White House prioritizes Supreme Court pick over economy, jobs

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin were scheduled to have an important meeting yesterday afternoon on a possible economic aid package. Before they could connect, however, Donald Trump rendered their meeting moot: the negotiations, the president, were over.

Americans with economic concerns, Trump added, will have to wait “until after the election.” In the meantime, the Republican demanded that his team and its allies “focus full time” on Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Not surprisingly, this has quickly become the official White House line.

White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow told CNBC on Wednesday that there was a “low probability” of approving additional legislation in time for the election … “We’ve only got four weeks to the election, and we have a justice of the Supreme Court to get passed. It’s too close to the election — not enough time to get stuff done at this stage in the game,” Kudlow said.

Right off the bat, we know this is politically unwise: polls show the American mainstream is far more concerned about the struggling economy than filling the vacancy on the high court. For Team Trump to ignore these attitudes during the election season is to take an unnecessary risk.

But more important is the fact that we know Kudlow’s wrong, and not just in the abstract. In the spring, when policymakers were focused on a hearty response to the coronavirus crisis, the CARES Act came together rather quickly. It didn’t take four weeks; it barely took one.

What’s more, it’s not like officials would need to start from scratch to craft a plan between now and Election Day: the House has already passed two ambitious aid packages, and bipartisan negotiations have been ongoing for weeks. A concerted effort to reach an agreement — led, for example, by a president who claims to be a world-class deal-makers — could seal a deal.

As for the Barrett confirmation process, there’s no reason lawmakers couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time: D.C. is capable of focusing on more than one task at a time.

All it would take is a White House capable of prioritizing the economy and jobs. The president and Kudlow are effectively telling millions of unemployed Americans that their plight just isn’t that important to Team Trump: the Supreme Court needs yet another far-right jurist more than these struggling families need an economic lifeline.

I can think of smarter closing messages for an incumbent president already struggling in the polls.

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Three Republican senators test positive for COVID-19, adding to uncertainty surrounding Supreme Court pick

The coronavirus outbreak gripping the White House spread to Capitol Hill on Friday morning, raising the prospect that the virus could disrupt Republicans’ plans to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court before the November election.

a group of people standing in front of a building: Judge Amy Coney Barrett spoke after being nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26. Several people who were in attendance, including the president, have since tested positive for COVID-19, imperiling Barrett's confirmation process.

Judge Amy Coney Barrett spoke after being nominated to the US Supreme Court by President Trump in the Rose Garden of the White House on Sept. 26. Several people who were in attendance, including the president, have since tested positive for COVID-19, imperiling Barrett’s confirmation process.

Two Republican members of the Senate Judiciary committee — Mike Lee of Utah, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina – revealed Friday that they have tested positive for the potentially deadly disease.

Their positive diagnoses raised concerns that the virus had spread at a Saturday Rose Garden ceremony, at which Trump announced he was nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.

On Saturday morning, Republican Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin said he has tested positive for COVID-19. His office said he is not experiencing symptoms.

The senators are among six people who attended the event, which featured few masks and little social distancing, who have since tested positive for the virus.

Trump, the first lady, and top Trump aide Hope Hicks all attended the event and subsequently tested positive, showing symptoms in the expected five- to seven-day window following the event. Also Friday, the president of the University of Notre Dame, the Rev. John Jenkins, announced he, too, had tested positive for COVID-19. Jenkins attended the Saturday Rose Garden ceremony.

Earlier in the week, Jenkins sent a letter to university students and staff apologizing for not wearing a mask during Saturday’s Rose Garden ceremony for Barrett, who is a Notre Dame graduate and law professor.

Video of the event also shows Lee unmasked and hugging other attendees.

Both Lee and Tillis said they would isolate for 10 days. Lee vowed in a statement that he would “be back to work in time to join my Judiciary Committee colleagues in advancing the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett.”

While the Centers for Disease Control recommend those who test positive should isolate for at least 10 days after their symptoms appear, the agency said doctors may recommend longer isolation periods depending on the severity of the disease.

Guidelines issued by the CDC dictate that Barrett should quarantine for 14 days, because she met with Lee in person (and without masks) a few days ago.

Barrett was diagnosed with the virus over the summer but has since recovered, The Washington Post reported Friday — information that had not previously been made public. The science on immunity following recovery is unsettled. Though public health experts generally believe recovery from COVID-19 confers some immunity and the World Health Organization has said repeated infections are not common, researchers in Hong Kong recently reported evidence that a second infection is possible.

Since receiving the Supreme Court nomination, Barrett is being tested for the virus daily and had

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Supreme Court pick event attendees who tested positive for COVID-19

  • At least seven people who attended an event on Saturday where President Donald Trump announced his Supreme Court pick have now tested positive for COVID-19. 
  • Trump announced that he tested positive for the virus on Friday. 
  • At least 150 people attended the event on Saturday. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump announced Judge Amy Coney Barrett as his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday at an event with 150 attendees. 

Almost a week later on Friday, Trump tested positive for COVID-19. Now the event has come under some scrutiny, as at least seven attendees have tested positive for the virus this week.

It’s unclear if the Rose Garden gathering was a super-spreader event, or how or when those who contracted COVID-19 got the virus — whether at the event or elsewhere.

Here are all the prominent attendees who have tested positive for the virus:

Barrett tested negative on Friday but had the coronavirus this summer. 

More people in the president’s inner circle who interacted with him the week prior to his diagnosis also tested positive. White House aide Hope Hicks, Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, and campaign manager Bill Stepien are also among those who have tested positive for COVID-19. 

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Win on court pick, fumble on election results

President Trump ended his week with his pick of federal judge Amy Coney Barrett, a move that buoyed conservatives and made liberals so furious they are considering boycotting her confirmation hearing.

Donald Trump wearing a suit and tie: Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Donald Trump announced Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House Saturday.

© Alex Brandon/AP
Judge Amy Coney Barrett speaks after President Donald Trump announced Barrett as his nominee to the Supreme Court, in the Rose Garden at the White House Saturday.

But while the pick was a big win for the president’s base, his suggestions earlier questioning the upcoming election and results overshadowed his week.

Conservative grader Jed Babbin noted the president’s questions about the election process but said Trump deserves an “A-” for his court pick to replace the late liberal Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But Democratic pollster and grader John Zogby said Trump’s suggestion that he wouldn’t accept an election loss to Joe Biden stained the week, resulting in a grade of “F.”

Jed Babbin

Grade: A-

This was a very good week for President Trump with the Supreme Court nomination of 7th Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett, the declaration of “anarchist” jurisdictions, cities to which federal aid would be reduced, and marred — as usual — by his own words.

The Saturday nomination of Barrett sets the stage for a confirmation battle that will make the Democrat’s performance in the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation hearings seem like a high school dance. Barrett is a solid conservative, a judicial superstar and a religious Catholic. She’s only 48 and — with Associate Justices Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas (and sometimes Chief Justice John Roberts) the court could be conservative by 6-3 votes. Barrett’s confirmation to the Circuit Court was marred by some voicing their anti-Catholic bias and this will be much, much worse in every respect. The Democrats only care about the future of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 abortion decision that still haunts American politics. They’ll probably won’t be able to stop Barrett’s confirmation, but it’s going to be a bloody process.

The Justice Department ruled that cities such as Portland, Ore., and Seattle, Wash., — in which local governors and mayors have refused to put down the riots that have plagued those cities for almost four months — were anarchist and thus going to have their slices of the federal aid pie cut. It was a good move that these cities and states deserve. Governments have the duty to protect their citizens from violence. Those jurisdictions could have but chose not to.

As usual, what could have been a perfect week was marred by the president refusing — twice — to say that if he lost the election there would be a peaceful transfer of power. It was an easy shot that Trump missed by a mile, feeding a media frenzy.

John Zogby

Grade: F

So we started the week with the passing of Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and an unexpected opening

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White House starts outreach to key senators on Supreme Court pick

The administration has not disclosed the identity of the nominee in its outreach to senators, but Trump’s choice is widely believed to be Judge Amy Coney Barrett of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit.

The courtesy one-on-one meetings between a Supreme Court nominee and senators are a traditional fixture of the confirmation process. Depending on the senator, the visits range from quick photo ops to lengthy, in-depth discussions about a nominee’s judicial philosophy.

The outreach to Democratic senators, in particular, shows the White House wants at least the semblance of a bipartisan process at the start of what will surely be a deeply contentious nomination fight. It’s unclear whether some Democratic senators would boycott a courtesy visit with the nominee, as most GOP senators did with Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee in 2016.

Two other officials said aides to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have told Republican offices to start preparing for meetings with the eventual nominee. GOP leaders are privately aiming for a final confirmation vote just days before the Nov. 3 election, with confirmation hearings starting the week of Oct. 12. That timetable is subject to change.

The White House late Thursday night had no comment on the pending nominee visits.

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White House views coalesce behind pre-election vote on Trump Supreme Court pick

WASHINGTON — A consensus has formed within the West Wing to push for a vote on President Donald Trump’s coming Supreme Court nominee before the election, with aides and advisers saying they are increasingly optimistic that they will be able to pull off the speedy confirmation.

Some outside advisers had initially argued that waiting to hold a vote until after Election Day could be the most politically advantageous strategy, said a person familiar with the thinking. Having the seat vacant could motivate conservatives to turn out for Trump to ensure that it got filled and save senators in tight races from having to make a controversial vote so close to the election.

But the momentum in the past 48 hours has swung toward getting a vote done as soon as possible, with those inside and outside the White House arguing that the quicker the process, the more likely they are to fill the seat, senior administration officials said. An official said it now looks like a “strong possibility” that there will be a vote before Election Day as consensus grows among Republican senators to move ahead with the nomination.

Ultimately, the timing will be up to Senate Republicans. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky refused to specify a timeline Tuesday, saying instead that he would proceed with a vote when the nominee emerges from the Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. Graham has said he would announce timing for a committee hearing and a vote after Trump names a nominee.

Trump and White House aides have been in regular contact with McConnell and his staff, officials have said.

If Trump names his pick to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Saturday, as he has indicated he will, the Senate would have less than 40 days before the election to confirm a nominee — a speedy schedule by recent standards, although not unprecedented. Trump met Monday with one possible nominee, federal appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and he is scheduled to meet Friday in Miami with another front-runner, federal appeals Judge Barbara Lagoa.

Trump said Monday that one reason he wanted a vote as soon as possible was that he doesn’t want to have a tie in any future court rulings. The court, now at eight members, is scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case involving the Affordable Care Act on Nov. 10, and the justices could have a role to play in the election if the results are contested.

“So let’s say I make the announcement on Saturday — there’s a great deal of time before the election,” Trump said Monday. “That’ll be up to Mitch in the Senate. But I’d certainly much rather have the vote. I think it sends a good signal. And it’s solidarity and lots of other things.”

If Republicans lose control of the Senate, they would still be able to vote on a nominee during the lame-duck session

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Trump meets with potential Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett at White House

Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who has emerged as a favorite to be nominated for the vacant Supreme Court seat, met Monday at the White House with President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden leads Trump by 36 points nationally among Latinos: poll Trump dismisses climate change role in fires, says Newsom needs to manage forest better Jimmy Kimmel hits Trump for rallies while hosting Emmy Awards MORE, according to a person familiar with the selection process.

Barrett’s meeting with Trump further cements her status as one of the front-runners to replace Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgRuth Bader GinsburgRegina King accepts Emmy wearing Breonna Taylor shirt, urges viewers to vote Ocasio-Cortez to voters: Tell McConnell ‘he is playing with fire’ with Ginsburg’s seat Mural of Ruth Bader Ginsburg pops up blocks away from White House MORE, who died Friday of pancreatic cancer. The meeting took place Monday afternoon before Trump left for a campaign trip to Ohio.

The president told reporters he was considering five women for Ginsburg’s seat. But sources familiar with the process say Barrett and Barbara Lagoa are the two judges being seriously considered.

“She’s one of the people that’s very respected, but they’re all respected,” Trump said of Barrett. “She is certainly one of the candidates, yes.”

Trump is expected to name his choice for the vacancy on Friday or Saturday, saying he plans to wait until Ginsburg’s memorial services conclude.

Barrett was a favorite among conservatives in 2018 when Trump was mulling who to nominate to fill then-Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat before he ultimately went with Brett KavanaughBrett Michael KavanaughMcConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Names to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court Battle lines drawn on precedent in Supreme Court fight MORE. She remains popular among many Republican senators and conservative groups, and sources said she has an advantage having gone through the vetting process once before.

Trump said he plans to meet with at least a few of the candidates in person. The president said he “may” meet with Lagoa later this week when he is in South Florida.

“She has a lot of support,” Trump said of Lagoa. “I don’t know her, but I hear she’s outstanding. And she’s one of the people we’re looking at.”

Barrett, a former clerk for late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, was nominated by Trump to serve on the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2017. She was confirmed in a 55-43 vote by the Senate later that year. At the time, three Democratic senators supported her nomination: Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyNames to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court Momentum growing among Republicans for Supreme Court vote before Election Day Barrett seen as a front-runner for Trump Supreme Court pick MORE (Ind.), who subsequently lost his 2018 reelection bid, Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineNames to watch as Trump picks Ginsburg replacement on Supreme Court Barrett seen as a front-runner for Trump

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NOAA pick is critic of Weather Service, dire climate forecasts

The position, pushed forward by the White House pending completion of ethics and security reviews, would put Maue in a leadership position within the agency. As chief scientist, Maue would be tasked with helping to establish its oceans and atmosphere research priorities as well as playing a role in enforcing its scientific integrity policy.

The White House and NOAA declined to comment, and the Commerce Department that oversees NOAA did not respond to a request for comment.

The NOAA scientific integrity policy is meant to prevent political influence from interfering with its scientific work as well as the communication of NOAA scientists’ findings. The current acting chief scientist, Craig McLean, initiated an investigation into NOAA leaderships’ actions during the controversy surrounding the agency’s support for President Trump’s inaccurate claims regarding the path of Hurricane Dorian.

Maue is a meteorologist who serves as the developer of weathermodels.com, a site that displays computer model information using eye-catching graphics to make their simulations accessible to professionals and hobbyists. He was previously an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, which was involved in efforts to question the scientific consensus on human-induced climate change.

Along with Patrick Michaels, a well-known climate change contrarian, Maue penned a 2018 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal challenging the climate change projections made in 1988 by noted former NASA scientist James Hansen, which other researchers, backed up by peer-reviewed studies, have found were prescient.

He has harshly criticized climate activists and Democrats for pushing for cuts in fossil fuel emissions by linking extreme weather events to global warming, but he does not dispute the fact that human-caused emissions of greenhouse gases are warming the planet in ways that are causing significant impacts. He has also spoken out against scientists who link rapid Arctic climate change to weather extremes taking place outside the Arctic.

In recent months he’s been harshly critical of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and his linking of the state’s deadly wildfire season to climate change. Climate studies show global warming is amplifying wildfire risks, making blazes more intense and frequent than they were a few decades ago.

For example, a study published in August shows California’s frequency of fall days with extreme fire-weather conditions has already more than doubled since the 1980s.

Maue is also known for tracking and evaluating the accuracy of weather forecasting models and has a lengthy social media history of criticizing NOAA’s National Weather Service for falling behind Europe, the U.K. and Canada when it comes to the accuracy of its computer modeling. But he has also praised the agency’s recent efforts to close the gap.

A recent pattern of NOAA hires

Maue’s forthcoming appointment comes amid increased White House attention to what is typically a low key government agency. Earlier this month, the White House named controversial climate contrarian David Legates as deputy assistant secretary of Commerce for environmental observation and prediction. Legates, a professor at the University of Delaware, is affiliated with the Heartland Institute, a

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Trump Says Supreme Court Pick Coming Friday or Saturday

About to nominate his third justice, incredibly.
Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump said on Monday morning that he expected to name his proposed replacement for Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court by Friday or Saturday, after her funeral services — contradicting his own press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, who moments before had said the pick would be coming before Wednesday.

As he did previously, Trump also said that he would like the confirmation vote to happen before the election, as opposed to during the lame-duck session (an option that might reduce the political pressure for vulnerable Senate Republicans running in tough reelection races). And once again, he transparently tied this desire to possible litigation stemming from the election, which he has been laying the groundwork to contest for months.

If Trump does stick to his timeline, which is by no means assured, it would leave the Senate only 38 or 39 days before the election, an extraordinarily tight timeline to rush through a Supreme Court pick — and one that may push things to the postelection period, despite the president’s wishes.

So far, only two Republican senators have come out against a confirmation vote before the election: Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. (Two more would need to join them for Democrats to be able to block the nomination, an unlikely possibility.) Trump criticized both on Monday morning, telling reporters that Collins will be “very badly hurt” by her stance.

Trump’s typically discursive comments on Monday also included a paean to Barbara Lagoa, one of his possible Supreme Court nominees; a wild claim that Ruth Bader Ginsburg may not have actually issued her dying plea that the next president install her replacement — “I don’t know that she said that, or was that written out by Adam Schiff and Schumer and Pelosi”; and a blunt but honest summation of the power dynamics at play behind the Supreme Court fight. “When you have the Senate, when you have the votes, you can sort of do what you want as long as you have it,” he said.

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White House worried about Republican opposition to Trump controversial Fed pick

The White House is worried about opposition from Senate Republicans to Judy Shelton, President Trump’s nominee for a spot on the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors, according to people familiar with the matter.

“Her nomination is imperiled right now,” said Stephen Moore, an outside economic adviser to Trump.

“The White House is really not sure they have the 50 votes in the Senate to confirm her,” Moore told the Washington Examiner. Moore met with Trump and multiple senior White House officials on Wednesday.

Shelton is not expected to get support from any of the 47 senators who are Democrats or independents. Now, there are concerns that she does not have enough support from Republicans to garner the 51 votes necessary for confirmation.

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, the Republican whip, told reporters Tuesday that Shelton doesn’t have the votes needed for confirmation. Yet Trump’s National Economic Council director, Larry Kudlow, said Thursday at an event hosted by the Economic Club of New York that Trump remains firmly behind her nomination. Kudlow added that he thinks the White House can get the 50 Senate votes for her confirmation.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins, from Maine, and Mitt Romney from Utah said they would vote against her nomination in July. Moore said the White House is worried about other Republicans also voting against her, including Colorado’s Cory Gardner, who is up for reelection this year, and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski.

Gardner and Murkowski did not respond to requests for comment.

An individual familiar with the matter said that Kudlow has been key in keeping Shelton’s nomination afloat.

“I was told she’s toast and the White House has to find somebody else to nominate,” a former senior administration official said. “But then, later in the day, she wasn’t toast anymore. Kudlow is her biggest supporter, and he will fight for her to the death.”

Shelton has generated opposition for her pointed criticisms of the Fed and her advocacy for a return to the gold standard as a monetary system.

In the past few months, her nomination faced several challenges after multiple Republicans and Democrats on the Senate Banking Committee indicated her views made her unsuitable for a seat on the Fed’s board of governors.

She has raised concerns on both sides of the aisle for her view that the Fed should have less power and independent discretion and instead have closer ties to the White House.

Nevertheless, the Senate Banking Committee narrowly approved her nomination in a 13-12 party-line vote in July. Her nomination has now moved on to the full Senate. Trump formally nominated Shelton to the post in January of this year.

Moore, who is also an Washington Examiner opinion columnist, said the new opposition to Shelton is due to Democrats putting pressure on Republicans such as Gardner and Murkowski.

“The Left is really out to get her. They don’t want any independent thinkers on the Fed who are going to challenge the way the empire does business,” Moore said.


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