesty International condemned Duterte's new statements, with the organization's local section director, Butch Olano, saying "the abusive methods used to punish those accused of breaching quarantine and the vast number of mass arrests that have been carried out to date, against mainly poor people, are further examples of the oppressive approach the government takes against those struggling with basic needs."

The human rights NGO added that over 17,000 people have already been arrested for violations of the lockdown and curfew in the Philippines, and that "reports have also appeared of inhuman punishments those breaching quarantine have been made to endure, including sitting for hours in the hot sun or being detained in dog cages." Jeva Lange

9:59 a.m.

The Secret Service signed an "emergency order" this week to rent $45,000-worth of golf carts in the town of Sterling, Virginia, where President Trump has a golf course, The Washington Post reports. The 30-cart fleet, which the Secret Service is renting through the end of September, was described as being necessary in order to protect a "dignitary," although the president was not explicitly referenced by name.

Surprisingly, while many nonessential businesses around the country have closed to prevent the spread of disease, Virginia's Trump National Golf Club remains open. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) allowed for golf courses to continue to operate so long as golfers keep a six-foot distance from others. The Virginia club is a favorite of the president's; he has visited it 76 times since taking office, most recently in October.

The Post notes that Trump has not played golf since March 8, when there were still only about 500 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and 21 deaths, most of which were concentrated at a nursing home in Washington State. In a statement, Secret Service spokesperson Cathy Milhoan clarified that the "emergency" contract referred specifically to "a need for expedited handling of the procurement due to deadlines within the agency's business processes." Read more at The Washington Post. Jeva Lange

9:39 a.m.

A day after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) projected that 16,000 New Yorkers could die of the novel coronavirus by the time the outbreak has run its course, President Trump told the state to "stop complaining."

"New York has gotten far more than any other state, including hospitals and a hospital ship, but no matter what, always complaining," the president said in a tweet addressing criticisms from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "It wouldn't matter if you got ten times what was needed, it would never be good enough. Unlike other states, New York unfortunately got off to a late start. You should have pushed harder. Stop complaining and find out where all of these supplies are going."

New York is the center of the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, with over 83,800 cases and nearly 2,000 deaths as of Thursday morning; the next highest statewide death toll, in New Jersey, is just 355 cases. Many leaders in New York have pleaded for relief for the city's overburdened hospitals, with Mayor Bill de Blasio saying Wednesday that the city needs 3.3 million N95 masks, 2.1 million surgical masks, 100,0000 isolation gowns, and 400 ventilators by Sunday to keep up with the exploding demand.

Trump's tweets apparently came in response to a tweet from Schumer, in which the senator echoed local concerns: "President Trump needs to harness industry to quickly produce more medical supplies and equipment under the Defense Production Act NOW," he'd tweeted. "He needs to appoint a czar like a military or logistics expert to lead the effort to make and get the supplies where they're needed." Jeva Lange

9:28 a.m.

The COVID-19 unemployment plunge is, yet again, like nothing we've ever seen before.

More than 6.6 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday, adding to the record 3.3 million who filed the week before. That leaves at least 9.9 million people out of work, far higher than the 2008 Great Recession's peak of 7.7 million as new coronavirus cases continue to grow. And as The Atlantic's Derek Thompson pointed out with a graph from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, that means the labor market "is contracting at the rate of one Great Recession per 10 days."

Thursday's report far surpassed expectations of 3.1 million more unemployment claims being filed in the last week, and the coronavirus pandemic is still far from over. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:59 a.m.

Amid the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, weekly unemployment claims just once again reached a shocking new high.

The Labor Department announced Thursday that more than 6.6 million Americans filed initial jobless claims last week. This massive number easily surpasses the 3.3 million initial jobless claims announced last Thursday, which at the time was the largest number ever recorded, soaring past the previous record of 695,000 in October 1982. A week later, that startling figure has been roughly doubled. The data first started to be tracked in 1967.

Last week's report was already a massive surge from the 282,000 initial jobless claims that had been reported the previous week as businesses around the country were forced to close amid the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Between the two weeks, about 10 million Americans filed unemployment claims. The data released Thursday is for the week ending on March 28.

"The speed and magnitude of the labor market's decline is unprecedented," economist Constance Hunter told The Wall Street Journal ahead of the report. But many analysts had been expecting a number this week closer to 3 million. CNBC notes highest weekly jobless claims reported during the Great Recession was 665,000.

"It really is a jobs shock here," CNN's Christine Romans said Thursday. Brendan Morrow

8:02 a.m.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-quarantine once again after the country's health minister tested positive for coronavirus.

Israeli Health Minister Yaakov Litzman and his wife both tested positive for COVID-19 and have now self-isolated, the Health Ministry announced Thursday. Litzman "has had frequent contact with" Netanyahu, The Associated Press reports.

Netanyahu as a result will self-quarantine, with this coming after he already isolated himself when an aide tested positive for COVID-19. The prime minister had concluded his two days of isolation on Wednesday, but he will now go back into self-quarantine until next week, Reuters reports. Litzman and his wife reportedly feel well, and Netanyahu has tested negative for COVID-19 twice, according to CNN.

Additionally, other Israel officials like the head of Israel's spy agency Mossad have reportedly been told to self-quarantine, and the director of the Health Ministry and members of Litzman's staff will do so as well, per the AP. Israel has reported more than 6,000 cases of the COVID-19 coronavirus. Brendan Morrow

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