Trump retweets game show host Chuck Woolery’s baseless claim that ‘everyone is lying’ about coronavirus
President Donald Trump retweeted a post by game show host Chuck Woolery that baselessly claimed “everyone is lying” about the coronavirus pandemic in a possible effort to thwart Trump’s re-election chances this fall by harming the economy.
The conservative Woolery, who hosted shows such as “Love Connection,” wrote on Sunday evening, “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid 19.”
“Everyone is lying. The CDC [federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], Media, Democrats, our Doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust,” Woolery wrote.
“I think it’s all about the election and keeping the economy from coming back, which is about the election. I’m sick of it,” he added.
Woolery did not cite any evidence for his claim, or detail any purported “lies” by the targets of his tweet that the president reposted.
Soon after Trump shared the post, the president retweeted another comment by Woolery about the coronavirus outbreak in the United States.
“There is so much evidence, yes scientific evidence, that schools should open this fall. It’s worldwide and it’s overwhelming. BUT NO,” wrote Woolery, whose game show resume also includes acting as the first host of “Wheel of Fortune,” and helming “Scrabble,” “Greed” and “Lingo.”
Woolery’s comments were harshly criticized by a number of people, including by actress Rosanna Arquette, who in a Twitter reply wrote: “The most outrageous lies are being spoon fed to American citizens by the racist barbaric cruel trump administration and ignorant morons like yourself because of gross negligence Americans are dying and are loathed around the world because of impeached individual criminal.”
The journalist Kurt Eichenwald wrote: “Let’s see. A game show host, a politician, someone on social media, a guy on Fox News, or a person trained in epidemiology and infectious disease. Huh. You’re right. Hard to know which one of those to trust about issues involving epidemiology and infectious disease.”
The posts came as the United States hit new records for coronavirus cases as the virus spread in the South and West, with new cases of Covid-19 topping or approaching 60,000 additional diagnoses each day for the past week.
On Sunday, Florida reported 15,299 new cases of Covid-19 in a single day, shattering New York state’s individual state daily record by more than 3,000 cases.
Trump’s implicit endorsement of Woolery’s comments also came as officials in the Trump administration sought to discredit Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top federal infectious disease official. He has continued to issue stark warnings about the risks of reopening the country amid the pandemic.
On Monday, top executives at the Association of American Medical Colleges issued a statement saying the group “is extremely concerned and alarmed by efforts to discredit Anthony Fauci.”
“Dr. Fauci has been an independent and outspoken voice for truth as the nation has struggled to fight the coronavirus pandemic,” wrote AAMC President Dr. David Skorton, and Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Ross McKinney.
“As we are seeing from the surge in COVID-19 cases in areas that have reopened, science and facts — not wishful thinking or politics — must guide America’s response to this pandemic,” Skorton and McKinney said.
Earlier Sunday, U.S. Education Department Secretary Betsy DeVos argued for the Trump administration‘s push to reopen schools in the fall even as the pandemic continues to rage.
“School leaders across the country need to be making plans” to have students in the classroom, DeVos said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“There will be exceptions to the rule, but the rule should be kids go back to school this fall,” she said.
On Monday, Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, warned against making the decision to reopen schools “yet another political football in this game.”
“If we suppress the virus in our society, in our communities, then our schools can open safely,” Ryan said.
Trump on Sunday night also retweeted a third Twitter post from Woolery, who was replying to a Trump supporter who criticized Democrats.
A TikTok logo is seen on a mobile device in Mountain View, California on November 2, 2019 as a photo illustration.
Yichuan Cao | NurPhoto | Getty Images
TikTok is bulking up its lobbying team as the U.S. government intensifies its oversight of the social media company, which is owned by Chinese firm Bytedance.
The hires include people with deep experience in government and public policy. One of the new hires, Michael Hacker, confirmed the appointments.
Starting this week in the company’s public policy office are:
- Hacker, who previously worked as senior advisor to House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C.
- Michael Bloom, who last worked as senior vice president at the Internet Association
- Carolyn Lowry, who worked as an associate in the public policy group at law firm K&L Gates
- Dayo Simms, a privacy professional who last worked for Uber
- Albert Calamug, a policy advisor with a track record in the Defense and Aerospace industry, including 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Kim Lipsky, who was staff director of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation until last July, joined earlier this summer.
They are joining on the heels of Michael Beckerman, the former CEO powerful lobbying group the Internet Association, who started at the company this Spring.
“Michael Beckerman is best in class government relations professional with more than 15 years experience,” said Hacker, the former Clyburn advisor. “When he got the job, he asked me if I’d consider coming to help him.”
The hiring spree comes as the TikTok app has enjoyed an explosion of popularity, particularly with adolescents and young adults who enjoy recording themselves doing choreographed dances and viral challenges. As Americans have been forced indoors by the pandemic, it has become the most downloaded app of the year.
With that growth comes scrutiny, particularly as politicians on both sides of the aisle are looking closely at all of technology companies’ size, access to data and privacy protections. TikTok’s Chinese ties have made it particularly vulnerable to such inquiries.
Last year, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, or CFIUS, began an inquiry into the application over concerns Beijing could access its data and use it to threaten U.S. national security.
President Donald Trump told Grey TV’s Greta Van Susteren the administration is looking at banning TikTok, citing its size and his dissatisfaction with how China has handled the coronavirus.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo previously told Fox News the U.S is “looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese social media apps. On Wednesday, he told reporters the administration is looking broadly at technologies owned by foreign companies, rather than targeting one in particular.
The tough words come after Hong Kong announced a new law that grants the Chinese government sweeping powers, including tighter control over online content.
TikTok and other technology companies announced plans to exit the Hong Kong market.
TikTok has previously said that U.S. user data is stored in the United States, with a backup in Singapore. The company also said that its data centers are located entirely outside of China, and none of their data is subject to Chinese law.
CNBC’s Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.
Storied apparel brand Brooks Brothers files for bankruptcy, as it seeks a buyer and closes dozens of stores
The coronavirus pandemic has now claimed one of the country’s oldest and most prestigious retailers.
Brooks Brothers — pioneer of the polo and uniform of the polished prepster — filed for bankruptcy on Wednesday, as it continues to search for a buyer.
The retailer, which is more than two centuries old, boasts of having dressed 40 U.S. presidents and countless investment bankers. Early to the office-casual look, it became known for its crisp oxfords and jaunty sports jackets. But rent had become a burden, and the pandemic torpedoed a sale process that began in 2019.
“Over the past year, Brooks Brothers’ board, leadership team, and financial and legal advisors have been evaluating various strategic options to position the company for future success, including a potential sale of the business,” a spokesperson for the retailer said.
“During this strategic review, Covid-19 became immensely disruptive and took a toll on our business.”
The brand has attracted significant interest from potential acquirers, CNBC has reported, but many have preferred to buy the brand with fewer stores.
It began to evaluate which of its roughly 250 North American stores to close in early April. It has already decided to close about 51, a decision it attributes to the pandemic. Most of those store closures have already begun, and the company has moved inventory from the targeted stores to distribution centers. The retailer is proceeding with plans to reopen the majority of stores it shut due to the pandemic.
It has more than 500 stores worldwide and employs 4,025 people.
“We are in the process of identifying the right owner, or owners, to lead our iconic Brooks Brothers brand into the future,” the spokesperson said.
“It is critical that any potential buyer aligns with our core values, culture, and ambitions. Further details on the sale process will be made available in the coming days,” the spokesperson added.
Brooks Brothers generated more than $991 million in sales last year, roughly 20% of which were online. It has wholesale agreements with retailers like Macy’s and Nordstrom, and contracts to manufacture uniforms for NetJets, United Airlines and others.
To support its operations in bankruptcy, Brooks Brothers has secured $75 million in debtor in possession financing from brand management firm WHP Global, which is backed by Oaktree Capital and Blackrock. That comes on top of a $20 million loan it secured from Gordon Brothers in May.
By Aug. 15, it will cease its manufacturing work at facilities in Massachusetts, North Carolina and New York, where it produces suits, ties and some shirts. Those facilities produce about 7% of the brand’s goods.
Brooks Brothers is merely the latest retailer to succumb to the pandemic. It follows on the heels of Neiman Marcus, J. Crew and J.C. Penney, which have all filed for court protection in the last few months.
But unlike many retail trailblazers, Brooks Brothers is not buckling from debt leftover from a private equity-led leveraged buyout that left its owner unable to invest in the storied brand.
Instead, it is owned by its CEO, Claudio Del Vecchio. Del Vecchio, son of the founder of Italian eyewear giant Luxottica, has focused on restoring the brand’s quality since acquiring it from British retailer Marks & Spencer in 2001.
Those efforts appear to have borne fruit. One senior banker who spoke to CNBC said he still wears the brand’s basics under his more expensive suits. He requested anonymity because he did not want to talk publicly about his basic wear.
But leases from the expansion of its footprint have become costly. The retailer had roughly 160 retail stores in the U.S. when Del Vecchio acquired it two decades ago, about two-thirds of the 236 U.S. stores and outlets it currently claims.
And, like every retailer, it has had to rethink its retail strategy as the coronavirus pandemic has forced its stores to close.
Meanwhile, competition from younger brands like Bonobos and Lululemon has cropped up, even as Brooks Brothers has expanded further into sportswear and brought in trendy designer Zak Posen to reach more modern customers.
And as the unemployment rate rises and those who do have jobs continue to work from home, it is increasingly difficult to get Americans to buy nicer clothes, let alone wear them.
Retail traffic declines have accelerated over the past two weeks, as Covid-19 cases surge nationwide, including hotspots in Florida and Texas.
— CNBC’s Lauren Thomas contributed to this report.
With a growing number of colleges planning to offer fall classes online, many international students will not be able to stay in U.S., according to new rules issued Monday. That could mean a significant hit to school budgets — and student aid.
Under the guidelines issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, “students attending schools operating entirely online may not take a full online course load and remain in the United States.”
Students who are enrolled in such programs “must depart the country or take other measures, such as transferring to a school with in-person instruction,” according to federal immigration authorities.
“At a time when new international student enrollment is in decline, our nation risks losing global talent with new policies that hurt us academically and economically,” Esther Brimmer, the executive director and CEO of NAFSA: Association of International Educators, said in a statement.
International students in the U.S. contributed nearly $41 billion to the national economy in the 2018-2019 academic year, according to NAFSA: Association of International Educators. (By other accounts, the number is even higher.)
For years, there has been a major influx of students studying in this country, particularly from China.
In fact, one-third of all the international students in the U.S. come from China — more than any other nation, both in sheer numbers and as an overall percentage, according to the Institute of International Education.
Prior to the outbreak of Covid-19, the number of Chinese students in America was roughly 370,000, according to the latest data.
But those numbers had been falling more recently due to more restrictive student visa policies in the U.S. and changing attitudes abroad about studying here.
The coronavirus crisis “throws fuel on the fire,” said Hafeez Lakhani, president of New York-based Lakhani Coaching.
“This guidance undermines the thoughtful approach taken on behalf of students by so many institutions, including Harvard, to plan for continuing academic programs while balancing the health and safety challenges of the global pandemic,” Harvard President Lawrence Bacow said, in a statement.
“We must do all that we can to ensure that our students can continue their studies without fear of being forced to leave the country mid-way through the year, disrupting their academic progress and undermining the commitments — and sacrifices — that many of them have made to advance their education.”
Other Ivy League schools, such as the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University, plan to hold some in-person classes, while the California State University System announced that all students, enrolled on 23 campuses, will take fall classes online. (At many other schools, there is still little clarity about what the upcoming academic year will look like. )
The bottom line
If fewer international students are able to study in this country, it could spell trouble for the colleges that bank on them.
Over the last decade, deep cuts in state funding for higher education have put pressure on schools to admit more students who need less aid, which is why so many schools have come to rely on the revenue from foreign students, who typically pay top dollar.
“Those students are also, by and large, paying full tuition to study in this country,” Lakhani said. “That’s a really valuable tuition base.”
Mid-tier, private universities dependent on international enrollment will be particularly hard hit, according to Lakhani.
“It really does impact the bottom line,” he said.
Across the board, falling enrollment and retention rates due to Covid-19, as well as summer program cancellations and significant declines in giving, have already taken a toll on colleges and universities.
As a result, colleges and universities “will be looking for more domestic students paying full tuition,” Lakhani said.
That means those schools may not be able to be as generous with their financial aid offerings, he added. (Currently, about 66% of all full-time students receive aid and it is the single most important factor in determining access to a college education.)
“Universities have a tough equation to balance,” Lakhani said.
U.S. government debt prices were lower on Monday morning, as surging coronavirus cases delayed reopenings across the world’s largest economy.
In a Fourth of July speech, President Donald Trump promised to “safeguard” American values from enemies within, stoking national divisions on a day typically meant for unity and celebration.
Trump did not mention the number of fatalities due to the coronavirus in his speech, with almost 130,000 people known to have died from Covid-19 in the U.S. That is far more than any other country in the world.
In the first four days of July, Reuters reported 15 U.S. states had record increases in new cases of the coronavirus.
To date, the U.S. has recorded 2.8 million cases of the virus, with 129,947 deaths, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
On the data front, a final reading of services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) figures for June will be released at 9:45 a.m. ET, with ISM nonmanufacturing data for June set to follow at 10 a.m. ET.
The U.S. Treasury will auction $54 billion of 13-week bills and $51 billion of 26-week bills on Monday.
Summer vacations used to mean wine tasting in Tuscany, backpacking in Southeast Asia or trips to the Grand Canyon.
“This could take several years before we’re into our new normal of traveling,” said Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian.
Last Sunday, fewer than 640,000 passengers flew out of U.S. airports compared with more than 2.6 million travelers a year earlier.
American Airlines said it expects its second quarter 2020 revenue to be down about 90% versus the second quarter of 2019.
The U.S. airline industry is in turmoil.
“This is the biggest crisis of all, bigger even than 9/11, than SARS and the Great Recession and all of that. Every crisis changes the airline industry, so it’s only reasonable to think that the biggest crisis of all will cause some of the biggest changes of all,” said Seth Kaplan, aviation analyst and principal with Kaplan Research.
To lure panicked travelers back, U.S. carriers have implemented new rules, deep-cleaned planes and waived some fees. Some airlines are also limiting the number of seats they sell.
But analysts argue that even with all the changes, it’s impossible to maintain social distancing rules on airplanes.
U.S. airlines are facing their biggest crisis in a generation and the stakes have never been higher. So will all these changes keep passengers safe? And what can travelers expect in six months? Watch this video to learn more.
For more on tech, transformation and the future of work, join the most influential voices disrupting the next decade of work at the next CNBC @Work Summit this October.
Florida, Lakeland, Wal-Mart, T-shirts and clothing display.
Jeff Greenberg | Getty Images
The U.S. economy added back millions of jobs in June thanks to re-hiring in hard-hit industries like leisure and hospitality.
But for some sectors, the road to pre-coronavirus employment recovery may take years — or worse, never occur. Some now say that the coronavirus and efforts to contain its spread could act as a catalyst for layoffs that may not be fully recouped.
CNBC studied both the short-term and long-term employment changes in a variety of the economy’s sub-industries to isolate the recent impact of Covid-19 from more-enduring trends.
One industry that could have a particularly hard time bouncing back is apparel retail. Economists have for years documented a marked decline in U.S. brick-and-mortar retail jobs at the hands of online shopping.
And now, despite a sizable rebound of 202,000 clothing retail jobs in June, it remains to be seen whether the broader retail sector will be able to make a complete recovery in employment figures.
The most recent data studied by CNBC came in the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report, which showed U.S. employers added some 4.8 million back to payrolls in June and pushed the unemployment rate back down to 11.1%.
But both stocks and bond yields moved off their session highs within a couple of hours of the report as economists and investors alike began to doubt the longevity of the headline jobs strength and uneven re-hiring.
A grim prognosis for clothing retailers came Thursday morning from Betsey Stevenson, the former chief economist at the Labor Department.
Stevenson, who also served on President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, wrote on Twitter that June’s bounce in clothing store employment won’t do much to stanch the long-term decline in apparel retail jobs.
“Employment in clothing stores is up 202K! But it’s still down 40% compared to last year,” she wrote. “Many of those jobs are never coming back.”
Another industry that may have a more difficult time returning to prior employment levels is mining, and specifically coal mining.
The coal mining industry, which employed some 70,000 people at the end of 2014, lost 27% of its workforce through January 2020 before the Covid-19 layoffs.
But between January and June, the coal industry has lost another 14% of workers. Halfway through last month, the subindustry had just under 44,000 workers.
Other industries, though hard hit amid Covid-19 lockdowns, are showing signs of a more robust employment rebound.
Leisure and hospitality, which includes restaurants and bars, perhaps bore the worst of the coronavirus layoffs amid an eye-popping contraction in travel and dining out. In early May, the Labor Department reported that the leisure and hospitality industry had lost 47% of its entire workforce during the month of April alone.
But many of those workers were likely placed on temporary leave, or furloughed, and appear to be returning to work at a faster rate than workers in other industries.
Bars and restaurants employed 12.3 million Americans in February 2020, only to see that figure collapse to 6.2 million in April. It’s since rebounded 47% off that low and for June rose to 9.2 million jobs.
Another industry that has shown resiliency in recent months — and strength in recent years — is couriers and messengers. This sub-industry includes the U.S. employees who deliver parcels and mail both across states and on a local basis.
In fact, demand for e-commerce amid the coronavirus has corresponded to a net increase in the number of people working in the industry. The courier and messenger industry employed 859,000 people in January, 861,000 people in April and 904,000 in June, according to the Labor Department.
— CNBC’s John Schoen contributed reporting.
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A Ford Motor employee inspects the all-new 2020 Ford Explorer before it rolls of the line to ensure quality for our customers.
Ford Motor reported Thursday that its U.S. vehicle sales in the second quarter were down 33.3%, in-line with industry expectations as the coronavirus caused consumers to stay at home, and dealerships and factories to shutter.
U.S. vehicle sales were forecast to fall by about 34% in the second quarter, according to auto research firms Edmunds and TrueCar’s ALG. The second quarter is expected to be the worst of the year for the automakers due to the pandemic.
Every vehicle in Ford’s lineup aside from the Ford Explorer SUV and Ford Ranger midsize pickup were down in the second quarter. Those vehicles were up 12.4% and 19.8%, respectively, highlighting sales of such utility vehicles remained relatively health for sales to consumers.
Ford reported retail sales to consumers in the second quarter declined 14.3% compared with a year earlier, including a 0.4% decline in truck sales and 22% drop in SUVs. Retail car sales plummeted 34.7%.
Despite the declines, Ford said its retail share grew an estimated full percentage point to 13.3% – the automaker’s best retail share quarter in five years.
“Our performance was driven largely by full-size pickups,” Mark LaNeve, Ford vice president of U.S. marketing, sales and service, told CNBC.
Largely due to declines in its fleet unit, which includes sales to government and businesses, sales of its F-Series pickups were down 22.7% in the second quarter.
Ford, according to LaNeve, is optimistic about demand recovering for its commercial business as well as retail sales for the remainder of the year.
“We believe we’re in good shape for the third-quarter summer selling season and hopefully we can continue some of those strong share gains. “All-in-all in an unprecedented, very challenge quarter we overperformed.”
There remains concerns for the rest of the year regarding a potential resurgence of Covid-19 impacting the auto industry, LaNeve said.
Automakers across the U.S. had to end vehicle production from March until mid-May due to the pandemic. They’ve also cut or deferred executive and white-collar salaries and withdrawn guidance for the year.
U.S. President Donald Trump (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Jim Watson and Peter Klaunzer | Pool, AFP | Getty Images
Relations between the U.S. and China — the world’s top two economies — could worsen further as both countries have signaled that they are prepared to fight each other in many more ways, according to a political risk expert.
“There’s a lot of room for escalation here. I think that it’s, by now, quite clear that we’re in for the darkest chapter yet of U.S.-China relations,” Todd Mariano, director for U.S. at Eurasia Group, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia” on Thursday.
“We’re seeing moves now more on the technology and export front. I think the troubling sign is simply the multiplicity of fronts at which the two countries are fighting or preparing to fight,” he said.
In the past few years, disputes between the two countries were focused on areas such as their trade imbalance and contest in technology — which triggered a tariff war threatening to derail the global economy.
In recent months, the U.S. and China have hit out at each other over a wider range of issues which include the origin of the coronavirus and the autonomy of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong, a major business and financial center in Asia, is a self-governed Chinese territory that has a special trading relationship with the U.S. But Washington has started to pare back some of the city’s privileges under U.S. law as Beijing tightens its control over the territory by enacting a national security law.
In addition, China’s expanding Belt and Road Initiative and continued assertions in the South China Sea also feed into its tensions with the U.S., according to Mariano.
The Belt and Road Initiative is a massive infrastructure push that many analysts and critics see as China’s way of spreading its global influence through lending. The South China Sea is an important sea route for world trade where Beijing has claimed most of it as its own territory, even though other countries also lay claim to parts of it.
“Having such a widespread conflict, I think, really undermines the ability of policymakers to sort of cordon off and resolve tensions on these issues,” said Mariano.
Trump or Biden?
Analysts have warned that U.S. President Donald Trump, in seeking a second term in the White House, could ratchet up rhetoric and other actions against China in a bid to woo voters. The U.S. presidential election is scheduled for November this year.
If Trump gets reelected, Washington’s stance toward Beijing will remain: More bluster, more threats and probably even more tariffs, said William Reinsch, senior advisor and Scholl Chair in international business at think tank, Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“I’ve asked that question to a bunch of Americans doing business in China and they all said the same thing: They think that the Chinese prefer Trump to be reelected,” Reinsch said in response to CNBC’s question on who would Chinese President Xi Jinping want as the next American president.
“They believe that the Chinese think that the damage that Trump is doing to the western alliance is greater than the damage he’s doing to them. And so, they net come out better,” he said.
Since taking office in 2017, Trump’s “America First” approach has isolated the U.S. from some of its closest allies. The president has threatened elevated tariffs on the European Union and abandoned a nuclear deal with Iran that is backed by traditional allies, including the U.K., France and Germany.
Last month, Trump approved a plan to withdraw some 9,500 U.S. military personnel from Germany. That move came as the president complained that Germany has been “delinquent” in its payments to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or Nato — an intergovernmental military alliance between 30 North American and European countries.
“He’s irritated our allies, he’s losing friends — that gives China opening in Europe and other parts of the world that they hadn’t had before,” said Reinsch.
Cars sit in a dealership lot on the first day that dealerships are allowed to open to the public on May 20, 2020 in Linden, New Jersey.
Spencer Platt | Getty Images
The hefty decline is in-line with what analysts expected for the automaker, which is among the first to report its second-quarter sales. Sales were forecast to fall by about 34% in the second quarter, including declines of 24% to 30% in June alone, according to auto research firms Edmunds and TrueCar’s ALG.
There were no bright spots for Fiat Chrysler in the second quarter as every one of its six brands reported sales declines of between 21% and 63%. For the first half of the year, sales were off 25.8% for the Italian-American automaker.
Jeff Kommor, head of U.S. sales for Fiat Chrysler, said retail sales to consumers have been rebounding since bottoming in April, however fleet sales to governments and businesses have been canceled or delayed.
“This quarter demonstrated the resilience of the U.S. consumer,” Kommor said in a release. “Retail sales have been rebounding since April as the reopening of the economy, steady gas prices, and access to low-interest loans spur people to buy.” He said the company has built “a strong fleet order book” that will assist its sales in the second half of the year.
Most major automakers are expected to report June or second-quarter sales on Wednesday, providing another look at how the coronavirus crippled the auto industry during the first half of the year.
Other automakers reporting June or second-quarter sales include:
- Hyundai Motor’s sales in the second quarter fell about 23.7% to 141,722 units compared to a year ago, including a 21.9% slide in June.
Most of the U.S., European and Asian automakers report their second-quarter auto sales Wednesday. This article will be periodically updated as they release their results.