Trump threatened to primary GOP lawmakers who favor the bipartisan infrastructure plan. 17 Republicans just voted to advance it, including Mitch McConnell.

donald trump
Former President Donald J. Trump speaks about filing a class-action lawsuits targeting Facebook, Google and Twitter and their CEOs, escalating his long-running battle with the companies following their suspensions of his accounts, during a press conference at the Trump National Golf Club on Wednesday, July 07, 2021 in Bedminster, NJ.

  • President Trump threatened primary challengers to any Republicans who support the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
  • The former president has railed against negotiations in recent days, warning Republicans to abandon the talks.
  • But in a Wednesday vote, 17 Republicans joined all 50 Democrats to advance the $1 trillion package in the Senate.
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Former President Donald Trump left no words unspoken in his most direct attempt yet to tank President Joe Biden’s $1 trillion infrastructure deal.

The GOP frontman threatened “lots of primaries” ahead for any Republican lawmakers who cooperate with Democrats to get the bipartisan deal passed.

His statement was released after Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he would vote to advance the measure and preceded the procedural vote in the Senate on Wednesday. Seventeen Republicans joined all 50 Democrats to advance the bipartisan legislation, in a major test for the bill.

The vote came hours after a group of 10 Republican and Democratic negotiators announced they struck a deal with the White House on infrastructure, which included a new agreement of $550 billion in spending and $30 billion in cuts.

Trump, who tried throughout his presidency to pass his own infrastructure bill, has railed against negotiations in recent days, telling Republican lawmakers to skip the talks – not, it seems, because of any specific issues with the content of the bill, but because passage of the bill would be “a victory for the Biden administration and Democrats and…heavily used in the 2022 election.”

“Don’t do it Republicans – Patriots will never forget!” he wrote. “If this deal happens, lots of primaries will be coming your way.”

The threat comes as the former president has already endorsed primary challengers to try and unseat Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and GOP Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.

Despite his defeat at the ballot box in November 2020, Trump maintains massive power in the Republican party and has been making a show of handing out endorsements – or rejection. Most recently, however, on Tuesday, a Trump-backed candidate in Texas lost in a congressional special election.

Wednesday’s vote to advance the bill in the Senate precedes a final vote on the legislation coming sometime in the next week or two. Democrats are also preparing a reconciliation package that would pass the Senate without Republican support.

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Trump gets Taliban leader’s name wrong and impersonates him with grunts, videos show

Trump at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday night
Former President Donald Trump impersonated Hibatullah Akhundzada by making grunting sounds.

  • Trump referred to Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada as ‘Mohammed’ at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona.
  • He then proceeded to imitate Akhundzada by making grunting sounds, videos show.
  • During the rally, Trump also recalled threatening to bomb the village Akhundzada lived in.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump imitated the leader of the Taliban and referred to him by the wrong name while speaking at the “Rally to Protect Our Election” in Phoenix, Arizona on Saturday night.

At the rally, which marks Trump’s first trip back to Arizona since the presidential election, the former president recalled a conversation with Hibatullah Akhundzada from during his presidency.

“I told the Taliban, I spoke to the leader, and I spoke, I said, ‘let’s call him Mohammed,'” Trump said. “I said, ‘Mohammed, we’re leaving.'”

Trump later impersonated Akhundzada by making grunting sounds. “He’s a tough guy,” the former president added.

“Not a lot of social grace, but he was being nice, I think he was being as nice as he could be.”

“That’s all they do is fight,” he continued.

The former president then proceeded to recall a threat he claimed he issued to the Taliban’s leader.

“We’re going to come back and hit you harder than any country has ever been hit,” he said. “And your village, where I know you are and where you have everybody, that’s going to be the point at which the first bomb is dropped.”

The crowd then burst into applause.

Trump had a telephone conversation with Akhundzada, who has been the leader of the Taliban since 2016, in March 2020. At the time, he described it as a “very good talk.”

He told reporters that both parties wanted an end to the violence, the Independent reported, but just hours later the US military conducted an airstrike against Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.

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Donald Trump bizarrely mused about how LeBron James could get sex reassignment surgery to compete in women’s sports, video shows

Composite image of Trump, left, and LeBron James, right.
Former President Donald Trump suggested that LeBron James might eventually get sex reassignment surgery.

  • Trump, during a speech at a rally in Arizona, speculated that LeBron James might get sex reassignment surgery.
  • He suggested that the basketball player could “get the operation” to compete in women’s sports.
  • James identifies as male and has never publicly expressed a desire to transition.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

During a rambling two-hour speech in Phoenix, Arizona, on Saturday night, former President Donald Trump bizarrely mused about how basketball player LeBron James could get sex reassignment surgery.

Trump speculated that the Los Angeles Lakers star could “get the operation” in order to compete in women’s sports, he said while speaking at the “Rally to Protect Our Elections.”

The former president joked that, as the coach of a women’s sports team, he would only recruit transgender athletes. “If I were a coach, I wouldn’t be talking to too many women as we know women,” he said. “I’d be getting some of these people that … they’re ‘women.'”

Trump then suggested that James might eventually choose to transition. “Somebody said that if LeBron James ever decided to get the operation, how would he be on the court? How would he be?” he mused.

James identifies as male and has never publicly expressed a desire to undergo gender confirmation surgery.

“LeBron James, you can have him,” Trump continued before further mocking the basketball player. “Did you see the basketball ratings that were terrible? They went up after his team was defeated.”

This isn’t the first time that the former president has taken aim at James. Trump called him “racist” and “divisive” after the Los Angeles Lakers star tweeted a response to the police killing of Ohio teenager Ma’Khia Bryant in April.

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At the recent CPAC, attendees celebrated the failure of Biden’s goal to vaccinate 70% of adults. Now top Republicans have U-turned, urging people to get their jab.

Mitch McConnell
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., listens as the Senate Rules Committee holds a hearing on the “For the People Act,” which would expand access to voting and other voting reforms, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, March 24, 2021.

  • A number of high-profile Republicans are now urging people to get the COVID-19 vaccine
  • Deaths from COVID-19 in the US are largely attributed to the unvaccinated population
  • Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville has said the jabs are “effective, safe, and don’t cost you a dime.”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

High-profile Republicans are switching from a previous vaccine hesitant stance and now urging Americans to get their COVID-19 vaccines, as soon as possible.

Only two weeks ago at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, attendees cheered and clapped that Biden had not been able to”sucker” people and had missed his goal of vaccinating 70% of adults. Vaccine hesitancy on the right had metastasized into outright hostility.

But the mood music has changed again as the Delta variant rips through the red states where low vaccination rates are filling hospital ICU’s at an alarming rate.

On Thursday, Gov. Kay Ivey of Alabama, who for much of the coronavirus pandemic resisted public-health measures, criticized her state’s unvaccinated population.

“I don’t know, you tell me,” she said when asked what it would take to get more people vaccinated. “Folks supposed to have common sense. But it’s time to start blaming the unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks. It’s the unvaccinated folks that are letting us down.”

Alabama has the fourth-lowest vaccination rate nationwide, according to a New York Times tracker.

Ivey followed a slew of Republican big-hitters to call for a greater vaccination urgency. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell led this movement, urging people on Tuesday, to ignore the “demonstrably bad advice” which spreads mistrust of the vaccines, and said, “If there is anybody out there willing to listen: Get vaccinated.”

Read more: Meet the government worker who cut through months’ worth of federal bureaucracy in 10 days to help millions of Americans get vaccinated

Ron DeSantis – Governor of Florida, where 1 in 5 Covid cases in the USA are – told the public in the Trump heartland: “If you are vaccinated, fully vaccinated, the chance of you getting seriously ill or dying from COVID is effectively zero … These vaccines are saving lives,” he said during a press conference.

donald trump ron desantis
President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on November 26, 2019 in Sunrise, Florida.

Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville is another high-profile Republican exhibiting a change in tune. He took to Twitter July 21 to say that the vaccines are “effective, safe, and don’t cost you a dime.”

Joining the Republican U-turn, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) – who had previously attempted to block Senate funding for the COVID-19 vaccine in tandem with his anti-vaxx stance – received his dose of the vaccine, telling people they should get theirs and that it is “safe and effective.”

He added: “When you talk to people who run hospitals, in New Orleans or other states, 90% of people in hospitals with Delta variant have not been vaccinated. That’s another signal the vaccine works,” The Times-Picayune reported.

President Biden and the head of the CDC, have called the current state of COVID-19 in the USA the “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”

Three strongly GOP states account for 40% of Covid cases – Florida, Missouri, and Texas – announced White House pandemic response coordinator Jeff Zients at a press briefing on July 21.

Rob Wilson, former GOP strategist and founder of the Lincoln Project, said on Twitter that he believes this change in tone is a polling strategy – the result of a realization that it may not be politically palpable to reject the vaccine whilst COVID-19 deaths and cases surge.

So far, less than half of the US population has had their COVID-19 vaccine, with 63,818 new cases recorded across the country on July 22 alone.

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The Delta variant could make the American shopper go back into lockdown, BofA says

People shopping
Bolstered by three rounds of stimulus checks, US consumers have been spending more.

  • The Delta variant could hurt the American shopper, and the economy, BofA Research says.
  • As the variant surges, economists predict a pullback in spending given concerns of catching it.
  • They cited Michigan, where spending declined after February’s Covid wave, despite no change in restrictions.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Something may be changing in the American economy for the worse, and it’s because of the Delta Covid variant. At least that’s what Bank of America research thinks.

The stock market had a major wobble on Monday, July 19, as data on the variant – and how many Americans it’s rapidly infecting – challenged economic thinking around the reopening boom, led by consumer spending. In a signal of how seriously the mood changed, previously vaccine-skeptical Republican politicians and Fox News hosts reversed themselves, urging more Americans to get vaccinated.

The American shopper emerged from lockdown to lead the recovery, but that’s now at stake.

BofA economists Stephen Juneau and Anna Zhou wrote in a Friday note that the variant is likely to lead to a shift in consumer behavior going forward, citing a 351% surge in the moving average of daily cases since July 21. Accompanied by slowing vaccination rates, they said they “believe the current surge in cases could lead to a sharp pullback in services spending.”

Daily new COVID-19 cases compared to consumer spending.
BofA compares daily new COVID-19 cases to consumer spending.

Juneau and Zhou wrote that the most vulnerable part of the economy from another COVID-19 wave would be the leisure and hospitality sector, which notably added 343,000 payrolls in June – 40% of the total 850,000 jobs gain.

Another factor they are concerned about with the Delta variant is the lack of government aid. When the pandemic first hit, Americans received stimulus checks and other benefits from President Donald Trump’s CARES Act, then another Trump stimulus in late 2020, and finally President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, but another isn’t being discussed. The $4 trillion infrastructure proposal Biden wants to further stimulate the economy is at risk of being watered down in bipartisan negotiations.

Since governments seem unlikely to implement fresh restrictions as cases rise, the economists predict that most states will likely respond to the surge in infections by pushing people to get vaccinated, meaning that “shi sts in consumer behavior will determine how Delta affects economic activity and experiences during prior waves may not offer the best guide.”

They used the example of Michigan to back up their prediction. The state made no changes to restrictions during the Covid wave in late February, but consumer spending still decreased afterward, with services industries taking a major hit as less people dined out, and employment declined.

From a global perspective, BofA’s Ethan Harris wrote that several countries are experimenting with permitting or not permitting high-risk activities, and overall, he sees Delta as a “moderate headwind to global growth.”

To date, as Juneau and Zhou wrote, there has been little evidence of the variant significantly affecting the economy or spending on services, but with increased hesitancy of being in physical locations, the impact could become more prominent.

And given that Biden officials are considering adopting stricter mask guidance as the variant continues to spike, the consumer-led American boom coming out of lockdown could go back into some form of it.

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Mark Milley thought Stephen Miller was ‘a Rasputin character, always whispering devilish ideas in the king’s ear,’ new book says

stephen miller mark milley
According to a new book, there was tension between Trump adviser Stephen Miller (left) and Gen. Mark Milley (right) that exploded during a meeting on how to handle the George Floyd protests.

  • Gen. Mark Milley thought of Trump advisor Stephen Miller as “a Rasputin character,” per a new book.
  • “I Alone Can Fix It” details a conflict between Milley and Miller over the George Floyd protests.
  • Milley told Miller to “shut the f— up” when the latter suggested to Trump that protesters were “burning the country down,” per the book.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Gen. Mark Milley thought of Trump advisor Stephen Miller as “a Rasputin character, always whispering devilish ideas in the king’s ear,” according to a new book about the last days of the Trump administration.

According to an excerpt from “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year” by Washington Post journalists Carol Leonnig and Phillip Rucker, Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confided in aides about his strong feelings regarding Miller.

Milley likened Miller to the villainous Grigori Rasputin, an influential Russian political figure also called the “Mad Monk,” who held significant influence over the last Tsar, Nicholas II, and his family. The self-professed holy man was later murdered by aristocrats.

According to Leonnig and Rucker, this tension between Milley and Miller, who was then senior adviser for policy and the White House director for speechwriting, came to the fore during the George Floyd protests last summer.

The book details a tense exchange between the two men, highlighting how Milley was particularly aggravated when Miller asked Trump to use armed troops to quell the protests.

“Mr. President, you have to show strength. They’re burning the country down,” the book claims Miller said during a meeting with the former president.

Per the book, it was at that point that Milley “whipped his head around” and castigated Miller, saying: “Stephen, shut the f— up. They’re not burning the f—ing country down.”

The book further claims that throughout this exchange, Trump watched the two “silently and eagerly, as if the argument between his advisers were a pay-per-view fight on HBO.”

The office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Miller did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

Trump denied he ever discussed deploying the military during the 2020 George Floyd protests with Milley in a statement released on July 16.

“Despite the fact that the 2020 Presidential Election was Rigged and Stolen, and while numerous people, including the outside public, were saying we should bring in the Military, I never even gave it a thought,” Trump wrote in the statement.

“Never once did I have a discussion with him about bringing in the Military, or a ‘coup,'” Trump added.

Trump has also hit out at Milley on a separate issue. On July 15, Trump released a long statement responding to claims that Milley was worried that he would plan a coup to overthrow the government. Writing that he’s “not into coups,” Trump added that even if he was, he “wouldn’t want to commit one with Gen. Mark Milley.”

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‘That’s my money!’ Trump exploded at Brad Parscale over stories about his lavish lifestyle and spending, book reveals

Brad Parscale
Brad Parscale, campaign manager for U.S. President Donald Trump, gestures to the crowd at a campaign rally for the president on November 4, 2019 in Lexington, Kentucky.

  • Trump exploded at then-campaign manager Brad Parscale over his earnings and lavish spending, per a new book.
  • News reports and a Lincoln Project ad showed off Parscale’s $2.4 million mansion and luxury cars.
  • “I just hate these f—ing stories” Trump lamented after others stepped in to defend Parscale.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump flew into a rage at his then-campaign manager Brad Parscale after news articles and a Lincoln Project ad highlighted the amount of money Parscale was earning from working on his campaign, according to Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Bender’s latest book, “Frankly We Did Win This Election.”

Two news reports from the Daily Mail and the Huffington Post published in early 2020 detailed how Parscale had turned his financial fortunes around. He’d gone from business struggles to buying up property and expensive cars after working first as Trump’s digital guru in 2016 and then his campaign manager in 2020.

The Huffington Post reported that Parscale’s companies had brought in $38.9 million between January 2017 and March 2020 in disbursements from Trump’s campaign and other committees associated with Trump’s reelection effort.

Read more: The definitive oral history of how Trump took over the GOP, as told to us by Cruz, Rubio, and 20 more insiders

The Lincoln Project, a PAC made up of former Republican consultants who opposed Trump, jumped on the stories to produce a 45-second spot titled “GOP Cribs” featuring Parscale’s $2.4 million Fort Lauderdale waterfront property, photos of which were published by the Daily Mail. The clip also included footage of Parscale’s Florida condos, and his and his wife’s collection of luxury cars, including a BMW X6, a Range Rover, and a Ferrari.

The ad, tailored to troll an audience of one, zeroed in on the campaign manager instead of the candidate, heavily implying that Parscale was making a fool out of Trump and getting rich on his dime.

And, according to the book, the ad had its intended effect. Bender wrote that Trump, wildly waving around a printout of one of the articles on how much money Parscale’s company had taken in, went on the war path in Trump Tower.

When he finally located his campaign manager, Trump “unleashed a stream of insults, accusations, and expletives that seemed to defy basic laws of human biology that state every man must at some point pause to take a breath,” Bender wrote. He also declared: “that’s my money!” and “what the f—?”

The brouhaha led deputy campaign manager David Bossie to intervene and contain the outburst in a private office.

At that point, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway also got involved, where she and Bossie tried to diffuse the situation by explaining that Parscale wasn’t just running away with all the cash, but that his company was using the bulk of it to pay for advertising and marketing services.

Trump then lamented: “I just hate these f—ing stories.”

Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, according to Bender’s recounting, also stepped in to defend Parscale from accusations that was he was making off with the Trump campaign’s hard-earned money.

“Brad can make a million f—ing dollars a month with his marketing skills and by the way, I’d be the first person to hire him,” Kushner told his father-in-law, according to the book. “You’re getting him for $30,000 a month. So you need to just calm down.”

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Trump’s future DOJ spokeswoman said the Republicans he trounced in 2016 reminded her of the people who lost to Hitler

Standing from left to right on a CNBC debate stage, several of them clapping their hands, are 2016 GOP presidential candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, and Rand Paul.
GOP 2016 candidates (l-r) Donald Trump, Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Ted Cruz, Chris Christie and Rand Paul during CNBC’s debate at the University of Colorado Boulder on October 28, 2015.

  • Sarah Isgur told Insider GOP candidates beaten out by Trump were akin to those who lost to Hitler.
  • The Carly Fiorina campaign vet took a Trump administration job in February 2017.
  • She attempted to defend her “shallow state” stint in a 2020 op-ed.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A campaign aide for former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina said she took the systematic evisceration of the GOP field by Donald Trump pretty hard – attempting, at one point, to escape the psychic trauma by “listening to the Hamilton soundtrack just over and over.”

“I remember wondering who had run against Hitler in Germany and thinking those people deserve more credit in history. Because you can know what the threat is, and you can give everything you’ve got and still lose,” then-Fiorina deputy campaign manager Sarah Isgur said during the reporting for Insider’s definitive oral history of Trump’s takeover of the Republican Party.

The musical therapy must have worked, given that nine months later Isgur wound up interviewing with the dream-crusher she’d dubbed “smart, but a bad person morally.”

Read more: The definitive oral history of how Trump took over the GOP, as told to us by Cruz, Rubio, and 20 more insiders

“What are you to make of the Trump skeptics who joined the administration thinking they could temper his worst instincts?” she wrote in a December 2020 op-ed designed to justify her participation in the politically compromised “shallow state.”

“I knew I was working for a president who wasn’t well versed in our Constitution or the work of the Justice Department,” she rationalized after signing on as a DOJ spokeswoman in February 2017. “But I told myself it was my duty to serve.”

To read the full story click here.

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A staffer had to tell Bill Clinton about the infamous Trump-Rubio fight in 2016 over penis size

trump rubio
Donald Trump and Marco Rubio debated below the belt during the 2016 GOP presidential primaries.

  • Former President Bill Clinton missed the debate when then-candidate Trump bragged about his manhood.
  • A staffer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign had to tell him about it.
  • It was “one of the more awkward moments in my life,” Josh Schwerin told Insider.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The moment when then-candidate Donald Trump boasted about his manhood during a 2016 Republican primary debate was particularly memorable for a staffer who had to brief former President Bill Clinton on what happened.

The former president had been in a meeting in Louisiana and missed the debate when Trump, responding to an attack from his opponent Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, assured a crowd that neither his hands nor “something else” were small.

Josh Schwerin, who served as the national spokesperson for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, said briefing the former president on the debate was “one of the more awkward moments in my life.”

“He didn’t at first believe me that this was the topic of a debate,” said Schwerin, who spoke to Insider as part of an oral history project on Trump’s takeover of the GOP. “I had to show him the CNN headline. I tried to not add any commentary and just let him read it for himself. Because it was not the most comfortable conversation to have with the former president of the United States.”

Read more: The definitive oral history of how Trump took over the GOP, as told to us by Cruz, Rubio, and 20 more insiders

Tired of Trump calling him “little Marco,” Rubio seized on the size of Trump’s hands that year during a rally in Roanoke, Va. “You know what they say about men with small hands? You can’t trust them,” he said.

Trump brought up the comment days later at the debate. “Look at those hands, are they small hands?” he said, holding up his hands for the crowd. “And, he referred to my hands – ‘if they’re small, something else must be small.’ I guarantee you there’s no problem. I guarantee.”

Rubio later said he apologized to Trump for his comments.

Bill Clinton’s extramarital sex scandals generated embarrassing headlines during his presidency and led to his impeachment. But the Rubio-Trump schoolyard antics still surprised him.

“He was amused, but also really aghast that this is what they had devolved to,” Schwerin said of Bill Clinton.

To read the full oral history story, click here.

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CDC should admit it was wrong and urge vaccinated Americans to wear masks again, says former surgeon general who served under Trump

jerome adams surgeon general masks
Former President Donald Trump watches as former US Surgeon General Jerome Adams holds up his face mask in April 2020.

  • Former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on Saturday said the CDC should advise mask wearing.
  • Adams said “the emerging data suggests CDC should be advising to vax it AND mask it.”
  • CDC director Dr. Rochelle Walensky on Friday said it’s become a “pandemic of the unvaccinated.”
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams on Saturday said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should extend its mask requirements, amid the rise of COVID-19 variants.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky in late June said fully vaccinated Americans don’t need masks in most public places. Adams on Saturday said officials should admit those statements were “premature.”

“Instead of vax it OR mask it, the emerging data suggests CDC should be advising to vax it AND mask it in areas with [rising] cases and positivity – until we see numbers going back down again,” Adams said on Twitter. “CDC was well intended, but the message was misinterpreted, premature, & wrong. Let’s fix it.”

He added: “The sooner CDC says we were wrong, & hits the reset button, the better.”

Walensky on Friday said COVID-19 was “becoming a pandemic of the unvaccinated” in the US. “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk,” she said during a press briefing.

Adams, who served under President Donald Trump, said in a Twitter thread that current CDC leaders were making the same mistake he’d made while leading the pandemic response.

Adams and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease scientist, said in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic that masks weren’t necessary.

But the CDC was recommending masks by April 2020.

“Last year Tony Fauci and I famously, prematurely, & wrongly advised against masks. I felt it was the best call at the time, but now regret it,” he said. “I’m worried the CDC also made a similarly premature, misinterpreted, yet still harmful call on masking in the face of [rising] delta variant.”

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