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Trump contradicts CDC director on vaccine timeline, Barr slams DOJ prosecutors and your own T.rex?

"He made a mistake," President Donald Trump said about head of the CDC's Senate testimony.
Image: Senate Appropriations Committee Holds Hearing On Response By HHS To Coroanavirus Pandemic
CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said face masks are the most "powerful public health tool" the country has against Covid-19 during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday. Anna Moneymaker / Pool via Getty Images

Good morning, NBC News readers.

President Donald Trump and the head of the CDC are at loggerheads over the timeline for a Covid-19 vaccine and the efficacy of masks.

Here's what we're watching this Thursday morning.

Trump contradicts CDC director on Covid-19 vaccines, masks

President Trump said Wednesday that a Covid-19 vaccine could be ready for widespread distribution as early as mid-October — hours after the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention testified it likely would not be ready for all Americans until the middle of next year.

"We’re all set to distribute immediately. We are set to — it could be in October, or in November. It could be later than that, but I think it will be in October," Trump told reporters during a news briefing.

"We will be able to distribute at least 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020. And a large number much sooner than that," Trump said.

Just hours earlier in testimony before a Senate committee, CDC Director Robert Redfield said a vaccine likely wouldn't be ready until late November or December and that it would initially be "very limited supply and will have to be prioritized."

Redfield testified it would probably take "six to nine" months to get every American vaccinated and predicted that the U.S. would be able to return to "regular life" by late next year.

"I think he made a mistake when he said that. It’s just incorrect information," Trump said when asked by reporters about Redfield's timeline. "Under no circumstance will it be as late as the doctor said."

Trump also took aim at Redfield saying during his Senate testimony that face masks are the most "powerful public health tool" the country has against Covid-19.

"We have clear scientific evidence they work, and they are our best defense," Redfield said. "I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine."

Trump rejected that notion and said Redfield "made a mistake" in his testimony. "Vaccine is much more effective than the mask," Trump said

Asked why people should trust him over his CDC director, Trump said "because of the great job" he's done.

Earlier on Wednesday, the CDC released sweeping plans to distribute vaccines free to all Americans within a day of emergency use authorization or full approval.

Trump's White House news briefing came shortly after Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that he doesn’t trust Trump to safely oversee the federal government’s approval and dissemination of a Covid-19 vaccine.

"I trust vaccines, I trust scientists, but I don’t trust Donald Trump," Biden said during a speech in Wilmington, Delaware.

Meantime, there was also a big shake-up at the Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday.

The agency announced that its top spokesman, Michael Caputo, was taking a leave of absence days after he promoted dangerous conspiracy theories during a Facebook Live video.

In the video, first reported by The New York Times, Caputo, HHS' assistant secretary for public affairs, claimed that "there are scientists who work for this government who do not want America to get well, not until after Joe Biden is president."

He also urged Trump supporters to load up on ammunition in preparation for a violent left-wing rebellion if the president wins re-election.

Sally threatens slow and disastrous drenching across Deep South

Even though Sally is no longer a hurricane, the threat was far from over Wednesday night as it moved inland as a tropical depression, soaking the coastal communities in its path.

The system threatened to lash much of the coastal region near the Florida-Alabama border with heavy rain and flooding into Thursday, officials said.

The storm was "causing torrential rains over eastern Alabama and Western Georgia," the National Hurricane Center said in a bulletin late Wednesday.

Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, said the slow-moving storm could be particularly damaging.

"If they aren't moving along and they just kind of sit there, you're going to get a ridiculous amount of rain," he said.

Could Trump's economic message land with Latinos?

In some corners of the Latino community, Trump's economic comeback message appears to be giving him an opening where it matters most six weeks before the election — at the margins.

Strategists in both parties say they see an opportunity for Trump to connect with the message that his policies fueled a strong economy — including record low unemployment among Latinos — before the coronavirus struck and that he is leading a recovery that would be endangered if Biden wins in November.

"One of the reasons that the president is having success with Latino voters is because he is trusted by them on the economy," former Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., said Monday in an interview on MSNBC. "The Hispanic community, especially here in the state of Florida, is an entrepreneurial community."

Meantime, younger voters appear to favor Biden over Trump — but a new poll analysis shows they’re not wild about either candidate.

Barr blasts his own DOJ prosecutors, equates them to 'headhunters'

The Justice Department has recently acted "more like a trade association for federal prosecutors than the administrator of a fair system of justice," Attorney General William Barr said in an scathing speech Wednesday likely to further strain relations with department prosecutors.

Too much deference is given to career prosecutors, who can too often become "headhunters, consumed with taking down their targets," he said in remarks at Hillsdale College, a conservative, privately funded university in Michigan.

Barr has been criticized by current and former government lawyers for interfering in the prosecutions of Trump associates Michael Flynn and Roger Stone. Career Justice Department lawyers quit the prosecution teams in both cases.

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Quote of the day

"These face masks are the most important, powerful, public health tool we have."

— Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield testifying before a Senate appropriations subcommittee on Wednesday.

One fun thing

Looking for your very own T.rex?

The auction house Christie's has got you covered. But you're going to need a big room — and a lot of money.

Christie’s plans to sell the skeleton of one of the largest known Tyrannosaurus rexes in early October, the company said Wednesday.

Talk about a unique gift. The dinosaur known as "STAN," is approximately 67 million years old and was discovered in 1987 in South Dakota by amateur paleontologist Stan Sacrison.

STAN stands about 13 feet high and 40 feet long. He could be yours for $6-8 million, Christie's estimated value.

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Thanks, Petra