Friday morning news – May 1, 2020

3.8 million Americans filed jobless claims last week » Another 3.8 million American workers filed jobless claims last week as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on the global economy.

The U.S. unemployment rate is now estimated at about 18-and-a-half percent. 

With some states beginning to slowly reopen, the question remains—how long will the economic pain last? 

At the White House Thursday, President Trump said he’s optimistic. 

TRUMP: Well I think we’re going to have a great third quarter. It’s going to be a transition, so when I say great, I think the transition’s going to be really terrific. And we’re going to take it into the fourth, and I think we’re going to have potentially a great fourth quarter. 

The president also predicted a strong economy in 2021. 

Confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases pass 1 million, but officials cite progress » The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States passed 1 million this week. But overall, the number of new cases is on the decline. 

And health officials celebrated good news this week with a successful study of the drug remdesivir as a treatment for the virus.

Also pharmaceutical giant Pfizer said it’s making rapid progress on a possible vaccine. And it could even be ready for emergency use by the fall

But that is a best-case scenario. Only a small percentage of new vaccines pass all of the tests necessary to make it to market. 

White House health advisers maintain that a coronavirus vaccine is likely at least a year away.

U.S. intel community: coronavirus not manmade, origin still unclear » U.S. intelligence agencies have officially determined that the coronavirus was not the result of any biological weapons program. That according to a statement from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

It said the intel community—quote—“concurs with the wide scientific consensus that the COVID-19 virus was not manmade or genetically modified.”

But the statement added that intel agencies are still trying to determine whether the outbreak resulted from an accident at a Chinese lab in Wuhan. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday that in any event, there’s no question the Chinese government engaged in a coverup. 

POMPEO: There will come a time when not only the United States, but I think the entire world, will come to understand what took place. And I think in the end the Chinese Communist Party will ultimately be held accountable for what they did. 

He added, “The mere fact that we don’t know the answers—that China hasn’t shared the answers—I think is very, very telling.”

Pompeo also pressed China to let outside experts into the lab “so that we can determine precisely where this virus began.” The Chinese government has so far refused.

Unsealed FBI documents raise new questions about probe of Michael Flynn » Newly unsealed FBI documents reveal that Peter Strzok kept open an investigation into then national security adviser Michael Flynn. WORLD’s Sarah Schweinsberg has that story.  

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: The documents show that before Strzok intervened, the operation was slated to close because it found no wrongdoing by Flynn. 

Peter Strzok is the former head of FBI counterintelligence. He became the center of a big controversy during the Russia probe after anti-Trump text messages he exchanged with his mistress, Lisa Page, went public. Page was an FBI attorney at the time. 

The unsealed documents show Strzok asked the investigating agent not to close the case. A short time later, he texted Page to let her know the probe was still open. 

In one text, he admitted to editing notes from a 2017 interview with Flynn. He said—quote—“I was trying to completely rewrite the thing.”

Documents unsealed this week also revealed that top FBI officials discussed their motivation for questioning Flynn. And they openly asked if their goal was “to get him to lie, so we can prosecute him or get him fired.” 

Flynn pleaded guilty in 2017 to making false statements to Strzok and another agent. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Sarah Schweinsberg. 

White House remarks could signal future pardon for Flynn » President Trump reacted Thursday to the latest revelations in the Flynn case. He tweeted—quote—“What happened to General Michael Flynn, a war hero, should never be allowed to happen to a citizen of the United States again!”

In a Thursday interview, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway wouldn’t say if the president plans to pardon Flynn, but she told Fox News…

CONWAY: This man was set up from the beginning. He probably thought they were coming in to be helpful, since we had been on the job for four days. The president has made clear for all three years that Michael Flynn was treated very unfairly. Now we know it was probably criminal, what was done to him.   

But if Fynn’s attorneys get their way, a possible pardon would be a moot point. They are lobbying to withdraw his guilty plea, citing “egregious” misconduct by the FBI. 

Biden, Sanders strike deal for convention delegates » Presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden struck a deal this week with former rival Bernie Sanders. It will allow Sanders to keep hundreds of delegates … giving the socialist senator more sway over the direction of the party. WORLD’s Anna Johansen reports. 

ANNA JOHANSEN, REPORTER: The deal lets the Vermont senator keep a little more than 300 delegates that, under party rules, he forfeited when he suspended his campaign.

Sanders delegates will get seats on key convention committees that will draft the party’s platform. That gives Sanders and his supporters more influence to push the party further to the left

Biden benefits by avoiding the bitter feelings that clouded Hillary Clinton’s nomination four years ago when many Sanders supporters refused to back her.

Separately, Biden aides remain in negotiations with Sanders and progressive groups on a range of policy matters. Biden has noted for months that his policy slate already is to the left of previous nominees, including Clinton and Barack Obama. 

Reporting for WORLD, I’m Anna Johansen.

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon) President Donald Trump speaks about protecting seniors, in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, April 30, 2020, in Washington. 

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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