A senior Trump administration official told Axios he expects President Trump to begin publicly questioning the coronavirus death toll in the United States.
Experts mostly agree the data isn't accurate, but for the opposite reason — the consensus is that deaths are being undercounted, while the official said Trump and some of his aides think the numbers are inflated. There's no evidence the number of fatalities has been exaggerated, but Axios reports Trump wasn't pleased when New York added 3,000 unconfirmed but suspected COVID-19 cases to its tally.
Some on the Trump team reportedly believe hospitals have a financial incentive to identify coronavirus cases since Medicare gives them a 20 percent bonus for COVID-19 treatment, Axios reports. It's unclear if Trump shares this view, and no one in the administration has publicly accused hospitals of misdiagnosing patients.
Other officials told Axios that Trump doesn't think the numbers are fraudulent, but that the lack of "uniform reporting standards in the United States" means the data is murky. That may be true, but again the question among most experts is about how many coronavirus deaths have been missed due to lack of testing, rather than added unnecessarily. Read more at Axios. Tim O'Donnell
On Thursday, the day former FBI Director James Comey is slated to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee about the ongoing investigation into ties between President Trump and Russia, a pro-Trump group will air an ad attacking Comey. The ad, paid for by nonprofit issues group Great America Alliance, is titled "Showboat," a direct quote from Trump's criticism of Comey. In an interview days after he abruptly fired Comey, Trump accused Comey of being a "showboat" and a "grandstander" who he was going to fire "regardless of recommendation."
The 30-second spot goes on to accuse Comey of putting "politics over protecting America." The ad claims that though "terror attacks were on the rise," Comey was "consumed with election meddling." "James Comey: Just another D.C. insider only in it for himself," the ad ends.
Though the ad's rhetoric mirrors that of Trump and his administration, Great America Alliance head Eric Beach insisted the White House did not ask the group to make the ad. The Associated Pressnoted that the group, established after Trump won the election to "advocate for his administration," is not obligated to publicly name its donors.
The ad makes its digital debut Wednesday; it will air Thursday on CNN and Fox News. Becca Stanek