President Trump and presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden are sparring over the coronavirus, race and jobs as the campaign for the White House is about to intensify with Biden’s imminent pick of a running mate and the back-to-back Democratic and Republican conventions.

In Friday tweets, Biden knocked Trump for having hailed Arizona’s response to the pandemic. Trump sought to keep alive a controversy over Biden’s comparison of diversity within the Black community to the Latino community. And the two candidates offered very different takes on the latest unemployment numbers: Trump said the economy is “roaring back,” while Biden said Trump’s mishandling of the pandemic had slowed economic recovery.

Meanwhile, former president Bill and Hillary Clinton are slated to get speaking roles at the Democratic convention later this month, joining former president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, according to people familiar with the planning.

Here are some significant developments:
August 7, 2020 at 1:52 PM EDT

Democrats call for investigation of postmaster general over mail delays

By Jacob Bogage

Congressional Democrats on Friday called for an investigation of newly installed Postmaster General Louis DeJoy over new agency cost-cutting measures that postal workers say have delayed mail delivery and ensnared ballots in recent primary elections.

A letter signed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) and seven other Democrats urged Postal Service Inspector General Tammy L. Whitcomb to examine how DeJoy, a former logistics executive and major Republican donor, came to implement policies that prohibit postal workers from taking overtime or making extra trips to deliver mail on time, and how delays specifically affect election mail.

“Given the ongoing concerns about the adverse impacts of Trump Administration policies on the quality and efficiency of the Postal Service, we ask that you conduct an audit of all operational changes put in place by Mr. DeJoy and other Trump Administration officials in 2020,” the letter states.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 12:52 PM EDT

Clyburn downplays Biden’s Black ‘diversity’ comments, says he was referring to geography

By John Wagner

House Majority Whip James E. Clyburn (D-S.C.), a major Joe Biden booster, sought Friday to downplay the controversy the presidential candidate generated when he suggested there is more diversity in the Latino community than in the Black community.

While many of Biden’s critics have interpreted his remarks to focus on political ideology, Clyburn said he thought Biden was speaking about geography.

“When you start talking about Latino Americans, you’re talking about not just various communities and countries, you’re talking about various continents,” Clyburn said during an appearance on MSNBC. “Most African Africans in this country come from either the Caribbean or from Africa. … So all he was talking about was the diversity of not just the communities but also the continents.”

“You don’t get a chance to explain all that in a sound-bite world,” added Clyburn, whose endorsement in the South Carolina Democratic primary provided a major boost to Biden’s candidacy.

During remarks Thursday to a panel of Hispanic and Black journalists, Biden said, “what you all know but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things.”

Biden later clarified his remarks, saying “in no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith — not by identity, not on issues, not at all.”

In a separate MSNBC appearance, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) said she believed Biden was talking about voting patterns in his remarks.

“It perhaps could have been expressed better, but I know his heart, and I know the conversations I have had with him directly and what he’s expressed to me about his appreciation of the diversity within the African American community,” said Bottoms, who is among those being considered as Biden’s vice-presidential running mate.

August 7, 2020 at 12:15 PM EDT

GOP women warn of eroding support among female voters amid a ‘gender chasm’

By Rachael Bade, Seung Min Kim and Scott Clement

A growing number of Republican women are sounding the alarm about continuing loss of support for Trump and the GOP among female voters ahead of the November election, warning that the party is in danger of permanently alienating women if it doesn’t change course.

Trump’s flailing response to the coronavirus pandemic and move to inflame nationwide racial tensions are exacerbating an already precarious situation, according to interviews with female Republican lawmakers and GOP pollsters focused on female voters.

Women now favor presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden by an eye-popping 23 points, according to an average of national polls since late June. And white women, a majority of whom backed Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016, are starting to abandon the president.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 12:04 PM EDT

Fact Checker: Trump campaign ad manipulates three images to put Biden in a ‘basement’

By Glenn Kessler

You can understand the frustration of the Trump campaign in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. The president can’t hold the big rallies he loves. And his presumptive opponent, former vice president Joe Biden, is not on the campaign trail either, preferring instead to host events via Zoom from his home.

That doesn’t leave much footage for the Trump campaign, especially of the inevitable gaffes that it loves to exploit. So, in effect, the campaign decided to create its own footage by manipulating photographs.

Political ad-makers often seize the ugliest, nastiest photos they can find of the opponent. But this takes it to a whole new level. We’re going to keep our focus on these images, not the other (dubious) claims made by the ad.

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 11:23 AM EDT

Bill and Hillary Clinton to speak at DNC convention

By Michael Scherer

Former president Bill Clinton and the last Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, are slated to have speaking roles at the Democratic convention later this month, joining former president Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle, according to people familiar with the planning.

The virtual convention, which is scheduled to run eight hours in total over four nights between Aug. 17 and 20, will be much shorter than typical political conventions, which can have speeches, performances and prerecorded video that runs six hours or more per night.

The Clintons’ planned appearance at the convention was first reported by Politico.

The full list of speakers, which is likely to include several former primary rivals of Biden, including Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), could be released as soon as next week.

The presumptive nominee, former vice president Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, will also speak, as will Biden’s vice presidential pick.

Republicans have also begun to fill out slots for their convention, which runs Aug. 24-27. Republican planners are preparing locations for speeches by first lady Melania Trump and President Trump. Vice President Pence has been considering a speech from Fort McHenry, a Maryland military installation that played a major role in the War of 1812 that was commemorated in the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” according to a Republican familiar with the planning.

“The first lady’s making a speech, numerous people are making speeches, senators, a lot of very, very terrific people. We have a brilliant, terrific speakers list,” Trump said in a Wednesday interview on “Fox and Friends.” “Some of the warrior congressmen that you’ve watched. Jim Jordan and so many others. Matt Gaetz.”

August 7, 2020 at 11:20 AM EDT

Trump campaign touts latest jobs numbers; Biden says Trump has slowed pace of recovery

By John Wagner

Trump and his campaign touted a report Friday showing that the U.S. economy added 1.8 million jobs in July and that the unemployment rate dropped for the third straight month, signs of an economic recovery from the depths of the pandemic. Biden contended that the pace should be quicker.

“Great Jobs Numbers!” Trump said in response to the report showing the unemployment rate falling to 10.2 percent.

More than 30 million Americans are unemployed.

In a statement, Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh said the numbers show the economy is “roaring back” and claimed Biden was “hardest hit.”

“Everyone knows that Joe Biden was hunkered down in his basement hoping for a gloomy economic report to help him politically, which puts him in the pathetic position of being a candidate for president of the United States hoping for bad news for Americans,” Murtaugh said.

Biden later issued a statement saying he was “grateful for the people who got their job back” but blaming Trump for economic fallout from the pandemic that “did not have to be this bad.”

“We are in a deeper economic hole than we should be because of Donald Trump’s historic failure to respond to the pandemic, and the pace of recovery has now slowed because of Trump’s continuing inability to come up with a plan to control the virus,” Biden said. “Unemployment claims keep breaking historical records. Millions of small businesses are on the brink of closing for good. Black and Latino families continue to bear the brunt of this crisis, with roughly half unsure if they can make next month’s rent. And parents who are able to work are struggling to find suitable care for their children.”

Trump, Biden added, “is the one person in the country who should lose his job.”

August 7, 2020 at 9:48 AM EDT

Trump campaign insists on in-person debates

By John Wagner and Michael Scherer

The Trump campaign is continuing to push for an earlier debate with Biden and has added a new demand: that the candidates appear together onstage and not virtually.

“We must insist on a commitment that the two candidates will definitely appear on stage, in person — whether in a television studio without an audience or elsewhere — and not through separate, online transmissions where Mr. Biden could rely on notes, teleprompter, or handlers,” Rudolph W. Giuliani wrote to the Commission on Presidential Debates on Thursday in his role as a Trump campaign representative.

The letter came after the commission denied the Trump campaign’s request to add an earlier debate to the three already scheduled but said it would be willing to consider adding a debate if that were desired by both candidates.

In his latest letter, Giuliani continued to press his argument for an earlier debate.

“Our concerns remain the same: Americans will have already started voting in 16 states well in advance of the first scheduled debate on September 29,” he wrote. “The Commission’s current debate schedule remains outdated and fails to adapt to the election calendar of today.”

Giuliani said he was prompted to insist the candidates appear together in person based on the commission’s response that it is “ready for any contingency that is necessary as a result of the pandemic.”

“Since your current refusal to consider an additional debate or an earlier date is based on Mr. Biden’s unwillingness to agree, it would be logical to assume that any further changes to debate arrangements would hinge on his opinion,” he wrote.

August 7, 2020 at 9:10 AM EDT

Trump seeks to fan controversy over Biden remarks on Blacks, Latinos

By Colby Itkowitz and John Wagner

President Trump sought Friday to fan the controversy over comments made by former vice president Joe Biden in which he suggested there is more diversity in the Latino community than in the Black community.

“Sleepy Joe Biden just lost the Black Vote. This statement is a disaster from which their is no recovery!” Trump tweeted, along with several news stories covering the remarks.

“After yesterday’s statement, Sleepy Joe Biden is no longer worthy of the Black Vote!” Trump said in another tweet.

Trump has repeatedly attacked Biden’s relationship with African Americans, even as polling shows large majorities of Black voters consider the president to be racist.

Biden, who is the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, sought to clarify his comments late Thursday after a day-long drubbing on the subject.

“Earlier today, I made some comments about diversity in the African American and Latino communities that I want to clarify,” Biden tweeted a little after 9 p.m. Thursday. “In no way did I mean to suggest the African American community is a monolith—not by identity, not on issues, not at all.”

Biden made the comparison while speaking virtually to a panel of Hispanic and Black journalists.

“And by the way, what you all know but most people don’t know, unlike the African American community with notable exceptions, the Latino community is an incredibly diverse community with incredibly different attitudes about different things,” Biden said. “You go to Florida, you find a very different attitude about immigration in certain places than you do when you’re in Arizona. So it’s a very different, a very diverse community.”

Trump and his allies seized on the remarks, with the president calling them “very insulting.” Biden’s campaign said it was clear the former vice president was referring to the diversification of viewpoints among Latinos from different countries.

Biden didn’t refer to that explanation in his nighttime tweets, focusing instead on how they had been interpreted.

“Throughout my career I’ve witnessed the diversity of thought, background, and sentiment within the African American community. It’s this diversity that makes our workplaces, communities, and country a better place,” Biden wrote. “My commitment to you is this: I will always listen, I will never stop fighting for the African American community and I will never stop fighting for a more equitable future.”

August 7, 2020 at 8:15 AM EDT

Fauci declines to say whether he would recommend mail-in voting

By Jacqueline Alemany

Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious-disease official, whom Trump has sidelined in recent months because of conflicting opinions and a more popular public profile, said Americans can go to voting booths if they’re careful.

But when pressed during an interview with The Washington Post’s “Power Up” newsletter on whether he’d recommend mail voting as safer during a pandemic, Fauci declined to answer “because that almost certainly is going to be used as a sound bite.”

Trump has repeatedly bashed mail-in voting as fraudulent, while many states ramp up their mail voting systems to provide options for those people who prefer not to go physically to the polls because of the coronavirus.

Fauci said polling places should operate like grocery stores and shops.

“We see a big X and then six feet away is another big X,” Fauci said. “I don’t see any reason why, if people maintain that type of physical distancing, wearing a mask and washing hands — why you cannot, at least where I vote, go to a place and vote.”

Read more about the interview here.

August 7, 2020 at 8:05 AM EDT

Biden knocks Trump for praise of Arizona’s handling of coronavirus

By John Wagner

Biden on Friday took aim at Trump for having hailed Arizona as a success story in curbing coronavirus cases during a White House visit earlier this week by the state’s Republican governor, Doug Ducey.

“President Trump called Arizona ‘a model for applying a science-based approach to the decreasing cases and hospitalizations without implementing a punishing lockdown,’” Biden said in a series of tweets, in which he ticked off troubling statistics about the pandemic in Arizona under the “Trump-Ducey” model.

Among them: the fifth highest number of current hospitalizations in the country, more than 183,000 cases and more than 4,000 deaths.

“The truth is that President Trump could have acted months ago to curb this pandemic—it’s obvious he still hasn’t learned his lesson,” Biden said.

On Wednesday, as Trump welcomed Ducey to the White House, he praised what he called a “fantastic job” in turning around what had been among the nation’s worst spikes in virus cases and deaths.

“He has done an incredible job on covid, or covid-19, or about 19 other names you can call it. It’s got probably more names than anything else you can think of,” Trump said.

“And he was hit very hard, and … he hit back even harder,” Trump said of Ducey, a political ally who had lifted many restrictions in late spring in accordance with Trump’s wishes for rapid economic reopening.

August 7, 2020 at 8:03 AM EDT

Former Trump campaign aide challenges nondisclosure agreements

By Michael Kranish

The Trump campaign’s former Hispanic outreach director last week filed her latest effort in a class-action suit to void all campaign nondisclosure contracts. She says they are so broad that they deny individuals their First Amendment right to say anything critical of the president — even as he routinely goes on Twitter to mock and deride his critics.

In a motion for summary judgment in the case, the former campaign worker, Jessica Denson, said the campaign sought a $1.5 million claim against her for violating a nondisclosure agreement. She said that came after she filed a lawsuit alleging sex discrimination by campaign officials. (That separate case is ongoing.)

“These NDAs are representative of the levers of fear that this campaign and administration wield over people,” Denson told The Washington Post. “And if this lever of these NDAs is lifted, it is significant not only for the direct effect it has on people who have signed it, but for a general environment of people who are afraid to speak out.”

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 7:59 AM EDT

Biden pushes back on Trump’s charges that he is ‘against God’ and ‘against the Bible’

By Felicia Sonmez and John Wagner

In a late-night statement Thursday, Biden criticized Trump for suggesting that Biden hates the Bible.

“For President Trump to attack my faith is shameful,” Biden said in a statement. “It’s beneath the office he holds and it’s beneath the dignity the American people so rightly expect and deserve from their leaders. However, like the words of so many other insecure bullies, President Trump’s comments reveal more about him than they do about anyone else.”

“My faith teaches me to love my neighbor as I would myself, while President Trump only seeks to divide us. My faith teaches me to care for the least among us, while President Trump seems to only be concerned about his gilded friends,” Biden wrote. “My faith teaches me to walk humbly, while President Trump teargassed peaceful protesters so he could walk over to a church for a photo op.”

In remarks in Cleveland on Thursday afternoon, Trump attacked Biden on a number of fronts before claiming without evidence that the former vice president would “hurt the Bible” and “hurt God” should he win the White House.

“No religion, no anything,” Trump said, describing his view of the consequences of a Biden win. “Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God, he’s against guns, he’s against energy, our kind of energy. I don’t think he’s going to do too well in Ohio.”

Trump’s campaign released an ad Wednesday featuring a photo of Biden praying at a Delaware church that was altered to make it appear he was alone.

Biden, who is Catholic, has frequently credited his faith in God for helping him cope with the deaths of his first wife and his 1-year-old daughter in 1972 and his adult son in 2015.

Trump does not belong to a church in Washington, although he refers to himself as a Presbyterian. In June, he triggered sharp condemnation from religious leaders for holding photo ops outside a D.C. shrine honoring Pope John Paul II and at St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House. The latter event set off a controversy because it involved aggressively clearing peaceful protesters ahead of Trump’s appearance, during which the president held up a Bible in front of the cameras.

Hours ahead of his Ohio remarks, Trump offered a similar broadside against Biden during a morning radio interview with Geraldo Rivera on his Cleveland-based show.

Referencing a poll that showed a tight race in Texas, Trump expressed disbelief.

“I’m in favor of oil and gas, I’m in favor of the Bible, I’m in favor of Second Amendment, right,” Trump said. “Biden’s against all of those things. He’s against oil, he’s against the Bible — essentially against religion, but against the Bible — and he’s against the Second Amendment.”

“That may be a little harsh, him being against the Bible,” Rivera interjected.

“Well, people who control him totally are,” Trump responded.

August 7, 2020 at 7:59 AM EDT

Trump said Biden ‘hurt God.’ Biden has spent his life drawing from his Catholic faith.

By Julie Zauzmer and Sarah Pulliam Bailey

When Pope Francis visited the United States in 2015, his welcomer-in-chief was Biden, then the vice president.

Almost wherever Francis went, Biden was there — in the White House and the Capitol, and also in sacred spaces, including at Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Biden followed the pope from Washington to Philadelphia, leading a farewell ceremony for the visiting dignitary he has called “the single most popular figure in the world.”

This week, Trump painted a very different picture of Biden, mocking his presumptive Democratic opponent as a man hostile to religion. “Take away your guns, take away your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything,” Trump said of Biden on Thursday. “Hurt the Bible. Hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy, our kind of energy.”

Read more here.

August 7, 2020 at 7:57 AM EDT

Bill Hagerty, candidate endorsed by Trump, wins Tennessee Senate primary

By Colby Itkowitz and David Weigel

After a bruising and bitter campaign to replace retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Republicans picked the candidate backed by President Trump while Democratic voters shunned the party pick in a surprise upset.

Bill Hagerty, Trump’s former ambassador to Japan, won the endorsement of the president, who had tweeted his support and appeared at a tele-town hall in support of the candidate Wednesday night. An active Trump supporter since 2016, Hagerty served as a high-dollar fundraiser for his campaign and later on Trump’s transition team.

But Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi gained traction in the primary by challenging Hagerty’s conservative credentials, pointing to his early support for Jeb Bush in 2016 and his prominent role in Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Read more here.