October 16, 2021

US politics: Trump tells Michelle Obama ‘sit back and watch’ after DNC speech

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Former Secretary of State Colin Powell to deliver endorsement of Joe Biden tonight

Powell, the Republican secretary of state who served in the George W Bush administration, endorses Biden in a clip that the DNC has released ahead of tonight’s events.

One of several high-profile Republicans who have supported Biden over Trump, Powell indicated in June that he’d vote for Biden — choosing again, as he did in 2016, not to vote for Trump.

Here’s the clip:

Here’s more analysis of the Senate report that lays bare the Trump campaign’s links to Russia, from the Guardian’s Luke Harding and Julian Borger:

The report by the Senate intelligence committee provides a treasure trove of new details about Donald Trump’s relationship with Moscow, and says that a Russian national who worked closely with Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016 was a career intelligence officer.

The bipartisan report runs to nearly 1,000 pages and goes further than last year’s investigation into Russian election interference by special prosecutor Robert Mueller. It lays out a stunning web of contacts between Trump, his top election aides and Russian government officials, in the months leading up to the 2016 election.

The Senate panel identifies Konstantin Kilimnik as a Russian intelligence officer employed by the GRU, the military intelligence agency behind the 2018 poisoning of the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. It cites evidence – some of it redacted – linking Kilimnik to the GRU’s hacking and dumping of Democratic party emails.

Kilimnik worked for over a decade in Ukraine with Paul Manafort, Trump’s campaign manager. In 2016 Manafort met with Kilimnik, discussed how Trump might beat Hillary Clinton, and gave the Russian spy internal polling data. The committee said it couldn’t “reliably determine” why Manafort handed over this information, or what exactly Kilimnik did with it.

It describes Manafort’s willingness to pass on confidential material to alleged Moscow agents as a “grave counterintelligence threat”. The report dubs Kilimnik part of “a cadre of individuals ostensibly operating outside of the Russian government but who nonetheless implement Kremlin-directed influence operations”. It adds that key oligarchs including Oleg Deripaska fund these operations, together with the Kremlin.

The investigation found that Kilimnik tweets under the pseudonym Petro Baranenko (@PBaranenko). The account regularly propagates Moscow’s line on international issues, such as the conflict in Ukraine and the downing of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

The fact that a Republican-controlled Senate panel established a direct connection between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence makes it harder for Trump and his supporters to allege that the investigation into possible collusion was a “witch-hunt” or “hoax” as the president has repeatedly claimed, in the remaining three months before the election.

Cindy McCain has promoted a clip of a video — which is set to air at the Democratic National Convention tonight — in which she discusses her late husband John McCain’s friendship with Joe Biden.

John McCain ran against Barack Obama and Biden in the 2008 elections.

Cindy McCain
(@cindymccain)

My husband and Vice President Biden enjoyed a 30+ year friendship dating back to before their years serving together in the Senate, so I was honored to accept the invitation from the Biden campaign to participate in a video celebrating their relationship.https://t.co/Y6XOnBC1IW

August 18, 2020

The Democratic National Committee removed a portion of its official platform seeking to end subsidies for fossil fuel companies, even though Joe Biden and Kamala Harris campaigned on the promise that they would stop such subsidies, HuffPost reports.

From HuffPost:


On July 27, officials added an amendment to the Manager’s Mark, a ledger of party demands voted on as one omnibus package, stating: “Democrats support eliminating tax breaks and subsidies for fossil fuels, and will fight to defend and extend tax incentives for energy efficiency and clean energy.”

The amendment was approved. But the statement ― which reflects pledges presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris, each made on the campaign trail ― disappeared from the final draft of the party platform circulated Monday.

In an emailed statement, a DNC spokesperson said the amendment was “incorrectly included in the Manager’s Mark” and taken out “after the error was discovered.”

Activists accused the DNC of retroactively removing the amendment from the final draft of the platform.

Earlier, my colleague Emily Holden reviewed the Biden climate plan. Read her assessment here:

Here’s a view from the Trump campaign event in Yuma, Arizona:

Jill Colvin
(@colvinj)

The crowd here in Yuma. Many in masks, but many not. Feels like pre-COVID times, minus the chairs pic.twitter.com/kSJQ91zo3q

August 18, 2020

Speaking in Arizona, Trump has revived his racist, xenophobic rhetoric that baselessly casts immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers as criminals.

He also has falsely asserted that the media no longer discusses the border wall. Here is a selection of recent reporting on the border wall:

  • Voice of San Diego: “Kumeyaay Band Sues to Stop Border Wall Construction”
  • National Geographic: “Sacred Arizona spring drying up as border wall construction continues”
  • The Guardian: “Officials ignored warnings about Trump wall threat to endangered species”
  • Washington Post: “There’s new wall on 194 miles of the border. Sixteen miles didn’t have a barrier before”

Cindy McCain will be featured in a video that’s set to air during tonight’s Democratic National Convention, according to the AP. She is one oof several Republicans who are participating in the DNC.

From the AP:


Cindy McCain is not expected to offer an explicit endorsement, but her involvement in the video is her biggest public show of support yet for Biden’s candidacy. McCain was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee against Democrat Barack Obama, who won the election with Biden as his vice presidential running mate.

Both Cindy McCain and her daughter Meghan have been outspoken critics of President Donald Trump, and the family is longtime friends with the Bidens. Trump targeted John McCain personally in 2015, saying the former prisoner of war wasn’t a hero “because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” McCain later angered Trump with his dramatic thumbs-down vote against repealing President Barack Obama’s health care law.

When McCain died on a Saturday in 2018, the Trump administration lowered the American flag over the White House to half-staff but then raised it by Monday. After public outcry, the White House flags were again lowered. Trump wasn’t invite to McCain’s funeral.

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 have appeared 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”.

Updated

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.

Notre Dame
(@NotreDame)

University of Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins announced today that in-person classes are suspended, effective Wednesday, replaced by remote instruction only for the next two weeks because positive rates for the coronavirus continue to climb: https://t.co/gKsvmjCqD6

August 18, 2020

Updated

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.

Today so far

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.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, left, waits as President Donald Trump exits Air Force One in Yuma, Arizona.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey, left, waits as President Donald Trump exits Air Force One in Yuma, Arizona. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP

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.”

Miles Taylor
(@MilesTaylorUSA)

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. Cc: @DHSOIG

August 18, 2020

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’”.

Pelosi dismisses delay to USPS changes as ‘insufficient’

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.”

Nancy Pelosi
(@SpeakerPelosi)

Nice try, Postmaster General DeJoy, but the House will still be passing our bill to ensure the delivery of the mail through the election. We will deliver for America by voting on Saturday. #DontMessWithUSPS

August 18, 2020

“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”.





This post originally appeared on and written by:
Martin Belam
The Guardian 2020-08-18 12:43:00

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