March 13, 2020

At some point on Wednesday, President Trump decided to deliver a prime-time Oval Office address on the coronavirus outbreak, setting off "a frantic scramble to arrange airtime on television networks, iron out logistics for his delivery, and prepare a draft of what he would say," The Washington Post reports. "Trump — who believed that by giving the speech he would appear in command and that his remarks would reassure financial markets and the country — was in 'an unusually foul mood' and sounded at times 'apoplectic' on Thursday as he watched stocks tumble and digested widespread criticism of his speech," the Post adds, citing a former senior administration official.

The speech was mostly written by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, according to the Post, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, and The New York Times. Miller isn't involved in Trump's coronavirus task force, and "Kushner hasn't attended a single task force meeting," the Journal reports. The speech was "based on extensive dictation from the president and suggestions from Vice President Mike Pence," and it "was being rewritten up until the time it was fed into the teleprompter."

"The hastily drafted 10-minute speech had undergone last-minute edits from the president" and Miller "after other aides had left the room," Bloomberg News reports. "Among the changes they made: Deleting a sentence where Trump said he and Melania were sending their prayers and love to people suffering from the illness." The copy fed into the teleprompter contained two significant errors and Trump inserted a third, prompting an immediate post-speech cleanup effort.

The speech itself "caused a divide inside the White House," the Journal reports. Kushner thought Trump needed to do it, while senior adviser Kellyanne Conway told colleagues "it was a terrible idea." Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was also against the speech, urging Trump to "wait at least a day or two so as to provide officials with more information," the Times reports. Along with Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Hope Hicks favored the speech. Trump's final product, like "much of his presidency," the Post says, "was riddled with errors, nationalist and xenophobic in tone, limited in its empathy, and boastful of both his own decisions and the supremacy of the nation he leads."

12:15 a.m.

You can, if you choose, take White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany at her word that President Trump was taking no position on the Confederate flag when he tweeted Monday morning that NASCAR's decision to ban the flag from its races helped cause NASCAR's "lowest ratings EVER!" But that "second part of Trump's tweet, about NASCAR's TV ratings, is completely false," says Daniel Roberts at Yahoo Finance.

Ratings for the first NASCAR event after the sport announced its Confederate flag ban, the June 10 race at Martinsville Speedway in Virginia, jumped 113 percent from the same race last year, Fox Sports said. And overall, ratings are up 8 percent since the sport returned from COVID-19 lockdown on May 17 and 8 percent since the June 10 post-flag race. "In fact, every NASCAR race on Fox since the Confederate flag ban, except for Talladega on June 22, has rated higher than the equivalent race the year before," Roberts writes.

There is room for speculation over why Trump demanded an apology from Bubba Wallace, NASCAR's only top-tier Black driver, for a noose incident he played no real part in, and it isn't entirely clear why NASCAR's ratings are rising. "Whether the extra eyeballs are because of the controversial Confederate flag ban or despite it, or whether it's all thanks to the current dearth of live sports to watch, is up for debate," Roberts writes. "But the sport is enjoying a clear ratings bump over last year." Peter Weber

12:11 a.m.

President Trump can breathe a sigh of relief — the latest tell-all book from a member of his orbit isn't about him, but rather first lady Melania Trump.

Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, a former friend and senior adviser to Melania Trump, is writing a memoir that will detail their 15-year relationship, from beginning to implosion. Melania and Me is due to hit shelves on Sept. 1, Vanity Fair's Emily Jane Fox reports, and will be published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster — the same company behind former National Security Adviser John Bolton's The Room Where it Happened and the upcoming Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man, written by the president's niece, Mary Trump.

Wolkoff, a former special events director at Vogue, helped plan the 2017 inauguration, and soon after became a senior adviser to the first lady. Her time in the White House was short-lived; she was ousted in February 2018 after it was revealed that the Trump inaugural committee paid her firm $26 million to assist with the inauguration.

Wolkoff told The New York Times in 2019 that she had been "thrown under the bus." Time has evidently not healed all wounds, as people with knowledge of Melania and Me told The Daily Beast it is "largely negative," "explosive," and "heavily trashes the first lady." Catherine Garcia

July 6, 2020

In a segment Sunday on Ghislaine Maxwell's arrest, Fox News showed this photo of Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, and future first lady Melania Trump from February 2000. They cropped out Donald Trump. That was a mistake, a Fox News spokeswoman said Monday.

Embed from Getty Images

“On Sunday, July 5, a report on Ghislaine Maxwell during Fox News Channel’s America’s News HQ mistakenly eliminated President Donald Trump from a photo alongside then Melania Knauss, Jeffrey Epstein, and Maxwell," the spokeswoman said in a statement. "We regret the error.” Peter Weber

July 6, 2020

The United States is "knee-deep in the first wave" of the coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci said on Monday, but he is hopeful that "by the end of this year, or the beginning of 2021, we will at least have an answer whether the vaccine or vaccines — plural — are safe and effective."

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said there are multiple vaccine candidates being studied, "and if things go the way it looks like they're going," one will enter the final phase of clinical trials at the end of the month, with others soon following.

Fauci made his comments during a Facebook Live discussion with Dr. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health. Although companies are working as fast as possible to develop a vaccine, Fauci stressed that "there will be no compromising on the principles of safety and efficacy. Whatever we come up with in a few months is going to be just as rigorously tested as any vaccine ever has been."

The trials will take place in areas where there are high levels of transmission, and Fauci said he is ensuring they "are quite well represented by the individuals who are most susceptible, not only to infection because of certain circumstances in their life, but also the fact that they are more prone to complications because of underlying comorbidities." Catherine Garcia

July 6, 2020

Amy Cooper, the white woman who called 911 while in New York City's Central Park and claimed an "African-American man" was threatening her life, was charged on Monday with filing a false report.

The incident took place on Memorial Day after Christian Cooper, a Black man who was birdwatching, asked Amy Cooper to leash her dog. She refused to do so, instead telling Christian Cooper she would call the police and tell them "there's an African-American man threatening my life." Christian Cooper, a board member of the New York City Audubon Society, filmed the encounter, which has been viewed 40 million times online and sparked a national discussion.

Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said on Monday that his office is "strongly committed to holding perpetrators of this conduct accountable." Amy Cooper was charged with falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, a misdemeanor; if found guilty, she could face up to a year in jail. She is scheduled to be arraigned on Oct. 14.

After the incident, Amy Cooper was fired from her job. In a statement, her lawyer, Robert Barnes, said his client will be found not guilty, adding, "She lost her job, her home, and her public life. Now some demand her freedom? How many lives are we going to destroy over misunderstood 60-second videos on social media?" When asked for comment, Christian Cooper told The New York Times he had "zero involvement" in the district attorney's case. Catherine Garcia

July 6, 2020

Mary Trump's tell-all book about her family is hitting bookstores sooner than expected.

Simon & Schuster announced on Monday that Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World's Most Dangerous Man will be published on July 14, two weeks earlier than scheduled, due to "high demand and extraordinary interest."

Mary Trump, the daughter of President Trump's eldest brother, Fred Trump Jr., is a clinical psychologist. Too Much and Never Enough paints her uncle as a "damaged man" with "lethal flaws," Simon & Schuster said, and it's already the No. 1 bestselling book on Amazon, CNN reports.

The president's younger brother, Robert Trump, sought a restraining order in an attempt to block the book's release. Last week, he won an injunction against Mary Trump and Simon & Schuster, but a New York state appeals court lifted the temporary restraining order against the publisher, saying the company is not bound by a nondisclosure agreement Mary Trump signed in 2001.

Mary Trump's spokesman, Chris Bastardi, said on Monday that Trump's attempt to "muzzle a private citizen is just the latest in a series of disturbing behaviors which have already destabilized a fractured nation in the face of a global pandemic. If Mary cannot comment, one can only help buy wonder: What is Donald Trump so afraid of?" Catherine Garcia

July 6, 2020

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox has won the state's Republican gubernatorial primary, defeating former Gov. Jon Huntsman.

The primary was held last Tuesday, and the race was called on Monday afternoon by The Associated Press. Cox has 36 percent of the vote, followed by Huntsman with 35 percent. In third place is former Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, with 21 percent.

Huntsman was elected governor of Utah in 2004 and 2008, and later served as U.S. ambassador to China during the Obama administration. Most recently, he was President Trump's ambassador to Russia.

Cox, who has been lieutenant governor since 2013, received the endorsement of outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert (R). In November, Cox will face off against Democratic nominee Chris Peterson, an attorney and consumer advocate. Catherine Garcia

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