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Woodward book: Trump aimed to "play it down" with coronavirus response

President Trump said in March that his approach to the coronavirus pandemic was to "play it down," according to Bob Woodward's new book "Rage," which was obtained ahead of its publication next week by CNN.

Why it matters: Trump's comments during on-the-record interviews with Woodward during February and March contrast deeply with his public comments about the pandemic, as he argued for weeks that the virus would "disappear" and slow-walked economic lockdowns.


  • "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic," Trump added during the March 19 interview.

The state of play: The book details how Trump received an intelligence briefing on Jan. 28 during which national security adviser Robert O'Brien told the president that the coronavirus could be the "biggest national security threat" of his time in office.

  • O'Brien's deputy, Matt Pottinger, warned the president that the outbreak could mirror the 1918 Spanish flu, which killed approximately 50 million people worldwide.
  • Three days later, Trump announced restrictions on travel from China, though maintained a pause on more sweeping actions.

What he said: During their interviews, Trump told Woodward more than was known publicly about the virus' spread and potency at the time.

  • It goes through the air. That's always tougher than the touch. You don't have to touch things. Right? But the air, you just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. And so that's a very tricky one. That's a very delicate one. It's also more deadly than even your strenuous flus," Trump told Woodward on Feb. 7
  • Later that month, Trump stated publicly that the number of U.S. cases "within a couple of days is going to be down close to zero."
  • And on March 7, Trump told Woodward, "Just today and yesterday, some startling facts came out. It's not just old, older. Young people too, plenty of young people."
  • His administration has since pushed for the reopening of schools and the president himself has claimed that kids are "almost immune."

Trump: Ruth Bader Ginsburg "led an amazing life"

President Trump said Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg "led an amazing life," after he finished a campaign rally in Bemidji, Minnesota, and learned of her death.

What he's saying: "I’m sad to hear,” Trump told the press pool before boarding Air Force One. "She was an amazing woman, whether you agree or not, she was an amazing woman who led an amazing life."

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Trump to move fast to replace Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

President Trump will move within days to nominate his third Supreme Court justice in just three-plus short years — and shape the court for literally decades to come, top Republican sources tell Axios.

Driving the news: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republicans are ready to move to confirm Trump's nominee before Election Day, just 46 days away, setting up one of the most consequential periods of our lifetimes, the sources say.

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What they're saying: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was a "tireless and resolute champion of justice"

Democratic and Republican lawmakers along with other leading figures paid tribute to Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday night at age 87.

What they're saying: “Our Nation has lost a jurist of historic stature," Chief Justice John Roberts said. "We at the Supreme Court have lost a cherished colleague. Today we mourn, but with confidence that future generations will remember Ruth Bader Ginsburg as we knew her — a tireless and resolute champion of justice.”

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Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at 87.

Why it matters: Ginsburg had suffered from serious health issues over the past few years, including cancer. Her death sets up a fight over filling a Supreme Court seat with less than 50 days until the election.

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NYT: White House drug price negotiations between broke down over $100 "Trump Cards"

Negotiations on a deal between the White House and pharmaceutical industry to lower drug prices broke down last month after Mark Meadows, the president's chief of staff, insisted that drugmakers pay for $100 cash cards to be mailed to seniors before the election, according to the New York Times.

Why it matters: Some of the drug companies feared that in agreeing to the prescription cards — reportedly dubbed "Trump Cards" by some in the pharmaceutical industry — they would boost Trump's political standing weeks ahead of Election Day with voters over 65, a group that is crucial to the president's reelection bid, per the Times.

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In photos: Virginians line up for hours on first day of early voting

In some parts of Virginia, people waited in line up to four hours to cast their ballots on the first day of early voting, according to the Washington Post.

The big picture: The COVID-19 pandemic seems to already have an impact on how people cast their votes this election season. As many as 80 million Americans are expected to vote early, by mail or in person, Tom Bonier, CEO of TargetSmart, a Democratic political data firm, told Axios in August.

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Court battles shift mail-in voting deadlines in battleground states Michigan and Pennsylvania

Michigan joins Pennsylvania in extending mail-in ballot deadlines by several days after the election, due to the coronavirus pandemic and expected delays in U.S. Postal Service.

The latest: Michigan Court of Claims Judge Cynthia Stephens ruled that all ballots postmarked before Nov. 2 must be counted, so long as they arrive in the mail before election results are certified. Michigan will certify its general election results on Nov. 23.

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Interview: Unity CEO explains his company's unusual IPO

Unity Technologies was just one of many companies with blockbuster IPOs this week, but it took a decidedly different approach, using data rather than handshakes to decide who got to invest and at what price. CEO John Riccitiello explained why in an interview with Axios.

Why it matters: Traditionally, bankers and companies set IPO prices based on conversations and expectations, a process that has been criticized as basically leaving money on the table.

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