The vote to renominate Donald Trump for US president will be held privately without members of the press later this month, for the first time in modern history.
A spokesperson for the Republican National Convention (RNC) said the decision was due to “health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina”, where 336 delegates were scheduled to gather in Charlotte on 24 August to formally vote to make Mr Trump the party’s standard-bearer once again. Such nominating conventions are traditionally designed to be in the media’s spotlight so political parties can draw attention to the events and spread their messages.
The news comes as Tropical Storm Isaias, which was downgraded from a hurricane, is set to brush the east coast of Florida as it heads northwest with top sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. The National Hurricane Centre has said the storm will move near or along the state’s east coast on Sunday. Florida’s central and northern east coast could be hit by a storm surge of as much as four feet (1.22m) as the storm pushes tidal levels above normal.
In his remarks last week, Mr Trump advised Floridians who may reside in the strorm’s path to follow their state and local guidance.
“My administration will be here for you every single step of the way,” he added. “We’ve done everything we can do, and now we’re just waiting for the storm. And I guess it’s right behind me. It’s following me.”
‘Never done before’: Trump doubles down on promise to lower drug prices
President Donald Trump has called for supporters to “forget” what drug companies who take “massive television ads against me” say, and insisted his administration will bring the price of prescription drugs in the US down.
It was unclear what drug companies he was referring to, but the president last week slammed “Big Pharma” television ads, calling them “nasty” and claiming he has reduced drug prices by 50 per cent “at least”.
Earlier this month, Mr Trump signed four executive orders aimed at cutting prescription drug prices in the US.
But pharmaceutical industry analysts have said the move would not have much effect.
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said in a statement: “This administration has decided to pursue a radical and dangerous policy to set prices based on rates paid in countries that he [President Trump] has labelled as socialist, which will harm patients today and into the future.”
But Mr Trump insists: “Favoured Nations Clause means USA will pay the lowest price of any nation in the World. Never done before. Watch!!!”
‘Fake News doesn’t report’ on coronavirus outbreaks in ‘nations which were thought to have done a great job’, complains Trump
The US President is awake and tweeting about the “China Virus” this afternoon.
Retweeting news of the worsening coronavirus outbreak in Australia’s Victoria state, Mr Trump complained the media does not report on new outbreaks in nations “which were thought to have done a great job”.
This is despite numerous reports by publications all over the world following the outbreak in Australia. The state of Victoria declared a disaster after a surge in infections swept across Melbourne and other areas.
A new nightly curfew for Melbourne, from 8am to 5pm, will come into effect on Sunday night as part of movement restrictions to curb the spread. Since Saturday, 671 new coronavirus cases have been reported, with seven deaths.
Mr Trump added: “USA will be stronger than ever before, and soon!”
The US remains the country with the highest number of infections, with over 4.7 million Covid-19 cases so far.
Trump clashes with Fauci on Twitter, says immunologist is ‘wrong’
Donald Trump has contradicted his administration’s leading infectious disease expert, Anthony Fauci, saying his explanation on why coronavirus cases in the US are rising is “wrong”.
Retweeting a video in which Dr Fauci outlines the difference between reactions to the pandemic in Europe versus the US’s less stringent approach, Mr Trump insisted the US has “more cases because we have tested far more than any other country”.
The president and his allies have repeatedly undermined Dr Fauci and clashed over how the country should respond and handle the coronavirus crisis.
Our reporter Clea Skopeliti has more on the story here:
Microsoft in talks to buy US operations of TikTok ahead of Trump ban
Tech giant Microsoft is reportedly in advanced talks to buy the US operations of TikTok, which would be a major victory for the Chinese-owned video app at the centre of national security and censorship concerns.
President Donald Trump has had TikTok’s parent company Bytedance in his targets amid a bitter diplomatic row with China and said Friday he would take action as soon as Saturday to ban the app in the US.
He told reporters on Air Force One as he returned from Florida: “As far as TikTok is concerned, we’re banning them from the United States.”
Claiming that he could use emergency economic powers or an executive order to enforce the ban, Mr Trump insisted he has “that authority” and the ban would “be signed tomorrow [Saturday]”.
According to Associated Press, a person familiar with the discussions who spoke on condition of anonymity said Microsoft, if successful, would become a major player in the social media sphere.
Microsoft has declined to comment and TikTok issued a statement on Friday saying: “While we do not comment on rumours or speculation, we are confident in the long-term success of TikTok.”
TikTok is hugely popular in the US, where tens of millions of people use the app. It has hundreds of millions of users globally.
Key Trump impeachment witness Alexander Vindman accused Trump of ‘bullying and intimidation’
Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman has said in a damning op-ed that coming forward in President Donald Trump’s impeachment proceedings helped “end his career” and accused the president of “bullying and intimidation”.
His testimony became key in the impeachment inquiry, but Lt Col Vindman said he experienced attacks from Mr Trump after testifying before Congress.
Danielle Zoellner has the full story here:
Barron Trump’s private school to stay closed despite POTUS insisting schools reopen
President Donald Trump’s son, Barron, will remain home from school as his Maryland private school is among those under country orders to stay closed.
The President has pushed for schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that children are being harmed by being away from the classroom.
But Montgomery County Health Officer Dr Travis Gayles said his order for schools in the county to stay closed for in-person instruction will be reevaluated before 1 October to determine if it should be extended, terminated or amended.
Currently, schools there are to conduct online classes only.
Gayles said increases in Covid-19 transmission rates in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia, particularly in younger age groups played into the decision.
“At this point the data does not suggest that in-person instruction is safe for students or teachers,” he said on Friday.
Barron, 14, is due to enter ninth grade at St Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland, in Montgomery County. The 2020-2021 school year is due to start on 8 September.
Reporting by AP
Tropical Storm Isaias brings heavy rain onto Florida east coast
Tropical Storm Isaias brought heavy rain on the east coast of Florida before dawn on Sunday as authorities stay on high alert for the approaching storm.
Although it was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm late Saturday afternoon, Isaias is still expected to dump heavy downpours and flooding as it makes its way towards Florida.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned residents during a news conference on Saturday: “Don’t be fooled by the downgrade.”
Authorities in the state closed beaches, parks and coronavirus testing sites. Ms DeSantis said power outages are anticipated and asked residents to prepare a week’s worth of water, food and medicine in case of emergencies.
Before it hits Florida, Isaias has already caused destruction in the Caribbean, uprooting trees and destroying crops in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, before knocking out power in the Bahamas yesterday.
The President approved an emergency declaration in Florida and ordered Federal assistance to supplement the state’s response efforts to the storm.
Mr Trump’s call authorised the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to co-ordinate all disaster relief efforts.
Renomination of Trump for President to be held in private due to coronavirus
The RNC is scheduled to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina, on 24 August. 335 delegates are expected to gather and formally vote to make Mr Trump the Republican party’s standard-bearer once more.
This will be the first nominating convention in modern history to be closed to members of the media.
A spokesperson for the RNC said: “Given the health restrictions and limitations in place within the state of North Carolina, we are planning for the Charlotte activities to be closed press.
“We are happy to let you know if this changes, but we are working within the parameters set before us by state and local guidelines regarding the number of people who can attend events.”
Good morning, and welcome to The Independent‘s liveblog following the actions and words US President Donald Trump.