Many of the states hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak, including New York, have been calling for a moratorium on rent payments and evictions. However, this has led to a backlash by landlords who say they have bills to pay too. For many of these property owners, their rentals are their sole source of income.
It is part of the cascading effect of the economic shutdown to combat the virus. Governors are urging landlords not to evict renters during the crisis — some even going as far as officially prohibiting evictions, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did in March.
Cuomo suspended evictions for both residential and commercial property for 90 days in New York, which has emerged as the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S.
Delaware Gov. John Carney halted evictions in his declaration of a state of emergency, citing the public health threat and the need for people to shelter in their homes.
That doesn’t help landlords who still have mortgage payments to make and rely on rent payments. It creates a domino effect.
Still, many landlords have said that they remained hopeful they would get by with aid in the $2 trillion coronavirus economic rescue bill signed by President Trump last week, which included government checks and unemployment benefits that could help tenants pay rent for next few months.
Local governments also are stepping up to give guidance to cash-strapped tenants and worried landlords.
The San Diego Housing Commission created a website that gives tenants information on how to qualify for rent relief and what proof they must provide their landlords.
The rent is not entirely forgiven. Tenants get six months to catch up on their payments.
San Diego’s moratorium on evictions expires May 31.
In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been pressured to issue a moratorium on evictions but has not formally done so. Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Republican, said the coronavirus relief package that Congress has passed does not go far enough.
The legislation put into place a nation-wide moratorium on evictions, but Mr. Scott wants a 30-day halt on taxes, utility payments, credit card payments, mortgages, and financial payments including rent.
“Today is April 1, and so many across our nation are struggling to pay their rent, mortgage and other financial obligations,” he said in a press release.
“I thank the many governors that have taken action to prevent evictions and foreclosures in their states. But we have to go even further to provide much-needed relief for Americans – and we have to do it today,” he added.
A federal judge who questioned Attorney General William Barr’s “credibility” has received an unredacted copy of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Justice Department attorneys say that the release of the document was in pursuance to two orders this month by District Court Judge Reggie Walton.
Walton, an appointee of President George W. Bush, said the court had “grave concerns about the objectivity of the process that preceded the public release of the redacted version of the Mueller Report” and its “impacts on the Justice Department’s subsequent justifications” that its redactions of the report were authorized under the Freedom of Information Act.
The judge said on March 5 that he believed that AG Barr had “dubiously handled” the public release of the Mueller report.
Despite the transfer which included two paper copies and an electronic copy of the two records at issue, the court won’t be able to review them immediately because of the coronavirus crisis.
“Consistent with the [DOJ’s] Notice of Submission of Documents for In Camera Review, the Court has received the unredacted version of the report regarding Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 United States presidential election (the ‘Mueller Report’),” Walton said in a minute order Monday afternoon. “However, in light of the Chief Judge Howell’s March 16, 2020 Order Regarding Court Operations in Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Court’s review of the unredacted version of the Mueller Report is unable to occur until the Court resumes its normal operations on April 20, 2020, unless the Court’s normal operations are further suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Mueller’s report, released last April, noted his investigation “identified numerous links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign” but “did not establish that members of the Trump campaign conspired or coordinated with the Russian government in its election interference activities.”
Earlier this month, Walton said “the speed by which Attorney General Barr released to the public the summary of Special Counsel Mueller’s principal conclusions, coupled with the fact that Attorney General Barr failed to provide a thorough representation of the findings set forth in the Mueller Report, causes the Court to question whether Attorney General Barr’s intent was to create a one-sided narrative about the Mueller Report.”
The judge added that it was “a narrative that is clearly in some respects substantively at odds with the redacted version of the Mueller Report.”
DOJ spokeswoman Kerri Kupec pushed back a couple of days later, calling the court’s assertions “contrary to the facts.”
Kupec said the Justice Department “stands by” the work of the DOJ officials who made the redaction decisions and defended Barr’s “efforts to provide as much transparency as possible in connection with the Special Counsel’s confidential report.”
In an increasingly rare showing of bipartisanship, Congress has moved very quickly to send two coronavirus-related spending bills to President Trump’s desk in two weeks and is feverishly working to put together a third, blockbuster package that could be worth upward of $1 trillion.
Trump’s signing of the second coronavirus bill, which will provide $100 billion worth of paid sick leave, unemployment help and free virus testing to Americans, comes as the coronavirus pandemic is hitting close to home on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and Ben McAdams, D-Utah, were the first two members of Congress to test positive for the disease officially known as COVID-19.
“I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement on his diagnosis. “We must continue to work together to emerge stronger as a country during these trying times.”
Congress is certainly working together. The Senate managed to pass the House coronavirus bill without amendments by a 90-8 margin, sending it to Trump’s desk just two days after the House passed a technical fix to the legislation.
The expedited passage of the House legislation was a stark departure from the usual interaction between the chambers. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the self-styled “Grim Reaper” for the House’s “socialist agenda,” has been at odds with House Democrats since they took control of the lower chamber in early 2019.
However, in this case he seemed to put that all aside, saying on the Senate floor, “This is a time for urgent bipartisan action, and, in this case, I do not believe we should let perfection be the enemy of something that will help even a subset of workers.”
And even before the Senate ushered through the second bill, members of Congress and the Trump administration were falling over each other to offer up ideas for another piece of legislation.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, each proposed different ideas for how the government could send checks directly to Americans who are financially strapped because of the economic slowdown. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., confirmed Tuesday on Sirius XM’s “The Michael Smerconish Program” that a “one-time distribution of $1,000 to every adult citizen” was “being seriously discussed.”
Gabbard, by the way, has just finally announced that she will be ending her campaign for president, saying on Wednesday, “Today, I’m suspending my presidential campaign, and offering my full support to Vice President Joe Biden in his quest to bring our country together.”
Bernie Sanders had better listen for the fat lady singing, because it’s all but over for the independent senator from Vermont.
Joe Biden totally crushed Bernie Sanders in Florida, adding to a series of decisive wins that leaves the self-described democratic socialist with no realistic path to securing the Democratic presidential nomination.
Several outlets called the state for the former vice president as soon as final polls closed. At 8 p.m. EST, with 62% of precincts reporting, Biden had 60.9% of the vote, while Sanders had a dismal 22.6%.
Despite the state accounting for 219 nominating delegates to the Democratic National Convention, neither candidate visited the state in person in the days before the primary due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Instead, Biden had “virtual town halls” via video conference and Sanders held a digital “fireside chat.” Normal campaign operations were also interrupted, with staff members working from home rather than going door-to-door to encourage voters to go to the polls – all due to concerns about the corona virus.
The Vermont senator, though, had little chance in the state, even before the pandemic swept the country. Primary polls showed Biden consistently leading Sanders by 30 to 40 points.
Sanders’s February comments in support of Fidel Castro’s repressive regime in Cuba likely also hurt his chances of ever gaining any ground in the state.
“It’s unfair to simply say, ‘Everything is bad.’ You know, when Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program,” Sanders said in a 60 Minutes interview.
Two freshman Florida House Democrats, Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, condemned Sanders’s comment. The state is home to an estimated 1.5 million Cuban Americans.
The decisive win will increase Biden’s delegate lead on Sanders. Before the Tuesday primaries, Biden had a lead of about 153 delegates. Delegates are allocated proportionally based on the vote in congressional districts and statewide, meaning that winning by a large margin translates to a greater delegate advantage.
By the end of the evening, it was also clear that Biden racked up primary wins over Sanders in Arizona and Illinois as well, making his delegate lead for the Democratic presidential nomination all but insurmountable before the party’s scheduled convention in July.
A total of 1,991 delegates is needed to win the Democratic nomination at the party’s national convention this summer.
The GOP says the report of their investigation into Hunter Biden is coming soon – and the results are not going to be pretty for the son of the former VP, or his father!
A top Republican has announced to the press that he will release an interim report on his findings connected to his investigation of Burisma Holdings and its connection to Joe and Hunter Biden.
Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who heads the Senate Homeland Security Committee told reporters earlier this week that the public can expect an interim report on the committee’s investigation into Burisma within one or two months. Johnson argued that Democrats should want to have some answers about Hunter Biden’s role on the board of Burisma before casting their votes for Joe Biden.
“These are questions that Joe Biden has not adequately answered,” Johnson said. “And if I were a Democrat primary voter, I’d want these questions satisfactorily answered before I cast my final vote.”
The elder Biden surpassed Sen. Bernie Sanders in the delegate count after a strong Super Tuesday performance and seems to now be the clear frontrunner. Johnson said that Biden’s surge makes his committee’s investigation into Ukrainian gas company Burisma Holdings all the more significant, but denied that he is investigating the situation solely because of the election.
“My investigations are not focused on the Bidens. They’re just not,” the senator insisted. “But I can’t ignore them because they’re part of the story. They made themselves part of the story. If there’s wrongdoing, the American people need to know it. If there is no wrongdoing or nothing significant, the American people need to understand that as well.”
Republicans have questioned why Burisma gave Hunter a high-paying position on the company board despite him having little experience in the energy sector and a well-documented problem with drug use. At the time, Joe Biden was leading the Obama administration’s diplomatic efforts in Ukraine, leaving critics, including President Trump, to wonder if the company used the younger Biden to leverage the former vice president.
Prior to making the announcement of the impending interim report, Johnson sent a memo to his committee announcing that they would be considering a subpoena against employees of Blue Star Strategies, which represented Burisma’s interests in the United States while Hunter Biden was on the board. Johnson said the subpoena would investigate the claims that Burisma “sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s role as a board member of Burisma to gain access to, and potentially influence matters at, the State Department.”
Several Democrats have criticized Johnson for escalating the investigation into the Bidens just as the vice president’s campaign takes off.
“I am concerned to see that in the Senate there seems to be a renewed interest in furthering these bogus Russian narratives through the use of their investigative powers. I just think it’s so deeply destructive to be effectively working in a concert with Russian propaganda artists,” House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said.
Joe Biden’s campaign told Politico that Johnson had done the campaign a “favor” by “admitting that he is abusing” his position to investigate Burisma and the Bidens.
Johnson argued that such an investigation was standard for the committee, saying, “I don’t know why any member of my committee would vote against a subpoena that’s just looking for records from a U.S. consulting firm.”
Johnson and fellow GOP Senators, on and off the committee, insist that the timing of this probe has nothing to do with the election calendar. But the renewed focus on Biden, coinciding with his surge to frontrunner status, has alarmed House Democrats as they brace for an all-out GOP assault on Biden and his son over an issue that was litigated at length during President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), stood by the investigation, saying in a brief interview that the probe isn’t related to Biden’s candidacy, “this has nothing to do with the election” because the committees have been investigating Ukraine’s alleged role in the 2016 election since 2017.
“They may be coming together now, but that’s not how it started,” Grassley said.
On the heels of Sen. Ron Johnson of the Senate Homeland Security Committee announcing that he will soon release an interim report of his investigation into Hunter Biden and Ukraine energy company, Burisma Holdings, President Trump has said that Hunters involvement with Burisma will be the key campaign issue, should his father become his party’s nominee.
Even as the former VP surged to being the new Democratic frontrunner after a remarkable comeback on Super Tuesday, the president said he sees no way for Biden to answer questions about his family’s ties to Burisma. Concerns have been raised over claims Biden pushed for the removal of a Ukrainian special prosecutor in order to protect his son, Hunter, who was on Burisma’s board at the time.
“That will be a major issue in the campaign. I will bring that up all the time because I don’t see any way out,” Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in an interview that aired Wednesday night. “I don’t believe they’ll be able to answer those questions.”
President Trump went on to say the Bidens are “totally corrupt” and slammed the mainstream media for failing to call them out.
Biden won 10 of the 14 states that were up for grabs on Super Tuesday. He has roughly 577 delegates as of now, while Sanders stands at 510.