(CNN) – When the history of the pandemic is made, one of the great mysteries will be what President Donald Trump did in the last days of his presidency, as the number of deaths from COVID-19 in the US rose to more than 3,000 each. During the day the virus spread uncontrollably and Congress was hesitant about the details of an emergency relief package that could make the difference between people who can eat and are forced to sleep in the streets this Christmas season.
Trump ran for president by posing as the perfect negotiator, the CEO who could make things happen with the snap of his fingers. He will go down as a president who exacerbated the pain and tragedy of the most memorable pandemic in 100 years by ignoring the masks and security measures his own government designed – a man incapable of empathy, who chose to be in it to stay. cocoon of his White House bubble at a time when leadership would have mattered.
For weeks, Trump has spent most of his time planning to undo the results of President-elect Joe Biden’s November victory as he tricked his supporters into paying for a string of ill-conceived lawsuits that were dismissed by some of their own judicial officers. When those attempts failed, he began to look to January 6, when a joint session of Congress meets to formally recount the results of the electoral college, seeing another opportunity to try to thwart the democratic process.
In his comfort zone of the Twitter sphere, where he has posted numerous fake tweets claiming that the election was ‘scammed’, Trump has kept quiet about the disturbing hacking campaign, which is suspected of being linked to Russia, the national security of the United States. Despite being briefed by top intelligence officials about Thursday’s massive data breach, he has said nothing about the risks to the federal government or how he intends to address them.
LOOK: Trump remains silent as the US gets a cyber attack. Serious?
Senator Mitt Romney, who has been a critic of the president, called the hack “the modern equivalent of Russia’s quasi-bombers allegedly flying unnoticed across the country,” spoke to SiriusXM on Thursday. “And in this scenario, the fact that the White House is not speaking out aggressively, protesting and taking punitive action is really extraordinary.”
Biden, without mentioning Trump or his administration, tried to draw the contrast. “Our opponents should know that as president I will not stand by and watch cyber attacks on our country,” he said in a statement Thursday.
Perhaps the most puzzling thing about Trump’s disappearance is that it was kept out of the public eye when it could have made a victory lap following the historic approval of the first by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Covid-19 vaccine, despite earlier insistence that it should take full credit for vaccines for its efforts to put pressure on companies to develop them faster than ever before.
But if he seemed to announce the vaccine, he would also have had to acknowledge the suffering afflicting America, both because of the disease and the economic hardship, which he knows will have bad repercussions on his legacy. The United States now has more than 17 million cases of Covid-19 and the daily number of new coronavirus cases in the United States is approaching 250,000. Trump has also lost his key point on how the economy is rebounding strongly: Unemployment claims released Thursday showed that 885,000 Americans first filed for unemployment benefits last week.
Trump posted a cheery tweet on Thursday ignoring that disturbing news: “All-time high in the stock market. The vaccine and the vaccine insert have received the best reviews. Move really well. Make those ‘shots’ for everyone! He tweeted that, ignoring the fact that meager doses of vaccines are only assigned to primary care workers, residents of long-term care facilities, and some government officials. “Plus, talks of encouragement look great,” he added.
Stimulus speaks to obstacles reaching an important deadline
But as Congress tries to structure a covid aid package that will have bipartisan support in both houses – with much-needed help for millions of unemployed Americans, as well as small businesses on the brink of collapse – the president has not used his alleged negotiating power to to close the deal.
As leaders say they are close to a deal, some progressives and conservatives have formed an unlikely alliance to advocate for increasing the size of the $ 600 direct payments expected to go to Americans with a lack of money. Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri said he planned to take a vote on Friday on his bill that provides direct payments of $ 1,200 for individuals and $ 2,400 for families. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, an independent, has also demanded greater direct payments.
Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday night that the talks are “still underway and progressing” and told his members to be prepared to work through the weekend. While these negotiations should have ended months ago when unemployment and other benefits began to expire and worsening cases led to new covid shutdowns, McConnell blamed Democrats for the delays.
“Families across the country have been waiting too long for another significant dose of help,” McConnell said in a Senate speech Thursday. “We should not see these talks as routine negotiations to be conducted at the routine pace of Congress. Therefore, we must complete this work and we must complete it immediately.
Republican Senator John Thune, a member of the leadership, said the longer the negotiations drag on, the more difficult it will be to keep congressmen in line. He describes the process as “a bit of a mill game”.
“You hit here, and someone else shows up … there’s a lot of interaction between the moving parts of all this, and it’s been very difficult to get everything aligned at once,” said the South Dakota Republican. But I still have hope.
Congressmen may need to take another interim measure to maintain government funding and avoid a shutdown that would begin at midnight on Friday. But Thune said Friday’s midnight deadline had been helpful in moving the discussions forward.
“We need the pressure to do this, and I hope that the pressure will continue to build by midnight by midnight by tomorrow night,” Thune said.
LEE: ANALYSIS | Flash of progress in stimulus negotiations as Trump election show continues
A great day for a second covid-19 vaccine
Doses of a second coronavirus vaccine made by Moderna may be on its way to Americans soon after a key advisory panel from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended the agency to grant emergency use to Moderna on Thursday. FDA leaders indicated a decision would be made quickly.
“Following the positive outcome of today’s advisory committee meeting regarding the Moderna covid-19 vaccine, the FDA has informed the sponsor that it will work quickly to obtain an emergency use authorization. finalize and issue, ”said Dr. Stephen Hahn, FDA Commissioner, and Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, in a statement Thursday evening.
Hahn and Marks said the agency had also notified the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) so they could prepare for the next steps in the authorization process. Once the FDA approves it, a CDC advisory panel will meet to make recommendations on who should get the Moderna vaccine first. And the CDC must approve that recommendation before Moderna’s vaccine injections can be delivered into Americans’ arms. FDA officials said they also notified Operation Warp Speed officials that they were approaching a decision “so that they can implement their plans for the timely distribution of the vaccine.”
LOOK: If the FDA approves the use of Moderna’s vaccine, how and when would distribution begin?
In a public display of confidence about the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech, Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence will receive the vaccine in public Friday, along with Chief Health Officer Jerome Adams. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Leader Mitch McConnell also said they will receive the vaccine in the coming days.
The president, who contracted the coronavirus in early October, will not get the vaccine until recommended by the White House medical team, a White House official told CNN.
But as the nation delves deeper into this critical battle against Covid, he remains lacking in action, content to let the government’s cogs run without him.