Cruise ship passengers await Florida deal allowing them to disembark

By Zach Fagenson

MIAMI (Reuters) – The U.S. government and Florida were working on a plan on Wednesday to allow thousands of cruise ship passengers exposed to an onboard coronavirus outbreak to disembark, a day after President Donald Trump urged the governor to drop his opposition to their docking.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said he was not opposed to them docking in his city. But he said a clear protocol was needed to protect residents of his South Florida city from infection.

“There can be no missteps in this process,” he told CNN.

“We have to be comfortable knowing that they are being quarantined in such a way that they do not infect the rest of the community,” Trantalis said.

One of the two Dutch cruise ships involved is Holland America Line’s MS Zaandam. Nearly two-thirds of its passengers, those who passed a medical screening, were moved to the line’s sister ship, the Rotterdam.

Both vessels were on the way to Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, the Zaandam carrying nearly 1,050 passengers and crew, and the Rotterdam almost 1,450.

Florida has reported 6,490 cases of coronavirus, including 251 non-residents, and 85 deaths, according to the state website. It ranks eighth in the number of new cases reported in the past 24 hours, analyst Michael Newshel of investment bank Evercore ISI said in a research note.

For the country as a whole, the tally stands at more than 190,000 reported cases and nearly 4,000 deaths, a toll that shot up by more than 850 on Tuesday, by far the most for a single day. Nearly half of the new fatalities were in New York state, the epicenter of the pandemic despite closed businesses and deserted streets.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a stay-at-home order on Monday for four counties in southern Florida that will last until April 15 and then be reviewed. On Tuesday, he said the White House task force had not recommended a statewide order.

“If they do, that’s something that would carry a lot of weight with me,” DeSantis told reporters.

Florida’s Democrats in the U.S. Congress published an open-letter to DeSantis renewing a call for him to issue a statewide stay-at-home order, saying the decision cannot be left to county and municipal governments.

“This pandemic has not respected global borders so it certainly will not respect county borders,” said the letter, which was signed by U.S. Representative Lois Frankel and 12 other members of Congress.

SICK AND STUCK

Jennifer Allan, whose 75-year-old father and 70-year-old mother are sick and stuck aboard the cruise ship Zaandam, was asked on NBC’s “Today” what she would say if she could speak with DeSantis:

“I would beg him and everybody who has the power to make this happen that we need to look at the humanity of what’s going on right now. There needs to be compassion for these people.

Another Florida official, Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, said the port was being operated by a “unified command” of federal and state agencies discussing the situation.

“As it stands today, they’re going back and forth, working on a plan to ensure that we’re safeguarding the people of Broward County from further spread of this virus, but also seeing how we can find a way to deal with these folks” in a humanitarian manner, Holness said on MSNBC.

GRAPHIC: Tracking the spread of the global coronavirus – https://graphics.reuters.com/CHINA-HEALTH-MAP/0100B59S39E/index.html

NEW MONTH, NEW CONCERNS

With rent and mortgage payments due on Wednesday, the first day of the month, job losses soaring, medical equipment in short supply and a projected coronavirus death toll in the United States of up to 240,000 people, Americans steeled themselves for months of uncertainty.

Medical experts on the U.S. government’s coronavirus task force on Tuesday said they were predicting that even with strict observance of stay-at-home orders and other precautions, between 100,000 to 240,000 people could ultimately die from the respiratory disease.

Public health officials are debating whether to recommend that people wear protective face masks even as an emergency stockpile of medical equipment maintained by the U.S. government has nearly run out of protective gear.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, interviewed on the NBC News “Today” program on Wednesday, said officials were weighing potential new guidelines given the role of asymptomatic people carrying the virus but that people wearing masks should try not to touch their face and should still save N95 masks for healthcare workers.

“Wearing a face covering does not mean that you don’t have to practice social distancing. The most important thing you can do is stay at home right now,” Adams said.

The start of April brings a moment of reckoning for millions who have lost jobs and are forced to stay at home – their rent and mortgage checks are due.

Many Americans have already lost their jobs – last week’s national unemployment claims exceeded 3 million, shattering previous records.

Coronavirus news: https://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?navid=919104201

(Reporting by Susan Heavey, Doina Chiacu, Tim Ahmann, Daniel Trotta and Peter Szekely; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Howard Goller)

Russian plane takes off for U.S. with coronavirus help onboard: state TV

By Andrew Osborn and Polina Devitt

MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian military transport plane took off from an airfield outside Moscow early on Wednesday and headed for the United States with a load of medical equipment and masks to help Washington fight coronavirus, Russian state TV reported.

President Vladimir Putin offered Russian help in a phone conversation with President Donald Trump on Monday, when the two leaders discussed how best to respond to the virus.

The flight, which was organised by the Russian Defence Ministry, is likely to be unpopular with some critics of Trump who have urged him to keep his distance from Putin and who argue that Moscow uses such aid as a geopolitical and propaganda tool to advance its influence, something the Kremlin denies.

“Trump gratefully accepted this humanitarian aid,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov was cited as saying by the Interfax news agency on Tuesday night. Trump himself spoke enthusiastically about the Russian help after his call with Putin.

Russia’s Rossiya 24 channel on Wednesday morning showed the plane taking off from a military air base outside Moscow in darkness. Its cargo hold was filled with cardboard boxes and other packages.

Confirmed U.S. cases have surged to 187,000 and nearly 3,900 people have already died there from COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

In Russia, where some doctors have questioned the accuracy of official data, the official tally of confirmed cases is 2,337 cases with 17 deaths.

Relations between Moscow and Washington have been strained in recent years by everything from Syria to Ukraine to election interference, something Russia denies.

Peskov, Putin’s spokesman, said Moscow hoped the United States might also be able to provide medical help to Russia if necessary when the time came.

“It is important to note that when offering assistance to U.S. colleagues, the president (Putin) assumes that when U.S. manufacturers of medical equipment and materials gain momentum, they will also be able to reciprocate if necessary,” Peskov was cited as saying.

Peskov, who complained about difficulties expediting the aid to the United States thrown up by some U.S. officials, was quoted as saying that Russia and China cooperated in a similar way because “at a time when the current situation affects everyone without exception … there is no alternative to working together in a spirit of partnership and mutual assistance”.

Russia has also used its military to send planeloads of aid to Italy to combat the spread of coronavirus, exposing the European Union’s failure to provide swift help to a member in crisis and handing Putin a publicity coup at home and abroad.

(Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Alison Williams and Andrew Heavens)

Ford, GM, Tesla getting ‘go ahead’ to make ventilators: Trump

Ford, GM, Tesla getting ‘go ahead’ to make ventilators: Trump
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Sunday that U.S. automakers Ford Motor Co, General Motors Co and Tesla Inc had been given the green light to produce ventilators and other items needed during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Ford, General Motors and Tesla are being given the go ahead to make ventilators and other metal products, FAST! @fema Go for it auto execs, lets see how good you are?” he said on Twitter.

(Reporting By Susan Heavey and Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

Trump blasts media as anxious Americans come to grips with coronavirus pandemic

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday capped a tumultuous week as Americans faced sweeping life changes and massive Wall Street losses amid the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak by turning to a familiar playbook: attacking the media.

In a contentious press briefing, the Republican president lashed out at an NBC reporter who noted Trump’s tendency to put an optimistic spin on the situation and asked what his message was to the American people who may be scared.

“I say that you’re a terrible reporter. I think that is a nasty question,” Trump said.

Two of the nation’s most populous states – California and New York – have enacted their toughest restrictions yet affecting some 60 million people, while federal authorities this week moved to close the borders with Canada and Mexico. More than 200 people have died in the United States and over 14,000 cases of the highly contagious respiratory illness had been confirmed by Friday.

Trump and top administration officials for weeks downplayed the outbreak, which began in China in December, before shifting their tone about the severity of the health crisis more recently.

The president, who is running for re-election on Nov. 3, has long sparred with the media, blasting coverage of him as “fake news” and “hoaxes,” and slamming news outlets and journalists on his Twitter feed. His re-election campaign also recently filed lawsuits against several outlets, including the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Yet the crises has propelled Trump recently to give briefings with news outlets nearly every day in the White House briefing room, a place he eschewed during his first three years in office.

On Friday, in a particularly unusual twist, Trump’s first White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, attended the briefing and asked a question in his role working for Newsmax. Spicer repeatedly sparred with reporters during his time as a spokesman early in Trump’s term.

During his recent engagements with the press, Trump has sought to display unabashed optimism despite more sober comments from public health officials, medical experts, state governors and others who have sounded the coronavirus alarm.

One reporter on Thursday asked about the impact on the economy as many businesses have had to dramatically shift operations or shut down entirely during drastic measures to slow the spread of the virus.

“Thanks for telling us. We appreciate it,” Trump said. “What’s the rest of your question? We know that. Everybody in the room knows that.”

Asked last week about his role regarding the disbanding of a National Security Council pandemic preparedness team on his watch, Trump told a PBS reporter: “That’s a nasty question… When you say me, I didn’t do it.”

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Alexandra Alper, and Jeff Mason; writing by Susan Heavey; editing by Bill Berkrot)

After raucous welcome in India, Trump clinches $3 billion military equipment sale

By Steve Holland and Aftab Ahmed

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that India will buy $3 billion worth of military equipment, including attack helicopters, as the two countries deepen defense and commercial ties in an attempt to balance the weight of China in the region.

India and the United States were also making progress on a big trade deal, Trump said. Negotiators from the two sides have wrangled for months to narrow differences on farm goods, medical devices, digital trade and new tariffs.

Trump was accorded a massive reception in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state on Monday, with more than 100,000 people filling into a cricket stadium for a “Namaste Trump” rally.

On Tuesday, Trump sat down for one-on-one talks with Modi followed by delegation-level meetings to try and move forward on issues that have divided them, mainly the festering trade dispute.

After those meetings, Trump said his visit had been productive with the conclusion of deals to buy helicopters for the Indian military. India is buying 24 SeaHawk helicopters from Lockheed Martin equipped with Hellfire missiles worth $2.6 billion and also plans a follow-on order for six Apache helicopters.

India is modernizing its military to narrow the gap with China and has increasingly turned to the United States over traditional supplier, Russia.

Trump said the two countries were also making progress on a trade deal, which had been an area of growing friction between them.

“Our teams have made tremendous progress on a comprehensive trade agreement and I’m optimistic we can reach a deal that will be of great importance to both countries,” said Trump in remarks made alongside Modi.

The two countries had initially planned to produce a “mini deal”, but that proved elusive.

Instead both sides are now aiming for a bigger package, including possibly a free trade agreement.

Trump said he also discussed with Modi, whom he called his “dear friend”, the importance of a secure 5G telecoms network in India, ahead of a planned airwaves auction by the country.

The United States has banned Huawei, arguing the use of its kit creates the potential for espionage by China – a claim denied by Huawei and Beijing – but India, where telecoms companies have long used network gear from the Chinese firm, is yet to make a call.

Trump described Monday’s rally in Ahmedabad and again praised Modi and spoke of the size of the crowd, claiming there were “thousands of people outside trying to get in..

“I would even imagine they were there more for you than for me, I would hope so,” he told Modi. “The people love you…every time I mentioned your name, they would cheer.”

In New Delhi, Trump was given a formal state welcome on Tuesday at the red sandstone presidential palace with a 21-cannon gun salute and a red coated honor guard on horseback on a smoggy day.

HUG GETS TIGHTER

India is one of the few big countries in the world where Trump’s personal approval rating is above 50% and Trump’s trip has got wall-to-wall coverage with commentators saying he had hit all the right notes on his first official visit to the world’s biggest democracy.

They were also effusive in their praise for Modi for pulling off a spectacular reception for Trump.

“Modi-Trump hug gets tighter,” ran a headline in the Times of India.

But in a sign of the underlying political tensions in India, violent protests broke out in Delhi on Monday over a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against Muslims and is a further attempt to undermine the secular foundations of India’s democracy. They say the law is part of a pattern of divisiveness being followed by Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.

At least 7 people were killed and about 150 injured in the clashes that took place in another part of the capital, away from the center of the city where Modi is hosting Trump.

In his speech on Monday, Trump extolled India’s rise as a stable and prosperous democracy as one of the achievements of the century. “You have done it as a tolerant country. And you have done it as a great, free country,” he said.

Delhi has also been struggling with high air pollution and on Tuesday the air quality was moderately poor at 193 on a government index that measures pollution up to a scale of 500. The WHO considers anything above 60 as unhealthy.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, Aftab Ahmed, Neha Dasgupta; Writing by Sanjeev Miglani Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)

U.S. Supreme Court skeptical of law against encouraging illegal immigration

By Andrew Chung

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday signaled skepticism toward a federal law that made it a felony to encourage illegal immigrants to come or stay in the United States as they heard a bid by President Donald Trump’s administration to revive the measure after it was struck down by a lower court.

The nine justices heard arguments in the administration’s appeal after the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals invalidated the law as a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

Conservative and liberal justices alike expressed concern that the decades-old law may be too broad, repeatedly pressing the administration about what kind of speech could be criminalized.

Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, asked whether it would be illegal for a grandmother to tell a grandchild who was in the United States unlawfully, “I encourage you to stay.” Other justices wondered about the work of lawyers or charities and whether their speech could be impaired.

The case involves Evelyn Sineneng-Smith, a U.S. citizen who ran an immigration consultancy in San Jose, California, and was convicted of violating the law.

It is one of a number of immigration-related appeals the Supreme Court is handling during its term that ends in June. The justices in November heard Trump’s bid to rescind a program that protects from deportation hundreds of thousands of young people known as “Dreamers” who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

Trump has made restricting both legal and illegal immigration a centerpiece of his presidency and his re-election bid this year.

Sineneng-Smith was convicted in 2013 of violating the law, which bars inducing or encouraging an illegal immigrant to “come to, enter or reside” in the United States, including for financial gain. She also was convicted of mail fraud, and was sentenced to 18 months in prison and three years of supervised release.

A federal grand jury in 2010 charged Sineneng-Smith, accusing her of making money by duping illegal migrants into paying her to file frivolous visa applications while remaining in the country indefinitely. Her business primarily served Filipinos who worked as home healthcare providers.

The 9th Circuit in 2018 ruled that the law must be struck down because it is overly broad, prompting the Trump administration’s appeal to the Supreme Court.

The administration said the law is not meant to catch protected speech, but rather to stop people who would facilitate or solicit illegal immigration and enrich themselves by doing so.

The law threatens anything that could inspire or embolden illegal immigrants, including the thousands of messages of support for Dreamers that flooded the internet after the justices heard arguments in that case last November, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil rights group, said in a court filing.

(Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)

Trump: No election help wanted or received from any country

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that no country was trying to help him win the November election, after a top intelligence official told lawmakers Russia was interfering in the 2020 presidential vote to help Trump win a second term.

“I want no help from any country and I haven’t been given help from any country,” Trump told reporters at a news briefing as he concluded a two-day visit to India.

After the congressional briefing, Trump ousted the acting intelligence chief, Joseph Maguire, and replaced him with a political loyalist.

At the news conference, Trump denied reports that Maguire had been ousted from the top spy job, saying he needed to be replaced because of “statute.”

Trump has said he will announce his pick soon for the job, which requires Senate confirmation.

The U.S. intelligence community concluded that Russia had meddled in the 2016 election, though Moscow has denied the assessments. Trump, who is sensitive to doubts over the legitimacy of his win, has questioned those findings and repeatedly criticized American intelligence agencies.

U.S. officials have also said recently that Russia has been mounting disinformation and propaganda campaigns to help Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination in this year’s election.

The United States would act against Russia or any other country if they tried “to undermine our democratic processes,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington.

He did not provide details on what responses Washington would consider, or what kind of activities by foreign actors would solicit a U.S. retaliation.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Writing by Makini Brice; Editing by Alex Richardson and Bernadette Baum)

Russia denies backing Trump re-election, critics express alarm

By Anastasia Teterevleva and Susan Heavey

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Kremlin on Friday denied Russia was interfering in the 2020 U.S. presidential campaign to boost President Donald Trump’s re-election chances following reports that American intelligence officials warned Congress about the election threat last week.

U.S. intelligence officials told members of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee in a classified briefing last week that Russia was again interfering in American politics ahead of November’s election, a person familiar with the discussion told Reuters.

Trump has since ousted the acting intelligence chief, replacing him this week with a political loyalist in an abrupt move as Democrats and former U.S. officials raised the alarm over national security concerns.

On Twitter, the Republican president accused Democrats in Congress of launching a misinformation campaign “saying that Russia prefers me to any of the Do Nothing Democrat candidates.” Trump called it a “hoax” in his Friday tweet.

U.S. officials have long warned that Russia and other countries would seek to interfere in the Nov. 3 presidential election, following Russia’s meddling in the 2016 campaign that ended with Trump’s surprise victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that the Kremlin used disinformation operations, cyber attacks and other methods in its 2016 operation in an effort to boost Trump, an allegation that Russia denies. Trump, sensitive to doubts over the legitimacy of his win, has also questioned that finding and repeatedly criticized American intelligence agencies.

On Friday, the Kremlin said the latest allegations were false.

“These are more paranoid announcements which, to our regret, will multiply as we get closer to the (U.S.) election,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters. “They have nothing to do with the truth.”

Russia’s alleged interference sparked a two-year-long U.S. investigation headed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

Mueller found no conclusive evidence of coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign. He also pointed at 10 instances in which Trump may have attempted to obstruct his investigation, as Democrats alleged, but left any finding of obstruction to Congress.

Trump is seeking a second term in office.

Last July, he called on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to investigate one of his potential Democratic rivals, former Vice President Joe Biden, sparking his impeachment in the Democratic-controlled House.

Trump, who was later acquitted by the Republican-led U.S. Senate, has also publicly called on China to probe Biden.

Last week’s classified congressional briefing sparked a sharp response by Trump, who rebuked acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire for allowing his staff to brief the lawmakers, including Democratic House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who led the impeachment inquiry, the New York Times reported, quoting five people familiar with the matter.

Trump then dismissed Maguire, announcing this week that Richard Grenell, a Trump loyalist, would be the acting intelligence chief, even as he continues serving as U.S. ambassador to Germany. His appointment drew sharp rebukes from Democrats and other critics who said Grenell lacked intelligence experience.

Trump tweeted on Friday that four candidates were being considered for the permanent post of intelligence head and that a decision would come in the next few weeks.

‘NATIONAL SECURITY THREAT’

“This is a crisis,” former CIA Director John Brennan told MSNBC in an interview on Friday, citing concerns that Trump was seeking to “squelch” critical intelligence.

Schiff, in a Thursday tweet, said if the reports are true, Trump “is again jeopardizing our efforts to stop foreign meddling. Exactly as we warned he would do.”

“Trump is not only trying to rewrite history of Russia’s intervention in 2016, he is now using the power of the presidency to conceal their 2020 scheme to re-elect him. Dangerous!” former Deputy U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates tweeted on Friday.

Democrats seeking to challenge Trump also raised concerns.

Biden, in a CNN town hall event on Thursday, said he was “not surprised” at the reported Russian meddling and that he had no confidence in Grenell.

“This is a national security threat,” Senator Elizabeth Warren told MSNBC on Thursday and criticized Senate Republicans for not acting to secure an election that is less than nine months away.

Trump’s last full-time director of national intelligence, former Republican Senator Dan Coats, resigned last year after his differences with the president over Russia’s role in the 2016 election became public.

Trump has repeatedly called the U.S. Russia probe and the impeachment inquiry a “witch hunt.”

His fellow Republicans at last week’s briefing questioned the information, according to the person familiar with the discussion, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity.

Republican members of the panel did not respond to a request for comment, but Republican Representative Doug Collins, in a television interview on Friday, echoed Trump’s allegations of politicization at U.S. intelligence agencies.

“Something needs to be done to clean up these agencies,” he told Fox Business Network.

(Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva and Maria Kiselyova in Moscow; Susan Heavey, Makini Brice and Jonathan Landay in Washington; and Steve Holland in Las Vegas; Editing by Andrew Osborn, Mary Milliken and Jonathan Oatis)

Dogged by impeachment, Trump goes head to head with Congress in big speech

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – With the impeachment drive against him ebbing, U.S. President Donald Trump will face his Democratic accusers on Tuesday night at a State of the Union speech where he is expected to push his case for another four years in office.

Trump, a Republican, may be tempted to lash out at the Democratic critics seated before him in the U.S. House of Representatives, seeing it as a chance for payback against those who sought to oust him through what he calls a “witch hunt.”

Some of his aides and allies, however, are pressing for him to avoid a confrontation.

The Republican-led Senate is almost certain to end the impeachment drive on Wednesday with a vote to acquit him. His speech, which starts at 9 p.m. ET (0200 GMT) on Tuesday, affords Trump the opportunity to advance his message for what is likely to be a hard-fought battle for re-election on Nov. 3.

Aides say there has been an internal debate inside the White House over whether he should even bring up impeachment in his speech.

U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose fellow Democrats charged Trump with abuse of power and obstruction of justice over his efforts to pressure Ukraine to investigate his Democratic opponents, told the New York Times they would treat him “as a guest … and we hope he will behave as a guest.”

But, she added: “I think the spotlight that is on him will be very hot for him to handle.”

A senior administration official said on Monday night that Trump was not expected to delve deeply into the issue, if at all, but acknowledged that this could always change.

Trump himself has said he plans an upbeat speech offering an optimistic vision at a time when Washington – and the rest of the country – is polarized over his leadership.

“We’re really looking to giving a very, very positive message,” Trump told reporters during a Super Bowl party at his golf club in West Palm Beach, Florida, on Sunday.

Senator Pat Roberts, a Kansas Republican and strong Trump supporter, told reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday that Trump would help himself by taking the high road.

“I hope he will smother people with the milk of human kindness,” Roberts said.

Asked if Trump could turn impeachment to his advantage by being gracious about it going forward, Roberts said, “Could. Some of us have urged that.”

The theme of Trump’s speech is “The Great American Comeback.” He plans to highlight the strength of the U.S. economy and achievements to support it like a China trade deal and another trade pact with Mexico and Canada.

Trump is also expected to offer to work with his political opponents on issues like reducing healthcare costs and drug prices and rebuilding infrastructure, officials said.

But with the two parties immersed in election-year politicking, no major legislative action is expected this year.

Trump is expected to contrast his vision for healthcare with the plans advanced by his Democratic rivals, a reference to left-leaning proposals by two of the Democratic presidential candidates he frequently attacks, Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

He is also expected to promote his efforts to limit migrants from crossing the southern U.S. border, and will bring two relatives of a man who was killed by an undocumented immigrant as guests to the speech, White House spokeswoman Stephanie Grisham told Fox News in an interview on Tuesday morning.

Trump will also highlight national security moves such as his decision to kill Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani with a U.S. drone strike.

Still, the president held out little hope for bipartisan cooperation this year in the wake of the impeachment fight, saying he doubted Democrats would want to work with him.

“I’m not sure that they can do it, to be honest,” Trump told the Fox network in a Super Bowl Sunday interview.

Pelosi, who will be seated behind Trump when he addresses Congress, told the Times in her interview Monday that she had not spoken to Trump since October.

The State of the Union speech is attended by Democratic and Republican lawmakers from both the House and the Senate as well as such VIP guests as Cabinet secretaries and Supreme Court justices. The television audience for last year’s speech was estimated at 47 million people.

(Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Jeff Mason; Editing by Howard Goller)