President Trump yesterday said on Twitter that he alone could order the United States to reopen for business, reports Politico. Trump’s assertion that ending social distancing measures “is the decision of the President” runs counter to the views of many legal scholars, who say the federal government lacks the authority to directly order states to lift pandemic restrictions. During Monday’s news briefing, President Trump stated, “When somebody is the president of the United States, the authority is total and that’s the way it’s got to be,” according to the Washington Post.
Meanwhile, two groups of governors announced Monday they were forming multistate committees to explore how and when to lift the coronavirus restrictions, writes the Post. On the east coast, the governors of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Massachusetts and Rhode Island have created a pact to coordinate on an eventual end to social distancing measures. On the west coast, the governors of California, Oregon and Washington also announced they would work together to combat the outbreak and carefully restart their states’ economies.
Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort is seeking early release from prison due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports Politico.
China is experiencing a new coronavirus hot spot along its remote northern border with Russia, writes the Associated Press. The frontier has been closed and emergency medical units have been dispatched to the area to bar travelers from bringing the virus back from overseas. Across the border, Moscow has introduced a digital tracking system to enforce its lockdown, according to CNN. Residents must declare a route and purpose in advance if they want to move around the city; they then receive a QR code that can be checked by the authorities.
A U.S. Navy sailor died yesterday after becoming infected with the coronavirus aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, reports Reuters. He is the first active-duty U.S. service member to die from COVID-19 complications.
Benny Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday were given a brief extension in unity talks, following a joint request to President Reuven Rivlin to extend the Blue and White party leader’s mandate to form a coalition, writes Haaretz. Rivlin gave both men until Wednesday at midnight to reach an agreement on a unity government that would respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today that Russia is ready to discuss hypersonic missiles and other arms control issues with the United States, according to Reuters.
The trial of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine accused of spying, has begun in Moscow, reports the BBC.
North Korea fired several short-range missiles off its east coast yesterday, writes the New York Times.
ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare
Jen Patja Howell shared an episode of the Lawfare Podcast discussing what the coronavirus response has meant for immigration policy, ICE and CBP.
Adam Klein and Benjamin Wittes discussed the long history of coercive health responses in American law.
Arian Tabatabai and Colin Clarke argued that the U.S. strategy of maximum pressure still won’t sway Iran.
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