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Foreign diplomats are already going straight to ‘President’ Pence to bypass Trump chaos

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European officials have resigned themselves to working around President Donald Trump by connecting straight to Vice President Mike Pence when they need to get things done, said Vanity Fair on Thursday.

“We are still trying to figure out what it exactly means, this ‘America First’ approach,” said a “senior European diplomat” to Vanity Fair‘s Abigail Tracy, adding that since Trump’s election, it has become “more complex” and “more challenging” to discern the U.S. foreign policy amid the slew of contradictory positions emanating from the White House.

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“The early months of Trump’s tenure were defined by chaos and mismanagement at nearly every level, from the botched rollout of his travel ban, to his oddly hostile call with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, to his dangerously ambivalent commentary about support for NATO,” said Tracy. “Administration officials say that the White House is now a tighter ship under the stewardship of Chief of Staff John Kelly, but some links in Trump’s chain of command can’t be fixed.”

Cornered by investigators and riven by factionalism, Trump’s White House — with its competing interests in the form of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, national security adviser H. R. McMaster, embattled Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly — is seen by foreign officials as a place where calls aren’t returned and answers are only as reliable as the latest twist of the mercurial president’s moods.

Instead, Tracy said, “diplomats have turned to the one member of the Cabinet that Trump can’t oust: Mike Pence.”

A report from Foreign Policy magazine portrayed Pence and his staff as an island of efficiency and organization in a sea of mayhem.

Diplomats have praised Pence’s office to Foreign Policy as “amazing” and “super professional.” He and his personnel are often better informed on foreign policy than the State Department, said an unnamed European official.

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Pence has been dispatched by the administration to calm the fears of allies concerned about Trump’s changeability, lack of focus and feckless attitude toward alliances like NATO. While it’s not unusual for a vice president to act on behalf of a presidential administration overseas, it’s is very rare, Tracy said, that a vice president is sent to calm allies about his own boss.

“That may be the new normal in Washington, where a notoriously mercurial president occupies the Oval Office,” she wrote. “For Pence, it also offers the opportunity for the former Indiana governor to begin laying the groundwork for a sort of shadow campaign: cozying up to a diplomatic community that is likely to outlast the president.”

However, as The New Yorker‘s Jane Mayer wrote in her revealing profile of Pence, the former Indiana governor is a far-right Christian ideologue whose ideas about women, sex and sexual orientation are wildly out of step with mainstream America.

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Jared Kushner ripped by NYT columnist: He will ‘get us all killed’ with his incompetence

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On Thursday, writing for The New York Times, columnist Michelle Goldberg laid into President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who appeared at the day's coronavirus press conference to blame states for the federal government's slow response.

"Reporting on the White House’s herky-jerky coronavirus response, Vanity Fair’s Gabriel Sherman has a quotation from Jared Kushner that should make all Americans, and particularly all New Yorkers, dizzy with terror," wrote Goldberg. "According to Sherman, when New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, said that the state would need 30,000 ventilators at the apex of the coronavirus outbreak, Kushner decided that Cuomo was being alarmist. 'I have all this data about I.C.U. capacity,' Kushner reportedly said. 'I'm doing my own projections, and I've gotten a lot smarter about this. New York doesn’t need all the ventilators.'"

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Trump expected to tell all Americans to wear cloth masks in public: report

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The Trump White House is expected to urge Americans to wear cloth face masks when in public to help slow the transmission of coronavirus, in a reversal of current guidelines. The CDC says there is increasing evidence asymptomatic coronavirus carriers may be spreading the virus more than first believed, The Washington Post reports.

But studies going back weeks or longer made clear people who show few or no symptoms are "shedding" more of the virus – spreading it – at a rate higher than some who are fully symptomatic.

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Texas is next: Epidemiologist explains how the state acted too slowly on coronavirus

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The state of Texas could be the next COVID-19 hotspot, an epidemiologist warned on Thursday.

"California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a sweeping statewide stay-at-home order on March 19," ABC News reports. "On the other hand, Texas took a much slower approach, with Gov. Greg Abbott finally instituting an order to close all non-essential businesses on March 31."

ABC News interviewed Dr. John Brownstein, an epidemiologist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

"I think Texas is going to be the next hot spot. We can already see the cases starting to increase, it is start of an exponential rise," Dr. Brownstein explained.

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