January 28, 2020

Celebrity defense lawyer and retired Harvard criminal law professor Alan Dershowitz closed out Day 2 of President Trump's impeachment trial defense Monday night, and unlike Trump's other defenders, he mentioned inconvenient new revelations from Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton. Dershowitz also differentiated himself by eschewing attacks on Joe and Hunter Biden or the unkindness of impeachment and instead mounted a "constitutional" defense of Trump. Republican senators appeared thrilled with the presentation.

Other legal scholars were less impressed. Dershowitz argued that the articles of impeachment approved by the House, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, are not "constitutionally authorized criteria for impeachment."

He went on to acknowledge that Bolton may claim he personally witnessed Trump link $391 million in Ukraine military aid to foreign help investigating Biden and Trump's other Democratic rivals, but argued that "nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense."

Dershowitz also conceded he held different views on whether abuse of power was an impeachable offense back in 1998, during President Bill Clinton's impeachment, but said he "was not fully aware of the compelling counterarguments" then and has reached a different conclusion after conducting his own research.

One of the few constitutional scholars he cited, Harvard Law's Niko Bowie, dismantled Dershowitz's argument on Twitter and in a new New York Times op-ed. Former Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, now a senator-juror and Democratic presidential candidate, also found Derhowitz's argument "nonsensical" and abstruse.

"Alan Dershowitz, to his credit, said that his own view was very much a minority view of what the impeachment provision means," CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said. "To his discredit, the reason why it's a minority view is because he's wrong." Peter Weber

April 5, 2020

Public health experts and government officials agree that the U.S. government's coronavirus death toll almost certainly understates how many Americans have actually died from the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only counts deaths where the presence of the coronavirus is confirmed in a lab test, The Washington Post reports, and "we know that it is an underestimation," CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said.

There are many reasons why the numbers are underreported. Strict criteria in the beginning of the outbreak kept many people from getting tested for coronavirus, and it's still difficult to get tested in some areas, for example. There's also the matter of false positives, and not all medical examiners have tests or believe they should conduct postmortem testing, even on people who died at home or in nursing homes where there were outbreaks. Experts also believe some February and early March deaths that were attributed to influenza or pneumonia were likely due to coronavirus.

The official death count is based on reports sent by states, and as of Sunday night, the CDC reports 304,826 confirmed U.S. cases and 7,616 deaths. The Post, other media outlets, and university researchers update their numbers more frequently, with the Post reporting on Sunday night that 9,633 people have died from coronavirus in the U.S., and at least 337,000 cases have been confirmed. Catherine Garcia

April 5, 2020

A fight broke out in the White House Situation Room on Saturday, after President Trump's economic adviser Peter Navarro clashed with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, over an unproven COVID-19 coronavirus treatment, Axios reports.

Four people with knowledge of the matter told Axios' Jonathan Swan the argument took place near the end of a White House coronavirus task force meeting, after Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn brought up hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug Trump has touted as a possible "game-changer" in the fight against coronavirus. When Hahn was finished giving updates on drug trials, Navarro put folders down on the table where Hahn, Fauci, Vice President Mike Pence, and others were sitting.

One person familiar with the conversation told Swan the "first words out of his mouth are that the studies that he's seen, I believe they're mostly overseas, show 'clear therapeutic efficacy.' Those are the exact words out of his mouth." Fauci responded that this was anecdotal evidence, and this "just set Peter off," Swan reports. Navarro pointed to the folders and said, "That's science, not anecdote," a source said, and as his voice continued to get louder, Pence tried to intervene. "It was pretty clear that everyone was just trying to get Peter to sit down and stop being so confrontational," another person told Swan.

Fauci and other public health officials have said more data is needed before anyone can say the drug is effective against COVID-19, but based on things he's read, Navarro is convinced it works, Swan reports. The task force ultimately decided that publicly, the White House needs to say that use of hydroxychloroquine is between doctors and patients. Read more at Axios. Catherine Garcia

April 5, 2020

Queen Elizabeth II delivered a rare televised address on Sunday, calling on the British people to keep doing their part to stop the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, reminding them that "while we may have more still to endure, better days will return."

On Sunday, the death toll from COVID-19 hit 4,934 in Britain. The queen declared that "together we are tackling this disease, and I want to reassure you that if we remain united and resolute, then we will overcome it. While we have faced challenges before, this one is different. This time we join with all nations across the globe in a common endeavor, using the great advances of science and our instinctive compassion to heal. We will succeed, and that success will belong to every one of us."

Queen Elizabeth thanked health care workers for their tireless efforts to save lives, as well as everyone staying at home, and said she was reminded of the 1940 address she made with her late sister Margaret. They spoke to children who were evacuated during the German bombing raids in World War II, and "today, once again, many will feel a painful sense of separation from their loved ones," she said. "But now, as then, we know, deep down, that it is the right thing to do."

The 93-year-old queen and her 98-year-old husband, Prince Philip, are at Windsor Castle. Their 71-year-old son Prince Charles tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus and has recovered. The queen's address was recorded in a large room, where the only other person was the cameraman, Reuters reports; he wore gloves and a mask. The queen delivers a Christmas message every year, but otherwise has only made a handful of televised addresses during her 68-year reign. Catherine Garcia

April 5, 2020

Nadia, a 4-year-old Malayan tiger at the Bronx Zoo in New York, has tested positive for the COVID-19 coronavirus.

She is the first of her kind to test positive for the virus, CNN reports. In a statement, the Bronx Zoo on Sunday said Nadia, her sister Azul, two Amur tigers, and three African lions recently developed dry coughs, but no other animals are showing symptoms of COVID-19. Nadia was tested "out of an abundance of caution," and the zoo said it "will ensure any knowledge we gain about COVID-19 will contribute to the world's continuing understanding of this novel coronavirus."

The cats have all "experienced some decrease in appetite," but otherwise are "doing well under veterinary care and are bright, alert, and interactive with their keepers." All are expected to make full recoveries. The zoo also said the cats were "infected by a person caring for them who was asymptomatically infected with the virus or before that person developed symptoms," and there are now "appropriate preventative measures" in place for staffers taking care of the animals. Catherine Garcia

April 5, 2020

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Sunday called the next week of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic the modern era's "Pearl Harbor moment." In other words, it'll be the "hardest moment" of many Americans' lives, and Adams hopes every person in every state does their part to slow the spread.

But while Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) may agree with most of that assessment, he told NBC's Chuck Todd during Sunday's edition of Meet The Press that he isn't sure why the federal government is so intent on remaining as a backup for the states, especially if the White House believes we're in a war-like moment.

"We need a national mobilization of the manufacturing base of the United States as we started on Dec. 8, 1941," Inslee said, calling on President Trump to authorize the Defense Production Act. Tim O'Donnell

April 5, 2020

Former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has issued some dire warnings since the early days of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus, but on Sunday he indicated some steps taken by the U.S. federal government and states might be paying off — both in terms of curbing the spread and preparing the health-care system for an onslaught of patients.

New York City remains the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, and its hospitals are struggling. Gottlieb reiterated the predication made by numerous officials that the city, and New York state, are on the verge of peaking next week, which will undoubtedly stretch the health-care system thin. But he said he, ultimately, he thinks there will be enough ventilators for severe COVID-19 patients thanks to a historic effort to expand their supply, preventing New York from going past its tipping point.

As for the rest of the country, Gottlieb believes mitigation efforts like social distancing are "clearly working," as case rates slow in northern states, though he's concerned the next set of hot spots will be in the South. Tim O'Donnell

April 5, 2020

During Sunday's edition of CNN's State of the Union, Defense Secretary Mark Esper called acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly's "very tough decision" to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier from command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt last week "another example of how we hold leaders accountable for their actions."

The actions he's referring to involve Crozier writing a letter to Navy leaders about sailors under his command suffering from cases of the novel COVID-19 coronavirus. There are reportedly 155 sailors who tested positive, but Modly reasoned that Crozier caused unnecessary alarm and violated the chain of command in his reporting, and Esper mostly backed him up, arguing that Modly "lost faith and confidence" in Crozier. When pressed by host Jake Tapper, Esper did say there was an investigation into the dismissal.

Not long after Esper's interview, The New York Times reported that Crozier himself has tested positive for COVID-19 after he began exhibiting symptoms last Thursday before he was removed from command. His health status is unknown, but the Times notes his diagnosis is likely to increase skepticism of how the Navy handled the situation.

Crozier may not have the support of Modly, Esper, or President Trump, who also approved of Modly's decision, but former Vice President Joe Biden on Sunday said Crozier deserves "commendation" for blowing the whistle, and, perhaps most tellingly, his crew erupted into supportive cheers as he disembarked the aircraft carrier last week. Tim O'Donnell

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