Donald Trump is speaking at a campaign event in Arizona. According to the press pool, about five hundred people are in attendance, with no social distancing. Many of the supporters are reportedly wearing MAGA face masks.
Arizona governor Doug Ducey is among those who will speak alongside Trump. As part of yesterday’s Democratic National Convention programming, Kristin Urquiza — who was mourning her father who died of Covid-19, delivered a stinging rebuke of Ducey and Trump.
“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old,” Urquiza said. “His only pre-existing condition was trusting Donald Trump, and for that, he paid with his life.”
Earlier this year, Urquiza also wrote an obituary for her father in which blamed his death on the “carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk”.
Notre Dame University has canceled in-person classes for two weeks after starting the semester on 10 August. Students will be allowed to stay on campus, but activities will be limited and large gatherings barred.
Yesterday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill also decided to switch to remote learning after at least 130 students tested positive for coronavirus.
Sam Levine reports:
In an unprecedented move, Louisiana’s top election official wants to require a positive Covid-19 test if a voter wants to vote absentee over concerns about the virus. This comes amid a lack of consistent access to testing in the state.
Louisiana is one of seven states that will still require an excuse to vote by mail this year, only allowing absentee voting if a voter is aged 65 or older or meets certain other conditions such as temporary absence from their county or hospitalization.
For its elections in July and August, Louisiana eased those restrictions for voters at risk of developing complications from Covid-19 or who had potential exposure to the virus. But under secretary of state Kyle Ardoin’s proposal for the state’s November and December elections released Monday, those accommodations won’t apply. Instead, a voter would need to test positive for Covid-19 between the end of early voting and election day, currently a week-long period to use the hospitalization excuse to request a mail-in ballot.
The proposal from Ardoin, a Republican, comes as Louisiana has seen lags in testing, meaning a voter could get tested and not have their results in time to be able to request a mail-in ballot. Louisiana has seen 138,485 cases of Covid-19 and 4,526 deaths so far. In April, African Americans accounted for 70% of Covid-19 deaths in the state.
That’s it from me for now. I will be back tonight to cover the second night of the Democratic convention.
Here’s where the day stands so far:
- Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced he was suspending operational changes to the US Postal Service until after the presidential election. Amid accusations that the Trump administration was purposely seeking to slow mail services to help the president’s reelection effort, DeJoy said he was delaying cost-cutting measures to USPS until after November in order to “avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
- House speaker Nancy Pelosi said DeJoy’s decision was “insufficient” to address concerns about voter suppression. “This pause only halts a limited number of the Postmaster’s changes, does not reverse damage already done, and alone is not enough to ensure voters will not be disenfranchised by the President this fall,” Pelosi said.
- DeJoy will testify before the Senate homeland security and governmental affairs on Friday. The postmaster general will also appear before the House oversight committee on Monday, and congressional Democrats say they intend to press DeJoy on whether he will reverse changes already made to USPS operations that have slowed mail delivery.
- The Republican-led Senate intelligence committee released a bipartisan report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The report describes an extensive web of contact between high-ranking Trump campaign officials, including campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and people with ties to Russian intelligence.
- Trump mocked Michelle Obama’s widely praised speech at the Democratic convention last night, in which the former first lady argued the president was the wrong man for the job during an unprecedented moment of crisis for the country. Trump told Obama to “sit back and watch” as he sailed to reelection, even though national polls show the president trailing Joe Biden by several points.
My west coast colleague, Maanvi Singh, will have more coming up, so stay tuned.
Trump has arrived in Yuma, Arizona, for his campaign event on immigration and border security.
According to the president’s reelection campaign, Trump will deliver remarks on “Joe Biden’s failures on immigration and border security.”
The event is part of Trump’s counterprogramming to the virtual Democratic convention this week. He held similar events yesterday in Minnesota and Wisconsin, two other states he hopes to carry in November.
A former Trump administration official who endorsed Joe Biden said he has heard officials are “digging up dirt” on him.
Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff at the department of homeland security under Trump, said in a tweet, “Hearing @DHSgov White House Liaison has been tasked with ‘digging up dirt’ on me. No worries—I can take it! But another possible case of WH using DHS and taxpayer $$ for political purposes.”
Taylor announced his endorsement of Biden in a video released yesterday by the group Republican Voters Against Trump.
“What we saw week in and week out, for me, after two and a half years in that administration, was terrifying,” Taylor says in the video.
“Given what I have experienced in the administration, I have to support Joe Biden for president and even though I am not a Democrat, even though I disagree on key issues, I’m confident that Joe Biden will protect the country and I’m confident that he won’t make the same mistakes as this President.”
Trump lashed out against Taylor in a tweet this morning, mocking him as a “disgruntled employee” and a “real ‘stiff’”.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a critical statement on Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s decision to postpone operational changes to the US Postal Service until after the election.
The Democratic speaker described DeJoy’s decision as a “necessary but insufficient first step in ending the President’s election sabotage campaign.”
“This pause only halts a limited number of the Postmaster’s changes, does not reverse damage already done, and alone is not enough to ensure voters will not be disenfranchised by the President this fall,” Pelosi said.
The speaker noted the House would still vote Saturday on a bill aimed at maintaining USPS’ pre-pandemic level of operations. The House oversight committee will also hold a hearing with DeJoy on Monday.
“During a pandemic, the Postal Service is Election Central,” Pelosi said. “No one should be forced to choose between their health and their vote.”
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell indicated Democratic calls to provide more funding to the US Postal Service may present an opportunity to reopen coronavirus relief negotiations.
But the Republican leader said he would not support a bill that only allocates more money to USPS.
“I don’t think we’ll pass, in the Senate, a postal-only bill,” McConnell told the Louisville Courier Journal.
Negotiations over the next coronavirus relief bill stalled earlier this month, after the White House and Democratic congressional leaders failed to reach an agreement on the overall cost of the package.
McConnell indicated the conflict over USPS could present a negotiating opportunity, but Democrats may be hesitant to make concessions on other aspects of the relief bill in order to fund mail services, which they have described as fundamental to US democracy.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi intends to hold a vote on a bill regarding USPS on Saturday.
The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s announcement that he was postponing operational changes to USPS came after days of heavy scrutiny and on the day more than 20 states were set to file a lawsuit challenging the changes.
On Sunday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also recalled the House of Representatives to Washington to deal with USPS funding.
There were protests outside DeJoy’s home last weekend and the postmaster general is set to appear before the Senate committee on homeland security and governmental affairs on Friday and the House oversight committee next week. The USPS inspector general is also investigating the changes.
USPS has always maintained it has the capacity to deliver election mail in the fall, but many experts expressed deep concern about whether the reported delays would affect the November election.
Ron Stroman, who stepped down as the number two official at USPS in June, told the Guardian last week that making operational changes just months before the election was “a high-risk proposition”.
Democratic Senator Gary Peters expressed lingering concerns about the US Postal Service, despite Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s announcement that he would delay operational changes until after the presidential election.
Peters is the top Democrat on the Senate homeland security and governmental affairs committee, which will hold a hearing with DeJoy on Friday.
“There is simply no excuse for why Postmaster General DeJoy began instituting changes that have severely disrupted service for Michiganders and people in communities all across the country during an unprecedented public health and economic crisis,” Peters said in a statement.
“While it is a positive development that the Postmaster General says he will be temporarily rolling back some of these harmful changes as I have demanded – there are still too many unanswered questions.”
Peters specifically questioned whether DeJoy would be restoring mail sorting machines that had already been removed from some USPS locations and whether he was leaving any of his already-implemented changes in place. The Michigan senator pledged to press DeJoy on those issues during Friday’s hearing.
Peters said, “Given how much the American people are relying on the Postal Service during these challenging times, the Postmaster General should not making any changes that put mail delivery at risk before the election or for the duration of the Coronavirus public health emergency.”
Criminal justice activist Alice Johnson, who received a commutation from Trump in 2018, will address the Republican convention next week.
Johnson announced she had been booked to speak at the convention in an interview with the Daily Beast.
“I’ll be there talking about criminal justice reform, that is my main mission,” Johnson told the Daily Beast. “I’m there because I’ve been affected by our criminal justice system, and that’s my mission.”
Trump commuted Johnson’s life sentence on federal cocaine trafficking charges two years ago, after celebrity Kim Kardashian brought the case to the president’s attention.
Trump and his allies have since sought to highlight Johnson’s commutation as a way to paint the president as a champion on criminal justice reform.
However, the president has been generally resistant to changes in policing since the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer in May.
Former second lady Jill Biden will address the virtual Democratic convention tonight, and NBC News has details on her speech.
According to NBC, Biden, a longtime teacher, will focus her remarks on the challenges facing schools amid the coronavirus pandemic and the ways Joe Biden’s presidency could ease the return to the classroom.
Biden will also offer a more personal endorsement of her husband through the lens of his family life.
House speaker Nancy Pelosi has released a statement on the Senate intelligence committee’s bipartisan report on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“The Senate’s bipartisan report further exposes the alarming lengths to which Donald Trump and his campaign welcomed and relied on a hostile foreign power’s interference in the 2016 election,” Pelosi said.
Pelosi specifically called out Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell for not taking up a House-passed bill focused on protecting US elections.
“This report is a chilling reminder that Leader McConnell’s obstruction of meaningful election security legislation is leaving our democracy exposed to foreign attack,” Pelosi said.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy announced he was postponing changes to USPS operations until after the election, following widespread criticism of his actions.
However, it’s unclear whether mail sorting machines that have already been removed will be restored and whether letter carriers will be allowed to take extra trips to ensure timely delivery of mail.
So concerns remain about whether voters, particularly voters of color, will have reliable access to mail-in ballots for November’s presidential election.
The Guardian’s Sam Levine reports:
There have been reports of widespread mail delays across the US in recent weeks. Postal workers and Democrats have blamed recent changes Postmaster General Louis DeJoy implemented, including cutting overtime and telling workers to leave the mail behind if it was going to delay them on routes.
Trump said last week he opposed additional funding for USPS because it would make it easier to vote by mail, a key method for voting under the coronavirus pandemic.
DeJoy, a major Republican donor without prior USPS experience, said in a statement that post office hours would not change, mail processing facilities would not close, and equipment, including mailboxes, would not be removed. He also said the agency would continue to approve overtime.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy will likely discuss his decision to back away from the proposed operational changes to USPS when he testifies before Congress.
DeJoy has agreed to testify before the Senate homeland security and governmental affairs committee on Friday, and he will appear before the House oversight committee on Monday.
The decision to postpone the operational changes until after the election will certainly allay some of Democrats’ concerns, but they will still likely press DeJoy on ensuring reliable mail services for the election, especially because so many more Americans will be voting by mail this year due to the pandemic.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy has just announced he will delay operational changes to the US Postal Service until after November’s presidential election.
In a new statement DeJoy said he still believed the changes he implemented, which prompted accusations that he and Trump were trying to hamper voting by mail, were necessary.
However, DeJoy decided to postpone the changes until after November “to avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail.”
“I came to the Postal Service to make changes to secure the success of this organization and its long-term sustainability. I believe significant reforms are essential to that objective, and work toward those reforms will commence after the election,” DeJoy said.
“In the meantime, there are some longstanding operational initiatives — efforts that predate my arrival at the Postal Service — that have been raised as areas of concern as the nation prepares to hold an election in the midst of a devastating pandemic.
“To avoid even the appearance of any impact on election mail, I am suspending these initiatives until after the election is concluded.”
The announcement will come as a relief to Democrats, who accused the president of trying to suppress the vote by slowing mail services.
This is Joan Greve in Washington, taking over for Lauren Aratani.
The Senate intelligence committee released a bipartisan report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the panel’s findings appear to be even more detailed than those of special counsel Robert Mueller.
One important finding to note: the committee concluded that Trump discussed the Democratic emails released by WikiLeaks with his former associate, Roger Stone, even though he told Mueller he did not recall doing so.
The report says, “Despite Trump’s recollection, the committee assesses that Trump did, in fact, speak with Stone about WikiLeaks and with members of his campaign about Stone’s access to WikiLeaks on multiple occasions.”
The committee also concluded that the presidential transition team’s inexperience and willingness to conduct diplomacy through unofficial channels left the team open to foreign influence.
“Russia and other countries took advantage of the Transition Team’s inexperience, transparent opposition to Obama Administration policies, and Trump’s desire to deepen ties with Russia, to pursue unofficial channels through which Russia could conduct diplomacy,” the report said.
“The lack of vetting of foreign interactions by Transition officials left the Transition open to influence and manipulation by foreign intelligence services, government leaders, and co-opted business executives.”
Here’s what has happened so far today:
- The Senate Intelligence Committee released a bipartisan report on Russian interference in the 2016 election. The report, the fifth volume in the investigation, gave more details about connections to Russian Donald Trump’s campaign team had during the election.
- Head of the US Postal Service Louis DeJoy is set to testify in front of the Senate Oversight Committee on Friday. DeJoy will also testify in front of a House committee on Monday.
- Trump responded to Michelle Obama’s scathing speech against him by saying that, actually, she is the one who is in over her head and it was clear that the speech was pre-recorded as the number of Covid-19 deaths she cited against him are actually higher. Just moments before, he pardoned the late women’s rights icon Susan B. Anthony.
- The Republican National Committee announced three people who were featured in viral photos largely criticized by Democrats will speak at its convention next week.
Read the original article at The Guardian