Trump Fights the Virus – And Joe Biden
At the start of 2020, Donald Trump, with the advantages of an incumbent president, looked like the man to beat in the November presidential elections. Then fate intervened in the shape of the coronavirus, killing more than 150,000 Americans and battering the national economy. Trump’s strongest campaign asset. The White House set up a task force to confront the pandemic, but the problems long evident in the administration—Trump’s self-obsession, the chaotic nature of the White House, firings and resignations on an almost daily basis, the poor caliber of key people closest to the president—all worked against any effective federal response to the spreading disease.
An already disorganized White House was made more surreal by the pandemic challenge. Clearly out of his depth, Trump’s public comments deepened the hole in which he now finds himself, even in battleground states he won in 2016. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee, has gone from a candidate with some serious problems, including his age and less than forceful personality, to a serious challenger with a double-digit lead over his opponent.
An outpouring of public protest against racial inequality and police brutality following the death in police detention of George Floyd, a black restaurant bouncer in Minneapolis, further exacerbated the crisis for Trump, who is at best ambivalent over race issues, if not downright racist, and not very good at expressing public emotion.
At a time when a leader would have been well advised to appeal for unity, Trump created even more division by threatening peaceful protesters with tough action. He tried to call out the Army, which led to a historic pushback by the military against the use of soldiers in public disturbances in U.S. streets, and the attempt to show himself as a forceful leader to his base misfired. But that base is shrinking, with more than 60 percent of respondents in a recent poll saying that the president was “hurting rather than helping” efforts to combat the pandemic.
The power in today’s official Washington is still Donald Trump, and only Donald Trump. Members of the administration circle around him like moths around a flame that eventually consumes them. The 88 percent turnover of 65 members of Trump’s “A Team” or top advisers —a record for any administration—reflect the near collapse of Washington’s conventional power structure.
There is a general sense that the nation is confronting a decision of extraordinary weight in November. But whether or not Donald Trump wins a second term, his main legacy is already firmly established: Trump has pushed the personal power of the presidency to unprecedented levels. A recent French Ambassador to Washington saw him as an American incarnation of France’s King Louis XIV, whose reign was arguably the highest point of absolute monarchy. In the memorable words of Gerard Araud (now retired), “You have an old king, a bit whimsical, unpredictable, uninformed, but he wants to be the one deciding. He doesn’t want to appear under any influence – and he wants to show it.
Donald Trump: President of the United States
In the rose Garden recently, Trump admitted that “the world is a different place” as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, yet he doesn’t seem to realize that the virulent disease is his biggest challenge as he seeks re-election. The pandemic slammed mercilessly into the U.S. economy and continues to kill Americans and disrupt American life. Yet, six months into the crisis, Trump appears to have no plan for quelling the bushfire that’s racing across the country. The administration’s failure to deal with the virus effectively is not lost on the American people: only 33 percent of Americans approve of how Trump is handling the situation. The Trump campaign has opened up an offensive against Joe Biden, but it has had less success in fighting Trump’s real opponent in the 2020 race—the coronavirus pandemic.
Mike Pence: Vice President of the United States
Every vice president is a president-in- waiting, at least in his own mind. For Mike Pence this hope has required unquestioned support of Trump’s erratic presidency, culminating in the administration’s disastrous response to Covid-19, which Pence nominally heads. If Trump loses the coming election, Pence may at least be spared another four years of standing at Donald Trump’s side, gazing rapturously at the president in silence.
Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump: Son-in-law daughter and Senior Advisors to the President
Trump’s son-in-law is a loose cannon on the White House deck, bumbling from one issue to another. Not surprisingly, he is the subject of several subversive jokes in the White House (including the “Son-in-law Also rises,” a reference to the Hemingway title). But staffers tend to tread very carefully in their dealings with him. At one time or another Kushner has clashed with most of Trump’s White House senior advisors—clashes which, because of his closeness to Trump, he tends to win. Kushner was the main architect of the administration’s Middle east peace plan that has so far gone nowhere. He was in charge of mass producing coronavirus tests, which set back progress in that area by months. And now he is involved in the Trump re-election campaign, which is grappling with the challenges of Covid-19 restrictions. Ivanka is another cosseted White House disaster area— close to her father and sharing some of the same talent for foot-in-mouth statements. The Trump administration was initially enthusiastic in using her as a spokesperson on global issues, but is less so now that she has actually spoken.
William Barr: Attorney General
Many see Barr as Donald Trump’s legal poodle, who obediently sits, rolls over and begs for treats on command. Barr seemingly does anything, in fact, that the president wants done, whether it’s undermining the impact of the Mueller report, arranging a commutation for Trump fixer roger Stone, getting former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s sentence for perjury reversed, or firing the New York prosecutor who put Trump’s one-time personal lawyer in jail and was investigating his current one. Barr’s decision to serve Trump is something of a puzzle in Washington. At 70, he had not held federal office for years after a respectable, but hardly brilliant, career in the Justice Department, including as attorney general in the George H.W. Bush administration. But Barr has long held strong legal views on the importance of a powerful presidency, which he believes to be virtually unassailable – unless the president is guilty of an outright criminal act. Insiders say Barr accepted the post to defend Trump against the former F.B.I. director James Comey, Mueller, Congress, and other assorted Washington enemies. Because Barr is much more intelligent than the president, some tend to wonder which of the two is actually the poodle.
John Bolton: Former Trump White House National Security Advisor
When Bolton was appointed head of the White House National Security Council he was surprised at the seemingly continuous staff departures. “None of the three prior republican administrations in which I served had seen anything approaching this extent and manner of senior level turnover,” he wrote in a recent account of his tenure titled “The room Where it Happened.” It was probably inevitable that, after 18 months, he joined that turnover when Trump fired him. His book, the first senior insider account, was probably sensational before its thorough White House cleansing. What’s left is a fascinating account by a seasoned top security and foreign policy expert’s dealing with an unpredictable president and a toxic White House. No secrets, then, but fresh confirmation of a president who doesn’t read and has the attention span of a small child.
Kellyanne Conway and George Conway: Counselor to President Trump; Lawyer and husband of Kellyanne Conway
Kellyanne Conway’s main public role is to defend Trump’s statements to the media, no matter how untrue or inaccurate. What may be more of Trump’s lies or exaggerations to the critical press are “alternative facts” to Conway, who first used the infamous phrase in the administration’s early days. Husband George (they were married in 2001) is an outspoken Trump critic online. With other conservatives, he has formed The Lincoln Project super PAC, aimed at blocking Trump’s re- election. Claudia Conway, 15, the couple’s oldest daughter, has recently emerged as the family’s second online Trump critic, describing herself as “a 100 percent leftist and liberal.” Does the couple have their eye on a post- Trump reality TV show—“Keeping Up With the Conways”—or is the political division genuine? Kellyanne angrily pushes back against questions about the couple’s domestic situation as intrusions on her privacy. Trump says George is jealous of his wife’s success.
Mark Esper: Secretary of Defense
A long-time Washington insider, especially on defense issues, Esper is Trump’s fourth defense secretary— thus far. He earned the president’s displeasure when he pushed back publicly against his decision to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would allow the deployment of U.S. troops to respond to civil unrest. Having survived that, he has again earned White House displeasure for ordering all Confederate flags removed from military bases. Secretaries have been fired for less.
Hope Hicks: Counselor to the President
Hicks worked for Trump from the start of his bid for the presidency, developing a close relationship. She quit the White House following a scandal involving a Trump aide she was dating. But she is now back, tasked with working on the re- election campaign. Her return is a sign that Trump loyalists continue to surround him as he battles for four more years in the White House.
Robert Lighthizer: United States Trade Representatives
The litigator known for his short temper and for having a life-sized portrait of himself in his home, was responsible for delivering on two of Donald Trump’s campaign priorities, the U.S.-Mexico- Canada Agreement (USMCA) and the first phase of a trade deal with China before bi-lateral relations soured over the coronavirus pandemic, which Trump blames on Beijing.
Kayleigh Mcenany: White House Press Secretary
At her first briefing, Mcenany, told reporters “I will not lie to you. You have my word on that.” This makes
a significant change from her three predecessors, and from the president himself, who in three-and-a-half years has been called out for 20,000 lies and misstatements. Mcenany’s tactic is to respond to any question she doesn’t like with a counter-attack on the media, citing instances—some true, some false— of alleged bias or false reporting, and then flouncing out of the pressroom. It’s a fair bet that the already famous Mcenany exit is now a set piece in newsroom gatherings across Washington.
Stephen Miller: Senior advisor for policy to the President
Miller belongs to Donald Trump’s darker side – his ambivalence on racial issues and hard line immigration policies. recent pronouncements that portray Trump as a law-and-order president are his doing. Miller is one of the few White House staffers to have survived from 2016. A recent New Yorker profile captured his belligerent style. “When he’s not accusing journalists of harboring ‘a cosmopolitan bias’ or denying that the Statue of Liberty symbolizes America’s identity as a nation of immigrants, he is shaping policy and provoking the president’s most combative impulses.”
Peter Navarro, Mark Meadows, Robert O’Brien: Trump’s top trade advisor; White House Chief of Staff; White House National Security Advisor
Navarro is an economist and an off- the-wall hardliner on trade relations with China. With no medical or health qualifications whatsoever, he has jumped feet first into the White House’s pandemic response, openly disagreeing with Dr. Anthony Fauci’s public statements. Fauci “has been wrong about everything I have interacted with him on,” he wrote in a recent op- ed. Former rep. Mark Meadows took over what many regard at the toughest job in the White House in March, when the administration was feeling the real impact of Covid-19. Robert o’Brien, a trial lawyer with little foreign policy expertise, has the challenging job of keeping Trump focused on complex security and foreign policy issues.
Mike Pompeo: Secretary of State
For months, Pompeo was missing in action while the U.S. and the world faced the pandemic challenge. His failure to take an early lead in organizing a global defense against the spreading virus drew criticism at home and abroad. “Has any secretary of state been worse in an emergency?” commented the Washington Post. Then in June, Pompeo, clearly taking his cue from Trump, launched a campaign making China accountable for the spread of the virus. As the administration’s halting efforts failed to stop Covid-19, China became the obvious scapegoat. recently, Pompeo issued orders that working from home was over for State Department staffers, and they should report to work at Foggy Bottom. But some members of Congress got wind of this order and threatened to go public with it. result: State never followed through with the boss’s instructions.
Bill Stepien, Brad Parscale, Tim Murtaugh: Campaign manager; Campaign advisor; Campaign communications director, Trump Campaign
Stepien, a veteran political operative, was campaign deputy manager until mid-July, when Trump, looking for someone to blame for the poor showing at Tulsa, Okla., his first campaign rally in months, removed Brad Parscale and appointed him campaign manager. Parscale clearly paid the price for openly predicting that the event, intended to revive the Trump campaign, would attract a million supporters. Both Parscale and Stepien worked in the 2016 campaign. Parscale was digital director of Trump’s Facebook blitz (5.9 million ads vs. Hillary Clinton’s 66,000), and will now advise on digital and data operations. Sharing the rebuke for poor performance was Tim Murtaugh, who was equally upbeat in his predictions. He remains in place–for the moment.
Dan Scavino Jr.: White House Director of Social Media and Deputy Chief-of-Staff for Communications
Scavino has the key role of servicing the president’s busy line of communication with his base, @realDonaldTrump Twitter account, as well as his Facebook, Instagram and YouTube accounts. The Washington Times says Scavino “is ever-present in Trump’s orbit,” capturing photos and videos to put online. According to sources, Scavino sometimes writes the tweets himself, but more often suggests themes to Trump and then helps with their composition. Trump’s record for the number of tweets and re-tweets in one day is 142—18 of them his own; which makes Scavino, who started working for Trump at 16, as his golf caddie, one of the busiest White House staffers.
Pasquale (Pat) Cipollone: White House Counsel
As the lead defense lawyer in Trump’s impeachment hearing, Cipollone berated the president’s Democrat accusers like a bossy mother superior addressing unruly schoolgirls. Being arch is said to come naturally to this strait-laced, conservative Catholic, a father of 10 who has clashed with senior White House staffers, but is saved from removal by a good relationship with Donald Trump. Cipollone is a member of opus Dei, the secretive Catholic confraternity with origins in Spain. one of the baffling mysteries of the Trump presidency that future historians will have a field day explaining is how presumably devout, high-profile Christians (Cipollone, Barr, Pence) are willing to serve a president known for his colorful language, record of abusing women and problems distinguishing truth from his fictional version of it.
Sheldon and Miriam Adelson: Las Vegas casino owners, Republican mega-donors, and philanthropists
Billionaire Sheldon Adelson’s whopping $25 million contribution to the Trump 2016 campaign was a good investment for the staunch Israel supporter and his Israeli-born wife, Miriam. At the urging of Adelson and others, Trump relocated the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in the face of vociferous international condemnation, recognized Israeli ownership of the Golan Heights and unveiled a Middle east plan, even if it remains stalled. Dr. Miriam Adelson, a specialist in treating addiction as well as publisher of a leading Israeli newspaper, avoids public attention but exerts a strong influence on her husband’s decisions.
Mitch McConnell: Majority Leader, U.S. Senate
The final vote to acquit Trump in the Senate impeachment trial with only one defection—Mitt Romney—was largely due to the Kentucky Republican’s tight control of the proceedings. After seeing that the hearings followed the White House script, McConnell is going to need all Trump’s help in trying to overcome his unpopularity in his home state and winning a sixth term. The smart money says that, in the present national mood, the senator is about to get his comeuppance.
Rudy Giuliani: Personal Lawyer to Trump
In Giuliani’s two terms as mayor of New York City (1994-2001), crime dropped significantly and the economy boomed. He won wide praise for his key role in the city’s response to 9/11. But as Trump’s personal attorney, Jekyll turned into Hyde as Giuliani became the organizer of dubious operations to ensure his client’s re-election— notably the Ukraine conspiracy that misfired, causing Trump to be impeached.
“Dodgy” Ukrainians Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, Oleksander Dubinsky, Et Al
“Dodgy Russians” (former British Ambassador Kim Darroch’s phrase) were among the main villains of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report; but in Trump’s impeachment trial, it was dodgy Ukrainians who peopled the narrative of Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to dig up dirt on Trump’s opponent, Joe Biden. Several have direct links to russia and some have ties to Trump himself. For example, Ukrainian-American businessman Parnas has said Trump spent more time with him than with first lady, Melania. The inevitable conclusion is that Trump is closer to the ensuing skullduggery than he claims to be.
Christopher Wray: Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation
After firing James Comey in 2017, Trump hand-picked Christopher Wray, one-time assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, to run the F.B.I., but quickly declared his disappointment that the new director was “skirting” investigations into the F.B.I.’s probe of possible contacts between the Trump 2016 election campaign and Russia. Trump has consistently rejected as false the information from his own intelligence agencies that the Russians tried to influence the election. Possibly to placate Trump, Wray in May ordered an internal review of one key aspect of the controversial russian involvement— how the bureau handled its investigation of Michael Flynn, then Trump’s national security advisor, who has admitted being in contact with Moscow officials.
With Friends Like These…
Xi Jinping: President of the People’s Republic of China
At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Trump praised Chinese leader Xi Jinping for his handling of the pandemic (“They’re doing a very good job”), which had started in the city of Wuhan in central China. Trump has since changed his tune. “China’s secrecy, deception, and cover-up allowed the virus to spread all over the world,” he said, not for the first time in a July press conference. As the federal response to Covid-19 has failed to stop its spread, and more than 150, 000 Americans have died, China is an obvious target in the search for scapegoats. With bi-lateral relations worsening, the U.S. has challenged other Chinese actions, notably Beijing’s territorial claims in the resource-rich South China Sea.
Vladimir Putin: President of Russia
Trump continues to resist reports of Russian actions to advance its global interests. In the latest example of the White House’s perplexing approach to Vladimir Putin, Trump has avoided taking any action following a stunning intelligence assessment that Russian agents in Afghanistan secretly offered Taliban fighters bounties for killing American soldiers. The White House excuse for inaction is that not all the intelligence agencies agree on the reports. The Russian leader has taken advantage of Trump’s growing rifts with America’s long-time European allies to stage something of a comeback in eastern Europe. For some, a Trump win in 2020 includes a nightmare scenario: Putin is invited to his inauguration.
Princess Reema Bint Bandar Al Saud: Saudi Arabian Ambassador
The princess, who grew up in Washington as the daughter of a long-time Saudi envoy to the U.S., the legendary Bandar bin Sultan, is close to Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (“MBS”), the de facto ruler of the desert kingdom, and the man widely believed to have ordered the killing and dismemberment (according to U.S. intelligence agencies) of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi of the Washington Post. The princess is campaigning to unblock weapons sales held up by a hostile Congress because of the killing. The White House relations with MBS, however, remain cordial.
Jerry Falwell Jr., Ralph Reed, Paula White-Cain: Christian evangelists supporting Trump
In 2016, 80 percent of born-again and self-styled white evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump. recent op-eds in two popular Christian publications critical of what one of the magazines called Trump’s “grossly immoral character” hint at cracks in that solid support. But Trump can still count on the majority of the right- wing Christian leadership’s backing as he fights his 2020 election, including Falwell, president of Liberty University; ralph reed, who heads the Faith and Freedom Coalition; Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and a longtime Trump spiritual advisor; and Florida evangelist Paula White-Cain, who claims responsibility for bringing God to the White House. “When I walk on White House grounds, God walks on White House grounds,” she has said.
Joe and Jill Biden: Former Vice President and 2020 Democratic Presidential Nominee and his wife
After a shaky start, Biden eliminated all his political rivals to emerge as Trump’s Democratic challenger in the 2020 presidential race. Despite being forced by the coronavirus epidemic to campaign mostly from the confines of his home, by early July, Biden’s overall lead was 9 percentage points over the president, including in key states Trump won from Hillary Clinton in 2016. In large part, Biden’s success was due to the fact that the high tide of Trump’s frantic presidency was rapidly ebbing as Trump continuously mishandled the main campaign issues, the coronavirus epidemic, racial equality, health care and foreign policy. For many, Biden represents the promise of a return to normality after four chaotic Trump years. Jill Biden, his wife of more then 40 years, has been active in the 2020 campaign, organizing women’s support and raising funds. She is also fiercely independent. She worked as an english teacher throughout Joe’s tenure as vice president from 2009 to 2017, the first veep’s wife to work full time while her husband was in office.
Kate Bedingfield, Mike Donilon, Valerie Biden Owens: Deputy campaign manager and communications director, Biden Campaign; Senior political advisor; Joe Biden’s younger sister and political strategist
Bedingfield, who has overall responsibility for delivering Joe Biden’s message to the media, comes from the private sector—Monumental Sports and entertainment, the sports group that includes the Washington Capitals and the Mystics, and, more recently, from the Motion Picture Association of America. Senior advisor Mike Donilon is “Biden’s longtime political guru,” according to Axios. Biden’s younger sister, Valerie Biden owens, has worked on every one of her brother’s campaigns since he first ran for the U.S. Senate.
Anthony “Tony” Blinken, Tom Donilon, Michéle Flournoy: Foreign policy advisors, Biden Campaign
A recent video on Biden’s twitter account showed Blinken explaining the candidate’s China policy as his leading national security expert. A former deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, Blinken’s ties to Biden go back to when the candidate was a U.S. senator, and later vice president. If Biden wins, Blinken could end up
as White House national security advisor, or, less likely, secretary of state. Blinken is also known in Washington diplomatic circles as a guitar-playing member of the Coalition of the Willing, an amateur rock group made up of foreign policy specialists. Tom Donilon, national security advisor under obama, is another top foreign policy specialist on the Biden team. Michèle Flournoy, an obama undersecretary of defense, recently joined the group as advisor on security and defense issues (and would be a favorite to run Biden’s Pentagon).
Anita Dunn, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon: Senior Advisor to Biden; Manager, Biden Campaign
Dunn, a seasoned Democratic Party activist who was communications director in the Obama White House for most of 2009, is a key figure on the Biden campaign. She is described as senior advisor and has final decision- making authority of overall campaign strategy, personnel and finances. Dillon joined the Biden team as campaign manager in 2020 after managing Beto o’rourke’s unsuccessful presidential bid. She was deputy manager of the Obama 2012 campaign and also worked on John Edwards’ bid in 2004.
Karime Jean-Pierre: Senior campaign advisor; Biden Campaign
Her appointment reflects the importance the Biden campaign attaches to the African- American vote, black women in particular. The Haitian-American veteran political strategist worked on both obama campaigns and in the Obama White House.
Barack and Michelle Obama: Former President and First Lady
In June, former President Barack Obama reunited with candidate Joe Biden in a virtual fundraiser that raised $11 million. It was the most money raised in a single event so far by the Biden campaign. obama has been critical of Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and of the president’s approach to the Black Lives Matter movement but without mentioning him by name. The former president’s aides said the fundraiser was the start of a busy campaign by the obamas as they look to help elect not just Biden but Democrats running for House and Senate.
Elizabeth Warren, Keisha Lance Bottoms, Stacey Abrams, Val Demings, Michelle Lujan Grisham: U.S. Senator (D-Mass.); Mayor of Atlanta Writer, politician; (D-Fla.), U.S. House of Representatives; Governor of New Mexico/ all mentioned; as possible candidates for vice-president
When Joe Biden more or less promised to choose a female vice president, he opened the floodgates of possible candidates. Among them: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a former presidential hopeful herself. Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, who in 2018 very nearly got elected the first black woman governor, is one of several black political figures. Atlanta’s Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (she recently tested positive for Covid-19); Florida Democratic Congresswoman Valdez (Val) Demings, a former Orlando police chief; and Michelle Lujan Grisham, currently governor of New Mexico.
Gabriel Zucman, Stephanie Kelton, Lawrence (Larry) Summers: Economic advisors, Biden Campaign
To build his campaign team, Biden has been drawing heavily on obama and Hillary Clinton campaign people with
a few additional advisors from the Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders camps. And there’s the rub, according to mainstream supporters worried that left wing experts now have Biden’s ear. But it’s the price he is paying for continued Warren and Sanders support. Biden’s economic advisors include former Treasury Secretary (Clinton White House) Lawrence “Larry” Summers, who was also director of President Obama’s National economic Council and Gabriel Zucman, the economist behind Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax proposal. Stephanie Kelton, who advocates that government should cover deficits by printing more money, was Sanders’ top economic advisor.
Dr. Deborah Birx, Dr. Robert Redfield, Adm. Brett Giroir: Members of the White House Covid-19 Task Force
These three leading scientific experts in the White House Task Force vary between using caution and accommodation to avoid Trump’s wrath. Birx, the U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator, is a data-whisperer who sticks closely to the scientific evidence and avoids publicly contradicting Trump. Redfield is the controversial, Trump- appointed head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Under his leadership, the country’s most important health research establishment floundered in its handling of the pandemic (example: its first batch of Covid-19 test kits were faulty). redfield brings a lot of baggage to the job, including a long-running scandal involving allegedly doctored HIV / AIDS research. The uniformed member of the task force is Admiral Giroir, who as Assistant Secretary of Health was responsible for a significant boost in producing Covid-19 tests, although more are needed. He recently pushed back against a Trump retweet of comments by a former game show host accusing the CDC of lying.
Dr. Anthony Fauci: Leading immunologist and member of the White House Covid-19 Task Force
For many anxious Americans, Fauci is the voice of reality in the fight against the coronavirus. But as his calls for extreme caution in returning to normal life continuously contradict Trump’s own false message of recovery in the face of a worsening situation, the White House has launched a subversive campaign to discredit the country’s best known expert on infectious diseases and immunology, who, not so incidentally, has worked under five previous presidents. As the White House sought to marginalize him, former President Barack Obama publicly commiserated with “poor Dr. Fauci” who has “his advice flouted by the person he’s working for.”
Sanjay Gupta, Marc Siegel: CNN Chief Medical Correspondent; Fox News Medical Contributor
Sanjay Gupta is a tireless fixture on CNN as he spends hour after hour challenging the Trump administration’s Covid-19 actions and pronouncements and setting out the facts. Trump recently called Siegel his “guide,” which explains a lot. The good doctor assures viewers daily that the pandemic is going away, testing has reached astronomical levels and new cases are falling.
Moncef Slaoui, Gen. Gustave F. Perna: Chief advisor, Operation Warp Speed; CEO, Operation Wrap Speed
The Trump administration’s latest move in the race against time to bring the coronavirus under a semblance of control before the November elections is operation Warp Speed (OWS), a program to “accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.” Slaoui is a venture capitalist in the vaccine field and Gen. Perna is the U.S. Army’s top supply officer. Trump wants OWS to persuade, bully or cajole the more than a dozen companies involved in a global race—including four in China—to develop and deliver a vaccine by January 2021. While some companies have reported cautious progress in developing a vaccine, a final breakthrough by January is considered unlikely, which puts oWS in the category of a White House public relations exercise.
Tal Zaks, Stéphane Bancel: Chief medical officer, Moderna; CEO, Moderna
The biotech company Moderna appears to be in the lead in the frantic race to find a coronavirus vaccine. Buoyed by results of early tests involving a few dozen volunteers that produced a strong immune response, the company has expanded its test base to 600 people and expects to move to mass testing of thousands of healthy people by the end of July. Zaks, however, cautions that the testing will take more than a year.
Lewis Ferebee: Chancellor, D.C. Public Schools
Ferebee is typical of hundreds of heads of public school systems across the country grappling with Trump’s order to re-open in the fall. Instead of a 100 percent compliance, the D.C. system is currently proposing to open some of its 116 public schools for in-person attendance, while allowing virtual learning for others. The exact division of the District’s 48,144 students will depend on how many teachers can be persuaded they would be safe facing classes in person. Ferebee’s proposed partial opening plan has been something of a pilot scheme studied by school systems in other states.
Randi Weingarten: President, American Federation of Teachers
The combative leader of the second largest national teachers’ union is leading the fight against re- opening of schools full time. She says sending the children back to the classroom would be “unconscionable” without the federal government undertaking to supply or underwrite the necessary protective equipment to make schools safe from the Covid- 19 pandemic. Weingarten’s AFT has helpfully released a breakdown of minimum safety requirements at an estimated cost of $1.8 million per school district. education Secretary Betsy DeVos, Weingarten’s nemesis for the past four years, has given no indication that such expenditures are part of the Trump administration’s plan.
The Virus and the Environment
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s warnings of a prolonged Covid-19 pandemic are dire news for the country but, in a perverse way, have a silver lining for environmentalists. It’s now an established fact that the pandemic has caused significant drops in air pollution. Carbon emissions are reduced as a result of the enormous decline in vehicle miles traveled, and of the impact of a shuttered global economy.
The widespread disaster of a pandemic is not the wished-for road to sustainable climate change. Also, nobody really knows how much working from home will become the new normal, permanently cutting back on commuting and producing cleaner air, or how much virtual conferencing will reduce business air travel. But, says Dan Kammen, director of the renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at University of California, Berkeley, the pandemic’s impact on climate change “shows how quickly the environment can recover.”
This conclusion has not been lost on some governments, and is encouraging them to prioritize climate change in their recovery plans.
one notable example is the European Union. In early July, the E.U.’s 27 heads of government reached a deal on an unprecedented economic stimulus plan and seven-year regional budget totaling $2 trillion. A third of that amount will cover climate action under the E.U.’s European Green Deal. The aim is to offer europe a carbon-free future by developing clean energy resources, enlarging the market for zero-emissions cars (including the deployment of one million charging points for electric cars), investing in budding technologies and promoting energy efficiency.
There has been some pushback from critics arguing that an economy shrunk by 8 percent by the pandemic is hardly a good starting point for such an ambitious drive. But Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, recently called the Green Deal “the motor of the economic recovery.”
It took the E.U. leadership five days to cobble together the package at what U.S. media were calling a marathon summit. The U.S. Congress took weeks to reach an agreement on a stimulus plan earlier this year, and party bickering is slowing down a second urgently needed infusion even as companies are closing down for lack of business. The U.S. picture is confused by political division and an impending presidential election.
In June, President Donald Trump called for Federal relief for the oil and gas industry along with the aviation industry, and it’s a safe bet that his campaign will echo his 2016 commitment to support the fossil fuel and coal industries. If Trump is re-elected, the United States will formally depart the Paris Climate Accord the following day, having served its required 12 months notice. This will be Trump’s most consequential step to isolate the U.S. from the global effort.
If Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic candidate, wins, a bold $2 trillion plan will make climate change the focal point of the country’s economic recovery. Biden’s plan is directed towards two key deadlines: the end of coal and fossil fuels to generate electricity by 2035, and net zero emission of carbon emissions by 2050. And the U.S. exit from the Paris agreement will be halted and reversed. Saved by the ballot!
Black Lives Matter
George Floyd and Black Lives Matter
George Floyd, a restaurant bouncer in Minneapolis, died in police custody following his arrest months ago. A video showed policeman Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while Floyd pleaded for his life, repeating, “I can’t breathe.” In death, Floyd became the subject of a nationwide outcry over police brutality and racial inequality, focusing new attention on the Black Lives Matter movement as the main organizer of street protests both in the United States and overseas. The hashtag #BlackLivesMatter had come into being in 2013 as a call to action following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of the unarmed Black teenager Trayvon Martin. Behind the movement were three black women writers, Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Alicia Garza and opal Tometi. Conservatives tend to view the movement as left-wing militancy masquerading as Black activism, but its sudden growth following the Floyd killing has made the issue of radical racial reform the dominant concern. The Black Lives Matter DC website says its objective is to “live as our highest selves while dismantling White Supremacy, Patriarchy, Capitalism, Imperialism and the role the state plays in supporting them.”
Art Acevedo, Cerelyn Davis, Michael McHale: Houston Chief of Police and President of. Major City Chiefs of Police Association; Durham, N.C. chief of police and president, National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives; President and Executive Director, National Association of Police Organizations
Three leading police associations (all headquartered in the greater Washington area) have input into the current dialogue on the future of policing across the nation. The first two groups testified before Congress’ hearing on police reform in July. The 241,000- member National Association of Police organizations, which recently endorsed Trump’s re-election, has objected that it was not called, but made its views known through sympathetic lawmakers.
Muriel Bowser: Mayor of Washington, D.C.
Mayor Bowser stood firm against Trump’s efforts to deploy troops in Washington during police brutality protests, threatening to cut off payment of hotel accommodation for National Guard units from Utah
that the White House had summoned to the nation’s capital. After National Guard troops and police had forcibly dispersed peaceful demonstrators with pepper spray and baton charges to clear the way for Trump’s Bible brandishing, Bowser had city workers paint “Black Lives Matter” in giant yellow letters on the asphalt of 16th Street NW, within sight of the White House. The area was also re-named “Black Lives Matter Plaza.” Activists later added the words, “Defund the Police.” Standing beside the freshly painted sign, Bowser spoke out against Trump’s use of National Guard troops in the city. “our soldiers should not be asked to move on American citizens,” she declared.
Chad Wolf, Kenneth Cuccinelli: Acting Secretary, Department of Homeland Security; Acting deputy secretary, Department of Homeland Security
With the use of the military blocked (see Generals below), Trump has authorized the use of armed Department of Homeland Security agents to suppress demonstrations. rapid Deployment DHS teams wearing no insignia and using unmarked vehicles, have been using heavy-handed tactics against demonstrators in Portland, Ore. Cuccinelli has said they are there to protect federal buildings but local politicians have demanded their withdrawal. Their presence in Portland is seen as a harbinger of wider deployment in urban areas between now and November.
Gen. James Mattis, Gen. Mark Miller, Adm. Mike Mullen: Former Secretary of Defense; Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff; Former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff
Trump’s early love affair with “My Generals,” as he used to refer to them ended in May when senior military officers joined forces to warn the president against thinking that America’s uniformed men and women could be “co-opted for political purposes,” in the words of Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The protests followed Trump’s attempt to deploy regular military to suppress street demonstrations in Washington, D.C. But the warning extends forward as the feeling grows that Trump is preparing the ground to contest an election loss to Joe Biden and refuse to budge from the White House, possibly causing civil unrest. Gen. Milley publicly apologized for appearing alongside Trump in the famous Bible-holding photo-op. His presence, the general said, “created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics.” U.S. Marine Corps. Gen. Mattis broke his silence since his resignation in December 2018 to support Milley and signal an outpouring of protests. “We must reject any thinking of our cities as a “battle space” that our uniformed military is called upon to “dominate,” Mattis wrote in a lengthy statement that accused Trump of not trying to unite the American people—“does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us.”
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: (D-N.Y.), U.S. House of Representatives
The Democrats’ progressive star easily won her primary and is virtually guaranteed a second House term where she will spearhead the party leftward. If Biden wins the election, he may well include her in his Cabinet to ensure a solid Democratic front.
Nancy Pelosi: Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
Two gestures at President Trump’s State of the Union appearance before the U.S. Congress— the ignored outstretched hand and the tearing of the speech—left little else to say about the shared animosity between the president and Madam Speaker. We are a long way from republican President ronald reagan and House Speaker Tip o’Neill getting together at the White House on Saturday nights to drink whiskey and swap Irish stories. Pelosi’s trips to the White House are more likely to end up in verbal clashes with the president. All the more so since the Speaker launched Trump’s impeachment trial. This makes cooperation on any issue between the administration and the Democrats even more remote.
Mitt Romney: (R-Utah), U.S. Senate
As the sole republican senator to vote in favor of Trump’s conviction after he was impeached, Romney is a hero to many, but the target of venomous tweets from the president. Past performance suggests that the attacks will continue. Reactions in his home state are divided but the senator is not up for re-election until 2024.
Adam Schiff, Jerry Nadler: Chairman, House Intelligence Committee (D-Calif.), Chairman, House Judiciary Committee (D-N.Y.):
As the man who oversaw the House investigation that led to Trump’s impeachment, California Democrat and former public prosecutor Schiff was Speaker Pelosi’s obvious choice to head the team of impeachment managers in the Senate trial. It was his role to spell out the case against the president and to defend the Democrats’ indictment. The New York Times report that this made Schiff “a lightning rod for republican critics” was an understatement. Trump on Twitter called him corrupt: pro- Trump websites, taking their cue, labeled Schiff “a high-ranking Satanist” and a pedophile. Hardly had the Senate voted to exonerate Trump when New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, also an impeachment manager, declared that the House would press on with its investigation into Trump’s attempts to pressure the Ukrainian government to find dirt on political opponents.
Marie Yovanovitch, Fiona Hill, David Hale: Senior federal workers
Trump’s impeachment hearings shone the spotlight on a number of normally low-profile senior federal officials who defied their political bosses to publicly challenge the White House’s clearly bogus narrative on the president’s arm twisting of the Ukrainians. With little to gain, they put their careers and reputations on the line in the public interest and to uphold the rule of law. This was the “deep state” Trump railed against. To avoid retaliation, most of them subsequently retired from public service (Yovanovitch) or left the government (Hill).
News Makers and Fakers
Martin (Marty) Baron, Fred Ryan: Executive editor, The Washington Post; Publisher and CEO, The Washington Post
Under Baron, the Post has responded strongly to Trump’s challenge to the media, winning 10 Pulitzer Prizes for its coverage of the administration and other topics. But the paper is likely to face another kind of challenge following the 2020 election when Baron makes good his promise to retire and the Post has to choose a successor.
Wolf Blitzer: Host “The Situation Room” CNN
CNN now stands for the Coronavirus News Network. Its wall-to-wall coverage of the spreading pandemic in the United States leaves room for virtually little else. The fact that Covid- 19 is the number one global concern of practically everybody is a good argument for the cable network’s almost total focus on pandemic developments; but for CNN, another reason is that the pandemic could end Trump’s hopes of re-election, which is clearly the network’s main objective. CNN rejects the idea that it treats Donald Trump as the enemy, arguing that it is Trump who singles out CNN in his war on the media. In reality, CNN’s hardworking news journalists focus on setting the record straight with reports that are consistently balanced, accurate and full of good sense. But, say the network’s critics, the CNN waffle brigade of analysts and commentators frequently cross a fine line between critical and adversarial. And the main presenter Blitzer, with his high, declamatory voice, personifies for many this accusatory tone.
Dana Bash, Kaitlan Collins, Barbara Starr, Manu Raju: Chief Political Correspondent; White House Correspondent; Pentagon Correspondent; Senior Congressional Correspondent, CNN
A sampling of the cable news network’s reporting staff: longtime CNN fixtures Dana Bash (who has covered four presidential campaigns); quiet- voiced defense expert Barbara Starr; newcomer Kaitlan Collins (who can
still be cheerful when reporting the latest White House insanity); and the imperturbable Manu Raju, who expertly unravels the Byzantine complexities of Congress while keeping his cool.
Elisabeth Bumiller, Maggie Haberman, Julie Hirschfeld Davis: Washington bureau chief; White House correspondent; Congressional editor, New York Times
Elisabeth Bumiller, the Times Washington bureau chief, says the office staff of reporters and editors is close to gender parity, reflecting the significant increase of women in political journalism, until recently a predominantly male domain. But Bumiller has been in the New York Times D.C. bureau since 2001, and has headed its editorial operations for the past five years. Hirschfeld Davis, congressional editor since 2019, most recently covered the Trump impeachment hearings. Close- up, she says, the administration is “heavy on drama and Trump-manufactured shock value, light on organization and painting inside the lines.” Haberman has been consistently the best informed reporter on Donald Trump and the White House. Her stories subject the president to microscopic scrutiny, like a scientist examining a species of insect. To Trump, it’s “the failing Times” and high on the enemy list, but that’s the message to his base, says Haberman. In reality, he “truly feeds off of and enjoys the mainstream media attention.”
Sean Hannity: Host, “Hannity,” Fox News
Hannity is in close touch with the President, and is one of his strongest defenders. But when the news show host appeared on stage with Trump at a campaign rally, billed in advance as a “special guest,” even Fox News, whose long time motto was “Fair and Balanced,” felt he had crossed a line between media and subject, and publicly reprimanded him.
Brian Kilmeade, Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt: Hosts, “Fox and Friends,” Fox News
Trump’s early morning tweets are often influenced by what he hears on the Fox a.m. show, a program that starts his daily diet of television news watching. He has even been known to phone in to join their discussions.
Rush Limbaugh, Don Bongino: Host, “The Rush Limbaugh Show”; Host, “The Dan Bongino Show”
Depending on one’s point of view, giving Limbaugh, the right-wing talk show personality, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the middle of the 2020 State of the Union speech was either moving or an abuse of Congress’ hospitality to the president. But as the presidential campaign warms up, Trump needs to ensure that Limbaugh– who recently announced that he had been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer– keeps putting out the message to his 25 million listeners a month. Bongino, a former Secret Service agent, ran for Congress unsuccessfully three times and then was briefly a television host on the National rifle Association channel (NrATV) before starting his own podcast. He also appears regularly on Fox News.
Rachel Maddow: Host, “The Rachel Maddow Show,” MSNBC
Former CBS News President Andrew Heyward describes MSNBC as “comfort food for people who are very upset with the Trump era.” As the network’s leading and most persistent Trump critic, Rachel Maddow supplies most of that comfort food. The New York Times Magazine recently called her “a kind of oracle for the age of Trump.” Her ratings tend to run a close second to Sean Hannity’s and fighting Trump can be profitable. MSNBC’s advertising revenue topped $600 million in 2019, up from $212 million in 2014.
Julie Pace: Washington Bureau Chief, The Associated Press
Pace oversees the last remaining American wire service reporting from the White House, a role some of her predecessors would hardly recognize. To cover Trump’s unorthodox working habits, with tweets late at night and in the early morning, Pace’s team of reporters and editors publish stories almost round the clock. The AP also runs a fact-checking operation in real time to counter Trump’s tendency to mix fact and fiction.
Chris Ripley: CEO, Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc.
With 193 stations in over 100 markets and with access to 40 percent of American households, family-owned and Baltimore-based Sinclair Broadcasting is a media force to be reckoned with, especially at election time. The network is said to have conservative leanings, but ripley says Sinclair programming is fair and even-handed. even so, some local station staffers have protested at being instructed to run conservative programs, or statements sent from the head office to all stations nationwide. Such content is frequent enough to have a name: “must runs.”
Chris Wallace, Bret Baier: Host, “Fox News Sunday,” Host, “Special Report with Bret Baier” Fox News
In a network that’s so pro-Trump that a New Yorker article once referred to it as “the closest thing we’ve come to having state TV,” Wallace and Baier have set themselves apart with consistently balanced reporting and analysis. Wallace, a television veteran who has worked at all three major networks, is one of the few Fox staffers willing to challenge the president on air. In interviews, he has distanced himself from the Fox commentators like Sean Hannity: “I don’t think many people would mistake me for the primetime opinion people,” he said recently. “They know the difference.” Baier has a reputation for even-handedness in his approach to Washington’s divided political scene. Asked recently on CBS for his reaction to Trump calling the press “the enemy of the people,” he said it was “a bad phrase.”
The Bench and the Law
Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
Ginsburg, 87, the senior member of the four liberal justices on the nine- member bench, enjoys star status that goes beyond her reputation as a distinguished jurist. Spotted at the Washington opera before the shut downs, she got a spontaneous standing ovation. But having survived four previous cancer ordeals since 1999 she is, however, an endangered species. Now, a fifth cancer reoccurance while Trump is still president causes anxiety. He would like nothing more than to appoint a third conservative justice to the Supreme Court bench.
Thomas Fitton: President, Judicial Watch
Judicial Watch is a Washington-based conservative non-profit group that seeks to obtain documents through the Freedom of Information Act and then uses the knowledge obtained to file a barrage of lawsuits against public officials. one of Fitton’s ongoing targets is Hillary Clinton for allegedly failing, as secretary of state, to ensure adequate security at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, where an American ambassador was killed in a 2012 terrorist attack. The Judicial Watch also has a running campaign against what it calls false claims by climate scientists. Judicial Watch recently asked D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for city permission to paint its motto “Because No one Is Above the Law!” in giant letters on a Capitol Hill street just as she allowed “Black Lives Matter” to be painted near the White House.
Amy Berman Jackson: Federal District judge, Washington D.C.
Judge Jackson has tried and sent to jail her share of Trump associates including Paul Manafort, rick Gates and roger Stone, whose sentence was commuted. Public criticism from Trump didn’t deter her from sending Stone to jail for 40 months—and from rejecting a request from Stone’s lawyers to recuse herself in the event of a new trial of their client.
Emmett G. Sullivan: Federal District Judge, Washington, D.C.
In another instance of the judiciary pushing back against the Trump administration’s efforts to politicize it, a three-judge panel from the Appeals Court ordered Sullivan to immediately drop the case against Michael Flynn, Trump’s one- time White House national security advisor. Flynn was on trial after having pleaded guilty to lying to FBI agents on two separate occasions about his contacts with the Russian ambassador in Washington. What followed was not quite what the Justice Department had in mind. Sullivan suspended proceedings saying he wanted to study his options and appointed another judge to critique the appeal court action. This judge concluded that the reasons for dropping the case submitted by Attorney General William Barr were baseless and a “pretext” for an illegitimate political action on behalf of a presidential favorite.
Stephen Brogan: Managing Partner, Jones Day
Don McGahn has been a former White House lawyer for more than a year now, but Jones Day, one of the largest and wealthiest law firms in the world, still has more than a dozen other former staff attorneys in federal government jobs—more than any other law firm. McGahn was one of the former White House staffers who refused to testify in the House Trump impeachment hearings, citing executive privilege.
Debra Katz: Partner, Katz, Marshall & Banks
Katz heads a Washington legal firm with a specialization for today’s world—sexual harassment litigation. The Washington Post calls her “the feared attorney of the #MeToo Movement.” She represented Christine Blasey Ford in the congressional hearings of then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Ford testified that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her at a high school party when they were both teenagers. Other high profile cases listed on the Katz, Marshall & Banks website under the title “#MeToo Successes” include sexual harassment complaints against tenor Placido Domingo and NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown.
John Roberts, Neil M. Gorsuch: Chief Justice; Associate Justice, U.S. Supreme Court
Chief Justice Roberts, himself a conservative, presides over a five-to- four conservative bench, but as a good jurist he approaches every case on its merits and sometimes votes with the liberal members of the bench. He did so most recently to block Trump’s attempt to end the Obama-era DACA program which shields 700,000 immigrants who entered the country as children from deportation. Trump blows hot and cold on Roberts, whom he clearly feels he cannot trust. But he often boasts of having nominated Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the bench to boost the conservative side. How is that working out? Gorsuch recently wrote the blockbuster decision protecting gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. A furious Trump called both decisions “shotgun blasts into the face” of conservatives.
Kristalina Georgieva: Managing director, International Monetary Fund
The Bulgarian environmental economist succeeded the highly respected—and high profile— Christine Lagarde, now president of the European Central Bank, in 2019 as managing director of the International Monetary Fund. A former vice-president of the European Commission in Brussels, Georgieva was responsible for managing the E.U.’s $175 billion budget.
David Malpass: President, World Bank
As a U.S. Treasury official, Trump- nominated David Malpass had for years been a critic of the bank and other international financial institutions. Many expected cuts in staff and in World Bank programs to conform with Trump’s well known prejudices, among them climate change denial, and his negative views on Africa. Instead, as The Washington Post reported recently, Malpass has provided “reassurance that he is not planning to gut the bank’s personnel … or slash funding for climate change initiatives,” the latter being a commitment of $200 billion until 2025 to help countries take climate action.
Jeff Bezos: Chairman and CEO, Amazon.com, Inc., and Owner, The Washington Post
Bezos’ connection to the nation’s capital took a significant leap forward in 2019 when work began in Arlington County on a second headquarters for his $1.5 trillion on-line sales giant. He was already the owner of the Washington Post and Hq2 will make him a major employer in the District. In January, Bezos made his debut as a Washington host with a dinner at his 11-bedroom mansion in the Kalorama district. Guests of the richest man in world included the world’s second richest man (at the time of writing), Bill Gates. Also present, Steven and Jean Case and Sen. Mitt Romney. Some guests did a double take when Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner and Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway walked through the door. Donald Trump keeps up a barrage of tweets against Bezos and the Post. But in Washington, social partying takes precedence over political partying any time, or almost.
Richard Fairbank: Chairman and CEO, Capital One Bank
With deposits of over $255 billion Capital One is Washington’s largest banking organizations. Fairbank co- founded the bank in 1994 and has headed it ever since. In 2018, Capital One opened the tallest office tower
in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area as its headquarters. The 470-foot tall structure in Tysons Corner is also a high-end shopping mall and conference center. Capital One is also closing some branches and at the same time returning to an earlier approach to banking— setting up operations in coffee houses.
Marillyn Hewson: Executive Chairman, Lockheed Martin Corp.
After her predecessor’s “close personal relationship with a subordinate employee” and his resulting resignation in 2013, the way was opened for Hewson to be appointed to the top job at the Pentagon’s (and the world’s) top weapons supplier. It was Hewson’s 20th position in the company, which she joined in 1983 as an industrial engineer. She significantly upped Lockheed’s revenue to $53.8 billion (in 2017). Lockheed’s biggest defense contract— actually, anybody’s biggest defense contract—is the F35 fighter at a unit cost of $94.3 million (which has now fallen to $78 million). Lockheed is also working on hypersonics (“which would be something over Mach 5,” Hewson says), and has designed an unmanned helicopter. Lockheed subsidiary Sikorsky is also producing an updated Marine one presidential helicopter that the company cannot sell to anyone else with the same security and other special features as the White House version.
Matt Kelly: CEO, JBG Smith
Having landed the Amazon deal to build its Hq2 in Northern Virginia, the region’s biggest developer, which Kelly heads, has launched plans to create housing and amenities in the surrounding area to accommodate the influx of 25,000 employees that Amazon will eventually hire. Meanwhile, the on-line shopping giant itself has begun work on two 22-story towers in Pentagon City, which is one half of its HQ2 project. The other half is in Arlington.
Kathy Warden: Chairman and CEO, Northrop Grumman Corp.
Kathy Warden is another example of how women executives have come to dominate the U.S. defense sector. We are a long way from rosie the riveter of wartime America. Warden took over as CEO first in 2019 and later that year also became chairman after having been Northrop’s chief operating officer since 2017. According to Fortune magazine, “the defense giant’s stock price is up about 50 percent” since her appointment; “she has scored almost $26 billion in new contracts in the first two quarters of 2019.” A specialist in cyber security, Warden originally joined Northrop Grumman to head the Information Systems sector, but took over the Mission Systems as well when the two were joined. one of Warden’s first tasks was to complete the $9.2 billion acquisition of the rocket maker Orbital ATK, enabling Northrop to expand its foothold in the space market area, where Orbital is a lead player.
Ted Leonsis, Sheila Johnson: Majority owner, managing partner and CEO, Monumental Sports and Entertainment; Vice chairman, Monumental Sports & Entertainment and CEO, Salamander Hotels and Resorts
Ted Leonsis heads Washington’s high- profile sports conglomerate, consisting of six teams, including the NHL Stanley- Cup- winning Washington Capitals, the NBA Washington Wizards and the WNBA Washington Mystics; four venues, including the Capital one Arena, and four other enterprises relating to e-sports and betting. Monumental Sports has 18 prominent shareholders and in 2019 reported $500 million in net revenue. Sheila Johnson is owner of the Salamander resort & Spa, 340 acres in the heart of Virginia’s horse and wine country, plus four other high-end resorts, two in Florida, one in South Carolina and one in Jamaica. At Salamander, she launched the Middleburg Film Festival, where the 2019 Academy Award-winning film “Parasite” was among the entries.
Mark Lerner: Principal Owner, the Washington Nationals with the Lerner, Cohen and Tanenbaum families
In 2018, billionaire developer Ted Lerner, who had brought the Nationals to Washington, ceded control as principal owner to his son, Mark Lerner. In 2019, the Nationals triumphed over the Astros to win their first World Series , actually the first baseball title win for Washington since the Senators beat the Giants in 1924.
Ryan Zimmerman, Elena Delle Donne, Alex Ovechkin: Washington Nationals; WNBA Washington Mystics; Washington Capitals
A trio of history-making Washington sports heroes: The Nationals’ first baseman led his team to victory in the World Series. Elena Delle Donne is the 6-foot-5 leader of the Mystics. Alex Ovechkin captains the Capitals.
Chris Nassetta: President and CEO, Hilton
Badly hit, as all of the hotel business is by the coronavirus, Nassetta’s hopes are pinned on three to four years hence when, he believes, demand will return to what it was in 2019, one of the 100-year-old company’s best years and when it opened more than one hotel per day. By June, 40 percent of the Hilton hotels in Europe were still closed. The situation in the U.S. varies from state to state but in China all Hilton’s 250 hotels were open. Hilton has more than 6,100 hotels world wide and well over 60 percent of its 430,000 employees are now on furlough.
Holly Sullivan, Teresa Carlson: Director, Worldwide Economic Development, Amazon Real Estate; Vice President, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services
Holly Sullivan, who was tasked with the search of suitable locations for HQ2, is a heroine in Northern Virginia, where the company plans to deliver 25,000 new jobs over the next decade. Teresa Carlson, a crossover from Microsoft, leads Amazon Web Services, with an east coast campus in Herndon. In Washington, her main challenge is to advance Amazon’s surging cloud- computer business against stiff opposition from established tech giants with decades of local experience. That includes a court battle against the Pentagon’s decision to award the biggest cloud-computing contract in U.S. history to Microsoft, alleging “unmistakable bias.” Called JEDI, for Joint enterprise Defense Infrastructure, the contract
is valued at $10 billion over 10 years.
Dr. J. Stephen Jones: President and CEO, Inova Health System
Health care companies across the region have borne the brunt of the offensive against Covid-19, with its successes and setbacks, including layoffs, drops in yearly revenue and protective clothing supply problems. But Jones has also had good news to announce—a new hospital in Springfield to add to Inova’s five existing establishments in Northern Virginia with 1,800 beds, including the Inova Schar Cancer Center.
Kimberly Russo: CEO, George Washington University Hospital
As of July, 5,662 people in the D.C., Maryland and Virginia capital region had died from the coronavirus, according to health officials. A total of 156,711 tested positive for Covid-19 in the capital region, according to health officials including 11,026 in the District. The spread of the disease has laid bare the unequal distribution of hospital beds and the city is partnering with Howard University and George Washington University to build two new hospitals in low-income areas of the nation’s capital, “to bring our care closer to the homes and into the community,” Russo commented recently.
Influencers and Nonprofits
Gloria Story Dittus: Chairman, Story Partners
Dittus, who says her first job in Washington was answering telephones at the U.S. Senate, founded Story Partners in 2010 following the takeover of her earlier firm Dittus Communications. Hence her boast of 30-plus years in the service of such Fortune 500 clients as HSBC, Home Depot, Dell, Intel, GM and Microsoft.
Bishop Mariann Budde: Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington
St. John’s Church, where Trump posed with a Bible, is in Budde’s diocese. “outraged” by the incident, she said the President “took the symbols sacred to our tradition and stood in front of a house of prayer in full expectation that would be a celebratory moment,” she commented. “There was nothing I could do but speak out against that.”
Suzanne P. Clark, Thomas Donohue: President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce; CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Responding to the impact of the coronavirus on minority businesses, the Chamber in June launched the equality of opportunity Initiative “to pursue targeted, data driven, and sustainable solutions that will help deliver the American promise of equal opportunity to all,” declared Suzanne Clark. The initiative pulls together more than 500 local and state chambers of commerce in a common effort to bridge racial divides. The chamber’s action is rooted in the fact that the pandemic forced the closure of 41 percent of African American, non-employer businesses between February and April, compared to 17 percent for white-owned businesses.
Robert Flippone: Vice president, U.S. policy and government relations, Merck & Co.
Prominent among drug manufacturer representatives in Washington is Filippone, who has been leading lobbying efforts for Merck & Co. (2019 sales worldwide: $46.8 billion) since 2015. He is a specialist in defense, intelligence, homeland security and international trade who has worked at the Pentagon and previously served as deputy staff director of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
Wilton Gregory: Roman Catholic and Archbishop of Washington
When, just over a year ago, Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Gregory, a highly respected senior Catholic churchman, to head the Washington archdiocese with instructions to implement tough new Church regulations against clergy sex abuse, the only living black archbishop in the U.S. called the situation in the capital’s 700,000- strong Catholic community “a moment fraught with challenges.” Within a few months, the situation became even more challenging when (1) churches had to be closed because of Covid-19 and (2) the prelate that the Washington Post recently called a “genteel, middle-of- the-road diplomat” delivered a less than diplomatic broadside against President Trump for posing at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. Gregory called the move “baffling and reprehensible.” The White House, of course, hit back.
Jo Ann Jenkins: CEO, AARP
Jenkins heads the largest non- profit organization in the U.S., with 38 million members aged 50 and over nationwide. With its older members most at risk of serious complications from Covid-19, AARP has mobilized to help its members deal with the crisis. For example, through the newly set up AARP Community Connection older adults isolated by the lockdown can seek help from volunteers to pick up groceries, provide financial assistance and lend emotional support. AARP says volunteers have been registering in large numbers.
Howard Kohr: CEO, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)
The largest pro-Israel lobby, which Kohr heads, focuses its attention on ensuring that the oft- beleaguered nation has strong friends in the U.S. Congress. originally bi-partisan, its critics question the wisdom of its recent drift to the republican right, even as 65 percent of American Jews remain firm Democrats and continue to vote Democratic, according to recent polls. But AIPAC broke with the Democrats over obama’s nuclear treaty with Iran, and the rift never quite healed. AIPAC also faces internal challenges from young Jewish activists in groups like IfNotNow who are prepared to be critical of Israel over issues like the extended settlements in the occupied territories.
Wayne Lapierre: CEO, National Rifle Association
In 2019, LaPierre survived an internal revolt, amid accusations of lavish spending and luxury travel, but internal turmoil within the gun lobbying organization has continued. When the N.R.A. recently laid off a large number of employees, LaPierre blamed the coronavirus pandemic, but others said a shortage of cash was perhaps the main factor. Growing concern at the frequency of random shootings across the nation, the uncertainty surrounding the immediate future created by the pandemic and the growing demand for racial reform call into further question the N.R.A.’s ability to remain among the country’s most politically influential organizations in an election year. Bottom line: The N.R.A. poured over $30 million into Trump’s 2016 election, more than any other outside group. Will it be either willing or able to do the same again?
Jessica Tuchman Mathews: Climate change expert, Institute for Peace
Jessica Tuchman Mathews represents the many climate change advocates who are studying the lasting impact— if any—of the coronavirus pandemic on the climate and how the environment is changed by the new normal.
Stephen Miles: Executive Director, Win Without War
As Carl von Clausewitz famously wrote, “War is a mere continuation of policy (or “politics,” depending on the translation version) by other means.” Win Without War, which came into being to oppose the Iraq War, is a coalition of more than 30 mostly progressive advocacy groups dedicated to advancing those other means. WWW says its aim is to “promote and advance a value-based progessive national security strategy that prioritizes human security and diplomacy over war.”
Mike Sommers: President and CEO, American Petroleum Institute
These can hardly be good times for the main petroleum lobby which Sommers runs. His task is to position the oil industry in a rapidly changing energy landscape. The future of fossil fuels is threatened by increased political and public pressure to put the U.S. on the path to net-zero gas emissions, close land to drilling and ban fracking. Then along comes the coronavirus to bring further uncertainty. While millions of one-time commuters work from home to fight the pandemic oil-filled tankers sail the globe with unwanted supplies.
Corie Wright: Director of global public policy, Netflix
When Wright, a lawyer by training, took over Netflix’s government relations Washington office in 2012 it was already the world’s largest subscription- based streaming service. Today, Netflix is one of the few areas of the otherwise hard-hit entertainment business to be booming as millions of people confined to their homes by Covid-19 binge on its product. 15.8 million new subscribers were added in the first quarter of 2020 for an overall total of 183 million.
Culture, Arts, Entertainment
José Andrés: Founder, World Central Kitchen, and ThinkFoodGroup
In the past few years, his World Central Kitchen has earned recognition as an effective first responder delivering millions of meals in stricken areas.
But the pandemic is Andrés’ biggest challenge by far. In February, World Central Kitchen set up a quayside operation to feed passengers quarantined on the cruise ship stranded in Yokohama, with hundreds of passengers infected with the virus on board. Since then, World Central Kitchen finds itself feeding Americans all over the United States in a relief operation that seems to have no end.