Editorial: Hydroxychloroquine Is Now a Partisan Topic

The first time the word “hydroxychloroquine” stumbled its way out of Donald Trump’s mouth during a daily White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing, viewers knew it was destined to become a partisan topic. Donald Trump’s continued hyping of hydroxychloroquine as a possible “miracle cure” despite the fact that the FDA has not yet approved it for treatment of COVID-19 has led his supporters, as usual, to disregard science and concrete evidence in favor of whatever Donald Trump says.
Those who challenge Trump’s promotion of the drug, also known as Plaquenil, by pointing out that we don’t have enough evidence yet, that we should tread carefully—that hydroxychloroquine is still in the trial stages for use in combatting COVID-19—are now met with hostility, labeled as partisan, and accused of wanting Trump to fail more than they want to see an effective treatment. Apparently, support or non-support of using the untested drug on coronavirus patients has become a test of one’s fealty to Donald Trump.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, has repeatedly warned that there is no wide or definitive data to support the drug’s efficacy in treating COVID-19, but according to an April 6 report in Politico, “Behind the scenes, career health officials have raised even stronger warnings about the risk to some Americans’ heart health and other complications, but been warned not to publicly speak out and potentially contradict Trump.”
“What do you have to lose?” Trump has said, as he encourages the drug’s use. “It’s been out there for a long time. What do you have to lose? I hope they use it.”
In his characteristic manner of setting up an untruth in such a way that he can easily backpedal it later, if necessary, he has also said, “What do I know? I’m not a doctor, but I have common sense. The FDA feels good about it, as you know, they approved it.”
Donald Trump’s carefully placed “As you know, they approved it” refers to the FDA having approved hydroxychloroqine years ago as a drug for malaria, as well as for lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. Trump knows that anyone who chooses to will understand it to mean that the FDA has approved it for use against the coronavirus.
The FDA has now authorized limited emergency use of Plaquenil for trial on certain COVID-19 patients, only. Medical experts warn, however, that the reported benefits of the drug for treating COVID-19 are anecdotal, and that very little scientific evidence exists yet to confirm its effectiveness. Not only should the drug not be pushed to the general public without thorough testing, it could cost the lives of some patients.
Does it make Trump supporters at all uneasy that their president is promoting a drug against the advice of the leading medical experts and scientists? Does it frighten them, even a little, that these leading scientists and medical experts are now being cautioned against disagreeing with the president, who is not a scientist or medical expert?
Apparently, the answer is no. Trump supporters not only ignore the disturbing scene of a president who repeatedly overrides the experts, they borrow from Trump’s false narrative to speak with authority about the drug’s benefits, as well as how “safe” it is to use.
As they have done with the topic of the coronavirus itself, Donald Trump’s supporters take their cues from him regarding what they see as fact and fallacy. The virus quickly became a partisan issue, and even now, it is often possible to guess who supports Donald Trump and who doesn’t by how they’re responding socially and logistically to the virus and the prevention of its spread.
Trump supporters’ unquestioning loyalty to Donald Trump, combined perhaps with an irrational desire for a miracle, has added the hydroxychloroquine topic to the list of other now-partisan topics that, were rational thought involved, should never be partisan issues.
Right-wing pundits such as Fox News’ Laura Ingraham have begun using their pulpits to promote hydroxychloroquine to their audiences, contributing to the partisanship surrounding it. Ingraham even went so far as to mock Dr. William Haseltine, a former professor at Harvard Medical School who has done groundbreaking research on HIV/AIDS, calling him a “quack” when he doubted the drug’s efficacy.
If at some point in the future, hydroxychloroquine does prove to be a “game changer” for treating COVID-19, we all win.
If, however, hydroxychloroquine proves to be ineffective, will world-class medical experts still have to tread lightly around Donald Trump with the evidence? Will scientific proof still be viewed with hostility as nothing more than the desire to “see Trump fail”? If we become sick with COVID-19 and the ER doctor is a Trump supporter, will he or she choose hydroxychloroquine for us over other, possibly better choices?

Trump grilled over continued promotion of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus | Guardian News [2020-04-06]

Trump Adviser Navarro Clashes With Fauci Over Coronavirus Treatment Endorsed By President Trump | NBC News [2020-04–6]

Impeachment Trial Begins, Lev Parnas Surfaces with New Damning Evidence

With 290 days until the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the impeachment of President Donald Trump dominates the news. On Wednesday, January 15, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi signed the two articles of impeachment against Trump, who is charged with abuse of presidential power, and obstruction of Congress.

Prior to signing the articles, Pelosi announced the names of the seven impeachment managers she has chosen to present the case for impeachment to the Senate. They are House Representatives Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Val Demings (D-Fla.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Jason Crow (D-Colo.), and Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas). After the signing of the articles, Pelosi and the impeachment managers walked across the Capitol to the Senate chamber to deliver the articles, per protocol.

The articles charge that Trump abused his power by withholding already-approved military aid to Ukraine, as well as the promise of a White House meeting with Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskiy in order to pressure Zelenskiy to announce an investigation of Democratic primary candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who held a high-paying job as consultant to Burisma, Ukraine’s largest energy provider. The articles further charge that Trump obstructed Congress by blocking key evidence and testimony.

The Senate formally accepted the articles on Thursday. On Thursday afternoon, Chief Justice John Roberts, who will preside over the trial in the Senate, administered the jurors’ oath to all 100 senators, to swear to deliver “impartial justice.” It should be noted, however, that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already openly promised not to be impartial.

“This is an example of all of the president’s henchmen,” Pelosi reflected, “and I hope that the senators do not become part of the president’s henchmen.”

The actual trial is expected to begin on Tuesday, January 21.

Meanwhile, The Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan agency that reports to Congress, has determined this week that Trump’s hold on the military aid to Ukraine was a violation of federal law governing how the White House may disburse funds approved by Congress.

“Faithful execution of the law does not permit the President to substitute his own policy priorities for those that Congress has enacted into law,” the decision states. “OMB withheld funds for a policy reason, which is not permitted under the Impoundment Control Act.”

Though impeachment does not require violation of a federal law, this development will no doubt be significant as the impeachment trial plays out. Republicans are already trying to point out that the GAO is pointing the finger at the OMB (Office of Management and Budget), not at the president. It was the president, however, who ordered that the military funds be put on hold.

And as impeachment trial preparations were brewing this week, additional evidence was unearthed, appearing to confirm the nature of Trump’s motivation in his plan to have the Bidens investigated.

Trump maintains that he was simply motivated by his concern about corruption in Ukraine for the sake of “the American people.” Strong evidence indicates, however, that Trump was motivated purely by personal gain — uncovering dirt on the Bidens, or, at the very least, stirring up controversy and casting doubt on Joe Biden’s integrity as he runs for president.

Lev Parnas, a former associate of Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has provided documents and granted interviews containing information that indicate that Donald Trump was directly involved in the Ukraine pressure campaign, and that his motivation was for personal gain, not for the good of the U.S. Further, Trump’s intent was to investigate the Bidens, not to investigate general corruption in Ukraine.

James Hohmann of the Washington Post writes, “Evidence of the president’s hands-on role bolsters the Democratic case that Trump himself abused his power, not outside advisers who were pursuing personal interests in the president’s name.”

Included in Parnas’ documents was a message thread from March 2019 between Parnas and Robert Hyde, a current Republican candidate for Congress in Connecticut. The subject of the messages was former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who was recalled from her post by the Trump administration in May 2019. In his interviews with the media this week, Lev Parnas confirmed that Yovanovitch was seen as an obstacle to Trump’s plan for investigation of the Bidens.
The messages suggest Hyde and others may have been following the diplomat in Kiev. “They are moving her tomorrow,” Hyde wrote to Parnas. “The guys over there asked me what I would like to do and what is in it for them.”

He then noted that Yovanovitch turned off her phone and computer.

“They are willing to help if we/you would like a price,” Hyde said. “Guess you can do anything in the Ukraine with money … what I was told.”

“Lol,” Parnas responded, indicating “laugh out loud.”.

Several days later, Hyde wrote: “It’s confirmed we have a person inside.”

Though the U.S. State Department continues to remain silent about the exchanges and the possibility of unauthorized surveillance of Yovanovitch by associates of Trump, Ukraine has announced that it will launch an investigation.

“Ukraine’s position is not to interfere in the domestic affairs of the United States of America,” Ukraine’s Interior Ministry stated. “Ukraine cannot ignore such illegal activities on the territory of its own state.”

Parnas has since said that he didn’t take the exchange seriously. Hyde, too, dismissed it as a joke.

Though some of Parnas’ new information still needs to be corroborated, other portions of it support the existing evidence against Trump and his associates. It’s yet to be determined whether, or if, this new evidence will be used in the Senate impeachment trial.

On the other side of the world, Russia’s entire cabinet resigned on Wednesday. Russian president Vladimir Putin had, earlier on Wednesday, announced that he would be pushing through reforms to the constitution. The changes would redistribute power so that parliament and the prime minister would have more power, but Putin’s successor as president would be considerably weakened. Putin, whose term as president ends in 2024, could then take on a new role and continue to be a powerful figure in the Russian government. (Speaking of abuse of power…)

Putin simply thanked his former government and said that “not everything worked out.”

Given what our president has successfully been able to get away with, given his statement, “Then I have an Article 2 (of the U.S. Constitution), where I have the right to do whatever I want as president,” and given that our current GOP largely disregards the checks and balances system of our three-branch government, we can only hope that Election 2020 eliminates the possibility of something similar happening in the U.S.

Impeachment process moves ahead amid new revelations from Lev Parnas | CBS News [2020-01-16]

Trump reacts to photograph of him with Lev Parnas: “I take thousands of pictures” | Global News [2020-01-16]