President Trump, in an echo of his false birtherism claims against President Barack Obama, said questions raised by one of his campaign advisers about the eligibility of Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) to run for vice president were “very serious.”

Harris was born in Oakland, Calif., and is, by the laws of the Constitution, a U.S. citizen. But some birther conspiracy theorists say, wrongly, that her parents’ immigration status at the time of her birth makes her ineligible. Trump’s remarks were a reprise of his past false allegation that Obama was born in Kenya rather than in Hawaii and thus ineligible to serve.

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden traded attacks with Trump over the coronavirus. Biden called for a minimum nationwide three-month mask mandate to slow the pandemic, which Trump panned as “playing politics.”

This comes one day after the United States reported its highest number of deaths from the coronavirus in a single day since mid-May.

Here are some significant developments:
August 13, 2020 at 9:06 PM EDT
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Trump to deliver RNC speech from White House lawn

By Colby Itkowitz

President Trump has confirmed that he will likely give his Republican National Convention acceptance speech from a spot on the White House lawn where supporters could attend while maintaining social distancing.

“I’ll probably be giving my speech at the White House because it is a great place. It’s a place that makes me feel good, it makes the country feel good,” Trump told the New York Post in a sit-down interview in the Oval Office.

Giving a reelection speech from the White House grounds defies past precedent that kept politics and official duties separate.

But there is nothing legally stopping Trump from doing so. The Hatch Act, which forbids federal government officials from certain political activities while at work, does not apply to the president or vice president. However, it could create headaches for White House staff who want to attend the event.

Trump didn’t provide any other details about his plans other than to say the lawn is spacious enough to have a large audience.

“We could have quite a group of people. It’s very big, a very big lawn. We could have a big group of people,” he said, according to the New York Post.

Trump’s campaign had considered holding the speech at Gettysburg, but Trump said having it at the White House was easier logistically. He said his campaign will be “doing something at Gettysburg” at a later date.

August 13, 2020 at 7:45 PM EDT
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Biden maintains lead over Trump in latest Fox News poll

By Colby Itkowitz

Biden leads Trump 49 percent to 42 percent nationally, according to a newly released Fox News poll.

The poll results, released Thursday, are consistent with Fox’s finding last month, which had Biden up by eight. In June, the former vice president led the president by 12 points.

Biden’s likability also surpasses Trump’s among U.S. voters, according to the poll. More than 50 percent of those surveyed have a favorable view of Biden, compared with 43 percent who have a positive view of Trump.

Two-thirds of American voters said they are not satisfied with “the way things are going in the country today.” Voters overwhelmingly thought Biden would do a better job than Trump on every issue except the economy, where Trump fared slightly better.

On handling the coronavirus pandemic, 50 percent of voters chose Biden, compared with 36 percent who chose Trump. The virus is on the top of voters’ minds, with 85 percent saying they’re concerned about the spread in the United States.

August 13, 2020 at 6:39 PM EDT
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Trump calls false conspiracy about Harris’s eligibility ‘very serious,’ Biden campaign fires back

By Colby Itkowitz

Trump, who was a leader of the unfounded birther conspiracy about former president Barack Obama, piled on to similar conspiracies about Harris.

So I just heard that, I heard it today, that she doesn’t meet the requirements,” Trump said when asked about it during a White House press briefing. “I have no idea if that’s right. I would have assumed the Democrats would have checked it before she gets chosen to run for vice president. But that’s a very serious … You’re saying that they’re saying that she doesn’t qualify because she wasn’t born in this country?”

Harris was born in Oakland, Calif. The false birther conspiracies about Harris focus on the immigration status of her parents, who weren’t U.S. citizens when she was born.

Trump said he would take a look at the question of Harris’ eligibility. The president has long called for an end to birthright citizenship. Any person born in the United States, regardless of their parents’ nationality, is an American citizen under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The Biden campaign sent a scathing statement in response to the president stoking the false conspiracy theory.

“Donald Trump was the national leader of the grotesque, racist birther movement with respect to President Obama and has sought to fuel racism and tear our nation apart on every single day of his presidency," a Biden campaign spokesman said in an email. "So it’s unsurprising, but no less abhorrent, that as Trump makes a fool of himself straining to distract the American people from the horrific toll of his failed coronavirus response that his campaign and their allies would resort to wretched, demonstrably false lies in their pathetic desperation.”

August 13, 2020 at 5:48 PM EDT
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Trump blasts Biden’s call for a nationwide mask mandate

By Colby Itkowitz

From inside the White House briefing room, Trump slammed Biden over his declaration that there should immediately be a nationwide three-month mask mandate to slow the pandemic.

“[Biden] wants the president of the United States with the mere stroke of a pen to order over 300 million American citizens to wear a mask... He thinks it’s good politics I guess," Trump said.

Biden said in his remarks earlier in the day that governors need to mandate the mask use.

I trust the American people and their governors very much. I trust the American people and the governors want to do the right thing to make the smart decisions,” Trump said during a White House coronavirus briefing. “Joe doesn’t, Joe doesn’t. Joe doesn’t know too much.”

Trump accused Biden of “playing politics from the sidelines” and called the former vice president’s plan “regressive,” “anti-scientific” and “very defeatist.”

August 13, 2020 at 5:13 PM EDT
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Most Americans believe 2020 outcome ‘really matters,’ but half expect to have difficulty voting

By Colby Itkowitz

A Pew Research Center poll on voter engagement released Thursday found that 83 percent of voters believe the outcome of the presidential race this year “really matters,” the highest proportion to say so over the last six election cycles. In 2000, only 50 percent of voters thought it really mattered who occupied the White House.

Ahead of the 2018 midterm elections, most Americans weren’t concerned about barriers to voting. But now, with less than three months until the November presidential election, half of U.S. voters believe they will experience difficulties casting their ballots.

As Trump wages a war against mail-in voting, how voters prefer to vote is split along party lines. Of voters who say they support or prefer Trump, 80 percent want to vote in person, according to the poll. Biden voters are more divided, with 58 percent preferring to vote by mail.

Engagement in the presidential election is high. More than half of voters say they are more interested in politics this year than they were in 2016, and 75 percent say they have thought a lot about this election.

August 13, 2020 at 3:15 PM EDT
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Biden calls for a nationwide mask mandate, starting immediately

By Jenna Johnson

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden called Thursday for an immediate nationwide mask mandate that would require everyone in the country to wear masks when outside for the next three months.

Doing so will save the lives of at least 40,000 people, he said in brief remarks in Delaware that followed a lengthy briefing on the coronavirus crisis.

“Every single American should be wearing a mask when they’re outside for the next three months at a minimum,” Biden said, emphasizing each word. “Every governor should mandate it.”

Biden described this simple act as a civic responsibility, comparing it with giving blood or donating food to those in need. Although masks can be uncomfortable, he said, they are key to getting life back to normal, including reopening schools and businesses.

“Be a patriot. Protect your fellow citizens,” Biden said. “Step up. Do the right thing.”

Biden noted that the virus has killed more than 160,000 people in the United States and that “it didn’t have to be this way.” He said Trump should have acted sooner and more aggressively.

“I hope we learned our lesson, I hope the president has learned a lesson,” Biden said.

After Biden’s short remarks, his newly announced running mate, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), praised the call to action and amplified it, a role she is expected to often play in the weeks ahead.

“That’s what real leadership looks like,” Harris said. “We just witnessed real leadership.”

Their statements took fewer than eight minutes, and the two did not answer any of the questions reporters shouted at them as they concluded.

August 13, 2020 at 2:44 PM EDT
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Jared Kushner confirms he met with Kanye West in Colorado

By Felicia Sonmez and Rosalind Helderman

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, confirmed Thursday that he recently met with rapper Kanye West in Colorado and that the two had a “friendly discussion.”

“So, Kanye’s been a friend of mine for — I’ve known him for about 10 years,” Kushner told reporters at a White House briefing. “And you know, we talk every now and then about different things. And we both happened to be in Colorado, and so, we got together, and we had a great discussion about a lot of things.”

The meeting was first reported Tuesday by the New York Times. West appeared to confirm the meeting in a tweet Tuesday night in which he said he and Kushner met and discussed a book about empowering Black Americans.

West’s 2020 presidential effort has largely sputtered since he formally filed in June to run as an independent candidate representing the “Birthday Party.” He has held just one campaign rally, last month in North Charleston, S.C., where he appeared onstage wearing a bulletproof vest and broke down in tears, prompting his wife, Kim Kardashian West, to post messages on Instagram asking for the public’s “compassion and empathy” as he struggles with bipolar disorder.

But in at least five states, Republican activists and operatives — including some who have publicly supported Trump and a lawyer who has worked for the president’s 2020 campaign — have been involved in efforts to try to get the rapper on the November ballot, according to an examination by The Washington Post of public filings and social media posts.

Asked whether the two had discussed the presidential campaign during their Colorado meeting, Kushner replied, “We had a general discussion, more about policy.”

“He has some great ideas for what he’d like to see happen in the country, and that’s why he has the candidacy that he’s been doing,” Kushner said. “But again, there’s a lot of issues that the president’s championed that he admires, and it was just great to have a friendly discussion.”

August 13, 2020 at 2:18 PM EDT
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Trump campaign adviser promotes racist birther conspiracy theory about Harris

By Felicia Sonmez

A Trump campaign adviser on Thursday promoted a racist conspiracy theory that falsely claims that Harris may not be a U.S. citizen, a move the Biden campaign denounced as “abhorrent.”

Jenna Ellis, a senior legal adviser to the Trump campaign, retweeted a Newsweek op-ed written by John C. Eastman, a law professor at Chapman University in California and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank.

The 14th Amendment states that “all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” Legal scholars have widely interpreted that to mean that anyone born on U.S. soil automatically becomes a natural-born citizen.

In his piece, however, Eastman wrote that “our government’s view of the Constitution’s citizenship mandate has morphed over the decades to what is now an absolute ‘birth on the soil no matter the circumstances’ view — but that morphing does not appear to have begun until the late 1960s, after Kamala Harris’ birth in 1964.”

“So before we so cavalierly accept Senator Harris’ eligibility for the office of vice president, we should ask her a few questions about the status of her parents at the time of her birth,” he wrote.

Eastman went on to question whether Harris’s parents were U.S. citizens at the time of her birth or “merely temporary visitors,” adding that it was possible that Harris — who was born in Oakland, Calif. — “was not subject to the complete jurisdiction of the United States at birth, but instead owed her allegiance to a foreign power or powers.”

Eastman in 2010 ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for California attorney general; Harris defeated the eventual GOP nominee in the general election.

The op-ed, published Wednesday, prompted a swift online backlash, and Newsweek responded early Thursday by posting an editor’s note arguing that the essay “has no connection whatsoever to so-called ‘birther-ism.’ "

Asked Thursday about her decision to retweet the piece, Ellis defended Eastman’s views.

“It’s an open question, and one I think Harris should answer so the American people know for sure she is eligible,” Ellis said in an email. “Just like Biden should also answer questions about his mental competency.”

Ellis also rejected the notion that questioning Harris’s citizenship is racist.

“Our Constitution requires certain eligibility criteria uniformly,” she said. “People asked the same question of Ted Cruz (a white male) in 2016. Every candidate should be able to prove his or her qualification for the highest executive offices.”

Cruz, a senator from Texas, was one of Trump’s competitors for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. At the time, Trump and some of his allies questioned whether Cruz would be eligible for the presidency because he was born in Canada to a Cuban father and a mother who was a U.S. citizen.

Andrew Bates, a Biden campaign spokesman, condemned Ellis’s decision to promote the conspiracy theory surrounding Harris’s eligibility in a statement Thursday.

“Donald Trump was the national leader of the grotesque, racist birther movement with respect to President Obama and has sought to fuel racism and tear our nation apart on every single day of his presidency,” Bates said. “So it’s unsurprising, but no less abhorrent, that as Trump makes a fool of himself straining to distract the American people from the horrific toll of his failed coronavirus response that his campaign and their allies would resort to wretched, demonstrably false lies in their pathetic desperation.”

August 13, 2020 at 12:19 PM EDT
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Biden, Harris to give convention speeches next week in Wilmington, campaign says

By Matt Viser

Biden and Harris will give their Democratic National Convention speeches next week from the Chase Center in Wilmington, Del.

The waterfront event center, which has several ballrooms and an auditorium, is on a site that was a shipbuilding facility during World War II.

Biden originally had been scheduled to give his convention speech from Milwaukee but recently made the decision to remain in Wilmington because of concerns about the coronavirus. His campaign on Thursday confirmed the location, which was first reported by the Delaware News Journal.

August 13, 2020 at 11:49 AM EDT
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Nearly half of registered voters say Biden’s choice of Harris is ‘excellent’ or ‘good’

By Felicia Sonmez and Scott Clement

Forty-seven percent of registered voters say Biden’s selection of Harris as his running mate is “excellent” or “good,” according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll released Thursday.

Twenty-nine percent of registered voters say Biden’s choice was “not so good” or “poor,” and 24 percent say they have no opinion.

The survey, which was conducted Aug. 11-12, is good news for Democrats days after Biden announced his choice. Harris is viewed favorably by 37 percent of registered voters and unfavorably by 32 percent. Pence, by contrast, is viewed favorably by 33 percent and unfavorably by 47 percent.

The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points among registered voters.

August 13, 2020 at 10:46 AM EDT
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Trump says he’s blocking Postal Service funding because Democrats want to expand mail-in voting during pandemic

By Felicia Sonmez, Jacob Bogage and Erica Werner

President Trump said Thursday he does not want to fund the U.S. Postal Service because Democrats are seeking to expand mail-in voting during the coronavirus pandemic, making explicit the reason he has declined to approve $25 billion in emergency funding for the cash-strapped agency.

“Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting. They just can’t have it,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo.

Trump has railed against mail-in balloting for months, and at a White House briefing Wednesday, he argued without evidence that USPS’s enlarged role in the November election would perpetuate “one of the greatest frauds in history.”

During the Wednesday briefing, Trump told reporters he would not approve the $25 billion in emergency funding for the Postal Service or $3.5 billion in supplemental funding for election resources, citing prohibitively high costs. But he went further in remarks Thursday morning, blaming Democrats’ efforts to make it easier for Americans to vote amid the pandemic.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting out and voting. … They voted during World War I and World War II,” Trump told Bartiromo.

Democrats in the spring rallied to the Postal Service’s defense when it sat on the brink of insolvency. Postal officials warned at the outset of the pandemic that declines in mail volume could cause the agency to run out of money in October.

Joe Biden’s campaign responded Thursday by describing Trump’s move as “an assault on our democracy and economy by a desperate man who’s terrified that the American people will force him to confront what he’s done everything in his power to escape for months — responsibility for his own actions.”

“The President of the United States is sabotaging a basic service that hundreds of millions of people rely upon, cutting a critical lifeline for rural economies and for delivery of medicines, because he wants to deprive Americans of their fundamental right to vote safely during the most catastrophic public health crisis in over 100 years,” Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates said in a statement.

Read more here.

August 13, 2020 at 10:30 AM EDT
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Palin says she hopes Harris faces less-sexist media coverage than she did in 2008

By Felicia Sonmez

Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin said Thursday that she hopes the media’s coverage of Harris’s candidacy will be less sexist than the coverage of her own candidacy in 2008 as the Republican Party’s vice-presidential nominee.

“I hope that the media will treat her candidacy not as personally rough as they treated mine, because a lot of the coverage of me was quite unfair — and I’m not saying that as a victim or a whiner, I’m saying that as fact,” Palin said in an interview on ABC News’s “Good Morning America.”

In the interview, Palin argued that Harris has “a bit of a privilege” compared to herself and former congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro (D-N.Y.), who in 1984 became the first woman from a major political party to be nominated for vice president.

“We see the big feminist list of women who have already come out to support her and kind of saying, ‘Hey, media, keep your hands off her when it comes to some issues you’re gearing up to attack her on,’" Palin said of Harris. “Nobody did that for me. Nobody did that for Geraldine. So, she has a bit of a privilege there.”

Palin added that Harris is “in a better position, in terms of what to expect, than I or Geraldine Ferraro back in the day, because again, people have come before her to be able to run.”

She also said that as vice-presidential candidates, she and Ferraro “were able to prove” that women are as capable as men.

“I think we were able to show some voters maybe are kind of Neanderthal-ish in not believing that women are capable of doing a whole lot at once,” Palin said.

August 13, 2020 at 9:59 AM EDT
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Harris is already facing online attacks in her bid for the vice presidency

By Cat Zakrzewski and Tonya Riley

Harris made history as the first Black woman and Asian American to be picked for a major-party ticket. But already, that powerful perch is opening her up to an onslaught of sexist and racist attacks online.

Social media researchers point to posts in the first 24 hours after Biden picked Harris as his running mate that attacked her appearance, dissected her past relationships and painted her as inauthentic — a character attack that they say is more frequently weaponized to attack women online.

Other attacks have been reminiscent of the birther conspiracy theories directed at Barack Obama in his presidential bids, falsely suggesting the Oakland, Calif., native is ineligible to be president because her parents are immigrants.

Social media experts working with the Democrats expect the attacks will only get worse, especially as Trump escalates his own rhetoric.

August 13, 2020 at 9:39 AM EDT
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‘Stone-cold crazy,’ ‘sort of a mad woman’: Trump begins his morning with blitz of attacks against Democratic women

By Felicia Sonmez

Trump kicked off Thursday morning with a flurry of attacks against Democratic women, taking aim at Harris, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.).

He also lashed out at MSNBC anchor Mika Brzezinski, calling her a “ditsy airhead” and attacked her husband, fellow MSNBC host Joe Scarborough, who is another frequent target of the president.

In an interview on Fox Business Network, Trump called Harris “sort of a mad woman” and falsely claimed that she was among the “angriest” of Senate Democrats during the 2018 confirmation hearing of Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Footage of the hearing shows that Harris was calm and measured during her questioning of Kavanaugh.

“She was so angry, and such hatred with Justice Kavanaugh,” Trump said. “I mean, I’ve never seen anything like it. She was the angriest of the group, and they were all angry. … And they were angry because I beat 'em, and they still haven’t forgotten. You know, these are seriously ill people.”

Trump took aim at Ocasio-Cortez while he was criticizing the Green New Deal proposal put forth by some Democrats. The liberal freshman lawmaker, he argued, “goes out, and she yaps,” and other Democrats are “all afraid of her.” He also claimed, without evidence, that Ocasio-Cortez was “a poor student” and attacked her as “not even a smart person.”

Ocasio-Cortez responded in a tweet in which she referenced Trump’s efforts to block funding for the U.S. Postal Service amid a Democratic push to expand mail-in voting.

“Let’s make a deal, Mr. President: You release your college transcript, I’ll release mine, and we’ll see who was the better student. Loser has to fund the Post Office,” she tweeted.

Pelosi, meanwhile, is “stone-cold crazy,” Trump said in Thursday’s interview, in which he also predicted that Republicans would retake the House in November.

Later Thursday morning, CNN commentator Van Jones, a former Obama environmental adviser, responded to Trump’s attacks on Harris by noting that the president is seeking to deploy the racist “angry Black woman” trope. Jones argued that such attacks against Harris are “just not effective — calling her a ‘mad woman,’ when you just saw yesterday she’s anything but that.”

“What they are about to do is create such a backlash of support for Kamala,” Jones said. “Because once you go down the ‘angry Black woman’ thing, even African Americans who might have been holding back … now you’re creating a wave of sympathy and empathy and solidarity for her.”