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May 19, 2020: Trump Claims He's Taking Quack Cure
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TODAY'S HEADLINES:

Donald Trump abruptly announced that he was taking Hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug that is completely unproven to treat the coronavirus. Whether or not he’s actually taking the drug is still up in the air, but this is definitely the president’s strongest endorsement of a potential quack cure to date.

Meanwhile, new evidence uncovered by House Democrats shows that Donald Trump’s firing of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick was even more corrupt than previously thought. Surprise! There’s an arms deal with Saudi Arabia involved.

And lastly, a Massachusetts drug company reports promising results in its first limited human trial for a coronavirus vaccine.

THESE ARE THE STORIES YOU NEED TO KNOW:

Donald Trump took a swan dive into the deep end of the pseudoscience pool today, publicly announcing that he is taking hydroxychloroquine, the unproven malaria drug he and other conservatives have said can treat coronavirus.

Trump did not say that he HAD coronavirus, but claimed he’d been taking the drug for about 10 days as a precaution after being exposed to the virus. Listen to this doofus: QUOTE: “All I can tell you is, so far I seem to be OK. I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories. And if it’s not good, I’ll tell you right. I’m not going to get hurt by it.” ENDQUOTE

Trump’s personal physician, Sean P. Conley, appears to be going along with this, saying in a statement that ENDQUOTE “After numerous discussions he and I had for and against the use of hydroxychloroquine we concluded the potential benefit from treatment outweighed the relative risks.” ENDQUOTE

You’ll notice that this statement does not actually confirm that Trump is taking the drug. For all we know he could be making stuff up again -- but what’s more important is that he’s once again promoting an unproven and possibly dangerous drug from the biggest podium in the country. Not great!

Meanwhile, the Administration is also waging war with the World Health Organization, as Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar fired shots at the international organization, blaming its response in China for costing lives. Late Monday Night, Trump joined in, threatening to permanently pull funding from the WHO unless it started serving America’s interests. We have a president promoting unreliable drugs and a government that utterly failed millions of dead, distraught, and jobless Americans, so are we really one to talk about the WHO’s mistakes?

Linick Was Investigating Saudi Arms Deal

Outside of the pandemic, Trump’s latest blunder into crony corruption might be even worse than we thought. Yesterday Lucie told you about Trump’s firing of State Department Inspector General Steven Linick, his latest unceremonious axing of a key watchdog supposed to keep his administration in line.

Linick was allegedly investigating Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for a whole host of policy violations, like making staffers walk his dog and pick up his dry cleaning.

But on Monday, Senate Democrats reported that they had discovered Linick was investigating something far more serious: Pompeo bulldozing past Congress to push through the Trump administration’s controversial arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Pompeo and Trump pushed the Arms deal through despite widespread uproar by both Republicans and Democrats over Saudi Arabia’s killing of Jamal Khashoggi [JEMEL KHA-SHOCK-GEE YT pronunciation link] and their brutal, indiscriminate war in Yemen, using an emergency declearation to basically override Congress’s protest.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliott Engel said Monday that aside from the dog-walking, Linick was investigating that quote “phony declaration.”

The end result of all this is largely the same: Trump will probably skate. But the implication is that if Congress actually manages to nail the Administration on the Saudi arms deal, which was one of Trumps rare moves that notable members of both parties disagreed with, it could give them slightly more leverage the next time the President tries to sell millions of dollars of guns to a country that murders journalists on a whim.

Vaccine Trials Show Promise

Developing a vaccine is not a quick process, as everyone currently stuck inside their house or apartment can probably tell you. But the combined efforts of basically every virologist on Earth are getting some results.

Moderna, a Massachusetts drug company, announced on Monday that the first vaccine to go through human testing appears to be safe and able to stimulate an immune response. In other words, it’s not hurting the people who get it, and it’s fighting the disease.

Granted, this is a really small study: eight patients, injected with two doses each of the experimental vaccine. It’s going to need much, much larger trials before we know if it’s the real deal.

The gross part, however? When Moderna announced the news, its stock price soared -- and turning the hunt for a cure into a capitalist rat race is sure to leave a lot more bodies than if we had a functioning healthcare system that could work on this thing together, outside the bounds of the free market.

The government does have a hand in things though: The New York Times reports that Moderna produced the vaccine in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the last sane man left in Trump’s corona crew, is leading the clinical trials -- so it’s nice to know that while Trump is gabbling about ingesting miracle cures, someone behind the scenes is still doing the actual work.

AND NOW FOR SOME QUICKER QUICKIES:

A new report by the San Francisco Chronicle shows that the country’s immigration courts are utter chaos right now, with hundreds of thousands of cases delayed due to the pandemic, and compounded by the federal government’s haphazard response.

In China, another flare up of the disease forced the government to slam down harsh lockdown restrictions on over 100 million people in the Jilin province, highlighting just how serious proper containment of the disease is. Meanwhile, several U.S. states are throwing caution to the winds and re-opening everything.

Rebekah Jones, the data scientist who designed Florida’s helpful, easy-to-access COVID-19 dashboard for tracking the disease has been fired because she refused to censor data on behalf of the government, which is preparing to re-open the state. In a heartfelt note to her colleagues and members of the public, Jones noted she would quote “not expect the new team to continue the same level of accessibility and transparency,” in their new data releases.

Attorneys for Ahmaud Arbery confirmed on Monday that the video which depicts Arbery’s murder at the hands of two white men is more than 4 minutes long, meaning that Arbery was pursued for much longer than originally reported. If that’s not a premeditated murder, I don’t know what is.

That’s all for the Majority Report’s AM Quickie today. Stay tuned for Sam with the full show this afternoon.

May 19, 2020 #LEFTISBEST

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Jack Crosbie

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER - Brendan Finn