President Trump attacked Joe Biden on Saturday morning for not “even paying a small visit” to Milwaukee, where the Democratic convention was to be held pre-pandemic, after announcing that he and Vice President Pence will stop at the Republican convention site in Charlotte on Monday.

The Trump campaign also piled on Biden’s vow that if scientists said it was necessary, he would be prepared to shut the country down. The comments, made in his first interview since officially becoming the Democratic nominee, were panned by Trump allies as devastating to the economy.

But Biden, joined by his running mate Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) for an interview with ABC News’ David Muir, called that “the fundamental flaw of this administration’s thinking to begin with. In order to keep the country running and moving and the economy growing, and people employed, you have to fix the virus, you have to deal with the virus.”

Neither Trump nor Biden have public events today. Trump is golfing at his private golf club in Virginia and in the evening will attend a private reception to unveil renovations to the White House Rose Garden.

August 22, 2020 at 5:44 PM EDT
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Trump says GOP convention will be ‘uplifting,’ claims he’s never seen viral Sarah Cooper impersonations of him

By Colby Itkowitz

Trump described next week’s Republican National Convention as “uplifting and positive” but said he still has to “defend himself."

The comments are from excerpts of an interview with Fox News’s Steve Hilton that will air Sunday night.

Asked if he’d take a different approach to the presidency if reelected, Trump told Hilton he understood “100 percent” the critiques of his style but lamented, “I haven’t been treated fairly. I have to fight back.”

Trump, known to instigate on social media, said he’d “like it to be calm too” but that if he had a “different attitude” he wouldn’t have “gotten all of these things done.”

A voracious consumer of media and entertainment, Trump also claimed not to be familiar with Sarah Cooper, the comedian whose videos lip syncing the president made her an overnight viral star.

Looking bemused by Hilton’s description of the clips, Trump said he’d like to see them and then asked if they’re “good or bad.”

Hilton told the president he’d enjoy them.

“Well if you say they’re positive I’d like to look …” Trump said before Hilton cut him off to clarify, “Well, she doesn’t mean it to be positive.”

August 22, 2020 at 4:24 PM EDT
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Tenn. governor signs law that could strip the right to vote from some protesters

By Colby Itkowitz

Tennessee protesters could now lose their right to vote under a law Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed with little fanfare Thursday.

Protesters who camp out on state property, like those who have demonstrated for months outside the state Capitol against racial injustice, could face felony charges punishable by up to six years in prison, which would strip them of their right to vote.

The new law drew outrage from civil rights groups, which say the move is Tennessee’s latest attempt to repress voting ahead of the November election. Tennessee is among the states not allowing voters to use fear of the novel coronavirus as a reason to vote by mail.

The law also imposes mandatory minimum jail sentences for assaulting a first responder or participating in a riot. It also enhances penalties for vandalism of government property.

Read more here.

August 22, 2020 at 2:42 PM EDT
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House Oversight releases documents showing postal delays ‘far worse’ than previously revealed

By Colby Itkowitz

House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.) released internal U.S. Postal Service documents that show steeper declines in on-time deliveries than lawmakers had previously been told.

The drop in service standards since early July is across all categories of mail, including priority mail, periodicals, marketing and first class, the documents show.

After being confronted on Friday with firsthand reports of delays across the country, the Postmaster General finally acknowledged a ‘dip’ in service, but he has never publicly disclosed the full extent of the alarming nationwide delays caused by his actions and described in these new documents,” Maloney said in a statement.

Maloney announced on the House floor Saturday during debate on a $25 billion Postal Service funding bill she would be making the documents available to every member of Congress. One graph in the presentation shows that the percent of on-time Priority Mail deliveries dropped from around 92 percent in early July to around 79 percent by the beginning of August.

“To those who still claim there are ‘no delays’ and that these reports are just ‘conspiracy theories,’ I hope this new data causes them to rethink their position … these new documents show that the delays are far worse than we were told,” she said in her statement.

August 22, 2020 at 1:19 PM EDT
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Trump calls FDA the ‘deep state,’ accuses agency of delaying vaccine trials to hurt his reelection

By Colby Itkowitz

Trump went after the Food and Drug Administration, accusing the agency of delaying clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and treatments as part of a “deep state” plot to hurt his reelection chances.

“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics,” Trump tweeted. “Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!”

He tagged his own head of the FDA, Stephen Hahn, in the tweet.

In a subsequent tweet, he hit the FDA for revoking the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine to treat coronavirus patients, a drug that Trump has touted since the early days of the pandemic even though there is scant evidence of its efficacy.

“Many doctors and studies disagree with this!” Trump tweeted in reply to a two-month old tweet from when the FDA made the decision.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) brought up the president’s FDA tweet during a Capitol Hill news conference, calling it very scary” and said “everybody should take note of it.”

The FDA’s job is to focus on safety and effectiveness of new drugs, not political expedience.

This was a very dangerous statement on the part of the president, even for him,” Pelosi said. “It went beyond the pale in terms of how he would jeopardize the health and well-being of the American people.”

August 22, 2020 at 11:42 AM EDT
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Trump spreads debunked claim that Democrats omitted ‘God’ from Pledge of Allegiance at convention

By Colby Itkowitz

Trump advanced the false claim that the Democratic National Convention removed the word “God” from the Pledge of Allegiance.

“The Democrats took the word GOD out of the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democrat National Convention,” the president tweeted on Saturday morning. “At first I thought they made a mistake, but it wasn’t. It was done on purpose. Remember Evangelical Christians, and ALL, this is where they are coming from-it’s done. Vote Nov 3!”

The claim isn’t true. During the prime-time, televised events, DNC attendees recited the full Pledge of Allegiance, including the phrase “one nation under God.” What is true is that a few participants during breakout caucus meetings omitted the line when saying the pledge, but it was not widespread.

The pledge dates back to 1892, when it first appeared in a magazine article commemorating the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s landing in the Western Hemisphere. The original text, written by Francis Bellamy, an ordained Baptist minister, didn’t include “under God.” The pledge and the phrase, added in the 1950s, has been challenged in court numerous times.

To debunk the president’s claim, some on social media shared this video of Cedric Richmond Jr., son of a Louisiana Democratic congressman of the same name, saying the pledge on the convention’s final night.

August 22, 2020 at 11:09 AM EDT
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Biden hires Harvard pollster in effort to target younger voters

By Jacqueline Alemany

The Biden campaign has brought on John Della Volpe, the director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, to advise the campaign on youth-related research and strategic messaging.

“As you know, I have remained fiercely non-partisan over my years at the IOP,” Della Volpe wrote to colleagues and students in an email last night, obtained by The Washington Post. “With so much at stake, with the critical role Gen Z and Millennials can play in the election, and knowing how important a priority the youth vote is to VP Biden personally and the entire campaign, I know that this is the right time for me to re-engage in politics and do my part.”

Della Volpe has led Harvard’s IOP initiatives on understanding and polling young American voters since 2000. His polling company, SocialSphere, will join a team of five polling companies that are or will be polling for the Biden campaign — led by Biden’s chief pollster John Anzalone. Celinda Lake, a veteran Democratic pollster, is also working with the Biden campaign, along with Matt Barretto, the co-founder of the polling firm Latino Decisions.

Della Volpe’s hiring comes as the campaign is ramping up efforts to reach out to young voters. Biden struggled to gain traction with voters aged 18-34 during the primary. But they favor Biden over Trump by a wide margin, and he has made strides with the demographic in recent months.

“One of the most powerful voices we hear in the country today is from our young people,” Biden said this week in his speech accepting his party’s presidential nomination. “They're speaking to the inequity and injustice that has grown up in America. Economic injustice. Racial injustice. Environmental injustice.”

Della Volpe’s hiring was applauded by prominent youth activists like David Hogg, the co-founder of March for Our Lives, who tweeted his congrats.

“Thanks David; my first ask -> show the world that your generation will be the first one to vote at the same level as your parents,” Della Volpe responded. “You do that, it’s a different country. Overnight.”

August 22, 2020 at 11:04 AM EDT
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Carter Center to create U.S.-based voting initiative to address ‘eroding’ democracy

By Colby Itkowitz

The Carter Center’s global Democracy Program, which sends election monitors to nations to ensure voting is fair, is reportedly setting up a U.S.-based voting program ahead of the November elections.

It is an unprecedented step for the nonprofit organization, founded by former president Jimmy Carter, to involve itself in U.S. elections, underscoring fears about efforts to undermine the results of the coming presidential election.

David Carroll, director of the Democracy Program, told the Independent news outlet, which first reported the initiative, that it has worked in countries where there is “a significant potential for an important change in the quality of democracy” or where democracy is “under severe threat.”

“Until the last 10 years, we wouldn’t have thought of the U.S. in that category,” Carroll said. “But it’s been increasingly the view of the Carter Center that the state of democracy in the U.S. has been eroding.”

The Carter Center did not respond to request for comment from The Post. It appears the center is not proposing sending election observers throughout the country, but instead considering a more educational role by raising awareness and correcting misinformation about voting.

Carter, 95, spoke at the Democratic National Convention on behalf of Joe Biden on Tuesday night, saying Biden is the person to “restore America’s greatness.”

“We deserve a person with integrity and judgment, someone who is honest and fair, someone who is committed to what is best for the American people,” Carter said. “Joe Biden must be our next president.”

August 22, 2020 at 10:51 AM EDT
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Democrats plot their own counterprogramming during RNC

By Matt Viser and Toluse Olorunnipa

As President Trump prepares to seize the national spotlight next week for a Republican convention in which he will pitch himself as the country’s last defense against lawlessness and disorder, his Democratic rivals are mounting an aggressive countereffort to brand him as an agent of chaos.

Democrats are preparing to release videos each day highlighting what they view as Trump’s biggest failures and showcasing the stark contrast between the president and his Democratic rival Joe Biden. Top party officials, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.) and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, will speak each day.

The party is attempting to cast everything about Trump as chaotic and disruptive, from the way he runs the presidency to what appears on his Twitter feed, from his approach to the coronavirus pandemic to the speaking lineup for his nominating convention.

August 22, 2020 at 10:49 AM EDT
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House to vote today on Democrats’ Postal Service bill

By Rachael Bade and Donna Cassata

The House is poised to vote Saturday on legislation to provide $25 billion to the U.S. Postal Service and explicitly prohibit any operational changes amid widespread Democratic fears that the Trump administration is trying to disenfranchise millions of Americans casting mail ballots this November.

Democrats’ intent to move ahead on the bill underscores that embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, a former Republican National Convention finance chairman, has failed to mollify members of Congress with his assurances that the agency will deliver “the nation’s election mail fully and on time” as he promised Friday.

The House, which had not planned to return to Washington until Sept. 14, was holding a rare Saturday session to debate and vote on the legislation. In addition to the infusion of money for the cash-strapped agency, the bill would ban the removal of mail-sorting machines and public mailboxes, reverse any operational changes that could delay service and require all official election mail be considered “first class.”

Read more here.

August 22, 2020 at 10:48 AM EDT
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Trump’s not as popular with Republicans as he says

By Philip Bump

President Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is not 96 percent. He keeps saying it is, over and over, as recently as Thursday evening. Since mid-April, he has tweeted nearly two dozen times that 96 percent of Republicans approve of the job he’s doing. There’s no deviation from that figure, as you might expect if it was based on actual polling. Polls have margins of error, and margins of error introduce variability. But to hear Trump tell it, he’s been at a flat 96 percent approval among Republicans since April 10, even as his overall approval has varied between 40.1 percent and 44.4 percent in FiveThirtyEight’s polling average.

What was his approval rating before April 10, you may ask. Well, starting in early October 2019, it was 95 percent — over and over, two dozen times. Before that, it was 94 percent over about a three-month period. And before that, it was 93 percent, over about a six-month period.

In other words, Trump’s approval rating among Republicans has, according to Trump, increased three percentage points over the past 20 months, and those increases were discrete, happening on three occasions. That the latter increases correspond to periods in which his presidency was threatened — first with the advent of the impeachment inquiry and second with the spread of the coronavirus — is just a coincidence, I’m sure.

Where did that initial 93 percent rating come from? The first time he mentioned it was in February 2018, when he touted that level of support as measured in a straw poll conducted at the Conservative Political Action Conference. It’s a bit like doing Hall of Fame balloting from a random group of people at Yankee Stadium.

This year, CPAC’s straw poll had him at 95 percent approval, but that’s what he was already telling everyone, anyway.

This is not a scientific or representative poll, by the way, and it is not, as far as I know, something that is conducted over any extended period of time. This suggests strongly that he’s just making it up.

It further suggests that as time passes, he’s bound to this idea that his support from Republicans is both stratospheric and climbing — a combination that you don’t have to be Icarus to see presents some challenges. I am very confident that, before the election, Trump will suddenly announce that his approval rating is 97 percent, or maybe higher, but he is definitely running out of headroom.

So what is Trump’s approval among Republicans? Well, polling conducted by The Post and ABC News has his recent approval at 82 percent, with two-thirds of Republicans strongly approving of the job he’s doing. That’s 14 points lower than what Trump says, a difference that a statistician would call “significant."

August 22, 2020 at 10:31 AM EDT
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Trump threatens to use law enforcement to patrol polling places, invoking tactics used to scare voters of color

By Rosalind Helderman, Josh Dawsey and Matt Zapotosky

Nearly 30 years ago, a Republican Party program that dispatched off-duty police officers to patrol polling places in heavily Black and Latino neighborhoods in New Jersey triggered accusations of voter intimidation, resulting in a federal agreement that restricted for decades how the national GOP could observe voting.

Now, two years after those limits were lifted, President Trump has revived the idea of using law enforcement officers to patrol polling places, invoking tactics historically used to scare voters of color.

In an interview Thursday with Fox News host Sean Hannity, Trump described law enforcement officers as part of a phalanx of authorities he hopes will monitor voting in November.

“We’re going to have everything,” the president said. “We’re going to have sheriffs, and we’re going to have law enforcement, and we’re going to hopefully have U.S. attorneys and we’re going to have everybody, and attorney generals. But it’s very hard.”

Trump’s remarks are part of a pattern of comments in which he has suggested he is willing to take actions to impede how people cast their ballots this fall. He has repeatedly sought to undermine confidence in the November vote, making false claims about the integrity of mail-in balloting and raising the specter of widespread electoral fraud. Earlier this month, he floated the idea of withholding election money from states and refusing funding for the U.S. Postal Service so as to curtail the use of voting by mail.