Donald Trump sparked a panicked stock market sell-off Tuesday afternoon as he tweeted that he would not allow talks on a stimulus plan to go on before the November election.
In a series of tweets sent from the White House residence where he is still on drugs to fight his COVID, Trump canceled talks with Nancy Pelosi over a multi-trillion relief package and said: ‘Immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business.’
He banned White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin from cutting the deal – and instead told Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, to focus on seating the Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
The Dow Jones crashed more than 300 points within minutes and closed down 375 points. Traders had thought a deal was close – and the Federal Reserve chair had earlier in the day called more stimulus essential.
Pelosi slammed Trump saying he was ‘putting himself first at the expense of the country, with the full complicity of the GOP Members of Congress.’
She was on a conference call with the House Democratic caucus when Trump’s tweet cancelling the stimulus talks hit.
The Speaker suggested Trump may be affected in his thinking by the steroids he is on Doctors also raised concerns over their side-effects.
‘There are people who thought, who think that steroids have an impact on your thinking. So, I don’t know,’ Pelosi said, according to Politico. ‘I do practice medicine on the side without benefit of diploma, as a mother and a grandmother, but I hadn’t gone into mental health yet.’
Sell: How the markets reacted to the news
Is he stable? Dr Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health told Fox News as many as 40 per cent of people on the steroids given to Trump suffer short-term mental side effects including agitation
Is it the steroids? Nancy Pelosi told Democratic lawmakers that Trump’s actions might be because of the drugs he is on
She and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin were last known to have spoken about the negotiations on Monday in an hour-long phone call. They spoke again briefly at 3:30 pm on Tuesday, where Mnuchin informed the speaker that ‘the President has walked away from COVID talks,’ according to Pelosi spokesperson Drew Hammill. Pelosi expressed disappointment ‘in the President’s decision to abandon the economic & health needs of the American people,’ he added.
Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, slammed Trump’s decision in a statement, saying the president showed he didn’t care about people who are suffering.
‘Make no mistake: if you are out of work, if your business is closed, if your child’s school is shut down, if you are seeing layoffs in your community, Donald Trump decided today that none of that — none of it — matters to him. There will be no help from Washington for the foreseeable future. Instead, he wants the Senate to use it’s time to confirm his Supreme Court Justice nominee before the election, in a mad dash to make sure that the Court takes away your health care coverage as quickly as possible,’ he said.
Meanwhile, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he agreed with the president’s decision.
‘Well, I think his view was that they were not gonna produce a result, and that we needed to concentrate on what’s achievable,’ he told reporters on Capitol Hill.
Most Republican senators were unhappy with the more than $1.5 trillion price tag or higher that was in the works.
But one GOP Senator, Susan Collins of Maine, said the president’s decision was a ‘huge mistake.’
‘Waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next Covid-19 relief package is a huge mistake. I have already been in touch with the Secretary of the Treasury, one of the chief negotiators, and with several of my Senate colleagues,’ she said in a statement.
Collins is in an uphill battle for re-election. The moderate Republican has distanced herself from the president in recent weeks. She also criticized his decision to nominate a replacement to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to the Supreme Court before the election although she didn’t rule outing voting for that person should the vote make it to the Senate floor ahead of November 3.
Inside the White House, Trump had spent the morning tweeting that he was ‘feeling great’ and claiming he would hit the campaign trail.
But he also posted a comparison between coroanvirus and flu which claimed COVID could be ‘less lethal’ than the seasonal virus and saying ‘we don’t shut our country down.’
It was deleted by Facebook – prompting an angry reaction from Trump – and flagged as misleading and potentially harmful by Twitter.
He seemed to be promoting ‘herd immunity’ but as the day went on it seemed his own federal government was at the center of a one-man attempt to create it.
All but one of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was revealed to be in quarantine after the Coast Guard member – Admiral Charles Ray – tested positive after attending a White House reception for Gold Star families at the start of last week.
In the West Wing, Ivanka Trump stayed away from work, and in the East Wing, her stepmother Melania announced ‘hospital level’ disinfection.
But Trump, Bloomberg News reported, was demanding to go to the Oval Office – feet from the press briefing room which had to be disinfected by staff in hazmat gear after Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who persistently refused to wear a mask at her briefings, and two of her aides, tested positive.
The atmosphere of frenzy and fear spread across Washington D.C. but it was Trump’s mental state which dominated conversation.
Trump is on a heavy cocktail mix of drugs as part of his treatment plan, including the steroid dexamethasone, which is typically not used unless someone needs a ventilator or supplemental oxygen.
He’s taking remdesivir, an antiviral medication that is believed to help in recovery.
And he got an 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s experimental antibody therapy on Friday before he entered the hospital.
Doctors on Tuesday warned that the steroid he is being treated with for COVID comes with risks of serious side effects, including mood swings, aggression and confusion.
Trump’s medical team on Sunday said the president was started on dexamethasone, a generic steroid long and widely used to reduce inflammation associated with other diseases. The steroid was begun after Trump experienced low oxygen levels.
Dr Ashish Jha, Dean of Brown University’s School of Public Health, told Fox News: ‘We definitely see in 30-40 percent of people pretty substantial effects…[of] the anxiety, the agitation.’
Since Sunday, Trump has gone on a drive-by motorcade outside Walter Reed hospital, been released from hospital then flown back to the White House on Marine One, ripping off his mask when he arrived and recording a video telling people of his COVID treatment: ‘Maybe I’m immune.’
On Tuesday he launched a fusillade of tweets and was reported by Bloomberg to be demanding he be allowed to go to the Oval Office.
Yards away from the Oval Office, the press briefing area of the White House was being deep cleaned as a mounting number of staff tested positive for the virus and across the Potomac, the Pentagon was in chaos as all but one of the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff quarantined because one tested positive – after going to a White House event on Sunday.
The crisis raises questions over national security and even one of the military aides who follows Trump with the nuclear football tested positive.
As his daughter Ivanka stayed home ‘out of an abundance of caution,’ Mike Pence was in Salt Lake City getting ready for a vice-presidential debate. His doctor claimed
Research has shown that just a few days on dexamethasone can leave patients with memory and cognitive deficits. Corticosteroids – the class of drugs dexamethasone belongs to – may cause psychiatric side effects in anywhere from 1.8 to 57 percent of patients taking them.
Experts’ first worry was that the use of dexamethasone to treat Trump suggested he was very sick, since the $6 steroid may be dangerous to people with mild COVID-19.
But because it’s been linked to everything from mania to memory problems, and aggression to psychosis, some are also concerned that the president’s judgement could be impaired as he reportedly continues to work through his illness.
Ending stimulus talks however goes deep into the most damaging territory possible for a president whose only path to re-election had been on high stock market numbers and a belief in his economic record among swing state voters.
Pelosi accused him of being ‘unwilling to crush the virus,’ saying: ‘He shows his contempt for science, his disdain for our heroes – in health care, first responders, sanitation, transportation, food workers, teachers, teachers, teachers and others – and he refuses to put money in workers’ pockets, unless his name is printed on the check.’
Earlier in the day Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell had said recovery from the pandemic downturn would be ‘stronger and faster’ with more government aid to protect against the possibility of accelerating job losses.
‘Too little support would lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses,’ Powell said in an address to an economics conference.
‘Even if policy actions ultimately prove to be greater than needed, they will not go to waste.’
Powell, who has long said more economic support is likely needed, warned that if economic improvements slow, that ‘could trigger typical recessionary dynamics, as weakness feeds on weakness.’
A long period of ‘unnecessarily slow progress’ could continue to exacerbate existing disparities in the economy, he said, which ‘would be tragic.’
In Congress, Pelosi had proposed an economic stimulus measure costing $2.2 trillion but President Donald Trump’s administration wants to spend no more than $1.6 trillion.
While Pelosi last week again began talking regularly with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, her Republican counterpart in the negotiations, the two sides have yet to find a compromise weeks before Trump stands for a second term in office against Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
‘Chairman Powell’s warning could not be more clear: robust action is immediately needed to avert economic catastrophe from the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic,’ Pelosi said on Tuesday.
The CARES Act passed as the pandemic struck in March included extra $600 weekly payments to the unemployed as well as a program of loans and grants for small businesses but those expired around the start of August.
Powell noted the positive effects of both programs on the economy, with a feared rise in bankruptcies among small firms not occurring and many consumers saying their financial well-being had improved during the pandemic.
‘Still, since it appears that many will undergo extended periods of unemployment, there is likely to be a need for further support,’ he said.
And despite the early success in protecting against job losses, there has been an increase in permanent job cuts and layoffs, Powell said.
‘There is a risk that the rapid initial gains from reopening may transition to a longer than expected slog back to full recovery,’ he added.
Limiting the continued spread of the virus will be key to sustaining the economy, the Fed chair said, including following medical advice about wearing masks and social distancing.
WHAT ARE THE DRUGS TRUMP IS BEING TREATED WITH AND WHAT ARE THEIR SIDE EFFECTS?
President Trump has been given at least three potent drugs since announcing he tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday night: Regeneron’s cocktail of lab-made antibodies, the antiviral remdesivir, and the steroid dexamethasone.
Two of those medications are still experimental for treating COVID-19, and have given emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
And White House physician Dr Sean Conley admitted on Monday that he would not disclose every single medication that the president is currently receiving (citing HIPAA patient privacy laws, which suggests that Trump himself gave Dr Conley permission to disclose some of his medications, but not all of them).
Remdesivir, dexamethasone and the antibody cocktail are all in ongoing trials – but it’s unclear if anyone besides the US Commander-in-Chief has ever been treated with all three.
Those three drugs are ‘as much as we know [about the president’s treatment regimen] – but I found it all really confusing, based on the reports,’ Dr Mark Poznansky, an infectious disease specialist at Massachusetts General Hospital told DailyMail.com.
When asked if there was any precedent for treating a COVID-19 patient with all three drugs, Dr Poznansky replied, ‘no.’
‘But the individual decisions are based on the individual patient, and all bets are off when you’re dealing with the president, the commander-in chief,’ he added.
‘The implication is that the doctors believe that the risk of using these is outweighed by the potential benefit.’
And while we have some clarity on the potential side effects of each of the drugs, how they might interact is a mystery, ‘because they just haven’t been used frequently enough…we don’t know about the combination,’ Dr Poznansky said.
But even on their own, the side effects of these drugs could be particularly concerning for the president, considering that the steroid can cause mood swings, confusion and aggression.
The drugs he was treated with and their potential side effects are:
REGENERON’S EXPERIMENTAL ANTIBODY COCKTAIL DRUG
WHEN HE GOT IT: Trump received a single 8 gram dose of Regeneron’s cocktail of lab-made antibodies on Friday.
WHAT IT DOES: REGN-COV2 is a combination of two lab-made versions of antibodies that help block the coronavirus from entering cells.
One of the antibodies in the ‘cocktail’ is based on an antibody that mice produce in response to coronavirus, while the other is based on an antibody isolated from the one of the first US COVID-19 patients.
The hope is that the treatment drives down viral load, keeping it from overrunning the body and sending the immune system haywire, and preventing the infection from becoming severe.
WHAT THE DATA SAYS: REGN-COV2 is still in early trial phases, but the first data from its clinical trial found that it dramatically lowered viral load within a week and cut recovery time in half in patients that weren’t sick enough to be hospitalized.
Regeneron has not yet studied the drug in severely ill patients.
THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: The main concern is these types of treatment occasionally trigger ‘antibody-dependent enhancement,’ which means the intended therapeutic actually helps the virus invade cells.
So far, the trials don’t suggest that REGN-COV2 is causing this phenomenon.
Antibody treatments can also cause allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, as well as fever, chills, nausea, diarrhea, weakness, headache and low blood pressure.
REMDESIVIR, GILEAD’S ANTIVIRAL DRUG
WHEN HE GOT IT: President Trump was given his first dose of a five-day treatment course on Friday evening, after he was transferred from the White House to Walter Reed National Medical Center.
He has since received his second and third dose of the drug.
WHAT IT DOES: Remdesivir is an antiviral therapy originally designed to treat Ebola.
Scientists are not entirely sure why, but it helps to prevent coronavirus from making more copies of itself.
WHAT THE DATA SAYS: Late-stage clinical trials of remdesivir found that patients treated with the drug were more likely to recover within 11 days than those who did not get the drug.
Their survival odds were about 40 percent better. In May, the drug became the first to get emergency use authorization from the FDA for treating severely ill patients. That approval has since been expanded to any hospitalized patients.
THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: It can cause nausea, vomiting, chils, sweating or light-headedness. The drug also may harm liver function, meaning that patients have to be closely monitored.
There was some suggestion the Trump’s liver and kidney function were suboptimal last night, but Dr Conley said Monday the president was just ‘dehydrated.’
DEXAMETHASONE, THE $6 STEROID WITH COMMON PSYCHIATRIC SIDE EFFECTS
WHEN HE GOT IT: The president got a dose of dexamethasone on Saturday after he developed a high fever and his blood oxygen levels dropped below 94 percent on two occasions.
WHAT IT DOES: Dexamethasone is a cheap steroid known to tamp down inflammation. It’s already approved for use in other conditions in the US.
WHAT THE DATA SAYS: Although it hasn’t yet been given emergency approval in the US, dexamethasone is the most promising treatment yet for coronavirus.
In a major UK study, the steroid cut the risk of death by 36 percent for patients sick enough to need breathing machines and by 18 percent for patients needing just supplemental oxygen.
However, it seemed harmful at earlier stages or milder cases of illness: 18 percent of those on the drug died versus 14 percent of those given usual care.
For that reason, many doctors were alarmed to see President Trump treated with the drug because using it suggested either that he was very sick, or that doctors were taking a risk in giving it to him early.
THE POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: The steroid is potent, and can cause swelling, headaches, stomach pain, nausea, weakness, dizziness sleep problems, vision changes, skin problems, severe allergic reactions including mood changes.
These mood changes include aggression, agitation and confusion.
‘Steroids are always very dangerous medications to use,’ Dr Edward Jones-Lopez, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, told Reuters.
‘That is why it (dexamethasone) is used in severe to critical patients… There can be neuropsychiatric side effects. These are medications that we use very, very carefully.’