When Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner were planning their move to Washington, DC, after Donald Trump was elected to the presidency in 2016, many speculated on the roles that the incoming president’s daughter and son-in-law would play in the White House.
However, according to former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham in her forthcoming memoir, “I’ll Take Your Questions Now,” the couple sought to wield their power to attend a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II.
In the book, obtained by The Washington Post, Grisham, who also served as chief of staff and press secretary to Melania Trump, reportedly said that Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner fancied themselves as royalty.
Grisham described how the couple in June 2019 tried to muscle their way into a meeting with Queen Elizabeth II that then-President Trump and first lady Melania Trump attended, which would have defied protocol for a state visit, but were prevented from joining because there was no additional space in the helicopter.
“I finally figured out what was going on,” Grisham reportedly wrote in the memoir. “Jared and Ivanka thought they were the royal family of the United States.”
In the book, Grisham recalls the first lady and White House staff called Ivanka Trump “the Princess,” describing how she would often say “my father” in professional work meetings.
The former press secretary also assigned a name to Jared Kushner, referring to him as “the Slim Reaper” due to his alleged tendency to involve himself with the projects of others and then remove himself from said projects when problems arose.
Grisham, who became press secretary during a time when Trump had an especially acrimonious relationship with the press, never conducted a daily press briefing during her tenure, instead giving television interviews to select media outlets.
After spending less than a year as White House press secretary, Grisham became Melania Trump’s press secretary and was succeeded by political commentator Kayleigh McEnany.
Currently, only US citizens and their immediate families, green card holders, and some travelers with special exemptions can come to the States if they’ve been in the UK or EU within 14 days before travel.
The US also bars most noncitizens coming from China, Iran, Brazil, South Africa, and India, who will not be affected by the upcoming policy change.
The Biden administration is set to announce the new policy on Monday, the sources told the Financial Times.
President Biden signed the proclamation suspending travel to the US from 28 European countries in January 2021, when the Alpha variant was circulating in the UK. As new variants of the coronavirus emerged, the administration kept the policy in place and added additional restrictions on travel from other countries.
The highly infectious Delta variant has become dominant in the US, the UK, and other countries around the world. The variant has been known to infect some people who have been vaccinated against COVID-19, resulting in cases that are relatively mild but do pose a transmission risk.
Early data suggests vaccinated people who get COVID-19 tend to be less infectious than unvaccinated patients, and they typically clear the virus quicker. Multiple public health experts have said vaccination is the key to beating Delta and the coronavirus pandemic as a whole.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
The United Kingdom’s ambassador to Afghanistan stayed in Kabul amid the Taliban takeover to help people flee the country.
The Foreign Office told I News that ambassador Sir Laurie Bristow helped process visa applications and organize the evacuation of British citizens from Afghanistan.
“We have reduced our diplomatic presence in response to the situation on the ground, but our ambassador remains in Kabul and UK Government staff continue to work to provide assistance to British nationals and to our Afghan staff,” the Foreign Office said. “We are still doing all we can to enable remaining British nationals, who want to leave Afghanistan, to do so.”
But in the UK, where 71.8% of the population is fully vaccinated, the new surge is not bringing the same death toll as past coronavirus waves.
The UK government’s coronavirus dashboard features daily counts of positive COVID-19 tests and deaths. A comparison of those two data sets shows how the relationship between infections and deaths has changed over time.
Throughout July, the ratio of deaths to cases in the UK has remained much lower than it was at any prior point of the pandemic.
In the early days of the UK’s first wave last spring, the ratio of deaths to cases shot up. Similarly, in the wave seen last winter, that ratio rose notably again.
The UK’s latest surge began in June. By July 1, the seven-day average of new cases had grown to nearly six times what it was on June 1. The new wave is producing almost as many daily cases as the surge the UK saw in January. But deaths have not risen nearly as much.
The low ratio is probably because of vaccines, which have proven highly effective at preventing severe disease, hospitalizations, and deaths.
A UK study found that two doses of the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccines were 88% and 67% effective, respectively, at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 from the Delta variant – the UK’s dominant strain.
Moderna and Johnson & Johnson have both said that lab tests suggest their vaccines are also highly effective against Delta, though peer-reviewed research on those shots’ real-world effectiveness in the face of Delta has not yet been published.
Overall, the effectiveness of widespread vaccination is evident in the UK’s shrinking ratio of deaths to cases over time. In early February, just 1% of the UK population was fully vaccinated, and about 25% of the population had received one dose. During that time, the UK counted an average of five deaths for every 100 new cases.
Now that the UK is 71.8% vaccinated against COVID-19 – and 88.4% of people have received at least one dose – the death-to-cases ratio is nearly zero.
The UK’s daily coronavirus cases are falling almost quickly as they rose earlier this summer.
During the first two weeks of July, average daily cases there jumped 80%, peaking at nearly 55,000 on July 17. That’s close to the levels recorded during the worst days of the UK’s winter outbreak, when vaccines weren’t yet widely available.
But cases have dropped dramatically in the last week, down to just 25,000 cases on Monday, as shown in the chart below.
UK COVID-19 cases over the last month
Experts, though surprised, have a few theories as to what happened. A recent decline in testing could be one factor: The UK administered 9% fewer tests this week than it did three weeks prior, and testing overall has declined since mid-March.
“A lot of the people who are becoming symptomatic are becoming more mildly symptomatic because they’re younger people or they’re people who have been vaccinated,” Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration, told CNBC on Monday. “So those people aren’t presenting for testing.”
But a likelier explanation, according to other experts, is a combination of warm weather – which encourages people to spend less time indoors – and fewer public gatherings.
The Euro 2020 soccer championship, which ended two weeks ago, may have temporarily driven up UK cases, since the semifinals were held at London’s Wembley Stadium on July 6 and 7, then the finals on July 11. Many schools also closed for summer holidays last week.
Additionally, the recent spike in cases may have prompted more people to self-isolate, either to avoid getting sick or because they had known exposure to someone with COVID-19.
The UK’s promising trajectory may bode well for the US
There’s no guarantee that the UK’s downward case trend will last, however, especially since most social distancing restrictions lifted on July 19. Since then, venues like restaurants, clubs, and festivals have reopened. Official case numbers generally reflect the spread of infections two weeks prior, due to the virus’ incubation period and the time it takes to get tested, get results, and see those results reported to health authorities.
“Today’s figures do not of course include any impact of last Monday’s end of restrictions,” Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, told the BBC. “It will not be until about next Friday before the data includes the impact of this change.”
So it’s possible that case totals will tick up again starting next week. Still, vaccines should continue to prevent fully immunized people from becoming severely ill. New research suggests that two doses of Pfizer’s or AstraZeneca’s vaccine are 88% and 67% effective, respectively, at preventing symptomatic COVID-19 from the Delta variant – the UK’s dominant strain.
The UK’s promising trajectory may even bode well for other highly vaccinated counties like the US, where cases are surging.
“If the UK is turning the corner, it’s a pretty good indication that maybe we’re further into this than we think,” Gottlieb told CNBC. “Maybe we’re two or three weeks away from starting to see our own plateau here in the United States.”
The average UK investor plans to increase their investments by 19% each month as COVID-19 restrictions in the country come to an end, extending the retail trading boom that originated during the pandemic, a Barclays Smart Investor survey found.
Across all age groups, only 6% of the roughly 2,000 people surveyed, said they planned to cut how much they invest each month. They cited the return of “normality” and the increased spending on activities such as holidays, meals out and weekend trips.
In contrast, around 50% said they would spend less on such activities to support their investing habits.
“The prediction that many will continue, or increase, the amount they invest going forward is likely driven by a rise in lockdown savings, with the ONS reporting that UK household savings are nearing an all-time high.” Clare Francis, director of Barclays Smart Investor said.
76% of those surveyed said they would maintain their investing routine and as few as 4% of those who began investing during the pandemic said they would stop once restrictions in the UK were lifted.
“Today’s findings show just how much the pandemic has changed our approach to saving and investing. As new investors flocked to the stock market last year, it was easy to assume that it was just a lockdown hobby, and that many would go back to their old spending habits when the world re-opened.” Francis said.
Retail trading apps and platforms like Robinhood and eToro, which allow individuals to invest in stocks and digital assets like crypto currencies via their phones or laptops, saw a surge in popularity throughout the pandemic.
Robinhood, which makes its stock-market debut this week, however noted a slowdown of activity on its platform in the second quarter of this year, which was when lockdown restrictions in many countries eased. In its updated prospectus published on Monday, the company said it expected revenue to drop in the three months to September 30 because of the decline in trading activity.
The US is far removed from the deadliest point in its coronavirus outbreak: The country reported more than 3,000 daily coronavirus deaths in January, compared with less than 275 daily deaths, on average, in the past week.
But average daily deaths surged 22% in the past seven days, following a record low of 30 deaths on July 11. In the past two weeks, average daily deaths rose 33%.
The vast majority these deaths are among unvaccinated Americans: Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC earlier this month that unvaccinated people represented more than 99% of recent coronavirus deaths. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported Friday that more than 97% of people entering hospitals with symptomatic COVID-19 hadn’t received shots.
“We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk, and communities that are fully vaccinated are generally faring well,” Walensky said.
But disease experts worry that allowing the virus to spread among unvaccinated people could give it more opportunities to mutate. That could pose a long-term risk for vaccinated people, too. Already, the Delta variant – now the dominant strain in the US – appears to be more transmissible than any other version of the virus detected so far.
“The worst-case scenario is if Delta mutates into something completely different, a completely different animal, and then our current vaccines are even less effective or ineffective,” Vivek Cherian, an internal-medicine physician in Baltimore, told Insider last month.
Experts also worry that increased transmission could result in more severe breakthrough infections – cases of COVID-19 diagnosed at least two weeks after someone is fully vaccinated – among older people or those who are immunocompromised, since vaccines may already be less effective among these groups.
People over 65 represent about 75% of breakthrough cases that result in hospitalization or death, according to the CDC.
The UK offers insight into what to expect in the US
Disease experts worry that the US could soon follow in the footsteps of the UK, where average deaths have more than doubled in the past two weeks, from 17 to 40 a day. The UK’s average hospitalizations have also increased about 60% during that time, from about 380 to 615 a day.
That’s despite the fact that nearly 70% of UK residents have received at least one vaccine dose.
The country is now administering as many daily vaccine doses as it was in late December, when vaccines were available only to healthcare workers and residents of long-term-care facilities. Just 384,000 daily doses were given out on average over the past week.
Some Americans, particularly in rural counties, may still struggle to access shots, while others can’t afford to take time off work to get vaccinated. But, for the most part, widespread vaccine hesitancy has slowed down vaccination rates.
About 18% of adults surveyed in a recent YouGov poll said they didn’t plan to get vaccinated, while 11% said they were unsure. These rates were significantly higher among Republicans and people in the Midwest and South.
Most vaccine-hesitant people in the survey said they were worried about side effects from coronavirus shots – though studies have shown that vaccine side effects are generally mild and fleeting. The vast majority of them also said they believed that the threat of the virus was exaggerated for political reasons.
Lifting mask and social-distancing mandates could delay herd immunity
Despite lagging vaccination rates, most US states have lifted mask and social-distancing mandates. In states such as Delaware, Florida, Missouri, and South Carolina, masks are recommended but not required for unvaccinated people.
Some disease experts said removing these restrictions too soon could send the wrong message about the state of the pandemic.
“The concern is if you’re on the fence, and then you go outside and you see, ‘Hey, things are back to normal,’ that may decrease the chance of you wanting to even get vaccinated,” Cherian said.
For now, experts are hopeful that the US can still vaccinate at least 70 to 85% of its population – a threshold that may allow the country to reach herd immunity. But a new variant that evades protection from vaccines or prior infection could push that goal even further from view, so public-health officials remain determined to vaccinate more Americans as quickly as possible.
“If you get to that situation, then you essentially get us back to a level” that we were in before March 2020, Cherian said, adding: “That’s just not a place that you want to be.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the UK is delaying lifting COVID-19 restrictions until more people get vaccinated against the virus.
He said at a press briefing on Monday that the restrictions will be in place until at least July 19. The restrictions were due to be lifted on June 21, but reopening has now been pushed back by four weeks.
“By Monday the 19 of July we will aim to have double jabbed two-thirds of the adult population,” Johnson said.
This is a developing story. Please check back for more updates.
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Thursday said that he missed former President Donald Trump and derided President Joe Biden’s pre-G7 summit meeting with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson as “all fluff and happy talk.”
During an appearance on Fox News’s “The Ingraham Angle,” Graham laced into Biden, alleging that the president is not pushing back forcefully against China and Russia.
“We’ve had two cyberattacks on our economy coming from Russian territory, by Russian organizations I think are given a pass by the Russian government,” he said. “They are probably working together, to be honest with you.”
He added: “Is Biden asking the Europeans to do anything to push back against Russian cyberterrorism? Is he even talking about what should we do to rein China in? No. Of course, this is just all fluff and happy talk. I miss Mr. Trump.”
Graham has increasingly raised questions about the coronavirus possibly emanating from a lab in Wuhan, a claim that China has refuted.
“There is no doubt in my mind the combination of prominent scientists coming out strongly against the lab leak theory, along with officials from the State Department shutting down additional inquiries, ended up being two of the most consequential events in the 2020 election cycle,” he wrote in a Fox News op-ed. “Had they given credence to this charge, the whole tenor, tone and focus of the 2020 election would have turned on a dime.”
During his Fox interview, Graham then alleged that bad actors were fearful of Trump.
“Let’s just be honest. The bad guys were afraid of Trump,” he said. “Who’s afraid of Biden? The Europeans are talking about doing a trade deal with China as China dismantles Hong Kong’s democracy and is engaging in genocide against the Uyghurs. So, this just blows my mind.
He added: “They’re talking about going back into the Iranian nuclear deal even though Iran hasn’t changed its behavior at all. I can tell you one thing, the Israelis miss a stronger American president.”
The G7 summit began in Cornwall, a county in southwest England, on Friday – the event is Biden’s first overseas diplomatic summit since he assumed the presidency in January.
Biden will conduct talks with the leaders of the group, which in addition to the United Kingdom includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.
During Biden’s pre-summit talk with Johnson, where the president gifted the prime minister a custom touring bicycle and helmet, the two men also discussed climate change and cyberattacks.
Graham, who was reelected to his fourth term last year, has evolved from a Trump critic to a staunch ally.
Last month, the senator said that was “impossible” for the GOP to move on without Trump as its leader and stated that party members who criticized the former president would “wind up getting erased.”