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Trump’s vaccine czar under fire for his relationship with drug companies he’ll be overseeing

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On Wednesday, The New York Times published an analysis of the extensive industry ties — and potential conflicts of interest — of President Donald Trump’s new top vaccine official.

“The scientist, Moncef Slaoui, is a venture capitalist and a former longtime executive at GlaxoSmithKline,” reported Sheila Kaplan, Matthew Goldstein, and Alexandra Stevenson. “Most recently, he sat on the board of Moderna, a Cambridge, Mass., biotechnology firm with a $30 billion valuation that is pursuing a coronavirus vaccine. He resigned when President Trump named him last Thursday to the new post as chief adviser for Operation Warp Speed, the federal drive for coronavirus vaccines and treatments.”

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“Just days into his job, the extent of Dr. Slaoui’s financial interests in drug companies has begun to emerge: The value of his stock holdings in Moderna jumped nearly $2.4 million, to $12.4 million when the company released preliminary, partial data from an early phase of its candidate vaccine trial that helped send the markets soaring on Monday,” continued the report.

Slaoui sold his shares in Moderna as he was being brought on board, and the Trump administration maintains that they have vetted him thoroughly for conflicts of interest. However, the manner in which he was appointed has made the whole process less transparent.

“In agreeing to accept the position, Dr. Slaoui did not come on board as a government employee. Instead, he is on a contract, receiving $1 for his service,” said the report. “That leaves him exempt from federal disclosure rules that would require him to list his outside positions, stock holdings and other potential conflicts. And the contract position is not subject to the same conflict-of-interest laws and regulations that executive branch employees must follow.”

“In an interview, Dr. Slaoui said he was determined to avoid conflicts and would re-evaluate any remaining associations if his financial interests stood to gain more from his new post overseeing the government’s push to encourage speedy development of treatments or vaccines. “He did not say how much his GSK shares were worth. When he left the company in 2017, he held about 240,000 shares and share equivalents, according to the drug company’s annual report and an analysis by the executive compensation firm Equilar.”

He has also said he told the administration he does not wish to divest from GSK, but has promised to donate any capital gains he makes off of the GSK shares during his time in the government role.

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“The new group of which Dr. Slaoui is lead scientist will vet candidates for vaccines and treatments, to decide whether they should receive federal financial backing and additional support,” said the report.

You can read more here.


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24 hours of embarrassing incidents culminate in #TrumpIsALaughingStock trending on Twitter

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President Donald Trump has already had a tough week.

It started Monday evening when HBO aired a widely-panned interview with Axios correspondent Jonathan Swan.

Monday morning, Trump appeared entirely unfamiliar with Yosemite National Park.

And then Trump had another one of his lie-filled presidential briefings.

All the fodder circulating resulted in the hashtag for "Trump is a laughing stock" trending on Twitter.

Here's some of what people were saying about the commander-in-chief:

https://twitter.com/jeremynewberger/status/1290833836587311104

https://twitter.com/egheitasean/status/1290768729286963201

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2020 Election

GOP operatives linked to Kayne West’s presidential bid in potential ‘spoiler’ effort: NYT

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There are questions as to whether Kanye West is running a "spoiler" bid for president to help re-elect his friend, Donald Trump, according to a new report by The New York Times.

"At least four people who have been active in Republican politics are linked to Kanye West’s attempt to get on the presidential ballot this year. The connection raises questions about the aims of the entertainer’s effort and whether it is regarded within the G.O.P. as a spoiler campaign that could aid President Trump, even as those close to Mr. West have expressed concerns about his mental health as he enters the political arena," the newspaper reported.

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2020 Election

Kris Kobach ridiculed after losing comeback bid in Kansas: ‘Adios amigo’

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Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is the projected loser of the state's Republican primary for the U.S. Senate, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

Kobach, a longtime crusader against immigration, headed up President Donald Trump's so-called "voter fraud commission" before it was disbanded after failing to identify any widespread instances of fraud.

Kobach unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2018.

Here's some of what people were saying about Kobach's defeat:

https://twitter.com/LokayFOX5/status/1290832478865952768

https://twitter.com/davematt88/status/1290831071462875136

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