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The Daily 202: SEIU will spend $150 million on 2020 elections, focused on mobilizing infrequent voters

with Mariana Alfaro

With Mariana Alfaro

The Service Employees International Union plans to spend $150 million this year to get out the vote for Democrats in November, its largest political investment ever. 

The union will deploy canvassers across more than 40 states, but its efforts will mainly focus on turning out infrequent voters from the African American and Latino communities across the eight battleground states of Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. 

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry previewed the strategy to defeat President Trump during an extended interview in her office off Dupont Circle in Washington. The union, which represents 2 million members, has opted not to endorse in the presidential primary, at least for now, but to focus instead on building a massive field operation to help whoever emerges from the convention this summer, as well as Democrats down the ballot.

The decision to focus on low-propensity voters grew out of Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. In urban centers like Milwaukee, Detroit and Philadelphia, many minorities who cast ballots for Barack Obama in 2008 and/or 2012 did not come out again for Hillary Clinton. In 2018, the SEIU spent tens of millions of dollars trying to convince these folks that it was worth their time to participate in the midterm elections. The success of that effort has shaped 2020 planning.

“People have to be persuaded that it matters. We’re up against a sense of either hopelessness or disillusionment,” said Henry. “Our experience in ‘18 was that we were able to take infrequent voters that most campaigns and parties never talk to and demonstrate, through data, that when you go early, and you communicate frequently, and you engage people on wages and health care and investment in their communities, they’re going to show up and vote.”

By Election Day on Nov. 3, the SEIU’s goal is to attempt ​face-to-face conversations with 6 million individuals​, send text messages to 20 million people and reach another 1 million possible voters online​ through a digital ad program in the battleground states.

The SEIU plans targeted Latino outreach programs in Wisconsin, Colorado, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Nevada. The union is building out programs to mobilize Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Pennsylvania and Nevada. In Philadelphia, this will be concentrated in the Chinese community. In Las Vegas, it’s more Filipinos. In Florida, the SEIU has partnered with the same four organizations it worked with in 2018 to expand turnout in black and Hispanic communities, including Puerto Ricans and others from the Caribbean. All told, canvassers are being hired to communicate at people’s front doors in five different languages.

The SEIU will invest significant resources to turn out Somali and Hmong voters around the Twin Cities after Trump came within 1.5 percentage points of beating Clinton in Minnesota, a state no Republican presidential candidate has carried since Richard Nixon in 1972. “They're part of this infrequent voter pool, and we know they need to show up in order to win in Minnesota,” said Henry, who got her start in the labor movement as a field organizer in the state.

Outreach to black voters in Detroit and Milwaukee has been happening since the fall, building on the work that helped elect Democratic governors Gretchen Whitmer in Michigan and Tony Evers in Wisconsin. Canvassers have knocked on 251,000 doors in those two states since the beginning of January.

With limited resources, campaigns and outside groups usually reach out to people who are most likely to vote. The best predictor of whether someone is likely to vote has always been whether they voted in the previous election. But with tight races expected across the industrial Midwest, the SEIU decided in 2018 to focus on minorities who are registered but participated in one or none of the past four federal elections. The first pass that canvassers make will be aimed at cleaning up the union’s list of targeted voters. In a lot of cases, people have stopped voting because they passed away or moved away. 

“Once you get to somebody, they’re like ‘Whoa, this is incredible. No one has knocked on my door before,’” said SEIU political director Maria Peralta. “A lot of groups thought we were crazy, but we were committed to engaging voters that really aren't talked to at all or contacted at all. We saw the impact when we looked at the voter turnout: Folks on the lowest end of the scale turned out at higher rates than those on the higher end after being contacted by us. That’s why we’re doubling down on that strategy this year.”

The SEIU has conducted and commissioned extensive research over the past several months to figure out what messages resonate with minorities who have not been voting. They’ve discovered a widespread perception that the economy is strong, even among blue-collar workers who haven’t felt the benefits directly. They’ve also discovered that Latino and African American men are more likely to think favorably of both Trump and the economy than women in those communities. The SEIU has tested various messages to cut through this gender divide to persuade men and mobilize women to both vote and support Democrats when they do. At least until Labor Day, the field program will focus more on pocketbook issues than Trump himself.

The SEIU’s broader goal is to couple the movements for racial justice and economic equality. Half the union’s members are racial and ethnic minorities, and about 60 percent are women. “Race is being used by the right to divide and conquer,” said Henry. “We don't think candidates … can win without talking about how white, black [and] brown have to join together because we have another voice in the nation that is hammering on divide and conquer, saying that criminals are coming across our border and taking our jobs, which is his way of dividing the electorate based on race.”

Research has also shown them that an especially effective way to reach these low-frequency voters is with peer-to-peer text messaging. In all 2018, SEIU organizers sent about 500,000 texts nationwide. They’ve already surpassed that number since January. In fact, nearly ​500,000 texts have already been sent in Florida ​alone since the start of this year urging communities of color to register so they can vote.

To be sure, union leaders emphasize they are not writing off working-class white voters. Part of the $150 million effort this year will go toward supporting an initiative with other organized labor groups to appeal to former union members in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. “We have a million voters that used to be in unions in these states, but because of the right-wing attacks, people have fallen out,” said Henry. “If people have been in a union, they’re more likely to support who the union and economic issues tied to unionization.”

SEIU leaders are also engaging their own members. By their estimates, about 20 percent of the 2 million dues-paying members are conservatives. Union officials plan to contact all members about voting approximately five times. For those who lean to the right, there will be emphasis on where candidates stand on issues related to supporting unions. “Wages and health care are still the top two issues, no matter what community we're in,” said Henry.

The SEIU has no current plans to endorse in the Democratic presidential contest, but this could change. Several of the candidates have joined picket lines, spent time with workers in their service industry jobs and spoke at one of the SEIU’s two cattle calls over the past year. At their January board meeting, Henry said the officers of the union – which endorsed Clinton in November 2015 – agreed they should stay neutral for now. “There’s no push inside our union for me to convene an in-person meeting to endorse,” Henry said. “The current understanding amongst the leadership of our union is that any leader can put their hand up and say to me or any of our officers, ‘I think it's time for us to convene.’ The one commitment we've made to each other is that we'll get in a room. It won't be done on a phone call.”

The SEIU continues to push the candidates to commit to support unionization efforts. “We think any plan to provide health care for all, college for all and child care for all ought to make it possible for workers to join unions,” said Henry. “The rules are rigged against us: The rules in the economy that block workers from joining unions and the rules in the democracy that don't allow everybody who should be able to vote to vote.”

Henry sits on the DNC’s platform committee. In 2016, she used that position to successfully push for the Democratic Party’s platform to endorse a $15-an-hour federal minimum wage. Asked whether she’s concerned about a contested convention, Henry said they’re “factoring it in,” but that her members are more concerned about issues than personalities. She also emphasized that down-ballot races will stay a major focus. In Pennsylvania, for example, they’re not just trying to help the Democratic presidential candidate win but also seeking to take control of the state’s legislature. “In some cases,” she said, “our members are telling us that the down-ballot races are far more motivational for them than the top of the ticket because they feel kind of flooded by the presidential in states where there's lots of TV advertising happening.”

The coronavirus

The first sign the disease may be spreading within a U.S. community

The CDC reported last night that a person in Northern California has contracted the coronavirus without traveling to regions hit by the outbreak or coming in contact with anyone known to have the infection. “How the person acquired the virus is unknown,” Lenny Bernstein, Laurie McGinley and Lena Sun report. “The health agency left open the possibility ‘that the patient may have been exposed to a returned traveler who was infected.’ The state of California, however, called the case its first instance of community transmission. … Community spread would represent a significant turn for the worse in the battle against the virus. To date, the United States has 60 known cases of the infection, with 59 among people who traveled to Asia or were close contacts of people who went there. The vast majority, 42, picked up the virus while quarantined on the Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan. …

The individual is a resident of Solano County, according to the California Department of Public Health. The patient is being treated at UC Davis Medical Center. Two officials from that hospital sent an email to employees Wednesday that said the patient arrived at the medical center Feb. 19 but was not tested until Sunday, despite an immediate request to the CDC. The patient arrived from another hospital in Northern California …

There are indications that other hospitals could be involved in the case. Kris Concepcion, fire chief and acting public information officer in Vacaville, Calif., said county officials had issued a directive not to transport any new patients to two local hospitals — NorthBay VacaValley Hospital in Vacaville and NorthBay Medical Center in nearby Fairfield. … The two hospitals are in Solano County, home to Travis Air Force Base, where hundreds of Americans repatriated from China and others brought home from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been kept in quarantine. Many of them have been released. The health department said it has already begun tracing people who may have come in contact with the coronavirus-infected individual. … The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has killed 2,801 people and sickened more than 82,000 as it has spread around the globe, reaching every continent except Antarctica.”

Key quote: If the infection is confirmed to be a case of “community spread,” “it would confirm what we have long suspected — that there is a good chance there already are people infected in this country and that the virus is circulating undetected,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, epidemiologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Virginia officials are waiting for test results for two patients. 

Nine possible coronavirus cases have been investigated in Virginia since Jan. 21, health officials said. No positive test results have been returned, per Justin Wm. Moyer.

Schools are also preparing for a possible contagion by canceling foreign trips.

For example, in Virginia, the Fairfax County school system – with 188,000 students, one of the largest – posted website updates with the same instructions it has offered since the virus surfaced – frequent hand-washing and disinfectant everywhere. The school system has canceled international field trips to countries where residents have fallen ill from the coronavirus. Class closures are unlikely in the near future, experts said, because relatively few cases have been diagnosed in the United States. (Hannah Natanson)

Officials revealed that more than 600 are being monitored for the virus in Massachusetts. All had recently traveled to China and voluntarily quarantined themselves at home while being monitored, health officials said. So far, 377 completed the quarantine without falling ill, while 231 are still being monitored. (Boston Globe)

Trump put Vice President Pence in charge of the coronavirus response. 

The president’s choice is “an attempt to reassure the public amid growing concerns of a global health crisis and criticism that the United States has been slow to respond to the fast-moving outbreak,” Toluse Olorunnipa, Josh Dawsey and Yasmeen Abutaleb report. “‘We’ve had tremendous success, tremendous success beyond what many people would’ve thought,’ the president said during a White House news conference that followed days of mixed messages, tumbling stocks and rising death tolls abroad driven by the coronavirus. ‘We’re very, very ready for this.’ The president declared that the risk to America was ‘very low’ and predicted a swift end to the outbreak. …

The president was contradicted almost in real time by some of the government experts who flanked him as he stood in the White House press briefing room. ‘We could be just one or two people over the next short period of time,’ Trump said of the virus’s impact in the United States. Minutes later, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and CDC Principal Deputy Director Anne Schuchat warned Americans to prepare for the number of cases to grow. ‘We can expect to see more cases in the United States,’ Azar said. ‘We do expect more cases,’ Schuchat said. … 

“The president said he would be willing to accept more emergency funding than the $2.5 billion requested by his administration after lawmakers pushed for a more robust federal response. He also said he would consider new travel restrictions on other countries struggling to contain the outbreak, including South Korea and Italy. … He partly blamed Democrats for the drop in the stock market and attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as ‘incompetent’ after she had made disparaging comments about his handling of the coronavirus outbreak … Trump has made a direct connection between the virus and his political fortunes, accusing Democrats and the media of trying to harm his reelection chances by focusing on the outbreak. Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday to accuse cable news channels of ‘doing everything possible to make the Coronavirus look as bad as possible, including panicking markets, if possible.’ … 

“The White House considered appointing a ‘czar’ to oversee the government-wide response effort, a move that would essentially demote Azar from his role as the head of the coronavirus task force. … Trump said his decision to put Pence in charge was not tantamount to appointing a czar, despite him taking a role that serves the same purpose. ‘Mike is not a czar, he’s vice president,’ the president said. ‘I’m having them report to Mike. Mike will report to me.’”

As Indiana's governor, Pence badly mishandled a 2016 HIV outbreak in his state.

“Pence came under fire for resisting the CDC's urging to allow clean needles to be distributed because of his conservative, religious beliefs. At the time, needle exchanges were illegal in Indiana. But after mounting pressure from health officials and praying on it, the Republican eventually lifted the ban,” BuzzFeed News reports.

Quote of the day

“We’re doing great. Other countries have not been doing great,” Trump said about the U.S. government's coronavirus response. (Aaron Blake)

The outbreak is flaring up around Asia, as it eases inside China. 

“While China's official numbers continued to show a drop in new cases and deaths in the country, in other parts of the world the problem appeared to be getting worse. South Korea announced 505 new cases on Thursday, bringing its total to 1,766, including one U.S. soldier stationed on the peninsula,” Adam Taylor and Rick Noack report. “Elsewhere, officials canceled or postponed events including religious pilgrimages in Saudi Arabia, as doubts grow over Tokyo's plans to host the 2020 Olympics.”

A flight attendant diagnosed with coronavirus might have worked trips between Seoul and Los Angeles. South Korea’s Center for Disease Control said the attendant, who had serviced a flight between Seoul and Tel Aviv, had tested positive. Neither Korean Air nor local officials immediately confirmed reports that she serviced two flights to L.A. (L.A. Times)

South Korea called off joint military exercises with U.S. troops because of the virus. (WSJ)

A Japanese woman who had recovered from the virus tested positive again.

The woman was one of the first cases of coronavirus in the country but was released from the hospital nearly four weeks ago, apparently cured. Now she's testing positive again. This is a bad sign for containment efforts. (Simon Denyer)

Iran is struggling to contain the disease, putting other Middle East nations at risk.

“In Iran, 139 people have contracted the virus, including the deputy health minister and a prominent member of parliament. Nineteen people have died, according to the Health Ministry,” Erin Cunningham and Louisa Loveluck report. “The virus has appeared in multiple Iranian cities, and infections in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon and Oman have been traced back to Iran. … But even as regional governments moved to control the outbreak, Iranian authorities came under fire for what critics said is an inadequate response to the threat. Officials have rejected calls to quarantine major cities and have allowed communal prayer services to continue in places such as Qom, where the virus first emerged in Iran.” 

Italy’s economy was already struggling. Then came the virus.

“Trams rattle by half-empty. Office buildings are vacant. Top-flight soccer matches are played in empty stadiums behind closed doors,” Loveday Morris and Chico Harlan report. “For Italy, the coronavirus could hardly have broken out in a more damaging economic area. The country’s two largest northern regions, Lombardy and Veneto, account for 30 percent of the employment and 40 percent of the exports. Milan is the economic hub, and to the east, Venice is a tourism mega-draw for a country that depends on visitors for 13 percent of its gross domestic product.”

The World Health Organization says China isn’t sharing enough data on infections. 

“The WHO said it has repeatedly asked Chinese officials for ‘disaggregated’ data — meaning specific figures broken out from the overall numbers — that could shed light on hospital transmission and help assess the level of risk front-line workers face,” Emily Rauhala reports “It is not clear whether political sensitivities have shaped China’s reporting on sick doctors and other health-care professionals. It is possible that data gaps simply reflect the challenge of gathering information in the middle of a crisis, experts said. What is clear is that China is not sending details that WHO officials and other experts expect and need.”

Russia and China are taking different, but equally dangerous, approaches to the virus.

So says The Post's Editorial Board: “Open governments are struggling to encourage responsibility about a growing pandemic without inspiring panic. Russia appears to be trying to do just the opposite. Evidence suggests Moscow is spreading propaganda designed to stoke anxiety about the virus and distrust in authorities’ efforts to fight it. Meanwhile, citizens in China are suffering not from a deluge of misleading material but from a dearth of open discussion. … Either tactic, with stakes as high as they are today, could get people killed.”

The coronavirus has forced religious leaders to reconsider Lenten traditions.

“Ash Wednesday is a chance for clergy to remind Christians of their mortality, often with a swipe of thumb-to-forehead ashes,” Sarah Pulliam Bailey reports. “But this year, the holy day came one day after federal health officials said the country should brace for [the ‘inevitable’ spread of the virus]. Pastors and ministers … found themselves asking: Should we tweak our rituals? ‘It’s a very intimate moment,’ said Teer Hardy, an associate pastor at Mount Olivet United Methodist Church in Arlington, Va. .... ‘You’re a couple of inches from someone’s face.’ … Spokespeople for many of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S. said this week that they have not issued special directives for their churches but are closely monitoring guidance from government officials. The Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey told clergy and lay leaders Tuesday that anyone administering Communion should wash their hands, preferably with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and keep their distance during the greeting ritual known as the ‘passing of the peace.’”

You really don’t need to buy anything new or special to brace for the virus.

Doctors gave Reis Thebault and Alex Horton a few recommendations: “Don’t go crazy,” said Timothy Brewer, an epidemiologist at UCLA. “You don’t need to go out and stock up on lots of things.” If you’re not sick, you don’t need a surgical mask – and you don’t need to buy every box your pharmacy has in stock. “The main point of the mask is to keep someone who is infected with the virus from spreading it to others,” Brewer said.

  • Wash your hands regularly. Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze. And when you’re sick, stay home from work or school and drink lots of fluids.
  • It’s worth considering limiting exposure to large groups, said Stanley Perlman, an infectious-disease expert at the University of Iowa.
  • Avoid the middle of a packed train car, and turn away if someone is coughing nearby, said Saskia V. Popescu, a senior infection-prevention epidemiologist for a Phoenix-based hospital system.

2020 watch

Joe Biden had a good day in South Carolina, where he's favored to win.

“South Carolina chooses presidents,” Biden said as he accepted House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn’s endorsement. “You decided to launch Bill Clinton to the White House, and up to that time, it didn’t look like he was going very far — but you did. You launched my buddy Barack Obama to the White House. I firmly believe, once again on Saturday, you hold in your hands, in South Carolina, the power to choose the next president of the United States.”

Even as he holds a small lead in polls, Biden is being vastly outspent on television and radio ads here,” Matt Viser and Cleve Wootson report from North Charleston, S.C. "While the Clyburn endorsement could prove influential, Biden also secured the top endorsements in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada, and that helped little. And there is no certainty that even a convincing win could translate to victory when 14 other states and American Samoa vote on Super Tuesday three days later. Biden has laid little groundwork in the next states, forced to spend almost all of his time in South Carolina this week as other candidates scatter to the next set of states. Strapped for cash, he is only now starting to buy advertising in some Super Tuesday states — and is spending a fraction of what his rivals are. That puts even more pressure on South Carolina to give Biden a bounce. … Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.) had sat on the sidelines and watched the primary contest unfold. But after growing concerned about the unsettled field, he endorsed Biden this week.

Barack Obama demanded TV stations stop airing a misleading attack against Biden. 

The ad from a pro-Trump super PAC, which has been running around South Carolina, uses the former president's words out of context in a misleading attack on Biden. Michael Scherer and Anu Narayanswamy report. “The Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump group, circulated an ad that falsely suggests that words Obama spoke in the narration of his own 1995 book were meant to describe Biden.” Katie Hill, Obama’s communications director, denounced the ad as being “straight out of the Republican disinformation playbook” and added that Obama has “no plans to endorse in the primary.” 

Bernie Sanders is a challenge to Nancy Pelosi's majority that's beyond her control. 

“While a cadre of lawmakers and strategists are sounding alarms about the risks the senator from Vermont and democratic socialist would pose to down-ballot candidates, Pelosi is moving carefully publicly and privately to avoid even the perception that she is putting her thumb on the presidential scales,” Mike DeBonis reports. “‘I think whoever our nominee is, we will enthusiastically embrace, and we will win the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives,’ she told reporters … It would be a mistake to expect Pelosi to follow Clyburn’s lead and insert herself into the presidential race. … Asked Wednesday about whether she thought she had the power to help cull the field, Pelosi said, ‘The power is with the people.’” 

Warren said she’ll stay in the race until the convention, even if Sanders has more delegates. 

During a CNN town hall in South Carolina, Warren said “she would be willing to lobby superdelegates, who have votes on the second ballot if there's no outright winner, when asked if she would continue her candidacy even if she were trailing in the delegate count. Asked by an audience member why the person who gets the most votes shouldn't be awarded the nomination, Warren said the rules set a higher bar -- and that she intended to fight to the last. Warren also suggested that the argument by [Sanders] that a candidate with a plurality should be declared the nominee was disingenuous, noting that his 2016 campaign, despite losing to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, publicly argued that convention superdelegates should consider swinging the contest in his favor.” 

The Trump campaign plans to open community centers to woo black voters.

Campaign officials showed reporters posters featuring the glossy facades of their proposed “Black Voices for Trump community centers,” Ashley Parker reports. They described them as functioning as a cross between a traditional campaign field office and a sleek retail space in a heavily trafficked pedestrian area, such as a mall. “You’re never going to get the votes you don’t ask for,” the president’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner said, describing the outreach as “more than a toe in the water. It’s a whole foot in the water.”

Domestic developments that shouldn't be overlooked

A Molson Coors employee killed five of his co-workers in a mass shooting on Feb. 26 before killing himself. (Video: The Washington Post)
A shooting in Wisconsin left six dead.

“Wisconsin’s largest city is grieving after an employee at a historic brewery shot and killed five co-workers and then turned the gun on himself. Police say the 51-year-old assailant — who has not been publicly named by the authorities — opened fire on the sprawling Molson Coors campus Wednesday afternoon,” Dan Simmons, Hannah Knowles, Mark Berman and Reis Thebault report. They did not discuss a possible motive for the killings and did not name the victims. “The rampage is the first shooting to kill four or more people in 2020, according to a Post database.

The House passed legislation that would finally make lynching a federal hate crime.

“H.R. 35, the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, was approved on a bipartisan 410-to-4 vote after a sometimes emotional debate in the House,” Felicia Sonmez reports. “Rep. Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), who sponsored the legislation, said the bill will ‘send a strong message that violence, and race-based violence in particular, has no place in American society.’ The measure’s passage comes after lawmakers tried, and failed, to pass anti-lynching bills nearly 200 times. The earliest such attempt came in 1900, when Rep. George Henry White (R-N.C.), then the country’s only black member of Congress, stood on the floor of the House and read the text of his unprecedented measure, which would have prosecuted lynchings at the federal level. The bill later died in committee. Years later, Rep. Leonidas C. Dyer (R-Mo.) introduced an anti-lynching measure that passed the House but was filibustered in the Senate by Southern Democrats … 

At least 4,742 people, mostly African Americans, were reported lynched in the United States from 1882 to 1968 in all but four states … Ninety-nine percent of perpetrators escaped state or local punishment … A separate version of the measure, the Justice for Victims of Lynching Act, passed the Senate last year. It was introduced by the chamber’s three black senators: Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). … There are minor differences between the two measures, and House Democrats are optimistic the Senate will approve the House-passed version and send it to President Trump’s desk.” 

Mexican reverse migration is shrinking the undocumented population.

“José cared for the bottle-fed babies, 700 of them in all. He knew a calf was healthy if her eyes were bright and her appetite hearty,” the Times reports. “‘His job was to do all things a mom would do to look after her young,’ said Mary Kraft, who employed José and his brother, Juan, both undocumented immigrants from Mexico, for a decade at her Quail Ridge Dairy in Colorado. Then about a year ago, the brothers informed Ms. Kraft that they were returning to Mexico. They had amassed enough savings in the land of opportunity to resume their lives back where they had started. The pair are among a growing number of Mexicans who have been departing the United States in recent years … New data that was released on Wednesday by the Center for Migration Studies shows there were 10.6 million immigrants living unlawfully in the United States in 2018 compared with 11.75 million in 2010, a decline propelled primarily by Mexicans returning south.”

ICE ran facial-recognition searches on millions of Marylanders. 

Agency officials “have been permitted to run facial-recognition searches on millions of Maryland driver’s license photos without first seeking state or court approval, state officials said — access that goes far beyond what other states allow and that alarms immigration activists in a state that grants special driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants,” Drew Harwell and Erin Cox report. “The technology now under scrutiny could let an ICE official run a photograph of an unknown person through the system and see if any potentially undocumented immigrants are returned as a match.” 

A facial-recognition company that works with law enforcement said its client list was stolen. 

“The startup Clearview AI disclosed to its customers that an intruder ‘gained unauthorized access’ to its list of customers, to the number of user accounts those customers had set up, and to the number of searches its customers have conducted," the Daily Beast reports. "The notification said the company’s servers were not breached and that there was ‘no compromise of Clearview’s systems or network.'” 

Five were arrested for allegedly targeting reporters as part of a neo-Nazi group.

Federal officials “arrested several alleged members of a white-supremacist group called Atomwaffen Division, including its two leaders, accusing them of plotting to intimidate journalists by calling police to their homes and offices and dropping off threatening fliers,” Rachel Weiner and Matt Zapotosky report. “John Cameron Denton, of Montgomery, Tex., is charged in U.S. District Court in Alexandria with conspiring to call in fake threats targeting a ProPublica reporter and his office. … In federal court in Seattle, prosecutors say Kaleb Cole and three others hatched a different intimidation plan: finding out where journalists live and leaving posters at their homes with messages featuring swastikas, weapons and the vague threat that they were being watched.”

Giuliani wanted the 2001 mayoral election cancelled so he could stay on as mayor after 9/11.

“Rudy Giuliani secretly asked then-New York Gov. George Pataki to cancel New York City’s 2001 mayoral election so he could remain in office following the Sept. 11 terror attack,” the New York Post reports. “The bombshell disclosure is contained in Pataki’s upcoming memoir of 9/11, ‘Beyond the Great Divide: How A Nation Became A Neighborhood.’ … Giuliani ‘dropped a bomb,’ Pataki writes. ‘Governor, you have extraordinary powers to extend my term in office,’ Giuliani said. Pataki’s ‘heart sank,’ he writes, noting that he initially backed the idea of repealing term limits so Giuliani, a fellow Republican, could seek a third term, but quickly realized it was a ‘bad idea both as a matter of principle and politically.’”

Giuliani complained about having “five friends left” after forgetting to hang up on a reporter. 

Giuliani forgot to hang up on a New York Daily News reporter after being asked about Pataki’s claims. He started trash-talking Pataki while complaining that he only has “five friends left.” “There were people who wanted me to do it,” Giuliani told the News, when he was aware he was on the phone. “I thought about it for two days, but I never asked him to do it. I never made the decision to do it.”

Social media speed read

India's prime minister called for deescalation of riots that have left more than 30 dead in Delhi:

“Mobs of Hindus and Muslims had clashed on roads and alleyways in northeast Delhi, throwing stones and crude gasoline bombs. At least three mosques were torched, as were scores of homes and businesses. Witnesses said that instead of stopping the violence, police joined crowds shouting Hindu nationalist slogans and fired indiscriminately," Joanna Slater and Niha Masih report.

Reuters reporters shared devastating images from the attacks:

Another conspiracy theory is cirulcating in the fever swamps of the fringe right, per a CNN reporter:

A Hawaii Democratic senator expressed concern that Pence is taking point on the coronavirus:

The husband of one of Trump’s top advisers noted that this is a rare crisis not of the president's own creation:

Biden shared a moving answer about his faith:

Videos of the day

Stephen Colbert doesn’t feel very reassured by Trump’s plan to fight the coronavirus:

Seth Meyers said Trump likes cozying up to authoritarian leaders: 

In a break from politics, Trevor Noah took a look at other news, including how the heiress of the Hot Pockets fortune was sentenced to prison: